Sunday, May 31, 2009

Max Blumenthal from Safa


TEL AVIV--Violence erupted in the Palestinian town of Safa today as fanatical masked settlers from the Jewish settlement of Bat Ayin set upon a group of activists from the peace group Ta’ayush, destroying their cameras and badly vandalizing one of their cars. According to Ta’ayush member Joseph Dana, the Israeli army scrambled to the scene with a “closed military zone order,” allowing the masked settlers to remain while ordering the activists to leave under threat of arrest. When the activists failed to leave rapidly enough, the soldiers also turned violent, forcing several of them into a jeep and hauling them away to prison. The army’s action directly contravened an Israeli Supreme Court decision ruling the army could not used closed military zones to prevent Palestinian farmers from working their land. The West Bank is a legal gray zone where even high court rulings are voided by the violent whims of soldiers and settlers. (video below and Ibn Ezra has photos and updates.)

Continue reading (plenty useful, authoritive links).

Friday, May 29, 2009

Tony Karon on Naqba denial and Eitan Bronstein

The Rootless Cosmopolitan.

Negating the truth about the Nakbah — the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs from what became Israel in 1948 — has been a staple of Jewish-nationalist propaganda as long as I can remember: As a youngster in Habonim, I was told bubbemeis tales about foolish Arabs marching off into the wilderness like zombies after being hypnotized by radio broadcasts urging them to leave; a “miracle” on a par with the parting of the Red Sea that ostensibly gave the Zionist movement the “land without a people” about which it had fantasized. It should have been painfully obvious that this was a preposterous self-serving myth (which even then didn’t account for the fact that the ethnic cleansing was sealed by Israel in one of its founding laws that denied the right of any Arab absent from their property on the day of Israel’s creation to return to that property). But to suggest anything less than a miraculous conception and bloodless birth for the state of Israel was to deny its “legitimacy”, we were told. As international pressure grows for an historic reckoning between Israelis and Palestinians, the frenzy of denial and negation has intensified. Suddenly, Netanyahu is demanding that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state”, even though to do so requires that Palestinian refugees simply sign away their birthright, erase their history and identity. Even more bizarre, perhaps, is the effort by members of Israel’s parliament to outlaw commemoration of the Nakba. There are other Israelis, of course, who don’t deny the Nakba, but strive to reveal its history to their fellow citizens, precisely because the pathological denial of their own country’s own history as perpetrators of dispossession and ethnic cleansing, there can be no true healing between Israelis and Palestinians. One such brave and visionary Israeli is Eitan Bronstein, whom I had the pleasure of meeting last year. He graciously agreed to allow Rootless Cosmopolitan to republish an English translation of his article published in Yediot Ahoronot today article challenging the proposed Nakba law.

Eitan Bronstein's piece, here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

They May Not Want The Bomb

And other unexpected truths.

Fareed Zakaria

Everything you know about Iran is wrong, or at least more complicated than you think. Take the bomb. The regime wants to be a nuclear power but could well be happy with a peaceful civilian program (which could make the challenge it poses more complex). What's the evidence? Well, over the last five years, senior Iranian officials at every level have repeatedly asserted that they do not intend to build nuclear weapons. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has quoted the regime's founding father, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who asserted that such weapons were "un-Islamic." The country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa in 2004 describing the use of nuclear weapons as immoral. In a subsequent sermon, he declared that "developing, producing or stockpiling nuclear weapons is forbidden under Islam." Last year Khamenei reiterated all these points after meeting with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei. Now, of course, they could all be lying. But it seems odd for a regime that derives its legitimacy from its fidelity to Islam to declare constantly that these weapons are un-Islamic if it intends to develop them. It would be far shrewder to stop reminding people of Khomeini's statements and stop issuing new fatwas against nukes.

Following a civilian nuclear strategy has big benefits. The country would remain within international law, simply asserting its rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a position that has much support across the world. That would make comprehensive sanctions against Iran impossible. And if Tehran's aim is to expand its regional influence, it doesn't need a bomb to do so. Simply having a clear "breakout" capacity—the ability to weaponize within a few months—would allow it to operate with much greater latitude and impunity in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Iranians aren't suicidal. In an interview last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the Iranian regime as "a messianic, apocalyptic cult." In fact, Iran has tended to behave in a shrewd, calculating manner, advancing its interests when possible, retreating when necessary. The Iranians allied with the United States and against the Taliban in 2001, assisting in the creation of the Karzai government. They worked against the United States in Iraq, where they feared the creation of a pro-U.S. puppet on their border. Earlier this year, during the Gaza war, Israel warned Hizbullah not to launch rockets against it, and there is much evidence that Iran played a role in reining in their proxies. Iran's ruling elite is obsessed with gathering wealth and maintaining power. The argument made by those—including many Israelis for coercive sanctions against Iran is that many in the regime have been squirreling away money into bank accounts in Dubai and Switzerland for their children and grandchildren. These are not actions associated with people who believe that the world is going to end soon.

One of Netanyahu's advisers said of Iran, "Think Amalek." The Bible says that the Amalekites were dedicated enemies of the Jewish people. In 1 Samuel 15, God says, "Go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." Now, were the president of Iran and his advisers to have cited a religious text that gave divine sanction for the annihilation of an entire race, they would be called, well, messianic.

Iran isn't a dictatorship. It is certainly not a democracy. The regime jails opponents, closes down magazines and tolerates few challenges to its authority. But neither is it a monolithic dictatorship. It might be best described as an oligarchy, with considerable debate and dissent within the elites. Even the so-called Supreme Leader has a constituency, the Assembly of Experts, who selected him and whom he has to keep happy. Ahmadinejad is widely seen as the "mad mullah" who runs the country, but he is not the unquestioned chief executive and is actually a thorn in the side of the clerical establishment. He is a layman with no family connections to major ayatollahs—which makes him a rare figure in the ruling class. He was not initially the favored candidate of the Supreme Leader in the 2005 election. Even now the mullahs clearly dislike him, and he, in turn, does things deliberately designed to undermine their authority. Iran might be ready to deal. We can't know if a deal is possible since we've never tried to negotiate one, not directly. While the regime appears united in its belief that Iran has the right to a civilian nuclear program—a position with broad popular support—some leaders seem sensitive to the costs of the current approach. It is conceivable that these "moderates" would appreciate the potential benefits of limiting their nuclear program, including trade, technology and recognition by the United States. The Iranians insist they must be able to enrich uranium on their own soil. One proposal is for this to take place in Iran but only under the control of an international consortium. It's not a perfect solution because the Iranians could—if they were very creative and dedicated—cheat. But neither is it perfect from the Iranian point of view because it would effectively mean a permanent inspections regime in their country. But both sides might get enough of what they consider crucial for it to work. Why not try this before launching the next Mideast war?

Naqba remembrance: Fissures in the Iron Wall

Mondoweiss - Adam Horowitz.

A Response to the Proposal to Ban Commemoration of the Nakba on Independence Day

The proposal to legally bar the commemoration of the Nakba on Israel's Independence Day reflects growing trepidation in Israel about the inevitable encounter with the Palestinian Nakba and the understanding that the Nakba is a foundational part of Israeli identity. Until recently, the threat of exposing the Nakba was barely felt. There was no need to fight this repressed demon, which might suddenly reveal itself and disrupt the seeming calm of a harmonious Jewish democracy. But the Nakba is not a demon, not the fruit of deceptive imagination, and therefore we should not underestimate the challenge facing Israeli society: to recognize Israel's part in the expulsion of most of the Palestinian inhabitants of the land in 1948, the destruction of most of their localities (upwards of five hundred), the annihilation of urban Palestinian culture, and tens of massacres, rapes, incidents of looting, and dispossession. Looking into so dark a mirror takes courage and maturity, demonstrated in the research of such scholars as Morris, Gelber, Milstein, Khalidi, Pappe, and others, as well as in the diaries of Netiva Ben Yehuda and Yosef Nahmani.

It is not surprising that the "appropriate Zionist response," to inscribe the forgetting of this human horror into law, comes from the circles of the political right-wing. They have always been more sincere in their racist attitudes toward Arabs in Israel, compared to the Left, which marketed to the world and to us its honest (yet illusory) longing for peace.

More than eighty years ago, it was clear to Jabotinsky, the leader of the historic Right and perhaps the most realistic Zionist thinker, that the establishment of the Jewish state required citizens to be forever soldiers under the protection of the "Iron Wall." Jabotinsky understood that Jewish existence depended upon violent strength, on killing and being killed in a predominantly Arab region that would never accept them. A year ago his student, Tzipi Livni, suggested that Palestinians remove the word ‘Nakba’ from their lexicon as part of a comprehensive peace deal. Our current Prime Minister announced during his recent campaign that he would expunge the Nakba from educational curricula (since when has the Nakba been taught anyway?) and would order the teaching of Jabotinsky’s legacy.

The Greek philosopher Thrasymachus taught us that "the law is what is good for the stronger," but no law, not even that of the democratic Jewish Knesset, can erase the horrors of history. Traces of these horrors will always be visible, in both personal and collective memory and forgetfulness. In Israel, the sabras, prickly cactus bushes, have become vivid and thorny monuments of the Palestinian Nakba. This obstinate plant was brought by the Palestinians from Mexico to mark and defend their territory. The sabra not only persists in the landscape long after Israel expelled those who planted it, it also grows wild despite attempts to eradicate it. Perhaps, in response, the Israeli government should make it unlawful to eat its fruit?

At the same time, remembrance of the Nakba is growing and takes root in the deepening fissures in the Iron Wall. The Palestinian refugees – the majority of Palestinians are, indeed, refugees – have mourned the Nakba from the moment it occurred and demand justice. After the Oslo Accords, when they realized their concerns would be pushed aside indefinitely, they began to struggle effectively against the worldwide disregard for their tragedy. However, the proposed law to forget the Nakba is in actuality a response to cultural shifts in Jewish-Israeli society to coping with this disaster. The real threat to the colonialist Iron Wall occurs as the majority of its soldiers refuse to obey the commandment not to remember. In the last few years, hundreds of Jews in Israel (and around the world) have participated in events commemorating the Nakba during Israel's Independence Day. In recent years hundreds of Israelis have turned to Zochrot – an organization working to bring the Nakba to the consciousness of Jews in Israel – to request information on the topic. Journalists, writers, architects, as well as people in film, television, and theater who grew up on the good old stories of Israel seek to discover their repressed past. Educators are requesting the educational packet on the Nakba developed by Zochrot. Soldiers from the Palmach are turning to Zochrot towards the end of their lives to share stories of what they did and saw in 1948.

Who knows, maybe the day is not far off when the choice at the center of the political debate will be the State of Israel as it is today versus recognition of the Nakba and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees. When this day comes, the citizens of Israel will be able to choose between two clear visions: separation and perpetual violence versus a life of equality for all the country's residents and refugees. To hurry this day forward, maybe we should make up another Hebrew word: “de-colonization.”

Eitan Bronstein


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

'Nakba law' not alone - Nuttiness III

After the Naqba denial nuttiness and the Loyalty oath nuttiness, Israel's most rightwing Government since Mozes is upping the ante with some thought control nuttiness.


The Knesset on Wednesday morning approved in a preliminary reading a bill introducing one year in prison for anyone speaking against Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state, should the call contain a reasonable possibility "that it may lead to acts of hatred, scorn or lack of loyalty to the State or its government authorities or law systems which have been established legally."


A heated discussion erupted at the Knesset before the vote. Meretz Chairman Chaim Oron slammed the government, saying, "Have you lost your confidence in the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state? This crazy government – what exactly are you doing? Thought Police? Have you lost it?


MK Zahalka said before the vote, "Many intellectuals in the academia who talk about a country belonging to all its citizens belong in prison, according to MK Orlev. Arab and Jewish leaders who seek real democracy in Israel also belong in jail, according to Orlev… He wants to put anyone who doesn’t agree with him in jail.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Zionist Entity to demand Loyalty

The nuttiness of the new Zionist regime seems to know no bounds. After a proposal for a law that would make Naqba commemorating illegal, Lieberman and his fellow proto-fascists are now following up on an election pledge to seek cabinet okay for a loyalty oath:

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party plans to propose controversial legislation requiring citizens to swear loyalty to the state, a party spokesman said on Monday.

The party intends to seek cabinet approval for the bill before presenting it to the Knesset where it would have to pass three votes and a committee review before taking effect, according to the spokesman.

The proposal was a key part of Yisrael Beiteinu's campaign in February's general election, in which it grew to Israel's third largest political party.


Party [Yisrael Beiteinu] spokesman Tal Nahum said the measure would require all Israelis to declare loyalty "to the state of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state" before they can be issued a national identity document. The law requires all Israeli residents over 16 carry their identity cards at all times.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Promoting Naqba denial

When I read news about the Zionist regime planning to make commemorating the Palestinian Naqba illegal, I get this sense the anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian movements had perhaps better start planning for the era of the 'no-solution' solution. In real terms, Israel is 'winning' and the Palestinian cause for a just solution of their plight is largely lost.

In that light, a law banning Naqba commemoration can be seen as a manifestation of the fact that not only to the victor go the spoils but also the copyright of the history books. Revisionism is the prerogative of the conqueror, thus able to even write the vanquished out of history, out of existence. A return to the mythical 'A land without a People for a People without a land', initiated now, could be a tremendous asset for Greater Israel in less than two generations from today.

No doubt this proposal for law will be sold to both the Right and the Left (what's left, really) as a security measure. Because we all understand that the total National Security of the Zionist Entity has to be achieved no matter what the cost. If that cost involves 'disappearing' an entire other people from the pages of history, then so be it. Let nobody say that this is at least fascistoid, only died-in-the wool Jew haters would say that...

Public commemoration of Israel's independence as a day of mourning could become a crime subject to prison penalty, should a bill approved on Sunday by a ministerial panel be brought to the Knesset and cabinet for vote.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday approved a preliminary proposal which would make it illegal to hold events or ceremonies marking Israel's Independence Day as a "nakba," or catastrophe.

Rather than holding barbecues and parades on Independence Day, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians usually take the day to commemorate the dispersal of Palestinians during the 1948 War of Independence.

Palestinian refugees around the world and Israel's Arab citizens mark the Nakba on May 15, the day after the British mandate over Palestine ended in 1948. Nakba Day is often observed by the Arab population in Israel with marches through destroyed villages.

According to the bill, those found in violation could face up to three years in prison.

The ministerial approval is only a preliminary step and has no legal bearing yet. Before the proposal could become a law, it must first undergo Knesset approval and cabinet consideration.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Harry's Place bans dissenting comments

The well known blog, Harry's Place, a pro-Zionist site, has a 'moderation policy' that doesn't really work but effectively suppresses the dissenting comments of one commenter going by the moniker The Hasbara Buster (HB for short also runs a blog, here).

I know HB to be a committed anti-Zionist but also a strict anti-racist, a sharp reasoner and always respectful, even in the face of the worst kind of bile pro-Zionist commenters at Harry's Place throw at him (and me). Endless distortions, straw man arguments, tu quoques, anonymous commenting and the most horrific forms of ad hominem (I comment there too and 'Gert's landlady' once suggested I 'clean out my basement of SS porn') are what any dissenter faces over at HP, in particular when the subject matter turns to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Now, instead of cleaning out the stables and telling the worst offending trolls where to stick it, one of HP's mandarins has decided to ban a commenter that offered insightful opinions, well reasoned and respectfully presented.

I inquired politely about this sorry state of affairs by means of four comments: two simply weren't published (presumably because the words 'Hasbara Buster' trigger a non-publication mechanism) and two others that were completely ignored by HP's Big Smurf, David Toube (aka David T.) and everybody else there.

The site's motto is:
Liberty, if it means anything, is the right to tell people what they don't want to hear.


I believe David Toube is also a signatory to The Euston Manifesto, which claims:
The signatories say they "reject fear of modernity, fear of freedom, irrationalism, the subordination of women," and "reaffirm the ideas that inspired the great rallying calls of the democratic revolutions of the eighteenth century: liberty, equality and solidarity; human rights; the pursuit of happiness ... But we are not zealots. For we embrace also the values of free enquiry, open dialogue and creative doubt, of care in judgement and a sense of the intractabilities of the world. We stand against all claims to a total — unquestionable or unquestioning — truth."

You don't say...

Other examples of Eustonites censoring comments (for no good reason at all) can be found here (SimplyJews) and here (Terry Glavin).

Friday, May 22, 2009

In their own words

Netanyahu/Obama... clash/not clash? Much is being penned about their different approaches to Iran and the Palestinian question and how, according to many observers, when the two met the Earth didn't move.

But it seems to me a head on collision between the Zionist Entity and its perennial benefactor, Holy Land II, is now rapidly becoming unavoidable.

The Far-Right Israeli leadership has had time to think things over during Obama's first rather inconsequential hundred days and they've reached some conclusions. While Obama's demeanour towards Israel seems at first glance to still require some tea leaves reading, there is little doubt the President wants movement on the Palestinian question, the People in the Bunker however, clearly do not. And they're getting increasingly vocal about it. With Bibi's coalition being extremely fragile on the Palestinian issue, it'll be crunch time for him too, in the next few weeks rather than months, IMHO. Phil Weiss (soon to visit Gaza, BTW) wisely spent few words on it:

Likud MK Danny Danon in support of the "Alternatives to the Two-State Outlook"conference that will be held this upcoming Tuesday:

"We need to come out of the closet and say that we are proud to be anti-Palestinian state."

The event is being organized by Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely, who also explained, "We are in a situation where Obama is presenting a diplomatic plan when it is clear to everyone that the two-state solution failed. Israel must have a deep debate and present an alternative, so the world will know that the two-state solution is not inevitable." From the Jerusalem Post article, "Right seeking alternatives to 2-states."

Jane Harman: "Ethnically Divide Iran"

What is it with 'The Greatest Nation on Earth" and its seemingly infinite capacity to elect numpties like Jane Harman as its representatives? Offending comments start at 1:25...

When Zionist religio-fascists cosy up to anti-Semites...

In the video below, Max Blumenthal almost seamlessly pans between the Balata refugee camp (Nablus), the main settlement bloc Ariel and John Hagee. The link? Ariel's luxurious gym was donated by John Hagee's anti-Semitic Christian Zionist movement.

Apart from the fact that Hagee believes the anti-Christ will be a half-Jewish homosexual and that when Armageddon (Megiddo - a real place in the Usurper State modern Israel) comes and the second coming of Jesus materialises, Jews will have to convert or burn forever (in Hagee's scenario, the coming of a Jewish Messiah (Mashiach) is inconceivable - as it is for me, albeit for different reasons), Hagee is quite a hero with the Israel Lobby.

There used to be a great YouTube video showing Hagee thunderously addressing AIPAC to rapturous applause (these people really know no shame) but it got taken down due to a copyright issue [cough!]. A trace of the Hagee - AIPAC story can be found here. In the absence of the real thing, here's Hagee on the Two State solution:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Israel Destroyed Enemy Chemical Plant

Totally Jewbonics:

Apparently under the impression that sugar-crazed Palestinian fellaheen would become so addled that they’d sprint straight through the Israeli occupation troops security cordon, terrorizing Sderot and Ashkelon with bestial yells and perhaps upchucked sugary milk-products, Israel decided to take out a vital enemy supply depot, cannily called The Ice Cream Factory. Mustn’t let the children have their sweets!

Raising funds for the Viva Palestina convoy: Ha'aretz

Mark from JSF found this via a Google ad on Ha'aretz:
"They stole my land, burnt my olive trees, destroyed my house, took my water, imprisoned my father, killed my mother, starved us all, humiliated us all. But I am to blame : I shot a rocket back. So they stole more of my land, burnt my olive trees, destroyed my house, took my water, bombed my country..." Palestine09


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mustafa Barghouti: It's Now or Almost Certainly Never...


It's now or almost certainly never. If Obama lacks the political will to stand up to Netanyahu now, he will lack the capacity later. And by the time Obama leaves office, it will be too late to salvage anything more than an archipelago of Palestinian Bantustans. We Palestinians seek freedom, not apartheid, and not the sort of Potemkin villages on the West Bank that Netanyahu is trying to package to the West as visionary economic boomtowns for desperate Palestinians. Yes, we want economic improvement, but the best way to achieve that is through control over our own lives, borders and resources.

Israel's new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, claimed in an April interview that "America accepts all our decisions." I was in Washington in February and did not find that to be the case. The Obama administration, I was pleased to hear, planned to be in neither the Israelis' nor the Palestinians' pocket. That is all we Palestinians have ever asked.

Yet, just as in the '90s, Netanyahu believes that he is the world's driving force and that a Democratic president should be following his lead. In his memoir, former lead American negotiator Dennis Ross quoted an exasperated President Clinton as complaining that Netanyahu comported himself as though he thought Israel, and not the United States, was the superpower. That doesn't appear to have changed. How else to explain the recent assertion by Israeli officials that before Israel will address core Palestinian-Israeli negotiating issues, the United States must deal - apparently to Israel's satisfaction - with Iran's nuclear program?

The false Iran-Palestine linkage troubles me because its Israeli boosters think that Iran is an immediate concern, and Palestinian freedom can once again be kicked down the road. Danny Ayalon, Israel's deputy foreign minister and a representative of Lieberman's extremist Yisrael Beiteinu party, said in April that "the Iranian clock should be measured in months," but the Palestinian timetable "is open-ended."

What Ayalon, Lieberman and Netanyahu fail to grasp is the world's increasing recognition that they are attempting to dictate the timetable for another people's freedom. This is unacceptable in the 21st century.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why Obama Must Shackle Bibi

Tony Karon

Without any sense of irony, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told fellow paranoiac Jeffrey Goldberg that Iran is ruled by “an apocalyptic messianic cult.” Because as Goldberg makes clear, perhaps inadvertently given his own sympathy with Netanyahu’s hysterical views on Iran ( which we’ve previously explored on this site), Bibi’s own views are clearly apocalyptic, and his own sense of himself somewhat messianic.

Golberg suggests that Netanyahu feels a compulsion to act (militarily) to stop Iran attaining nuclear weapons capability, based on, uh, biblical tradition:

“Amalek,” in essence, is Hebrew for “existential threat.” Tradition holds that the Amalekites are the undying enemy of the Jews. They appear in Deuteronomy, attacking the rear columns of the Israelites on their escape from Egypt. The rabbis teach that successive generations of Jews have been forced to confront the Amalekites: Nebuchadnezzar, the Crusaders, Torquemada, Hitler and Stalin are all manifestations of Amalek’s malevolent spirit.
If Iran’s nuclear program is, metaphorically, Amalek’s arsenal, then an Israeli prime minister is bound by Jewish history to seek its destruction, regardless of what his allies think.

Curiously enough, Goldberg then lets on that Netanyahu doesn’t, in fact, believe that this “apocalyptic, messianic cult” will actually risk suicide by actually launching a nuclear strike at Israel. No, the real threat of an Iranian nuclear capability would be that it would change the regional balance of power. This more sober, balance-of-power talk doesn’t really rouse the public, in Israel or beyond, to the sense of panic necessary to sustain the demand for apocalyptic military action against Iran, so it’s quickly dropped.

Goldberg is more inclined to warn us that Bibi is not, in fact, a rational geopolitical actor perhaps cynically cultivating the “Iran menace” as a red herring to deflect U.S. pressure to settle the conflict with the Palestinians. Heaven forbid! (Presumably Jeffrey didn’t know that when Bibi was last Prime Minister, he actually tried to forge a diplomatic opening with the “apocalyptic, messianic cult” in the hope of reviving Israel’s traditional alliance with non-Arab peoples of the Middle East against the Arabs).

Instead, we are told that Netanyahu is a product of his father’s views of the Spanish inquisition and Jewish history in general:

Over more than 1,300 pages, Benzion Netanyahu argued that Spanish hatred of Jews was not merely theologically motivated but based in race hatred (the Spanish pursued the principle of limpieza de sangre, or the purity of blood) that reached back to the ancient world… A close reading of Benzion Netanyahu suggests a belief that anti-Semitism is a sui generis hatred, one that is shape-shifting, impervious to logic and eternal. The only rational response to such sentiment, in the Netanyahu view, is militant Jewish self-defense.

And also, somehow, that it was the Netanyahu family that was chosen to organize this defense.
I was treated to this same view of world history as an endless drive to destroy the Jews — you know, the kind of thing that makes you think World War II happened because Hitler wanted to kill all the Jews. Goldberg may be impressed by the elder Netanyahu’s scholarship, but I’m more inclined to read the Spanish Inquisition against the politics of post-Reconquista Spain — Jews had traditionally been aligned with the Muslims that had been the main enemy of the Spanish crown, and the Inquisition not only went after Jews, but also those Muslims that had remained behind or converted — later it targeted Protestants, too. It was a vicious institution that underscores the fact that the Catholic Church, as an institution, has throughout its history been as capable of committing despicable evil as it has been of acting in ways that Jesus might have. But I have a hard time reading history with the idea of a shape-shifting, eternal anti-semitism — much less assuming that such a phenomenon defines the present. (For an antidote, I’d recommend Paul Kriwaczek’s marvelous history of Jewish life in Europe, Yiddish Civilization).
If I had more time to blog, I’d have noted during the breaking of the Bernie Madoff scandal how bizarre it was that so many Jewish communal fretted that Madoff would spur a new wave of anti-Semitism. What? In the United States of the 21st Century, anti-Semitism was lurking just below the surface, ready to stir the mob at the flimsiest pretext? And I was particularly angered by the view of the gentile world that this paranoia reflected — an utter inability to accept the sincerity of the Western world having learned, through the Holocaust, the toxic consequences of anti-Semitism, and to have relinquished it, so much so that Israel gets a free pass from much of the Western world to do as it pleases with the Palestinians because of concern that opposing it might be deemed anti-Semitic.

Netanyahu, and Goldberg, are products of an apocalyptic Jewish nationalism whose toxic effects are brilliantly critiqued by Avraham Burg who calls it “a fearful Judaism, a paranoid Zionism”. Burg makes clear in his book that evoking a constant fear of recurrent Holocausts has been an organizing principle of modern Israel, maintaining cohesion and support from Jewish communities abroad by making the specter of annihilation its daily bread. But as the majority of the world’s Jews live in relative safety (outside of Israel, and even within), that starts to become increasingly absurd. Young American Jews don’t feel that their gentile peers are about to turn on them and build a new Auschwitz, which is why identification with Israel is on the wane among young American Jews. Because survival-in-the-face-of-annihilation is the only narrative on offer from the Zionists, and as Burg asks, for what moral purpose have we survived? That’s not a question the likes of Netanyahu and Goldberg can answer.

What Goldberg and Netanyahu are asking us to believe is that the Iranian regime exists in order to destroy the Jews. And that doesn’t really stand up to the most cursory historical scrutiny — and the Israeli leaders know it. (Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently became the latest to admit that Iran is no existential threat to Israel, even as his Prime Minister continues to toss out hysterical rubbish about Iran being the reincarnation of Nazi Germany — needless to say, that’s a contention with which Iran’s 20,000 Jews don’t exactly concur.)

My suspicion is that the reason Goldberg paints Netanyahu as an apocalyptic nutter basing his strategic assessments on Biblical scare stories is the idea, popularized by Dennis Ross, among others, that if governments believe the Israelis might launch military strikes on Iran, they may be more inclined to adopt tougher sanctions. But as Israeli journalist Aluf Benn warned recently if you tell Israelis, no matter how cynically, that they’re facing an annihilationist threat, they may be quite prone to believe you — and expect you to do something drastic about it. Benn writes:

In his speeches in recent years, Netanyahu has compared Iran to Nazi Germany and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to Adolf Hitler, and has spoken of the international community’s silence in the face of both threats - in 1938 and at present.

“The second Holocaust” of which Netanyahu warns will not feature ghettos, trains or gas chambers, but will be characterized by an attempt to eradicate the State of Israel. In his opinion, the Jewish people’s continued existence depends on the State of Israel’s continued existence… Netanyahu sees Iran as the latest enemy that has surfaced and threatens the survival of the Jewish collective, an enemy that must be repelled, with the help of others or on our own.

A country’s leaders are obligated by commitments they make in public, which often compel them to keep their promises…

Netanyahu also sees himself as a prophet at the gate, who saw the dangers of terror and extremist Islam before others did, and has now received a second chance to prove the justice of his claims and remove the threats to Israel and the Jewish people. A person with such historical awareness does not just spew out empty words about existential dangers, Holocaust and destruction. These words obligate him to take action. And his declarations to date have been so extreme that he will have difficulty retreating from them.

In other words, Netanyahu has embraced an extreme view that obliges the U.S., in particular, to restrain him, and prevent him from initiating hostilities that have far-reaching tragic consequences, not least for Israel. To the extent that Netanyahu is truly caught up in his own apocalyptic fevers, he is a dangerous man — after all, if you believe you’re a Jew facing Nazi Germany, then any diplomacy amounts to appeasement, and you feel obliged to act militarily. The fact that Iran has not actually initiated a program to build nuclear weapons is irrelevant; they always could, and that in itself is intolerable. Israel, right now, has no meaningful role to play in resolving the Iran nuclear standoff. Obama appears to have recognized that, last week dispatching CIA chief Leon Panetta to Israel to warn Netanyahu against launching any attack on Iran without first consulting the U.S. (If he asks, the answer will inevitably be no.) If Israel’s own messianic, apocalyptic cult leader is to be prevented from unleashing a catastrophe, the U.S. will have to effectively restrain him. Given the expectations he has created in his own public, doing so publicly may actually help Netanyahu behave more rationally.

Up in Arms...

An Israeli soldier keeps guard near a Palestinian woman standing by a Star of David graffiti sprayed by Israeli settlers near an army checkpoint in the centre of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on May 18, 2009 during a visit by a delegation of ultra-nationalist Israeli MPs protesting against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's promotion of the easing of restrictions on Palestinians. Netanyahu will have first face to face meeting with President Barack Obama amid divisions over Middle East peacemaking and Iran's nuclear ambitions. The hawkish premier, who wants a 'fresh' approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, will unveil in the White House meeting on May 18 his long-awaited policy for regional peace focused on countering Iran, aides said. AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

H/T Jezebel.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fighting Oppression in the West Bank

Guardian Weekly

For Israeli national and Anarchists Against the Wall activist Ronnie Barkan, 32, joining the nonviolent Palestinian struggle against the occupation is the obvious choice of humanity over nationalism. He describes his experiences of peaceful demonstrations that have turned ugly, and how Israelis and Palestinians are standing side by side to fight oppression

A lot of my friends tell me it’s dangerous to come to the West Bank, and that the vast majority of Israelis are brainwashed and think all Palestinians are terrorists. I keep responding that it is dangerous because there are Israeli soldiers here. When I cross over into the West Bank – and sometimes I come here on my scooter, so I’m totally exposed – the only people I’m afraid of are the Israeli soldiers, who are armed and dangerous. Very dangerous actually.

My friends don’t believe me when I say this, but when such a horrible incident like 31-year-old Bassem Ibrahim Abu Rahma’s death here in Bil’in [on 17 April], or when my good American friend Tristan Anderson was critically injured; when you show them video footage of all this, some still try to deny it and come up with all kinds of excuses, but some people are genuinely shocked by what they see.

Bassem embodies the spirit of the non-violent struggle. Up until the very last minute of his life, he was engaging with the soldiers near the segregation wall and talking to them about what we are doing here. He tried to tell them: ‘Calm down, don’t shoot, this is a nonviolent demonstration'. The very last thing he told the commander who is in charge of his murder was that there was an Israeli woman – she was actually French but he believed her to be Israeli – who was hit. And as he was telling them this he suffered a fatal blow in the chest from a teargas canister.

I held him in my hands as he was dying. I will remember him as a really great person, always smiling, with a lot of energy and charisma, and who would never let go of this spirit of struggling for his land and engaging with people. He would approach every single person and say hello, shake their hands, ask if they need anything. Upon hearing of his murder, everyone in Bil’in reacted emotionally and everyone said he never picked up a stone. He was such a non-violent person.

We formed our group Anarchists Against the Wall in 2003 during a peace camp with Palestinians, when the Israeli government attempted to annex more than half of a village’s land. That was our first joint struggle against Israeli oppression.

Our group focuses on demonstrations and direct action against the apartheid wall, settlements and land confiscation – and they are all in solidarity with the local population. We use different techniques. Anything that can bring attention to what the military is doing here is well and good, as long as it’s nonviolent.

When they were building the wall, which took up to 60 per cent of Bil’in’s land, we tried to stop the bulldozers in many different and creative ways – and some of the villagers here are very creative. They did an excellent job at the time, if only symbolically. We stopped them from building the wall for days. And on the day of Bassem’s death, we organised a protest in Tel Aviv that was attended by over 500 people.

In the last four years, the symbol of Bil’in has gained reputation and momentum throughout the world. It is known as the village that is steadfast in its struggle against Israeli oppression. Among the people of Bil’in there is a change and I hope it will carry on throughout this region, where people are accepting all kinds of different people in these peaceful demonstrations.

We do not just take part in Bil’in demonstrations, but in every nonviolent struggle across the West Bank and wherever we’re invited.

Initially it was a little bit difficult because there is a large divide between Israeli and Palestinian society. A lot of people in the village were a bit afraid; they were questioning what the Israelis are doing here. But throughout the West Bank, wherever I go people realise very easily that I am with them, not against them, and I’m welcomed wherever I go and it’s a nice feeling.

This is a joint struggle. Palestinians treat us as equals, as partners, and this is very important. This is what the Israeli authorities are most afraid of: that Israelis cross the barrier, both the physical one and the mental one, and they put on a lot of pressure to prevent it. When I go to Ramallah, for example, it’s forbidden by Israeli law. When I come here they say that for the Israelis security’s sake it’s a closed military zone, so you can’t enter and it gives them a good excuse to arrest us. And we get arrested a lot. But what I care about is international law rather than Israeli law.

If I was a Palestinian, I would surely be dead by now because of some things that I do on a daily basis. Such as crossing a checkpoint when I’m not allowed to, or standing in front of a soldier aiming a rifle at me. The Israeli armed forces do react differently, depending on whether it's a Palestinian, an international or an Israeli standing in front of them.

I am a conscientious objector to the Israeli military. I think this was one of the best decisions I ever took in my life. I must say I faced very few repercussions because of this stand, although others were less fortunate. I stand 100 per cent behind such a decision between humanity and nationalism, and I choose to be first and foremost a human being before anything else.

• Ronnie Barkan was talking to Karl Schembri in Bil’in, West Bank. Anarchists Against the Wall is an Israeli group that supports Palestinian resistance to the Israeli separation wall.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Shebang! Full page ad in NYT: YES YOU CAN MR PRESIDENT

Richard Silverstein (see the ad there).

Israel Policy Forum purchased a full page ad in today’s N.Y. Times that attempted to lay the groundwork for the upcoming first meeting between Barack Obama and Bibi Netanyahu in their new roles. The text was remarkable not for what it said. The sentiments repeated tried and true rhetoric from the American Jewish peace movement about a two state solution, ending violence, freezing settlements, promoting Israel-Syria negotiations, etc. What was important was the headline:

Yes You Can, Mr President–achieve a two state solution…We Support You.

Things they are a changin' in the Ole' US of A, make no mistake about it...

Live fire at Ni'lin - after the reporters have gone

Max Blumenthal, @ Mondoweiss.

I was in Ni'lin today, a town in the West Bank that has been the site of weekly demonstrations against the construction of a portion of the Israeli separation wall that would effectively and deliberately annex farmland from the villagers for a nearby Jewish settlement. Each week the Israeli Army puts down Ni'lin's demonstrations in a draconian manner, escalating from the firing of teargas from surrounding hillsides to rubber bullets and live fire when they invade the town center.

Yesterday, true to form, the army set up positions in the hills above the village and began firing teargas volleys towards a cluster of about 30 demonstrators seeking to block the path of the wall's construction. I stood behind the demonstrators and filmed. Within minutes we were blanketed by teargas as canisters exploded all around us. My eyes burned until I couldn't see; I struggled to breathe as I ran down a narrow street, seeking cover behind walls. This happened over and over throughout the day. At one point the army cornered journalists and a group of demonstrators in a parking lot then appeared to pursue us until we leapt over a series of backyard walls and scattered. Afterwards the Shabab assembled at various points and began slinging rocks towards the Israeli positions.

By 3 pm I was exhausted. My head was searing with pain and my clothes were immersed in teargas residue. Most of the journalists and many of the international demonstrators had left, so I followed them out of Ni'lin, passing on my way out through an Israeli flying checkpoint that had sealed off the town's main entrance. With the media and international presence gone, Israeli forces transitioned from tear gas to live bullets.

At approximately 4:30 pm, a 12-year-old girl named Summer Amira was struck in the arm by a .22 caliber bullet from an Israeli rifle as she passed by the window of her home. She was taken to the hospital fifteen minutes later. This is nothing new for the residents of Ni'lin. The town of only 5000 residents has lost four young people to Israeli gunfire since May, including an 11-year-old boy. This is the price they pay for daring to resist the impending destruction of their farmland and the irrevocable rupturing of their community. Next week they will try again to stop the wall.

In a few days I will begin releasing video of the struggle inside Ni'lin and other footage I shot during an intensive reporting trip through the West Bank. The ISM's account of Summer Amira's shooting is here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Saving Israel From Itself - The American Conservative

The American Conservative, no wait a minute, let me get confirmation again... so, erm, yessireeh, The American Conservative has published a piece (by well-known anti-Semite) John J. Mearsheimer (of The Israel Lobby infamy fame), blurbed:

The two-state solution is the only way to guarantee the Jewish state’s long-term security—and our own.

I didn't read it. By now I think I could write pieces like that myself. Two-state solution or Apartheid. Israel to choose. Yawn.

But John's arrived, I tell thee. Much gnashing of teeth in the readership of The American Conservative not withstanding...

Intifada! Intifada!

Let the speakers crackle and burn!


Seis miliones de judios aniquilados de la forma mas cruel.
Un genocido imperialista por ejercitos fascistas, de la historia hay que aprender.

Las victimas se han convertido en los verdugos se vuelven del reves,

clonizando territorios Palestinos, de nuevo atentando a la sensatez.

Muertos, muertos!!! ¿En nombre de quién?
Muertos, muertos!!! De Israel
Muertos, muertos!!! ¿En nombre de quién?
Muertos, muertos!!! De Yavé

Que harias tu si te echaran de tu casa sin derecho a rechistar
Pisoteando tu cultura, sumergido en la locura por perder la dignidad.

Palestina esta sufriendo en el exilio la opulencia de Israel

por un govierno prepotente, preparado para la guerra, por tu ya sabes quien.

Muertos, muertos!!! ¿En nombre de quién?
Muertos, muertos!!! De Israel
Muertos, muertos!!! ¿En nombre de quién?
Muertos, muertos!!! De Yavé

Piedras contra balas una nueva intifada en Cisjordania, en Gaza o en Jerusalem.

Ohh, quién podria imaginar oh...
que David fuese Goliath (2x)

Ohh Intifada, Intifada
Ohh Intifada, liberación!

No confundas mi postura, soy ateo y no creo en ningun dios,
no diferencio a las personas por su raza, su cultura o su mierda de religion!

Solo condeno el sufrimiento, la injustia y el abuso de poder
Palestina es sometida a la mas terca de las guerras, la opulencia de Israel.

Muertos, muertos!!! ¿En nombre de quién?
Muertos, muertos!!! De Israel
Muertos, muertos!!! ¿En nombre de quién?
Muertos, muertos!!! De Yavé

Piedras contra balas una nueva intifada en Cisjordania, en Gaza o en Jerusalem

Ohh, quién podria imaginar oh...
que David fuese Goliath (4x)

Ohh Intifada, intifada
Ohh Intifada, liberación! (2x)

From Kabobfest

H/T Falsedi

Hamas, the Hudna and the thereafter (Helena Cobban and Azzam Tamimi)

From Damascus, the Hayat people report that Khaled Meshaal "sent an implicit political message to Pres. Obama" when he told a press conference held by the "Palestinian National Conference" in Damascus that,
Hamas and most of the Palestinian forces accepted, through the 2006 document of national agreement the principle of establishing a fully sovereign Palestinian state on all the land occupied in 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, after the dismantling of all the settlements, and along with attainment of the Right of Return and [the state having] full sovereignty over the land and airspace and borders and crossing-points.

He stressed that his movement "still rejects the conditions of the international Quartet because they are oppressive and they cannot lead to the attainment of Palestinian interests."

On the 'Hudna' and the thereafter:
It is usually assumed that a long term hudnah will likely last for a quarter of a century or more. That is seen as too long a time for someone to predict what may happen afterwards. There will always be the possibility that the hudnah will come to an end prematurely because of a breach. If that happens it is highly unlikely that the breach will come from the Hamas side for the simply reason that it is religiously binding upon the Islamic side to honor the agreement to the end unless violated by the other side. Should the hudnah last till the prescribed date, one scenario is that those in charge then will simply negotiation a renewal.

Azzam Tamimi on the recognition issue:
The world needs to think about what the demand for us to recognize Israel really means. For me as a Palestinian, if I say I recognize Israel, then I'm saying that what happened to my people in 1948 was legitimate, and this I will never say.

We can proceed by having a de-facto relation between us. In that way, we could have a longterm peace, even without any recognition of Israel.

Hamas says it would need a total withdrawal to the lines of 4th June 1967 for that truce to go into effect. Israel might say they would need security guarantees. We're open to discussing that. But honestly, the best security guarantee they could have would be Hamas's signature on a truce document, because once they have that it becomes a religious obligation for all Palestinians to respect the truce.

On the dreaded Hamas charter, from the longer excerpts of the NYT - Khalid Meshal encounter:
The most important thing is what Hamas is doing and the policies it is adopting today. The world must deal with what Hamas is practicing today. Hamas has accepted the national reconciliation document. It has accepted a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders including East Jerusalem, dismantling settlements, and the right of return based on a long term truce. Hamas has represented a clear political program through a unity government. This is Hamas's program regardless of the historic documents. Hamas has offered a vision. Therefore, it's not logical for the international community to get stuck on sentences written 20 years ago. It's not logical for the international community to judge Hamas based on these sentences and stay silent when Israel destroys and kills our people.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Adding Insult to Injury...

Lieberman's party proposes ban on Arab Nakba

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's party wants to ban Israeli Arabs from marking the anniversary of what they term "the Catastrophe" or Nakba, when in 1948 some 700,000 Arabs lost their homes in the war that led to the establishment of the state of Israel.

The ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party said it would propose legislation next week for a ban on the practice and a jail term of up to three years for violators.

"The draft law is intended to strengthen unity in the state of Israel and to ban marking Independence Day as a day of mourning," said party spokesman Tal Nahum.

The initiative could fuel racial tensions stoked by Lieberman's February election campaign call to make voting or the holding of public office in Israel contingent on pledging loyalty to the Jewish state.

Arabs, who make up 20 percent of Israel's population, said the allegiance demand was aimed at them and accused Lieberman of racism.

Israel celebrated its Independence Day this year on April 29, in accordance with the Hebrew lunar calendar. Palestinian refugees around the world and Israel's Arab citizens mark the Nakba on May 15, the day after the British mandate over Palestine ended in 1948.

Ceremonies in the West Bank were held a day early this year because May 15 falls on Friday, the Muslim day of rest.

In Ramallah, hundreds of Palestinians, some holding large wooden keys to symbolize the keys of homes from which they fled in 1948, took part in a rally.

"I came here to show that we believe that one day we will return. If not me, then my son," said Mohammad Hassan, 79.

Remember Gaza

Watch. Disseminate.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Max Hastings: the Netanyahu quote that won't go away...

In a wonderful CiF piece, conservative historian Max Hastings describes the gradual fading of his love affair with Israel, a story perhaps not dissimilar to the disillusionment many on the European Left experienced from about the seventies on to today.

Hastings' CiF piece is excerpted from a much longer lecture but one small passage has gone around the Tinkerwebs like wildfire, the paragraphs where Hastings quotes a young Israeli who turned out to be today's Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu:

[In the 1970s] I glimpsed a darker side of Israel. I learned a lot about the ruthlessness of Israeli anti-terrorist operations. I spent many hours talking to thoughtful Israelis, who voiced their fears about the perils, the threatened corruption of their own society, which they perceived in the 1967 conquests. I also became dismayed by the naked imperialism displayed by Israel's rightwing zealots. One night at a dinner party in Jerusalem in 1977, I heard a young Israeli talking about the Arabs in terms which chilled my blood. "In the next war," he said, "we've got to get the Palestinians out of the West Bank for good."

To me, in my naiveté, Israel's struggle had hitherto seemed that of a brilliant little people, who had suffered the most ghastly experience of the 20th century, struggling for survival amid a hostile Middle East still bent upon their destruction. Now, suddenly, I found myself meeting Israelis committed to the creation of a greater Israel embracing the West Bank, who were utterly heedless of the fate of its inhabitants. The Palestinians were perceived as losers, a mere incidental impediment to the fulfillment of Israel's historic territorial destiny. By a curious quirk, that young Israeli whom I heard enthuse about emptying the West Bank of Arabs was Binyamin Netanyahu, today his country's prime minister.

I can't help but wonder if this youthful indiscretion will have come to Obama's attention, as the latter is set to meet the PM soon...

British MP George Galloway is suing Jason Kenney

In Canadian news:

The Western Standard reported extensively on the decision by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to ban British Member of Parliament George Galloway from Canada for his anti-war views.

Galloway was deemed inadmissible to Canada in March on national security grounds under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, although no information was publicly released as to precise “threat to national securityGalloway posed.

The decision generated outrage from the anti-war left, but also from conservative circles, including National Post columnist Lorne Gunter who wrote:

Galloway is an elected British MP. That doesn't excuse him if his purpose is to break Canada's anti-terror laws. But until he has broken them, until he has stood on a podium in this country and asked, directly, for donations to Hamas or Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad, we have no reason to bar him from entering the country.

Kenney saw things differently and stood by the decision of the Canadian Border Services Agency, under his jurisdiction, arguing that Galloway supports terrorism.

The Calgary Sun is reporting today that Galloway intends to sue Kenney and a senior aide for the defamatory remarks.

"I welcome robust criticism, but the comments made about me crossed the line," Galloway said in a statement.

"They are not only untrue, they are outrageous. As an elected member of the British Parliament, I am compelled to exercise my legal right to clear my name."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ahmadinejad: Wiping Israel off the Map?

A trailer for an upcoming documentary on Press TV (can't remember the title, it was mighty late) featuring a clip from the famous 2008 interview of Larry King with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the "Wipe Israel off the map" issue, prompted me to revisit the interview. About a year or so ago I conducted a mini survey among Iranian bloggers to try and get their opinion on what these infamous words are supposed to mean but the result was far from unambiguous.

So with some minimal Googling I found the CNN clip back:

The interview is interesting in its totality but the alleged genocidal quote is brought up at 13:43 and Ahmadinejad really cuts to the chase about it at 20:31.

The complete transcript can be found here.
KING: We're back.

Mr. President, you mentioned the Zionist regime. You've called -- I want to be correct on this -- you've called for Israel to be wiped off the map. Now, since you say that you are a peaceful nation, you don't mean militarily.

Do you mean politically wiped off the map?

What do you mean?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I think that I have to elaborate on two points here. Today marks, in fact, the fourth year of my -- that I visited in New York City. And the questions that are being asked of me are the same questions that were asked four years ago, whereas the world, in fact, has undergone tremendous changes and many developments have unfolded since in the United States, in Europe and everywhere else around the world. These developments are new.

I have responded to this question many times before. The fact that we oppose the fundamentals of the Zionist regime is because of peace and justice. We seek a viable peace.

Perhaps as a journalist who has years of experience, you must be aware of what goes on in the Middle East, the extent of the calamity, in other words.

For over 60 years, more than five million Palestinian have been displaced -- people who were forced out of their homes.

And those who have stayed are being bombarded every day militarily. They are being killed in their homes at times. Women and children at times are besieged. And medicine, water and food does not always reach them sufficiently. Children lose their lives, as do women, as a result, at times. Sometimes women die giving birth. Palestinian figures are assassinated and it goes to such extent that it's actually announced beforehand.

Three big wars started by the Zionist regime, the last of which was in 2006, when they attacked Lebanon.

So when will this calamity -- this catastrophe end?

Our solution is a humanitarian one.

KING: How?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): What we say is that in the Palestinian territory, there must be a free referendum and the Palestinian people should determine their own fate. This is the spirit and the letter of the Charter of the United Nations.

I'd ask you -- I'd like to ask you, really, how is it possible to force out a people of one land and then gather other people from around the world and let them sit and live in the homes of others and establish a government?

There's really a logic that is unacceptable.

What are the Palestinians to do?

KING: Why...

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): The world community that the United States claims to speak for, how come does not embody the voices of the Palestinians?

KING: Why ...

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Sixty years of displacement.

KING: Would you agree -- and there are obviously disagreements here -- would you agree to sit down with all of the people of the Middle East, Israel included, to work at some solutions?

You don't want harmful solutions. You don't want bombs. You don't want to obliterate a people. You want to do some things politically.

Why not sit down and talk, Israel included?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): You see, the Zionist regime is an uninvited guest. It is an occupier. It is killing people...

KING: But if you don't talk to them ...


I'd like to ask you, if someone comes and occupies the United States, as American people, would you give them any rights or would you force them out? KING: But the world declared it a state. Israel is -- that's a fact. You're not going to change that fact. Israel is a state.

So all I'm asking is, why not get together now, states and states, and discuss your disagreements and hopefully come to some peace and bring about justice for Palestinians?

Why can't you?

Israel -- you're not going to change that.

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): The apartheid regime of South Africa was a fact, as well.

Where is it today?

The Soviet Union was a fact, as well.

Where is it today?

Was the Soviet Union -- did the Soviet Union collapse as a result of talks and dialogue or as a result of resilience -- resistance, in other words.

At times, you have to resist. You see, over a hundred peace plans have been offered for the resolution of the Palestinian crisis and all of them have been defeated. None of them have given results.

Today, the head of the Palestinian Authority, the Egyptian leader, many others have negotiated with the Zionists many times.

But has there been result? Hundreds of meetings and negotiations...

KING: So then what...

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): What's the result so far?

KING: OK. Therefore...

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): ...except the expansion of the Zionist regime, the expansion of settlements, except for the escalation of tensions and terror and the killing of people. This regime is fundamentally illegal.


KING: Coming up, I'll ask the president of Iran why he denies the Holocaust ever happened and whether he wants to harm Jewish people.

Keep watching.


KING: We're back. Mr. President, since violence is not the answer, and even if -- the Soviet Union did it without violence. South Africa did it without violence. What's the solution? How do we bring about this concept of peace everywhere? You don't want to see Israelis die. I assume you don't want to Israelis die. You don't want to see Palestinians die. What's the answer?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Let me elaborate on two points in response the question. When we speak of a disappearing, what we're speaking of is that crimes must disappear. Murders and killings must disappear. Terror must disappear. Aggression and occupation must disappear.

But our solution is, in fact, a very humanitarian one and a very democratic one. What we're saying is that throughout the Palestinian territories, people should gather to determine the type of government that they'd like to have and have an election for that, free elections for all, under the supervision of international organizations.

Let us give the Palestinians an opportunity to have self- determination. This is the only viable solution.

KING: But does Israel remain Israel?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Well, let the people decide. Why should we decide for the people? We must allow people to decide for themselves. It's their right to decide. I think that there are two reasons for -- that account for the failure of the peace plans offered for Palestine.

The first reason is the disregard for the root cause of the problem. The Palestinian people were living in their lands. And they didn't have any problem. It was others who came and created problems for them. Well, so we really have to identify the roots of that, and then seek a solution based on that reality.

A second reason is that the right of the Palestinian people for self-determination has been overlooked. Both have been overlooked. I've heard a lot that, unfortunately, a group of people are trying to infuse the idea among the American people that Iran even wants to attack the United States, that Iran is a violent country or what not. These are all false propaganda. Where have we ever attacked?

What we're saying is that we must allow free elections to happen in Palestine under the supervision of the United Nations. And the Palestinian people, the displaced Palestinian people, or whoever considers Palestine its land, can participate in free elections. And then whatever happens as a result could happen.

KING: But you do not wish --

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Why -- we can't decide for the people.

KING: You do not wish the Jewish people harm?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): No. You see, we have no problems with Jewish people. There are many Jews who live in Iran today. In Iran, for every 150,000 people, we have one representative at the parliament, or the Majles.

For the Jewish community, even though there are only 20,000 in Iran, they still have one independent member in parliament who has the same prerogatives as the other members of parliament.

But please pay attention to the fact that the Zionists are not Jewish people. They have no religion. They have no religion. They're neither Jews nor Christians nor Muslims. They just have -- wear masks of religiosity. How can you possibly be religious and occupy the land of other people? How can you call yourself a religious person and kill women and children?

KING: Well, they come from a --

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Women and children, women and children were (INAUDIBLE) as a result, cannot have access to medicine.

KING: Mr. President, do they not -- I know you've denied this for some reason, but do they not -- the Zionists, as you call them, do they not come from some history of persecution? Do they not come from the deaths of millions of men, women, and children? Is there not a birth -- there's no birth in that. You don't think that happened?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): First and foremost, they simply don't allow anyone to freely discuss the history that happened. They just say, this is our telling of the history and this is what happened. And everybody just listen to it.

KING: You say it didn't happen?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Let's just assume -- what I'm saying is let more research be done on this -- that history. There is a claim that the extent of the calamity was what it was. There are people who agree with it. There are people who disagree. Some completely deny it. Some absolutely agree with the whole account of it.

What we're saying is that we should have an impartial group go do their own research about the extent of the calamity that occurred and then announce a result of that.

Now but what I'd like is really to put this debate aside for a moment. Let's assume that it happened, the extent of which everyone is speaking of. Where did it happen? Did it happen in Palestine? Or did it happen in Europe?

KING: Well, it created Israel.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): If it happened -- no, it happened in Europe. If the crimes were committed in Europe, why should the Palestinian people be victimized as a result? Why don't the Europeans just give them a territory? Or in Alaska, perhaps. They could give them a territory anywhere they like. But why pay from the pocket of some other people? It's as if somebody -- you throw a party from the pocket of someone else. The Palestinian people had no role in that crime. They're innocent, completely.

KING: When we come back, I'll ask our guest about Iran's worst fears and about his claim that there are no homosexuals in his country. That's next on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

So, what does all this mean? Well, some have tried to interpret Ahmadinejad's words literally, syllable by syllable, punctuation mark by punctuation mark but in my honest opinion that's not necessary. If we're lending credence to the 'Wipe the Israel off the map' utterance as a genuine genocidal threat to Israel, then fairness demands that we take into account what he said here very publicly and by his own account several times already ("I have responded to this question many times before").