Friday, October 30, 2009

Tony Judt: In defense of Goldstone


We Jews should be very proud of Richard Goldstone. In an ancient tradition of Jewish self-questioning and uncomfortable truth-telling, the author of the recent report from the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict has braved personal vilification and institutional mendacity to describe the crimes committed by Israeli forces in the course of their invasion of Gaza in December 2008.

To be sure, the Goldstone Report also itemizes the crimes of Hamas, notably in its campaign of rocket-firing into Israel. But the scale of human rights abuses by Israel vastly outdoes anything Hamas could hope to have achieved: Israeli civilian victims of Hamas rocket attacks numbered less than ten. The attack on Gaza by the IDF resulted in at least 1,100 Palestinian civilian deaths. The major perpetrator of human rights abuses in this conflict is without question the State of Israel, and Justice Goldstone records as much.

That the Israel of Benjamin Netanyahu has chosen to conduct an international campaign against Justice Goldstone and his report need not surprise us. IsraelWashington join Tel Aviv in discrediting the Goldstone Report, and with it the UN inquiry. refused to cooperate with the UN investigation; long before its conclusions were published, Netanyahu had set in motion a campaign to deny and denigrate them. More dispiriting, and of greater political consequence, is the pitiful and humiliating response of the Obama Administration. The "fierce urgency of now" apparently required that

This response is of course in keeping with America's long-standing determination to protect Israel against the consequences of its actions at home and abroad; but the universal international condemnation of the destruction of Gaza renders the Obama Administration's response peculiarly self-defeating -- everyone knows what happened in Gaza, so Washington's collusion in covering it up merely draws further attention to the discrediting of U.S. foreign policy and moral standing brought about by our unhealthy relationship with Israel.

There is a special irony to the public slandering of Justice Goldstone now under way. In the first place he is not only Jewish but has close family links to IsraelSouth Africa. During the '90s he served as Chief Prosecutor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals dealing with human rights abuses, crimes and genocide in the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. It would be hard to fictionalize a more convincing biography for an engaged and ethically uncompromising jurist in the great tradition of Jewish political activism. Goldstone's standing in the world will only rise as a consequence of Israel's short-sighted attempts to discredit the man, the report and the facts. That our own government has chosen to join in this unworthy exercise should be a source of deep embarrassment and shame. and the Zionist ideal. Secondly, Richard Goldstone has an impeccable resumé as a critic of racism, prejudice and repression -- most notably as an active opponent for many years of the apartheid regime in his native

Please join me and Jews from all over the world in signing the Jewish Appeal Letter in Support of the Goldstone Report written by Jews Say No an organization in NY. Go to:

Hamas: a short eyewitness account...

Thanks to a friendly progressive Zionist (they exist!) and recent Aliyah who comments on my blog and quickly became a pen pal, I was introduced via email to a young Palestinian woman, Dalia El Massri from Khan Younis (Gaza). We agreed to exchange views with the possible goal of publishing some of her opinions and experiences as a Gazan on my and other blogs.

And because there probably isn't a single Palestine-related subject about which more rubbish, propaganda and misinformation is being peddled than about Hamas I decided to dedicate my first volley of questions to Dalia's perception of Hamas. Here's the result of this short interview:

Q: We are told by anti-Hamas sources that the Hamas government is deeply anti-democratic, anti-liberal and in essence totalitarian in nature. And because most of us in the pro-Palestinian camp are 'liberals', 'left-leaning' or whatever you want to call it, it would be troublesome to support such a movement. But is it true?

A: Well, while Hamas came into the political scene by 100% democratic elections, it did not maintain a 100% democratic attitude but it's sure not a dictatorship. I can say that Hamas has some breaches here and there but in all its way much better than Egypt and Jordan or any other Arab country.

One thing that I found excessive is that in public school girls above 13 years old were asked/obligated this year to wear the uniform which includes head cover and long dress (the head cover is not fair on the Christian minority), but Hamas never imposed women in the street or in public institutions (except schools) to anything.

Hamas plays favors for its won members and supporters to a degree, but regarding the national security services the situation got much better, prior to Hamas being elected anyone could kill anyone in the street and the police members would just stand by without moving a finger.

Q: It was rumoured a few months back that Hamas had instituted Sharia Law by parliamentary decree. Is that true?

A: Hamas did not and could institute any law under the actual situation (Parliament is not fully complete because some Hamas PMs and Fatah PMs live in the West bank and could not participate/vote) but Hamas did discuss Shariah Law in a Parliament session. That cannot not be held against Hamas in the national street since Hamas is known as an Islamic and not a secular movement and that's why it was elected in the first place. But but looking at the real situation on the ground Shariah Law has poor chances to be instituted in Gaza.

Q: Also from the pro-Zionist camp reach us reports about Hamas harassing Christian Palestinians, but independent corroboration of those statements isn't available, at least not to me.

A: About the Palestinian Christians issue, I can say that Hamas is not harassing them, not now, not ever, they get the same treatment as any other Palestinians. My husband has Christian co-workers and they never expressed any complaints.

Q: Then there's the issue of 'human shields', in which Hamas fighters stand accused of using innocent civilians for their own protection. What is your take on this?

A: The human shields controversy is not how the pro-Israel media describes it. Hamas members did not hide behind people nor forced any civilian to be in a shooting/fighting area. What Hamas did is to jeopardize civilian lives by launching rockets from inhabited areas, but the IDF could spot resistance members in open areas easily so they had to resort to crowded areas. I found that inappropriate thing to do in the last winter war, and I think it's unjustified in anyway to endanger civilians.

But the IDF was already targeting civilians: hospitals, schools and mosques during prayer time were hit. The idea of the IDF using "The Human Shields" argument is compete nonsense, it's only their cover-up story for hitting civilians.

Q: Finally, there's the problem of Hamas' Charter, which can only be described as deeply anti-Semitic. Yet the leadership declares often that its fight is with the Occupiers, not with the Jews. Do you think Hamas' attitude towards Israel is one of anti-Semitism? We must not confound feeling hatred towards the Occupiers with anti-Semitism (hatred of Jews in general). And we must not be guided by anti-Semitism either: we cannot fight racism with racism...

A: Hamas has mixed reactions towards Jews and Anti-Semitism as the rest of the nation. Gazans (Fatah and Hamas supporters) sometimes confuse between Jews, Israelis and Zionists. Jews are our cousins, we are Semites too, the educated Gazans understand this fact but some ignorant people think that to be Jewish means to be Zionist. And so, yes the latter hate Jews in general just because they put them in the rank of the occupier but not because of their ethnic background. I could not be particular about Hamas here and talked about Gazans in general since this is a national issue.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mustafa Barghouti and Anna Baltzer on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Say, what? A serious subject like equal rights for Palestinians on a high traffic mainstream US comedy show like the excellent Jon Stewart? On prime time US TV? This isn't just another media crack, it looks more like cracking the media.

Unfortunately the resulting video isn't available for viewing in this country (the UK), so frustratingly I can't watch it. If you're based in the US you can watch it here. Unfortunately the Horowitz post doesn't provide a transcript (which probably wouldn't do the event any justice). Here's part of his impression:

I don’t want to recount the whole interview, you can watch it. I have to say, I was blown away. Although I was laughing out loud for the first two segments, I was on the verge of tears throughout the interview. Here was a Palestinian leader demanding equal rights and an anti-Zionist Jew calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel towards peace on The Daily Show and they were being applauded, while the traditional pro-Israel hasbara was being shown the door.

Palestinian equal rights was placed directly next to health care and the economy on The Daily Show’s progressive agenda and the audience was totally along for the ride. I could hardly believe my eyes, and yet it made perfect sense at the same time. Who can argue that it is necessary to deny people water? Who can argue against equal rights? The answer is increasingly no one, and if The Daily Show’s audience is any indication, the next generation will be leading this fight in a much different direction.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Israeli Army Judge...

The Guardian.

Major Adrian Agassi did not make the connection between the Bible, the land and the Jews when, fresh out of university, he left England for Israel in search of his roots. He was not even a practising Jew.

But over the past quarter of a century, the Israeli army lawyer and then military judge at the forefront of arguably the most significant battle in the occupied West Bank – the confiscation of Palestinian land for the construction of Jewish settlements – has come to see himself as in service of a higher duty.

In an unusually frank interview, which offers insights into the melding of religion, politics and law that underpins land seizures in the occupied territories, Agassi has laid out his belief that Israel has a biblical claim to territory beyond its borders and that he, even as an immigrant, has a right to live on it when those born there do not.

"When we [Israelis] say that this is a political conflict, then we lose the battle," he told the Guardian, adding that it should be remembered that the ancient land of Israel is "given to us by the Bible, not by some United Nations".

Agassi, one of the most important officials in the military courts wielding authority over large parts of the West Bank, says settling Jews on lands that made up ancient Israel stands above all other biblical commandments and only when it is done can they have "a promised land and a promised life".

"You say that these lands 'passed into Jewish hands'. Others would say that they came back into Jewish hands. Others would say that they are obviously ours, inherently," he said. It was, he claims, a mistake to call it the State of Israel. "If we would have named it the State of Jews, the Arabs would have understood that this land belongs to the Jews."

Agassi served in the legal department that oversaw the confiscation of land in the West Bank to build Jewish settlements and was then appointed to the military court that decided Palestinian appeals against the seizure of their property. The Palestinians almost never won. His court also ruled on legal disputes between Jewish settlers and Palestinians.

Agassi denies his credo affected his legal judgments but his court was considered so biased by some critics that on one occasion the military prosecution, in an unusual step, appealed against Agassi's ruling in favour of settlers to Israel's high court.

Agassi was born in Southgate, London, in 1964 to a family of rabbis from Baghdad. He studied law in the UK and emigrated to Israel at the age of 24 "with £500 and all of Bob Dylan's records". Four years later he found himself dragged into the first Palestinian uprising, the intifada, as a legal adviser to the military in the West Bank.

"I was very young and suddenly found myself in front of the stones and Molotov cocktail and the hate. I studied law, I had a liberal education, but I was at war and I knew we were right," he said. "I was 26 years old, I came from a foreign land. Those actions guarded our existence in the land of Israel. It lies at the heart of the conflict. It's a legitimate means to continue the works of our forefathers Abraham, Joseph and David."

Agassi says a peace agreement with the Palestinians "goes against nature" because as far as he can see nothing had changed in last 4,000 years in the land of Israel, and that back to biblical times Arabs and Jews were at each other's throats.

Agassi uses the term Arabs because he claims Palestinians do not exist.

He came to this conclusion over the past decade while serving as a special judge for administrative arrest. Based on confidential intelligence reports, without trial, Agassi sent several hundred Palestinians – deemed to be terrorists or security threats – to prison for six months or more.

"You read the raw intelligence material and you see that most of them are moved by religious doctrine, not by a political one. They use religion in order to justify killing as many Jews as possible. Is this not a religious war?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Eyes in Gaza: Dr. Mads Gilbert

Medical Aid for Palestinians, SOAS Palestine Society and UCL Palestine Society present:

Eyes in Gaza : Dr. Mads Gilbert

Dr. Mads Gilbert is a Norwegian doctor, specialising in emergency medicine. One of the few foreign doctors in Gaza during the Israeli assault in January, Dr. Gilbert worked as part of emergency medical teams, helping to save the hundreds of patients streaming into the hospitals.

Thursday, 05 November


Darwin Lecture Theatre

Darwin Building, Gower Street

University College London (UCL)

See this event on Facebook:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Let the smearfest begin...

With J Street (regardless of what I think of them) now seriously gaining traction as an alternative to American Ziocon thinking, American Zionism's oldest reflex has kicked into action: smear your opponents into the ground.

J Street's conference has hardly started and here's Tikun Olam on rightwing Zionist reactions:

We’re used to seeing smears of J Street by right-wing pro-Israel Jews in the press and blogosphere. One of the more outrageous is Isi Liebler’s outrage in the Jerusalem Post calling for an international meeting of the Jewish people that would label peace activists like those of J Street or Jewish Voice for Peace as “non-Jewish Jews” and “Jewish renegades.” One of the memes of the smearmongers has been the claim that the progressive peace lobby group has accepted donations from Arabs. Imagine the chutzpah of Arab-Americans believing they had the right to donate to such a cause! Imagine the chutzpah of J Street thinking it had the right to accept “dirty money!”

What we haven’t seen yet is such smears emanating from the Israeli government. Yes, Ambassador Oren unwisely rejected the group’s invitation to keynote its conference. Yes, the foreign ministry wagged its finger at the group and lectured it about what was and was not properly pro-Israel and where J Street was deficient. But now a source informs me that one of Israel’s consul generals told an American Jew that J Street is accepting donations from not just Arabs, but “Arab and Palestinian extremists.”

Let no one ever try and convince me again that Zionism isn't a racist ideology: those Zios in question are so obsessed with the flunked concept of 'race' that they're willing to expel dissenting members of said 'race'!

But perhaps Tikun Olam commenter 'tzvee' (@ 12.30 PM) is right: perhaps it's bullying rather than smearing...

Eyewitness Reports from Gaza

Ewa Jasiewicz was a witness to the horrors in Gaza before and after Israels brutal massacres in December and January during Israel's Operation Cast Lead. Listen to her eloquent speech in Berlin.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Z-Word: War is Peace

With their latest piece, disarmingly honest and defiantly brutally titled "Long Live the Dahiya Doctrine!", Z-Word really hits an all-time low.

Now it might be argued that the relative quiet in the south of Israel and, for that matter, the north, is only a transient phenomenon and that as the root cause, as it’s called, of the conflict hasn’t been addressed then things could turn bad again at some point. This is true. It’s not possible to predict the future with much accuracy. What does seem to be the case is that Israel’s deterrent power is, at least for the time being, in pretty good shape. So, long live the Dahiya doctrine, a doctrine of deterrence and, therefore, a peace doctrine.

A peace doctrine, d'ya hear?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Gideon's finest: Israel's punishing blows...


Israel has been dealing one blow after another to the rest of the world. While China has still not recovered from Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's absence from the reception at its Tel Aviv embassy - a serious punishment for China's support for the Goldstone report - France is licking its wounds after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "vetoed" a visit by the French foreign minister to Gaza. And Israel has dealt another blow: Its ambassador in Washington, Michael Oren, will boycott the conference next week of the new Israel lobby J Street.

China, France and J Street will somehow get by despite these boycotts, Turkey will also recover from the great vacationers' revolt, and we can expect that even the Swedes and Norwegians will recover from Israel's loud reprimands. But a country that attacks and boycotts everyone who does not exactly agree with its official positions will become isolated, forsaken and detestable: North Korea of today or Albania of yesterday. It's actually quite strange for Israel to use this weapon, as it is about to turn into the victim of boycotts itself.

Israel strikes and strikes again. It strikes its enemies, and now it strikes out at its friends who dare not fall exactly in line with its official policies. The J Street case is a particularly serious example. This Jewish organization rose in America along with Barack Obama. Its members want a fair and peace-seeking Israel.

That's their sin, and their punishment is a boycott.

Oren, meanwhile, is a devoted representative: He also is boycotting. After criticizing Israeli columnists, including this one, in an article in The New Republic for daring to criticize Netanyahu's speech at the UN - an outrage in its own right - the ambassador-propagandist uses the boycott weapon against a new and refreshing Jewish and Zionist organization that is trying to battle the nationalistic and heavy-handed Jewish-American establishment.

In whose name is Oren doing that? Not in the name of Israeli society, whose ambassador he supposedly is. The former ambassadors from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union would have acted the same way.

Such aggressiveness is a bad sign. It will drive away our last true friends and deepen our isolation. "A nation alone" has turned into our goal, our isolation has become an aspiration. Whom will we have left after we attack and boycott everyone? Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League? Our propagandist-attorney Alan Dershowitz?

Dividing the world up between absolute good and evil - our side and our enemies, with no middle ground - is a sign of despair and a complete loss of direction. It's not just our ambassador in Washington, who knows nothing at all about democracy and pluralism and only wants to please his masters. Such behavior - kicking and barking crazily in every direction - is destroying Israel.

Without giving us a chance to voice our opinion, Israel is falling to the status of an international pariah, the abomination of the nations. And whom can we thank for that? Operation Cast Lead, for example. Only the United States remains our automatic and blind ally for all our mistakes. Another democracy that saw its status deteriorating so much would ask itself first and foremost what mistakes it had made.

In Israel our approach is exactly the opposite: The rest of the world is guilty. The Scandinavians are hostile and the Turks are enemies, the French and British hate Israel, the Chinese are only Chinese and the Indians can't teach us anything.

Any legitimate criticism is immediately labeled here as anti-Semitism, including Richard Goldstone, the Jewish Zionist. We are pushing everyone into a corner roughly and hope they will change their opinions and suddenly be filled with a deep understanding for the killing of children in Gaza. Now America too, even its Jews, are no longer immune to this aggressive Israel mad with grandeur.

The damage is piling up from Beijing all the way to New York. After the J Street boycott even American Jews will know that Israel is not a tolerant, open-minded or liberal country, despite what they are being told.

Now they will know that "the only democracy in the Middle East" is not exactly that, and whoever does not repeat and proclaim its propaganda messages will be considered an enemy - they may also be punished severely.

They should just ask the billion Chinese who are licking their wounds from the mortal blow the Israeli Foreign Minster dealt them personally.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Amira Hass interviewed on Democracy Now

Transcript here.

H/T Mondoweiss.

Some notable snippets:

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think it’s most important for people to understand right now about Israel, about Gaza, about the West Bank, where you live?

AMIRA HASS: That we’re not talking about symmetric powers here, Israelis versus Palestinians or Israeli state versus a Palestinian state. We’re talking about a regime of occupation that uses all methods in order to force on Palestinians an arrangement of surrender, which is far away from internationally accepted, or at least in the past or at least proclaimed, internationally proclaimed solutions for the conflict, which is a two-state solution based on the ’67 borders.

And this Israel has been doing for the past twenty years very successfully by economical attrition, by economical temptations, by separation, disconnecting Gaza from the West Bank, by military—vicious military attacks against Palestinians both in the West Bank and Gaza, by all sorts of means, by restrictions on movement which sometimes we feel are far worse than those restriction on movements put on blacks in South Africa, apartheid South Africa.


ANJALI KAMAT: And finally, Amira, can you comment on your vision of the future in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza? And there’s murmurs in the press of a third intifada. What’s your view from living in Ramallah?

AMIRA HASS: You know, Israeli journalists who are connected to the military always talk about the third intifada like the broadcaster, weather broadcaster—you know, like, “OK, there is some clouds. There will be rain. There will be no rain”—completely devoid of any real sociological analysis, not to mention analysis of which—which is based on understanding of what occupation is and what oppression is. This is, I think, almost a natural law, that when you have oppression, sooner or later there will be explosion against this oppression. Will it be successful? Will it be clever? Will it be intelligent? Will it be stupid? We don’t know.

The Second Intifada was a disaster, was a disaster for many reasons, and we don’t have the time, but the main reason is that it was a reflection of people’s anger with this discrepancy, terrible discrepancy, between open—the official language and the reality, the reality of no rights, of no—and, by the way, economically wise, it was good, it was not bad. It was not for strict economical reasons. But it was for this—you are promised liberty. You’re promised freedom. You’re promised a state. You’re promised independence. And what you get are bantustans and growing Israeli settlements and disconnecting Gaza from the West Bank. So there was an explosion. But then, for internal reasons, there was the militarization of this uprising used by Arafat in order to hush criticism against Arafat, escalated by Israeli excessive use of power, lethal power, to disperse demonstrations that were very benign, before the shooting to the air. And then Hamas used this, and others, to show that they are—for their internal Palestinian struggle, a competition over popularity. So they were competing over who can kill more Jews. So this, for me, was a very big failure. But the uprising started for genuine reasons.

And so will the next uprising, because this discrepancy, this Israeli control over every step of Palestinian life, still goes on, and it’s even worse. And the world doesn’t know. People do not associate now the Israeli regime with the terrible restrictions on freedom of movement, like it was in South Africa. Everybody knew during South Africa, during apartheid, that there is pass system. Now people do not know about. I was asked by a very nice Jewish woman, close to Peace Now—she asked me, “Are there any Palestinian journalists doing like what you are doing, living in Israel and reporting about Israel?” I said, “They wish they could, but Israel would not allow them even to go and cover a press conference in Jerusalem, let alone live in Israel.” We mean Palestinians who are residents of the West Bank or Gaza. She was surprised. So people do not grasp the extent of the restrictions of movement, which is the worst of all. I mean, it completely shrinks people’s life, not to mention how Gaza is a huge, how would I say, detention camp for one million and a half people who could not move more than thirty kilometers or forty kilometers in the past ten years or twelve years.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Shministim follow in South African footsteps...

Mondoweiss - Sahar Vardi

Shministim are conscientious objectors. We are Israeli high-school graduates who refuse conscription into the military, and are repeatedly imprisoned as a result. We will not take part of the occupation of another people, the Palestinians, particularly when doing so goes against human values and cannot be explained on grounds of security. I am now 19 and have been jailed three times for my refusal, usually in solitary confinement because I refuse to wear military uniform in prison.

My friends and I have been conducting speaking tours through the United States and South Africa. Our South African hosts are the End Conscription Campaign [ECC], as they celebrate 25 years since the launch of their campaign against apartheid military conscription.

The contrast in reaction and media coverage is fascinating. In the US our friends were engaged with earnestly by audiences, but largely ignored by mainstream media. In South Africa the media wanted to hear our story, but during public speaking engagements we were met either with intense interest or with abuse and contempt. And whereas the many speaking engagements on US college campuses elicited little reaction from the Israeli press, our trip through South Africa has dominated headlines on Israel’s most popular news website, and garnered stories in the major daily papers.

The explosive reaction to our stay in South Africa is explained by the fact that Israelis are allergic to talk of South Africa. The spectre of Apartheid haunts the Israeli elite because they know that this is what exists, in modified form, in the occupied territories. Shulamit Aloni, our former education minister, said that Israel is “practicing its own, quite violent, form of Apartheid with the native Palestinian population.”

Michael Ben-Yair, a former attorney-general of Israel stated his view clearly that Israel is establishing, “an apartheid regime in the occupied territories”. Ami Ayalon, Israeli admiral and former internal security chief, said “Israel must decide quickly what sort of environment it wants to live in because the current model, which has some apartheid characteristics, is not compatible with Jewish principles.” The journalist Danny Rubinstein said at a UN conference in Brussels: “Israel today is an apartheid State with four different Palestinian groups: those in Gaza, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israeli Palestinians, each of which has a different status.” Even our leading newspaper Haaretz wrote an editorial last year saying, “The interim political situation in the territories has crystallized into a kind of apartheid that has been ongoing for 40 years”.

In the wake of such categorical statements, it is vitally important to acknowledge the dual nature of Israel, as much a haven for Jews fleeing persecution before, during and after the Second World War, as the colonising international law-breaker that acts with impunity and uses Jewish suffering as an excuse.

Those of us who refuse to serve in the army have all seen the system of control and process of dispossession with our own eyes. Most Israelis have not. Like most white South Africans, even today, most of us are unaware what life is like an hour from our homes.

One of my first contacts with Palestinian life over six years ago was a visit to a small Palestinian community south-east of Jerusalem.

They were not different in any way to the people I knew from home. We even hated the same subjects in school. But, I had the right to come to their homes, meet with them and go back home. They not only did they lack the right to visit me in my home, but didn’t even have the legal right to live in their own houses, as these had been built without permits and were therefore under constant threat of demolition.

The shock was not from the brutality of the occupation or of a specific soldier, but from witnessing the ordinary day to day situation of going through checkpoints, fearing the demolition of their homes and knowing that every 18-year old soldier has the power to control their life. I could not bring myself to be that soldier and to hold such power of people who are my equals.

A week before coming to South Africa I made my way with some friends from the centre of Tel Aviv, a city that never sleeps, to the lightless streets of Bil’in, a village that has been fighting the separation fence stealing 40% of its land for over five years. This village has become a symbol for this struggle not only because it continues to fight for what is right even as soldiers arrest the organisers and shoot the protesters, not only because they have chosen an unarmed struggle, but because they have chosen to make it a joint struggle.

The fact that we Israelis sleep in our Palestinian comrades houses to prevent their arrests and that together with them we march demanding the return of their land has, in effect, beaten the purpose of that wall we struggle against: separation. Activists like Mohamed Khatib and Ezra Nawi, from opposite societies, both under constant threat of arbitrary arrest and harassment, show that a different future is possible.

Whilst in South Africa we gave the Ashley Kriel Memorial Lecture. Ashley fought against the “privileges” that the tri-cameral system offered him as a “coloured”. He linked his future to the unfree majority and was killed before his 21st birthday.

We also learnt about other heroes. Neil Aggett was a young white doctor at Soweto’s Baragwanath hospital who realised that working conditions made people sick, and so he helped unionise workers. He was tortured and found hanging in his cell. His funeral was attended by 6000 black nurses and workers, and followed by a nationwide work-stoppage, a key event in uniting the unions.

Mary Manning was a shop attendant in Dublin, Ireland who had never been to South Africa. In 1984 she refused to handle South African oranges. When she was suspended 11 coworkers walked out with her, and they maintained a picket every single day for over two years until the Irish government, by one vote, agreed to a general boycott of apartheid good.

Kriel helped to unite the oppressed people, Aggett showed that whites and blacks could find each other in friendship, and Mary Manning proved that the world cared because injustice touches on all of humanity. We have called for a similar boycott of Israeli goods linked to settlements and the military.

Speaking to young people was the highlight of our time in South Africa. Although we were barred from speaking at Jewish schools, we met many students from Herzlia who care about equality and human rights.

If our generation wants to see a new reality between Israelis and Palestinians it is going to take the support of the whole world, including Jews, Muslim, Christians, atheists, and every other religion, colour and creed.

Sahar Vardi, 19, is a Jewish Israeli conscientious objector who has been imprisoned three times for refusing to enlist in the Israeli military. As part of the Shministim she recently visited South Africa.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mad Mel Phlips: 'World softened up for its destruction'...

From Mad Mel Phlips' latest Spectator brain fart of Mon 19th 2009 (look it up, I'm not linking):

The Goldstone blood libel is part of the UNHRC’s strategy of delegitimising Israel to soften up the world for its eventual destruction.

A bit further down:

This shocking episode demonstrates with crystal clarity that in the great civilisational war now in progress, Britain is on the wrong side – as it has been in the Middle East, in fact, for the past nine decades.

...NINE decades!

Mad Mel Philps' 'worldview' in a nutshell:

1. The Best: Israel. The 'only democracy in the ME', the World's first 'bulwark against Islamofascism'. If 'she falls, we all fall'.

2. The West: mainly the US; wholesome, 'Judeo-Christian', apple pie, but NOT Obama. May include Europe if it slavishly follows the Best and the US's policies vis-à-vis the Rest.

3. The Rest: the UN, Britain, the Mooooslim world; mainly Islamonazis and their 'Dhimmi' supporters.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Olmert has a hard time the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy

Read the full story at Electronic Intifada!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A 'kneejerk defender of Israel' sees sense...

The increased skepticism regarding Israel's behaviour towards the Palestinians following the last winter 'war' on Gaza expressed by American Jews is encouraging, albeit a case of too little, too late. But as the consolation prize proverb says: 'better late than never'.

But to make a real difference more mainstream non-Jewish Americans need to start seeing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict other than the through the still strongly biased lens of the pro-Israel American MSM and lose those pro-Israel reflexes. Here's just one American commenter, Tim Ellis, who on Oct. 16, 2009 @ 3:34 PM made the following comment over at Richard Silverstein and starts to make sense:

This overseas goy american has for many years been a kneejnerk defender of Israel on international flights, dinner parties, and in the most important and intimate conversations in my personal life. I will continue to be a defended or Israel, her right to exist and legitmancy as a nation.

I worked very hard to help elect Barak Obama.

I understand that there is a new settlement that bears his name. I am horrified. I am disgusted at the excess.

I learn from your blog that Michael Oren will not attend the J street conference. Virtually I witnessed Michael Oren in his renunciation of US nationality to take up his post. I had hopes that he could help save this nightmare. Alas no.

I'm not entirely sure that there is a settlement named after Obama but that's besides the point.

Tim, go forth and multiply... "international flights, dinner parties, and in the most important and intimate conversations in my personal life", it's all good!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Modern Islamophobia in action...

Today I received an email from a certain Daryl Johnson (britbilton at yahoo dot com), inviting me to buy the latest Islamophobic brainfart:

FYI: I have written a new anti-Islamic ridiculing book. This book portrays Mohammad as the village idiot and town drunk of Mecca bent on shagging everything in town. In America the mainstream media does not want this book to inflame the rabble, so they boycott me via silence. I thought I would inform you and any help to publicize the book in the UK would be appreciated by me and detested by the mullahs (they are not very fun loving or forgiving & hate their prophet being mocked and insulted). We all fight the fight and I believe I have a talent for ridicule and vexation of our enemies. Thanks

Did you know that Mohammad was a perverted, drunken pimp who was " too stupid and incompetent to run a fig and cocoanut stand, never mind an army or religion"

The brand new book, available on, humorously slanders the purported early tenets of Islam. Many Islamic extremists and terrorists might not appreciate the lampooning of the religion (or the pictures of Fatima and Mohammad on the front and back covers of the book), but this book is a challenge to the extremist who seem to demand that American Freedom of Speech does not apply to them and that the world must kowtow to their brand of religion while they are free to trash all others.

How Fatima Started Islam: Mohammad's Daughter Tells It All by Noor Barack

I looked up the book on Amazon and it does exist (current Sales Rank #427,460!) It's 236 pages of very wide print (about 30 lines per page!), 13 ounces of rain forest wasted on anyone but the most rabid Islamophobes... And at $19.95 it doesn't come cheap either...

Having taken a few glimpses inside, it's abundantly clear that Daryl Johnson/Noor Barack doesn't "have a talent for ridicule and vexation of our enemies" at all but that was already crystal clear from reading the email blurb.

And what's with the author's name? Is it Daryl Johnson? Is Noor Barack a pseudonym for Daryl Johnson? A bit further down the email was the following rather confusing bit of fine print:

Noor Barack, the author does wish to publicize the book; however the author must recognize that a Fatwa will be issued as soon as the book reaches the Terroristic Islamists and must have enhanced security. Therefore the author will receive email at for a short period. If one wishes to talk via telephone please email a telephone number of a specific person to be called. Thank you, also if the book's front cover did not transmit it can be easily seen at which is the only outlet currently selling "How Fatima Started Islam: Mohammad's Daughter Tells It All.

Noor Barack "does not wish to publicize the book", but it's available in the world's largest bookstore nonetheless...

And choice of surname 'Barack': coincidence or pointing to the infantile mind of an American Conservative trying to connect this book to Barack Obama? By the extremely poor spelling, grammar and punctuation I'm inclined to believe the latter.

From what I gather from the first few pages the book isn't just Islamophobic, it's also deeply racist towards Arabs.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Talking to Israelis...

Noam Sheizaf from Promised Land blog

Being part of the lefty ultra-minority in Israel – and obsessed with politics at the same time – I get mixed up regularly in political debates (fights?) with friends, family members, coworkers, writers and readers of pro-Israeli blogs, and basically, whoever is around. But lately, I have to admit, I’m getting tired of this habit. I feel that no matter what the issue at hand is, Israelis and their supporters fall back to the same argument:

The Palestinians want to destroy us, and therefore, whatever we do to them is justified.

It doesn’t matter that A doesn’t necessarily leads to B (even in war not everything is justified), it doesn’t even matter we are talking about something else completely, say racism towards Arab Israeli citizens or the future of Jerusalem. Whatever I say, wherever we go, we end up at the same station. The Palestinians want to destroy us, and therefore, whatever we do to them is justified.

I try to speak about Gaza, and say, the illegal use of phosphorus bombs against civilians.

“How do you know the IDF did that?” the answer comes. “Don’t say you believe that self-hating Jew, Goldstone?”

- Well, there are pictures of the bombs exploding, there are people with phosphorus-like burns, and I know that every combat unit in the IDF carries standard phosphorus ammunition, because I’ve been there and I even used it in training.

- You don’t get it, do you? The Palestinians want to destroy us all. What we did in Gaza was self-defense, like everyone else would have done. We didn’t want to kill those children. We did what’s necessary. It was justified.

And that’s basically it. You can’t ask about war crimes, you can’t discuss the phosphorus. Everything becomes irrelevant.

So I forget about the Goldstone report, just like the Israeli media did, and I try to write about Obama’s effort to re-ignite the peace process, or about the fact that from an Israeli perspective, there is no real alternative to the two-state solution. I ask, for example, why Israel can’t stop building settlements, even for a limited time.

- Because settlements are not the issue. They are not the obstacle for peace. We can evacuate them whenever we want.

- If it’s no big deal, what’s preventing us from stopping, even as a favor to Obama?

- The whole demand is a trick to divert us, and the rest of the world, from the real issue: that the Palestinians want to destroy us. Therefore, building settlements is justified.

- I fail to see the connection. The Hamas is indeed a problem, but surly, Abu-Mazen… I mean, look at his efforts to keep the West Bank quiet…

- If everything is quiet, what’s the rush to hand back land?

- Because if we don’t, we will have another Intifada.

- And in this case, we will give them nothing! We don’t deal with terrorists!

- So, when do we get the point where we do give them something?

- It’s simple: When they don’t want to destroy us anymore.

- And how do we know that?

- We can’t. Look at what happened in Gaza. We withdrew and what did we get in return? The Hamas with its rockets. Imagine us withdrawing from the West Bank, and five years later we get the Hamas there as well, 15 minutes from Tel Aviv! You can never trust the Palestinians. All they want is to destroy us.

And so it goes on and on. The Israelis found the perfect argument. It’s the reason and the outcome of everything. It’s the way to understand the past, behave in the present and foresee the future. It’s the full circle, the ying and the yang, and there is no way to break it, since Israelis seem to know what’s in the Palestinians’ hearts. And this is something you can’t debate.

The only possible solution is to surrender. “OK,” I say. “I’ll go along with your logic. We can’t leave the West Bank, and we can’t deport 2 million Palestinians by force…”

- No way! This is a democracy!

- Yeh, I know… and the one-state solution is out of the question…

- Out of the question! We will have an Arab majority! This will be the end of everything!

- So what do you basically suggest we do?

(Silence, followed by a long speech)

- Look. What are you getting at? Are you trying to say we don’t want peace? Don’t you remember the Camp David summit? We offered them almost everything, everything! Not to mention Oslo! And Gaza! And Madrid! It’s not that we don’t want peace! We love peace! It’s the first word in Hebrew! Show me another nation where peace means also Hello!

- Well, in Arabic…

- …The point is that we want peace. Do you think we enjoy all these wars? Remember what Golda Meir said? “We will forgive the Arabs for what they did to us, but we will never forgive them for what they made us do to them.” Beautiful, isn’t it? Captures the whole thing… I mean, look at the people we are dealing with. This is no Europe. It’s the Middle East. The Arabs, they never accepted us here. Remember the second Intifada? The first Intifada? Lebanon? Yom Kippur war? Remember the PLO convention in 64′? That was before we took the territories! Do you remember the partition offer in 47′? Why didn’t they take it? Did you know the Gran Moufti supported Hitler? Hitler! Remember the riots in 36′? There wasn’t even a state of Israel back then! And what about the pogroms in 29′? The Tel-Chai incident in 1920?

- I’m trying to think about the future. This leads us nowhere, the Palestinians have their own list of pogroms, lets take the Nakba for instance…

- The Nakba? What’s that has to do with it? Why are they always so obsessed with the Nakba, those Palestinians? They should look forward, settle the refugees where they are, build their nation… and you, why do you criticize Israel all the time? Can’t you write about them for a change?

- Like what?

- For example, about the incitement in the Palestinian society. They really don’t like us, you know.

- They want to destroy us.

- I see you are learning something after all.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rattling the Cage: Our exclusive right to self-defense

Larry Derfner in the J'Post

Virtually all of Israel is now speaking in one voice against the Goldstone report, against any attempt to blame us over the war in Gaza. We've honed our message to a sharp point and, inspired by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's performance at the UN, we're delivering it with just the right tone of outrage:

How dare anyone deny us the right to self-defense! How dare anyone deny us the right to fight back against terrorism!

Very nice. Puts everyone else on the defensive. The right to self-defense is up there with motherhood and apple pie - who's going to come out against it, especially for us, for Israel, for the Jews, for the people of the Holocaust?

The right to self-defense - perfect.

But I'd like to ask: Do the Palestinians also have the right to self-defense?

We probably wouldn't admit it out loud, but in our heads we would say - again, in one voice - "No!"

This is the Israeli notion of a fair deal: We're entitled to do whatever the hell we want to the Palestinians because, by definition, whatever we do to them is self-defense. They, however, are not entitled to lift a finger against us because, by definition, whatever they do to us is terrorism.

That's the way it's always been, that's the way it was in Operation Cast Lead.

AND THERE are no limits on our right to self-defense. There is no such thing as "disproportionate." We can blockade Gaza, we can answer Kassams with F-16s and Apaches, we can take 100 eyes for an eye.

We can deliberately destroy thousands of Gazan homes, the Gazan parliament, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, courthouses, the only Gazan flour plant, the main poultry farm, a sewage treatment plant, water wells and God knows what else.


After all, we're acting in self-defense. By definition.

And what right do the Palestinians have to defend themselves against this?


Why? Because we're better than them. Because we're a democracy and they're a bunch of Islamo-fascists. Because ours is a culture of life and theirs is a culture of death. Because they're out to destroy us and all we are saying is give peace a chance.

One look at the ruins of Gaza ought to make that plain enough.

Here is our idea of the "laws of war": When Israeli bulldozers rolled across the border into Gazan villages and flattened house after house so Hamas wouldn't have them for cover after the IDF pulled out, that was self-defense. But if a Palestinian boy who'd lived in one of those houses threw a stone at one of the bulldozers, that was terrorism.

The Goldstones of the world call this hypocrisy, a double standard. How dare they! Around here, we call it moral clarity.

Blair's New Clothes...

The Bliar gets asked an unscreened question at the University of Buffalo:

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama wins Nobel Peace prize!?!?!?


President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples," the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, citing his outreach to the Muslim world and attempts to curb nuclear proliferation.

The stunning choice made Obama the third sitting U.S. president to win the Nobel Peace Prize and shocked Nobel observers because Obama took office less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination deadline. Obama's name had been mentioned in speculation before the award but many Nobel watchers believed it was too early to award the president.

If this is true then the value of the Nobel Piece Price has just plummeted to an all time low. A more aptly title to Huffie's piece would have been: 'Man wins Nobel Prize for making Speech'.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Mad Mel Phlips quotes The Onion...

Fun with Mad Mel: it never ends. This time our Mel, Mad Witch of British arch-Zionism (but also Creationist, Palinophile, MMR freak and avid man-made climate change denier) has managed to find the ultimate proof that CO2 induced global warming is a myth, this time in a article published by The Onion. Ooops, it's not The Onion, it's The Register!

Now, just look at the other headlines from that edition of The Register:

US military jets to run on weeds, scum & corpse-grease

US Navy boffins put an end to drought

Analysis UK media: 'Met Office computer will destroy the world'

Boffins: Give up on CO2 cuts, only geoengineering can work

Gas mask bra secures Ig Nobel prize

Swedish lesbians suck sperm banks dry

Duff man juice also adding to shortage

So it's not really The Onion: it's better than The Onion: it's... The Register!

Oh, and here she is in fine form, speaking to the 'The Heritage Foundation':

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Goldstone: the report that won't die...

From Tikun Olam.

Wow, when a nation like Libya makes your human rights record look bad, you know you’ve hit rock bottom. Barack Obama, Mahmoud Abbas and Bibi Netanyahu thought they were pretty deft at burying the Goldstone Report in Geneva a few days ago. But they neglected a few inconvenient facts, chief among them that if you try to suppress an idea whose time has come it will come back to bite you. That is true of Goldstone.

Libya not only sits on the Security Council, it also is president of the General Assembly. So that means that Qaddafi has the U.S. over a boulder twice over. If the U.S. vetoes Security Council consideration of the Report, Libya can introduce it before the General Assembly, where we don’t have veto. If Abbas hadn’t singed himself so badly in mishandling this affair, he might’ve been able to weasel out of this by telling Libya to take a hike. But Hamas already has his ass in a sling over his betrayal of the Gazans. He can’t very well dump Goldstone twice.

So Obama may have the Goldstone nightmare return to haunt him in the Security Council. It might even be passed by the General Assembly. So much for our president’s supposed political adeptness. Goldstone is the report that will not die. This time Obama has a chance to handle it better than he did in Geneva. Will he?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A True Mensch

Jewdas, H/T JSF.

“To be a Jew means always being with the oppressed and never the oppressors”.

The author of these words was the Bundist Marek Edelman who has just died aged 90. He was one of the commanders of the ZOB – the Jewish Fighting Organisation that led the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943.

To anti-fascists and human rights activists around the world he was a hero – plain and simple. He wrote one of the earliest Holocaust memoirs, The Ghetto Fights, which was published in Poland in 1945 and subsequently translated into several languages. It is an incredible text which pains and inspires the reader in equal measure.

After escaping the burnt-out ghetto through the sewers he continued underground anti-Nazi activity and then joined other Poles in the Warsaw Rising of 1944. After the war he saved countless more lives working as a cardiologist. In recent years he used the medical arena to make contact with Dr Mustafa Barghouti, director of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees.

Edelman was never a Zionist, and he opposed Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian territory. He met with Palestinian political figures and expressed support for their struggle against occupation while at the same time urging them to firmly reject terroristic methods. He angered Israeli leaders by pointedly addressing the Palestinians he made contact with as “leaders of the Palestinian Fighting Organisations”. In Tel Aviv they were indignant that such a prominent figure in the Warsaw Ghetto resistance would choose to continue to live in Poland (his homeland!) after the war – a place they regarded simply as a Jewish graveyard. Even worse, he had the chutzpah not to take his political lead from less heroic and far more reactionary Zionist spokespersons and cheerleaders.

Not that Edelman was worried. This hero of the Jewish people and of anti-fascists had long been treated as persona non grata by the Israeli political establishment and its mainstream media. Edelman would not countenance Israel’s attempt to appropriate Holocaust resistance to justify its political actions, and he said so on several occasions.

He refused to allow the historical experience of the Ghetto fighters to be claimed by any group/nation exclusively. On the contrary, he argued that this history belonged to everyone and carried a universal imperative to fight for equality, democracy, human rights and dignity wherever these were threatened or suppressed

He continued to repudiate the Zionist narrative of Jewish history with its blinkered ultra-nationalism. Instead he remained loyal to the Bund’s socialist political tradition which, as its 1938 manifesto had declared, rejected “one’s own and foreign nationalism”.

Throughout his life Edelman worked for human rights, democracy and egalitarianism. He remained sceptical of nationalism in general and critical of state power. He was a brave and forthright opponent of the Stalinist regime in Poland and, in the 1980s, actively supported the Workers Opposition Movement – KOR.

In 1988 – on the 45th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising – he snubbed the official commemoration in Poland attended by Stalinist dignitaries from Poland and Zionist dignitaries from Israel, in favour of an alternative ceremony at the Warsaw Jewish cemetery, attended by 3,000 people, where he unveiled a monument to Henryk Erlich and Victor Alter – Bundist leaders of the 1930s who had been captured and murdered on Stalin’s orders during the War.

I treasure the fact that I had the good fortune to hear Marek Edelman speak and briefly meet him in 1997 at a conference in Warsaw marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Bund. Naturally a lot of people wanted to speak to him. He sat, relaxed, making time for everybody. He was a hero, a fighter and a true mensch. Koved zayn ondenk (honour his memory)

David Rosenberg

Friday, October 02, 2009

A plan to increase Israeli settler population by about 10 %...

Press TV:

Israel is likely to give the go ahead to a project to build what would be the most populous settlement in the territories occupied in 1967.

The joint project undertaken by the Interior Ministry and the Jerusalem (al-Quds) Municipality sees the construction of 14,000 housing units near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, the Israeli daily Maariv reported on Wednesday.

The settlement will be built in three million square meters of land and will be home to 40,000 Jewish settlers.

The land will also include the property of the Palestinians in the West Bank village of Al-Walaja.

The project has the endorsement of the ruling Likud Party and its far right allies.