Friday, April 30, 2010

They want it all... feeling the hate in New York

Pro-Israel supporters in New York. And apparently Netanyahu is "the Leader of the Free World"...

H/T Jews sans Frontieres.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Knesset speaker: no to partition!


Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said Thursday that he would rather accept Palestinians as Israeli citizens than divide Israel and the West Bank in a future two-state peace solution.

Speaking during a meeting with Greece's ambassador to Israel Kyriakos Loukakis, Rivlin said that he did not see any point of Israel signing a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority as he did not believe PA President Mahmoud Abbas "could deliver the goods."

Referring to the possibility that such an agreement could be reached, Rivlin said: "I would rather Palestinians as citizens of this country over dividing the land up."

Late last year, Rivlin said in a Jerusalem address that Israel's Arab population was "an inseparable part of this country. It is a group with a highly defined shared national identity, and which will forever be, as a collective, an important and integral part of Israeli society."

In a speech given in the president's residence, the Knesset speaker called for a fundamental change in relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel, urging the foundation of a "true partnership" between the two sectors, based on mutual respect, absolute equality and the addressing of "the special needs and unique character of each of the sides."

Rivlin also said that "the establishment of Israel was accompanied by much pain and suffering and a real trauma for the Palestinians," adding that "many of Israel's Arabs, which see themselves as part of the Palestinian population, feel the pain of their brothers across the green line - a pain they feel the state of Israel is responsible for."

"Many of them," Rivlin says, "encounter racism and arrogance from Israel's Jews; the inequality in the allocation of state funds also does not contribute to any extra love."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Larry Derfner on Goldstone, Barred Mizvas, Apartheid and memory holes...

Larry Derfner - J'Post, H/T Antony Loewenstein

Judge Richard Goldstone, talking last October with a group of liberal North American rabbis, explained why he agreed to head the UN’s investigation of the war in Gaza.

“I knew,” he said, “there would be strong and negative opposition to my doing it on the part of members of the Jewish community and particularly with the government of Israel and its supporters in Israel and the Diaspora. But I really felt that to live with myself and to live with my own conscience, I couldn’t justify having gotten involved in the investigations in many other countries and because I was Jewish refuse to use the same norms and the same principles in relation to Israel.”

I don’t think there is a single Israeli or Diaspora Jew in a high position of leadership today who understands what Goldstone was talking about. What he was talking about, plainly and simply, was moral courage.

It’s not here. It’s not what Israel is about, not what Diaspora Jewry is about, certainly not the leadership, and not the followers, either, who want to stay inside the warmth of the consensus. To be a good, patriotic Zionist Jew today, you have to pour out your wrath on Goldstone. A “small man,” was how President Shimon Peres described him. An “evil” man, a “traitor,” was Alan Dershowitz’s description.

As far as I’m concerned, neither Peres nor Dershowitz nor any of the legions of other proud, patriotic Zionist Jews who’ve ganged up on Goldstone are worthy of carrying his briefcase.

He is the absolute best of the Jewish tradition. He stands up for justice, he stands up for the oppressed and he speaks truth to power – no matter who holds the power and no matter what it costs him. This is one of the great Jews of our time. Goldstone is the secular equivalent of a Jewish prophet, and by trying so hard to dishonor him, Israel and the Diaspora Jewish establishment have succeeded only in dishonoring themselves.

LAST WEEK the Zionist and Orthodox Jewish establishment in South Africa stooped to forcing him to agree to stay away from his grandson’s upcoming bar mitzva in Johannesburg. (Goldstone now lives in Washington DC.) The South African Zionist Federation threatened to lead a protest outside the synagogue, so Goldstone, “in the interest of my grandson,” announced he wouldn’t be attending the ceremony.

The machers of the South African Jewish community were pleased. Avrom Krengel, chairman of the Zionist Federation, said his organization had been duly “sensitive” to the bar mitzva boy and his family. Rabbi Moshe Kurtsag, head of the South African beit din, or religious court, pronounced the outcome “quite a sensible thing to avert all this unpleasantness.” No religious or communal leader of South African Jewry said a word against this abomination. Neither did any Jewish leader outside South Africa. Neither did anybody important in Israel.

There were, however, some prominent, independent South African Jews who still knew the difference between right and wrong. “If it is correct that this has the blessing of the leadership of the Jewish community in South Africa, it reflects on them rather than on Justice Goldstone. They should hang their heads in shame,” said Judge Arthur Chaskalson, retired president of South Africa’s Constitutional Court.

By the end of last week, the ostracism of Goldstone had backfired. The story ran in The New York Times, the British papers, all around the world. The leaders of organized South African Jewry had brought shame on the community, so this week they’re in damage control mode, suggesting that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea, after all, to destroy a kid’s bar mitzva to get at his grandfather.

I’m sure that by the end of this week, the South African Jewish machers will have shoved the whole episode down the memory hole. They’re very good at this. So is Israel. Ever since apartheid ended, South African Jewish officialdom has tried to make everyone forget they ever went along the system, while Israeli officialdom has tried to make everyone forget the special relationship they had with the white regime.

In his book Rivonia’s Children, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Glenn Frankel writes that as Afrikaners began to identify with Israel after the Six Day War, leading to the closest of military/diplomatic relations between the two nations, “South Africa’s Jews became increasingly identified with the government and less with its opposition in the liberation movement. All of this began to unravel with [Nelson] Mandela’s release, and ended upon his taking office. In denying their own culpability, many Jews pointed to the fact that their brethren were prominently involved in the anti-apartheid movement; indeed, some used this to suggest that the Jewish community as a whole had been committed to the liberation cause.”

Israel, likewise, professes to have been against apartheid all along, preferring not to mention that from the mid-’70s, as Frankel writes, “the two sides began sharing nuclear technology… Israeli technicians, engineers and retired military officers increasingly took up places as consultants and planners of the new tribal homelands, the nominally independent puppet states that the Pretoria government created out of rural wastelands.”

None of this is mentioned anymore in polite Jewish company in Johannesburg or Jerusalem.

No, as everyone recalls, we all stood up against apartheid; as Jews, we had no choice.

One day, if Israel ever ends its tyranny over the Palestinians, it will be difficult to find a Jew in this country or the Diaspora who ever supported Operation Cast Lead. It will be difficult to find a Jew in this country or the Diaspora who ever said a bad word about Judge Richard Goldstone.

If Israel ever ends its tyranny over the Palestinians, a whole lot of proud, patriotic Zionist Jews are going to be loaded down, searching frantically for the memory hole.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Breaking the Law of Return

H/T Jews sans Frontieres

Related: Australians rejecting the right of return

Friday, April 16, 2010

Israel BDS News...

"Defeat" snatched from the jaws of victory in Berkeley (University of California). Warmly recommended...

Closer to home: War on Want boycott of Waitrose London:

Grudging H/T to Richard Millett.

Parisian BDS against 'Esplanade David Ben Gourion':

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Goldstone: the Bar Mitzvah that won't go away...

Nothing's funnier than to watch Zios shoot themselves in the foot, of course. After relentlessly but fruitlessly trying to bury the Goldstone report in a mountain of mud directed at its chief author and namesake, it appears some South African Zionists have now succeeded in barring the man from the Bar Mitzvah of his own grandson! What next: excommunication?


CAPE TOWN, South Africa (JTA) -- South African judge Richard Goldstone is being barred from attending his grandson’s bar mitzvah.

Following negotiations between the South African Zionist Federation and the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol in Sandton, an affluent suburb of Johannesburg where the event is due to take place, an agreement has been reached with the family. As a result, Goldstone will not be attending the synagogue service, scheduled for early next month.

Goldstone was the head of a United Nations-appointed commission that investigated last winter's Gaza war. The commission's final report accused Israel and Hamas of war crimes and said there may be evidence of crimes against humanity.

Some of the role-players were tight-lipped when contacted by JTA, with Avrom Krengel, chairman of the SAZF, saying: “We understand that there’s a bar mitzvah boy involved – we’re very sensitive to the issues and at this stage there’s nothing further to say.”

Jewish groups had planned to organize a protest outside of the synagogue if Goldstone was in attendance, according to reports.

Reached in Washington where he is currently based, Goldstone was reluctant to comment save to say: “In the interests of my grandson, I’ve decided not to attend the ceremony at the synagogue.”

Retired chief justice of South Africa Arthur Chaskalson said it was “disgraceful” to put pressure on a grandfather not to attend his grandson’s bar mitzvah. “If it is correct that this has the blessing of the leadership of the Jewish community in South Africa, it reflects on them rather than Judge Goldstone. They should hang their heads in shame.”

Hang their heads in shame? People that have supported 42 years of Occupation? People that clearly supported Cast Lead? Shame?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Uri Davis: A man and his Journey

I watched Uri Davis being interviewed on Jeera's Riz Khan without ever before having heard of him. Impressive. The first person of Jewish descent to join the Revolutionary Council of Fatah. When a caller ('Frank from London') decided to try and insult him, he chose not even to answer. So I looked him up, Uri that is...

Here he is in The Guardian/Observer, 2009...

Why Israeli Jew Uri Davis joined Fatah to save Palestine

The first Jewish member of the Revolutionary Council of Fatah talks about a unique political journey

Uri Davis is used to denunciations. A "traitor", "scum", "mentally unstable": those are just some of the condemnations that have been posted in the Israeli blogosphere in recent days. As the first person of Jewish origin to be elected to the Revolutionary Council of the Palestinian FatahDavis has tapped a deep reserve of Israeli resentment. Some have even called for him to be deported. movement, an organisation once dominated by Yasser Arafat,

He has been here before, not least as the man who first proposed the critique of Israel as an "apartheid state" in the late 1980s. Davis's involvement in the first UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban in 2001 was condemned by the Anti-Defamation League. During a career of protest he has been described – inevitably – as a "self-hating Jew". He calls himself an "anti-Zionist". And his personal history is a fascinating testimony to the troubled history of the postwar Israeli left and forgotten trajectories in the story of Israel itself.

The man elected to the Revolutionary Council in 31st place from a field of 600 has been as much shaped by the tidal forces of recent Jewish history – not least his own family's sufferings in the Holocaust – as any fellow citizen of Israel. But he disputes a largely manufactured account of that experience that he believes has been used deliberately "to camouflage" its "apartheid programme". Now he enjoys an extraordinary mandate to explain his own views. And he hopes, too, that just as the small number of white members of the ANC widened its legitimacy during the apartheid era in South Africa, other Jews can be attracted to participate in Fatah, transforming it into a broader-based movement that stands for equal rights for both Arabs and Jews in a federated state.

So what does Davis believe, and why? His father was a British Jew who met his mother, a Czech, in British Mandatory Palestine in the mid-1930s, where they married in 1939, four years before his birth. While his mother escaped the transports to the gas chambers at Auschwitz, many in her family did not. It is a familiar story in Israel. But the lesson that Davis learnt from it was different from the vast majority of Jews who concluded that never again could Jews depend on others to guarantee their security from persecution.

"An important part of the education that I received from my parents," Davis recalled last week, "was never to generalise. To beware of every sentence that begins with 'all'. It was not 'all' Germans who killed my mother's family. It was some Nazis." Another distinction was emphasised by his mother. "If she heard the suggestion of vengeance, she would be horrified. She sought justice. One of the biggest problems addressing a Zionist audience is that the distinction between justice and vengeance has collapsed."

He is 66 now, but that warning from his parents on the risk of demonising the Other still resonates in Davis's language. He is insistent that generalities should be avoided, not least the "normative idea all Israelis are exposed to: that all Arabs hate the Jews and all Arabs want to drive the Jews into the sea".

His own self-description is a case in point, fine-tuned over the decades. "It has gone through a number of stages. In my autobiography in the mid-1990s I described myself as a Palestinian Jew. That has now changed to a Palestinian Hebrew of Jewish origins." How he frames his own identity is part of his attempt to impose an "alternative narrative" to the one that has dominated Israel since its foundation in 1948 by what he describes as "a settler-colonialist" strand of Zionism built on a massive act of "ethnic cleansing". That moment – known as the "Nakba", or the catastrophe to Arabs – saw the flight of 650,000-750,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes by Jewish forces.

Davis is careful with his definitions of both "Zionism" and his own "anti-Zionism". The Zionism that he opposes is the "political Zionism" of Israel's founders, the Zionism that amounts, he says, to land grab based on ethnic cleansing.

Davis himself insists on reclaiming a wider meaning for the word, not least because he was shaped, as he grew up, by a different school: the "spiritual Zionism" of thinkers such as Ahad Ha'am, religious philosopher Martin Buber and Judah Magnes, co-founder of Jerusalem's Hebrew University.

In contrast to political Zionism, which saw Jewish statehood alone as a solution to the Jewish question, these spiritual Zionists believed Palestine could not accommodate a Jewish homeland but should become a national spiritual centre that would support and reinvigorate the Jewish diaspora.

Davis has written how his own "intellectual and moral development was profoundly influenced by Buber's writings" although he has fiercely condemned Buber's later actions, not least Buber's appropriation of a house in Jerusalem belonging to the family of the late Palestinian activist and writer Edward Said.

Then there was Leon Roth, one of his father's relatives and a fellow professor of Buber at the new Hebrew University. Roth resigned his post after witnessing the treatment of the Palestinian Arabs in the creation of Israel and returned to Cambridge.

But if these were formative influences on Davis, it is how he interpreted what he saw growing up in the young state of Israel that marked him out as different. Reading Gandhi and Martin Luther King led him to a pacifist position that saw him refuse military service in the 1960s, at a time when it was almost unheard of. He was eventually assigned to "alternative" service working on a kibbutz on the border with the Gaza Strip.

"I refused to participate in the armed patrols of the kibbutz fence on the border and that led to daily shouting matches. Then one of the members took me to the periphery of the kibbutz where there was a cluster of eucalyptus trees. He said: 'What can you see?' And I said trees. Then he took me into the wood and showed me a pile of stones. He asked me what I could see and I said: 'A pile of stones.' He said: 'No. This is the [Arab] village of Dirma. Its residents are refugees while we cultivate their land. Now do you understand why they hate us and want to drive us into the sea?

"And I said, 'But there is an alternative. We could invite them back and share it with them.'" He pauses. "If looks could kill. I saw that he saw me as a hopeless case. And I'm proud to say I'm still that hopeless case."

Davis experienced a second moment of epiphany decades later during the first Gulf war, when Iraq was firing Scud missiles at Israel – a moment of insight related to an unresolved question from his childhood. "I was born in Jerusalem, but I grew up on a farm near Herziliya. I would walk with my peers down to the beach and pass the ruins of an Arab village under the shadow of a mosque that was still intact. And the dominant narrative deleted the reality. The elders of my community said they had pleaded with the elders of the Arab village to stay. And the elders of the Arab village refused. I had no way to challenge this for decades.

"During the first Gulf war the penny dropped. The mayor of Tel Aviv was abusing all those residents who had fled under the threat from Scuds. After the war ended, the families returned. They used their keys. Put their cash cards in the ATMs. Re-opened their shops. What was significant was that no one said to them: anyone who has left has lost their property rights. That was my second crossroads."

Davis published Israel: An Apartheid State in 1987. He distinguishes between racism and apartheid, which, he argues, requires not simply an official value system that distinguishes on a racial basis but a legal reality. Indeed, Davis has written that it is wrong to single out Israel on the grounds that it is more racist than other states in the UN. Rather he believes it should be singled out because, as he wrote in a letter to Al-Ahram newspaper in 2003, "it applies the force of law to compel its citizens to make racial choices, first and foremost in all matters pertaining to access to land, housing and freedom of residence".

Davis's lifetime of dissent has not been without consequences. After joining Fatah, Davis began a long period of "de facto exile" at the suggestion of his lawyer to avoid a show trial. He taught during that time at a number of British universities, including Bradford, Exeter and Durham.

Returning to Israel and the Occupied Territories in the mid-1990s, following the Oslo Accords, Davis struggled for years to secure an appointment at an Israeli academic institution. " I kept my affiliation with Exeter and Durham, which helped me with periodical research that they farmed out to me. I also had an inheritance." It was only recently that he was appointed to teach a course at the Palestinian Al-Quds university on critical Israeli studies.

His marriage in 2008 to a Palestinian woman has not made life easier for him. She has been denied a permit to live in Israel, while Davis is forbidden by Israeli law to live in an area under Palestinian authority control as an Israeli citizen. In consequence, he is vague both about the circumstances of his conversion to Islam shortly before the wedding and where he now lives, describing those arrangements as "private".

What does he hope to achieve as a Palestinian Hebrew who is a full member of the Revolutionary Council?

His core message, he explains, is "to suggest" to his new colleagues that there is nothing to fear in recognising the notion of a Jewish state. "The correct response is that we will not recognise an Israel defined by political Zionism." And perhaps just as importantly, Davis believes that Fatah can expand its role from representing only Palestinian Arabs to representing all of those who oppose "settler-colonialism".

"It cannot win the struggle for equality that it has waged for so long as long as it remains only representative of Palestinians. To win the moral [high ground] it has to project itself as a democratic alternative for all. That is the message I first delivered and that I have persevered with and has led to my election to the Revolutionary Council after 25 years." It seems unlikely that condemnations on Israeli websites will prevent Uri Davis from giving up on his unique mission now.

Versions of Zionism

Zionism Coined by Nathan Birnbaum (1864-1937) in 1890, who also first articulated the idea of political Zionism.

Political Zionism Associated most closely with Theodor Herzl (1860 - 1904), who saw the Jewish issue as a political one requiring action in the international arena.

Spiritual Zionism Associated with Ahad Ha'am (1856-1927). Believed Judaism needed to reinvigorate its cultural assets. Argued for limited settlement in Palestine and focused on educational activity.

Revisionist Zionism Associated with Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky (1880-1940). Argued for a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan.

Modern Zionism According to the Anti-Defamation League: "Zionism stands for a safe and secure Israel open to all Jews seeking refuge and a Jewish homeland, the preservation of Judaism and Jewish people." Its harshest critics - like Uri Davis - argue that the dominant form of political zionism since the foundation of Israel in 1948 represents "settler-colonialist" project.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Siege of Ahava continues...

Richard Millett, self-professed 'independent [cough!] journalist [cough!]', Press TV's resident Zio and Hasbarah parrot, reports:

Whoever can categorically say that the occupation is either legal or illegal is better than some of the wisest legal brains in the world.

But for these self-proclaimed lawyers there is no doubt; Israel’s occupation is illegal. However, when you ask many anti-Israel activists to cite any relevant court decisions or resolutions they go mysteriously blank.

And while some of these anti-Israel protestors may be motivated by dark forces others are not even anti-Zionist. However misguided, the latter honestly hold the belief that Israel is at fault by occupying the Palestinians. For them, if Israel unilaterally withdraws from the West Bank then peace would miraculously break out.

And when I say “dark forces” one cannot help but recall the notorious imagery of Jewish shops being singled out for boycott in Germany in the 1930s.

Whether or not Millett accepts what the 'wisest legal brains' have to say about the 42 year long Occupations is of course totally beside the point: Millett claims to be a strong proponent of the 'Two Sate Solution' and such a thing cannot arise without Israel withdrawing the majority of the 'disputed territories' (disputed in reality by Israel only). Millett's a hypocrite.

But what have we here? In the email notification of Millet's latest post (at the time of writing the one being discussed here) I found the following passage, later obviously massaged away:

I immediately recalled the worryingly similar Nazi rhetoric of the Jewish octopus controlling the world with its tentacles. Call me paranoid.

Here Millett, otherwise not exactly a master of le mot juste, hits the right spot with "paranoid". Not quite sure which of the two fairly synonymous attempts at conjuring up antisemitic imagery really is the most paranoid: "Jewish shops being singled out for boycott in Germany in the 1930s" or "similar Nazi rhetoric of the Jewish octopus controlling the world with its tentacles".

Millett, try and get it through your thick skull: Ahava is being targeted due to its connection with the Occupation, as is Veolia (the latter, as far as I know, not being a 'Jewish company'). Ahava may or may not be run by British Jews (there's no reason why a non-Jewish marketer wouldn't want to peddle 'Dead Sea Skin Care Products') but that's immaterial.

The moment British Jewish shops start being targeted simply for being Jewish, Millett will have my unconditional support in combating that phenomenon. For now shops and companies, under Jewish management or not, that profit from the Occupation of Palestinian land are perfectly legitimate targets of BDS.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Singling out Israel is the right thing to do

By Yaman Salahi - in The Berkeley Daily Planet, H/T to Angry Arab.

Two weeks ago, UC Berkeley's student senate made a historic 16-4 decision to divest from General Electric and United Technologies, two American companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. A week later, the student body president vetoed the bill, citing its “focus on a specific country,” Israel. His veto echoed identical claims by Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, that “in a world filled with human rights abuses across Africa, Asia and the Americas, the UC Berkeley students vote to single out Israel for censure is hypocritical.”

As the international movement calling for Palestinian freedom and urging boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel grows, this particular defense will likely become more pronounced. Thus, it merits a response so that its troubling implications for people who organize for justice and human rights can be cast aside once and for all. So: what does it mean to "single out Israel," and is it really “hypocritical” to do so?

Under one meaning, it is unclear how anyone could ever do, say, or think anything pertaining to Israel without necessarily "singling out" Israel. Anytime one talks about Israel one must, by definition, "single out" Israel -- whether cognitively or linguistically. In that sense, "singling out" means focusing in some way on its actions. For example, for decades the US Congress "singled out" Israel to receive the largest share of the United States' foreign aid budget, amounting over the past half-century to more than all aid to sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean combined. [1]

Under another meaning, the critic might be claiming that divestment "singles out" Israel unfairly. In order to assess that claim, one must look at the merits of criticisms toward Israeli policy to see if they are fair. What are these criticisms? Namely, that Israel repeatedly engages in gross violations of human rights and international law. The evidence for such claims comes from sources as numerous, varied, and reputable as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Committee on the Red Cross, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, B'Tselem, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, the Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the United Nations Commissioner on Human Rights, Reporters Without Borders, the European Union, and finally, the United Nations General Assembly. In the face of such evidence, any claim that there is no basis on which to fairly "single out" Israel requires a remarkable amount of self-delusion or deliberate ignorance.

Under a third meaning, the critic could be saying that "singling out" Israel for criticism is unfair because while Israel is under scrutiny, other human rights violators are off the hook. But is it really true that those who report on Israel never hold other violators to task for their actions? In addition to extensive documentation of Israeli human rights abuses, every single organization above, without exception, has also documented and investigated claims about other parties. Some even have reports about nearly every country in the world. These organizations are not above criticism or scrutiny, but they also do not have reputations for dishonesty. While these organizations are routinely cited when discussing human rights violations in Darfur, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Burma, Russia, and China, just to name a few – it is only their criticism of Israel that is deemed “unfair,” “biased,” or “one-sided.” Who, then, is “singling out” Israel, and why?

There are certainly anti-Semites who criticize Israel because they are racist, but these marginal people simply do not characterize those organizations mentioned above, the Palestinian people, or those of us in the international movement to boycott Israel for its long-standing human rights abuses. Indeed, refusing to address fair claims because of the occasional unfair accuser removes the anti-Semites from the margins and sacrifices the entire system of rights and the majority who support it at their altar.

Under a final meaning, the critic could be claiming that "singling out" Israel for divestment is unfair, because divestment does not target every other country that also violates human rights. This argument is disingenuous. On its face, it appears to advocate for greater action on more human rights issues. In practice, however, it is deployed in order to silence those who would call for greater action in the face of Israeli war crimes and other violations of Palestinian rights under international law. Indeed, many of those who argue that divestment “singles out” Israel have no similar reservations when applying economic and political pressure to other countries and conflicts, such as Darfur.

As Naomi Klein has written, divestment is not a dogma: it's a tactic. Up against powerful state and corporate actors, civil society must focus its energies for collective actions such as boycott or divestment to succeed. Such was the case when companies that enabled the South African apartheid regime were targeted for divestment. A similar campaign succeeded regarding Darfur, and today another campaign is underway against Sri Lanka for its continuing oppression of the Tamil people. In all three cases those nations were or are singled out for divestment while at the same time other injustices loomed in the world. To do so made tactical sense while re-inforcing the principle that companies are legitimate targets for boycott and divestment wherever they are integral actors in a system of oppression. When all other measures fail, consumers and investors have one last recourse: to chose to spend and invest their money elsewhere. For many around the world, this is the best way to intervene against Israel’s systematized racism and oppression of the Palestinian people.

Those who believe that confronting Israel is unfair are themselves relying on an unacceptable double standard, "singling out" Israel, so to speak, as the one country expressly permitted to wantonly attack and persecute its minority citizens and subjects while the rest of the world passively watches. However, there can be only one universal standard of human rights. Privileging one state or actor over all others to remove it from accountability creates double standards that undermine the integrity of social justice activism all over the world. No one who chooses to engage in war crimes, colonization or human rights violations should expect the complicity of people around the world. Today, more than ever, is the time to single out Israel for criticism and boycott – not because it is the only purveyor of injustice in the world, or even necessarily the worst – but because no other international institution has succeeded in stopping the injustices against the Palestinians that continue to unfold before our eyes and in the full light of history.

[1]“In fact, from 1949 through 1997, the total of U.S. aid to all of the countries of sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean combined was $64,127,500,000—considerably less than the $71,077,600,000 Israel received in the same 1949 through 1997 time period. According to the Population Reference Bureau of Washington, DC, in mid-1999 the sub-Saharan and Latin American and Caribbean countries have a combined population of 1.142 billion people, while Israel’s mid-1999 population is 6.1 million people.“ Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Sunday, April 11, 2010

HaModed's Press Release: West Bank dwellers possibly illegal...



The new order: an Israeli demand that all residents of the West Bank including those who were born there and live in the Palestinian Authority obtain an Israeli issued permit

HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual and nine other human rights organizations urgently appealed to the minister of defense this morning with a demand to delay the entry into force of two military orders which will turn all residents of the West Bank into criminals who may be imprisoned for up to seven years or deported from the area.

On Tuesday, April 13 2010, the Order regarding Prevention of Infiltration (Amendment No. 2) [click for actual view of document] and the Order regarding Security Provisions (Amendment No. 112) are to enter into effect. The orders, signed by the previous GOC Central Command, Gadi Shamni but not revealed, are worded so broadly such as theoretically allowing the military to empty the West Bank of almost all its Palestinian inhabitants. Despite the severe ramifications of the orders, the authorities did not publicize their existence among the Palestinian population as required, which raises grave concerns that they intended to pass them secretly without public debate or judicial review.

The orders substantively change the definition of “infiltrator” and in effect apply it to anyone who is present in the West Bank without an Israeli permit. The orders do not define what Israel considers a valid permit. The vast majority of people now living in the West Bank have never been required to hold any sort of permit to be present therein.

The military will be able to prosecute and deport any Palestinian defined as infiltrator in stark contradiction to the Geneva Convention. There is a possibility that some of the deportees will not be given an opportunity for a hearing before being removed from the West Bank as, according to the orders, the deportation may be executed within 72 hours whereas it is possible to delay bringing a person before the appeals committee for up to eight days from issuance of a deportation order.

In their letter to the minister of defense, the organizations stated that based on Israel’s current policy, the orders are expected to be initially used against Palestinian residents of the West Bank whom Israel wishes to transfer to the Gaza Strip, despite the fact that many of them were born in the West Bank or lawfully relocated thereto. Israel is further expected to use the orders to deport foreign passport holding spouses of West Bankers abroad. This category includes tens of thousands of individuals. However, the definition of “infiltrator” which exposes a person to a prison term of three to seven years could, in principle, be applied to any person the military commander wishes ill, including Israeli and international citizens who are present in the West Bank.

The organizations demanded the minister of defense delay the entry into effect of the orders pending a serious and comprehensive debate thereof and announced that they will fight the draconian legislation by any means.

For more information: Att. Elad Cahana, HaMoked: 0545-800819

Friday, April 09, 2010

Remembering Deir Yassin...


Villagers, along with international and Israeli supporters, protested on Friday at the village of Nil ‘in, central West Bank, the Israeli built wall on farmer's lands.

Villagers conducted midday prayers at lands close to the wall then marched towards it. Israeli troops were heavily deployed at the gate of the wall separating farmers from their lands. Protesters gathered at the gate and organizers delivered speeches in commemoration of Dier Yassin.

Later, soldiers used tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets to disperse the crowd. Dozens suffered from the effects of tear gas inhalation. The nonviolent weekly protest ended with clashes between local youths and troops.

On April 19th 1948 Etzel and Lechi zionist military organizations attacked Deir Yassin, a village with about 750 Palestinian residents located near Jerusalem.

These military organizations became part of the Israeli army when the country was officially recognized.

Over 100 men, women, and children were systematically murdered. Fifty-three orphaned children were left along the wall of Jerusalem’s Old City, where they were found by Miss Hind Husseini who brought them to her home, which was to become the Dar El-Tifl El-Arabi orphanage.

In Israel, reality hides under a 'top secret' stamp

Akiva Eldar - Ha'aretz

It was spring 1983, the height of the first Lebanon War. A young officer appeared at my door and placed two documents in my hand that had been stamped "Highly Classified."

One was an intelligence evaluation that found, unequivocally, that no diplomatic or security purpose was being served by Israeli troops' continued bloodletting on the mountains around Beirut. The second was a plan for the approaching 35th Independence Day parade in Jerusalem. In a bid to raise the nation's flagging morale, prime minister Menachem Begin and outgoing defense minister Ariel Sharon were considering spending tens of millions of shekels from state coffers to bring tanks into "unified" Jerusalem.

The young officer said his conscience had brought him to my home, as he hoped to publicize the files' contents and save precious blood and money.

The label "highly classified" does not automatically turn a document into a security concern, the leaking of which constitutes espionage or treason. In most cases, the designation is intended simply to ensure that the file's contents do not reach the public's view. The more highly classified a document, the smaller the list of readers and the higher the penalty for leaking it.

Some of the same prominent politicians and security figures who are today expressing shock at Kam's alleged misdeeds have, during my decades of journalism, in fact given me material for countless articles related to strategic issues. The difference between the journalist who thrives off of access to classified material and the kind who earns his livelihood printing the statements of spokespeople is akin to the difference between a democratic state and a totalitarian regime. A democratic government does not, as a rule, stem leaks. Nor does it interrogate journalists.

In the summer of 1967, Yeshayahu Leibowitz prophesied that Israel's occupation would corrupt the country and turn it into "a Shin Bet state." As early as the first intifada, we understood there is no such thing as an enlightened occupation. One nation cannot rule over another for 43 years without behaving cruelly toward the helpless, without executing people without trial, without embittering the lives of women and children, the sick and elderly.

To manage an occupation, a nation must raise obedient soldiers and officers - the kind who sit quietly while ideas are floated on how to circumvent the rulings of the supposedly leftist High Court, how to keep prying journalists at bay and how to deceive the meddlesome state comptroller. Without collaborators within the establishment, dozens of "legal" settlements wouldn't be built on "state lands," nor "unauthorized outposts" on private Palestinian territory.

Right now, hundreds of clerks and officers are sitting in the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the army lacking the courage to contact a journalist and divulge that the ministers or commanders in charge are endangering their children's future.

Some are keeping to themselves the real story behind the big lie peddled by Ehud Barak, Shaul Mofaz and Moshe Ya'alon - the falsehood that "Yasser Arafat planned the intifada," which gave rise to the disastrous "there is no partner" ideology. The real story, of course, is contained in documents stamped with the words "Top Secret".

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Beita incident - 1988

David Samel @ Mondoweiss.

Today marks the 22nd anniversary of just one of the innumerable tragic events in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is worth revisiting because it typifies the racism, cruelty, injustice, even insanity of the Occupation. A succession of New York Times articles captures the chronology of events and just as importantly, how those events were revealed and discussed by the newspaper of record.

The incident occurred on April 6, 1988 in and around the West Bank village of Beita. The intifada had begun several months earlier, and the death toll stood at122 Palestinians killed by the Israeli military, which had lost a single soldier. In addition to the Palestinian fatalities, there had been untold numbers of arrests, routine torture of detainees, and broken bones deliberately inflicted by IDF troops pursuant to the openly-stated policy of the Defense Minister, the future Nobel peacemaker Yitzhak Rabin.

What landed this incident on front page of the Times was the fact that Israel had lost its first civilian, a teenage girl named Tirza Porat. In an article entitled “Israeli Girl Killed by Rocks in Melee,” John Kifner reported that Tirza had been “stoned to death by Palestinian villagers” while hiking with friends on a “holiday outing.” The body of the article revealed that two Palestinians also had been killed, but the headline left no doubt as to whose life was of more significance.

The Israeli hikers reported that their group of 18, two of whom were armed guards, had been confronted outside Beita by Palestinian youths throwing stones, and that “pandemonium broke out . . when a woman rushed out and slammed a big rock down on the head of one of the Israeli guards.” Military officials stated that Tirza’s “skull was crushed by repeated blows, apparently from stones.” According to Gen. Amram Mitzna, commander of the West Bank: ”Many stones were thrown at the children, who were also beaten. As a result, the girl was killed and two or three of the teen-age hikers were seriously injured.”

Israel, which had administered so much suffering to quell an uprising against a 21-year-old occupation, now found itself “victimized” by a tiny fraction of that suffering, and the reaction was immediate and extreme. Religious Affairs Minister Zevulun Hammer chimed in with the presumably religious viewpoint, calling on the army to ”cut off the arms of these wild men and smash the skull of the viper of death.”

The following day, Tirza’s funeral became a public spectacle. Her fellow settlers called for “revenge” and expulsion of the Arabs. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir brought lighter fluid, telling the mourners, “The heart of the entire nation is boiling” and “God will avenge her blood.” A “rabbi” added that the village of Beita ‘’should be wiped off the face of the earth.” Minister of Justice Avraham Sharir recommended that dozens of houses be demolished and hundreds expelled upon mere suspicion of responsibility.

Israel began to dispense such justice immediately. A third Palestinian youth from Beita was killed, this time by the IDF, which explained that the boy was trying to flee, presumably from the armed soldiers who were pursuing and firing at him. The army also demolished several houses in the village.

However, the same day as the funeral, the hikers’ story began to unravel, when a bullet from an Israeli guard’s rifle was recovered from Tirza’s body. More information was available from the young Israeli hikers, who said that Israeli guards had fired some shots outside the village, and repeated that the trouble began when a woman hit one Israeli guard, a Meir Kahane follower named Roman Aldubi, with a rock. Aldubi had such a history of violence against Arabs, including shooting at them, that he had become the first Jewish citizen subject to the “emergency powers that are commonly used to control Palestinians,” according to the Times. One of the Israeli hikers confided to ABC News that the outing had a political message to the indigenous population: ”We have to show them that we are the owners of the country.”

The next day’s Times article confirmed that Tirza had indeed been killed by a stray bullet fired by Aldubi, the Israeli guard. It also turned out that the woman who hit Aldubi with the rock was the sister of the unarmed young farmer Aldubi already had slain. It was revealed that Aldubi had also shot and wounded another farmer in the stomach. The army’s response to these revelations was to demolish eight more houses in the village, bringing the total to 14.

According to the Israeli army commander, Aldubi used the young Israeli hikers as human shields. He told the children ”to form a belt, a barrier around him so that no one will reach him” and then he began shooting, killing one Palestinian and wounding another. In the melee that followed, some of the Palestinian villagers protected the Israeli youngsters from the angry mob. They disarmed the Israeli guards, but instead of using the weapons themselves, they tried to destroy them.

On April 10, four days after the incident, and after the most critical facts already were known, a Times editorial expressed uncertainty over whether Tirza had been “killed by Palestinian-hurled stones or by a bullet from the gun of an Israeli protector.” Its own reporter already had confirmed the latter. The editorial knew where to lay the blame: “both sides are accountable,” although considerably more attention was devoted to attacking the Arab side.

The following day, when responsibility for the event was quite clear, Trade Minister Ariel Sharon proposed that the entire village of Beita be evacuated and “all its houses blown up, and that more settlements be built.” Israel then expelled 12 Palestinians, including six from Beita, to southern Lebanon, and uprooted hundreds of almond and olive trees as collective punishment, teaching the villagers of Beita not to become victims of settler violence.

About one week after the incident, Prime Minister Shamir gave a speech in which he refused to accept his own military’s admission that Tirza had been killed by an Israeli bullet rather than Palestinian stoning: ”Even today, when we dwell in our own land, ‘evil-hearted and unfeeling people shoot poison arrows at our youngsters as they wander the countryside, turning it into a valley of death.”

When the dust settled, and the initial fevered emotions returned to normal, the Israeli authorities punished the guilty party. No, not Aldubi. The killer of three was judged to have suffered enough, and he was not prosecuted. But a prison sentence was handed down against the pregnant sister of the first Palestinian Aldubi killed, for hitting him in the head with a rock.

So let’s sum this all up. A group of illegal Israeli settlers take a deliberately provocative hike to an Arab village to show them who’s boss. They allow an Israeli racist hothead with a violent history to be an armed guard, and he predictably murders two Palestinians and shoots two others, and accidentally kills an Israeli girl. The Times blames both sides equally. The Israeli army kills a third Palestinian youth for “running away” and destroys 14 homes, most if not all of them after learning who was responsible for killing the Israeli. The killer of three is allowed to walk free, while the pregnant sister of one of the Palestinian victims goes to prison, and six men from the village are expelled from the country.

No less significant than these events was a follow-up article in the Times by Joel Brinkley appearing four months later about the seething villagers of Beita. In a bizarre effort to conform to the Times’ even-handed policy, Brinkley reduced the Palestinian death toll to a single fatality rather than three, neatly counterbalanced by the single Israeli death. For good measure, Brinkley added that by the time it became clear that Tirza had been shot by a fellow settler rather than stoned to death, “Israel had already taken vengeance,” blowing up 14 homes and deporting six residents to Lebanon.

Since his own paper’s articles had accurately reported both the death toll and the fact that Israel exacted this retribution even after learning the truth about Tirza’s death, it is hard to believe Brinkley’s errors were accidental. He simply rewrote history to make it more palatable to his own sensibilities. This is the type of reporting that landed Brinkley a professorship at Stanford after a 23-year career with the Times..

For more than two decades before this incident, and two more since, this is what the Occupation has meant to millions of Palestinians. They have had to endure the obscenity of a military dictatorship imposed by a foreign power with a flagrantly racist ideology that views them as sub-human for daring to be born on land coveted by another people. When they rebel, even when they’re victimized by Israeli hostility, they’re judged guilty of insubordination and subject to extreme collective punishment.

If anything, matters have gotten worse over the past 22 years. They will continue to get worse as long as one “people” insist on their right to absolute rule over another.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Congressman Brian Baird stands up for the people of Gaza

Seattle Times - Bruce - Ramsay.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The United States should break Israel's blockade of Gaza and deliver badly needed supplies by sea, a U.S. congressman told Gaza students.

The congressman was Brian Baird. Many of his colleagues go to Israel, few to Gaza — and none as often as he. The southwest Washington Democrat likes to see things for himself. He went to Iraq, and changed his opinion of U.S. strategy there.

Why Gaza? In an interview, Baird recalled a speech some years ago by Israel's current premier, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). To Baird, the speech was "thinly disguised racism" — and he recoiled from it. When the crowd applauded, he and his wife walked out.

Then there was Rachel Corrie, who in 2003 was killed in Gaza while trying to block an Israeli bulldozer from wrecking a Gazan house. The Corrie family lives in Baird's district.

Many of his friends "are very distressed" with his criticism of Israel, Baird said. "But if they would see what I have seen and could meet the people I have met, they would change their position."

He recalled his visit to Gaza in February 2009, after Israel's invasion. The American International School had been "a beautiful school, with a Western curriculum." Israel had flattened it, Baird said, "using bombs made by us." A U.S.Alabama. military man told him of finding a phosphorus shell from the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama.

By Israel's count, the final death toll of the war on Gaza was 1,166 Gazans and 13 Israelis — a kill ratio of 90-to-1. By the Gazans' count the ratio was 111-to-1.

Israel said it was defending itself, against rockets — homemade pipe-bomb-type rockets. These had been fired by Gazan hotheads against the Israeli town of Sderot to protest Israel's quarantine. The rockets hadn't killed any Israelis, but they might have.

All sides in war claim self-defense. Maybe because Baird is a psychologist he is less inclined to accept such claims at face value. He recalled the reaction of Israeli generals and rightist politicians when he disputed them: How dare you question us?

Keep pushing on them, he said, "and something more pernicious comes out." They will say, "Don't lecture us about humanity after all you've done."

Netanyahu once reminded an interviewer who was pushing him that the British and Americans had firebombed Dresden. Years ago, on a radio show, when I condemned Israel for taking Palestinian land, my host asked if I would give New Mexico back to the Mexicans.

It is a telling argument. A conqueror's argument. You don't hear it, though, unless you peel off the wrapping paper of "defense." And Congress won't do that.

Baird recalled the vote on the Goldstone report, in which jurist Richard Goldstone listed human-rights violations on both sides of the Gaza war. Goldstone has big credentials from his work in Bosnia and Rwanda. And he is Jewish. But he criticized the Israeli military — and the House quickly voted to dismiss his report. All of this state's representatives voted against the report except Baird and Seattle Democrat Jim McDermott, a psychiatrist.

"Colleague after colleague denounced a report they had never read, about a place to which they had never been," Baird said. "I read the Goldstone report. All of it. I found it credible."

Baird is not running for re-election.