Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Extrajudicial Killing Zone…

Excerpt from Welcome to Gaza by Max Ajl in Gaza – Jewbonics:

That evening, my friends walked into the apartment where I was staying with more composure than I remember having when the boy died after being shot in the femoral artery at a protest last year. This time it was a 20-year-old shepherd, Salama Abu Hashish, apparently shot through the kidney from the back as he was herding his animals a couple hundred meters from the border. He had died at the hospital minutes before they arrived.

Has anything changed here? Nothing has changed. My friends, many of them younger than I am, are a year older. Sharek Youth Forum was raided and shut down by the government. People are insistently shot down by the IDF while Gaza isn’t so much antediluvian—although it’s that, too, with donkeys moving people up and down main streets, jostling for space with late-model Mercedes recently imported into Gaza—as outside time, people wait to come into time. When, asks my landlord, will it end, and what is there to say but, hopefully soon?

Today I went to the martyr’s tent in Beit Lehiya. The shepherd who had died was freshly married. His child had been born two days before. His father said, “I am open,” indicating a line running along his sternum. The young man who had died had been his oldest son, leaving three brothers and two sisters. My friends working here, and the statistics, say that these murders, even more, the injuries, have been incessant since I left at the end of July. Incessant, and nearly banal, and marked in the West by a thundering silence—the silence of a racism that roars at the death of a Jewish Israeli and does not even bother to shrug at the death of a Bedouin living with his sheep, amidst the soil that’s dry from the rains which still, at end of December, have not come.

And what remains for his father? The stink of Beit Lehiya’s open, fetid sewage pits glittering in Gaza’s hot January sun, and a kilometer or two north of their home, the ghetto wall running along Gaza’s northern frontier, with its watchtowers and their minders, one of whom put a hole in his son’s back for being on the wrong part of his own land, a mistake for which his child will pay by never knowing his father. There will be no apology forthcoming for that murder. The family probably won’t bother with an impotent lawsuit in the racist Israeli court system, and that same obdurate racism ensures that Salama’s murder will be reprised again and again in the coming days and weeks while Israeli snipers maintain Israel’s “security” in a buffer zone already monitored by endless surveillance towers, drones, motion sensors, tanks, and automated machine guns, all of it a constant reminder to his parents that their child’s murderer walks free somewhere north or east of that concrete wall while they while away their time fuming, anguished, asking us as we visit, rhetorically rather than desperately, “Where is our freedom?” And all we can ever do is pathetically look at the ground and pretend we don’t understand the Arabic and don’t know the answer. We understand the Arabic, we understand the question, we know the answer, we know exactly where that freedom is—it’s under an Israeli-American jackboot that’s trying to grind that desire for freedom into nothingness, into human dust, while Obama and Netanyahu babble insanely about the Zionist need for security, a security that can only be secured by endless piles of Palestinian corpses, with resistance quieted and Ashkelon safe amidst the secure tranquility of the killing fields to its south. [my emph.]

Breaking the Silence: the book...

Warm hat tip to Didi Remez from Coteret blog:

Breaking the Silence has just published a landmark collection of soldier testimonies from the Occupied Territories spanning the period 2000-2010. The 432 page book can now be browsed, downloaded and embedded here.

If you read nothing else, take the time to look over the first to pages of the introduction for a simple and honest analysis of how the IDF degenerated into a tool of dispossession. Here’s its core:

From the descriptions given by the soldiers, one comes to grasp the logic of Israeli operations overall. The testimonies leave no room
for doubt: while it is true that the Israeli security apparatus has had to deal with concrete threats in the past decade, including terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens, Israeli operations are not solely defensive. Rather, they systematically lead to the de facto annexation of large sections of the West Bank to Israel through the dispossession of Palestinian residents. The widespread notion in Israeli society that the control of the Territories is intended exclusively to protect the security of Israeli citizens is incompatible with the information conveyed by hundreds of IDF soldiers.

The Israeli security forces and governmental bodies make consistent reference in the media and in internal discussions and military briefings to four components of Israeli policy in the Territories: ‘preventing terrorism’ or ‘prevention of hostile terrorist activity’ (sikkul); ‘separation’, i. e., Israel’s “separating itself” from the Palestinian population (hafradah); the need to preserve Palestinian ‘fabric of life’ (mirkam hayyim); and ‘law enforcement’ (akhifat hok) in the
Territories. But the terms that Israeli security forces apply to various
components of Israeli policy in the Territories present a partial, often
distorted, description of the policy and its consequences. These terms, once descriptive, quickly become code-words for activities that are unrelated to their original meaning. This book describes the Israeli policies in the Territories which the State of Israel’s institutions do not disclose. The men and women soldiers whose testimonies appear in this book are an especially reliable source of information: they are not merely witnesses to Israeli policy; they have been entrusted with the task of carrying it out, and are — explicitly or implicitly — asked to conceal it as well.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Racist Rabbis…

I’ve always been convinced that ethnocentricity of the kind we increasingly and with inevitable logic see appear in the ‘Jewish State’ can only lead to racism: putting ‘Self’ firmly above ‘Other’, as decreed by G-d in an extreme interpretation of ‘Ye Olde Scrolls’. Here’s that principle in action:

Fifty Israeli rabbis have signed an open letter warning Jews not to rent or sell property to non-Jews, saying those who do should be "ostracised," a copy of the letter showed on Tuesday.

The advice was condemned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, who said "this kind of speech should be banned in a Jewish and democratic state."

The letter instructs that "it is forbidden in the Torah
to sell a house or a field in the land of Israel to a foreigner," referring to the Pentateuch -- the first five books of the Bible.

Signed mostly by state-employed rabbis, the document warns that "he who sells or rents them a flat in an area where Jews live causes great harm to his neighbours."

"After someone sells or rents just one flat,
the value of all the neighbouring flats drops... He who sells or rents (to
non-Jews) causes his neighbours a big loss and his sin is great," the letter said, in what was largely understood to refer to Israel's Arab minority.

"Anyone who sells (property to a non-Jew) must be cut off!!"

According to the Israeli news website Ynet, the letter is to be published in religious newspapers and distributed in synagogues across the country later this week.

Source: Yahoo! News

Imagine something like this happening in any other ‘democracy’… There would be hell to pay and rightly so...

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Other Special Relationship…

Yesterday was another occasion to watch one of Jeera’s instalments of the excellent ‘Fault Lines’ series (Avi Lewis and John Rushing). Watch among other things how Canada’s Jason Kenny managed to withdraw funding from the ‘wrong’ ‘pro-Palestinian advocacy’ group…

Jeera’s own plug:

In Canada, a high-stakes battle is being waged
between a powerful pro-Israel lobby close to the conservative government, and a growing Palestinian solidarity movement that calls Israel an apartheid state that should be subject to boycott, divestment and sanctions.

But there is one point on which both sides agree: over the past five or six years, Canada has become one of Israel's most fervent supporters on the world stage. What are the implications for a country that has traditionally been seen as more of an honest-broker in the Israel-Palestinian conflict than the US, its more powerful neighbour to the south?

On this episode of Fault Lines, Avi Lewis opens a window into the debate over Canada-Israel: The other special relationship.

Or watch it

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Daily Kos bans Israel critic, smears Rachel Corrie

Jim Harris via Mondoweiss

Daily Kos is the "premier online political community with 2.5 million unique visitors per month and 250,000 registered users.” Its stated purpose is simple: “It's a Democratic blog with one goal in mind: electoral victory.” Well, that’s a warning right there. Its goal is simply to promote the Democratic Party brand, not to promote peace, social justice, or oppose oppression. Yet many of us who blog at Daily Kos use the site to promote values such as opposing wars and oppression, no matter the current political popularity of such a stance. If you write there in support of Palestinian liberation and ending US funding for Israeli oppression, you risk, at a minimum, that you will be subject to regular and vicious attacks from those who defend the status quo, or some slightly modified version thereof.

I know, because I was banned from the site after writing on it for over 4 years.
My diaries mostly dealt with the daily and routine violence of the occupation.

Home demolitions and evictions of Palestinians from their homes are the subject of many (and the mockery they make of a “peace process”). I was also not afraid to criticize the Jewish establishment, including the ADL and even groups like Hillel when some locals hosted Efraim Eitam. But the last straw was perhaps my last diary, a report of the protest of Israeli peace groups and their concern that Israel is becoming a fascist state. The pressure must have been too intense for the DKos administration to withstand, so it became easier just to ban me.

I was not all that surprised. In one of my comments, made in regard to the ADL’s attack on the Muslim Community Center planned in New York, I stated that no matter where we live in America “we can demand that bigotry be rejected by all, including New Yorkers, and the ADL.” It elicited this emphatic and crude response: “You have no fucking standing my friend, to demand anything.” That statement, I believe, encapsulates the view that, at Daily Kos, unless you conform to certain limits of acceptable criticism of Israeli policy and of the institutions that support Israeli policy (including the Democratic Party), you simply do not have any standing. For example, saying the Israeli settlements should no longer expand is permissible. But say that the US should cease the funding of Israeli aggression and you can expect to be attacked as being an anti-Semite.

A case in point, and again, very crude but not at all subject to administrative sanction at Daily Kos: in attacking the memory of Rachel Corrie and supporting the Official Israeli line about how she was killed, a commenter said:

... if the ISM's [International Solidarity Movement's] story were true, and the bulldozer had run over her, then backed over her, they'd have buried her in tupperware. The fact that she actually had an open casket funeral would suggest that this scenario was not, in fact, what happened. Additionally the autopsy report finding dirt and debris in her lungs is consistent with the IDF's version of the story that she was on rubble, fell, and was buried under it and crushed by it. But that doesn't fit the ISM's (and your) narrative of malicious, vindictive, thieving Jews, so their version of the story was a bit different.

Notice the clear accusation of anti-Semitism; in this case simply for refusing to accept the Israeli government story on the killing of Rachel Corrie, and the utter disrespect the commenter exhibits toward the family of Rachel Corrie (does any family ever bury their dead in Tupperware? It looks like a variation of the extremist taunts of Rachel as “St. Pancake”). That is the kind of impunity at Daily Kos allowed for those whose views conform to the current anti-Palestinian policies of the Democratic Party.

Would we expect anything better? Not from partisans of a political party where the leadership is supporting starvation sanctions on the people of Gaza. Not from a forum that promotes the political fortunes of Obama, whose military support of occupation and dispossession of the Palestinians is without parallel, and belies his words of mild disagreement with Israeli policies.

Still, we can hope for better, we can work for better, at Daily Kos and even the Democratic Party itself. There are still supporters of human rights who share the latest news and analysis of US policy active at Daily Kos, and they persevere despite the obstacles. Israel has no worries about the current political leadership of the Democratic Party (and needless to say, the Republican Party), but about the grassroots they should be very worried. I see a steady erosion of support for unqualified support of Israeli policies and growing support for a human rights and justice approach. The Progressive Democrats of America has supported congressional candidates like Marcy Winograd, a Jewish non-Zionist. While many of us have given up on the major political parties as avenues of creating justice; we need to recognize that we have many allies within the parties, especially the Democratic Party. So Daily Kos may muzzle a few very active commentators, but the tide is going in the wrong direction for that to be anything but a short-term gain for those who wish to keep the status quo. The future belongs to those who side with human rights and supporting international law.

Jim Harris is now busy with the www.StopAIPAC.org website and organizing a December protest of AIPAC in the Bay Area.