Archive | April 21st, 2010



Renouncing the Law of Return

An excellent short video which sums up why Jewish people should openly renounce and forego the privileges associated with the racist Law of Return, which allows them to ‘return’ to Palestine at any time but denies such a right to those born and brought up there, the indigenous Palestinians.

Tony Greenstein


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Is Israel Wiretapping America?

By Rev. Ted Pike with Aaron and Harmony Daws

The surveillance industry in America got its start in 1994 with passage of CALEA (Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act). The law mandated that telecom companies configure their networks to supply the government with intercepts authorized by a court-issued warrant.

Soon after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush enacted a secret executive order for massive, warrantless wiretapping. Only eight members of Congress and one FISA judge were privy to this information. Today, the FBI is also authorized to eavesdrop and a warrant is no longer needed to tap telecommunications of United States’ citizens.

It’s bad enough that the government can listen to you whenever they want. There is an even more troubling side to this Orwellian reality. Israeli companies are wiretapping America. Authorized by our government, they are doing the actual work of listening to and recording the phone, email, and internet communications of at least 100 nations, including America.

Mass surveillance business and competition grew exponentially after 9/11. Each company wanted to build bigger and better mass surveillance systems which were then sold to whomever would pay the price, “including some of the most repressive and authoritarian governments on the planet,” says journalist James Bamford, author of The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America.

Bamford reveals that America’s largest telecom companies, AT&T and Verizon, have outsourced the job of eavesdropping through their networks, which carry billions of American communications daily, in cooperation with the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance program. The spy job for these major companies was outsourced “to two mysterious companies with very troubling foreign connections.”

AT&T uses a company called Narus to keep records of everything said on their systems. Narus was founded by an Israeli entrepreneur in Israel with ties to Unit 800 (the NSA of Israel). Verizon’s spy system also relies on an Israeli company named Verint.

The founder of Verint is an FBI fugitive who remains so. Congress granted retroactive immunity to these companies (AT&T and Verizon) for allowing their systems to be used to spy on American citizens. Stated plainly, American consumers are subject to warrantless surveillance by Israeli-founded companies without Congressional oversight or public knowledge!

Bamford details how an “Israeli spin-off” of Verint is able to do “advanced voice-mining” that finds one person’s voice in a mountain of intercepted calls.

‘With remote access to the internal and international voice and data communications of over one hundred countries around the world, including the United States, Verint’s headquarters in Tel Aviv has a capacity rivaled only by NSA’s, if not greater, especially when coupled with PerSay’s voice-mining capability.

‘PerSay is an example of how close and interconnected these companies are with Israel’s intelligence community—a factor of great concern considering how much of their bugging equipment is now secretly hardwired into the American telecommunications system.’

A former senior official in Shin Bet— Israel’s secret intelligence—is on PerSay’s board of directors. The advisory board for the company that backs PerSay includes a former chief of Israeli Mossad! Bamford says the “greatest potential beneficiaries of this marriage between the Israeli eavesdroppers and America’s increasingly centralized telecom grid are Israel’s intelligence agencies.”

In 2004, a former intelligence official told LA Times reporters,

‘There is a huge, aggressive, ongoing set of Israeli [intelligence] activities directed against the United States. Anybody who worked in counterintelligence in a professional capacity will tell you the Israelis are among the most aggressive and active countries targeting the United States. They undertake a wide range of technical operations and human operations. The denials are laughable.’

Last year, a judge dismissed charges against two top AIPAC lobbyists accused of leaking classified information to Israel. US Justice Dept. prosecutors said the case should be dropped because it would require exposing sensitive military intelligence—obvious evidence the lobbyists had been spying!

Most Americans might not even be startled to learn about Israeli espionage because they are so firmly convinced that Israel is our ally and has American interests at heart. This is not true. In their now famous paper, The Israel Lobby, Mearsheimer and Walt write bluntly that Israel

‘does not behave like a loyal ally. Israeli officials frequently ignore US requests and renege on promises (including pledges to stop building settlements and to refrain from ‘targeted assassinations’ of Palestinian leaders).

Israel has provided sensitive military technology to potential rivals like China, in what the State Department inspector-general called ‘a systematic and growing pattern of unauthorised transfers’. According to the General Accounting Office, Israel also ‘conducts the most aggressive espionage operations against the US of any ally’.

In addition to the case of Jonathan Pollard, who gave Israel large quantities of classified material in the early 1980s (which it reportedly passed on to the Soviet Union in return for more exit visas for Soviet Jews), a new controversy erupted in 2004 when it was revealed that a key Pentagon official called Larry Franklin had passed classified information to an Israeli diplomat. Israel is hardly the only country that spies on the US, but its willingness to spy on its principal patron casts further doubt on its strategic value.

Israel : Part of Every Phone Call?

It is naïve to expect Narus and Verint to remain independent of control by the government of Israel.

Which Americans might be most threatened by telephone, email, and internet spying from Israel? Answer: critics of Israel and Israel’s PR representative, the Anti-Defamation League. In every way that matters, ADL is Israel. Israel/ADL is particularly troubled by widespread criticism of Israel and matters Jewish from both the intellectual left and the populist right.

Their “conspiracy theories” have a way of always leading back to the Jews. ADL and Jewish-dominated media in America are very apprehensive of Tea Party and right-wing efforts to overthrow liberal Democrat power in Congress (See, “Jews Confirm Big Media is Jewish”). Victory for the right would, among other things, curb ADL’s ability to pass more of its anti-Christian hate crime legislation.

Can these movements of the left or right, potentially threatening Zionist interests, create lasting—even revolutionary—change if Israel/ADL can listen to their every conversation? Of course not.

Already, ADL boasts of monitoring all Christian/conservative media to discover any hint of criticism of Israel or Jewish control. Are they also listening as you plan your next Tea Party rally, militia training exercise or protest of Israeli oppression in Gaza? No one can answer that outside the US Government, AT&T and Verizon, Israel – and probably ADL. One thing we know: There may be little to prevent them.

What can be done? Until there is widespread awareness of Israel’s fundamental disloyalty to America and continuing spy operations against us, Americans can do little to protect our most intimate phone and internet communications.

Unfortunately, Christian/conservative America continues to believe Jews and Israel are especially good and trustworthy, being unconditionally blessed by God. This superstition must give way to a truly biblical (and accurate) knowledge that Israel, founded on the Christ-hating Talmud and set up largely by Marxists, is especially disloyal to our Christian/capitalist society.

 (This is why Israel had no qualms about attempting to sink the USS Liberty during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.) We must become suspicious of dual-loyalty Jews in the highest levels of our government (read Rahm Emanuel), as well as those who control mass media and telecommunications.

This includes Verizon head Ivan Seidenburg, who fraternizes with Jewish internationalists intent on corrupting society and establishing world government. Seidenburg is a Jewish liberal whose internet bio claims he “champions diversity both within and outside” Verizon. What kind of “diversity” is Seidenburg advocating?

He serves on the board of directors of Jewish-owned Viacom, the world’s largest communication empire, which also promotes a cable network called “Gay TV.” In 2003, he was feted at a fundraiser dinner for the UJA-Federation, helping raise $1.2 million for this Jewish charity. He received the Stephen J. Ross Award in honor of the deceased Jewish owner of Warner Bros.

Communications. Warner Music, a division of Ross’s company, is now corrupting the minds of tens of millions of young people worldwide with “gangsta” rap. This “music” utterly degrades women, encouraging teenage boys to rape “bitches.” Filled with unspeakable profanity, it encourages violence against whites and even murder of police.

Among the “good old boys” of the Jewish mega media attending this benefit were Edgar Bronfman, Jr., heir of the Seagram’s liquor empire. Bronfman owns Vivendi Universal which, merged with NBC, produced “The Book of Daniel” TV series denigrating Jesus and the Christian family. (See, “ Was the Talmud Behind NBC’s ‘Book of Daniel’?“) Bronfman also owns Interscope Records, the largest producer of ‘gangsta’ rap in the world today.

Howard Stringer, Jewish CEO of Sony of America, also attended. Sony helped NBC create “The Book of Daniel.” Even more assaulting to Christianity, Sony created The Da Vinci Code movie, portraying Christ as having had sex with Mary Magdalene. (See “ The Jews Behind Da Vinci Code“)

Also conspicuous at the UJA dinner was Viacom head Sumner Redstone (Murray Rothstein). Viacom, owner of CBS, produced the “The Mystery of Christmas” special several years ago which speculated that Jesus was a bastard. Viacom, a cable TV giant, also owns MTV which pumps acid rock and rap music into 210,000,000 homes. MTV’s blatant degeneracy is the dominant influence on youth between 12 and 24 in the world today, encouraging teenage rebellion, gratuitous sex, degradation of women and occultry.

Yet the US Government considers Seidenburg of such irreproachable character that he is trusted to monitor every American’s conversations and emails. He may also be trusted to outsource his eavesdropping to those he trusts in Israel.

The time must come, and soon, that Americans realize that the “bonds of loyalty” between America and Israel should long ago have stretched to breaking. Such bonds, now causing us to naively place our most sensitive and important information gathering in the hands of Israelis, could actually become the chains of our destruction.

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Prosecuting Real War Criminals for a Change

Lithuania accuses Israeli of murdering civilians during WW2.

by Ian Mosley

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “Lithuania is investigating a former chairman of Yad Vashem on suspicion that he murdered civilians during the Holocaust. Yitzhak Arad, a noted historian and partisan fighter who served 21 years as the chairman of Israel’s national Holocaust museum, is suspected by Lithuanian prosecutors of being involved in the wartime killing of Lithuanian civilians. The issue came to light when Lithuanian authorities sought to question Arad, a request Israel has refused.”

Arad apparently was a terrorist during World War Two, but not the kind of terrorist that the “war on terror” would bring to justice.

The JTA goes on: “On Wednesday, the current chairman of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev, delivered a written protest of the matter to visiting Lithuanian Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas. Shalev urged the minister to bring the matter to a speedy resolution.

‘It is clear that initiating criminal proceedings into Dr. Arad’s involvement in Lithuanian partisan activity during World War II is tantamount to a call for an investigation into all partisan activity,’ Shalev wrote. ‘Any attempt to equate those actions with illegal activities, thereby defining them as criminal, is a dangerous perversion of the events that occurred in Lithuania during the war.’”

The Communist regime in Russia is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of 30 million White Christians in eastern Europe prior to World War Two, millions of German POWs and millions more civilians after the war. Many people in eastern Europe sided with the Germans to fight the Communists while the Jewish-controlled British and American armies stabbed Germany in the back. Arad was a Communist terrorist murdering White Christian people in Lithuania for the sake of his master Stalin.

Communism was an invention of the Jews and most of the top people in the Soviet Union were Jews. Lenin was one-quarter Jewish, and Stalin was married to a Jew. During the Soviet period the worst Communist murderers were without exception Jews, from Leon Trotsky (Bronstein), Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, the first Soviet President Sverdlov, and the early head of the secret police Moses Uritsky, on through such Stalinist butchers as Lazar Kaganovich, NKVD Commissar Genrikh Yagoda, the revolting Paukers husband and wife, the “journalist” Ilya Ehrenburg, Stalin’s murderous Hungarian puppet Matyas Rakosi, and on down the line to the thugs and torturers who actually committed the atrocities.

There are such Jewish monsters as the sinister (and to this day almost unknown to history) figure of Colonel V. M. Blokhin, the former kosher slaughterman who wore his old leather apron from his trade to keep from getting splattered as he actually fired the pistol into the brains of Stalin’s victims.

Over a period of 25 years Blokhin probably personally killed at least 50,000 people, making him the most prolific hands-on mass murderer in history, and yet because he was a Jew and immune from any critical examination of his deeds, he retired on a pension and died of natural causes in 1955 and his name is virtually unknown outside Russia to this day.

Now we find that the head of Israel’s so-called “Holocaust” museum was one of Stalin’s butchers as well. How utterly and totally typical of the evil and hypocrisy of the Jews. Arad quite probably knew demons in human form like Kaganovich and Blokhin personally, and participated in their crimes. His hands are stained with the blood of the innocent, and yet he will die peacefully of old age and be buried with honor by his fellow Jews.

The Jews have cheated justice in this world. The graves of their victims are everywhere in eastern Europe, but none of the murderers will be called to justice.

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By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

In 1898, America went to war against Spain based only in misdirection by news organizations tied to the sugar industry.  Cuba sunk into slavery and dictatorship, eventually becoming a 50 year enemy of America and the Philippine people immediately began a large scale national insurrection against American rule.  “Waterboarding,” our current popular method of “non-torture torture” was invented during the Philippine insurrection to question “terror suspects.” Our history books report none of this, of course. 

Newspapers learned that if real news didn’t serve the powerful financial interests that media owners have always been partnered with, they simply could invent their own news.  Today’s stories about Iran’s nuclear ICBM threat against the United States, reported by Fox News, is outlandish, even as “yellow journalism” goes.

Frank Luther Mott (1941) defines yellow journalism as:

  1. scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news
  2. lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings
  3. use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudo-science, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts
  4. emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with comic strips (which is now normal in the U.S.)
  5. dramatic sympathy with the “underdog” against the system.

Apply this to television and you get Fox News.

Apply this to a nation, and you get the Israeli version of their own history and today’s world events.


Israel had their own “Bush administration” but worse, endlessly worse.  The reason so many American’s insist they had been involved in 9/11 isn’t just the “dancing Israeli’s,” the Mossad film crew waiting to record the 9/11 planes hitting the twin towers and then dancing for joy.  When police, after arresting them, found out they were Israelis, they were quickly spirited out of the country along with many others. 

Fewer Americans noticed how quickly news stories seemed equally strange, people “randomly chosen” off the street explaining the science of the building collapses or, oddest of all, the announcement of the building 7 collapse while is was on the screen, virtually undamaged. 

 Most of all, on 9/11 and for the years since, Fox News has continually worked up a hysteria meant to send American troops against any “commercial” threat to Israels gas and oil empire in central Asia.

9/11 went further than “yellow journalism.”  9/11 proved some “journalistic” organizations go both ways, camera or gun, whichever get the job done best.


As Admiral Mullen explained yesterday, Iran really can’t be attacked and has absolutely no ability to attack anyone else.  But Fox News now has announced that Iran is planning on a nuclear attack on the United States and is building weapons for that

Fox is extrapolating from a low level Pentagon report that says that with “foreign help” Iran could build missiles, well, like the ones Israel just threatened to attack Western Europe with, except, of course, Iran didn’t threaten anyone and has no nuclear weapons. 

Fox never mentions Israeli threats, weapons or, in particular, much of what goes on in Gaza.  Fox and their allied networks and newspapers around the world have been the voice of the Mossad for decades.

This quote was in the Department of Defense document, “unclassified” that Fox received.  An “unclassified document” can come from any source.  In this case, an unnamed source, possibly cleaning personnel.

“Iran continues to provide money, weapons and training to select Iraqi Shia militants despite pledges by senior Iranian officials to stop such support,” the report says. “Iran also offers strategic and operational guidance to militias and terrorist groups to target U.S. Forces in Iraq and undermine U.S. interests.”

Of course, as most know, the Iraqi government is, itself, Shia and the rebels actually Sunni.  The Shia majority is the elected government and the militants are, generally, Sunni.  Iran’s close relationship is with the government, the same government the United States has a close relationship with.  Only one nation is served by this childish and erroneous statement, Israel.


Though Iran has not yet taken delivery of the Russian SA300 air defense system, it has huge stocks of shoulder mounted air defense missiles.  None of these systems have ever gotten into the hands of insurgents in Iraq or Afghanistan, nor have they been used against the United States, although they could represent a serious threat to our helicopters there. 

Additionally, Iran is now manufacturing their own medium range system based on the American Hawk system, which the Reagan Administration supplied to Iraq during the Iran Contra scandal.

The advance American Hawk air defense systems were shipped illegally to Iran through Israeli arms traders working directly for the Reagan White House.

Michael Ledeen, a consultant of National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, requested assistance from Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres for help in the sale of arms to Iran. The idea behind the plan was for Israel to ship weapons through an intermediary (identified as Manucher Ghorbanifar)…. the U.S. would reimburse Israel with the same weapons, while receiving monetary benefits. The Israeli government required that the sale of arms meet high level approval from the United States government, and when Robert McFarlane convinced them that the U.S. government approved the sale, Israel obliged by agreeing to sell the arms.   

At first, the Iranians refused to buy the arms at the inflated price because of the excessive markup imposed by Oliver North and Ghorbanifar.   In February 1986, 1,000 TOW (advanced anti-armor) missiles were shipped to the country. 

In late July 1986, Hezbollah released another hostage, Father Lawrence Martin Jenco, former head of Catholic Relief Services in Lebanon. Following this, William Casey, head of the CIA, requested that the U.S. authorize sending a shipment of small missile parts to Iranian military forces as a way of expressing gratitude.


Ever wonder how Fox got into the United States?  It has been against American law for a foreign group to own a TV network here.  However, House leader, Newt Gingrich pushed changes through that allowed what we have today, Fox News pushing America into war after war, organizing “tea baggers” and continually bleating for Israel, for Wall Street and for the GOP.  Need we point out that Rupert Murdoch is Jewish, not significant in itself, but also the force behind Israel’s ultra-nationalist extremists.

The 1995 Murdoch Deal

You probably heard something about Newt’s book scandal. He was offered first $2.5 million, then $4.5 million by Harper Collins, a publishing company owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns the Fox TV network and newspapers and TV stations around the world. Murdoch has been having problems with a complaint by NBC that Fox is a foreign owned TV network, which is against US law.

In the past, Harper Collins has offered million dollar book contracts to several conservative politicians in countries where Murdoch was having regulatory trouble, including England (Margaret Thatcher, Jeffrey Archer) and China (Deng Xiaoping’s daughter). A week after the initial offer, Newt met with Rupert Murdoch – and Murdoch’s legislative lobbyist – to discuss politics, including the NBC complaint. As facts about the deal were made public, and even Republicans criticized him, Gingrich decided to give up the $4.5 million advance for a still-lucrative deal based on royalties.

Gingrich’s story kept changing through the controversy. First, Newt’s spokesman said that Murdoch knew nothing about Gingrich and the book deal. On Friday January 13, Newt’s spokesman admitted that Murdoch actually met Newt on a park bench the week before the deal was made, but didn’t talk about it.

He also said he knew nothing about Murdoch’s lobbyist being at their meeting. The next day, he admitted the lobbyist was there, but claimed he didn’t say so because no one asked.

Newt also said repeatedly that the book wasn’t his idea; that a literary agent named Lynn Chu had sought him out and proposed it. After Ms. Chu said that Gingrich’s associate Jeff Eisenach called her first on Newt’s behalf, Eisenach and Newt’s spokesman admitted that was true.

The tradeoff would be for Fox to be “fair and balanced,” as long as it accepted only news approved by the Republican National Committee.  In return, Israel got control of Fox News, the Wall Steet Journal, the New York Post to add to key figures in news groups around the world, a defacto “blackout” on fairness and a demonstrated ability to manipulate news, public opinion, legislation, elections and American foreign policy.  More former senior American military officers are employed to “spin” phony world threats than “advise” defense contractors they used to negotiate against.

More of the Fox News “fair and balanced” spin is in the following statement from their article:

The report outlines Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities and developments saying it is “keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons,” which is consistent with what we’ve heard from a wide range of U.S. officials.

We could read this a number of ways.  Let’s look at a few:

  1. Iran has no nuclear weapons program
  2. There is no nuclear weapons program in Iran
  3. Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.
  4. Iran could consider thinking about developing nuclear weapons but we have no reason to believe that.
  5. Fox News is dangerously biased and trying to push America into another illegal attack on another country Israel would like to see destroyed.


Fox News goes further to say:

The report says Iran’s military strategy is designed to defend against external or “hard” threats from the United States and Israel.

According to the criteria used by Fox News, 90% of Americans could be considered “Iranian agents.”  We are all either fearful of the United States government or Israel or both. 

As of yesterday, 88% of Americans were willing to vote our own government out of existence.  Anyone who doesn’t see the United States government as a “hard threat” has never filed a tax return.  Anyone not afraid of Israel needs to look into a concentration camp named “Gaza.”


“You know very well, and the stupid Americans know equally well, that we control their government, irrespective of who sits in the White House. You see, I know it and you know it that no American president can be in a position to challenge us even if we do the unthinkable.

What can they (Americans) do to us? We control congress, we control the media, we control show biz, and we control everything in America. In America you can criticize God, but you can’t criticize Israel…” Israeli spokeswoman, Tzipora Menache


Is the statement above correct?  Of course it is.  Is there such a person as Tzipora Menache?  No.

This is a statement planted to discredit those using it, a “poison pill” to be used by our “watchers” to discredit anyone who watches them.  With total corporate control of our media, foreign control of our congress, Emanual Rahm next to the president, the GOP openly covering crimes for Goldman Sachs, the “Tea Baggers” working as dupes for Israel and Wall Street as part of a program to destabilize the US government in retaliation for failing to support a nuclear attack on Iran.  

For every “free speech” website, a “lunatic fringe” site, sometimes ten, pop up overnight, always discrediting themselves, misdirecting protests, point the “other way” or drowning out the legitimate voice of those asking why Americans have been silenced. 

With Obama’spolicy of having law enforcement infiltrate the 9/11 Truth movement and other legitimate attempts to check runaway government authority being hijacked by powerful corporate interests, usually the AIPAC, defense, oil or financial lobbies, though their “think tanks” and public relations agencies, along with thousands of bloggers, pundits and “hangers on.”


One way to tell how effective propaganda is can be tested simply.  Tell a group of people the simple truth.  If they call it “outlandish lies” it means that your misinformation program is working.  Iran simply repeats the truth, a truth 80% of the world agrees with, and a majority of Americans, a majority growing smaller each day, is shocked at how insane it all sounds.  This says nothing about Iran and speaks volumes about the state of democracy in the United States.

So many Americans are clamouring for change but fail to realize that they have change, the change they voted for and many fought wars for.  They got change, change for the worse.

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by John Allen

Presented by

* Join Opinion Maker for a Foreign Policy Webinar on April 22

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Reserve your Webinar seat now at:  GoTo Meeting

This informative and intellectual presentation by Jeff Gates will cover the following:

How Israel Wages War on the U.S in Plain Sight, engages in Game Theory Warfare, and how this nation in the middle east took control of U.S. Foreign Policy.

Register below for the live presentation and discussion by author Jeff Gates!

Jeff Gates Please spread the word that space is limited so register as soon as you can!

  • Title: Israel, War and Foreign Policy with Jeff Gates. On the Panel would also be James Rockefeller and Raja Mujtaba
  • Date: Thursday, April 22, 2010
  • Time: 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM PDT.

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

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About Jeff Gates

A Vietnam veteran, Jeff Gates is a widely acclaimed author, attorney, investment banker, educator and consultant to government, corporate and union leaders worldwide. He served for seven years as counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance.

He is widely published in the trade, popular and academic press. His latest book is Guilt by Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War. His previous books include Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street From Wall Street and The Ownership Solution: Toward a Shared Capitalism for the 21st Century. Topical commentaries appear on the Criminal State website.


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Afghanistan is to convene a grand tribal convention for a consensus with the Taliban leaders to relinquish the status-quo and accept the terms and conditions set by regional countries including US, UK and Saudi Arabia to end the War in Afghanistan.

This could be a milestone and turning point for all parties to lay down some genuine benchmarks for Afghanistan’s future. However, as learned from some news media sources that there are rough roads ahead and some believe it is a replay of Soviet Union’s last minute attempt that failed prior to its withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, and some believe it is the lack of regional players’ true intention that makes this a futile effort to thrive.

The story in this article begins with a motion picture analogy:

Theoretically if a movie were to be produced and “Lights! Camera! Action!” was all it took to begin a narrative to end the war in Afghanistan, what would it look like? Would it be comedy or a tragedy?

The upcoming “Loya Jirga” (centuries old grand assembly of tribal elders) would be the lead characters in the screenplay of this motion picture production while the theme would be the call for a genuine reconciliation and reintegration of the sub-characters i.e. the Taliban.

The plot would wind its way through many sub-plots dealing with various attempts to gain societal consensus through different personalities of this traditional consultative assembly.

The conflict would arise when competing personalities attempt to devise various ways for their individual tribal groups to become the dominant command structure and recruiting source for Afghan forces as they take control of security from NATO-led forces “as rapidly as possible”; when the handover in some provinces is to be carried out possibly by late 2010 or early 2011, as drafted in a communiqué at the London conference last January.

And, when this 500 million dollar produced Jirga (whose setting is located in Kabul) is to convene for the three-day cast play starting on May 2, 2010; the cameras will start to roll, and the spotlights will be on the main characters. But in reality, the calls for “Action!” and “Cut!” will actually be made and controlled by directors who are not even participants in the event, but are just skulking about in the background.

In this “Loya Jirga” cast; the main characters and participants in this film are: between 1200 to 1400 members of the Afghan government (AG); the tribal elders; and presumably the Taliban. This film is intended to display an initiative and a golden opportunity for a major turning point; a turning away from decades of brutal and traumatic war in Afghanistan.

Although the script for such a successful screenplay and film has already been written by the (AG) with backing from the US and UK (director and assistant director), unfortunately to date, the sub-characters (the Taliban) possess a vague position in this screenplay because they have had their own backer and director, Pakistan. The Taliban, and their backer – Pakistan, have been writing their own sub-plot, and they have already had covert rehearsals of their own.

In addition, there are other scenes in this movie that expose hidden agendas such as the scene stealing proxy stand-ins for Pakistan and India. These players will attempt to gain a credible foothold on behalf of their handlers by elbowing each other when the cameras start rolling. India will do what it can to disrupt the notion that Pakistan is indirectly calling the shots; because India feels threatened by the notion that “the road to peace in Afghanistan is through Islamabad”. And, Pakistan feels that its only recourse from Indian influence in Afghanistan is to fight for dominance over Afghan politics.

Mounting pressure for the U.S. and NATO to just pack up and leave Afghanistan will be illustrated by Jirga members watching video in the background of the Soviet Union’s humiliating defeat and exit from Afghanistan. And, if anyone thinks that those videos do not reinforce Afghan fighting resolve, go ask a Russian.

However, Hamid Karzai’s May 2nd Jirga constituents are highly likely to be handpicked by him just to charm the hardheaded Taliban for false reconciliation purposes. We should expect that he will not include those who really suffered at the hands of the Taliban; like the crestfallen women and non-Pashtuns.

Their voices will be replaced by his warlord cronies and drug barons who will openly speak in favor of reconciliation while preparing for the double-cross.

Placing this scenario into perspective, the finished product; its quality and sound, its photographic imagery and its special effects will only combine to produce a box office disaster horror- film.

I am writing all this and using all of these film analogies to say one simple thing, and that is the fact that I see very little hope in this upcoming event on May 2nd through 4th of this year 2010, because there is no unity of purpose being played out by all of the many factions involved. This is just an event to stall for time by the very forces that are causing the problems in the first place.

And until there has been some successful groundwork laid to seek that unity, there will only be a continuation of the same behavior that we have seen in the past.

What we need is new leadership that will respect traditions, listen to all tribal factions, put the people ahead of personal gain, and think in a mutual benefit … win-win frame of mind.

Let’s hope for the best Oscar winning movie of the year!

Khalil Nouri is the cofounder of New World Strategies Coalition Inc., a native think tank for nonmilitary solution studies for Afghanistan.



Foreign Policy Briefing 4/20/2010
 by Bob Higgins

This summary briefing comes to us through the courtesy of Just Foreign Policy.

Support the work of Just Foreign Policy:
Please donate what you can to support our work.

Urge Congress to End the War in Afghanistan
Urge your representatives to support the Feingold-McGovern-Jones bill for a timetable for military withdrawal.
If we can get 100 co-sponsors in the House in the next few weeks, we may able to get a vote on a withdrawal timetable when the House considers the war supplemental.

Current co-sponsors in the House: Capuano; Conyers; DeFazio; Delahunt; Duncan; Farr; Harman; Hirono; Johnson, Timothy; Jones, Walter; Kucinich; Lee, Barbara; Lujan, Ben Ray; Moran, James; Nadler, Jerrold; Pingree, Chellie; Schrader, Kurt; Serrano, Jose; Slaughter, Louise; Welch; Woolsey.
Current co-sponsors in the Senate: none. [!]

Peace Action: Talk with Rep. McGovern about ending the war in Afghanistan
You’re invited to talk with Rep. Jim McGovern, Wednesday, April 21, 8:00 – 9:00 PM Eastern.

Highlights of the House Afghanistan Debate

U.S./Top News
1) 94 percent of Kandaharis interviewed last December prefer negotiating with the Taliban to military confrontation, Gareth Porter reports for Inter Press Service. Ninety-one percent supported the convening of a “Loya Jirga”, or “grand assembly” of leaders as a way of ending the conflict.

Interviewers conducted the survey only in areas which were not under Taliban control. An unclassified report on the survey was published in March by Glevum Associates, a “strategic communications” company under contract for the Human Terrain Systems program in Afghanistan. All this undermines the U.S. claim that the Kandahar offensive will be supported by locals, Porter notes.

2) Defense Secretary Gates warned in a memo to White House officials that the US does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear capability, the New York Times reports.

The NYT says that many government and outside analysts consider it likely Iran would choose to assemble components needed for a nuclear weapon without actually building one, while remaining a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

3) Gates and other Administration officials pushed back against the NYT report, the Washington Post reports. Gates said the NYT article “mischaracterized [the memo’s] purpose and content” when it suggested Gates has despaired that the administration lacked a strategy for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program.

4) Admiral Mullen said military options existed to try to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon but that diplomatic efforts were the best way forward now, Reuters reports. Mullen suggested that accepting that Iran would achieve a “nuclear weapons capability,” as some advocate, would have unintended consequences. [Some interpreted Mullen’s remarks as establishing an equivalence between the “unintended consequences” of accepting an Iranian “nuclear weapons capability” and the “unintended consequences” of a U.S. military attack on Iran – which equivalence might actually be a step forward for U.S. policy – JFP.]

5) Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security said three Italian aid workers who were freed on Sunday after being arrested on suspicion of plotting to kill a provincial governor are not guilty, Reuters reports. [Earlier, some Afghan officials claimed that the Italians had “confessed” to a role in the alleged plot – JFP.]

6) In a letter to the Washington Post, ACLU director Anthony Romero faults the Post for endorsing “a program of targeted killing under which the executive branch has unilateral authority to hunt and kill individuals … anywhere in the world.”

The program is unlawful, Romero writes. The U.S. program is clearly not limited to imminent threats. We have seen the government detain men as “terrorists,” only to discover the evidence was weak, wrong or nonexistent; this should lead us to reject a program that would invest executive officials with the authority to effectively impose death sentences on U.S. citizens and others far from any battlefield without charge or trial, Romero writes.

7) Nonviolent activists in Gaza protesting the Israeli-imposed “buffer zone” are attempting to replicate the West Bank village of Bil’in’s success in drawing international attention to their plight, reports Ashley Bates from Gaza.

People of all political stripes are welcome at the demonstrations, which now occur five days per week at border areas across Gaza. Every demonstrator must not bring weapons and must commit to non-violence.

Senators say $6 billion has been spent training Afghan police since 2002 while achieving essentially nothing, ProPublica reports. “It’s obvious that Afghanistan is not going to be able to afford what we’re building for them,” Senator McCaskill said.

9) An Iraqi court ordered a partial recount of votes in last month’s national election, the New York Times reports. The recount could affect the determination of which party received a plurality, and therefore, according to some interpretations of Iraqi law, which party gets the first chance to try to form a government.

10) Iraqi officials say hundreds of Sunni men disappeared for months into a secret prison under the jurisdiction of Prime Minister Maliki, where many were routinely tortured until the country’s Human Rights Ministry gained access to the facility, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Maliki vowed to shut down the prison and ordered the arrest of the officers working there after Human Rights Minister Wijdan Salim presented him with a report this month.

11) Colombia has been unable to significantly alleviate the misery that helps fuel a 46-year-old conflict and the drug trafficking behind it, the Washington Post reports. Colombia has received $7.3 billion in U.S. aid since 2000; economic output more than doubled since 2002; foreign investment is the fourth-highest in Latin America.

But Colombia is the only major country in Latin America in which the gap between rich and poor has increased in recent years; more than 60 percent of rural Colombians remain poor.

Posted in UncategorizedComments Off on U.S.A: FOREIGN POLICY BRIEFING



Israel is debated at California Democratic convention, Harman walks out in huffPosted: 19 Apr 2010 09:48 AM PDT

We often note the news that Democratic rank-and-file support for Israel is fading. Well, the California State Democratic Convention yesterday endorsed Congresswoman Jane Harman for reelection from a district around Los Angeles, but before it did so, Harman and her opponent, Marcy Winograd, both appeared before a progressive caucus at the convention, and argued Israel.

The Fresno Bee calls the fight the “flashpoint” of the convention. Peggy McCormack, a delegate to the convention, says that the story will be covered today on Pacifica radio, KPFA, 10 am PST. Meantime, her report:

Jane Harman and Marcy Winograd managed to squeeze in a debate of sorts before a couple hundred Progressive Caucus delegates at the Democratic Convention. Marcy herself brought up Israel in order to distance herself from Harman. I never thought I’d hear a candidate talk about brutal occupation, lack of water, unnecessary continuous deaths and lack of democracy.

Harman in response called Marcy an extremist who wants to get rid of Israel, and Marcy shot back with a democratic state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. This got a standing ovation. And, Harman stood up and said she did not go to the caucus to debate and strode out. Unbelievable.

We collected enough signatures to get Marcy’s signature to the floor of the convention, whereupon the vote was done in a strange but legal way with party workers counting the people holding up cards, and of course Harman won. When we called for a recorded vote, John Burton, the party chair, snarled something or other about Marcy should organize better.

Clearly Marcy won the standing vote (we all waved our delegate badges) but we had not done our homework to jump at the mike and call for a recorded vote. Doesn’t matter, the point will not be lost on the lobby.

Related posts:

  1. One-state solution is debated in California congressional race
  2. Opponent says Jane Harman represents Israel, not California
  3. Harman primary opponent: ‘Let us remind Harman and the rest of Congress that they represent the people of the United States of America.’

Toronto threatens Pride march funding over apartheid comparisonPosted: 19 Apr 2010 09:35 AM PDT

Update: As can be expected Muzzlewatch has been all over this story. Check out their great in-depth report here.

The Toronto Star reports that the city of Toronto is considering withdrawing funding from the Toronto Pride march next year if the organization Queers Against Israeli Apartheid is allowed to march this year. The city evidently received complaints after last year’s parade and is looking into whether the term “Israeli apartheid” violates the city’s anti-discrimination policy. From the article:

“We have no legal grounds to ban the word apartheid,” [Pride executive director Tracey] Sandilands said. “While I understand there are a lot of people who don’t like the wording, there’s got to be more than just the name of the organization (to justify taking action).”

But, she said, the city has told them that Toronto Pride had contravened its anti-discrimination policy on the grounds that “those words make certain participants feel uncomfortable.”

All funding issues aside, Pride has no wish to violate the city’s anti-discrimination policy, she said. “That would be crazy.”

Asked how Pride could both avoid banning QuAIA and satisfy the policy, given that even its name makes some uncomfortable, she said: “It’s a good question, and it’s not one I’m sure we have an answer for as yet.”

The campaigh against QuAIA seems to be led by lawyer Martin Gladstone, who previously advocated for an “ethics committee” to review parade signs in an attempt to disqualify the group. From the article:

Gladstone produced and circulated a film, called Reclaiming Our Pride, which shows one marcher wearing a shirt with a crossed-out swastika and features fuzzy audio of others chanting words Gladstone interprets as “fist by fist, blow by blow, apartheid state has got to go.”

QuAIA says the chant was actually “brick by brick, wall by wall, Israeli apartheid is going to fall.”

The group also says the marcher sporting the crossed-out swastika was not a QuAIA member.

QuAIA member Elle Flanders is quotes as saying the city’s stance is “shameful.” She continues:

“They’re trying to compare it to hate speech, and I find it deeply offensive, as somebody who’s been fighting human rights battles for a really long time, to hear that criticism of the state of Israel is somehow hate speech. No way,” said Flanders, one of several Jewish QuAIA members.

“I’m a big Jew-lover. And my Judaism taught me to stand up for what is right. This has nothing to do with anything other than criticism of Israel … Political difference need not be censored.”

Related posts:

  1. Naomi Klein, David Byrne, Jane Fonda, Danny Glover, Ken Loach, Wallace Shawn and many others support protest of Toronto Film Festival
  2. The Toronto Declaration hits Canadian airwaves, continuing the debate
  3. Bay area Jews say they’ve experienced professional and personal ’sanctions’ for expressing pro-Palestinian views at gay pride parade

Are there non-Jews in West Jerusalem?Posted: 19 Apr 2010 08:34 AM PDT

Yesterday Ali Gharib reported a statement on West Jerusalem last week by Michael Ratner (from a presentation on the Mamilla cemetery):

“What you have to conclude is that they want to take this spot,” Ratner said, “then the next spot. It’s clear they want to eradicate any presence of Muslims in Jerusalem.”

Ratner was referring to Muslim artifacts, not even living Muslims. Now a few days ago in the New York Times, Isabel Kershner reported on the corruption scandal that still envelops Ehud Olmert long after he left the Jerusalem mayoralty. Emphasis mine:

At the heart of the latest inquiry is a residential project known as Holyland, regarded by many of the city’s residents as an eyesore. Located on a ridge in the predominantly Jewish southwest of Jerusalem, it consists of several multistory apartment buildings and a central tower.

I am curious: Are there any non-Jews in that neighborhood? Gosh you know how quick I am to condemn the Times; is this an example of (un)consciously trying to situate Jerusalem neighborhoods in a familiar American multicultural mental space–a predominantly white section of Philadelphia, say–when the reality is that no such place exists? I’m just asking.

Related posts:

  1. Weekly Sheikh Jarrah protest greeted with hostility in West Jerusalem, cheers in East Jerusalem
  2. Wait, Bibi– Palestinians can’t go buy property in West Jerusalem
  3. Loewenstein: Looking for God in a West Bank colony, Jews shoot me death stares

Not a good time to be Martin Kramer, or a good time to be Harvard’s Weatherhead CenterPosted: 19 Apr 2010 07:53 AM PDT

Great letter in the Harvard Crimson today on the Martin Kramer scandal, keeping it alive, from scholars Lori Allen, Vincent A. Brown and Ajantha Subramanian. Smart analysis of Kramer’s ideas. And interesting that these lefties quote Steve Walt, who was once pilloried at Harvard.

The speech in question was made at the 10th annual Herzliya conference, the single most important gathering of influential policymakers and commentators in Israel. Kramer’s talk was part of a panel held on Feb. 3, 2010 entitled “Rising to the Challenge of Radical Indoctrination;” his Harvard affiliation was clearly identified in the conference program in connection with the talk.

In Kramer’s presentation, he suggested that Israel’s current economic blockade of Gaza, now in its fourth year, represents a successful effort to “break Gaza’s runaway population growth.” He therefore argued against what he called “pro-natal subsidies” of food, medicine, and humanitarian aid that help to reproduce the “constant supply of superfluous young men” demanded by a so-called “culture of martyrdom” in Gaza.

His argument has little scholarly merit. In the name of state security, it validates demographic strategies of population control that date at least back to Thomas Malthus and have been repeatedly found wanting both intellectually and morally for over two centuries. Also, by attributing to culture what is a political and social phenomenon, Kramer misrepresents the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A willingness to sacrifice oneself is not a desire for martyrdom rooted in Palestinian culture. Rather, as has been shown by scholars of the conflict, Palestinian youth turn to violent means to oppose the dehumanizing effects of the Israeli occupation. In short, Kramer’s remarks are not informed by current scholarship, but are animated by the spirit of early 20th century eugenics.

Even if the Weatherhead Center were to overlook these scholarly shortcomings, it should at least consider the ethics of Kramer’s interventions. His characterization of young Palestinians as a superfluous population culturally predisposed to violence can only be described as racist. Indeed, his statements are rooted in a polemic that would have been unacceptable in reference to any other population.

To quote Weatherhead Center executive committee member Stephen Walt, “What if a prominent academic at Harvard declared that the United States had to make food scarcer for Hispanics so that they would have fewer children? Or what if someone at a prominent think tank noted that black Americans have higher crime rates than some other groups, and therefore it made good sense to put an end to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and other welfare programs, because that would discourage African-Americans from reproducing and thus constitute an effective anti-crime program?”

Related posts:

  1. At Harvard, Kramer is merely ‘controversial’
  2. I was wrong about the Weatherhead Center
  3. Kramer gave Harvard a black eye

Neocon identity project: they will always hate us, because we’re JewsPosted: 19 Apr 2010 07:02 AM PDT

Here is an important exchange. Recently Jerry Muller, a Jewish professor of history at the Catholic University in D.C., published a splendid book called Capitalism and the Jews. Muller argues that Jews are great at commerce because of cultural training, family habits and dedication to texts, as well as from the tradition of filling a marginalized role in Europe, as usurers. Then capitalism became the defining order of European society in the 19th century, Muller says, and nationalism rose hand in hand with capitalism, because capitalism required literacy and education and nations could provide the structure for such development; and Jews became elevated within those nations as the professionals, and anti-Semitism was the response of people who lost status or who were in competition with Jews.

It is a vital argument because it understands anti-Semitism as a real if hateful response to real sociological shifts, including the role of Jews as intermediaries between landowners and peasants in Eastern Europe (a hobbyhorse of mine) and follows along in the work of Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century, and Albert Lindemann–Esau’s Tears, which also “explained” anti-Semitism in terms of the rise of the Jews.

Now what is the exchange I began by referring to? At Amazon, the book was reviewed positively by Ira Stoll, the neoconservative former editor of the New York Sun. (I think this is the sage who said that those of us who demonstrated against the Iraq war in February 2003 should be investigated for “treason.”) But Stoll takes exception to some of Muller’s analysis: 

Mr. Muller gets out onto the thinnest ice when he blames Jewish involvement in revolutionary activity and communism for inflaming European anti-Semitism. Sometimes, he frames this claim cautiously: “To be sure, in much of eastern Europe anti-Semitism long antedated the Bolshevik Revolution, and would have been a substantial factor in interwar politics even without the prominence of Jews in the Communist movement.”

Other times he is more assertive: “In Germany, where political anti-Semitism had been on the wane before 1914, the role of the Jews in the postwar revolutions was the key element in the revival of anti-Semitism on the right.”

That the Jews were being denounced as greedy capitalists at just the same time as they were being denounced as dangerous Communists suggests to me that the denunciations were, at bottom, more about hating Jews than about hating either capitalists or communists.

I.e., they hate us because we are who we are, they hate us no matter what we do. When actually Muller shows that Jews were drawn both to capitalism and anti-capitalism, and that revolutionary ideology clearly played a role in the Nazi stigmatization of Jews in the 30s. But no, any theory that seeks to associate anti-Jewish hatred and crime with an actual grievance must be expunged.

This is in the end a war over Jewish identity right now. If nothing we do has anything to do with the resentment against us, we can continue to run the Israel lobby in American foreign affairs and colonize and ethnically-cleanse Palestinian lands and, when Obama demurs, insist on having out the disagreement behind closed doors, because the goyim will hate us anyway and the lobby is the only power we have.

But if we actually have an effect on our own reputation we can be mindful of our presence in a multicultural world. And I would state, as Muller does historically, that we have tended to be a privileged group. He says that the Jewish response to that privileged status has been revolutionary anti-capitalist fervor (Marx and Emma Goldman) and even American Jewish liberalism– borne of guilt, he says, and providing an ersatz form of religious identity.

I quarrel with Muller there. I sense that he is religious. But why is a spirited liberal political engagement out of a sense of guilt, or awareness of entitlement, ersatz, any more than studying ancient scripture and commentary that have little real bearing on our actual lives is ersatz? It’s a judgment on his part, and a bad one. In the next few days I am going to celebrate Muller’s historical achievement here, but also show how his book stops abruptly short of any present-day analysis.

Related posts:

  1. Tariq Ramadan and American Jewish identity
  2. Jews Take Credit for Manhattan Project, Why Not Baghdad Project?
  3. Jews Are More Moral Than Others, So Jewish Critics of Israel Must Hate Themselves

Have you heard of this outfit?Posted: 19 Apr 2010 06:09 AM PDT

From a Washington Post report on the militia movement bringing guns to a rally in Virginia:

A member of several heretofore little-known groups, including Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership and Oath Keepers — former and active military and law enforcement officials who have vowed to resist laws they deem unconstitutional — [Daniel] Almond, 31, considers packing heat on the doorstep of the federal government within the mainstream of political speech.

Others consider it an alarming escalation of paranoia and anger in the age of Obama.

Update: sorry to all. Here’s the outfit. Been around for a while.

Related posts:

  1. I heard all this at AIPAC
  2. Apparently, Bono’s never heard of Jamal Juma’
  3. 200 of us demonstrated outside the courthouse all night long, shouting to be heard by the 17 in the lockup

Will the absurdity of Mamilla open people’s eyes?Posted: 18 Apr 2010 08:17 PM PDT

Before going to Rashid Khalidi and Michael Ratner’s talk on the Mamilla Cemetery at Columbia University last week, I had a drink with a friend who is completely ignorant about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — not even on his radar.

I gave him the elevator pitch on the situation: “It’s an ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem that an American Jewish group is building a ‘Museum of Tolerance’ on top of.”

The irony was not lost on my friend. He was shocked. “Really?” he asked, and turned to a friend to repeat it.

Khalidi emphasized the absurdity at the lecture: “Just the facts: They are building a ‘Museum of Tolerance’ on the oldest Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem. You say that enough times, it should stop them.”

Lots of people are trying, but it doesn’t work. Where’s the disconnect?

Khalidi said that the government of Israel is notoriously deaf to international public opinion, but the government of Israel isn’t building the museum. Rather the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a 501(c)(3) organization, is the one subverting international law — remember UN resolutions place Jerusalem as an international city, and protect sites of interest — with tax-exempt U.S. dollars.

As noted in an earlier post,, Khalidi put the affair within the context of the whole of Jerusalem. So did Center for Constitutional Rights head Michael Ratner. CCR is spearheading a petition to block further desecration on behalf of families like the Khalidis, whose ancestors are buried in Mamilla.

“What you have to conclude is that they want to take this spot,” Ratner said, “then the next spot. It’s clear they want to eradicate any presence of Muslims in Jerusalem.”

The Wiesenthal Center and its Israeli allies seem indeed to have nefarious intentions here, evidenced by the exploitation of the “everybody knows” meme on final status issues of a peace agreement. Those in the U.S. — from where dollars fund, as Ratner put it, “huge bulldozers and earth moving machines just destroying the ground” (the graves, that is) — who don’t see the patent absurdity are willfully blind.

But thanks to Ratner, Khalidi and other activists, more and more people are seeing what’s right in front of them. I told my friend, he told his. And Khalidi says it’s bringing other things to the fore: the disproportionate Israeli protection of antiquities (all 137 sites Israel has designated are Jewish) and the destruction of mosques and churches in Arab villages whose occupants were driven out in 1948. Most importantly, it raises issues about all of Jerusalem.

“Israel has done more than just damage this cemetery,” Khalidi said. “Israel has opened up a can of worms by allowing this to happen.”

It’s a can of elephants. They’re in the room. Let’s see who notices.

Related posts:

  1. Khalidi on Mamilla: ‘this grotesque project must be stopped!’
  2. Red herring in Mamilla case
  3. Frank Gehry can’t be found on controversial J’lem project’s website

The new nationalismPosted: 18 Apr 2010 07:23 PM PDT

The Times covered the Goldstone bar mitzvah controversy on its front page Saturday. See second paragraph; what does reporter Barry Bearak mean by “countrymen”?

“That grandfather is Richard Goldstone, one of this nation’s most eminent jurists and head of a United Nations investigation that said it found evidence of war crimes during Israel’s invasion of Gaza. Many of his countrymen not only took issue with the findings, they called the judge a traitor who had sold out his Jewish brethren.”

In fact, many South African countrymen agreed with him. I would guess a fair-sized majority. Or is the journalist referring to a different definition of “countrymen” connected to Jews anywhere in the world and Israel? What’s happening here? Poor word choice by the journalist, right?

And toward the end of the piece, I object to this:

Here in the judge’s home country, many Jews suddenly viewed him as a heretic. He was accused of faulty reasoning. He was accused of being co-opted. He was accused of being the worst kind of anti-Semite, a self-hating Jew.

But does that justify keeping him from the bar mitzvah?

It’s as if the journalist accepts the viewpoint. Barry Bearak should have written, “But does such reasoning justify keeping him from the bar mitzvah?”

Related posts:

  1. Is Zionism racist? Foxman: ‘You bet it is. Every nationalism is’
  2. Nationalism is racist–and some nations grow out of it
  3. Nationalism as a ‘Blinding Force’ in Jewish Identity

In ‘Greenberg,’ it’s the dick who plants trees in IsraelPosted: 18 Apr 2010 06:52 PM PDT

Last night my father and I went out to a small theater in the Philadelphia suburbs to see Greenberg, the new film by Noah Baumbach. Because of the title and the lead actor, Ben Stiller, I was afraid that the film would be Jew-centric. I don’t like things that proclaim their Jewishness, not when Jews are supposed to be opening their eyes to the rest of the world. Still I went. My dad’s 84. He’s Jew-centric, it felt like an opportunity. 

My antenna started quivering at the start with the introduction of the rich materialistic Greenberg family in Hollywood and their smarmily-patronizing treatment of their personal assistant, Florence, played by Greta Gerwig (in a breakout performance, but I’ll leave the film criticism of this fine film to the connoisseurs). It’s everything I hate about smug Jewish materialistic existence, I thought I was in for it.

Then the film declared its values. The rich family goes off on vacation and Greenberg’s brother shows up, Ben Stiller, to housesit. Stiller’s a carpenter/musician who’s just gotten out of a mental hospital after a breakdown, and he’s avowedly non-Jewish. His mother is a gentile, he tells a friend in Hollywood, and none of his mannerisms are Jewish (a self-delusion on the character’s part).

And in that same conversation, the old friend, Beller, a former band partner now super-rich, says something scatological about someone else’s grandmother, and another character says of Beller, He plants trees in Israel.

I suddenly loved the movie. I realized that Beller is a dick—as opposed to the other former bandmate, a Brit–and one way Baumbach establishes his obtuseness for his arthouse audience is by having him plant trees in Israel. Case closed.

Later on in the film, the Stiller character, whose craziness is manifested by the countless letters he writes to merchants, air lines, pet taxi companies, and others to complain about their conduct, sends a letter to the New York Times. We just see the addressee, the New York Times, and this is odd, because every other letter he writes we hear out loud, with Stiller obsessing over the tiny thing the company did wrong. I guess his criticism of the Times is on the cutting room floor, politics being too big a leap for a movie with ambitions about psychology and manners. The reason I know it’s political is that a few scenes later Stiller opens the Times and declares, they printed my letter about Pakistan.

So it’s Pakistan? This tetchy crazy conflicted half-Jew is upset about Pakistan? Somehow I doubt it. After I drove home with my dad (who had hated it from the start, doesn’t like psychological movies), I wondered if the movie producers hadn’t interceded and made Baumbach change Palestine, which would have been psychologically appropriate for a déclassé conflicted half-Jew in the modern age, to Pakistan, just as in another era, Van Morrison’s Brown-Skinned Girl became Brown-Eyed Girl. The Israel lobby never sleeps.

Related posts:

  1. I’m Wrong About Greenberg Working for Mofaz
  2. Pollster Greenberg Cuts Left in U.S., Right in Israel
  3. Major U.S. Power Figures–Tisch, Greenberg, Milken–Linked to Charity that Funds Settlers’ Militias

Netanyahu’s shtadlanim press Obama with same tired argumentsPosted: 18 Apr 2010 11:14 AM PDTIlene Cohen writes:

The last week has seen Ron Lauder and Elie Wiesel playing the role of the shtadlan. Historically, the shtadlan, a Jew of some influence, was the one called upon to intercede with the gentile authorities on behalf of the Jewish people in times of trouble. A beggar of sorts. It may have been the only way to save the Jewish community in the Middle Ages and into nineteenth-century eastern Europe, but there’s something unsavory and creepy about Benjamin Netanyahu turning to shtadlanim to intercede for the State of Israel in the twenty-first century. And with the feeblest–if the most popular–of the talking points, no less.

First we had Ron Lauder’s publication in the WSJ of his pompous letter to President Obama, presenting the talking points for continued Israeli hegemony over Palestine on the grounds that Israel had given and given and given, and, anyway, everything was the “fault” of the Palestinians. As Lauder the Shtadlan boasted, Netanyahu himself reviewed the letter before it went to the ruler (Obama).

Now we have Elie Wiesel’s absurd letter about Jerusalem, based on today’s most popular talking point, “God gave it to us”–so end of story. We know, too, that when Wiesel was in Israel for Passover, he was summoned by Netanyahu, who implored Mr.

Holocaust to intercede with Obama on behalf of Israeli hegemony over Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine (that is what this is about, after all). Wiesel is reported to have had lunch with Obama last week, and he then published his letter in a number of US newspapers, including today in the New York Times. It’s a thorough embarrassment, based as it is on Jewish whining and lying (with the specter of the Holocaust that comes with Wiesel as a matter of course). Whether or not Wiesel actually believes this stuff, his depiction of how life in Jerusalem works for non-Jews is false.

For Wiesel, the number of times that “Jerusalem” appears in the Hebrew Bible appears to lock in Israel’s right to colonize East Jerusalem and to expel Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah; he writes that “for me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics” (boldface in original). How cleanly he dismisses the last 2500 years, let alone “politics.”

To Wiesel and Netanyahu: this overwrought language does not constitute a legitimate geopolitical programmatic statement for resolving the Israel/Palestine conflict.

With the spaghetti defense, you just keep throwing strands of the stuff against the wall until something sticks. When the alternative for Netanyahu is the Fourth Geneva Convention and UN Security Council Resolution 242 (and the many subsequent resolutions and agreements, from Oslo to the “Road Map”)–all of which Israel has flouted–you can see why they’ve incorporated the Bible into the defense.

But nobody except Israelis and neocons are buying that one, and Netanyahu will not save Israel by sending emissaries to implore or intimidate Obama with the talking points. It’s change the policy or bust.

Related posts:

  1. Wiesel to Obama: Laissez les bons temps rouler a Jerusalem
  2. Israeli press calls Netanyahu ‘insane’; why can’t American press do the honors?
  3. NYT: Obama ‘incensed’ by Netanyahu


Posted in UncategorizedComments Off on MONDOWEISS ONLINE NEWSLETTER



* Dear Judge Goldstone,

As rabbis from diverse traditions and locations, we want to extend our warmest mazel tov to you as an elder in our community upon the bar mitzvah of your grandson. Bar and Bat Mitzvah is a call to conscience, a call to be responsible for the welfare of others, a call to fulfill the covenant of peace and justice articulated in our tradition.

As rabbis, we note the religious implications of the report you authored. We are reminded of Shimon Ben Gamliel’s quote, “The world stands on three things: justice, truth, and peace as it says ‘Execute the judgment of truth, and justice and peace will be established in your gates’ (Zekharya 8:16).” We affirm the truth of the report that bears your name.

We are deeply saddened by the controversy that has grown up around the issuing of the report. We affirm your findings and believe you set up an impeccable standard that provides strong evidence that Israel engaged in war crimes during the assault on Gaza that reveal a pattern of continuous and systematic assault against Palestinian people and land that has very little to do with Israel’s claim of security.

Your report made clear the intentional targeting of civilian infrastructures such as hospitals, schools, agricultural properties, water and sewage treatment centers and civilians themselves with deadly weapons that are illegal when used in civilian

This is the ugly truth that is so hard for many Jewish people to face. Anyone who spends a day in Palestinian territories sees this truth immediately.

Judge Goldstone, we want to offer you our deepest thanks for upholding the principles of justice, compassion and truth that are the heart of Jewish religion and without which our claims to Jewishness are empty of meaning. We regret that your findings have led to controversy and caused you not to feel welcome at your own grandson’s Bar Mitzvah. We believe your report is a clarion call to Israel and the Jewish people to awaken from the slumber of denial and return to the path of peace.

Rabbi Everett Gendler
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Rabbi Brant Rosen
Rabbi Brian Walt
Rabbi Haim Beliak
Rabbi Michael Lerner
Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Rabbi Michael Feinberg
Rabbi Shai Gluskin
Rabbi David Shneyer
Rabbi David Mivassair
Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman
Rabbi Douglas Krantz
Rabbi Margaret Holub
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert
Rabbi Mordecai Liebling
Rabbi Phyllis Berman
Rabbi Zev-Hayyim Feyer
Rabbi Eyal Levinson
Rabbi Lorraine Chaskalson
Rabbi Doron Isaacs

* The late New York Times managing editor, Gerald Boyd, has posthumously published a book, My Times in Black and White: Race and Power at the New York Times. You can read excerpts of the book at Amazon. Boyd talks about his childhood in St. Louis and the effect a certain Cooper family–grocery owners, Reform Jewish–had on him. He recounts listening to them talk about the Holocaust and about the glorious victory of the IDF in the Six-Day War which leads him to state that as a young boy, “I could not locate Israel on a map, but I cheered for it about as much as I did for the Cardinals.” (pg. 48).

Per Russell Baker’s review in the New York Review of Books,

Boyd was recruited for a management position in the 1980s by Max Frankel, then executive editor. By that time, Boyd had already established himself as a top-of-the-line reporter during an exemplary career with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Times ‘s Washington bureau.

Oh, Frankel. He was a Holocaust survivor. And in The Times of My Life, his autobiography, he wrote:

I was much more deeply devoted to Israel than I dared to assert. I had yearned for a Jewish homeland ever since learning as a child in Germany that in Palestine even the policemen were Jews! Like most American Jews, however I settled on a remote brand of Zionism… American Jews poured energy and money into… vigorous political lobbying of presidents and Congress…Fortified by my knowledge of Israel and my friendships there, I myself wrote most of our Middle East commentaries. As more Arab than Jewish readers recognize, I wrote them from a pro-Israel perspective.

(It is so easy to frame American narratives in racial and class terms. Yes, and what about ethnic/ideological ones? Hat tip to Irek.)

* Haber: does BDS leadership seek ideological purity or a coalition?

Yesterday we published Ahmed Moor’s criticism of Jerry Haber’s appeal to liberal Zionists to offer guarded support to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Today Haber, the Magnes Zionist, responds.

Ahmed Moor has criticized my modest attempt to convince liberal Zionists either to support BDS, or at least not to demonize the movement. He doesn’t like my approach, not because he thinks that it will not appeal to liberal Zionists (I have received that reaction) but because he doesn’t like the sell, which he finds offensive and paternalistic to Palestinians. He also doesn’t like liberal Zionism and sees no reason to reach out to liberal Zionists as long as they support a Jewish ethnic state. Time is not on their side, and sooner or later they will have to recognize that the days of a Jewish ethnic state are numbered.

To call for equal rights for Palestinian citizens, one of the movement’s founding principles, entails, according to Moor, the end of the state of Israel as “Jewish and democratic.” So does the recognition of the right of return.

Moor may be correct that time is not on the side of liberal Zionism. But if he thinks that the goals of the global BDS movement rule out a Jewish ethnic state, then why don’t the leaders of the BDS movement say so? Why don’t they simply say, “A main goal of BDS is regime change.” Perhaps they think that, but I didn’t see that in the founding principles of the movement, which I cited in my post.

True civil equality of Palestinian Arabs in Israel may entail the end of the Jewish state, but many people, Jews and Palestinians, don’t think that it does. They may suffer from a bad case ofdelusion or mauvais foi, but there you have it: The vast majority of Palestinian Israelis want civil equality; many Palestinian Israeli leaders want cultural autonomy and minority rights – but, if polls are correct, they do not oppose the existence of a Jewish ethnic state. Moor and I wish that they would, but they don’t. Is he not interested in marching together with them? 

Moor mistakes “liberal Zionist” for “liberal Israeli.” Perhaps my use of the term mislead him. What I mean by liberal Zionist is is somebody who accepts the state of Israel founded in 1948. Or to put it another way, if you do not demand of Israel to abandon its concern with democracy and Jewish demography, then you are a liberal Zionist. Now the number of liberal Zionists of that ilk may be declining, but not fast enough.

Most nations of the world, including the United Nations, accept the legitimacy of the existence of the Jewish ethnic state founded in 1948, but do not accept the legitimacy of the Occupation. Moor may think, as I do, that the two are fundamentally connected. But one wonders whether the Palestinian leaders of the BDS movement want to constrict the movement in this manner. They certainly don’t say that in their literature. On the contrary, they appeal to decisions by international bodies, which recognize the state of Israel without preconditions.

So the issue is what sort of coalition the Palestinian leadership of BDS wishes to build, and how long one wishes to wait.

And that is a question of tactics, not principle. Would it be a good idea for the BDS movement to gain more victories now, at the expense of making the coalition diverse? Or should it just focus on the message, which rules out (according to Moor) the Zionist regime founded in 1948? These are questions for the leaders of the BDS movement to decide. Again, I think they already have decided.

I understand Moor’s offense at the “naches” line, and I regret having used that term, which I have changed. Had I said “empathy with the Palestinian’s satisfaction at BDS victories” that would have been less offensive. Let me explain what I meant. When the BDS movement achieves small victories – and all their victories are small ones, at least for the moment – such victories buoy the movement.

Just look at the reactions to the boycott votes in the UK, and the partial divestment vote at Berkeley , or when a major artist decides not to appear in Israel. Now I never said that giving a little “naches” to the Palestinians is a goal of the BDS movement. Nor do I think that the guiding motivation of the liberal Zionist should be to sacrifice his principles just to make Palestinians happy.

But for somebody who is straddling the fence, some support for a cause can be motivated by good will towards the Palestinians. I myself am skeptical of the efficacy of the BDS movement on the grand scale. But moral victories are important in their own right.

So if one of the student senators at Berkeley were to stand up and say, I am not entirely sure of where I stand on the tactic of BDS – I certainly support the existence of the state of Israel – but I have seen how important this issue is to the both sides, and I have seen that one side is clearly suffering more than the other. So I will not deny them the satisfaction of a win here tonight.

Moor would presumably stand up and say to that senator, We don’t want your sympathy or your crumbs. If you don’t back the resolution on its own merits, don’t back it at all.

I, for one, admire his ideological purity. But I wonder whether the BDS leadership would not rather have one in the win column.

With due respect, my post was not – and is not — addressed to Moor. It was to the people who have been able to defeat the BDS movement time after time, the liberal Zionists, or to be more accurate, those who accept the Zionist regime founded in 1948. Why has the BDS movement seen so many of its initial successes reversed? Why does so much of the world concern itself with the Occupation but not with the plight of the Palestinian Israelis?

My point is that if more liberal Zionists could be convinced to be sympathethic to BDS, or at least not go out of their way to oppose it, that may not only be good for ending the Occupation, but for other goals, such as helping transform Israel from a Jewish ethnocracy to a state of all its citizens, a state with, to quote Michael Warschawski, “basic individual and collective rights, an end of domination and oppression, decolonization, equality, and as-much-justice-as-possible. “ What he calls “collective rights” I call cultural Zionism, in the Jewish case.

Two final points. Nowhere did I call on the BDS movement to accommodate its message or principles to liberal Zionists; that seems to have been Moor’s fundamental misreading. On the contrary, I think it already has done so, by not listing the end of the regime founded in 1948 as one of its principles. Moor writes that “The right of return is an inviolable and sacrosanct principle which necessarily spells out the end of the Jewish state, as such.”

That’s his opinion, and the opinion of most Zionists, including liberal ones, but I wonder whether it is the opinion of the global BDS movement. And if it is, why talk in codes? In fact, I don’t think the right of return does spell the end of the Jewish state as such. It certainly is not implied in Resolution 194, which the BDS movement insists upon mentioning. Did the UN recognize a Jewish state only to pass a resolution several months later calling for its demise?

But whether regime change is implied in Resolution 194 or not, the right of return is a major goal of the movement, and one is certainly on good grounds to insist on it. Still, I wonder whether engaging with people who accept the first two goals of the movement and who bracket the third isn’t a better way to go.

Building coalitions – or even unofficial agreements not to attack each other — not only makes for strange bedfellows, but allows people like Moor and me to make the case for the right of return to the folks who haven’t come over entirely to our side…yet.

But, again, that was not the point of my post, which was not addressed to him or to the leadership of the BDS movement. My point was that liberal Zionists, for their own reasons, would do well to give guarded support for BDS, or at the very least not demonize it.

* Haaretz asks Rahm Emanuel whether Obama should announce a US plan for two states:

“A number of people have advocated that. That time is not now. The time now is to get back to the proximity talks [and] have those conversations that eventually will lead to direct negotiations, start to make the hard decisions to bring a balance between the aspirations of the Israelis for security and make that blend with the aspirations of the Palestinian people for their sovereignty.”

* Important piece in the Jerusalem Post about Israeli thinker Avishai Margalit, in which he says things that he hasn’t written in the U.S.–and nor has his sometime co-author Michael Walzer. Jerusalem must be shared and under international governance– just what the UN said 60 years ago. Lift the siege of 1.5 million people in Gaza. Margalit talks about the Gazan students denied freedom to study, and denounces collective punishment. 

“To create this huge jail and believe that something good will emerge because now it’s quiet, that’s an illusion,” he says. “Actually, it’s moral bankruptcy and a terrible illusion.”

As we say in American bars, No s—, Sherlock. Reading this, I see Margalit’s illusions too. These conditions have been true for many years. He imagines that the mistakes of the brutal and stupid occupation can be reversed and Israel can be “little” Israel again in the 1948 borders. Can it?

Where were these denunciations when they would make a difference; and will the American press do anything to reflect them? The rough beast slouching toward Jerusalem is the Prime Minister, and the Israel lobby; note that in a recent poll most American Jews aren’t for dividing Jerusalem.

61% also said Israel should not be “willing to compromise on the status of Jerusalem as a united city under Israeli jurisdiction” as part of the framework of a peace settlement. (JPost again)

They’ve never been there, they’re against dividing it, and who is going to educate them?

* New poll of Palestinian opinion at Ma’an shows that 44% are for two-state solution, still, but binational state is growing, from 20 percent to 34 percent just in the last 10 months! Nearly a third regard the peace process as dead. Fatah outpolls Hamas.

Memo to Obama: Don’t take Palestinian opinion for granted; the growth in binational state sentiment is surely a reflection of Netanyahu repeatedly gaining the upper hand on colonization, etc.

* Gaza is coming home

billboard 1

Spotted this on my walk home from work yesterday – corner of Whitney and Trumbull, New Haven, CT.

* Jacqueline Rose will be speaking tonight in New York, hosted by LRB, on a contemporary reading of the Dreyfus affair. This is exciting. I’m hoping to get there. If I don’t, I’m hoping other folks go and report on it. 

[Free associating: Mark Rudd’s father was an Army captain in the 50s, having changed his name from Rudnitsky out of fear of anti-Semitism, but Mark Rudd went into the SDS in the 60s and today Jews don’t go into the military in the US in anything approaching rates of other religious groups, following other paths to success.

I save my J’accuse for the former Under Secretary of Defense, Douglas Feith, who peddled a list of bad “facts” to Congress to justify Iraq war, which he supported as a One-Jerusalem neoconservative with a portrait on his wall of Herzl, who was inspired by Dreyfus case to dream up Zionist escape from Europe. Feith’s imposture will transform the US establishment, ultimately, as lies about Dreyfus broke down a French regime.]

* Let the American media and politicians and Jewish leadership blind themselves to this, too

From the Palestine Telegraph:

Hebron, April 20, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli authorities delivered demolition warrants to Palestinian residents in Halhul village north of Hebron in the West Bank, notifying them of their intention to demolish their homes and water reservoir.

Halhul Mayor Ziyad Abu Yousif said that Israeli forces raided Rumouz neighborhood in Hebron and notified Ahmad Awad, Muhammad Zamara and Dirar Zamara, of demolishing their homes.

The Israeli occupation forces delivered a warrant to Muhammad Abu Yousif, informing him that his water reservoir will be demolished because of it is close to area C [in the occupied West Bank] which is under the Israeli full control, the mayor added.

Hat tip, Peter Belmont.

* Times’ Filkins declares Ahmadinejad our ‘archenemy’

On “Fresh Air” today, Times correspondent Dexter Filkins told Terry Gross during a discussion of Afghanistan that Iran is “the archenemy of the United States.”

President Karzai invited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, you know, the archenemy of the United States, to give a speech in Kabul.

And just as I was exclaiming at the folly of that claim, Filkins added,

he [Karzai] invited the president of Iran to come and give a speech or a press conference in the presidential palace, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the archenemy of the United States.

Gross did not challenge Filkins. But compare his assertions with what Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston says about Israel’s relation to Iran:

Occupation is an ugly word. That is why people who support the idea of a Jewish state should use the term, and use it often. Because, on this, Israel’s 62nd independence day, the Occupation has to be identified for what it has become: Israel’s worst enemy.

Not Iran. Not Hamas or Hezbollah. All three would like to see Israel cease to exist. But our government has tools to fight them. Against the Occupation, though, the government is powerless.


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Some British MPs want to get rid of the phrase ”special relationship” in reference to Anglo-American ties, because they say it has lost its meaning, and because it suggests that Britain is the subservient poodle of superpower America.

Asked to respond to this at the White House press briefing on Monday, press secretary Robert Gibbs hesitated to use the phrase in his initial answer.

After being pressed on this by a journalist, he also seemed to suggest that the phrase is a bit of diplo-speak that has no deep meaning: “I don’t have a special relationship with the phrase ‘special relationship.’ We have a special relationship with Britain.”

“I’d have the report forwarded in and around to the media and you guys can banter back and forth on the banner that we use it with,” he added.

Here’s some banter: No one tell the Israelis that there’s nothing special about “special relationships.”

Because as Gibbs spoke, President Obama issued his message to Israelis on their Independence Day, saying, “I am confident that our special relationship will only be strengthened in the months and years to come.”

Related posts:

  1. Yale Political Union Votes 44-25 to ‘End the Special Relationship’ Between U.S. and Israel
  2. ‘2-State Solution Would End Master-Slave Relationship They’re Stuck In’
  3. Michael Scheuer loses ‘position and income’ for saying Israel relationship threatens our national interest

Jerry Haber’s call for liberal Zionists to join the broader BDS movement is laudable for what he’s attempting to do. Sadly, Haber’s Zionism informs his writing in a way that largely undermines his professed goal. The current of Jewish paternalism that runs throughout the list translates into both an excessive focus on the importance of the Zionist “peace” camp in Israel, and the adoption of an infantilizing and placatory tone vis a vis the Palestinians.  While that may not be a reflection of Haber’s personal views, he still seems to think that these are the points that will sway the liberal Zionist.  

The peace camp in Israel is mostly non-existent and ineffectual. That’s because liberal Zionists can’t help but be co-opted by the Israeli war camp, which correctly identifies Palestinian equal rights as the end of Jewish-ruled Israel. Any liberal Zionist who actually does agree that “the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality” ought to be recognized by the Jewish state exists in a steadily narrowing temporal envelope.

In time, those non-Jews will undo the Jewish state on their own and those liberal Zionists will have to make a binary decision; equal rights (without an overwhelming racial majority) or Jewish supremacy (i.e. Zionism).

I get the sense that liberal Zionists are only capable of subscribing to the ‘Jewish and democratic’ meme so long as they can depend on a Jewish-majority demographic reality, which will not be the case forever. Honest liberal Zionists will recognize the unavoidable decision looming ahead. I hope brave Zionists will make that decision today.

As for the second point, Haber writes that “Palestinians should have a little naches (pleasure) after all their suffering and BDS provides them with that.”

The goal of the BDS movement is not to provide the Palestinians with a little naches. Instead the BDS movement seeks to correct the effects of decades of imperial control and colonization of Palestine/Israel by Zionists. Admittedly, what that correction may entail is interpreted differently by different people. But truthfully, any Zionist who opts to join the BDS movement in order to provide Palestinians with a little pleasure is probably better off buying me a tuna sandwich and a coke.

There is another problem with Haber’s naches. He notes early on that the BDS movement is a product of Palestinian leadership. He then recasts the issue so that Palestinian agency exists as a function of Zionist indulgence. ‘Look, they’re like Gandhi. Throw them a little naches bone.’

Haber casually dismisses the import of the Palestinian right of return to Palestinians when he writes “even if you don’t recognize the right of return, you recognize the importance to the Palestinians of claiming that right.” 

The right of return is an inviolable and sacrosanct principle which necessarily spells out the end of the Jewish state, as such. Haber should understand that many Palestinians, me included, would prefer to march alone than march alongside anyone who does not endorse our right to return, meaning Zionists.

There is a fundamental tension here: on the one hand, Palestinians aren’t human (Jewish) enough to reclaim their birthrights in Israel, but they’re just human enough for us to call for our compatriots to ease the boot heel pressure on their necks a little. That’s like telling black people that they should have the right to property, just not in your neighborhood.

But isn’t it better to find common cause with liberal Zionists on this issue?  Don’t we need all the allies we can get? People may disagree on this question.  But I’m inclined to focus on building a movement with a solid moral foundation, rather than one which is fractured and part racist.  

If liberal Zionists want to disengage from the settlements for the sake of preserving their racist state they are welcome to do so.  But I don’t intend to endorse their racist goal or assuage their Nakba guilt by working alongside them. 

There are no gradations of humanity; either we’re equal, or we’re adversaries. I regret framing the issue in such aggressively stark terms, but our (Palestinians and Jews) humanity is what is at stake here.

I decided to come up with my own list for why liberal Zionists should support BDS and equal rights. Like Haber’s it’s Jewish-centric:

1 Think of your grandchildren. Think of the embarrassment they’re going to feel when they explain that their grandparents were ardent supporters of the world’s last racist apartheid state. If you’ve ever met a white South African in their teens or twenties, then you know what I’m talking about.

2 Think of your next reception in Thailand, Bolivia, France, Britain, or basically anywhere but America, when you explain that you actually don’t believe that Palestinians are somehow inferior (This one pays immediate dividends).

3 Finally, imagine what it might feel like to live in a normal country, where Rabbis don’t tell you who you can marry or where you can build your hospitals, and where you don’t subsidize the activities of roaming gangs of violent supremacists in the West Bank. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Related posts:

  1. Will liberal Zionists come around to BDS?
  2. Is equality a ‘nightmare’ for liberal Zionists?
  3. Jeffrey Goldberg suggests anti-Zionists aren’t Jews

Steve Horn has an op-ed in the UWisconsin newspaper, the Badger Herald, today on divestment. Excerpt:

When divestment is called for, it is often shunned immediately, yet this time around in Berkeley, in the aftermath of the brutal Operation Cast Lead, the political tide has shifted.

The debate, at least among liberals, has moved from “If you’re for divestment, you’re anti-Israel or anti-Semitic” to “There may be other, more effective ways as a liberal peace activist to oppose Israel’s human rights violations than divestment.” This is a huge — let me repeat, huge — step in the right direction.

Many on the right, like they do for any criticism of Israel, call divestment “anti-Semitic,” as it singles out only Israel, a Jewish state, for human rights violations, and leaves out many other abhorrent human rights violating countries all around the world. Ironically, these are often the same people who tout that Israel isn’t solely a Jewish state, but a democracy that grants equal rights to all, including to its minority indigenous Arab population.

How the call for divestment can simultaneously be coined anti-Semitic despite these claims is anyone’s guess, but no one ever said political rhetoric had to be coherent or logical.

Others, liberals included, criticize divestment because it makes Jews feel uncomfortable, particularly on college campuses. These people are missing the point, though. Calls for divestment should make Jews feel uncomfortable, for it challenges many notions they have about Israel as a human rights loving democracy and “Light Upon the Nations.” It’s never comforting to learn things contrary to what you’ve been taught all your life — as a fellow Jew, it hasn’t been for me.

But it’s crucial to compare the merits of the discomforts on both sides of the coin.

On the other side of the coin, you have the discomfort of knowing your home has been turned into rubble, either by a bomb or a bulldozer, or even worse, the discomfort of knowing that your brothers and sisters have been wounded or killed while in their home. The discomfort Jews feel as it relates to calls for divestment pales in comparison.

Divestment isn’t anti-Semitic because it has absolutely nothing to do with Judaism and everything to do with calling on Israel as a state to respect international law and human rights. The occupation does exist because both UN Resolution 242 and the Fourth Geneva Convention, among scores of other legal dictates, say that the occupation is illegal.

And it makes sense to single out Israel, if for no other reason than our own government does, in the tune of over $3 billion per year in tax-payer funded military aid, which is more aid than we give any other country in the world — other than Iraq and Afghanistan, including more than we give to the entire continent of Africa.

In reality, divestment is one of the few ways student human rights supporters can make a difference in the Israel-Palestine conflict on a micro-level. The more specific and targeted the call for divestment, the better. Calling on “divestment from Israel” as a whole is far too broad and indiscriminate. The UC-Berkeley model is ideal in that its call for divestment hones in narrowly on only two corporations.

The Berkeley Student Senate bill calling for the divestment from these two corporations has garnered wide-ranging support, including from 40 student organizations and numerous Jewish groups and individuals on an international-level, such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Rabbi Brant Rosen, Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, eight Israeli peace groups and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu’s sister-in-law, among numerous others.

Related posts:

  1. Anti-divestment talking points: Avoid the facts and claim victimhood
  2. UC Berkeley divestment vote–it isn’t over yet
  3. ‘Encountering Jews Who Are Progressive about All Issues but Palestine Is an Awful and Uncomfortable Situation for Non-Jewish People’ –Anne Silver

On Israeli Independence Day, some Jews break the law of return

Hannah Mermelstein sent along the following note:

Today (April 20) is Israeli Independence Day, which will be celebrated with parades and carnivals around the world. But Israeli “independence” in 1948 meant dispossession, exile, or death for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, for whom the founding of the state of Israel was a personal and collective catastrophe, or Nakba.  

As U.S. Jews, we have an automatic right to Israeli citizenship under Israel’s “Law of Return,” while many Palestinians have not been able to return home in over 60 years. It is not right that we may “return” to a state that is not ours while Palestinians are excluded and continuously dispossessed. 
We join in the growing international chorus of voices opposed to Israel and its policies, and in support of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. Join Ammiel Alcalay, Judith Butler, Ronnie Gilbert, Marilyn Hacker, Ricardo Levins Morales, the Shondes, and hundreds of others to break the law of return: 
Check out this short video to see why some of us are breaking the law of return:

Related posts:

  1. American Jews launch campaign to ‘break the law of return’
  2. Why Rabbi Rosen won’t celebrate Israeli independence day
  3. Mix the ‘barrage’ with compassion so as to break thru to Jews

The internet is great for journalism, but it’s also destroying our lives 

In a couple of days, the LRB is having a panel on the author in the age of the internet, and having some experience of industrial conditions for the last 40 years, here are my thoughts, mostly about journalism:

I don’t think anyone can maintain that the internet has not produced tremendous progress for the business of exchanging ideas and stories. More people are writing than ever before, and there are more better writers at work. Read a newspaper from the 1960s and it is like watching baseball from that era, the old form seems lax and entitled compared to the energetic engaged manner of the average internet journalist.

The internet’s greatest achievement is to level, somewhat, traditional divisions of status and authority. Till a few years ago, we were led by a priesthood of journalists and editors, even after the time when because of the internet, anyone and his brother were learning to communicate ideas just as well in social media. That was an insupportable structure.

Having made a good living in that priesthood for 25 years, I can summon the decadence of the old order in countless ways, but the picture that leaps to mind is of a group of fact checkers and lawyers and editors gathered around any story of importance that was about to be published, and one looked to the other who looked to the other and said, “Can we say this?”

That question was asked again and again in corporate media, because there was too much riding on one article, too much money, too much reputation, too much power and status for anyone to be allowed to say what they really thought; and so the imperative that a good writer is supposed to feel, Is this an accurate expression of my thoughts? was crushed under a lot of external pressures.

Readers understood that their writers were being held hostage in corporate dungeons, and they rebelled, and demanded honesty and immediacy. That is the ultimate truth of the internet: if someone had not invented the internet, we would have had to invent it.

We are in the midst of a revolution and the best guidepost here is the invention of the printing press, which took power away from clerics and churches and scribes in the 15th century and transferred it to an intelligentsia. As Nabil O-Khowaiter, whom I met on the internet, has pointed out to me, the Catholic heretic Jan Hus was burned at the stake in the 15th century before the invention of the printing press, and after the printing press a man with very similar renegade ideas, Martin Luther, was able to flourish and transform institutions forever.

This is one of the great pleasures/privileges of being a journalist now: participating in a revolution. And while I don’t know who the Martin Luther of the internet is, no one can quarrel with the idea that in the bad old days Juan Cole and Glenn Greenwald would have been frustrated blowhards, condemned to express their ideas to bored dinner guests and friends, or fulminating in letters to the editor.

Maybe they would have at last gotten book contracts. Today both of them are true stars, and deservedly so. They have found their community, a highly sophisticated global one, and thereby threaten the hegemony of mainstream institutions, such as the New York Times, in their traditional role of managing the agenda. I wonder what would happen today if Judy Miller were publishing her fraud about weapons of mass destruction in the runup to the Iraq war. I wonder.

The other great thing about the internet from a journalistic standpoint is that there is more information available than ever, and the boundaries of human knowledge are being expanded rapidly. John Mearsheimer says that his book,

The Israel Lobby, which might have been contraband in another era, was kept alive despite savage reviews that accused him of anti-semitism, by the active discussion of his ideas on the internet, including at this site. The globalization of information has made us all smarter. I read something in Haaretz every day and something from Ma’an news agency in Palestine and frequently the Daily Star in Lebanon and the National out of the Gulf. This is a treasure I never had in the bad old days.

Blogposts should be short and in that spirit let me get to the downsides of the internet, in terms of journalistic production. The immediacy that I and so many other readers cherish has brought a price in the lack of considered writing. You don’t have time to think thing over, and the loafing mood that Walt Whitman said that a poet required has been destroyed in internet production. That spirit lives on in a large portion of humanity, I’m sure, but they’re not really welcome on the internet, they post too infrequently.

The generalist is under siege too, the person who knows everything. You can’t know everything when there is so much more to know that is so accessible. Leading experts are created within their fields—Stephen Walt—but despite his maturity and well-roundedness, I doubt that even Walt would be persuasive on health care policy or the charter school movement.

Of course, the readers are also specialized, and they are also writers, commenters, and they run in herds. This site has a non-Zionist/anti-Zionist tribe gathered. The internet is tribal—James North told me this a long time ago. And that’s not a good thing for dialogue.

Grammar has gone to hell. I noticed a verb participle I got wrong the other day and didn’t care to try and fix it. I thought, who cares, or more to the point, the merit of my argument is not going to be judged on such a guild-based factitious basis, as it might have been in the old days, so forget about it. (And by the way, if you think the internet is not creating its own elites you’re wrong.) The same goes for typo’s. Who has time for that?

I have no time at all. The immediacy of the internet, the 24/7 news cycle, the expectation of readers and writers that important news will be pounced and pronounced upon within an hour or two—it has turned all our lives into hell. My wife is also an internet journalist, and I see it happening to her, she comes back from a party and goes to the computer. And I don’t even have a smartphone or a blackberry, trying to hold the line on my sane offline hours. I work harder than I ever have before and have little income to show for it.

Money. I used to talk nonstop about when are they going to monetize the internet, but I’m not going to complain about money here. Oscar Wilde said that writers were like lovers, they did it for love first and then a few friends and then for money, but he was wrong.

Samuel Johnson said that no one but a blockhead ever wrote for anything but money and he was wrong too. People will do it for love, that is the definition of the word amateur; and remember that the late J.D. Salinger cherished the amateur reader, and the amateur writer too. The internet is letting more and more of them in; and it’s good for everyone.

Related posts:

  1. The internet and journalism (without piety and lamentation)
  2. it’s happened: all the energy in journalism has now moved to the internet
  3. Packer liketh not the internet

Phil mashed up my post on the Mamilla talk at Columbia and an article about the Olmert scandal by Isabel Kershner in the New York Times to ask an important question: “Are there non-Jews in West Jerusalem?”

I’m going riff on this further by bringing in an article from Ha’aretz today, mindful that, this time, the question — “Are there any non-Jews in that neighborhood?” — has an answer.

The article is a shameless screed against diversity. The author, Elie Klein, a native New Yorker, moved to Israel with his family some 18 months ago. Since then, he has been “rewired” by Israel’s Zionist narrative (his words, not mine), and holds contempt for his homeland.

Now an “Aliyah enthusiast” and “public relations specialist”, Klein deigns to tell us why he found his former home so off-putting:

  • His body shudders — “actually shook from head to toe” — when he saw Newark’s industrial park from an airport window.
  • In “brief encounters with taxi drivers, cashiers, airport security officers, flight attendants and other travelers,” people looked at Klein’s kippah.
  • The “abundant English-language signage in the airports and on the roadways” made him feel “uncomfortable and unwelcome,”
  • as did a “complete lack of Kosher dining options just about everywhere [he] went.” (In Florida? I don’t believe it for a second. And this was certainly not the case in the “Miami Jewish Home and Hospital… in North Miami Beach” where Klein was visiting his ailing father.)

Is this superficial (and, in the last case, bogus) stuff, or what?

Now that he’s in Israel, Klein says, he doesn’t have to think about “long-winded explanations to employers about the religious significance of your week-long vacation during busy season.” Was this really the case when, as his biography states, Klein was the North American director of The Elite Academy, a joint program of the Government of Israel and the Jewish Agency? Is it really that important to him that “taxi drivers, cashiers, airport security officers, and flight attendants” all be exactly like him?

Klein’s objections seems to be less against the fact that there are so few options specifically for Jews, but that there are options for anyone else at all. When you consider his biographical data at the end of the article, and Phil’s question of yesterday, it brings this notion into sharp focus.

Beit Shemesh, the town West of Jerusalem where Klein hails from, has exactly zero non-Jews, according to the uncited Israeli Bureau of Statistics report mentioned in its Wikipedia page. It is 100 percent Jewish and other non-Arab.

I, too, might be shocked if I left a place where everyone was like me and traveled to a place where there is diversity, even if there is a benign curiosity in such things (say, glancing at an usual hat). But I don’t have to deal with those problems much in New York City. It’s the thought of living in place where everyone is the same that makes me shudder.

Here people sometimes might stare or even glare at appearance — I wear long hair, a beard, and underdress for nearly all events — but it’s okay. People speak Spanish everywhere, and it doesn’t bother me. The English signs don’t seem to bother them, either. I live on the Upper West Side where, perhaps to Klein’s surprise, people often walk by me speaking Hebrew and wearing yarmulkes. They don’t get a fist glance, let alone a second.

This is not a world that rejects Klein, but a world that he rejects.

Related posts:

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Realist Ian Lustick pulls out of Phila teach-in with ‘apartheid’ in title

On Saturday I was part of a teach-in at the University of Pennsylvania on recent developments in the Israel-Palestine conflict organized by several Philadelphia peace groups. Another participant was to be Ian Lustick, a realist scholar who did an important paper on Israel’s crisis two years back.

When I got to the teach-in, I learned that Lustick had pulled out. He sent me and other participants an email, addressed “Dear All,” objecting to the title of the event: “Teach-In: Israeli Apartheid 2010.” Someone read it aloud at the event:

“I was not asked to speak about the apartheid question in relationship to Israel or the value of the South Africa analogy. I was asked to speak on US policy and to provide a snapshot of current Israeli-Palestinian relations. Israel in comparison to South Africa and other countries is a topic of my current research.

 I cannot prejudge the questions involved and do not wish to be publicized as supporting a position of equivalence between Israel and South Africa— a position I take very seriously. I would not have agreed to participated in the event if I had known how it would be characterized.”

Lustick said that he would “love” to participate if the event were titled Israeli Apartheid? And though he deeply regretted disappointing us, he would be on campus that day during the teach in at such and such an address.

We then discussed Lustick’s decision.

Someone said that apartheid was the “a-word,” and triggered a lot of negative responses. “It’s shameful for people to feel themselves associated with it. And people don’t get the intensity of that,” said a woman from a progressive synagogue. A couple of people said that things are worse in the West Bank than they were in South Africa. Said one, “Even at the worst, people in South Africa could walk on the streets.” Said another, “We don’t want to shy away from that word.”

Myself, I avoid the term, but–not to prejudge anything– apartheid certainly is a reasonable comparison. Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu both say the West Bank is an apartheid system, and you’d think they ought to know. On my first visit to the West Bank four years ago I met a South African who had lived through apartheid and said that what he was seeing was worse than apartheid. Israelis regularly use the word apartheid. Olmert and Barak said that Israel would soon face an apartheid struggle; so what if you were to start saying so right now, is that so crazy? 

Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies says that back in the 80s movement people were careful not to use the apartheid word lest it derail discussion, but today she finds it a helpful term:

“use of the apartheid analogy (thankfully more often grounded in Israeli violations of the Convention on the Suppression & Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid than efforts at exact comparisons with South Africa…) is now commonplace, and while not uncontested is pretty much accepted in the discourse.” 

Yes but what discourse? Not official discourse. I wonder what the career pressures are on a scholar like Lustick to avoid any hint of association with the Palestinian-solidarity movement– what such an association would do for his standing, or aspirations.

I mean, would anyone back out of an event where Israel was portrayed as a “democracy”–a questionable assertion when you consider the lack of representation in government for 20-45 percent of the population (depending on whether you count the occupation). Or imagine a panel that said that authoritarian countries were better than totalitarian ones, the old neocon line, and you were a scholar invited to sit next to Jeane Kirkpatrick. Would neocon orthodoxies have stopped a liberal scholar from taking part in a discussion? I doubt it.

We’re talking about a different orthodoxy entirely: the predominance of the Israel lobby in mainstream discourse, and the anathema in the foreign policy establishment against any terms that reflect Palestinian concerns. Whatever apartheid says about the West Bank– and it says a lot– that fact reflects disgrace on the US.

Related posts:

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  3. How long did it take for Hampshire College to bring down apartheid the last time?

Assessing Iran’s nuclear intentions

Thomas Schelling, a Nobel laureate and an expert in nuclear strategy, spoke at the New America Foundation in Washington last week. Having recently attended the highly influential Herzliya Conference in Israel, Schelling said:

I was impressed with how many Israelis speculate that what Iran wants to do is to get just about where Japan is in terms of nuclear capability. Get to where they could have a few bombs in a few months, or maybe a few weeks, but not overtly test anything to prove they have it and maybe not to claim they have it.

I don’t know where the Iranians might get that idea, but I’d heard about it for a couple of years from Americans who study Iranian apparent nuclear policy and it strikes me as an idea that might not occur to the Iranians but it strikes me as a good idea. I don’t see any way to make them back down from where they are, but it might be possible to persuade them not to take the final step…

Israel’s President Shimon Peres, who also attended the Herzliya Conference yet lacks the slightest nuance in his assessment of Iran’s intentions, yesterday declared that Iran poses a threat to the whole civilized world.

“A threat to the peace of the Jewish people always carries the danger of turning into a threat to the civilized world as a whole,” Peres said in Jerusalem on Sunday.

That’s a statement eerily reminiscent of something the Israeli historian, Martin van Creveld, said a few years ago while referring to Israel’s own nuclear arsenal: “We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.”

Which begs the question, given that Israel is said to have an arsenal of several hundred nuclear weapons and Iran so far has none: Of which state should we be more afraid?

In considering the Iranian nuclear threat, there is another reason for thinking that the Iranians may well have calculated that attaining a nuclear capability without assembling a nuclear arsenal is in their best interests — not simply because of the international ramifications but because of the regime’s own internally complex and fractious power dynamics.

For Iran to actually acquire the bomb and not simply the means to produce it, begs difficult questions of command and control. Could the regime withstand a potential power struggle that might ensue over how weapons might be dispersed and under whose authority? The prospect of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards becoming Iran’s nuclear masters might be sufficiently galling to everyone outside the IRG, that nuclear capability appears as full a measure of nuclear power that the Islamic state can safely handle.

When it comes to assessing Iran’s nuclear intentions there is an abundance of evidence that it is indeed a rational actor and virtually none that it operates in the thrall of an apocalyptic vision of the future.

This article is cross-posted at Woodward’s site, War in Context.

Related posts:

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