Archive | April 24th, 2010



Yes, Bianca Zammit will be at the demonstrations next week, Netanyahu

Bianca Zammit

This photo? This photo is of Bianca about an hour after an IDF sniper shot a bullet through her left thigh from about 80 meters away to try to cripple her and scare the shit out of her and us so we wouldn’t go to subsequent demonstrations. Doubt that’s going to work, Bianca is usually 10 meters in front of me at every demonstration we go to.

Bianca is tough and was up walking as soon as the doctors in Al-Aqsa Hospital let her leave the bed, after they’d cleaned the huge wound the bullet left as it tore through her leg.

Credit: Eva Bartlett

This photo? This photo is of the horrible wound the Israeli army inflicted on Bianca for, as she put it in the car ride to the hospital while a Palestinian man held a bandage to her leg to stop the bleeding, “recording the worst human rights abuses on the planet.” Was she doing anything provocative?

“Taking a recording of Palestinians with Palestinian flags on Palestinian land.” If you don’t like it, don’t blame me. Bianca isn’t happy about it either, but she didn’t pay for the soldier’s bullet that tried to cripple her and she doesn’t justify the actions of the horrible army whose guns she walked directly in front of so that when they blasted a bunch of Palestinians, she’d get a good shot of it.

And yes, they shot Palestinians too. That’s tacit, along with the sun rising. A 22-year old girl who has a chunk of metal shrapnel in her stomach and needed emergency surgery to stabilize it, an 18-year-old boy with a tremendous hole in his leg.

Credit: Rada
Bianca is in the hospital under observation. Her ambassadors are furious and dealing with their counterparts in Jerusalem and Malta. The IDF soldier will hopefully face a criminal investigation, and that investigation will provide evidence for war crimes trials against Netanyahu, c. 2025.
This boy here? What is his name? Haaretz doesn’t report it. Nor does the AP. His name is Nidal Al Naji and he is 18. The problem is not that Bianca is named or that her ambassadors are hopefully pissing on Netanyahu’s emissaries in Malta, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Tel-Aviv.
The problem is that Bianca has a name and Nidal is “one of three Palestinian injured,” and that she has an ambassador castigating Israeli officials for approving rules-of-engagement that allow for bullets to pummel peaceful protesters while Palestinians are dispersed in “accord with normal dispersal strategies,” which include crippling them or planting shrapnel into their stomach. The government that could advocate for Nidal? They are maligned as terrorists.

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Democracy Comes To Chicago

Democracy Comes To Chicago

by Yotam Amit

The Chicago Hearing was a success judging by the reactions from the audience and I am proud to have been one of the organizers. Afterwards, I had the rare opportunity of listening to the impressions of an acquaintance who had been previously uninvolved in Israel/Palestine issues.

According to him, the event was excellently moderated by Ms. Helena Cobban, which helped make the fourth hour seem as relevant and engaging as the first. But it was Jeff Halper, from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, who first succeeded in hooking this audience member. It was Halper’s ability to frame the situation on the ground so clearly that allowed him to simultaneously reach those new to the topic as well as the more familiar.

Halper was the witness testifying on the topic of Property Rights, which he connected effortlessly to ethnic cleansing in the Palestinian territories. He listed the three cases, in recent memory, of states destroying the homes of a certain ethnicity in order to displace them: South Africa, Serbia and Israel, noting that these practices were discontinued in the first two. My friend was especially shocked to hear how something as ostensibly innocuous as zoning was the mechanism by which this discriminatory practice was justified.

Halper deftly explained the history behind this zoning and how the Israeli designation of “state land” has always meant land held collectively for the Jewish people. But it was the human element that he included that left the greatest impression. Halper described the stress of living with the threat of home demolitions through the eyes of countless worried Palestinian parents who began their daily routine by checking for Israeli police or army outside before dressing and waking their children for breakfast. As a father, my friend could immediately relate to such anxiety even while being shocked at the scale.

Believe it or not, Jeff Halper’s testimony was actually optimistic. He believes that the Israeli public on some level understands that the occupation is not sustainable and is therefore much more amenable to external pressure than is commonly believed.

The following session’s testimony, however, severed as a sober reminder that proposed solutions are rarely as reasonable as they appear. Jad Isaac is the director of the Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem so his contribution to the Hearing was naturally more technical. Regarding the West Bank, he described how the combination of checkpoints, unmanned obstacles, the wall and segregated roads, combined with Israel’s restrictive permit system have decimated the Palestinian economy.

 Isaac referenced the recent Baker Institute report warning that a resolution including land-swapping in order for Israel to maintain its major settlement blocs would still leave the West Bank fragmented and would barely improve its impoverished economy. In contrast, Isaac cited a World Bank report stating that the Palestinian GNP could be improved by 25% if the current restrictions on movement were lifted, over three times more effective than doubling current aid to the Palestinians. Of course, this all seemed rosy in comparison to the situation in Gaza, where Israel has apparently allowed in 0.0025% of the concrete required to rebuild the damage it wrought in operation Cast Lead.

The tone of the Hearing changed drastically – a few times – in the third session. Josh Ruebner from the US Campaign to End the Occupation was billed as an introducer, but his wealth of knowledge on US military aid made him more of a witness in his own right. Ruebner’s ability to demystify such a complicated, obscure but essential aspect of this conflict generated a great deal of admiration from the audience. The soundbite everyone remembered was “a budget is a moral document.”

By this he meant that Chicago’s share of the aid promised to Israel this decade could, instead, pay for over 6000 housing vouchers, green job training for over 8000 unemployed people, nearly 15,000 early reading slots for at-risk children, or primary healthcare for over 400,000. Instead, military aid to Israel is greater than military aid to the rest of the world combined.

Ruebner’s clarity allowed him to present everything in a very short period as he was then charged with introducing the two witnesses proper, Amer Shurrab and Cindy Corrie. Their personal stories of needless bereavement at the hands of the Israeli military wielding American weapons had even the most cynical among us choking back tears. Shurrab’s story was especially difficult as it involved the prolonged death of his brothers from being shot and then prevented from seeking and receiving medical assistance by the same soldiers, under orders. In response, the Israeli panelist, my father, contested that this was not a breakdown in command or any other kind of exceptional incident but a failure of Israeli society as a whole.

But most profound for us organizers were Corrie’s words at the beginning of her speech, when she was tearfully moved by the numbers in the audience and the official platform from which she could tell her story and seek justice for the death of her daughter. She went on to describe the details of her recent suit in the Israeli court in Haifa, where ever more evidence is emerging that Israel failed to adequately investigate Rachel Corrie’s death and even covered it up.

That Cobban, the moderator, was able to engage the speakers in a conversation about policy and values after this is a testament to her abilities. Nevertheless, the audience was visibly shaken by that final note. You could see in our eyes that this last session was extremely difficult, because in the course of 90 minutes we had been exposed to heart wrenching stories of loss and then told that this was not some distant unavoidable tragedy. Rather this only happened because we allowed it to, and no one wanted it to end that way. I can only hope that all of us maintain this newfound commitment to act on our consciences, to challenge our representatives and support efforts like the Divestment campaign at UC Berkeley.

Yotam Amit is on the board of the Arab Jewish Partnership.

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The letter that the below responds to was circulated to convince officials in UCSC to cancel a speaking event in which a member of New Profile was one of two speakers, the other being a Palestinian citizen of Israel.  The event was subsequently cancelled 48 hours prior to when it was to have taken place. 

The event did take place, but at a different location, and was, I was told, successful.   The letter that NP sent to UCSC members who received the Benjamin letter is with its letterhead, but since not everyone can open attachments, am copying below the text (I was unable to include the letterhead except by attachment).  Perhaps some of our reasons will be useful to some of  you.  

 All the best, Dorothy ————————————————————- 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

To: Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and Ilan Benjamin

From New Profile

Dear Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and Ilan Benjamin,

We have carefully perused your letter of Friday, April 16, 2010 to Provost Shemek and Provost Lau, and have seriously considered your  “three compelling reasons”  that the college should withdraw sponsorship for an event about  “Costs of War on Israeli Society: Two Unheard of Perspectives.” 

We wish here to comment on certain statements and viewpoints in your letter that we believe to be erroneous.

1.  Not the least of these is your contention that the program was “politically motivated.”  The speakers, after all, were not running for office nor asking that the audience vote on an issue.  Furthermore, would you have claimed the same had the speakers been from AIPAC, an acknowledged lobby?  What has happened to freedom of speech?  And where is freedom of speech more important than in colleges, where young minds are being formed?  Should students be denied the opportunity to hear opinions not frequently available except from discussions the nature of one on  “Costs of war”? 

Would it not have been wiser on your part to allow the event to take place, to attend it, and during the Q and A to express objections to ideas that you disagreed with?  Or were you afraid that your objections would have seemed weak, senseless, or uninformed in the light of the information that the speakers had brought to the fore?

2.  As for your implying that there is something shameful about ‘actively promoting the demilitarization of Israel and providing support to Israeli men and women (18 year olds!) who refuse compulsory military service,’ would you have claimed the same for organizations that aided American COs during the Vietnam war, when the draft was compulsory.  One reason that America has no draft today is that its leaders learned from that experience that you cannot force individuals of conscience to kill or be killed.

So it is in Israel that there are young people who are pacifists or who disagree with their governments’ policies and refuse to enlist.  Many of them are willing to pay the price and have served time in prison. 

Civil disobedience is a time-honored and respected practice in the United States, as it should be everywhere.  Jimmy Carter’s first act as president was to offer amnesty to Vietnam War ‘draft dogers.’  And just this month the City Council of Berkeley, Calif. passed a resolution calling for “Universal and Unconditional Amnesty for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan War Military Resisters and Veterans Who Acted In Opposition to the War for Matters of Conscience” (

In the same spirit, New Profile guides youngsters who request help.  New Profile does nothing illegal.  NP does not, as you claim, ‘actively encourage Israelis to break the law.’  NP does help individuals who need guidance about the law, who have questions, and NP tries to encourage Israeli youth to think (something that Israeli education fails to do).  But NP neither actively calls for refusal nor incites, as you can readily see from our website .

You are correct to state that NP was investigated, but you neglect to mention that the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence,7340,L-3798368,00.html  Furthermore, the investigation was not instigated by the police, but began at the bequest of  “the High Court of Justice following a petition filed by the Israeli Forum for the Promotion of Equal Share in the Burden to have the New Profile movement dismantled following the content published on its website.” 

New Profile questions the need for wars, whereas the  “Israeli forum for the Promotion of Equal Share in the Burden” accepts wars as matter of fact, and demands that all Israeli youngsters conscript.  The Israeli forum failed to delegitimize New Profile, but not for want of trying.  The investigation found no evidence to back up the Forum’s complaint.  We presume that you trust the judgment of the police, the courts, and the prosecutor.

3. Your claim that the  “sole”  purpose of the speaking event was to “harm the Jewish state” implies that anyone who disagrees with Israel’s governments’ policies intends to ‘harm the Jewish state.’  Do you also believe that anyone who criticizes US policies aspires to harm America?   

And to imply that people as Scott Kennedy and Ofra Lyth or that events of the sort they take part in are anti-Semitic is pure nonsense! It is no more anti-Semitic to criticize Israel than it was anti-American to criticize the Vietnam war, nor is anti-American to criticize the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan!  To the contrary!

4. Furthermore, while we can sympathize with the student, Jenna Miller, that Israel is central to her identity,” she lives in America (as do both of you, apparently), whereas the speakers live in Israel, as do we. 

We therefore pose this question to you, since you appear to condone Israel’s colonization of Palestine: Just how many more generations of our children, grand children, and great grand children, and our neighbors’ children and their children, et al. do you wish to fight and die so that you, Jenna, and others like you can feel that this place somewhere out there that is called Israel is central to your identity, disregarding the price we in Israel pay, namely that of burying our young.  Till today Israel has seen 12 wars and military campaigns—-yes 12! In less than 62 years, with the next war always just around the corner!!! 

One bereaved mother, Nurit Peled-Elhanan–who lost her only daughter in a suicide bombing–captures in a nutshell an important aspect of what New Profile is battling by objecting to militarism.  Professor Peled-Elhanan, when speaking to the EU Parliament on International Women’s Day in 2005 stated the following:

“. . . Israeli, American, Italian and British mothers have been for the most part violently blinded and brainwashed to such a degree that they . . . are all mind-infected by the same viruses engendered by politicians. And the viruses , though they may have various illustrious names such as Democracy. Patriotism. God. Homeland, are all the same. They are all part of false and fake ideologies that are meant to enrich the rich and to empower the powerful.

We are all the victims of mental, psychological and cultural violence that turn us to one homogenic group of bereaved or potentially bereaved mothers. Western mothers who are taught to believe their uterus is a national asset just like they are taught to believe that the Muslim uterus is an international threat. They are educated not to cry out: “I gave him birth, I breast fed him, he is mine, and I will not let him be the one whose life is cheaper than oil, whose future is less worthy than a piece of land.”

All of us are terrorized by mind-infecting education to believe all we can do is either pray for our sons to come back home or be proud of their dead bodies.”

Is this the message that you fear to have told?  Do you wish to hide from American students that Israel’s wars are not from Heaven nor necessary?  Do you wish to hide from students that since 2002 Israel’s governments have refused to accept a comprehensive peace package offered by its Arab neighbors?  Do you wish to hide from students and faculty the fact that Israel’s governments thus devaluate human life—-Jewish as well as non-Jewish, because the Greater Israel is more important to our leaders than are our children’s lives? 

5. Lastly, you attempt to paint Scott Kennedy and Ofra Lyth in evil colors!  But of course it is always easier to ply ad hominem rather than to deal with the facts.  Unfortunately, you won this battle.  Unfortunately for the students, unfortunately for us who live in Israel, where the rituals of mourning over dead sons and daughters killed in the conflict are so frequent and abundant.

How many more Israeli parents and families must become bereaved and grieve while you ply your pen to keep students and faculty from hearing truths—perhaps the saddest truth of all being that excepting war zones as Afghanistan, Israel is the least safe place in the world for Jews.  Nowhere else have so many Jews been killed since WWII.  No where else is every Jewish child obliged to conscript at the age of 18.  No where else is there so much post-traumatic distress symptoms among Jewish youth.  Please convey this to Jenna Miller.


Dorothy Naor 

Ruth Divon

Ruth Hiller

Ronit Marian-Kadishay

For New Profile

Responses and Comments to


Cc: Provost Deanna Shemek

Provost Kimberly Lau

George Blumenthal, Chancellor

David Kliger, Executive vice chancellor and Campus Provost

Felicia McGinty, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs

UCSC Counsel Carole Rossi

Jim Carter, Cowell College Administrative Officer

Susan Welte, Oakes College Administrative Officer

Debra ellis, Cowell College Coordinator for Residential Education

Mandie Stout, Oakes College Coordinator for Residential Education

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By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

President Karzai is scheduled to come to Washington in May to meet with President Obama, a visit that has been “on” and “off” over the past few weeks.  The tribal Jirga scheduled prior to the meet has been postponed.  This Loya Jirga, a meeting between tribal leaders and Karzai to come to an agreement for a peace plan for Afghanistan will either end with Karzai as “the man with the plan” or with demands for an immediate replacement.

It is believed that the vast majority currently seen as “Taliban” are insurgents who, with strong leadership and a promise for the future, will align with the right government, leaving “hardcore” elements and foreign fighters to continue the war, a war they would then lose.

The consensus among tribal leaders is that the current military solution including “the surge” is doomed to failure.  The evidence they use is seen in the aftermath of the Marjah campaign.  Dr. Ed Corcoran of Global Security picked out these two reports:

After our big effort to regain control of Marjah, the Taliban are apparently still operating there effectively. So, for example, the Marines used cash payments to prod more than 20 store owners at one bazaar to open their doors, but by late March, all but five shops had closed. A prominent anti-Taliban senior elder was also gunned down in northern Marja, prompting most of the 200 people in his district to flee.

The locals know who the bad guys are and they are not fingering them. They know the Americans will leave (we’ve told them that and they have also see it before) and they clearly do not have confidence in the  “government in a box” that the Marines brought to town. So it is hard to see how the big effort will have any real impact.

– Nevertheless, we are moving ahead to do the same thing in Kandahar, even though a local shura apparently directly told President Karzai that they are not happy with the planned operation and are well aware of how the Taliban still control Marja.

They complain about the corruption and misrule of the local leaders, including Karzai’s half brother, apparently deeply involved in drugs, but now nevertheless having NATO’s support due to the lack of alternatives. And then, on top of that, US soldiers strafed a bus in Kandahar, killing at least four local Afghans on the very eve of an offensive planned to get local support.

The soldiers are totally our of place culturally, unfamiliar with the language or customs, unable to distinguish Taliban from non-Taliban, and nevertheless putting their lives on the line. Inevitably they cause civilian deaths, and if they are too sensitive to that, then they cause their own deaths.


One of the senior leaders of the Afghan tribes is critical of Coalition leaders who seem to be in a full panic mode.  Reports indicate that the American leaders are contacting every Taliban leader, even and including those with reputations for hardcore opposition to, not only the American presence, but those mistrusted and hated by the majority of people in Afghanistan as well. 

America seems to believe they can pander to the most disreputable elements in society, using a bag of cash, and come up with an exit strategy that will leave a stabilized nation.  This is insane.

Instead of approaching  the leaders of the established families who have a strong history of ties to both tribal and religious elders, the only groups that could potentially turn the current chaotic situation into the rebuilding of the nation, America is proving to be a less and less reliable partner simply because of the appearance of confusion, panic and low quality intelligence sources.

The current solution suggested is a combination of leading tribal families, two or three strong leaders respected by the majority of Afghanistan, aided by a program of economic development, is the only way to achieve peace.

The fear is that Americans will chose a “technocrat” to replace Karzai, a “dupe” likely to drag the war on for another decade, someone “all hat and no cattle.”

Tribal leaders believe America has continually made bad choices.  Rather than wishing for an American withdrawal, a continued American presence is requested but working with a “survivable” and “legitimate” government.  The answer isn’t a military solution nor is it working with the Kabul/Karzai regime but rather the creation of sustainable systems, military, economic, education, health care, done within a framework acceptable to the entire nation, not just drug lords and the “Duke of Kabul.”


Nobody believes a military victory in Afghanistan is possible.

With Karzai in charge, not only is victory impossible but any real progress toward national unity itself is a joke.  It is actually likely that we are moving backwards.    America has been told by Afghan leaders that any attempt to repeat the failed Marjah operation with its massive collateral damage and poor planning will only make things worse.  The majority of leaders of Afghanistan have ordered the plans for the surge to end.


Many more Pashtuns live in Pakistan than Afghanistan.  They see the Durand Line, the artificial border set up by the British in 1893 as a “Berlin Wall.”  They want the “line” eliminated but the entire region is engulfed in conflict with the Durand Line being “ground zero.”

Pakistan, America’s primary ally, feels it is fighting a surrogate war against India and Israel, who they believe are arming terrorists in Afghanistan to attack Pakistan.  Pakistan, as the only Islamic nuclear power, feels it has been targeted for dismemberment by other US allies, although Pakistan is steadfastly aligned with the United States.

Daily terrorist attacks across Pakistan lend credence to this as does the “special relationship” India has with Karzai who has allowed Indian “security personnel” to operate openly in Afghanistan.  The US has been silent on this because of Israeli involvement with India and covert terrorist attacks against Iran that Israel is helping stage from neighboring Balochistan.

Additionally, Pakistan, though “next door” has very poor communications with tribal leaders in Afghanistan, who see Pakistan, a country ruled by a Europeanized minority in Punjab and Sindh as less than supportive of the needs of their own Pashtun population.


Some time ago, General Aslam Beg, former head of the Pakistani army, suggested a coalition between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.  While Karzai was strongly entrenched in Afghanistan and closely aligned with India, Pakistan’s primary rival, this sounded far fetched.  However, with the current rift between the US and Israel over Iran and the threat of unilateral nuclear attack by Israel against Iran becoming a reality, the dynamic has altered significantly.

Such a coalition would, in fact, be the best thing for the United States.

No longer would Iran have reason to seek nuclear weapons but would be dependent on and aligned to a close American ally, Pakistan.  Pakistan, a technologically advanced but economically backward nation, would have access to gas and oil along with credit lines that would allow modernization and economic programs that could stifle religious extremism in poverty stricken tribal areas.

Afghanistan would regain 25 million Pashtuns, and with hope, retain a renewed national identity but also see economic gains as part of a regional trade zone.

Key to this issue, however, is American approval, which, despite the current rift with Israel, would require a general demilitarization in the Middle East, and constructive dialog with all nations, working toward a sustainable model that would eliminate the potential for extremism.


Current policies within Israel that have even alienated the US government, will continue to be regionally divisive and a threat to security.  With Israel pushing half is population into 5% of its land, “ghettoization, ” as it were, terrorism, real or “false flag” is likely to continue.

Within the Islamic community, strong religious divides will override ethnic, security or economic concerns with some radical clergy likely to oppose any move toward establishment of a defacto democratic secular state.

Is a single state, perhaps the only survivable model, the answer, a “bastard” state thrown together out of geopolitical necessity, an answer?  Are old hatreds and fear capable of being cast aide, old divisions and rivalries to deliver the promise of a decent life to the majority of people, a promise made by Communism, a promise made and broken?

I have gotten very distressed at what we are doing, and not doing, in Afghanistan. As I see it, we need a whole new basic approach to the situation. The military approach is simply not working. Everyone recognizes that a military solution is not possible.

The shortcomings of the central government undermine both development and security. In Ambassador Eikenberry’s words, “President Karzai is not an adequate strategic partner.” The US commitment to leave further undermines our efforts.


It’s hard to imagine how military operations in Helmand and Kandahar will bring any positive, long-term results.

We need a whole new strategy, except we cannot call it a “new strategy” because that would put it in direct opposition to current command concepts. So we have to talk in terms of some parallel effort that may start smaller but gradually assume the lead. 

It has to be based on building up the areas that are relatively secure and have reasonable good local leaders. We need to make clear long-term commitments, not to an open ended military effort, but to an open ended development and partnership effort.

The American people will support positive programs – we have been in Germany and South Korea for 60 years helping both nations grow into dynamic democracies. We have to show results and we have to avoid large military operations, with attendant casualties and a huge logistic tail.

This focus has to be on local efforts, grass roots developments, small business, education, health, infrastructure. Khalil Nouri stresses the potential impact of Major Jim Gant’s approach, One Tribe at a Time and Tribal Engagement Teams. The only problem I see with that is the need to find a hundred more Jim Gants — every year.

And I am also skeptical of having the military as the lead organization. But this sort of grass roots effort offers the only route I can see towards a more stable Afghanistan. This is also the same sort of approach championed by the New World Strategies Coalition – business development coordinated at the local level.

We need to outline in some detail such an approach, a “Local Development Effort” or a “Village Improvement Program”  or whatever nice label we would put on it  to give an initial positive impression and serve as a unifying concept for local operations.

We need to identify areas where it can really work right now, identify specific projects and people to support, and find as many and varied US organizations that we can which would be willing to support these efforts.

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You are here: Home / Politics & Government / Legislation / Jewish Voice for Peace Demands Mil Cut-off for Israel

Jewish Voice for Peace Demands Mil Cut-off for Israel

April 24, 2010 posted by Michael Leon · 2 Comments 

Jewish Voice for Peace

Is a perfect storm brewing against the Israeli militarists targeting Israeli human rights orgs, Palestinians and self-consciously creating another generation of Islamic fanatics blinded by hatred?

The Lobby may soon face the reality that as powerful as it is in the American Congress, it pales in the face of a united veterans’ community, the international peace movement and the apparent determination of many of the active-service Brass. As a reader wrote a few years’ back, “Israel cannot survive half-fascist and half-humanistic.”

From Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP):

The US 2011 budget is now in the House Appropriations Committee, and Israel is set to receive another $3 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF).  In past years, Israel has been given this money with no discussion, no conditions, and no reporting requirements.

This tax-payer gift to Israel is traditionally disbursed in one payment at the beginning of the fiscal year, not in periodic increments as is done with other countries receiving aid.

Click here to find your US Representative’s phone number and make a call TODAY, before the money is unconditionally approved once again.
(Simply enter your zip code and your Representative’s contact information will appear immediately after that of your two Senators.)

Saying NO to McCarthyism in the Jewish Community – The Shministim

Ask your Representative:

Ask you Representative: Why are you disbursing more money to Israel without first determining whether past aid has been used by Israel in the Gaza attack in direct violation of the Arms Export Control Act?

Tell them:  Israel’s current actions run contrary to the policies of our own government and constitute an obstacle to peace. For the sake of Palestinians and Israelis, don’t sign another unconditional blank check.


Sydney Levy
Jewish Voice for Peace

Why are we rewarding with almost 3 billion dollars in military aid a country that insists on building settlements and on keeping Gaza under siege, without even allowing the necessary aid to reconstruct and heal?

Subscribe to JVP’s blog MuzzleWatch.





Left roots need to make common cause with libertarian right on the issue

Posted: 24 Apr 2010 09:33 AM PDT

Republican Ron  Paul gave a great speech on the House floor about special interests pushing us to war in Iran. Last year at J Street, leftleaning Dem congressman Bob Filner said the same thing: “On the issue of Israel, people are taking positions that could lead to war on the basis of…’Am I going to get a campaign contribution?’…

The dangerous thing here is that people are making decisions– you could have nuclear war in this whole world, and they’re making it on narrow political, parochial grounds.” Ron Paul:

We hear war advocates today on the Floor scare-mongering about reports that in one year Iran will have missiles that can hit the United States. Where have we heard this bombast before? Anyone remember the claims that Iraqi drones were going to fly over the United States and attack us?

These “drones” ended up being pure propaganda – the UN chief weapons inspector concluded in 2004 that there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein had ever developed unpiloted drones for use on enemy targets. Of course by then the propagandists had gotten their war so the truth did not matter much.

We hear war advocates on the floor today arguing that we cannot afford to sit around and wait for Iran to detonate a nuclear weapon. Where have we heard this before? Anyone remember then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s oft-repeated quip about Iraq, that we cannot wait for the smoking gun to appear as a mushroom cloud?

We need to see all this for what it is: Propaganda to speed us to war against Iran for the benefit of special interests. 

Let us remember a few important things. Iran, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has never been found in violation of that treaty. Iran is not capable of enriching uranium to the necessary level to manufacture nuclear weapons.

According to the entire US Intelligence Community, Iran is not currently working on a nuclear weapons program. These are facts, and to point them out does not make one a supporter or fan of the Iranian regime. Those pushing war on Iran will ignore or distort these facts to serve their agenda, though, so it is important and necessary to point them out.

Some of my well-intentioned colleagues may be tempted to vote for sanctions on Iran because they view this as a way to avoid war on Iran. I will ask them whether the sanctions on Iraq satisfied those pushing for war at that time.

 Or whether the application of ever-stronger sanctions in fact helped war advocates make their case for war on Iraq: as each round of new sanctions failed to “work” – to change the regime – war became the only remaining regime-change option. 

This legislation, whether the House or Senate version, will lead us to war on Iran. The sanctions in this bill, and the blockade of Iran necessary to fully enforce them, are in themselves acts of war according to international law. A vote for sanctions on Iran is a vote for war against Iran.

2 visiting Israeli crusaders lay the problem at the feet of American Jews

Posted: 24 Apr 2010 07:17 AM PDT

I had an inspiring day in New York yesterday, I went to see two leaders of the left in Israel. The message was in the end the same: the oppression is over there, but the political problem is the Israel lobby, recalcitrant Jewish attitudes in the U.S., now what are you going to do about that?

The first speaker was Hagai El-Ad, the director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. He was at the New Israel Fund on 7th Avenue. As El-Ad sat waiting for the small event to begin (internet journalists), he checked a text on what had taken place during the Sheikh Jarrah demonstration against Palestinian evictions in East Jerusalem that day.

El-Ad had come to the U.S. to try to convey to Americans the civil crisis inside Israel, from ramped-up threats on Palestinian liberty to the crackdown on groups that advocate for them. ACRI is among the Israeli NGOs that have been implicitly threatened by the Netanyahu government for taking foreign funds as they allegedly seek to undermine Israel’s legitimacy. ACRI won’t stop its work. The booklet he passed out has many photographs of Palestinians in it, including amid the rubble of their homes.

You faced a crisis of civil rights in your country in the wake of the Iraq war but at least you had a constitution, El-Ad said, Israel doesn’t. “Playing this game of shaking the remaining democratic foundations is much much more dangerous” in Israel.

But he was most moving on the issue of Palestinian freedom. Recently he was arrested during the Sheikh Jarrah demonstration. A Palestinian friend made a “loving remark” to him. “’What you’re facing now in the intensified clapdown, that more and more Jews are facing is something that many Palestinian Israelis have faced for many years.’

It’s agonizing to agree with, but I think it’s very true. Even under thse circumstances, we don’t forget the privileges we have, that I have as a Jewish citizen of Israel. And to think very clearly about the responsility that puts on our shoulders.”

I was pleased to hear this statement in a room of privileged Jews in the U.S.

Our community is incredibly powerful, yet we cultivate a consciousness of isolation and persecution that rationalizes the white-knuckled guardian role of the Israel lobby. The U.S. Jewish community has enormous influence over Israel, El-Ad said, it can change the conversation there. But he has trouble breaking through here.

“Where do [Ameircan Jews] channel their support?” he said by way of challenge. “I myself and many others, it’s almost painful to be aware of often how difficult it is to have an open discussion about these issues in this country. These conversations can happen in an opener way in Israel than the United States and that is not just disappointing, it’s damaging.”

Further challenge: the Jewish community’s responsibility is “to get involved, to become more informed about what is happening, and to speak out.” It is urgent, he said, because Israel is headed in such a bad direction. “If you consider yourself friends then this is the time to speak out, time to get involved in a meaningful way.”

I pressed El-Ad to say who has disappointed him. He was a cool Israeli. Wouldn’t say.

Last night a more leftwing crowd gathered in the basement of the Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square, and Michael Ratner introduced the great Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. I’d never heard Halper speak before, never seen him; and all I can say is that I had missed one of the great moral performances of our time, and when I left the church I understood why this man has been nominated for the Nobel Prize.

A lifetime commitment in the face of opposition from his own society, to fight the occupation and build connections between Jews and Palestinians as a form of “political resistance,” toward the day that Jews and Palestinians must build a society together—Halper is the definition of prophetic inspiration.

To his points. The occupation is stronger than ever, and it is an occupation because Israel wants the land and feels that it can get away with taking more and more. Security has nothing to do with a wall that goes deep into Palestine, with settlement blocs that take up huge portions of the West Bank. I am supposed to know this stuff; but I was stunned to consider how enveloping are the easternmost Jewish colonies all through the Jordan Valley.

The Israelis have reduced the Palestinian population to four cantons, two in the northern West Bank, one in the southern West Bank and Jerusalem, and one in Gaza. As many as 30,000 houses have been demolished in the occupied territories, 7000 in Gaza last year. Halper’s group rebuilds houses; it has rebuilt 1600 over many years. And 2 million Palestinian fruit and olive trees have been destroyed inside the occupation.

The two most hideous political structures of the 1980s, the Berlin wall and South African apartheid, are today combined in Palestine; and the Israeli wall is longer and higher than Berlin’s.

And what do Israel’s leaders plan to do with the 5 million Palestinians? “The liberal model is apartheid.”

Israelis will go along with this because it has been inculcated in them that Palestinians are their permanent enemies and you can’t trust Arabs. And they want to know nothing about the occupation. The far right of course talks about expulsion, and as for Netanyahu, apartheid is too liberal for him too, he seems to envision a kind of reservation. “We can pacify the Palestinians … to a point where they can’t resist,” Halper mindreads the P.M. They’ve succeeded on the West Bank, now they will do so in Gaza.

Israeli expansion comes down to pigginess. It doesn’t matter that the Arab states and the Palestinians accepted the two state solution long ago, the Israelis thought they could get more, so they took more. The critical factor is the United States. I believe Obama gets it, Halper said. General Petraeus’s comments are indicative of that, so is Biden’s statement that the status quo is “unsustainable.” The special relationship is hurting the United States.

“But the buzz in Israel is that Obama will have more trouble with Nancy Pelosi than he will with Netanyahu” if he takes on Israel. Israelis are confident that they have the Congress and that is all they need. 337 signatures in the Hosue and 76 in the Senate, taking Netanyahu’s side against Obama. Halper has visited the Congress many times and congressmen tell them they have little choice.

“Barney Frank said it best. He said, ‘I’m with you 100 percent [presumably on settlements/occupation]. If you bring me the names of 5000 Jews in my district that support you, tomorrow morning I change my vote… If you can’t do that…. I’m not going to commit political suicide for the sake of the Palestinians… “ Because, Halper continued quoting Frank, people in his district don’t care enough about the issue for him to stick his neck out.

I just need to unpack that statement. Let’s be clear that no one in these districts really cares about Palestinian dispossession except Jews, and they are for it overwhelmingly. But Jews are small portions of most congressional districts, though yes they are a big factor in Frank’s district (and my birthplace), Brookline.

Why is it political suicide? Jews are simply too important on these issues–in financial contributions, in media/opinion, in activism, to go against them. This is very much like what Rep. Bob Filner said last year at J Street when he said that he voted against the lobby in his San Diego district once and lost $250,000 a cycle in his giving.

Most members wouldn’t want to sacrifice that; and most members don’t have anyone who really cares about the issue in their district–and meanwhile, the stakes, as Filner said, are even nuclear war.

Halper left us with hope. BDS (a verboten topic at the New Israel Fund, where Hagai El-Ad spoke) is making a difference, Jimmy Carter made a big difference by getting the word apartheid out there, Walt and Mearsheimer made a difference and so did Israel’s conduct in Lebanon and Gaza.

We are in a slow incline of growing awareness. Israel’s policies are becoming delegitimized in the international community and when it is finally isolated, it will stop its disgraceful behavior. Like other oppressors, it has “feet of clay.” It shouldn’t take another 40 years, he said, but he would not offer predictions. He’s 64 and looks the prophet, with his big beard and barrel chest. I hope he sees the day.

Goldstone will attend grandson’s bar mitzvah

Posted: 24 Apr 2010 06:27 AM PDT

Many of you have already heard this news out of South Africa. Presumably the international outrage over this disgrace had some effect. Would that it might lead people to read the Goldstone report:

The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) is pleased to announce that, following consultation between all the parties involved, an agreement has been reached confirming Judge Richard Goldstone attending his grandson’s forthcoming bar mitzvah ceremony.

It was agreed that a meeting hosted by the SA Zionist Federation would take place between Judge Goldstone and leadership of the SA Zionist Federation and other Jewish Communal representatives to discuss the Jewish community’s response to the report of the Commission chaired by Judge Goldstone last year and for Judge Goldstone to give his perspectives on the issue. 

It was further confirmed that Judge Goldstone would attend his grandson’s barmitzvah and that there would be no protests associated with the barmitzvah. 

The SAJBD respectfully requests, in light of the agreement reached, that all parties immediately desist all public activities on this matter so that the young man’s barmitzvah celebration can be returned to the privacy and dignity that it deserves. 

Judge Goldstone said that “I am delighted that I will attend the barmitzvah of my grandson.”

Brandeis students prepare to protest Michael Oren commencement speech

Posted: 23 Apr 2010 07:42 PM PDT

Recently, I was alerted by my Brandeis student newspaper, The Justice, that Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren would be our keynote commencement speaker. Needless to say, I was disappointed, and not just because there were better choices even among the other honorary degree recipients (Paul Simon and Paul Farmer come to mind).

What this selection indicates is that Brandeis University, a institution which takes ‘social justice’ as one of its founding credos, is willing to send its new graduates into the world with the words of a rogue state apologist, a defender of (among other things) the war crimes and human rights abuses of the war on Gaza. Moreover, regardless of one’s political beliefs one can easily see that having such a polarizing speaker for commencement is divisive, exclusionary, and just plain stupid.

Brandeis University has a strange relationship with Israel. As a historically Jewish university with deep, abiding ties to the Jewish community, the campus is overwhelmingly of a Zionist bent. However, this tends to overshadow and exclude other positions on the issue. Problematically, it is assumed that all Jews support Israeli policy, all the time, and Brandeis’s actions over the past few years indicate that it is devoted to this idea of community homogenity:

  • In 2006, a Palestinian art exhibit was initially given approval, then suddenly taken down; President Reinharz’s response to criticism of this crackdown on speech was that the university needed “to move on.”
  • In 2007, former President Carter’s address to students was nearly canceled because of his calls for an end to apartheid in the occupied territories. While he was allowed to speak, President Reinharz refused to meet with him, and after the speech infamous hasbara-monger Alan Dershowitz came on stage to belittle and defame Carter.
  • In fall 2009, Justice Richard Goldstone chose Brandeis as the first place to present his views on the historic Goldstone Report. The University chose to repay him for this honor by forcing him to share the stage with bullying, porn-mustachioed Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador who spent his time proclaiming his ignorance of international law and making wild, derailing claims about Palestinians in order to justify the massacre of thousands of Gazan civilians.

I was involved in organizing around the last incident, and it taught me the total intransigence of our university administration on any topic surrounding Israel. Along with several students, I presented our grievances to the event’s sponsor, the Brandeis Ethics Center, pointing out that Gold’s presence belittled the seriousness of the report, and made the issue of war crimes a matter of armchair debate.

The format of the debate forced Goldstone into the role of the ‘anti-Israel’ position, when in fact he was a third party trying to determine the facts in the context of international law. We humbly requested that Gold not be invited, or that they also include a Palestinian speaker who could speak to her community’s concerns. This was summarily rejected.

At the event itself, several students (including myself) silently stood up during Gold’s speech, wearing sheets of paper with the names of Gazan and Israeli citizens killed in the conflict. The idea was to ask the forum participants to face the reality of what they were discussing, to point out that the outcome of this discussion would be measured in real lives, not political points.

Gold vociferously denounced us from the stage, whining that his freedom of speech (as the representative of a nuclear state) was threatened by a dozen silent teenagers. Although none of the protestors were arrested, several were physically assaulted by members of the crowd: they were kicked, had their hair pulled, and had chairs thrust into the backs of their knees.

Michael Oren’s selection as commencement speaker is clearly designed to send a message: at a unique turning point in U.S.-Israeli relations, and when strong feelings on this issue have already been voiced on campus, our university administration wants everyone to know that is has no qualms about marginalizing dissenting opinions by bringing a partisan, divisive speaker to commencement. My good friend Mariel Gruszko (a graduating senior) expresses this aptly:

“For some Jews, Oren is a model of statesmanship. For others, he represents a paranoid style in Israeli politics. For most outside the Jewish community, Oren is a figure of little note. For Palestinians, he is the apologist and gatekeeper for a government that has denied them basic rights and humanitarian assistance and made them vulnerable to deportation. Oren is a painful reminder of the divisions we face as a community.

“We deserve better than this. Commencement should be a time to celebrate as we move onto the next phase of our lives, not a time for recriminations and ostracizations. Commencement speakers traditionally give graduating students boring but sage advice on how to conduct oneself in the world. But many of us would rather not take advice from Oren. Many more of us are confused about how Oren fits into Brandeis’ commitment to social justice.”

Despite the heat we dissenters are already getting from those who would enforce the status quo, don’t imagine that Brandeis students will take this lying down. We are organizing to protest this decision. Details on how this campaign is going and how you can help will be forthcoming.

Jonathan Sussman is a junior at Brandeis majoring in English Literature and History of Ideas. He is active in Students for a Democratic Society, Students for Justice in Palestine, Brandeis Humanists and Feminist Majority Leadership


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Report from Bil’in: ’soldiers showed no discrimination with their firing, shooting directly at the faces of the protestors’

Picture 106
The Israeli military chases a protester in Bil’in. (Photo: Hamde Abo Rahma)

Hamde Abo Rahma sends this report on the latest protest in Bil’in:

Today’s demonstration marked the culminating event in the Fifth Bil’in International Conference for Palestinian Popular Resistance, which began on Wednesday, April 21 with a full line-up of speakers including politicians, leaders of Popular Committees, Israeli activists, and international solidarity activists. The conference continued through Thursday and Friday. After the final conference session on Friday morning, in which workshop groups reported on their conclusions in preparation for the conference statement, the conference participants gathered with scores of other Israeli, international, and Palestinians waiting at the mosque for the weekly demonstration.

Today’s demonstration was larger than normal in size, and lasted an especially long period of time. Serious injuries were sustained during the demonstration, and several were arrested. Present at the demonstration were local political figures, including Mustafa Barghouti, and international solidarity leaders such as Luisa Morgantini.

At 1:30pm the crowd of demonstrators processed to the site of the Wall, carrying posters and flags, and were immediately met by soldiers, sound grenades, and smoke bombs. Protestors encountered a line of soldiers who were hiding; these soldiers fired a wall of gas at the protestors in order to force the demonstrators into a second line of soldiers who were waiting to make arrests. Demonstrators reported that soldiers showed no discrimination with their firing, shooting directly at the faces of the protestors, and no discrimination in their arrests, trying to arrest even journalists.

Picture 229Imad Rizka being led away from the protest. (Photo: Hamde Abo Rahma)

Several serious injuries were sustained. Imad Rizka, approximately 37 years of age, from Yaffa, was shot in the forehead with a tear gas canister. He was taken away immediately to Ramallah Hospital by ambulance. His condition is unknown at the time of writing. Rizka is well-known in Bil’in, as he comes to the village every Friday to demonstrate.

Soldiers fired a great deal of tear gas from both sides of the fence. Demonstrators were forced to retreat, but among those who remained, several were arrested. Soldiers crossed the fence and advanced well into the demonstrators’ territory, grabbing five demonstrators. Those arrested were a Palestinian journalist Muheeb Barghouti; an Israeli journalist, an elderly Palestinian man named Abu Sadi; Israeli activist Tali Shapiro; and two internationals from Liverpool, England, who were visiting Bil’in as part of a twin cities partnership. The soldiers took them away in between firing rounds of tear gas to drive the protestors back.

Additional injuries are as follows:

One demonstrator from Italy, struck in the back by a tear gas canister; an Italian demonstrator who was shot in the arm with a new type of weapon; an Israeli activist; Um Samarra, 45, from Bil’in, who was hit in the leg by a tear gas canister; Haitham al-Khatib, cameraman, who was slightly injured; a Palestinian woman from Bethlehem who sustained a leg injury; and a Palestinian journalist named Abbas al-Momni.

Today’s protestors showed great tenacity in the face of tear gas, injuries, and arrests, and an especially large number of demonstrators remained at the fence, facing the soldiers. The demonstration lasted an especially long period of time, as demonstrators refused to completely leave the area, and returned several times during lulls between waves of tear gas.

Update from the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee:

Emad Rezqa was hit in the forehead by an aluminum tear gas projectile shot directly at him by Israeli soldiers during the weekly anti-Wall demonstration in Bil’in earlier today. He suffered a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage. Rezqa is currently hospitalized at the Hadassa Ein Karem hospital in Jerusalem.

The demonstration Rezqa was injured in concluded the three-day International Bil’in Conference on Popular Struggle, and was attended by hundreds of people. Five demonstrators were arrested during the protest.

The march, which commenced at the village’s mosque after the midday prayer, was attacked with tear gas some 30 seconds after reaching the gate in the Wall, despite the fact that it was entirely peaceful. The gas forced most of the participants to retreat back towards the village, but a smaller group managed to stay by the gate, chanting and shouting slogans.

A few minutes after, a group of soldiers began firing a second round of tear gas projectiles, this time directly at the demonstrators from a distance of about 30 meters. Rezqa was hit and quickly evacuated to the Ramallah hospital with blood gushing from his forehead. He was transferred to the Hadassa Ein Karem hospital after being x-rayed and diagnosed as suffering a broken skull.

Following Rezqa’s injury, soldiers invaded Bil’in through the gate in the Wall and arrested four protesters who were staging a sit-in some hundred meters away from the Wall, as well as a journalist who was next to them.

Another demonstrator was similarly injured today during a demonstration in the village of Nabi Saleh. The protester was hit in the head with a tear gas projectile shot directly at him after the Army invaded the village even before the demonstration began.

In Ni’ilin, roughly 300 people demonstrated in solidarity with the villages political prisoners. The demonstration was attended by two PLC members from the Change and Reform party – Mahmoud Ramahi and Fadhel Saleh, who joined the protest today following Ramahi’s statement in support of the popular struggle last Wednesday during the Bil’in conference.

Ramahi and Slaeh’s participation is yet another sign of the recent expansion of the popular struggle and the momentum the movement is gaining in the Palestinian street.

Barack Obama is speaking the language of Israel-firster Dennis Ross

William Quandt, a National Security Council staffer in the NSC’s Middle East office during the Nixon and Carter administrations, has an article up at Foreign Policy’s Middle East Channel downplaying any hopes that the Obama administration is serious about pushing for a solution in Israel/Palestine. Quandt writes, “My own reading of this administration is that it really has not yet made up its mind what to do about Israel, the Palestinians and Syria–and this far into a new administration, that is reason for concern.”

Although much has been made of President Obama’s statement that Middle East peace is a “vital national security interest” for the U.S., Quandt devotes more attention to another Obama statement with worrisome implications:

The truth is, in some of these conflicts the United States can’t impose solutions unless the participants in these conflicts are willing to break out of old patterns of antagonism. I think it was former Secretary of State Jim Baker who said, in the context of Middle East peace, we can’t want it more than they do.

The notion that the United States can’t want peace more than the Israelis and Palestinians want it is, as Quandt points out, a relic of the Clinton and second Bush administration’s approach to Israel/Palestine, and not Baker’s view. It’s also a view that Dennis Ross has pushed hard, with tragic consequences for the Palestinians. The question we should be asking is why Ross has such a prominent role in Obama’s strategy for dealing with the Middle East, a role that is very detrimental. Ross, as Laura Rozen at Politico reported in late March, is still very much involved in crafting the administration’s approach to Israel, and is reportedly “more sensitive to Netanyahu’s coalition politics than to U.S. interests.”

The Wall Street Journal adds onto the story in a big way, really showing how happy Netanyahu and the Israel lobby must be to have Ross inside Obama’s team:

U.S. officials said Mr. Netanyahu’s government has been communicating much of its position through the White House’s senior Middle East adviser Dennis Ross, at times bypassing special Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell. That decision has been interpreted by some in the administration as an attempt to sideline Mr. Mitchell in favor of Mr. Ross, who has advocated U.S. cooperation with Mr. Netanyahu, rather than confrontation. Mr. Ross has publicly taken positions in line with Mr. Netanyahu’s government, particularly the centrality of stopping Iran’s nuclear program as a means to underpin Mideast peace efforts.

The comment from Obama that repeats Ross’ view that the U.S. can’t want peace more than Israel and the Palestinians may seem “neutral” on the surface, but it really isn’t. As Helena Cobban has wrote:

That argument has been used as a major justification for a diplomatic quietism that has been a cover, actually, for continued, very generous US financial and military help to Israel that has completely underwritten Israel’s pursuit of its illegal policy of land-grabbing settlement-building in the West Bank and Golan and its very destructive launching of periodic wars, assassination campaigns, and other acts of lethal physical violence against its neighbors.

Ross is a major player in the Israel lobby, and if Obama is listening to him, as he seems to be, than we know for sure that Obama is not going to change a damn thing when it comes to U.S. policy towards Israel. Rahm Emanuel seemed to confirm that the Obama administration is intently listening to Ross when he told Charlie Rose that there are no plans for a U.S. peace proposal to be placed on the table (I’m leaving aside the fact that, if as reported Obama would be proposing a settlement based on the “Clinton Parameters,” it would mean discarding Palestinian rights. But that’s a separate issue.)

It’s no wonder that the Palestinians have lost faith in Barack Obama. There’s no “change we can believe in” on this issue, as well as on many other foreign policy issues.

Clemons suggests that Schumer is representing Israel, not U.S.

Great post by Steve Clemons demanding to know if Chuck Schumer has ever sided with the U.S. against Israel. “Has Chuck Schumer EVER Criticized Israel or its Leadership in the Way He Just Unloaded on Obama?” Says that Schumer’s tonguelashing of the Obama administration for putting pressure on Netanyahu comes close to sounding like he should be in the Knesset not the Senate.

This is the 2nd time I know of that Schumer has publicly crossed the line when it came to zealously blaming his own government and colleagues in delicate matters of US-Israel-Palestine policy.

During the third of three major efforts of the George W. Bush administration to get the recess appointed US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton confirmed in the US Senate, Senator Schumer launched a passionate personal campaign to help Bolton succeed.

Schumer called many Democratic Senate colleagues and bluntly said, “A vote against John Bolton is a vote against Israel.”

I love that journalists are finally beginning to sound like journalists on obvious questions. And I like the dual-loyalty issue, because… it’s real; and voters deserve to be informed on the question. Oh and something else. A lot of liberals like to blame the Christian Zionists for our policy in the Middle East. Does Christian Zionism have anything to do with Schumer’s advocacy? Or that of his protege Anthony Weiner? Or the abandonment of Obama by a significant portion of his own political base on this question? Does it explain Dennis Ross running the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute and then running Iran policy under Obama?

Wiesel should stop offering celestial prescriptions for a city he doesn’t live in

More than a hundred activists from the Sheikh Jarrah movement in Jerusalem published an open letter to Elie Wiesel in response to the letter Wiesel published last week in the Washington Post:

Dear Mr. Wiesel,

We write to you from Jerusalem to convey our frustration, even outrage, at your recently published letter on Jerusalem. We are Jewish Jerusalemites – residents by choice of a battered city, a city used and abused, ransacked time and again first by foreign conquerors and now by its own politicians. We cannot recognize our city in the sentimental abstraction you call by its name.

Our Jerusalem is concrete, its hills covered with limestone houses and pine trees; its streets lined with synagogues, mosques and churches. Your Jerusalem is an ideal, an object of prayers and a bearer of the collective memory of a people whose members actually bear many individual memories. Our Jerusalem is populated with people, young and old, women and men, who wish their city to be a symbol of dignity – not of hubris, inequality and discrimination. You speak of the celestial Jerusalem; we live in the earthly one.

For more than a generation now the earthly city we call home has been crumbling under the weight of its own idealization. Your letter troubles us, not simply because it is replete with factual errors and false representations, but because it upholds an attachment to some other-worldly city which purports to supersede the interests of those who live in the this-worldly one. For every Jew, you say, a visit to Jerusalem is a homecoming, yet it is our commitment that makes your homecoming possible. We prefer the hardship of realizing citizenship in this city to the convenience of merely yearning for it.

Indeed, your claim that Jerusalem is above politics is doubly outrageous. First, because contemporary Jerusalem was created by a political decision and politics alone keeps it formally unified. The tortuous municipal boundaries of today’s Jerusalem were drawn by Israeli generals and politicians shortly after the 1967 war. Feigning to unify an ancient city, they created an unwieldy behemoth, encircling dozens of Palestinian villages which were never part of Jerusalem. Stretching from the outskirts of Ramallah in the north to the edge of Bethlehem in the south, the Jerusalem the Israeli government foolishly concocted is larger than Paris. Its historical core, the nexus of memories and religious significance often called “the Holy Basin”, comprises a mere one percent of its area. Now they call this artificial fabrication ‘Jerusalem’ in order to obviate any approaching chance for peace.

Second, your attempt to keep Jerusalem above politics means divesting us of a future. For being above politics is being devoid of the power to shape the reality of one’s life. As true Jerusalemites, we cannot stand by and watch our beloved city, parts of which are utterly neglected, being used as a springboard for crafty politicians and sentimental populists who claim Jerusalem is above politics and negotiation. All the while, they franticly “Judaize” Eastern Jerusalem in order to transform its geopolitics beyond recognition.

We invite you to our city to view with your own eyes the catastrophic effects of the frenzy of construction. You will witness that, contrary to some media reports, Arabs are not allowed to build their homes anywhere in Jerusalem. You [will] see the gross inequality in allocation of municipal resources and services between east and west. We will take you to Sheikh Jarrah, where Palestinian families are being evicted from their homes to make room for a new Jewish neighborhood, and to Silwan, where dozens of houses face demolition because of the Jerusalem Municipality’s refusal to issue building permits to Palestinians.

We, the people of Jerusalem, can no longer be sacrificed for the fantasies of those who love our city from afar. This-worldly Jerusalem must be shared by the people of the two nations residing in it. Only a shared city will live up to the prophet’s vision: “Zion shall be redeemed with justice”. As we chant weekly in our vigils in Sheikh Jarrah: “Nothing can be holy in an occupied city!”                


Just Jerusalem (Sheikh Jarrah) Activists

BDS is a long term project with radically transformative potential

I’m grateful to Jerry Haber for taking the time to engage me on the role of ‘liberal’ Zionists in the BDS movement. Sometimes my tone borders on truculence, which is really just impatience. I’m impatient for ‘liberal’ Zionists to discard the ‘Zionist’ and become regular liberals like the rest of us. I think these are people who know better, but cling to notions of racial dominance in an ill-got geographical space for a variety of reasons.

I’ve written before I don’t really believe that liberal Zionists exist. Very quickly; liberal means we’re all equal, and Zionist means we’re not. It’s a contradiction in terms that I believe is irreconcilable. For instance, Avigdor Lieberman would like to see an end to the occupation. Is Avigdor Lieberman a liberal Zionist? Why not? Lieberman talks about ‘population swaps’ whose intent is to preserve the Jewish character of the state. Is that what liberal Zionists find so odious? How do liberal Zionists seek to preserve the Jewish character of the Jewish state if not through supranational gerrymandering or more ethnic cleansing? This is not a rhetorical question. How do liberal Zionists intend to hold on to their Jewish state?

Haber writes that “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.” I’d like to respectfully correct the misconceptions of any Jews and Palestinians who do not think that granting civil equality to Palestinian Israelis means the end of the Jewish state. Today, in the Jewish democracy, 1 out of every 5 citizens is not Jewish. In a truly equal society, any one of those people can hold a senior governmental post. What happens to ‘Jewish self-determination’ when the prime minister of Israel is a woman named Diana Buttu? In America, the proportion of black to non-black people is less than that of Palestinian Israeli to Jewish Israeli. Yet, white Americans and others elected a black man. That’s because the principle of ‘white self-determination’ is a discredited orthodoxy in American civil discourse. That’s because it’s racist.

Furthermore, Haber writes that “Palestinian Israeli leaders… do not oppose the existence of a Jewish ethnic state.” I take issue with this characterization of Palestinian Israeli leaders’ views. Azmi Bishara has repeatedly called for an Israel that does not discriminate or privilege one race over another. MK Ahmed Tibi has also described the Jewish state as “democratic towards Jews, and Jewish towards Arabs.”

But I’m avoiding the meat of the thing; do I want so-called liberal Zionists to join in our BDS efforts? If not, why? The BDS movement seeks to enact “non-violent punitive measures” to induce Israel into:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Ok fine. So BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state. But can’t I see the value in reaching across the aisle, so to speak? The movement may be burgeoning but remains too small. Why shouldn’t we indulge in ad hoc partnerships to get things done? Richard Silverstein, Richard Goldstone, and many other self-proclaimed Zionists have done an immeasurably positive amount of work in skinning the Zionist cat (That’s a deliberate analogy. I don’t kid myself about how difficult it must be for a Jewish person to criticize the Zionist state), shouldn’t they be asked to join the BDS movement?

To be sure, I’m not dogmatically against cooperating with people whose views I find objectionable. If it came down to it, I’d be happy to work with the racist up the street to get the city to fix a neighborhood pothole.

Likewise, I’d work with a liberal Zionist to break the Zionist siege of Gaza, whose people really have no use for protracted ideological jockeying. There is an immediacy there that demands action from any quarter.

But I view the BDS movement as a long-term project with radically transformative potential. I believe that the ultimate success of the BDS movement will be coincident with the ultimate success of the Palestinian enfranchisement and equal rights movement. In other words, BDS is not another step on the way to the final showdown; BDS is The Final Showdown.

This belief grows directly from the conviction that nothing resembling the ‘two-state solution’ will ever come into being. Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state itself. That’s because, as Yair Wallach writes, “The occupation appears increasingly as a de-facto permanent feature of the Israeli system of government, rather than as a set of temporary policies and security measures. And inevitably, the occupation involves the disenfranchisement and denial of collective political rights for the Palestinians.”

Therefore the success of the BDS movement is tied directly to our success in humanizing Palestinians and discrediting Zionism as a legitimate way of regarding the world.

With that holistic long-term view of BDS in mind, it becomes easy for me to say to that hypothetical Berkeley student senator, “We’ve waited a long time for our rights, we can wait until you’ve grown sufficiently as a human being to recognize our equal humanity before you cast that vote.” I have a robust faith in the humanity of the Jewish people (and people everywhere). I do not think we will have to wait very long for many of them to unlearn the Zionism which disfigures it.

We Palestinians have compromised on our fundamental rights and humanity repeatedly to gain political favor or a modicum of statehood. The most important lesson we can draw from Oslo is that Zionism does not permit many Zionists to act in good faith. Despite themselves, they are obsessively engaged in counting babies. Take the recent Sheikh Jarrah demonstrations. The Bradley Burstons of the world tell us that they demonstrate to prevent the unthinkable from happening. ‘If Jews have a right to properties they relinquished in 1948 in East Jerusalem, then Palestinians have a right to properties they relinquished in 1948! We cannot set the precedent!!’ Is this liberal Zionism? What’s so liberal about it?

The chief hallmark of intelligence is the capacity to learn from one’s mistakes. We cannot engage in expedient coalition-building now for a few short-term gains. We will end up sacrificing a clear moral compass in the long-run, which is bad for everyone. That’s how we ended up where we are after the Oslo farce.

There is the view that liberal Zionists are fence-sitters – nearly there, but not quite – and we ought to undertake to bring them into the fold. One day, imperceptibly, they will find that they no longer hew to a vision of a racially-pure (or Jewish majority) Israel.

When I was in college in the United States, I was frequently approached by well-intentioned Zionists who would invite me to ‘dialogue’ meetings and the like. I always refused because it was clear that these people sought, on some level, to absolve themselves of their Zionist guilt. It may have been tied to the Nakba, or the occupation, or the realization that I couldn’t participate in studying abroad in Tel Aviv, or any number of things.

Would I be doing these people a favor by joining them in holding hands and ameliorating some of the psychological tension that results when basically good people hold racist views? Or am I permitting them to persist in their destructively dichotomous state of mind by helping them put off the moment of crisis for just a bit longer? Personally, I felt more comfortable confronting their racism head on. Maybe if we apply force to the mind of a liberal Zionist, something will snap: “I can’t believe it. But he’s right. Palestinians are people, too. And they ought to be able to live in Jaffa just like me!”

Truthfully, I don’t know with any certainty how we should approach the fence sitters. It probably has something to do with an individual’s temperament, and whether she responds to blatant contradictions or hand-holding. I do know that I’m temperamentally unsuited to hand-holding.

But I’d like to acknowledge that these people may one day be friends and allies, and eventually, compatriots. So here’s a direct plea:

Discard your Zionism. Learn to animate your humanity with an immutable, plangent belief in the fundamental equality of all people. Learn to see the other as an extension of your human, not Jewish, self. Learn to stop worrying, and love the demographic bomb.

Goldstone Report said that Gaza remains occupied… why?


Eva Bartlett of International Solidarity Movement posts this photograph and report today from Gaza:

Four Israeli military bulldozers accompanied by four tanks invaded the Al Faraheen region, east of Khan Younis, this morning, destroying farmland, tearing up wheat and lentil crops, and terrorizing the civilians in the region.

“It’s normal,” said Jaber Abu Rjila.

“They invade whenever they want,” said his wife Leila.

The couple’s house and chicken farm, just under 500 metres from the border, was ravaged during an Israeli invasion in May 2008. They now rent a house further away from the border region, although their livelihood has been destroyed.

Below, a tank passes close to a Palestinian home that has been previously attacked:


Judt says Holocaust is exploited for ‘uncompromising Israelophilia and… lachrymose self-regard’

Another fabulous memoir piece by Tony Judt in the New York Review of Books, this one on the sources of his own proudly nonreligious Jewish identity. I gather his method of composition is oral, which you can see in the way he circles his subject, but the thrust of the piece is a challenge to “Israelophilia” and a call for a secular basis of identity engaged by universal justice standards. Frankly I don’t think Judt will reach the masses with this one. The message is in the end too assimilationist–and Jewish corporate entities don’t want to hear that, even as their children are gamboling in western history as Judt is: “I don’t make a point of socializing with Jews in particular—and for the most part I haven’t married them.” Great line. Judt:

Some years ago I attended a gala benefit dinner in Manhattan for prominent celebrities in the arts and journalism. Halfway through the ceremonies, a middle-aged man leaned across the table and glared at me: “Are you Tony Judt? You really must stop writing these terrible things about Israel!” Primed for such interrogations, I asked him what was so terrible about what I had written. “I don’t know. You may be right—I’ve never been to Israel. But we Jews must stick together: we may need Israel one day.” The return of eliminationist anti-Semitism was just a matter of time: New York might become unlivable.

I find it odd—and told him so—that American Jews should have taken out a territorial insurance policy in the Middle East lest we find ourselves back in Poland in 1942. But even more curious was the setting for this exchange: the overwhelming majority of the awardees that evening were Jewish. Jews in America are more successful, integrated, respected, and influential than at any place or time in the history of the community. Why then is contemporary Jewish identity in the US so obsessively attached to the recollection—and anticipation—of its own disappearance?…

American Jews are instinctively correct to indulge their Holocaust obsession: it provides reference, liturgy, example, and moral instruction—as well as historical proximity. And yet they are making a terrible mistake: they have confused a means of remembering with a reason to do so. Are we really Jews for no better reason than that Hitler sought to exterminate our grandparents? If we fail to rise above this consideration, our grandchildren will have little cause to identify with us.

In Israel today, the Holocaust is officially invoked as a reminder of how hateful non-Jews can be. Its commemoration in the diaspora is doubly exploited: to justify uncompromising Israelophilia and to service lachrymose self-regard. This seems to me a vicious abuse of memory. But what if the Holocaust served instead to bring us closer, so far as possible, to a truer understanding of the tradition we evoke?

Here, remembering becomes part of a broader social obligation by no means confined to Jews. We acknowledge readily enough our duties to our contemporaries; but what of our obligations to those who came before us? We talk glibly of what we owe the future—but what of our debt to the past? Except in crassly practical ways—preserving institutions or edifices—we can only service that debt to the full by remembering and conveying beyond ourselves the duty to remember.

Unlike my table companion, I don’t expect Hitler to return. And I refuse to remember his crimes as an occasion to close off conversation: to repackage Jewishness as a defensive indifference to doubt or self-criticism and a retreat into self-pity. I choose to invoke a Jewish past that is impervious to orthodoxy: that opens conversations rather than closes them. Judaism for me is a sensibility of collective self-questioning and uncomfortable truth-telling: the dafka-like quality of awkwardness and dissent for which we were once known. It is not enough to stand at a tangent to other peoples’ conventions; we should also be the most unforgiving critics of our own. I feel a debt of responsibility to this past. It is why I am Jewish.

Hafradah v apartheid, the story continues

Hannah Schwarzschild responds to the debate she helped start over the use of the word “hafradah,” which is Hebrew for separation, instead of “apartheid” to characterize Israel’s occupation.

So let me respond quickly, since I seem to be getting attacked from left, right and center for having brought up this old idea in a conversation about the difficulties of using the A-word (such as scheduled speakers dropping out of teach-ins at the last minute). First, this was not my idea (I don’t know who first suggested it, but it sure wasn’t me: I don’t speak Hebrew and wouldn’t know a geder hafradah if I pole vaulted over one.) I re-raised the “hafradah” idea last weekend only to illustrate that we have an option to use the Israelis’ own language against them in strategic moments when the “Apartheid” terminology is diverting the conversation unhelpfully (have you ever gotten stuck in a conversation with a Marxist pedagogue who wants to differentiate, quite correctly, the Afrikaaner use of labor from the Zionist one?). That’s not an “own goal,” that’s how minds get opened and hypocrites get exposed.

For what it’s worth, I use the A-word all the time, and have battled for the right to use it in organizations where some feared it would alienate liberal Zionists who write big checks. But keeping “hafradah” in our collective back pocket as a way to explain to unbelievers that racial/ethnic segregation is official Israeli policy can be a useful thing — I’m not sure why anyone thinks it’s an either/or.

Can’t we all just get along?

Rashid Khalidi: Under Obama ‘there has been no real change in the fatally flawed policies of the U.S. in the region’

As Palestinians prepare to commemorate the Nakba and Israelis celebrated their Independence Day, tension between the U.S. and Israel over settlement construction in occupied East Jerusalem continues. To make sense of these and other developments, the Institute for Middle East Understanding sat down in New York City with Professor Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University. Khalidi is the author of six books on Middle Eastern history including Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness, The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood, and most recently Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East. He is the editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies and a former adviser to the Palestinian delegation at the Madrid and Washington peace talks.

IMEU: Israel just celebrated its Independence Day. What are your thoughts on the state of the state? Is there a shift in Israeli society, and in the perception of Israel, or perhaps a questioning of Israel’s historical choices and her current policies?

RK: Well I am not in Israel so I can’t say really. From a distance, and through the lens of the Israeli press, it seems there is something unusual going on, perhaps a process of questioning as you say. But I would say that there has been a real shift in the Jewish Diaspora, and in terms of the perception of Israel internationally and in the U.S. Something is changing there. This process started to unfold after the 2006 Lebanon war and even more after the 2008-09 Gaza war. A lot of people said ‘this is too much’ and it opened their eyes to the injustice and blindness of Israeli policies, not to mention the brutality.

IMEU: Earlier this week Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak made a statement in which he essentially said the occupation must end. He said: “The world isn’t willing to accept…that Israel will rule another people for decades more…It’s something that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.” He went on to say that Palestinians aspire to a state of their own and that “there is no other way, whether you like it or not, than to let them rule themselves.” What are your thoughts on this?

RK: Barak in many ways represents the more rational element in Israeli decision-making, the element which doesn’t seek to bend reality to an Israeli vision at every turn. He represents an element of the leadership that is not totally detached from reality in other words. It should be obvious to anyone in their right mind, for example, that Israel cannot rule the Palestinians forever. Unfortunately most of those in power in Israel now really do think that they can bend reality to their will.

In some ways Zionism is and always has been this quite remarkable effort to shape reality to the will of its philosophy, to the will of the movement. It has been amazingly successful at doing this through brilliant PR and through creating facts on the ground. As I said, most Israeli current leaders are still living in this fantasy world, the apogee of which was during the Bush years. Throughout Bush’s tenure reality could be skewed and twisted more easily than ever before.

But we also should note that many among the Israeli elite, and many Israeli intellectuals are well aware of this dangerous strand of thinking in Israel and they are opposed to this idea that reality is alterable. Unfortunately many of these people, these more sensible Israelis, are outside of Israel living in the U.S. or in Europe.

IMEU: Elie Wiesel took out a full-page add in the NYT to say Jerusalem is for the Jews and the Jews alone. What’s your response to this?

RK: How does one respond to such narrow thinking? The idea that Jerusalem is the province of this or that exclusive tribal nation-state (which is in effect what Wiesel is arguing) represents a quite peculiar reduction of Judaism. Tony Judt, in a recent piece, talks about the same clash between this tribalism on the one hand, and the more universal principles of Judaism on the other.

Wiesel’s seems to be a very primitive vision indeed, and one that is intended to stir up atavistic tendencies. My guess is that this thinking increasingly only really appeals to a dwindling band of older folks. I think Wiesel’s view turns off a large number of younger Jews, especially in the Diaspora.

A lot of Israelis buy some version of this stuff, yes. But what is important, and in some ways this ties back to your first question, is that the Zionist movement and later the state of Israel used to be able to appeal universally to all or most Jews and to many others regardless of their differing viewpoints. Now it seems the hardcore Zionist establishment is really beating one drum which only attracts a hardcore and homogeneous segment of Jews in Israel and around the world, those people who actually believe this way of thinking.

Whether or not this is sustainable depends a lot on what happens here. If there continues to be growing dissent against this worldview – a worldview largely detached from reality – then people like Wiesel and Avigdor Lieberman will be more and more isolated. They will of course still have important allies in the Christian right and in the military-industrial complex, and on Capitol Hill, but they will be isolated increasingly from the growing number of people here in the U.S. who refuse to swallow every fantasy that AIPAC feeds them.

Of course, we could see the right wing Republicans make big gains in 2010 and 2012, and then return to a faith-based fact-free foreign policy in this country, which in turn fuels the delusional people involved in the conflict.

IMEU: What about the Palestinian National movement? How do you view the current situation in relation to other historical moments in the Palestinian national project?

RK: This particular moment is discouraging. It is a very bad time for the Palestinian national movement. But 1948 was much worse. The society and the economy were shattered then, and the population violently dispersed. It was a catastrophe for the Palestinian people in every sense of the word.

With that said, the national movement today is in worse shape than it’s been for 40 or 50 years, especially the leadership, but Palestinian civil society is in some ways more vibrant than ever, and quite resilient.

The question is whether this civil society will produce a leadership capable of spearheading a national movement worthy of the name.

Right now the Palestinian leadership (Fatah and Hamas) are divided and essentially made up primarily of clapped out hacks with no real strategic plan to get from point A to point B. It is clear that despite their rhetoric and their supposed plans, both factions have for years had no really viable vision of where to go.

On the one hand Hamas has this fantasy of violent resistance from within Gaza creating a state. The unilateral pull out of the Israelis from Gaza unfortunately fueled this fantasy and gave it more life. But a plan that consists of liberating Palestine with clumsy homemade rockets is not to be taken seriously. To Hamas’s credit they have largely abandoned this course of action and held their fire for more than a year, but they are still deluded in thinking that their line will create two states.

Similarly delusional is the policy promoted by Fatah, which seeks to negotiate from a position of abject weakness and internal division, and seeks to build a state while still under occupation. How do you create a state under military occupation? This was true before Arafat’s death as well. He thought for many years that he was building a state but the occupation persisted and after the 2nd intifada began he was frozen out and isolated by Israel and the Bush administration, and the fantasy he had bought into was shattered. The second intifada was in many ways a spontaneous popular reaction to that unacceptable status quo (settlements were mushrooming, for example, and the settler population doubled from 1990 to 2000). In this sense it was much like the first Intifada at first, but was hijacked and spiraled into a suicidal and violent lashing out, which was disastrous for Palestinians.

Somehow there persists today among Fayyad and others this fantasy that a state can still be built under occupation.

So the two factions respective policies’ today, besides being at odds, are in themselves not viable and do not challenge the status quo in any meaningful way. The Palestinians are today quite bereft of leadership. This is partly Israel’s doing of course, as they have imprisoned, exiled or assassinated many of the best potential leaders in the movement for years, and today they are still actively pursuing a policy of undermining and neutralizing potential leadership, especially at the grassroots level. This is one challenge that civil society is facing. The cards are stacked against the Palestinians but as I said, they are a resilient and creative people, even if their leaders today are not.

IMEU: What is your reading of the Obama administration’s handling of the conflict over the past year and a half or so?

RK: Contrary to the nutty right wing elements in the blogosphere which see me as an evil genius pulling the strings of Obama’s policy I do not have much good to say about his policies thus far.

Obama has yet to jettison the past administrations’ failed policies for new ones that will lead to success.

There has been some change, but it has been essentially discursive and nothing more. People cite Obama’s words on settlements and his Cairo speech as evidence of change, but that and 5 cents won’t get you a cup of coffee. There has been no real change in the fatally flawed policies of the U.S. in the region. The questioning at the highest levels of the administration and the military establishment of aspects of the American-Israeli relationship, important though it is, is still only rhetorical and has not shifted policy in practice.

There still exists this accepted conventional wisdom in D.C. which says that you cannot ask the Israelis to change the status quo, in fact the wisdom states that only that which the Israeli government of the day dictates is doable, given its domestic political constraints, is within the realm of possibility. This means that the ramshackle nature of this or that governing coalition in Israel effectively dictates American policy towards Israel and the Palestinians.

So whatever policy makers may say that is different, the U.S. in practice still supports the siege of Gaza, the expansion of illegal settlements, and every other destructive and often illegal policy of the Israeli government.

Some people argue that the U.S. is in fact genuinely working to change these Israeli policies, such as the siege of Gaza. Well, if that is true then the U.S. is not a superpower because it has so far been unable to change a single thing on the ground and those policies persist unfettered. Lichtenstein could be a superpower if that was definition of a superpower and those were the kind of results expected from a superpower throwing around its weight.

If the administration REALLY wanted to oppose settlement building in Jerusalem and other occupied territories, for example, all it would take would be for the Treasury Department to enforce US law and remove the 501c3 designation from the so-called “charities” which are funding this illegal activity at the expense of the taxpayer and the US national interest (not to speak of the Palestinian people). That would not require a negotiation with Mr. Netanyahu, or so much as a by-your-leave from Congress. That would just be the executive branch enforcing US law, which is its job.

IMEU: What can the U.S. do in this respect, short of forcing a change in Israeli policy?

RK: The U.S. cannot force Israel to behave in a certain way but it can make Israel bear the consequences of what it is actually doing, which is breaking international law, and harming the national interest of the United States.

These are the things that need to change for a real break from the failures of past American policy, and for the slight changes so far to more than merely rhetorical. It can be done, but it will take great courage on the part of the administration. If this happens it will be good not only for the U.S. and the Palestinians, but for the Israeli people as well.


Posted in Nova Newsletter3 Comments



Goldstone: ‘I would dearly love to attend my grandson’s bar mitzvah’

Wrenching letter from Judge Goldstone to Business Day, a Johannesburg publication, on the dustup over his grandson’s bar mitzvah. (For background on Rabbi Warren Goldstein’s stiffnecked position, to which Goldstone refers, read this):

I read with dismay Chief Rabbi Goldstein’s article in yesterday’s Business Day. I was dismayed that the chief rabbi would so brazenly politicise the occasion of my 13-year-old grandson’s bar mitzvah to engage in further personal attacks on me.

I am prepared to respond fully to those attacks, but not in the run-up to my grandson’s bar mitzvah.

He and his family have been working for close to a year preparing for the once-in-a-lifetime rite of passage into the Jewish community. Of all people, the chief rabbi should be aware of the importance of this. Yet, for whatever reasons, Chief Rabbi Goldstein would rather focus on me.

I was further dismayed when I read his article because his rhetoric about “open synagogues” simply does not coincide with how my family and I have been treated. The chief rabbi has been well aware of the situation, and instead of using his position of leadership in the South African Jewish community to promote the “open synagogues” principle that he purports to profess, he would rather write articles and threaten others with lawsuits.

I must state that at no time whatsoever has the chief rabbi reached out to my family. Acting on information that we received from the synagogue, and the recent threat by the leader of the South African Zionist Federation of demonstrations if I attend the synagogue service, it was decided that it would be better if I did not attend the bar mitzvah. We have taken that decision in the best interests of my grandson and my family.

My only concern at the present time is that my grandson’s bar mitzvah should be the joyous occasion that he deserves it to be. I would dearly love to attend my grandson’s bar mitzvah. The questionable and unfortunate approach of the chief rabbi, in all the circumstances, makes it less, and not more, possible for me to do so.

Judge Richard Goldstone

Giraldi says senior Air Force adviser may have dual loyalty to Israel

I don’t understand why this isn’t a scandal, why the mainstream is not pursuing the obvious question here. Philip Giraldi reports on Lani Kass, an Israeli-American who has an influential place in the Defense establishment and the usual anti-Islamic ideas. And of course Dennis Ross formerly of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute in Jerusalem is guiding our Iran policy, and Treasury officials who crank up sanctions against Iran are friends of AIPAC. It never ends. Bush Obama, same tune. Giraldi:

Kass was born, raised, and educated in Israel.  She has a PhD in Russian studies and is fluent in Russian and Hebrew in addition to English.  Kass reportedly reached the rank of major in the Israeli air force before moving to the United States and working her way up through the US defense establishment. 

She is currently the most senior civilian adviser to Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz and is believed to have access to most American defense secrets.  Kass is best known to the public for her role in promoting Air Force cyberwarfare, but she also appears to have been a major player in counter-terrorism policy and in war preparations directed against Iran even though she has no actual substantive background in those areas. 

She believes that the US is engaged in a long war against Islamo-radicalism and that “winning” against Iran is necessary but the American people must be willing to pay the price to succeed. My concern regarding Dr. Kass is based on the potential conflict of interest and divided loyalty that is normal in anyone who is born in one country and moves to another. 

She comes from a country that has a history of large scale and highly aggressive espionage directed against the United States and she appears to continue to have close ties to her birthplace.  Dr. Kass has become a naturalized American while apparently retaining her Israeli citizenship and her three children were reportedly born in Israel, not the United States….

One might argue that Dr. Lani Kass is just another Israel firster who has risen to high office in the US government, not really unlike Dennis Ross, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams, and Douglas Feith.  And that might well be true.  But at the same time one must challenge the judgment of those who enabled her rise to a position of great responsibility and power and there should be serious questions about whether her bellicose and racially tinged viewpoint comes from objective and honest analysis of the genuine challenges confronting the United States or from her loyalty to her country of birth.

Schakowsky says not a word about settlements in gushing over Israel

A sign of how little the discourse has moved, here is Jan Schakowsky of Ohio, a leftlib congresswoman, or so we like to think, she opposed the Iraq war, celebrating Israel on its founding day yesterday in the most unreconstructed terms. The desert bloomed. A thriving democracy. Not a word about Palestinian statelessness. On the left, it is common to hear Jews in recovery talk about the trees they paid for in Israel as children, and how they feel complicit in Palestinian dispossession as a result and are making amends now.

Notice that Schakowsky is still proud of having planted those trees. I think this speech is also a sign of the fact that Jewish identity cuts across party lines, and makes even libs conservative. I know this is ceremonial boilerplate, still: Congress will be the last place to  wake up, I’m afraid, but twill happen. Schakowsky, after the jump:

Madam Speaker, I rise to honor the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the Jewish State of Israel. Israel has weathered decades of war and terrorism but it remains a thriving democracy and America ’s closest friend and ally in the Middle East .

As a very young child, I remember the immense pride and joy my family felt when the Jewish State became a reality. I had the privilege of traveling once again to Israel earlier this month, and again I was struck by the resilience, courage, and innovation of the Israeli people, as well as their pride in the beautifully lush country they have built in the desert.

I thought about my childhood again and the number of times I had saved my nickels and dimes to by a tree certificate that we used for birthdays and anniversaries to plant trees in Israel and make that desert bloom.

No longer just a longing of the Jewish people, Israel today is a leader in technology, energy, and scientific innovation – including medical innovation. It is also the only democratic state in the Middle East and our steadfast friend, ally, and partner. / Today, we mark the 62nd anniversary of the State of Israel and celebrate the unbreakable bonds between our two countries.

Sixty-two years after the U.S. became the first country to recognize the new State of Israel we still share common dreams and continue to strengthen our critical relationship.

Just minutes after the declaration of the founding of the State of Israel, President Harry Truman recognized that country and it began a 62-year-long commitment, non-partisan, bipartisan – universal throughout our country – recognizing the importance of our relationship with the State of Israel. I believe that this Congress of the United States maintains that dedication and will forever more. Thank you.

sincerity and chosenness

A few days ago my wife and I went to a party and I got a little drunk and charmed the table. Our host had served me two vodka cocktails and then at dinner there was a lot of red wine. On the drive home my wife got upset with me for being obnoxious and I said that I was a talent and needed to express myself. For the rest of the night and the next day or so, she would say, “I get it—you’re a showoff, right, so you need to dominate a conversation? Isn’t that what you told me?”

One thing that set me off is that there were a couple of people at the party who are much more successful than I am in the media field (not to mention the Israel lobby) so my competitive instinct took over. My wife regards this as beneath me. One of the successful people was a writer who my wife wrote off as having no personality and being a suckup and a liar. A liar?

My wife had asked her something about social life, and the writer said offhandedly, Oh I never see anyone, I haven’t been out in a year. My wife said this was a flatout lie. The writer is a social type, it is completely obvious, and she obviously gets out all the time and just didn’t answer the question maybe because she regards our society as lesser or because her answer seemed clever to her. There was no sincerity, my wife said. And in turn my wife faulted me for a lack of sincerity, in my drunken holdingforthness.

I relate everything to my Jewishness, and I read this conflict in Jewish terms. The writer is Jewish and I am familiar with her manners. I grew up hearing and telling jokes about the value and pleasure of irony and deception. The famous Minsk Pinsk joke, in which one salesman accuses another of lying when he has told him the truth, was told at my dinner table. My wife doesn’t like irony. She grew up going to a Quaker resort where the three words on the dining room wall were Simplicity Sincerity and Service. I’ve come to respect those values. But can I develop them in myself, and do I even want to?

A friend advised me recently that I am struggling with the idea of chosenness. I associate New York success, that thing the three partygoers possess in greater measure than I do, with chosenness, and along with chosenness, spectacle: marketing, branding, performance. I don’t know that it’s altogether a bad thing. But chosenness is a real element in Jewish culture.

You hear even secularized Jews mention the Jewish covenant with god; why, in the middle of an academic work called Capitalism and the Jews, author Jerry Muller states in passing that Jews have such a covenant—and I bridle, because the religious language is never interrogated, and neither is the sense of specialness that comes along with it.

Chicago hearing looks at the effect of US military aid to Israel

Videos from last weekend’s mock Congressional Hearing in Chicago about US policy toward Israel/Palestine have been posted.  Below are two of the most powerful. The first featuers Amr Shurrab from Khan Younis who lost two of his brothers on the same day during the Israeli attack on Gaza in January, 2009. The second features Cindy Corrie who recounts the death of her daughter Rachel and her search for answers and accountability.

I think UN Partition vote happened this way, too

Great piece of reporting by Josh Nathan-Kazis at the Forward, on how the Israel lobby beat back divestment at Berkeley last week.

In the two weeks prior [to April 14 vote], Berkeley Hillel coordinated a comprehensive national lobbying campaign consisting of a teach-in, face-to-face meetings with student senators and an intervention by a Nobel laureate, all aimed at robbing the divestment supporters of three senate votes.

Adam Naftalin-Kelman, the Hillel’s newly installed executive director, said that the strategy for countering divestment efforts was devised at a roundtable meeting convened by Hillel and attended by representatives of local branches of the Anti-Defamation League, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Jewish Community Relations Council, J Street, Israel’s consul general in San Francisco and local rabbis.

Outmaneuvering the pro-divestment supporters, this organizing coup appears to have worked: After a marathon debate that lasted well into the next morning, two senators changed their minds and one abstained, and the veto was upheld.

“Three votes changed,” Akiva Tor, the consul general, told the Forward. “So something happened.”…

The Hillel-organized teach-in, open exclusively to members of the student senate, featured talks by the consul general, an Israeli visiting professor, a professor of international law and others. Seven senators attended. One, a co-sponsor of the bill who did not change her vote, said that the presenters were respectful but she felt uncomfortable.

“There were undertones of intimidation to me,” Emily Carlton said. “For one thing, they were all a lot older, they were all a lot more distinguished.”

I read this with some sadness, reflected in my headline. Must all of these important decisions be subject to such back-room influence? Truman said he’d never been pressured so much as he was on his decision to recognize Israel, overruling his own State Department and U.N. representative. Obama is getting pressured now. Really, is this the best way to make policy? Don’t people resent it?

‘TNR’s hit man on HRW likes to talk about Muslim birthrates

The forthcoming New Republic, not yet available online, has a hit job on Human Rights Watch written by Benjamin Birnbaum. I am told this is the same Ben Birnbaum who wrote for the Cornell Sun a few years ago:

Lastly and most controversially, European nations must slow the relative growth of their Muslim minorities by diversifying their sources of immigration beyond the Muslim world and creating incentives for their women to, um, start making babies again.

That last part sounded bad, I know.

The Islamic Republic of France sounds worse to me.

Or there’s this jokey-joke about that funny topic, torture:

“There are those, though, who believe that any pressure to make someone talk constitutes torture. It’s shocking to hear what some so-called human rights groups include in the category: Sleep deprivation? Exposure to cold
temperatures?? Loud rap music??? That’s not torture — that’s a Saturday night at Cornell!”

Birnbaum won a hasbara prize as an undergraduate. Zionism continues its war on Jewish intelligence, abetted by that leader of intellectuals, Marty Peretz. 

Treasury officials are sure cozy with Israel lobby

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, “Setting the Trap on Iran:”

The next step in this pressure campaign is the sanctions regime being crafted by Stuart Levey, undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence. This will have several interlocking components: The showpiece will be a new U.N. Security Council resolution to add sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its affiliated companies, along with other Iranian firms involved in manufacturing, transporting and financing weapons shipments and other illicit activities. But that’s just the beginning.

Now here is Levey, speaking before an AIPAC policy conference in 2005, and doing some Israel sign-language:

To start, allow me to first introduce my office. I am the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial and Intelligence, or “TFI.” TFI is a relatively new office. It was created in 2004 to oversee the Treasury Department’s enforcement and intelligence functions aimed at stopping illicit money flows to terrorists and other criminals….

It is a real pleasure to be speaking with you today. I have been an admirer of the great work this organization does since my days on the one-year program at Hebrew University in 1983 and 1984. I want to commend you for the important work that you are doing to promote strong ties between Israel and the United States and to advocate for a lasting peace in the Middle East….

We all remember the Munich Olympics and Leon Klinghoffer and Pan Am 103 and Entebbe and Maalot and so many more. We all knew all along that terrorist groups could not be reasoned with or negotiated with, and that they sought nothing but destruction. As President Bush articulated in his address to you last year, “[Terrorists] kill without mercy. They kill without shame. And they count their victories in the death of the innocent.”

You can imagine, then, how meaningful it is for me to play a role in this Administration’s efforts to combat terrorism. I start off every morning reading the daily intelligence book, and then spend my day working to undercut the supply-lines of terrorist groups. It is, quite honestly, exhilarating. I often feel like the baseball players I used to watch growing up who, when asked about salary issues, would say “Are you kidding?? I get paid to do something that I love. I would do this for free.”…

Then in the New York Times a year or so back, we had “Stuart Levey’s War.” 

“Stuart Levey’s war is like ‘Charlie Wilson’s War,’ ” a U.S. official said over coffee in the State Department cafeteria, referring to a former Texas congressman’s campaign to change policy on Afghanistan, a saga made into a movie. “It’s the most direct and aggressive stuff we’ve got going. It delivers.”

Is it really that surprising that Levey hangs on from Bush into Obama? Both the New York Times and the Washington Post must have an unwritten policy in which identifying any member of the administration or a Washington think tank with the pro-Israel forces is not allowed. Ignatius is not an ignorant reporter so his failure to identify Levey for what he is, an openly pro-Israel supporter serving in a critical position in the US government, must have some other reason.  

Oh and here is Levey’s number two, David Cohen, at a recent appearance at Israel lobby group Washington Institute for Near East Policy. According to his WINEP intro, “David Cohen is the assistant treasury secretary for terrorist financing. In this role, he is responsible for formulating and coordinating the Treasury Department’s counterterrorism financing and anti-money-laundering efforts.”


Before I begin, I want to offer my special thanks to Matt Levitt and Mike Jacobson [senior fellows at WINEP] for facilitating this event. As many of you know, Matt and Mike each spent several years doing outstanding work in Treasury’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

We at Treasury remain grateful for their service, and the Washington Institute has been fortunate to benefit these past few years from their insightful and innovative scholarship on critical issues relating to terrorismand terrorist financing.

Minnesota students lock-down a Caterpillar plant, citing ‘ethnic cleansing’ and occupation 

Wow, another sign that Israel/Palestine is coming home, and that the American left has taken on the issue: a half-dozen Macalester College students, in St. Paul, Minnesota, participated in a lockdown of a Caterpillar distribution plant yesterday, and managed to block a driveway at the plant for some hours. The students know the issue.

Specially armored Caterpillar bulldozers are Israel’s tools for the relentless, slow-motion destruction of Palestinian lives, homes, and livelihoods. Israel uses Caterpillar to demolish Palestinian homes, rip up Palestinian olive groves, and to build new settler homes with manicured lawns and central air. Since 1967, Israel has demolished 24,145 Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories; in the same time period, Israel has built 214 settlements and erected a separation wall which cuts deep into the West Bank.

Time after time, settlements ‘spring up’ right where they are most disruptive to local economies, while Israel further shatters trade routes and freedom of movement with Apartheid walls, Israeli-only roads, and pervasive checkpoints. The goal is to push Palestinian’s off the land, leaving it open for Israeli settlement.  This is not a complicated issue–Israel is enacting a policy of ethnic cleansing and Apartheid onto the Palestinian peoples.

We’ve put our bodies here today to oppose Caterpillar’s participation in occupation and injustice.

h/t Alex Kane.

Finkelstein: Goldstone report marks the end of Jewish liberalism’s apologetics for Israel’s crimes

Norman Finkelstein’s latest book, titled “‘This Time We Went Too Far’:  Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion,” was released recently, and has been garnering a lot of praise in publications that reviewed the book.  Below is an excerpt from a review of the book I wrote in the Indypendent, a New York-based free newspaper.  You can read the whole review here.

In his prolific and rigorous writings, Finkelstein has waged incisive academic assaults against Israel’s defenders, most notably Alan Dershowitz, a lawyer and Harvard professor. Finkelstein’s latest, ‘This Time We Went Too Far’: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion, is no exception. The book takes aim at (among others) Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst for ABC News and the author of a number of books on the Middle East, for absolving Israel of war crimes in a “strategic analysis” of Operation Cast Lead he published with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Cordesman’s analysis, Finkelstein writes, “synthesizes Israel’s makeshift rebuttals to criticism of the invasion.”

The hot core of the polemic against Cordesman — and the defense of Israeli conduct he represents — is Finkelstein’s masterful command of international human rights law and a sharp exegesis of the United Nations report on the Israeli assault. Much more accessible than Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict (1995) or The Holocaust Industry (2000), ‘This Time We Went Too Far’ spares readers the usual thicket of research from the annals of war documentation.

Finkelstein’s work is clear, concise, well documented and burning with righteous anger, and he still devotes enough pages to developing a solid framework of historical context and critical analysis to give newcomers to this complex subject a working knowledge of the conflict’s dimensions.

When it comes to Israel, the political is always personal for Finkelstein, and facts and figures that anchor his research are humanized by accounts of his experience on the ground. In a moving passage, he describes visiting Gaza as part of a CODEPINK delegation in the aftermath of the Israeli assault, recalling an 11-year-old Palestinian girl lingering beside the demolished American International School. I visited Gaza and observed that very spot; the American International School remained in ruin, with only rubble left over.

‘This Time We Went Too Far’ is hardly light fare, though. Finkelstein saves an important commentary on the much-maligned Goldstone Report for the epilogue. Richard Goldstone, a highly respected South African jurist, has been demonized by the Israel lobby for his charge that Israel committed “war crimes,” in a report on the Gaza invasion commissioned by the U.N. His devastating indictment has earned him opponents across the political spectrum. (Alan Dershowitz, once a friend, made headlines when he called Goldstone an “evil, evil man” for his “despicable” report and he was a “traitor” to the Jewish people.)

Finkelstein argues that the publication of the report marks the “end of an apologetic Jewish liberalism that denies or extenuates Israel’s crimes” and “the emergence of a new era in which the human rights dimension of the Israel-Palestine conflict move[s] center-stage.” This point reflects one of the book’s central messages: “This book … sets forth grounds for hope. The bloodletting in Gaza has roused the world’s conscience. The prospects have never been more propitious for galvanizing the public not just to mourn but also to act.”

What’s missing from ‘This Time’ is the voice of the Palestinian people. Finkelstein’s arguments would have benefitted from the powerful testimony Palestinians gave before the Goldstone mission. Also absent in is an adequate discussion of the growing “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) movement against Israeli policy, a perfect example of the shift in discourse surrounding Israel/Palestine. Post-Gaza, the BDS movement has grown and received more international attention than ever before — an affirmation of Finkelstein’s view that the world’s perception of the Israel/Palestine conflict is undergoing a sea change.


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by: Natalie Evans

. Published Fri 05 Feb 2010

Ricky Tomlinson Ricky Tomlinson

Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson wants to stand for parliament at the General Election.

Left-winger Ricky aims to run against Luciana Berger – one of “Brown’s Babes” selected from an all-woman shortlist to contest what was regarded as a safe Labour seat.

Actor Ricky needs to overturn the majority of 5,173 in Liverpool Wavertree scored by long-serving MP Jane Kennedy who resigned is stepping-down.

Ricky decided to stand because he is incensed that Labour selected Londoner Luciana Berger who was “parachuted” into the seat in controversial circumstances.

Scouser Ricky will seek the backing of the the Socialist Labour Party, of which he is a member, to stand as its official candidate.

If selected to run Ricky said his campaign slogan could be “Berger? My arse! ” a nod to the catchphrase of his famed TV character Jim Royle.

His move comes as a further blow to 28-year-old Berger, whose selection has been mired in controversy.

The Director of “Labour Friends of Israel” beat Liverpool councillors Wendy Simon and Joyce Still by a margin of around 2-1 to win the candidacy on all-women shortlist.

However, veteran Liverpool Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle branded her a “student politician” who lacks the experience to do the job.

UNISON has also challenged her appointment with an official complaint to Labour, demanding answers and questioning Miss Berger’s relationship with former Wavertree MP Jane Kennedy, at whose home she stayed during the selection process.

Condemning Berger’s lack of local knowledge, comedian Ricky said: “This woman that they have parachuted in from London could not even answer some easy questions about Liverpool.

“People say if you want you could be letting the Tories in. But there is no difference between the Conservatives and New Labour.

“At one time, Liverpool had a contingent of working class MPs. If I get nominated it would be an awful cut in wages. But I just think the state of British politics is abhorrent.”

A firebrand trade unionist who was once jailed for alleged violence on a picket line, Ricky, argues any MP representing a Liverpool seat should understand unemployment.

He said: “I just can’t understand why they have picked someone from London. It just does not make sense to me.”

Tomlinson was jailed in 1973 for acting as a flying picket during the building strike in which unionists confronted the then Conservative government.

He was sentenced to six years but was released after two following mass protests and has always contested his innocence.

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A Vote Against this former Director of Labour Friends of Israel is a vote for the Left
If there is one person who symbolises the rotten and corrupt state of New Labour in Britain today then step forward Luciana Berger, former Director of Labour Friends of Israel. She was parachuted in the previously rock solid Labour seat of Wavertree by Jane Kennedy, the former Labour MP and another LFI supporter.

This was done via the imposition of an all-woman shortlist. Interesting how feminism today is used to bolster the Right, just as anti-racism of the ‘anti-Semitism’ variety is used to support racism!

Berger has no connections with Liverpool. She couldn’t even name the legendary manager of Liverpool Bill Shankly or tell us who wrote ‘Ferry Across the Mersey’. One can only hope she knows the names of the Fab Four!

Berger is a friend of the Blairs and his son Euan, although the latter has denied that the reptile is/was his girlfriend. She was the ex of Sian Simon, another New Labour rat. She is a good example of New Labour today. No roots in the working class, no experience of any struggle, hostile to third world peoples, racist to the core and committed to the free market.

Those on the Left who think there’s anything progressive about creatures like Berger need their heads examining.
Wavertree has a chequered history. It used to be a Conservative seat when I lived in Childwall 30+ years ago. It was held by Antony Steen, a pompous and retiring Conservative MP, long ago.

Then it was captured in the 1980’s by Terry Field, who was in Militant Tendency. Terry, a member of the Fire Brigades Union, captured the seat at a time that the Labour Party was being defeated by Thatcher nationally.

Liverpool, whose Council was challenging the Tory Government, though it caved in under Derek Hatton in the end, moved leftwards and the final Tory presence on the Council and in Parliament was eliminated.

But the Left failed to build and Militant retreated into a sectarian corner. The Tories left by the front-door and New Labour entered by the back door. And that was the only change.

Terry Field, loved by the working class in his constituency, represented all that was honest and upright in fighters for the working class. He went to prison rather than pay the poll tax and he was an inspiration to people for his humility, living on a council estate with them.

Berger by contrast knows nothing of the working class. Her job as Director of Labour Friends of Israel meant supporting the most racist and right-wing government in the hemisphere and doing one’s best to undermine solidarity.

Terry was expelled by the Labour Party and bequeathed a 20,000 majority to New Labour. Jane Kennedy, the present incumbent right-winger, has reduced this to 5,000 and with boundary changes the seat is now a marginal.

It’s no wonder that Labour’s minders will not let Berger loose among her constituents for fear that she will open her big mouth and let the cat out of the bag.

The Liberal Democrats are challenging for the seat and although I’ve never voted Lib-Dem before, if I were still in Wavertree constituency, I would have no hesitation in voting for the Lib-Dems.

Voting Liberal Democrat in Wavertree would be a vote for the left.

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