Archive | June 19th, 2010

ZIONISM IN THE U.S.A

NOVANEWS

Forwarded by the JPLO List

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11337.shtml

Jewish challenges to Zionism on the rise in the US

Gabriel Ash, Emily Katz Kashawi, Mich Levy, Sara Kershnar, The Electronic Intifada, 14 June 2010

[The article below does not contain statistics regarding “the rise” of Jewish

challenges to Zionism, and is in fact less about the rise than about the need.]

(www.jewsconfrontapartheid.org)

In June 2010, two opposite ends of the Jewish political spectrum will vie for one historical moment. As Israel and the Zionist movement struggle to maintain their century-long pull on Jewish minds, a new project is emerging to rechart the course away from Zionism and toward embracing a renewed commitment to a shared humanity.

On 19-22 June, just prior to the US Social Forum, North American Jews will gather in Detroit to challenge racism, colonialism and imperialism — first and foremost by contributing to efforts to overcome Zionism and decolonize Palestine. The 2010 US Assembly of Jews: Confronting Racism and Israeli Apartheid

(www.jewsconfrontapartheid.org), comes at a time when there is great urgency to build on recent successes of the Palestine solidarity movement, and as United States corporations and the government continue to commit grave injustices in Palestine — not to mention in its own communities.

This event follows on the heels of the 36th Congress of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) to be held in Jerusalem that same week. The WZO was founded in 1897 at the First Zionist Congress to serve as the umbrella organization for the Zionist movement.

 At this upcoming gathering, the Congress will no doubt reassert and refocus its strategies for defending Israel’s legitimacy against growing condemnations, attempts to hold Israel accountable for war crimes, and the successes of the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

The WZO is both a symbol and a founding institution of Zionist political thought and action that brought us to this current historical moment. One finds an illustration of this disastrous trajectory in the press releases the WZO published during Israel’s 2008-09 winter invasion of Gaza.

For example, on 12 January, by the time most of the horrible facts of the massacre were already public knowledge, the WZO opposed UN Security Council Resolution 1860 calling for an immediate ceasefire, labelling it “anti-Israel,” and criticized it for failing to demand “humanitarian assistance” to Israel. Many leading Zionist organizations echoed similar positions, whereas “softer” Zionist organizations waffled and fumbled.

Reading their expressions of apology, support and indeed even encouragement for unconscionable crimes, it is painful to imagine that a beating heart was linked with the hand that typed them.

Likewise, on 31 May of this year, a monumental effort to break the illegal and crippling siege on Gaza was recently thwarted by the Israeli government. A flotilla comprised of six boats, 700 peace and solidarity activists from more than 40 countries delivering 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid was attacked by the Israeli navy and taken control of by killing and injuring people on a boat flying a Turkish flag in international waters.

The inhumanity and illegality of these acts are undeniable and increasingly in the public eye. As awareness of Israel’s moral and political bankruptcy is growing worldwide, so does the authoritarianism, violence and self-righteous fanaticism of the Israeli authorities and of growing sections of the Israeli public.

Overcoming Zionist ideas and practice is crucial, first and foremost, because of the impact of its institutionalized racism and colonialism on the people of Palestine and the broader region. This impact manifests in the demand for political, legal and economic power for Jews and European people and cultures over indigenous people and cultures.

This racism is also the cause of the extensive displacement and alienation of Mizrahi Jews (Jews of African and Asian descent) from their diverse histories, languages, traditions and cultures and in the marginalization and economic exploitation of its Mizrahi population and migrant workers within Israeli society.

Zionism is also anti-Semitic in its rejection of Jewish cultures and histories — including both Jews who are “other” than European and the European Jewish “victim” which it attempted to distance itself from in the creation of the “new Jew.” While rejecting the feminized Jewish victims of Christian Europe, it then uses their memory to justify and perpetuate European racism and colonialism and a militarized Jewish [Zionist] state.

 Likewise, Zionism promotes Islamophobia in Palestine, the broader region, the US and around the world. And the resentment and anger toward Jews living in Israel and elsewhere, aroused by Israeli violence and military domination, is used to justify further Zionist violence.

Zionism perpetuates Jewish exceptionalism and tells a version of Jewish history that is disconnected from the history and experiences of other people. By exceptionalizing the Nazi genocide, Jews are set apart from the victims and survivors of that and other genocides instead of being united with them.

As such, Zionism implicates us in the oppression of the Palestinian people and in the debasement of our own heritages, struggles for justice and alliances with our fellow human beings.

The strategy to promote an understanding of Israel as an apartheid state is having increasing success, particularly in its explanation of why boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel are justified.

 Advances in this arena are rattling Zionist organizations in Israel and around the world. However, Zionist institutions like the WZO, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Anti-Defamation League, The Simon Wiesenthal Center, B’nai B’rith and others in the US and elsewhere have access to millions of dollars to spend on shielding Israel from accountability for its apartheid policies and its accelerating war crimes, and for furthering the colonization, ethnic cleansing and the theft and destruction of Palestinian land.

The confluence of interests between the Israeli state, global capitalist interests, especially that of weapon manufacturers, “post-conflict” construction and security companies and the oil industry is going strong. Islamophobic reactions in Western Europe, the US and Canada and general xenophobia seeks to use Muslims and immigrants as the scapegoats for the universal crisis of capitalism and excuses for perpetual war and occupation.

US and Israeli military aggression in the region support and reinforce each other. Despite American concerns that Israeli policy damages the image of the US, Israel’s economic and military power in the region is deemed vital by Washington. As a corollary, it is ever more apparent that pro-Israel lobbies in the US are opposed to anti-war efforts.

The Zionist organizations and the Israeli lobby increasingly align with the neoconservatives in the US and share their investment in the agenda of war, occupation and/or sanctions against Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon and Syria.

Anti-Zionist Jews in the US can play a role in asserting to the anti-war movement that meaningful headway will not be possible without confronting the role Israel plays in provoking and justifying the US’s war agenda. After decades of debate and hesitation, Palestine is still a point of contention in the American anti-war movement.

Challenging the US funding of Israel is avoided out of concern that it will detract from critiques of the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Contrary to this concern, placing Palestine squarely in the center of an anti-war agenda in the US is the key to a more fundamental shift in US policy and practice of which war is a necessary strategy.

In turn, through building with the anti-war movement, we can contribute to efforts to reduce the isolation of the Palestinian struggle, advance challenges to Islamophobia, and directly challenge the mutually beneficial relationship shared by the US and Israel.

Accountability of Israeli, US government and international Zionist support for Israel will not come from a shift in US policy but through shifting American public opinion and debate, fomenting popular movement, using international and US legal sanctions and supporting the Palestinian call for BDS.

The 2010 US Assembly of Jews seeks to contribute to these efforts and reflects a significant departure from Zionism that has been building since the second Palestinian intifada broke the stranglehold of the Oslo accords. It has continuity with a long history of Jewish participation in struggles for human emancipation.

 Ours are among the growing voices of Jews who seek a departure from the course that Zionism has been and continues down — a course that is a betrayal of our humanity as it simultaneously denies that of Palestinians.

Jews have an independent case against Zionism, and we are also part of a solidarity movement. When Jews aren’t clear — either about their own confrontation of Zionism, or about the precedence of the demands of the Palestinian grassroots struggle — Jewish participation threatens to muddle rather than clarify and strengthen the Palestine solidarity movement.

We must be cautious to not presume that our commitment and investment in overcoming Zionism suggest “equality” in the struggle; overstepping our actual role in the movement undermines Palestinian leadership in their own struggle, thus reinforcing the centralization of Jewish voices that Zionism promotes and racism suggests. Likewise, equating the need for Palestinian liberation and safety with safety of most Jews in contemporary Western countries is inaccurate.

The Assembly will be a chance to reflect on ourselves as a part of US and international movements for justice and bring clarity to our politics and practices so that we can increase our effectiveness. Jewish anti-Zionism is not an identity, but a politic to develop and actualize and a location from which to challenge Zionism.

Organizing to gain the approval of — or legitimacy in relationship to — Jewish popular opinion, liberal Zionist organizations, or US public opinion undermines our ability to be in solidarity. Likewise, in the long-run, rewriting Palestinian demands (e.g. excluding the right of return from BDS campaigns) to fit agendas that reinforce peace as a strategy for maintaining an exclusive Jewish state does not challenge the foundations of Zionist policies and principles. However, in the short-run any participation that advances BDS is useful in delegitimizing Israel.

 It is the development and sharing of distinctions such as these that will deepen and increase the possibility of a real alternative to Zionism and the ability of Jews to contribute to a powerful and effective Palestine solidarity movement. These are the issues that we hope to raise and explore with Jews and our partners in struggle at the 2010 US Assembly of Jews.

Our commitment to confronting Zionism is part of our commitment to cutting the threads of racism, anti-Semitism, elitism, fascism, colonialism and imperialism that have nourished Zionism and were institutionalized in the apartheid structures of Israel.

Instead, we build continuity with the historic and current movements for human emancipation, class struggle, equality, democracy and justice. These threads have always existed in Jewish histories, against histories of Jewish collaboration with those that seek to oppress.

Gabriel Ash is an activist, writer and a core member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN). He writes because the pen is sometimes mightier than the sword and sometimes not.

Emily Katz Kashawi is an activist, communications professional and a mother of twins.

Mich Levy is an activist, educator and an international organizer with IJAN.

Sara Kershnar is an activist and an international organizer of IJAN.

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JEWISH CHALLENGES TO ZIONISM

NOVANEWS

Forwarded by the JPLO List

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11337.shtml

Jewish challenges to Zionism on the rise in the US

Gabriel Ash, Emily Katz Kashawi, Mich Levy, Sara Kershnar, The Electronic Intifada, 14 June 2010

[The article below does not contain statistics regarding “the rise” of Jewish

challenges to Zionism, and is in fact less about the rise than about the need.]

(www.jewsconfrontapartheid.org)

In June 2010, two opposite ends of the Jewish political spectrum will vie for one historical moment. As Israel and the Zionist movement struggle to maintain their century-long pull on Jewish minds, a new project is emerging to rechart the course away from Zionism and toward embracing a renewed commitment to a shared humanity.

On 19-22 June, just prior to the US Social Forum, North American Jews will gather in Detroit to challenge racism, colonialism and imperialism — first and foremost by contributing to efforts to overcome Zionism and decolonize Palestine. The 2010 US Assembly of Jews: Confronting Racism and Israeli Apartheid.

(www.jewsconfrontapartheid.org), comes at a time when there is great urgency to build on recent successes of the Palestine solidarity movement, and as United States corporations and the government continue to commit grave injustices in Palestine — not to mention in its own communities.

This event follows on the heels of the 36th Congress of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) to be held in Jerusalem that same week. The WZO was founded in 1897 at the First Zionist Congress to serve as the umbrella organization for the Zionist movement. At this upcoming gathering, the Congress will no doubt reassert and refocus its strategies for defending Israel’s legitimacy against growing condemnations, attempts to hold Israel accountable for war crimes, and the successes of the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

The WZO is both a symbol and a founding institution of Zionist political thought and action that brought us to this current historical moment. One finds an illustration of this disastrous trajectory in the press releases the WZO published during Israel’s 2008-09 winter invasion of Gaza. For example, on 12 January, by the time most of the horrible facts of the massacre were already public knowledge, the WZO opposed UN Security Council Resolution 1860 calling for an immediate ceasefire, labelling it “anti-Israel,” and criticized it for failing to demand “humanitarian assistance” to Israel.

 Many leading Zionist organizations echoed similar positions, whereas “softer” Zionist organizations waffled and fumbled. Reading their expressions of apology, support and indeed even encouragement for unconscionable crimes, it is painful to imagine that a beating heart was linked with the hand that typed them.

Likewise, on 31 May of this year, a monumental effort to break the illegal and crippling siege on Gaza was recently thwarted by the Israeli government. A flotilla comprised of six boats, 700 peace and solidarity activists from more than 40 countries delivering 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid was attacked by the Israeli navy and taken control of by killing and injuring people on a boat flying a Turkish flag in international waters.

The inhumanity and illegality of these acts are undeniable and increasingly in the public eye. As awareness of Israel’s moral and political bankruptcy is growing worldwide, so does the authoritarianism, violence and self-righteous fanaticism of the Israeli authorities and of growing sections of the Israeli public.

Overcoming Zionist ideas and practice is crucial, first and foremost, because of the impact of its institutionalized racism and colonialism on the people of Palestine and the broader region. This impact manifests in the demand for political, legal and economic power for Jews and European people and cultures over indigenous people and cultures.

This racism is also the cause of the extensive displacement and alienation of Mizrahi Jews (Jews of African and Asian descent) from their diverse histories, languages, traditions and cultures and in the marginalization and economic exploitation of its Mizrahi population and migrant workers within Israeli society.

Zionism is also anti-Semitic in its rejection of Jewish cultures and histories — including both Jews who are “other” than European and the European Jewish “victim” which it attempted to distance itself from in the creation of the “new Jew.”

While rejecting the feminized Jewish victims of Christian Europe, it then uses their memory to justify and perpetuate European racism and colonialism and a militarized Jewish [Zionist] state. Likewise, Zionism promotes Islamophobia in Palestine, the broader region, the US and around the world. And the resentment and anger toward Jews living in Israel and elsewhere, aroused by Israeli violence and military domination, is used to justify further Zionist violence.

Zionism perpetuates Jewish exceptionalism and tells a version of Jewish history that is disconnected from the history and experiences of other people. By exceptionalizing the Nazi genocide, Jews are set apart from the victims and survivors of that and other genocides instead of being united with them. As such, Zionism implicates us in the oppression of the Palestinian people and in the debasement of our own heritages, struggles for justice and alliances with our fellow human beings.

The strategy to promote an understanding of Israel as an apartheid state is having increasing success, particularly in its explanation of why boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel are justified. Advances in this arena are rattling Zionist organizations in Israel and around the world.

However, Zionist institutions like the WZO, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Anti-Defamation League, The Simon Wiesenthal Center, B’nai B’rith and others in the US and elsewhere have access to millions of dollars to spend on shielding Israel from accountability for its apartheid policies and its accelerating war crimes, and for furthering the colonization, ethnic cleansing and the theft and destruction of Palestinian land.

The confluence of interests between the Israeli state, global capitalist interests, especially that of weapon manufacturers, “post-conflict” construction and security companies and the oil industry is going strong.

Islamophobic reactions in Western Europe, the US and Canada and general xenophobia seeks to use Muslims and immigrants as the scapegoats for the universal crisis of capitalism and excuses for perpetual war and occupation.

US and Israeli military aggression in the region support and reinforce each other. Despite American concerns that Israeli policy damages the image of the US, Israel’s economic and military power in the region is deemed vital by Washington. As a corollary, it is ever more apparent that pro-Israel lobbies in the US are opposed to anti-war efforts.

The Zionist organizations and the Israeli lobby increasingly align with the neoconservatives in the US and share their investment in the agenda of war, occupation and/or sanctions against Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon and Syria.

Anti-Zionist Jews in the US can play a role in asserting to the anti-war movement that meaningful headway will not be possible without confronting the role Israel plays in provoking and justifying the US’s war agenda. After decades of debate and hesitation, Palestine is still a point of contention in the American anti-war movement.

 Challenging the US funding of Israel is avoided out of concern that it will detract from critiques of the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Contrary to this concern, placing Palestine squarely in the center of an anti-war agenda in the US is the key to a more fundamental shift in US policy and practice of which war is a necessary strategy. In turn, through building with the anti-war movement, we can contribute to efforts to reduce the isolation of the Palestinian struggle, advance challenges to Islamophobia, and directly challenge the mutually beneficial relationship shared by the US and Israel.

Accountability of Israeli, US government and international Zionist support for Israel will not come from a shift in US policy but through shifting American public opinion and debate, fomenting popular movement, using international and US legal sanctions and supporting the Palestinian call for BDS.

The 2010 US Assembly of Jews seeks to contribute to these efforts and reflects a significant departure from Zionism that has been building since the second Palestinian intifada broke the stranglehold of the Oslo accords. It has continuity with a long history of Jewish participation in struggles for human emancipation.

 Ours are among the growing voices of Jews who seek a departure from the course that Zionism has been and continues down — a course that is a betrayal of our humanity as it simultaneously denies that of Palestinians.

Jews have an independent case against Zionism, and we are also part of a solidarity movement. When Jews aren’t clear — either about their own confrontation of Zionism, or about the precedence of the demands of the Palestinian grassroots struggle — Jewish participation threatens to muddle rather than clarify and strengthen the Palestine solidarity movement.

We must be cautious to not presume that our commitment and investment in overcoming Zionism suggest “equality” in the struggle; overstepping our actual role in the movement undermines Palestinian leadership in their own struggle, thus reinforcing the centralization of Jewish voices that Zionism promotes and racism suggests.

Likewise, equating the need for Palestinian liberation and safety with safety of most Jews in contemporary Western countries is inaccurate.

The Assembly will be a chance to reflect on ourselves as a part of US and international movements for justice and bring clarity to our politics and practices so that we can increase our effectiveness. Jewish anti-Zionism is not an identity, but a politic to develop and actualize and a location from which to challenge Zionism.

Organizing to gain the approval of — or legitimacy in relationship to — Jewish popular opinion, liberal Zionist organizations, or US public opinion undermines our ability to be in solidarity. Likewise, in the long-run, rewriting Palestinian demands (e.g. excluding the right of return from BDS campaigns) to fit agendas that reinforce peace as a strategy for maintaining an exclusive Jewish state does not challenge the foundations of Zionist policies and principles. However, in the short-run any participation that advances BDS is useful in delegitimizing Israel.

 It is the development and sharing of distinctions such as these that will deepen and increase the possibility of a real alternative to Zionism and the ability of Jews to contribute to a powerful and effective Palestine solidarity movement. These are the issues that we hope to raise and explore with Jews and our partners in struggle at the 2010 US Assembly of Jews.

Our commitment to confronting Zionism is part of our commitment to cutting the threads of racism, anti-Semitism, elitism, fascism, colonialism and imperialism that have nourished Zionism and were institutionalized in the apartheid structures of Israel. Instead, we build continuity with the historic and current movements for human emancipation, class struggle, equality, democracy and justice. These threads have always existed in Jewish histories, against histories of Jewish collaboration with those that seek to oppress.

Gabriel Ash is an activist, writer and a core member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN). He writes because the pen is sometimes mightier than the sword and sometimes not.

Emily Katz Kashawi is an activist, communications professional and a mother of twins.

Mich Levy is an activist, educator and an international organizer with IJAN.

Sara Kershnar is an activist and an international organizer of IJAN.

Posted in UncategorizedComments Off on JEWISH CHALLENGES TO ZIONISM

ZIO=NAZI GESTAPO KILLING AT JERUSALEM CHECKPOINT

NOVANEWS

Forwarded by Kristoffer Larsson kristoffer.larsson@sobernet.nu June 13.2010

http://mondoweiss.net/2010/06/a-father-38-is-killed-at-a-jerusalem-checkpoint-now-whose-story-should-you-believe.html

A father, 38, is killed at a Jerusalem checkpoint. Now whose story should you believe?

by ADAM HOROWITZ on JUNE 12, 2010 
   

Haaretz reports in their article “Palestinian killed in suspected East Jerusalem terror attack“:

A Palestinian driver was shot and killed in Jerusalem Friday after running over two Israeli border patrolmen, with an apparent intent to kill.

The man reportedly hit two the two policemen in East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz, with reported light injuries sustained by both victims.

According to police officials, the driver drove on a short distance, and then proceeding to flee the scene on foot. Police officers called on the suspect to stop, and opened fire at him once it was clear he had ignored their instructions.

Open and shut case, right? Not so fast. One of the notable features of the media coverage of the flotilla attack (at least online) has been an unwillingness to take the Israeli account at their word. Will this positive trend continue with other examples of Israeli violence towards Palestinians? This story presents an interesting opportunity.

ZIAD AL-JULANI

First off, the driver has a name, Ziad Al-Julani (pictured right). He was 38 years old and a father to four, including three girls pictured here

http://www.alquds.com/node/265720 ./

A report on Ma’an says he was a “a tradesman living in East Jerusalem’s Shu’fat neighborhood.” Al-Julani was killed at a temporary Israeli checkpoint that was set up in East Jerusalem following friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

A friend of Al-Julani’s, who alerted us to the story, wrote us:

Ziad Jilani was a very family oriented man, a loving husband and a devoted father. No one who knew him believes that he intentionally tried to hit the border police at the checkpoint. I heard that a stone hit his car and caused him to swerve, starting the whole horrific chain of events. I don’t know the whole story, but his wife told me that before her husband left the house that morning, they had discussed taking the kids out someplace fun that afternoon. This was no premeditated attack.

The Palestinian press is working on uncovering the story, Ma’an talks with eyewitnesses: http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=291342

Sa’d Hamed As-Silwadi, from Silwan and the father of a child injured during the shoot-out, told the center he parked his car beside a butchery and saw Al-Julani driving toward the Al-Hadmi neighborhood in Wadi Joz, where he was killed.

He said he saw Al-Julani get out of his vehicle when he was first shot by Israeli forces. A relative of Al-Julani tried to help him, As-Silwadi said, but was kicked by Israeli forces. As-Silwadi returned to his vehicle to find his five-year-old child with a rubber bullet wound to the neck and head, and rushed him the Maqased Hospital on the Mount of Olives.

Ahmad Qutteneh told the center he saw Al-Julani running from four members of Israel’s Special Forces, approaching him and opening fire at close range. “Then I saw one of them come near him and shoot him in the face and body,” Qutteneh told the center.

Palestine Monitor helps round out the story a bit, and presents a situation where Israeli soldiers could have overreacted while under pressure from Palestinian protests:

A shopkeeper on the main street said he saw Israeli soldiers chasing ten people were shouting about the recent flotilla massacre prior to the arrival of Al-Julani’s vehicle. “Look, it’s every Friday like that. It’s normal. The people and the army are like Tom and Jerry,” said the shopkeeper, who identified himself solely as Ahmed. “But when they shot, I didn’t know what’s going on.” Ahmed speculated that the vehicle was malfunctioning, claiming out that the prevalence of Palestinian residents in the street would prevent the driver from attempting to harm Israeli forces there.

All reports confirm that Al-Julani was killed at point blank range. His friend who contacted us said, “From what I understand, Ziad fell to the ground and the police walked up to him and fired point blank into the side of his face and body. I was told the bullets left a mark in the cement under his body.” The Ma’an report adds, “Others told the center the shooter was seen ‘dancing beside the body singing and cheering ‘I killed an Arab, I killed an Arab’.'”

In the past, many would accept a story from the Israeli press about soldiers killing a Palestinian “terrorist” at face value. Is this still true after the flotilla?

[See more on the story by Amira Hass in today’s Haaretz “Israel Police shot Palestinian instead of arresting him”

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/report-israel-police-shot-palestinian-instead-of-arresting-him-1.296422

 

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THE FAILURE OF THE AMERICAN JEWISH ESTABLISHMENT

NOVANEWS

“These Jews embraced Zionism before the settler movement became a major force in Israeli politics, before the 1982 Lebanon war, before the first intifada.” [Peter Beinart, item 2]

======================

Dear All,

With reference to the above, the settler movement (i.e., colonialism) was a Zionist ideal and practice before Israel became a state, only the practice was called ‘homa u migdal’ {in English ‘wall and tower’) which were the first two items that Zionist colonists built when they began to establish a community, constructing the rest after within the wall.  The practice was based on Ottoman land law.

———–

Tonight there are but 2 items.  Peter Beinart’s “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment” is 2nd.

Prior to that is an instance of Israeli militarism in education.  It is far from being an isolated instance.  The New Profile exhibit contains additional instances (www.newprofile.org, click on exhibit).  Children begin to be brainwashed at a very young age here.

Peter Beinart’s analysis is both informative and interesting.  I do not support his warmth for Zionism, not even the type that he in his concluding paragraphs depicts.  I feel as a whole that Zionism has not been good for Jews, and has been far worse for Palestinians.  So long as the idea of a Jewish state exists, there will always be those who will say “for Jews only.”

Nonetheless, the article is worth reading.  I apologize if this is a duplication.  I appreciate Melinda’s forwarding it. 

All the best,

Dorothy

========================================

Haaretz , June 17, 2010

At ‘Police Day,’ first-graders get to play with real rifles and machine guns

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/at-police-day-first-graders-get-to-play-with-real-rifles-and-machine-guns-1.296634

Hebrew: http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/spages/1174681.html

By Or Kashti

Parents in the Kadima-Tzoran Local Council yesterday slammed the decision by two elementary schools to focus on crowd-control operations at a “Community and Police” day earlier this week. The children shot paintball guns, looked at weapons and got a soaking from a police riot-dispersal water cannon.

“An educational institution should educate for civic values and independent thought, not admiration for force,” said Amit Sharon, whose daughter attends one of the schools. Border Police spokesman Chief Superintendent Moshe Fintzy said the program was authorized and coordinated with the Education Ministry. “We’re not like Hezbollah, which train kids to commit suicide,” he said.

Police units often hold community days in schools, including elementary school, but education officials say they usually focus on issues such as drugs, alcohol, or animal abuse. But the activity in the Yuvalim and Lev-Ran schools was focused mostly on breaking up protests.

The children were divided into two groups for the activities, one for first, second and third-graders and one for children in the fourth to sixth grades. The older ones shot paintball guns, among other activities. Other activities included demonstrations of mounted Border Police officers and the police canine unit.

The children saw how police officers monitor demonstrations and watched as a robot disarmed a bomb. Parents reported that as well as looking at weapons, children handled an M16 assault rifle, a machine gun and a pistol. The children were instructed to wash their clothes separately after getting sprayed with water mixed with noxious-smelling liquids, used to disperse crowds.

“My third-grade daughter now knows the weight of an M16 rifle,” said Sharon. “That’s not part of the knowledge I want a school to impart to children. I’m bothered by this introduction of militaristic materials. Instead of the school educating children to question and for critical thought, it delivers a pretty bland message about learning how to hold a weapon.”

“The school hosted Border Police exhibitions before, but they were much more ‘vegetarian,'” another parent said. “I don’t think kids that young should be exposed to weapons. This really crosses the line.”

He noted that although the children understood that all the weapons were used for dispersing demonstrations, there were no explanations about why people held protests or when they might need to be dispersed. “As far as they know now, all protests need to be disbanded by any means necessary. That’s hardly education for democracy,” he said.

But not all parents were opposed. Dudi Holtzman, whose daughters attend Yuvalim, said the children were very impressed by the demonstrations, “especially by the dogs that attacked and stopped someone on command. I don’t understand their complaints – there’s nothing wrong with demonstrating Border Police activities. It’s part of the reality of life here. The kids’ tender souls weren’t hurt,” he said.

“Sometimes I’m amazed by how anti-Israeli, antiestablishment and anti-police people can get,” Fintzy said. “The purpose of community days is to bring kids closer to police, to show them the policeman is a positive figure.”

Hagit Gur-Ziv, who teaches at the Kibbutzim College of Education, told Haaretz that while there was nothing wrong about police officers explaining the work of the police, “there’s no justification for exposing first-graders to weapons and crowd control gear. No principal would let a kid bring a paintball gun to school, yet letting him handle an M16 seems to be okay,” Gur-Ziv said.

The Education Ministry said in a response that the schools had “adopted” the Border Police. The activities were preceded by a lecture from the local community policing officer. “In the wake of questions from parents, the principals will reexamine the level of realism in the unit’s demonstrations,” the statement said.

This story is by:  Or Kashti

=================================================

Dear Dorothy,
I thought your readers might want to read this important article in the New York Review of Books that has been making the rounds on the internet.
All the best,
Melinda
———-
New York Review of Books
The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/jun/10/failure-american-jewish-establishment/?pagination=false by Peter Beinart

In 2003, several prominent Jewish philanthropists hired Republican pollster Frank Luntz to explain why American Jewish college students were not more vigorously rebutting campus criticism of Israel. In response, he unwittingly produced the most damning indictment of the organized American Jewish community that I have ever seen.
 
The philanthropists wanted to know what Jewish students thought about Israel. Luntz found that they mostly didn’t. “Six times we have brought Jewish youth together as a group to talk about their Jewishness and connection to Israel,” he reported. “Six times the topic of Israel did not come up until it was prompted. Six times these Jewish youth used the word ‘they‘ rather than ‘us‘ to describe the situation.”
 
That Luntz encountered indifference was not surprising. In recent years, several studies have revealed, in the words of Steven Cohen of Hebrew Union College and Ari Kelman of the University of California at Davis, that “non-Orthodox younger Jews, on the whole, feel much less attached to Israel than their elders,” with many professing “a near-total absence of positive feelings.”

In 2008, the student senate at Brandeis, the only nonsectarian Jewish-sponsored university in America, rejected a resolution commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the Jewish state.

Luntz’s task was to figure out what had gone wrong. When he probed the students’ views of Israel, he hit up against some firm beliefs. First, “they reserve the right to question the Israeli position.” These young Jews, Luntz explained, “resist anything they see as ‘group think.’” They want an “open and frank” discussion of Israel and its flaws.

Second, “young Jews desperately want peace.” When Luntz showed them a series of ads, one of the most popular was entitled “Proof that Israel Wants Peace,” and listed offers by various Israeli governments to withdraw from conquered land. Third, “some empathize with the plight of the Palestinians.”

When Luntz displayed ads depicting Palestinians as violent and hateful, several focus group participants criticized them as stereotypical and unfair, citing their own Muslim friends.

 Most of the students, in other words, were liberals, broadly defined. They had imbibed some of the defining values of American Jewish political culture: a belief in open debate, a skepticism about military force, a commitment to human rights. And in their innocence, they did not realize that they were supposed to shed those values when it came to Israel.

The only kind of Zionism they found attractive was a Zionism that recognized Palestinians as deserving of dignity and capable of peace, and they were quite willing to condemn an Israeli government that did not share those beliefs. Luntz did not grasp the irony. The only kind of Zionism they found attractive was the kind that the American Jewish establishment has been working against for most of their lives.

Among American Jews today, there are a great many Zionists, especially in the Orthodox world, people deeply devoted to the State of Israel. And there are a great many liberals, especially in the secular Jewish world, people deeply devoted to human rights for all people, Palestinians included.

But the two groups are increasingly distinct. Particularly in the younger generations, fewer and fewer American Jewish liberals are Zionists; fewer and fewer American Jewish Zionists are liberal. One reason is that the leading institutions of American Jewry have refused to foster—indeed, have actively opposed—a Zionism that challenges Israel’s behavior in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and toward its own Arab citizens.

For several decades, the Jewish establishment has asked American Jews to check their liberalism at Zionism’s door, and now, to their horror, they are finding that many young Jews have checked their Zionism instead.

 Morally, American Zionism is in a downward spiral. If the leaders of groups like AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations do not change course, they will wake up one day to find a younger, Orthodox-dominated, Zionist leadership whose naked hostility to Arabs and Palestinians scares even them, and a mass of secular American Jews who range from apathetic to appalled.

 Saving liberal Zionism in the United States—so that American Jews can help save liberal Zionism in Israel—is the great American Jewish challenge of our age. And it starts where Luntz’s students wanted it to start: by talking frankly about Israel’s current government, by no longer averting our eyes.

Since the 1990s, journalists and scholars have been describing a bifurcation in Israeli society. In the words of Hebrew University political scientist Yaron Ezrahi, “After decades of what came to be called a national consensus, the Zionist narrative of liberation [has] dissolved into openly contesting versions.” One version, “founded on a long memory of persecution, genocide, and a bitter struggle for survival, is pessimistic, distrustful of non-Jews, and believing only in Jewish power and solidarity.”

Another, “nourished by secularized versions of messianism as well as the Enlightenment idea of progress,” articulates “a deep sense of the limits of military force, and a commitment to liberal-democratic values.” Every country manifests some kind of ideological divide. But in contemporary Israel, the gulf is among the widest on earth.

As Ezrahi and others have noted, this latter, liberal-democratic Zionism has grown alongside a new individualism, particularly among secular Israelis, a greater demand for free expression, and a greater skepticism of coercive authority. You can see this spirit in “new historians” like Tom Segev who have fearlessly excavated the darker corners of the Zionist past and in jurists like former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak who have overturned Knesset laws that violate the human rights guarantees in Israel’s “Basic Laws.”

You can also see it in former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s apparent willingness to relinquish much of the West Bank in 2000 and early 2001.

But in Israel today, this humane, universalistic Zionism does not wield power. To the contrary, it is gasping for air. To understand how deeply antithetical its values are to those of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, it’s worth considering the case of Effi Eitam. Eitam, a charismatic ex–cabinet minister and war hero, has proposed ethnically cleansing Palestinians from the West Bank.

 “We’ll have to expel the overwhelming majority of West Bank Arabs from here and remove Israeli Arabs from [the] political system,” he declared in 2006. In 2008, Eitam merged his small Ahi Party into Netanyahu’s Likud. And for the 2009–2010 academic year, he is Netanyahu’s special emissary for overseas “campus engagement.”

In that capacity, he visited a dozen American high schools and colleges last fall on the Israeli government’s behalf. The group that organized his tour was called “Caravan for Democracy.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman once shared Eitam’s views. In his youth, he briefly joined Meir Kahane’s now banned Kach Party, which also advocated the expulsion of Arabs from Israeli soil. Now Lieberman’s position might be called “pre-expulsion.”

He wants to revoke the citizenship of Israeli Arabs who won’t swear a loyalty oath to the Jewish state. He tried to prevent two Arab parties that opposed Israel’s 2008–2009 Gaza war from running candidates for the Knesset. He said Arab Knesset members who met with representatives of Hamas should be executed.

He wants to jail Arabs who publicly mourn on Israeli Independence Day, and he hopes to permanently deny citizenship to Arabs from other countries who marry Arab citizens of Israel.
>>>>>> You don’t have to be paranoid to see the connection between Lieberman’s current views and his former ones. The more you strip Israeli Arabs of legal protection, and the more you accuse them of treason, the more thinkable a policy of expulsion becomes.

Lieberman’s American defenders often note that in theory he supports a Palestinian state. What they usually fail to mention is that for him, a two-state solution means redrawing Israel’s border so that a large chunk of Israeli Arabs find themselves exiled to another country, without their consent.

Lieberman served as chief of staff during Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister. And when it comes to the West Bank, Netanyahu’s own record is in its way even more extreme than his protégé’s. In his 1993 book, A Place among the Nations, Netanyahu not only rejects the idea of a Palestinian state, he denies that there is such a thing as a Palestinian.

In fact, he repeatedly equates the Palestinian bid for statehood with Nazism. An Israel that withdraws from the West Bank, he has declared, would be a “ghetto-state” with “Auschwitz borders.” And the effort “to gouge Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] out of Israel” resembles Hitler’s bid to wrench the German-speaking “Sudeten district” from Czechoslovakia in 1938. It is unfair, Netanyahu insists, to ask Israel to concede more territory since it has already made vast, gut-wrenching concessions. What kind of concessions? It has abandoned its claim to Jordan, which by rights should be part of the Jewish state.

On the left of Netanyahu’s coalition sits Ehud Barak’s emasculated Labor Party, but whatever moderating potential it may have is counter balanced by what is, in some ways, the most illiberal coalition partner of all, Shas, the ultra-Orthodox party representing Jews of North African and Middle Eastern descent.

 At one point, Shas—like some of its Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox counterparts—was open to dismantling settlements. In recent years, however, ultra-Orthodox Israelis, anxious to find housing for their large families, have increasingly moved to the West Bank, where thanks to government subsidies it is far cheaper to live.

Not coincidentally, their political parties have swung hard against territorial compromise. And they have done so with a virulence that reflects ultra-Orthodox Judaism’s profound hostility to liberal values. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Shas’s immensely powerful spiritual leader, has called Arabs “vipers,” “snakes,” and “ants.”

 In 2005, after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon proposed dismantling settlements in the Gaza Strip, Yosef urged that “God strike him down.” The official Shas newspaper recently called President Obama “an Islamic extremist.”

Hebrew University Professor Ze’ev Sternhell is an expert on fascism and a winner of the prestigious Israel Prize. Commenting on Lieberman and the leaders of Shas in a recent Op-Ed in Haaretz, he wrote, “The last time politicians holding views similar to theirs were in power in post–World War II Western Europe was in Franco’s Spain.” With their blessing, “a crude and multifaceted campaign is being waged against the foundations of the democratic and liberal order.” Sternhell should know. In September 2008, he was injured when a settler set off a pipe bomb at his house.
 
Israeli governments come and go, but the Netanyahu coalition is the product of frightening, long-term trends in Israeli society: an ultra-Orthodox population that is increasing dramatically, a settler movement that is growing more radical and more entrenched in the Israeli bureaucracy and army, and a Russian immigrant community that is particularly prone to anti-Arab racism.

 In 2009, a poll by the Israel Democracy Institute found that 53 percent of Jewish Israelis (and 77 percent of recent immigrants from the former USSR) support encouraging Arabs to leave the country. Attitudes are worst among Israel’s young.

When Israeli high schools held mock elections last year, Lieberman won. This March, a poll found that 56 percent of Jewish Israeli high school students—and more than 80 percent of religious Jewish high school students—would deny Israeli Arabs the right to be elected to the Knesset.

An education ministry official called the survey “a huge warning signal in light of the strengthening trends of extremist views among the youth.”

>>>>>> Jim Hollander/epa/Corbis
>>>>>> The writer David Grossman, right, protesting with Palestinians and Israelis against the eviction of Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, April 9, 2010
 
You might think that such trends, and the sympathy for them expressed by some in Israel’s government, would occasion substantial public concern—even outrage—among the leaders of organized American Jewry. You would be wrong. In Israel itself, voices from the left, and even center, warn in increasingly urgent tones about threats to Israeli democracy. (Former Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak have both said that Israel risks becoming an “apartheid state” if it continues to hold the West Bank.

This April, when settlers forced a large Israeli bookstore to stop selling a book critical of the occupation, Shulamit Aloni, former head of the dovish Meretz Party, declared that “Israel has not been democratic for some time now.”) But in the United States, groups like AIPAC and the Presidents’ Conference patrol public discourse, scolding people who contradict their vision of Israel as a state in which all leaders cherish democracy and yearn for peace.
 
The result is a terrible irony. In theory, mainstream American Jewish organizations still hew to a liberal vision of Zionism. On its website, AIPAC celebrates Israel’s commitment to “free speech and minority rights.” The Conference of Presidents declares that “Israel and the United States share political, moral and intellectual values including democracy, freedom, security and peace.”

These groups would never say, as do some in Netanyahu’s coalition, that Israeli Arabs don’t deserve full citizenship and West Bank Palestinians don’t deserve human rights. But in practice, by defending virtually anything any Israeli government does, they make themselves intellectual bodyguards for Israeli leaders who threaten the very liberal values they profess to admire.
 
After Israel’s elections last February, for instance, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice-chairman of the Presidents’ Conference, explained that Avigdor Lieberman’s agenda was “far more moderate than the media has presented it.” Insisting that Lieberman bears no general animus toward Israeli Arabs, Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “He’s not saying expel them. He’s not saying punish them.” (Permanently denying citizenship to their Arab spouses or jailing them if they publicly mourn on Israeli Independence Day evidently does not qualify as punishment.)

The ADL has criticized anti-Arab bigotry in the past, and the American Jewish Committee, to its credit, warned that Lieberman’s proposed loyalty oath would “chill Israel’s democratic political debate.” But the Forward summed up the overall response of America’s communal Jewish leadership in its headline “Jewish Leaders Largely Silent on Lieberman’s Role in Government.”

Not only does the organized American Jewish community mostly avoid public criticism of the Israeli government, it tries to prevent others from leveling such criticism as well. In recent years, American Jewish organizations have waged a campaign to discredit the world’s most respected international human rights groups.

In 2006, Foxman called an Amnesty International report on Israeli killing of Lebanese civilians “bigoted, biased, and borderline anti-Semitic.” The Conference of Presidents has announced that “biased NGOs include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Christian Aid, [and] Save the Children.” Last summer, an AIPAC spokesman declared that Human Rights Watch “has repeatedly demonstrated its anti-Israel bias.”

When the Obama administration awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, former UN high commissioner for human rights, the ADL and AIPAC both protested, citing the fact that she had presided over the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. (Early drafts of the conference report implicitly accused Israel of racism. Robinson helped expunge that defamatory charge, angering Syria and Iran.)

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are not infallible. But when groups like AIPAC and the Presidents’ Conference avoid virtually all public criticism of Israeli actions—directing their outrage solely at Israel’s neighbors—they leave themselves in a poor position to charge bias. Moreover, while American Jewish groups claim that they are simply defending Israel from its foes, they are actually taking sides in a struggle within Israel between radically different Zionist visions.

At the very moment the Anti-Defamation League claimed that Robinson harbored an “animus toward Israel,” an alliance of seven Israeli human rights groups publicly congratulated her on her award. Many of those groups, like B’Tselem, which monitors Israeli actions in the Occupied Territories, and the Israeli branch of Physicians for Human Rights, have been at least as critical of Israel’s actions in Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank as have Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

 All of which raises an uncomfortable question. If American Jewish groups claim that Israel’s overseas human rights critics are motivated by anti- Israeli, if not anti-Semitic, bias, what does that say about Israel’s domestic human rights critics? The implication is clear: they must be guilty of self-hatred, if not treason.

American Jewish leaders don’t generally say that, of course, but their allies in the Netanyahu government do. Last summer, Israel’s vice prime minister, Moshe Ya’alon, called the anti-occupation group Peace Now a “virus.” This January, a right-wing group called Im Tirtzu accused Israeli human rights organizations of having fed information to the Goldstone Commission that investigated Israel’s Gaza war.

A Knesset member from Netanyahu’s Likud promptly charged Naomi Chazan, head of the New Israel Fund, which supports some of those human rights groups, with treason, and a member of Lieberman’s party launched an investigation aimed at curbing foreign funding of Israeli NGOs.

To their credit, Foxman and other American Jewish leaders opposed the move, which might have impaired their own work. But they are reaping what they sowed. If you suggest that mainstream human rights criticism of Israel’s government is motivated by animus toward the state, or toward Jews in general, you give aid and comfort to those in Israel who make the same charges against the human rights critics in their midst.
 
In the American Jewish establishment today, the language of liberal Zionism—with its idioms of human rights, equal citizenship, and territorial compromise—has been drained of meaning. It remains the lingua franca in part for generational reasons, because many older American Zionists still see themselves as liberals of a sort.

They vote Democratic; they are unmoved by biblical claims to the West Bank; they see average Palestinians as decent people betrayed by bad leaders; and they are secular. They don’t want Jewish organizations to criticize Israel from the left, but neither do they want them to be agents of the Israeli right.
 
These American Zionists are largely the product of a particular era. Many were shaped by the terrifying days leading up to the Six-Day War, when it appeared that Israel might be overrun, and by the bitter aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, when much of the world seemed to turn against the Jewish state.

In that crucible, Israel became their Jewish identity, often in conjunction with the Holocaust, which the 1967 and 1973 wars helped make central to American Jewish life. These Jews embraced Zionism before the settler movement became a major force in Israeli politics, before the 1982 Lebanon war, before the first intifada.

They fell in love with an Israel that was more secular, less divided, and less shaped by the culture, politics, and theology of occupation. And by downplaying the significance of Avigdor Lieberman, the settlers, and Shas, American Jewish groups allow these older Zionists to continue to identify with that more internally cohesive, more innocent Israel of their youth, an Israel that now only exists in their memories.

But these secular Zionists aren’t reproducing themselves. Their children have no memory of Arab armies massed on Israel’s border and of Israel surviving in part thanks to urgent military assistance from the United States. Instead, they have grown up viewing Israel as a regional hegemon and an occupying power.

As a result, they are more conscious than their parents of the degree to which Israeli behavior violates liberal ideals, and less willing to grant Israel an exemption because its survival seems in peril. Because they have inherited their parents’ liberalism, they cannot embrace their uncritical Zionism. Because their liberalism is real, they can see that the liberalism of the American Jewish establishment is fake.
 
To sustain their uncritical brand of Zionism, therefore, America’s Jewish organizations will need to look elsewhere to replenish their ranks. They will need to find young American Jews who have come of age during the West Bank occupation but are not troubled by it. And those young American Jews will come disproportionately from the Orthodox world.

Because they marry earlier, intermarry less, and have more children, Orthodox Jews are growing rapidly as a share of the American Jewish population. According to a 2006 American Jewish Committee (AJC) survey, while Orthodox Jews make up only 12 percent of American Jewry over the age of sixty, they constitute 34 percent between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four.

For America’s Zionist organizations, these Orthodox youngsters are a potential bonanza. In their yeshivas they learn devotion to Israel from an early age; they generally spend a year of religious study there after high school, and often know friends or relatives who have immigrated to Israel. The same AJC study found that while only 16 percent of non-Orthodox adult Jews under the age of forty feel “very close to Israel,” among the Orthodox the figure is 79 percent.

As secular Jews drift away from America’s Zionist institutions, their Orthodox counterparts will likely step into the breach. The Orthodox “are still interested in parochial Jewish concerns,” explains Samuel Heilman, a sociologist at the City University of New York. “They are among the last ones who stayed in the Jewish house, so they now control the lights.”

But it is this very parochialism—a deep commitment to Jewish concerns, which often outweighs more universal ones—that gives Orthodox Jewish Zionism a distinctly illiberal cast. The 2006 AJC poll found that while 60 percent of non-Orthodox American Jews under the age of forty support a Palestinian state, that figure drops to 25 percent among the Orthodox.

In 2009, when Brandeis University’s Theodore Sasson asked American Jewish focus groups about Israel, he found Orthodox participants much less supportive of dismantling settlements as part of a peace deal. Even more tellingly, Reform, Conservative, and unaffiliated Jews tended to believe that average Palestinians wanted peace, but had been ill-served by their leaders.

Orthodox Jews, by contrast, were more likely to see the Palestinian people as the enemy, and to deny that ordinary Palestinians shared any common interests or values with ordinary Israelis or Jews.

Orthodox Judaism has great virtues, including a communal warmth and a commitment to Jewish learning unmatched in the American Jewish world. (I’m biased, since my family attends an Orthodox synagogue.) But if current trends continue, the growing influence of Orthodox Jews in America’s Jewish communal institutions will erode even the liberal-democratic veneer that today covers American Zionism.

 In 2002, America’s major Jewish organizations sponsored a large Israel solidarity rally on the Washington Mall. Up and down the east coast, yeshivas shut down for the day, swelling the estimated Orthodox share of the crowd to close to 70 percent. When the then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told the rally that “innocent Palestinians are suffering and dying as well,” he was booed.

Mohammed Saber/epa/Corbis
Palestinian boys standing on the rubble of buildings demolished by the Israeli army near the Israeli settlement of Netzarim, Gaza Strip, July 2004. The settlement was the last to be emptied as part of Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan in August 2005.
 
America’s Jewish leaders should think hard about that rally. Unless they change course, it portends the future: an American Zionist movement that does not even feign concern for Palestinian dignity and a broader American Jewish population that does not even feign concern for Israel. My own children, given their upbringing, could as easily end up among the booers as among Luntz’s focus group. Either prospect fills me with dread.
 
In 2004, in an effort to prevent weapons smuggling from Egypt, Israeli tanks and bulldozers demolished hundreds of houses in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. Watching television, a veteran Israeli commentator and politician named Tommy Lapid saw an elderly Palestinian woman crouched on all fours looking for her medicines amid the ruins of her home. He said she reminded him of his grandmother.

In that moment, Lapid captured the spirit that is suffocating within organized American Jewish life. To begin with, he watched. In my experience, there is an epidemic of not watching among American Zionists today.

A Red Cross study on malnutrition in the Gaza Strip, a bill in the Knesset to allow Jewish neighborhoods to bar entry to Israeli Arabs, an Israeli human rights report on settlers burning Palestinian olive groves, three more Palestinian teenagers shot—it’s unpleasant. Rationalizing and minimizing Palestinian suffering has become a kind of game. In a more recent report on how to foster Zionism among America’s young, Luntz urges American Jewish groups to use the word “Arabs, not Palestinians,” since “the term ‘Palestinians’ evokes images of refugee camps, victims and oppression,” while “‘Arab’ says wealth, oil and Islam.”
 
Of course, Israel—like the United States—must sometimes take morally difficult actions in its own defense. But they are morally difficult only if you allow yourself some human connection to the other side. Otherwise, security justifies everything. The heads of AIPAC and the Presidents’ Conference should ask themselves what Israel’s leaders would have to do or say to make them scream “no.” After all, Lieberman is foreign minister; Effi Eitam is touring American universities; settlements are growing at triple the rate of the Israeli population; half of Israeli Jewish high school students want Arabs barred from the Knesset. If the line has not yet been crossed, where is the line?
 
What infuriated critics about Lapid’s comment was that his grandmother died at Auschwitz. How dare he defile the memory of the Holocaust? Of course, the Holocaust is immeasurably worse than anything Israel has done or ever will do. But at least Lapid used Jewish suffering to connect to the suffering of others.

In the world of AIPAC, the Holocaust analogies never stop, and their message is always the same: Jews are licensed by their victimhood to worry only about themselves. Many of Israel’s founders believed that with statehood, Jews would rightly be judged on the way they treated the non-Jews living under their dominion.

 “For the first time we shall be the majority living with a minority,” Knesset member Pinchas Lavon declared in 1948, “and we shall be called upon to provide an example and prove how Jews live with a minority.”
 
But the message of the American Jewish establishment and its allies in the Netanyahu government is exactly the opposite: since Jews are history’s permanent victims, always on the knife-edge of extinction, moral responsibility is a luxury Israel does not have. Its only responsibility is to survive.

As former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg writes in his remarkable 2008 book, The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise From Its Ashes, “Victimhood sets you free.”
 
This obsession with victimhood lies at the heart of why Zionism is dying among America’s secular Jewish young. It simply bears no relationship to their lived experience, or what they have seen of Israel’s. Yes, Israel faces threats from Hezbollah and Hamas. Yes, Israelis understandably worry about a nuclear Iran.

But the dilemmas you face when you possess dozens or hundreds of nuclear weapons, and your adversary, however despicable, may acquire one, are not the dilemmas of the Warsaw Ghetto. The year 2010 is not, as Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed, 1938. The drama of Jewish victimhood—a drama that feels natural to many Jews who lived through 1938, 1948, or even 1967—strikes most of today’s young American Jews as farce.
 
But there is a different Zionist calling, which has never been more desperately relevant. It has its roots in Israel’s Independence Proclamation, which promised that the Jewish state “will be based on the precepts of liberty, justice and peace taught by the Hebrew prophets,” and in the December 1948 letter from Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, and others to The New York Times, protesting right-wing Zionist leader Menachem Begin’s visit to the United States after his party’s militias massacred Arab civilians in the village of Deir Yassin. It is a call to recognize that in a world in which Jewish fortunes have radically changed, the best way to memorialize the history of Jewish suffering is through the ethical use of Jewish power.

For several months now, a group of Israeli students has been traveling every Friday to the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where a Palestinian family named the Ghawis lives on the street outside their home of fifty-three years, from which they were evicted to make room for Jewish settlers.

Although repeatedly arrested for protesting without a permit, and called traitors and self-haters by the Israeli right, the students keep coming, their numbers now swelling into the thousands. What if American Jewish organizations brought these young people to speak at Hillel? What if this was the face of Zionism shown to America’s Jewish young? What if the students in Luntz’s focus group had been told that their generation faces a challenge as momentous as any in Jewish history: to save liberal democracy in the only Jewish state on earth?

“Too many years I lived in the warm embrace of institutionalized elusiveness and was a part of it,” writes Avraham Burg. “I was very comfortable there.” I know; I was comfortable there too. But comfortable Zionism has become a moral abdication. Let’s hope that Luntz’s students, in solidarity with their counterparts at Sheikh Jarrah, can foster an uncomfortable Zionism, a Zionism angry at what Israel risks becoming, and in love with what it still could be. Let’s hope they care enough to try.
>>>>>> —May 12, 2010

Peter Beinart is Associate Professor of Journalism and Political Science at the City University of New York, a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, and Senior Political Writer for The Daily Beast. His new book, The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris, will be published in June.

 

Posted in UncategorizedComments Off on THE FAILURE OF THE AMERICAN JEWISH ESTABLISHMENT

FFIPP ?

NOVANEWS

Hi,

This was meant to go out a week ago, but got misplaced to another address, and I only noticed this now. So sorry for the delay. It’s still an important item.

Below is an account by New Profile activist Mirjam Hadar Meerschwam of one event that has to do with the quite preposterous poster attached. One more sign o’ the ever more alarming times around here. I’d recommend reading this in full, and forwarding on. Let the world know what the Israeli society looks like from within nowadays.

Thanks,
Sergeiy.

HOW  IT  WORKS

Today, June 9 2010, Uri Hadar, my partner, was slated to participate in a public meeting at Bar Ilan University. At the last moment, yesterday night, he withdrew.  I want to describe what happened.

As you probably know, Uri , a full time professor of clinical psychology at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Psychology is an active participant, off and on campus, in public debate and activity aimed to criticize and bring an end to Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian lands. He is a founding member of FFIPP (Faculty for Israeli and Palestinian Peace) and of Psychoactive (Israeli Mental Health Professionals for Human Rights).

He regularly participates in meetings and conferences, as well as publishes, on the upholding of human rights, dialogue and reconciliation in Israel/Palestine. He belongs to a small but growing number of Israeli academics who expressly address the occupation in their university teaching on the assumption that the social, cultural, political and epistemological context in which he and his students  meet and negotiate knowledge is deeply implied in the formation and communication of that knowledge.

As part of his political activism on campus, Uri moderated a public conference call on video , “Voice from Gaza”,  last April. This conference call was organized by Hakampus Lo Shotek  (The Campus Is not Silent), the Israeli campus-based organization dedicated to human rights violations in the context of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. In brief, the two-hour event, which was organized at MIT/Harvard, USA  was moderated by Dr Sara Roy,  senior research scholar, Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and the voices from Gaza were those of Dr Eyad Sarraj, a senior non-aligned peace and human rights activist, and President of the Gaza Community Mental Health Center; Rowiya Haman, psychiatric nurse in Gaza, and Omar Shaban, economist and director, PAL-Think, a Gaza-based Palestinian think-tank .

Here is an excerpt taken trom their Mission Statement on the internet:

To promote peace, freedom and prosperity through debate on public issues, producing policy recommendations to the decision makers in Palestine and Middle East.  PAL Think aim to:
– Perform constructive and facilitative roles in the rationalization of public discussions, thinking and decision processes.

– Improve quality of life of the Palestinians by promoting innovative development solutions that challenges mainstream thinking on politics, economics and social issues.

Recently, Uri was asked by an Israeli not-for-profit organization, The Forum for the Land of Israel (mostly appearing under the name: The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel) to participate in a panel meeting on “Pluralism of Opinions in the Academic Discourse”.

Since the meeting was held under the aegis of the above organization and at the religious Jewish Bar Ilan University it was clear to Uri that he was being invited to “defend” his ideas in a politically antagonistic setting. The Forum introduces itself as follows on its English website:

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel is committed to protecting human rights in Israel, ensuring sound government, and preserving the national integrity of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

This is how It explains its roots:

The Forum began as a grassroots organization seeking to find fair and equitable solutions for the thousands of Israeli evacuees resulting from the Disengagement from the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria in August 2005. 

One of the Forum’s stated objectives is formulated thus:

Safeguards the Jewish presence throughout Israel

In the Israeli/Palestinian context this places the Forum solidly on the nationalist right.

Uri was worried about participating in this panel. He anticipated that anger and hostility would be directed at him.  These days, in the wake of the Israeli army’s attack on the Turkish flotilla, the atmosphere in Israel is even more charged than usual and the subject on which he was to talk is controversial, to say the least.

He would have gone ahead, though, were it not for a phone call, yesterday afternoon (less than 24 hours before the event) from a friend from Psychoactive. Ilana happened to walk past a small but colourfully eyecatching poster at Bar Ilan University. No one had sent Uri this poster or informed him of its contents. Again: he was invited to a panel on “Pluralism of Opinions in the Academic Discourse”. 

 I shall attach a copy of the poster, but I also describe it below, for those who don’t read Hebrew. My description, needless to say, is tendentious and tries to offer you the context which I deem relevant.

·        The sheet/flyer is headed by the logo of the “Forum for the Land of Israel” –  the letters and Star of David are blue against a white background. Blue and white, plus the Star, claim affiliation with Zionism and the “national” agenda (a careful distinction with the first referring to  nation and nationbuilding, and the second to nationalism; often, in local practice and reality, this distinction collapses).

·        A thick red horizontal band appears below. In large blue-national letters (creating a visually arresting contrast with the red background): Stop! All lines have been crossed! Then, in white print: At the conference “Voices from Gaza” Tel Aviv University offered a stage to Hamas and Hezbollah supporters. Is there no limit to academic  lawlessness?! To the right of this is a representation of the Israeli traffic sign, white against red, that reads:  Stop!

·        The central horizontal band of the poster consists of four marked rectangular spaces which are intersected by a largish circular space in their middle. Three rectangles consist of highly colourful, striking  photographs. What the photographs share is their focus on flags.  One photo is dominated by large Israeli flags. They are seen from close by. Two are held by invisible hands, one is draped around the shoulders of a man the back of whose yarmulke-covered head is visible; another bit of flag is seen, behind which the yarmulke-wearing head of another man. The other two photographs offer views of masses or mobs. No human-scale close ups here.  One shows us a sea of placards (STOP the Holocaust in Gaza, one of them reads, for instance, or: Free Palestine, but also Jewish Socialists). The effect is noisy, angry, and “Palestinian” – the placards carry images of the Palestinian flag, the colours are green, red, black, white. The other photo actually does show us human faces, those of some smiling young women included. There is again, however, the immediate effect of being swamped – as a viewer – in a mass of hollering people. And many of the protesters wear Palestinian colours and keffiyehs – the national headscarves that evoke, for a mainstream if not right-wing nationalist section of the Israeli public, alarming  associations with Yasser Arafat and terrorism. Flags again, and signs, reading:  Genocide Not Justice, End the Massacre, Ceasefire Gaza. The fourth rectangular space consists of a blue background with medium sized white letters reading, in English: “The Forum for The Land of Israel” organizes a response conference on the subject of:   This is followed in the same size black letter s – not very visible against the blue background: Pluralism of Opinion in the Academic Discourse  – ie the title of the event Uri was told.  And this again is followed by information about the time and whereabouts, plus the invitation to: Come and listen and express your opinion!  – all of this in white print.

·        The circular central image, at last. It is difficult to avoid the impression, also given the actual content of the image,  that this circular shape at the center functions as a visual reminder of a shooting target. The image, here, is complicated. What you see is a zoom-in on a man in suit who stands behind a lectern which is marked with the official insignia of Tel Aviv University, with that name, indeed, below it.  Where his head should be, however, a photomontage has been inserted. This is a self-announced photo-montage: a white-rimmed photograph of a head is pinned (with two, red headed pins – which however can be misread as slightly off the mark red-winged darts, reinforcing the shooting-target association).  The head is the stereotype of the hooded terrorist:  it is completely masked in a sinister black balaclava with holes for mouth and eyes.  The semiotics of this stick-on terrorist image is not entirely clear to me. Perhaps the graphic “artist” was trying to ensure the legality of the image: a less markedly quoted representation of the Tel Aviv University lecturer as a hooded terrorist could have been problematic.  But another reading is prompted too:  We (the makers of this broadsheet) stick an identity onto the Tel Aviv University speaker. We mark and mask him.  Admittedly, it is not very clever to have designed an image that invites such readings – in fact almost demands them…. 

·        The poster concludes with a narrower red band. In this band appear the following white printed words:

Participants:

Prof. Uri Hadar from Tel Aviv University coordinator of the “Gaza Voices” conference.

Prof. Asher Cohen from the Faculty of Political Science at Bar Ilan University

Prof. Avi Bell from the Faculty of Law at Bar Ilan University

MK (member of Israeli parliament) Dr Michael Ben Ari from the Ichud Leumi [Party]  (The National Union)

Note that Uri’s affiliation is truncated: Tel Aviv University (which the rest of the poster has already branded as a terrorist stronghold) – not Department of Psychology – but coordinator of the “Gaza Voices” conference.  The other members of the panel are presented in their current professional capacity.

Just a few notes on the other panel members – I googled them, so this is publicly available:

Prof. Cohen is affiliated with The Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs which describes itself as follows:

The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs is an independent non-profit institute for policy research and education.
 Israel’s growth and survival are dependent on its winning the war of ideas. The challenges that Israel faces today are not only military. They extend to the United Nations, the mass media, foreign universities, and non-governmental organizations. In many cases, the assault on Israel is aimed at its very legitimacy as a Jewish state. A direct by-product of the attacks on Israel is a clearly detectable rise in anti-Semitism, especially in Europe. In this environment, what is needed is not just better public relations, but also a rigorous analysis of the issues being exploited by Israel’s adversaries who question Israel’s legal rights. In response, the Jerusalem Center seeks to present Israel’s case and to highlight the challenges of Islamic extremism and global anti-Semitism.

Prof. Avi Bell has an entry on Wikipedia which reports on his activities in critiquing the findings of Human Rights Watch and the publication, more recently of, A Critique of the Goldstone Report and its Treatment of International Humanitarian Law. Like Prof. Asher Cohen, Prof. Bell is a researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

About Dr Michael Ben Ari, Wikipedia says this:

Michael Ben-Ari (Hebrew: מיכאל בן ארי, born 12 October 1963) is an Israeli politician, and a current member of the Knesset (MK) for the National Union party. He is the first outspoken disciple of Rabbi Meir Kahane to be elected to the Knesset.. He has a PhD in Land of Israel.”

The kind secretary at Bar Ilan offered apologies and promised the offending posters/flyers would be removed and not handed out as planned. Uri nevertheless felt unable to participate.

Much worse than this is happening here in Israel/Palestine, of course.

But I think it is important to dwell on how the political debate is held – who is watching which values, by what means and for whose sake.

Thanks for your patience.

I will translate the short talk Uri wrote and intended to give during the panel and send it tomorrow.

Mirjam Hadar Meerschwam

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More Henochowicz, with spiritual leadership

Posted: 19 Jun 2010

Israel/Palestine transcends its borders as an issue; and I often think the struggle for me and my Jewish generation is a recognition that our way of being in the world (urban, achievement-oriented culture) must come to grips with its shadow, which is the village-and-land-based Palestinian experience that has been written off in racist and nationalistic ways. How readily young idealistic Jews seem to accept this struggle. Emily Henochowicz writes in a post on Palestine:

I was attracted to this activism by the cause of fighting against injustice, but I pursued it for the people and the images they make in that awesome landscape.

Thanks to Susie Kneedler.

‘CSM’ questions Israel’s Iran paranoia, thereby breaking MSM taboo

Posted: 19 Jun 2010

The Christian Science Monitor and reporter Scott Peterson do what the rest of our media ought to do, and examine the obsession with Iran in Israel as an irrational and Holocaust-related phobia, which distracts Israel from the true existential threat, governance over half its population that does not get a vote. When will the Israel-philes in the big press even lift the carpet on this stuff?

“Iran is perhaps the most central issue [in Israel], yet there is really no critical debate about this,” says [author Haggai] Ram. “The people who would rather run against the grain are really a minority. Whenever they speak up – and I say this out of personal experience – they are immediately rendered into these bizarre self-defeating, self-hating Jews, and seen as a fifth column.”

“The idea is that we have no other choice, they want to destroy us,” says Reuven Pedatzur, academic director of a center for strategic dialogue at Netanya Academic College, of the Israeli mindset. “It’s a cultural issue, based on the Holocaust, that everybody wants to destroy the Jewish people.”

Israeli analysts often describe how the Jewish state “needs” an outside enemy to justify continued oppression against the Palestinians and one of the largest per capita defense budgets in the Middle East.

Casual prejudice against Muslims

Posted: 19 Jun 2010

The other day I was driving around listening to public radio, WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show with Hanna Rosin, discussing an article about changing gender roles in the latest Atlantic, with fill-in host Andrea Bernstein, when a caller, clearly a hasbarist, said that they were leaving out the “subjugation” of women in Muslim societies. Rosin picked up the segue and described the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia, and then host and author moved on quickly, to men’s changing roles… Neither sought to contradict the man’s prejudice.

A couple of things struck me about the exchange. If such prejudice had been expressed about women or gay men or black people or Jews, host and guest would have been quick to stomp on it angrily. No; this is an acceptable prejudice. A billion people around the world, or whatever, were written off with a devastating noun, and not a peep from the experts. (Myself I have often criticized the very-non-public role of women in several Arab societies I’ve visited, but the criticism has always been tentative; I’ve spent weeks in these societies, that’s all, and I’d never extend it to all of Islam.)

I see the caller’s comment as an infection that now pervades our culture. When the State Department warned the White House not to support Partition in 1947, it echoed Arab leaders’ concerns that establishing a Jewish state would sow alienation between the Arab world and the west for decades to come. This has turned out to be true. There has been great mistrust between the U.S. and the Arab world and a great deal of violence.

Steve Walt has pointed out that we have helped to kill hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the last 30 years, and while I’m no social scientist, I wonder how much of this hostility/mistrust is rooted in the establishment of a Jewish state in the heart of the Arab world, and in turn how much of the radio women’s acceptance of the prejudice has its root in this now-60-odd year conflict and the bland acceptance that the U.S. is on the good side here.

Are the analytical women of that show even conscious of Zionism’s effect on American political culture and themselves? (And yes, there’s a Jewish identity piece in all this, Rosin grew up in Israel, Lehrer continually airs pro-Israel voices.)

Our western privilege is the legacy of historical violence

Posted: 19 Jun 2010

For the last week we’ve been running pieces responding to Matthew Taylor’s statement that the Gaza flotilla should have been committed to nonviolent resistance. We’re almost done. Max Ajl is at bat.

David Bromwich has responded to my comment about non-violence and violence with a strong, textual case for non-violent mobilization. Engagement is welcome. There is space for tactical and conceptual clarification and discussion. First, though, several mistakes, misinterpretations, and mis-directions demand correction. Bromwich insists that “For Gandhi and for King non-violence was a principle,” and proceeds to lay out their ideas, appending a post-script with extended quotations. I do not know why Bromwich brought up King, who was anyway not the dogmatic pacifist he presents, and whose non-violent activism achieved its partial successes against the specter of violence in American urban centers and the threat of revolutionary militancy from the Black Panthers and the social spirit they stood for. Anyway, I did not bring King up. Here I will stick to Gandhi:

I do believe that where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence I would advise violence. Thus when my eldest son asked me what he should have done, had he been present when I was almost fatally assaulted in 1908, whether he should have run away and seen me killed or whether he should have used his physical force which he could and wanted to use, and defended me, I told him that it was his duty to defend me even by using violence

Bromwich placed this quotation at the end of the piece in which he insists that Gandhi’s non-violence was principled. Similar statements abound in Gandhi’s work. Clearly, Gandhi was not a principled adherent to non-violence in the sense that I used it, or in the vernacular sense that most would understand principled non-violence. If I say that non-violence is my principle, and then advocate punching someone, then the reasonable conclusion is that non-violence is not my principle.

Principles that one deviates from are like quitting smoking between cigarettes. Non-violence as a principle I adhere to except when I don’t is not a principle, it’s a tactic that I sometimes advocate and sometimes don’t, sometimes practice and sometimes don’t. Bromwich and I can banter back and forth over what the phrase “moral principles” or the word “principles” mean, but it is pretty clear that we are both using it in the sense stipulated above.

Moreover, the quotation precisely points up the problems of not recognizing the continuum on which violence and non-violence exist. Rigid bifurcations are problematic, both for obvious reasons—is pushing the Israeli soldier at Budrus violence or not?—but also for reasons that are less obvious. Non-violence and violence are only polar opposites in a realm of ideas which demands that they be so. Their sharp separation is in fact an ideology.

Why this should be so I will get to below. I don’t understand why Bromwich insists that Gandhi was a principled practitioner or promulgator of non-violence is beyond me, although I do understand why he sidesteps the complications of drawing a clear, dividing line between even physical, immediate violence and non-violence. It can’t really be done. When violence and non-violence are understood as shading and melding not merely at the margins but throughout, the idea that non-violence is a tactic, an action, a way of implementing something rather than its essential character, and furthermore something that should be assessed consequentially, becomes obvious.

Next, Bromwich has taken my (I thought quite) obvious normative statement on non-violence being a tactic rather than a principle and confused it for a factual statement. I do not know why he did so.

The next issue is normative. Calling for non-violence when one is not standing by the non-violent is an attempted affirmation of purity, nothing more. Gandhi and King stood on the front lines of their efforts, whether or not they were correct (Michael Neumann has shown fairly persuasively that as practical matters both King and Gandhi’s efforts were failures). They were embedded organically in the social movements they sought to influence.

The ideal of spiritual transformation Bromwich discusses is one I partially agree with. In the Gandhian sense, it suggests something about our own transformative potential, saying that our lives, our desire to imbue meaning and dignity to them, can take precedence over plain physical survival. The idea was roughly that a supra-human essence could be achieved through non-violent action. Fuzzy stuff, but not totally mis-guided. It is clear that a person, a society, a state, a world created by violence will carry the birth-scars of that fire with it for some time, and we know this neurologically as well as historically. Violence has begeted violence, and wars ended by violence have not ended war.

A.J. Muste pointed this out: “The problem after a war is the victor. He thinks he has just proved that war and violence will pay. Who will now teach him a lesson?” And so it goes on, sociologically as well as psychologically.

The thing is, we already live in a world soaked with violence. The notion that we can remove, via spiritual transformation, the scars of violence while still living in a world totally riddled with it suggests that spiritual catharsis will be easier in a world where structural violence is reduced considerably, if not nearly eliminated. And this sort of thinking can move in another direction too—not that we totally reject violence, but that we cocoon ourselves from its damages.

Violence will influence the character of the world we wish to create, sure, but it already does so, and if righteous violence can reduce the scale of constant, structural, morally unacceptable violence—the occupation, the siege—why on earth would we on principle reject its use, or morally privilege non-violence?

Here is the problem. I agree that forms of non-violence can, in theory, use carefully, produce a better world than that produced by what Bromwich means by violence. But how to test this theory? How to concretize what must seem like a fantasy to people under horrible oppression? The answer is actually clear. Organize with them. Believe your belief, work to share your belief with the oppressed, make it real. This is what Gandhi and King did, notwithstanding their practical failures, which can be useful for our own enlightenment—we learn, and we do better.

 It’s important to underline the situational, ethical component to this dialogue. It’s easy to juggle ideas on the internet, juxtapose elegant conceptions of non-violent practice with messy blood-struck guerrilla resistance, and move on from intellectual play to self-serious prescription. A prescription for Palestinian pacifism amounts to saying to a people under the gun: “Oppose the violence that I pay for, and throw your body on the machine. Some of you will die, but it will be better for you. Trust me. But I will not throw my body on the war machine.

I will not throw my body on the war machine of which the war machine that is oppressing you is a cog. I have nothing to do with that war-machine.” The affirmation that non-violence is better than violence is one of faith rather than history. As should be clear from the lofty, maybe slightly ridiculous tone of the paragraphs above—more theological and ethereal than analytical—what we are dealing with here is a form of atheistic religion. The core doctrine is that non-violence by itself will lead to a better world than this one. At the very least, anyone preaching such a radical creed needs to practice it first.

To that end, the notion that “we” are practicing non-violence when “we” partake of non-violent resistance is unacceptable. Our tax dollars and our passive acquiescence, our quiescence, or quietude, our muted fury—all of this creates complicity in violence, and there is something hypocritical in advocating non-violence while we do not, at least episodically, throw ourselves on the machine that churns out Palestinian and Iraqi and Afghan and African bodies. Violence suffuses our societies, and the privilege we have to write and speak about non-violence is a privilege that is the heritage of historical violence. Let us look at the podium from which our voices and “values” sound out. It is made of bodies, and they are mostly brown.

Moving on from mostly abstract, normative questions, there is a serious tactical discussion to be had on the left: how to resist an army that has abandoned its morality? There is no evidence that militant non-violence can work against a military apparatus that has regressed to bestiality, the blood-and-soil worship of classical fascism, an element of genocidal ideology, as Ben Kiernan has pointed out. There is institution-building that is being done. People work hard to create parallel media apparatuses that can seriously contend with the narratives power produces. People work hard to use what resources they have to send ships to end this blockade, to seriously jam up the siege engines, and build up a critical mass to end the occupation and end Zionism. We Westerners, we white people, we affluent Jews, have the power and privilege to do this in a non-violent way, in our own societies, because of the legacy bequeathed to us by systems of violence and their ideological stabilizers—racism, colonialism, imperialism, capitalism.

We seek state support for our goals—a Turkish naval escort, or EU putting pressure on Israel to lift the siege—and what is a state but an instrument created by and dispensing violence? If we want to create a new world relatively unscathed by the scar tissue left behind by violence, at the very least, we can stop inflicting the damage that will leave those scars. Then let’s talk about violence and non-violence, and practice non-violence when we can and violence when we must.

Those advocating non-violence write at a considerable remove from this history.

There’s a kind of psychotropic quality to that sort of writing, as though the conflict plays out in the realm of ideas and not in the realm of history, as though we can will history into being discursively, as though the memory of trauma is irrelevant to the prospects for popular mobilization, although James Scott calls the memory of oppression the central factor preventing further mobilization. The Palestinian 1st Intifada produced a thousand dead, over 100,000 injured and jailed.

Overwhelmingly non-violent, Palestinians paid a remarkable price for their pacific resistance. Those who write on Palestinian non-violence, who write on Palestinians generally, generally ignore that uprising. The world ignored that uprising while it was going on. If Palestinian non-violence could “work” in an abstract trans-historical sense, where is the Palestinian state? Was it Palestinian laziness for not persevering in Intifada for another couple years to really thoroughly gum up the machinery of occupation? Nearly every Gazan I speak to thinks the buffer zone marches are amazing (on the basis of no successes whatsoever, I should add). They are terrified of participating.

They don’t want to die. Historical sociologists acknowledge that you can’t simply re-write or postulate the course of history according to fantastical what-ifs except as an impotent—and in this context, delirious—mind-puzzle, that there are structural constraints to agency. 

Bromwich, writing as though he is innocent of a literature discussing the occupation, the blockade, the way they are ideologically stabilized in the West, representations of Palestine and of Muslims, of Palestinian resistance, and of non-state violence, goes on to assert: “In Israel today, the story is that the blockade and the occupation are necessary because without them the Palestinians would subject Israel to an ungoverned series of terrorist attacks. Does terrorism or non-violent resistance seem a likelier method for disproving that assumption?”

But who assumes this? Israeli leaders? No, they know the truth: that the blockade is meant to unseat the elected Hamas government and that the occupation is meant to destroy Palestinian nationalism. The Israeli populace? It generally accepts the moral soundness of Zionism, an ideological conditioning that overrides or readily accommodates the real reasons behind the blockade and the occupation, and will itself not shatter easily. The American public? Since when do we contribute to policymaking, and since when is Palestinian non-violent resistance adequately reported here?

Bromwich proceeds to create a set, “terrorism” vs. “non-violent resistance,” that erases the right—the transcendental right—to armed resistance. If there is no right to armed resistance, the Palestinians may not ethically use violence. But what it is that Palestinians may not use is likewise obscure, because Bromwich dodges the problematic of conceptualizing or defining “violence.” Understandably. He will find doing so quite hard. Do Palestinians have the international-law-sanctioned right to resist?

If not, why not? And what is a sound tactical and mediatic strategy for highlighting Palestinian non-violence so as to recode the symbolic structure of the conflict? Those advocating non-violence don’t have much of an answer for that.

It’s a problem. Probably most writing on Palestinian issues, even from a sympathetic perspective, don’t know that huge numbers of Gazans engage in non-violent marches, or that someone named Ahmed Salem Deeb died in one. This is not their fault. The US press doesn’t report non-violent resistance in Gaza. The mainstream presses in fact refuse to report that non-violence, since we inform them of that resistance every time it occurs.

How is Palestinian non-violence in Gaza supposed to proceed when the foreign press ignores it and the IDF has no interaction with the protesters? Even were the foreign press to pay attention, inevitably some boys would throw stones, and the Israeli and American press would assert that such stone-chunking was “violent,” thereby contaminating Palestinian satyagraha-or-whatever. The problem isn’t the Palestinians. It’s our press. It’s us. Palestinians have conceded the anti-colonial struggle that the Algerians undertook 50 years ago.

They conceded 78 percent of their land in 1988, and courageously conceded terror even as Israel reserved the right to destroy their population centers. Who are we to demand more and more and more concessions? We are no one. They will determine their goals and strategies, not us.

Maybe I will try another example. Presumably those who might advocate non-violence for Palestinians also cherish the heroism of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Those Polish Jews fought desperately, bereft of much solidarity except a bit from the external resistance, which didn’t dare to offer its counsel. Through their resistance, little happened to the mindsets of the surrounding Polish population. Survival rates for the partisans in the ghetto were, however, amazing.

Would King or Gandhi have suggested non-violence? How appropriate is it, anyway, to excise the texts of King and Gandhi from their historical contexts and treat their works as scripture? Was it violence when in Warsaw those who knew death was imminent committed suicide? Is “violence” the use of force to kill, the use of force in self-defense, the use of force against an enemy? Is the violence of those incinerating Nazi soldiers—or fending off an occupying army—condemnable on principle? Is it “non-violent” to refuse to use violence when that refusal’s immediate effect will be someone’s death? Is it possible that “violent” and “non-violent” aren’t much more than mercurial proxies for value judgments, that perpetually end up working to the detriment of the global South, to the purpose of securing the privilege of the global North?

The Palestinian plight is not academic. Israel has the moral and physical capacity to destroy the territorial basis of Palestinian nationalism. Palestinians are fighting for their lives, and to those who assert the feebleness of non-violence or the impotence of violence, there is a simple response: the Palestinians are still there; they have not won, and they have not lost. As far as I know no one has tried to write out the tally showing which increment of their current status is due to the gun, and which to sumoud.

Now may be a moment to focus on non-violence, a non-violence in part meant to appeal to a violent world. Anyway, I am not sure at all, and they shouldn’t and don’t listen to me—correctly. Most importantly: the notion of implementing “transfer” is perpetually prepared for deployment from the Zionist armory. If what it takes to stave off politicide are Hamas rockets capable of incinerating Merkavas, yallah. And if what it takes to stave off politicide are Hamas rockets capable of attacking Israeli population centers, then before clamoring to join the Western lynch mob of moral judgment, we should acknowledge that when you put a people in hell, they will learn from their surroundings. And then we should acknowledge that we have put them in hell.

That is if we are feeling sententious or self-pitying. There are other options. Western writers live amidst the center of this world’s power. Bromwich and I inhabit the center of that center. We non-violently could stop the Israeli war machine dead, and our non-violence in Western societies would I suspect be met with far less violence than the militant pacifism of those on the outskirts of the empire—especially because all we would be challenging would be a satrap of the empire, and not its core. Instead of seeking to direct the Palestinian struggle, here’s something to make it easier: make the costs of Zionism intolerable to our thug government.

Most of us are not up for it. We have more important things to do. We take breaks from our work secure in the safety of structural barriers created and maintained by violence to lecture a struggling people on the immorality of their resistance to the violence we produce that permeates their lives. We refuse to seriously look at the horrible efficacy of some—not all—of the counter-violence, the tragic and inevitable result of a people being backed into a corner (Yes, Hezbollah and Hamas rocketry have bought Lebanese and Palestinians breathing space, and uttering this truth does not necessitate moral or ethical judgment).

Gandhi would have reluctantly approved. We accede to terror daily, but reserve the epithet “terror” for the desperate acts of those we put through hell. How dare we.

When will Schumer and Engel decry this racism?

Posted: 19 Jun 2010

The Times runs an AP report that tens of thousands of religious Jews staged a protest in Jerusalem over the court-ordered integration of religious schools, including schools on colonized land. This story feels like Little Rock, 60 years later, and with Palestinians having no rights at all:

Parents of European, or Ashkenazi, descent at a girls’ school in the West Bank settlement of Emanuel don’t want their daughters to study with schoolgirls of Mideast and North African descent, known as Sephardim.

The Ashkenazi parents insist they aren’t racist, but want to keep the classrooms segregated, as they have been for years, arguing that the families of the Sephardi girls aren’t religious enough.

See: www.mondoweiss.net

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The Zionism is sick department

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

This is the state of public Zionism. J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami and Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg talk in New York this week and fear the “demographic challenge” to the Jewish state. Yes, polite language for Palestinians campaigning for one person, one vote.

On the more paranoid side, the Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick says that America has abandoned Israel and joined the side of terrorists:

Led by US President Barack Obama, the West has cast its lot with Hamas. It is not surprising that Obama is siding with Hamas. His close associates are leading members of the pro-Hamas Free Gaza outfit.

Hizbollah being part of the furniture

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

The new law of the Middle East; the harder you’re hit by Israel the more popular and resilient you’ll become:

Hezbollah has opened its first permanent museum atop a wooded hill here that was strategic territory in a 2006 war with Israel, the latest step in the group’s evolution from a band of militants to an established political force in Lebanon.

Since its birth in 1982 as an Islamic militia fighting Israel’s invasion of the country, Hezbollah has transformed itself into a powerful military, political and social organization. It controls a large swath of southern Lebanon, much of the Bekaa Valley and the southern suburbs of Beirut.

Now, in addition to significant political leverage, Hezbollah also has a sprawling 15-acre, $4 million tourism complex. Hezbollah opened the park in late May, marking the 10th anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon.

A walking trek called “the Path” is the centerpiece, winding along a what was once Hezbollah’s front line against Israel during the occupation. It is peppered with artillery shells of various sizes, along with mockups with mannequin Hezbollah fighters crouched, glaring out through the brush, or receiving medical treatment.

From inside a 600-foot-long tunnel, visitors can peer through glass at some of Hezbollah’s former underground hideouts. The fortifications were closely guarded secrets until recently, and key to some of Hezbollah’s recent operations, including its fight with Israel in a brief 2006 war along the southern border.

To manage the new museum and other planned sites, Hezbollah is creating its own museum department, adding to its other divisions, which include radio and TV stations.

“It shows that the resistance is more stable,” said Muhammad Kawtharani, director of Hezbollah’s arts foundation and a spokesman for the Mlita museum project. “You’re seeing a secret that is a secret no more.”

Help, we’re drowning here in Obama hatred

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

Yiron Festinger, in Israel’s major paper Yediot, offers some increasingly comical Israel Derangement Syndrome:

Prime Minister Netanyahu should not be envied over the challenge posed by the most hostile president in US history; a president who makes the anti-Semite Jimmy Carter look like a Righteous Gentile. However, we should be calling a spade a spade and informing the public of the truth, even if this truth is disturbing, painful, and bitter. We must make it clear to our many supporters in the US that this president, by viewing America and its ally Israel as the reason for all the world’s problems, threatens our very existence here.

Gaza siege continues

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

Such generosity to get the world off Israel’s back. It may work but it shouldn’t. Note what is now being allowed into Gaza. Take towels, that massive security threat. Collective punishment with Western support:

Israel’s security cabinet voted Thursday to ease its land blockade of the Gaza Strip, following its deadly raid on a humanitarian aid flotilla bound for the Hamas-ruled territory.

“It was agreed to liberalize the system by which civilian goods enter Gaza [and] expand the inflow of materials for civilian projects that are under international supervision,” the government said in a statement after the meeting.

The new Israeli-approved product list included all food items, toys, stationery, kitchen utensils, mattresses and towels, said Raed Fattouh, the Palestinian coordinator of supplies to the enclave.

The decision does not affect Israel’s sea blockade of the coastal strip or its ban on the private import of building materials, vital to widescale reconstruction after the December 2008-January 2009 war in the Gaza Strip. Hamas called the Israeli measures “media propaganda”.

Lebanon may soon treat Palestinians with respect

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

The Arab world has tolerated Palestinian refugees for decades but often treated them with contempt; this must change and soon. Here’s a possible shift:

Despite some contentious rhetoric in Parliament on Tuesday, a turning point appears to have arrived in a decades-long battle to secure sufficient political backing to approve key civil rights for Palestinians here, a number of officials and analysts told The Daily Star on Wednesday.

Parliament on Tuesday debated bills that would allow Palestinians to own property, get work permits in any profession and receive social-security payments; deputies decided to send the draft laws to a committee for further discussion, but MPs from across the political spectrum expressed their support for Palestinians’ human rights, although some Christian legislators warned against the naturalization of the refugees.

In spite of the undying bogeyman of naturalization fears, Parliament will likely soon ratify an expansion of Palestinians’ civil rights, said Hilal Khashan, who teaches political studies at the American University of Beirut and is of Palestinian descent.

“We’re witnessing a period where a breakthrough is in the making,” he said. “The time has arrived now for such an action. They might water it down, but the momentum is there.”

Zionist exclusion

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

The Middle East’s only democracy“:

Ultra-Orthodox Jews have called mass demonstrations to protest a Supreme Court ruling forcing the integration of a religious girls’ school.

Parents of European, or Ashkenazi, descent don’t want their children studying with schoolgirls of Mideast and North African descent, known as Sephardim.

The Ashkenazi parents insist they aren’t racist. They say they want the classrooms segregated because the families of the Sephardim girls aren’t religious enough.

Parents who defy the ruling are to be imprisoned Thursday for two weeks for contempt of court.

Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews are expected to attend protests in various places across the country. Police say thousands of officers are being deployed to secure the demonstrations.

The day we’ll see an Israeli leader in the dock

Posted: 16 Jun 2010

A surprising result in the US and one that should be welcomed. For too long, Western leaders have enjoyed impunity simply because of their birthplace or connections. Let justice be served:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, not  all former foreign officials living in the United States can claim immunity from prosecution in U.S. Courts.  Its decision could have an immediate impact on Israelis.

‘Sovereign immunity’ offers states protection from lawsuits in another country’s courts, based on the principle that disputes between nations should be resolved by diplomacy, not litigation.

Victims of the Somali regime recently filed a civil lawsuit against Mohamed Ali Samantar, who 20 years ago, had served as Somalia’s prime minister, vice president, and defense minister.

The plaintiffs claimed that Samantar had been responsible for their torture, as well as other human rights violations. Their allegations included torture during interrogations, imprisonment for years without trial and rape by their prison guards. They based their suit on federal laws aimed at protecting foreign torture victims, allowing foreign citizens to claim for damages in American courts.

In his defense, Samantar claimed that as he was a minister in Somalia’s cabinet at the time of the alleged crimes, he was immune from civil lawsuits in the U.S. A district federal court upheld his argument, and the suit was thrown out.

The plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act did not apply to specific foreign government officials, effectively revoking Samantar’s immunity.

The former Somali PM was then granted a rare second appeal from the Supreme Court, questioning whether or not the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act could in fact be applied to individual officials.

But the Supreme Court effectively rejected Samantar’s claims, leaving only a narrow opportunity to gain immunity nonetheless. From the ruling’s wording, it seems the court did not feel that this loophole would benefit Samantar’s cause.

In recent years there have been two failed attempts to prosecute Israeli officials in the U.S. In 2007, Palestinians filed a lawsuit against former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter, claiming he was responsible for the deaths of their relatives after an Israeli plane dropped a one-ton bomb on their Gaza home. A  federal court said  Dichter had functioned within his official duties, ruling him immune.

Another 2007 lawsuit accused former Israel Defense Forces chief Moshe Ya’alon of war crimes over the 1996 bombing of a United Nations camp in the Lebanese town of Kfar Kana, in which a number of civilians wer killed. But Ya’alon too was ruled immune from litigation, with appeals at federal level also rejected.

This week’s ruling could now result in a wave of lawsuits against foreign officials. So far, 36 separate civilians lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. against various foreign officials, all of which were denied. The list of counties whose officials had been prosecuted includes Israel, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Jordan, Japan, and France.

Israeli officials could conceivably defend themselves from civil lawsuits in the U.S. by claiming their actions should be considered an “act of state” – a defense relying on the principle that each country may handle affairs within its jurisdiction without intervention from foreign states.

The problem with this line of defense is that as opposed to relying on the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, the claim of a “state act” recognizes the court’s authority while seeking protection regarding a specific claim. The risk of that is that senior officials would have to explain their motivation for their actions to the court.

Dreaming of a one-state possibility

Posted: 16 Jun 2010

What would a single state look like in Israel/Palestine?

Turning off the web

Posted: 16 Jun 2010

As we learn that the Australian government is trying to force web companies to store the history of internet users, America is considering going down a path that is almost inevitable. Being able to harness the internet, a medium that loves to give the finger to regulation (hello Wikileaks), frustrates those who want to control information:

A new US Senate Bill would grant the President far-reaching emergency powers to seize control of, or even shut down, portions of the internet.

The legislation says that companies such as broadband providers, search engines or software firms that the US Government selects “shall immediately comply with any emergency measure or action developed” by the Department of Homeland Security. Anyone failing to comply would be fined.

That emergency authority would allow the Federal Government to “preserve those networks and assets and our country and protect our people,” Joe Lieberman, the primary sponsor of the measure and the chairman of the Homeland Security committee, told reporters on Thursday. Lieberman is an independent senator from Connecticut who meets with the Democrats.

Due to there being few limits on the US President’s emergency power, which can be renewed indefinitely, the densely worded 197-page Bill (PDF) is likely to encounter stiff opposition.

TechAmerica, probably the largest US technology lobby group, said it was concerned about “unintended consequences that would result from the legislation’s regulatory approach” and “the potential for absolute power”. And the Center for Democracy and Technology publicly worried that the Lieberman Bill’s emergency powers “include authority to shut down or limit internet traffic on private systems.”

The idea of an internet “kill switch” that the President could flip is not new. A draft Senate proposal that ZDNet Australia’s sister site CNET obtained in August allowed the White House to “declare a cybersecurity emergency”, and another from Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) would have explicitly given the government the power to “order the disconnection” of certain networks or websites.

On Thursday, both senators lauded Lieberman’s Bill, which is formally titled Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, or PCNAA. Rockefeller said “I commend” the drafters of the PCNAA. Collins went further, signing up at a co-sponsor and saying at a press conference that “we cannot afford to wait for a cyber 9/11 before our government realises the importance of protecting our cyber resources”.

The Gulf of Mexico isn’t for public eyes

Posted: 16 Jun 2010

Here’s the future. A disaster happens. Public scrutiny is essential. Media must be allowed in. But who is really colluding here?

BP, in a move destined to go down as one of the bestest public relations moves ever, has apparently hired a private security company to help to keep pesky reporters from covering the unfolding catastrophe on the beaches of the Gulf Coast. The report comes via New Orleans’ 6WDSU reporter Scott Walker, who last week ran into representatives of a “Talon Security” trying to block him from interviewing cleanup workers on a local beach. Just which of the various companies named “Talon Security” is storming the (public) beaches for BP, however, remains unclear.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time a private security firm made an appearance in a Gulf disaster. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the Department of Homeland Security and a number of private firms, fearful of reported widespread violence and chaos, turned to private security contractors like Blackwater and ArmorGroup International to protect their property.

So take heart, Blackwater. BP may have opted rent the services of a rival instead of purchasing you wholesale, but disasters are fairly regular occurrences and there seems to be no shortage of companies willing to make ill-considered PR moves in their midst.

See: www.antonyloewenstein.com

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A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS


Some UN home truths

Posted: 18 Jun 2010

Ali Abunimah:

If the UN Security Council decided the outcome of the World Cup, USA and Israel would be the greatest football nations.

Elton John has lovely friends (who seem to hate gay people)

Posted: 18 Jun 2010

There has been massive pressure on Elton John to not play in Israel. Alas, he ignored those calls, saluted his fans in Tel Aviv…and then it emerged he recently accepted $1 million to play at Rush Limbaugh’s 4th wedding. A classy man:

Another week, another provocative concert by Elton John. Fresh off a gig as Rush Limbaugh’s wedding singer, the British icon performed Thursday in Tel Aviv, despite pressure from human rights groups and fellow artists to boycott Israel following the flotilla debacle off the coast of Gaza.

“Shalom, we are so happy to be back here! Ain’t nothing gonna stop us from coming, baby,” John said with a fist in the air.  

The piano man then took a swipe at those artists, including Elvis Costello, Santana, the Pixies and Devendra Banhart, who have bailed on concerts in recent weeks.

“Musicians spread love and peace, and bring people together. That’s what we do,” he said. “We don’t cherry-pick our conscience.”
Costello specifically called his decision to cancel a June 30 show a “matter of instinct and conscience.”

The Jerusalem Post said John then “turned into a human jukebox for two-and-a-half hours,” mixing old and new favorites spanning his four decade career. Songs played included ‘Levon,’ Rocket Man’ and more obscure hits like ‘Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters’ and ‘Captain Fantastic.’

An estimated 50,000 fans crammed into Ramat Gan stadium in Tel Aviv.

John recently caused a stir when he played a secret show at Limbaugh’s June 5 wedding. The gay icon caught some flack for the performance, which netted him a reported $1 million paycheck from the radio commentator, who strongly opposes gay marriage and has a history of negative comments about homosexuality.

“It betrays either ignorance or self-interest or both, and jeopardizes his admirable record on gay rights,” Aaron Hicklin, Editor-in-Chief of Out, told PopEater at the time.

John’s longtime partner, David Furnish, said the singer was “a little surprised” to get the invitation, but accepted the job after deciding “Life is about building bridges, not walls.”

The singer said Limbaugh and his bride, Kathryn Rogers, “were incredibly gracious and very welcoming and very sweet and very appreciative.”

The “war on terror” debases us all

Posted: 18 Jun 2010

Guess which war criminal said this?

It is understood by all that we carried out this great humanitarian operation only to eliminate terrorism. We left no room for even one bullet to be fired against ordinary citizens. Our armed forces comprise those who went into battle carrying a gun in one hand, the declaration of human rights the other, as well as taking food for the liberated people of the north and full of human kindness in their hearts.

Sri Lankan President? Israeli Prime Minister? George W. Bush?

News Limited would never smear an innocent man

Posted: 18 Jun 2010

Rupert Murdoch, a media man with lashings of journalistic principles:

A doctor accepted “substantial” libel damages at the high court today over false allegations in the Sun linking him to terrorism.

Dr Mohammed Asha, who is based in the Midlands, launched legal action after the Sun carried a front page article last August under the heading “Terror case doc works in casualty”.

Leo Dawkins, the solicitor representing Dr Asha, told Mr Justice Eady in the high court in London today that the allegations were that “there were very strong grounds to suspect that the claimant would be involved in the future in terrorist bomb plots and was, therefore, an ongoing threat to national security”.

He added: “There is no truth in these allegations whatsoever. The article complained of was published to millions of people and has been devastating for the claimant, causing him immense damage both personally and professionally.”

Dawkins said the defendant, News Group Newspapers, the News International subsidiary that publishes the Sun, “accepted that the allegations complained of were entirely false and without foundation”.

There is no real opposition in Israel

Posted: 18 Jun 2010

The Washington Post, when reporting on Israel’s non-lifting of the Gaza siege, calls the major opposition Kadima party “centrist”. Lawmaker Yoel Hasson offers a view that shows how extreme the country has become:

The easing of the closure is a victory for terror. Netanyahu’s campaign slogan of ‘strong against Hamas’ today became empty words. The absence of a clear diplomatic strategy is leading Israel to international isolation while ending Hamas’s isolation.

The power of endurance in Burma

Posted: 18 Jun 2010

We will not forget:

As Aung San Suu Kyi prepares to celebrate her 65th birthday tomorrow, confined in the house in which she has spent most of the past two decades, a confidante of the Burmese opposition leader has made a simple but passionate appeal to those in the West to use their freedom to help his country achieve the same.

In a hand-written letter smuggled out of Burma and passed to The Independent, U Win Tin writes: “I want to repeat and echo her own words – ‘please use your liberty to promote ours’. I want to add more to it. Please bring more and more liberty to us, to our country, Burma. We are starving for it and we are waiting for someone or some institutions or some countries to bring it to us.”

The plea from Ms Suu Kyi’s friend and senior political ally, who himself spent almost 20 years in solitary confinement, comes at a desperately difficult time for the opponents of Burma’s military junta.

Memo to Australian TV: Tony Blair is loathed everywhere

Posted: 18 Jun 2010

The Independent editorialises with appropriate contempt for a man Australian television still regards with respect:

Tony Blair… whose period as Quartet envoy has been notable for its failure to achieve anything of real substance, especially regarding Gaza.

Answering 20 questions for New Matilda

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

Here it is:

Antony Loewenstein has been writing for newmatilda.com about the Middle East since the beginning. He lobs 20 Questions back our way

Antony Loewenstein started writing for newmatilda.com pretty much at the beginning and has been a regular contributor on the Middle East since. His articles, particularly on Israel-Palestine, have provoked heated debate on the site. We’re proud to have been able to give coverage to perspectives on the Middle East which have been largely neglected in other Australian media outlets. Antony writes, “various editors over the years have provided a supportive and nourishing relationship. I’ve deeply admired the publication’s interest in asking important questions over Israeli crimes in Palestine and stood firm in the face of predictable Zionist attacks. If only more media outlets believed in truth, not appeasing Jewish lobby groups.”
1. Who is your favourite newmatilda.com writer?
Mustafa Qadri, because he’s in the field, he knows Pakistan and the Middle East very well and he refuses to simply reprint government spin. A good journalist, in other words.

2. What’s your favourite newmatilda.com article?
Too many to count, but this recent
interview with William Dalrymple, by Shakira Hussein, really stimulated. He’s a fascinating man, Western but curious, questioning and pro-Palestinian.

3. When did you first start reading newmatilda.com?
From day one: in the days before Twitter, Facebook and the birthpangs of YouTube.

4. Were you surprised when you heard the news?
Saddened, yes, but not shocked. I’ve long believed that news should always be free, to give as greater access as possible, but as a journalist and author I also want to get paid to sustain my caviar addiction.

5. Fill in the blank in this sentence: “I’m sad that newmatilda.com has hit the skids because their articles occasionally stuck it to the ___ and those people give me the creeps.”
Pompous and conflicted commentators who think they own the media space.

6. What was the newmatilda.com headline you always wanted to read but never happened?
One Man’s Freedom Fighter Is Never A Terrorist.

7. Do you subscribe to any on-line content? What? Why, or why not?
Crikey, Democracy Now! and many others. Good content takes time and resources and somebody has to pay. Rupert shouldn’t be the only benefactor.

8. If you could pick one public figure to deliver live commentary on Election Night, who would it be?
David Marr, who’d bring wit and insight.

9. Name your favourite lovable loon and rate their threat to public safety.
American politician Ron Paul, who for all that he holds some less than savoury views on race, actually wants to disentangle America from permanent occupation of the Middle East. Threat to public safety? His son is a Tea Party politician with a bright future. Beware.

10. Do you have any secret political crushes you’d like to share with our readers?
Apart from the obvious Kate Ellis (oh so predictable, I know), I respectfully decline to discuss my feelings towards Bronwyn Bishop.

11. Favourite retired Australian politician.
I wish Paul Keating would remain out of the public spotlight until he asks for forgiveness over his incestuous relationship with Suharto. It’ll never happen.

12. What do you see as the most important issue in the upcoming federal election campaign?
Australian foreign policy and our need to follow Washington’s lead on pretty much everything. Let’s discuss the US alliance, the why, how and why not.

13. What subject should be compulsory in primary schools?
The history of the Middle East.

14.What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to know about Australian politics but were afraid to ask?
Why most politicians are so willing to follow party lines on key policy issues.

15. When was the first time you changed your mind on something important?
Started to understand the need to eat less meat and appreciate the pain suffered by animals for my enjoyment.

16. What annoys you about journalists?
That most corporate journalists seem themselves as players, not reporters. Want to be close to power not seriously challenge it. Like to receive sanctioned “leaks” and not spend the time actually digging deeply. Afraid to offend powerful interests.

17. What politician and journalist combination would you like to see stuck in a lift recording a long interview?
Tony Abbott with a Palestinian journalist asking why he believes the Jewish state should be allowed to bomb refugee camps and occupy another people for decades.

18. What’s the one question you’d like both Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott to answer?
Wouldn’t you use a people smuggler if your life was in danger in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran or Iraq?

19. Is the Australian media getting better, worse, or staying the same?
More diverse in a way but overall less questioning of establishment power. And why aren’t there far more reporters of ethnic background? Fewer white Anglos, please.

20. What question would you like to ask us?
Will you miss being abused in Parliament by the Federal Member for Israel, Michael Danby?

Here are your Tel Aviv friendly talking points on Gaza

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

How the Zionist lobby (in this case The Israel Project) tells its little minions to sell Israel (via Richard Silverstein):

Subject: In the “messages that fail” department, please see this…
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2010 13:36:40 -0400
From: Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
To: Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi

As to research on saying that there isn’t a “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza and that no one is starving, we will have that on what Luntz and Greenberg are testing next week. But you don’t need that data to know it is a complete dead-end of a message. Reporters and leaders all over Washington are complaining about this and some say they see Israel and cold and heard hearted.  Given that 6 more flotillas are headed to Israel (including one of Jews from Germany and one of Jews from the UK) we need to make sure we understand this well.

Watch this from Jon Stewart. Watch to the end and listen to how they react to when Krauthammer uses the message…ouch!

http://vimeo.com/12350665

Clearly we need to be saying that “While no one is starving in Gaza because Israel delivers so much aid, there IS suffering in Gaza. We want the suffering to stop. That is why Iran-backed Hamas must stop using supplies for rockets and Hamas must release Gilad Shalit. Hamas must be accountable for their actions and for the suffering they are causing their OWN people.”

On a good note, the topic in the US tonight will shift to energy. Alternative energy is obviously a great topic for Israel as Israel has much to say that could help on this.

Thanks!

Jennifer

See: www.antonyloewenstein.com

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Over the last ~17 months I’ve written over 300 posts, a few of them a quick effort of 20 minutes, most of them more, some of them a lot more. That’s at a conservative guess 700 hours of work. Now you’re getting live reports from the front lines of a war-zone in the Gaza Strip: from non-violent demonstrations which the world’s media is ignoring, from daily life here. You’ll be getting more of it in the coming months as I write up field-notes and diary entries.

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ZIONIST CHILDRENS & M16 ASSAULT RIFLE

NOVANEWS

At ‘Police Day,’ first-graders get to play with real rifles and machine guns

The children shot paintball guns, looked at weapons and got a soaking from a police riot-dispersal water cannon.

By Or Kashti

Parents in the Kadima-Tzoran Local Council on Wednesday slammed the decision by two elementary schools to focus on crowd-control operations at a “Community and Police” day earlier this week. The children shot paintball guns, looked at weapons and got a soaking from a police riot-dispersal water cannon.

“An educational institution should educate for civic values and independent thought, not admiration for force,” said Amit Sharon, whose daughter attends one of the schools. Border Police spokesman Chief Superintendent Moshe Fintzy said the program was authorized and coordinated with the Education Ministry. “We’re not like Hezbollah, which train kids to commit suicide,” he said.

Police units often hold community days in schools, including elementary school, but education officials say they usually focus on issues such as drugs, alcohol, or animal abuse. But the activity in the Yuvalim and Lev-Ran schools was focused mostly on breaking up protests.

The children were divided into two groups for the activities, one for first, second and third-graders and one for children in the fourth to sixth grades. The older ones shot paintball guns, among other activities. Other activities included demonstrations of mounted Border Police officers and the police canine unit.

The children saw how police officers monitor demonstrations and watched as a robot disarmed a bomb. Parents reported that as well as looking at weapons, children handled an M16 assault rifle, a machine gun and a pistol. The children were instructed to wash their clothes separately after getting sprayed with water mixed with noxious-smelling liquids, used to disperse crowds.

“My third-grade daughter now knows the weight of an M16 rifle,” said Sharon. “That’s not part of the knowledge I want a school to impart to children. I’m bothered by this introduction of militaristic materials. Instead of the school educating children to question and for critical thought, it delivers a pretty bland message about learning how to hold a weapon.”

“The school hosted Border Police exhibitions before, but they were much more ‘vegetarian,'” another parent said. “I don’t think kids that young should be exposed to weapons. This really crosses the line.”

He noted that although the children understood that all the weapons were used for dispersing demonstrations, there were no explanations about why people held protests or when they might need to be dispersed. “As far as they know now, all protests need to be disbanded by any means necessary. That’s hardly education for democracy,” he said.

But not all parents were opposed. Dudi Holtzman, whose daughters attend Yuvalim, said the children were very impressed by the demonstrations, “especially by the dogs that attacked and stopped someone on command. I don’t understand their complaints – there’s nothing wrong with demonstrating Border Police activities. It’s part of the reality of life here. The kids’ tender souls weren’t hurt,” he said.

“Sometimes I’m amazed by how anti-Israeli, antiestablishment and anti-police people can get,” Fintzy said. “The purpose of community days is to bring kids closer to police, to show them the policeman is a positive figure.”

Hagit Gur-Ziv, who teaches at the Kibbutzim College of Education, told Haaretz that while there was nothing wrong about police officers explaining the work of the police, “there’s no justification for exposing first-graders to weapons and crowd control gear. No principal would let a kid bring a paintball gun to school, yet letting him handle an M16 seems to be okay,” Gur-Ziv said.

The Education Ministry said in a response that the schools had “adopted” the Border Police. The activities were preceded by a lecture from the local community policing officer. “In the wake of questions from parents, the principals will reexamine the level of realism in the unit’s demonstrations,” the statement said.

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