Archive | June 30th, 2010

A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS


Palestinian “leader” begs Zionists to be nice

 30 Jun 2010

The delusion of the colonised. Please sir – the ones who have spent their entire lives demonising, killing and occupying us – please treat my people well. God help the Palestinians under Mahmoud Abbas:

The Palestinians have long feared the Jewish lobby in Washington. Now, they are embracing it.

During a swing through the U.S. capital this month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was the guest of honor at a dinner with a small but influential gathering of more than 30 Jewish American leaders and political heavyweights. In what participants on both sides have described as a highly successful meeting, Abbas patiently fielded questions for more than 90 minutes, discussing such touchy topics as Mideast peace talks, anti-Israeli incitement in the Palestinian media, violence and terrorism and the Holocaust.

It was a dramatic departure for the Palestinians, who have traditionally viewed the American Jewish leadership with a mixture of awe, animosity and envy for its political skills and influence over what is seen as a pro-Israel U.S. policy.

Palestinian officials say it was the first time Abbas has met with such a large and diverse group of Jewish leaders, and reflected a realization that courting American Jews could benefit the Palestinians.

“I think it’s a mistake to ignore these institutions and communities by saying that they are against us, and that we should not talk to them,” Abbas told The Associated Press. “No, we should sit with them, and we should try to convince them by talking to them.”

 

Neo-cons dare to speak about failed states

 30 Jun 2010

There is something pretty wrong about framing countries as “failed states” and ripe for photo shoots, but that’s what Foreign Policy has done. Places like Somalia, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan are on the list and it seems that the magazine has taken a perverse pleasure in doing so.

And what kind of credibility does a publication have when it asks Paul Wolfowitz, a key architect of the Iraq war, to comment? Are we supposed to take his thoughts seriously?

 

Israeli hack talks of Iranian armageddon

 30 Jun 2010

What’s the role of the corporate media? To provide a space for Zionist propagandists to spread lies about the “threats” in the region:

In an interview in his office Tuesday, Israel’s ambassador to the United States warned that Iran might unleash a wave of terrorist violence in the Middle East in retaliation for the tough new sanctions that passed the U.S. Congress last week.

“What better way to divert attention from a sanctions regime than by starting another Middle East war?” the ambassador, historian and author Michael Oren, asked. Iran might respond to severe restrictions on its ability to buy gasoline and finance its state-owned companies by returning to the negotiating table, or use its connections to Hezbollah and Hamas to fight back by having those groups attack Israel and perhaps others, Oren said.

“The next step is not to fall into that trap,” Oren said, arguing that the international community shouldn’t be deterred from enforcing the sanctions. The question would then be who can hold out longer, the international community-or the regime in Tehran.

The sanctions might work to convince Iranian leaders to change their calculus over their nuclear program, if the energy measures are enforced, Oren said. The test of whether the sanctions are having an effect will be if the Iranian regime reacts, either by coming back to the negotiating table or waging a proxy war on Israel or the West.

CIA Director Leon Panetta said Sunday that Iran was likely two years away from having a nuclear weapon. Without getting into specifics, Oren said Israeli estimates “dovetail” with U.S. intelligence conclusions, but that Israel believes that Iran has made the decision to weaponize nuclear material, while U.S. officials have only concluded that Tehran is on that path.

He said he did not believe that the Obama administration was meeting in any way with Hamas, as some in the militant group have reportedly claimed. Oren said that no one should deal with Hamas, which he called a “genocidal, racist organization.”

Iran and Hamas will be near the top of the agenda next week when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes to Washington. On July 6, Netanyahu will meet with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Defense Secretary Robert GatesHillary Clinton will still be on her Europe trip. before moving on to New York. Secretary of State

One key aim of the short visit will be to show that the U.S.-Israel relationship is healthy and that the White House isn’t avoiding a public embrace of the Israeli government.

“There will be a big public component of this trip that will remove any perception of snubbery,” Oren said. “There’s going to be a lot of photographers,” he joked, referring to the fact that at the last Obama-Netanyahu meeting, no pictures were ever taken — and the two leaders’ conversation was widely reported to be tense and unproductive.

A shift, not a rift

Oren also responded to reports that he told a private group that U.S.-Israel relations were “are in a state of tectonic rift in which continents are drifting apart.”

He acknowledged that the U.S. approach to Israel had changed since President Obama took office, but said that it has both positive and negative consequences for an Israel that is adapting to the new atmosphere.

“The Obama administration is not a status-quo administration; it came in with a policy of change,” Oren said. “It’s not headed in a direction of abandonment, it’s a shift and our job is to figure where that shift is going and how to adapt.”

He also predicted that as the Obama administration gets more experience in dealing with Middle East politics, it will slowly but surely come back around to agreeing with more and more of Israel’s positions.

“My working assumption is that any encounter by American policymakers with Middle East realities almost invariably redounds to Israel’s favor,” he said.

Oren pushed back at reports that senior Obama administration officials are all over the map on Israel policy. The conventional wisdom pits National Security Advisor Jim Jones and U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice as advocating a tougher line, while Biden and the National Security Council’s Dennis Ross are said to be more inclined toward the Israeli position. According to Oren, in private communications, the messages are all identical.

Oren’s real worry is not the White House, but Democrats in Congress. “My deep concern is that American support of Israel will become a partisan issue,” he said, referring to a Jan. 26 letter urging Israel to ease the Gaza blockage that was signed by 54 Democrats and zero Republicans.

He also said that statements from Democrats immediately after the flotilla incident were often harsher on Israel than Republican ones.

What’s next for Gaza

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is still seeking further “adjustments” in Israel’s Gaza blockade, Oren said, including opening additional border crossings, giving a greater role to the Palestinian Authority, and adding international observers, perhaps from the European Union.

Israel would love to see more of a Palestinian Authority presence in Gaza, but opening another crossing or adding EU monitors is dangerous, he warned.

“We’ve had EU observers there before. Hamas threatened them, and they ran away,” Oren said. “If you send them to Gaza, they’re likely to get killed.”

Oren said the Gaza blockade was not just vital to Israel’s security, but vital for the pursuit of a two-state solution as well.

“Once you open up the sea lanes to Gaza, that spells the end of the peace process,” he said.

He defended the Israeli-led investigation into the Gaza flotilla incident as a “South Korea-style investigation” on a smaller scale, referring to the international team that, in conjunction with South Korean experts, determined that Pyongyang was responsible for sinking a South Korean naval vessel.

Oren said the Israeli government has no idea if U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will launch or support a new international investigation on top of the Israeli probe. He also said he has never asked, nor has he been told, whether the Obama administration would vigorously oppose such an investigation if and when it surfaces.

“Why make an issue of something that’s not even happening as far as we know?” Oren said, explaining Israeli thinking on the subject. “To the best of our knowledge, the U.S. is saying that our investigation fulfills the request for transparency and international participation.”

 

Can somebody tell them that slamming Islam isn’t great for Zionist spin

 30 Jun 2010

Remember Latma, the Zionist outfit in Israel run by the Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick?

You know the ones. Hating Arabs and Palestinians in particular. Doing wonders for Israeli PR.

They’re back with another tasteful affair:

How close is BP with Obama?

 30 Jun 2010

Dahr Jamail is one of America’s finest independent reporters.

He’s currently investigating the devastating effects of the BP oil spill:

I learn that due to a combination of part of the Mississippi River having been diverted (thus stopping the natural regeneration of land from silt deposits), oyster beds being depleted in the past, oil-production infrastructure causing erosion of wetlands, and now oil from the new disaster destroying marshlands, the Cajun coast is the fastest disappearing landmass on Earth. In fact, every 30-minutes sees an area the size of a football field disappear into the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Sydney Greens forum on Israel/Palestine

 29 Jun 2010

 

The rise and rise and rise of BDS

 29 Jun 2010

The following statement has been released:

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), established in April 2004 by a small group of Palestinian academics and intellectuals and widely supported by leading civil society associations, unions and networks,[1] has not witnessed a sustained surge in cultural boycott of Israel as in the last year and a half, since the Israeli war of aggression on Gaza.

 
 
Today there are campaigns for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel in the US, Britain, France, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Australia, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Norway, among others.

 
 
When artists or arts groups announce plans to perform — or display as the case may be — in Israel, PACBI and its partners around the world appeal directly to these artists, if a direct communication channel avails itself. Otherwise, we issue open letters and network with other groups to apply moral pressure on the artists/bands to convince them to cancel performances and exhibits in Israel.

 
 
Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid cultural boycott, PACBI has relied entirely on moral pressure, appealing to the conscience of the artists in question as well as their fans. When all else fails, supporters do at times organize civil protests at international concerts of artists who adamantly refuse to heed our calls.  Our main argument is that performing in a state that practices occupation, colonization and apartheid, as Israel does, cannot be regarded as a purely artistic act, if any such act exists. Regardless of intentions, such an act is a conscious form of complicity that is manipulated by Israel in its frantic efforts to whitewash its persistent violations of international law and Palestinian rights. This is because artistic performances in Israel promote a “business as usual” attitude that normalizes and sanitizes a state that has committed war crimes over several decades — in Gaza, Jerusalem, the Naqab (Negev), and now in the high seas against international humanitarian relief workers aboard the Freedom Flotilla.

 
 
An artist who performs in Israel today — just like any artist who violated the boycott and performed in Sun City, South Africa, during apartheid — can only be seen by Palestinians and people of conscience around the world as motivated by profit and personal gain far more than by moral principles. We know that Israeli concert promoters offer large sums of money to lure international performers as part of Israel’s “Brand Israel”[2] campaign, designed explicitly to hide Israel’s criminal violations of human rights under a guise of artistic and scientific glamour and a deceptive image of cultural excellence and “liberalism.”

 
 
In 1965, the American Committee on Africa, following the lead of prominent British arts associations, sponsored a historic declaration against South African apartheid, signed by more than 60 cultural personalities. It read: “We say no to apartheid. We take this pledge in solemn resolve to refuse any encouragement of, or indeed, any professional association with the present Republic of South Africa, this until the day when all its people shall equally enjoy the educational and cultural advantages of that rich and beautiful land.”[3] PACBI hopes to achieve the same level of commitment from international artists in isolating apartheid Israel.

 
 
The main impact of the boycott at this stage is to expose Israel as a pariah, to increase its isolation, thus raising the price of its injustices against the Palestinian people and challenging international complicity in perpetuating its occupation and apartheid.
 
In reaction to Israel’s Freedom Flotilla massacre which led to the murder of 9 unarmed Turkish humanitarian relief workers and human rights activists – one with dual Turkish/US citizenship — and to the injury of dozens more from several countries, leading cultural figures and bands reacted swiftly and decisively.

 
 
Endorsing a cultural boycott of Israel, world renowned British writer, Iain Banks, wrote in the Guardian that the best way for international artists, writers and academics to “convince Israel of its moral degradation and ethical isolation” is “simply by having nothing more to do with this outlaw state.”[4] This position by Banks was later endorsed by Stephane Hessel,[5] co-author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Holocaust survivor and former French diplomat.

 
 
Many British literary and academic figures published a letter[6] in the Independent that said, “We … appeal to British writers and scholars to boycott all literary, cultural and academic visits to Israel sponsored by the Israeli government, including those organised by Israeli cultural foundations and universities.”

 
 
Cartoon artist Martin Rowson expressed the shock shared by millions in a cartoon[7] in the Guardian. Rowson depicted intimidating, heavily-armed Israeli commandos commandeering Noah’s ark, incarcerating all the frightened animals, with one of the soldiers cruelly crushing a dead peace dove — olive branch and all — justifying it to a devastated Noah by saying, “[The dove] was clearly intent on pecking innocent civilians.”

 
 
In the world of performing arts, the Klaxons and Gorillaz Sound System cancelled their scheduled concerts in Israel, reportedly due to the Flotilla attack,[8] and so did the Pixies.[9]

 
 
The latest famous performer to cancel a gig in Israel was US folk singer Devendra Banhart. While holding on to the delusional and peculiar concept that a musician can simply “share a human not a political message” even if performing to the oppressor community, as it were, in the context of occupation, apartheid and extreme violations of human rights, Banhart justified his withdrawal by saying that “it seems that we are being used to support views that are not our own.”[10] Israeli media outlets had tried to portray his scheduled gig as a political message in solidarity with Israel at a time of increasing isolation.

 
 
World best-selling writer, the Swedish Henning Mankell, who was on the Freedom Flotilla when attacked, called for South-Africa style global sanctions against Israel in response to its brutality.[11]

 
 
The best-selling US author, Alice Walker, reminded the world of the Rosa Parks-triggered and Martin Luther King-led boycott of a racist bus company in Montgomery, Alabama during the US civil rights movement, calling for wide endorsement of BDS against Israel as a moral duty in solidarity with Palestinians, “to soothe the pain and attend the sorrows of a people wrongly treated for generations.”[12]

 
 
In the weeks before the Flotilla attack, artists of the caliber of Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron and Carlos Santana all cancelled[13] scheduled performances in Israel after receiving appeals from Palestinian and international BDS groups.
 
But even well before the latest Israeli bloodbath, many prominent international cultural figures had heeded or directly supported cultural boycott appeals issued by the PACBI and widely supported by Palestinian civil society. It may be most convenient to break down the various artists/cultural figures’ responses to the PACBI Call into three categories:

 
 
(A) Cultural figures (artists, authors, etc.) who explicitly support the Palestinian cultural boycott of Israel.
 
The statement by 500 Artists against Apartheid in Montreal[14] is the latest, most impressive of these efforts.
 
Earlier, in 2006, the famous British author and artist, John Berger, issued a statement[15] explicitly endorsing the cultural boycott of Israel.  He collected 93 endorsements then on this powerful declaration, including some very prominent writers and artists.

 
 
Other intellectuals and artists in this category who were not on the Berger list include: Ken Loach, Judith Butler, Naomi Klein, The Yes-Men, Sarah Schulman, Aharon Shabtai, Udi Aloni, Adrienne Rich, John Williams (perhaps the greatest classical guitarist alive), and now Iain Banks, Alice Walker, among others.

 
 
(B) Cultural figures who openly refuse to participate in Israel’s official celebrations and festivals for unambiguous political reasons.

 
 
In 2008, countering Israel’s “60th Anniversary” celebrations, PACBI collected tens of signatures of prominent artists and authors for a half-page advertisement[16] that was published in the International Herald Tribune on 8 May that year. The list included luminaries like Mahmoud Darwish, Augusto Boal, Roger Waters, Andre Brink, Vincenzo Consolo, and Nigel Kennedy. Some of the signatories on that ad later adopted the boycott explicitly, moving to Category (A) above.
 
(C) Cultural figures who decline offers to perform/speak in Israel or agree and then cancel without giving any explicit political reasons.

 
 
This category includes: Bono, U2, Bjork, Jean-Luc Godard, Snoop Dogg, and others.
 
PACBI appealed to Bono, for instance, in 2008 and again in 2010, urging him not to perform in Israel. Both times his performances were cancelled, but he never gave a specific reason to the media, other than the regular “scheduling” problem.  PACBI deeply appreciates his decision not to entertain Israeli apartheid.

 
 
Many top artists refuse to perform in Israel from the start.  The Forward, the leading Jewish daily in New York, informs us that at least 15 leading performers actually refused to play Israel, despite lucrative remuneration offers:

 
 
“In reaction, a music industry insider confirmed that the winds could be shifting. The music executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity in light of his ongoing business ties with artists, said that in recent months he had approached more than 15 performing artists with proposals to give concerts in Israel. None had agreed. The contracts offered high levels of compensation. He called them ‘extreme, big numbers that could match any other gig.’”[17]

 
 
Some artists argue that, instead of boycotting, they prefer to visit Israel and use the performance opportunity to express their views against Israeli injustices. This ostensibly noble idea is not only — unfortunately — too rare to be viewed as significant; it is ill conceived. Such a hypothetically courageous stance cannot possibly outdo or neutralize the far more substantial harm done due to these performances taking place, as Israel, with its formidable influence in mainstream Western media, cynically uses them to project a false image of normalcy that enables it to maintain its occupation and apartheid.  Ultimately, a conscientious artist is expected to heed the appeals of the oppressed as to what they really need from them in the struggle to end injustice and colonial oppression. This was true in the South African anti-apartheid struggle, too.

 
 
As to the commonly used “art ought to be above politics” argument, it is patently ahistorical and political par excellence.  Artists are humans who are expected to be more, not less, sensitive than others in empathizing with human suffering and rejecting oppression.  When they choose to side with hegemonic oppressors for money, fame or other material gains at the expense of basic commitment to human rights, they end up selling their souls and declaring their utter ethical corruption.  Artists, like Elton John,[18] who violated the anti-apartheid cultural boycott and entertained South Africans at Sun City, were viewed as crossing a moral picket line. So are those that insist on entertaining Israeli apartheid today.

 
 
The great majority of Palestinian cultural figures stand solidly behind the call for a cultural boycott of Israel,[19] as do all the main cultural institutions and associations. While Palestinian artists may indirectly suffer from a worldwide boycott, they view and accept this is as a minimal price to pay in order to see the light at the end of the long tunnel of Israeli occupation, ethnic cleansing, apartheid and racist denial of our refugee rights. In this context, Palestinian artists often express the commonly held view that world artists have a moral obligation to stop colluding with the oppressor, at the very least, in order to help end this multi-tiered oppression and bring about freedom and just peace.
 

Zionist lobby in Australia denies there is Zionist lobby

 29 Jun 2010

Zionist lobby? What lobby?

Jewish groups have questioned claims by a former Australian ambassador to Israel that Julia Gillard was silent on the “excesses” of Israel.

And the former editor of The Age, Michael Gawenda, yesterday labelled as “bizarre” a report in the Fairfax newspaper and its sister paper, The Sydney Morning Herald, that linked Ms Gillard’s stance towards Israel with a job given to her partner by an Israel lobbyist.

Former ambassador Ross Burns reportedly wrote in a letter to the Herald that Ms Gillard had been “remarkably taciturn on the excesses of Israeli actions in the past two years”.

He said Ms Gillard led a delegation to Israel last year for the Australia-Israel Leadership Forum, but failed to raise the issue that was “No 1 on the horizon”.

Mr Burns said the perception that Ms Gillard’s support for the Australia-Israel Leadership Forum was linked to a job later given to her partner, Tim Mathieson, by the man who helped to organise it, was unavoidable.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria president John Searle said the newspaper report did not accurately portray comments made in the past by Ms Gillard and the Rudd government, nor their behaviour.

Speaking in Ramallah in the West Bank during the trip, Ms Gillard called for a freeze on settlement activity by Jewish settlers in Palestinian territories.

Mr Mathieson accompanied the then-deputy prime minister to Israel last year.

A few months after the trip, Mr Mathieson, a hairdresser, began working as a real estate salesman for the founder of the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange, Melbourne property developer Albert Dadon, who organised the leadership delegation.

Last night, Mr Dadon, chairman of the Ubertad Group, released a statement saying Mr Mathieson was employed to fill a vacancy as a real estate salesman, and the company was pleased with his performance.

He said contrary to reports that Mr Mathieson had lobbied the Victorian government for approval for Ubertas’s developments, Mr Mathieson was involved only in sales.

Ubertas has already made its mark on Melbourne’s St Kilda Road office boulevard with an $86m twin-tower apartment that backs on to the inner city’s Fawkner Park.

But flush with the success of that 505 St Kilda Road project, the group has already started work on an even larger project at 568 St Kilda Road that will have more than 313 apartments and cost more than $160m.

 

Why Gillard is acceptable to the foreign policy elites

 29 Jun 2010

Scott Burchill, Fairfax National Times, 30 June:

It is not a ”privilege” to talk to the US President with our troops at war.

The primary goal of the US lobby in Australia is to insulate the alliance from changes of government after elections and leadership movements within the major political parties. Bipartisan support for the US alliance cannot always be assumed, however, so strategies are devised to raise the strategic aspects of the relationship above the fray of domestic politics in both countries.

During the Second Gulf War, Washington’s boosters in the Australian media sought to quarantine the alliance from widespread public hostility to George Bush. So, Labor leader Mark Latham could get away with describing Bush as ”the most incompetent and dangerous president in living memory”. But his questioning in his diaries of the value of the alliance confirmed for Australia’s US lobby that he was unfit for high office.

The Australian American Leadership Dialogue meets annually (alternately in the US and Australia). It’s an invitation-only bipartisan group of politicians, journalists, academics and businessmen who work to preserve and protect the bilateral relationship from criticism and challenges. Its deliberations are not made public.

One of the group’s primary aims is to socialise contemporary and future leaders into accepting the incontrovertible importance of the alliance. In the past week, the group has had good reason to believe that its investment in Julia Gillard – who has been attending its meetings for several years – has paid off.

In one of her first policy statements as Prime Minister, a remarkably obsequious Gillard told US President Barack Obama it was a ”great honour and privilege” just to talk to him. She then ”reassured” the President of her fidelity to the alliance, and gave him Australia’s continuing support for the military campaign in Afghanistan. Kevin Rudd may be gone, but his approach to the longest war in Australia’s history would not be changed by his successor.

To say that the conversation Gillard had with Obama was a missed opportunity does not fully capture the folly of her first foreign policy utterance as Prime Minister.

Three points stand out.

First, popular support in Australia for the Afghan war has collapsed. Depending on which poll you read, either 54 per cent (Lowy) or 61 per cent (Essential Media) of the population oppose continuing military involvement in Afghanistan and want Australian troops withdrawn.

These views have no representation in the lower house of the Federal Parliament. They are not even considered by the new Prime Minister to be a factor that qualifies Australia’s participation in the war. Gillard’s reflexive support may reassure Washington that she is ”sound” on national security – that the ”informal bar” on someone from the Left becoming Prime Minister could be lifted, to quote one lobbyist. However, it fundamentally betrays the wishes of the people she now represents.

In response to findings that 55 per cent of Australians are not confident that Australia has clear aims in Afghanistan (Lowy poll), former Labor senator Stephen Loosley reportedly said that ”as long as [there is] bipartisan support for [Australia’s] Afghanistan contribution in Canberra, declining popular support for Afghan conflict is not an issue”.

This is a perfect illustration of elite disdain for public opinion. No wonder the same poll found that 69 per cent believe the government pays too little attention to their views ”in comparison to the opinions of foreign policy experts”.

Second, the vigorous discussion of the war now taking place in the US media and inside Washington’s is not mirrored here. This is largely the government’s fault. For a war that seems unwinnable and futile to so many Australians, the absence of an equally vibrant debate in this country is an indictment of our democratic processes. What are our politicians so frightened of?

The forensic examination of tactics, personalities, operations and the Taliban – which can be found across the US press every day – is almost entirely missing from the Australian media. It is only when tragedy strikes and casualties increase that analysis rises briefly above the superficial. Comparisons with the Vietnam War could not be more striking. Third, the humiliating departure of General Stanley McChrystal provided the opportunity to ask Obama critical questions – and leverage Canberra’s support against more definitive criteria.

We could be asking : What are your war aims? When will they be achieved? What are your criteria for ”success” in Afghanistan? What is the exit strategy? Instead, Gillard rushed to ”reassure” Obama (as if he needed it) that Australia would continue to be an uncritical ally in a war the public opposes. It’s an inauspicious start in diplomacy for our new Prime Minister. 

 

Caring about Shalit is so touching (but shame about those imprisoned Arabs)

29 Jun 2010

The cynicism here is almost comical. The Australian Jewish community and their American Jewish friends are deeply concerned about the plight of Gilad Shalit currently in Gaza. They are ably assisted by pieces such as this in the Washington Post, comparing Hamas to the Nazis. Leaders of the Zionist lobby in the US write articles explaining how the Jewish state is constantly striving for peace and only wants resolution of the conflict.

What’s so absurd is that less and less people believe any of this spin. How tone-deaf is the Zionist community? This is what Israel has become:

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s far-right foreign minister, set out last week what he called a “blueprint for a resolution to the conflict” with the Palestinians that demands most of the country’s large Palestinian minority be stripped of citizenship and relocated outside Israel’s future borders.

Lieberman warned that Israel faces growing diplomatic pressure for a full withdrawal to the Green Line, the pre-1967 border. Lieberman said that, if such a partition were implemented, “the conflict will inevitably pass beyond those borders and into Israel.”

He accused many of Israel’s 1.3 million Palestinian citizens of acting against Israel while their leaders “actively assist those who want to destroy the Jewish state.”

Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party campaigned in last year’s elections on a platform of “No loyalty, no citizenship” and has proposed a raft of loyalty laws over the past year targeted at the Palestinian minority.

True peace, the foreign minister claimed, would come only with land swaps, or “an exchange of populated territories to create two largely homogeneous states, one Jewish Israeli and the other Arab Palestinian.” He added that under his plan “those Arabs who were in Israel will now receive Palestinian citizenship.”

Unusually, Lieberman, who is also deputy prime minister, offered his plan in a commentary for the English-language Israeli daily newspaper Jerusalem Post, apparently in an attempt to make maximum impact on the international community.

He has spoken repeatedly in the past about drawing the borders in a way to forcibly exchange Palestinian communities in Israel for the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

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DOROTHY ONLONE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS

Dear Friends,

5 items from over a dozen that I deliberated sending.  Since 2 of the 5 are rather long, I thought you’d probably have enough with just the 5.  One can read so much. 

I’m not always so considerate, but when I find it too difficult to decide for you, I send the whole or almost the whole and let you decide what you wish to read, what not.

The first 2 items are reports.  The initial one relates that Israel is now making good its threat that I noted a few days ago.  The 4 Hamas members of the government whom Israel told to leave their homes and families refuse to leave.  Well, would you willingly leave your family, friends, home because a government told you to?  Israel will undoubtedly expel them.  Meanwhile it is jailing them.  These are not, by the way, individuals who have engaged in criminal acts.  They just belong to the wrong party.

The 2nd very brief report informs us of the kinds of things that Palestinians suffer—midnight raids by the IOF to capture and detain individuals who can’t otherwise be kept from demonstrating non-violently against the theft of their lands and destruction of their olive groves.  Every time I read about one of these events, I am reminded of the story that I have heard numerous times about how Nazi soldiers knocked on my in-laws door and took my mother-in-law to clean up the glass following Krystal Nacht. 

The family was fortunate.  She returned.  It was this incident that pushed my father-in-law to take his wife and 2 sons to Palestine, the only land that they had access to.

Item 3 is a response to Yossi Beilin regarding the Kairos document and Beilin’s comments to the Presbyterian Church in attempting to dissuade it from adopting bds (boycott/divestment/sanctions) against Israel.  It might interest you to know that in 2005 New Profile wrote a letter to PCUSA encouraging the Church to engage in selective divestment.

Item 4 is exactly what its title says “good news and bad”—about Israel and the OPT and the flotilla, of course.

Item 5 is a response to letters to the editor responding to an article in the Albuquerque Journal about the attack on the flotilla.

Dorothy

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

1. Haaretz Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Israel arrests Hamas official for failing to leave East Jerusalem

Mohammed Abu Tir, along with three other Hamas legislators, was ordered to leave Israel by July over his links with the militant organization.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-arrests-hamas-official-for-failing-to-leave-east-jerusalem-1.299217

By Liel Kyzer

East Jerusalem Israel Police arrested Hamas official Mohammed Abu Tir on Wednesday for failing to comply with orders to leave his East Jerusalem home.

Abu Tir was arrested at the entrance to the city’s southeastern Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, and taken for questioning at the Russian Compound police headquarters.

Police are expected to ask a court on Thursday to remand Abu Tir in custody.

In early June, Jerusalem police confiscated Abu Tir’s Israeli identity card, along with those of three other Hamas legislators – Mohammed Totach, Khaled Abu Arafa, and Ahmed Atoun – giving them until July to leave Jerusalem.

All four have refused to give up their duties within the Hamas Legislative Council. Detectives from the Jerusalem District Police Central Unit took their identity cards after the High Court said it would not prevent the men’s expulsion.

Israel had warned the four men in the past to renounce membership of Hamas or risk losing residency rights in East Jerusalem.

On Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced Israel’s plan to expel the four Hamas politicians from Jerusalem for belonging to the Islamic militant group Hamas, saying the expulsion Bank would set a dangerous precedent and would create new obstacles for peace.

Israel has stripped thousands of Palestinians of their Jerusalem residency since capturing the eastern part of the city in the 1967 Six-Day War, citing procedural reasons.

However, human rights activists say revoking the residency of the four Hamas politicians would mark the first time Israel had against Arab residents of the city because of their political affiliation. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist group.

More on this topic

Hamas official facing expulsion: I won’t leave my ancestral home

PA wants American pressure on Israel to allow freed Hamas lawmakers to keep blue ID cards

Print Page Send to a friend Comments Share Text Size +|- Follow us on Twitter Become a Haaretz.com Facebook friend This story is by:

Liel Kyzer

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2. Iyad Burnat _ Night Raid on Bil’in 30-06-2010http://www.bilin-ffj.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=293&Itemid=1

In the small hours of last night, at around 3 am, Israeli Occupation Forces raided the village of Bil’in to effect the political arrest of villager; Yasir Maher Yasseen who, happily evaded their clutches yet again. The IOF have a long history of harassing and jailing this young activist and excepting the kidnapping of 13 year old Fadi Al-Khatib on the 4th of this month and the terrorising of a false confession out of him, this raid comes after a relatively long hiatus (22-05-2010 was the last military incursion into the village) and may be a harbinger for a spate of further terrorising raids to come.?

Ashrah Abu Rahmah, brother of Bassem who the IOF murdered on 17-04-2009 at a peaceful protest at the nearby Apartheid-Annexation Wall, distinguished himself yet again with his relentless and brave efforts to breach the IOF cordon around the home of Yasir. Bil’in salutes him.


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3.  [forwarded by Connie Hackbarth]

Points 2 and 4 (through to the end) refer specifically to BDS
Justice is what we ask Mr. Yossi Beilin to remember

A Response to Mr. Yossi Beilin’s letter to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in USA

[If you are unfamiliar with the Kairos document discussed below, see The

Kairos Document introduction http://www.kairospalestine.ps/?q=node/1

[The document can be downloaded in various languages 

http://www.kairospalestine.ps/?q=content/document  Dorothy]

————–

Rifat Odeh Kassis

On June 24, B’nai B’rith International circulated a letter written by Mr. Yossi Beilin, Israel’s Former Deputy Foreign Minister, and issued to delegates of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). According to B’nai B’rith, Beilin’s letter sought to urge them against “unbalanced or counter-productive steps” on the Middle East.

One example of the “counter-productivity” Mr. Beilin feels the Presbyterian Church has wrongly endorsed is “A Moment of Truth,” the Kairos Document itself.  Mr. Beilin refers to the document as “polemical,” promoting a “blanket” strategy of boycott and sanctions. He criticizes the Presbyterian Church for supporting the views expressed in “A Moment of Truth” “without stated qualification,” citing the Kairos Document as a material that “[places] inordinate blame on Israel for the conflict.”

Throughout his letter, Mr. Beilin presents himself as a leading proponent of the peace process, a spokesperson for Israeli democracy, and an individual among the “most progressive and moderate among us” – in short, a voice whose calls for peace have been silenced by initiatives like the Kairos Document.

As the coordinator and a co-author of the Kairos Document – by which I also mean, as a member of a community working not only for peace, but also for peace with justice – I would like to respond to Mr. Beilin’s claims and statements. Mr. Beilin dramatically misunderstands and misstates the goals, content, and consequences of “A Moment of Truth.” Even more, however, his letter reveals misrepresentations of the very terms – “democracy,” “balance,” “peace process” – he supposedly extols. Indeed, rhetoric like Beilin’s heavily contributes to the continuation of the Israeli occupation, as well as to the justification of this status quo on the international stage.

What follows is a discussion of the major points I wish to contest.

1. Mr. Beilin introduces himself as a politician and peace activist whose career “has been defined by vigorous engagement in the pursuit of reconciliation and coexistence in the Middle East.” Chief among his stated credentials is his role as an initiator of the Oslo accords of 1993. Yet Mr. Beilin refers to Oslo as if it were a success – as if it were truly a symbol of, to use his words, reconciliation and coexistence. For Palestinians, this has never been the case. In fact, we have experienced the opposite.

The Oslo Accords have led to more illegal Israeli settlements, the Al-Aqsa Intifada, two wars (against Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008-2009), the Apartheid wall, and an astonishing number of violent deaths and brutal detentions. I wonder how long Mr. Beilin expects the Palestinian people to wait for Oslo to bear fruit for us – when we have seen no indication that it will. The “historic peace process” he defines as the Oslo Accords has been, for us, a historic failure.

2. I would also like to dispute Mr. Beilin’s argument against economic sanctions (which, as part of the global BDS campaign opposing the Israeli occupation, Kairos Palestine does support) on the grounds that Israel is a democracy. “I do believe in economic sanctions,” Beilin writes, “but when they are directed against democracies they are counter-productive.” Does this mean that he only believes in economic activism leveled against dictatorships? I fail to see how Israel’s “democratic” structure makes it immune to such measures – or to its inhabitants’ right to undertaking them.

The implications of Mr. Beilin’s logic are baffling: a democracy like Israel can behave as it likes, kill whom it wants, demolish homes, evict families, strip citizenships, imprison people for months or years without so much as informing them of the charges – but nothing should be done against it because it is a democracy? Israel’s much-touted reputation as “the only democracy in the Middle East” is always ironic, given its shocking track record of violating human rights and international law. But Mr. Beilin’s brief, weak argument against economic sanctions, using the existence of this “democracy” as its flimsy premise, is absurd indeed – especially when it comes from a former cabinet and parliament member of the democracy in question – and full of double standards.

3. Mr. Beilin addresses “narratives and activism,” specifically including the Kairos Document, “that appear to target Israelis or exclude recognition of any of Israel’s positive contributions to peace.” Does Mr. Beilin feel that we haven’t been adequately appreciative? It seems, rather, that Mr. Beilin himself is excluding recognition of Israel’s cynical, incendiary, and relentless actions that render the peace process humiliating at best and untenable at worst. The Israeli government continues to build settlements in the West Bank despite the so-called freeze, persists in demolishing the lives of Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem (the latest atrocity is the 22-house demolition order in Silwan, which will lead to the construction of a park), routinely nulls the citizenship of East Jerusalemites if they leave the country, keeps the keys to the jail of the West Bank and the solitary confinement of Gaza, besieging Gaza punishing more than one a half million people, slaughtered over 1400 Gazans (mostly civilians, including 350 children) in the war of 2008/2009, and murdered nine humanitarian activists (in international waters) aboard the Gaza-bound flotilla on May 31 of this year. If these actions have anything to do with Israeli’s contributions to peace, then we would prefer the contributions to stop.

4. Beilin concludes his letter to the Presbyterian delegates by urging them “to act for peace in a way that strengthens Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers alike.” It is for this very reason that we propose BDS as a means for peacemakers inside Israel to advocate for justice. Regrettably, the Israeli leftist movement has remained very weak. This weakness relates to the fact that strong criticism of Israel is often ignored or dismissed within the international community: many people fear Israel itself, or fear the stigma of being labeled anti-Semitic. This environment of fear and hesitation thus undermines the movement inside Israel and its endeavor to end the occupation.

But BDS, as a tactic with particular immediacy and collective power – including when enacted by Israelis, those who supposed to benefit from the occupation as it stands – is a unique chance to confront this environment and truly change it, both within Israel and with the solidarity of the international BDS movement. In short, we believe that BDS is an empowering, transformative peacemaking tool for Israeli and Palestinian activists alike.

Mr. Beilin’s attitude toward BDS, dismissing it as “imbalanced” or overly punitive, is by no means unfamiliar to us. Many, both in Israel and elsewhere, continue to reduce the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to a “balanced” dispute between two sides, refusing acknowledge that the situation is irrefutably otherwise: an apartheid state, brutally militarized and shamelessly discriminatory.

The Israeli occupation is a strategic, consistent, deliberate, historically constructed, externally condoned and internally sustained attempt to separate Palestinian and Israel rights and lives in the very place where we make and have always made our home. Boycotting Israel signifies boycotting this entire range of injustice.

If Mr. Beilin rejects BDS as a valid way to call for change, and as a right in and of itself, then what other means does he propose for creating peace in our region? With so much blood already shed and so many words (“democracy,” “balance,” “peace process”) sapped of their sincere, unironic meanings, how else does he believe Israel can be made to stop its destructive course?

The Israeli occupation of our land and our rights is not selective; justice must never be. This – justice, without which peace is meaningless – is what has been and continues to be missing from the peace process Mr. Yossi Beilin refers to in his letter. Justice is what both the Kairos Document and the BDS movement seek. And justice is what we ask Mr. Beilin to remember.

————————

4. [Forwarded by David N.]

Occupied Palestine: Good News And Bad

http://www.countercurrents.org/lendman250610A.htm

By Stephen Lendman

25 June, 2010

Countercurrents.org

First the good.

On June 22, the International Middle East Media Center reported that the UN Human Rights Council (that established the Goldstone Commission) approved “forming an international committee to probe the deadly Israeli” Flotilla attack, massacring and injuring dozens of nonviolent activists on board. Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak urged Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to shelve it, saying:

“We expressed our view that for the time being, as long as….new flotillas are in the preparation, it’s probably better to leave (an investigation) on the shelf for a certain time” – in other words, postpone it long enough to forget, letting Israel’s self-examination whitewash top officials’ culpability, a vain hope given world outrage, mushrooming toward universally branding Israel a pariah rogue state.

The Human Rights Council (HRC) said committee officials will include lawyers and international law and human rights experts, the body to present its findings in September.

The European Campaign Against the Siege said the International Committee will contact Israel, Greece, Turkey, and the Freedom Flotilla coalition. It will also visit Gaza and urge Tel Aviv’s cooperation, what wasn’t given the Goldstone Commission, nor will be this time. However, with or without it, the investigation will proceed, exposing Israel’s culpability.

On June 1, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RTP) responded to the Flotilla massacre headlining, “All States and the international community must urgently take measures against Israel’s violations of international law,” explaining that

Throughout its history, Israel has willfully, arrogantly, and repeatedly violated core international law principles without accountability. “These violations….involve Israel’s international responsibility, its obligation to make reparations for the damage resulting from these violations and the obligation of all States to prosecute and punish those responsible for these violations when they concern crimes against international law,” especially ones against peace – the supreme international crime.

RTP “insists” on the immediate and unconditional:

— “lifting of the blockade by Israel of humanitarian aid,” what Fourth Geneva and other international laws prohibit;

— ending the Gaza siege, also lawless and prohibited;

— “full and independent inquiry into the” Flotilla attack;

— “suspend(ing) of the EU/Israel Association Agreement in accordance with” its provisions; and

— implementation of the Goldstone Commission conclusions and recommendations.

Global human rights organizations agree, including BRussells Tribunal Executive Committee member, Dr. Ian Douglas, saying:

“Israel simply cannot face up to its own bloody origin. It is a settler state, founded in violence by individuals who came from outside Arab countries,” under rogue governments that support and instigate “terrorism.” The solution:

“The international community must cut all economic ties, all defense coordination and contracts, and all diplomatic, intellectual and cultural links with Israel until Zionism is recognized as racism. Until this happens, Israel continues to be the single biggest threat to world peace.

The possibility of a better society will keep being suffocated by the black hole of Israel’s insistence on perpetuating injustice against the Palestinians,” – partnered with Washington, “indistinguishable from Tel Aviv, or vice versa. Obama is either unwilling (or) unable….to break from that….Palestinians have no hope in (him). He won’t help them, and never intended to.”

More good news – a first in America against Israel.

On June 20 in Oakland, CA, over 800 longshoremen pickets blocked the unloading of an Israeli ship, the ZIM Shenhen, chanting:

“Free, free Palestine. Don’t cross the picket line. An injury to one is an injury to all – the Israeli apartheid wall will fall.”

An ad hoc Labor/Community Committee in Solidarity with the People of Palestine organized the action. Allied groups included the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, several Palestinian solidarity groups, the Bay Area ANSWER Coalition, and local labor activists.

Their boycott followed the earlier June International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 motion condemning the Flotilla massacre, “call(ing) for unions to protest (by) any action they choose to take.”

Organizations supporting the boycott included the Oakland Educational Association, San Francisco Labor Council, Alameda County Labor Council, Cuban Labor Federation, Labor for Palestine, the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, and numerous other groups – in solidarity with Occupied Palestinians.

Good news from Sweden – another boycott

On June 23, the Swedish Dock Workers Union announced a weeklong nationwide blockade in all unionized ports, refusing to handle goods from or to Israel until June 29, and demanding more, including lifting the Gaza siege and allowing an independent international investigation of the Flotilla massacre.

Still more – cancellation of Turkey’s water sales to Israel.

On June 20, Israel National News.com’s Maayana Miskin reported that Turkey “cancelled the planned sale of 1.75 billion cubic feet of water per year to Israel,” a 20-year agreement abandoned over the Flotilla massacre, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister, Taner Yildiz, saying sales have been halted unless Israel “apologizes and expresses its regret.”

Turkey also recalled its ambassador and froze a plan to supply Israel with Russian natural gas through an underwater pipeline.

Now the bad – a litany of Israeli crimes, some recent ones explained below.

On June 10, Palestine Think Tank.com contributor Kawther Salam headlined, “107 Israeli Crimes Against Palestinian Journalists,” saying:

Since January 2010, Israeli attacks included beatings, “breaking their cameras, preventing them from covering events, shooting at them deliberately, arresting and jailing them, fabricating serious charges, fining them, imposing high financial fines before releasing them from detention,” denying them access to East Jerusalem and other areas, and let “dozens of armed extremist settlers assault them and damage their cameras.”

This is how a police state operates when not waging all out war.

More bad news.

On June 22, the Palestine Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) headlined, “Continued Ethnic Cleansing and Measures Aimed at Creating Jewish Majority in Occupied Jerusalem,” in fact, an agenda to make all Jerusalem exclusively Jewish, dispossessing all non-Jews living there.

PCHR responded saying:

It “strongly condemns aggressive (Israeli) measures in East Jerusalem, which are part of a series of (others) aimed at ethnic cleansing,” and have included:

— bulldozing Palestinian houses on lands between Pisgat Ze’ev and Neve Ya’kov settlements to build 600 new units – approved a year earlier to link the two communities;

— the June 21 implemented “Israeli Municipality in Jerusalem decision to demolish 22 houses in al-Bustan neighborhood in Salwan village (to) establish ‘King David’s Garden’ ” on expropriated Palestinian land; on June 23, Haaretz writer Nir Hassan reported that East Jerusalem settlers “threatened to (hire private security firms to) forcibly evict four Palestinian families they claim are living on” Jewish Silwan property; East Jerusalem, in fact, is Occupied Palestinian territory, not belonging to invaders who have no business being there or legal right to the land;

— the June 20 Israeli High Court ruling, affirming the deportation of PLC member, Mohammed Abu Tir, a member of the Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform Bloc;

— the June 20 closing of the Ilaf Association for Education Support in Jerusalem, using falsified documents to claim Hamas held meetings there; and

— Israel’s ongoing lawlessness in violation of international law, including expropriating Palestinian land, what, so far, the international community won’t stop.

More bad.

On June 20, the US State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs warned Americans against traveling to Gaza, stopping short of saying those doing it will be prosecuted, but calling it “infiltrating” by flotillas or other means.

The warning “applies to all US citizens, including journalists and aid workers,” with no mention of the illegal siege, the Flotilla massacre, or repeated attacks against defenseless civilians. A week earlier, Britain issued a similar alert, suggesting UK citizens doing it wouldn’t be welcomed back home. Israel endorsed both statements from its closest allies, together comprising the real axis of evil.

Still more.

On June 20, Haaretz writer Barak Ravid exposed Netanyahu’s bogus siege easing, headlining “Netanyahu: Security blockade on Gaza will get stronger,” quoting him saying that despite letting in more “civilian” goods:

The “security closure will be tightened from now on (to) keep (weapons and “dual use” goods) out of Gaza,” claiming “Our friends around the world are getting behind our decision and giving international legitimacy to the security blockade on Hamas.”

So though designated foods, housewares, writing implements, mattresses and toys can enter, cement and shoes (among hundreds of other non-military items) remain banned, Israel bogusly calling them “dual use,” meaning materials potentially for violence and conflict.

On June 24, Gaza Gateway.org reported “no significant change in the volume of trucks entering Gaza,” despite the supposed easing – last week, 654, fewer than before the Flotilla massacre when 662 entered; this week through four of five allowed crossing days, 567, “consistent with the (imposed) policy since June 2007.”

Gaza Gateway said only one crossing operates at near capacity of about 110 trucks a day, five days a week permitted – Kerem Shalom (Kerem Abu Salam). Karni Crossing, Gaza’s commercial lifeline, able to handle 1,000 trucks per day, remains closed.

The Obama administration and virtually all members of Congress support the most lawless Israeli policies, including the siege, subsidizing them with billions of dollars annually, the latest weapons and technology, and virtually any special requests – to wage war, commit violence, maintain an illegal occupation against Palestinian civilians and the legitimate Hamas government, bogusly called terrorist.

Confirmation of PA/Israeli/Washington Complicity

According to a June 22 Asa Winstanley Electronic Intifada (EI) article headlined, “Exclusive: Leaked documents show PA undermined Turkey’s push for UN flotilla probe:”

“A document sent to Ibrahim Khraishi, (PA UN) representative in Geneva,” shows its officials tried but failed to “neutralize a (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution condemning” the Flotilla massacre, by preventing an independent investigation and endorsing an Israeli one – a thinly veiled scheme to whitewash premeditated murder and absolve high-level culpability. Turkey rejected it out of hand. HRC approved an independent committee proceed and report back by September.

EI’s article and one document can be accessed through the following link:

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11350.shtml

Last year, Fatah officials tried to undermine the Goldstone Commission’s findings, proving they ally with Israel against their own people.

Last October, however, when the Commission’s findings were adopted, Mahmound Abbas “was forced into a humiliating U-turn after an outpouring of disgust and protest from Palestinians around the world,” not diminishing his contempt for his own people. Perhaps theirs now for him enough to elect a new president serving them, not their oppressive occupier in league with its Washington paymaster/partner.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/

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

5.  Hi All,

On June 23 the Albuquerque Journal printed an op-ed by me on the Gaza Flotilla attack. On June 27 the Journal printed 5 letters to the editor all of which characterized me as an uninformed bigot. Today I replied with a rebuttal to the five who, not being able to refute actual evidence, resort to character assassination. Attached are the 5 letters to the editor as well as today’s rebuttal. And just below is the link to my original op-ed for those who have not read it. If you are unable to open the attachment I’ve also pasted my entire rebuttal after the link . Thanks, Rich

http://www.abqjournal.com/opinion/guest_columns/23213193866opinionguestcolumns06-23-10.htm

On June 23 the Journal printed my article on the Gaza flotilla, which they titled “Oppressive Occupation Also Harms Israelis, Americans.” In the article I presented information from the State Department, American Near East Refugee Aid and other reliable sources. My purpose was to counter “disingenuous claims” by Israel. On June 27 the Journal printed five letters to the editor. All portrayed me as bigoted and ignorant. Regina Loria said:

 “[T]he Arabs walked through Jewish neighborhoods and towns unmolested, while the Jews lived behind stone walls, armed wire and armed guards. Who is occupying whom?”

According to Loria, Israelis who forcefully steal land from Palestinians to build settlements – in violation of international law and any sense of decency – are occupied victims. And a people who desire the same rights to self-determination that Israelis enjoy are occupiers.

Deborah Gray accuses me of being uninformed because of my commonsense assertion that “Israel’s behavior,” in denying Palestinians the ability to live like human beings, “fuels anti-Semitism.” Gray chose to equate my criticism of Israeli behavior with criticism of all Jews. Israel does not speak for all Jews, certainly not for Jews who value justice and equality. Gray’s logic is that anti-Semitism existed prior to Israel’s establishment. Therefore, she contends, Israel’s behavior could not be a stimulus for anti-Semitism.

As virtually all studies since the early 1900s acknowledge, there was little anti-Semitism in Muslim lands until the rise of Zionism. Just as anger toward Muslims increased in the U.S. after 9/11 so too does anger increase when Israel kills civilians or attacks an unarmed ship carrying humanitarian aid. Admittedly, a small percentage of the anger is misplaced against Judaism rather than a Zionist ideology that deprives people of their homes, their lands and their dignity.

Joel Davis claims that pro-Palestinian activists “were trying to create an ugly incident to spur world pressure forcing Israel to break the blockade and … to allow unlimited passage of arms from Iran.” The latter allegation is false. Not only was the ship’s cargo checked before leaving port but overtures from Iranian groups were rejected. The ugliness of the incident stems from Israel’s deliberate acts of aggression.

I agree that these activists wanted to bring attention to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Their concern for their fellow man does not reflect a bias that favors Palestinians. Rather, it reflects a conviction that Palestinians are entitled to the same quality of life as Israelis, something Davis and the others don’t seem particularly concerned with. The activists’ reaction to a nighttime raid in international waters by a country known for its use of lethal force was purely defensive, especially given that Israeli commandos did in fact shoot live ammunition and percussion grenades as they boarded the ship.

Jacob Amir denounces the passengers of the Mavi Marmara on the basis that the other ships offered no resistance. The fact that commandos singled out the Mavi Marmara with confrontational behavior explains why the other ships did not resist. Would Amir have denounced the passengers of the Exodus for resisting British rule?

Perhaps these writers would have condemned the freedom riders, some of whom gave their lives to expose the viciousness and bigotry of segregation in the Deep South.

Russell Resnik characterizes my concern for truth and human rights as Hamas propaganda. Making such a characterization is far easier than examining actual evidence based on eyewitness reports and the writings of eminent Israeli journalists. It is easier still to parrot uninformed apologists.

Resnik justifies the blockade of Gaza on the basis of rocket attacks while ignoring the fact that Israel’s own strategists admitted that ending the blockade would ensure peace with Hamas for a generation. He also ignores Israel’s use of far more lethal rockets against Gaza. If he had taken the time to investigate Israeli sources he would have learned that from 2000 through 2008 Palestinian groups launched 8,088 rockets and mortars against Israel. 

From 2001 through 2008 eighteen Israelis were killed as a result of these attacks. From September 2005 to June 2006 Israel launched 7,700 rockets against Gaza. From 2005–2007, 1,290 Gazans, including 222 children, were killed as a result of Israeli rockets.

By justifying policies that knowingly harm civilians, including innocent children, these writers show a disregard not only for the Palestinian people but for the humanity that exists within the heart of Judaism.

Rich Forer

 Albuquerque

 

 

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