Archive | September 26th, 2010

Y.SHAPIRA’S JOURNAL FROM THE JEWISH BOAT TO GAZA

NOVANEWS

Journal of a voyage

By: Yonatan Shapira
26 September 2010

The course is 120. Another 200 miles to the port in Cyprus and the automatic pilot in the boat, which is supposed to maintain the course, refuses to work and leaves me with the unending task of maintaining the course on a turbulent sea with no sign of land from horizon to horizon. In another half hour, Itamar, my brother, who is also a “refusnik,” will relieve me at the wheel, after him Bruce and then Glyn will take their shifts. If everything goes according to plan, we will reach Famagusta at midday on Saturday, and there we will pick up the rest of the passengers, who together with us, as strange as it may seem, will try to break the blockade of Gaza.

For some weeks already we have been making our way east, from the Greek island on which the yacht was bought, from north of the Peloponnese through the Corinthian Canal, the Cycladic islands. Already we have experienced just about every kind of mishap in the book: the engines overheated on us and died, the wheel suddenly became detached, the anchor got stuck, the sail tore, a storm, and more. What we have not yet experienced is the uniqueness, the wondrousness and the strong arm of the IDF – the most moral army in the world, for those who forgot.

Warships have not yet intercepted us, they have not lowered commandos on us from helicopters and snipers have not yet shot at us. Those challenges are still before us and we will experience them together with the passengers, among them Holocaust survivors, a bereaved father [1] and others.

The southwest wind is getting a little stronger and the compass is vacillating between 120 and 130. I glance at the GPS and see that I am veering slightly to the left. Well, if the automatic pilot were working I could simply sit, watch the waves and write undisturbed.

Seven years ago on the eve of Rosh Hashana we published what the media called “the pilots’ letter.” In that declaration we announced to the whole nation (yes, we wore flight-suits and were interviewed in the press and on television) that we would refuse to take part in the crimes of the Occupation.

Ten days after that, on the eve of Yom Kippur, we were invited for a talk with the Commander of the Air Force. After he outlined to me his racial theory (in the form of a scale of value of blood, from the Israelis on the top down to the Palestinians at the bottom) he informed me that I was dismissed and that I was no longer a pilot in the Israeli Air Force. Many things have happened since then. Many boats have crossed the Corinthian Canal, many demonstrations and arrests, but mainly, many children have been murdered in Gaza. I remember Arik, a close childhood friend and a combat pilot, who hesitated over whether to sign and to refuse but in the end sincerely informed me that he did not want to give up his wonderful toy, the F-16. At first he still had a little shame about the comfortable choice he had made. Secretly he supported me and admitted that he did not have courage. Seven years passed and today he is still an operational pilot in the reserves, a leader of attack formations in his combat wing and on his hands or wings is the boiling blood of tens of innocent Palestinians and Lebanese, maybe more. The traces of morality that he had are gone now and today Arik will bomb any place at any time, wherever they tell him. That is the beauty of routine. In the end everything looks normal to you: an ordinary man, kind and polite and a good father to his daughters, turns into a mass murderer. I was not a bomber pilot. I flew Blackhawks that are used mainly for rescue missions and to transport personnel. One argument we heard from those who disagreed with us, and especially people from my wing, three members of which signed the letter, was that none of us was asked personally to shoot or to bomb or to assassinate. We replied to that argument by saying that it was not necessary to commit murder in order to say that it is forbidden to commit murder, and that it is easy to say “I just held the stick while the other pilot launched the missile.”

Years passed and the events of the flotilla and the murderous attack on the Mavi Marmara came and proved that the connection between my wing and the murder of civilians is in fact a lot more direct. It was the unit in which I served and the helicopters that I flew that carried out the pirate operation and lowered the commandos onto the deck. It is quite likely that the very people who flew on that night had been pupils of mine or pilots who flew with me in the past.

What does a Blackhawk pilot think and feel when he is hovering over a civilian ship far from the Israel’s territorial waters? What is he thinking when he instructs the soldiers to descend in the middle of the night onto a ship that is transporting supplies of humanitarian aid, bags of cement and dozens of journalists?

Mainly he is thinking about how to maintain a stable hover and not to lose visual contact with the other helicopters and the ship below him. He listens and gives orders on the helicopter’s internal communication system and maybe he also feels a little fear; after all, hovering over a vessel on the open sea, and at night, is no simple task of aviation.

And maybe he thinks about a few other things. Maybe he has a certain political outlook and maybe not, but what is certain is what he is not thinking about … a pilot who is hovering over a civilian aid ship on the open sea is not thinking that somebody among the people below him is intending to shoot him or that they are in possession of firearms – otherwise he would not have approached the spot! If he is not conducting a necessary rescue operation, it is absolutely counter to army regulations; that means that they knew beyond any doubt that nobody on the Mavi Marmara was armed. He knows that they are civilians who were set on expressing protest and identification with the million and a half civilians of besieged Gaza; but he apparently does not think about the fact that when masked armed pirates pounce on you in the middle of the night it is legitimate for you to resist the hijacking (even if it is tactically and strategically pointless).

To all who have doubts about the issue, I warmly recommend that you try to imagine that you are in the middle of the sea on a dark night and suddenly giant black helicopters are hovering low over you with a deafening noise and from them, like masked burglars wearing black, descend armed hoodlums, and warships are approaching you from every direction, and they are all shooting stun grenades at you and other things that you cannot identify, due to the noise and the darkness.

The sun has just set on the horizon. It is 18:52 hours.

I am trying to think about what will happen to us in a few more days near the coast of Gaza, within or outside the territorial waters. It apparently makes no difference when you are above the law and can shoot, hijack, rob, occupy and humiliate without anyone imposing any limits.

We are in the small boat of Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

We do not intend to fight the IDF, even though we have every right to do so. We chose non-violence as a tactic and as a strategy but we do not intend to give up easily until the moment they arrest and handcuff a Holocaust survivor and the bereaved father, right down to the last passenger on the boat.

The colours of the sunset are getting more and more dark and deep. Gold, pink and orange with light-blue stripes between the burning clouds. Now Bruce, on the wheel, is continuing to maintain a course of 120 with the two engines along with the mainsail and the foresail which add another half-knot to the speed. Itamar is practicing his guitar and Glyn is preparing supper. It seems like the clouds of fried onion are not only filling the yacht (and making it a little hard to breathe) but the whole Mediterranean Sea. Looks like I’ll skip supper.

Chief of Staff Ashkenazi told the Israeli commission of inquiry that investigated the flotilla events, that his conclusion from the events is – “more snipers” … yes – yes, that’s his conclusion from the murder on the Mavi Marmara, more snipers!

My conclusion was a bit different from that of a person who in the foreseeable future will be put on trial at the international court for war crimes. My conclusion was I had to join the next boat that set out for Gaza, and what could be more fitting than a Jewish organization from Europe that is struggling for human rights and peace.

I contacted the organizers and offered my services as skipper. Apparently seamanship was the most fitting of all the trades I learned in high school, and now I have the opportunity to implement what I learned, not only for pleasure but for an important and symbolic action with an organization that decided to invest a great deal of money, hours of deliberation, planning and endless preparations for one objective, to break the blockade of Gaza.

Yesterday evening on the island of Kastelorizo, during last-minute preparation of the boat, we opened the foresail on a large space near the pier and wrote on it in black in Arabic and Hebrew: “Yahud min ajl al-‘adala lil-filastiniyin” – the name of the organization – Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

The Arabic course I took in the summer helped me not get confused in writing the curved letters and Itamar, who stood above me and by the light by the public pier guided me up, down, left and right, so that the writing will look good and clear when we raise the sail upon our departure from Cyprus and as we approach the shores of Gaza.

Another long night-watch on the wheel followed. The sea was relatively calm, but a moderate tailwind insisted on bringing the exhaust from the engines directly to the cockpit, which strengthened my determination to skip supper and to contend with the feeling of light nausea by watching the horizon, maintaining a course of 125 and mainly by singing, again and again, the songs that sound most beautiful when one is on a boat in the middle of the sea: “if the darkness has fallen and I have no star … light a rose of fire on the mast of my boat, mother …” [2]

At 6:12 in the morning, as we approach Cyprus, with the first rays of light, Itamar at the wheel, Bruce and Glyn are sleeping and I am on the prow trying to breathe air clean of the smoke of the engines and trying to snooze, suddenly a medium-sized boat passes us. It passed quite close to us and looked strange. It circled us from the north and moved off to the west and looked like a small warship. Maybe we are already a little paranoid and maybe not and maybe it was just a vessel of the Turkish coast guard; in any case, we began to think and to imagine to ourselves what our encounter with the Israeli navy will be like when we approach the coast of Gaza, what each of us will do, how we will take care of the passengers and how we will react if the navy’s Dabur patrol boat (as in previous incidents) attacks us and rams our little boat. We decided to write in Hebrew and English a declaration that we will read on the radio on the nautical emergency channel when elements of the navy or the air force approach us. This is what we wrote:

We are a boat of the European Jewish organization Jews for Justice for Palestinians

We are on our way to Gaza

We are not armed and we believe in non-violence

And we are determined to proceed to the port of Gaza

You are imposing an illegal blockade on occupied Gaza

These are international waters and we do not recognize your authority here

There are activists of all ages on this boat

Among us are Holocaust survivors, bereaved parents and Israelis who refuse to reconcile themselves to the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories

We are unarmed peace activists who believe in non-violence and we are determined to proceed on our way to the port of Gaza

We appeal to you, officers and soldiers of the IDF, to refuse and not to obey your commanders’ illegal orders

For your information, the blockade of Gaza is illegal under international law and therefore you are running the risk of being put on trial at the international court for war crimes

The blockade and the occupation are inhumane and counter to universal morality and the values of Judaism

Use your consciences!

Do not say “I was only following orders”!

Remember the painful history of our people!

Refuse to enforce the blockade!

Refuse the Occupation!

1. In this context, “bereaved” is understood to refer to an Israeli who has lost a loved one as a result of war or terrorism in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict – trans.

2. From the Israeli song “Zemer ahava la-yam” – “Love song for the sea.” Lyrics: Raphael Eliaz, music: Sasha Argov – trans.

Translated from Hebrew by George Malent

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GANDHI: ”THE JEWS” 1938

NOVANEWS

September 26, 2010

by Gordon Duff  

GHANDI 
A TRUTHFUL HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON PALESTINE, THUS AGREEING WITH NOTHING ANYONE IS SAYING TODAY
‘THE JEWS’, BY GANDHI – FROM HARIJAN, NOVEMBER 26, 1938
Several letters have been received by me asking me to declare my views about the Arab-Jew question in Palestine and the persecution of the Jews in Germany. It is not without hesitation that I venture to offer my views on this very difficult question.
My sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them intimately in South Africa. Some of them became life-long companions. Through these friends I came to learn much of their age-long persecution. They have been the untouchables of Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close. Religious sanction has been invoked in both cases for the justification of the inhuman treatment meted out to them. Apart from the friendships, therefore, there is the more common universal reason for my sympathy for the Jews.
But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and the tenacity with which the Jews have hankered after return to Palestine. Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood?
Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.
The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred. The Jews born in France are French. If the Jews have no home but Palestine, will they relish the idea of being forced to leave the other parts of the world in which they are settled? Or do they want a double home where they can remain at will? This cry for the national home affords a colourable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews.
But the German persecution of the Jews seems to have no parallel in history. The tyrants of old never went so mad as Hitler seems to have gone. And he is doing it with religious zeal. For he is propounding a new religion of exclusive and militant nationalism in the name of which any inhumanity becomes an act of humanity to be rewarded here and hereafter. The crime of an obviously mad but intrepid youth is being visited upon his whole race with unbelievable ferocity. If there ever could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany, to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified. But I do not believe in any war. A discussion of the pros and cons of such a war is therefore outside my horizon or province.
But if there can be no war against Germany, even for such a crime as is being committed against the Jews, surely there can be no alliance with Germany. How can there be alliance between a nation which claims to stand for justice and democracy and one which is the declared enemy of both? Or is England drifting towards armed dictatorship and all it means?
Germany is showing to the world how efficiently violence can be worked when it is not hampered by any hypocrisy or weakness masquerading as humanitarianism. It is also showing how hideous, terrible and terrifying it looks in its nakedness.
Can the Jews resist this organised and shameless persecution? Is there a way to preserve their self-respect, and not to feel helpless, neglected and forlorn? I submit there is. No person who has faith in a living God need feel helpless or forlorn. Jehovah of the Jews is a God more personal than the God of the Christians, the Mussalmans or the Hindus, though as a matter of fact in essence, He is common to all and one without a second and beyond description. But as the Jews attribute personality to God and believe that He rules every action of theirs, they ought not to feel helpless.
If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment. And for doing this, I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance but would have confidence that in the end the rest are bound to follow my example.
If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now. And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy which no number of resolutions of sympathy passed in the world outside Germany can. Indeed, even if Britain, France and America were to declare hostilities against Germany, they can bring no inner joy, no inner strength.
The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the godfearing, death has no terror. It is a joyful sleep to be followed by a waking that would be all the more refreshing for the long sleep.
It is hardly necessary for me to point out that it is easier for the Jews than for the Czechs to follow my prescription.
And they have in the Indian satyagraha campaign in South Africa an exact parallel. There the Indians occupied precisely the same place that the Jews occupy in Germany. The persecution had also a religious tinge. President Kruger used to say that the white Christians were the chosen of God and Indians were inferior beings created to serve the whites. A fundamental clause in the Transvaal constitution was that there should be no equality between the whites and coloured races including Asiatics.
There too the Indians were consigned to ghettos described as locations. The other disabilities were almost of the same type as those of the Jews in Germany. The Indians, a mere handful, resorted to satyagraha without any backing from the world outside or the Indian Government. Indeed the British officials tried to dissuade the satyagrahis is from their contemplated step. World opinion and the Indian Government came to their aid after eight years of fighting. And that too was by way of diplomatic pressure not of a threat of war.
But the Jews of Germany can offer satyagraha under infinitely better auspices than the Indians of South Africa. The Jews are a compact, homogeneous community in Germany. They are far more gifted than the Indians of South Africa.
And they have organised world opinion behind them. I am convinced that if someone with courage and vision can arise among them to lead them in non-violent action, the winter of their despair can in the twinkling of an eye be turned into the summer of hope. And what has today become a degrading man-hunt can be turned into a calm and determined stand offered by unarmed men and women possessing the strength of suffering given to them by Jehovah. It will be then a truly religious resistance offered against the godless fury of dehumanised man.
The German Jews will score a lasting victory over the German gentiles in the sense that they will have converted the latter to an appreciation of human dignity. They will have rendered service to fellow-Germans and proved their title to be the real Germans as against those who are today dragging, however unknowingly, the German name into the mire.
And now a word to the Jews in Palestine. I have no doubt that they are going about it in the wrong way. The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs. They should seek to convert the Arab heart. The same God rules the Arab heart who rules the Jewish heart. They can offer satyagraha in front of the Arabs and offer themselves to be shot or thrown into the Dead Sea without raising a little finger against them.
They will find the world opinion in their favour in their religious aspiration. There are hundreds of ways of reasoning with the Arabs, if they will only discard the help of the British bayonet. As it is, they are co-shares with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them.
I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regarded as an unwarrantable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.
Let the Jews who claim to be the chosen race prove their title by choosing the way of non-violence for vindicating their position on earth.
Every country is their home including Palestine not by aggression but by loving service. A Jewish friend has sent me a book called The Jewish Contribution to Civilisation by Cecil Roth. It gives a record of what the Jews have done to enrich the world`s literature, art, music, drama, science, medicine, agriculture, etc. Given the will, the Jew can refuse to be treated as the outcaste of the West, to be despised or patronised.
He can command the attention and respect of the world by being man, the chosen creation of God, instead of being man who is fast sinking to the brute and forsaken by God. They can add to their many contributions the surpassing contribution of non-violent action.
Segaon, November 20, 1938

 

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MODOWEISS ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS

09/26/2010

A ‘party for Marty’ greets Peretz at Harvard

Sep 25, 2010

Adam Horowitz

The following was sent out by the organizers of the “Party for Marty”:

Over 100 members of the Harvard community and others “welcomed” New Republic editor and the university administration’s favorite racist, Martin Peretz, at the 50th anniversary of Harvard’s Social Studies program with a combination of protests, walk-outs, and probing questions.

Demonstrators at the event confronted Peretz outside Harvard’s Science Center—which was held in part to launch a $650,000 research fund in his name—and followed him for several minutes while chanting slogans rejecting his racist stances.

“Just because President Faust wants to honor a longtime public bigot doesn’t mean that the Harvard community does,” said senior Abdelnasser Rashid, a social studies concentrator. “We’ve billed this demonstration as a ‘Party for Marty’ to show how absurd Harvard’s decision to celebrate Peretz is.”

Peretz attempted to sneak out of the Science Center’s back entrance around noontime but was quickly spotted and surrounded by Harvard students chanting “Harvard University will not stand bigotry” and “Harvard Harvard shame on you, for honoring a racist fool” as he walked aross campus.

The protest continued outside of the Adams House dining hall, where Peretz was honored at a Social Studies luncheon. During his talk, around 10 faculty and staff walked out in protest.

“It’s Marty’s party and he can cry if he wants to,” said Maryam Monalisa Gharavi, a graduate student in comparative literature. “But the rest of us are here to remind him that we’re not going to stand by while the Harvard administration overlooks his 25-year career in spewing hatred and bigotry. He has a right to free speech, not a right to be honored.”

Protesters had gathered in the morning outside the Science Center, brandishing signs with some of Peretz’ most memorable quotes from his long career of spouting racism. Peretz has described “Arab society” as “hidebound and backward”; declared that “many in the black population are afflicted by cultural deficiencies”; and described Latin American societies as “congenitally corrupt” with “near-tropical work habits.”

Peretz was roundly criticized during the Social Studies celebration itself. During the event’s morning panel, Berkeley economist Brad DeLong cited Peretz’s recent statements about Muslims and argued that the only “appropriate response” was “What the frackity frack is going on here?”

During the afternoon panel, several Social Studies alumni and current students challenged Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, former deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick and Princeton professor Michael Walzer over their support for the Peretz Fund during a question and answer period. Students remarked on the irony of the session’s title, “Social Studies and Social change,” and asked the panelists how they managed to overlook a career of bigotry spanning decades.

The demonstrators joined the over 600 people, nearly all Harvard affiliates or alumni, who signed an open letter this week calling upon Harvard to reverse its decision to honor Peretz and establish a fund in his name. Separately, several Harvard student groups representing Arab, African-American, Muslim, and Latino students jointly signed letters condemning the decision to honor Peretz.

Harvard administrators have cited Peretz’ recent attempt to apologize for a few of his most recent remarks after they drew nationwide condemnation; but these half-hearted and belated remarks do not address the many racist statements he has made over the past few decades.

“The Harvard administration has no right to accept to absolve Martin Peretz of his racism on behalf of students of color and others who oppose racism,” Rashid said.

UN: Two men killed on ‘Mavi Marmara’ were holding cameras when they were shot

Sep 25, 2010

Philip Weiss

We’ve failed to post anything on the United Nations Human Rights Council’s report issued three days ago on the Israeli raid on the Gaza flotilla last May that found that Israel had committed grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law. But big deal we’re late–the mainstream media have largely ignored the report.

I have to read the report through. But here’s the UN link. I see that the report describes the operation as disproportionate, with “unnecessary and incredible” violence, and “an unacceptable level of brutality.”

And glancing at the narrative, the report finds that two of the 9 men killed in the raid, including American Furkan Dogan, were holding cameras and using them to film the Israeli invaders when they were shot. Additionally– despite the sticks and catapults that some passengers used on the commandos– the four people killed on the lower, bridge deck were not posing any physical threat to the raiders, who were then on the top deck, and in fact were trying to get out of the way.

Also notice the description of Gaza conditions as an unacceptable disgrace in the 21st century and the poetical language about Jewish victimhood (as I read it anyway) near the end– Jews must find the strength to pluck from their memory rooted sorrows. Excerpts:

The Mission does not find it plausible that soldiers were holding their weapons and firing as they descended on the rope [from the helicopter]. However, it has concluded that live ammunition was used from the helicopter onto the top deck prior to the descent of the soldiers…. Further, the Mission finds that the Israeli accounts so inconsistent and contradictory with regard to evidence of alleged firearms injuries to Israeli soldiers that it has to reject it..

At least one of those killed [on the top deck, American Furkan Dogan] was using a video camera and not involved in any of the fighting with the soldiers….

Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition both from the top deck at passengers on the bridge deck below and after they had moved down to the bridge deck. At least four passengers were killed,73 and at least nine injured (five with firearms injuries) during this phase. None of the four passengers who were killed, including a photographer who at the time of being shot was engaged in taking photographs [Cevdet Kiliclar] and was shot by an Israeli soldier positioned on the top deck above, posed any threat to the Israeli forces. There was considerable live fire from Israeli soldiers on the top deck and a number of passengers were injured or killed whilst trying to take refuge inside the door or assisting other to do so…

The Mission is not alone in finding that a deplorable situation exists in Gaza. It has been characterized as ‘unsustainable’. This is totally intolerable and unacceptable in the 21st Century. It is amazing that anyone could characterise the condition of the people there as satisfying the most basic of acceptable standards. The parties and the international community are urged to find the solution that will address all legitimate security concern of
both Israel and the people of Palestine both of whom are equally entitled to “their place under the heavens”. The apparent dichotomy in this case between the competing right of security and the right to a decent living can only be resolved if old antagonisms are subordinated to a sense of justice and fair play. One has to find the strength to pluck from the memory rooted sorrows and to move on….

It is hoped that there will be swift action by the Government of Israel. This will go a long way to reversing the regrettable reputation which that country has for impunity and intransigence in international affairs.

The legend of the Silwad sniper

Sep 25, 2010

Philip Weiss

silwad

Last week a group of Palestinian fitness junkies no different from any group of hikers or bikers or joggers in the U.S. went for a hike in the hills of the occupied West Bank. I went along, and when we came to this ridge, an older man said we were looking down at the scene of a legend in Palestinian history: the Silwad sniper.

Down in the notch in the middle ground, you can see the Nablus road, going from north to south (left to right), and making a junction with a road from the east. A flagship Israeli settlement called Ofra is straight ahead. There used to be an Israeli checkpoint at the junction, protecting the settlers.

Then early one morning in March 2002, during the second intifadah, a young man from the village on the hill at the right, Silwad, crept down into the rocks and trees above the checkpoint with his grandfather’s archaic WW2 rifle and 30 rounds, and as the sun rose he picked off Israeli soldiers. He killed 10 of them, and one settler. The echoes in the ravine kept the Israelis from knowing where the sniper was. When he had fired all his rounds, he crept back to the village.

Weeks went by, and then the sniper made a mistake. He told one man what he’d done. That person told someone else, and before long the Israelis arrested him. Today he is serving many life sentences.

As we walked away, I asked a Palestinian friend how many Palestinians regard the sniper as heroic. “Oh– everyone. Except maybe Abu Mazen.”

After the hike I learned more about the sniper’s legend. His name is Thaer Hamad. His father is interviewed by Europeans here, who give him the hero treatment. The Boston Globe covered the case; his feat is debated among war fans; and Debka file argues that he can’t have acted alone. You’ll see that the facts are different in each version.

The terrain in the story reminds me of western legend, the mountains of the Spanish civil war. The Spanish Republicans’ resistance to Franco’s nationalists in the ’30s is heroic. Think of the movie Pan’s Labyrinth or the Hemingway novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. In Hemingway’s novel, the brave peasant guerrillas make raids on soldiers on the road. There is no question whose side we’re on; though yes, Hemingway lets us know how questionable violence is in Pilar’s beautiful monologue about the civilian massacre in her village. All the fascists the republicans could get their hands on were mercilessly slaughtered, pushed off a cliff.

A modern Hemingway could never write For Whom the Bell Tolls about the Silwad sniper who made the mistake of opening his mouth. And Guillermo del Toro could never direct a Pan’s Labyrinth about Palestinian resistance. Because mainstream western culture has so far only humanized one side in this struggle: the Israeli victims of the second intifadah–most of them civilians– whose government is colonizing Palestinian land. 

If you wrote an article or novel about the Silwad sniper who made the mistake of opening his mouth, a mainstream editor would demand that you humanize his victims, and tell their story too.

Obama’s speech the other day to the U.N. General Assembly shows how limited the American view is of this struggle. He assailed Palestinians who resort to violence, but he did not address real Palestinian conditions. He did not acknowledge the chief cause of violence: occupation. 

He spoke several times about Palestinian “dignity” but did not criticize the Israeli assaults on their dignity. And while he attacked Palestinian “rejectionists” and others who would “tear down” Israel, he did not mention the main reason people want to tear down Israel– the occupation, its endless humiliation and dispossession of Palestinians. 

I’m in Jordan, and I can tell you that people here scoff at Obama’s demand that the Arab states normalize relations with Israel. They won’t do so until it ceases its occupation, the militarized seizure of land and water. Arabs know all the latest news from the occupation, in which Palestinian babies die and armed settlers rampage through Palestinian villages. That killing in occupied East Jerusalem the other day was on the front page of the Jordan Times.

I’m against violence as much as anyone on this site. But the Silwad sniper and Pan’s Labyrinth and For Whom the Bell Tolls remind us that human beings resort to violence when they don’t have freedom. 

Under occupation, Palestinians live in a kind of prison; and our elected leaders have failed to acknowledge these conditions, and the New York Times and the nightly news do a lousy job of giving Americans half the info that the Arab world gets.

That is why the nonviolent BDS movement seems so urgent to me. The only way to honor Palestinian dignity is to take real action to lift the occupation. Without such action, we know what people are likely to do.

He willed it but it’s still a dream

Sep 25, 2010

Philip Weiss

From The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, the Austrian writer/statesman who founded the movement for political Zionism. August 6, 1999, Vienna.

My testament for the Jewish people:

Make your State in such a way that the stranger will feel comfortable among you.

Two conversations with Europeans in Jordan touch on Jewish fears re anti-Semitism

Sep 25, 2010

Philip Weiss

A friend back in the States has told me that he’s heard several anecdotes about anti-Semitism in Europe, weird comments made to Jews, and he’s scared by it. In Jordan, I’ve run into a couple Europeans who remind me of my friend’s concern. 

In one instance, a European scholar who is deeply upset by the colonization of Palestine– “it’s ethnic cleansing in a quiet way”–said that she has stopped collaborating with Israeli scholars because they are too grabby. They take her research, they are stingy with credit.

In the second instance, I ate dinner with several researchers and an Italian woman said, “May I ask you a question, why are Jews so rich?” She told me that the wealthiest people in Italy are rich. A Jordanian at the table then stated a belief across the Arab world, Jewish wealth sustains Israel politically. And a Mexican scholar said that the richest people in Mexico are also Jews.

In response, I talked about the history of usury in Europe and the reliance on Jewish outsider-traders to perform a function that Christians opposed in theory. (Reading Slezkine.) I said that when the nation state rose in the 1700s and 1800s, Jewish bankers were essential to its growth (reading Ginsberg). And that for cultural/textual reasons that were hard to fathom but undeniable, Jews were skilled at capitalism (reading Muller). The people at the table listened.

I didn’t feel threatened by either conversation, though I think many Jews would feel that way. In the first instance, I think that there may have been some anti-Semitism in the woman’s response but she clearly dislikes Israel and I find it hard to blame her. Israel is expansionist; Jordan is filled with Palestinian refugees forced off their land. Jews who say that anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism are generally the people who are in complete denial of Israel’s conduct.

In the second instance, I continue to believe that honest conversations about American support for Israel will inevitably include references to Jewish wealth. I wish the disparity were not the case, and I know that acknowledging it is fearful, given the historical background. But it’s true; and people obviously want to talk about it. I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

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A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS


Mental health cure isn’t available with a pill

26 Sep 2010

My following book review appeared in yesterday’s Sydney Sun Herald:

Crazy Like Us
Ethan Watters
Scribe, $35

About one in five adult Australians will experience mental illness at some point.

In the US, about 27 per cent of people aged 18 and older suffer from a mental disorder each year.

These are startling figures that are constantly rising and show both a growing acceptance of mental illness in our societies and a medical profession happy to prescribe pills to lessen the load. Billions of dollars are spent globally but there is little evidence that mental illness is decreasing in frequency or intensity.

The problem is that the West has convinced itself that it has the answers to manage mental conditions and should offer these “solutions” to the globe. “We are engaged in the grand project of Americanising the world’s understanding of the human mind,” writes journalist Ethan Watters in this fascinating book on the dark side of a contemporary affliction.

His thesis is that multinational drug companies “have an incentive to promote universal disease categories because they can make fortunes selling the drugs that purport to cure those illnesses”.

But this work isn’t simply hundreds of pages bashing drug companies. The author takes the issue much further, arguing for far greater cultural sensitivity by researchers, anthropologists, psychiatrists, human-rights activists and non-governmental organisations when working in countries that don’t subscribe to Western roles and attitudes.

An easy, quick fix for mental issues is seductive and Western practitioners are busy spreading the word across the globe. Watters examines four societies – Zanzibar, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Japan – and finds a confused population often desperate for mental nirvana. But are they losing cultural diversity in the process by being given so-called solutions that may work in Los Angeles but not necessarily in Zanzibar City?

The most fascinating chapter examines Sri Lanka after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. The east coast was devastated, families were destroyed and entire towns were washed away. Watters profiles the actions of the executive director of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies, Debra Wentz, who spent the first hours and days working tirelessly to help as many victims as possible. She soon wanted to raise money to bring American trauma experts to train local counsellors to diagnose and treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Watters painstakingly explains the well-meaning but naive effort of wanting to impose Western ways of addressing psychological trauma: “The idea that people from different cultures might have fundamentally different psychological reactions to a traumatic event is hard for Americans to grasp. The human body’s visceral reaction to trauma – adrenalin, fear and the fight-or-flight response – is so primal that we assume that the after-effects of such events would also be the same everywhere … Western traumatologists have developed a set of beliefs about how best to heal from the psychological effects of trauma … Against a growing body of evidence, traumatologists assume these ideas to be universally true.”

Both cultural ignorance and Western arrogance are detailed by Watters. When children affected by the tsunami in Sri Lanka wanted to return to school after the event, a counsellor told the BBC that they were “clearly in denial”.

The parochialism worsened. Numerous reports emerged of mental health workers who didn’t speak the local language or understand local culture simply getting in the way of effective community work.

Western drug firms such as Pfizer were fast off the mark, keen to join the PTSD parade. Disaster exploitation for financial gain, something articulated in Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, was rampant. There’s nothing like chaos to generate huge income for shareholders, far removed from the scene of the crime. A director of the World Health Organisation’s mental health initiative in Sri Lanka, John Mahoney, told a journalist that his group “found one organisation just handing out antidepressants to people”.

Watters summarises the fundamental fault at the heart of Western post-imperialist do-gooding, dressed up as human-rights outreach: “It is the psychiatric equivalent of handing out blankets to sick natives without considering the pathogens that hide deep in the fabric.”

This isn’t a book that advocates isolationism or avoidance of international disaster relief. Watters questions the ever-growing industry of Western miracle cures for a brain we humans barely understand.

Humility and cross-cultural understanding won’t kill us when entering societies that have thrived long before Westerners came on the scene.

 

Tutu on why we must isolate complicit Israeli universities

26 Sep 2010

The moral beacon Desmond Tutu on the moral responsibility to take a stand against Israel, an apartheid state that conjures up ugly historical comparisons:

‘The temptation in our situation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine to a state of their own.

We can easily be enticed to read reconciliation and fairness as meaning parity between justice and injustice. Having achieved our own freedom, we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others face. Yet we would be less than human if we did so. It behoves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice.” – Nelson Mandela, December 4 1997

Struggles for freedom and justices are fraught with huge moral dilemmas. How can we commit ourselves to virtue – before its political triumph – when such commitment may lead to ostracism from our political allies and even our closest partners and friends? Are we willing to speak out for justice when the moral choice that we make for an oppressed community may invite phone calls from the powerful or when possible research funding will be withdrawn from us? When we say “Never again!” do we mean “Never again!”, or do we mean “Never again to us!”?

Our responses to these questions are an indication of whether we are really interested in human rights and justice or whether our commitment is simply to secure a few deals for ourselves, our communities and our institutions – but in the process walking over our ideals even while we claim we are on our way to achieving them?

The issue of a principled commitment to justice lies at the heart of responses to the suffering of the Palestinian people and it is the absence of such a commitment that enables many to turn a blind eye to it.

Consider for a moment the numerous honorary doctorates that Nelson Mandela and I have received from universities across the globe. During the years of apartheid many of these same universities denied tenure to faculty who were “too political” because of their commitment to the struggle against apartheid. They refused to divest from South Africa because “it will hurt the blacks” (investing in apartheid South Africa was not seen as a political act; divesting was).

Let this inconsistency please not be the case with support for the Palestinians in their struggle against occupation.

I never tire of speaking about the very deep distress in my visits to the Holy Land; they remind me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like we did when young white police officers prevented us from moving about. My heart aches. I say, “Why are our memories so short?” Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their own previous humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon?

Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about all the downtrodden?

Together with the peace-loving peoples of this Earth, I condemn any form of violence – but surely we must recognise that people caged in, starved and stripped of their essential material and political rights must resist their Pharaoh? Surely resistance also makes us human? Palestinians have chosen, like we did, the nonviolent tools of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

South African universities with their own long and complex histories of both support for apartheid and resistance to it should know something about the value of this nonviolent option.

The University of Johannesburg has a chance to do the right thing, at a time when it is unsexy. I have time and time again said that we do not want to hurt the Jewish people gratuitously and, despite our deep responsibility to honour the memory of the Holocaust and to ensure it never happens again (to anyone), this must not allow us to turn a blind eye to the suffering of Palestinians today.

I support the petition by some of the most prominent South African academics who call on the University of Johannesburg to terminate its agreement with Ben-Gurion University in Israel (BGU). These petitioners note that: “All scholarly work takes place within larger social contexts – particularly in institutions committed to social transformation. South African institutions are under an obligation to revisit relationships forged during the apartheid era with other institutions that turned a blind eye to racial oppression in the name of ‘purely scholarly’ or ‘scientific work’.” It can never be business as usual.

Israeli Universities are an intimate part of the Israeli regime, by active choice. While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation. BGU is no exception. By maintaining links to both the Israeli defence forces and the arms industry, BGU structurally supports and facilitates the Israeli occupation. For example, BGU offers a fast-tracked programme of training to Israeli Air Force pilots.

In the past few years, we have been watching with delight UJ’s transformation from the Rand Afrikaans University, with all its scientific achievements but also ugly ideological commitments. We look forward to an ongoing principled transformation. We don’t want UJ to wait until others’ victories have been achieved before offering honorary doctorates to the Palestinian Mandelas or Tutus in 20 years’ time.

 

The Sri Lankan Mark Regev steps right up

25 Sep 2010

Welcoming (some) Tamils to Australia and Colombo’s Israel-style Canberra ambassador (aka the least credible man this side of Mark Regev’s identical brother):

Hold Western military powers to account (and the Hague beckons)

25 Sep 2010

The message is clear; Western powers can’t be exempt from thorough examinations of their war crimes. Hardly a revolutionary idea and yet such plans are virtually absent from “polite” discussions:

A United Nations investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan should be launched to identify and prosecute individuals responsible, says a former top-ranking UN official on extrajudicial killings.

Philip Alston called for the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the “conduct of the war” in Afghanistan amid rising concern over the level of civilian casualties caused by coalition forces, including Britain, and by the Taliban. It should be modelled, he said, on the inquiry into Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip.

In his first interview since stepping down last month after six years as the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Alston said the lack of prosecutions concerning alleged war crimes was a major cause of concern because of the large number of Afghan civilians killed in the conflict.

“If states are not carrying out reasonably neutral investigations and prosecutions of what appear to be serious violations, it does leave open the possibility that the international community should be intervening in some way.

“An interesting proposal, but one that would draw disdain, no doubt, would be for some sort of international inquiry into the conduct of the war in Afghanistan, along the lines of Gaza. Otherwise, who is going to do a thorough investigation and track down where the decisions were actually taken?”

Selling every public asset isn’t a pretty prospect

25 Sep 2010

Praying to the privatisation religion is a global trend, largely unquestioned and hopelessly mixed in result.

Here’s the latest debate in New York city:

In the face of drastic cuts in the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s bus service, the Bloomberg administration recently decided to allow private vans to carry passengers along several routes in Brooklyn and Queens where city buses once ran. One company began service earlier this month, and four more will be operating by October.

The vans, licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission, are meant to be a quick solution to the service cuts caused by the transit authority’s $800 million budget gap. But relying on a private-sector solution to a public-sector shortfall will also incur significant social costs and possibly doom Mr. Bloomberg’s long-term vision for New York’s transportation system.

If you’ve ever spent time in a city in the developing world, chances are you’ve experienced a transit system that relies almost entirely on private commuter services. Thanks to low barriers to market entry — often anyone with a working van or bus can pick up passengers — the streets are clogged with a motley assortment of vans and buses, few of them in optimal working condition. The results are, not surprisingly, higher levels of pollution and more accidents and traffic fatalities than in cities with strictly regulated public services.

Mr. Bloomberg and the Taxi and Limousine Commission have offered assurances that better regulations will keep the city from becoming an American Calcutta or Rio de Janeiro. But that’s an easy promise to make, and probably an empty one: New York’s experiences with crane and building-code regulations demonstrates that enforcement usually costs more than policymakers are willing to spend, especially in lean fiscal times.

Indeed, even though the van companies are already operating on the former bus routes, the Taxi and Limousine Commission has not added enough personnel to cover its new regulatory responsibilities. (It’s worth asking why, if such funds were available, the city shouldn’t reinstate some of the bus routes instead).

 

Moving Forward? Australia’s relationship with Israel

25 Sep 2010

Kill Your Darlings is a wonderful new Australian literary journal.

I have a lead essay in the latest edition. Here’s an extract:

I first discovered the importance of the Israel/Palestine conflict in my early teens, in Melbourne. I remember sitting around the Sabbath table with my parents and cousins, discussing the events of the week as we consumed schnitzels, soggy vegetables and chicken soup. In an age before the internet, we relied on print and radio for information about the Middle East, and it all seemed terribly far away. During the Intifada in the late 1980s, where there was the first mass-organised Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation, many middle-class Israelis suddenly realised that their government’s actions would come at a high moral price.

My family would rail against Palestinian ‘terrorism’, they abhorred then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Israel was blameless, cast as the eternal victim of irrational Jew-hatred. But the racism against Arabs, and blindness to the validity of Palestinian resistance, struck me as sick, a hangover from a Nazi-at-the-door mentality. I complained and challenged these positions, but I was usually dismissed as young and ignorant.

More than fifteen years later, I wrote My Israel Question as a statement against predictable thinking on the Middle East. I was writing as an atheist Jew, and called for a Judaism that wasn’t infected with Zionist supremacy. I opposed the occupation, challenged the Zionist lobby’s bullying of politicians and journalists, and asked for open debate. In return, I received vitriol and hate-mail from an insecure Jewish community wedded to the idea of Israel as a homeland (even though most of them never wanted to live there, preferring a far more multicultural nation in Australia).

But times are changing. I’ve seen a growing willingness in the wider community to challenge Israeli actions and question the Australian government’s unequivocal support of the Jewish state. These kinds of views, unprecedented a few years ago in mainstream society, are principally due to Israel’s increased intransigence and criminality – a consensus that is growing, despite both the Labor and Liberal parties refusing to open their eyes to the new reality in Palestine. Not that you heard any of this during the federal election campaign. In fact, foreign policy was mostly absent from the debate.

Times are changing for the best; Zionist bigotry is simply not tolerated

25 Sep 2010

The only way to mark Harvard’s shameful honouring of racist Zionist Marty Peretz is protest loudly. But of course, Zionists can’t be racist, right?

Now Washington can sell Australia far more deadly weapons to liberate Muslims

25 Sep 2010

Boys who like to play with deadly toys, your wishes have come true:

After some behind the scenes wrangling, the Obama administration and Congress agreed this week on terms for new defense trade agreements that will allow freer movement of military goods with two of its top allies.

The Defense Trade Cooperation Treaties, which were signed with the British and Australian governments, were approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Sept. 21 and now must be ratified by two thirds of the Senate. Accompanying implementation legislation must also  passed by both the Senate and then the House.

“This bipartisan vote comes after three years of negotiations and thorough examination. It is a critical step toward enhancing our cooperative efforts to combat the mutual threats we face,” committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) said in a statement. “These treaties help make cooperation between the United States and two of its closest allies more streamlined, efficient, and effective by removing unnecessary bureaucratic delays.”

Basically, the treaties will remove the need for the British and Australian governments, and a select group of companies from those countries, to apply for arms export control licenses when buying or selling military items for joint projects they are working on with the United States. This will primarily affect the allies’ cooperation in Afghanistan, but it could also have implications for a host of other programs, including missile defense. Nuclear technology and other highly sensitive technologies are not included in the agreements.

Though the vote was unanimous and the agreements enjoy bipartisan support in Congress, it still took three years to get from the initial signing of the agreements to this point. The Bush administration signed the treaties in 2007, after failing in several attempts, dating back to 2003, to push through legislation permitting “executive agreements,” which would not have required Congressional advice and consent.

Congress insisted on maintaining its ability to oversee and monitor these agreements, which are the first of their kind, besides Canada’s country-specific exemption. Lawmakers held hearings in 2008 and 2009 as part an effort to make sure Congress could ensure the agreements were properly enforced and that violations would be punished.

“Senator Lugar and I crafted these resolutions, and the accompanying implementing legislation, to ensure that our law enforcement officials will have the tools they need to catch and prosecute anyone who might try to abuse the treaty regimes,” Kerry said. “These measures will also fully preserve long-standing Congressional prerogatives in the oversight of military assistance and cooperation.”

Administration sources said that in the home stretch leading up to the committee vote, Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher played a large role in ironing out differences, not only between the administration and Congress, but also between the State Department and the Justice Department.

No full Senate vote has yet been scheduled.

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AMERICANS SEEK PROBE INTO 9/11

NOVANEWS

International Law Expert: Ahmadinejad is Right about 9/11!

26. Sep, 2010 

 9/11, Commentary/Analysis, Iran, Israel, Media, Middle east, News/Politics, U.S. Foreign Policy, USA, War

 

PressTV – Americans seek probe into 9/11

An international lawyer says many now question the truth behind the 9/11 attacks, and that American citizens are demanding an international probe into the incident.

Watch the interview here: Press TV Interview

“Ahmadinejad is absolutely rational and correct on this, that the American people are now coming to the point of demanding an international inquiry (into the 9/11 attacks), ” Franklin Lamb told Press TV. [Listen to Franklin Lamb’s radio interview with Kevin Barrett of Muslims for 9/11 Truth.)

The Beirut-based lawyer was referring to remarks by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his address to the 65th UN General Assembly that the 9/11 incident might have been the result of an inside job in the United States.

“This call [for an international investigation] didn’t start in the Middle East. It stated more than a year ago in Canada, in Europe, in Latin America, and increasingly in America itself,” he continued.

“There are just too many questions raised by architects, by pilots, by experts, by engineers, by [US Department of] Homeland Security employees and the FBI,” the international lawyer reiterated.

“There is every reason to have an inquiry and the [US President Barack] Obama administration should join this call, not oppose it,” he underlined.

The lawyer added what President Ahmadinejad said was a ‘logical proposal’ and that “the president of Iran is now in synchronization with the majority of the American people.”

* * *

“Only 16 per cent of respondents say the government headed by U.S. president George W. Bush is telling the truth on what it knew prior to the terrorist attacks, down five points since May 2002.” Angus Reid poll, 2006

Source: Muslims for 9/11 Truth

Also see:

 

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ANTI-IRAN DARTY ZIONIST PROPAGANDA MACHINE

NOVANEWS    

The Draw Of Power.

According to Zionist Henry Kissinger, power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

” I am not sure if that is true but I am trying to work out why anyone would want to meet President Ahmadinejad?

Unless it is to be close to his power, to be able to say they have actually met a President, even if his election win was fiddled and anti-Ahmadinejad protesters killed as a result.

Why would supposed radicals in North America wish to meet Ahmadinejad after he’s just given a conspiratorial speech on 9/11?

Why would anyone, with any sense, want to meet this certifiable racist?

Apparently, over a hundred people, including some radical political leaders met him recently, Fightback News covers it:

“New York, NY – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met here, September 21, with 100 leaders and representatives of anti-war, labor, alternative media and Iranian and Palestinian solidarity organizations. Among the participants were Sarah Martin, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Margaret Sarfehjooy, board member of the Minneapolis-based Women Against Military Madness, former attorney general Ramsey Clark, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, Sara Flounders from the International Action Center, Brian Becker of the ANSWER coalition, Ramona Africa of the Free Mumia Coalition and Amiri Baraka, poet and activist.

The meeting was called by the president of Iran with the hope that a frank and honest exchange of views will help activists further the cause of peace between the people of Iran and the U.S.

Specific demands raised include to oppose war, occupation and hostility worldwide; oppose interference in the internal affairs of other countries; support the right to nuclear energy for all, but nuclear weapons for none; and to support dialogue, justice and equality among all countries in the UN.

After listening intently to the statements of 22 of the participants, President Ahmadinejad said, “We have a treasure chest full of views. I agree with everything you have said and therefore you have spoken from my heart also. Now I will speak in my own way.”

He said that the source of war, capitalism, must be identified and pointed out. “Violent capitalism is based on superiority, hegemony and violation of rights.” He went on to say that one reason capitalists start wars is to fill up their pockets. They must empty their arsenals so they can build more weapons. As he said at a U.N. meeting earlier in the day, “Capitalism has come to an end. It has reached a deadlock. Its historical moment has ended and efforts to restore it won’t go very far.”

Ahmadinejad spoke of the U.S. wars in Iraq and deaths of over 1 million people for oil . He pointed out that in an Afghan village over 100 innocent people were killed just to get a few terrorists. He expressed anger that even with the floods in Pakistan, the U.S continues to bomb Pakistani villages. He said it is hard to sleep at night after hearing the heart-wrenching stories of the Palestinians living under siege in Gaza with no medicines, no clean water and not enough food. He expressed solidarity with the activists’ goals of struggling for peace and justice at home and abroad and he pledged that Iran will stand strong to the end.

“Speaking with Mrs. Ahmadinejad and hearing the president reinforced the importance of struggling against the U.S. campaign to isolate and demonize Iran,” said Sarah Martin. Margaret Sarfehjooy reported, “I think the meeting was important because we had the opportunity to meet with so many dedicated grassroots activists from all over the country and share our hopes for peace and justice with the Iranian people through their president and his wife.” ”

SHAME ON YOU ZIONIST

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Y.SHAPIRA’S TESTIMONY FROM THE EWISH BOAT TO GAZA

 

From Occupation Magazine 

Journal of a voyage, by Yonatan Shapira
26 September 2010

The course is 120. Another 200 miles to the port in Cyprus and the automatic pilot in the boat, which is supposed to maintain the course, refuses to work and leaves me with the unending task of maintaining the course on a turbulent sea with no sign of land from horizon to horizon. In another half hour, Itamar, my brother, who is also a “refusenik,” will relieve me at the wheel, after him Bruce and then Glyn will take their shifts. If everything goes according to plan, we will reach Famagusta at midday on Saturday, and there we will pick up the rest of the passengers, who together with us, as strange as it may seem, will try to break the blockade of Gaza.

For some weeks already we have been making our way east, from the Greek island on which the yacht was bought, from north of the Peloponnese through the Corinthian Canal, the Cycladic islands. Already we have experienced just about every kind of mishap in the book: the engines overheated on us and died, the wheel suddenly became detached, the anchor got stuck, the sail tore, a storm, and more. What we have not yet experienced is the uniqueness, the wondrousness and the strong arm of the IDF – the most moral army in the world, for those who forgot.

Warships have not yet intercepted us, they have not lowered commandos on us from helicopters and snipers have not yet shot at us. Those challenges are still before us and we will experience them together with the passengers, among them Holocaust survivors, a bereaved father [1] and others.

The southwest wind is getting a little stronger and the compass is vacillating between 120 and 130. I glance at the GPS and see that I am veering slightly to the left. Well, if the automatic pilot were working I could simply sit, watch the waves and write undisturbed.

Seven years ago on the eve of Rosh Hashana we published what the media called “the pilots’ letter.” In that declaration we announced to the whole nation (yes, we wore flight-suits and were interviewed in the press and on television) that we would refuse to take part in the crimes of the Occupation.

Ten days after that, on the eve of Yom Kippur, we were invited for a talk with the Commander of the Air Force. After he outlined to me his racial theory (in the form of a scale of value of blood, from the Israelis on the top down to the Palestinians at the bottom) he informed me that I was dismissed and that I was no longer a pilot in the Israeli Air Force. Many things have happened since then. Many boats have crossed the Corinthian Canal, many demonstrations and arrests, but mainly, many children have been murdered in Gaza.

I remember Arik, a close childhood friend and a combat pilot, who hesitated over whether to sign and to refuse but in the end sincerely informed me that he did not want to give up his wonderful toy, the F-16. At first he still had a little shame about the comfortable choice he had made. Secretly he supported me and admitted that he did not have courage. Seven years passed and today he is still an operational pilot in the reserves, a leader of attack formations in his combat wing and on his hands or wings is the boiling blood of tens of innocent Palestinians and Lebanese, maybe more. The traces of morality that he had are gone now and today Arik will bomb any place at any time, wherever they tell him. That is the beauty of routine. In the end everything looks normal to you: an ordinary man, kind and polite and a good father to his daughters, turns into a mass murderer.

I was not a bomber pilot. I flew Blackhawks that are used mainly for rescue missions and to transport personnel. One argument we heard from those who disagreed with us, and especially people from my wing, three members of which signed the letter, was that none of us was asked personally to shoot or to bomb or to assassinate. We replied to that argument by saying that it was not necessary to commit murder in order to say that it is forbidden to commit murder, and that it is easy to say “I just held the stick while the other pilot launched the missile.”

Years passed and the events of the flotilla and the murderous attack on the Mavi Marmara came and proved that the connection between my wing and the murder of civilians is in fact a lot more direct. It was the unit in which I served and the helicopters that I flew that carried out the pirate operation and lowered the commandos onto the deck. It is quite likely that the very people who flew on that night had been pupils of mine or pilots who flew with me in the past.

What does a Blackhawk pilot think and feel when he is hovering over a civilian ship far from the Israel’s territorial waters? What is he thinking when he instructs the soldiers to descend in the middle of the night onto a ship that is transporting supplies of humanitarian aid, bags of cement and dozens of journalists?

Mainly he is thinking about how to maintain a stable hover and not to lose visual contact with the other helicopters and the ship below him. He listens and gives orders on the helicopter’s internal communication system and maybe he also feels a little fear; after all, hovering over a vessel on the open sea, and at night, is no simple task of aviation.

And maybe he thinks about a few other things. Maybe he has a certain political outlook and maybe not, but what is certain is what he is not thinking about … a pilot who is hovering over a civilian aid ship on the open sea is not thinking that somebody among the people below him is intending to shoot him or that they are in possession of firearms – otherwise he would not have approached the spot! If he is not conducting a necessary rescue operation, it is absolutely counter to army regulations; that means that they knew beyond any doubt that nobody on the Mavi Marmara was armed.

He knows that they are civilians who were set on expressing protest and identification with the million and a half civilians of besieged Gaza; but he apparently does not think about the fact that when masked armed pirates pounce on you in the middle of the night it is legitimate for you to resist the hijacking (even if it is tactically and strategically pointless).

To all who have doubts about the issue, I warmly recommend that you try to imagine that you are in the middle of the sea on a dark night and suddenly giant black helicopters are hovering low over you with a deafening noise and from them, like masked burglars wearing black, descend armed hoodlums, and warships are approaching you from every direction, and they are all shooting stun grenades at you and other things that you cannot identify, due to the noise and the darkness.

The sun has just set on the horizon. It is 18:52 hours.

I am trying to think about what will happen to us in a few more days near the coast of Gaza, within or outside the territorial waters. It apparently makes no difference when you are above the law and can shoot, hijack, rob, occupy and humiliate without anyone imposing any limits.

We are in the small boat of Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

We do not intend to fight the IDF, even though we have every right to do so. We chose non-violence as a tactic and as a strategy but we do not intend to give up easily until the moment they arrest and handcuff a Holocaust survivor and the bereaved father, right down to the last passenger on the boat.

The colours of the sunset are getting more and more dark and deep. Gold, pink and orange with light-blue stripes between the burning clouds. Now Bruce, on the wheel, is continuing to maintain a course of 120 with the two engines along with the mainsail and the foresail which add another half-knot to the speed. Itamar is practicing his guitar and Glyn is preparing supper. It seems like the clouds of fried onion are not only filling the yacht (and making it a little hard to breathe) but the whole Mediterranean Sea. Looks like I’ll skip supper.

Chief of Staff Ashkenazi told the Israeli commission of inquiry that investigated the flotilla events, that his conclusion from the events is – “more snipers” … yes – yes, that’s his conclusion from the murder on the Mavi Marmara, more snipers!

My conclusion was a bit different from that of a person who in the foreseeable future will be put on trial at the international court for war crimes. My conclusion was I had to join the next boat that set out for Gaza, and what could be more fitting than a Jewish organization from Europe that is struggling for human rights and peace.

I contacted the organizers and offered my services as skipper. Apparently seamanship was the most fitting of all the trades I learned in high school, and now I have the opportunity to implement what I learned, not only for pleasure but for an important and symbolic action with an organization that decided to invest a great deal of money, hours of deliberation, planning and endless preparations for one objective, to break the blockade of Gaza.

Yesterday evening on the island of Kastelorizo, during last-minute preparation of the boat, we opened the foresail on a large space near the pier and wrote on it in black in Arabic and Hebrew: “Yahud min ajl al-‘adala lil-filastiniyin” – the name of the organization – Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

The Arabic course I took in the summer helped me not get confused in writing the curved letters and Itamar, who stood above me and by the light by the public pier guided me up, down, left and right, so that the writing will look good and clear when we raise the sail upon our departure from Cyprus and as we approach the shores of Gaza.

Another long night-watch on the wheel followed. The sea was relatively calm, but a moderate tailwind insisted on bringing the exhaust from the engines directly to the cockpit, which strengthened my determination to skip supper and to contend with the feeling of light nausea by watching the horizon, maintaining a course of 125 and mainly by singing, again and again, the songs that sound most beautiful when one is on a boat in the middle of the sea: “if the darkness has fallen and I have no star … light a rose of fire on the mast of my boat, mother …” [2]

At 6:12 in the morning, as we approach Cyprus, with the first rays of light, Itamar at the wheel, Bruce and Glyn are sleeping and I am on the prow trying to breathe air clean of the smoke of the engines and trying to snooze, suddenly a medium-sized boat passes us. It passed quite close to us and looked strange. It circled us from the north and moved off to the west and looked like a small warship.

Maybe we are already a little paranoid and maybe not and maybe it was just a vessel of the Turkish coast guard; in any case, we began to think and to imagine to ourselves what our encounter with the Israeli navy will be like when we approach the coast of Gaza, what each of us will do, how we will take care of the passengers and how we will react if the navy’s Dabur patrol boat (as in previous incidents) attacks us and rams our little boat. We decided to write in Hebrew and English a declaration that we will read on the radio on the nautical emergency channel when elements of the navy or the air force approach us. This is what we wrote:

We are a boat of the European Jewish organization Jews for Justice for Palestinians

We are on our way to Gaza

We are not armed and we believe in non-violence

And we are determined to proceed to the port of Gaza

You are imposing an illegal blockade on occupied Gaza

These are international waters and we do not recognize your authority here

There are activists of all ages on this boat

Among us are Holocaust survivors, bereaved parents and Israelis who refuse to reconcile themselves to the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories

We are unarmed peace activists who believe in non-violence and we are determined to proceed on our way to the port of Gaza

We appeal to you, officers and soldiers of the IDF, to refuse and not to obey your commanders’ illegal orders

For your information, the blockade of Gaza is illegal under international law and therefore you are running the risk of being put on trial at the international court for war crimes

The blockade and the occupation are inhumane and counter to universal morality and the values of Judaism

Use your consciences!

Do not say “I was only following orders”!

Remember the painful history of our people!

Refuse to enforce the blockade!

Refuse the Occupation!

1. In this context, “bereaved” is understood to refer to an Israeli who has lost a loved one as a result of war or terrorism in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict – trans.

2. From the Israeli song “Zemer ahava la-yam” – “Love song for the sea.” Lyrics: Raphael Eliaz, music: Sasha Argov – trans.

Translated from Hebrew by George Malent.

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Posted in CampaignsComments Off on Y.SHAPIRA’S TESTIMONY FROM THE EWISH BOAT TO GAZA

DOROTHY ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS


“However, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Andy David called the protest ‘a provocative joke that isn’t funny’”.

“’It is unfortunate that there are all kinds of organizations involved in provocations that contribute nothing and certainly don’t contribute to any kind of agreement,’ he said.” [Jewish activists sail to Gaza, item 4]

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

Hi Everyone,

4 items in this message, none very long or taxing.

The one that opens the list is a commentary which argues that Israel can be either a Jewish state or an Israeli democracy, but can’t be both.

Item 2 touches a subject that I have mostly avoided: the present so-called peace talks.  I have not commented on them not only because I feel that they will lead to nothing (would be glad to be proven wrong), but also because I hope to inform, not to speculate.  If the talks should lead to peace, I’ll be only too delighted to admit that my doubts were out of place.

But . ..

Nevertheless, the 2nd piece is by Sam Bahour, a Palestinian who was born in the US and raised there, but returned with big hopes to Palestine after the Oslo Agreements got under way.  I respect Sam’s opinion, which is not in this case different from mine, but he is Palestinian, and  I think that his analysis is worth listening to.

The 2 final items are reports—item 3 about another shooting in the West Bank.  This time though 2 cars were apparently aimed at, only one person was lightly injured, a pregnant woman.  I don’t think that the Palestinians can win by using violence.  But then even when they oppose the theft of their lands and of their country by non-violent means the land theft continues.  Nonetheless, non-violent means combined with Israel’s attack on Gaza and the attack on the Mavi Marmara have gained more sympathy for the Palestinians, and non-violent opposition to the Occupation might in time bear fruit.  I just don’t think that violence will bring the Palestinians anything except Israeli violence in return.  I hope that we can avoid that circle of violence by making progress towards a one democratic state solution.

The final brief report is BBC’s on the small boat containing Jews on its way to Gaza.  I scanned the major British and American newspapers to see which were carrying the news, only to find that apart from BBC the news was remarkable by its absence.  The comments at the head of this page are from item 4, and express the same government attitude as was evidenced with the Mavi Marmara. 

I guess that the news was absent from the newspapers because the end of the building moratorium was bigger news.  That was in all the papers.  Israeli TV news published the big party at Revava to celebrate the end of the moratorium and the resumption of building.  Actually, Revava had nothing to celebrate: it had continued building all along.  I have watched this colony over the years develop from a bunch of caravans into a town not only of single family homes but also of multiple family homes.  I have seen how it stole the land from the people of Hares.  I remember when one family was told (about 5 years ago) that it should sell its land to the colonist, because if the family refused to sell (as it did), the colony would eventually take the land (which it did).  This, my friends, is Israel!  If others cared enough to end the theft of Palestinian land, it would not happen.

Would you like to lose your home and property to thieves?

Dorothy

——————————————-.

Haaretz,

September 26, 2010

A Jewish state or an Israeli democracy?

Benjamin Netanyahu is unsure of his identity: His insecurity is behind his pointless demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as uniquely Jewish.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/a-jewish-state-or-an-israeli-democracy-1.315725

By Shlomo Sand

A Jewish state or an Israeli democracy? In the talks that appear to be taking place between Israel and the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked his negotiating partner to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. One can understand the prime minister: A man so little observant of the Jewish religious tradition is unsure of his Jewish identity, hence his insecurity about the identity of his state – and the need to seek validation from our neighbors.

There’s far too little criticism in Israel of this latest whim, which until recently was absent from Israeli diplomacy. For years, Israel struggled to be recognized by the Arab world. But in March 2002, when the Arab League and the Muslim world took up the Saudi initiative to recognize Israel within its 1967 borders, a new threat appeared: peace, which can fragment the Jewish character of the state from within, and rightfully so.

There’s a wall-to-wall consensus, from Yisrael Beiteinu to Meretz, from enlightened journalists to learned professors, on Israel’s definition as a Jewish state. But this definition strikingly resembles the definition of Iran as an Islamic republic or the United States as a Christian country. True, some American evangelists believe that the United States’ Christian character is at risk and seek to cement it in legislation. But the United States, like the rest of the enlightened world, still sees itself as belonging to all its citizens, regardless of religion and creed.

Most Israelis would respond to this by saying Judaism and Jewishness represent not a religion but a people, so Israel must belong not to all its citizens but to the Jews of the world, who, as we know, prefer not to live here.

Strange, I didn’t know you could only join a people via religious conversion and not by taking part in its day-to-day culture. But perhaps there’s a secular Jewish people-culture I’m not aware of? Maybe Woody Allen, Philip Roth and others are secretly well-versed in the Hebrew language, cinema, literature and theater? For me, the best definition of belonging to a people is the ability to recognize the name of at least one soccer team competing in the local leagues.

The trouble is that the Zionist enterprise, which created a new people here, is far from satisfied with its creation and prefers to see it as a bastard. It prefers to cling to the idea of a Jewish people-race, profiting for now from its imaginary existence. We should remember that the strong solidarity among evangelical Christians and the partnership in faith among members of the Bahai faith still doesn’t make them peoples or nations.

Rahm Emanuel, as we know, belongs to the American people, and Bernard Kouchner belongs to the French people. But if tomorrow the United States decides to define itself as an Anglo-Saxon rather than an American state, or France seeks recognition not as a French but as a Gallic-Catholic republic, both men will have to immigrate to Israel.

I’m sure many of us wish for that. This is yet another reason for the insistence Israel is the state of the Jewish people and not an Israeli democracy.

Since not all the non-Jews among us can identify with their state, what they have left is identifying with the Palestinian Authority, Hamas or the movie “Avatar,” and perhaps demand tomorrow that the Galilee, which as we know does not have a Jewish majority, will be the Kosovo of the Middle East.

The writer is a history professor at Tel Aviv University.

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

As a Palestinian-American father of two daughters living in Al-Bireh, the twin city of Ramallah, no one on this earth more than I wish for Palestinians and Israelis to reach a lasting peace agreement. I suspect that the overwhelming majority of Israeli parents feel the same; I know my Israeli friends do. I would even expect that many of those Israeli settler parents who live on those military garrisons of confiscated lands that pepper West Bank hilltops feel the same too. But wishing in a vacuum artificially raises expectations that hurt even harder every time they come crashing to the ground to meet reality. 

The facts on the ground are bitter, very bitter. To extract the region from never-ending turmoil to that of permanent stability and normalcy much more self-reflection will need to be made by all the parties involved. 

I’ll start with my own side, the Palestinians. In 1948 Palestinians were dispossessed from 78 percent of our homeland, 60 percent of Palestinians are internally displaced or dwell in refugee camps just hours from their homes and properties, 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza survive under siege conditions, hundreds of thousands have been illegally detained or assassinated by Israel, and the economy is micro-managed by a foreign military that is underwritten by donor countries. The Palestinian negotiating team claims to be a legitimate leadership but there is not one functioning institutional body that can genuinely claim to be the source of their self-defined legitimacy. 

For its part, Israel is not in much better of a position. Its government is comprised of a toxic coalition that mixes neo-conservatism with Jewish fundamentalism and lives on the verge of daily collapse. The Israeli society is using the word fascism more and more to depict the direction of Israeli politics. During the last few years, past Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and current Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak both spoke of “Apartheid” as being the direction in which Israel is heading. Israel’s four decade military occupation has corrupted Israeli society to the bone; the military itself was one of the first victims but the society at large has not been spared. The settler enterprise has Israel in a bear hug that has the power to bring serious chaos to all walks of Israeli life.  The ultra-orthodox community is hugging Israel from the other side with the same vengeance. To save Israel from itself Israel needs a lasting agreement more than any time since its founding. 

Finally, and most damaging to the prospects of peace is the United States. Never being a neutral mediator and always using Israel for its own geostrategic plans the U.S. refuses to release its monopoly on the Palestinian-Israel issue. While it arms, funds and diplomatically covers for one side, it murmurs words of peace out of half of its mouth to the other. 

The U.S. has tremendous leverage that could be used if it was truly serious about bringing the region closer to peace, but ultimately, it will be the Palestinians and Israelis that must come to bear the consequences of an end to the conflict. That quest for an end of conflict will be served up on a platter of international law or on a battlefield of the law of the jungle. 

Illusionary peace negotiations can only lead to a hallucinated peace. 

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

Haaretz ,

September 26, 2010

Pregnant Israeli woman lightly wounded in West Bank shooting

Palestinian gunmen open fire on two cars near Hebron, in third shooting attack in less than a month; no militant group claims responsibility.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/pregnant-israeli-woman-lightly-wounded-in-west-bank-shooting-1.315813

By Anshel Pfeffer

Palestinian gunmen opened fire on two Israeli cars near the West Bank city of Hebron on Sunday evening, lightly wounding a pregnant woman.

The woman drove herself to the Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva with a gunshot wound to her leg. The second car targeted by the gunmen evaded fire altogether.

No militant group has claimed responsibility yet for the shooting and police were still searching for the gunmen’s car. The attack occurred just hours before Israel’s temporary construction freeze in West Bank settlements was set to expire.

On August 31, four Israelis were killed after Hamas terrorists opened fire on their cars on Route 60 in the West Bank. The four victims were residents of the Beit Hagai settlement.

In a separate attack a day leader, two Israelis were wounded – one of them seriously – when Palestinian gunman ambushed their car near the settlement of Kochav Hashachar, east of the West Bank city of Ramallah.

That spate of shootings coincided with the launch of U.S.-backed direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in Washington. The Islamist Palestinian faction Hamas have come out vocally against the talks, claiming responsibility for the shooting attacks and warning of further attack.

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

BBC News Sunday, September 26, 2010

Last updated at 15:54 GMT

Jewish activists sail to Gaza in defiance of blockade

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11414973

Aid supplies on board the boat include nets for Gaza’s fishing community A boat carrying a group of Jewish activists has set sail from northern Cyprus aiming to breach Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The 10m (32-foot) catamaran is carrying supplies including medical equipment, textbooks, nets and children’s toys.

The activists – from Israel, the US, Germany and the UK – say they will not resist if Israel tries to stop them.

Earlier this year, Israeli commandos killed nine people in clashes on board a Turkish ship trying to reach Gaza.

The boat, named Irene, set sail on Sunday under a British flag with 10 passengers and crew. It could take up to 36 hours to reach the Gazan coast.

Richard Kuper, a member of the UK-based organising group Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said the boat was a symbolic act of protest and also a message of solidarity to “Palestinians and Israelis who seek peace and justice”.

“This is a non-violent action,” he said.

“We aim to reach Gaza, but our activists will not engage in any physical confrontation and will therefore not present the Israelis with any reason or excuse to use physical force or assault them.”

Among the activists is 82-year-old Holocaust survivor Reuven Moskovitz.

“It is a sacred duty for me, as a [Holocaust] survivor, to protest against the persecution, the oppression and the imprisonment of so many people in Gaza, including more than 800,000 children,” he said.

Another passenger is Rami Elhanan, 60, an Israeli whose daughter Smadar died in a suicide bombing at a shopping centre in Jerusalem in 1997.

He said reconciliation with the Palestinians was the surest path to peace.

“Those 1.5 million people in Gaza are victims exactly as I am,” he said.

However, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Andy David called the protest “a provocative joke that isn’t funny”.

“It is unfortunate that there are all kinds of organisations involved in provocations that contribute nothing and certainly don’t contribute to any kind of agreement,” he said.

“If they were serious about wanting to transfer aid to Gaza, they could easily do so after undergoing a screening for smuggled weaponry.”

 

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