Archive | October 9th, 2010


Would ‘one state’ end the occupation?


One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State

Diane Mason,

19 September 2010

I think there’s a degree of wishful thinking in the positive reaction
from some pro-Palestinian one-staters to recent suggestions by a few
Israeli rightists that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be
resolved by gradually offering citizenship of a Jewish state of Israel
to some of the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories. The wishful
thinking lies in the assumption that “we” are talking about one state,
and “they” are talking about one state, so regardless of the
differences in the details we’re all to some extent reading off the
same page.

I don’t think there’s any basis to that assumption at all. What the
Likud’s apparent “converts” mean by the one state solution is that
there will be no Palestinian state, only an expanded Jewish state
encompassing Israel and the West Bank. Some of the West Bank
Palestinians may be granted citizenship in the Jewish state, so long
as they formally accept Zionist supremacy and don’t expect to become
citizens in the sort of numbers that would make them a “demographic
threat” to Zionist rule. Meanwhile, the Gaza Strip and its inhabitants
can fulfill Yitzhak Rabin’s dearest wish, and sink into the sea.

What does all this have to do with the “one state solution” as
traditionally understood by its secular left advocates? Not much. The
basis of their one state solution is full citizenship and equal rights
for all the inhabitants of Israel-Palestine, regardless of
ethnic-religious background.

In contrast, the Likud single state plan
is based on preserving the ethnic-religious privilege that currently
prevails, but preserving it in a way that attracts less foreign
condemnation that the current situation. It’s not really proposing
anything very different from the situation that currently exists in
Israel and the Occupied Territories minus Gaza, which is effectively
already one state where the benefits of democracy are rationed out in
accordance with one’s degree of Jewishness.

In the Likud single state solution, the annexation of the West Bank would

be formalized, instead of surreptitious, and some of the Palestinians who

currently enjoy no rights at all would be promoted to the second-rate citizenship

of Palestinians within Israel’s 1967 borders, but those are hardly revolutionary changes.

So, if the concept the Zionist Right is describing when it uses “one
state” vocabulary is nothing like what the pro-Palestinian one staters
envisage; if it’s based on an underlying ideology they fundamentally
oppose; and if it envisages an outcome on the ground that they would
never settle for in a million years; how much does it really matter
that the concept is wrapped up in sympathetic vocabulary? We might all
be using the same words, but we’re not talking about the same thing at

This is a phenomenon we’ve already seen with “two state solution”
terminology. Throughout the peace process years, we’ve been told that
Palestinians and Israelis overwhelmingly support a two state solution,
and that “everybody knows” what the final parameters of the two state
settlement will be. And yet, 17 years on from the signing of the Oslo
Accords, the two state solution – which everyone apparently supports
and knows what to expect of it – still doesn’t exist.  One of the
reasons why the two state solution doesn’t exist is that those who
claim to want it don’t even mean the same thing by it.

What Israel means by the two state solution is that it will annex to
itself those parts of the West Bank it most covets – the arable land
of the Jordan Valley, the West Bank aquifer around the Ariel
settlement bloc, the holy/tourist sites of East Jerusalem – but will
renounce responsibility for the parts where the non-Jewish inhabitants
– the ‘demographic threat’ – are concentrated. These resource-free
Palestinian enclaves can collect their own garbage, print their own
stamps, and generally administer themselves insofar as they don’t do
anything Israel doesn’t approve of, and this will be the Palestinian
half of the two state solution [footnote]. 

This configuration is called the Allon Plan of 1967, and apart from one major

amendment (Allon envisaged the Palestinian population centers returning to
Jordanian rule, whereas later Israeli leaders call them a self-governing

Palestinian state) it’s been the plan of every Israeli government at least since

the beginning of the peace process. Needless to say, this isn’t at all what the

PLO means by the two state solution. What the PLO means is that Israel will

exist on 78% of historic Palestine, generally in its 1967 borders, alongside an
independent Palestinian state that will exist on the remaining 22%, which we

currently call the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Palestine will control its own

borders and airspace, govern its own internal affairs and manage its own foreign

relations. In other words,Palestinians will be citizens of a state that is sovereign and
independent to the same degree that Israel is sovereign and independent, and its

citizens will enjoy individual and national rights that are no less than those enjoyed by

Israeli citizens. So when Palestinians talk about a two state solution, they’re talking
about two states of comparable sovereignty, where citizenship in Palestine is worth no

less than citizenship in Israel. But what Israel is talking about is giving a degree of

self-rule to those parts of the Occupied Territories that are too demographically

difficult for a “Jewish state” to swallow. That’s a fundamental difference, which

goes right to the heart of what we mean by a two state solution. Is the purpose of

the two state solution to give self determination to twopeoples in two states, or is

it to wangle a formula that allows Israel to jettison responsibility for the people of

the Occupied Territories while continuing to maintain control over their land? If

you can’t agree on what the two state solution actually means, then it’s rather unlikely

you’re ever going to produce one, no matter how much you swear you want one.

Hence the absurd eternal peace process of the past 19 years.

The idea that we’re making progress now towards a one state solution, just because

someone in the Likud stops paying lip service to two states and talks about a single

state instead, seems to me just as absurd.

The “one state solution” and “two state solution” are not in themselves solutions to

anything, they’re just words.  They’re words that describe political frameworks within

which Israelis and Palestinians might coexist when the 100+ years conflict between
Zionism and Palestine’s pre-existing population has been stabilized to the point that

everybody there is living in with an acceptable degree of normality. But the conflict

itself isn’t about that political framework. People aren’t killing and dying and expelling

and dispossessing because they’re really, really attached to one political configuration

over another. The I/P conflict isn’t about one state versus two states; it’s about whether –

in a land where many different kinds of people live – only one “kind” of people should have

all the benefits of a modern democratic state reserved to it. It’s about the institutional

sectarian privilege that allows one ethnic-religious group the right to exclusive

“self-determination”, even though this can be established and maintained only at the

expense of everybody else’s right to equality.

If the conflict in Palestine-Israel is one of sectarian privilege versus equal rights, then

the solution to that conflict lies in establishing national and civil rights of equal quality

to everyone who lives there. Whether you do that in one state or two isn’t nearly as

important as accepting the underlying premise, i.e. that humanbeings have equal

rights, unrelated to their ethnic-religious heritage. So the prerequisite to solving the

conflict isn’t thateveryone must sign up for the one state solution rather than the two
state solution (or vice versa); the prerequisite is that there must be a common acceptance

that everybody in Israel-Palestine has the right to full and equal citizenship.Theoretically,

you could realize equal citizenship in a single state of Israel-Palestine, where the population

would be roughly 50-50 Jewish v. non-Jewish, and everyone would enjoy equal citizenship

because citizenship is tied to Israstinian nationality, not religion.  Or, also theoretically, you
could realize equal citizenship through the establishment of two states: Palestine, where the

population is largely Muslim, but the Christian and Jewish minorities enjoy equal citizenship

because citizenship is tied to Palestinian nationality, not religion; and Israel, where the population

is largely Jewish, but the Muslim and Christian minorities enjoy equal citizenship because citizenship

is tied to Israeli nationality, not religion.

Against a backdrop of 60+ years of Zionist rule, establishing the principle that equal citizenship for

everyone is a more normal and desirable way to run a country than sectarian privilege maintained
through violence, is the tricky part of the equation. Compared to the size of the conceptual leap that

Zionism would need to make in embracing equal citizenship for everyone regardless of ethnic-religious background, deciding whether that full and equal citizenship is best expressed in one state or two is peanuts.

That’s why I think it’s premature for pro-Palestine advocates to make welcoming noises about the

Zionist right’s seeming embrace of a one-state solution. First, let the Likudniks clarify where they stand
on this question of Palestinian equal rights.  A one state solution in which the prerequisite for citizenship

is accepting Jewish supremacy, and where the right to citizenship is denied to a significant chunk of
the population simply because they would pose a “demographic threat” to that supremacy, is nothing

to do with the one state solution as it is commonly understood.  It’s simply a blueprint for continued

ethnic supremacy in a one-state configuration, just as the Allon Plan variants of Netanyahu and Barak

and Sharon and Olmert are simply blueprints for ethnic supremacy in a two state configuration. Right
Zionists who propose a one state solution as a means of perpetuating Zionist privilege have more in

common with “liberal” Zionists and their one-and-a-half-state solution than with those who believe

in the single democratic state. They share the same underlying assumption, i.e. that the problem to

be solved by the one-or-two-state solutions is not that of ending ethnic-religious privilege, but of

repackaging it so that its destabilizing effects are more manageable and more palatable in an

international climate that is no longer friendly to colonial thinking and apartheid laws.

If both ethnic supremacy and equal citizenship can theoretically take the form of a one state or two

state solution, then the most useful question to ask is not “Do you support one state or two?” but

“Do you support equal rights for Muslims, Jews and Christians?”.  So, when Israeli Likudniks say

they are suddenly interested in a one state solution, the first thing they need to specify is whether

they envisage a single state that offers equal citizenship for all its inhabitants, or a single state whose inhabitants enjoy different levels of citizenship, allocated on the basis of the inhabitant’s ethnic-

religious background. Unfortunately, I think it’s obvious where Moshe Arens, Reuven Rivlin et al

stand on that question. Until the Likudnik one staters can talk about one state with equal citizenship
for all its citizens, then their apparently groundbreaking one state solution talk is the same old ethnic supremacist lipstick on the same tired old Zionist pig.

Footnote: The defective “sovereignty” it envisages for the Palestinians means that this approach to

the two state solution is sometimes characterized as “the one-and-a-half-state solution”.

Posted in Politics1 Comment




Bill spills the beans– linkage of global terror and Palestinian issue

Bill spills the beans– linkage of global terror and Palestinian issue

Oct 08, 2010


Speaking to a group of Egyptian businessmen in Cairo Tuesday Clinton said Tuesday that solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict would take away much of the motivation for terrorism around the world.

“It will take about half the impetus in the whole world — not just the region, the whole world — for terror away,” he told an audience of Egyptian businessmen from the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt. “It would have more impact by far than anything else that could be done.”


The ‘Times’ smooths the path to the next Lebanon war

Oct 08, 2010

David Samel 

Should another war break out between Israel and Lebanon, who would be at fault: the nation that actually commences bombing and invasion, backed by the full diplomatic and military support of the most powerful country in the world? Or the country that is bombed and invaded, along with its quasi-ally that provides a small fraction of such assistance?

An article in Wednesday’s Times answers that question in typical fashion. The guilty party would be Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah party, and its main offense would be Hezbollah’s supposedly provocative preparation of a Lebanese defense to an Israeli attack. The article, authored by Thanassis Cambanis, is written as if the reporter were “embedded” with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In July, 2006, Israel launched a bombing campaign and invasion against Lebanon that caused widespread destruction and loss of life similar in scale to its subsequent attack on Gaza. More than 1000 Lebanese lost their lives and whole villages and neighborhoods were destroyed. Yet many Israelis considered the “war” a failure, since Hezbollah not only survived the conflict but also inflicted enough damage on the invading Israeli Army and on communities in northern Israel to force withdrawal before Israel had accomplished its objective, presumably the destruction of Hezbollah. Since then, many Israelis have been itching to resume the fight, just as they were for six war-free years after Israel finally ended its two-decade long occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000.

Now, the Times reports that Hezbollah is provoking the Israelis by preparing for the possibility, or likelihood, of the next Israeli war. It is precisely this defensive buildup that Israel is using as a potential casus belli to justify a new war.

Amazingly, the argument that a military attack is necessary to defeat those who are preparing to defend themselves from that military attack is not dismissed as a transparent absurdity. (In fact, it is the general assumption underlying all the war talk about Iran as well.)

From the very start, Cambanis uses loaded language to convey his message. “Hezbollah instigated its war with Israel in 2006.” It is true that a border raid on an IDF position was the catalyst for the Israeli attack, but the word “instigate” implies that Hezbollah intentionally provoked the “war.” Israel’s war preparations already were in full swing, and the decision to respond with a full-scale bombing and ground invasion was purely Israel’s.

Subsequently, Hezbollah chief Nasrallah has claimed, quite credibly, that he would not have launched this border operation had he known the Israelis would use it as an excuse to retaliate so destructively. Saying that Hezbollah “instigated its war” is similar to saying that Herschel Grynszpan “instigated” Kristallnacht, or that Princip & co. “instigated” World War I.

Similarly, Hezbollah is cast as the aggressor in the next war: “Hezbollah appears to be, if not bristling for a fight with Israel, then coolly prepared for one. It seems to be calculating either that an aggressive military posture might deter another war, as its own officials and Lebanese analysts say, or that a conflict, should it come, would on balance fortify its domestic political standing.”

In other words, while Hezbollah may say that its arms buildup is for deterrent purposes, Times reporter Cambanis knows better, and suspects that Hezbollah actually hopes to provoke a war for craven political purposes.

And wait. Let’s not depict Hezbollah as the sole villain here, when we can blame Iran as well. The Times: “because of the party’s ties to Iran and its powerful militia, Hezbollah officials say they are ready to fight even if a war would do widespread damage.”

In addition to implicating bete noire Iran, the article suggests that Hezbollah’s vow to resist a foreign military invasion is responsible for the destruction Israel would wreak; if only Hezbollah declared it was unwilling to repel an Israeli attack, the danger of “widespread damage” would dissipate.

Continuing with the Iranian theme: Hezbollah is “emboldened” because its “patrons in Iran appear to have regained control” after post-election challenges to its authority. The article also lays the groundwork for Israel’s inevitable wholesale attacks on civilian areas that characterized its previous attacks on Lebanon and Gaza:

“Hezbollah appears to have retained the support of the Shiite Muslims in southern Lebanon. ‘Hezbollah is not a foreign body. It is an organic, natural part of every house, village,’ said Hussein Rumeiti, an official in Burj Qalaouay.”

The message is clear: If Israel should again decimate entire villages and neighborhoods, we should not weep for the civilians killed in the rubble. They are inextricably intertwined with Hezbollah and therefore appropriate targets for Israeli attack.

In reality, Israel will bomb and invade Lebanon if it feels like it. As in 2006 and 2008-2009, its indiscriminate death machine will receive the full backing of its American sponsors, regardless of who is the dog and who is the tail. Israel requires no provocation by Hezbollah, and if ready to go, it will invent an excuse, or magnify a relatively minor incident.

In 1982, Israel’s pretext was the assassination attempt on its ambassador in London, and in 2006, it was the border raid. For the next round, it appears to be Hezbollah’s stockpiling of missiles to use in case of an Israeli attack that perversely justifies that attack, and don’t forget Iran pulling the strings behind the scene.

The Times article does not mean war is inevitable, but it does construct a framework to justify military action by Israel. Does the Israeli government bestow honors upon foreign reporters? If so, Thanassis Cambanis deserves top awards.

Israel wounds 11 in Gaza with aerial attacks and arrests nearly that many in West Bank nighttime raids

Oct 08, 2010


and other news from Today in Palestine:

Land/Property/Resource Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Tubas group sues Palestinian settlement workers
TUBAS (Ma’an) — A group of public figures in Tubas filed a lawsuit Thursday to the Palestinian General Attorney against Palestinian construction workers employed in illegal settlements.  The lawsuit is the first of its kind to be filed in Palestinian courts.  The complainants said they hoped to obtain a ruling which would demonstrate that the confiscation of Palestinian land to build settlements violated public and private rights to property.  The group, from the northern West Bank, said they hoped the Palestinian judiciary would assess the harm caused to them and their property by the construction of illegal settlements.

Freeze or no freeze, Palestinians find work in settlements (AFP)
AFP – They line up every morning at Israeli checkpoints: Palestinian workers who are paid to build the Jewish settlements that are eating away at their hope for a future state.*

Oren: U.S. offered Israel incentives for settlement freeze extension’
Comments by Israel envoy to the U.S. come as PA official confirms Palestinian willingness to rejoin peace talks if temporary freeze achieved.

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment

Victory in Sheikh Jarrah!
Activists were delighted yesterday when they won a sweet victory against the ever-encroaching colonization of east Jerusalem. The Zionists at Shimon Hatzadik had planned a huge rally for the night of the sixth of October and to support that had illegally (as always) erected three large metal flag-posts on land that was not theirs. Not only was this blatant trespass and criminal damage to property but these seven meter tall monstosities towered over the area in nasty attempt to dominate the locals, who already suffer from daily harassment and persecution. A large but calm crowd of Palestinian locals, Israeli activists and ISM’ers gathered with a view to removing this provocative eyesore without delay.

No justice for slain laborer
SHUAFAT, occupied East Jerusalem (IPS) – A peaceful morning is interrupted by the sounds of an Israeli helicopter circling overhead — often a sign of trouble on the ground. Later Sunday the news broke — a Palestinian man was shot dead in the village of Issawiya by Israeli paramilitary border police as he tried to enter Israel in search of work.

As Budrus opens in US, film hero is denied exit from West Bank
Budrus, a documentary about the unarmed struggle of a Palestinian village against the confiscation of its land for the construction of Israel’s security barrier, is opening today in cinemas in the US and in Israel.  I watched Budrus twice, a few months ago in Israel and last night in NY, in a special screening attended by Queen Noor of Jordan. I found the film as inspiring and compelling as it was on the first time I saw it.  In 2003-2004, Budrus played a key role in what became, in my opinion, the most important grassroots effort of the decade: the emergence of a widespread unarmed campaign against the occupation, involving Palestinians, Israelis and international activists.

Interview: Palestine’s red lines of struggle
The National Committee for the Protection of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is a newly-formed body that upholds the red lines of the Palestinian struggle. Hazem Jamjoum interviews committee co-founder Bilal al-Hassan for The Electronic Intifada.

Hope, and How Not to Visit Palestine
My visit to Nablus coincided with the first Palestinian Human Rights Film Festival at an-Najah University. Even better than the films shown were the panel discussions afterwards, on issues such as refugees, resistance and women’s rights. The first film I saw was “To Shoot an Elephant” (watch it here), a brutal, highly-recommended documentary shot by International Solidarity Movement activists who happened to be in Gaza as the 2008/09 massacre unfolded. After the screening the audience communicated with director Alberto Arce via a video link-up to Spain. (Alberto is permanently banned from entry into Israeli-controlled territory.)  Alberto said this: “It is not my job to tell the Palestinians what to do. It’s my job to support the Palestinians and to witness what’s happening to them. The Palestinians have suffered so much from the actions of foreigners, and foreigners have no right to impose their beliefs on Palestinians.”

The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement

Palestinians caught in border trouble
For the people of Gaza, living and working close to Israel’s border can be life-threatening. According to the UN, since the end of Israel’s attack on Gaza in January 2009, 25 civilians have been killed and another 146 injured for being too close to the border. Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith reports from the town of Juhor Ad Dik, right along the Israeli border.

Al Mezan Concludes Training on Lawyers Role in Detecting and Combating Torture
On Wednesday 6 October 2010, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights concluded a specialized training course on ‘Lawyers Role in Detecting and Combating Torture’, which was held in Gaza City. The training was organized as part of the EU-supported project on combating torture in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Twenty-five lawyers participated in the training course. The course provided 24 hours training over a period of four days.

Human Rights/Racism & Discrimination
Israel loyalty oath bill stirs Arab-Israeli unease
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing for a loyalty oath that would require non-Jewish candidates for Israeli citizenship to pledge loyalty to Israel as a ‘Jewish state.’

Lieberman: Zoabi is the reason we need a loyalty oath
Arab MKs call proposed bill “the height of fascism,” as well as “racist and stupid;” Israel Beiteinu denies law is in exchange for building freeze.

Woman filmed by soldiers describes torture, humiliation
HEBRON (Ma’an) — The Palestinian woman who was filmed, handcuffed and blindfolded, as an Israeli soldier danced around her said Thursday that the video only showed the beginning of “a journey of torture and humiliation.”  A video of 24-year-old Ihsan Dababisa surfaced on YouTube on Monday, and was aired on Israel’s Channel 10 News. Dababisa spoke to Ma’an’s correspondent in her home in Nuba village, west of Hebron, and described the ordeal which followed her detention.

South Tel Aviv residents step up campaign against refugees
Locals meet with Darfur survivor, but encounter changes little.


3 hurt in second IAF strike on Gaza in 24 hours, Palestinians say
Gaza eyewitnesses say vehicle hit by one missile launched from Israeli aircraft; strike comes hours after IAF hit Hamas targets in the coastal enclave.

Eleven Palestinians Wounded In Several Israeli Military Attacks In Gaza
Palestinian medical sources reported that eleven Palestinians were wounded Thursday after the Israeli army conducted several aerial attacks, and attempted to assassinate a resistance fighter. Damage was reported to several homes.


Overnight detentions include son of mayor
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Overnight raids saw Israeli forces detain the 18-year-old son of Beit Ummar’s mayor, with reports saying as many as 12 Palestinians were detained from across the West Bank overnight.  Ahmad Nasser Rashid Sabarna, was taken from his home north of Hebron in the early hours of the morning, local spokesman Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma’an.

Overnight detentions include son of mayor
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Overnight raids saw Israeli forces detain the 18-year-old son of Beit Ummar’s mayor, with reports saying as many as 12 Palestinians were detained from across the West Bank overnight.  Ahmad Nasser Rashid Sabarna, was taken from his home north of Hebron in the early hours of the morning, local spokesman Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma’an.

Political Developments

Palestinian factions urge AL peace committee to adopt new strategies to get Palestinian rights
GAZA, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) — Palestinian factions and political, social figures demanded Thursday that the Arab League (AL)’s peace committee to convene in Libya this Friday back the Palestinian move to suspend direct peace talks with Israel till the latter halts settlement construction.  The Democratic Front for the Libration of Palestine urged the peace committee to adopt a new strategic political policy based on multiple options, not only the choice of negotiations.

U.S.: We want to see entire Mideast support direct peace talks
Ahead of Arab League ruling on the possibility of resuming troubled peace talks, State Department official says only direct negotiations can resolve region’s issues.

US seeks Arab support on Mideast peace talks (AP)
AP – Amid uncertainty over whether Israel will act to prevent the Palestinians from walking out of nascent U.S.-mediated peace talks, the Obama administration is seeking Arab support for keeping the negotiations alive.*

No easing of Palestinian demand seen at Arab League (Reuters)
Reuters – Arab League foreign ministers meet in Libya on Friday to hear Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s case for suspending peace talks with Israel until it extends a moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank.*

Other News

Israel signs agreement to buy F-35 jets from US
Agreement signed for deal worth $2.75 billion including Israeli industries in production process, simulators, spare parts, will maintain Israel’s qualitative military advantage in region.,7340,L-3966219,00.html

Dogs to be used in next flotilla raid
IDF learns lessons from Turkish flotilla: Oketz unit dogs will be first to go aboard, keep area sterile until soldiers arrive.,7340,L-3966094,00.html

Hamas says thwarted Israeli attempt to locate Shalit
Israel attempted to locate captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit’s hideout via collaborator in Hamas’ military wing, Egyptian paper says; sources in group say agent maintained ties with senior figure, fled to Israel after being uncovered.,7340,L-3966144,00.html

Fayyad: PA will abide by court decision on cars
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Ramallah-based Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Thursday his government would abide by the Supreme Court ruling on the withdrawal of cars from civil servants.  The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Fayyad’s plan to revoke 6,200 vehicles from high-level civil servants should not be implemented until the court has reached a final decision on the issue.

Gaza burns as Hamas declares war on drugs
Use of narcotics has soared among a people under siege. Now the authorities have vowed to clean up

Letter to settlers: Don’t enlist because of Naveh appointment
Rabbi who took part in pulsa denura ceremonies calling for Rabin and Sharon’s death, urges hesder yeshiva students not to join army because ‘criminal who destroyed northern Samaria’ named as its next deputy chief.,7340,L-3966193,00.html

Slumdog Movie Star Turns Defiant Palestinian Girl
The Indian actress who starred in “Slumdog Millionaire” has moved from the slums of Mumbai to the squalid refugee camps of the West Bank in a new film: the story of a defiant Palestinian girl who wants to fight against Israel in a coming of age story with a Mideast twists.

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

Will Abbas get, and accept, a two-month settlement freeze?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is backing a ‘loyalty oath’ to appease Israel’s right wing, and there are indications that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be offered a two-month settlement freeze to keep peace talks going.

Scientific paper shows that Israeli attacks merely perpetuate violence, Philip Weiss
An important new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences uses statistical data on violent attacks during the Second Intifadah to show that violence breeds violence in Israel and Palestine. It reminds me of Ari Fleischer’s boast to a Cincinnati synagogue, during the 2004 campaign, that he had never used the words “cycle of violence” while he was Bush’s mouthpiece. No, all the Israeli violence was good violence. Reuters covers the paper here.

Jailbreak: Rep Donna Edwards raises money by championing human rights in Gaza, Philip Weiss
New is a lobby against the Israel lobby, and Donna Edwards, the great Maryland congressperson, is appearing at a fundraising event that the group is sponsoring, on Oct. 16, at the Sheraton Washington North Hotel in Beltsville, MD. 1-3. Maybe J Street will join up? From the press release, which is all about the occupation and Palestinian human rights.

Even “anarchists” in the Zionist entity are racists
“James Horrox’s book on anarchism in the kibbutz movement marginalises the Palestinian people in a similar way – they do not really exist in his narrative of how the Israeli collective settlements were established and then functioned. He is writing about Palestine, a country whose population was around 90% Arab (Christian and Muslim) when the first kibbutz was established in 1910, as if its primary importance was as a plaything for European experiments in group living [2].  The book is a strange attempt to blend Zionist mythology with anarchism. In the forward, Israeli anarchist Uri Gordon questions “the validity of applying anti-colonial hindsight to people that any progressive would otherwise consider economic migrants or refugees” (p. iv).”

assassinating the resistance: PFLP fighters survive attack, Max Ajl
Today, the Israeli military attempted a targeted killing of three “militants” (freedom fighters) from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The main target was apparently Ahmad al-Ashkar. The Israeli military hasbara spokeswoman said, “The organization was planning attacks against Israel in the coming days.” Does anyone really believe that these three PFLP members were “planning” an incipient attack against “Israel,” or that Israel is justified in attempting to assassinate them while its blockade constitutes an ongoing act of mass terror against the population of the Gaza Strip? Will we see condemnation of this attack from any quarter? Just from the PFLP, probably, and perhaps obliquely from Ma’an News. It’s true that the three militants escaped with light injuries and were not killed, but that isn’t the point. The point is intent, and the intent was assassination and the crushing of resistance.

Obama’s Balfour Declaration, Hasan Abu Nimah
Those who invested again in the so-called peace process apparently believed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was ready for historic decisions, and that US President Barack Obama’s support for the talks represented a unique and serious opportunity.  Netanyahu allowed Israel’s mostly fictitious 10-month “settlement freeze” to expire on September 26, setting off a desperate scramble among peace process sponsors to find a formula to “save the peace talks” – as if simply having such talks is the ultimate prize.  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US envoy George Mitchell and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton all rushed in not with the goal of stopping Israel’s criminal settlement expansion but to find a formula for Israel to continue building settlements while pretending it is not.

Barack Obama Cements U.S. Role as ‘Israel’s Lawyer’, Alex Kane
One of the more famous lines about the U.S. role in the “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator for the U.S., saying that “for far too long, many American officials involved in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, myself included, have acted as Israel’s attorney, catering and coordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace negotiations.”

WP: Dennis Ross is Netanyahu’s man in the White House, Philip Weiss
Here’s a shocking/obvious story (my emotional terrain alas) from yesterday’s Washington Post by hardworking Glenn Kessler about how Dennis Ross is now the “back channel” between Obama and Netanyahu.

Nothing Has Changed Since the Yom Kippur War, Gideon Levy
Nothing has changed in 37 years. Israel has the same arrogant hubris and the same obstinate resistance to any prospect of a peace agreement.

Following Israel’s capture of the West Bank in 1967, along with other territories including East Jerusalem, Israel has built and expanded Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land. The settlers enjoy the benefits of a separate, and far superior, civilian infrastructure to nearby Palestinian communities, and they are protected at great expense by the Israeli military. Under international law, the settlements are illegal. But despite private agreements with the US to rein in growth, Israel has continued the non-stop expansion of its illegal settlements. While the public stance of the United States is that it does not recognise “the international legitimacy” of the settlements, Washington has in practice provided decades-long support for Israeli policy.

News That’s Unfit to Print: UN Report on the Flotilla Deaths,  Scott Horton
The United Nations Human Rights Council appointed an expert panel to look into the deaths resulting from the August 10 Israeli interception of a flotilla of vessels bringing relief supplies to Gaza. It was headed by Judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, Q.C., a retired judge of the International Criminal Court and former attorney general of Trinidad and Tobago, and included Sir Desmond de Silva, Q.C., the British former chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and Ms. Mary Shanthi Dairiam of Malaysia, a prominent women’s rights advocate. The panel released its report on September 27. (PDF) It contains some startling findings, particularly surrounding the death of a Turkish-American dual national, Furkan Doğan, and five other passengers:

Sundus in Palestine
Sundus Abdul hadi, painter/artist/photographer and my wife!, just recently returned from her trip to Palestine. She was invited to be a part of a workshop at the Edward Said Music Conservatory. She spent two weeks in one of the most important and significant countries in Human History. Peep some of her painting work Here: Warchestra and download the accompanying album HERE!produced and engineered by her and I. All Live Instruments. Here are some photos of her recent trip that really moved me, and some of her new work.

The Palestinian Gentlemen: Peace Process in Style, Seraj Assi
This is the tenth anniversary of the Second Intifada, which broke out in Palestinian cities and villages in late September 2000 unmasking the myth of the peace process in the region. So it is perhaps an opportune time to reflect on the gentlemanly approach implemented by PA “peacemakers” for nearly two decades, while they celebrate the renewal of “direct talks” in Washington now.

‘Dying to Win’: Newt Gingrich’s ‘Terrorism’, Ramzy Baroud
On September 30, within the time frame of a few hours, an accused man reportedly confessed to terrorism charges in Germany, the terrorism threat level was raised in Sweden, and former US Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich lengthily discussed ‘suicidal jihadists’ in a speech he made in Denver.  Although it was tacitly understood that US president Barack Obama has distanced himself from his predecessor’s indefinite war objectives – embodied in the ill-defined ‘war on terror’ –  the chances are the dreadful term ‘terrorism’ is not going not leave us alone anytime soon.

The Media’s Construction of the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’: How Islamophobic blogs manufactured a controversy, Alex Kane
How did a local story about a proposal to build an Islamic cultural center in Lower Manhattan turn into a national controversy about whether a “Ground Zero Mosque” would be a slap in the face to 9/11 victims?  It started with a small group of anti-Muslim activists who suggested the proposal was a scheme by anti-American Muslims to “conquer” the hallowed site of the September 11 attacks (Big Government, 5/18/10). Some even suggested that the Imam behind the proposal was an Al-Qaeda supporter (Fox News, 5/13/10). The project was named “Cordoba House,” opponents argued, in honor of the Islamic conquest of Spain, where Muslim victors built a mosque on the ruins of a sacked church (, 6/21/10). How could anyone miss the parallels?  Created on small anti-Muslim blogs, the “Ground Zero Mosque” framing was eventually adopted by bigger right-wing outlets before making extensive inroads into broader corporate media.

The Bigot-Whisperers of the Right, Phil Rockstroh
The idea of Beck and Palin leading a populist, pitchforks and torches style uprising in the US is sheer fantasy. Most Americans wouldn’t rally en mass unless they could bring their couches with them.

Lou Dobbs, American Hypocrite
Dobbs has relied for years on undocumented labor for the upkeep of his multimillion-dollar estates and the horses he keeps for his 22-year-old daughter, Hillary, a champion show jumper.

Lebanon (and Ahmadinejad’s visit…)

Iranian and Hezbollah leaders to appear together at rally (AFP)
AFP – The Iranian and Hezbollah leaders are set to appear together next week at a rally organised by the Shiite militant group for the Iranian leader’s visit to Lebanon, a Hezbollah official said on Thursday.*

In pictures
Lebanon awaits controversial visit from Iran’s President Ahmadinejad.

Excitement brews in the south ahead of Ahmadinejad’s visit
KFAR KILA: Residents of southern Lebanon are brimming with excitement ahead of a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is expected to tour the border area with his arch-enemy Israel in a message of defiance.

Iranian-Lebanese film recounts suffering in war with Israel (AFP)
AFP – A Lebanese-Iranian film about two Hezbollah fighters and their women during the 2006 war with Israel is one of the biggest ever made in the country, one of its producers said on Thursday.*

Lebanon’s bloggers are pioneers in the Arab world
A recent survey of readers of the more than 400 blogs in Lebanon shows that their numbers are close to the online readership of the most well-known Lebanese newspapers: both averaging 14,000 visitors daily. This is a clear indication that blogs have become one of the main media sources for Lebanese youth to access diverse information and various opinions.

Bracing for Israel’s Next Attack on Lebanon,  Franklin Lamb – Maron al Ras on the Lebanon border
You can see Akka, Palestine from my favorite Lebanese village, Maron al Ras. On any day, but particularly since September 21 of this year, you can also see beefed up IDF military patrols, assorted electronic listening posts and sundry spy devices, new Raytheon-produced surveillance equipment, two new supposedly camouflaged cinder block one room shacks with Zionist soldiers peering out. They frequently glare from widows heavily screened to keep out stones that tourists on the Lebanon side of the ‘blue line’ regularly throw at them when UNIFIL guys aren’t paying attention or shoo them away.


Thursday: 15 Iraqis Killed, 39 Wounded
Baghdad and Mosul, as usual, saw small but multiple attacks, but it was south of the capital where the most significant violence took place. Overall, at least 15 Iraqis were killed and 39 more were wounded across the country.

Twin blasts kill 5 at market south of Baghdad (AP)
AP – Back-to-back bombings at a vegetable market south of Baghdad on Thursday afternoon killed at least five people, an Iraqi medical official said.*

Noam Chomsky:  Imperial Culture, Fallujah – A Partial Demonstration of US lack of Remorse

Iraq’s Disappeared
Whereabouts of thousands who went missing during dark days of sectarian conflict still unknown. Sahera Ibrahim and her family watch a recording of a news broadcast that she says shows her missing son in an Iraqi prison. Like thousands of other Iraqi families, Ibraheim’s believes her son is languishing in one of Iraq’s notoriously secretive prisons.  A tearful Sahera Ibrahim speaks about the day in 2006 when her son was taken away by an armed and uniformed group and never heard from again.  Each day before noon prayers, Sahera Ibrahim lights a candle at the Sunni shrine of Abu Hanifa in the Adhamiya district of east Baghdad to pray for the return of her son.

U.S. and other world news

US Attack Kills 4 More People In Pakistan
Thursday’s attack followed US and Nato apologies for a September 30 attack that left two Pakistani soldiers dead. The men were killed when Nato helicopters mistook them for insurgents they were pursuing.

CIA mum on lawsuit alleging drone targeting errors
The CIA has declined comment on allegations that its drones have a targeting margin of error of up to 40 feet, a malfunction that could be contributing to civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

No justification for US drone strikes, says Pakistan foreign ministry
“We believe that they are counter-productive and also a violation of our sovereignty,” foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told reporters.

54 trucks torched in raid on NATO logistics in Pakistan
Firefighters in north-western Pakistan were on Thursday trying to extinguish a fire that engulfed 54 trucks carrying supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan after the latest suspected militant attack on supply convoys, police said.

How long can US troops withstand rupture of Pakistan supply lines?
Half of the supplies for US and NATO troops come through Pakistan via multiple routes, according to US military officials.

Barack Obama accused of exaggerating terror threat for political gain
• Pakistani diplomat launches scathing attack on White House
• European intelligence claims raised terror alerts ‘nonsensical’

US veterans concerned over war trauma
Thursday, October 7 was the ninth anniversary of the beginning of the US war in Afghanistan. Marking the event at the US Capitol building in Washington DC, a small group of military veterans have launched a campaign to end the practice of sending traumatised troops back into the battlefield. Al Jazeera’s Josh Rushing reports.

Interview: Arab League reform becomes priority
CAIRO, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) — As the Middle East region is witnessing a very critical and yet complicated peace process, Libya will host an extraordinary Arab Summit on Saturday, with its focus on two topics, the improvement of the Arab joint action and an initiative by Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa to establish an Arab neighborhood policy.  To reform Arab League has become a top priority to meet joint Arab work and achieve demands of the Arab people in accordance with international changes and challenges imposed on the Arab world, Hani Khalaf, a former senior Egyptian diplomat, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

US Town Wants Muslim Graveyard Gone
In the small town of Sidney, New York, officials are attempting to force a Muslim group to remove a tiny graveyard  on private property.  The town says the burial site is illegal and against zoning regulations, and that anti-Muslim prejudice played no role in their decision. They want the two bodies buried there to be exhumed and moved to another location.

France’s constitutional watchdog endorses veil ban
French Constitutional Council endorses ban on Islamic face veils, removing key hurdle France’s constitutional watchdog on Thursday endorsed a divisive law forbidding face-covering Islamic veils anywhere in public, but expressed concern about applying it in places of worship such as a mosque.

Goldwater: Israel lobby is way too powerful, it could send us to war, and money’s at the root of it

Oct 08, 2010

Philip Weiss 

The Rick Sanchez moment is turning out to be a great one. Sanchez has laid down his body for a good cause, an important discussion about Jewish power. Even Jeffrey Goldberg is on the defensive about the Israel lobby now, under the shrewd offices of Andrew Sullivan (look at all the weasel words here, I think, I believe, I think, I personally think– uncharacteristic of Goldberg). And Daniel McCarthy picked this up at the American Conservative, a 1986 interview of the late Senator Barry Goldwater by political columnist Jim Kolbe, as Goldwater was retiring. PS. Goldwater’s father was Jewish, and he sometimes referred to himself as Jewish, per Wikipedia. Thanks to Scott McConnell. The interview. Note especially the fear that a special interest could deliver us into war for Israel:

Kolbe: Aren’t the parties fairly broad in their ideologies?

Goldwater: Yeah, they’re much broader than they were. Much broader.

Kolbe: Is that good or bad?

Goldwater: Well, again, I think it’s good and I think it’s bad. It’s good in the sense that it gives a much wider representation of how the people at home feel. But it’s bad in the harm it does to either party and their principles, to the point that more and more people are saying, ”I don’t belong to either party.” So, that’s the harm in it. The damage that this self-interest brings on is that self-interest groups are now, more than ever, running this country. You take the Israel groups, and there are many of them . . . if just a rumor goes out that the president is going to sell some military equipment to an Arab nation, overnight there will be 60 to 70 senators siding up with the Israeli group. Why? Because they have money, and they threaten. But they’re not the only ones. You name it, there’s an organization in Washington working for it, all self-interest.

Kolbe: Is the Israeli lobby too powerful?

Goldwater: God, yes, way too powerful.

Kolbe: Has that had some detrimental effects on what comes out of Congress?

Goldwater: Yes. See, we have no treaty with Israel, but we have pledged ourselves to go to war if she has to go to war. And there are some of the actions that some of the Israeli groups take that, at times, I’ve felt would hasten that day when we have to live up to our promise. I can understand the feeling, but I’m getting awfully tired of the great influence they have and there’s no question about it. The last example was when we wanted to fulfill our promise to sell Saudi Arabia some F-15s. We sent them a few, but then the Israeli group got up in arms and, by God, it stopped. I think the first tabulation we got, 65 senators were opposed to it before any debate or any discussion. And that’s held true with every weapons system that we’ve wanted to sell any of the Arab countries.

Kolbe: Why do they have that influence?

Goldwater: They have it because, you take the big cities like New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, they have a tremendously large Jewish population and a lot of money, and these senators just cater to that type of influence. But like the influence of the labor unions, the National Rifle Association, the American Medical Association, and we could go on and on and name the influences that, while not as strong as Israel, have a great strength. And they make it hard for a man to run when he can’t get money, when he has a large dedicated group against him. The tendency then is to overcome that strike by going along with them (the special interests).

‘Notes from the suicide watch’

Oct 08, 2010

Philip Weiss 

From journalist Yossi Gurvitz’s blog, a photo from the Sheikh Jarrah protests. My title is his title. Israelis are alive to their society’s moral spiral. I ask you: Why isn’t there a demonstration in Washington against the illegal colonies, led by Michael Walzer and Jeffrey Goldberg, who both once said that the process was undermining Israel? Who is giving this brave person in the t-shirt support?

Where are the American brothers and sisters of the struggle for Palestinian dignity.

Could Israel survive without Harvard?

Oct 08, 2010


A friend sent along this report from a strictly off the record event at Harvard that promptly was reported openly in the Israeli media. 

The email which got directed to my Spam was titled: “CONGRATULATIONS.” The reference was to my winning a spot in a special study group with Tzipi Livni, which I attended yesterday afternoon. The instructions, apparently from Eric Andersen, a visiting scholar at Harvard Kennedy’s School Institute of Politics (IOP), were fit for a secret agent: 

EVENT INFORMATION:  Tuesday October 5, 2010 at 12:00PM in Kirkland House JCR [Junior Common Room]. The event begins at NOON. Please arrive by 11:50AM. Attendees must enter via the courtyard at Kirkland House.  All electronic devices must be turned off during the event to avoid disturbing the program and audience members.  No use of laptops will be allowed. Space is limited and spots are not transferable.  This event is strictly OFF-THE-RECORD. There is to be no Tweeting or sharing information on Facebook or any other social network.  Names will be checked at the door. Please bring proper identification.



As I stand in line to check in, an undergrad-sounding girl behind me looks at the poster advertising the event—a headshot of Livni, simple—and muses: “Oh, she’s so cool.” Once inside,  I run into my friend (there because his adviser told him about the event when it was publicized only to select communities), and he is wearing a keffiyeh, absolutely the only one in the room: in this context, this feels brave. There are boxes of burnt pizza and two liter bottles of Sprite and Coke and, briefly, Diet Coke. A few hundred similar-looking people. Suddenly, chatty youthful Hebrew all around me. Good cheer. Andersen introduces the event. He asks that, come the Q & A, questions end in question marks and not be intentionally inflammatory, and twice repeats that the session is “off the record.” Hours after, I found two  Israeli articles online.

Here, then, are some of the notes I took during Livni’s speech:

–          Ophir Pines-Paz, former member of Knesset for the Labor party, new head of these weekly study sessions at Harvard: “I’m sure, at least, that we all here have one thing in common—we want peace, not just peace process”

–          “We have worked together in the past,” says Pines-Paz referring to Livni—“And will again in the future!” adds a sitting Livni, her first words [Pines-Pas has endorsed Livni for PM]

–          Livni is introduced to a wave of applause; the young man next to me watches my hands not applauding the entire time, as he applauds

–          She repeats the phrase “time is of the essence” twice in 30 seconds

–          Repeats, also: the Annapolis Process was stopped, and if she had her way, it would have continued; digs at the 2 years it took the Israeli government to turn to negotiations [never once says the name “Netanyahu”]

–          Tells us she will begin with her own personal narrative; her family came at the turn of the century, long before we had our own state; we’ve been fighting for our existence ever since

–          “The Palestinians didn’t exist then [i.e. prior to 1967, apparently]”; Gaza was part of Egypt before 1967 [not Palestinian]; the West Bank was Jordan’s [not Palestinian]; she makes up more facts, and the other winners around me, the Harvard students some of whom will literally work alongside Livni, nod

–          Tells us she wants to share the “basic” Israel’s feelings with us

–          “We are not the Goliath like everyone says; we are the Davids of the region”; just look from the  “Google Earth point of view” [loud laughs]

–          “I was a lawyer,” she repeats; “I’m quite a good lawyer”

–          “I hate politics”; it was feeling caught b/t the Israeli Left and Right in the late 80s, and then Rabin’s murder, which forced her hand

–          States in passing that she believes, forever, in the Jewish right to the land of Israel: “Biblical, judicial—whatever”

–          A thick man in a suit stands directly behind Livni to her right with his arms crossed, waiting for a bullet; I only see 2 or 3 thick men in suits; one of them is staring down my friend in the keffiyeh

–          We must divide the land, she repeats; the Israelis agreed to this from the start, the Arabs did not, and will not

–          The entire Free World needs to be involved in delegitimizing Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah

–          Iran’s “religious ideology” makes it impossible to deal with [how come “ideology” is always the privilege of the devil?]

–          Take, eg, Ahmadinejad’s abuse of the UN Forum on the occasion of 9/11

–          Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran deprive us [i.e. Israelis] of our right to live, in fact [I’m so physically angry,  now, I can only make bad jokes to myself: e.g., a new monster, the Hamasllahran, has been discovered]

–          Repeats that this—[unclear what “this” is]—is feasible

–          “This is not a zero sum game, anymore”

–          “Time is of the essence”, again

–          Some people in the room may think new settlements hurt Israel; others may think it’s the only way to keep the State alive—“settlements are a small percentage of the West Bank” [–settlements, she believes, are NOT important if we want to end the conflict

–          “2 States, 2 Peoples” are not just words

–          The Palestinans understand this—[she’s telling us what Palestinians think]

–          Q & A: an academic asks about the future of a state—Palestine—which would be noncontiguous; he is cut off

–          “This is a zero sum game”

–          The raison d’etre of Israel is the preservation of a Jewish AND Democratic State

–          We must employ economic sanctions against these illegitimate governments, and not dilly-dally [it’s becoming clearer that TL is, actually, stumping, and she beginning her campaign in one of Israeli’s hearts, at H-D—you have to ask: could Israel survive without Harvard?]

–          My friend, who has taken of his keffiyeh, raises his hand; he begins to speak but is cut off by a voice from the other side of the room

–          A young woman from the J Street U. chapter of Brandeis, I’m Jewish and a Zionist, she says, but I’m concerned about dialogue with Arabs, about how we can improve dialogue with  the Egyptians; I was recently in Egypt and I’m worried that they’re cutting themselves off to dialogue with Israelis, and I think for my generation dialogue is the only choice [she is allowed to speak to the point of wondering whether she has any more to say]

–          The final 3rd question comes, somehow, from my friend: “Yesterday you condemned an attack on a mosque as against Jewish values. [Livni nods.] What are the values that informed the murder of over 1000 Gazans and Lebanese?”         

Livni gives one hybrid answer to the first two questions, more or less dismissing the academic as academic and telling us what the Egyptians feel. She pauses, repeats: all she wants is for the world, to judge the world according to the standards it judges himself. To the third question, which she deems “provocative”, she gives an answer which you know she has given before—and which is, then, that much more frightening, because it seems new. She begins talking about decisions. We must, now, take the right ones. Yes, she can identify with sorrow. She has only empathy for the loss of family—it is…[she searches for the word] heartbreaking—but this is not the point; the point is values. Her voice gets shaky and louder, and she’s gripping the dais and leaning in, now.

People around me get worked up, too, nodding their heads, some of them looking literally disgusted, glances tossed towards my friend. She tells us what terrorists do: they target kids in line for the discoteca, they don’t follow international rules, they hide and aim for children on their way to school.  Target civilians. They mock our right to live: this makes them terrorists. She references Iran again out of nowhere. She mocks the Freedom Flotilla with scare quotes; says the Israeli soldiers there were beaten. After she saw the video, she was sure they were right in defending themselves.

She could have stayed home that night, but she chose to speak out. Too many politicians, you know, in Israel—maybe even in your country—are afraid of public opinion. She returns, building, to Values; she hasn’t named a single concrete value yet., but she can’t stop summoning Values. In Israel, the soldiers are our children; my own son just put on the uniform. I am a mother. And he will protect his country, and protect his life. I know him. I raised him according to our values. This is how you know—we raise our children according to our values. They cannot be terrorists.  Thank you.

Tzipi Livni, I keep on seeing your son’s friends dancing with tied-up blindfolded Palestinians on YouTube; I chatted with them while they play-pointed their guns in Hebron: dress them as you like, you are raising terrorists. 

There’s an apology from Pines-Paz for having to end on that note. As everyone filed out, a Cambridge local held up some thin plastic handcuffs and called for Livni’s arrest. He was mostly ignored, except for thick guy walking by who told him with that unmistakable straightfaced joking: I used bigger and better ones when I was in Gaza. Once we’re back outside, standing about on a closed-off treelined street tucked into a corner of Cambridge you’d never see unless you were blessed enough to be invited, the one local cop from the event walks swiftly up to us and tells the friend with the handcuffs in a buddy-buddy Boston accent that he’ll get locked up if he doesn’t keep it moving. He can’t say what our crime is, but after a few moment he decides it’s trespassing.

The Israel National Library nationalizes Kafka

Oct 08, 2010

Philip Weiss 

When I was in Israel, Haaretz ran a big piece on a Franz Kafka literary estate, lately found in bank vaults in the country, over which various parties are contending, including the German literary archives. The piece included the usual stinking use of Kafka as a Zionist adherent, with Holocaust fixins:

“I want to ask the Germans,” says [National Library of Israel official Ilana] Haber, rhetorically: “If Kafka who died in 1924, had lived longer, what would have happened to him?”

She immediately answers her own question: “He would have been sent to Auschwitz like his sisters and many of his family members. It was his luck that he died of tuberculosis.”

… “Here at the national library we have a huge archive of German Jews’ [works]. Those that they did not succeed in killing,” retorts Haber. “The National and University Library is the cultural curator of every Jew, wherever he is. Not just from Israel but from the entire Diaspora. Kafka was certainly one of them. These are matters that belong to the entire community; to the Jewish people in this country and abroad.”

This angers me so much I need to vent about it. First, Kafka was truly drawn to Zionism, and also repelled by it. He went to Zionist meetings and dreamed of going to Palestine, but he also dreamed of going to Amerika. He went to neither place. His life was miserable for tuberculosis over several years. This was not luck. If he had lived, he might well have joined his friend Max Brod in Palestine. But this is idle talk.

Kafka’s identity was strongly Jewish, but he saw himself as participating in a much wider culture. Kafka’s awareness of anti-Semitism pervades his work, as does his love of German literature. He did most of his work in Prague and Berlin.

One of Kafka’s literary executors (in addition to Brod, a Zionist, who defied his friend’s wish that he burn his papers) was a Czech Catholic writer named Milena Jesenska, with whom he likely had an adulterous affair in his 30s. To Jesenska, Kafka gave some of his most important work: his diaries. As the Nazis closed down their hobnailed fist on Czechoslovakia, Milena crossed the occupied city of Prague one night to entrust those diaries and the burning, exalted letters Kafka had written to her to Willy Haas, a Jewish screenwriter.

Milena surely feared for the future of the diaries and letters if she held on to them. Haas hid the documents and fled Europe for India during the war years. When he returned to Europe, he published the letters. Brod ended up with the diaries in Tel Aviv. They were published in ’48.

By then Milena was dead. As Philip Boehm writes in his introduction to his translation of the letters, Milena worked in the resistance to the Nazis. She wrote for the underground press and helped many Jews to escape Poland. She was arrested in November 1939 “and ultimately transported to Ravensbruck.” There she inspired her fellow prisoners with her spirit of resistance. And there she died in 1944, at 48. Many non-Jews died in the concentration camps.

Kafka depended for his literary imagination on many non-Jews. Goethe, Shakespeare and Gogol were important to his reading. He adored Jonathan Swift. When he tried to explain to his very conventional father why he was walking away from Judaism, as his father interpreted the process of urban/cultural enlargement that his son was experiencing, Kafka gave him Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, to show him by example how Franklin’s father’s rigidity had propelled the irreligious youth out of Boston, to Philadelphia, and toward a life of freethinking. We are all connected.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on MONDOWEEISS ONLINE NEWSLETTER



The following posting with additional (see previous posting, October 11th,  titled “Works in Progress) analysis, references, discussion, was posted by journalist and blogger Dimi Reider (Dimi’s Notes).

Rela Mazali

October 9, 2010

Introducing Ethnic Cleansing

Noam Sheizaf reports on his blog the police and army recently concluded an extensive drill, practicing response to riots that would follow the signing of a peace agreement covering “population exchange”. Here is a verbatim translation of the very careful phrasing  used by Carmela Menashe, the IBA’s veteran military correspondent, from whose report Noam fished the info:

“The security forces completed yesterday (Thursday) a large-scale military drill simulating coping with Hamas attacks and riots by the Arabs of Israel following the signing of a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

“Our correspondent reports that among other [eventualities], the forces practiced radical scenarios of violent demonstrations in the Arab sector following an agreement on population swap with the Authority. A detention camp for the Arabs of Israel [sic] will be set up at the Golani Junction to absorb the detainees. The large scale drill managed and led by the Prison Service was attended by the Home Front Command, the Israel Police, the Military Police, firefighting forces and others.”

Menashe’s report also notes the Prison Service is prepared [sic] to release 1,500 illegal aliens from Israeli prisons to absorb new Palestinian detainees within 24 hours, although it’s unclear whether this refers to “the population swap” scenarion or the one described further on, that of a Hamas Gaza-style takeover attempt of the West Bank . If it’s the former, it’s enough to make one wonder just how many people the authorities are planning to detain, if they’ll need all normally available space in our detention system, 1,500 places more, and an entire new detention camp.

Noam writes:

I think we should not turn this into a conspiracy item. The fact that the security forces are training doesn’t mean that Israeli leaders have such a plan…

I beg to differ. First, a drill involving so many forces is by definition following a plan hatched  Israeli public servants and/or leaders. Second, bringing all those crowds costs enormous amounts of money in equipment, fuel, ammunition, and most importantly, important peoples’ time. Third, it’s worth noting that the other scenario practiced in the drill is that of a Hamas takeover of the West Bank – Israel’s number one conflict scenario in that region, one which the army and the politicians have been speaking about and preparing for to no end, ever since Hamas pulled off the Gaza coup.

Much of our policy in grooming the Bonsai kitten President, Mahmoud Abbas, and much of our ever-tighter cooperation with the PA’s security forces, are all centered precisely around preventing this threat from materializing. It would be good to have a full list of the scenarios in the drill, to see if only highly probable or also implausible but highly dangerous scenarios are practiced. But if the top brass are taking the possibility of preparing for transfer as seriously as they take the risk of a Hamas takeover in the West Bank, it means that what Israelis call רוח המפקד must be blowing in that direction very hard indeed; hard enough, as we see, to materialize into fairly detailed plans about who does what when they get the go-ahead.

The drill is also disconcerting for other reasons. As described by Menashe, it seems to assume that there will be a strong violent response from the Arab population, which means the expulsion-and-denial of citizenship “population exchange” will be forced, rather than agreed on (through, say, referendum.)  The plan’s apparent concentration on population, rather than territory swaps, evokes the possibility of not only fencing out entire Israeli communities in a “redrawing of borders”, but of actual physical expulsion and removal.

The report on the drill comes hot on the heels of other disconcerting developments. The ludicrous “loyalty statement” resolution due to be passed by cabinet on Sunday is one; another is the prime minister’s feeble response to Lieberman’s calls for population swap. More ominous still were commentaries by the omnipresent “sources in the Prime Minister’s circle”, who told Haaretz the day after the speech that “Liberman’s position has come up in internal discussions of the diplomatic process, but there is no official decision by the government of Israel on this position.” Read that again: No decision on ethnic cleansing also means not rejecting ethnic cleansing out of hand.

A natural outcome

But rather than seeing this drill as a conspiracy or a monstrous aberration, I propose seeing it as a natural outcome. When the Israeli Right took up the two-state solution it did so with every intention of living up to what this solution promises to the Israeli Jews: A secure and exclusive, ethnocratic nation-state for at least a few more generations. The presence of a large, rapidly politicizing Palestinian minority is a much bigger threat to this vision than either the West Bank or Gaza .

The current developments are perfectly reasonable outcomes of a marriage between ultra-nationalist values and the two-state idea: The important thing about the two-state, the symbiosis goes, is to secure Israel’s Jewishness; how sovereign the Palestinian state is open to creative interpretation, but the important thing is that as many Palestinians are excluded from any influence and contact with Israel as possible.

Hence the frenetic anti-Arab legislation, aiming to limit the role Arabs play in Israeli politics and culture. Hence Netanyahu’s insistence on Abu Mazen, a foreign diplomat, recognizing Israel’s Jewish character; and hence the determination to resolve Israel’s relations with its Palestinian minority through the most exclusivist and segregationist interpretation of the two state solution; most importantly, hence the exceptionally broad acceptance of this interpretation from right to “center Left,” from Lieberman to Tzipi Livni. The beast of ethnic cleansing is well on its way to Bethlehem , and it’s rapidly becoming normalized and legitimized – by prettier names – to the general Israeli public. We’ll be seeing more and more of this careful, calculated slouch as the year goes on.

Update: So far, the only public official to take notice of the drill is MK Dov Khenin. Khenin, a member for Jewish-Arab party Hadash, has established himself the reputation of a diligent MK keen to work across our parliaments’ multilple aisles to forward green, social and human rights agendas. He also ran two years ago for mayor of Tel Aviv, spearheading a coalition of Hadash, Likud and student and community activists, coming in second with  third of the vote. The esteemed Yossi Gurvitz writes on his Friends of George blog that  Khenin takes an urgent view of the matter:

MK Dov Khenin has requested an urgent discussion in the Knesset. Speaking to this blog, he said it would be a mistake to focus on the fact that Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch [in charge of the police, DR], is a Lieberman man; it seems, he said, much bigger than Lieberman and may involve Defence Minister Ehud Barak himself. Considering the fact the Home Front Command took part in the drill, this is a more than likely supposition. Khenin said he intends to demand explanations of Barak, but admitted that considering the latter’s consistent avoidance of accountability to parliament (he strives for perpetual reticence, said Khenin), this will not be easy.

Gurvitz also notes that such drills were carried out ahead of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, with the target of the forces being, obviously, settlers. If I recall, these drills were widely publicised and used in psychological war against the settler community, hoping to persuade them not to resist. Here it seems the state is keen to keep whatever it’s preparing under wraps.

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