Archive | October 23rd, 2011

9/11: The Unidentified Murder Weapons by crescentandcross

 by crescentandcross in Uncategorized 
The B110 bus connects Williamsburg with Borough Park in Brooklyn

Sasha Chavkin/The New York World

On the morning of October 12, Melissa Franchy boarded the B110 bus in Brooklyn and sat down near the front. For a few minutes she was left in silence, although the other passengers gave her a noticeably wide berth. But as the bus began to fill up, the men told her that she had to get up. Move to the back, they insisted.

They were Orthodox Jews with full beards, sidecurls and long black coats, who told her that she was riding a “private bus” and a “Jewish bus.” When she asked why she had to move, a man scolded her.

“If God makes a rule, you don’t ask ‘Why make the rule?’” he told Franchy, who rode the bus at the invitation of a New York World reporter. She then moved to the back where the other women were sitting. The driver did not intervene in the incident.

The B110 bus travels between Williamsburg and Borough Park in Brooklyn. It is open to the public, and has a route number and tall blue bus stop signs like any other city bus. But the B110 operates according to its own distinct rules. The bus line is run by a private company and serves the Hasidic communities of the two neighborhoods. To avoid physical contact between members of opposite sexes that is prohibited by Hasidic tradition, men sit in the front of the bus and women sit in the back.

The arrangement that the B110 operates under can only be described as unorthodox. It operates as a franchise, in which a private company, Private Transportation Corporation, pays the city for the right to provide a public service. Passengers pay their $2.50 fare not by MetroCard, but in dollar bills and coins. The city’s Franchise and Concession Review Committee defines a franchise on its website as “the right to occupy or to use the City’s inalienable property, such as streets or parks, for a public service, e.g., transportation.”

The agreement goes back to at least 1973, and last year the franchise paid the city $22,814 to operate the route, according to the New York City Department of Transportation. According to the news site Vos Iz Neias?, which serves the Orthodox Jewish community in New York City and elsewhere, the bus company has a board of consulting rabbis, which decreed that male passengers should ride in the front of the bus and female passengers in the back.

City, state and federal law all proscribe discrimination based on gender in public accommodations. “Discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations in New York City is against the law,” said Betsy Herzog, a spokeswoman for the New York City Commission on Human Rights, which investigates and prosecutes alleged violations of anti-discrimination law.

The Department of Transportation, which issues the franchise, confirms that it understands the B110 to be subject to anti-discrimination laws. “This is a private company, but it is a public service,” said Seth Solomonow, a spokesman for the DOT. “The company has to comply with all applicable laws.”

Following the New York World’s inquiry, Solomonow said DOT would contact Private Transportation Corporation. “We are reaching out to the company about this alleged incident to ask for its response, with the expectation that it will take steps to prevent the occurrence of incidents of this nature,” he said.

Melissa Franchy/Special to the New York World

Herzog said the Human Rights Commission would not investigate the B110 unless someone filed a complaint. But its website states that “anyone who provides goods and services to the general public is considered a public accommodation” and that it illegal for public accommodations to “set different terms for obtaining those goods or services” to different groups.

Ross Sandler, a professor at New York Law School and editor of the CityLaw newsletter, said that anti-discrimination laws apply to bus franchises, but that religious groups are sometimes granted exceptions. “Do all these laws apply? Yes, they apply to buses that are franchises,” Sandler said. “The question is whether there is an exception for this particular bus line.”

The Transportation Department said that the B110 had not been granted any exceptions to anti-discrimination laws.

Calls to the offices of Private Transportation Corporation also went unreturned. We tried calling the home of Jacob Marmurstein, the company’s president, but were told he was unavailable.

The New York World will be keeping a close eye on the practices aboard the B110 bus and the city’s response – and we will let you know when we hear more.

Posted in USAComments Off on 9/11: The Unidentified Murder Weapons by crescentandcross

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


In anxious/nostalgic interview of Amos Oz, NPR’s Rob’t Siegel says Shalit was held ‘hostage’

Oct 22, 2011

Philip Weiss

Robert Siegel interviewed the Israeli writer Amos Oz on National Public Radio last night, ostensibly about his new collection of short stories, but Siegel wasn’t that interested in the short stories and soon moved Oz on to the Situation. Tell us about Israel, he asked revrently; and the tone of the interview was that Seigel was seeking reassurance from a great old figure of Israeli culture (such as it is).

Siegel asked Oz about the deal to free Gilad Shalit, after “being held hostage” for five years, and about the fruitless peace process that once seemed so promising, and Amos Oz said that he was sure that something good was about to happen, that there would be a deal. The settlers would move. There would be two states living side by side, maybe not as friends but at peace. At the end of the interview you felt good.

For me there was an unpleasant undercurrent to the interview. Siegel is smart. He knows that Israel of beloved Jewish memory is in trouble, because of Netanyahu’s intransigence, the intransigence of the Israel lobby in the United States–the old positive image of Israel that American Jews had is dying.

I bet Siegel has that fond old memory of Israel. Why else would he refer to Gilad Shalit as a “hostage” of the Paletinians? Gilad Shalit who was a soldier in uniform and serving the endless hateful occupation when he was captured by Hamas. Why else would he allow Amos Oz to refer to the Palestinian prisoners who were freed as terrorists and murderers, twice? How many of the thousand are murderers? How many were resisting occupation as the Iraqis have, and the Afghans, and the American revolutionaries?

The unspoken anxiety in the interview was this: I am Jewish. I am in my late 50s. I grew up with a valiant idea of Israel. Then the 1967 war produced this occupation and why is stupid Israel prolonging it. When are you going to stop the settlements? All these people are turning against Israel. My children’s generation is turning against the great liberal democracy. They don’t understand how much this place meant to us. They are trying to delegitimize Israel. Isn’t that awful? It is wrong. You can’t delegitimize this country, that feels anti-Semitic. I am going to ignore that. But what are you doing about it, Israel? We trusted you to do something. You are giving us a bad name, Aemrican Jews, just because we supported you, blindly. Why did you keep building those goddamn settlements. Oh I know, Amos Oz, you didn’t build them. Good for you. And maybe you are dreaming when you talk about the settlements going away and anyone finding it fair the crumbs of land they have left for the Palestinians—but I need to dream. I want to dream. I don’t want to wake up. Neither do you. Thank you, Amos Oz.

Struggling for water in Gaza
Oct 22, 2011

Leila al-Najar and Ishraq Othman


The Beach camp “Al-shate” is located to the west of Gaza City. Small houses are crowded together with an unbearable smell springing from the wastewater running through the alleys. As volunteers in Youth for the Right of Water and Sanitation project (YRWS) we occasionally visit homes there randomly for our case study on water problems. Residents suffer enormously from serious water problems caused by the Israeli occupation which for years has undertaken exploiting and withdrawing all our pure water resources; groundwater, the Jordan River, the Gaza valley and Lake Tiberius. Thus, all aquifers start to run out and the problem of salty water is increasingly appearing in most houses in Gaza.

We visited the home of Haider Saed Abu-Jazya, a 51 year old carpenter and a father of 14 children whose family has a long miserable history with water. “We have been suffering from water shortage and unfair distribution for 10 years. It’s only available for two days a week beginning at midnight only to run out again in the morning. Along with the problem of polluted insufficient supply another problem has emerged, salty water” said Haider who looks older than his age.

The tone of Haider’s voice tells us he is extremely worried about his family’s life. He is likely to pass on the misery he inherited from his refugee parents to his children. “Can you drink a cup of tea melted with three spoons of salt? Absolutely you cannot” he stresses. He describes how salty and polluted water negatively affects his family. For this, he is obliged to buy a 500-liter gallon supply of water which costs 15 NIS 4 US dollars a day. Sometimes he borrows from a neighbor or friend to pay for it, ‏ other times his friends have no money to offer.

Not only is pure water used for drinking but also for ordinary daily use. Haider has a big family, yet he earns a low income to cover the simplest and most important needs of life like water ‏which must be affordable to all people as a matter of human rights.

“A house without water as quiet as a desert”, he concludes.

Once, he ran out of water for two weeks in a row, so his wife couldn’t do the house chores like cooking, washing and laundering. Thus, they had to throw their dirty clothes away, which were not laundered for days and could not be used again.

How can a human being survive in such conditions?! How can not one be infected by diseases of salty water?

“The low quality of water causes allergies and red pimples arising on my children’s skin” his wife whispers.


“All dwellers of the neighborhood gathered and headed to the municipality to complain about the water problems we all face, there were promises made but never fulfilled” he said.

Haider speaks on behalf of the Palestinian nation, hoping this voice will be heard all over the planet.

To those who read this article, imagine that you cannot get a drop of pure water while your baby is strongly crying because his milk is his only food.

Palestine suffers from severe lack of water and Gaza’s water in particular is going to run out by 2020. As long as the world commits absolute silence, Gaza will turn into a wasteland. Gaza needs your help, don’t hesitate to help our people.

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Timely play grapples with abuse of a Palestinian prisoner


A new play spotlights the oppressed/oppressor dynamic between Palestinians and Israelis.

The relationship between a prisoner and interrogator is as an old theme in Western art and literature. The prisoner/interrogator dialogue is a flexible one, which can allow the society of the interrogator to examine itself, or for the society of the oppressed to find strength and virtue in the image of resistance.

The dynamic between Palestinian and Israeli societies has rarely been honestly explored in the West, outside of absurd and bigoted scenes in American action films. The Western dialectic of pro-Palestinian/anti-Semitic creates a wave of antagonism towards Palestinian perspectives in art and literature that has real world implications. We can see a recent iteration of this in the blocking of Gazan children’s art from an Oakland museumlast month.

The legacy of this blackout creates an environment where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can bemoan inhumanity to the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, while presiding over a population of more than 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israel. Western media follows suit, as it did after the recent announcement of an exchange of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for Shalit. The absurdly lopsided deal and the way it has been discussed in mainstream circles in the US speak volumes about how Palestinian and Israeli life and freedom difference in value.

The Western view lacks a philosophical narrative of the Palestinian prisoner/Israeli interrogator dynamic. Moreover, the crucial context of the Palestinian-Israeli relationship is invisible. Interrogation and imprisonment are constant facts of life for most Palestinians, not an occasional aberration — some 650,000 Palestinians have been arrested and interrogated since the beginning of the occupation in 1967. To a certain extent, it can be said that to understand the Palestinian Israeli relationship, one can first look to the relationship of interrogator and prisoner. Sadly, it is a perspective that is seldom seen in the West.

An innovative approach to the Palestinian prisoner narrative

Certainly, Palestinian playwright Valentina Abu Oqsa’s Ana Hurra (“I am Free”) won’t change that dynamic on its own, but it does appropriate the prisoner/interrogator dialogue in an innovative way to explore the story of Palestinian prisoners, as well as the dynamic of oppressor and oppressed within the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Abu Oqsa’s one act play is sparsely set, with a simple table and chairs that effectively represent the focus of the relationship between the interrogator and the prisoner, where territory disappears to be replaced by a terrain of philosophy and ideology. There are only two characters: the physically imposing male Israeli interrogator and his prisoner, a Palestinian woman. Neither is given a name.

The play pointedly explores some sensitive issues of Palestinian culture. As a female prisoner, the protagonist is subjected to a series of challenges to her cultural and gender identity which are explored in detail. At several points within the dialogue the interrogator attempts to use her gender and cultural identity against her — at the most physical end of this spectrum is sexual violence, threat and psychological torture. But the interrogator also uses some of the shortcomings of a patriarchal Palestinian culture in an attempt to manipulate her. It’s a subtle critique, but it has a larger implication for those aware of the ease with which Israeli intelligence agencies debilitate Palestinian solidarity by using the society’s mores and taboos against it.

Nuanced portrayal of characters

The characters are portrayed in a nuanced fashion. It is left to the audience to decide whether the central character is innocent or guilty of the “crimes” she’s accused of, or what those “crimes” even are. Her age, her background and marital status, even her own political beliefs and opinions of the conflict are left unspoken. The play thus leaves political ideology and worldview for other venues.

Abu Oqsa’s protagonist remains a simple woman facing her imprisonment and the oppression of her people in a universal way. She holds on to meaning and identity by revisiting literature and culture, which play a central role throughout the play, indicating that what animates the idea of sumoud(steadfastness) is its cultural connection, not political slogans or hero-worship. Resistance to torture and imprisonment becomes a human response without discernible ideology — dignity in the face of tyranny is innately human, and accomplished through the strength of one’s people.

On the surface, the interrogator is a manipulator who uses his knowledge of Arabic culture to cajole his victim into compliance, before resorting to threats, bullying and physical violence. But there is also another way of reading the interrogator that speaks to the underlying nature of the Palestinian-Israeli relationship. The interrogator is a lover of Arabic culture, food and an autodidact on Arabic literature; he subsequently demonstrates this with an intimate knowledge of literature that seems unlikely if it were merely an interrogating tool. He claims to be a product of the kibbutzim, and thus ideologically opposed to violence. Interestingly, the interrogator reveals almost everything about himself in a few short minutes, almost as if he is looking for approval.

What follows is a complex scene, where the interrogating antagonist faces an equal, if less physically dangerous struggle to maintain his own identity. The interrogator must maintain his particular sense of humanity while defending the fragile construct of the ideology that sanctions the descent into the madness that is torture and oppression.

For Abu Oqsa’s torturer, it is even more urgent that he turn his prisoner, that they become friends in a sense, to maintain his connection to Arabic culture and to his ideas about his own state. The dynamic recapitulates the relationship between Israeli culture and the Arabic Palestinian one. Israel, stripped of its authentic ethnic diversity by nationalist dictates, looks longingly to that of its subjects — like a lonely bully reaching out violently to a victim.

If he cannot break his victim, it means that everything that he has been taught is a sham, and that there is no moral justification for his acts. At a certain point, “I am free” becomes the refrain of the interrogator, as he tries to convince himself that the deprivations he helps visit on Palestinians are appropriate and excusable.

Confronting the comfortable

In this way, the narrative also confronts the comfortable nature of the occupation for most Israelis. A feature of its normalization is represented by the interrogator’s disinterest in the prisoner’s guilt or innocence. For his own sanity’s sake, she must remain a file to him, nothing more — a part of his job, which he struggles to dehumanize and fit into a briefcase which can be opened and shut at his convenience. His goal is to close the file and put away nagging questions about justice and morality. His prisoner prevents this by reminding him that his so-called freedom is little more than a pause in his relationship to her as a monstrous abuser.

Abu Oqsa, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, spent a year meeting and interviewing Palestinian political prisoners in preparation for the script. The story is a gestalt, and declines to date the interaction, leaving it as a testament to the violence and dehumanization that have been part of the Israeli occupation through all of its iterations, including the present one. The tour has coincidentally overlapped with a hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners in Israel, and so, unfortunately, is as timely as it has been every month of every year for decades.

Editor’s note: the US tour of Ana Hurra closed earlier than the original closing date of 25 October. For more information, see the US Palestinian Community Network website.

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Forced IsraHell curriculum violates Palestinians’ education rights



Thousands of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem face crowded, sub-standard classrooms while Israel attempts to censor Palestinian identity in school.

Palestinian activists, parents and students are fighting against the Israeli authorities’ recent push to impose an Israeli curriculum on East Jerusalem schools, which they say threatens the city’s Palestinian culture and identity.

“Through the move of distortion in the Palestinian curriculum, the Israeli occupation authorities are willing to complete the project of achieving total domination over both the Palestinian land and the Palestinian human while depriving him from his culture and his history, thus tampering with the collective identity of Palestinians,” said Abdel Karim Lafi, the head of the Parents’ Committee Union, during a press conference in East Jerusalem in September.

“Our Palestinian curriculum expresses our past, present, and future. It fulfills what we need as an occupied Arab Palestinian community, and any [meddling] with that curriculum by the occupation influences it negatively,” he added.

In March of this year, the Jerusalem municipality sent a letter to private schools in East Jerusalem that receive allocations from the Israeli authorities. The letter stated that at the start of the 2011-2012 academic year, the schools would be obliged to purchase and only use textbooks prepared by the Jerusalem Education Administration (JEA), a joint body of the municipality and the Israeli ministry of education.

The move to introduce the Israeli curriculum came after Israeli parliament (Knesset) member Alex Miller from the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, who heads the Knesset’s education committee, stated that in East Jerusalem, “the whole curriculum should and must be Israeli.”

In addition to using Israeli textbooks, the Israeli ministry of education requested that the Israeli Declaration of Independence be on display in both public and private schools in East Jerusalem.

“That means that they are trying to promote the Israeli story at the expense of the Palestinian story. If we talk about Jerusalem, Jerusalem is occupied like any other part of the West Bank so what’s going on is illegal and Israel is trying to promote the annexation of Jerusalem,” said Zakaria Odeh, director of the Civil Coalition to Defend Palestinians’ Rights in East Jerusalem.

“The Jerusalem municipality and Israeli ministry of education are trying to promote Israeli politics and culture and identity. That’s what the Declaration of Independence is talking about. They are trying to spread these ideas among the Palestinian students at school. This is at the expense of the people [who] don’t have the right to express their identity, their culture,” Odeh told The Electronic Intifada.

Lack of resources crippling education

After Israel illegally annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, Palestinians in the city followed the Jordanian educational system. Then, shortly after the signing of the Oslo II agreement, schools in East Jerusalem began using the curriculum of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Today, four different authorities govern the education system in East Jerusalem: the JEA, the Islamic Waqf, the private sector, and UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees.

According to 2010-2011 statistics provided by the East Jerusalem Education Directorate, the JEA runs 50 schools in East Jerusalem, which are attended by 38,785 students, or 48 percent of the total number of Palestinian students in the city. An additional 22,500 Palestinian students attend 68 different private schools in East Jerusalem.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Jerusalem-based organization Ir Amim released a report on the education system in East Jerusalem last year (Failed Grade: Palestinian Education System in East Jerusalem 2010,” August 2010).

The report found that more than 4,000 Palestinian children living in East Jerusalem were not enrolled in school, and that over 1,000 classrooms were missing. Additionally, East Jerusalem schools suffered from a systematic lack of resources and facilities, which negatively influenced the desire and motivation of Palestinian students to complete their studies, the report found.

“Thousands of children do not attend school, and even those who attend school, do so in crowded and substandard classrooms, where the academic level is poor. The school dropout rate is 50 percent and only a few graduates go on to attain higher education. Only a true policy change accompanied by appropriate budgeting can bring about the necessary change and offer the children of Jerusalem a better future,” the report stated.

Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are entitled to receive access to public education since they live under Israeli control in what is considered under international law to be occupied territory.

“The compulsory education law requires Israel to provide education services to all Palestinian children in East Jerusalem from kindergarten to 12th grade. The ministry of education and the municipality of Jerusalem recognize this duty and have even clearly stated it themselves during various legal proceedings over the past decade,” the “Failed Grade” report found.

“However, an overview of the policy of the ministry of education and the municipality of Jerusalem on this issue shows that their recognition of this commitment is not translated into actual policy.”

Protected under international law

Palestinians in East Jerusalem are protected by the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that, “the Occupying Power shall, with the cooperation of the national and local authorities, facilitate the proper working of all institutions devoted to the care and education of children.”

Article 13 of the International Convention on Economic and Social Rights also specifies that states must “undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents … to choose for their children schools … [and] ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.”

In February of this year, the Israeli high court gave the education ministry and Jerusalem municipality five years to improve the level of state education in East Jerusalem. The court also ordered the Israeli authorities to bear the cost of tuition for students attending “recognized but unofficial” schools due to the shortage of classrooms.

“It appears that the right of many children in East Jerusalem to receive an official education for free is not being fulfilled and at this point the authorities are not fully meeting their legal obligation to give every child in Israel a free official education,” wrote Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch in the ruling, as quoted in a report by Ir Amim and ACRI (The East Jerusalem School System — Annual Status Report,” September 2011).

“The violation of the right to equality in education in East Jerusalem is not the plight of a few. It is the plight of a significant portion of an entire sector of the population, which is not able to exercise a basic right it is afforded by law and the constitutional values of Israeli law,” Beinisch continued.

According to Zakaria Odeh, the Israeli authorities have done little so far to improve the system, and devastating restrictions remain in place.

“The municipality doesn’t allow Palestinians to build new schools, so there has been no increase in the [number of] Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem. There has been a restriction on building, so the schools are using buildings, which were meant to be for housing, for residential [purposes]. Especially in the Old City, most of these buildings are more than 100, 200 years old. They need renovations. They are not appropriate for education,” Odeh said.

Odeh explained that the Jerusalem municipality and Israeli ministry of education are using the fact that they provide funding to private schools in East Jerusalem to impose the Israeli curriculum on those schools. To prevent this from happening, he said that the PA should step in and support the Palestinian education system in East Jerusalem.

“We talked to the [PA’s] education minister and the PA prime minister’s office in order to try to ask them to provide some support because the Israelis are targeting the private schools because these schools get financial support from the municipality,” he said.

“The PA has a responsibility to provide financial support for the education system, for the schools in East Jerusalem.”

Israeli curriculum threatens Palestinian identity

In June, Ir Amim sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahudenouncing the government’s plan to force an Israeli curriculum on Palestinian private schools.

“The right of the children of East Jerusalem to an education by their culture and national identity is also consistent with the basic right to education recognized in Israeli law and their right to equality in education, freedom and defense of their identity. Israel is obligated not only to avoid violating those rights but also has the positive obligation to support their realization,” the letter stated.

According to Abdel Karim Lafi, Israel’s attempt to introduce its own curriculum against the will of Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem reflects the larger goal of using education to harm Palestinian culture and identity.

“We call upon all the student frameworks and parents’ committees in all neighborhoods to unite, organize and take a fast action to stop this threatening plan, which forms the most dangerous battle against our Jerusalemite culture,” Lafi said.

He urged the Palestinian Authority to fulfill its obligations of providing education and resources to Palestinian Jerusalemites. He also called on Arab states, the US and Europe to protect Palestinians from attempts to alter the curriculum in East Jerusalem.

“This protection must include preserving Palestinians’ rights, culture, and civilization, consequently their right to confront the attempts to ‘Israelize’ the Palestinian curriculum in the schools of the city, as these attempts violate the most basic human rights of this nation, particularly their right in education which comes along with their needs and aspirations,” he said.

“This is [also] a message to the Israeli society and the Israeli leaders that we the people know how to maintain our curriculum and save the Palestinian face of Jerusalem.”

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IsraHell brochure on British Airways breaches UK ad rules, promotes apartheid

 by Ali Abunimah



Paid advertising by Israel Ministry of Tourism inserted into October issue of British Airways High Life magazine

On a recent flight on easyJet, my colleague David Cronin almost vomited” when he came across a glossy feature in the in-flight magazine pinkwashing Tel Aviv as a “Liberal and hedonistic” gay-friendly destination.

Aboard a British Airways flight the other day I had a similar experience when I opened up the in-flight magazine High Life to discover a glossy multi-page insert from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism entitled “Israel, The Hidden Gems.”

By publishing this Israeli government brochure, British Airways is profiting from Israeli war crimes, violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and breaching UK regulations on truth in advertising.

Israel too is clearly breaching a ruling by UK advertising regulators not to mislead the UK public regarding the status of territories it occupies and has illegally annexed.

Enticing me to open it up, the cover of the brochure carried the words “Provoke Your Senses, Expand Your Horizons,” but what that immediately brought to my mind was “Provoke and Invade Your Neighbors, Expand Your Settlements.” Inside, I found an effort to market Israel as a friendly, normal and desirable cultural and touristic destination.

Hidden Gems of occupation, brutal violence, ethnic cleansing and child abuse

The insert advertised the charms of what it calls “The Old City” of Jerusalem – the part of Jerusalem violently and illegally occupied and annexed by Israel since 1967 in defiance of international law.

“One of the oldest cities in the world pulses with activity day and night and is home to residents from a myriad of cultures,” the Ministry of Tourism propaganda said.

I wondered if the “pulsing activity” it referred to included Israel’s escalating efforts to ethnically cleanse the eastern occupied Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah of Palestinian Jerusalemites.

Do the lively cultural celebrations include the government-sponsored “Jerusalem Day” rallies in which thousands of Israeli settlers – caught on video – invade occupied Palestinian neighborhoods chanting “Death to the Arabs” and vandalizing property?

Does the “healthy dose of history” that the Israeli propaganda brochure touts include Israel’s administrative ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem babies whose crime is that they are not Jews?

And do the promised night time activities include the raids by gangs of heavily armed occupation troops to arrest terrified Palestinian children from their beds?

None of these brutal realities are listed among the “Hidden Gems” that Israel’s apartheid regime – and apparently British Airways – want us to “discover.” Instead, there are promises of a mystical “Kabbalah Experience” in Safad, and “tranquil oases” in the Negev.

Of course there is no tranquility in the Naqab (Negev) for the region’s indigenous Bedouins,30,000 of whom face imminent ethnic cleansing under Israeli government plans.

Is British Airways violating UK advertising regulations?

In breach of UK advertising rules, brochure on British Airways flights markets occupied East Jerusalem as part of “Israel”

Aside from it being morally repugnant for British Airways to profit from Israeli government propanda meant to prettify an illegal occupation and apartheid regime, the airline also appears to be in breach of regulations of the UK Advertising Standards Authority(ASA) by publishing a brochure that falsely claims that eastern occupied Jerusalem is part of “Israel.”

Last year the ASA ruled that advertisements by the Israel Tourist Office that featured photos of occupied East Jerusalem “breached truthfulness guidelines” by implying that these places were in “Israel.” No country in the world recognizes East Jerusalem as part of Israel.

The ASA said at the time: “We told the Israeli Tourist Office not to imply that places in the Occupied Territories were part of the state of Israel.”

Yet not only does the “Hidden Gems” brochure claim that the “Old City” is part of Israel, it features a photograph of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is in occupied East Jerusalem.

British Airways must cease and desist from collusion in and profiteering from Israel’s breaches of international law. I will certainly be writing to the ASA to let them know what I found.

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Thank God for the Jewish Chronicle


Gilad Atzmon: Thank God for the Jewish Chronicle

As always, the London Jewish Chronicle (JC) is providing us with an accurate insight into Jewish influence within the media and beyond. The JC is desperate to stop my book, The Wandering Who — and it is also foolish enough to disclose its tactics, openly revealing to us the pressure which some elements within the Jewish community are willing to mount on Britain’s leading newspapers and other outlets.

This weekend The JC seems to be particularly frustrated, explaining to their concerned readers that “Britain’s largest book distribution database company has said it cannot withdraw The Wandering Who unless the title is found to have breached race hate legislation”

And yet, it  seems that no one in the Jewish Chronicle has read the book, or any of my writing — otherwise it is hard to explain why the JC keep labeling me as an ‘anti-Semite’ or a ‘racist’. Had the JC actually bothered to read my writing or taken the time to follow my speeches and debates, they would have realised that there is no trace of ‘racism’ or ‘anti-Semitism’ in my work: yes, I am critical of Jewish politics; yes I am an opponent of Jewish political power, and yes, I follow my duties as a humanist to expose Jewish identity politics for what it really is.  This fact alone may explain why my book is supported by  respected humanists and some of the most distinguished academics, all of whom are held in high regard in their fields and beyond.

The JC complains that “in the book Atzmon discusses his belief that ‘the Holocaust religion was well-established’ before the Nazis carried out aspects of the Shoah including the Final Solution and Kristallnacht.”

The JC is absolutely correct here. That is exactly what I am discussing. And yet, the question is, what is wrong with doing so? Is it racist or anti-Semitic? And indeed, I also insist that trauma is inherent to Jewish Culture.  Here is, for instance, an old Jewish joke from the 19th century

A Jewish Telegram:

‘Get Worried, details to follow’.

In ‘The Wandering Who’ I contend that Jewish identity politics is defined by a unique condition, namely, ‘Pre Traumatic Stress Disorder’. It is the ‘future trauma’ that shapes the Jewish present and ideology.  

The JC is also concerned with the following quote: “It is more than likely that ‘Jews’ do not have a centre or headquarters. It is more than likely that they aren’t aware of their particular role within the entire system, the way an organ is not aware of its role within the complexity of an organism.”

And yet I am puzzled by their concern: what is exactly wrong with the above? If anything, it suggests that there are no Jewish conspiracies, and that Jews as people are actually innocent of the sinister associations of such.

Or, does the JC prefer to argue otherwise?  Would The JC insist that Lord Levy knew exactly what he was doing when he was the leading fundraiser for a government that took Britain into an illegal war? Does the JC prefer to argue that Neocons David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen knew exactly what they were doing when they advocated the same war on every  British press outlet that was foolish enough to let their voice be heard?

I actually seem to be slightly kinder to Aaronovitch, Cohen, Levy, Saban, Wolfowitz, Freidman, Sharon, Peres, Livni, Greenspan, Foxman and many others: I am happy to agree that they were hijacked by a lethal  ideology or culture rather than being consciously sinister.

The Guardian of British Jews

I also learned from the JC that “A Guardian spokeswoman said that the way its books were advertised online would be reviewed following complaints about The Wandering Who.”

I think that The Guardian should indeed review its policy — and  the sooner the better. When I settled in this country seventeen years ago  the ‘Left’ paper was regarded by many as the ‘guardian of the truth’, and yet it seems as if, in the last few years, this paper has deteriorated into a guardian of Zionist interests. This, explain for instance,  The Guardian’s  dubious relationship with Wiki leaks, and it explains why the paper failed to publish leaks concerning Israel. In a recent Counterpunch expose, Jonathan Cook elaborated on the Guardian as an increasingly  Dangerous Cult.

However, I still want to believe that The Guardian will find within itself the powers to liberate itself from its current masters, for now, more than ever, we need in this country a brave, egalitarian critical outlet rather than yet another Zionist submissive mouthpiece.

Anne,  Shlomo and Me. 

And now here is the good news: it seems as if the JC/Guardian  joint efforts to stop ‘The Wandering Who’ have been  totally counterproductive, for according to Amazon, The Wandering Who is number 2 on the ‘Bestsellers in Religious History of Judaism’ list.

This morning, number 1 is Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl; number 2 is The Wandering Who; Number 3 is Anne Frank Again (different edition)  and Number 4 is Shlomo Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People. It is not a coincidence. As it happens, The Wandering Who is there to locate Anne Frank  within the context of the phantasmic invention of the Jewish people.

By now, it should be clear to both The Guardian and the JC that their joint attempt has failed. But far more interesting  is the fact that their failure is just another symptom of their growing intellectual irrelevance.

If some Jewish people still insist on regarding themselves as ‘the people of the book’, they should stop wasting their time, and they should start to engage in a dialogue with my text rather than trying to burn it. If Jews insist that I am misguided and wrong, they would be better off showing some tolerance and joining in the open debate.

I wish them luck — but I don’t hold my breath.


You can now order The Wandering Who on  or

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Protesters in Syria inspired by Gadhafi death–’Your turn is coming Bashar’

by crescentandcross in Uncategorized


Associated Press

Energized by the killing of Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, thousands of protesters in Syria and Yemen poured into the streets and said their longtime rulers will be next.

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s security forces opened fire on the protesters, killing at least 24 people nationwide on Friday, according to activists. It did not stop the crowds from chanting, “Your turn is coming, Bashar.”

Yemenis delivered a similar message to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who survived an assassination attempt in June. “Gadhafi is gone, and you’re next, oh butcher,” they chanted.

The armed rebellion that drove Gadhafi from power … with NATO air support … appears to have breathed new life into the uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world.

“Our souls, our blood we sacrifice for you, Libya!” Syrian protesters chanted Friday.
Gadhafi was killed Thursday under still-murky circumstances, although he apparently was dragged from hiding in a drainage pipe, begging for his life.

His brutal end less than two months after he lost control of his oil-rich nation follows the ouster of Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who has been driven into exile, and of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, who is in jail and facing charges of complicity in the deaths of more than 800 protesters.

All three uprisings have given Syrian protesters hope. One banner read, “Ben Ali fled, Mubarak is in jail, Gadhafi is killed, Assad … ?”

The uprisings in Syria and Yemen have proved remarkably resilient even as the governments relentlessly try to crush the revolts. The UN estimates the Syrian crackdown has killed some 3,000 people since March; in Yemen, the figure is believed to be around 500 since late January.

Yemen is falling deeper into turmoil, and Islamic militants have taken advantage of the chaos to seize control of several cities and towns in a southern province. That has raised American fears that the militants may establish a firmer foothold in the Arabian Peninsula country, which is close to vast oil fields and overlooks key shipping routes.

Syria’s mass demonstrations, meanwhile, have shaken one of the most authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, but the opposition has made no major gains in recent months, holds no territory and has no clear leadership. The regime has sealed off the country and prevented independent media coverage, making it difficult to verify events on the ground.

“Gadhafi’s death will boost the morale of Syrians,” Syria-based activist Mustafa Osso told the AP in a telephone interview. “It will make them continue until they bring down the regime.”

The Local Coordination Committees, a Syrian activist network, put Friday’s death toll at 24 nationwide. It said 19 of those killed died in the flashpoint city of Homs, where military operations in pursuit of activists and anti-government protesters are a daily occurrence.

The LCC said three others were killed in Hama and its suburbs, one in the northern Idlib province and one in the Damascus suburb of Saqba.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group based in Britain, said at least 15 people were killed in Hama. It also reported heavy fighting in Saqba between troops and gunmen thought to be army defectors.

In the Syrian town of Qusair near the Lebanese border, Syrian forces closed all mosques to prevent people from gathering. The weekly protests usually begin as Syrians pour out of mosques following Friday afternoon prayers.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner decried the “appalling” violence by the Syrian government.

“Let’s be completely clear that the onus for these deaths lies on the Syrian government, on Assad, on his regime, who continue to kill innocent civilians,” he told reporters.

Toner said the U.S. supported Arab League efforts to mediate dialogue. But, he said, “we’re not particularly optimistic since the Syrian government has shown no interest in pursuing any kind of dialogue.”

The unrest in Syria could send unsettling ripples through the region, as Damascus’ web of alliances extends to Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah movement and Iran’s Shiite theocracy.
In many ways, the Syrian uprising has taken cues from the Libyans recently.

Syria’s opposition formed a national council like the Libyans’ National Transitional Council, hoping to forge a united front against Assad that Syrians and the international community could rally behind.

And with the successes of armed Libyan revolutionaries present in their minds, many Syrian protesters say they are starting to see the limits of a peaceful movement. Some want to take up arms and are inviting foreign military action, hoisting signs that say “Where is NATO?” and urging the world to come to Syria’s aid.

Syrian opposition leaders, however, have not called for an armed uprising and have for the most part opposed foreign intervention. In addition, Washington and its allies have shown little appetite for intervening in another Arab nation in turmoil.

There is concern that Assad’s ouster would spread chaos around the region, and that his opposition is too fragmented. Various parties are vying for power as they seek an end to more than 40 years of iron rule by Assad and his late father, Hafez.

The Syrian protesters have been largely peaceful, though there have been some clashes in border regions between Syrian forces and apparent defectors from the military.

The growing signs of armed resistance may give the government a pretext to use even greater firepower against its opponents. Authorities have already used tanks, snipers and gangster-like hired gunmen known as “shabiha.”

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VIDEO: #OWS, a debate on left politics and strategy


I saw the following exchange at the Bluestockings bookstore on the Lower East Side. It is worth watching in its entirety.

At the Jacobin-sponsored talk about the present and future of Occupy Wall Street, Doug Henwoodi rritably and correctly ripped into those who argue that any form of coordination or organization is bad/ authoritarian/vanguardist/reminiscent of Stalin/kindred forms of unproductive abuse. As he pointed out, the problem during the uprising in Madison is that the energy there simply got hijacked by those whowere organized. Someone else made the point that to be free is to not have to micro-manage the idiotic minutiae of day-to-day life. I’ll have more to say about the National Students for Justice in Palestine conference later – which was great – but there was a side-current of thought, which is much more than a side-current in many sectors, that any form of organization is inevitably hierarchical and that we can simply work spontaneously, loosely, and in a perpetually ad hoc manner.

I spoke at one point of a “political machine” capable of transforming thought, mobilization, and energy into coordinated action. One response was a kind of titter as though to speak of machines was by definition authoritarian. To the extent that this is prevalent both on parts of the anarchist left and as it is represented in student activism, I think this is seriously dangerous thinking. Anarchists above all envision a highly organized and structured society. That organization can consist of inter-linked nodes – it need not have a central nervous system which does its thinking for it. But coordination is required if global or unified action is required, whether it’s to free Palestine or free our societies. Coordination can simply mean delegation. Obviously, it need not mean representation, and it need not mean the unaccountable centralization of power. Spontaneity is great when it is possible, but our opponents are organized and so must we be.

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How the West won Libya

by crescentandcross in Uncategorized

By Pepe Escobar

They are fighting over the carcass as vultures. The French Ministry of Defense said they got him with a Rafale fighter jet firing over his convoy. The Pentagon said they got him with a Predator firing a Hellfire missile. After a wounded Colonel Muammar Gaddafi sought refuge in a filthy drain underneath a highway – an eerie echo of Saddam Hussein’s “hole” – he was found by Transitional National Council (TNC) “rebels”. And then duly executed.

Abdel-Jalil Abdel-Aziz, a Libyan doctor who accompanied Gaddafi’s body in an ambulance and examined it, said he died from two bullets, one to the chest, one to the head.

The TNC – which has peddled lies, lies and more lies for months – swears he died in “crossfire”. It may have been a mob. It may have been Mohammad al-Bibi, a 20-year-old sporting a New York Yankees baseball cap who posed to the whole world brandishing Gaddafi’s golden pistol; his ticket perhaps to collect the hefty $20 million dangled as the bounty for Gaddafi “dead or alive”.

It gets curioser and curioser when one remembers that this is exactly what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her lightning visit to Tripoli, had announced less than 48 hours before; Gaddafi should be “captured or killed”. The Fairy Queenie satisfied Clinton’s wishes, who learned about it by watching the screen of a BlackBerry – and reacting with the semantic earthquake “Wow!”

To the winners, the spoils. They all did it; the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Pentagon and the TNC. From the minute a United Nations resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya became a green card to regime change, plan A was always to capture and kill him. Targeted assassination; that’s Barack Obama administration official policy. There was no plan B.

Let me bomb you to protection 
As for how R2P (“responsibility to protect” civilians), any doubters should cling to the explanation by NATO’s secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen; “NATO and our partners have successfully implemented the historic mandate of the United Nations to protect the people of Libya.” Anyone who wants to check NATO’s protection of civilians just needs to jump on a pick-up truck and go to Sirte – the new Fallujah.

Reactions have been quite instructive. TNC bureaucrat Abdel Ghoga went Colosseum in the Roman Empire, saying, “The revolutionaries have got the head of the tyrant.”

United States President Barack Obama said the death of Gaddafi means “we are seeing the strength of American leadership across the world”. That’s as “we got him” as one can possibly expect, also considering that Washington paid no less than 80% of the operating costs of those dimwits at NATO (over $1 billion – which Occupy Wall Street could well denounce would be more helpful creating jobs in the US). Strange, now, to say “we did it”, because the White House always said this was not a war; it was a “kinetic” something. And they were not in charge.

It was up to that majestic foreign policy strategist, US Vice President Joe Biden, to be starkly more enlightening than Obama; “In this case, America spent $2 billion and didn’t lose a single life. This is more the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward than it has in the past.”

World, you have been warned; this is how the empire will deal with you from now on.

Feel my humanitarian love 
So congratulations to the “international community” – which as everyone knows is composed of Washington, a few washed-up NATO members, and the democratic Persian Gulf powerhouses of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This community, at least, loved the outcome. The European Union (EU) hailed “the end of an era of despotism” – when up to virtually Thursday they were caressing the helm of Gaddafi’s gowns; now they are falling over themselves in editorials about the 42-year reign of a “buffoon”.

Gaddafi would have been a most inconvenient guest of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, as he would have relished recalling all the hand-kissing, the warm embraces and the juicy deals the West was begging to clinch after he was promoted from “Mad Dog” (Ronald Reagan) to “our bastard”. He would also relish detailing all the shady backgrounds of those opportunists now posing as “revolutionaries” and “democrats”.

As for the concept of international law, it lies in a drain as filthy as the one Gaddafi was holed up in. Iraqi dictator Saddam at least got a fake trial in a kangaroo court before meeting the executioner. Osama bin Laden was simply snuffed out, assassination-style, after a territorial invasion of Pakistan. Gaddafi went one up, snuffed out with a mix of air war and assassination.

Power vultures are congesting the skies. London-based Mohammed El Senussi, the heir to the Libyan throne (King Idris was overthrown in 1969) is ready for his close-up, having already established that he “is a servant to Libyan people, and they decide what they want”. Translation; I want the throne. He’s obviously the favorite candidate of the counter-revolutionary House of Saud.

And what about those Washington think-tank donkeys mumbling that this was the Arab Spring’s “Ceausescu moment”? If only the Romanian dictator had improved his country’s standard of living – in terms of free healthcare, free education, incentives for the newlywed, etc – by a fraction of what Gaddafi did in Libya. Plus the fact that Nicolae Ceausescu was not deposed by NATO “humanitarian” bombing. v Only the brain dead may have swallowed the propaganda of NATO’s “humanitarian” 40,000-plus bombing – which devastated Libya’s infrastructure back to the Stone Age (Shock and Awe in slow motion, anyone?). This never had anything to do with R2P – the relentless bombing of civilians in Sirte proves it.

As the top four BRIC members knew it even before the voting of UN Resolution 1973, it was about NATO ruling the Mediterranean as a NATO lake, it was about Africom’s war against China and setting up a key strategic base, it was about the French and the Brits getting juicy contracts to exploit Libya’s natural resources to their benefit, it was about the West setting the narrative of the Arab Spring after they had been caught napping in Tunisia and Egypt.

Listen to the barbaric whimpers

Welcome to the new Libya. Intolerant Islamist militias will turn the lives of Libyan women into a living hell. Hundreds of thousands of Sub-Saharan Africans – those who could not escape – will be ruthlessly persecuted. Libya’s natural wealth will be plundered. That collection of anti-aircraft missiles appropriated by Islamists will be a supremely convincing reason for the “war on terror” in northern Africa to become eternal. There will be blood – civil war blood, because Tripolitania will refuse to be ruled by backward Cyrenaica.

As for remaining dictators everywhere, get a life insurance policy from NATO Inc; Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Tunisia’s Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh were clever enough to do it. We all know there will never be R2P to liberate the Tibetans and Uyghurs, or the people in that monster gulag Myanmar, or the people in Uzbekistan, or the Kurds in Turkey, or the Pashtuns on both sides of the imperially drawn Durand Line.

We also know that change the world can believe in will be the day NATO enforces a no-fly one over Saudi Arabia to protect the Shi’ites in the eastern province, with the Pentagon launching a Hellfire carpet over those thousands of medieval, corrupt House of Saud princes.

It won’t happen. Meanwhile, this is the way the West ends; with a NATO bang, and a thousand barbaric, lawless whimpers. Disgusted? Get a Guy Fawkes mask and raise hell.

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9/11: The Unidentified Murder Weapons

by crescentandcross in Uncategorized 


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