Archive | March 12th, 2012

Al Jazeera exodus: Channel losing staff over ‘bias’

NOVANEWS

Employees of the English-language satellite news channel Al Jazeera work in the control room in Doha February 7, 2011 (Reuters / Fadi Al-Assaad)

Key staff from Al Jazeera’s Beirut Bureau have resigned citing “bias” in the channel’s stance on the conflict in Syria.

Bureau Managing Director Hassan Shaaban reportedly quit last week, after his correspondent and producer had walked out in protest.

A source told the Lebanese paper Al Akhbar that Al Jazeera’s Beirut correspondent Ali Hashem had quit over the channel’s stance on covering events in Syria. “… his position [which] changed after the station refused to show photos he had taken of armed fighters clashing with the Syrian Army in Wadi Khaled. Instead [Al Jazeera] lambasted him as a shabeeh [implying a regime loyalist],” a source told Lebanese press.

Ali Hashem was also infuriated by Al Jazeera’s refusal to cover a crackdown by the King of Bahrain while twisting its Syria angle. “[In Bahrain], we were seeing pictures of a people being butchered by the ‘Gulf’s oppression machine’, and for Al Jazeera, silence was the name of the game,” he said.

The Beirut bureau’s producer also quit claiming Al Jazeera had totally ignored Syria’s constitutional reform referendum, which saw a 57% turnout with 90% voting for change.

Journalist and author Afshin Rattansi, who worked for Al Jazeera, told RT that, “sadly”, the channel had become one-sided voice for the Qatari government’s stance against Bashar al-Assad, having begun as the region’s revolutionary broadcaster.

“It is very disturbing to hear how Al Jazeera is now becoming this regional player for foreign policy in a way that some would arguably say the BBC and others have been for decades,” he said. “If Al Jazeera Arabic is going to take a war-like stance after [the] Qatari government, this would be very ill.”

“There is the courage of these journalists, however, in saying ‘Look, this is not the way we should be covering this. There are elements of Al-Qaeda in there,’” Rattansi concluded. “The way Al Jazeera Arabic has covered the story of Syria is completely one-sided.”

Journalists and anti-war activist Don Debar, who has also had Al Jazeera experience, confirmed that the station has been heavily guided by the Qatari government in its policies.

“That has been ongoing since last April of 2011,” Debar told RT. “The head of the bureau in Beirut quit, many other people quit because of the biased coverage and outright hand of the government in dictating editorial policy over Libya, and now Syria.”

‘There’s a chill, they’re controlling things more at Al Jazeera’

Former Al Jazeera English-language blogger Ted Rall recounted his own story of quitting the job. He said his blogs and columns were being rejected on a regular basis.

For a long time I ascribed it to incompetence on their part because they weren’t very good at getting back very quickly, but over time I came to learn through various people there that the politics of the channel were changing,” he told RT. What he found out was that leftist and progressive voices such as his were not welcome anymore and that he no longer needed to submit anything.

Rall noted that this change in policy only took place recently.

After September 11, Al Jazeera became a channel that could be counted upon for openness and transparency, certainly compared to most corporate broadcast media in the West, particularly related to the Middle East and Central Asia and South Asia but that has really changed in the last year or so,” he said “There’s a chill, they’re controlling things more.”

When Rall first went to work at Al Jazeera, he says he was surprised that it was actually owned by the Qatari government. He compared their past hands-off policy to that of Rupert Murdoch when he owned the Village Voice of New York City. But now, the “Qataris have decided to shape the picture of the news a little more than they used to.

While he rejected the notion of objectivity, Rall did note that the media could try to present a more balanced view.

What you really want to see is a broad marketplace of ideas, where lots of different ideas and stories are being told,”he summed up.

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Ah, so it was IsraHell attacking Gaza not the other way around

NOVANEWS

Here’s Gush Shalom on the same escalation:

In the beginning of the week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu failed in his attempt to get an American autorization for an attack on Iran, which might raise oil prizes and overthrow the world economy. At the end of the same week, he is setting the Gaza Strip border on fire with an act of “liquidation” which was certain to precipitate a barrage of rockets at the communities of southern Israel and make their children huddle in air-raid shelters on the Purim holiday.

The bombings and killings in the Gaza Strip look like a general rehearsal and test of weapons systems towards the great war to come – and a “consolation prize” for not yet have gotten the authorization.
In recent weeks, there were many indications of a growing distance between Hamas and Iran, and an unwillingness of the Hamas leaders to take part in a war between Israel and Iran, should it break out. A responsible Israeli leadership should have been seeking to deepen this gap, and therefore do all in its power to keep the Gaza border calm. But a responsible leadership is not exactly the right term for Israel’s present government.

And what’s this distance between Hamas and Iran all about?  Well it could be described as fallout from the Arab spring.  Hamas is distancing itself from Syria’s Assad regime.  Here’s The Guardian:

Hamas will not do Iran‘s bidding in any war with Israel, according to senior figures within the militant Islamic group.

“If there is a war between two powers, Hamas will not be part of such a war,” Salah Bardawil, a member of the organisation’s political bureau in Gaza City, told the Guardian.
He denied the group would launch rockets into Israel at Tehran’s request in response to a strike on its nuclear sites. “Hamas is not part of military alliances in the region,” said Bardawil. “Our strategy is to defend our rights”
The stance underscores Hamas’s rift with its key financial sponsor and its realignment with the Muslim Brotherhood and popular protest movements in the Arab world.

It’s curious to see how Israel and Iran both have issues with Palestine arising over the Arab spring, But what attracted my curiosity in the first place was how an attack by Israel on a Palestinian target could be described as a Palestinian attack on Israel.  Perhaps that too was a rehearsal for an Israeli attack on Iran.

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The Book of Esther (The Wandering Who?

NOVANEWS

Chapter 19

‘Haman said to King Achashvairosh, “There is a nation scattered and separated among the nations [the Jews] throughout your empire. Their laws are different than everyone else’s, they do not obey the king’s laws, and it does not pay for the king to tolerate their existence. If it pleases the king, let a law be written that they be destroyed, and I will pay to the executors ten thousand silver Kikar-coins for the king’s treasury.”’ (The Book Of Esther, Chapter 3)

The Book of Esther is a biblical story that forms the basis for the celebration of Purim, probably the most joyously celebrated Jewish festival. The book tells of an attempted Judeocide, but also of Jews who manage to change their fate. In the Book of Esther, the Jews rescue themselves, and even get to mete out revenge.

It is set in the third year of the reign of the Persian king Ahasuerus (commonly identified with Xerxes I). It is a story of a palace, a conspiracy, the aforementioned attempted Judeocide and a brave and beautiful Jewish queen – Esther – who manages to save her people at the very last minute.

Ahasuerus is married to Vashti, whom he repudiates after she rejects his command to show herself off to his assembled guests during a feast. Esther is selected from amongst many candidates to be Ahasuerus’s new bride. As the story progresses, Ahasuerus’s prime minister, Haman, plots to have all the Jews in the Persian empire killed in revenge for a refusal by Esther’s cousin Mordechai to bow to him in respect. Esther, now queen, plots with Mordechai to save the day for the Persian Jews. At the risk of endangering her own safety, Esther warns Ahasuerus of Haman’s murderous anti-Jewish plot. (As she had not disclosed her Jewish origins beforehand, the king had been unaware of them.) Haman and his sons are hanged on the fifty-cubit-high gallows he had originally built for Mordecai. As it happens, Mordecai takes Haman’s place as prime minister. Ahasuerus’s edict decreeing the murder of the Jews cannot be rescinded, so he issues another one allowing the Jews to take up arms and kill their enemies – which they do.

The moral of the story is clear. If Jews want to survive, they had better infiltrate the corridors of power. In light of The Book of Esther, Mordechai and Purim, AIPAC and the notion of ‘Jewish power’ appears to be an embodiment of a deep Biblical and cultural ideology.

However, here is the interesting twist. Though the story is presented as a record of actual events, the historical accuracy of the Book of Esther is in fact largely disputed by most modern Bible scholars. The lack of clear corroboration for any of the book’s details with what is known of Persian history from classical sources has led scholars to conclude that the story is mostly or even totally fictional. In other words, the moral notwithstanding, the attempted genocide is fictional. Seemingly, the Book of Esther encourages its (Jewish) followers into collective Pre-TSS, making a fantasy of ‘destruction’ into an ‘ideology of survival’.  Indeed, some read the story as an allegory of quintessentially assimilated Jews, who discover that they are targets of anti-Semitism, but who are also in a position to save themselves and their fellow Jews.

Reading the Haman quotes above, while keeping Bowman in mind, the Book of Esther shapes an exilic identity. It sews existential stress and is a prelude to the Holocaust religion, setting the conditions that turn the Holocaust into reality.  Interestingly a very similar, threatening narrative is explored in the beginning of Exodus. Again, in order to set an atmosphere of a ‘Shoah to come’ and a liberation to follow, an existential fear is established:

‘Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, “Behold, the people of the children of Israel are too many and too mighty for us; come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there befalleth us any war, they also join themselves unto our enemies, and fight against us, and get them up out of the land.” Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh store-cities, Pithom and Raamses.’ Exodus 8-11

Both in Exodus and The Book of Esther, the author of the text manages to predict the kind of accusations that would be leveled against Jews for centuries to come, such as power-seeking, tribalism and treachery.  Shockingly, the text in Exodus evokes a prophesy of the Nazi Holocaust. It depicts a reality of ethnic cleansing, economic oppressive measures that eventually lead to slave labour camps (Pithom and Raamses). Yet, in both Exodus and the Book of Esther it is the Jews who eventually kill.

Interestingly, the Book of Esther (in the Hebrew version of the Bible; six chapters were added to the Greek translation) is one of only two books of the Bible that do not directly mention God (the other is Song of Songs). As in the Holocaust religion, in the Book of Esther it is the Jews who believe in themselves, in their own power, in their uniqueness, sophistication, ability to conspire, ability to take over kingdoms, ability to save themselves. The Book of Esther is all about empowerment. It conveys the essence and metaphysics of Jewish power.

From Purim to Washington

In an article titled ‘A Purim Lesson: Lobbying Against Genocide, Then and Now’, Dr Rafael Medoff expounds on what he regards as the lesson bequeathed to the Jews by Esther and Mordechai: the art of lobbying. ‘The holiday of Purim,’ Medoff says, ‘celebrates the successful effort by prominent Jews in the capitol [sic] of ancient Persia to prevent genocide against the Jewish people.’[1] This specific exercise of what some call ‘Jewish power’ (though Medoff does not use this phrase) has been carried forward, and is performed by modern emancipated Jews: ‘What is not well known is that a comparable lobbying effort took place in modern times – in Washington, D.C., at the peak of the Holocaust.’[2]

Medoff explores the similarities between Esther’s lobbying in Persia and her modern counterparts lobbying inside FDR’s administration at the height of the Second World War: ‘The Esther in 1940s Washington was Henry Morgenthau Jr., a wealthy, assimilated Jew of German descent who (as his son later put it) was anxious to be regarded as ‘one hundred percent American.’ Downplaying his Jewish-ness, Morgenthau gradually rose from being FDR’s friend and adviser to his Treasury Secretary.’[3]

Clearly, Medoff also spotted a modern Mordechai: ‘a young Zionist emissary from Jerusalem, Peter Bergson (real name: Hillel Kook) who led a series of protest campaigns to bring about U.S. rescue of Jews from Hitler. The Bergson group’s newspaper ads and public rallies roused public awareness of the Holocaust – particularly when it organized over 400 rabbis to march to the front gate of the White House just before Yom Kippur in 1943.’[4]

Medoff’s reading of the Book of Esther provides a glaring insight into the internal codes of Jewish collective survival dynamics, in which the assimilated (Esther) and the observant (Mordechai) join forces with Jewish interests on their minds. According to Medoff, the parallels to modern times are striking: ‘Mordechai’s pressure finally convinced Esther to go to the king; the pressure of Morgenthau’s aides finally convinced him to go to the president, armed with a stinging 18-page report that they titled “Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of the Jews.”  Esther’s lobbying succeeded. [Ahasuerus] cancelled the genocide decree and executed Haman and his henchmen. Morgenthau’s lobbying also succeeded. A Bergson-initiated Congressional resolution calling for U.S. rescue action quickly passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – enabling Morgenthau to tell FDR that “you have either got to move very fast, or the Congress of the United States will do it for you.” Ten months before election day, the last thing FDR wanted was an embarrassing public scandal over the refugee issue. Within days, Roosevelt did what the Congressional resolution sought – he issued an executive order creating the War Refugee Board, a U.S. government agency to rescue refugees from Hitler.’[5]

Doubtless Medoff sees the Book of Esther as a general guideline for a healthy Jewish conduct: ‘The claim that nothing could be done to help Europe’s Jews had been demolished by Jews who shook off their fears and spoke up for their people – in ancient Persia and in modern Washington.’ In other words, Jews can and should do for themselves. This is indeed the moral of the Book of Esther as well as of the Holocaust religion.

What Jews should do for themselves is indeed an open question. Different Jews have different ideas. The neoconservatives believe in dragging the US and the West into an endless war against Islam. Some Jews believe that Jews should actually position themselves at the forefront of the struggle against oppression and injustice. Indeed, Jewish empowerment is just one answer among many. Yet it is a very powerful one, and dangerous when the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and AIPAC act as modern-day Mordechais and publicly engage in an extensive lobbying efforts for war against Iran.

Both AIPAC and the AJC are inherently in line with the Hebrew Biblical school of thought. They follow their Biblical mentor, Mordechai.  However, while the Mordechais are relatively easy to spot, the Esthers – those who act for Israel behind the scenes – are slightly more difficult to track.

Once we learn to consider Israeli lobbying within the parameters drawn by the Book of Esther and the Holocaust religion, we are then entitled to regard Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the current Haman/Hitler figure. In addition to the AJC and AIPAC, President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Lord Levy are also Mordechais, Obama is obviously Ahasuerus, yet Esther can be almost anyone, from the last Neocon to Dick Cheney and beyond.

EstherWanderingWho

Gilad Atzmon’s Book: The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish  Identity Politics  

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Latinos, IsraHell and Palestine: Understanding Anti-Semitism

NOVANEWS

By Aurora Levins Morales

I am a Puerto Rican Jew, born of Ukrainian Jews fleeing war and repression to become sweatshop organizers in 1910s New York, and landed gentry from Naranjito, turned working class migrants in 1930s Harlem and the Bronx, landing in the same garment shops a generation later. I’m also a lifelong activist historian who embraces complexity and has spent decades building alliances between people who misunderstand each other.

It is true that there are specific challenges in the relations between Latin@s (those who are not Jewish) and Jews (the ones who aren’t Latin@.) It’s true that these challenges are deeply rooted in the anti-Semitism of the Catholic hierarchy, but the belief system that burned Jews at the stake, accused us of sacrificing Christian babies, and held us responsible for the crucifixion of Christ, long predates the State of Israel. And long before that state was founded out of the ashes of genocide and at the expense of a colonized Arab people, Jews were the shock absorbers of Europe’s class societies, “Middle Agents” drafted into being the local representatives of distant and definitely Christian ruling classes who alternately exploited and persecuted them while squeezing the life blood out of Europe’s peasants and workers.

People are often confused by anti-Semitism They see many US Jews accumulating wealth, moving up, gaining positions of influence, and they say, “What oppression?” Anti-Semitism doesn’t work the way racism does. Racism tries to create permanently exploitable groups of workers, people kept in line through discrimination and violence, kept poor and dependent on low wage jobs.

The whole point of anti-Semitism has been to create a vulnerable buffer group that can be bribed with some privileges into managing the exploitation of others, and then, when social pressure builds, be blamed and scapegoated, distracting those at the bottom from the crimes of those at the top. Peasants who go on pogrom against their Jewish neighbors won’t make it to the nobleman’s palace to burn him out and seize the fields. This was the role of Jews in Europe. This has been the role of Jews in the United States, and this is the role of Jews in the Middle East.

The people I come from were small scale farmers and garment workers. Like them, the vast majority of European Jews were in no position to wield any sort of economic power, but in a world where the economic lives of Jews were strictly regulated (my great grandfather had to pay bribes to work at a hardware store in a town where Jews were forbidden) the role of agent to the rulers was one of the few options offered, often under duress.

Just as Jews in Europe collaborated in the collection of outrageous taxes from the peasantry, Jews in the United States have collaborated in the exploitation of urban people of color, trading an illusion of safety for the powerful alliances we could have built, and often becoming one of the local faces of oppression: landlords, pawnbrokers, public school teachers and administrators, doctors, and the social workers of the welfare machine, implementing policies that serve others, and collecting rents for the shareholders of the Bank of America. Jews are by no means the majority in any of these roles, but it’s been a widespread defensive strategy, in response to the instability of Jewish life, to seek upward mobility not only for its own sake, but as a safety net against persecution.

This is a direct result of the deep insecurity that cyclical oppression creates: no amount of privilege feels like safety, and historically, it hasn’t been. The knowledge of what happened to the wealthy, assimilated Jews of Berlin haunts the Jews of Great Neck, who compromise potential alliances for the sake of guarantees that have never worked before, but keep seeming like they should. It’s a form of opportunism, the willingness to take up whatever tools are at hand, including the master’s tools.

And Latin@s have done the same thing, been willing to mobilize the centuries old weaponry of Catholic Jew-bashing in the fight for economic and social justice, mobilize traditional slanders about Jewish greed, or conspiracy theories like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, written by Czarist secret police, that worked so well to keep old world peasants throwing stones at Jews instead of bringing down the aristocracy, been willing to buy the idea that the problem with the slumlord is that he’s a Jew, and not that he’s a slumlord.

This system of interlocking opportunisms has diverted attention from the real power structure of this country, which is solidly white and Protestant, and kept us from forming alliances powerful and broad enough to unite the 99%. It saps energy from the work of ending racism and economic injustice, and eliminating the anti-Semitism that keeps Jews scared enough to keep signing up to be middle agents.

In the last line of his article, Rubén Navarrete says of the Israelis, “given all that they’ve endured, they should know better.” Trauma doesn’t turn make people into better human beings. Most of the time, trauma just makes people terrified and easier to manipulate. It makes starving Irish tenants fleeing a devastating famine willing to own slaves or homestead Native American land or police the ghettos they used to live in. It makes the formerly kidnapped and enslaved willing to set up shop in Liberia and hold their African kin in contempt. It makes the survivors of Hitler’s Final Solution be willing to become harsh colonial masters, agents of US oil greed and militarism, to bulldoze the villages of Palestinians to make Jewish settlements, torture and kill those who resist, and still insist they are the victims here. People who have faced destruction don’t necessarily know better.

The Jewish right in the United States has a near monopoly on public discourse about Israel, and is amazingly effective at silencing dissent. Anyone, Jew or not, who criticizes Israeli policies toward the Palestinians is accused of wanting to destroy the Jewish people. I myself appear on the Masada 2000 list of Self-Hating, Israel Threatening Jews, (twice, because they don’t get it about our double last names.) AIPAC and their ilk are experts at mobilizing intense pressure on funders and sponsors of lectures, films or social justice programs that expose Israel’s commitment to crushing Palestinian sovereignty, with all the brutal details that that entails. They believe that the survival of all Jews depends on a heavily militarized, Jewish state in which Palestinians must be deprived of their rights in order to secure the rights of Jews. They insist that to say anything negative about Israel is inherently anti-Semitic, makes the critics retroactive Nazi collaborators. (Yes, I’ve received emails accusing me of complicity in the deaths of Polish Jewish children who died before I was born!) So when U.S. Latin@s are described as hostile to Israel, this aggressive defensiveness is part of what’s in play.

The thing is, that while they’re wrong, they’re not always completely wrong. Criticism of Israel does take on a special tone of hatred and contempt that draws on the same poisoned well as attacking Jewish slumlords as Jews, or singling out the Jewishness of one group of developers out to build an exclusive luxury resort on Puerto Rico’s coast, while never mentioning the religion of the many Christian developers.

Israel is a colonial country with a strong right wing nationalist ideology that does what such regimes do, and it’s not any better or worse than other colonial regimes with right wing nationalist ideologies. Yes, it’s critical that those who love justice stand up for the human rights and sovereignty of Palestinians and their Jewish Israeli allies, but there is no contradiction between doing so and also standing up for Israeli Jews, jammed into the deadliest middle agent role in our history. Israel needs to be pressured toward integrity, economic and political justice, and respect for human rights, in exactly the same way that the Congo needs to be pressured, that tortured country where millions have died in wars over the precious metal that makes our cell phones work, and the legacy of Belgian colonial rule, known for its extreme brutality, is reenacted every day between Congolese people.

And while it’s true that opportunism has been a widespread strategy of both Jews and Latinos, the opportunism that leads us to compromise our integrity by agreeing to the mistreatment of others, both my peoples have long traditions of a very different strategy. Jews have been disproportionately present in movements for social justice wherever we have landed, and significant numbers of U.S. Jews have understood from the start that the best guarantee of our own safety is to form strong alliances with other oppressed people, to fight together, to get each other’s backs.

My great-grandparents were garment trade organizers. My grandfather was a radical lawyer who worked on the Scottsboro case. My father, married to a Puerto Rican activist woman, was a rural organizer in Puerto Rico in the 1950s and a leading figure of the independence movement in the 1960s, until we left the island. And my mother, raised among Jewish immigrants in New York who were her best allies against racism, never tolerated anti-Semitism from anyone.

We can’t allow support for Jews to be defined as support for Israeli policies. Support for Jews is support for Jewish integrity, for deeply held values of justice and compassion, support for U.S. and Israeli peace, for human rights organizations like the Middle East Children’s Alliance, and Jewish Voice for Peace. Many US Jews are deeply concerned about Israel’s violent seizure of Palestinian land, and violent suppression of dissent, but don’t speak out because they are afraid, not only of attack from the Jewish right, but also of the reality of anti-Semitism, which always flares in times of economic crisis. To many, it still seems that Israel is the one safe haven when things get bad again. We have to see to it that it isn’t true.

As long as right wing Jews are the strongest voice against anti-Semitism, they can continue to define criticism of Israeli colonialism and support for Palestinian rights as Jew-hating, intimidating and confusing potential supporters of a just peace. As long as non-Jewish critics of Israeli colonialism allow anti-Semitism to creep into their critiques, U.S. Jews will hold back from joining them, just as people of color don’t rush to join white-led organizations where racism isn’t actively challenged.

One of the most effective ways for Latin@s to support the people of both Israel and Palestine is to understand the workings of anti-Semitism and take clear strong stands against it. The central justification for Israeli militarism and the subjugation of Palestinians is the belief that Jews are alone in the world, that no-one will fight for us, that the next time Jews are blamed and attacked, most of the world’s people will stand by and watch. The more the Israeli right escalates, the more Palestinians are repressed, the less safe it actually is for Jews. When Latin@s are willing to examine our history of anti-Semitism, to study the ways it’s been used to manipulate and divide us, and root it out of our organizations, communities, and families, we help create the conditions for large numbers of U.S. Jews to stand up for the rights of Palestinians and a decolonized, plurinational, democratic Israel, to abandon the middle agent role and get the backs of other peoples, knowing that they also have ours.

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A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter



Leading one-state solution advocate explains how to bring justice in Palestine

 

Posted: 10 Mar 2012

 

Ali Abunimah is a Palestinian, key advocate for BDS against Israel and supporter of a one-state solution for Israel and Palestine. He’s passionate, cluey, media savvy and opposed to racism committed by Israelis, Palestinians or anybody else.

He’s been profiled in the Jewish newspaper Forward at a time when one-state advocates are becoming far more respected and heard in the mainstream. Just this week information about my forthcoming book with co-editor Ahmed Moor,After Zionism, on the one-state solution, went public.

Here’s Abunimah in the Forward:

Abunimah’s idea, on which he elaborates in his 2006 book, “One Country: A Bold Proposal To End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse,” is based on the notion that neither Israelis nor Palestinians are willing to cede the minimal amount of land to satisfy the demands of the opposite side. The two-state solution, he likes to say, is pure “political science fiction.”

For Abunimah, 41, an American of Palestinian parentage, the one-state solution is as much a pragmatic remedy to an intractable conflict as it is a way to rectify Zionism’s historical wrongs. In Abunimah’s single state, Palestinian refugees who were forced out or fled in 1948 and 1967 would have the right to return to their homeland. But Abunimah can grow vague when pressed on just how things would work out from there.

In his book, for example, Abunimah says, somewhat boldly, that the one state he envisions would retain a Law of Return for Jews even as Palestinian refugees could also return under its reach. But Abunimah dialed back that concession in his interview with the Forward. Jews will be subject to what Abunimah terms a “nondiscriminatory” immigration policy, he said. “It is not a question of Jews coming or not coming,” he said. “It should be a home to anyone who is persecuted.”

Most of the returning Palestinians would move to new cities on empty land. Some would demand to return to their homes in Israeli cities, and these cases should be handled “as ethically as possible.” Certain settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem would remain in place, no doubt, transformed from Jewish-only municipalities into mixed neighborhoods. Like the white flight from South Africa at the end of apartheid, many elite Jews would leave, Abunimah predicts. But most would stay — in particular, poor Jews, religious Jews and Jews of Arab origin.

“The people most likely to leave would be those with means, those with second passports, those who aren’t prepared to muck it along in a society where they don’t have so many built-in advantages,” he said. “It is very important to recognize that for some people it is about privilege.”

Abunimah is under no illusion that the majority of American Jews or Israelis would willingly agree to such a proposition. In fact, most would go “kicking and screaming.” Already, Abunimah’s detractors, who include Zionists on the left, have painted his idea as a kind of reverse Nakba — the term Palestinians use to refer to their ejection in 1948 — with Israel devolving into violent chaos and Jews fleeing.

And yet, as the two-state vision stagnates, with even negotiations towards it seeming distant while Jewish-only settlements continue to spread in the occupied West Bank, Abunimah seems to be gaining traction. Abunimah’s knee surgery will pause his touring for now, capping a weeklong speaking tour of some of the most elite schools in the country: Oberlin College, Brown University, Brandeis and, most recently, Harvard, which played host to a conference on the one-state solution. To his detractors, Abunimah is preaching to the choir, a tiny sliver of far-left Israel haters with an outsized voice on college campuses. Indeed, the one-state solution has zero backing from Palestinian, Israeli and American political leadership. But Abunimah sees things differently.

“People see that there is really not a two-state solution; there is no peace process,” Abunimah said. “We are at the point where there is nothing left to pin false hopes on, and that is pushing people to say, ‘What are the alternatives to this?’”

What Arabs really think (and guess what, Iran and America are the real threats)

 

Posted: 09 Mar 2012

 

Fascinating new research, published on Al Jazeera, that reflects Arab opinions more than one year after the Arab Spring:

  • A majority describe themselves as religious, but they mostly don’t support the interference of religious authorities in citizens’ political choices.
  • 71 per cent say they don’t distinguish between religious and non-religious people in their economic and social relations.
  • 77 per cent trust their military, half trust their police, 47 per cent trust their governments and 36 per cent trust their local councils before the revolutions.
  • A high 83 per cent believe corruption is widespread in their countries.
  • Only 19 per cent see their states implement the law equally among its citizens.
  • Three quarters of those polled believe that Arab states should take measures to bring their nations closer. An equal percentage believes that states should lift restrictions on free travel and 67 per cent are not satisfied with Arab-Arab co-operation.
  • Contrary to mainstream global media coverage, 73 per cent of those polled see Israel and the US as the two most threatening countries. Five per cent see Iran as the most threatening, a percentage that varies between countries and regions.
  • A high 84 per cent believe the Palestinian question is the cause of all Arabs and not the Palestinians only.
  • A high 84 per cent reject the notion of their state’s recognition of Israel and only 21 per cent support, to a certain degree, the peace agreement signed between Egypt, Jordan and the PLO with Israel. Less than a third agree with their government’s foreign policy.
  • When it comes to WMD, 55 per cent support a region free of nuclear weapons and 55 per cent see Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons as justifying there possession by other countries in the region.

Rejecting Serco in Australia

 

Posted: 09 Mar 2012

 

All power to these people, highlighting to the public the reality of the rapacious British multinational Serco:

Opponents of the privatisation of government services today took their concerns to the door of the Perth office of multi-national provider, Serco.

About 60 people under the banner of Occupy Perth – the same group that held a multi-day sit-in last year – vented their anger at the state government’s repeated use of Serco to provide services in public hospitals, detention centres, juvenile detention centres and for corrective services.

Similar protests are expected to take place in Melbourne, Sydney and London, where Serco also is prominent.

The group, including community activists, refugee rights, unionists Aboriginal deaths in custody activists, are concerned by what they say is a poor history of privatised government services.

Numerous deaths and serious illness from hospital infections had been caused by poor quality privately provided services, they claimed.

The issue has become increasingly prominent following the death in custody of Aboriginal man Mr Ward, who died in the back of an un-airconditioned prison van while being transported by private company G4-S.

Public outrage led to the company losing the contract to provide transport for corrective services.

Other protesters claimed the privatisation of hospital services would reduce the quality of care.

“Any corporation is there to make a profit,” one protester Dave Hume told the crowd.

“Any deal with Serco is a bad deal, be it prisons, be it detention centres, be it hospitals – Serco is a bad company to deal with. They’re an international company and they’re in bed with our state government.”

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

‘Women’s Day March’ at Qalandiya checkpoint is greeted by water cannon

Mar 10, 2012

Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz

Active Stills has posted an amazing series of photographs from the Women’s Day demonstration against the occupation at Qalandiya checkpoint Thursday:

International Women's Day, Qalandia checkpoint, West Bank, 8.3.2012

There is also video here.

Women’s Day March against Occupation: Qalandia from ListenIn Pictures on Vimeo.

And this text:

On March 8, 2012 Palestinian women organized a protest at the Qalandia checkpoint to make a collective call to end occupation. They sang, marched and chanted and their non-violent protest was met with tear gas, rubber bullets, skunk water and sound bombs by the Israeli Defense Forces.

From President Obama’s lecture to the Palestinians, June 2009, Cairo:

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That’s not how moral authority is claimed; that’s how it is surrendered.

Keeping settlements ‘illegal’ keeps Obama off of Netanyahu’s back

Mar 10, 2012

Allison Deger

illegal outpost
Caravans in the illegal settlement of Ginot Aryeh, located below hilltop houses in the “legal settlement of Ofra. (Photo: Debbie Hill/UPI Photo)

A day before prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu left Israel for his North American diplomatic tour, a Knesset minister pulled a bill from that would have sanctioned mass expropriation of Palestinian land in the West Bank. The bill allows for settlers to confiscate land, illegally, in order to establish an outpost, so long as the Palestinian owners are compensated.

The legislation was introduced to Knesset as a solution to the row over Migron, an illegal outpost that was marked for eviction at the end of this month. But Migron no longer faces demolition. The Israeli government intervened, violating an order from the high court,  reaching a deal just days after Netanyahu arrived in the U.S.

The proposal, if passed, would have implicated more settlements than Migron; all illegal outposts, under the bill, would have access to become legal. The bill would have also allowed settlers to legally steal Palestinian land at a future date.

Meanwhile, illegal settlements are continuously constructed without much recourse.  For example, Migron was demolished in 2011, but the settlers quickly re-built the outpost. And certainly no one was taken to jail for trying to steal Palestinian property.

When new outposts like Migron are built illegally, instead of “legally,” Netanyahu is shielded from political controversy; the prime minister is safe from American pressure to stop new settlement construction, and the settlers whose political parties helped get the prime minister in office can continue to do as they please.

During Netanyahu’s visit, U.S. officials did not speak publicly on the increased number of settlements in the West Bank. The conversation was all about Iran. Yet Netanyahu consistently violates the U.S.’s demand for a settlement freeze on new  construction (in 2010 the U.S. gave-up demands for a moratorium on settlement expansion). The Migron case, in part, explains Israel’s political protection, despite a decade of unprecedented settlement growth.

This is the face of war

Mar 10, 2012

Pam Bailey

 (Reposted from Pam in Progress) As I write this, Israel is bombing with intensity; 10 are dead already and casualties are reportedly filling the ERs. Resistance fighters are retaliating. On this, my last day in Gaza, I am confined to the home of a friend’s relatives — most likely until early in the morning…We are sitting around, chatting and listening to the news. And I am thinking…

In many ways, the Gaza Strip has improved significantly since Israel unleashed Operation Cast Lead, killing more than 1,000 Palestinians, destroying more than 4,000 homes and shutting the majority of the territory’s businesses. Each time I return I am amazed by the new buildings I see, and the scope of construction currently underway. Not only are there a few Western-style shopping malls (although smaller than American standards); a beautiful, modern new monument to the internationals murdered on the Mavi Marmara; and home improvements in evidence among the slightly more middle- class families who I know, but there is extensive roadwork underway on the main coastal street. (Isn’t that the ubiquitous sign of progress everywhere? Roadwork??)

However, the pain of Cast Lead is still festering, just beneath the surface. It is evident in the estimated 6,500 amputees you see almost everywhere — some begging, others going about their everyday lives. It is still visible in the pockmarked walls of so many of the cement buildings, silent reminders that the Israeli military can enter and attack at will, any time.

But one of the lasting “gifts” of Cast Lead that haunts me the most is the fate of 11-year-old Amal al-Samouni.

amal 2
Amal al-Samouni (Photo: International Middle East Media Center)

Anyone who has read anything about Cast Lead and Gaza has heard about the Samouni family. Nineteen members of this extended clan were gathered together in the same house on Jan. 4, 2009, when they were surrounded by Israeli forces. They ordered Amal’s father, Attia, to step outside with his hands up, and upon opening the door, he was shot in the head and chest. Soldiers then started firing bullets into the house, killing Amal’s 4-year-old brother and injuring four others. 
Over the following hours, soldiers ordered over 100 other members of the extended Samouni family into the house of Amal’s uncle, and the next day, Israeli forces launched an offensive directly at the house and its vicinity, killing 21 persons. Amal, who was inside, was hit by shrapnel in the head and buried under the rubble, lying between injured, dying and deceased relatives. She wasn’t evacuated to a hospital until two days later.

Amal survived those four horrific days, but today, three years later, the shrapnel remains scattered throughout her brain — causing near-constant pain in her head, eyes and ears, along with severe nosebleeds. The continuous pain has a profound impact on Amal’s mood, her relationship with her siblings and her performance in school. “When I have a lot of pain I become nervous and angry,” she confesses.

At age 11, she faces an uncertain future of chronic, debilitating pain — or worse. Local physicians say it is too dangerous to attempt to remove the shrapnel, and so far physicians consulted in the Netherlands agree, adding that such an exploratory operation would be highly expensive, and no one would want to take the responsibility for the uncertain consequences. But…how do you look such a young girl in the eyes and tell her there is nothing to be done? How do you say that to her mother? (I certainly couldn’t. So when I return, I plan to seek out experts/medical centers willing to take another look.)

War and oppression are bad enough during the peak of their intensity. But after the politicians go home and the general public moves on to worry about some other “hot spot,” the people go on living with the many, myriad ripple effects. For example, the people of Fallujah, Iraq, are reportedly experiencing higher rates of cancer, leukemia, infant mortality and sexual mutations than those recorded among survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the years after those Japanese cities were incinerated by U.S. atomic bomb strikes in 1945.

The “blowback” can be psychological and emotional as well. Dr. Eyad Serraj, president of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, followed the Palestinian children of the First Intifada — those who were arrested, for example, for throwing stones — and he observes that many of those most affected provided the “fodder” for the Second Intifada’s suicide bombers.

It is this fallout from our “war adventures” that politicians should be forced to confront before committing dollars or troops.

Although I cringe when I hear about all the foreigners who are paraded by the Samounis to hear their story — feeling a bit too much like they are “pity subjects” in a horror show — I am thinking that every Congressperson who votes to supply weaponry or other military aid to Israel, or who votes for any war/occupation, should be forced to look Amal in the eyes.

Breaking: Democratic chair Wasserman Schultz said to cancel speech to Muslim voting-rights group under rightwing pressure

Mar 10, 2012

Philip Weiss

Wasserman Schultz
Emerge’s original banquet announcement

Breaking: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee and a Florida congresswoman, has apparently bowed out of speaking to a Muslim organization’s event under pressure from a right wing campaign.

Emerge is a political organization dedicated to empowering Muslims in Florida. Look at some of the work they do at the link– stopping an industrial waste site next to a mosque, getting Muslims to vote in elections.

This April Emerge is having its annual banquet in Florida. Its facebook page made this announcement in the last day:

EMERGE USA is happy to announce that Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin of Teaneck,NJ will be speaking at our April 21st banquet

But you can see the original announcement, as posted by a rightwing group, above. I am told that Debbie Wasserman Schultz has withdrawn under pressure. I just called her office now.

This rightwing pressure group, for instance, slammed Wasserman Schultz for agreeing to appear at the event and cited David Horowitz’s Islamophobic organization, Front Page:

FrontPageMag.Com – A radical Muslim group with ties to the Obama Administration will be featuring the head of the Democratic National Committee, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as the keynote speaker for its annual fundraising banquet this coming April. By agreeing to partake in the event, Wasserman Schultz is helping to further this organization’s nefarious agenda of placing Islamists into positions of American power and influence. It is this stealth jihad which threatens our country not from abroad, but from within.

Here is the Front Page article, with the Israel/Palestine angle:

Wasserman Schultz likes to flaunt her Jewish identity and (false) pro-Israel persona, but how can she begin to do so, when the organization she will be addressing maintains staff who display animosity towards the Jewish state?

Laila Abdelaziz, the Field Coordinator of EMERGE, denounced Israel in a question she posed to President Obama, during a January 2010 town hall meeting he held in Tampa, Florida. “[W]hy have we not condemned Israel and Egypt’s human rights violations against the occupied Palestinian people, and yet we continue supporting them financially with billions of dollars from our tax dollars?” she belligerently asked.

Emerge does not focus on the Israel/Palestine issue. It focuses on domestic issues and voter empowerment issues. But Wasserman Schultz has evidently bowed to pressure from the rightwing. Because she is part of Obama’s outreach to the Jewish community. If you go to her official site, the first photograph is of Wasserman Schultz with Netanyahu. Half embracing him. Then a photograph of her at Yad Vashem, the Israeli memorial to the Holocaust in Europe.

I don’t know what to say. This is so disheartening it leaves me speechless. And yes, it is about prejudice inside the Jewish community.

Israelis ‘were looking to kill me’ in ’02– Shadid

Mar 10, 2012

Philip Weiss

Yesterday we did a piece hammering on the fact that obits of Anthony Shadid, the New York Times correspondent who died in Syria last month, have elided the fact that the Israelis nearly killed him in 2002. The obits say he was shot in 2002. A little like saying Rachel Corrie was killed by a bulldozer. This is from Dave Kindred’s fine piece on Anthony Shadid in GQ.

Until the Israeli sniper shot him, it had been a good day. Shadid’s notebook was full because he had been eyewitness to a drama that was a perfect metaphor for the latest Israel-Palestine war. He started a long walk back to the hotel. There he would write for his newspaper, The Boston Globe. He was looking at his notes when he realized that his body was falling. He was halfway to the ground before he heard the gunshot.

It was March 31, 2002. Shadid remembered the sky over Ramallah as cemetery gray. Once the bustling hub of a new Palestine, the city was cloaked in silence. War in its third day had emptied the streets. That day, as on all days, Shadid was driven by a reporter’s questions: Why? How do I put the pieces of the puzzle together? Here in Ramallah, why did Israel’s army wage war against civilians when the nation’s prime minister said the objective was to eliminate a’ “terrorist infrastructure”?

Shadid had gone to Ramallah Hospital to interview doctors, nurses, ambulances drivers, and humanitarian workers. He wanted to talk to people who had found themselves in harm’s way by leading their everyday lives. As he arrived, so did the roar of war. A tank rolled up, and two armored personnel carriers unloaded soldiers. The soldiers rushed toward the hospital with rifles leveled on people who had come outside. Someone said, “This is a hospital!” The soldiers, seemingly in search of an enemy, shouted, “Everyone back, everybody inside!”

Shadid saw it all. The scene spoke to the asymmetry of the conflict Here were doctors in white smocks facing soldiers with M-16s. As an Israeli lieutenant talked to the hospital chief, Shadid listened. In their confrontation, he saw the war. The lieutenant was an army that had to search among civilians for the enemy. The hospital chief was Ramallah, powerless against power.

“The doctor and this Israeli were face-to-face and they were yelling at each other,” Shadid said. “I’m standing right next to them. And I’m writing down every word. This was one of those moments. Through it, I could tell the entire story of this fifty-year conflict. I was so excited. This is it. You could see how the entire story would be structured. So excited.”

When a peaceful compromise was made, Shadid headed back to his hotel with a colleague, Said al-Ghazali. They walked in the middle of the street lest they raise suspicion by moving along walls. Both wore white flak jackets marked on the back with red-taped “TV,” the best-known symbol for international press. He had his notebook in his hands, flipping pages to read notes.

Then he was falling before he heard the gunshot. “It was deafening, like they shot next to my ear,” he said. “Probably twenty-five feet away.” On the street, he couldn’t move. He first thought someone had thrown a stun grenade, a weapon that momentarily paralyzes its target. Then he felt pain on his spine. “Said,” he said to his friend, “I think I was shot.”

Al-Ghazali was down on the pavement with Shadid, searching for blood. “I don’t see anything,” he said. Shadid now reached behind his flak jacket and brought back a bloody hand. He thought to tell his wife and infant daughter good-bye. He thought of ambulances that couldn’t move on Ramallah’s streets. He also thought, “I’ll die if I wait for help.”

Al-Ghazali carried him twenty yards before they fell. “Journalists!” Al-Ghazali shouted. “Help! Bring us a car!” There was no one in the street, no one could hear them, no one except perhaps the Israeli who shot him. Shadid thought that man might now be watching him struggle toward a vehicle in the street ahead.

“He’s wounded!” al-Ghazali shouted.

An Israeli said, “Show us!”

Al-Ghazali turned Shadid so the soldier could see the white flak jacket red with blood. The bullet had passed through Shadid’s left shoulder, sheared off part of a spinal column vertebra, and burst through his right shoulder, a classic M-16 wound: tiny on entry, huge on exit. Twelve pieces of shrapnel remained inside the reporter’s back. In his Boston apartment years later, I asked Shadid, “Did the guy intend to shoot you?”

“There were rumors that Palestinians were posing as Red Cross workers and journalists. I don’t think if they knew I was an American journalist that I’d have been shot. They might have, who knows? They can be rough on journalists. I think they wanted to teach a lesson. ‘Here’s what we’re going to do to people acting as journalists.'”

“God,” I said.

“A cold-blooded execution.”

“From point-blank range,” I said.

“They were looking to kill me. Crazy, but reading my notes may have saved my life. I think they were aiming at my head, and I moved my head down looking at my notes.”

“The M-16 wound makes you sure an Israeli did it?”

“Yes. And the Israelis were in complete control of that area that day.”

Israel strikes Gaza, killing 11, injuring 16

Mar 10, 2012

Omar Ghraieb

Omar
Photo from attack at Omar Ghraieb’s site

What mainstream media wouldn’t tell you or give you details about:

Gaza, March 10, Gaza witnessed a sleepless night after a continuous series of air-raids performed by Israel’s different warplanes (Apache, Drones, and F16s). It started on March 9, 5:00 pm, when Israeli warplanes targeted a blue car in a populated area. The blue Opel became a little box of steel, completely burned and blown into little shrapnel. It happened in Tal Al Hawa, Western Gaza, and caused the death of Zuheir Qaisy, Secretary-General of the Popular Resistance Committees and Mahmoud Hanini, freed prisoner in Shalit swap deal, originally from Nablus. A third passer-by was critically injured.

(To see pictures from this post, click here.)

Later that night, 8:30 pm, March 9, medics announced the death of Khaled Harara, 22, and Obaid Al Gharabli, 23, both belong to Saraya Al Quds, armed wing of Islamic Jihad after being targeted by Israeli warplanes. Medics announced the discovery of a third body in the same place, Hazem Qureqe’.

Israeli warplanes continued bombarding Gaza heavily till 2:30 am, March 10. No place in Gaza was safe, Israeli warplanes raided Eastern, Western, Northern and Southern Gaza, civilian houses, highly populated areas and highly trafficked crossroads.

Another 6 Gazans were killed by Israeli warplanes in different areas across Gaza:
Shady Sieqali, Fayeq Sa’d, Mo’tasem Hajjaj, Ahmed Hajjaj, Mohamed Al Mughari and Mahmoud Nejem. Most martyrs were members of Saraya Al Quds, Islamic Jihad. Local resistance in Gaza retaliated and showered nearby Israeli settlements with homemade rockets.

Some of the areas that were targeted by Israeli warplanes: Beit Lahyah, Shuja’yah, Sudaneyah, Maqousi Towers, Palestinian Legislative Council, Rimal Area, Tal Al Hawa, Yarmouk Street, Rafah, Khan Younis and other different areas.

Israel and armed Palestinian factions in Gaza, all denied the news about a cease fire so escalation is in the air.

Stay tuned….

Ghraieb’s piece first appeared at Gaza: In the eyes of the beholder

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SYRIA: THE TRUTH ABOUT ZIONIST DANNY ABDUL DAYEM

Shoah TV

Uploaded by  on Mar 2, 2012

Truth About Danny Abdul Dayem,CNN reporter in Syria
Rafik Lutif’s first segment exposing the lies of the media surrounding the Syrian crisis.

Fully translated in English showing you behind the scene clips of Danny Abdul Dayem, the Zionist.
No war, no shelling, nothing. Just a Zionist scum that wants Zionist money.

  • Truth About Danny Abdul Dayem,CNN reporter in Syria

    Rafik Lutif’s first segment exposing the lies of the media surrounding the Syrian crisis.

    Fully translated in English showing you behind the scene clips of Danny Abdul Dayem, the Zionist.

    No war, no shelling, nothing. Just a Zionist scum that wants Zionist money.

All Comments :

  • i dont believe in any religion ,but you danny cia motherfucker deserve to rot in hell you murderous lying bastard ,involved in decieving a superpowers citizens into a war where many thousands of innocents will die ,just for oil and moving in on iran ,ROT IN HELL MOTHERFUCKER .

  • American media is scum, particularly CNN and MSNBC. Blatantly using propaganda to brainwash the American people into supporting a planned massacre of the Syrian people.

     

  • what you are just watching is “bullshit”.! it’s your mind is deceiving you. it’s it’s it’s. LIVE ON AMERICAN NETWORK THE “TERRORIST SHOW”! Starring anderson cooper!

     

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