- Dennis Ross urges Iran war in deceptive ‘NYT’ op-ed
- Los Angeles should say no to segregation, and say no to Veolia
- NY state senator David Storobin’s office: ‘Visitors [to the Israeli/Syrian border] are required to don a uniform and carry a gun’
- ‘Al Jazeera’ reports Syrian regime committed Houla massacre in effort to ignite sectarian conflict
- ‘Today I saw a lynch with my own eyes, in Zion Square, in the center of Jerusalem’
- B’nai B’rith and World Jewish Congress defend settlements as ‘Israel’
- Muslims in wealthy Detroit suburb seek a mosque (and friends join them to fight the bigotry)
- Exile and the Prophetic: BGS/BDS — It’s never easy on the Jewish front
- Bloomberg says Israel lobby is ‘blackmail’-ing US gov’t to support Iran strike, but Times is clueless
- Good posture makes all the difference
Aug 17, 2012
Under the misleading headline “How America Can Slow Israel’s March to War,” former White House official/former and current Israel lobbyist Dennis Ross delivers a prescription for the opposite:
Second, America should begin discussions with the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany (the so called P5+1) about a “day after” strategy in the event that diplomacy fails and force is used. This would signal to both Israel and Iran that we mean what we say about all options being on the table.
Third, senior American officials should ask Israeli leaders if there are military capabilities we could provide them with — like additional bunker-busting bombs, tankers for refueling aircraft and targeting information — that would extend the clock for them.
And finally, the White House should ask Mr. Netanyahu what sort of support he would need from the United States if he chose to use force — for example, resupply of weapons, munitions, spare parts, military and diplomatic backing, and help in terms of dealing with unexpected contingencies. The United States should be prepared to make firm commitments in all these areas now in return for Israel’s agreement to postpone any attack until next year — a delay that could be used to exhaust diplomatic options and lay the groundwork for military action if diplomacy failed.
If Dennis Ross represented any country other than Israel, he’d be exposed as an agent of a foreign government subverting U.S. foreign policy in opposition to U.S. best interests.
The solution to the current standoff with Iran begins with a long-overdue apology and reparations for the overthrow of Mossadegh.
Aug 17, 2012
Estee Chandler Tony Litwinko Shakeel Syed
Angelenos may not know Veolia Transportation, the company that runs bus services across our city. But its history of discrimination against Palestinians means both our city’s reputation and our tax dollars are at stake. The Los Angeles City Council ought not to destroy the hard-earned image of our City of Angels by doing business with a company that operates much like Southern bus companies that once discriminated against African Americans.
Veolia Environment is a 155-year-old multinational company based in France that operates in 77 countries. In the United States, its subsidiary, Veolia Transportation is bidding to renew its contract with the City of Los Angeles to operate our DASH buses. Accepting the bid would make the City of Angels complicit in discriminatory practices.
Veolia claims its mission as “serving communities and passengers, going beyond simply moving from one place to another, ensuring simpler, easier and seamless mobility.” Presumably that means all communities and all passengers Veolia serves.
This sounds praiseworthy. But it could not be farther from the truth. During our travels in the Israeli-occupied territories of Palestine, we did not witness Veolia “focusing on serving communities and passengers.” To the contrary, we witnessed Veolia’s refusal to serve millions of Palestinians who live in the West Bank.
In the occupied West Bank, Veolia operates bus lines that connect Jewish-only settlements to Israel. These buses do not stop in Palestinian towns and use Israeli-only roads, built on land confiscated from the Palestinians for the exclusive use of Israelis and settlers. West Bank Palestinians are denied access in a throwback arrangement reminiscent of the Jim Crow South.
Then there is the Jerusalem Light Rail Project Veolia is constructing which will link illegal Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem to Israel. That tramway not only helps make the illegal settlements permanent but also serves as a critical component of the Israeli settlements infrastructure, “undermining any chances of a just peace for the Palestinian people,” according to the international human rights group Global Exchange.
Israeli settlements and the whole settler infrastructure that supports them in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are not only illegal under international law but also by our country’s own policy for many decades.
Veolia’s rules reflect Israel’s deliberate policy of ethnic segregation, which is the subject of harsh criticism by a recent U.N. report expressing “extreme [concern] at the consequences of policies and practices which amount to de facto segregation.”
We believe Veolia’s discriminatory provision of transportation services is antithetical to the values and policies of the City of Los Angeles. Such behavior would not have been tolerated by Angelenos in apartheid South Africa; similarly, it should not be tolerated when practiced by Israel against West Bank Palestinians.
Los Angeles has a proud history of standing against discrimination locally and internationally. In 1984 Los Angeles was one of the first major cities in the U.S. to divest from apartheid South Africa as part of an international boycott and divestiture movement that was critical in bringing down that regime. Similarly, in 2010 the LA City Council voted to boycott Arizona and any companies based there because of Arizona’s discriminatory anti-immigrant law SB1070. And in 2008 and 2009, the City’s Fire and Police Commissions terminated relationships with a program run by the Boy Scouts of America because of the Boy Scouts’ explicitly discriminatory policies against LGBTQ people.
Based upon our tradition of upholding human rights and rejecting bigotry, Los Angeles now has the opportunity to do the right thing once again by ending its relationship with Veolia and choosing instead to contract with a company that does not willingly and routinely discriminate against passengers based on their ethnicity or religion.
As people of Abrahamic faiths and tax-paying Angelenos, we call on the Los Angeles City Council to join Stockholm, Melbourne, Bordeaux, Dublin and the many other cities around the world refusing to contract with Veolia because of its participation in discriminatory, segregationist practices.
Aug 17, 2012
NY State Senator Storobin (l) with an Israeli general, center, and the senator’s chief of staff (r)
New York state senator David Storobin’s office responded today to criticism over the senator carrying a weapon and wearing an IDF uniform in the occupied Golan Heights, on the Syrian border.
Storobin aide Steven Stites emailed:
The ginned-up controversy about the Senator’s photo on the Syrian border is quite amusing, especially to folks who have been to Israel.
As Israelis know all too well, the Syrian border is a hostile area. Visitors there are required to don a uniform and carry a gun. Even members of the Knesset do so. There are snipers on the other side. If they see an unarmed person not in uniform, they may assume it’s a leader of some kind, and that person could be a target.
This claim from Storobin’s office seems to have no basis in fact. Israeli journalist Joseph Dana was just on the Syrian border and says:
This is all insane. I have no idea what area he is talking about in fact. I mean, I was just there. Five meters from the border and everything was very calm. Of course, the other side of the border was being shelled. There were Israeli Jews and Druze all around, watching what was happening over in Syria.
This guy seems to be talking about a different place entirely.
I contacted Stites for more information and he says the IDF advised Storobin to carry a weapon and wear an Israeli military uniform. Stites wrote in an email:
They were urged to do so as a matter of safety. As to whether it’s a requirement, I’m not sure, though that’s the impression I got. I can say that if I was told to do something like that for my own safety, I’d do it — wouldn’t you?
We will follow up to confirm this with the IDF.
Aug 17, 2012
Over at Pulse, Idrees Ahmad points me to an Al Jazeera investigation by Mahmoud Al Ken into the Houla massacre near Homs, Syria, last May that confirms the original report that the murders of 108 villagers were carried out by Syrian government forces. Writes Pulse:
There is no reason why official stories shouldn’t be doubted, but given the heinous nature of the crime, one would’ve thought they’d be careful with regard to their evidence. As it happened, all of them were relying on a single article appearing in a German publication, written by an author who never visited Houla or met a survivor. This was no innocent mistake: it was pointed out to both Medialens and FAIR that their source was dubious and its claim highly questionable. The source was discredited soon afterwards, and Der Spiegel and the UN have since both confirmed the original reports. Neither Medialens nor FAIR has apologized.
Below is the Al Jazeera piece. Beautifully done, the kind of journalism it’s hard to put down once you start. It begins, Our Friday demonstration on May 25 was met by Assad tanks. The several men interviewed from 3:30 to 5:40 or so are genuine and persuasive, and the massacre house testimony from a brother of victims at 7:30 is also compelling. And the nighttime movement of the bodies, described by a villager, at 8:45, rivetting. The traumatized woman at 9:40: stunning.
Some of these people are very brave to come forward. The elder male witness at 10:30-11– great reporting.
And most important, please watch the highly-articulate clerical figure speaking at 13:52, saying that the purpose of the massacre was to ignite a sectarian conflict in an area of mixed Sunni and Alawite villages.
Aug 17, 2012
Dozens of Jewish youths attacked three young Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Zion Square early on Friday morning, in what one witness described as “a lynch” on Facebook.
The three were allegedly attacked by youths shouting “Death to the Arabs” at them, as well as other racial slurs. One of them fell on the floor, and his attackers continued to beat him until he lost consciousness. They subsequently fled from the scene.
Within a short period of time rescue volunteers and Magen David Adom rescue services arrived on the scene, and found the victim with no pulse and not breathing. After a lengthy resuscitation attempt, he was transferred to hospital.
Writing on her Facebook page, one eye witness decribed the attack as a lynch: “Its late at night, and I can’t sleep. My eyes are full of tears for a good few hours now and my stomach is turning inside out with the question of the loss of humanity, the image of God in mankind, a loss that I am not willing to accept.”
“But today I saw a lynch with my own eyes, in Zion Square, the center of the city of Jerusalem ….. and shouts of ‘A Jew is a soul and Arab is a son of a –,’ were shouted loudly and dozens (!!) of youths ran and gathered and started to really beat to death three Arab youths who were walking quietly in the Ben Yehuda street,” the witness wrote.
“When one of the Palestinian youths fell to the floor, the youths continued to hit him in the head, he lost consciousness, his eyes rolled, his angled head twitched, and then those who were kicking him fled and the rest gathered in a circle around, with some still shouting with hate in their eyes.”
“When two volunteers [from local charities] went into the circle, they tried to perform CPR the mass of youths standing around started to say resentfully that we are resuscitating an Arab, and when they passed near us and saw that the rest of the volunteers were shocked, they asked why we were so in shock, he is an Arab.
Mairav Zonszein has an account here. (Hat tip MW commenter Taxi)
Aug 17, 2012
NEW YORK… The World Jewish Congress strongly condemns the outrageous decision taken by the United Church of Canada to support a boycott of Israeli communities and for its stated regret for previously calling for Palestinian recognition of Israel’s Jewish character….Evelyn Sommer, Chair, World Jewish Congress, North America, said… “The leaders of the UCC have made an unfortunate decision that denies the facts of the Jewish people’s historical presence in their homeland…”
B’nai B’rith Canada:
B’nai Brith Canada has condemned recommendations passed by the United Church of Canada today that lay the groundwork for the boycott of products from Jewish communities in Biblical Israel. The final vote to approve and actualize this boycott is expected on Friday.
Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, issued the following statement:
“At a time when thousands of Syrian citizens are being slaughtered, we find this obsession with the Jewish State highly suspect. The subtext of these recommendations is that Jews cannot legitimately establish working communities in Biblical Israel – this is a first step towards calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from these areas.”
Aug 17, 2012
The public turnout for the projected conversion of an existing closed public school building, slated for demolition, into a private cultural center, school, and mosque was announced by the Planning Commission to be the largest ever in its history. The place was West Bloomfield Township, Michigan, a western suburb of Detroit that is (or was, until the recent crash) the wealthiest community in the U.S. Attendance was about 250 – 275. It was mostly elderly, and many of them were Jewish. There was a good turnout from the local Muslim community. Media turnout was heavy.
Indeed, hostile questions were asked by four of the seven commissioners.Nevertheless, the Commissioners ran a fair and patient hearing, making sure every commentator had access to the mike. They publicly announced — at the outset of the hearing, when the attendance was greatest — that two letters had been received, both in favor of the project: our joint statement and another from the Maurice Sugar Law Center for Social and Economic Justice.
Aug 17, 2012
Marc H. Ellis
This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
False alarm, in fact, perhaps just the opposite. In German, I found a short history of the place here and, translated, it seems that the Hitler Youth wanted to occupy the premises but the owner resisted. The reason for the resistance – unstated. It could have been for a variety of reasons, including opposition to the Nazis themselves. It may have been about money or just about this rural ideal being overrun by an institutional juggernaut. More research needed.
The lesson here is not to jump to conclusions. Also, every inch of Austria’s soil is infected with the possibility of the Nazis occupying. From outside to home grown. This is why the German and Austrian children of a certain age didn’t quite know what was up with their parents, now grandparents and beyond. Where were they during the Nazi period? What were they involved in? Were they or their parents supporters of the Nazis?
Questions for the Jewish future. Where were your parents or grandparents doing as the Palestinians were be ethnically cleansed from the land in 1948 and beyond? Those Jews who think that we are exempt from the questioning of our heirs have already missed the Jewish prophetic boat. It’s out there on the high seas.
On the dancing front, interesting understandings shared at breakfast about how the dances now begin with your own grounding. No words to the songs or at least little that means anything, then you dance in a group, only fleetingly locking eyes or steps with another. This is the no risk approach to dancing, since you can’t be accused of exclusivity or be rejected, so nothing personal is involved. No personal history or commitment either?
Those of us at a certain age know how complex our personal histories and commitments are. Sometimes, we or others with us would like to abandon both. Nonetheless, the lack of foundation on the public front is connected to the lack of foundations in individual lives. Uprooting in one arena affects uprooting in others. This is the real problematic in the virtual world we increasingly inhabit. Our connection with the outside/inside is assumed without reflection unless we are (un)plugged.
(Un)Plugged, the world careens out of our control. (Un)Plugged, we have difficulty adjusting to the glare of the real world. If we don’t know what the outside world is, how can we cope when we are confronted with that world?
Our control and the Israel/Palestine stalemate. The challenge is to (un)plug our control, which, if you’ve noticed, isn’t controlled by us or sometimes by anyone, so it seems. Syria going down is just another example of not having predicted what would happen and the players are so many representing such diverse interests, almost none of them having to do with ordinary Syrians at all, God only knows where the wind will blow once the dictator dynasty falls by the wayside of history. Like Mubarak but with much, much more violence.
Falling dictatorships. The world is replete with them. Now take off your Israel is a democracy hat and think of Israel from a Palestinian perspective. Call it what you will from the Jewish side and its international recognition, Israel is a fascist force – for Palestinians. Israeli fascism – shall I call it Jewish fascism since Jews all over the world enable Israel? – needs to take a hike. But where?
In my small group yesterday, some students couldn’t wrap their mind around David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, recognized as a liberal leading light in the world of his times while ethnically cleansing Palestinians. Could a liberal do such things and still be a liberal?
More or less, around the tables, the answer was no – he couldn’t be both. But since he was – my view – we have to reorient our view of – liberal fascism. I don’t mean this in the sense that it was fashionably applied to the United States some decades ago, and look how far we have come since that time, becoming at least a surveillance, if not a police state. A national security state, another nomenclature bandied around some time ago. Again, how far we have come in the last decades.
Israel has been and is a liberal venture. Netanyahu is not a right-wing fascist on most matters (un)pertaining to the Palestinians. Call him an Israeli expansionist but, then, every Israeli Prime Minister has been so. In this regard there is no difference between Ben Gurion, Rabin, Sharon and Netanyahu. The Apartheid Wall was built when the state of Israel was formed. It just took a long time to construct it.
It takes a village to raise a child, returning to our Hillary Clinton theme. It takes a state to build an Apartheid Wall. An ideology can’t do it – without a state. Even the focus on the Promised Land can’t do it – without a state. Can a homeland focus, a la Martin Buber, Judah Magnes and Hannah Arendt, undo the state and thus the Apartheid Wall? I doubt it, but then again the One State vision won’t do it either. Joining forces, Homeland Zionists and One State visionaries? Doubt it too.
I suppose if we simply accept that no matter what position we take it won’t be enough separately or together, then we can focus on the task at hand which is to end the oppression of the Palestinian people. Of course, that won’t do it either. We are back at square one.
You see the problem is what we might call the Ben Gurion Syndrome (BGS). Liberal to the world, fascist to the Palestinians. We can’t say that the BGS is impossible since, to some extent, it survives today. American Jewish support for Israel isn’t fascist, not even close, except in its policies toward Palestinians. Elie Wiesel a fascist? No way.
To call the Jewish establishment fascist is a misnomer, way too easy and wrong. Though, if I step outside of my context, for Palestinians the BGS is what it is. Why beat around the liberal/fascist dichotomy bush?
BGS like a mountain’s narrow wooden bridge; it’s dangerous to cross. The winds are too strong and it’s single file with one foot in front of the other; darkness is coming soon. We have to get across to the other side before darkness falls. To make it across, we have to forge ahead.
Jews of Conscience in exile. We have never been able to explain how a suffering and progressive people can do/enable the things that are going on in Israel/Palestine.
It would be easier if the Jewish establishment sent their kids to the Hitler Youth camps of our time. Then things would become so obvious the world couldn’t look away. Sure?
Caught in the horns of the liberal/fascist dilemma. Thicket. Abraham and Isaac time. Untangling trust and fidelity can occupy interpreters for thousands of years. As with Job, where the return of wealth and children is Biblical add-on, a late redactive act.
BGS is one tangle. The anti-Semitism I encountered in the European BDS movement is another tangle. There we have the reverse of liberal/fascist. Or more accurately, we have the liberation of Palestinians without any sign of respecting Jews. Liberal/anti-Semitism. How is that going to work out?
You remember I reported on my time in Ireland and Scotland a few years ago. The few who showed up for my lecture in Ireland were openly hostile to anything Jewish being said and the then director of the Irish section – well he couldn’t say the word “Holocaust” or “Israel” when I had tea and dinner with him. I doubt it had to do with a speech impediment. The Scotland director, too, could hardly say “Jew” without a bite. Strange days, I thought. I was uncomfortable not on their Palestine stance, not at all. And I wasn’t retreating to the Progressive Jewish stance, the Michael Lerner two-step that says I’ll hold you if you love Israel true.
Also their distortion of Ilan Pappe’s works and the whole Israelis-in-exile crew, their “good” friends as they reported to me. Don’t know whether the friendship thing is true and it certainly isn’t a credential for me if they’re talking out of both sides of their mouths. Pappe is serious historian, an Israeli and a Jew. He has gone far out on a limb, with safety concerns galore. There’s no reason to impute an intentional genocide claim, that Pappe doesn’t make, as substitute for a calculated “Israel is for Jews only” claim that he does make. To some the difference might seem too subtle for public discourse. It is important.
When the political anger takes us too far, soon the cliff is in view. If we jump over the cliff, where do we land?
Because, you see, when it comes to Jews, the baggage can easily get mixed up – history knocks at our door. Sure it’s complicated. But revving up negative comments about Jews is dangerous and stupid. Call me what you will, there’s no way I am going to be silent about it. Especially when I hear it in Europe. Why go that way when it only means distorting everything?
Yes, a few, and I am a supporter of BDS, simply remark on the few because it tangles me up in blue. As with Ben Gurion.
A few do not make a whole. It does not give Jews a reason to retreat. BDS is the symbolic right way to a real difference. Nonetheless the screening process for those attracted to Jewish issues is almost impossible. We have to struggle with it and keep moving forward.
History’s baggage on the Jewish front. It might be easy for my student to say that the contradiction of liberal and fascist is impossible since the act of ethnic cleansing defines all. But how does he judge the anti-Semite committed to wiping out – the injustice of – the Jews?
Perhaps easier to deal with the Global Warming warning of mass death. You can’t be on both sides of that debate, can you?
Aug 17, 2012
A Bloomberg editorial lays it on the line: Israel is threatening to attack Iran because it has the upper hand on the US government during the election season, because of Jewish “donors,” among other factors, and can therefore compel American complicity in such a disastrous move.
What is the sudden urgency?… If Israel is about to attack Iran (and this time the threats are backed up by distribution of gas masks and other civil defense preparations), then using the campaign season to pull in the U.S. makes tactical sense. Neither President Barack Obama nor Republican candidate Mitt Romney would want to alienate Jewish or evangelical Christian voters and donors by failing to support Israel. But it would also damage Israel’s most important strategic partnership. Nobody likes getting blackmailed.
The threats could, of course, be another bluff, designed to pressure the U.S. and Europe into quickly putting in place tougher sanctions. If so, that seems unwise, too. After so many unfulfilled warnings of an imminent attack on Iran, Israel’s credibility is eroding, not to mention the destabilizing effect on oil and other global markets.
Isabel Kershner at the New York Times certainly knows about blackmail. She writes that Israel wants to strike before November, “while Israel’s limited military capabilities might still have an impact.”
The president [Shimon Peres's anti-war] comments came amid a wave of speculation in Israel and abroad that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, might be weighing the option of a unilateral strike even before the American presidential elections in November, while Israel’s limited military capabilities might still have an impact.
But what does this mean? Why would Israeli threat of a strike have “impact” before the election season? Well, because the Israel lobby has a lot of sway over Obama now, and a lot less come November. But the Times can’t go where Bloomberg goes.
Note that even John Hannah, a neoconservative at Foreign Policy, can talk about the power of the Israel lobby to pave the way in the election season for a strike:
Could [a strike] come before November’s elections in the U.S.? The Israelis I asked were strident in emphasizing that a move of such national importance would be based entirely on Israeli security interests and the state of Iran’s nuclear program, not America’s electoral calendar. But when pushed, a few reluctantly acknowledged that securing maximum U.S. support for Israeli military action would be an important variable. And there’s no doubt that many further believe that, all else being equal, securing the full-throated backing of the Obama administration is far more likely before an overwhelmingly pro-Israel American electorate goes to the polls than afterwards.
As if the American electorate is dying for another war! But the Times can’t address the real forces at work here. It has an editorial called, In Thrall to Sheldon Adelson, that essentially deceives a reader about Adelson’s real interest. It says that Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are going to be beholden to Adelson’s gambling interests in Macao.
Does anyone really believe this is Adelson’s game? Adelson is pro-choice. Do you think that matters to Paul Ryan?
The Times is less honest about the Israel lobby than Newt Gingrich, Adelson’s last pony.
“He knows I’m very pro-Israel, and that’s the central value of his life,” Gingrich told NBC News back in January. “He’s very worried that Israel is going to not survive.”
Reminder: we’re talking about war. We’re talking about something that could devastate hundreds of thousands of people. And our political system can’t be honest about what’s going on? Writes a friend: If there’s an attack between now and the elections it will be incontrovertible proof of a dysfunctional political system here and in Israel. The question then will be whether Americans will do anything about it. I’d like to think so but rather doubt it with most of our news media mindlessly and “patriotically” stoking the hysteria. I do think a greater percentage of Americans will see the problem than ever.
At an anti-demolition protest in Susiya [South Hebron], June, 2012. For more information about Susiya see the blog “Susiya Forever, Stop the demolitions in Susiya” — http://susiyaforever.wordpress.com.