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“In short, the game is up”
Posted: 10 Jun 2010

Liberal Zionist lobbyist and two-stater Daniel Levy writes a pretty perceptive piece in Haaretz that should really be essential reading for all Zionists who only seem capable of voicing blind support for Israel (hello sheep-like Australian Jewish community):

There were large demonstrations in Cape Town last week following the Mavi Marmara incident. For now, South Africa has recalled its ambassador, Ismail Coovadia, from Israel. An Israeli presence at this greatest of global sporting spectacles would have been guaranteed to attract an unrelenting wave of protests, PR stunts and bad publicity.
Unfortunately, South Africa is not the outlier – Israel is. In the days since Operation Sky Winds, Israel has been able to get a glimpse of the future and into the abyss that awaits if we continue on our current course. It is a future replete with both insecurity and the indignity of global opprobrium and sanctions.
Even or perhaps especially in our hyper-connected world, it seems only a finite number of truly global causes can be sustained at any one time. Palestine is now irrefutably on that list. That is certainly inconvenient for Israel and maybe unfair. We do, though, appear to be locked into a dramatic acceleration of this phenomenon and – in the absence of something resembling a credible peace or de-occupation effort – the global Palestinian solidarity movement is now competing to set the agenda.
In the last two weeks alone, two of Italy’s largest supermarket chains have stopped carrying Israeli products; Swedish dockworkers have refused to unload goods from Israeli ships; Britain’s largest trade union, Unite, unanimously voted to boycott Israeli items; and Elvis Costello and the Pixies have both canceled shows in Israel. Meanwhile, the latest debate raging in the United States is over how much of a strategic burden Israel has become.
In short, the game is up. This is not defeatism – it’s an acknowledgment of a reality that, by ignoring, causes Israel to imperil itself. It cannot be reversed by doubling PR budgets or endlessly cloning Shimon Peres or even Mark Regev. It cannot be reversed by allowing coriander into Gaza, by another photo-op with our friend President Mubarak, or even by enthusiastically supporting the creation of a new Palestinian town (ship ) in Rawabi. An occupation that just entered its 44th year and entails denying basic rights to millions of Palestinians can no longer be sanitized. As long as Israel maintains that occupation, the costs will become increasingly burdensome.
Having lost the world, Israel’s focus turns in on itself. The country’s leadership has to work harder to keep its own public on board for the occupation project. This requires a growing suppression of dissent, further ostracizing Israel’s Palestinian minority, and ever-more aggressive appeals to Jewish national pride. Democratic norms are thereby eroded, further feeding the tarnishing of Israel’s image. This is the vicious cycle in which Israel is embroiled.

Australia and Israel still share deep love for each other
Posted: 10 Jun 2010

Friends of Israel, fret not that Australia and your beloved country aren’t still thick as thieves.

New footage from the Gaza flotilla massacre
Posted: 10 Jun 2010

This is stunning material, smuggled out and away from prying Israelis that shows the chaos on the Mavi Marmara last week. Violence against civilians is seen, as well as the bloody aftermath. Filmmaker and activist Iara Lee, one of the few Americans on the Mavi Marmara ship, tells Democracy Now!:

I can’t give you all the technical information about what is rubber bullet sound, what is, you know, live ammunition. But obviously, they came with live ammunition. And minutes afterwards, we had the megaphone in our rooms, in every room on the ship, saying, “Stay quiet and calm. They’re using live ammunition. There is no way we can resist. They are taking over the ship. Just stay calm and don’t resist at all.” You know? The other boats, they used rubber bullets and tear gas; they didn’t kill people. But in our ship, they came to kill.

 

What millions of Australians are reading today
Posted: 10 Jun 2010

The following advertisement appears in newspapers across Australia today, organised by Australians for Palestine:

More cluster bombs, please
Posted: 10 Jun 2010

Does Israel ask Washington for anything these days apart from diplomatic protection and more weapons?

Israel has approached the United States for more bombs and asked Washington to increase an emergency arms cache stowed on Israeli soil by 50 per cent, according to the leading newspaper Ha’aretz.
The approach, made by Defence Minister Ehud Barak during a recent visit to Washington, reflects the heightened tensions in recent months between the Jewish state and its neighbours that have given rise to widespread fears within Israel of an imminent regional conflict.

We don’t care about the people of Iran
Posted: 10 Jun 2010

A new Human Rights Watch report on the desperation in Iran one year after the disputed elections:

Reports received by Human Rights Watch from human rights campaigners and others inside Iran suggest that the current atmosphere inside the country is markedly different than the images of mass protest beamed across airwaves and cyberspace a year ago. Public protest demonstrations have all but disappeared and dissent has largely gone underground as security forces have bolstered their presence in major cities throughout the country.

While the world obsesses about Tehran’s supposed nuclear program, citizens in the Islamic Republic are mere pawns in the Great Game being played out in Washington and Tel Aviv.

How does it feel to be isolated?
Posted: 10 Jun 2010

The growing numbers of Western acts boycotting Israel due to its criminality – Elvis Costello, the Pixies and Gorillaz, to name a few – is causing unease in the Jewish state. We just want to be normal, they say, and the world to ignore what we’re doing to the Palestinians down the road from our houses. Fat chance:

The announcement by the Pixies, an American alternative rock band, that they would cancel their long-awaited concert in Israel this week amid international outrage over Israel’s deadly raid on a Turkish activists’ ship bound for Gaza, had an impact far beyond the 15,000 disappointed fans.
Some Israelis took the cancellation as an indication of the growing isolation they believe their government’s policies are leading to. For others, it served as proof of how deeply Israel is misunderstood.
Either way, the cancellation mobilized the Israeli pop world and its supporters against the threat of a widening cultural boycott, which many here view as a misguided policy and unfair punishment that the Israeli public does not deserve.
Benny Dudkevitch, a veteran Israel Radio editor and popular music historian, described the Pixies’ cancellation as “a slap in the face.”
“We have waited so long for them,” he added. “It hurts.”
Shuki Weiss, one of Israel’s premier promoters and production managers, said he had been working to bring the Pixies to Israel for more than 10 years.
Music is a force that usually combats violence and hatred, he said. He calls the boycott movement “cultural terrorism.”
Like many here, Mr. Weiss argued that music and politics should not mix. “But if we do want to get into politics, I have a long list of countries that could be boycotted,” he said.
If the Pixies had something to say to Israel’s leaders, he and others noted, they could have come and said it here.

Israel must be “enlightened”
Posted: 10 Jun 2010

What world do these people live in? Here’s Ari Shavit in Haaretz:

If Israel intends to attack Iran, it must carry out the following diplomatic operations during the year preceding such an offensive: position itself anew in the international arena as an enlightened, peace-seeking democracy; tighten its alliances with the United States and the West; forge partnerships of interests with China, Russia and India; make a massive effort to salvage Israel’s deteriorating relationship with Turkey; warm up the cool relations with Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates; work to reach a peace agreement with Syria and embark on a new direction with the Palestinians; quiet down the immediate surroundings as much as it can; and form as broad a coalition as possible for the moment of truth.

Remind me who sees Israel as a “peace-seeking democracy”?

“Economic warfare”
Posted: 10 Jun 2010

A necessary editorial in Haaretz (“Hamas 1, Netanyahu 0“) that speaks for itself:

The Israeli blockade of Gaza and all it entailed – the goods forbidden entry, the lies about how there was no humanitarian crisis there – was a form of collective punishment against an impoverished and oppressed population that cast a moral stain on Israeli democracy. Nor did this blockade achieve its promised goals. The Hamas government did not fall, Gaza residents did not rise up against it, and Gilad Shalit is still in captivity.

Of course, the war against the people of Gaza has been long established:

As Israel ordered a slight easing of its blockade of the Gaza Strip Wednesday, McClatchy obtained an Israeli government document that describes the blockade not as a security measure but as “economic warfare” against the Islamist group Hamas, which rules the Palestinian territory.

The beginning of many such calls for BDS in the mainstream
Posted: 10 Jun 2010

Probably the first major Western publication to endorse the Palestinian BDS campaign, Ireland’s Tribune is setting an important precedent:

They were not, as Israel’s defence minister Ehud Barack ludicrously tried to claim, “an armada of hate and violence”.
Nor was the Mavi Marmara “a boat of hate”, as Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the Turkish ship, trying to justify his commandos gunning down nine civilians on board as they stormed the boat in international waters.
But Netanyahu was right on one count. “This was not a love boat.”
The Free Gaza flotilla has been classed by some as a bunch of well-meaning but misguided hippy activists who want to spread peace and love and do not understand the delicate balances of power within the Middle East region.
The movement is far from that, and legitimately so.
These are well-informed, sincere and highly-motivated people who have come together from across the globe to muster the refreshing force of people power. They know that, in the absence of any meaningful moves at governmental level to force Israel to dismantle its illegal blockade of Gaza and to pressurise both Palestine and Israel to take part in peace talks, 1.6 million inhabitants of Gaza will continue to live in desperate conditions, their access to food and supplies reliant on the whim of the Israeli authorities.
The flotilla carried a humanitarian cargo, but it was ultimately, and powerfully, political.
The Free Gaza organisation knows full well that action to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1860, which calls on Israel to dismantle the blockade of Gaza, will never happen because the blockade is a product of the very foreign policy these countries promote.
It knows that neither the US nor Europe will do anything to pressurise Israel into meaningful talks with Palestinian leaders which, now that the Palestinian Authority has lost all authority in the Gaza strip, must include Hamas in some context.
As a result, the flotilla could not simply offload its cargo at the Israeli port of Ashdod and hand over the aid. It could never be merely a humanitarian mission. The boats had to publicly challenge the blockade itself in order to highlight its illegality and its effect on the people of Gaza.
The mistake Israel made was to act against the citizens of 40 different friendly nations, including many high-profile individuals, in the same way as it generally reacts to those who oppose it in Lebanon or Gaza – with lethal force.
The Israelis will absorb the body blows of international anger. They will try to justify the killings with talk of self defence. They will continue spinning the fiction that the Israeli commandos who opened fire on the people defending themselves were actually the victims. They will talk about unproven links to al-Qaeda and will raise the menace of Iranian weapons.
But there is no doubt that last week’s use of overwhelming force has left them unusually isolated.
John Ging, the UN’s representative in the besieged Gaza says the Mavi Marmara killings have “exposed the failure of the international community to match its words with deeds”.
The initial response has been promising. Britain’s condemnation of the killings was unexpectedly trenchant, with the new foreign secretary William Hague calling for an end to the illegal blockade. The EU, as a whole, was disappointingly more muted, but still condemnatory. Turkey is now, of course, a foe rather than an ally. Ireland may be relatively powerless as a small nation, but Micheál Martin has been assiduous in describing conditions in Gaza to his European colleagues since he became the first EU foreign minister to go there. He is an articulate opponent of injustice and could argue persuasively for the suggestion by aid agency Trócaire that Israel’s privileged trading position within Europe be withdrawn until the blockade is lifted. The beginnings of a change in unconditional support from the US also seem to be taking root.
The power of a people’s movement lies in its ability to challenge national or international policies that are inherently unjust.
The Rachel Corrie, acting as a second wave of protest, was genuinely feared by the Israelis because of its highly-charged symbolic power. A boat loaded with humanitarian aid and carrying an Irish nobel laureate, Mairéad Maguire, and the United Nations’ former deputy secretary general Denis Halliday, could not be confronted aggressively by gun-toting commandos. By all accounts, yesterday’s seizure of the ship as it sailed close to the Gaza shore was a completely different operation to Monday’s massacre.
But Israel cannot prevent wave after wave of similar protests. The people’s movement has made enforcement of the blockade not just “unsustainable” to use Hillary Clinton’s phrase, but indefensible.
These activists are showing that individuals can make a difference and that when an issue has international popular support, symbols take on a political power of their own.
While everyone cannot join a convoy, there are times when it’s not enough to know that citizens of Gaza are suffering at the hands of a country that is supposed to be our friend.
A boycott of Israeli goods by Irish people may seem like gesture politics, but it could achieve two aims. It would show solidarity with the people of Gaza and it would also register collective displeasure at what the Israelis are doing.
Nelson Mandela told the Dunnes strikers, who made a great personal sacrifice during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, that their gesture kept him going while in prison.
The activists who took part in the Free Gaza flotilla may be regarded by some as extremists, and by others as do-gooders who should mind their own business. But most of us who do nothing should remember that it is generally when injustice remains unchallenged that it persists.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Knesset is looking to criminalise anybody who assists in the campaign to boycott or sanction Israel.

See: www.antonyloewenstein.com

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