- Kattan: Truman administration threatened sanctions against ‘brutal’ Israeli stance on refugees
- ‘NY Review of Books’ goes after the Israel lobby, Jewishly
- ‘Washington Post’ says boycott of West Bank products hurts Palestinians
- Chomsky and Zionism
- I prefer the word ’shared Jerusalem’
- War is Peace. ‘Settlements’ are ‘Jewish housing.’
- Chomsky says Israelis were upset that he was only lecturing at a Palestinian school
- A thought from Jean Amery
|Kattan: Truman administration threatened sanctions against ‘brutal’ Israeli stance on refugees
Posted: 17 May 2010
I am reading From Coexistence to Conquest, by Victor Kattan, an English journalist-scholar (or “hackademic,” as Ilan Pappe once put it), an amazing work of archival archaeology, uncovering the trail of broken promises that is the history of international law and consensus on the Arab-Israeli conflict from Balfour to the Armistice Agreement of 1949.
One of Kattan’s most riveting chapters is about the return of the Palestinian refugees, which all the world sought in 1948. As the Nakba was commemorated over the weekend, I sought Kattan’s permission to reprint portions of that chapter. They follow my spiel.
Bear in mind a couple of points as you read. Leave aside the issue of the right of return in 2010. The right of return in 1948-9 was not controversial: the world recognized the principle and understood that equitable treatment of refugees, driven out by “terrorism,” as the U.S. State Department stated, was essential to peace in the region. Even the United States embraced the principle and some in the administration were willing to undertake sanctions in response to Israeli refusal.
But Israel was intransigent and gamed the international bureaucracy. It had gotten its way through the Nakba–a state with a strong Jewish majority–and it now proceeded in a Never-again/no-one-will-tell-us-what-to-do manner. Note Israel’s political confidence in flouting U.S. policy.
In this way the argument absolutely mirrors the fight over the colonization of East Jerusalem. The world is against it, so is the U.S. Israel doesn’t care.
Note that Harry Truman is for the right of return. And note that the strongest moral voice in the discussion, U.N. mediator Folke Bernadotte, the Swedish diplomat who freed thousands from concentration camps during the Holocaust, whose clear statement concludes Kattan’s piece, was murdered by Jewish extremists in Jerusalem in 1948.
Kattan’s scholarship begins with the Lausanne Conference of 1949, which convened to try and get at the very least the 250,000 refugees from the Jewish portion of Partition back to their lands.
|‘NY Review of Books’ goes after the Israel lobby, Jewishly
Posted: 17 May 2010
The NY Review of Books has an important piece in its forthcoming issue on the idea that the American Jewish establishment has rigidly sided with Israeli leadership and abandoned liberal American values and endangered the Zionist project. I.e., the New York Review is slamming the Israel lobby from a Jewish place. Or giving it a friendly slap–the word “lobby” is never used. The author is Peter Beinart:
The piece concludes with good sociological insight and a call on American Jews to revive Zionism among the young, based on liberal anti-Sheikh Jarrah principles:
A few thoughts:
|‘Washington Post’ says boycott of West Bank products hurts Palestinians
Posted: 17 May 2010 07:21 AM PDT
Here’s an article in the Washington Post about the Palestinian boycott of West Bank settlement products. Unbelievable take on it: that it’s the Palestinians who are provoking bad will by boycotting products made in settlements that of course are part of the good will Israel is promoting towards a fair and just peace. When really, the situation is just horrible for the Palestinians who work in and help build the settlements. They take these jobs to help feed their families yet in the end the goal of the settlements is to rob them of their homes. Essentially they are working to dispossess themselves.
I see parallels with what is happening in the Gulf Coast. Fisherman who were making an honest living are forced to work jobs for BP, the company that has destroyed their livelihood, so they can feed their families.
At least the Post has brought attention to the non-violent movement.
[Weiss adds: Note the statement in the piece that BDS may well be a cover for violent Hamas goals.]
|Chomsky and Zionism
Posted: 17 May 2010 07:17 AM PDT
My money says that Noam Chomsky will get in to the West Bank within a day or two; exiling him is killing the Israeli brand. Speaking from Amman, Chomsky has likened Israel to a Stalinist regime in its denying him entry, Amira Hass reports.
Yesterday I said that Noam Chomsky is a left Zionist. I asked Norman Finkelstein about his friend. “The accurate term is a CULTURAL Zionist, meaning he (like his father) was (and remains) committed to the revival of Hebrew culture in Palestine. Politically, before 1974 he supported a version of binationalism but after 1974 believed it was not politically feasible anymore and supported the international consensus for a 2-state settlement, although fully aware of its limitations.”
Robert Barsky’s superb bio of Chomsky fills the picture in somewhat. Barsky says that as a young man Chomsky was associated with Avukah and Hashomer Hatzair, leftwing Zionist movements that promoted Jewish emigration to Israel because of their concerns with anti-Semitism in the west. But Chomsky did not believe in a Jewish state. “The creation of such a state would necessitate carving up the territory and marginalizing, on the basis of religion, a significant portion of its poor and oppressed population, rather than uniting them on the basis of socialist principles,” Barsky writes. By the 1970s, Chomsky endorsed “a gradual move towards binationalism.”
|I prefer the word ’shared Jerusalem’
Posted: 17 May 2010 05:55 AM PDT
but Tom Toles is the only one speaking up about the issue in the Washington Post…
|War is Peace. ‘Settlements’ are ‘Jewish housing.’
Posted: 16 May 2010
If only George Orwell could come back from the dead.
In a column today titled “Semantic Minefields,” New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt asks whether “new construction authorized by Israel in East Jerusalem” should be called “Jewish ‘housing’ or ‘settlements’?” I wonder…
Here’s more from Hoyt’s column:
Using the term “settlement” is itself a euphemism. “Colonies” is probably the best way to describe the illegal Jewish areas built on Palestinian land. Like other colonial-settler enterprises, these areas privilege Jews over the indigenous Palestinians, decisions are made by Israelis for the benefit of Jews only, and economic exploitation of Palestinian resources takes place routinely, among other hallmarks of colonialism.
|Chomsky says Israelis were upset that he was only lecturing at a Palestinian school
Posted: 16 May 2010
Al Jazeera interview with the great linguist from Amman, below. “I’m not very angry about it, I was disappointed and surprised…” Chomsky wasn’t the only one turned back: “My daughter and I were informed that we were denied entry.”
Q. “The Interior Ministry is saying that it was a misunderstanding.”
“I can’t see anything to misunderstand.” Chomsky says he was invited to give several lectures at Birzeit. “I do it all the time in many countries…. What was conveyed to me in the discussion with the official…He was receiving instructions from the Ministry of the Interior….[The concerns] One was that the government of Israel does not like the kinds of things I say… The second was that they seemed upset about the fact that I was just taking an invitation from Birzeit and I had no plans to go on to speak in Israeli universities, as I had done many times in the past but not this time.”
I wonder if that felt like delegitimization, BDS to the Israelis?
|A thought from Jean Amery
Posted: 16 May 2010
The thought is this: that the judgment against the torturer that persists in the mind of the tortured has a moral authority unequaled by any verdict of official justice. Thus Amery offers a clue to the metaphysical lie underneath the political lie of omission in Barack Obama’s assurance to Americans that he would “look to the future not the past.”
Though certain acts carried out under the previous administration were declared to have been torture and henceforth illegal, Obama in effect pledged to hold no-one accountable for those acts. This has meant in practice a denial by the government of appeals by the tortured to bring to light the evidence of their sufferings.
Jean Amery was the pen name of Hans Mayer, an Austrian-born essayist whose resistance work in Nazi-occupied Belgium led to his internment in Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Bergen-Belsen. The following passage comes from his book of memoirs and speculative essays, At the Mind’s Limits; the title of the chapter is “Resentments”: