‘J Street’ leader suggests that Israel’s behavior threatens security of Jews in U.S.
Posted: 17 Jun 2010

J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami had a conversation about criticizing Israel last night with Jeffrey Goldberg at New York’s Ethical Culture Society (which Goldberg quipped is the “Chabad House for atheists”). The conversation was most remarkable for the fears both these ardent Zionists expressed about what Israel’s becoming, and Palestine too. “The West Bank is developing apartheid-like qualities, I’m not disputing you,” Goldberg said.
But the journalist challenged Ben-Ami about presuming to judge Israel’s security interests, rather than letting “your cousin in Tel Aviv” and other Israelis make that judgment. Isn’t that a little “vicarious” of you, and couldn’t you be wrong? Ben-Ami:

“I think that there is a very serious impact for Jewish communites around the world by how Israel behaves and how it’s perceived, and I think …. I may be wrong… It is very possible that I’m wrong… But I also think if I’m right… that the route that we are on right now and the path that Israel is following will lead it to become more and more of a paraiah state, more and more isolated, more and more demonized… and I worry about the impact of that on the Jewish people around the world, I worry about the impact of the way in which the world perceives what Israel is doing on my children, my grandchildren, how we are all going to be perceived as Jewish people. So I do think we have a stake. I do think that our place in our community is impacted by the way that Israel as a state behaves.”

Hannah Arendt said something like this a long time ago, many Jewish critics of Israel have said it since.
Goldberg acknowledged that a conversation has begun in the U.S. we haven’t seen since May ’67, Jews expressing the fear that Israel is going to disappear. Can it survive the next 25 years? he asked Ben-Ami. I worry about ten years, Ben-Ami said. That by then it will be a “true pariah state, widely boycotted,” with many more Palestinians than Jews between the Jordan and the sea and– hold on to your hat– a worldwide call for one man one vote.
(This is a tic of Ben-Ami’s, to assign to some imaginary future an Israeli dystopia that is here right now. He does it so he can continue to be a part of the Israel lobby/have access, or because he is religious about Israel. But it is denial of the reality there right now.)
Lord, these people are intertwined. Goldberg couldn’t stop talking about what a great place Israel is for gay people and scientists, but he also was freaked out about the Palestinian majority and the call for democracy. An “existential” threat to Israel is “the demographic and democratic challenge that’s posed by the occupation of the West Bank and the continued entanglement with Gaza.” I need to parse that. The “democratic challenge” is an “existential threat.” Peter Beinart also said recently, I’m not a liberal when it comes to the rights of Palestinians in Israel. Understood. Where do I sign up!?
Goldberg was honest about his Jewish identity. He was in the Zionist youth movement in Long Island, with a Bolshevik fervor was intent on moving to Israel, but immigration is tough for anyone, and then he realized he didn’t like living in a place where no one says “Excuse me.” Tells you something, doesn’t it. He preached a very religious Jewish identity of adherence to the law, faith, love of the land, and tikkun olam, healing the world. And this kind of person, who served in the Israeli armed forces in the occupation, is America’s most reliable narrator on the conflict? I reflected later that I didn’t have time to study Jewish law and faith and tikkun olam because I spent my youth listening to Bob Marley records and reading Dostoyevsky books etc. A different kind of education. I didn’t know about Israel till Goldberg and friends decided to bring the challenge of democracy to Iraq, by force, in 2003. An existential threat, that was.

NYT op-ed page has run 0, count em zero, Palestinian authors since flotilla attack
Posted: 17 Jun 2010

Last night we asked if the New York Times has run any op-ed by a Palestinian in the last month. Alex Kane does the math, and says the answer is No.
Below is the rundown on the recent New York Times op-ed columns in their print edition concerning the Israeli flotilla raid.  The International Herald Tribune, which is owned by the NY Times company, has op-ed columns that are much more diverse and critical of Israel than the U.S. print edition.  Even Roger Cohen’s columns, which are critical to a point, haven’t appeared recently in the Times print edition.  It’s as if there’s a huge sign that hangs on the Times’ door saying, “No Palestinians allowed in American conversations about Israel-Palestine.”
6 Jews, including 3 Israelis, out of 8 columns.  And no Palestinian voices.
Chosen, but Not Special, by Michael Chabon:
When Friends Fall Out, by Thomas Friedman:
Saving Israel From Itself, by Nicholas Krisfof:
Israel Without Cliches, by Tony Judt:
A Botched Raid, a Vital Embargo, by Daniel Gordis:
An Assault, Cloaked in Peace, by Michael Oren:
Israeli Force, Adrift at Sea, by Amos Oz:
Israel and Outremer, Ross Douthat:

I remember the real reason I hate soccer– the power issues
Posted: 17 Jun 2010

As someone who will be glued to the TV for the next 3-1/2 weeks, and proudly knows very little about soccer, I remembered today what I hate most about the way the game is played. Yesterday South Africa was taken out of a match by a red card given to the goalie. Today a ref (is that what you call them?) gave a red card to Kaita, a leading player for Nigeria, in the 33rd minute or so, when Nigeria was up over Greece, 1-0. So much for the game. After that it was the worst game you’d ever seen in your life, Nigeria was down a man, and Greece controlled the ball and twice scored against a valiant goalie. Goalkeeper? I’m serious, folks, the officials have way too much power. Kaita struck out in anger against a Greek player during a scuffle at the sideline. OK, he was bad. But the whole team penalized in the way that it was? This is crazy. Yesterday South African fans left their game early once their goalie had been sent off. You FIFA people are authoritarian.

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

and other news from my digest, Palestine Today
Land theft and destruction/Ethnic cleansing
PLO: New Settlers Homes In Jerusalem Is A Blow To Peace Efforts 
Ramallah – PNN – Israel’s plans to construct  new settling homes in East Jerusalem, is a severe hit against the International and American  efforts to resume real Peace negotiations, the Palestine Liberation Organization stated on Thursday.  On Wednesday the District Planning Committee of the Jerusalem municipality in Israel approved 1600 new settlers’ homes in East Jerusalem. The new homes will be built in the Ramat Shlomo settlement in the east side of Jerusalem. This move comes while the U.S Envoy to the Region George Mitchell is visiting Israel and Palestine as part of his efforts to resume peace talks.

Settlers ‘building in West Bank despite freeze’
JERUSALEM — Israeli settlers are continuing to build in the occupied West Bank despite a partial moratorium on new projects that expires later this year, the Peace Now settlement watchdog said Thursday.  Authorities do not appear to have issued any new construction permits since the start of the year, but the group said it had documented dozens of instances in which settlers have begun building new structures in violation of the ban.

Fatah: Israel plans to separate West Bank from Gaza
Ramallah – Ma’an – Fatah said Israel aims at cutting off the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and “end the Palestinian national project,” a party spokesman said Wednesday.  Ahmad Assaf said the movement denounced all interim solutions “affecting the territorial integrity of an independent Palestinian state on the borders of 1967.”

PLO slams Jerusalem settlement expansion
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The PLO mission to the US denounced Israel’s approval of 1,600 new homes in an East Jerusalem settlement on Wednesday, a statement read, describing the move as “provocative.”  Israel gave the building plans the final green light on Tuesday, despite the move derailing indirect peace talks in March when it was announced during US Vice President Joe Biden.

Settlers storm Hebron homes, residents say
Hebron – Ma’an – Dozens of Israeli settlers living on the notorious Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron raided the homes of several Palestinian residents in the nearby Jabal Jales village at midnight and destroyed farmland, residents said Wednesday.  Shaker Az-Zaru At-Tamimi, 61, said similar raids are a daily occurrence. He appealed to international institutions and human rights groups to visit the Hebron district to monitor the increase in settler violence against Palestinians.

Masked Attack
On Saturday morning, 30 to 35 masked Israeli settlers stormed the village of At-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills. Armed with metal clubs, slingshots, knives, and stones, the attackers targeted the house closest to the edge of the woods. International observers stationed in the village arrived in time to witness and document the final phases of the assault. Michael Carpenter investigated for Palestine Monitor.

“we want to be”…settlers, activists and soldiers do a dance in the south Hebron hills
Video from a last Saturday’s action in the South Hebron Hills. There are no English subtitles but the situation is quite clear. Soldiers remove shepherds from their farmlands, activists try to stop them and settlers attack Palestinians. The dance continues every day, every week.

Activism/Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment
VIDEO: Stalemate in Gaza Resolution Debate Following 10 Hour Hearing
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday lasted until Wednesday, at last ending this morning at 12:03 AM. Hundreds of members of the public stood for hours in a City Hall corridor for the opportunity to speak for three minutes each
on a controversial — yet nonbinding and ultimately symbolic — resolution condemning Israel
for its role in the fatal May 31 raid on a flotilla of ships heading to Gaza.

Istanbul to erect monument for nine killed aboard Gaza-bound flotilla
ISTANBUL, June 16 (Xinhua) — Istanbul will erect a monument in Uskudar district to commemorate the nine people who were killed aboard the Gaza-bound aid ship Mavi Marmara, the semi-official Anatolian news agency reported on Wednesday.  The monument would be erected at the Besiktas Ferry Port and would be a prototype of the ship, said the report.

Al Manar Interview with Paul Larudee
We’ll Break Gaza Siege by Air; Revive Right of Return From Ben Gurion’s Airport
16/06/2010 Larudee says that plans have been set to break the siege of Gaza by air and announces a new undaunted strategy to press the right of return of Palestinians back to the forefront of events.  Paul Larudee is an American citizen whose visit to Jordan back in 1965 was his first close acquaintance – from a different angle – with what was happening in Palestine. He got engaged with the cause ever since and gradually learned the price that he, and his peers, would have to pay for defying Israel and defending the rights of the Palestinians.

Eyewitness to the Israeli Assault on the Mavi Marmara, DAVE LINDORFF
Kevin Neish of Victoria, British Columbia, didn’t know he was a celebrity until he was about to board a flight from Istanbul to Ottawa. “This Arab woman wearing a beautiful outfit suddenly ran up to me crying, ‘It’s you! From Arab TV! You’re famous!’” he recalls with a laugh. “I didn’t know what she was talking about, but she told me, ‘I saw you flipping through the Israeli commando’s book! It’s being aired over and over!’”

Zionist logic: Support for Nasrallah equals ties to Hezbollah….Lebanese flotilla organizers found to have Hezbollah ties
Though businessman, journalist deny terror group behind sail, both discovered to support Nasrallah.,7340,L-3906357,00.html

Aid Ship Sets Sail From Iran Bound For Gaza
One cargo ship full of humanitarian aid has departed from Iran bound for Gaza, with another ship planning to join it by the weekend. The Iranian flotilla, organized by the International Red Crescent Society and funded by private donations, follows an international aid convoy that was attacked by the Israeli navy on its way to Gaza two weeks ago, killing 9 aid workers.

Campaigners plan new Gaza flotilla in July (AFP)
AFP – Pro-Palestinian groups plan to send another aid flotilla for Gaza next month, similar to the one involved in a deadly attack by Israeli commandos in May, an organiser said Wednesday.*

Irish Singer Concert In Israel Canceled 
Malak Behrouznami – PNN -Legendary songwriter, performer and peace activist, Tommy Sands scheduled performance at the “Festival Bloomsday Concert ” Sunday June 20 has been cancelled.  The appearance was canceled after Sands refused to be censored during his performance. Sands was asked by the organizers of the events, the Israeli Ireland Friendship League in association with the Municipality of Ramat Hasharon , to not perform “Peace on the Shores of Gaza,” the song he had written as the anthem for the MV Rachel Corrie that set sail from Ireland to Gaza.

TIAA-CREF: Divest from the occupation  Ask one of the largest financial services in the United States to divest from the Israeli occupation.

Helem, Al-Qaws, ASWAT, and Palestinian Queers for BDS, “Arab Queers Say NO to Pinkwashing at the USSF”
We, the undersigned queer Arab organizations, are appalled by the US Social Forum’s decision to allow Stand with Us to utilize the event as a platform to pinkwash Israel’s crimes in the region. Stand with Us is cynically manipulating the struggle of queer people in the Middle East through its workshop entitled “LGBTQI Liberation in the Middle East”. Stand with Us is a self-declared Zionist propaganda organization which describes itself as “an international education organization that ensures that Israel’s side of the story is told in communities, campuses, libraries, the media and churches through brochures, speakers, conferences, missions to Israel, and thousands of pages of Internet resources”.

American Jews for a Just Peace (AJJP) has agreed to serve as the U.S. coordinator for the Jewish Boat to Gaza, its organizers have announced.  The boat, sponsored by a coalition of international Jewish organizations dedicated to peace with justice in Israel/Palestine, is scheduled to sail from an undisclosed location in the Mediterranean this July.   It will head toward Gaza in an effort to break the siege imposed by Israel in 2006.  The passengers will include Jews from Germany, the U.K., and the United States, including at least one survivor of the Nazi Holocaust.
US Jews gather for anti-Zionist assembly
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Over 200 American Jewish participants and political partners will meet to focus on efforts for divestment from Israel and boycott campaigns a the first national anti-Zionist Jewish Assembly on Saturday in Detroit, a statement read.  “We are anti-Zionist because Zionism established and maintains a Jewish-only homeland in the land of Palestine, resulting in the removal of the indigenous people of Palestine from their land and property,” said Sara Kershnar, an organizer of the assembly and a founder of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN). “Safety for Jews, Palestinians, and all people comes from having fair access to resources and political power, not through military aggression and apartheid.”

The Blinding of Emily Henochowicz – An Eye for an Eye, JOHNNY BARBER
It was another deliberate attack on an unarmed peace activist by the Israeli military. In and of itself this incident, an American student maimed by our main Middle East ally seems newsworthy. (Imagine for a minute that Hamas, Hizbullah, or Iran had maimed an American- the threats and condemnations would have been fierce and immediate.) Coming within 24 hours of the Freedom Flotilla attack it certainly should have been considered newsworthy. But it wasn’t.

End the Blockade of Gaza Posters Spring up in San Francisco

Murder of Ziad al-Jilani
Report: Israel Police shot Palestinian instead of arresting him, Amira Hass
East Jerusalem man who ran over Border Police officers was reportedly shot twice in the face from close range while lying on the ground.  A motorist from East Jerusalem who ran over and wounded several Border Police officers Friday was shot twice in the face from close range while still lying on the ground, eyewitnesses said. Neighborhood witnesses said the fatal shots were fired once the officers no longer had reason to fear that their lives were in danger, and could have easily arrested the suspect.  Witnesses in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz told Haaretz that the motorist, Ziad Jilani, suddenly swerved his car and hit the group of officers walking further up the road. They said, however, that they believed the collision was an accident, and not committed intentionally as initially reported.


Report: IOF troops detained 468 Palestinians in Al-Khalil in 2010
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained 468 Palestinian citizens in Al-Khalil district since the start of 2010, a report by the Palestinian prisoner’s association said.

Siege/Human Rights/Humanitarian Issues/Restriction of Movement
Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 10- 16 June 2010

The GSS Must Cease Coercion of Palestinians Medical Students to Provide Information as a Condition for Granting them Permits to Practice in East Jerusalem Hospitals
(Haifa, Israel) On 13 June 2010, Adalah Attorney Haneen Naamnih, in cooperation with Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza, sent a letter to the Israeli Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense and the Attorney General demanding that they issue orders to the General Security Service (GSS or “Shabak”) to stop coercing Palestinian medical students studying at Al Quds University in Abu Dis and conditioning the granting of permits to them to enter East Jerusalem to practice in hospitals on collaborating with the Israeli security services.

World Says Gaza Blockade Must Go, Mel Frykberg
RAMALLAH — Under intense international pressure Israel declared last week that it would ease its crippling blockade on Gaza by permitting an additional but limited number of daily items, including food, into the coastal enclave.  Following Israel’s deadly assault on the Free Gaza (FG) flotilla several weeks ago in international waters, during which nine activists were shot dead and dozens wounded, as the flotilla tried to deliver desperately needed humanitarian aid to the besieged strip, Israeli authorities came under enormous pressure to lift the blockade.


Lifting Gaza blockade linked with inter-Palestinian reconciliation: Fatah official
GAZA, June 16 (Xinhua) — A Gaza-based senior official in President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party said Wednesday that ending the three-year Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip is linked with reaching an inter-reconciliation treaty.  Zakareya al-Agha, member of Fatah central committee and Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) executive committee, told Xinhua in a special interview on the occasion of Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip by force for three years that “Lifting the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip is linked with reaching a real inter-Palestinian reconciliation.”

Israel to ‘liberalise’ Gaza embargo
Move to ease land blockade of Palestinian territory dismissed as “propaganda” by Hamas.

Israel to ease Gaza blockade, but major restrictions remain in small print, Ian Black
Lifting of restrictions on some civilian goods not enough to constitute breakthrough many had hoped for after Freedom Flotilla raid.
Expectations that Israel would lift its blockade of Gaza were raised amid international outrage over the bloody interception of the “Freedom Flotilla” that set out to deliver aid to the Palestinian coastal territory. The reality so far looks rather different.

Israeli ease of blockade not lasting solution for Gaza
JERUSALEM, June 17 (Xinhua) — Israel will in the near future lift some of the restrictions placed on the import of goods into the Gaza Strip. The decision was taken on Thursday by the country’ s security cabinet, comprising senior government ministers.  The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a brief statement to the media immediately after the meeting, which lasted for two days, but government spokespeople would not detail the measures to be taken.  However, local analysts suggest the relaxation is not a permanent solution for the Gaza siege. They believe that a final-status deal is not possible before Hamas and Fatah reach reconciliation, hence a single organization representing the Palestinians.

EU may send naval mission towards Gaza: Ashton (AFP)
AFP – The EU may send a naval mission towards Gaza to help control the transit of goods if Israel lifts its blockade of the Palestian territory, the bloc’s foreign affairs chief said Wednesday.*

Gaza blockade hurts Christians too, says local Catholic priest

The pastor of the only Catholic church in the Gaza Strip says that the effect of an Israel blockade is to “undermine people’s lives.”  Father Manawel Mussallam said that the blockade—aimed to weaken the Hamas terrorists who control the Gaza Strip—has had a debilitating effect on innocent civilians, stunting trade and bringing the local economy to a virtual standstill. “There are no differences between Christians and Muslims because we all suffer the same way,” he said.

Flotilla Fallout/Developments
International lawmakers may probe Israeli decision to censure Arab MK
The Inter-Parliamentary Union is set to discuss recommendation to strip Balad MK Hanin Zuabi of privileges over Gaza flotilla participation.

Turkey freezes defense deals with Israel in wake of Gaza flotilla raid
According to Turkish paper, Turkey may not resend its ambassador to Israel and is considering downgrading ties to ‘charge d’affairs’ level.

Turkey set to freeze ties with Israel: report (Reuters)
It also reported that military deals, including plane and tank modernisation and missile projects, worth $7.5 billion, were to be frozen.  Military cooperation, including joint exercises and pilot training, would also be halted, as would intelligence sharing, the Star said.  It said the sanctions against Israel would be introduced gradually.*

Turkey to enhance relations with Arab countries

ISTANBUL, June 17 (Xinhua) — Turkey said on Thursday that it will enhance its relations with Arab countries, saying there was great potential in Turkish-Arab relations, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported. The statement was made by State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan at the International Arab Banking Summit 2010: From Crisis to Financial Stability.  The report quoted him as saying that “the background, all materials and everything else are ready. There is only a need for political will for Turkish-Arab relations.”

Turkey forms committee to probe Israeli raid on Gaza flotilla

Turkey Foreign Ministry announces probe of the IDF’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last month; IHH tells European Parliament members it has assembled six ships for flotilla to sail next month.

Syria warns of backlash on Israel
Israel’s deadly assault on a ship carrying aid to Gaza increases the chances of a regional war, Syria’s president tells the BBC.

Source: Human Rights Watch:  Israel/Gaza: Weak Mandate Undermines Flotilla Inquiry
(Jerusalem) – The Israeli government has undermined the credibility of the panel appointed to investigate its military’s deadly interception of the “Gaza aid flotilla” by preventing it from questioning Israeli soldiers or compelling the military to provide evidence, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch reiterated its criticism of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, now entering its fourth year, as a form of collective punishment against the civilian population.

Israeli panel on Gaza raid says will work quickly (Reuters)
Reuters – Israel’s committee of inquiry into a deadly raid on a Gaza aid flotilla convened for the first time on Wednesday and said it hopes to finish its investigation as quickly as possible.*

U.S. Jewish groups skip meet with Turkish officials
ADL National Director Abraham Foxman says ‘there comes a point at which it becomes useless to have a conversation.’

Americans in the Service of Israel:
US lawmakers blast ‘disgraceful’ Turkey over Iran, Israel (AFP)
“There will be a cost if Turkey stays on its present heading of growing closer to Iran and more antagonistic to the state of Israel,” warned Representative Mike Pence, the number three House Republican.  The group, firing an unusually harsh rhetorical broadside at a NATO ally, rebuked Turkey for backing the aid flotilla, criticizing Israel, and opposing US efforts to impose new sanctions on Tehran over its suspect nuclear program.  ..
.”They don’t deserve to be a part of the EU until they start behaving more like the European nations and a whole lot less like Iran,” she said.*

Democrats demand flotilla “terrorists” be denied entry into U.S.
A half-dozen elected Democrats called on the State Department to ban every flotilla participant from entering the United States.

Israel brands Turkish charity ‘terrorist organisation’: TV (AFP)
AFP – Israel considers the Turkish Muslim charity IHH involved in organising a flotilla of aid ships to Gaza last month as a “terrorist organisation,” public television said Wednesday.*

Turkey to react harshly if Turkish companies face problems in Israel: official

ISTANBUL, June 16 (Xinhua) — Turkish Foreign Trade Minister Zafer Caglayan said here on Wednesday that Turkish government would react harshly to Israel if Turkish companies face any problem following the crisis in the two countries relationship.

Political Developments
Time for Elections….  Abbas: Palestinian, U.S. positions “completely identical”
RAMALLAH, June 17 (Xinhua) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he feels the Palestinian National Authority ( PNA) and the U.S. administration’s positions are completely identical.  Abbas, who returned Wednesday to the West Bank after visiting five countries, including the United States, said “the most important thing in this tour is that the U.S. and Palestinian positions were completely identical.”

Mitchell returns to the Middle East (AFP)
AFP – US envoy George Mitchell headed back to the Middle East on Wednesday in a new bid to advance indirect peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, the State Department said.*

Fatah: PA shuffle delayed by ‘political preoccupations’
Ramallah – Ma’an – An anticipated Palestinian Authority cabinet shuffle has been stalled due to ministerial differences, said the head of Fatah’s parliamentary bloc and Central Committee member Azzam Al-Ahmad on Wednesday.

Suspects in mosque desecration released
Police say investigation did not produce enough evidence to link yeshiva students to crime.,7340,L-3906340,00.html

Racist Zionists
Top Palestinian journalist barred from Jerusalem due to ‘security considerations’
Defense Ministry needs to answer why Nasser Laham was denied access to the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem to obtain a visa for an official meeting with Obama.

Israel’s Palestinian Minority Thrown into a Maelstrom, Jonathan Cook
The first reports of Israel’s May 31 commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla surfaced among the country’s 1.4 million Palestinian citizens alongside rumors that Sheikh Ra’id Salah, head of the radical northern wing of the Islamic Movement of Israel, had been shot dead on the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara. Salah is alive, but at the time his demise seemed confirmed when it emerged that large numbers of police had been drafted into northern Israel, where most of the Palestinian minority lives, in expectation of widespread violence.

100,000 haredi demonstrators protest segregated education ruling
Bnei Brak demonstrators follow bus bringing Ashkenazi parents to jail for refusing to send their daughters to school with Sephardi girls.

Haredim hurl racial slurs at Ethiopian officers
Ultra-Orthodox protesting excavation works in Jaffa yell at police commander ‘you look like Eichmann’.,7340,L-3906300,00.html

Police fear mass Haredi protests over segregated West Bank school

Jerusalem Police expect 20,000 protesters after the High Court of Justice on Tuesday threatened to jail defiant Ashkenazi parents who have refused to desegregate an ultra-Orthodox school in the settlement of Immanuel.

Extortion in God’s name
Just look at what’s been happening here in recent days: Parents in Emanuel declare that they will not adhere to the High Court of Justice’s decision, thereby rebelling against an order issued by our top judicial authority in a democratic state. And what kind of noble values is this “rebellion” promoting? Genetically-based racism wrapped in a veneer of longwinded arguments.,7340,L-3906274,00.html

Other News
Liar: Uri Brodsky to Polish court: I’m the wrong man
As Poland seeks to hand Israeli suspected in Dubai hit over to Germany, man’s lawyer insists he is merely businessman with same name as wanted Mossad agent.,7340,L-3906504,00.html

Police recommend indicting Sharon brothers for fraud
Omri and Gilad Sharon, sons of former PM Ariel Sharon, allegedly brokered $3 million in bribes transferred to their father.

US stops financing Egypt’s iron wall in Rafah area
The Israeli army radio reported that the US stopped financing the construction of the iron wall on the borders between Egypt and the Gaza Strip and summoned its engineers.

Egypt rights group protests France’s blocking Hamas TV (AFP)
AFP – An Egyptian human rights group condemned on Wednesday a decision by France to block broadcast by Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV for alleged “incitement to hatred.”*

A danger called constitution, Aluf Benn
A constitution that decides fundamental questions of national identity will cause internal divisions, especially in the current political climate, in which the right is trying to crush the Arab community’s power.

Chuck Schumer, Helen Thomas, & the Media: A tale of two statements
Last Wednesday, New York State Democratic Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer addressed the Orthodox Union, one of the United States’ largest Orthodox Jewish organizations, saying, “Since the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, while certainly there should be humanitarian aid and people not starving to death, to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go, makes sense.”

Former US President explains how Israel has put Palestinians in open air prisons on their land

Israel and the Palestinians: The Irish connection

Recent attempts to deliver aid to Gaza by sea, in defiance of the Israeli blockade, revealed a strong Irish dimension. Vincent Dowd reports from Dublin on the connections between Ireland and the Palestinian cause.

Gaza flotilla raid: Will it change Turkey’s regional role?
Anger with Israel over the Gaza flotilla raid, which ended in the deaths of nine Turkish activists, has illustrated the difficulty of Turkey’s effort to bridge East and West.

Credibility, once shredded, is impossible to piece together again, Paul Woodward
“The man who ordered the attack on the aid flotilla to Gaza, set up the inquiry, chose its members and determined its mandate, has announced its outcome even before it has started,” wrote Chris Doyle, noting Benjamin Netanyahu’s visible satisfaction, confident that he has mounted an effective response to international pressure.  If the only audience the Israeli prime minister needed to satisfy was made up by the likes of Jeremy Ben-Ami and Barack Obama, Netanyahu could indeed take satisfaction as he proves how easy it is to win unprincipled support.

The NYT and the Flotilla Inquiry, ALISON WEIR
The New York Times, whose regional bureau chief has a son in the Israeli military, reports that Israel has just appointed a panel charged with investigating its attack on an aid flotilla that killed nine aid volunteers, including a 19-year-old American.  Isabel Kershner, who is an Israeli citizen and has refused to answer questions about her possible family ties to the Israeli military, writes the report.

MJ Rosenberg: Kick Turkey Out of NATO!
Both the Israeli government and its
cutouts her
e have been sticking it to Turkey lately. (See this
from the House today
and this
from Rep. Gary Ackerman, chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and, more relevantly, a powerful and devoted ally of the “pro-Israel” lobby.)  The bash-Turkey movement did not start with the flotilla incident. It began when Turkey spoke out against Israel’s bloody invasion of Gaza in 2009.

Turkey and Israel: The broken alliance
As long as their respective prime ministers are still in power, the unlikely Turkish-Israeli alliance is history. It would be a mistake to trace the entire crisis in relations to the deaths in the Free Gaza flotilla, however, as signs of a collapse in confidence between the countries have been evident for nearly two years. – Sami Moubayed

On Israel, Congress Still Obedient, MJ Rosenberg
Forget that “collective punishment” is illegal under international law.  Forget that Turkey is a NATO ally to whom we are
bound by treaty
(an armed attack on Turkey is considered an attack on the United States).  And definitely forget the admonition to have “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind….”  None of these come into play when the government of Israel requires the government of the United States to defend it from criticism (no matter what the provocation).  and, to be honest, the Obama administration behaves no differently in this regard than previous administrations.  It’s all “your wish is my command.”  That is the gist of a
Bloomberg News
story today called “Obama’s Policy Showing No Difference With Clinton-Bush.”

‘a wretched reality that should appall anyone with an ounce of humanity’ (still Israel seeks to justify blockade), Ben White
Israel’s apologists in Britain, aware that they’re fighting a
battle, haven’t got many options left when it comes to making excuses for apartheid. With renewed focus on the collective punishment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the hasbarists have opted for a familiar refrain: it’s all about self-defence.

Turkey Accepts the Challenge; Middle East is Changing, Ramzy Baroud
‘Even despots, gangsters and pirates have specific sensitiveness, (and) follow some specific morals.’  The claim was made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a recent speech, following the deadly commando raid on the humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza on May 31. According to Erdogan, Israel doesn’t adhere to the code of conduct embraced even by the vilest of criminals.

Is Benjamin Netanyahu Rational?, Philip Giraldi
Is Benjamin Netanyahu rational? The question has to be asked because Netanyahu, the leader of a country that is paranoid about its own security, controls a secret nuclear arsenal and has the capability to bomb just about anybody.  Rational behavior in the context of a head of state is admittedly an elusive quality, but it generally means that occasional lying is okay, particularly if it is tenuously based on something that might be true.  Lying with a straight face or completely evading critical questions might even be considered a perk of office.  But when the chips are down and hard decisions have to be made, a head of government should at least behave like a mature adult employing some logical process.  That would mean weighing up the plusses and minuses of various actions, risks versus gains, and coming up with a response that serves the country’s interests with the least collateral damage possible.

Roseanne Barr Says Israel Must End Their Blockade and Occupation of Gaza
Well-known actress and comedian, Roseanne Barr, has been a consistent and persistent voice for decades against some of the acts committed by the state of Israel. Specifically, she has vigorously, unflinchingly, unequivocally, uncompromisingly, and courageously called upon Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.  With this latest incident of the flotilla raid by Israeli commandos, we sat down for a talk.

Israel Investigating Itself, by Emad Hajjaj

Wednesday: 8 Iraqis Killed, 39 Wounded
At least eight Iraqis were killed and 39 more were wounded in attacks mostly within Mosul and Baghdad. Activity between Turkish troops and PKK rebels is increasing on the border with Turkey where at least eight have died there and four more were wounded in today’s attacks.

Iraq: Bomb kills Sunni militia leader near Baghdad
The leader of a government-backed Sunni militia was killed in a bombing west of Baghdad Wednesday, one in a series of attacks targeting Iraqi security forces and their allies.

Qaeda in Iraq claims deadly central bank raid (AFP)
AFP – Al-Qaeda has said it was behind a weekend raid on the Central Bank of Iraq involving suicide bombers disguised in military uniforms who killed 18 people, jihadist Internet forums reported.*

Top cleric seen tipping Iraq’s political balance (AP)
AP – Iraqis hoping for a secular, nonsectarian government are worried about signs that the country’s most revered Shiite cleric has stepped into the postelection fray with moves that appear aligned with Iran’s own ambitions in Iraq.*

Lebanese leaders delay defence strategy talks (AFP)
AFP – Rival Lebanese politicians on Thursday postponed until August 19 talks on a national defence strategy that would incorporate the arms of Hezbollah, the government said.*

Hezbollah Urges Arabs to Act to Avoid Losing Jerusalem
16/06/2010 Hezbollah condemned on Wednesday the Israeli enemy’s new plan to build 1600 new units in the Ramat Shlomo settlement in occupied Jerusalem, saying it is a new step in the Zionist entity’s plan to destroy the city’s real identity.  The party said in a statement that Israel is making light of all international and Arab stands that have condemned the settlement plan when it was uncovered three months ago.

UN official hopes long-term ceasefire between Lebanon, Israel
BEIRUT, June 16 (Xinhua) — United Nations special coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams said Wednesday that he hoped the current cessation of hostilities between Lebanon and Israel could be pushed to a long-term ceasefire, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s office said.  After the meeting with Hariri in downtown Beirut, Williams said that the main focus of their discussions was the implementation of UN resolution 1701.

Army gives women parity with men except in combat
BEIRUT: Gender discrimination in the workplace stubbornly haunts even the most progressive of societies.

U.S. and other World News
Nothing Will Happen To Them: US troops charged in Afghan deaths
Five soldiers face possible death penalty over killings of three civilians in Kandahar.

Democracy Now: With Rumored Manhunt for Wikileaks Founder and Arrest of Alleged Leaker of Video Showing Iraq Killings, Obama Admin Escalates Crackdown on Whistleblowers of Classified Information
Pentagon investigators are reportedly still searching for Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, who helped release a classified US military video showing a US helicopter gunship indiscriminately firing on Iraqi civilians. The US military recently arrested Army Specialist Bradley Manning, who may have passed on the video to Wikileaks. Manning’s arrest and the hunt for Assange have put the spotlight on the Obama administration’s campaign against whistleblowers and leakers of classified information. We speak to Daniel Ellsberg, who’s leaking of the Pentagon Papers has made him perhaps the nation’s most famous whistleblower; Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic Parliament who has collaborated with Wikileaks and drafted a new Icelandic law protecting investigative journalists; and Glenn Greenwald, political and legal blogger for

Democracy Now: Jeremy Scahill on Blackwater Owner Erik Prince’s Rumored Move to UAE and Obama Admin’s Expansion of Special Forces Operations Abroad

The Justice department has told a federal appeals court there was more than enough untainted evidence to justify a trial for the five Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in the 2007 Nissour Square massacre in Baghdad. In court papers seeking to reinstate criminal charges that were dismissed last year, the Justice department said the judge “unjustifiably drew the curtain on a meritorious prosecution.” This legal development comes amidst a report that Erik Prince, the owner and founder of the the notorious private security firm, could be planing a move to the United Arab Emirates, a country that has no extradition treaty with the United States. We speak to independent journalist Jeremy Scahill.

Internet ‘kill switch’ proposed for US
A new US Senate Bill would grant the President far-reaching emergency powers to seize control of, or even shut down, portions of the internet.

Inside Story – The plight of the displaced
Last year saw the highest number of displaced people worldwide in decades according to the Global Trends report released by the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). What is behind an apparent increase in the number of refugees? And how should the world act to address their plight?

U.S. announces unilateral Iran sanctions
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unveils a list of Iranian organizations and individuals to be targeted in an effort to isolate Iran from the international financial sector.   The Obama administration Wednesday announced unilateral sanctions against a number of Iranian organizations and individuals as it took its first steps to build on the international sanctions adopted last week by the United Nations Security Council.,0,6329540.story

Twitterati report: Syria trip mixes work with play, Josh Rogin
The State Department’s
two leading Twitterati
, Special Advisor on Innovation
Alec J. Ross
and Policy Planning staffer
Jared Cohen
are in Syria this week
leading a delegation of tech companies hoping to, as the
Wall Street Journal
‘s Jay Solomon puts it, “woo President
Bashar al-Assad
away from his strategic alliance with Iran” with offers of networking equipment, computer software, and the like.

Terror suspect speaks about life under ‘house arrest’
A man judged to be a threat to national security has decided to break his strict bail conditions so he can speak out about the difficulty of his life under virtual house arrest.

Amnesty International:  Tunisia law aims to silence government critics

An amendment to the penal code is intended to target human rights activists who lobby foreign bodies such as the EU, to put pressure on the government over its human rights record.  A law passed by the Tunisian parliament this week is designed to silence government critics and human rights activists, Amnesty International has warned.

Muslim states seek UN action on West’s “islamophobia”
* Want investigation into West’s media on religion
* Say racism, xenophobia rife in Europe
* Part of majority group on U.N. rights council

Helen Thomas, and Amira Hass, on the right of return
Posted: 17 Jun 2010

The furor over Helen Thomas’ remarks reminded me of  this lecture  Amira Hass gave in New York two years ago, in which she eloquently described the intersection of Israel’s Law of Return and the Palestinian right of return.
In the talk Hass tells an anecdote about a French activist who asked her if she ever thought of “returning” to Sarajevo, the place her Holocaust survivor mother left before moving to Israel. She said it bothered her because, as a Jew born in Israel, she had never known another country.
But the French woman’s confusion reflects a tension inside Jewish life: between the desire for Jewish concrete return after the Holocaust–returning to communities in Europe that no longer existed–and the abstract Zionist “return” to a place most Jews had never been, Palestine. 
What was unfortunate about Helen Thomas’ comment is that, while many Israeli Jews are dual citizens, or otherwise have one foot in another country, many do not. It makes no sense to ask Amira Hass and Israelis like her to “go back” to a Europe that they do not know.
Palestinians have a very different experience of being refugees, and Hass says Palestinians sometimes transposed that experience onto the Jews. At first she couldn’t understand when Palestinians insisted “on giving me imagined roots into places and languages and landscapes that are totally foreign to me … that are not mine, that are fata morgana, that are a phantom.” All in Europe, of course. 
However, she notes in her talk, in Palestinian society, this question of belonging has a different meaning. When you ask a Palestinian of refugee lineage, “where are you from?” they will tell you the name of the exact village or city in Mandate Palestine from which their parents or grandparents were forced in 1947 or ‘48. 
So while many Jews wrestled with a dilemma between concrete and abstract return, for Palestinians, the right of return is wholly a concrete concept.
What Hass recognizes and I also believe is that Jewish “refugee-ness” is intimately bound up with the history (past and present) of Palestinian dispossession.

Darfur was a no-brainer for divestment by TIAA-CREF– why not the occupation?
Posted: 17 Jun 2010

Yesterday, Jewish Voice for Peace announced a major new divestment campaign aimed at convincing TIAA-CREF, the huge retirement fund that serves workers in the academic, cultural and medical fields, to divest from companies that serve the occupation of Palestine. JVP already has 250 signatures on its new petition, and it states that TIAA-CREF is invested in Caterpillar, Veolia, Elbit, and Motorola, all of which serve the occupation. Why TIAA-CREF? From JVP’s q-and-a:

1. TIAA-CREF is big, the biggest fund of its kind in the world. If we help them change their policies, this will be a substantial blow to the Occupation and a model for other socially responsible financial managers to emulate.
2. TIAA-CREF is near you. With 60 offices in the US and 15,000 client institutions in the academic, research, medical, cultural and nonprofit fields, chances are that wherever you may be in the country, you will find a network of TIAA-CREF participants close to you.
3. TIAA-CREF cares about socially responsible investment. In 2009, TIAA-CREF divested from four petrochemical companies that were profiting from Sudan’s oppression of the people and exploitation of the natural resources of Darfur. However, the company continues to invest in companies that reap profits from the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and violations of Palestinian rights. Until it divests, TIAA-CREF violates its own ethical
principles and is complicit in Israel’s breaches of international law and violations of human rights.

My question for J.J. Goldberg
Posted: 17 Jun 2010

During Tuesday night’s “Jewish perspectives on the BDS campaign” debate in New York, the audience had the opportunity to make comments or ask questions.  Esther Kaplan, the moderator of the debate and co-host of WBAI’s Beyond the Pale, called on me, and I had a question for the opponents of BDS.
Throughout the discussion, J.J. Goldberg, the columnist for the Forward, and Kathleen Peratis, a J Street board member, emphasized the need for solutions that would “work” to end the occupation. Goldberg made reference to the “peace process” and the 2003 Geneva Accord, seemingly saying that the way to settle the conflict was through dialogue and negotiations.
My question went something like this: The so-called “peace process” that you reference roughly started in 1991, with the Madrid Conference, and we’re now in the year 2010. That’s about 20 years. It appears that the “peace process” has failed and that negotiations have led to nowhere, and that was due to the Israeli refusal to accept a viable two-state solution. I said that both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are willing to accept a Palestinian state in only 22% of historic Palestine. Israel, it seems, wants it all.
So, if negotiations have failed, why do you oppose BDS as a tool to end the occupation? BDS is, in fact, slowly working; it hasn’t had a huge impact economically, but that’s not the whole point, as Hannah Mermelstein, a panelist in favor of BDS, pointed out. Mermelstein said that an important part of BDS was that it was an educational tool as well, and that it’s opening up the discourse on Israel/Palestine. The Israeli government is deeply worried about this growing movement, as evidenced by the hysterical reports coming out of the Reut Institute and the latest draconian bill in the Knesset that would criminalize BDS.
Goldberg responded to me by saying something like this (I don’t remember it word for word): The peace process really only went on for less than a decade, during the Oslo years. The negotiations didn’t fail because of the Israelis; no, it was the Second Intifada and the suicide bombings directed at Israeli civilians that killed the peace process. The intifada put the nail in the coffin of the Israeli Left, and now the Israeli public believes that there is no one to negotiate with.
I didn’t get a chance to respond directly, but if I did, I would have said something like this: Mr. Goldberg, it seems that you are omitting some very crucial facts about the Oslo years. During the 1990s, Israel relentlessly continued to colonize the West Bank and Gaza. The occupation, and all of its mechanisms of oppression, didn’t end; Israel just outsourced the responsibilities it wanted to throw off its shoulders to the Palestinian Authority, which, under the boot of Israel, was never a fully functioning government. The Oslo years were more about “normalizing” the occupation rather than ending it.
Yes, the Second Intifada was bloody, but let’s not forget that the Second Intifada began as a nonviolent popular uprising. It only turned violent after Israel brutally suppressed the uprising, firing 1.3 million bullets into the West Bank and Gaza Strip after Israeli security forces were directed to “fan the flames”, as Haaretz’s Akiva Eldar reported in 2004.
As John Dugard wrote in a 2008 U.N. report, the violence perpetrated against Israelis during the Second Intifada “must be understood as being a painful but inevitable consequence of colonialism, apartheid or occupation. History is replete with examples of military occupation that have been resisted by violence – acts of terror.”
I think the boat that Goldberg is on has sailed, and that the two-state solution is dead. Soon, Zionism and the idea of an ethnically exclusivist state that denies the rights of its indigenous inhabitants will run out of gas. The BDS movement is being fueled by the fire of history, and will end with justice for Palestinians.

The ‘Mavi Marmara’ and the ‘Rachel Corrie’ (and non-violent resistance)
Posted: 17 Jun 2010

This is in large part an amalgam of other pieces I’ve written on the topic. It’s a response to a debate over nonviolence at Mondoweiss.
In his contribution to the debate on the rights and wrongs of violent resistance to oppression, David Bromwich tells us that non-violent action is supposed to be “visible and exemplary.” In the case of Palestine, this chimes with the dominant Western narrative that the Palestinians would have achieved liberation long ago if only they had avoided mindless acts of terrorism. Much of the mainstream media goes a step further to suggest that the Palestinians are hindered by their culture and religion – which are inherently violent, hysterical and anti-Semitic – from winning their rights. If only they would grow up a little. If only they’d set a good example.
Leading liberal clown Bono has also asked where the Palestinian Gandhis are. The problem here, though, is not the absence of Gandhis but their lack of visibility – the visibility which Bromwich says is so important. For the first two decades after the original ethnic cleansing of 1947 and 48, almost all Palestinian resistance was non-violent. From 1967 until 1987 Palestinians resisted by organising tax strikes, peaceful demonstrations, petitions, sit-down protests on confiscated lands and in houses condemned to demolition. The First Intifada was almost entirely non-violent on the Palestinian side; the new tactic of throwing stones at tanks (which some liberals consider violent) was almost entirely symbolic. In every case, the Palestinians were met with fanatical violence. Midnight arrest, beatings, and torture were the lot of most. Many were shot. Nobel Peace Laureate Yitzhak Rabin ordered occupation troops to break the bones of the boys with stones. And despite all this sacrifice, Israeli Jews were not moved to recognise the injustice of occupation and dispossession, at least not enough to end it.
The American public didn’t see the non-violence because the Zionist-compliant media either didn’t report it or found ways of pretending that it was in fact violent. The first weeks of the Second Intifada were also non-violent on the Palestinian side. Israel responded by murdering tens of unarmed civilians daily, and the US media blamed the victims (to the extent of wondering why Palestinian mothers didn’t love their children enough to keep them in the house). These facts undercut Bromwich’s argument that “the power may desire the approval of other powers.” If the other powers which count are complicit in the oppression (because of the lobby, and Christian Zionist discourse, and racism, Islamophobia and orientalism), then the oppressive power can count on approval whatever the oppressed may do.
Which recent siege-busting ship was more visible, the Mavi Marmara or the Rachel Corrie? The unarmed activists on the Mavi Marmara quite correctly and lawfully resisted the piratical hijacking by Israeli forces in international waters. (Does anyone remember the heroes of United Airlines Flight 93?) On the Mavi Marmara, nine activists were murdered. Their sacrifice was not in vain – in the following days Israeli criminality was exposed as never before, and even the White House and Downing Street were enabled to make anti-siege noises.
The passengers on the Rachel Corrie, on the other hand, announced in advance that they would not resist. As a result, only keen observers noticed the ship at all. (Readers of Ha’aretz may remember a photograph of a middle-aged European lady smiling as a gallant stormtrooper helped her disembark in Ashdod.) Unwittingly, the ‘non-violent’ activists (whose commitment I salute) handed Israel ammunition for its propaganda – ‘when civilised, peaceful activists arrive we deal with them peacefully. When mad Islamist Turks attack us with sticks, we have no choice but to shoot them many times at close range in the back of the head.’
Bromwich and Matthew Taylor’s unfavourable comparison of Palestinian armed resistance with Gandhian non-violence in India is unfair and illogical for two more reasons – firstly because conditions in India were much more favourable to a successful campaign of non-violence than in Palestine, and secondly because Gandhi’s campaign was only one factor in achieving Indian independence, and certainly not the decisive factor.
In colonised India there were hundreds of thousands of Indians to each British officer, so the cause of independence had sheer numbers on its side as well as time. Many British people came to love Gandhi and to respect the moral courage of his non-violent strategy, but the British officials who counted could also see the tide of violent anti-imperialism rising behind him, a tide that would dominate if Gandhi’s method failed. It’s a lot easier to deal with the nice guy when you see the nasty guy rolling up his sleeves.
The single most important factor in ending British rule was Japanese militarism during World War Two. By the end of the war, British popular attitudes to Indian independence were quite irrelevant. Britain simply did not have the money or the manpower to rebuild its own society, let alone to reassert control over the subcontinent.
Nevertheless, Gandhi is lionised and the children of the West learn that India would still be a colony had it not been for the passive efforts of the nice man in the loincloth. This pernicious narrative is very useful for those guarding the status quo, including America’s first black president.
In one of the most contentious sections of his thoroughly contentious Cairo speech, President Obama declared:

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and 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 of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.”

It’s difficult to know where to start with this. Perhaps by registering just how insulting it is for the representative of the imperial killing machine – responsible directly and indirectly for well over a million deaths in the last decade, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Somalia – to lecture the dispossessed and massacred Palestinians on their occasional attempts to strike back. We can be sure that the sleeping children Obama is concerned with here are the Israeli children who live above the destroyed villages of Palestine, not the unsleeping, traumatised, anaemic children of Gaza, several hundred of whom were burnt and dismembered in the massacre of 2008/2009. Then it’s worth remarking how the erudition and intelligence shown in Obama’s pre-presidential book ‘Dreams from my Father’ were immediately crushed on his assumption of the presidency. How otherwise could his historical vision be so partial and simplistic? There was certainly a key non-violent aspect to the struggle for civil rights in the United States, but pretending that violence played no role in the process makes it necessary to ignore the American Civil War (half a million dead), Nat Turner, Malcolm X, the Black Panthers and rioting Chicago. When it became necessary for the American military to occupy American inner cities, it became necessary to grant African-Americans their rights.
Violence, or the threat of violence, was important in South Africa too, and certainly in Obama’s ancestral Kenya, and was the dominant anti-imperial strategy in Vietnam and Algeria. Max Ajl has already pointed out that violence ended the brutal occupation of South Lebanon. I challenge readers to think of any situation in which colonial or racist oppression has been vanquished by the application of non-violent action in isolation from other forms of struggle.
To end his piece, Bromwich quotes Gandhi’s idea (in 1938) that a non-violent civil disobedience campaign by German Jews could have defeated Nazi anti-Semitism. In retrospect, is it possible for any intelligent person to believe this? Of course, some people will force themselves to believe for religious reasons, although I suspect that most would rapidly change their minds if they saw their own child killed, their own home bombed. When such things happen to you and your family, the issues become somewhat more urgent.
My purpose here is not to discount the usefulness of non-violence in every instance. Indeed, there is a good tactical case to be made for non-violent resistance in Israel-Palestine given that the Palestinians are so comprehensively outgunned, and given that the only possible solution is for the two peoples to eventually live together in one democratic state. Norman Finkelstein has made a good argument (which I don’t fully agree with) for Gandhian action against the Wall, and the villagers of Bil’in and elsewhere are doing essential work to delegitimise the occupation in the eyes of the world. But to suggest that violent resistance to violence is wrong in principle is as wrongheaded as blaming a raped woman for scratching the eyes of her rapist. Even the mahatma knew that violent resistance is better than no resistance at all. This is what he said about Palestine specifically:

 Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French…What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct…If (the Jews) must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs…As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.”

This is a cross-post from Pulse media.

mind your own business
Posted: 17 Jun 2010

Jacob de Haan
Chaim Arlosorov
Lord Moyne
Folke Bernadotte
USS Liberty
Rachel Corrie
Tom Hurndall
Furkan Dogan
Tristan Anderson
Emily Henochowicz

Chomsky in Lebanon
Posted: 16 Jun 2010

After being denied entry to the West Bank by Israel, Noam Chomsky spent some time in Amman and then made his way to Lebanon. He took a tour of the south which coincided with the 10-year anniversary of the Israeli withdrawal from most of occupied Lebanon. A few days later I was one of the several hundred people to pack into the UNESCO center auditorium to see him speak.
I first saw Chomsky deliver a lecture as a college freshman eight years ago. It was only one or two years before that that I had discovered some of his work, and I remember being awed by the man. Here was someone who fearlessly articulated the kinds of thing we Arabs knew, and Americans were oblivious to. Whatever doubts I may have had about his credentials (I had none) were dispelled by the aggressive Zionist contingent protesting the event. Hundreds of us lined up outside Irvine Auditorium while a few dozen Hillelniks chanted and passed out propaganda leaflets. I was elated.
The lecture was everything I’d hoped for. Chomsky reviewed the imperial history of the world, highlighted the nefarious corporatization of politics and conquest and lambasted the venality of the ruling American aristocracy. He recalled his labor Zionist youth and imparted one razor bit of insight which reverberated in my mind then and now (I’m paraphrasing):
“Many people do not know that America has a heavily-armed permanent military base on the Mediterranean. It’s called Israel.”
I couldn’t believe he said it; this was 2002 (Do you remember what that was like – only one year after 9/11? The televised braying heads were orchestrating a WMD tour de fuck and George W. Bush was a demigod).
I was one of many who thronged the speaker after the lecture. I managed to get a handshake in, thanking him profusely and reverently for his courage. It’s embarrassing to recall, but what can I say? He inspired me.
That was eight years ago and I’ve become more critical of Chomsky in the intervening period. It was mostly his stance on the two-state ‘solution’ that shook my faith in the man’s unimpeachability (which is a good thing; no one is right all of the time). Later, I’d find the W&M Israel lobby analytical model more convincing than the imperial structuralist one offered by Chomsky. To be sure, they’re not mutually exclusive and probably both useful depending on your desired degree of analysis. We may even need a grand unified theory of imperial ambition and special interest engineering. But the disagreement was enough to demonstrate that Chomsky hadn’t pinned it completely.
So it was with guarded skepticism that I took my seat in the packed auditorium last week. We only waited for a few minutes before Chomsky walked down the aisle and to the stage. He passed close by and I was glad to see he looked just as healthy as he did years ago.
The lecture was in many ways unoriginal, rehashing the imperial history of the world and imperialism’s contemporary variations. The fact that nothing Chomsky said was revelatory is of course due to the fact that his ideas have mostly been adopted as self-evident. In a funny way, the measure of an individual’s ideological influence corresponds inversely to how obvious and unoriginal those ideas appear years later. Everyone knows that bodies in motion stay in motion (until Barack Obama blasts them with a drone strike), and everyone knows that the US acts to maintain hegemonic supremacy through legal and illegal means.
The most interesting part of the lecture was the Q&A. Someone asked about the one-state solution and Chomsky responded that the one-state solution was better than the two-state solution, but that the no-state solution was better than either. He went on to provocatively suggest that no one has proposed a doable one-state model yet. What may emerge is a phased one-state model. Two-states first, then with normalization and integration, maybe one-state. But there was no way to go from here and now to one-state. I got the distinct feeling that Chomsky hadn’t updated his analytical framework while I listened; he spoke of the two-state solution as though it was somehow still possible to implement.
For the record, I disagree with his assessment. I’m pretty confident that the world which witnessed radical Soviet and South African restructuring will also see a radical Palestine/Israel restructuring.
Chomsky only took ten questions, but I managed to get one in. My question was:
“Press reports recently suggested that you intended to meet with Salam Fayyad. What’s your opinion of the view that he’s an imperial stooge, with no electoral legitimacy?”
The speaker tastefully avoided answering the question (no prevaricating – he just didn’t answer), which is a type of answer. Chomsky inadvertently provided some insight into the tight spaces he’s trying to maneuver. I have no doubt that he knows that Salam Fayyad is an imperial stooge, but his allegiance to two states leaves him with no good way to honestly confront that reality. Salam Fayyad is Israel’s partner for peace, and any believer in the two-state model can’t but rally behind the Occupation’s Administrator in Chief.
It’s like Harvey Dent said to Batman: “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Noam Chomsky has now lived long enough to see himself loosely allied with the American imperial project in Palestine; Israel for the Jews, and Fayyadistan for the Hunched Henchmen.
Chomsky is no villain, but he can’t afford to be associated with them either. But despite how I feel, we owe Chomsky an immense debt of gratitude. His fifty years of activism and record of speaking truth to power cannot be disregarded or diminished, no matter what his position may be today.


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