Shocker: Speaker of Knesset calls for making one state with Palestinian citizens
Posted: 29 Apr 2010 08:31 AM PDT

Amazing. My heart is leaping. Once again, the Israeli press and the Israeli discourse is way ahead of the American one, where the belief in a thriving “Jewish democracy” stops all free thinking. Here is the speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin, saying that Palestinians are a part of Israel,
we ate the West Bank a long time ago, so let’s forget about this two-state crap and make them citizens. He meets Ali Abunimah on Abunimah’s fair and democratic ground. He dismisses the New Republic’s hysteria about the delegitimization of the Jewish state. He answers the great challenge to the Israeli psyche— At the end of every sentence in Hebrew is an Arab smoking a hookah– with ringing affirmation.
Note that Rivlin is a Likudnik, about the same age as Judge Goldstone. Note that you will never see such creative thinking in Washington, where the Diaspora Jews are about 50 lightyears behind the realities of the Middle East, locked in fearful, reactive Holocaust consciousness and dumb to the murderous occupation and the cycle of violence.
Will anyone in the US pick up the ball? Put another way, How many times have friends murmured to me, I’d be for a binational state [translation, I’d be for democracy] if only there wouldn’t be a ton of bloodshed getting there. I’ve murmured that myself. Well isn’t that just a matter of imagining? The most disputed territory is the space between American Jews’ ears. Enough drumroll, Haaretz:

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said Thursday that he would rather accept Palestinians as Israeli citizens than divide Israel and the West Bank in a future two-state peace solution.
Speaking during a meeting with Greece’s ambassador to Israel Kyriakos Loukakis, Rivlin said that he did not see any point of Israel signing a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority as he did not believe PA President Mahmoud Abbas “could deliver the goods.”
Referring to the possibility that such an agreement could be reached, Rivlin said: “I would rather Palestinians as citizens of this country over dividing the land up.”

Berkeley student body sustains veto of divestment measure
Posted: 29 Apr 2010 07:49 AM PDT

It’s evident from the thrilling twitter feed in Adam’s post below, but that’s the news. The Berkeley student senate voted 13-5 to override the student government president’s veto, at 4 a.m. California time. They needed 14 votes. Note that the measure urged the university to divest from two companies doing business in the Occupied Territories.

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb will speak on BDS in Brooklyn tonite
Posted: 29 Apr 2010 07:20 AM PDT

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb–“one of the first eight women to serve as rabbi”–will be speaking in Brooklyn tonight on Why divestment? 7 o’clock. Here’s Brooklyn for Peace announcement. Co-sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews Say No! 

Abunimah: Refugees returned to Bosnia, why not Israel?
Posted: 29 Apr 2010 07:05 AM PDT

Ali Abunimah, writing from South Africa, publishes a piece in The Hill criticizing the Zbig Brzezinski-Stephen Solarz plan for a two-state-solution:

Even more devastating to Palestinian rights, Brzezinski and Solarz float “a
solution to the refugee problem involving compensation and resettlement in
the Palestinian state but not in Israel.” This they call “a bitter pill” but argue that “Israel cannot be expected to commit political suicide for the sake of peace.”
Palestinian refugees have an internationally recognized legal right to
return to their homes and lands, but Israel has always denied this on the
sole grounds that Palestinians are not Jews. Thus Gaza, where 80 percent of the population are refugees, is essentially a holding pen for humans of the “wrong” ethno-religious group. Would Brzezinski and Solarz be so sanguine about accommodating Israel’s discriminatory character if its grounds for refusing the return of refugees was that they had the “wrong” skin color?
I write from downtown Pretoria, once the all-white capital of the South
African apartheid state, which also argued that ending white rule would be
“political suicide.” The notion that people of different groups cannot or
should not mix is belied by the vibrant multiracial reality in the streets
of Pretoria outside my window today.
And precedents for the actual return of refugees abound. Under the
US-brokered 1995 Dayton Agreement that ended the Bosnia war, almost half a million refugees and internally displaced persons returned home with
international assistance, to areas that had become dominated
demographically and politically by members of another ethno-national
community — an enormous achievement in a country with a total population
of 3.5 million and deep traumas as a result of recent war.
Other than Israel’s discriminatory aversion to non-Jews it is difficult to see why Palestinian refugees could not also return to their lands inside Israel, the vast majority of which remain uninhabited.

Is the binational state becoming a realist argument?
Posted: 29 Apr 2010 06:57 AM PDT

Meron Benvenisti in the New York Times– oh wait, sorry, in the Guardian. The Times won’t cover this! Note that on the same day as this sympathetic coverage of Benvenisti’s ideas, Steve Walt challenges American leadership: if the peace process is dead, as it seems to be, what have liberal policymakers come up with to answer that fact? The neocons have a clue, of course. They want apartheid, or amalgamating what’s left of Palestine in the West Bank to Jordan thru Churchillian hocus-pocus.
Here is Benvenisti:

“The entire discourse is wrong. By continuing that discourse you perpetuate the status quo. The struggle for the two-state solution is obsolete…
“For the last 20 years I have questioned the feasibility of the partition of Palestine and now I am absolutely sure it is impossible,” he says. “Or, it is possible if it is imposed on the Palestinians but that will mean the legitimisation of the status quo, of Bantustans, of a system of political and economic inequality which is hailed as a solution by the entire world – unlike in South Africa.
“The entire paradigm is wrong. We are doing this because it is self-serving. It is convenient for us to stick to the old slogan of two states as if nothing has happened since we began advocating it in the 1980s.”
…”Israel’s domination of the West Bank does not rely on the numbers of settlers or settlements,” he argues. “The settlements are totally integrated into Israeli society. They’ve taken all the land they could. The rest is controlled by the Israeli army.”
…He avoids speculating about future scenarios and makes do with the concept “bi-nationalism” – “not as a political or ideological programme so much as a de facto reality masquerading as a temporary state of affairs … a description of the current condition, not a prescription.” And he sees signs that the Palestinians are beginning to adjust to the “total victory of the Jews” and use the power of the weak: demanding votes and human rights may prove more effective than violence, he suggests.
“The peace process,” Benvenisti concludes, “is more than a waste of time. It is an illusion and it perpetuates an illusion. You can engage in a peace process and have negotiations and conferences – which have no connection whatsoever to reality on the ground.”

Chomsky says Israel is pillaging Gaza’s natural gas reserves
Posted: 29 Apr 2010 06:57 AM PDT

Important piece by Noam Chomsky, from a forthcoming book, that mourns the late great peace process for producing a fair deal that the US and Israel rejected and that sees a material motive in the continued control of Gaza. At the bottom of the excerpt, I’ve included Chomsky’s arrow at Obama. Well-feathered.

It cannot be too often stressed that Israel had no credible pretext for its 2008–9 attack on Gaza, with full U.S. support and illegally using U.S. weapons. Near-universal opinion asserts the contrary, claiming that Israel was acting in self-defense.
That is utterly unsustainable, in light of Israel’s flat rejection of peaceful means that were readily available, as Israel and its U.S. partner in crime knew very well. That aside, Israel’s siege of Gaza is itself an act of war, as Israel of all countries certainly recognizes, having repeatedly justified launching major wars on grounds of partial restrictions on its access to the outside world, though nothing remotely like what it has long imposed on Gaza.
One crucial element of Israel’s criminal siege, little reported, is the naval blockade. Peter Beaumont reports from Gaza that, “on its coastal littoral, Gaza’s limitations are marked by a different fence where the bars are Israeli gunboats with their huge wakes, scurrying beyond the Palestinian fishing boats and preventing them from going outside a zone imposed by the warships.” According to reports from the scene, the naval siege has been tightened steadily since 2000.
Fishing boats have been driven steadily out of Gaza’s territorial waters and toward the shore by Israeli gunboats, often violently without warning and with many casualties. As a result of these naval actions, Gaza’s fishing industry has virtually collapsed; fishing is impossible near shore because of the contamination caused by Israel’s regular attacks, including the destruction of power plants and sewage facilities.
These Israeli naval attacks began shortly after the discovery by the BG (British Gas) Group of what appear to be quite sizeable natural gas fields in Gaza’s territorial waters. Industry journals report that Israel is already appropriating these Gazan resources for its own use, part of its commitment to shift its economy to natural gas. The standard industry source reports:
“Israel’s finance ministry has given the Israel Electric Corp. (IEC) approval to purchase larger quantities of natural gas from BG than originally agreed upon, according to Israeli government sources [which] said the state-owned utility would be able to negotiate for as much as 1.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas from the Marine field located off the Mediterranean coast of the Palestinian controlled Gaza Strip.
“Last year the Israeli government approved the purchase of 800 million cubic meters of gas from the field by the IEC…. Recently the Israeli government changed its policy and decided the state-owned utility could buy the entire quantity of gas from the Gaza Marine field. Previously the government had said the IEC could buy half the total amount and the remainder would be bought by private power producers.”
The pillage of what could become a major source of income for Gaza is surely known to U.S. authorities. It is only reasonable to suppose that the intention to appropriate these limited resources, either by Israel alone or together with the collaborationist Palestinian Authority, is the motive for preventing Gazan fishing boats from entering Gaza’s territorial waters…
Barack Obama’s June 4, 2009, Cairo address to the Muslim world kept pretty much to his well-honed “blank slate” style — with little of substance, but presented in a personable manner that allows listeners to write on the slate what they want to hear.

‘Washington Post’ prints forthright call for boycott
Posted: 29 Apr 2010 06:50 AM PDT

of Arizona, that is, for its immigration law. Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney on the ethics of boycott:

The question isn’t whether to start an economic boycott to pressure Arizona to repeal its new immigration law. For me, that’s a given.
The question is which products and services to blacklist to get results fastest, while minimizing needless harm.

Also, note that British prime minister Gordon Brown referred to an anti-immigration activist in Europe as a “bigot.” Attitudes toward unreconstructed nationalism are changing all over, in the era of globalization.
And 20 percent of Israel’s population is not represented in the country’s leadership. h/t Janet McMahon of Washington Report.

Expulsion and persecution rationalize… expulsion and persecution
Posted: 29 Apr 2010 06:12 AM PDT

Simon Schama in the Financial Times disputes Shlomo Sand re Jewish identity and says we’re connected to Palestine. Typical of Sand’s reviewers, Schama accuses him of having a political value system (yes, he’s an anti-nationalist) but fails to interrogate his own, more-traditional political attachment:

the legitimacy of Israel both within and without the country depends not on some spurious notion of religious much less racial purity, but on the case made by a community of suffering, not just during the Holocaust but over centuries of expulsions and persecutions. Unlike the Roman deportations, these were not mythical.

The Goldstone report alleges that the Palestinians suffer “persecution” in Gaza. I saw that for myself. And yes, they too have experienced expulsion. When are Jewish historians going to integrate Jewish privilege into the picture? Isn’t that what General Jones’s anti-Semitic joke was all about?

Jlem mayor comes to US capital to explain, Screw Obama and the horse he rode in on
Posted: 29 Apr 2010 06:08 AM PDT

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat came to Washington to say there’s no settlement freeze in Jerusalem, so screw you and the horse you rode in on, Obama. The good thing about this is that the Netanyahu-Obama clash has opened up more room for sensible mainstream Jewish dudes to question the lobby. Here is Mike Isikoff blasting the Israel Project for its blind support of colonization.

Follow the UC divestment votes tonight
Posted: 28 Apr 2010 07:26 PM PDT

Both the UC Berkeley and UC San Diego Student Senates will be considering divestment bills tonight. Jewish Voice for Peace, Nora Barrows-Friedman and Rae Abileah will be live tweeting the proceedings at Berkeley and students at UC San Diego are tweeting from their meeting as well. You can follow all of their reports below or on their twitter pages – @jvplive, @norabf, @raeabileah and @ucsddivest.



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