Israel Crushes A Palestinian Gandhi: Bil’in Organizer Sentenced to 18 months

Oct 23, 2010

Philip Weiss 

The other day I vowed to show this video of Adeeb Abu Rahma till everyone in America had seen it. And I’m just stupid enough to try.

Because if anything can change the American paradigm of Palestinian resistance, it is watching Adeeb Abu Rahma, at a demonstration in 2008 in Bil’in, brave bullets and then almost break down as he calls on the Israeli soldiers who have occupied his land to show that they have hearts.

As Susan Abulhawa tweeted the scene: “one man armed only with truth immobilizes an entire platoon of soldiers.”

No wonder they arrested Abu Rahma and have jailed him for over two years.

Well there’s news about Abu Rahma. In a post titled, “Israel Crushes a Palestinian Gandhi: Bil’in Organizer Sentenced to 18 months,” Joseph Dana (who turned me on to the video in the first place) gives the latest:

Judge Lieutenant Colonel Benisho of the Military Court of Appeals accepted the Military prosecution’s appeal in Adeeb Abu Rahmah’s case today, which demanded to harshen the already heavy-handed one-year sentence imposed on him by the prior instance back in July. The court sentenced Abu Rahmah 18 months of imprisonment with bail of 6,000 NIS and suspended sentence of 1 year. An appeal filed by the defense both on the severity of the punishment and on the conviction itself was denied.

Adeeb Abu Rahmah’s sentence is the first to be handed by the Military Court of Appeals in a series of recent trials against high-profile Palestinian anti-Wall grassroots organizers. The harsh and imbalanced decision is likely to affect other cases, most notably that of Abdallah Abu Rahmah – the Bil’in organizer declared human rights defender by the EU – who was too recently sentenced to a year in jail by the first instance of the military court.

Adeeb Abu Rahmah’s case relied heavily on the forced confessions of four minors arrested in nighttime raids by Israeli soldiers. The four attested in court to having been coerced into incriminating Abu Rahmah and other organizers during the course of their police investigations. They were also questioned unlawfully, denied counsel and without their parents being present and, in some cases, late at night.

And now Robert Mackey at the New York Times has picked up Dana’s reporting. Good work, Mackey; now watch that video. Please get it out to the people! 

Brooklyn rabbis Lippman and Bachman are part of the Am Yisroel Chai crowd

Oct 23, 2010

Barry Weiss 

Yesterday Weiss did a post expressing surprise that liberal Brooklyn rabbis Ellen Lippman and Andy Bachman are urging Brooklynites to buy products made in the West Bank at an illegal settlement! Barry Weiss, a California activist (and no relation), says Weiss is naive:

I do not know why this surprises you. Since I live in LA, I know nothing of these “liberal rabbis” in Brooklyn, but we have plenty of them in the Reform community in LA, nay even terming themselves as “progressive.” And they are progressive on issues such as labor, immigration, environment, capital punishment, etc. But almost to a man/woman is is Am Yisroel Chai. (The People of Israel live!) They say they feel for the plight of the Palestinians, but when it comes to any real challenge to the status quo, such as BDS in any form, they are not to be found. Their voices during the Lebanon and Gaza invasions were there in mild, but very mild, criticism.

They spend most of their time on the Middle East “reaching out to our Muslim brothers.” I must say they are very supportive of Muslim groups and Islamic mosques when it comes to anti-Muslim discrimination. But, there is an unstated and sometimes stated price for these folks to pay, which is “be gentle on Israel, be critical of certain measures, such as house demolitions, but be understanding in general.”

Since I work with the same Muslim groups, going back several years ago I found their deference to their “liberal Jewish friends who are so supportive of us” to be very frustrating. But, fortunately, these are not foolish people and they have now seen the ploy. As a result, while interfaith dialogue between liberal Jewish clergy and Muslims still exists, it is pretty much window dressing and groups such as MPAC and CAIR are much more outspoken on Palestinian issues. But, in conclusion, liberal/progressive Jewish clergy in the LA area set back support for Palestinian rights like Wiesenthal Center, ADL and AIPAC never could; and I believe that was their role.

Maybe now Obama can say something?

Oct 23, 2010

Philip Weiss 

Jerusalem Post:

New York Times opinion columnist Thomas Friedman said that many Americans are becoming “fed up” with Israel. Friedman’s comments came in an interview with Channel Two reporter Dana Weiss aired on Saturday….

Friedman derided Israel’s calls for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish State in exchange for a renewed freeze on construction in the settlements that could revive peace talks. He jokingly said that Israel is asking for “Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] to sing Hatikva [Israel’s national anthem] in perfect Yiddish.”

Good work, Tom!!! And many Palestinians have said as much about the extreme demand. Now can American policymakers say the same?

Pelosi’s ‘progressive,’ antiwar challenger is also… pro-Israel

Oct 23, 2010

Matthew Taylor 

Out here in San Francisco, progressives are furious with Nancy Pelosi for enabling the Bush war machine, Obama’s escalation in Afghanistan, and her utter disdain for (our crappy definition of) democracy, as she has refused to debate her libertarian Republican opponent John Dennis. Although his is clearly a Quixotic campaign, Dennis is running to Pelosi’s left (to some extent) and picking up support from across the political spectrum, including, quite shockingly, former Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez

Gonzalez is a progressive icon who nearly became the first Green Party Mayor of a major American city in 2003, when he picked up 47% of the vote. He was also Nader’s VP running mate in 2008. Gonzalez’s passionate endorsement of Dennis, in an open letter to Pelosi:

Even your most ardent supporters are at a loss to defend your escalation of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan after you became Speaker (despite your promises to end the war), and for your support for the Patriot Act, its subsequent reauthorization, and for your support for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, among other things…

Although you may want to dismiss your congressional opponent John Dennis because he is a Republican, I assure you that he is a serious candidate with views worthy of consideration. In addition to being firmly anti-war and committed to defending civil liberties, Dennis is pro-gay rights, opposed the Wall Street bailouts and has joined in the populist call challenging the legitimacy of the Federal Reserve…

As with virtually every politician in America, it turns out John Dennis’ progressivism has a limit. I’ll give you a hint: it starts with an “I” ends with an “L” and has “obliviousness to racist ethnic cleansing and illegal colonization” in the middle.

Check out Dennis’ comments on Israel at 4:40 of this video. The upshot: he wants to not only continue to dole out six billion in military funding to Israel every year, he insists that Israel should be able to build unlimited settlements/colonies, and the U.S. has absolutely no right to criticize what Israel does with the U.S. guns.

John Dennis, where’s the limit? What would Israel have to do with U.S. guns for you to say, “too far”? Outright genocide?

I love Matt Gonzalez – worked on his campaign, in fact – but Gonzalez totally blew it on this one. Gonzalez should run against Pelosi instead of handing out endorsements to pro-Israel sycophants like candy. Gonzalez might actually win.

Nir Rosen on the media’s double standard for Palestine

Oct 23, 2010

Philip Weiss 

On Thursday night the Nation Institute and the Arthur Carter Journalism Institute at NYU held a “Backstory” panel on foreign reporting with Nir Rosen, Ann Jones and Aram Roston. Jones carried the evening with entertaining tales about how being a woman in the Middle East has allowed her to break stories others cannot (including the extent to which American forces have alienated Afghans by farting; and break was her word not mine).

For his part, Nir Rosen talked about the horrors of occupation. He faulted the tendency among embedded American journalists to laud the troops they’re with, even though “they are part of an occupying army.” And an occupier is by definition oppressive.

“They could be the Girl Scouts. Their mere presence is humiliating and alienating and lethal. That’s the very nature of what they’re doing,” Rosen said. Occupation is a “crime on an entire people.” And yes there are racial issues involved. “It is difficult for white people to identify with brown… Abuse of civilians is a routine thing in any occupation.” Including, he added, the Israeli occupation of Lebanon and Palestine.

Rosen said American editors don’t like writers to humanize the occupation story because it doesn’t make Americans look good. And when he criticized the American occupation, say in Fallujah, he got letters accusing him of “treason.” But (and I’m finally getting to the point) he comes “under less condemnation” for criticizing the American occupation than he does for criticizing the Israeli one.

Wait, you ask: How can there be condemnation stronger than the accusation of treason? Well that was just readers mouthing off; but it was evident from what Rosen said that editors don’t want to run stories about Palestinian victims of Israeli occupation.

And that is the point. It is easier in American media to criticize American policy than it is to criticize Israeli policy.

Other examples: Obama ran for president opposing the Iraq war, and defeated his primary rival in spring 2008 by staking out that position, but he could not say anything against the Gaza war in 2008-2009.

My congressman, John Hall, defeated a Republican incumbent in ’06 by attacking the Iraq war. He does nothing but praise Israel.

And this is my primary argument against those who say that Israel is just carrying out American policy in the Middle East. If that is so, how come mainstream liberals routinely criticize U.S. policy but they never criticize Israel?

How come the U.S. gov’t can build a governing coalition in Iraq with former Al-Qaeda-allied insurgent car-bombers– and meantime Hamas must be isolated forever and ever.

The answer in all these cases, Obama’s silence on Gaza, Rosen’s inability to criticize the Israeli occupation, and the perpetual isolation of Hamas even while we work with former Sunni terrorists and dicker with the Taliban, is the presence of the Israel lobby in our public life. That is to say, the double standard reflects the influence of Zionism inside the establishment, an anachronistic ideology that maintains strong roots in the empowered Jewish community and that sees Palestinians as lesser human beings than Israelis.

The death of a child

Oct 23, 2010

Lillian Rosengarten


From Middle East Children’s Alliance:

Nasma Abu Lasheen died on Saturday, October 16, 2010 in Gaza. Israel failed to issue her an urgent entry permit for life-saving medical treatment at Ha-Emek Medical Center in Afula, Israel. She was two years old.

Abu Lasheen, a young resident of Gaza diagnosed with Leukemia, was referred for emergency treatment in Israel on October 6, 2010. When requests to the Israeli Army for an entry permit went unanswered for several days, by way of B’Tselem, the family contacted Physicians for Human Rights- Israel (PHR-Israel) for additional help. That very same day, on October 13, 2010, PHR-Israel contacted the Gaza District Coordination Office (DCO) demanding a permit be issued immediately to the baby and her father to enable their entry into Israel. A military approval was finally granted the next afternoon, October 14, 2010. 

Abu Lasheen’s medical condition had been deteriorating rapidly and by the time the permit was received, the treating doctor in Gaza, Dr. Mohammad Abu Sha’aban, said she was too sick to travel. Nasma died in the early morning hours of October 16, 2010.”

So it has come to this as generations of hate and paranoia  leach the humanity of Israel, to create a heartless society composed of “them and “us.”  Weep we must. Nama Abu Lasheen , age 2, was someone’s precious daughter who was helped to die by those  whose hearts have turned to stone. I am not a proud Jew when I must disassociate myself from such acts, for they defy what it is to be a Jew. Not for this did millions of hearts and souls go up in smoke from the ovens of the crematoria and die in the ghettos and camps constructed by the Nazis who deemed this appropriate for Jews and dissenters. Not for this did I once hope quite naively that Israel could rise above the gruesome lessons of a hunted and oppressed people.

That  I was deported and told I no longer could enter Israel and questioned as to whether I was REALLY a Jew and could I prove it– that is minuscule in the face of the dehumanization of “Them.”  What laws allow the “us” the “good Jews to be morally superior to “them?” Pure racism as I see it. Israel should know better for history has taught it well.  America knows the face of racism which makes me incredulous to observe  the unflinching support of semites and anti semites for Israel as it exists in this state of apartheid.  No, I am not afraid to use that word, for when one population is forced to live as the “other” in the same country, they are against their will living apart. Let’s be real, America knows well the face of apartheid.  In the face of human rights disasters perpetuated on the “other,” those who have had their voices taken away, I am appalled.

In the case of Israel, call me a traitor or anti Israel, anything you wish to justify these actions and to keep this travesty going.  I am devastated that it has come to this twisted moral righteousness, this myth of superiority that provides the venue for “us” against “them.”  Such division separates humanity, splits all of our brothers and sisters into good and evil, victim and victimizers. Make no mistake, Israel is divided into the prosperous Jewish state that lives along side a walled, collectively punished society of Palestine, under siege, in deplorable despair,  “them”, “the other” “forgotten” “not cared about.”

No, I am not proud to be a Jew. How can life continue in this land dominated by hate and war. How can the Jews in Israel be happy while their neighbors suffer?

I wish to remind you of the death of this child, not a Palestinian child, not an Israeli child, not an American child. She was a child who died and I who also had a child who died stand hand in hand with all parents and siblings who have lost children.  Let Nasma Abu Lasheen’s death bring us all to an awareness of what hate and moral superiority will do to destroy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *