‘Gay Girl in Damascus’ deceit has damaged the cause
Jun 12, 2011 11:55 pm | Eleanor K
Following a successful investigation by Ali Abunimah and Benjamin Doherty at the Electronic Intifada, the writer behind the ‘A Gay Girl in Damascus’ blog, which purported to be by a Syrian-American woman, ‘Amina Arraf’, has revealed himself to be an American man, Tom MacMaster.
It was this part of Tom MacMaster’s non-apology that rankled in particular: “I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about”. Those issues are brutal state repression, feminism, homophobia, pinkwashing, and so on – all undeniably important. But solidarity does not confer on the person ‘feeling’ it an entitlement to speak in the place of those subjected to violence and prejudice, to assume their identity. The suffering of another – however it is borne – is humbling and deserving of respect. We show our solidarity by bearing witness, offering support, drawing attention to the hypocrisies of our leaders and commentators, insisting on a path to justice.
MacMaster created a fictional character, ‘Amina’, that belonged in a novel not on the international and Syrian socio-political stage. A writer of fiction lays her/himself open to criticism of plot, tone and characterization; the hoaxer demands unquestioning loyalty and reverence.
This deceit of MacMaster is damaging to the causes he claims to support. It is also an imperialist venture of sorts by a white male. By merely approximating the real challenges of a queer woman in an undemocratic Arab country, he obscures a diversity of struggles – many of which are undertaken at a low register and command far less attention.
Jack Ross, new author, says Israel lobby captured the Jewish establishment in ’58 but here come the ruby slippers
Jun 12, 2011
“Rabbi Outcast,” Jack Ross’s biography of the late anti-Zionist rabbi Elmer Berger, was published this weekend and is already being cheered. There’s a coming out party next Sunday in Brooklyn for the book; details at the end of this post. I’ll try and get a review/summary of the bio up in the next few days, though I’d point to passages like this one, in the Epilogue, that typify Ross’s preternatural ability to crunch large diverse trends into pithy ideas:
[T]he peace process was only interpreted as a license for American Judaism to become more closely and intensely identified with Zionism than ever before. Multiple factors contributed to this reality. One was the increasing prevalence of the Holocaust in defining American Jewish identity, peaking right around the time of the 1993 [Oslo] accord with the film Schindler’s List and the opening of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Another was the dramatic increase of Israeli influences on the religious practices of American Jews, whether directly from Israelis themselves or through the intensely Zionist-oriented Jewish summer camps, which defined the exposure of whole generations to Judaism.
Smart. Ross also has a fine historical analysis of the Israel lobby up at the History New Network tonight. More smarts. Here are two excerpts, on the rise and (predicted) fall of the American Zionist Jewish establishment. Rise:
When the Eisenhower administration came to office in 1953, it looked on the [anti-Zionist] American Council for Judaism as a valuable ally. Officials hoped that Israel could be recognized by the Arab states within the 1949 armistice lines in exchange for a reasonable settlement of the refugee problem and that Israel could become, in the words of John Foster Dulles, “a part of the Middle East community and cease looking upon itself as alien to that community.” In practice, this meant that Israel would have become integrated into a regional anti-Communist bloc that came into a brief dubious existence as the Baghdad Pact. The American Council for Judaism also closely collaborated with the CIA-backed American Friends of the Middle East. But the Israel lobby, in its early gestations, protested these policies vigorously.The turning point in the history of an American Jewish establishment came in 1958, when the very thing feared by its opponents from the outset came to pass. The Eisenhower Administration, bowing to the premise that Zionists spoke for all American Jewry, requested the merger of the the governing bureaucracy of the various Jewish organizations to represent the American Jewish community as Zionists. The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations was formed, taking over the functions of the NCRAC [National Community Relations Advisory Council]. If the status of the Conference of Presidents as an ecumenical body should strike the casual observer as absurd, it was taken with absolute seriousness by its leaders. The leader of AIPAC in this era, Philip Bernstein, would describe the [anti-Zionist] American Council for Judaism in all necessary statements as having arisen to oppose “the united program of the American Jewish community adopted in 1943,” as though this carried something like the force of law….
[T]he most fateful factor [in the dissolution of that establishment] has been the alliance of the American Jewish establishment with the neoconservatives. It has been said that with friends like the neocons, Israel does not need enemies, and this is if anything even more true of the American Jewish establishment. Norman Podhoretz wrote frankly in his memoir Breaking Ranks that the opposition of the emerging neoconservatives to George McGovern was motivated in great measure by a concern that a less militarist America would be bad for Israel, and this was repeated at the time by many of his colleagues such as Irving Kristol and John Roche.
In neocon polemics against their political near-neighbors who remained on the left in the 1970s and 80s, we can see the origins of their present unmitigated hysteria toward progressive Zionists such as J Street and Peter Beinart. As early as this period, any suggestion by critics on the left that they cared more deeply about Israel and for that reason wanted it to make the necessary sacrifices to survive as a Jewish state touched a very raw nerve for the neocons. The great irony, however, is that the deep commitment to Israel and to Zionist first principles by the democratic left of this era, reflected in the present day by J Street, may have been the very thing that ensured the marriage of the American Jewish establishment and the neoconservatives. This commitment to Israel was not the only factor, but a critical factor, in the failure of principled non-interventionism to take hold on the left in the aftermath of Vietnam, thereby pulling American politics to the point where by the 1990s the left-most reach of political respectability was the Democratic Leadership Council.
In short, the American Jewish establishment based so much of its program on the assumption that this would be the case indefinitely, and a generation later it is paying dearly for it. The American Jewish establishment may still have all the friends it needs and more in the Democratic Party, but American liberalism has changed profoundly since the 1990s, to say nothing of the 1970s. The writer Irving Howe, who came to bitterly regret his alliance with the neoconservatives in his final years, gave a speech in 1989 foreseeing that “because the religion of most American Jews is not serious, it has become almost totally defined by Israel, and a major crisis will erupt as Israel’s actions become less and less defensible.”
Oh and here’s the party:
Sunday, June 19
315 Columbia Street
Over 1,180 Palestinians displaced and affected by Israeli demolitions in the West Bank so far in 2011
Jun 12, 2011 08:37 pm | Kate
The number of people displaced and affected by demolitions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the start of 2011. Displaced means people whose homes have been demolished. Affected is when a demolition has had an impact in other ways such as on people’s livelihoods or on basic services and utilities. (Source: UNRWA)
UNRWA: Demolition watch
The Israeli practice of demolishing homes, basic infrastructure and sources of livelihoods continues to devastate Palestinian families and communities in East Jerusalem and the 60 per cent of the West Bank controlled by Israel, known as Area C. Demolition = Dispossession: Many of the people affected already live in poverty, and demolitions are a leading cause of their ongoing displacement and dispossession in the West Bank. The impact of home demolitions on children can be particularly devastating. Many children affected by demolitions show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. Their academic achievement often suffers … The stats:The table and graph above shows the number of people displaced and affected by demolitions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the start of 2011.
Bedouin children hope their West Bank school will be spared Israel’s bulldozers / Harriet Sherwood
Guardian 12 June — Each morning, they scrabble through a drainage pipe under a busy main road slicing through the unforgiving landscape between Jerusalem and Jericho, where hard-baked stony hills roll down to the Dead Sea. At the end of the school day, they clamber back down to the drainage pipe to pass beneath the thundering traffic on their way home. But, after today, the last school day in the academic year, the pupils of Khan al-Ahmar primary in the West Bank cannot be certain their school will still be standing come September. Head teacher Hanan Awad fears that if the building is left empty, bulldozers will rumble up the hill from the main road to tear down the illegal two-year-old structure built out of old car tyres and mud. So she and her team of nine women teachers are planning a programme of children’s summer activities to keep the building occupied.
And more from Today in Palestine:
Absent military escort endangers Palestinian children of Tuba and Maghayir Al-Abeed
Operation Dove 11 June — At-Tuwani – On the morning of Saturday June 11th, the military escort which accompanies the Palestinian schoolchildren of the village of Tuba and Maghayir Al-Abeed to their school in At-Tuwani did not arrive. The children had to walk to school alone, thereby risking attack by settlers from the Ma’on settlement and the Havat Ma’on outpost. Usually there is no school on Saturday, but today was the last day of final exams, therefore the schoolchildren of Tuba and Maghayir Al-Abeed had a normal school day, which was known by the military escort … For further information about the trend of the military escort during the school year 2009/2010, the report “The Dangerous Road to Education. Palestinian Students Suffer Under Settler Violence and Military Negligence” is available at the URL: link to goo.gl
link to www.operationdove.org
Poll: Most Israelis don’t know Jordan Valley is occupied / Dimi Reider
972mag 12 June — A poll conducted by our esteemed Dahlia Scheindlin(for ACRI’s Action a Day campaign) indicates a sweeping majority of Israelis – 63.5%, to be exact – think the Jordan valley is part of Israel; in other words, not part of the West Bank; or, in plain words, don’t understand why or how Israeli presence there is being called into question. The special status of the valley in the Israeli collective consciousness is nothing new. Partly thanks to a highly successful campaign of displacement, Palestinian residents of this occupied territory — as occupied as Jenin or East Jerusalem — are rarely heard about in the Israeli media, and Palestinian political violence of the kind that makes Israelis notice Palestinians has been negligible in the valley through both Intifadas. The Palestinians of the valley are so invisible to most Israelis that the poll indicates 34.5% thought Israelis formed an overwhelming majority in the valley, while in fact it’s the other way around, with Palestinians outnumbering Israelis 6 to 1.
link to 972mag.com
Israel to demolish three buildings in illegal Migron outpost
Haaretz 12 June — State Attorney’s Office informs High Court that Ministry of Defense ‘will not put up with construction of new buildings in the outpost,’ and will be demolished within 45 days … The outpost was erected on private Palestinian land. In 2006, the Peace Now movement filed a petition on behalf of the land owners, demanding the outpost be evacuated and the land returned to its owners. After lengthy proceedings, the state reached a compromise with the Yesha Council, permitting it to build a neighborhood for the Migron residents in the Geva Binyamin settlement. The compromise was rejected by the residents … Barak’s order reflects a current trend in the Palestinian territories, whereby the Civil Administration demolishes buildings in outposts that are not backed by the Yesha Council [price-tag attack on some village to follow, no doubt]
link to www.haaretz.com
Settler ‘price tag’ pogroms against Palestinians go under the radar / Yossi Gurvitz
972mag 11 June — With violence against Palestinians becoming commonplace and essentially condoned, it begins vanishing from the media and becomes a non-issue — When a post mortem on Israeli democracy takes place, there’s a good chance that the “Ha’Kol Ha’Yehudi” will be considered akin to Radio Rwanda, which encouraged and led the murderers to the victims during that country’s genocide … Ha’Kol Hayehudi reports steadily and enthusiastically about the pogroms carried out by settlers, under the code name of ‘price tag’ — referring to acts carried out against Palestinian in revenge of government actions harming the settler enterprise.
link to 972mag.com
From: Interior Ministry Re: Ruth the Moabite
978mag 12 June — Last week, Israel celebrated Shavuot, the holiday on which we read the Book of Ruth. The following is a take on how correspondence between Anat Hoffman of the Israel Religious Action Center and the Ministry of Interior would look like if the Biblical Ruth, the great-grandmother of King David and Judaism’s first convert, were to be seeking legal status in Israel today. Chag sameach! [Happy Holiday!]
link to 972mag.com
Israeli army, police
OCHA report: IOF injured 88 Palestinians June 1-7
RAMALLAH (PIC) 11 June — A report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territories says that Israeli occupation forces (IOF) injured 88 Palestinians during the first week of June 2011 most of them Naksa Day protesters. The alarmingly high number brings the count to 787 injuries this year, the OCHA report says, a 17 percent increase from the equivalent period in 2010. The majority of this week’s injuries (76) took place during June 5 protests at the Qalandiya checkpoint in East Jerusalem as the IOF fired gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets at protesters.
The official report also marks an increase in violence by Jewish settlers that week, with 15 attacks that caused six injuries on Palestinians and the torching of a mosque in Al-Mughayyir village near Ramallah.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
Israel kills Palestinian at Golan border
PressTV 12 June — Israeli military forces have opened fire on a group of Palestinian refugees in Syria’s Golan Heights, killing at least one and injuring five others, a Syrian state TV report says. According to the report, a number of Palestinian youth were targeted by Israeli forces after they approached the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights border line.
link to www.presstv.ir
Bil‘in residents say regular incursions are intimidation tactic
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 June — The day after anti-wall protests in Bil‘in, Israeli forces enter the village causing anger amongst residents, leading to the throwing of rocks and glass bottles at patrol cars. The coordinator of the local popular committee against the wall, Ratib Abu Rahma, told Ma‘an that several military vehicles and infantrymen entered the village and started firing live ammunition, tear gas, and stun grenades at the young men. Abu Rahma condemned what he called a “provocation,” saying there was no reason for the troops to be in the village, and accusing the soldiers of attempting to intimidate villagers and keep them away from the weekly demonstrations against the wall.
link to www.maannews.net
Cop guilty of sex crime against Palestinian
Ynet 12 June — Within the framework of a plea bargain, the Kfar Saba Magistrates Court convicted Khader Eldin, a police officer from the Druze town of Daliat el-Carmel, of committing indecent acts against a Palestinian woman who requested an Israeli ID in order to be united with her husband. [and would he have been indicted if he’d been Jewish instead of Druze?]
link to www.ynetnews.com
Israel army detains 3 Palestinians in southern West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 June — Israeli armed forces detained two Palestinians from Bethlehem Sunday morning and officially summoned a third to the intelligence office for interrogation. According to witnesses, seven military jeeps invaded Al-Khas village east of Bethlehem and detained 21-year-old Ahmad Naji Salman after ransacking his home.
In a separate incident, Israeli forces also raided the As-Saff neighborhood of Bethlehem and detained 23-year-old Tamer Mahmoud Hamoud.
In Hebron, Israeli forces detained 22-year-old Saddam Abdul-Aziz from Beit Ummar in the north.
Israeli troops also stormed Al-Azza refugee camp near Bethlehem and delivered a warrant to a young man asking him to appear before the Etzion intelligence office.
link to www.maannews.net
Palestinian woman detained at Jenin checkpoint
JENIN (Ma‘an) 12 June — Israeli forces on Sunday detained a Palestinian woman at a checkpoint near Jenin in the northern West Bank, Palestinian security sources said. Kifah Imad Zeid, a university student, was trying to cross Umm Ar-Rayhan checkpoint into Israel with her father. Soldiers detained her and said the ID card and entry permit she presented did not belong to her, security officials told Ma‘an.
Meanwhile, three Israeli military jeeps stormed Zububa village in the northern West Bank, witnesses said. No injuries or detentions were reported.
link to www.maannews.net
Activism / Solidarity
Video: Nabi Saleh attempts to peacefully protest for its water rights and against the occupation / Jenny Levin
My first taste of ‘fire’ today, 10 June 2011, in solidarity with the pastoral Palestinian village of Nebi Saleh. Like everyone else, first-timers and seasoned demonstrators, I was shocked at the violence used by the soldiers against non-violent protesters – men, women and children, Palestinians, Israelis, and foreigners alike! I can confirm that there was absolutely no provocation on the part of the demonstrators. We’d hardly taken our first steps through this sleepy village when tear gas canisters started falling all around us, the air became filled with the acrid smoke, and our eyes, mouths and skin took the impact of the tear gas. Is this not chemical warfare? Personally, I can’t think of any other description that fits.
link to mondoweiss.net
Fear and tear gas in Nabi Saleh: a coward’s story / Shoshana London Sappir
11 June — Today I had a small taste of confronting the Israeli occupation from the Palestinian side, and I confess that even my brief exposure was traumatic. Heeding the invitation of my friend Gershon Baskin for Israelis to join him at the weekly non-violent protest in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, in the hope of mitigating the brutal force the Israeli army exerts against the protesters, I set out early Friday morning with most of the things on the list Gershon sent me — food, water, sunscreen, a towel against tear gas – in my backpack, and a sense of foreboding in my heart … Gershon told us that at first a lot of Israelis had signed up for this action, but as the week went on they started cancelling out of fear. He said he didn’t blame them.
link to www.didyoulearnanything.net
Flash mob – We will boycott Israel – Brisbane Australia 3 June 2011
Brisbane BDS Campaign activists surprise shoppers by performing “we will boycott Israel” to the tune of a popular music anthem in the Myer centre food court below the Seacret Dead Sea Cosmetics stall.[no dancing in this one – clapping while seated]
link to www.youtube.com
Forced to fish in swimming waters
[with photos] GAZA CITY (IPS) 12 June – In Gaza’s main port, beyond the newly-built memorial to the Freedom Flotilla martyrs, Gaza’s fishermen prepare to go out trawling at shallow depths in Palestinian waters. Other fishers stay on land to mend nets and fix boats damaged or destroyed by Israeli navy gunfire, shelling, water cannoning and even ramming. Such moves as the opening of Rafah have done nothing for Gaza’s fishermen. [at the end of the story, 5 links to other articles, with photos, about the plight of Gaza fishermen]
link to ingaza.wordpress.com
Despite paralysis, he works in wheelchair to support his poor family
Gaza (Alresalah.ps) 9 June — When ”hope of [for?] pain”‘ team visited Abo Alabed , a 50-year-old paralyzed man, received us with big smile, which reflected his happiness and hope of help by our visit that he still believes in. In spite of being disabled, Abo Alabed gets out every day in the early morning on his wheelchair, moving between markets and alleys to sell local newspapers. He has no work except this to feed his 11-member poor family. Abo Alabed, who got wounded in 2006 in Israeli shelling that targeted civilians including him, has been working in selling newspapers since 18 years, whereas he gets 30 shekels (some 8 dollars) every week which does not meet the minimum limit of his family’s basic life needs. [contains interview video (in Arabic) which shows his home]
link to www.alresalah.ps
Israel to allow limited goods into Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 June — Israeli authorities will allow limited deliveries of goods and humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip on Sunday, Palestinian officials said. Liaison officer Raed Fattouh told Ma‘an that Israeli officials decided to allow 230 truckloads of supplies to enter Gaza through the southernmost Kerem Shalom crossing.
link to www.maannews.net
Suppression of dissent
Israeli rights groups that cooperated with Goldstone may no longer get National Service volunteers
Haaretz 12 June — Association for Civil Rights, Amnesty, Public Committee Against Torture and Physicians for Human Rights could lose eligibility under new proposed criteria … Behind the initiative is MK Israel Hasson (Kadima) … Hasson accused the organizations of slandering the IDF and its officers … The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) was not surprised by the new initiative. According to Hagai El-Ad, Executive Director, “Hasson’s initiative joins in with Yisrael Beitenu’s Parliamentary Inquiry Committees and other recent legislative initiatives, in a similar spirit. Several MKs have chosen the persecution of human rights NGOs as a goal — just because these organizations fulfill their societal roles — to criticize government policy when it harms human rights.”
link to www.haaretz.com
Volunteers protest National Service bill
Ynet 12 June — Israeli organizations which contributed to theGoldstone Report criticized a proposal by MK Israel Hasson (Kadima) to revoke their right to use National Service volunteers on Sunday. Some claimed a deliberate witch hunt is being held against them. “I feel persecuted,” says Dr. Yishai Menuchin, director of the Public Committee Against Torture. “The rightist MKs continue to persecute human rights groups. They want to prevent us from being heard.”
link to www.ynetnews.com
Political / Diplomatic / International news
Fatah wants Fayyad to stay Palestinian PM
RAMALLAH (AFP) 12 June — Fatah will seek to keep on prime minister Salam Fayyad to head a Palestinian unity government, an official said on Sunday, in a nomination immediately rejected by Hamas. The central committee of Fatah, headed by president Mahmud Abbas, agreed at a Saturday night meeting to throw their support behind Fayyad, a committee member told AFP on condition of anonymity … And on Sunday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri downplayed the nomination, warning that his movement had made its opposition clear. “Hamas informed Fatah during the last meeting of its rejection of the choice of Salam Fayyad to head the new government,” Zuhri told AFP.
link to news.yahoo.com
Hamas: No role for Fayyad in unity govt
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 June …”Hamas will not agree on Salam Fayyad as a prime minister, or even a minister in the upcoming unity government,” Al-Bardawil said in a statement … “Hamas’ activists and leaders have had enough suffering, enough torture during the four years Fayyad served as prime minister. He is also responsible for accumulated debts the Palestinian people have.” He said the nomination of Fayyad crossed a “red line” and that his “presence provokes and hurts the Palestinians.” Fatah and Hamas are scheduled to meet in Cairo on Tuesday, as the two groups try to agree the make-up of a transitional government mandated by a unity deal they inked last month.
link to www.maannews.net
Palestinian Fatah movement removes once-powerful official, charging corruption
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 12 June — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has booted a once-powerful official from his Fatah movement. Abbas announced Sunday that Fatah’s central committee has dismissed Mohammed Dahlan. The statement referred to “criminal, financial and other charges” made against Dahlan by an investigative committee. The move marks another stage in the fall of Dahlan, once the powerful security chief in Gaza, a Western darling and a potential successor to Abbas.Dahlan lost Gaza to Hamas forces in 2007 [if you’ve never seen Hamas’s 2007 ‘Lion King’ video starring Dahlan as the Chief Rat, see it here]
link to www.washingtonpost.com
Erekat to diplomats: Peace talks, UN move not exclusive
JERICHO (Ma‘an) 12 June — In a series of meetings with UN, US and French officials, PLO leader Saeb Erekat stressed the centrality of the 1967 borders in both continued efforts toward peace talks and a simultaneous move to garner UN support. “Settlement construction must end and a two-state solution must be based on the 1967 borders,” Erekat insisted during meetings with UN Middle East envoy Robert Serry, US General Consul Daniel Rubenstein and French Consul General Frederic Desagneaux.
link to www.maannews.net
Palestinian PM supports Israel’s Stanley Fischer for IMF top job
Haaretz 12 June — Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer has a new and unexpected supporter in his bid to head the International Monetary Fund: the Palestinian prime minister. Salam Fayyad says Stanley Fischer would make a “great managing director” for the world financial body and is a “superb human being.”
link to www.haaretz.com
European Jewish Congress lobbies against unilateral Palestinian state
JTA 12 June — The European Jewish Congress has contacted leaders on the continent in a bid to prevent recognition of a unilaterally declared Palestinian state in the United Nations. Dr. Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, wrote a letter to all European heads of state, foreign affairs ministers and EU leaders explaining the problems with recognizing a Palestinian state when the issue comes before the United Nations in September.
link to www.jta.org
Egypt detains Israeli man on suspicion of spying
Reuters 12 June — State news agency reports that the man will be detained for 15 days on suspicion of trying to recruit Egyptian youth to act against the authorities … MENA said the man worked for Israel’s Mossad intelligence service.
link to www.haaretz.com
Shas members meet Palestinian officials
Ynet 11 June — Minister of Religious Affairs Yakov Margi, of the Shas Party, took part in a two-day seminar recently attended by other party members and a number of former Palestinian officials. The seminar, which was organized by the Geneva Initiative, included a tour of the future separation fence near Jerusalem. “We didn’t change the world, but it is definitely important to talk,” said former Palestinian negotiator Sufian Abu Zaida.
link to www.ynetnews.com
US investing $9 million in Israeli alternative fuels start-up companies
Haaretz 12 June — A joint Israeli-American venture developing alternative fuels from cellulosic feedstocks has scored a $9 million investment by the U.S. Department of Energy … The investment by the Energy Department is part of the Obama administration’s plan to reduce America’s dependence on oil.
link to english.themarker.com
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood attends Gaza funeral of Hamas leader
12 June — Representing the brotherhood were former legislator Hazem Faruq and a member of the group’s policy office, Sa’d Al-Huseini.
link to www.maannews.net
Red Crescent medics treat settler woman after crash
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 June — Medical staff with the Palestinian Red Crescent treated a settler woman Sunday afternoon when she was injured in a car accident near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem … After receiving primary care from Palestinian medics, who were called onto the scene by residents who witnessed the car crash, an Israeli medical team was called in to transfer her to hospital.
link to www.maannews.net
Analysis / Opinion
The quiet corner of the Mideast (Surprise)
WASHINGTON (NYTimes) 11 June — Helene Cooper — In the Arab democracy movement, there is a dog that has not yet barked. And whether or not it does — and how loudly — is causing a lot of heartburn among American policy makers. Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans and Syrians gathered in their respective city squares and neighborhood streets to demand democratic rights, and the Western world cheered, if with varying degrees of diplomatic or military support. But by and large, so far, the Palestinians in the West Bank, who see Israel as the source of their grievances, have not. Yet. … “If you’re looking for a game-changer, that would be it,” says Robert Malley, the program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group. “At a time when the entire world, including President Obama, is applauding nonviolent popular protests from Cairo to Tehran, it would put Israel in an acute dilemma about how to react if tens of thousands of Palestinians started organizing protests in the West Bank, or marching on Israeli settlements or on Jerusalem demanding an end to the Israeli military occupation.”
link to www.nytimes.com
Is the Palestinian Authority doing enough to stop honor killings? / Amira Hass
Haaretz 12 June — Mahmoud Abbas recently announced his intent to crack down on those who murder women to preserve ‘family honor.’ But women’s advocacy groups say the legal changes he proposes are too little and too late … Women’s advocacy groups have found that men exploit the “family honor” clause in order to murder women in their families over disagreements involving inheritance or the desire of a woman to marry someone of her own free choice, as well as to conceal acts of rape or incest. The Israel Defense Forces, which in a series of military orders changed various articles in the Jordanian and Mandatory laws that were in force in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, left in place those laws that discriminate against women.
link to www.haaretz.com
US TV: CBS ’60 minutes’: Jerusalem, City of David
5 June — Lesley Stahl reports from under the city of Jerusalem from a controversial archaeological dig that has become a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [Sam Bahour adds: If you are interested in knowing more about this settler organization, ELAD, see this excellent documentary: http://www.eastsidestory.ps/ ]
link to www.cbsnews.com
Film trailer: A Third Way – Settlers and Palestinians as Neighbors
10 June — A feature documentary in-progress: about courageous Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank, who decide, whatever the future holds, they need to get to know the strangers who live so close to them. Please support us finishing this film by contributing here: link to goo.gl
Jun 12, 2011
Video from the June 10 protest in Nabi Saleh.
My first taste of ‘fire’ today, 10 June 2011, in solidarity with the pastoral Palestinian village of Nebi Saleh. Like everyone else, first-timers and seasoned demonstrators, I was shocked at the violence used by the soldiers against non-violent protesters – men, women and children, Palestinians, Israelis, and foreigners alike!
I can confirm that there was absolutely no provocation on the part of the demonstrators. We’d hardly taken our first steps through this sleepy village when tear gas canisters started falling all around us, the air became filled with the acrid smoke, and our eyes, mouths and skin took the impact of the tear gas.
Is this not chemical warfare? Personally, I can’t think of any other description that fits. No matter what you call it, it is being used in the most vengeful way imaginable against an innocent, civilian population who want nothing other than to legitimately walk down to their spring of water without harassment by the settlers who have built a village on their land (the red-roofed settlement of Halamish) or the soldiers who use sophisticated chemical weaponry to prevent them from even walking down the road in their own village.
Aside from the tear gas and rubber bullets, there’s also – by way of a grande finale – the notorious ‘skunk’, which is driven through the village spraying homes and people with a putrid, sticky chemical concoction, the ingredients of which are a mystery. Fortunately, I didn’t get to smell it at close range. It was bad enough to get a whiff of it from afar as our group, like the sheep ahead of us, eventually turned tail, and made our way back across country to our cars, leaving Nebi Saleh’s brave inhabitants behind us.
Next Friday, they will once again find themselves in a “closed military zone” face-to-face with a force that with impunity douses them, their children, their homes and village with chemicals and sows confusion and chaos. As we seem to be unable to stop the establishment’s terrible tactics, I think the very least we can do is be there with the Tamimi clan in Nebi Saleh. It’s scary, I know. But if you live in Israel, you should at least experience it once. That way you will know and never forget.
If you have never heard of Nebi Saleh (alternative spelling Nabi Salah), allow me to introduce the village, which is based deep in the heart of the West Bank or Palestine, for the many who already call it by that name. The village is home to just over 500 members of the Tamimi clan.
In 1976, the Israeli government appropriated swathes of Nebi Saleh land to build the settlement of Hallamish – hundreds of spacious red-roofed villas for religious settlers. Further encroachments of Nebi Saleh land followed, with settlers’ bravado very much on the rise since 2000. In the summer of 2008, the settlers laid claim to the fresh spring fountain and pools belonging to one of the Tamimi family and used by the villagers to water the flocks that are the main source of their livelihood.
Hallamish youths – by this time the settlement was calling itself Neve Tsuf – thought a spa would be a nice thing to have on their doorstep and so simply took over the site, walling it in, building, renovating and doing as they pleased, even going so far as to list it on an Israeli portal of springs and water sources! There the spring is listed as the Meir Spring, thus named in memory of one of their kind, ‘who bravely fought for the unification of the whole of Israel’.
Nebi Saleh opted for peaceful protest against the appropriation of the spring and ever since, the villagers and their Israeli and international supporters, have been trying every Friday to walk en masse to the waters. They never get there. Each week, the army and the Border Police appear to be curtailing their march and using more and more force to keep them ever further away from their spring.
Jenny Levin first came to Israel with a youth leadership course in 1968, and she moved there in 1969. After a decade in England she has been back in Israel since 2009 and is increasingly active in trying to stop “our downward spiral into the racist, apartheid, bigotted society that is all too reminiscent of the apartheid South Africa of my childhood and Fascist Germany, which my father managed to leave in 1935.”
Jun 12, 2011
This piece was posted at Martin Iqbal’s Empirestrikesblack:
A 11 June press statement from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan slates May 2011 as the deadliest month for Afghan civilians since at least 2007. However this big-hearted announcement conceals a grossly pernicious attempt to cover up US-NATO killings of civilians in occupied Afghanistan.
In its report, UNAMA documents 368 conflict-related civilian deaths and 593 civilian injuries in May 2011. Georgette Gagnon, Director of Human Rights for UNAMA states that, “More civilians were killed in May than in any other month since 2007 when UNAMA began documenting civilian casualties”.
The UN’s disgusting attempt at whitewashing US-NATO’s killing of civilians is revealed in UNAMA’s breakdown of the causes of the deaths (emphasis mine):
Anti-government elements were responsible for 301 civilian deaths (82 per cent of all civilian deaths in May).
Forty-five civilian deaths (12 per cent of all civilian deaths in May 2011) were attributed to pro government forces.
Twenty-two deaths or six per cent of civilian deaths in May 2011 could not be attributed to any party to the conflict as most of these deaths were caused by crossfire.
So according to this statement from the UN, 94% of Afghan civilian deaths are caused by other Afghans, and 6% could not be attributed to any party. The press release contains no mention of the terms “US” or “NATO” whatsoever.
Then, hidden away towards the end of the statement (still without mentioning the words “US” or “NATO” at all), is a single sentence which lays in direct contradiction to the ‘could not be attributed’ claim:
Air strikes caused three per cent of the total civilian deaths in May.
Let’s compare and contrast this with the following reports of civilian deaths caused by NATO in May 2011:
29 May 2011: Nato air strikes kill 52 Afghans
29 May 2011: NATO airstrikes kill 32 Afghan civilians, 20 police
These two incidents alone would put the May 2011 US-NATO civilian death toll at a number closer to fifteen per cent – far higher than the three per cent figure buried in the UN’s ‘could not be attributed to any party‘ deception.
UNAMA’s shameless statement reflects the US policy of discounting civilians whom they murder as being ‘insurgents’, and it draws attention to the fact that the UN is totally complicit in the whitewashing of NATO war crimes in Afghanistan and beyond.
Jun 12, 2011
Ali Abunimah and Benjamin Doherty at Electronic Intifada say that the Gay Girl in Damascus is a hoax — one that I fell for. The evidence, which they say the Washington Post has also been digging at, is fairly complicated and inconclusive as to the perpetrators of Gay Girl but it creates the strong impression that the persona was fabricated in the west:
We believe that the person or persons responsible should end this deception which has been harmful to individuals who trusted and believed in “Amina” and more broadly has sown confusion, distraction and absorbed energy and attention at a time when real people are in danger in Syria and in other countries in the region.
We are sharing the information we have gathered here not in order to level accusations, but so that others might pursue these leads to conclusive ends. The best outcome would be if the person or persons behind the hoax would take responsibility themselves to bring the matter to a close and provide all doubters with reassurance that “Amina” is not in danger because she is a fictitious character.
While we believe that the information gathered here is compelling in its own right, we have managed to corroborate additional information from several independent sources that we are not publishing and that significantly increases our confidence in the information we have. We do not know the motives of the person or persons behind this hoax.
The information presented below connects the “Amina” blogger to two people in real life: Thomas (Tom) J MacMaster and Britta Froelicher who are married to each other.
The information we have collected here is not intended as either an accusation or final, conclusive proof of who may be behind the Amina hoax. However taken together we felt it was compelling enough that we had to publish it as soon as possible. This is primarily because we believe, and have observed, that the hoaxer(s) is both attempting to hide information that could lead to discovery and furthering the hoax with other false personas. By sharing this information we want to provide the best chance that this story can be brought to closure and people’s attention directed back toward real world events.
Creative. Seated. Aimed at a cosmetics company called Secret. June 3. Good streetcorner speaker at 4:00, “many miles from that troubled land.” “If they stop us singing, we will come back dancing.”
What is the living ethos in Jewish communal politics other than Zionism? (More dialogue about David Simon)
Jun 12, 2011
More than a month ago here, Lizzy Ratner defended David Simon, creator of the Wire, from criticism by Weiss that Simon self-censors on the Palestine issue. At last, a response.
Your piece praising David Simon of the Wire ends with a challenge to me that you say “scratches” at you: Am I Progressive Only on Palestine? Do I ever talk about American domestic injustices in between my endless talk about Israel and Palestine? And really, as you know, the answer is that I don’t.
Now by and large I think you’re right to be itchy. I ought to be a progressive in other ways. I have tunnel vision, even I get sick of it. But let me try and explain if not wholly justify my silence, and in doing so explore my confusion about American Jewish political identity in 2011.
The context for your challenge was your thanks to David Simon, whose work you love, for daring Jews to give up their legacy of unrivaled persecution, the Holocaust narrative, and notice the people suffering just a few miles away in the American inner cities. Now I don’t know David Simon’s work, but this political stance leaves me cold for two reasons, 1, the suggestion that the problem of the American ghettoes is one that Jews somehow have a special role to play in addressing. And 2, the idea that a Jew can engage as a Jew on the great political problems of our time—or as Simon says, “Surely, the world needs the Jewish mind and spirit for something… fundamental,”—without talking about Israel.
First fallacy. At the Jewish Federations last fall (the same conclave famous for the brave Jewish hecklers of Netanyahu, of whom David Simon was not one) Simon called on the charity to stop giving so much help to Jews and to take on the “Holocaust in slow-motion” that is enveloping blacks in the ghettoes, and in doing so he invoked a special Jewish tradition of social justice– our role to be “a light unto the nations”– and I don’t buy it. I think the call should be to all empowered Americans to do something about the ghettoes. And in fact, the call on Jews to do so, as Jews, seems to me to express a vanity about our political presence that is undeserved given our position in society– and truly my cynicism about our posture and our presence is at the heart of my argument.
Surely there was a time that Jews could speak of a leftwing ethos as Jews. Behind his words, I sense that Simon is invoking a socialist tradition that began in Eastern Europe in the nineteenth century when it was the bundists stiring things up. Jews were committed to reforming societies, and while I believe there was a selfish Jewish interest in this reform—we were being denied opportunities, we were an “intellectual proletariat” hanging around the stock markets in the big cities because we couldn’t get jobs (as Herzl put it)—still, there is no doubt we were a central part of that leftwing tradition right up through our presence in communist parties in the 50s and 60s in Europe. And yes we brought that leftwing tradition to the U.S. and played a significant part in left movements, including the communist party, and the civil rights movement. My mother expresses pride in these traditions. Though, saddling my cynicism, I don’t see purely altruistic motives. We were outsiders. And we identified with blacks as an oppressed minority and signed on to their struggle because we wanted to open American society for ourselves too.
Tony Kushner describes the end of this ethos (in a 1998 interview lately flung against him by CAMERA):
I feel that I’m very much a product of what I consider the most important tradition – I’m not a religious Jew and I think the Diasporan Jewish culture has a magnificent history of progressive involvement with the cultures that Jews have found themselves in and interacting with. It’s very much a part of who I am. So yes. It’s a very distressing thing to me that American Jews have lost contact with the traditions of socialism and humanism – I don’t consider myself a humanist but I probably am – but there are important progressive and radical European traditions that arrived with Jews in the U.S. from Germany to Russia that really informed American Jewish consciousness all the way up to the 1950’s, and Roy [Cohn’s] generation is really the generation that succeeded in beginning the severance of that. It still continued in a very lively way which manifested itself most obviously in Jewish support for the Civil Rights movement, but at the same time that that was happening there was this tremendous support for Israel and that’s been part of this calamity– it’s driven international Jewish culture from its progressive base. I don’t know what’s to be done about it, what recourse progressive Jews have to call…I’m sort of floundering for words because I don’t know what to call us at this point.
Surely that progressive ethos had great achievements. We opened American society, we fostered civil rights, gay rights, women’s rights– and yes, our matriarchalism played a role. And today David Simon has incredible status and cultural power.
And this is what leaves me really confused. Apart from voting Democrat and supporting a socially-liberal blue state program, I don’t see the living Jewish ethos that Simon sees. And I’m not really persuaded that he’s doing that much to change our society to be a fairer one. OK, he’s a progressive director who is highlighting progressive themes in his show, but I don’t see much sacrifice or commitment. When Simon praises the service of Catholic workers in the ghettoes, I agree, there is a living ethos drawing on an active spiritual tradition. But show me such a populist ethos in Jewish life.
Yes, Jews have a special status in our society as storytellers; we are as often as not the mediators of the poor’s experience to the ruling class. Lately, for instance, I was very moved by Daniel Zwerdling’s reports on Iraq veterans post-traumatic stress disorder on NPR. They were loving pieces. I’m guessing he’s Jewish; and his role seemed to me a Jewish role; but honestly I don’t see the political dimension of such work. We are not the ones serving in Iraq, by and large, we are not the ones serving in the ghettoes; and telling these stories will in no way alter the structure that preserves us from that service.
We get to tell the horrifying stories about these conditions, and I suppose that is a liberal value; but, here is where I am cynical, I can’t help noticing that it sort of cements our status as privileged mediators. As Tom Stoppard said when someone asked him What’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” about, “It’s about to make me very rich.” And so I’m balked by the most salient fact about the Jewish presence in society, we’re privileged. In that Tablet interview that sparked this dialogue, Simon says that the average Jewish family in New Orleans makes $180,000 a year while the overall average for N.O. families is $30,000; and to address such a privileged community and say that it has a collective special religious obligation to deal with the urban Holocaust seems to me an ethnocentric fantasy. I just don’t see that Jews have a special role to play as social justicers.
Why not appeal to corporate bosses or some other privileged group that is equally implicated in the existing structure? Better yet– why not invoke noblesse oblige—an ethos that actually takes into account these differences?
So while I think you’re right to fault me for not speaking out about these conditions as a leftist, and a progressive, I don’t see why I should be speaking out as a Jew. And I’d note that this website, or my posts on it, have a Jewish character.
Which brings me to the second fallacy.
There is a special Jewish character to political engagement, and that is Israel. You have acknowledged this in your own work, and it’s one reason I admire you. You are taking on elements in the community we both came out of, and you’ve done so with humility, passion and sincerity.
David Simon also comes out of a pro-Israel tradition. In this interview by Vince Beiser at Tablet, we learn that Simon’s father worked on the Soviet Jewry issue for the B’nai Brith and that Elie Wiesel and Teddy Kollek supped at young Simon’s table, and a couple of times Simon mentions the Jewish “nation” and people as having an essential role to play on the world stage. Well, I’m sorry, I’ve seen the role, and I can’t read this without thinking that his family is Zionist and Simon is not engaging on the central Jewish political question that is his inheritance. In fact, in his description of the American ghetto as being the true scene of Jewish engagement, which if Jews don’t follow through on, young Jews will turn away from the whole Jewish project, well, this strikes me as a giant evasion. The real source of disaffection from Jewish communal life, as the sociologists tell us, is the Jewish marriage to Israel.
I would go further and say that an honest assessment of the Jewish presence in American political life right now—when Obama is getting hammered for even mentioning the 1967 lines—is what Israel is doing to American foreign policy in the Middle East. The fact that 9 of 15 congresspeople who call on Obama to expunge the Goldstone Report are Jewish. The fact that Obama’s mild gestures towards fairness (1967) in his speech to AIPAC were said by a Jewish publication to cost him $10 million in contributions. This speaks not just to Zionism’s effect on Jewish life, but the impact of pro-Israel Jews on American policy.
At the risk of relating thrice-told tales, let me say more about my cynicism. I got engaged on these issues because in 2003 my brother said to me that while he had demonstrated against the Vietnam war he wasn’t sure about the Iraq war, because his Jewish newspaper said it could be good for Israel. I found his statement deeply upsetting. It reversed everything I understood to be Jewish traditional political engagement, and it suggested that the “severance” Kushner addresses above is monstrous. It suggested that killing tens of thousands of Iraqis, as the US was bound to do, was justifiable in the name of Israel’s security—just as Egyptian oppression can be endlessly justified for the sake of Israel, or the killing of Rachel Corrie, or the killing of Furkan Dogan.
Whenever I think of my brother’s revelation, I think about one of my favorite descriptions of political emotion, how Christopher Isherwood described fleeing his beloved Berlin in 1933– a place that had given him personal freedom–when the Nazis came to power. He rode a train south with Jews fearing arrest and wrote:
“I feel like a cupboard in which all the clothes are mixed up; everything has got to be thrown out on the floor and sorted. I must stop wondering what I ought to think, how I ought to feel. I must try to discover some basis of genuine feeling and begin with that, no matter how small it is.”