‘I will not cooperate with any Israeli institution while Palestinians are denied basic human rights’
Posted: 18 May 2010

Two friends of mine, both professors at prestigious universities, have refused to review research proposals for the BSF (United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation), a high level grant-awarding institution, established by the governments of the United States and Israel in 1972, to support cooperative research projects of mutual interest and for peaceful purposes.
(For info on the BSF). The texts of my two friends’ letters are appended below, they gave me permission to post the letters if I left out names of the scientists. Perhaps it will inspire others to do the same. 
1. Dear Prof. X,
I am an admirer of a great many Israeli scientists and will collaborate with them individually by hosting them or collaborating with them on specific research projects. However, I will not cooperate with any Israeli institution while the State of Israel continues to deny basic Palestinian human rights, and I must therefore decline your invitation to review a grant for the Israeli Science Foundation.
I, along with many others, believe that we each should do all we can to pressure Israel to change its unlawful behavior. One means of doing that is to work to isolate official Israel from the international community.

2. Dr. X
Executive Director, United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation/ Jerusalem, Israel
With regret, I decline the invitation to review this grant proposal, the topic of which I regard as interesting and significant. I do this because I do not approve of the State of Israel’s policies which deny basic Palestinian human rights, the evidence of which has become more and more obvious to all in the world. I am sympathetic to a growing world wide movement which argues that the only way to stop unlawful Israeli behavior is to isolate it from the international community. The thought is that you, citizens of Israel, will then work to change your own governments policies.
Withdrawing support of of Israeli science is no exception.
As such, I can no longer in good conscience continue to cooperate with official Israeli institutions, including universities. I will attend no scientific conferences in Israel, and I will not participate as referee in hiring or promotion decisions by Israeli universities, or in the decisions of Israeli funding agencies. 
However, I will continue to collaborate with, and host, Israeli scientific colleagues on an individual basis. 
If you have questions or comments regarding this, please feel free to c/ontact me.

Under his breath, Richard Cohen whispers, ‘Israel, beware’
Posted: 18 May 2010

Richard Cohen is a real smart guy. I think he’s an Israel lobbyist in the sense that W&M defined the job, he is using his position to try and preserve the Jewish state against all critics (including Walt and Mearsheimer, who got him to sing the Hatikvah), but he is a smart guy. A few years ago he gave me one of my inner koans: Israel was a mistake.
To hear an Israel lobbyist say this, with intellectual clarity, which Cohen promptly disavowed with a lot of emotional attachment– well, it helped me to think about Partition, and the fact that no Arab was for Partition, and it was their part of the world (though later Arabs were for Partition; and Israel rejected the UN division). Shlomo Sand says that Israel was created by a “rape,” but that the child of a rape deserves to live. Another mantra I go to.
Long preamble. Cohen is issuing another koan. In a piece all about declining American power, he names a key risk, deep in the piece.

[Turkey] no longer needs the United States as a Cold War ally, and it even blocked military access to Iraq at the start of the war. The waning pull of the American present can no longer match the pull of the Ottoman past. Israel, beware.

This is a koan because it’s so charged with meaning. It is not just about American power, it is about the truth of the Nakba finally catching up. It is about suppressed narrative. It is about the Palestinian diaspora and the expulsion and their keys.
And of course it is about Gaza. Cohen says nothing about that. Gaza caused Erdogan to go crazy. And guess what, Richard, it caused a lot of American Jews to go inwardly crazy. Gaza is real. Gaza is suffering. Gaza, where Israeli forces shoot at nonviolent demonstrators, killing one two weeks ago.

Chomsky says ‘viable Palestinian state’ is possible under Fayyad plan
Posted: 18 May 2010

AMY GOODMAN interviewing on Democracy Now yesterday: What is your assessment right now of the situation with Israel and Palestine? And were you going to meet with the Palestinian prime minister?
NOAM CHOMSKY: I did. I was going to meet with the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. But his office called me here in Amman this morning, and we had a long discussion.
He is pursuing policies, which, in my view, are quite sensible, policies of essentially developing facts on the ground. It’s almost, I think it’s probably a conscious imitation of the early Zionist policies, establishing facts on the ground and hoping that the political forms that follow will be determined by them. And the policies sound to me like sensible and sound ones.
The question, of course, is whether the extent to which Israel and the United States, which is a determining factor, the extent to which they’ll permit them to be implemented. But if implemented, and if, of course, Israel and the United States would terminate their systematic effort to separate Gaza from the West Bank, which is quite illegal, if that continues, yes, it could turn into a viable Palestinian state.

I’m just a journalist here. But, compare with Azmi Bishara saying, “Salam Fayyad’s plans for Palestine and the Palestinians are nought but a contrived folk festival where the occupied bow to their oppressors.” And Meron Benvenisti in the Guardian, calling the PA leaders “traitors to their own cause.”

Watch out
Posted: 18 May 2010

Rebecca Mead, reporting in The New Yorker on rightwing media boss Andrew Breitbart who has–brilliant line– eyes the color of Windex, and is Jewish (and was given his start by Matt Drudge):

Breitbart had arrived [in New York] that afternoon from Los Angeles to have meetings related to a projected new Big site, Big Jerusalem. With heavy irony, he said, “It’s going to be pro-Palestinian nationalism—kind of Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade-esque, but with hints of pop culture and snarkiness.”
Big Jerusalem is one of several sites that Breitbart plans to launch over the next year. Others include Big Environment (he is a global-warming skeptic) and Big Tolerance (“I am going to hire all my gay, black, and Jewish friends to take on all of these supposedly sacrosanct liars, like John Lewis”).

Beinart was ’sickened’ by Israel lobby’s call on him to rationalize civilian deaths in Gaza
Posted: 18 May 2010

Friends have said I was too hard on Peter Beinart and the New York Review of Books yesterday. I don’t recant a word; but I think I was too narrowly focused (not the first time). Friends point out that the New York Review has run Hussein Agha and Robert Malley and Tony Judt’s great piece on imagining a binational state, also Judt’s recent stuff on Jewish identity that is non-Zionist. Yes, I should have mentioned all that.
Also they have lately published Eyal Press’s fine reporting from Israel. Apologies to the Review’s editors and readers. Still I would say that the NYRB on this issue is at bottom liberal Zionist, tied to the idea of a Jewish state and thus in some considerable journalistic denial of the Jim Crow conditions on the West Bank that would have animated it to good fervor at another time, and in almost complete denial of Gaza. Beinart lately worked for AIPAC. Yes he criticizes refractory Jewish leadership in the piece, including AIPAC, but it’s as a lobby-reformer, unable to call this central force in our discourse what it is, a lobby.
Such is the condition of Jewish liberalism, tied in a knot, but yes, calling for more open discussion. Now are Palestinians allowed to speak, who (out of longing and loss that Jews might relate to) support the right of return? Hell no. (Zionists in media, I think you would be amazed if you only let them speak, what healing power their words would have, and what good action it might lead to.)
Here is a great interview of Beinart at Tablet which is in some ways better than the New York Review piece. It says that the New York Times Magazine killed the piece, and it says what Beinart does not say in the piece, that he had an epiphany around Gaza and the al Samouni family story, in which they found children with the corpses of their parents days later, and as a father he did not wish to rationalize it.
The call on him to do so “sickened” him. Good man; hat’s off to Beinart. I wish he had written about that war crime in the piece. Remember it was about ambulances, which were repeatedly prevented from attending the wounded by the Israelis. I wish he would support Goldstone. A bridge too far for this Zionist to go, even in the New York Review of Books.
I also like it that he is honest about, I am a Zionist; and it animates his engagement politically. Remember, the piece was an appeal to reinvigorate Zionism for the young. I wish in a spirit of transparency he would now tell us how much this Zionism played into his decision to support the disastrous Iraq war. That shoe will drop, readers, some day. But this baby’s a millipede.

yup the Israelis are really concerned about not wanting to be surrounded by Arab enemies…
Posted: 18 May 2010

Haaretz: Israel rejects Qatar bid to restore diplomatic ties

In exchange for renewed ties, Qatar demanded it be allowed to carry out a series of reconstruction projects in Gaza.

First they came for our tiaras
Posted: 18 May 2010

Racism and sexism: Daniel Pipes, on an Arab-American woman, Rima Fakih, winning Miss America pageant–

“They are all attractive, but this surprising frequency of Muslims winning beauty pageants makes me suspect an odd form of affirmative action,” he wrote.

Elvis Costello cancels Israel concerts: sometimes it’s ‘impossible to simply look the other way’
Posted: 17 May 2010 04:16 PM PDT

Following a campaign by BDS organizers, Elvis Costello has announced that he will be canceling his upcoming shows in Israel. It doesn’t sound like it was an easy decision for him, and he has posted a thoughtful statement about the decision on his website:

Then there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent.
I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security.
I am also keenly aware of the sensitivity of these themes in the wake of so many despicable acts of violence perpetrated in the name of liberation.
Some will regard all of this an unknowable without personal experience but if these subjects are actually too grave and complex to be addressed in a concert, then it is also quite impossible to simply look the other way.

He ends:

Sometimes a silence in music is better than adding to the static and so an end to it.
I cannot imagine receiving another invitation to perform in Israel, which is a matter of regret but I can imagine a better time when I would not be writing this.

Nakba Day is a reminder that George Mitchell can’t ignore Palestinian refugees
Posted: 17 May 2010

Proximity talks signaling the restart of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, which have been on hold for years, are beginning amidst an important reminder of the root cause of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Saturday, May 15, marked Nakba Day. The Nakba, Arabic for “catastrophe,” was the depopulation of Palestine of its native inhabitants which took place around the emergence of the state of Israel from 1947-1949. Little known to most Americans is the massacre of Palestinians at Deir Yassin, which left dozens of women and children slaughtered.
It is marked on April 9, a date which highlights the fact that Palestinians were being ethnically cleansed even before the Arab armies declared war on Israel in May of 1948. The Dahmash mosque massacre, marked on July 12, witnessed the gunning down of Palestinian civilians seeking refuge in a mosque. It was one of the worst massacres of the period.
Yet the day on which the Jewish state was established, is the day Palestinians mark their suffering. This is not, as some would suggest, because Palestinians oppose the existence of a safe haven for Jews. Rather it is because the existence of this state means that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees could not return to their homes – and still cannot to this day.
Some will say that Palestinians and Israelis have two irreconcilable narratives and for this reason ought to avoid talk about history. Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in other countries have, however, played a key role in helping victims of terrible injustices to understand in more detail what was done to them and by whom.
The facts known today tell of the reality that befell Palestinians and tragically and terribly altered the trajectory of their individual and collective existence. Yet there is much more that will surely come to light as Israeli archives are examined and as aging conquerors examine their consciences.
At the moment, there remains a difference in the telling of the history. Some historians argue that the Palestinians fled from their homes. Other historians, including leading Israeli historians, argue that there was a systematic effort on behalf of the Israeli forces to expel the Palestinians. These different historical perspectives remain dueling narratives, but the weight of evidence is increasingly favoring the Palestinian perspective of a concerted and planned drive for ethnic cleansing to clear the way for a more homogeneous Jewish state.
But one simple historical reality – which no objective person, Israeli or Palestinian will deny – transcends the entire debate over who is at fault for the ongoing predicament of the refugees. The creation of the state of Israel meant a Jewish majority in Palestine would be maintained by force, and this state, now in control of still-more-expansive borders, has refused to permit refugees to return to their homes and land.
Frankly, whatever one’s view of history, it doesn’t matter why Palestinians left Palestine during the war. All that matters is that after the war, refugees should have been allowed to go back to their towns and villages in accordance with international law.
The right to return to one’s country is a human right ensured by the UN Declaration of Human Rights. By preventing the return of Palestinian refugees to their country, Israel is and has been violating the human rights of the refugees for 62 years.
Much of the discussion today is centered on settlements and borders, but the idea that an agreement on settlements and borders would end the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is rooted in a fundamental ignorance of history. While the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza began in 1967, the conflict existed well before that. The roots of the conflict are in the refugee issue.
Former National Security Advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft have recently suggested that Palestinians should take back East Jerusalem in exchange for dropping demands for the right of return. This reminds me of when we used to play tricks on the younger kids on the playground: “If you give me that dime,” we used to say, “I’ll give you this big, shiny nickel.”
The patronizing tone that accompanies such suggestions is insulting to Palestinians who have been subjected to dispossession and occupation. Now we are being told to accept the former to end the latter, when both are ethically and morally abhorrent.
On this Nakba day, as Special Envoy George Mitchell prepares to shuttle back and forth between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, it is critical to keep in mind that until the human rights of Palestinian refugees are acknowledged, there can be no lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Yousef Munayyer is executive director of The Palestine Center.

Why can’t ‘NYT’ get on the horn to Finkelstein, Malsin, Falk & famous Spanish clown?
Posted: 17 May 2010

Ethan Bronner rushes to assure readers of the New York Times that Israel goofed on the Chomsky denial:

Government spokesmen were mortified at the development and issued statements saying that the decision was made by an Interior Ministry official at the Jordan-West Bank border and did not represent policy.

Then Bronner offers Israel’s rationale for denying the entry, and cites a few other cases:

Israel has felt its legitimacy increasingly under attack in the past year and that has added to the debate here over Mr. Chomsky…
Late last month, Ivan Prado, one of Spain’s most famous clowns, spent six hours at Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv being questioned by security agents before being sent back to Madrid. He … was accused of having ties with Palestinian terrorist groups by the Israelis.
…In January, Jared Malsin, a young American editor working in Bethlehem for a Palestinian news agency, was barred from re-entering at Ben-Gurion airport after officials said he would not answer questions satisfactorily.
In December 2008, Israel barred Richard Falk, an American who is a United Nations investigator of human rights in the Palestinian areas, saying he was hostile to Israel….  Israeli officials said that Mr. Finkelstein refused to describe the nature of those conversations [with Hezbollah]

Wouldn’t it be fair to ask Malsin, Prado, Falk and Finkelstein if Israel is telling the truth about those disgraceful actions?
Have to go to Haaretz. Haaretz columnist says that Chomsky bar is “evil” and possibly “totalitarian,” and Israel is encouraging academic boycott of Israel. Carlo Strenger:for the record: Chomsky is in favor of the two-state solution, and neither calls for violence against Israel nor for dismantling the state. He is even against an academic boycott of Israel’s universities – a rather popular cause of the European left in recent years.

I have heard Chomsky speak on a number of occasions in Israel in the 1980s and 1990s. According to his own testimony, he was here last in 1997.
Chomsky has not changed his views since, so it must be Israel that has changed – and very much for the worse. …
I have never heard of a democratic state denying entry to thinkers (or anybody else for that matter) who neither call for violence or break local or international law. So what on earth is happening to Israel? Is the Interior Ministry offended that Chomsky didn’t also plan to speak in Israel? If so, is this a reason to deny him entry?
Israel is currently fighting international calls to boycott Israeli universities and academics. Does anybody think that denying entry to Chomsky will strengthen our case?
If anything, barring Chomsky gives ammunition to those who say that Israel is infringing on academic freedom in the Palestinian Authority, and that a boycott against its universities is therefore justified.


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