Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Jenin Theatre says raids and arrests show that Israel’s only methods involve violence and terror

Aug 13, 2011

Philip Weiss

This is an open letter from representatives of the international volunteers and staff members, the friends, supporters and foundation of The Freedom Theatre in Jenin to the Israeli security apparatus including the Shabak, the IDF and Israeli Police.

After the attack on The Freedom Theatre’s office and multimedia centre, during which you arrested our head technician Adnan Naghnaghiye and Bilal Saadi, the chairperson of The Freedom Theatre Board in Jenin; and after you have for two weeks refused Adnan and Bilaal access to a lawyer, treated them inhumanely and denied them their basic human rights, and after the arrest of our acting student Rami Hwayel, we hereby state:

We encourage all efforts to find whoever is responsible for the brutal murder of Juliano Mer Khamis [last April] and we are deeply concerned over the fact that the murderer has not yet been found. Nevertheless we reject the inhumane methods that you apply in investigating the murder. The Freedom Theatre has been seriously damaged by your actions which have further implanted fear and trauma not only among our students and employees but also into the very society we aim to empower.

By acting the way that you act you have once again proved to the residents of Jenin refugee camp as well as to the outside world that the only methods you know are the ones involving violence, terror and fear. We in The Freedom Theatre have nothing to conceal regarding the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis.

We have made that very clear and we state it again that everyone in the theatre has given statements to the Palestinian Police when they were asked to do so and are willing to do so again.

No matter what harm you cause to us or the theatre, we will continue our struggle for individual and collective liberation. We have joined our comrades in Jenin Refugee Camp in their struggle for liberation using culture and non-violence in order to not only shake off the occupation that you keep the Palestinian people under, but also other forms of oppression that they are faced with.

We demand that our friends and colleagues who have been subjected to severe cases of human rights abuses will be treated with absolute respect for all their basic human rights according to international conventions, receive immediate access to their lawyer and be promptly released.

The international staff, friends and supporters of The Freedom Theatre as represented by:

Jacob Gough, acting general manager at The Freedom Theatre

Micaela Miranda, Pedagogical Director at The Freedom Theatre

Jonatan Stanczak, co-founder of The Freedom Theatre

Udi Aloni, film and theatre director at The Freedom Theatre

Dror Feiler, co-founder of The Freedom Theatre and board member of The Freedom Theatre Foundation

Jan Tiselius and Britt-Louise Tillbom, chairpersons of the Friends of The Freedom Theatre (Sweden)

Constancia Dinky Romilly, president, Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre (USA)

Mrs Zahia Oumakhlouf and Mrs Marie-José El-Haimer, co-presidents of The Friends of The Freedom Theatre in Jenin (France)

South African airport put on lockdown for Israeli delegation’s arrival

Aug 13, 2011


Last week South African Students issue a Joint Student Statement denouncing Israeli Apartheid and announcing the rejection of a mission of Israelis coming to their universities to work on Israel’s image. Those Israeli image makers arrived to an unwelcome reception:

Kairos South Africa reports:

Johannesburg’s international airport was put on red alert after its National Key Point status was activated this morning due to the expected arrival of a delegation from Israel. Plans of the delegation’s local host, the South African Union of Jewish Students, to welcome their Israeli “Hasbara” delegation were thwarted, with the Israeli delegation arriving at OR Tambo International Airport amidst much controversy.

Last week, the South African Students Congress (SASCO) issued a communiqué to its provincial branches urging “all students in all institutions of higher learning across Gauteng to boycott any activity organised by these [Israeli] agents. Any student who chooses to cooperate with the apartheid [Israel] regime is an enemy of progress.”

Expecting that their arrival to Johannesburg would not be a welcome affair, the Israeli delegation was forced to change their travel arrangements:
– the expected welcoming committee had to be cancelled;
– the airport was placed on high security alert, with the National Key Points Act being activated;

– members of the Israeli ‘hasbara’ group had to be escorted through back entrances and under disguises. None were able to walk freely into the public area of the terminal sporting any Israeli paraphernalia.

SASCO and the Young Communist League, who had called for its members to be present at the airport, creatively bypassed all the obstacles put in place to limit any actions. SASCO had a 50 person strong team deployed from 06h00 at strategic points in the arrivals terminal of the airport. SASCO members were instructed to converge in pickets if the local hosts had made any attempts to welcome their Israeli counterparts.

On hearing that the Israeli delegation had to “come in like spies,” SASCO and YCL students rejoiced outside the international arrivals terminal. Joined by students from Wits University and the University of Johannesburg, the group simultaneously revealed red T-shirts (under their jackets) stencilled with various bold messages, including “Israeli apartheid unwelcome!”; “Israeli war criminals unwelcome!”; and “Israel guilty of war crimes”. They carried hand-crafted posters with similar messages and chanted in celebration.

Themba Masondo, a student at Wits University addressed the crowd: “Today we have made clear to these Israeli propagandists and indeed any supporters of Israeli apartheid that this agenda is not welcome in South Africa. We will protest. We will boycott. And we will call on our prosecuting authorities to arrest those involved in Israeli war crimes. . . [W]e are many, our cause is just and we will win.”

The visiting Israeli delegation advertises to be a group of students wanting to dialogue, however the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Working Group (a Johannesburg based organization) challenged this framing and revealed at a press conference last week Thursday that most of the Israeli delegates were not in fact students but part of an Israeli government trained PR group. For example, they showed that two of the Israeli student delegates claiming to be students worked at the Israeli parliament. One is a deputy spokesperson and another is an official policy advisor.

(Hat tip Graber)


In ’77, ‘Time’ openly questioned military aid to Israel

Aug 13, 2011


This is so last century. Check out Time Magazine in 1977 getting down and dirty with Israel over weapons manufacturing. ‘Unique relationship showing strains’ ‘U.S. decides to reduce massive military aid to Israel, hoping  to press Jerusalem peace negotiations’ ‘Washington convinced Israel has more sophisticated equipment than it needs’, and that’s just part of the intro. Fair use prevents us from copying more than a smidgen of this chock-full 3 page article but go read the whole thing. This kind of forthright journalism about our relationship with Israel is completely missing from our mainstream media today.

This unique relationship has suddenly begun to show strains. For one thing, the U.S. has decided to reduce massive military aid to Israel, hoping thereby to press Jerusalem into productive peace negotiations with the Arabs. Beyond that, Washington is also convinced that Israel now has more sophisticated equipment than it really needs.

That approach coincides with a subtle campaign of criticism against Israel by some U.S. arms manufacturers who once were among its staunchest friends. The American companies, restive under export restrictions imposed at home, are resentful of competition from Israel’s burgeoning arms industry. In the past few weeks, operating on tips, several columnists and trade publications have accused the Israelis of stealing U.S. technology and “reinventing” it in made-in-Israel weapons.

Moreover, they charge that Israel is selling this modified equipment to third nations, including certain countries with which U.S. companies are barred by law from doing business. One case was the purchase by Honduras last year of eight French-built Mystère fighters, which the Israelis had equipped with U.S. jet engines. A more serious complaint comes from Raytheon Co., which accuses the Israelis of scavenging an air-to-air missile called Shafrir out of Raytheon’s Sidewinder—specifically, by stealing Sidewinder’s infra-red guidance system —and then selling it to Chile.

In an interview with TIME’s Donald Neff and David Halevy in Tel Aviv last week, Defense Minister Shimon Peres insisted that Israel’s arms practices were entirely proper. The Mystère sale to Honduras was an honest mistake, he claimed. Israel had paid cash for the engines, the planes were obsolete, and no one expected the U.S. to protest such a sale. The Shafrir, he explained, was developed and used in combat three years before Israel saw its first Sidewinder.

“The only American piece of equipment in the Shafrir is a small battery that you can buy on the open market. Had we known it would cause problems, we would have used our own.” In any case, the Israelis argue —and U.S. experts agree—that the Shafrir is actually a better weapon than the Sidewinder, principally because it uses a bigger warhead and a longer-burning propellant charge.

Deadly Bastard. Arms for export have rapidly become a mainstay of the Israeli economy. Sales abroad have jumped from $38 million in 1970 to $340 million last year (v. $12 billion U.S. sales), and now represent 45% of Israel’s arms output; this year the total is expected to reach $450 million. Israel deals with at least 16 client nations, including South Africa, Taiwan, Kenya and Greece, whose purchases range from the small but efficient Uzi submachine gun and Galil assault rifle (based on the Soviet AK-47 rifle) to the battle-tested Gabriel surface-to-surface missile. Exports may climb far higher if the Israelis market, at $4.2 million a copy, their new Kfir C-2 fighter, a deadly bastard sired from a French Mirage airframe and a U.S. General Electric J-79 engine.

(Hat tip Kate)

Outside intervention

Aug 13, 2011


Color me surprised. I’ve been following I/P for a few years but this is the first time I’ve ever heard a Palestinian initiative to replace Israeli occupation forces with NATO troops under US control, although I’ve thought about it. Wouldn’t this amount to NATO protecting Palestinians from settlers and other Israelis? Will we be reading more about this?

Ma’an News

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told visiting US Congressmen on Thursday that the security of the future Palestinian state will be handed to NATO under US command, his adviser said Friday.

The Palestinian state must also be “empty of [Israeli] settlements,” the President said, according to official Palestinian Authority news agency WAFA.

Members of the US Congress and Senate delegation, headed by Democrat Senator Steny Hoyer, met with the President in Ramallah on Thursday, and quizzed Abbas on Israel’s designation as a Jewish state, the status of refugees, and reconciliation between the President’s Fatah party and rival Hamas, Presidential adviser Nimir Hamad said


In September 2010, Abbas had outlined the government’s acceptance of international forces from NATO or similar to the UNIFIL force operating in southern Lebanon playing a role in Palestinian security, as long as forces did not include one single Israeli, whether from the civilian population or the military.

Not “one single Israeli”. hmm.


‘Atlantic’ writer admits she knocked Joe Sacco’s Gaza book out of deserved place on top-10 list out of fear of ‘polarizing’

Aug 13, 2011

Philip Weiss

This is disturbing. Kirstin Butler just wrote a wrapup of her favorite “Comic Books as Journalism: 10 Masterpieces of Graphic Non-Fiction” for the Atlantic. The commenters then asked, where’s Joe Sacco’s book, Footnotes in Gaza?

And Butler jumps into the Comments, here:

“You guys are right–I almost included Footnotes in Gaza but chickened out at the last moment because the topic is so polarizing. I was already expecting heat from rank-and-file fanboys/girls about the overall list and didn’t want to brave the Palestine question as well.”

Joe Sacco wrote a beautiful important book about a central issue in Middle East history. My question to Butler. What is the function of journalism?

REALnews tackles equality in J14 movement

Aug 13, 2011


Congressional photo op

Aug 13, 2011

Philip Weiss

Photo from the Israeli Embassy of that congressional junket to Israel. These are Dems, I figure; that’s Steny Hoyer, seated, with Shimon Peres.

Peres HoyerCongress


It’s apartheid, declares an investment banker/CFR member who’s an ‘ardent supporter of Israel’

Aug 13, 2011

Philip Weiss

I think this is it. An important shift inside the Establishment: Here is Stephen Robert,investment banker and Council on Foreign Relations member and former vice chancellor of Brown University, writing in the Nation in shock and anger about seeing “apartheid on steroids.”

I remember when Charney Bromberg came back from Israel and Palestine a year or so back and used the apartheid word at Columbia University. Well, anyone who sees what’s going on there has to want to resort to that word. And Terry Gross clubbed Jimmy Carter for using that word, on her radio show; and Ian Lustick withdrew from an event that I attended at the University of Pennsylvania because that word was in the headline of the event. And of course Palestinians have been calling it apartheid for a long time; and myself, I tend to use Jim Crow because it’s American and less threatening. Well, kudos to the Nation, they’ve broken a taboo.

(Robert wants the Obama administration to get the two-state solution now. The question is, What’s the chance of that? What’s the governing reality of Israel and Palestine, and how much more of this disgusting oppression must people observe before they walk away talking about human rights and democracy?)

But here’s Robert:

I’ve made five additional visits to Israel since 1962, the last this summer as part of a humanitarian aid trip to East Jerusalem and the West Bank. As a Jew who has been an ardent supporter of Israel since its independence, it pains me to record what I saw there. But it is my love for Israel and for the Jewish people that drives me to speak out at this treacherous time.

What I witnessed in the West Bank—home to about 2.5 million Palestinians and 400,000 Israeli settlers—exceeded my worst expectations.

While the world’s statesmen have dithered, Israel has created a system of apartheid on steroids, a horrifying prison with concrete walls as high as twenty-six feet, topped with body-ravaging coils of razor wire. Spaced along these walls are imposing guard towers that harbor bunkers from which trespassers can be shot by Israeli soldiers. From this physical segregation—one land for Israelis; another, unequal land for Palestinians—flows a torrent of misery, violence and human rights abuses.

The West Bank suffers from acute shortages of water, housing, jobs and healthcare. Palestinian children are separated from their parents, denied access to hospitals and stoned and beaten by Jewish settlers. Human rights sanctioned by international law, including the right to health, the prohibition on transferring populations into occupied territoriesand equality before the law are routinely violated….

How can Jews, who have been persecuted for centuries, tolerate this inhumanity? Where is their moral compass? How can this situation be acceptable to Judaism’s spiritual and political leaders? I don’t have that answer; except to say that Israel’s biggest enemy has become itself.


The Arab Spring should make it abundantly clear that the Jewish state is on the wrong side of history. When, exactly, the tipping point will come is not predictable….

With respect to fairness, the Israelis have done very well. Before the 1947 partition, the Jewish community owned only 6 percent of the land and comprised 35 percent of the population. The UN partition awarded them 55 percent of the land. The Palestinians, who had owned 94 percent of the land, were awarded 45 percent in the partition; Jerusalem was to be put under international supervision.

After the 1948 war, however, the armistice line allocated Israel 78 percent of the land. Now many in the international community are advocating a return to those borders (with some land swaps) as a pillar of a peace agreement. Israel should be rejoicing under these terms, since they would receive 78 percent of the land available in 1947. An investment banker much of my adult life, I’d take this deal in a heartbeat.


Zionist seeks to wrap all Jews in the nationalist flag

Aug 13, 2011

Philip Weiss

Andrew Sullivan is great. He knows that Zionism represents one of the greatest challenges in history right now; he is surely opposed to it at a deep level. He has surely come to understand that as Communism was exposed for a failure in the 50’s, Zionism has long since reached that moment and only the American Establishment is hanging on this time. But he has to do this work gently. So here’s Sullivan’s quote of the day (thanks to Voskamp):

“There is only one solution to this enigma: it is not that the US fundamentalists have changed, it is that Zionism itself has paradoxically come to adopt some antisemitic logic in its hatred of Jews who do not fully identify with the politics of the state of Israel. Their target, the figure of the Jew who doubts the Zionist project, is constructed in the same way as the European antisemites constructed the figures of the Jew – he is dangerous because he lives among us, but is not really one of us,” – Slavoj Žižek.

Then, balancing, and saying some people find this a little too much to bear, Sullivan links toMark Gardner, who  justifies Zionism as the great work of Jews, and attacks anti-Zionists as anti-Semites. Truly dangerous statements here, from a Zionist, wrapping all Jews in the nationalist flag:–and notice the special guardianship role to be played by the Israel lobby:

A 2010 survey by Jewish Policy Research examined the real interconnection between Jews and Zionists and Israel; and showed why the border between hatred of Jews, Zionism and Israel can be so porous.

  • 72% of British Jews self-categorise as “Zionists”

  • 82% of British Jews say Israel plays a “central” or “important but not central role in their Jewish identities”

  • 87% of British Jews agree “that Jews are responsible for ensuring ‘the survival of Israel’”

  • 54% of British Jews who do not self-categorise as “Zionists” nevertheless agree “that Jews are responsible for ensuring ‘the survival of Israel”

  • 62% of self-described Zionists agree that Israel should give up land for peace

  • 78% of British Jews believe in a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict

These figures demonstrate the hurt that is caused to ordinary Jews when “anti-Zionists” push their dehumanised and demonised perversions of the word “Zionism”.

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