Dershowitz falsely suggests that Chomsky is against the existence of Israel
Posted: 24 May 2010

In this interview with Jerusalem Post, Dershowitz says that the left wants to revolutionize 1948– end Israel/create one democracy in Israel/Palestine– and that makes his 80 percent case for Israel (80 percent good, that means!) easier. Notice below that he uses strawmen Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky. But both men are for the two-state solution! Chomsky has vestiges of Zionist idealism… And I believe many on the left would accept the existence of Israel if it ceases to be an occupier practicing Jim Crow against an ethnic-religious minority. But  Israel doesn’t seem to want to give up those practices; and, putting on my realist hat, the terrible reality is that it’s one state right now, how do you go about creating a viable Palestinian state? Dershowitz of course notions such a thing. The notions never end, and meanwhile the world gets Kosovo, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan– many other states. Excerpt begins with Dershowitz’s description of a hasbara corps on college campuses, something like Haim Saban’s scheme. Second question gets to his misrepresentations of Finkelstein and Chomsky.

I make what I call the 80 percent case on colleges. I don’t support the settlements, or all Israel’s policies, so I think I do have credibility…. Look , I need help. I want more young people, I want people of color, I want people who are Asian, people who are Latino. I want to broaden the support for Israel. I think it’s very important that the elder generation, what we colloquially call the elders of Zion – me and Irwin Cotler and Elie Wiesel and others of my generation – can’t be the only spokespeople for Israel on university campuses. We need a lot more help from young people and a more diverse group of people. We need more women making the case of Israel.
That’s why I’ve had a proposal for years – although no one has listened to me in Israel – to create a structure for making the 80% case for Israel that is outside the government, that is much like the Bank of Israel, that has independence, that is staffed only by professionals, no political people, that could use people like [author] Amos Oz to make the case for Israel, people who are critical of particular Israeli polices. Their job is not to defend the government of Israel but the State of Israel, to brand it, to make it more widely accepted and better understood. And that would be staffed with young people, people with very diverse backgrounds and targeted to very particular audiences.
Can you win over people from the radical left or is it more about stopping the fringes winning over the mainstream?
No. I’ll tell you a story that will help illustrate it. I spoke at [the University of California at] Irvine about a year ago… before [Israeli Ambassador] Michael Oren was shut down… they tried to shut him down. They shut me down too; they were screaming, but I just spoke over them. You could see that there were three groups in the audience. A group on my left that were wearing blue and white, some of them were wearing kippot, some of them were waving an Israeli flag. There was a group on my right that were wearing Palestinian garb, anti-Israel shirts, and a very large group in the middle.
So I started off by saying, “How many of you identify yourselves as pro-Israel,” hands went up. “How many would identify yourselves as pro-Palestine,” hands went up. “I want to ask the pro-Israel people, how many of you accept a Palestinian state, a non-terrorist state, a demilitarized state living side by side in peace with Israel.” Every hand went up. I said, “I want to now turn to the pro-Palestinians. How many of you would accept a non-settlement, non-expansionist, peaceful state living side by side.” There was some mumbling, some discussion, but not a single hand went up.
I won the debate right at that point with the 800 or 900 in the middle. They understood this was not pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. It was pro-Israel on one side, and anti, anti, anti on the other side. And so you don’t try ever to convert Noam Chomsky or Norman Finkelstein or the extremists on the Left. They won’t listen to reason. You only try to use them in a very non-Kantian way. To use these extremists to help you win over the middle, to win over the hearts and minds of the people who have an open mind.

Your Israel lobby at work: ZOA blasts Obama appointee for saying al-Quds
Posted: 24 May 2010

The Chas Freeman treatment. Go after anyone who sounds like he thinks Arabs are people. I have to believe that this is a sign of unraveling. The Zionist Organization of American is going after a deputy Homeland Security adviser, John Brennan, for using the Arabic name of Jerusalem, al-Quds, in a speech to describe his favorite city. “In the same speech, Brennan also spoke of his time at the American University in Cairo in the 1970s, referring to the common aspirations of his former Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian classmates, including the freedom “to practice our faith freely…” Shocking.
Morton Klein, head of the ZOA:

“John Brennan is yet another hand-picked Obama adviser who shows a distinct animus against Israel and partiality for its enemies. It is unsurprising that, when Barack Obama is advised by people like these, quite apart from the President’s own troubling history of friendships with vicious critics of Israel and having belonged for two decades to an anti-Israel, anti-American black supremacist church, the Obama Administration has ignited major tensions in its relations with Israel while not holding accountable and penalizing the Palestinian Authority (PA) for continuing terrorism and incitement to hatred and murder.”

Gaza extremists target children’s camp
Posted: 24 May 2010

Yes I believe this has to do with occupation and siege, but still, there are intolerant elements inside Gazan society. The Times carries a report from Fares Akram of an attack on a UN children’s camp in Sunday, apparently by Islamic militants, torching property. John Ging blamed extremists. Hamas condemned the attack and says it will investigate.

The agency has been running summer programs for the past five years for about 250,000 children who study in its schools in Gaza. Hamas, the Islamic militant group, has been running its own camps since it took over Gaza in 2007.
In the Hamas camps, strict, bearded men, sometimes waving sticks, teach children the basic tenets of Islam. In the more popular United Nations camps, children’s activities have included painting, singing and swimming.

If Saban bought ‘LA Times,’ Americans wouldn’t hear Ahmad Tibi’s call for equality
Posted: 23 May 2010

The New Yorker’s profile of Haim Saban, the Israeli-American billionaire, quotes Saban as saying that he wanted to buy the Los Angeles Times (and still does) because he “thought it was time that it turn from a pro-Palestinian paper into a balanced paper. During the period of the second intifada, Jews were being killed every day over there, and this paper was publishing images of a Palestinian woman sitting with her dead child, and, on the Israeli side, a destroyed house. I got sick of it.”
From the perspective of Saban, a major donor to the Democratic Party whose greatest concern is protecting Israel, the focus on the LA Times makes sense. Remember, it was the LA Times that published Neve Gordon’s important Op-Ed calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
And now today the LA Times publishes an interview with Israeli-Palestinian Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi, who says that Avigdor Lieberman is a racist, Palestinian citizens of Israel are systematically discriminated against, and that he doesn’t accept Israel as a Jewish state.
Americans need to be hearing voices like this.  If Saban had his way and bought the LA Times, Tibi’s voice, calling for equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, would most likely be squashed.  
Here’s an excerpt from the piece (the questions from reporter Edmund Sanders are in bold):

A recent poll found half of Israeli kids don’t think Arabs should serve in the Knesset. What does that say to you?
There is a continuous delegitimization campaign against us. We are described as betrayers. But I can’t betray something I’m not part of. I’m not part of the army. I’m not part of the Zionist ideology. I’m a victim of Zionism…. It’s inhumane to demand that we be loyal to Zionism or accept Israel as a Jewish state. I can’t accept a definition that strengthens the discrimination against non-Jews in Israel.
You don’t accept Israel as a Jewish state?
I want it to be a state of its own nationalities, and the Arab minority to be recognized as a national minority. Israel is, according to the law, defined as a Jewish and democratic state. But there is a contradiction between the two values. If you are democratic, you should believe in equality. But if you define the nation by a Jewish ethnicity, you are saying any Jewish person is superior to a non-Jewish person.
How you do define yourself?
I’m a Palestinian-Arab citizen of Israel. We are part of the Palestinian people but citizens of Israel.
You gave an impassioned speech in January, acknowledging the Jewish suffering in the Holocaust. It was praised by some as one of the best ever delivered in the Knesset. Were you surprised by the reaction? Did it have any lasting impact on relations?
There was overwhelming positive reaction, most importantly, from Jews and Arabs alike. I said, we as Arabs are listening to your historical suffering and pain. I have empathy. You were victims. Now we [Palestinians] are victims of the victims. I wanted them to try to understand our agony and suffering. Those who have suffered so much in the past should be the first to listen to the pain of a Palestinian woman in Gaza. Yet they are not.

Is Chomsky getting religion on the lobby?
Posted: 23 May 2010

International Middle East Media Center report:

American Professor Noam Chomsky held a meeting on Friday with a senior official of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah party, and discussed several issues regarding the Middle East conflict, Israel and the United States policies.
…Chomsky met with Nabil Qaouk, a senior Hezbollah official in charge of the party in southern Lebanon.
He said that he fears that the Zionist-Christian movement and the Zionist Lobby in the United States are having bigger effects on U.S polices.

Doorstop book by Texas scholar suggests New Historians are bustin out all over
Posted: 23 May 2010

Check out Quicksand: America’s Pursuit of Power in the Middle East (Penguin) by Prof.Geoffrey Wawro of No. Texas State, just released last month. It is 700 pages of the most comprehensive look at US policy in the region going back to the beginning of the last century in which he devotes considerable space to the early Zionist movement, the birth of the state and the power of the lobby going back to Wilson. In his conclusion, Wawro writes that the US has to “break” a lance on behalf of the Palestinians expelled in 1948.
Break a lance? It seems to mean that the US must risk taking remedial action to make up for its “legitimizing”of Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinians in 1948. Wawro demonstrates an understanding of the history that motivates Israel’s actions and the reasoning behind them but does not excuse them.
His both fresh and fair treatment of the subject may be be a harbinger of an onrushing wave of America’s own “new historians” and reflects the ground breaking work of Mearsheimer and Walt whose book is one of its many references. Wawro had access to a number of heretofore unknown British and US military archives which makes this book invaluable to anyone seriously concerned with understanding the Middle East. I will be interviewing him on my radio program this Wednesday. What is interesting is that there are supporting blurbs by both Mearsheimer and Newt Gingrich on the dust jacket. I am sure that Newt didn’t read it because it isn’t kind to those who brought us both wars with Iraq. It is also interesting, thus far, that it is being ignored by the lobby and its stable of book reviewers, no doubt hoping that it will go away. 
Here’s a sample of his viewpoints in this March 24 article questioning the Israel-US relationship, No Better Friend?” America, Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Finkelstein on Morris, on the root cause of the conflict
Posted: 23 May 2010

On Russian tv the other day, debaters Benny Morris and Norman Finkelstein were asked what the root of the conflict is in Israel/Palestine, and Morris said it was Arab resistance to Zionism. “The Arabs didn’t want the Jews to be here… didn’t want to share the land with them.” (As commenters have noted,) Finkelstein said that Morris was wrong, and that his own scholarship shows as much. He didn’t get a chance to go into it on air. And so:
Morris clearly misrepresented what he said in the past. Here are his words: 

“The idea of transferring the Arabs out of the Jewish State area to the Arab state area or to other Arab states was seen as the chief means of assuring the stability and ‘Jewishness’ of the proposed Jewish State” (The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, p. 25, my emphasis).

When you juxtapose this statement beside his other statements, it’s hard not to conclude from Morris’s books that the “root cause of the conflict” (the moderator’s question) was the rational fear of Palestinian Arabs that if Zionisms succeeded they would be made homeless: 

“The fear of territorial displacement and dispossession was to be the chief motor of Arab antagonism to Zionism down to 1948 (and indeed after 1967 as well).” (Righteous Victims, p. 37, my emphasis). 
“[T]ransfer was inevitable and inbuilt into Zionism—because it sought to transform a land which was ‘Arab’ into a ‘Jewish’ state and a Jewish state could not have arisen without a major displacement of Arab population; and because this aim automatically produced resistance among the Arabs which, in turn, persuaded the Yishuv’s leaders that a hostile Arab majority or large minority could not remain in place if a Jewish state was to arise or safely endure” (Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Question Revisited, p. 60, my emphasis).

Morris’s problem recalls Churchill’s. Churchill’s fellow Tory MP Eddie Winterton once said during a House of Commons debate on India that Churchill’s trouble was that he could not “shovel enough earth over his past to obliterate it from human view.”

Recovering from the special relationship is going to involve a lot of historical accusations/confessions
Posted: 23 May 2010

A lot of people are talking about this Chris McGreal piece in the Guardian on Israel’s sales of arms, including nuke materials, to South Africa during apartheid (notwithstanding the fact that a former South African PM they worked with, John Vorster, had been a Nazi sympathizer and fascist-party member during the war). The article is based on Sasha Polakow-Suransky’s new book.
Israel must feel like the walls are closing in these days. Everyone on the left is bashing them, everywhere, for stuff that happened a long time ago. Jeff Blankfort’s post on the big new Geoff Wawro book that says the US must redeem its own bad actions over decades, confirms that. My explanation of the trend is that the expression of long-pent-up negative feelings about the state is finally being licensed in part because of recent atrocities/conditions that are so blatant that only the U.S. establishment and lobby are willing now to ignore them. And the scales are falling from a lot of people’s eyes. I get emails about the refugee situation, the Peel Commission report, partition, etc. all the time. All historical issues. But they feel fresh. Even Jeffrey Goldberg is in the historical reframing mood, asking, Should the Zionists have gotten Bavaria? The west is in recovery from the special relationship and trying to figure out how we got here.
Before long there will be investigative pieces about AIPAC in the New York Times. Well– give that a few years, anyway!

Even Peter Beinart couldn’t say this here
Posted: 23 May 2010

Haaretz is way ahead of the New York Review of Books. Gideon Levy in Haaretz:

Now the false patriots, who speak of nationalism and believe in loyalty, seek to destroy their state’s greatest, most important achievements. They are fed up with democracy. The damage they are causing the country and its image is incomparably greater than the supposed damage caused by all those critics who still remain. One day of phosphorus bombs on Gaza caused more damage to Israel’s image than all the reports by Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem and the Goldstone committee together, and the current campaign to undermine democracy is the most pernicious of all.
To our great misfortune, almost no one remains who will stop them. They seek to create the dream-country of the majority, and have gone a considerable distance toward advancing it. Pay attention to recent events – Not a day goes by without some dangerous draft law, threatening declaration, deportation from Ben-Gurion National Airport, political arrest, police violence, persecution of foreigners, judicial discrimination or incitement against any would-be critics.
To expel, destroy, punish, arrest, silence and make illegal: One half of the country undermines the fragile fabric of the government, while the other half remains silent. And who is considered the enemy of the people? Those who dare to criticize this state of affairs.

And in a great column I have failed to cite, Bradley Burston said that Israel is slipping toward fascism, and dragging American Jews with it:

There will be those who argue that the fact that I, or my Haaretz colleagues, are allowed to publish what we do, is proof that there is no fascism here, nor evidence of a police state
The fact is that were we not Israeli Jews, and part of an establishment institution, any of us could find ourselves tossed out on the same pavement, and with the same lack of due process and due explanation, as Noam Chomsky….
 In San Francisco, the canary in the coal mine of free discourse within the Jewish community, the Jewish Federation [JCF] recently revised and tightened the terms under which it agrees to grant funds to organizations.
“The JCF does not fund organizations that through their mission, activities or partnerships … advocate for, or endorse, undermining the legitimacy of Israel as a secure independent, democratic Jewish state, including through participation in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, in whole or in part.”
….Because of Israel, have Bay Area Jews who do not believe in a specifically Jewish state, now forfeited their right to be part of the Jewish community?

UPDATE: Second mistake I made today: I originally attributed to Levy a quote that did not appear in the piece, but a friend’s interpretation of the piece. Inexcusable. Sloppy. Poor impulse control. Apologies.

Boycott racial profiling in Arizona now
Posted: 23 May 2010

A number of students from Wayne State University in Michigan went out to Israel and Palestine to study the issue. This article doesn’t say how many, but one got turned back, guess who?

One of the students, U.S.-born Abeer Afana, 20, said she was interrogated by security for several hours and placed on a plane back home because her parents are from the Gaza Strip and she once held a Palestinian passport.
The U.S. State Department warns that U.S. travelers with Arab or Muslim origin may face additional questioning “or may even be denied entry into Israel.”
Monday, as her classmates began their monthlong study in Israel, Afana was home in Novi [MI] — frustrated and exhausted


Leave a Reply

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