Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


‘If we lived in any other country we’d be honored for this work’ -prisoner Ghassan Elashi of Holy Land Foundation

Dec 13, 2011

Allison Deger

noor elashi 1
(Photo: Bud Korotzer/NLN)

Ghassan Elashi is one of approximately 80 prisoners in federal Communication Management Units. This article by his daughter Noor Elashi, “The Holy Land Five Appeal: My Father Will Not be Forgotten,” was originally published in CounterPunch yesterday:

Exactly three days following the tenth anniversary of the Bush administration shutting down the largest Muslim charity in the United States, the Fifth Circuit Court dismissed the appeal for the Holy Land Foundation case, affirming the conviction of my father, the co-founder of the HLF who’s serving a 65-year sentence for his humanitarian work.

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, the three-judge panel, based in New Orleans, filed their opinion, concluding that “the district court did not clearly err.”

Upon hearing this news, it initially all rushed back to me at once, nostalgia on overdrive. I saw the relentless accusations by pro-Israeli lobby groups, the pressure by pro-Israeli politicians and the defamatory news reports in the 1990’s. I saw the raid on the HLF in 2001, the pre-sunrise arrests and “material support” charges in 2004, the first trial and hung jury in 2007, the second trial and guilty verdicts in 2008, the sentencing in 2009. I saw the plethora of prison phone calls and visitations. And finally, I saw my father being transferred in 2010 to the Southern Illinois city of Marion’s Communications Management Unit—what The Nation has called “Gitmo in the Heartland”—and where my father’s significantly diminished phone calls and visitations are scheduled in advance and live-monitored from Washington D.C.

The case of the Holy Land Five comes down to this: American foreign policy has long been openly favorable towards Israel, and therefore, an American charity established primarily for easing the plight of the Palestinians became an ultimate target. As my father said during our 15-minute phone call on Thursday, “The politics of this country are not on our side. If we had been anywhere else, we would’ve been honored for our work.”

This month could have marked a milestone. The leaders of our country could have learned from our past. The day the towers fell could have been a time to stop fear from dominating reason instead of a basis to prosecute. The HLF would have continued to triumph, providing relief to Palestinians and other populations worldwide in the form of food, clothing, wheelchairs, ambulances, furniture for destroyed homes, back-to-school projects and orphan sponsorship programs. And more notably, my father would not have been incarcerated. My family and I would have been able to call him freely and embrace him without a plexiglass wall.
Yet my father was charged under the ambiguous Material Support Statute with sending humanitarian aid to Palestinian distribution centers known as zakat committees that prosecutors claimed were fronts for Hamas. He was prosecuted despite the fact that USAID—an American government agency—and many other NGO’s were providing charity to the very same zakat committees. Instead of the Fifth Circuit Court taking this fact into account and transcending the politics of our time, the language used in the opinion, drafted by Judge Carolyn King, echoed that of the prosecutors:

“The social wing is crucial to Hamas’s success because, through its operation of schools, hospitals, and sporting facilities, it helps Hamas win the ‘hearts and minds’ of Palestinians while promoting its anti-Israel agenda and indoctrinating the populace in its ideology.”

Even more disappointing is the Fifth Circuit Court’s opinion regarding one of the main issues in the appeal: The testimony of the prosecution’s expert witness, an Israeli intelligence officer who, for the first time in U.S. history, was permitted to testify under a pseudonym. The opinion states:

“When the national security and safety concerns are balanced against the defendants’ ability to conduct meaningful cross-examination, the scale tips in favor of maintaining the secrecy of the witnesses’ names.”

I refuse to let this language bring me down, especially knowing that the battle for justice continues. In the next few weeks, defense attorneys plan to ask the entire panel of appellate judges to re-hear the case, and if that petition is denied, they will take it to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, my father waits in prison. This Thursday, when I spoke to him, it had been the first time in several weeks since he received a phone call ban for writing his name on a yoga mat, which prison officials saw as “destruction of government property.” I told him that during the tenth anniversary of the HLF shutting down, the name of the charity is still alive and that he will not be forgotten. My father is my pillar, whose high spirits transcend all barbed-wire-topped fences, whose time in prison did not stifle his passion for human rights. In fact, when I asked him about the first thing he’ll do when he’s released, my father said, “I would walk all the way to Richardson, Texas carrying a sign that says, ‘End the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.’ “

Noor Elashi is a writer based in New York City. She holds a Creative Writing MFA from The New School.

JNF board member resigns over eviction of Palestinian family in Silwan

Dec 13, 2011

Adam Horowitz

Protesters opposing the eviction of the Sumarin family. (Photo: Activestills)

Seth Morrison writes in the Forward about his decision to resign from the Jewish National Fund board, and sever all ties with the organization, over the eviction of the Sumarin family in Silwan:

This fall, a subsidiary of the Israeli branch of JNF launched eviction proceedings against the Sumarin family, who live in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Under Israel’s controversial “Absentee Property Law,” the state may reclaim homes whose owners were not present in 1967, when Israel took control of East Jerusalem. In the case of the Sumarin family, the children of the original owner, Musa Sumarin, were declared absentees after his death even though there were other family members living in the home at the time. In 1991, the Israeli government took the step of transferring the property to the JNF subsidiary.

I have learned that the action on the Sumarin home is not an isolated case. JNF has gained ownership of other Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and, in many instances, then transferred these properties through its subsidiaries to Elad, a settler organization whose purpose is to “Judaize” East Jerusalem.

In my eyes, the expulsion of the Sumarin family is a violation of human rights. But it is also part of the systematic transfer of Palestinian property to ideological settlers who wish to put facts on the ground that hinder a lasting peace agreement.

A few days before the proposed eviction, Rabbis for Human Rights – North America, in partnership with its counterpart in Israel, asked American Jews to write to the CEO of JNF requesting that he stop the eviction. More than 1,300 people responded. I believe that, like me, these writers felt deeply betrayed that the organization many of us have supported since our childhood would act in such unjust ways.

JNF’s initial response was to deny any involvement in the eviction. When legal papers that name a subsidiary of JNF as the initiator of the proceedings became public, the organization decided to postpone the eviction.

I hope that JNF will decide to cancel this eviction for good, and to refrain from pursuing additional such evictions. But I felt I had to resign now because senior people at JNF made clear to me that they still plan to get the Sumarin family out and transfer the property to Elad.

I have always supported Israel through organizations like JNF because I believe that the Jewish people have the right to a secure, democratic and peaceful homeland in Israel. And I strongly believe that the Palestinian people have the right to a secure, democratic and peaceful homeland in a neighboring Palestinian state. By supporting right-wing settlers in “Judaizing” Palestinian neighborhoods, JNF makes this vision harder to achieve. I fear that such actions endanger Israel’s future as a secure and democratic state.

‘One of the most disturbing days I have ever experienced’: An eyewitness account of the Israeli attack on Mustafa Tamimi’s funeral

Dec 13, 2011

Holly Rigby

Israeli soliders attacking mourners (Photo: Holly Rigby)

The following is an eyewitness account of Mustafa Tamimi’s funeral procession on Sunday. It is from a longer post on  Holly Rigby’s blog Carbonating Change:

This has been one of the darkest and most disturbing days I have ever had to experience. The funeral of Mustafa Tamimi, murdered by the Israeli military at a demonstration at Nabi Saleh on Friday, ended with the military shooting endless rounds of the teargas canisters that killed Mustafa at unarmed mourners, beating and arresting people with impunity as they walked across Nabi Saleh village after the funeral.

I had heard many times of Palestinians murdered by the military, but since being here the Palestinian struggle has become my struggle – when Mustafa died I felt my heart breaking at this unnecessary and cruel loss of life, and wept last night as if he were my own.

Around 200 people marched through the streets of Ramallah this morning carrying Mustafa’s body, wrapped in a Palestinian flag with a kuffieyeh to cover his head. As his body was laid in the ambulance, we got into a service to follow it to the village. On the way there, I called an activist friend of mine to let her know where we were going, and she warned me to be careful. I assured her that there was surely no way that the military would be able to unashamedly devastate the funeral of a young man with violence. I now realise just how naive that was, and how deeply I underestimated the savagery of the Israeli army.

By the time we arrived in the village of Nabi Saleh, there were more than 2000 people who had joined the funeral procession, the men carrying his body above their heads with cries of ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘God is Great’) and the chilling howls of the village women calling Mustafa’s name echoing through the tiny village streets.

We saw Mustafa’s sister walking distraught but defiant, with tears wracking her face, and his father being held by both arms by men around him, almost unable to walk, crippled by his grief. This was the death of a martyr for the Palestinian struggle, and the devastating effects of his death could be seen in every face I turned to.

His body was carried through the streets to his home for a final goodbye, to the mosque where the funeral prayers were spoken, and then eventually to the grave overlooking the beautiful Palestinian valleys on the outskirts of the village. My flatmate wanted to say some prayers for Mustafa so we walked back towards the mosque, but when we returned to the cemetery I was surprised to see the mourners had dispersed, when suddenly I recognised the acrid smell of tear gas fill my nose and my stomach turned as I realised what was taking place.

As I sprinted down the rocky terrain towards the entrance of the village, I saw elderly women and children running back up the other way, their faces blotchy and red with burning tears, doubled over and wretching as they tried to move away from where the army was firing. Unarmed mourners who only moments before had been grieving tears for their lost son, were now being attacked by the Israeli army with round after round of tear gas and being sprayed with skunk water, a foul smelling liquid unlike any waste sewage you have ever smelt.

As I moved closer to the protesters, I asked what had happened and they explained that the ten Israeli army jeeps I could see in the distance had arrived during the funeral, and were placed there to taunt and goad this grieving village. In the distance I could see the young men throwing stones at the army vehicles, a symbolic gesture expressing their deep anger against the death of their brother and against this cruel and twisted occupation.

Suddenly, I heard a loud crack and all around me the silver tear gas canisters that had killed Mustafa were being shot directly at where I was standing with other activists from ISM, and we ran up the road through clouds of billowing tear gas smoke, desperately trying to avoid the path of these silver bullet-like objects.

We were called up the road by a Palestinian from the village and he pointed down the hill to the east of the village where another unit of Israeli soldiers were standing languidly at the bottom – waiting, goading, intimidating – knowing that the Palestinians would not stand by as another group of soldiers occupied their land on this day. We ran down the rocky slope where at the bottom the women who earlier had been sobbing and lamenting the death of Mustafa were now screaming into the faces of these soldiers, holding his picture to their faces and demanding to know which one of them had killed their brother.

As I stood taking photographs of this painful scene, time suddenly collapsed into itself when I saw one of the soldiers smirk and tear the poster of Mustafa from a woman’s hands and rip it into pieces at the same moment a sound bomb exploded next to me, quickly followed by a tear gas canister that had been thrown and detonated at my feet. My face, my head, my mouth, my whole body was suddenly filled with tear gas and I ran away blindly as my face scorched from the gas and I felt like my head was going to explode on itself. I couldn’t breathe nor see nor think of anything apart from the burning that filled my lungs and head, and in the panic and confusion I ran as fast as I could from the canister.

But no demonstration I have attended here could have prepared me for the scene that was unfolding when I finally managed to regain my balance and ran back up the road to where the soldiers and Palestinians had gathered.

Israeli soldiers were savagely beating anybody within their vicinity, three or four soldiers at a time grabbing men and throwing them to the floor, kicking them violently and stamping on their heads. As I stood back from the scene taking photographs, a soldier suddenly lunged towards us entirely unprovoked and threw one of the ISM activists I was with against the barrier of the road, doubling him over it as his body crashed to the ground. I screamed in his face “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING YOU ANIMALS,” and he shoved me out the way and turned back to the group of soldiers that had amassed to join in the violent spree.

As they tried to arrest more and more people the group of strong and defiant Palestinian women we were with threw their bodies over the men they were trying to drag away, and the soldiers began dragging these women by their hijabs, their clothes, wringing the necks of the men who were under this pile of women and trying to pull them from underneath. Covering and protecting the bodies of those trying to be arrested, the women were screaming so loudly for the soldiers to stop and this sound pierced my heart more deeply than any sound bomb could ever have done.

As I stood a few paces back from what was happening, my whole body was wracked with uncontrollable sobs as I helplessly looked on as the scene unfolded. Never in my life have I felt more powerless, weak and unable to do anything to intervene in the horrific scene that was playing out in front of my very eyes. The soldiers there were like savages, no remorse in their faces as their murderous hands grabbed and pulled the bodies of these innocent people who had come that day to mourn the loss of their brother.

After arresting three and beating many more, the group was forced to retreat back up the hill we had come from, running from the soldiers as they fired round after round of tear gas after us. A tear gas bomb exploded directly at the feet of one of the protesters, and inhaling the thick plumes of smoke, he began suffocating and collapsed on the ground. As people gathered around him trying to help him, the soldiers who were watching what was happening started firing tear gas directly at the group that was helping the unconscious man, and they were forced to drag his body up the hill to escape.

We spent the next twenty minutes dodging tear gas as we made our way back up the hill, until eventually things began to calm so we made our way back to where the protest had begun originally, and the violence there too had dissipated.

As we sat in the service on the way back to Ramallah, I came to understand what the word ‘shell shocked’ really means. My mind was almost numb as we drove through the Palestinian valleys, unable to truly comprehend the things I had seen. It was only when I got back to my flat and recounted what had happened to my anxious flatmates that all my anger and distress bubbled to the surface once again, and I sobbed uncontrollably as I tried to understand what I had just experienced.

Knowing that this level of violence is what the Palestinian people have experienced for 64 years, almost powerless against the brutal, mechanised force of a murdering Israeli army, serves to only more deeply cement my hatred for the Israeli military and the terrible things they inflict on the wonderful people I have spent the last three months with. Its difficult to put into words the grief and humiliated anger that I feel as I sit here writing this, and yet I still cannot believe that the Palestinians are so strong and defiant against this savage, repressive force.

The injustice of the occupation courses through my veins, and I cannot begin to get my head around the mentality that would allow the Israeli soldiers to act as they did today. As one of my flatmates said, the Israeli military has no respect for the living, so why would we think they would have even an ounce of respect for the dead? What I saw today was humanity at its very worst, savagery that I did not think possible. Yet still knowing that this is only scratching the surface of the suffering experienced by Palestinians as they try to defend their lives, their lands and their homes hurts me more deeply than anything I have experienced in my life.

This is not propaganda. This is not my opinion. This is an account of a terrible scene that should only reinforce how destructive and cruel this occupation really is. Those who try to explain or justify the behaviour of the Israeli army are as complicit in these actions as the soldiers perpetrating these terrible crimes. Silence is compliance – I will not be silenced.

I was Mustafa Tamimi

Dec 13, 2011

Refaat Alareer

Fifteen years ago I was Mustafa Tamimi. Two months before that it was a relative who had his skull smashed by an explosive bullet from an Israeli sniper. Later that same week another neighbor lost his eye. Before and since then, the same situation has been repeating itself again and again: an armored jeep, a soldier armed to teeth, a tiny figure of mere flesh and bones, and a stone smeared with blood on the side of the road. That’s the saga of Palestine. That’s our tale, full of injustice and oppression, whose hero struts and frets and whoever gets in his way is doomed. But we get in his way anyway.

The shooting of Mustafa Tamimi, Dec. 9, 2011

The pain the two rubber-coated bullets caused I can’t feel now. They do not hurt. But the grinning face of the Rambo-like Israeli soldier still does. I was mature enough then to realize that those were enemies, our enemies who are messing up everything in our lives. (I did not need anyone to teach me that by the way because I have eyes that see and ears that hear). Never had I thought then that those soldiers were sometimes doing the occupation thing for ‘merry sport’. Despite the glaring gazes, the frowns that left their faces wrinkled and the beatings some of my friends and I had for just being there, I had the impression that the Israeli soldiers who hit a Palestinian boy spent their nights mooning about what they did. They apparently did not. And that grin was the proof. And Mustafa Tamimi’s the most recent walking (had not he been put down) evidence.

Yet, I blame Mustafa.

Yes, he is to blame. He is to blame for believing deep in his heart that those trigger-happy soldiers may not shoot directly at him and if they do they might not shoot to kill. He is to blame for not armoring his body with shields of steel. He is to blame for fighting for his rights. 10 thousand dead Palestinians in the past ten years or so prove without doubt that when Israeli soldiers shoot they shoot to kill and when they aim, they aim to hit. And yet again, not once have we heard of a Palestinian quitting his struggle for independence and human rights for that reason. Instead, anger, protests, resistance, and determination would grow day by day and hour by hour. In doing so, Israel seems to be pushing the Palestinians yet again towards a corner whose options are very limited and whose consequences might be devastatingly harmful for both sides.

No peaceful protests. So?

Israel’s aggression against the peaceful protesters in the West Bank (particularly in Nilin, Bilin, and Nabi Saleh) that culminated in the killing of Mustafa Tamimi is but a powerful expression of Israel’s policy: even peaceful demos are not welcome and are to be met with force and fire. That obviously leaves the doors wide open for Palestinians to think of other possible ways to inflict pain as a reaction to the barbarity of an army that insists on turning a deaf ear to the pleas of the people whose lands, and fields, and properties and houses are being destroyed and/or seized and confiscated forever. That rings a bell?

That reminds us of the projectile of the first and the second intifada.

The Palestinian Intifadas did not start one day out of the blue with the next day Palestinian resistance groups throwing homemade rockets at settlements and Israeli towns. Ten years ago not one single Palestinian (not even those with the wildest imagination) could have foreseen that certain kinds of rockets will be used in the struggle. But Israel made it possible. By crushing stone throwers, Israel was, albeit not directly, saying to the Palestinians, “you better think of other weapons”. And Palestinians did.

Therefore, the two intifadas developed not according to the laws of necessity and inevitability or in regards to a certain theory of evolution: a stone, a Molotov cocktail, a gun and then homemade rockets. Israel developed it. As we were throwing stones, thinking that would deter and curb the ills and evils of the occupation, Israel was growing fiercer and fiercer: evolving from shooting to injure, to Rabin’s bone-smashing policy, to shooting to kill, to collective destruction, to mass killings.

A third Intifada is looming in the horizon, I believe. We can see it in the sparks coming out of the barrels of Israeli automatic guns. We can see it in the lifeless, yet full of life, body of Mustafa Tamimi. We can see it in the grins of the soldiers, who while shooting at Palestinians, intend to kill. It is Israel that is making the third intifada inevitable.

Refaat Alareer is a young academic and writer from Gaza who blogs at piece appeared first on the International Solidarity Movement site. You may follow him on twitter at @ThisisGazaVoice

David Remnick erases Norman Finkelstein

Dec 13, 2011

Philip Weiss

Eshelman Finkelstein 05
Norman Finkelstein (Photo: OR Books)

Yesterday I praised David Remnick for his story about Joan Peters’s 1984 book of propaganda that said that there were no Palestinians in Palestine till Jews got there. And I barely touched on a curious aspect of his piece that many commenters then seized on: Remnick left out Norman Finkelstein’s role in exposing the fraud; he gave credit to an Israeli:

The book was thoroughly discredited by an Israeli historian, Yehoshua Porath, and many others who dismantled its pseudo-scholarship.

Remnick’s link was to Porath’s 1986 review of the book, From Time Immemorial, in the New York Review of Books.

This is a misrepresentation of intellectual history. The story of Norman Finkelstein’s exposure of Joan Peters is one of the great intellectual whodunnits of the Israel-Palestine issue. Finkelstein’s career began with this undertaking, which long preceded Porath’s– in fact, Porath actually cites Finkelstein’swork in his footnotes.

The story began in spring 1984 with the publication of Peters’s book. At that time Finkelstein, who is the son of concentration-camp survivors, was a 30-year-old graduate student at Princeton, lately disaffected from Maoism. He had decided to do his dissertation on Zionism and read the Peters book because everyone was talking about it. He quickly sensed something off about its method.

For much of that spring he lay on his bed tearing the book apart with a pencil– it looked like it had been in a “blender,” he later recounted. When he established glaring internal contradictions in Peters’s data, he did what any scholar did: he called his mother late at night to crow. He first contacted Peters in June 1984; and subsequent editions of the book were amended to reflect some of his early criticisms.

Anyone who knows Finkelstein knows that he was not finished. “I invested two years of my life in this endeavor,” he told me by phone. “My late mother wanted to throttle me. She said, ‘When are you going to finish your dissertation?’ But I was like Captain Ahab.”

By December 1984, he sent out a manuscript to two dozen senior scholars. Only one responded. The phone rang on Saturday morning. It was Noam Chomsky.

Here is Chomsky telling the story:

[The book] was the big intellectual hit for that year: Saul Bellow, Barbara Tuchman, everybody was talking about it as the greatest thing since chocolate cake.Well, one graduate student at Princeton, a guy named Norman Finkelstein, started reading through the book. He was interested in the history of Zionism, and as he read the book he was kind of surprised by some of the things it said. He’s a very careful student, and he started checking the references—and it turned out that the whole thing was a hoax, it was completely faked: probably it had been put together by some intelligence agency or something like that. Well, Finkelstein wrote up a short paper of just preliminary findings, it was about twenty-five pages or so, and he sent it around to I think thirty people who were interested in the topic, scholars in the field and so on, saying: “Here’s what I’ve found in this book, do you think it’s worth pursuing?”

Well, he got back one answer, from me. I told him, yeah, I think it’s an interesting topic, but I warned him, if you follow this, you’re going to get in trouble—because you’re going to expose the American intellectual community as a gang of frauds, and they are not going to like it, and they’re going to destroy you. So I said: if you want to do it, go ahead, but be aware of what you’re getting into. It’s an important issue, it makes a big difference whether you eliminate the moral basis for driving out a population—it’s preparing the basis for some real horrors—so a lot of people’s lives could be at stake. But your life is at stake too, I told him, because if you pursue this, your career is going to be ruined.

Well, he didn’t believe me.

Finkelstein’s partial analysis was published in In These Times in September 1985. As I said, Porath would cite this piece several months later, when his own piece was published in the New York Review.

And when Anthony Lewis published a piece on the scandal in the New York Times in 1986– with the famous title, “There were no Indians”–he also gave credit where credit was due.

It is impossible to detail the character of ”From Time Immemorial” in a newspaper column. It has been fully explored in criticisms by, among others, Norman Finkelstein, a Princeton graduate student; Bill Farrell, a Columbia law student; Sir Ian Gilmour, a British M.P., and his son David, and Albert Hourani, an Oxford historian who called the book ”ludicrous and worthless.’

The criticisms are unanswerable, or at least they have not been answered.

The late Edward Said also centrally credited Finkelstein in a chapter on Peters’s claims:

In what I shall now relate… if I speak more about Finkelstein [than other critics of Peters’s scholarship] it is to note his amazing persistence despite odds that would have deterred almost anyone else.

Finkelstein’s place as the unmasker of Joan Peters was cemented when he published Image and Reality in the Israel-Palestine Conflict in 1995. The book, a classic among Israel’s critics, printed his full paper on Peters; and the footnotes chronicled his efforts to publish it and Peters’s feckless responses to it. In that chapter Finkelstein credited Porath “the noted Israeli scholar,” for his work on the case.

Finkelstein’s role is common knowledge. When the Canadian journalist Jeet Heer wrote to me about Remnick’s elision yesterday, I asked him that very question: How did you know of Finkelstein’s role?

Heer explained, and then offered a wise conclusion on the case:

I think Christopher Hitchens and Alex Cockburn wrote about it in the Nation, and they relied heavily on Finkelstein (who they cited.) There was also a big piece by Anthony Lewis in the NY Times… Anyway, at the time it was very clear that Finkelstein was the one who really nailed the factual case against Peters  — I didn’t hear about other critics like Porath till later. So clearly Remnick was thinking of Finkelstein when he wrote “and many others” (which is itself untrue, since there weren’t that many others who challenged Peters).

As for why Remnick can’t give credit to Finkelstein — again, this is surmise but given Remnick’s stance he probably thinks of Finkelstein as a dangerously anti-Zionist radical and outside the pale of respectable society. So in order to make the point (and maybe with his audience in mind) Remnick cited “an Israeli historian” — i.e. someone who can be trusted.

It’s sad that Finkelstein won’t get credit for this (or his other great work). But that’s the way it often is — it’s the radicals who change how we think, but often mainstream society can’t acknowledge their work because they were discreditable. It’s the way that communists and socialists championed civil rights in the early 20th century long before liberals took up the cause. While liberalism owes them a debt, it can’t be admitted. But the positive side of all this is that Finkelstein’s ideas are permeating all those who think about this issue, even in the hallowed halls of the New Yorker.

Finkelstein offered the following wry commentary on the case, two images from the University of Minnesota archive of Soviet photos:

Lenin with Trotsky
Lenin with Trotsky

Lenin without Trotsky
Lenin without Trotsky


Thanks to Ahmed Moor and others: Remnick does credit Finkelstein, in a backhanded way, in a Haaretz interview published today:

“I wrote this blog piece suggesting that language like this has a history: there was a book that was a kind of totemic book on the right, unfortunately celebrated by some surprising people, and it was called “From Time Immemorial” by Joan Peters, and it was a big bestseller here, until it was discredited very roundly and very thoroughly, and not just by Norman Finkelstein.”

Also noteworthy: in that interview, Remnick is more straightforward about the role of Jewish donors in the Republican pandering on Israel than he is in his New Yorker piece, where he repeatedly characterizes the competition as one for Jewish voters.

What are they smoking? Wiesenthal Center lumps Abbas appearance at U.N. with ‘neo-Nazis and crackpots’

Dec 13, 2011

Philip Weiss

Abbas at the U N
Abbas at the U N

The Simon Wiesenthal Center will unveil its list of top 10 “anti-Israel/anti-Semitic slurs” today. The list includes a lot of anti-Semitism but also charges that Israel is genocidal. From the press release:

For the last two years, The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights NGO, has compiled a list of the top ten anti-Israel and anti-Jewish slurs. The list continues to reflect the growing global anti-Semitism and de-legitimization of Israel coming from mainstream voices. … These citings should serve as a wake-up call to those who believe that such rants are the exclusive domain of Neo-Nazis and crackpots.

1.) “I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and the birthplace of Jesus Christ peace be upon him, to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people…”

-Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his UN General Assembly address, September 23, 2011.

Speaking to the world, Abbas omitted any reference to the Jewish people’s connection to the Holy Land . No reference to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, nor King David, King Solomon, or Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel.

Tamimi was killed because of occupied village’s insistence on access to its only well

Dec 13, 2011

Andrew Haas

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Mustafa Tamimi’s sister Ola, center, on learning of his injury, Dec. 9

Friday morning, December 9th, my friend and I set out to experience a West Bank protest. It was a first for both of us, seeing as I have Arabic class every Friday, and he lives in Tel Aviv. As protest virgins, we had no idea what to expect. What did a confrontation look like? How do people protest? How would the soldiers react? I’d heard tales of people dodging tear gas canisters and running from the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). After four months of living in Bethlehem, I wanted to experience it for myself.

We ended up attending the protest in Nabi Saleh, coincidently on its two year anniversary date of weekly protests. The source of the conflict is the confiscation of much of the town’s land and its only water well due to the construction of the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish. Furthermore, the IDF under the mandate to protect Israeli citizens (the occupants of the illegal settlements), makes frequent night raids, surprise home invasions where children are dragged from their beds for interrogation, documentation and sometimes detention.

Every Friday, the townspeople and activists gather and attempt to march to the stolen water well, but as I was to experience, rarely make it out of their village.

After noontime prayers, the protest began. We walked down the main road and towards the highway leading to the well. We didn’t get far. Shortly after rounding a bend, we found the IDF waiting for us. I was a little surprised to see the soldiers so early in our march, still within the town precinct and still quit a distance from the well. Obviously intent on stopping our forward progress, the army commenced a volley of tear gas canisters and rubber bullets. In response, some of the local kids and youths began returning the military crowd retardants with stones along the road.

The inequality of their fight struck me. It was David vs. Goliath, inaccurate slingshots vs. scoped rifles firing lead-cored rubber bullets, taunts and jeering vs. concussion grenades and tear gas, and teens in t-shirts vs. soldiers in body armor. My image of myself as fearless faded as I watched little girls lightly skip out of the way of concussion grenades, and boys compete over who threw the tear gas canisters up wind. To me, this was the next world war. For them, this was a regular day off from school.

What seemed like a game, became deadly serious when a young man at the protest, Mustafa Tamimi, was shot in the face by a high velocity tear gas canister from very close range (approx. 8-10 meters). The ambulance that had been at the ready for the protest earlier, was already in use. Fellow protesters lifted Mustafa’s limp body into a passenger van.

Like our protest march, the bus didn’t make it very far. For some reason, the soldiers felt it appropriate to detain the vehicle at the edge of town. I watched and waited with tears in my eyes for the van to whisk Mustafa to a place that could attend to his grievous wounds. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. 15 minutes. I watched as his family and women in the village ran wailing and screaming towards the soldiers begging them to let him go. More time passed. Finally, an Israeli ambulance shuttled Mustafa Tamimi to the hospital.

A Palestinian aid giver on her way back from having been with Mustafa, walked straight up to the soldiers and began to vent.

“You killed an innocent man today! Do you even f________ care? You animals, that’s all you are! You don’t have souls! You’re just doing what Hitler did to you, you Nazis!”

There was more said, but I can’t remember her exact words. I felt her anger. As she spoke my sadness only deepened. Like the aid worker, I too wanted more than anything to see the soldiers show a sign of remorse—to feel the gravity of their actions, acknowledge the pain they were in no small way responsible for. However, in the face of screamed accusations, I realized that their chance for understanding was going the way of their diminished humanity.

Yesterday I learned that Mustafa Tamimi died in the hospital. Seeing as the Israeli media spin has commenced with a vengeance, it is questionable whether there will be justice for what I experienced. This doesn’t change the facts:

Men shouldn’t die while walking to their own water well
Children shouldn’t become accustomed to tear gas/rubber bullets in their backyards
Soldiers shouldn’t be ordered to protect stolen property
Another’s humanity should never be denied

Refuse to be Enemies

Andrew Haas is a sophomore at Wheaton College in Chicago, Illinois. He is currently taking a semester off to study Arabic in the West Bank. This piece first appeared on Porter Speakman, Jr.’s site. Haas sent the report to his friend Speakman.

What would happen to Palestinians who attacked an Israeli military base in occupied territory?

Dec 13, 2011

Philip Weiss

From Haaretz. Emphasis mine.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency discussion with Israeli defense officials on Tuesday, following an attack by right-wing activists on an IDF base in the West Bank. “The situation is intolerable,” Netanyahu said at the opening of the discussion. “We must take care of these rioters with a firm hand. We will not tolerate a situation in which IDF officers and soldiers are attacked and distracted from protecting Israeli citizens.”

Early Tuesday morning, some 50 settlers and right-wing activists entered a West Bank military base and threw rocks, burned tires, and vandalized military vehicles. An IDF officer was lightly wounded as a result of the rock-throwing. In addition to the attack on the IDF base, right-wing activists blocked a main West Bank road and threw stones at passing Palestinian vehicles and IDF soldiers in the area.

Around 100 right-wing activists and settlers came to the area of the base before 50 of them entered the base, according to the IDF spokesman.

The youths were repelled by security forces. No arrests were made.

And notice: the IDF is in the occupied territories to protect “Israeli citizens” from Palestinian non-citizens. Isn’t that a definition of apartheid?

Also, I see that Ehud Barak has described settler violence as home-grown terror, per Ali Gharib, the blogger at CAP. I would remind you of how Israel treats terrorists in the occupied territories: with missiles that take out an entire family.

VIDEO: Israeli soldiers attack against women at Mustafa Tamimi’s funeral

Dec 13, 2011


Video and testimony: Israeli soldiers’ savagery at Mustafa Tamimi’s funeral, Linah Alsaafin

We were over the metal rink, on the road now. The spring was only across the road. The soldiers began shoving and pushing us, as we continued to demand justice for Mustafa’s murder. Sound bombs were thrown right next to us. Then we saw one international activist lying face down on the ground, his hands tied behind him. We tried to stop the soldiers from taking him with our bodies. They shoved us roughly. We screamed back. I felt a rifle butt hit me on the forehead. The commander came over and said we had five minutes to clear off. I told him we wouldn’t and for them to clear off. He pointed at me and ordered for my arrest. I felt myself being dragged by two soldiers and my biggest fear was that if my parents found out I could kiss this world goodbye. Then I felt someone grab my legs, someone else around my waist, and we all collapsed to the ground. The girls, my fellow activists, my sisters were clinging to me as hard as they could, preventing the soldiers from taking me.

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Family of man killed by tear gas canister to sue Israeli army
Ramallah: The family of Mustafa Tamimi will sue the Israeli army following the death of the 27-year-old who was struck in the head by a tear gas canister by a soldier on Friday during a peaceful demonstration against Israeli colonial activities in the West Bank village of Al Nabi Saleh. Wrapped in a Palestinian flag, Mustafa’s body was moved from the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah to Al Nabi Saleh where thousands took part in the funeral. After Mustafa was hit with the canister, he was taken to Belinson Hospital in Israel, where he succumbed to his injuries. His body was later taken to Ramallah for burial.
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Weekly Demonstration in Beit Ommar Protests the Killing of Mustafa Tamimi
On Saturday, December 11, 2011 around 40 Palestinian villagers in Beit Ommar held their weekly demonstration land close to the Israeli settlement of Karmei Tsur. The villagers were joined by a group of Hebron University female students and they were also supported by Israeli and international solidarity activists.

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Israeli army excuses on death of Mustafa Tamimi don’t hold up, Alex Kane

The Israel Defense Forces’ spin doctors are at it again. Haaretz reports on the Israeli military claiming that the killing of Mustafa Tamimi was an “exceptional” incident and that the soldier who fired the tear-gas canister at him “didn’t see” Tamimi “because his visual field was obscured by the gas mask he was wearing.”

Israeli officer’s tweets spark outrage 
An Israeli army officer’s controversial comments posted on Twitter about the killing of a Palestinian protester has sparked much outrage. Musafa Tamimi, 28-year-old, died soon after being hit directly in the face by an tear gas canister shot by an Israeli troop. Cal Perry reports from Jerusalem.
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Ibrahim Bornat, artist and activist from Bil’in, was standing next to Mustafa Tamimi when Tamimi was shot in the head with a tear gas canister at close range by an Israeli soldier (Bornat can be seen standing directly next to Tamimi in these photos). Here is his testimony about his experiences when Mustafa was critically injured on Friday, December 9

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Over two thousand people attended the funeral of Mustafa Tamimi in Nabi Saleh today.  Tamimi was killed during a protest in Nabi Saleh on Friday after he was struck in the face by a tear gas canister fired at close range by the Israeli military.  He was 28 years old. At least six people were arrested and several people were injured as the Israeli military reacted violently to protests following the funeral.  Despite the nature of Tamimi’s death, the Israeli military continued the practice of  firing tear gas canisters directly at  protesters.  Although it is permissible to fire tear gas canisters in an arc to disperse demonstrations, it is forbidden to use them as weapons by firing them directly at protesters.

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Ibrahim Bornat, artist and activist from Bil’in, was standing next to Mustafa Tamimi when Tamimi was shot in the head with a tear gas canister at close range by an Israeli soldier (Bornat can be seen standing directly next to Tamimi in the now iconic photos on the right). Ibrahim is himself no stranger to the resistance. Since 2000, he has been in the hospital 83 times for injuries sustained by the Israeli military during demonstrations, and has been arrested five times. Here is his testimony about his experiences when Mustafa was critically injured on Friday, December 10. It was translated by Rena Hamadah, a Palestinian-Canadian activist in the West Bank.

The army spokesman was right – Mustafa died because he threw stones; he died because he dared to speak a truth, with his hands, in a place where the truth is forbidden.

The Lede Blog: After Fatal Shooting of Palestinian, Israeli Soldiers Defended Use of Force Online, ROBERT MACKEY

After a Palestinian protester was shot in the face by a tear gas shell fired from an Israeli military vehicle in the West Bank on Friday, soldiers who speak for Israel’s army responded to critics on Twitter.

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Land, Property Theft & Destruction / Ethnic Cleansing / Apartheid / Refugees

Record number of Palestinians displaced by demolitions as Quartet continues to talk
Israeli authorities have stepped up unlawful demolitions in the West Bank including East Jerusalem over the past year, displacing a record number of Palestinian families from their homes, an international coalition of 20 leading aid agencies and human rights groups said today. The statement comes as the Middle East Quartet meets in Jerusalem in its latest effort to revive peace talks. The sharp rise in demolitions in 2011 has been accompanied by accelerated expansion of Israeli settlements and an escalation of violence perpetrated by settlers, the groups said.
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IOF troops demolish four Palestinian homes without prior notice
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) razed four Palestinian homes in Makhrur area in Beit Jala town to the north of Bethlehem on Tuesday without prior notice, local sources said.
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OCHA: Israel razed 22 Palestinian buildings in less than a week
The UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs said the IOA in less than one week demolished 22 Palestinian buildings and homes in the in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
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Official: Israeli authorities order farmers to stop work on land
SALFIT (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities handed orders to five Palestinian farmers on Monday forbidding them from cultivating their land because it is considered “public property of the government of Israel,” a local official said. The mayor of Qarawat Bani Hassan village near Salfit called on the Palestinian Authority to end attacks on village lands by both the Israeli government and settlers. Yousif Said Miry, Nadir Mustafa Miry, Sabir Mustafa Miry, Khadir Ismail Miry and Samih Ibrahim Asi all possess documentation and deeds proving that they own the land, the mayor added. The local municipality secretary Husam Asi s

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