Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Israeli army policy of calling West Bank ‘Judea and Samaria’ ups the likelihood of religious conflict

Dec 25, 2011

 Philip Weiss

 Mairav Zonszein reports at +972:

According to a report in Israel National News, the commander of Israel Army Radio, the national radio station in Israel operated by the Israel Defense Forces, has determined that all the station’s reporters should refer to the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria.”  The report states the decision was made as a result of complaints made by Israel Media Watch that the radio station’s referral to the area as the “West Bank” gives the impression to listeners that the territory does not in fact belong to Israel.

Even Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon refers to the area as “the West Bank” in his famous “hasbara” (PR) video explaining why the land is in fact not occupied – but I am all for calling the area “Judea and Samaria.” Since Israel looks like a theocracy and acts like a theocracy, it might as well talk like one too.

I shot the picture below in Gaza two years ago– a common feature of rubbish bins after the Israeli onslaught of ’08-’09, a star of David scratched on to the sides of them. I believe it’s anti-Semitic, and god knows it made me upset. But then isn’t such a response the natural result of Jewish colonists appropriating religious symbols as they take your land?

Rubbish bin

When will American Jews waken to the threat that this type of rhetoric represents to our position in diverse societies? I don’t like Islamist radicalism, I think it’s a real issue. But this army radio language is the Jewish equivalent. And it’s what Ambassador Howard Gutman was saying when he said that some of Israel’s actions contribute to anti-Semitism.

Arendt: an Israel dependent on ‘great powers’ will always be ‘precarious’

Dec 25, 2011

Philip Weiss

Hannah Arendt
Hannah Arendt

In 1944-45, Hannah Arendt, who had fled the Nazis to come to the U.S., wrote columns for the German-Jewish New York publication, Aufbau. Some of them are collected in the 2007 collection, The Jewish Writings.

The column excerpted below, “New Proposals for a Jewish-Arab Understanding” of August 1944, treats a recurrent theme in Arendt’s analysis of “Zionist failure”: Jewish immigrants to Palestine needed to forge a political future with the Arabs who lived there, rather than relying on power politics to guarantee the Jewish future. Dependence on foreign powers– from Turkey to Britain to the U.S.– would leave any Jewish commonwealth “precarious,” she wrote.

Opportunistic politics, which tries somehow to muddle through from day to day, usually leaves behind it a chaos of contradictory interests and apparently hopeless conflicts. Zionist politics of the last twenty-five years vis-a-vis the Arabs could go down in history as a model of opportunism. One of the Arab leaders from before the First World War rightly recognized the true core of Zionist failure when he called out to his Jewish partners in negotiation… ‘Be very careful, Zionist gentlemen, governments come and go, but a people remains.’

In the meantime, the Turkish government vanished and was replaced by the British. This reinforced the Zionist leadership in its stance of negotiation with governments instead of with peoples….

Palestine is surrounded by Arab countries, and even a Jewish state in Palestine with an overwhelming Jewish majority, yes, even a purely Jewish Palestine, would be a very precarious structure without a prior agreement with all the Arab peoples on all its borders….

[Arendt then addresses new efforts to bring Jewish and Palestinian people together at a grassroots level]

The political core of this new intra-Zionist opposition is both the realization of the fatal, utopian hyperbole of the demand for a Jewish commonwealth and a rejection of the idea of making all Jewish politics in Palestine dependent on the protection of great powers…. Over the long term, economic interests, whether those of workers or capitalists, are no substitute for politics, although one can use them politically. That is why it is right that an indigenous understanding between Jews and Arabs must first begin at the base, for it would be fatal to forget how often such efforts have been thwarted and rendered useless by political decisions made at the top.

A couple additional comments. Arendt, a leftwinger, absolutely reflects the view of State Department officials in 1948 that an Israel established by force could only be preserved by force. Also, notice the populism in these paragraphs. Arendt trusted the ability of empowered people to determine their futures. She would have hated the Israel lobby. She would have hated the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which granted so much political power to corporations.

I believe she would have looked at the current scene in Israel and Palestine– in which a rightwing extreme grows in Israeli society, and Palestine has some extremists of its own–and seen that opposition as a fulfillment of her own worst predictions, and then recommended a political solution. I.e., if the two societies were combined politically, with voting rights at last granted to the occupied population, a reasonable consensus might emerge in the middle. This seems to me the most powerful practical argument for democracy in Israel/Palestine.

Art-washing: Museum at F.I.T. ducks calls on sponsorship by settlement-builder Leviev

Dec 25, 2011

Philip Weiss

Adalah-NY demonstrates outside Museum at F.I.T.

From the art site, Hyperallergic:

This past Saturday, activists in New York sang carols in the streets as the holidays approached. Don’t think that this was aimless festivities, though; these carolers had a mission. Juxtaposing familiar melodies with acerbic, witty lyrics, the activists sang in protest of the infamous Israeli settlement-developer and (possible blood) diamond magnate Lev Leviev and the Museum at FIT’s unrelenting sponsorship deal with him.

We reported on the Museum at FIT’s controversial tie to Leviev a few weeks ago, but as of yet there’s been no decision made (or even the faintest desire to handle the situation, it would seem.) Patrick Connors from the human rights organization Adalah-NY has been tracking the situation and had this breakdown for us:

“On November 22, 2011 Steve Tuttle [FIT’s chief legal officer] left me a voicemail saying they were looking into it. In a November 23 phone discussion Tuttle told me they had a committee working on the issue. On November 29 they told WWD they were looking into it. On December 8 Adalah-NY sent them all added info they might have needed and offered again to put them in touch with experts on these topics.”

There’s been no further development, and the numerous attempts made by Hyperallergic to contact FIT’s Public Relations department have been unfulfilled. Getting into pure speculation mode, considering the Daphne Guinness exhibition closes on January 7, 2012, it’s possible the Museum at FIT is just trying to ride the situation out without drawing too much attention to the matter.

Time’s running out, but we’ll keep you posted in the event a decision is made.

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