3-08-2009 @8:40 AM - PST
Those of us who possess a humane consciousness must remain interested in relevant news about current events anywhere in the world. I congratulate Companero Enrique for this News Digest. When we begin to comprehend our own individual self in the context of the great cosmos we can come to see that all of objective reality that exists outside our minds and whether our minds admit it or not is ~ on a cosmic level ~ interconnected in the context of connected reality.
Surely 9-11-01 taught the world that in one day in New York City. What happens in a far distant country that you may not even know where it is can have a direct impact on what is happening in your own existential reality. All realities are truly interconnected. Nothing exists in and of itself without a real connection elsewhere. We are all one on the cosmic-quantum field. Today human beings are surely an endangered species of life upon Mother Earth. Corporate capitalism as a sound viable economic system is going through its own heart attacks and its fascist component will do what it can in order to institute some economic reform while still keeping the corporate ruling class 'in power and secure'.
Surely we should open our minds to the tangible relevance of establishing a democratic socialist government and economy by any means mandatory that speaks to the basic survival needs of the people, that ensure their collective safety and guarantees their basic humane rights!
Rise to each day with a commitment to continually raise consciousness, expand consciousness and let consciousness motivate us to interact with connected reality in our own lives. Do you really know what is going on in your life around you from here now? Do you know you neighbors living right next door? Around the block? Up the road?
Armed with a cosmic consciousness go forth and fight in the day, combat evilness whereever it pops up, correct mistaken ideas, criticize with compassion, take the time to teach your brothers and sisters. All of us are one on the cosmic-quantum level and on an individual existential level of existence each of us is a beautiful unique creature bestowed by the Creator with certain gifts, talents and skills that we should wisely use in service to others in order to elevate ourselves out of small selfish individualism.
Any inhumane wrong to any of us attacks the compassionate humanity of all of us. Whether you are in Jerusalem, Baghdad, Bombay or in a barrio/ghetto somewhere inside the continental United States you should have at least a shred of humanity and help out in your local community, help others to become literate, get others online and relate to the people's basic survival needs. If you have a pot of beans offer a bowl to your neighbor!
Education for Liberation! Join Up!
Peter S. Lopez aka: Peta
From: Enrique Ferro <email@example.com> Sent: Saturday, March 7, 2009 4:04:48 PM Subject: REVIEW THE CONVICTIONS OF THE "CUBAN FIVE"! + Sand and Rocks + EU: Israel annexing EJ + The Bustan Committee + IDF Vandalism + VP Convoy Updates + Russia + TSS and GAZA + Several Items on Israel + A public stoning in Germany + Cuban and Venezuelan te
For Immediate Release March 6, 2009 Contact: Thomas C. Goldstein, Esq.: 202-674-7594; firstname.lastname@example.org
In a previously unheard of twelve separate briefs, array of supporters worldwide – including ten Nobel Prize winners who have championed human rights (including East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta and Irish peacemaker Máiread Corrigan Maguire); the Mexican Senate; and Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland – today filed amicus curiae ("friend of the court") briefs imploring the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Miami convictions of five Cuban government agents, the so-called "Cuban Five."
Those participants in the briefs were joined by hundreds of parliamentarians from the European Parliament and other parliaments around the world, including two former Presidents and three current Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament, as well as numerous U.S. and foreign bar associations and human rights organizations.
This is the largest number of amicus briefs ever to have urged Supreme Court to review a criminal conviction. This extraordinary support for the Cuban Five's case arises from widespread concern in the United States and around the world that their trial was conducted in an atmosphere tainted by prejudice against agents of the Cuban government and fear of retaliation, which amici say prevented the jury from fairly evaluating the charges against the Five.
Among others, the United Nations Human Rights Commission has condemned the Miami trial of the Cuban agents, marking the first and only time in history that that body has condemned a U.S. judicial proceeding. Citing a "climate of bias and prejudice" in Miami, the Commission's Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions concluded that the "trial did not take place in the climate of objectivity and impartiality that is required to conform to the standards of a fair trial."
The amicus briefs filed today ask the Supreme Court to review the fairness of trying the Cuban agents to a Miami jury. "The trial and conviction of the Cuban 5 is a national embarrassment," explained Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represented the Nobelists in filing their amicus brief. "Our clients, ten Nobel Prize winners, acclaimed for their efforts to advance human rights, believe the trial was an international embarrassment as well. This was a trial that should have never occurred in Miami. There was no way a jury from that Miami, with is history of violence and intimidation against the Cuban government, could have reached a verdict free from retaliation by the anti-Castro community."
Several of the amicus briefs filed by U.S. organizations also ask the Supreme Court to review the prosecution's striking African-Americans from the jury. The prosecutor used seven of nine "peremptory challenges" (where no explanation need be given to strike a juror) to strike black jurors. The Court of Appeals ruled that no inquiry need be made into the prosecutor's motives because three other black jurors, a minority on the 12-person jury, were seated. Amici maintain that this is allows prosecutors to mask their manipulation of the racial make-up of a jury.
The U.S. government's brief in opposition is presently due April 6. The Court is likely to decide whether to grant review before its summer recess in June. The amicus briefs, along with a complete list of the amici, will be posted on SCOTUSblog (www.scotusblog.com) as electronic copies become available today.
Additional background on the case: The United States indicted the five Cubans in Miami in 1998. The indictment focused on the charge that they were unregistered Cuban agents and had infiltrated various anti-Castro organizations in South Florida. One of the Five, Gerardo Hernandez, was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder for providing information to Havana on flights in which the anti-Castro group Brothers to the Rescue would routinely invade Cuba airspace.
On February 24, 1996, two BTTR planes were destroyed after both Cuban and American officials had repeatedly warned the Miami-based group to cease its illegal incursions into Cuban territory. Cuba maintains that it shot the planes down in its territory; the U.S. has maintained that the shootdown occurred a few miles into international airspace, after the planes entered and exited Cuban airspace.
The Cuban Five requested that the trial judge move the trial out of Miami, which is home to a massive Cuban-American exile community that, beyond its ordinary hostility towards the Castro regime, had been whipped into a frenzy of anti-Castro sentiment by the Elian Gonzales debacle that took place just as the Cuban Five's trial got underway. Judge Lenard refused that request to move the trial to a new venue some thirty miles away, and a Miami jury convicted Hernandez and the others of all charges. Judge Lenard imposed the maximum available sentences on the Five, including life imprisonment for Hernandez. On appeal, a three-judge panel of the federal Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed the convictions and ordered a new trial because, the court held, a "perfect storm" of community prejudice and pre-trial publicity, exacerbated by the federal prosecutor's inflammatory statements to the jury, deprived Hernandez and the other Cubans of a fair trial. The entire Court of Appeals, however, vacated the panel's decision, finding no error in the government trying the case to a Miami jury. It returned the case to a panel to evaluate the remaining issues in the appeal.
In another key ruling, two of the three judges on the panel refused to reverse the Miami jury's conviction of Hernandez. Judge Kravitch dissented, finding that there was no evidence at all that Hernandez knew there would be a shootdown, let alone an unlawful shootdown in international airspace. - END -
Israel annexing East Jerusalem, says EU
• Confidential report attacks 'illegal' house demolitions
• Government accused of damaging peace prospects
40-year-old Palestinian Mahmoud al-Abbasi stands amid the rubble of his home after it was demolished by the Jerusalem municipality in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Photograph: Gali Tibbon
A confidential EU report accuses the Israeli government of using settlement expansion, house demolitions, discriminatory housing policies and the West Bank barrier as a way of "actively pursuing the
The document says Israel has accelerated illegal annexation" of East Jerusalem.
its plans for East Jerusalem, and is undermining the Palestinian Authority's credibility and weakening support for peace talks. "Israel's actions in and around Jerusalem constitute one of the most acute challenges to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making," says the document, EU Heads of Mission Report on East Jerusalem..
The report, obtained by the Guardian, is dated 15 December 2008. It acknowledges Israel's legitimate security concerns in Jerusalem, but adds: "Many of its current illegal actions in and around the city have limited security justifications."
"Israeli 'facts on the ground' - including new settlements, construction of the barrier, discriminatory housing policies, house demolitions, restrictive permit regime and continued closure of Palestinian institutions - increase Jewish Israeli presence in East Jerusalem, weaken the Palestinian community in the city, impede Palestinian urban development and separate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank," the report says.
The document has emerged at a time of mounting concern over Israeli policies in East Jerusalem. Two houses were demolished on Monday just before the arrival of the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and a further 88 are scheduled for demolition, all for lack of permits. Clinton described the demolitions as "unhelpful", noting that they violated Israel's obligations under the US "road map" for peace.
The EU report goes further, saying that the demolitions are "illegal under international law, serve no obvious purpose, have severe humanitarian effects, and fuel bitterness and extremism." The EU raised its concern in a formal diplomatic representation on December 1, it says.
It notes that although Palestinians in the east represent 34% of the city's residents, only 5%-10% of the municipal budget is spent in their areas, leaving them with poor services and infrastructure.
Israel issues fewer than 200 permits a year for Palestinian homes and leaves only 12% of East Jerusalem available for Palestinian residential use. As a result many homes are built without Israeli permits. About 400 houses have been demolished since 2004 and a further 1,000 demolition orders have yet to be carried out, it said.
City officials dismissed criticisms of its housing policy as "a disinformation campaign". "Mayor Nir Barkat continues to promote investments in infrastructure, construction and education in East Jerusalem, while at the same time upholding the law throughout West and East Jerusalem equally without bias," the mayor's office said after Clinton's visit.
However, the EU says the fourth Geneva convention prevents an occupying power extending its jurisdiction to occupied territory. Israel occupied the east of the city in the 1967 six day war and later annexed it. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
The EU says settlement are being built in the east of the city at a "rapid pace". Since the Annapolis peace talks began in late 2007, nearly 5,500 new settlement housing units have been submitted for public review, with 3,000 so far approved, the report says. There are now about 470,000 settlers in the occupied territories, including 190,000 in East Jerusalem.
The EU is particularly concerned about settlements inside the Old City, where there were plans to build a Jewish settlement of 35 housing units in the Muslim quarter, as well as expansion plans for Silwan, just outside the Old City walls.
The goal, it says, is to "create territorial contiguity" between East Jerusalem settlements and the Old City and to "sever" East Jerusalem and its settlement blocks from the West Bank.
There are plans for 3,500 housing units, an industrial park, two police stations and other infrastructure in a controversial area known as E1, between East Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, home to 31,000 settlers. Israeli measures in E1 were "one of the most significant challenges to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process", the report says.
Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said conditions for Palestinians living in East Jerusalem were better than in the West Bank. "East Jerusalem residents are under Israeli law and they were offered full Israeli citizenship after that law was passed in 1967," he said. "We are committed to the continued development of the city for the benefit of all its population."
The Bustan Local Committee
Another War Crime
Jerusalem` s municipality decides to demolish 88 buildings
Making 1500 Jerusalemites homeless
lot of anxiety and worry hovers the lives of the people of Silwan, Bustan neighborhood. That emotional strain is the consequence of the occupied municipality's plan in Jerusalem and the plan carries the name
E/J/9 (East Jerusalem and the number of the plan is 9) the plan calls for the demolishing 88 buildings housing 115 family. That will simply make around 1500 Jerusalemites homeless; the number includes women, babies, and elderly people. All will lose houses they inherited from their parents and grandparents; most of which have been built before the Israeli state came to existence.
The coming demolishing campaign for a 115 house in Bustan is not the only expected one, for a similar destiny awaits around 60% of the houses in (Wad Hilwa) in the same village. All those places are facing
the threat of demolishment on grounds that they have been built either without a building permit or on the ground that they have built on archeological sites.
The land Silwan is considered an extension for the Aqsa Mosque and is considered the southern gate for both the Mosque and the Wall of Jerusalem. To the north of Silwan lies the Aqsa Mosque, the wall of Jerusalem and the Magharba neighborhood which was destroyed and removed from the inside of the Old City's Wall after the attack of 1967, from the South lies Beit Safafa and Jabal Al-Mukaber. From the East lie Abu Dees, Eizarieha and AL-Tour. From the West lies Al-Talbiya before the occupation of 1948 or what has become known as the prophet David or the Al-Tour neighborhood.
One of the most targeted neighborhoods in Silwan is the Bustan Neighborhood. That area is considered by the Jews as the sacred garden of King David; the aim of the Israeli authorities is to remove all the signs of humanitarian existence to make the national garden of (David` s City)
The final goal for Israel's action in the area of the Old City of Jerusalem is to impose the Jewish flavor on the whole area and move the Palestinian Jerusalemites. This comes as a fulfillment for the municipality's plan for Jerusalem 2020 that aims to diminish the number of the Palestinian Jerusalemite to only 12%
From here we beseech the international society to respect its decisions and agreements to force Israel to respect those laws and pressure the state of Israel to stop the attack on us and give us the simple right of survival on our homeland and houses safely and in dignity.
For more information please call one of the committee members:
Fakhree Abu Diab: ( 0522-206227) Lubna Masarwa (050-5633044/ 0542351221)
Murad Shafeh ( 05044002926) Abd Al Haleem Al Shalwood ( 0547841528)
|Pots of urine, feces on the walls - how IDF troops vandalized Gaza homes|
|By Amira Hass|
|Tags: Gaza, Amira Hass|
GAZA - We had already visited this house, belonging to the Abu Eida family. It is the only one of the family's nine large houses that remained standing at the eastern edge of the city of Jabalya following Operation Cast Lead. The demolition of the family's houses and its four cement factories spells the loss of 40 years of hard work.
One Hebrew word scrawled on a wall tells the story of the 10 days when young Israeli soldiers became the ostensible prison wardens of five people. The youngest is Suheila Masalha, 55; the eldest is her mother Fatma, who is perhaps 85 or 90 or older. The only man is her brother Mohammed, 65, who is paralyzed and dependent on the women of his family. And there were two more women from the Abu Eida family - Rasmiya, 70, who owns the house, and her sister-in-law Na'ama, 56, who is blind.
"Jail" ("mikhla'a" in Hebrew), wrote the soldiers on the wall of the room where they kept the man and the four women. They did not allow them to use the toilet, but forced them to use all kinds of plastic containers kept in the room, for nine of the days.
The soldiers kept kosher, judging by the words "meat" and "dairy" scrawled in red on the kitchen cabinets. Maybe someone was kidding around, or maybe someone thought this was going to be their base for several more months, because they also wrote "Kosher for Passover" on one of the cupboards. Also in red.
The Masalha family lived in a kind of tin shack and raised their sheep near the Abu Eida family (the shack and the sheep were destroyed). On the evening of Saturday, January 3, when the Israeli ground incursion began, they fled the shelling and sought refuge with the neighbors in concrete houses that seemed safer. But the shells and shooting from close range only increased and the children were scared; they cried and screamed and members of the extended family decided to head west, on foot, with white flags.
The adults carried the children - without suitcases and clothing, and even without ID cards. There was no one to carry Fatma Masalha and her son Mohammed, who remained behind. Na'ama and her sister-in-law Rasmiya decided to stay with the guests who had sought shelter. That was on Sunday, January 4, at around 3 P.M.
A spacious, well-kept, generously furnished home awaited the soldiers on the following morning, when they arrived. There are other houses like this in Gaza, especially on the agricultural lands in the outskirts, which over the years have become bourgeois areas. These are exactly the places where the signs of shelling and the fires caused by the phosphorous bombs made clear to the civilians that they should leave if they held their lives dear.
On January 18, when the forces pulled out, similar sights awaited people whose homes had become military bases in their absence. There were bullet-pocked walls, ripped-up sofas and armchairs, smashed televisions and computers, shards of glass and porcelain dishes and broken wooden thresholds. Clothing was ripped up. And there were mountains of very Israeli garbage - empty tin cans, cardboard boxes, empty bags of potato chips and chocolate, and full bags of sugar and raspberry-flavored drinking powder. Everything was kosher for Passover under the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate. And there were Hebrew newspapers, including the January 9 issue of the army magazine Bamahane.
In one house they left behind lots of unopened canned goods. The local people assumed that commanding army officers had stationed themselves there, as well as in other houses where there was no racist graffiti and family belongings hadn't been vandalized. Remnants of ammunition and IDF equipment were also found in and around many houses, as well as books of Psalms, the "Wisdom of the Sages" and "Hafetz Chaim," which is about rabbinical laws concerning slander and gossip.
In the midst of all of this were plastic bottles of urine and many closed bags - in some houses, olive-colored ones - of excrement. People assumed that the commanders stayed there. There are houses where excrement was smeared on the walls, or where dry piles of it were found in corners. In many cases, the smells indicated that soldiers had urinated on piles of clothing or inside a washing machine. In all the houses the toilets were overflowing and clogged, and there was filth all around. When the Abu Eidas returned to house No. 5 in Jabalya, they discovered pots of urine and excrement in the refrigerator.
"Like ants, so many of them," says Na'ama, an Arabic teacher, of the soldiers who came into their home on January 5. She recalls that the soldiers had to be told that Mohammed could not put his hands up, and that they ordered the residents to strip. (Na'ama refused and one soldier made do with prodding and probing; they told Suheila to strip because they thought she was wearing an explosives belt.) The soldiers were amazed that the house was so large - "For just five people" - and kept saying that "this is Hamas money." They also asked, "Where are the tunnels, where is Hamas, if everyone left why didn't you leave?"
The soldiers ordered the five people to go into one room and stay there. They let them take some food: bread, olives, oil, water. They confiscated the mobile phones when they saw Na'ama holding one: "You want to call your brother to come with Hamas, to shoot at us," said one of the soldiers. "Liar," they said a lot, as well as "shut up, you donkey," in broken Arabic. They imitated her mockingly when she said "Ya Rab" ("Oh God"). The five prisoners could not pray, as they were not allowed to clean themselves up before prayer and were forbidden to stand up. They were given two blankets, which were not enough, especially because the windows were smashed and the door was always open. A soldier always sat next to the door aiming his rifle at them. All five still have colds.
"You'll come out when we leave," was the answer given to Na'ama after she asked them to contact the Red Cross. Apparently, one soldier spoke fluent Arabic, another could speak some and others knew a phrase or two.
Was there anyone among the soldiers who was a little bit nice? "To my regret, no," Na'ama says. In a number of other houses or neighborhoods people who preferred not to flee encountered some soldiers who were somewhat courteous. In none of the other houses were people forbidden to use the toilet, but the men's hands were bound for two or three days. There are houses where the captives had no food for two or three days or no water for hours. "We don't have food either," said the soldiers in Izbet Abed Rabbo.
Soldiers broke down doors of grocery stores and helped themselves to candy and snacks. There were some who handed out candy to children; sometimes soldiers asked a child whom they forced to accompany them, as a human shield, to hand it out.
On the morning of January 14, the Red Cross came to pick up the five inhabitants of the "jail" in house No. 5. A short while beforehand, the soldiers had brought a portable gas burner in so Rasmiya could make hot tea, which they had not let her do before. "Maybe because the officer came," Na'ama says.
The IDF Spokesman's Office said in response that soldiers in Gaza were instructed in advance not to harm personal property unless there was a need to do so for operational purposes. "Not only did the soldiers not prevent the Palestinians from eating," the office said, "but they shared their army rations with them. The IDF has not received any reports about breaking into grocery stores. Concerning the claims about graffiti, the IDF sees this as a very serious matter, which contradicts the values and norms in which the soldiers are educated."
Mudasir Saeed sent a message to the members of Gaza Convoy 2009.
Friday 6th March
For most of us, Egypt is probably the country along the route we are most familiar with. The Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and of course Cairo. On holiday, thankfully we rarely get to see and experience the internal politics. Unfortunately and as expected, for the convoy this isn't the case. The border crossing was largely smooth albeit time consuming, however some bad news it wasn't so smooth for four of the convoy members including our very own Mr. T (brother Aqueel). Sadly, Egyptian authorities at the border deemed it necessary to throw a spanner in the works and refuse them entry to Egypt. All four lads are safe and well in Bengazi (Libya) and enjoying the hospitality shown by Libya. Reports indicate that even at the border, the Libyans were extremely unhappy at Egypt's decision, however it was not in their destiny to continue any further, they were driven back into Libya and are safe, well and being looked after. Some of the families of these brothers may not yet be aware of their situation, however I want to stress that they are all completely safe and well and Naveed, Abu Bakr, Talhat and others have spoken to them all and apart from the obvious disappointment there is nothing to be worried about. Last night all aid vehicles were directed to a "safe" place and the members of the convoy were transported into the city and to hotels. As a result the "convoy" effect would not have been felt by the locals and instead the "politics" began to kick in again. After speaking to the lads last night, it was clear that the authorities want to control the level of exposure and there has been an extremely heavy, even over the top police and military presence. I spoke to Abu Bakr a few hours ago, he mentions that the convoy is driving towards Alexandria and he described some chaotic scenes. He mentioned that for the last 10 miles, every single house they pass has had two police officers guarding the front with their backs towards the road making sure nobody is watching the convoy, to the extent that even areas of barren land police scatter to make sure children didn't run up towards the vehicles, clearly not for road safety, but censorship. He says quote "we've never seen anything like this, it's crazy, every mosque we've driven past has been barricaded to stop people looking, it's worse than authorities in Tunisia". Again there should be no doubt that local people are very sympathetic, supportive and given the chance welcoming, however the political landscape in Egypt is very complex, I feel in the long run the re-action of the authorities becomes counter-productive for Egypt. It's a shame, and lets hope it improves so the Egyptians can also "see" this awe-inspiring convoy. Again, the main thing is that everyone is safe and well, and Insh'Allah come Sunday will be meeting our beloved brothers and sisters in Palestine and we can only imagine how inspiring and emotional that will be!! --------------------
Day 22 – Are we there yet?? Almost
Saturday 7th March The Souad Viva Palestina convoy is entering the town of El Arich after a long trek of 10 hours on the roads and motorways of Egypt. Gaza is within touching distance and the dreams, aspirations and hope of so many members of this magnificent adventure will be realised tomorrow when they enter Gaza carrying not only aid, but the hopes of the millions to see the siege broken. The convoy members had to endure a hard journey as they were escorted throughout by the Egyptian authorities who dictated the pace which was extremely frustrating. They only stopped on a couple of occasions after setting off from Jamsa and did not stop as planned at the El Salam Bridge. The convoy is now being taken to their accommodation. A press conference and speeches were planned, but as it is very late in the night, this may be shelved. According to the Palestinian information centre bulletin of this evening, the 'Justice for Palestine' Scottish convoy managed to get into Gaza late this afternoon after the Egyptian authorities gave permission for the crossing to take place at Rafah. To our knowledge the convoy includes 20 members in 10 vehicles carrying vital medical aid and equipment for the people of Gaza. This convoy managed to cross into Gaza after 60 female American peace activists managed earlier to cross the Rafah crossing to show their support with the women of Gaza and to call for the lifting of the siege. Many news agencies and reporters are awaiting the arrival of this phenomenal convoy. Al-Jazeera reports that their crew has been prevented from reporting the arrival of the convoy at El Arich. Tonight, El Arich will experience something special when the people of this town will witness at first hand the arrival of the saviours of Gaza. They will see lorries, vans, cars, and hundreds of humble human beings coming in peace carrying vital aid and supplies and answering the critics and sceptics who doubted the aims of this noble mission. Tonight, the western media remains silent in its coverage of this massive story, a story created by the people of Britain, with aid coming from the people of Britain. By ignoring the cries of the people of Gaza, once again, Gaza exposes the hypocrisy, double standards and opportunism of the British media. But the British people can see through this injustice, and like never before, Gaza has broken into many British homes and has touched many British hearts.... --------------------
First Convoy heroes return
The four Viva Palestina convoy members refused entry to Egypt are currently on their way to Tripoli, in Libya. Viva Palestina have booked them flights on KLM to return to the UK via Amsterdam on Sunday 8th March. These four men, who drove so hard and so far for Gaza, only to to turned back at the border, deserve a heroes welcome. Manchester Viva Palestina will be welcoming them back at the Manchester airport tomorrow evening. If you are able to join the welcoming party please come to Terminal 2 for 9..30pm on Sunday evening.
Russia sees ME solution in Palestine state
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov calls for the formation of a Palestinian state as the only solution to the Middle East problem.
The Two-State Solution and the Ruin in Gaza
by Virginia Tilley
Global Research, March 3, 2009
For several years, those of us warning that we already face a one-state solution in Israel-Palestine have been regularly dismissed as nay-sayers, ivory-tower intellectuals, and/or utopian crackpots. So it's noticeable when these dismissive comments begin to falter and flicker out.
True, over the same period we've heard rounds of worried agreement that if 'something' is not done, the two-state solution would be dead and one-state solution upon us within three months, or six months, or simply 'soon'. Most of those 'six-month' warnings were issued years ago but never seem to expire. The problem was that most people weren't sure what precise signal would tell them, beyond doubt, that the two-state option is truly defunct. All the diplomatic theatre—the Oslo Accords, the Road Map, Annapolis and the Paris Protocol—gave people such an impression of seriousness that they interpreted every new contradiction, like a doubling of the settlement population in the West Bank, as a mere 'impediment' or 'setback' to the supposed diplomatic process rather than evidence that it was all a sham. Bearing the burden of this increasing unreality show, the two-state project became less a real programme than a tenet of faith: however elusive it appears in reality, the two-state solution must be defended or 'saved', resuscitated as the 'only way'. Lofty rhetoric about 'sacrifice' on both sides added gravitas to this masquerade. No one knew what to do if the two-state notion finally collapsed, so no one wanted to say that it had.
The result has been dithering and delay. And Palestinian deaths. Always more deaths. But now it seems the tide has shifted, for Gaza and the Israeli elections have stripped away these last illusions. For what could failure look like, if not the rubble of Gaza? It is not just the shocking scale of the brutality, which belies any notion of a 'moderate' Israeli government or any good faith whatever on Israel's part. The whole attack was is the direct result, a necessary component, and the final proof of the two-state fraud. How else could Israel have attacked Gaza so horribly, so cruelly, if security for Jewish settlements in the West Bank were not ensured through deals with Mr Abbas's Palestinian Authority? Yet how else could the Palestinian Authority enforce that security--that is, play the increasingly strained part of an 'interim governing authority'--without the two-state fig leaf? Only by ensuring that the PA was in position to suppress any mass uprising by outraged Palestinians in West Bank cities now suffocated by Jewish settlements could Israel dare to strike Gaza the way it did. So the two-state solution/illusion had to be kept alive in order to prop up the PA in order to attack Gaza.
But of course, the basic equation was also holding: Gaza had to be crushed in order to prop up the PA — for again, the last drive of settlement construction that will create Israel's new permanent borders requires security for West Bank settlements that only the PA can deliver, and Hamas threatened that filthy pact by exposing it for what it was. Now that Hamas has survived and the Abbas circle looks even more like tools and fools, we see 'unity' talks in Cairo. But we may be sure that these talks are allowed by Israel only to prop up the Abbas people up a little longer, just as the money is meant to do (e.g., of the US$900 million, not one dollar is for Gaza's reconstruction and all is channelled through PA or Fatah or other non-Hamas hands). Any deal struck in Cairo will fall apart as soon as Hamas again confronts the betrayals certain to follow—which will be quite soon, because Israel will not tolerate any mis-step by the Abbas circle, which for Israel always had only one raison d'être: to serve Israel's annexation of West Bank land.
So the two-state solution has had life only in Israeli government rhetoric and people read into that rhetoric what they wanted to believe. As one still-believing colleague protested to me last year, confronting the absence of any evidence for it, the two-state goal was "understood". After Gaza, such the scales are falling away from people's eyes.
Still, it's worrisome that people are pronouncing the final death of the two-state solution partly because of the imminent ascendance in Israeli politics of Netanyahu and Lieberman. We must be clear about this, too: regarding Palestinians, no shred of difference exists between their policies and those of Livni and Barak. In any case, Netanyahu is an opportunist and says whatever will sell. When the Obama administration pressures him, and the diplomatic climate changes, he will go for whatever new version of Annapolis is cooked up and fill our media with earnest phrases about Israel's eternal innocence and laboured quest for peace. But nothing will change, whether he comes or goes, because Israel's policy goes deeper than Israeli electoral politics. The only change we can anticipate is one of style. The 'yes-but' chicanery of the Peres/Livni/Barak camp will morph into the 'no way' rhetoric of the Netanyahu/Lieberman camp, both presenting their rejectionism as Israel's tragic burden arising from Palestinian failures or betrayals. Whatever Palestinians do, neither camp has the slightest intention to do anything different in the West Bank except build settlements as fast as possible, take the land, shut the Palestinians behind the Wall, and finish the consolidation of Eretz Israel.
In fact, the idea that Livni and Barak ever meant to do anything different about the West Bank only falls for that famous old government ploy—Israel's plausible-deniability myth—that fanatical religious settlers actually drive the settlement's growth. The Israeli government has run the entire settlement operation—mapped, planned, funded, overseen, subsidised, and defended it — from the beginning. So let us not try to recreate that tinsel fiction for ourselves once again: that if only we had 'moderates' in the Israeli government we could 'keep the diplomatic process alive'. The 'moderates' brought us the carnage of Gaza and their intentions remain entirely clear, so let us have no more clinging to their lies and lip service and war crimes.
And let us have no more foolishness about Israel's security. Israel is overwhelmingly secure. It is as secure as the U.S. Army fighting Apaches on the western U.S. plains and crying foul at any white settler death. Where whites/Jews want the indigenous people's land, have overwhelming military power and capacity to take it, and see no reason to stop, what is needed to stop the government from cramming the people into Bantustans/reservations is not 'mediation' so the two sides can gain 'trust' and see each other as human beings, or indigenous collaboration to make whites 'secure', or indigenous recognition that the dominant state has a 'right to exist'. The only solution to such a power imbalance is to eradicate the state's claimed moral authority to destroy and rob and brutalise the outsider by changing the very relationship between state and outsider into something else. Native Americans did this too late, after too much was destroyed and stolen. The Palestinians can do it in time.
But this means getting serious and it means acting now.
The one-state solution is not a 'dream'. It is the only hope for real peace but it is also the grim reality we already face. The Israeli government knows this full well and also knows that the two-state façade is cracking. We see the bloody consequences of that knowledge in Gaza, where Israel deliberately created mayhem partly to derail Hamas and distract the world from the increasing transparency of the two-state lie. So there is nothing 'utopian' about this one-state reality. In South Africa, the one-state solution cost thousands of lives, particularly toward the end when the apartheid regime became desperate. As in South Africa, conditions in the one-state solution in Israel-Palestine are likely to get worse before they get better but also we have no guarantee that the struggle will come out well. It could go to ethnic cleansing and wars. It will come out well only if people shed their myths and get seriously busy.
The Myths That Must Go
Zionists myths are infamous, if increasingly tired and tattered: the Palestinians were not in Palestine when the Zionists arrived; Arab states told the Palestinians to flee in 1948; the Six-Day War was forced on Israel and so Israel has no obligation to withdraw from 'territories seized'; Israel is a nation-state like any nation-state; the occupation is not an occupation. Possibly the most dangerous myth still entertained by Zionists is that Israel can act on its own myths and somehow things will work out: that because the Palestinians have no just grievance in opposing Israel and so must be only backward fanatical (or gullible foolish) savages, Israel can bomb them into giving up their irrational anti-Jewish agendas. Zionists do not yet grasp that this tactic will never work—indeed, the myth is actually reinforced by Palestinian refusal to capitulate—because they must cling to all the other 'founding myths' to make moral sense of their ethnically cleansed state. The dogged public work of discrediting those myths in order to derail that self-deception must and will continue.
But Zionists aren't the only ones with myths. Let us lay ours out now, so that they can finally be identified for what they are and set aside like outgrown games.
The first myth is that Israel ever signed onto a two-state solution. Taking a magnifying glass to the texts of the Oslo Accords, Road Map, Annapolis and Paris Protocol, we find that Israel has not once – never, not in any deal, treaty, accord, or document of any kind – committed itself to a two-state solution. The only moment when it seemed to do so, in signing onto the Road Map, Israel put so many obviously impossible preconditions on the PA that Israel could rest easy that it would never be held to anything. So Israel isn't contradicting any formal commitment it has made by eradicating the basis for it. (Nor did Israel ever promise to abide by United Nations Resolutions 181, 194, 242, and 338, and that magnifying glass reveals that its admission to the UN was not conditioned on its allowing Palestinian refugees to return, either, but those are other issues.)
The second myth is that the US will ever make Israel withdraw from the West Bank. This is partly due to lack of political will and the Zionist lobby, but let's imagine for a moment that the Obama Administration gets serious enough, or desperate enough, to use some real leverage to force, say, a settlement freeze. It won't be enough, and not only because, at this point, a freeze is not enough. A major withdrawal is needed. But any Israeli governmental that attempted seriously to withdraw the big settlements (and mind, no Israeli government has ever agreed even to consider this) would betray whole sets of Zionist constituencies, cast the fragile Zionist pact about Jewish statehood into crisis, and split the Zionist national body down the middle. No external power can make any state willingly destroy its own national cohesion, for that is political suicide, and suicide is precisely what the Zionist dragon tail is now flailing around to avoid. In any case, there's not enough money to pull it off and Israel needs West Bank water desperately.
The third myth is that the Jewish national society that has been created in Israel will ever vanish. It will no more vanish than did Afrikaner society in South Africa (which, by the way, is flourishing today as never before). It is vital that the Palestinian national movement and solidarity movement accept this fact ideologically as well as pragmatically, for otherwise the one-state solution is ethnocidal in its premise and will never work. This might seem obvious but it strikes a deep bell of warning for Palestinian nationalist discourse: just as the 'Jewish state' cannot persist, the 'Arab state' of the Charter and Palestinian rhetoric can never form in Israel-Palestine. What forms must be something else and, as in South Africa, it must liberate all groups from the vicious grip of racism.
The fourth myth is that a one-state solution can march to secular triumph without the great Abrahamic faiths pitching in fully on the project. Religion here will not be shoved off into the private sphere. It must help lead this effort, not float in the background. But a linked myth is that people of those faiths do not have to deal seriously with the internal challenge of sorting out how to live a virtuous religious life in a multi-sectarian society. Christianity, Judaism and Islam can never 'win' in Palestine, or indeed find their greatest spiritual calling, without reaching for their noblest and most universal principles and putting them forward with all the certainty that faith enables, in this land that has suffered so bitterly from their past failures to do so.
The fifth myth is that the world will ever get behind Palestinian self-determination enough to give the Palestinians a viable separate state. This may seem counter-intuitive, especially for those recalling decolonisation in the 1960s or sensing the growth of the boycott campaign. But think: no major global movement has ever pitched in effectively behind someone else's self-determination struggle. (How much sleep have you lost over the Tamils lately?) If the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa had centred on 'Zulu self-determination' or 'Xhosa self-determination' instead of equal rights and anti-racism, apartheid would be operating here today. Apartheid was defeated by making claims on the world's conscience, and this was done by insisting on values shared by all—the fundamental equality of human beings in dignity and rights and the cruelty and illegitimacy of racist rule. We see that kind of real pressure emerging in Palestine at last, as the world views in horror the agony of Gaza. When Palestinians finally invoke those universal values directly, and demand equal rights in their homeland as citizens of a single unified non-ethnic state, they will find themselves tapping into that global force to degrees unprecedented in their political history, gaining not merely world sympathy but world passion.
Ironically, the voice that most forcefully argues this point is Ehud Olmert, who has cautioned that if Palestinians adopt a one-state anti-apartheid strategy, Israel is doomed. In April 2004, he warned that, "More and more Palestinians are uninterested in a negotiated, two-state solution, because they want to change the essence of the conflict from an Algerian paradigm to a South African one. From a struggle against 'occupation,' in their parlance, to a struggle for one-man-one-vote. That is, of course, a much cleaner struggle, a much more popular struggle - and ultimately a much more powerful one. For us, it would mean the end of the Jewish state." In November 2007, he said again: "If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished."
No wonder that Olmert and Livni and the whole machinery of Hasbara Zionist solidarity are pounding the table so hard about a two-state solution: it is their only defence against the collapse of ethnic statehood and real democracy. When one's opponent indicates the path to its certain defeat, one should pay attention.
Finally, we must set aside all those myths about the one-state solution itself: that it is easy, utopian, inevitable, impossible, will evolve naturally if we just wait, or – the most common myth -- that 'the Jews' will never accept it. The truth is that the one-state solution is difficult, dangerous, the only workable solution, the necessary solution, will take huge work to prevent it going wrong, and 'the Jews' will accept it. But for that to happen, the Palestinian nationalist vision and mission will have to embrace a new vision of a shared society and the international community must stop fiddling while Palestine burns. Either Israel or the Palestinians will seize and steer the one-state solution. What happened in Gaza tells us what Israel intends to do with that power. It must be taken back.
This new struggle will convey tremendous political strength to the liberation movement. In Palestine we see indeed a real chance to create one of those rare shining moments when humanity briefly transcends itself, such as when Nelson Mandela stood before the Union Buildings in Pretoria and took the oath as president of a new South Africa. But let us not waste more time and energy longing for some 'great man' to come act the part of Mandela in Palestine and lead everyone to national reconciliation. We all carry little Mandelas inside us – that is why we wept when watching that historic moment in South Africa, because it resonated inside us with something universal. Let us all find within ourselves those deeper resources of moral courage to pitch in and help steer Israel-Palestine to a second global triumph against apartheid and lay a foundation for real democracy and justice in the Middle East. God knows the world must to defeat this old ogre of the last century, racial nationalism, in order to confront collectively the great challenges facing us in the next one.
Virginia Tilley is head of the Middle East Project and a chief research specialist in the Democracy and Governance Programme of the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, writing in her private capacity. She is author of The One-State Solution (Michigan University Press and Manchester University Press, 2005) and many essays on Israel-Palestine, as well as another book and academic articles on racial nationalism in Latin America and elsewhere. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Israel, apartheid, anti-Semites
Israel is now a state among nations and must be held to account, not absolved for fear of igniting a new Holocaust.
What is the sound of one side condemning? It's the media rendering of Israel Apartheid Week, now under way. B'nai Brith ran full-page newspaper ads asking universities to "prevent" it and the attendant "anti-Semitism on campus." There were no ads from organizers, so we didn't hear them being anti-Semitic in their own words -- or denying the charge.
Here's the Toronto Star's Rosie DiManno: "That detestable, despicable annual campus hate-fest ... Jew-bashing cloaked in self-righteousness ... students who don't recognize racism when they're spewing it."
I don't know if she meant to be ironic, spewing hate at the spewers. But I've talked with friends, Jewish and non, about these claims. They're disturbed, they don't want to witness the rise of a new horror. Here's my take.
Cabinet minister Jason Kenney calls Israel Apartheid Week "a systematic effort to delegitimize the democratic homeland of the Jewish people" by linking it to racism, a line virtually mouthed by Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff. That is way too cute. Any "settler state," such as Canada, which took someone else's land, can be seen as illegitimate. But it's an abstract point. "Apartheid" became widely used in this context only when Israel began building what came to be called an apartheid wall, looming over Palestinians, sequestering more land, cutting them off from each other.
The usage grew as Israel expanded settlements, built Israeli-only roads and set up checkpoints so Palestinians would at best be left with "Bantustans," such as those that apartheid South Africa offered blacks, rather than a true state of their own. A small but real Palestinian state would be accepted by almost everyone. The Arab League has offered peace in return for Israel just leaving the West Bank. Even Hamas has a (nuanced) position on living with Israel. You can look it up.
What of the "new anti-Semitism" that Jason Kenney says is "based on the notion that the Jews alone have no right to a homeland"? Well, who are these new anti-Semites? I never see names or quotations. Canada has always had anti-Semites, but they've felt no need to hide their hate behind a screen of anti-Israel criticism. Think of David Ahenakew. A cartoon banned from hallways at the University of Ottawa showed a helicopter marked Israel rocketing a kid in Gaza holding a teddy bear. It's crude, but that's cartooning. There's no anti-Semitism in it. A front-page National Post cartoon showing CUPE Ontario's Sid Ryan offering David Ahenakew a job was far more scurrilous. No one can say Sid Ryan embraces anti-Semites, though he criticizes Israel strongly. Opposition to Israel seems well delineated from anti-Semitism to me.
Most of the specifics come down to shouts at protests. As in: "Cries of 'Die, Jew' and 'Get the hell off campus' were heard." The Canadian Jewish Congress's Bernie Farber says he's "never" seen it this bad "on the streets of Toronto and university campuses." Well, I spend lots of time on streets in Toronto and it doesn't look like Kristallnacht to me. But wait, that's glib. It's these images that scare my friends: They evoke Nazi Germany. I know that.
But Nazi Germany wasn't about name-calling and group hate. Those will persist, perhaps always. The Holocaust occurred largely because anti-Semitism was historically rooted and respectable there: religiously, socially, intellectually, politically. Writers and politicians were proudly anti-Semitic. Here, anti-Semitism is unacceptable in all those ways. This whole debate proves it. We should be glad for that, and keep it in perspective.
Why does perspective matter? Because Israel is now a state among nations and must be held to account, not absolved for fear of igniting a new Holocaust. Israel Apartheid Week should be gauged on its critique of its subject, not anathematized due to shadows and terrors from another time.
Another interesting article. The author Jacques Hersh is professor emeritus of Aalborg University, Denmark and former head of the Research Center on Development and International Relations there.
by Jacques Hersh
Winning the "hearts and minds" of the civilian population, according to counterinsurgency field manuals, is key to defeating the resistance. It is a lesson that imperialists learned a long time ago, but one that they seldom put into practice, let alone successfully impart to their clients. Israel's attack on Gaza is a case in point. The collective punishment visited on the civilians of Gaza by the Israel Defense Forces might be held up as a textbook example of what not to do, if the point of Operation Cast Lead, meticulously planned for at least six months before its commencement, were a counterinsurgency campaign against Hamas and Hamas alone.
But why should we care about Arab and Muslim hearts and minds, the political class of Israel may ask, so long as we have a majority of Western hearts and minds on our side? To be sure, they still do, at least in the United States. Then again, how long? The irony of Operation Cast Lead is that, militarily, it was a cheaper victory than any previous war that the IDF had ever fought, and yet, politically on the world stage, it is, and will probably remain, the costliest in the history of Israel, the war that began to alienate Western hearts and minds from the country that cannot afford to lose them.
And pro-Israeli spin doctors know it. These days, much of their time is occupied by negating comparisons. The attack on the Gaza ghetto is not the same as that on the Warsaw ghetto. What the IDF is doing is not a genocide or holocaust. Etc. No, they are not, as a matter of fact. But, then again, if your defense is reduced to repeating that what you are doing is "not as bad as the Holocaust," it means, well, you are losing.
What Israel is beginning to lose is not just gentile hearts and minds in the West. Its onslaught on Gaza has unleashed an unprecedented wave of Jewish criticisms of Israel, in words (on the Internet, in print, and even on TV) and deeds (participating in, even spearheading, demonstrations, occupations of Israeli consulates, and so on).
That is not surprising.. The Zionist state -- a cross between Sparta (a state ruled by its warrior kings) and Athens (a democracy with a large minority of second-class citizens) -- had long made its progressive Jewish supporters uncomfortable.. Their discomfort grew after Israel's victory in the Six-Day War, which eclipsed the image of the Israeli David facing the Arab Goliath. And it began to snowball as successive Israeli governments, flouting international law and numerous UN resolutions, kept building settlements, at a time (unlike the earliest years of the Zionist state) when anti-colonial movements elsewhere in the world had already decolonized many of the erstwhile colonies of great powers. Meanwhile, its role as an auxiliary to US imperialism even beyond the Middle East (for instance in Central America) also registered in the consciousness of progressive Jews (many of whom, by the way, took part in movements of solidarity with the Central American Left).
What Operation Cast Lead did was to open (or rather bomb) the floodgate, unleashing feelings and opinions thitherto dammed up by the identification with Israel which has been imposed on world Jewry not only by the political class of Israel but also most mainstream Jewish organizations in the disaspora, the organizations that have by and large acted as if they were dogmatic Stalinists doggedly defending all things Soviet Socialist, including the most indefensible, and purging all heretics from their ranks.
It may be said that a Jewish "Glasnost" has begun. This Glasnost, unlike the one that eventually led to the end of the Soviet Union, is not initiated from above by elite reformers, but for the most part from below, by countless ordinary Jews no longer fearful of purges organized by the apparatchiks of the organizations that claim to represent them.
The incipient Jewish Glasnost may meet an untimely end, however, if new anti-Semitism is allowed to grow.
In its early years, Zionism hardly resonated among the Jewish working classes, nor did it attract many supporters among liberal Jewish professionals or traditional religious Jews. Most politically conscious Jews who searched for a movement for self-emancipation found themselves in socialist movements of one kind or another. It was a massive growth of anti-Semitism in the midst of a great capitalist crisis, culminating in Nazism and the Holocaust, that began to shift the fortune of the Zionist movement.
Conversely, it was the actual waning of anti-Semitism in the West after WW2, especially its dramatic decline through an upsurge of movements against racism in the long sixties, that laid the ground for a Jewish Glasnost today. After all, the raison d'être of a Jewish state, as articulated by Theodor Herzl, is the idea that anti-Semitism cannot be eradicated in the West, so Jews could never be citizens equal to others in the West and must therefore emigrate from it. Most Jews, at home in the West, no longer believe that at the bottom of their hearts. Today, anti-Semitism of National Socialist vintage is a residual ideology. The most haunting Other against whom we are exhorted to unite to defend the so-called "Western Civilization" wears not a yarmulke but a turban in the style of the infamous Danish cartoons.
That is not to say that anti-Semitism has already ceased to exist altogether. It is being given a new lease on life by those who, purposely or inadvertently, identify world Jewry with the state of Israel, whether they are for or against the Jewish state. The Jewish Glasnost is the best weapon against the Zionists who endeavor to make all Jews identify with Israel and defend it at all times, whether its conduct is right or wrong. For the Jewish Glasnost to succeed, however, gentiles on the Left must see to it that none among the critics of Israel shall ever conflate world Jewry with the political class of Israel..
Jacques Hersh is professor emeritus of Aalborg University, Denmark and former head of the Research Center on Development and International Relations there.
Excellent article written by a prominent American Jewish academic. Saul Landau is Professor Emeritus, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Ed Corrigan
Progreso Weekly, March 5, 11, 2009
Most Jews I know get little pleasure from the existence of Israel; just the opposite. They feel disgusted by the behavior of their tribal kin toward Palestinians. This antipathy doesn't concern Israel's right to exist, a phony argument still maintained by hard line Zionists. Israel exists, period. Most of the world recognizes that. Anyone wanting to eliminate it belongs in the loony bin or prison.
Israelis have just elected a right wing majority. The number three vote-getting party, Yisrael Beytenu led by Avigdor Lieberman, will occupy a strong place in the new government. Lieberman will become a Minister in the Netanyahu Cabinet. Last year, Lieberman rammed through Israel's Central Election Committee a ban on Arab political parties. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled the ban unconstitutional before the recent election. Lieberman also demanded the Knesset expel Arab Members. He went further. If Arab citizens of Israel don't sign oaths of loyalty to Israel, they should have their citizenship revoked. Disloyalty for Arabs included students wearing keffiyehs to school; Muslim Israelis collecting medicine and aid for Gaza relief also falls into the non-trustworthy category.
During the 2008-9 invasion of Gaza, Lieberman wanted the military operation to continue until Hamas "loses the will to fight." In a speech at Bar-Ilan University, he said Israel's government had "to come to a decision that we will break the will of Hamas to keep fighting." Lieberman concluded in the January 13 Jerusalem Post: "We must continue to fight Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II. Then, too, the occupation of the country was unnecessary." In 1945, U.S. Air Force planes dropped atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Japan surrendered unconditionally. Lieberman has acquired a powerful defender in the United States. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, backed Lieberman's plan to require Israeli Arab citizens to sign an oath of allegiance to the Jewish state." (Feb 10, Jewish Telegraphic Agency) Foxman ignored the ADL's mission, opposing racial discrimination and the words of the ADL Charter.
The Anti-Defamation League aims "to secure justice and fair treatment to all." In Israel, it's apparently OK with Foxman to strip an Arab wearing the wrong covering of citizenship. Without citizenship, Arabs can't vote or participate in politics; very old Jews from some European countries may recall similar rules. My grandfather taught me, growing up during the Holocaust, that Jewish tradition teaches each person to strive to become a pillar of ethics, learn the law and behave so as to answer to God for transgressions -- not to rulers of a so-called Jewish state. Ironically, in the name of all Jews, Foxman and colleagues in AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and other Israeli lobby groups along with right wing and centrist political parties in Israel invoke the Holocaust to justify the very behavior embodied by Holocaust initiators. Israel calls itself a Jewish state. Yet, one fifth of Israel's population is non-Jewish. I don't belong to that state and despise its policies of constant war and occupation. Count Israel's wars: 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, plus civil wars against two Intifadas in the 1980s and 2000, and finally the invasions of Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in late 2008, the latter leaving in its wake 1,300-plus dead Palestinians, most of them civilians and less than 20 Israelis, some from "friendly fire."
Condemned by the Red Cross, Amnesty International and a host of organizations for violating human rights of Gaza's people, Israel's new government will almost certainly continue or even harden the policies. They don't care what others say. Dr. Erik Fosse, a Norwegian cardiologist, working in Gaza hospitals during the Israeli invasion described his patients' wounds. "It was as if they had stepped on a mine," he says of certain Palestinian. "But there was no shrapnel in the wound. Some had lost their legs. It looked as though they had been sliced off. I have been to war zones for 30 years, but I have never seen such injuries before." The "focused lethality" weapon, to which Fosse referred, does minimal damage to buildings, but catastrophic harm to humans.
The United States supplied these to Israel. (Conn Hallinan, Foreign Policy in Focus, February 11, 2009) Israeli Defense Forces have also used white phosphorus in Beirut in 1982, and again in Gaza. The intense heat of the metal inflicts appalling damage. The IDF knows international law prohibits its use near populated areas. Donatella Rovera of Amnesty International labeled as "a war crime" the use of phosphorous "in Gaza's densely-populated residential neighborhoods." (Guardian, January 21, 2009) Israel initially denied using the chemical. On January 13, Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi solemnly declared: "The IDF acts only in accordance with what is permitted by international law and does not use white phosphorus." Gazans and Israelis, however, saw the material and the victims of it.
On January 20, the IDF admitted using phosphorus artillery and mortar shells on "Hamas fighters and rocket launching crews in northern Gaza." On January 15, three shells hit the UN Relief and Works Agency compound. The resulting fire destroyed tons of humanitarian supplies. A phosphorus shell also hit Al-Quds hospital in Gaza City. According to the Guardian, the Israelis claimed Hamas fighters had hidden near the two targets. Witnesses denied the charge. (January 21, 2009) UN officials cited witnesses who claimed Israel killed 31 family members whom Israeli troops had led into a house in Zeitun. Twenty four hours after the IDF warned the Palestinians to remain, the IDF shelled the dwelling. Half of the dead were children.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) called it "one of the gravest incidents since the beginning of operations" by Israeli forces in Gaza. (AFP, December 27, 2008). Such facts caused distinguished people like Jimmy Carter and Bill Moyers to question Israeli behavior. Foxman quickly labeled Moyers as anti-Semitic. Those opposing Israel's invasion of Gaza, or her occupying of Palestinian territory (for 40 plus years), or her mistreatment of all Palestinians receive the anti-Semitic label. Any criticism of Israel begets that description. In discussions with Jewish defenders of the recent invasion of Gaza, however, I found more defensiveness. During one argument an ardent pro Israeli changed the subject. "But Israel enjoys free speech and press!" Yes, a small minority vigorously criticize Israeli government policy -- there, not here in the United States, where a Member of Congress characterized an attack by the Israeli lobby as the equivalent of a pit bull biting him in the leg. Israeli's daily Ha'aretz provides an example of such criticism, including articles damning the latest invasion as both a failure and immoral (Gideon Levy, February 19, 2009).
Similar criticism in a U.S. newspaper would cause Foxman and company to call major press conferences to "expose anti-Semitism." When Jimmy Carter published his 2006 book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, critical of Israeli policy, Foxman stopped just short of accusing the former President. "You have been feeding into conspiracy theories about excessive Jewish power and control," he wrote in a letter. "Considering the history of anti-Semitism, even in our great country, this is very dangerous stuff." (Shmuel Rosner, Ha'artez Dec. 20, 2006) When less powerful Jewish American scholars write books or give lectures attacking Israeli policy, they get fired or their tenure withheld.
Norman Finkelstein (son of Holocaust survivors) was denied tenure in 2007 by the President of DePaul University, despite favorable recommendations by faculty and students. In 2000, he published The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering. The President of Bard College recently dismissed Joel Kovel, another internationally applauded scholar. Kovel's 2007 book, Overcoming Zionism, triggered the action. In the Finkelstein case, an important Zionist activist, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, demanded the action. He had threatened Finkelstein with lawsuits after Finkelstein accused him of plagiarism and lying -- charges documented in his 2005 book, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. (University of California Press) Kovel attacked militant Israeli supporter Martin Peretz, longtime editor of The New Republic. The ADL supported both dismissals. In past decades, ADL vibrated with anger over anti-Semitic signs spray painted on subway bathroom walls. Now, its leader endorses a McCarthyite platform in his beloved Israel. Anyone who does not conform to ADL's fiercely pro Zionist agenda becomes vulnerable to accusations of anti-Semitism. From 1998-2006, I occasionally invited speakers to campus who criticized Israeli policy. Inevitably, I would then receive letters, e-mails (copies to the University President), and phone calls accusing me of bias or being a "self-hating Jew." "How can you say that?" I asked one caller. "You don't know me." "You're all alike, you people who hate Israel," the man responded. "You're the Jew-hating Jew," I responded. "You hate me and don't know me. I wish you could listen to your own voice." "I know anti-Semites when I talk to them," he shouted into the phone and hung up. "Long Live Israel," scream the U.S. fans. "Anyone who doesn't like our team is an anti-Semite." I want to shout: "Go Back to Israel where you didn't come from." Saul Landau is Professor Emeritus, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona..
By Paul J. Balles 8 March 2009
Paul J. Balles considers how Zionists in positions of authority at academic institutions in the United States are persecuting and defaming anyone who dares to criticize Israel or even mention Palestinian rights.
About the worst thing one can do in America or Europe is to criticize Israel. "Freedom" even in academia doesn't allow critical comments about Israel or Zionism. Those who risk it can lose their jobs and be labelled anti-Semitic bigots. Joel Kovel was terminated from Bard College after 20 years of service because of "differences between myself and the Bard administration on the issue of Zionism". The president of Bard, Leon Botstein, didn't consider Kovel's critiques of Zionism to be protected academic freedom. The worst of the critic bashers is Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. He spearheaded a campaign against Norman Finkelstein's tenure for writing Beyond Chutzpah, documenting in detail the falsifications in Dershowitz's book The Case for Israel.. After being denied tenure, Finkelstein said: "I met the standards of tenure DePaul required, but it wasn't enough to overcome the political opposition to my speaking out on the Israel-Palestine conflict." In his 2008 book, The Case Against Israel's Enemies, Dershowitz defamed many who have been critical of Israel, calling them bigots or labelling them anti-Semitic. Dershowitz has led the pack attacking Israel's critics. On former President Jimmy Carter, Dershowitz wrote: "Whatever the reason or reasons for Jimmy Carter's recent descent into the gutter of bigotry, history will not judge him kindly." Attacking University of Chicago Professor John J. Mearsheimer and Harvard University Professor Stephen M. Walt, who together authored The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy (2007), Dershowitz wrote: "They are hate-mongers who have given up on scholarly debate and the democratic process in order to become rock-star heroes of anti-Israel extremists." Writing about the British University and College Union (UCU) boycott of Israeli educators and academic institutions, Dershowitz explained how he and others "wrote an op-Ed piece for the Times of London, in which we demonstrated parallels between this boycott and previous anti-Jewish boycotts that were undoubtedly motivated by anti-Semitism". On another front, Roosevelt University of Chicago at Illinois fired a philosophy and religion professor for allowing students in his class to ask questions about Judaism and Islam. The chair of the department, Susan Weininger, fired the professor, Douglas Giles, saying that students should not be allowed to ask whatever questions they want in class. Weininger said that free discussion in world religions could "open up Judaism to criticism". Any such material, she said, was not permissible to be mentioned in class discussion, textbooks or examinations. Further, she ordered Giles to forbid any and all discussion of the "Palestinian issue", any mention of Palestinian rights, the Muslim belief in the holiness of Jerusalem, and Zionism. When Professor Giles refused to censor his students, Weininger fired him. One of the worst types of Zionist harassment involves cases of Muslims generally and Palestinians in particular for speaking out on behalf of their favourite causes. The US government has often been complicit in these cases. One such case involves Dr Sami Al-Arian who taught computer engineering at the University of South Florida before his arrest in 2004. Al-Arian was charged with raising money and otherwise assisting Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a group the US government declared a terrorist organization in 1995. At trial in 2005, he was acquitted on eight of 17 counts, and the jury deadlocked on the other counts. All counts were trumped up by Zionist prosecutors who wanted to silence Al-Arian.
If anything could vaguely approach justice in this case, the Israelis who have been slaughtering Palestinians for half a century would have been labelled terrorists and brought to trial for committing much worse deeds than Al-Arian.
The gravest injustice allows Zionists to silence honest critics for violating the Zionist taboo.
Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. For more information, see http://www.pballes.com.
Hermann Dierkes is a respected politician with an honorable record of campaigning for social and political justice in the German Rhineland city of Duisburg. He represented his party Die Linke (The Left Party) on Duisburg City Council, campaigning tirelessly on anti-racist and anti-fascist issues. Most recently, he was his party's candidate for the post of Lord Mayor.
On 18 February 2009 Dierkes addressed a public meeting on the question of Palestine. To the question of how to take action against the injustice being suffered by Palestinians, he responded that the recent World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil had proposed an arms embargo, sanctions and the boycott of Israeli exports. He added: "We should no longer accept that in the name of the Holocaust and with the support of the government of the Federal Republic [of Germany] such grave violations of human rights can be perpetrated and tolerated ... Everyone can help strengthen pressure for a different politics, for example by boycotting Israeli products."
A few days later, Dierkes gave an interview to the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ), a conservative paper based in the nearby city of Essen. He explained the demands of the World Social Forum, and requested that the published interview should stress that this had nothing to do with anti-Semitism -- a qualification that invariably needs to be made in Germany, except when there is suspicion of Islamophobia. Predictably, his precautions were in vain; scenting a political coup, the reporter published his article without including the qualification.
All hell broke loose. In the 25 February edition of Bild -- Germany's best-selling and most obnoxious daily paper -- Dieter Graumann, Vice-President of the Central Jewish Council, accused him of "pure anti-Semitism." WAZ editorialist Achim Beer decried Dierke's "careless Nazi utterances," comparing his words to "a mass execution at the edge of a Ukrainian forest." Hendrik Wuest, General Secretary of the CDU (the Christian Democratic Party), warned that "the Nazi propaganda" emanating from Die Linke is "intolerable." Michael Groschek -- General Secretary of the local branch of the Social Democratic Party, which shares power nationally with the CDU -- played electoral politics with the claim that "[a]nyone playing electoral politics with such anti-Israeli utterances sets himself outside the rules of the democratic game."
Worse still, Dierke's own party failed to stand by him unambiguously. Press spokesperson Alrun Nuesslein opined that if Israel is criticized because "the population in the Gaza Strip is collectively punished by the ... closure of border crossings, it is equally impossible for us to punish the Israeli population" by means of a boycott of Israeli goods, particularly "in the context of German history," a mantra with which Germans routinely absolve themselves of their historic responsibility towards the Palestinians.
Other voices within the party took a more strident tone. Petra Pau, Vice President of the Bundestag (German Parliament), said Dierke's words "awake unspeakable associations and employ dubious cliches." Left Party politicians in Dierke's own area condemned his "anti-Jewish endeavors" (Guenter Will) and "anti-Semitic utterances" (Anna Lena Orlowski).
Events took their predestined course, and on 26 February Dierkes resigned his position within Die Linke and withdrew his mayoral candidacy. In an open letter to his party colleagues, pointing out that he had been the victim of "a public stoning" and of a campaign that was "a terrible mixture of the gravest insults and defamation, Islamophobic hatred, hatred of immigrants, and murder threats," he maintained that "[t]he victims of the Shoah and the heroes of the Warsaw Jewish rising would turn away with horror [could they see] with what malice and toward what ends they are being instrumentalized in order to justify ... the undemocratic and murderous politics of the Israeli government."
A quick perusal of the German blogosphere throws up countless repetitions of the phrase "kauft nicht beim Juden!" -- "don't buy from the Jew!" -- a slogan from the Nazi era that no longer serves to defame Jews but rather those who seek justice for the Palestinians. However, Jews aren't entirely immune from this weapon: in the respected weekly Die Zeit (15 January 2009) a certain Thomas Assheuer turned it against the Canadian Jewish author Naomi Klein after the British Guardian published her call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Given that Klein had carefully specified that BDS should be aimed at Israeli institutions and not individuals, this piece of defamation was particularly crass.
It appears that freedom of speech, supposedly one of the proudest acquisitions of post-Fascist Germany, is readily suppressed when exercised to advocate positive action against the racist, politicidal institutions and actions of the Zionist state. Indeed so brutal and venomous was the response to Hermann Dierke's remarks, and so instantaneous and unanimous the recourse, however ironic, to Nazi sloganeering, that it is difficult not to be reminded of the rhetoric promulgated by Julius Streicher's vile paper Der Stuermer between 1923 and 1945 and not to feel that the same atavistic sources that once disgorged Jew-hatred are now being tapped in this virulent and unceasing campaign against the advocacy of Palestinian rights. The Palestinians, after all, stand in the way of the establishment of a racial Jewish state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river, an eventuality that the German establishment deludedly sees as somehow shriving its own past crimes.
It has to be said that ordinary German people are, by and large, as unimpressed by philosemitic hysteria as they are by anti-Semitism. It remains to be seen how those people who have repeatedly voted for Hermann Dierkes because they see him as an honest and reliable politician -- something as rare in Germany as elsewhere -- will react to being robbed of their representative by such a campaign of hatred and defamation on behalf of a quasi-fascist state.
Finally, it will be interesting to see if this debacle induces Die Linke to reconsider whether it is more appropriate to adopt a principled position on Israel than to continue playing to the gallery of rightist pressure-groups that have taken upon themselves the task of perpetuating unconditional German support for Israel. It is hard to feel optimistic about this.
Raymond Deane is an Irish composer and activist (www.raymonddeane.com).
Anti-Israel protest staged at Sweden tennis matchhttp://www.reuters.com/news/pictures/articleslideshow?articleId=USTRE5261R220090307&channelName=worldNews#a=1
Mauritania expels Israeli ambassador
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent, and Agencies