MAY DAY 2007

Below is a slightly updated version of a post I did in honour of May Day last year.

Tommorow, May 1st will be the 121st anniversary of the first May Day. A Holiday born in the United States of America, but officially celebrated in most countries EXCEPT the United States.
A Holiday born out of the struggles of the American Working Class… a day set aside for workers to demonstrate and put forth their demands to the government.

A day where the most progressive of the Union’s leadership would address the mass rallies of the workers. Pictured here is Henry Foner, addressing a May Day Rally in New York’s Union Square in 1952.

A Day that the government saw fit to ignore and to establish a different day for the Workers… a day in September called Labor Day. But, nothing can take away from the glorious history of May Day. It will continue to be celebrated throughout the world, including the U.S.of A.

It will be recognised by all who work for their wages… by all who want peace and justice in our world. In every nation by every race. No one can stop that.

So on that special day, remember those that struggled and gave their lives to make this a better place for all of us. In their memory continue that struggle till victory is won.

HAPPY HOLIDAY!

PEACE AND DIVERSITY VIA SESAME STREET

Looks like what isn’t being done in reality will be tried on children’s television in Israel/Palestine.
‘Positive role models’ the producers say…for boys in the West Bank and Gaza…. What about positive role models for the dregs of zionist settlers in the Occupied Territories…. Hebron specifically.

I’m game for anything that can lead to peace and understanding…. but it’s got to come from both sides… and it’s got to start for real…. not just on Sesame Street.

The following Associated Press report just appeared on HaAretz’s site…

After decade off the air, Sesame Street returns to Israel, PA By The Associated Press
New Israeli version includes first bilingual Israeli Arab puppet; Palestinian version to offer positive role models for boys in West Bank, Gaza.

Years after the original version of Israel’s Sesame Street went off the air, new episodes are about to be broadcast in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, producers announced Sunday.

Puppet regimes are back in the Middle East and once again, they’re promoting peace, diversity and the importance of brushing your teeth.

As with the popular United States program, designed to enhance basic educational content for youngsters, producers tailored the Mideast casts and story lines to fit the audiences.

Rechov Sumsum, Israel’s version of the show, for the first time includes a Muppet of Arab origin. Its Palestinian counterpart, Shara’s Simsim, seeks to offer positive role models to boys in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“It’s really about respect and tolerance,” said Gary Knell, president of Sesame Workshop, the New York-based nonprofit group behind Sesame Street programming worldwide. “We know that television teaches – the question is, ‘What does it teach?'”

Knell said the goal is to counter negative influence of society, because children as young as three can begin to demonstrate prejudice.

“They’re not born with this, he said. They’re learning it from their parents, from the community, from friends,” he said.

In coordination with the re-launching of the shows, officials announced the distribution of Muppet-themed educational kits to children throughout Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

“It opens up a new way to deal with issues of conflict,” Education Minister Yuli Tamir said at a ceremony in a Jerusalem kindergarten, “just teaching children how to live together, how to work together with each other despite their differences.”

The ceremony followed more than a week of meetings Knell had with top political figures in the region, seeking funding and support for local Sesame Street productions.

Earlier Sunday, he met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s wife Aliza. On Saturday, while in Ramallah to mark the upcoming broadcast of 15 new episodes there, he met with Saeb Erekat, a top aide to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and a longtime negotiator with the Israeli government.

Last week, Knell met with Queen Rania of Jordan and Suzanne Mubarak, wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

“There’s a desire of the political leaders to change the endless debate that seems to be passed down from generation to generation,” he said.

Launched in the United States in the late 1960s, Sesame Street is currently broadcast in more than 120 countries, Knell said.

The Israeli version enjoyed wide success when first aired in the early 1980s. A lack of funds stopped production of new episodes for more than a decade, but producers relaunched the show last winter.

The new version features the show’s first Israeli-Arab muppet, Mahboub, who speaks both Hebrew and Arabic.

Human actors on the new version include Jewish immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia.

WE SUFFERED…. NOW YOU MUST

Carlos Latuff (Welcome To Palestine)

Does the Holocaust justify occupation? Does it justify a new genocide?
Does it allow those who suffered to inflict that suffering on others?
Some seem to think so… There have been forums, discussions, blogs, books, you name it… there have been conferences denying the Holocaust ever took place…. as if that will take away from the suffering going on today.
The Holocaust was real… so is the genocide of today. One does NOT justify the other… in fact, one should guarantee it never happens again.
Amira Hass does a brilliant job in explaining just who is using the horrors of yesterday to perpetuate them today. It originally appeared in HaAretz… presented here via Znet

The Holocaust as political asset
by Amira Hass
April 29, 2007

Ha’aretz

The cynicism inherent in the attitude of the institutions of the Jewish state to Holocaust survivors is not a revelation to those born and living among them. We grew up with the yawning gap between the presentation of the State of Israel as the place of the Jewish people’s rebirth and the void that exists for every Holocaust survivor and his family. The personal “rehabilitation” was dependent on the circumstances of each person: the stronger ones versus the others, who did not find support from the institutions of the state. During the 1950s and 1960s we saw the demeaning view of our parents as having gone “like sheep to the slaughter,” the shame of the new Jews, the Sabras, over their misfortunate, Diaspora relatives.

It can be argued that during the first two decades, much of this attitude could be attributed to the lack of information and the very human lack of an ability to grasp the full meaning of the industrialized genocide perpetrated by Germany. But the awareness of the material aspects of the Holocaust started very early, with Jewish and Zionist institutions starting in the early 1940s to discuss the possibility of demanding reparations. In 1952, the reparations agreement with Germany was signed, by which that country agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to Israel to cover the absorption costs of the survivors and pay for their rehabilitation. The agreement obligated Germany to compensate survivors individually as well, but the German law differentiated between those who belonged to the “circle of German culture” and others. Those who were able to prove a connection to the superior circle received higher sums, even if they emigrated in time from Germany. Concentration camp survivors from outside the “circle” received the ridiculous sum of 5 marks per day. The Israeli representatives swallowed this distortion.

This is part of the roots of financial cynicism that the media is being exposed to today, due to several reasons: the advanced age and declining health of survivors, the intentional weakening of the welfare state, the presence of survivors from the former Soviet Union who are not included in the reparations agreement, the media activism of nongovernmental welfare organizations and the welcome enlistment of social affairs journalists.

They are shocked by the gap between the official appropriation of the Holocaust, which is perceived in Israel as understood and justified, and the abandonment of survivors.

Turning the Holocaust into a political asset serves Israel primarily in its fight against the Palestinians. When the Holocaust is on one side of the scale, along with the guilty (and rightly so) conscience of the West, the dispossession of the Palestinian people from their homeland in 1948 is minimized and blurred.

The phrase “security for the Jews” has been consecrated as an exclusive synonym for “the lessons of the Holocaust.” It is what allows Israel to systematically discriminate against its Arab citizens. For 40 years, “security” has been justifying control of the West Bank and Gaza and of subjects who have been dispossessed of their rights living alongside Jewish residents, Israeli citizens laden with privileges.

Security serves the creation of a regime of separation and discrimination on an ethnic basis, Israeli style, under the auspices of “peace talks” that go on forever. Turning the Holocaust into an asset allows Israel to present all the methods of the Palestinian struggle (even the unarmed ones) as another link in the anti-Semitic chain whose culmination is Auschwitz. Israel provides itself with the license to come up with more kinds of fences, walls and military guard towers around Palestinian enclaves.

Separating the genocide of the Jewish people from the historical context of Nazism and from its aims of murder and subjugation, and its separation from the series of genocides perpetrated by the white man outside of Europe, has created a hierarchy of victims, at whose head we stand. Holocaust and anti-Semitism researchers fumble for words when in Hebron the state carries out ethnic cleansing via its emissaries, the settlers, and ignore the enclaves and regime of separation it is setting up. Whoever criticizes Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians is denounced as an anti-Semite, if not a Holocaust denier. Absurdly, the delegitimization of any criticism of Israel only makes it harder to refute the futile equations that are being made between the Nazi murder machine and the Israeli regime of discrimination and occupation.

The institutional abandonment of the survivors is rightly denounced across the board. The transformation of the Holocaust into a political asset for use in the struggle against the Palestinians feed on those same stores of official cynicism, but it is part of the consensus.

PALESTINIANS IN ISRAEL RALLY SUPPORT FOR BISHARA

Over three thousand Palestinians rallied on Saturday in Nazareth. They were unified in declaring that a cruel campaign is being waged against Bishara and the entire Arab population in Israel.
The rally was organised by all of the Arab factions represented in the Israeli Parliament (Knesset).
The following report that appeared on Ynet gives a good account of what took place at the rally.
This has united the entire Palestinian community in Israel, they now know who the enemy is… and as was declared at the rally, “Hizbullah not Israeli Arabs’ enemy!”


Rally in support of Bishara attracts thousands (Photo: AFP)

Hadash official: Hizbullah not Israeli Arabs’ enemy

Over 3,000 attend rally in support of former MK Bishara, Arab leaders speak against Israel’s ‘attack’ on Arab population

Ali Waked

The Balad movement held a rally in support of former Knesset Member Azmi Bishara, who is under investigation for suspected collaboration with the enemy during the Second Lebanon War last summer.

Over 3,000 supporters attended the rally in Nazareth on Saturday, and protested what they defined as “the cruel campaign against Bishara and the Arab population in Israel”.

The rally was organized by all political Arab factions, and featured speakers such as Hadash chairman MK Mohammad Barakeh, Sheikh Raed Salah, MK Talab El-Sana, and Higher Arab Monitoring Committee Chairman Shawki Khatib.

“What is Bishara accused of? Collaborating with the enemy? Hizbullah isn’t our enemy, the Israeli occupation is the enemy. Olmert, Diskin and Lieberman the immigrant will not succeed in removing us from our land,” Hadash’s Secretary-General Ayman Auda said.

Balad Faction Chairman Jamal Zahalka told Ynet ahead of the rally, “The attack is not only against Bishara, but against all Palestinians in Israel.

“Bishara and Balad will not be the only ones hurt by this attack against the Arab public; we are sure this attack will hurt other Arab leaders and parties to the point that they are prevented from running in elections.”

Balad Secretary-General Awad Abdel Fattah claimed that the Arab population in Israel had become the aggressor rather than the victim following the allegations made against Bishara.

“People are saying that we cooperate with the enemy, and soon they’ll say we’re directing tanks towards Tel Aviv. We are being portrayed as a danger,” Abdel Fattah said.

Sheikh Salah said that Israeli Arabs would never agree to leave the State of Israel.

“If the options before us are either to be kicked out or to die on this land – we will take the second option. We may be killed and jailed and we will not leave this land. At the end of the day, we will win,” Salah said.

MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta’al) said that being part of the Palestinian people was a great honor for Israeli Arabs, not a crime.

“Our presence is proof that the Israeli establishment won’t succeed in dividing Arab organizations and parties, and Arab public leadership,” he said.

See also THIS report from HaAretz.

FEATHERS GET RUFFLED IN THE ONE/TWO STATE SOLUTION DEBATE


I posted a controversial piece by Uri Avnery the other day regarding his opinion of the supporters of the One State Solution on the Palestinian crisis.
A few days after that, I posted Ilan Pappe’s response to Avnery.

Both Pappe and Avnery live in Israel. Both have dedicated most of their lives to create a situation in Israel of tolerance and understanding towards the Palestinians. Both have literally laid their lives on the line in dealing with threats from the zionazi forces within Israel, to the point where Pappe now feels forced to leave the country as a result.

No one can question the integrity of these two men. Yes, one can disagree with either, one can respond to their arguments, but to lower oneself to the level of one Roger Tucker, editor and publisher of the One State Net, is a completely different matter. His ridiculous accusations that Avnery, Chomsky and even former President Jimmy Carter are ‘closet zionists’ are not even worth a response. His opinions can be seen HERE, on this essay from Counter Currents. It does not do Pappe’s position any good whatsoever to have such people on his ‘side’.

Virginia Tilly, also of the One State Net, adds fuel to the fire with her essay, presented HERE, also from Counter Currents.
Tilly accuses Avnery of using South Africa as an example when she says “Avnery is also greatly mistaken about the nature of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, about which he knows next to nothing and which he uses and distorts only to serve his efforts to defend Israel from serious and effective international repercussions.” Methinks it might be Ms. Tilly herself that knows next to nothing about Uri Avnery or the crisis facing the Palestinian people today.

The obvious ploy used by Tucker of attacking the men rather than the issues is the same as used by the zionists themselves. To me it demonstrates the shallowness of his positions and whatever arguments he may have to defend them.

As I mentioned in my post about Pappe, the Palestinians, as a people have already made their position clear. When Hamas was given the mandate to rule in the Palestinian Authority, they were given the mandate to pave the way for the creation of a Palestinian State. A state for the Palestinians, Independent and Free… not a state to be shared by their oppressors and occupiers.

Palestinians are a proud and powerful people as demonstrated in this wonderful image by our dear Brother Carlos Latuff. They will not be broken and they will see a state of their own soon.

SARI NUSSEIBEH SPEAKS


Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Last week I posted about the upcoming publication of a new book by Sari Nusseibeh, entitled Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life. I referred to him as the as ‘ The Palestinian Darling of the Israeli Left’. The post about him can be read HERE.

As was mentioned on my previous post, Nusseibeh is a man not heard of very often these days. He has been buried deep in the world of academia and has not been seen in the political arena. By writing the book he has brought to life the old saying of ‘Publish or Perish‘. It seems to be working as an interview with him is now featured in the Magazine Section of today’s Jerusalem Post. It was the first mention of his book that I have seen in the Israeli press.
It’s a long interview, but one definitely worth reading.

His views on the Two State Solution, his views on coexistence, his views on peace come to light in the interview.
Click HERE to read it…. you won’t be sorry.

ISRAEL~ PALESTINE~ TWO NATIONS~ TWO STATES

On Sunday I posted a thread with Uri Avnery’s views on the ‘One State Solution’. Avnery has advocated the ‘Two State Solution’ for the longest time. It is the only solution that makes sense and is the only solution that would guarantee true equality to the Palestinian people in the community of nations. Ilan Pappe seems offended to be lumped in with other Israeli leftists being referred to as ‘daydreamers’ by Avnery for supporting the ‘One State Solution’.

Both of these fine gentlemen use the example of South Africa. Both use the example of apartheid as the greatest stumbling block to the creation of a new state.

What Pappe does not seem to realise is that, regardless of how similar Israel’s policies of apartheid are to what was in South Africa, there is no organisation like the ANC (African National Congress) in Israel or Palestine to change the situation from within. There also isn’t a leader such as Nelson Mandela in either nation. Pressure must be put on Israel by the world community. Only then will justice be served and changes made.

What there is, is a history of occupation of one nation on another. We have a situation in Israel today where Palestinians living in Israel proper, who have Israeli citizenship, are treated as second class citizens. The situation has been magnified with the leadership of these particular Palestinians being treated as common criminals and literally driven out of public office.

What makes Pappe think these things will change? How long does he expect the Palestinian people to wait for that change to happen? The Palestinians deserve better than that. They deserve a land of their own, not one shared with those that do not accept them. They need a State of Palestine, governed by Palestinians, with a Right of Return for those driven out of it. They must be allowed to take their rightful place in the community of nations. This is what they want as proven by the mandate given to Hamas in the Palestinian Authority.

In reality there already is a ‘One State Solution’, and in reality IT IS NOT WORKING.
It’s called OCCUPATION!

The ‘One State Solution’ is definitely not an option for the Palestinians, only for Israeli daydreamers.

The following is Ilan Pappe’s response to Uri Avnery’s essay “Bed of Sodom,” published by Hagada Hasmalit on 22 April 2007:

Uri Avnery accuses the supporters of the one-state solution of forcefully imposing the facts onto the “Bed of Sodom”. He seems to regard these people at best as daydreamers who do not understand the political reality around them and are stuck in a perpetual state of wishful thinking. We are all veteran comrades in the Israeli Left and therefore it is quite possible that in our moments of despair we fall into the trap of hallucinating and even fantasizing while ignoring the unpleasant reality around us.

And therefore the metaphor of the Bed of Sodom may even be fitting for lashing out at those who are inspired by the South African model in their search for a solution in Palestine. But in this case it is a small cot of Sodom compared to the king-size bed onto which Gush Shalom and other similar members of the Zionist Left insist on squeezing their two-state solution. The South African model is young — in fact hardly a year has passed since it was seriously considered — while the formula of two states is sixty years old: an abortive and dangerous illusion that enabled Israel to continue its occupation without facing any significant criticism from the international community.

The South African model is good subject matter for a comparative study — not as an object for a hollow emulation. Certain chapters in the history of the colonization in South Africa and the Zionization of Palestine are indeed nearly identical. The ruling methodology of the white settlers in South Africa resembles very closely that applied by the Zionist movement and later Israel against the indigenous population of Palestine since the end of the 19th century. Ever since 1948, the official Israeli policy against some of the Palestinians is more lenient than that of the Apartheid regime; against other Palestinians it is much worse.

But above all the South African model inspires those concerned with the Palestine cause in two crucial directions: by introducing the one democratic state, it offers a new orientation for a future solution instead of the two-state formula that failed, and it invigorates new thinking of how the Israeli occupation can be defeated — through boycott, divestment, and sanctions (the BDS option).

The facts on the ground are crystal clear: the two-state solution has dismally failed and we have no spare time to waste in futile anticipation of another illusory round of diplomatic efforts that would lead to nowhere. As Avnery admits, the Israeli peace camp has so far failed to persuade the Israeli Jewish society to try the road of peace. A sober and critical assessment of this camp’s size and force leads to the inevitable conclusion that it has no chance whatsoever against the prevailing trends in the Israeli Jewish society. It is doubtful whether it will even keep its very minimal presence on the ground, and there is a great concern that it will disappear all together.

Avnery ignores these facts and alleges that the one-state solution is a dangerous panacea to offer to the critically ill patient. All right, so let us prescribe it gradually. But for God’s sake let us take the patient off of the very dangerous medicine we have been forcing down his throat the last sixty years and which is about to kill him.

For the sake of peace, it is important to expand our research on the South African model and other historical case studies. Because of our failure we should study carefully any other successful struggle against oppression. All these historical case studies show that the struggles from within and from without reinforced each other and were not mutually exclusive. Even when the sanctions were imposed on South Africa, the ANC continued its struggle and white South Africans did not cease from their attempt to convince their compatriots to give up the Apartheid regime. But there was not one single voice that echoes the article of Avnery, which claimed that a strategy of pressure from the outside is wrong because it weakens the chances of change from within. Especially when the failure of the inside struggle is so conspicuous and obvious. Even when the De Klerk government negotiated with the ANC the sanctions regime still continued.

It is also very difficult to understand why Avnery underrates the importance of world public opinion. Without the support this world public opinion gave to the Zionist movement, the Nakba (catastrophe) would not have occurred. Had the international community rejected the idea of partition, a unitary state would have replaced Mandatory Palestine, as indeed was the wish of many members of the UN. However, these members succumbed to a violent pressure by the US and the Zionist lobby and retracted their earlier support for such a solution. And today, if the international community alters its position once more and revises its attitude towards Israel, the chances for ending the occupation would increase enormously and by that maybe also help to avert the colossal bloodshed that would engulf not only the Palestinians but also the Jews themselves.

The call for a one-state solution, and the demand for boycott, divestment and sanctions, has to be read as a reaction against the failure of the previous strategy — a strategy upheld by the political classes but never fully endorsed by the people themselves. And anyone who rejects the new thinking out of hand and in such a categorical manner, may be less bothered by what is wrong with this new option and far more troubled by his own place in history. It is indeed difficult to admit personal as well as collective failure; but for the sake of peace it is sometimes necessary to put aside one’s ego. I am inclined to think that way when I read the false narrative Avnery concocted about the Israeli peace movement’s ‘achievements’ so far. He announces that ‘the recognition of the existence of the Palestinian people has become general, and so has the readiness of most Israelis to accept the idea of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital of both states’. This is a clear case of amputating both the leg and the hand of the patient to fit him to the Bed of Sodom. And even more far-fetched is the declaration that ‘We have compelled our government to recognize the PLO, and we shall compel them to recognize Hamas’ — now that the rest of patient’s limbs have been dispensed with (sorry for the gruesome metaphor but I am forced into it by Avnery’s choice). These assertions have very little in common with the position of the Jewish public in Israel towards peace from 1948 until today. But facts can sometime confuse the issue.

But in order to stifle any debate on the one-state solution or the BDS option, Avnery draws from his magic hat the winning card: ‘but beneath the surface, in the depths of national consciousness, we are succeeding’. Let us thus provide the Palestinians with metal detectors and X-ray equipment — they may discover not only the tunnel, but also the light at its end. The truth is that what lies in the deepest layers of the Israeli national consciousness is far worse from what appears on the surface. And let us hope that this remains there forever and does not bubble to the surface. These are deposits of dark and primitive racism that if allowed to flow over will drown us all in a sea of hatred and bigotry.

Avnery is right when he asserts that ‘there is no doubt that 99.99 percent of Jewish Israelis want the State of Israel to exist as a state with a robust Jewish majority, whatever its borders’. A successful boycott campaign will not change this position in a day, but will send a clear message to this public that these positions are racist and unacceptable in the 21st century. Without the cultural and economical oxygen lines the West provides to Israel, it would be difficult for the silent majority there to continue and believe that it is possible both to be a racist and a legitimate state in the eyes of the world. They would have to choose, and hopefully like De Klerk they will make the right decision.

Avnery is also convinced that Adam Keller debunked most successfully the argument for a boycott by pointing out that the Palestinians in the occupied territories did not give in to boycott. This is indeed a fine comparison: a political prisoner lies nailed to the ground and dares to resist; as a punishment he is denied even the meager food he received hitherto. His situation is compared to a person who occupied illegally this prisoner’s house and who for the first time is facing the possibility of being brought to justice for his crimes. Who has more to lose? When is the threat mere cruelty and when is it a justified means to rectify a past evil?

The boycott will not happen, states Avnery. He should talk with the veterans of the anti-Apartheid movement in Europe. Twenty years passed before they convinced the international community to take action. And they were told, when they began their long journey, that it will not work — that too many strategic and economic interests are involved and invested in South Africa.

Moreover, adds Avnery, in places such as Germany the idea of boycotting the victims of the Nazis would be rejected out of hand. Quite to the contrary. The action that already has been taken in this direction in Europe has ended the long period of Zionist manipulation of the Holocaust memory. Israel can no longer justify its crimes against the Palestinians in the name of the Holocaust. More and more people in Europe realize that that the criminal policies of Israel abuse the Holocaust memory and this is why so many Jews are members in the movement for boycott. This is also why the Israeli attempt to cast the accusation of anti-Semitism against the supporters of the boycott has met with contempt and resilience. The members of the new movement know that their motives are humanist and their impulses are democratic. For many of them their actions are triggered not only by universal values but also by their respect for the Judeo-Christian heritage of history. It would have been best for Avnery to use his immense popularity in Germany to demand from the society there to recognize their share not only in the Holocaust but also in the Palestinian catastrophe and that in the name of that recognition to ask them to end their shameful silence in the face of the Israeli atrocities in the occupied territories.

Towards the end of his article, Avnery sketches the features of the one-state solution out of the present reality. And thus because he does not include the return of the refugees or a change in the regime as components of the solution he describes today’s dismal reality as tomorrow vision. This is indeed an unworthy reality to fight for and nobody I know is struggling for it. But the vision of a one-state solution has to be the exact opposite of the present Apartheid state of Israel as was the post-Apartheid state in South Africa; and this is why this historical case study is so illuminating for us.

We need to wake up. The day Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush declared their loyal support for the two-state solution, this formula became a cynical means by which Israel can maintain its discriminatory regime inside the 1967 borders, its occupation in the West Bank and the ghettoization of the Gaza Strip. Anyone who blocks a debate over alternative political models allows the discourse of two states to shield the criminal Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories.

Moreover, not only are there no stones left in the occupied territories with which to build a state after Israel ruined the infrastructure there in the last six years, a reasonable partition is not offering the Palestinian a mere 20 percent of their homeland. The basis should be at least half of the homeland, on the basis of the 181 partition route, or a similar idea. Here is another useful avenue to explore, instead of embroiling forever inside the Sodom and Gomorrah stew that the two-state solution has produced so far on the ground.

And finally, there will be no solution to this conflict with a settlement of the Palestinian refugee problem. These refugees cannot return to their homeland for the same reason that their brothers and sisters are being expelled from greater Jerusalem and alongside the wall and their relatives are discriminated against in Israel. They cannot return for the same reason that every Palestinian is under the potential danger of occupation and expulsion as long as the Zionist project has not been completed in the eyes of its captains.

They are entitled to opt for return because it is their full human and political right. They can return because the international community had already promised them that they could. We as the Jews should want them to return because otherwise we will continue to live in a state where the value of ethnic superiority and supremacy overrides any other human and civil value. And we cannot promise ourselves, as well as the refugees, such a fair and just solution within the framework of the two-state formula.

Ilan Pappe is senior lecturer in the University of Haifa Department of political Science and Chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies in Haifa. His books include, among others, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (London and New York 1992), The Israel/Palestine Question (London and New York 1999), A History of Modern Palestine (Cambridge 2003), The Modern Middle East (London and New York 2005) and his latest, Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006).

ADOPTION~~ THE CHILD COMMODITIES MARKET— A GUEST POST

The following is a Guest Post by a very dear friend and former schoolmate, Mirah Riben. The original can be seen HERE.

Big Business In Babies:

Adoption, The Child Commodities Market

Adoption was once a process by which the community took responsibility for orphans. Increased access to birth control pills and legal abortion, and a lessening of the stigma of single parenting, coupled with an increase in infertility resulted in a demand for babies that outstrips the “supply.” And where there is demand – be it for diamonds, drugs, sex, or babies – corruption follows.

Adoption is racist. The scarcity of “white American-born babies” has led to an increase in international adoptions, fracturing family ties and heritage in what some are calling cultural genocide. Madonna was criticized. Angelina confounds. Westerners, however, continue to believe that adoption “rescues” orphans; though saving children from poverty, one at a time, does nothing to ameliorate the conditions that continue to produce them. And, many so-called orphans are in fact stolen, kidnapped, or their parents were coerced to relinquish them under false pretenses to be sold on the black and gray adoption markets with prices set by age, alleged health, skin color, gender and nationality.

As Americans import mostly light-skinned babies, non-white children are left behind, and the number of black, American-born babies adopted by overseas families has increased significantly in recent years, with black babies being placed with Canadian couples more than ever before. Adoption trends follow poverty and sociopolitical upheaval from Latin America to Asia and Eastern Europe. Since the 1990s, China and Russia have become the largest exporters of children for international adoption. Unrest and poverty in these nations makes them ripe for corruption and trafficking. In April 2007, the U.S. State Department confirmed that Guatemalan babies are kidnapped for adoption and other mothers pressured to sell their babies by corrupt, inadequately supervised notaries. The previous month, a Utah adoption agency was indicted for “systematically misleading birth parents in Samoa into signing away rights to their children while telling adoptive parents in the United States that the children had been abandoned and were orphans” (“Pacific Islands Report: Utah Agency Indicted In Samoa Adoption Scam,” March 5, 2007 http://pidp.eastwestcenter.org/pireport/2007/March/03-05-01.htm). All of this while UNICEF is investigating child trafficking and babies being sold for adoption in Nepal (Nepal: Unicef On Inter-Country Adoption http://peacejournalism.com/ReadArticle.asp?ArticleID=17655).

As abuses are exposed, countries are restricting out-of-country adoption of their children. According to Ethica, a nonprofit adoption advocacy organization, 13 countries have suspended or ended their adoption programs in the past 15 years and four more countries temporarily stopped adoptions to investigate allegations of corruption or child trafficking. The U.S. passage of the 2005 Trafficking Victim Protection Reauthorization Act verified recognition of international adoption providing an incentive for child trafficking. Yet, ethnocentricity and a national policy of spreading democracy and the American way of life to the world, combined with a desire to parent, continues the romanticized “rescue” myth.

Free enterprise in America is a breeding ground for adoption scams, exploitation and coercion as infant adoptions have become a multi-billion dollar privatized, entrepreneurial industry. The patchwork of laws that vary from state to state create a playground for unscrupulous attorneys—some working in conjunction with facilitators, procurers, or “match-makers” placing ads to lure those in crisis. Unethical adoption attorneys, such as Maxine Buckmeier, Seymour Kurtz and others, are masters at using legal loopholes to their advantage. They set up shop in one state, advertise in another, send expectant mothers to another state and finalize the adoption in yet another. They isolate expectant mothers from their families and create a dependent bond with them by having prospective adopters pay their living and medical expenses and virtually hold them hostage, blackmailing them to relinquish or pay back those expenses.

Randall B. Hicks, an adoption attorney in Riverside, California, and author of Adopting in America, said facilitators are “not licensed nor trained to do anything.” Along with physicians and attorneys—with no training in child welfare or adoption—others such as a Artie Elgart, former car parts salesman and Ellen Roseman, a former flight attendant arrange the transfer of custody of our most vulnerable citizens.

According to Ann Babb author of Ethics in American Adoption there is “no professional association or academics, no certification or licensing procedures, no professional recognition as adoption specialists, and no training or educational qualifications.” Adoption “[p]rofessionals have yet to develop uniform ethical standards… or to make meaningful attempts to monitor their own profession,” says Babb. “In other professions and occupations, licensing or certification in a specialty must be earned before an individual can offer expert services in an area. The certified manicurist may not give facials; the certified hair stylist may not offer manicures ….Yet…individuals with professions as different as social work and law, marriage and family therapy, and medicine may call themselves ‘adoption professionals.’”

Alex Valdez Jr., spokesman for the California Department of Social Services, said, “Essentially, [adoption facilitators] are required to have a business license, publish a list of their services, and [have a] $10,000 bond before they hang a shingle.” These untrained facilitators receive $6,000 to $20,000 often just to introduce prospective adopters to an expectant mother who may or may not decide to surrender her child for adoption. If a match fails, a facilitator can bring the same expectant or new mom to another couple and collect yet again, making adoption risky business for all of the parties involved—the mothers who have their parental rights irrevocably relinquished, those attempting to adopt, as well as the children whose custody is being permanently transferred. Adoption practitioners being paid for results leads to slip-shod home studies that have put many adopted children in serious danger. Since 1996 more than a dozen children adopted from Russia by Americans have been killed by their adopters. Others adopted from Russia and elsewhere have been physically and sexually abused, caged, starved, and criminally neglected. At least two such children were adopted by pedophiles for the specific purpose of rape and child pornography.

Adoption, which was a means of providing care for children who needed it, has become a perverse business of providing children for those who feel entitled to one. Consumerism has led many westerners, particularly Americans, to believe that if they can afford “it” they deserve to have “it”—even when “it” is a human child. Adoption needs to return to basics. We need to halt profiteering from what should be a social service to protect families and children in need. Adoption can only guarantee a different life, not necessarily a “better” one. Adoption moves children from lower to higher socio-economic status, yet even when a child is adopted into a loving, caring family who may provide a more prosperous lifestyle—the end result does not justify the means if the child was kidnapped, stolen or their mothers coerced, deceived or exploited. Adoptions that obliterate a person’s original identity and leave him no legal access to his family are a risk and a violation of human rights as expressed by UNICEF.

All adoptions are not the happily-ever-after fairy tales we’d like them to be. Many are sad and sordid. For this reason we need to stop promoting “adoption” without distinguishing between those that are necessary and in the best interest of children and are handled ethically—from those which are not. The former deserves support; the latter needs to be exposed and ended. We need to stop glamorizing foreign adoption as a rescue mission but recognize that every international adoption leaves behind half a million children in U.S. foster care. Of those, 134,000 children cannot be reclaimed by family members. Adoptions of such children only are worthy of promoting and financial aiding in the form of taxes and other incentives and benefits. Monies paid to non-relative foster parents would be better spent to preserve, maintain and protect the integrity of families in need, including aid to grandparents and other extended family members struggling to keep families intact. Additionally,, the U.S. ought to consider a tax on international adoptions with funds used to support families and children in the U.S. in crisis.

Adoption needs to be far more transparent, open, honest and regulated to ensure it serves the best interest of those it is intended to serve.

Mirah Riben, author of shedding light on…the Dark Side of Adoption (1988) and The Stork Market: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry (www.AdvocatePublications.com, 2007); former director-at-large, America Adoption Congress.

A VIRGINIA TECH HERO YOU DIDN’T HEAR ABOUT

Waleed Shaalan
Not until the New York Times finally reported THIS

The unsung hero of the Virginia Tech massacre

Why haven’t you heard about this brave person, but get endless coverage of the American professor who left Israel 20 years ago?

Simple. He’s a Muslim.
Waleed Shaalan, a 32-year-old graduate student, came to the United States from northern Egypt last year to study engineering. He lived among other Egyptian students in Blacksburg, Va., and was planning on bringing his wife and one-and-a-half-year-old son to America in May to live with him.

He was gunned down on Monday while he was studying in Norris Hall, but witnesses say he died a hero.

According to Randy Dymond, a civil engineering professor at Virginia Tech, Mr. Shaalan was in a classroom with another student when the gunman entered and opened fire.

Mr. Shaalan was badly wounded and lay beside the other student, who was not shot but played dead, as the gunman returned two times searching for signs of life. Just as the gunman noticed the student, Mr. Shaalan made a move to distract him, at which point he was shot a second time and died. The student believed that Mr. Shaalan purposefully distracted the shooter to save him, Mr. Dymond said.

“Waleed was bright, energetic and caring,” Mr. Dymond said. “The reason we are in higher education is because there are students who are the bright light to the future. Waleed was one of them.”

Equally social and studious, Mr. Shaalan was active in the Muslim Student Association at Virginia Tech, and he especially enjoyed participating in the group’s community activities.

The Egyptian Consul has notified Mr.Shalaan’s wife and parents, all of who live in Egypt. Mr. Shaalan’s body will be flown back to his country in the near future, the vice consul, Mohamed Elghazawy, said.

“This is a very emotional time for his entire family, but especially his mother and father,” Mr. Elghazawy said.

This originally appeared on muslimmatters.org
Hats off to Robin for bringing this to my attention.

ALLAH HU AKHBAR

I spent the last few days in an Arab village in northern Israel. For much of the day, yesterday, I sat on the veranda just observing the goings on. It was not just any day, it was Israel’s Independence Day… or as they called it in the village, Al Nakba… The Day of the Catastrophe. What caught my eye was a man, looking much like the man in the photo presented,…. as he went into the local mosque to pray. A man who surely remembers his family and friends being driven from their homes on that faithful day 59 years ago. Yet, he continues to have faith. I spoke to him later in the day and found that he was optimistic about things getting better for his people… he said he prayed for that 5 times a day and is sure that ‘Allah Hu Akhbar’… God is Great.
In a way, I was reminded of the many times I heard Jewish people ask “Where was God during the holocaust?”… And these people have faith as well….
One would think that with the suffering both peoples experienced in their lifetimes there would be a common effort to make things better for everyone involved.
I am convinced that will happen soon.. because Allah Hu Akhbar!

HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN PALESTINE: A GATHERING STORM

Let me srart by saying that I am away fom my home base so I do not have access to my picure file.

Last summer the Israeli government barred Desmond Tutu from entering the country. He was planning to investigate the attrocities in Beit Hanoun at the time, but Israel did everything possible to stop that from happening.
There is a different situation today and more of the truth is coming out… here is just one example of that; a report from UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees….. It is taken from the latest issue of Counter Currents.

UN Official Says Humanitarian Crisis
In Palestine

By Sonia Nettnin

24 April, 2007
Countercurrents.org

Chicago: Director of the Representative Office of UNRWA, Andrew Whitley spoke about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the West Bank.

This week a number of governments, led by the Canadians, will meet in Berlin where they will discuss political futures and options for refugees. Whitley talked about the living conditions of Palestinian refugees.

Who is Andrew Whitley? He works for UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East, located in New York. For over three years Whitley lived in Gaza, and he has worked on the subject of the Occupied Palestinian Territories for over 25 years. In Tehran and New York he worked as an academic; as a foreign correspondent specializing in Middle East, South Asia and Latin America, with the BBC and the Financial Times; and in human rights. He was the founding director of Middle East Watch – now Human Rights Watch/Middle East and North Africa.

The theme for his lecture, “Humanitarian Crisis in Palestine: A Gathering Storm,” focused on Gaza, which is one of the 59 officially-recognized refugee camps.

“We have become very alarmed by the fragmentation of Palestinian society particularly in the West Bank,” Whitley said.

With at least 530 barriers and checkpoints in place, peoples’ lives are completely disrupted. Moreover, Palestinian villages have been torn asunder by movement restrictions because they do not have normal economic life. He compared the size of the West Bank to the state of Connecticut, and with words he painted a picture of people living in atomized areas. Israel’s construction of a wall that is projected to be 700 km is 60 per cent complete. There is a degree of permanence to the sectioning because the Jordan Valley has been carved off for Israeli settlements and the West Bank has been divided into a northern and a southern area. As a result, the West Bank is now a trisection containing enclaves of Palestinian cities and villages.

Although the Israeli Army established checkpoints in the name of security, “I would argue the means to tackle these threats…leads to a sense of nihilism, pent up anger that …brings about the results they are trying to avoid,” Whitley explained.

Palestinians are Hungry – Weak Blood and Eyes Hurting

For the Palestinians, the situation is grave. In Gaza there are an estimated 1.4 million Palestinians and approximately 80 per cent of the population lives below the official poverty line at US $2.05 per day per capita. The Palestinian Gross Domestic Product collapsed by 23 per cent in the last year. One million, or 70 per cent of these people, are registered as refugees and 1.05 million people depend on international assistance.

“We keep (including the World Food Program) these people alive these days and the degree they have become dependent on the international community for lack of resources is troubling indeed,” Whitley said.

Since the parliamentary elections in January 2006, the Palestinians have been placed under economic siege. The strategy is to inflict political defeat on Hamas by inflicting the Palestinian population.

On February 16, 2006 it was Israeli Prime Ministerial Advisor Dov Weisglass who said: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”

According to Whitley, an estimated 40 per cent of Gaza’s population does not get an adequate supply of food, even with international assistance. The hospitals are approximately 20 per cent short of the necessary drugs and supplies needed for medical treatment. Although malnutrition has been a long-term problem with women and children, growth stunting and a worsening diet means “…children are not growing normally in all of their faculties…we will see long-term results within a decade but evidence is quite clear,” Whitley added.

In a video shot in Gaza recently, the UN conducted interviews with the people.

“Most children have bad health kids have weak blood they are weak and their eyes are hurting,” one man says.

Within the last year an estimated 450 business owners closed down. People try to trade their gold for cash, but they are turned away because there is no cash.

“People don’t have food. Life is difficult. People need food but they are hungry,” another person said.

One girl explained that she can see her father cannot bring home food.

Another boy said: “I feel all this but no one cares about us.”

In March 2006, Erez border crossing was closed to Palestinian laborers who work in Israel. The Israeli Government has imposed a gradual policy of zero Palestinian laborers in Israel.

The Karni border crossing closures have caused the delay of goods and cargo from moving in and out of Gaza. In 2006, Israel closed Karni 50 per cent of the working days. This means the thrust of the Palestinian economy in Gaza – agricultural products such as fruits, vegetables and flowers – rotted at the border crossing. In 2006 the UN paid one million in fees to Israeli companies because of the Karni crossing closures. Most of this one million came from European and US taxpayers.

Why did the UN have to pay these fees? Hundreds of full and empty shipping containers move in and out of Gaza. If the border crossing closes, cargo and goods are stored at Israeli ports and terminals. Therefore, trucks sit in park.

When the UN was trying to move their goods, they experienced the same situation and paid fees for crossing closures out of their control.

The overall impression is that the UN faces an acute moral dilemma. They want to help the refugees, but there are many political, social and economic factors preventing them from doing so. Perhaps the organization is being used. Although the humanitarian organization works in highly-politicized environments, one of their challenges is to preserve political neutrality.

When asked what he would say if he had the chance to talk with world leaders, Whitley made several statements. One of them was: “I would tell them that their policies are counterproductive.”

BISHARA ENDS SPECULATION AND RUMOURS…. RESIGNS FROM KNESSET

Just moments ago it was announced in the Israeli press that Azmi Bishara has indeed resigned as a member of the Israeli Knesset.
Now a new round of rumours have started as to when or if he will return to Israel.
The Knesset is now ready to go ahead with whatever trumped up charges they have against this respected leader of the Palestinian people. His crucifixion will be a long drawn out procedure, mainly aimed at taking attention away from the real problems we face in Israel today. The Israeli reports were based on an interview he granted to AlJazeera. Report of that can be seen HERE.
Ynet also reported THIS.
Below is the article that just appeared in HaAretz…
Updates will follow as they become available….

Justice Ministry bars entry to Bishara’s Knesset office By Jack Khoury and Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondents
The Justice Ministry on Sunday afternoon banned all entry to the Knesset office of Balad party chairman MK Azmi Bishara, hours after he submitted his resignation from parliament at Israel’s embassy in Cairo.

The leader of the Israeli Arab party was quoted Saturday as saying in Egypt that he was considering staying abroad because he feared a long jail sentence and an end to his political career.

A court-imposed gag order prohibits publication of suspicions against Bishara or details of police investigations into the allegations.

Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Shalom Cohen and his deputy, who were present when Bishara submitted the letter, confirmed that he had resigned.

Bishara explained that he does not want to allow lawmakers, particularly rightists, “to hold a festival” over the issue of lifting his immunity as a member of Knesset and deposing him as a member of the parliament.

Bishara added that he did not wish to turn the matter into a campaign of incitement against him personally and against the Arab public as a whole.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera following the resignation, Bishara said he was aware that the step would end his parliamentary immunity and that his status would be that of a regular citizen, such that Israel could arrest him or demand his extradition.

He added that he has “no intention of hiding.”

Bishara, who left Israel about a month ago, added that he has no intention of being far from his homeland.

“I will no doubt return, but I will choose the timing of my return by myself,” he said. “This depends on many factors, including consultations with my friends in Israel and in the Arab world.”

Bishara said he would not allow Israeli security officials to “decide the rules of the game for him,” and that he wanted to set the rules himself.

“Now I have become an ordinary citizen,” he said. “Now there are new rules for the game in which I define the limits, rules where the investigation does not touch my ideological and political position nor my social standing within the Palestinian people.”

A fiery Arab nationalist lawmaker, Bishara told a group of Egyptian intellectuals late Saturday that he might not return to Israel, to avoid a trial.

“I will not venture going back while these threats still stand,” Bishara was quoted as saying by the intellectuals meeting with him. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

They also said that Bishara claimed the accusations are politically motivated and aim at ending his political activities, but had ruled out the possibility of resigning from the Knesset.

Bishara declined to talk to reporters on the record because no official charges have been raised yet.

In his letter of resignation, addressed to Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, Bishara wrote: “During my work in the Knesset I did my best to represent the universal values in which I believe, such as equality and democracy, human rights and just peace between the peoples.”

“I also acted to loyally represent all citizens, in particular the Arab citizens,” he said.

“I can look back and say with satisfaction that I contributed to the development of a new parliamentary discussion regarding the Arab population as a collective nation and the concept of citizenship,” he continued. “Since the last elections, I arrived at a decision to resign and make time for public activism, as well as contemplative and literary writing.”

Bishara met Saturday morning in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, according to a report featured Saturday on an Arabic-language Web site considered to be affiliated with the party.

According to the report, Balad MK Wasil Taha was also present at the meeting.

The Web site indicated that the two lawmakers arrived in Egypt on Thursday for a meeting with Egyptian officials and with “thinkers and cultural figures.”

The meeting reportedly lasted one hour, and dealt with political issues such as Egyptian diplomatic efforts and the Arab peace initiative.

Bishara has in the past angered many in Israel by openly identifying with Syria and with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militants. Critics charge he has encouraged violent attacks against Israel, which Bishara denies.

Israeli police have confirmed that they were investigating Bishara’s case.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld has said there was an inquiry against Bishara by the Israeli police international crime and investigations unit. He said the court forbade disclosing any other details, including what charges Bishara might face, until the gag order expires on April 23.

Last week, Bishara confirmed his intention to resign from the Knesset on Thursday, telling the Nazareth-based newspaper Hadith A-Nas that he is being persecuted.

Several days, later, he told Al-Jazeera in a televised interview Sunday that an ongoing criminal investigation against him has left him with three options – martyrdom, exile, or prison.

In Israel, his party issued a statement denouncing what it called a witch hunt and calling on authorities to lift the gag order and allow Bishara to clear his name. It said it was considering petitioning Israel’s Supreme Court on Bishara’s behalf.

The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court ruled on Sunday that the press could discuss the existence of the probe into Bishara’s activities, but not its substance, lifting a rare court order which had forbidden even the publication of the existence of a gag order.

Next week, the Knesset House Committee is expected to discuss revoking some of the benefits Bishara receives as a Knesset member. The benefits that may be revoked include free newspapers and funds given to stay in contact with the public, but not his monthly salary.

SARI NUSSEIBEH~~ PALESTINIAN ‘DARLING’ OF THE ISRAELI LEFT

These days, one rarely hears the name Sari Nusseibeh. Israel does not speak of him often as he is a total contradiction to the picture they paint of the Palestinian.
He no longer plays a leading role in Palestinian politics, so his name isn’t mentioned much in those circles either.
He remains the President of Al Quds University, the Arab university in Jerusalem.
Nusseibeh just published a book which I did not see reviewed in the Israel press… this I find odd…. but I did find the following review in The Forward, worth reading and worth getting hold of the book as well.

One Man’s Persistent Empathy
Nonfiction

Gal Beckerman | Fri. Apr 20, 2007
Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life
By Sari Nusseibeh, with Anthony David
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 560 pages, $27.50.

One day, at the end of 1987, Sari Nusseibeh was walking out of a lecture hall at Birzeit University, just having taught his students John Locke’s concepts of liberalism and tolerance, when he was set upon by five young men in kaffiyehs who pummeled him with their fists, a broken bottle and penknives. Word had gotten out that the absentminded Palestinian philosophy professor — “luftmensch,” he sometimes called himself, using the Yiddish unselfconsciously — had engaged in shocking and ultimately failed secret peace negotiations with members of Israel’s right-wing Likud party. Just as young Palestinians were collecting rocks to wage the first intifada, Nusseibeh was sitting with Israelis and working out a draft for a two-state solution.

Speaking to the press the following day, his broken arm in a sling, Nusseibeh said that the violence committed upon him raised questions about whether it was possible to break through “the political dogma in both communities.” His own injuries, he said, resulted from the fact that “these dogmas become like a religion, and anyone who deviates from them is a heretic.”

It wasn’t the first time, and certainly not the last, that someone perceived Nusseibeh’s words or actions as heresy. For the past 25 years — from the moment he unwittingly entered Palestinian politics as a teacher’s union leader, to his position as Yasser Arafat’s personal representative in Jerusalem during the second intifada — Nusseibeh has been a paragon of empathy and, by extension, of compromise. More than any other Palestinian leader, he has tried to understand the psychology of Israelis, their fears and neuroses, and address them. It’s no mystery that he’s become a darling of the Israeli left, friend to Amos Oz and Yossi Beilin. He’s also never been afraid to speak bitter truths to his own people (and risk getting his bones broken for it). In September 2001, as the rocks in Palestinians’ hands had turned into explosive belts around their waists, he wrote an article about the need for Palestinians to abandon the delusion that they would one day return to their pre-1948 homes. “We have two rights,” he wrote in Arabic. “We have the right of return, in my opinion. But we also have the right to live in freedom and independence. And very often in life, one has to forgo the implementation of one right in order to implement the other rights.” In Palestine, you don’t get more heretical than this.

All well and good, the naysayers on the Israeli right say, but whom does Nusseibeh represent? This has always been the central question about the tweed-wearing intellectual with the mop of gray hair and the wire-rimmed glasses. In a new, plainly written, memoir that details how he went from wanting only to be left alone with his books to being the leading voice of Palestinian moderation, Nusseibeh is well aware of the criticism. In response to his latest peace initiative — a very reasonable plan drawn up with the former head of the Israeli secret service, Ami Ayalon — he imagines Israelis wondering: “Yes, yes, Sari’s a nice enough fellow. If only there were a million like him over there! But, alas, we have to deal with the Palestinian rabble. We are not making peace with him, but with them!”

Sadly, this memoir — meant, one assumes, to inspire hope — only further emphasizes Nusseibeh’s unique and solitary position in the Palestinian universe.

The son of a family whose patrician roots in Jerusalem go back to 638, when one of his ancestors entered the city with Caliph Omar and was named its first Muslim governor, Nusseibeh always had a self-admittedly princely attitude about his fellow Palestinians, to whom he often refers as “commoners” or the “man on the street.” He studied at Oxford, and was far away from the West Bank in 1967, busy falling in love with the English woman who would become his wife, when his father, a one-time Jordanian defense minister, fell under Israeli rule. Upon his return to Palestine, Nusseibeh, eager to learn about Israelis, joined an Ulpan class to learn Hebrew. He spent the summer of 1968 picking oranges on a kibbutz in the Galilee.

The first intifada, a manifestation of raw anger at life under occupation, caught Nusseibeh by surprise, shielded as he was by his “social privileges.” But the “young Buddha” soon joined the masses and became that conflict’s central intellectual leader and pamphleteer. And for once, his own tempered political vision converged with the street’s: Both focused on ending the occupation, not Israel, and through mostly nonviolent means. His increasing marginalization began once that moment ended. And while that first uprising, in his eyes, helped “exorcise [the Palestinian] demons of humiliation, inferiority and self-contempt” by the second he saw nothing more than “a catastrophic slapdash brawl without leadership, strategy or ideas; it was a ruinous and sanguinary fit of madness.”

To read this book today, with its vision of Israelis and Palestinians as “natural allies, not adversaries,” is to grieve for the thousandth time that instead of someone like Nusseibeh leading Palestine, there is a government not willing to offer even the bare minimum in compromise — recognition of Israel. If only Nusseibeh’s story of persistent empathy were also his people’s story. But it’s not. It’s one lonesome heretic’s tale.

Gal Beckerman, a regular contributor to the Forward, is writing a history of the Soviet Jewry movement, to be published next year by Houghton Mifflin.

DREADING THE TREADMILL

Every so often we have to look away from the political situation and laugh a little….
Sometimes we laugh so hard we actually cry. Thanks to my Sister Blogger Housewife4Palestine for posting this hilarious video on her blog… It’s a MUST watch….. click HERE to enjoy.

AZMI BISHARA SPEAKS OUT~~ PALESTINE’S LIVING MARTYR

Palestine Crucified.. By Ismael Shammout
Israel has created a martyr for the Palestinian people… a living martyr. Bishara has not ‘towed the line’ as far as the zionists in Knesset are concerned. Instead he has constantly spoken out in the interests of the Palestinian people, on both sides of the wall. Israel cannot tolerate such behavior…. financial wrongdoings and sexual misconduct from Jewish members, including the Prime Minister are more acceptable than honesty it seems.
Bishara is a true representative of his people, a voice for his people. Israel must not be allowed to silence that voice.
Following is an article that appeared in Egypt’s English language weekly Al-Ahram Weekly ….

Defining the enemy
Arab-Palestinian Knesset member Azmi Bishara explains to Amira Howeidy the motives behind the Israeli media’s campaign against him and how it affects the Arab community

——————————————————————————–

Israel, it seems, is at war with one man. The Israeli media and politicians from across the political spectrum are up in arms against him, the Shabak (intelligence) is said to be preparing a file on him and his fate could have an impact on 1.3 million Arabs living in Israel.

This might be the kind of attention someone as high-profile as Azmi Bishara expects when faced with accusations of treason. Then again, it might not. Bishara is, after all, not just an outspoken Arab-Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament the Knesset but an embodiment of Israel’s paradoxes and its complex relationship with itself and its Arab-Palestinian community.

Over the past 11 years this Christian Arab- Palestinian politician, intellectual, novelist, philosopher and citizen of Israel has struggled to redefine the status and identity of the Palestinians whose lands, towns and villages were occupied by the Jewish state between 1948 and 1949 and who later became Israeli citizens. While Israel sought to assimilate them and “Israelise” their collective identity, Bishara and his National Arab Alliance party begged to differ.

Their vision, which has gained momentum within the Arab community (known as the 1948 Arabs) insists that Israel should be a state for all its citizens and not — as it now perceives itself — a Jewish state. A Jewish state, they argue, defies the logics of democracy because it does not equate between its Jewish and non-Jewish populations. Even more alarming for Israeli nationalists is the fact that such a position could represent the nucleus of a bi-national secular state.

Three weeks ago Bishara left Israel for an Arab tour. Given recent developments it is now unclear when, or if, he will be returning. A week after his departure, the Israeli press began a campaign of incitement against him, the opening shot being the publication of news reports that he will resign from the Knesset while in Qatar. This was followed by leaks to the media concerning a criminal investigation against him. But with a court-imposed gag on the nature of the investigation it is not clear what is actually being investigated though the Israeli press has hinted at charges involving “contact with the enemy during wartime”.

Although Bishara is no stranger to prosecution based on similar allegations — in the past he has always been found innocent – he now believes that “the rules of the game have changed” and that the target is not just him but the entire Palestinian-Arab community living in Israel.

“There is a decision to end our political stream and the unprecedented challenge it represents for them,” he told Al-Ahram Weekly in a telephone interview from Doha. “The message is: Palestinian-Arabs who support us will be regarded as people working against Israel. And to do that they are targeting the head of the movement. They cannot tolerate an Arab Knesset member who refutes their claims of democratic practice and argues that Zionism defeats the notion of democracy.”

By presenting Bishara’s case as one with security dimensions, “Israel will have more tools to fight us with,” he said, “and it is evident that they’ve been preparing a huge file for over a year now which involved monitoring all my moves and recording all my telephone conversations without a court order. It makes me wonder what parliamentary immunity means in practice.”

It is rumoured that the secret police have records of phone conversations Bishara conducted with “hostile” Arab figures, including Hizbullah members, during Israel’s war against Lebanon last summer.

Such “security fabrications”, in Bishara’s words, could affect international solidarity with him since the suggestion being propagated “translates into providing the enemy with information which ultimately transforms me from a political, cultural and intellectual figure to an agent for a hostile state or terrorist organisation as they call it”.

“This changes the logic of things because I have my political views, I publish articles, I give interviews and I talk on the phone but I do not enjoy a security position or have access to security information in the first place in order to deliver it. In fact, it is clear that these hostile states or organisations like Hizbullah and Hamas are more informed about Israel’s security than we are. We are men of thought, culture and literature.”

Bishara denies all the rumoured charges against him and says they “disgust” him. And because he realises the rules of the game have changed he has yet to decide if he will play by the new rules.

“It is out of the question that someone like myself should sit with prosecutors and answer their questions about my phone calls, what I say to my friends, what did I mean by this word or in this article with all the humiliation it involves.”

The active involvement of the Israeli left alongside the extreme right in teaming up against Bishara in the current media campaign against him comes as no surprise. “The Israeli left and right stood together during the first weeks of the war on Lebanon last summer and the same scenario is repeating itself with me. They’re all united against the path that we chose which rejects Zionism and the Zionist nature [of Israel], our emphasis on Arab identity, extending our cultural and civilisational roots to the Arab world and our emphasis on the fact that there are two nations and that we are not merely a minority.”

A leading Palestinian intellectual, Bishara’s popularity extends across the Arab world. Not only did his movement contribute to breaking many of the political taboos imposed on the 1948 Palestinian community, his eloquence and staunch pan-Arab stands helped redefine the term “Israeli-Arab” which for decades was treated with suspicion across the Arab world.

This might be good news for the Arabs, but why would Israel tolerate a vocal Arab- Palestinian who supports resistance?

“Israel has a problem of course,” says Bishara, “and [its leaders] are not trying to redefine the borders and prevent us from expressing such views. But we do not ask anything of Israel in this regard. We are against the Israeli aggression on Lebanon and we support people’s right in resisting occupation. We do not support a specific form of resistance and we oppose the targeting of civilians in this context. But in the context of citizenship and activism within a political framework we have to distinguish between people like us, Palestinians and Arabs, whose lands were occupied, and our right to express ourselves about resisting occupation and actually being directly involved in resistance. There is a difference between our liaisons as democratic Palestinians and Arabs with the rest of the Arab world and making our position known and being part of the resistance… Of course Israel cannot tolerate resistance but then freedom [fighters] do not want Israel’s tolerance in the first place.”

Israel, says Bishara, suffers from an identity crisis. “But then I have one too,” he admits. “I have a problem tolerating them just as they have a problem tolerating me. In the past five years I feel I have grown 50 years older as a result of the conflicts and having to go to the Knesset every day and actually sit with people I regard as war criminals. I did it out of responsibility for my people even though it exhausted and drained me. But I’m not talking about predicaments here, I’m talking about equilibrium. They now want to change that equilibrium so that we no longer take the stands that we do.”

When Bishara took what he considered a democratic stand following Israel’s war on Lebanon last year by visiting Beirut’s southern suburb Al-Dahia — Hizbullah’s stronghold, Israelis went berserk. “It’s ABC political work for a Palestinian democrat like myself who exists as part of the political entity that launched the aggression to show solidarity with the victims of this aggression… [The Israelis] in turn decided this is participating in resistance. I reject that completely.”

During a war, he said, people talk to each other on the phone and they talk about the war. “But if we talk about the war this could be contact with the enemy. Turning every triviality between human beings who are Arabs — and are naturally connected — into transferring information to the enemy is simply an attempt to quash us. There is a big cultural misunderstanding here, a huge gap in understanding who we are.”

Israel, says Bishara, perceives its Arabs as a minority who immigrated to Israel, requested an Israeli card and became Israelis. “And therefore when we communicate with other Arabs we are in contact with the enemy. We have a different perception. We are Arabs and our brothers and sisters in the Arab world are Arab, and we were Arab long before Israel was created [in 1948] and imposed its identity on us. Now it wants to impose its enemies as our enemies. They’re not.”

According to Bishara, his decision to resign from the Knesset was taken a year ago but his party wanted him to postpone it for a while. But now he has to decide whether or not he will resign and have his immunity lifted, “or if I should throw this immunity at them anyway”. He will “eventually” return to Israel and the occupied territories, he says, but only after he has decided how to handle the campaign against him and the 1948 Arab-Palestinian community.

THE RACISTS AMONG US

Racism is a cancer that often spreads to areas one would think immune to the disease. The ‘Left’ is one of those areas…. but it seems some folks are questioning their immunity systems…
Read the following essay I just found in today’s CounterCurrents to see what I’m talking about….
The original can be seen HERE.

The Confused American Left Ask,
Am I A Racist?

By David Truskoff

20 April, 2007
Countercurrents.org

Jackie Robinson the icon of American baseball was the first black player to play in the Baseball Major Leagues. Both the political right and the politic left claimed Robinson as their own.

On April 15, 2007, the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s MLB debut, Major League Baseball invited players to wear the number 42 just for that day to commemorate Robinson.

Robinson made his Major League debut on April 15, 1947

What few Americans know is that the American Communist party was the driving force that broke the baseball color line after World War Two.

The Communist newspaper the “Daily Worker” pounded the issue for years prior to Robinson’s emergence. A sports writer for the “Daily Worker” named Lester Rodney wrote pointed articles that not only embarrassed the wealthy owners of the teams, but brought demonstrators to Ebbets field in Brooklyn the home field of the Brooklyn Dodgers the team Robinson was to play for. Ebbets field became a shrine for the left. My own brother was one of the demonstrators. It was no wonder that the left felt Jackie was one of their own when the FBI opened a file on Jackie and brought him before the house un-American activities Committee after he appeared at the Harlem Solidity Center of the ” International Workers Order,” listed as a “Red” organization.

Years after Robinson left baseball he became a vice-president for the Chock Full O’ Nuts

. Coffee Company that employed blacks in their many restaurants, and that is when I first met him in 1963.

I was booking him on a television show to promote the Coffee Company. I expected him to arrive via a chauffeur -driven car, but no I picked him up at the train station and brought him to the TV station where I worked. After the show we sat in the car and talked. It was early and he did not want to wait at the station and be bothered by autograph seekers. I was already known as a Civil rights activist and that was a subject he welcomed. I was horrified when he told me that he was going to support the right wing candidate Richard Nixon for president. I mentioned the Daily Worker and the effort of the left to bring him to baseball, but he said that John Kennedy “couldn’t even look me in the eye.” And the civil rights issue was his main concern. It was devastating to the Liberals and the leftists. It created a serious breach. Many thought that he had been bought off with the Chock Full Of Nuts Job. How could Jackie Robinson, who owed so much to the left turn his back on them?

It was a hard lesson for all of us and today I must think back at that time. Yes there were racists among us liberals then and even though Robinson was himself the grandson of a slave many racists doubted his mental ability to see Real America. There was much talk then about a prominent Professor’s theory that African Americans were mentally inferior.

Today the liberals are once again asking themselves the question,” “Am I after all, a racist?”

On April 4,2007 a morning “Shock Jock” which is terminology ” used to describe filthy mouthed low level characters who elevate themselves by using their power of the airwaves to insult people. This time the shock Jock called, “Imus” referred to a predominately black college women’s basketball team as a group of, “nappy-headed hos.” If you are an intelligent adult you probable never heard the expression or know what it means. African American hair can sometimes be Kinky of nappy. Hair strengthener ads dominate Black magazines. The “Ho” I am told refers to whore. I myself while driving into the city have heard this man make such stupid remarks about one of his co-workers on the air. But this one gave the self declared professional Black leaders a media feast. The result was that Imus was fired.

Jessie Jackson who can smell a TV camera a mile away lodged a protest. This is the same Jessie Jackson that once called New York City “Hymmie Town” A very offensive anti- Semitic remark and one that set race relations back many years.

In a recent survey by a television station 67% of respondents said they do not believe that Imus should have been fired for his remarks and that is a red alarm for America. The Imus issue has placed many Americans between Jessie Jackson; Al Sharpton and the other so called Black leaders and a white Shock Jock.

Black Television programs; modern Black music and Black attitudes in general are all in the line of fire. Liberal left Americans particularly Jews who can no longer deny or defend the blatant racism of Zionism and dreamed along with Doctor King about a better America are disappointed in Black efforts to help bring that about and are again asking themselves the question, am I, after all, a Racist.

http://www.erols.com/suttonbear

SUPPORT FOR BISHARA GROWING


At this writing, thousands of people are speaking out, not only in Israel and Palestine, throughout the world. Azmi Bishara is being persecuted. His only crime is that he is a Palestinian, a Palestinian that refuses to remain silent about the crimes committed against his people by the Israeli government. As a member of the Knesset, his voice is heard by millions of people, a voice that must not be silenced.

Please read the following statement, and then please offer your support by signing it. You will find that option at the bottom of THIS page.

Statement of Condemnation of the Israeli Campaign against The Palestinian Intellectual and National Figure Azmi Bishara

Every now and then we are reminded by the state of Israel and its institutions, that the Arab Palestinians constitute a strategic threat to Israel. Such a tendency has been always voiced in different degrees of frenzyness and nakedness, yet its current pitch is unprecedented. At this point, the Palestinian Arabs face a trying phase in their relation with the State of Israel as a result of their legitimate and just demand that the state of Israel should be a ‘state of all its citizens.’ The fact that Israel continues to define itself as a ‘Jewish Democratice State,’ trying the impossible mission to be aknolwedged as a model of a modern democracy, yet to the preserve the ‘Jewishness’ of its identity, is no doubt the root-cause of all forms of oppression and discrimination against the native Palestinians. The Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel have continuously and restlessly tried to put an end to the deformed relationship with the State and to right the wrongs by venturing the moral and democratic alternative of ‘the state of all its citizens.’ However, no results whatsoever were realized towards attaining the collective rights of the native Palestinians, nor lifting the barefaced discrimination against them.

The state of Israel has been systematically keen in passing legislations that serve the persecution of the Arab political leadership of the Palestinian citizens. Therefore, the state of Israel is to be blamed for the deterioration of the relationship with its Arab citizens who have been always wronged and discriminated against .The renewed persecution of the the intellectual and political nationliast Azmi Bishara and his Party—who has been challenging the ideological and political foundations of the contradictory Israeli democracy—is, indeed a persecution of the very existence of the Palestinian citizens of the State.

Acknowledging the rights of the Palestinians to their land, and other rights based on their aboriginality and citizenship that should never be compromised under any justification—we condemn all forms of oppression, threats, persecution and any restrictions on the freedom of speech.

The campaign waged by state of Israel and led by the head of its Secret Services (the Shabak) constitute a real threat to democracy and the values of freedom and liberty that are supposed to be guarded by the state itself. The appalling and racist locutions such as describing the Arabs in Israel as a “strategic threat,” and stating that “anybody who tries to change the nature of the State, even via democratic means, would be persecuted”—voiced by the head of the Shabak, reflect the dangerous degree of the formal incitement against the Palestinians. It is a moral obligation to resist this campaign promptly and firmly by all individuals, political parties, institutes, that believe in the human right of the Palestinians to live with dignity in their own homeland enjoying freedom and liberty.

We, the signatories of this petition, based on what has been stated above, declare the following:

We strongly condemn the frenzy campaign against the intellectual and nationalist Dr. Azmi Bishara, and call for an immediate cessation of this political persecution.

We appeal to all political parties and the Arab leadership in Israel to face jointly and firmly this campaign which targets the collective Arab presence on their homeland.

We call upon all Palestinians, friends, and supporters allover the world to unite in putting an end to this racist campaign and use it to persecute the proponents of discrimination and ethnic cleansing instead of persecuting the advocates of equality in “a state of all its citizens.”

You can add your signature HERE to support this man.


Thanks to Mark Elf for bringing this to my attention.

SOROS SPEAKS…. IS ANYONE LISTENING?

I am a snob! That’s right, you heard me… I am a snob, a Class Snob! I find that I very rarely listen to or read what a billionaire has to say. Their thoughts are usually not in my interest and in most cases are against anything I may believe in.
BUT… there are exceptions to that. George Soros, occasionally says something worthwhile. He recently added his voice to those opposed to AIPAC. THAT is a topic that I will read about, and in this case even find myself agreeing with the man.
Not only are AIPAC’s policies forcing the US Administration to blindly support Israel, but in so doing they are holding back any peace process from becoming a reality.
Read this article from AlJazeera that deals with this question.. If AIPAC is upset with the man, then he must have said something good.

US-Israel ties bad for peace: Soros

George Soros, the billionaire investor, has added his voice to the debate over the role of Israel’s lobby in shaping US foreign policy.

In the current issue of the New York Review of Books, Soros takes issue with “the pervasive influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC]” in Washington and says the Bush administration’s close ties with Israel are obstacles to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Soros, who is Jewish but not often engaged in Israeli affairs, echoed arguments that have fuelled debate in academia, foreign policy think tanks and parts of the US Jewish community.

“The pro-Israel lobby has been remarkably successful in suppressing criticism,” wrote Soros. Politicians challenge it at their peril and dissenters risk personal vilification, he said.

AIPAC has consistently declined comment on such charges, but many of its supporters have been vocal in dismissing them.

Historian Michael Oren, speaking at AIPAC’s 2007 conference in March, said the group was not merely a lobby for Israel. “It is the embodiment of a conviction as old as this (American) nation itself that belief in the Jewish state is tantamount to belief in these United States,” he said in a keynote speech.

The long-simmering debate bubbled to the surface a year ago, when two prominent academics, Stephen Walt of Harvard and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, published a 12,500-word essay entitled “The Israel Lobby” and featuring the fiercest criticism of AIPAC since it was founded in 1953.

AIPAC now has more than 100,000 members and is rated one of the most influential special interest groups in the United States, its political clout comparable with such lobbies as the National Rifle Association.

The AIPAC members are all US citizens and the group receives no funding from the Israeli government.

Its annual conference in Washington attracts a Who’s Who of American politics, both Republicans and Democrats.

Unwavering support

Mearsheimer and Walt said the lobby had persuaded successive administrations to align themselves too closely with Israel.

“The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but much of the rest of the world,” they wrote.

No other lobby group has managed to divert US foreign policy so far from the US national interest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of Israel are essentially identical, they wrote.

The two academics said that pressure from Israel and its lobby in Washington played an important role in President George Bush’s decision to attack Iraq, an arch-enemy of Israel, in 2003.

Mearsheimer and Walt found no takers for their essay in the US publishing world. When it was eventually published in the London Review of Books, they noted it would be hard to imagine any mainstream media outlet in the United States publishing such a piece.

It has been drawing criticism that ranged from shoddy scholarship to anti-Semitism, chiefly from conservative fellow academics and political supporters of the present relationship between Washington and Israel.

In his contribution to the debate, Soros said: “A much-needed self-examination of American policy in the Middle East has started in this country; but it can’t make much headway as long as AIPAC retains powerful influence in both the Democratic and Republican parties.”

That influence is reflected by the fact that Israel is the largest recipient of US aid in the world.

Going mainstream

Mearsheimer and Walt are now working on expanding their article into a book – to be published in September by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The company has not commented on online reports that it paid the two authors a $750,000 advance and plans to print one million copies.

Another mainstream publisher, Simon and Schuster, already discovered that not only is it possible to publish criticism of Israel but it can also be good for the bottom line.

Former president Jimmy Carter’s book “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” shot up the bestseller lists after its publication last November; stayed there for more than three months and is still selling well.

It had an initial print run of 300,000 copies and there are now 485,000 copies in print, said Victoria Meyer, a spokeswoman for Simon and Schuster.

Carter’s book and its reference to apartheid provoked angry reactions – more in the United States than in Israel, where leftists opposed to the occupation of the West Bank have been accusing the government of apartheid practices for years and where the word has lost its shock value.

In response to charges of bias and anti-Semitism, Carter said he wanted to provoke a discussion of issues debated routinely and freely in Israel but rarely in the United States.

“This reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American Israel Political Action Committee and the absence of any significant contrary voices,” he wrote in the Los Angeles Times during a tour to promote his book. “It would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine.”

According to Oren, the pro-AIPAC historian, the Carter book and the Mearsheimer-Walt paper had the same “insidious thesis” and suffered from the same flaw – ignoring oil as a driving element in US policies on the Middle East.

THE LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD

THIS is both pathetic and funny. It’s also frightening to know that these are the people that elect the glorious leaders of the USA….
God Help Us All!

HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY…. THE CRIMES CONTINUE

Image by Carlos Latuff
Less than an hour ago the sirens sounded in Israel, marking Holocaust Memorial Day. Ceremonies were held throughout the nation commemorating this tragic episode in the history of mankind. Truely one of the biggest examples of man’s inhumanity against man.
The State of Israel was created in the aftermath of this horror to serve as a home for those dispossessed by the nazi beast. But at the very moment of the state’s creation, another horror was unfurled, the dispossession of another nation.
Millions of Palestinians were forced to flee their homes and villages where their families had dwelled for centuries. Most were forced into refugee camps, much similar to the very camps that the Jews themselves were forced to live in throughout Eastern Europe.
As the years went by, walls were built separating the Palestinians from the Jews, again much similar to the walls that were built by the nazi beast.
Are these the lessons that were learnt from the horrors of the holocaust? Is this what humanity has come too?
Just as much of the world remained silent while millions of Jews and others were gassed, the world remains silent again as another nation is victim of genocide. This alone is a crime…. but one that can be corrected.
Let us all cry out on this day…'<span style=”font-size:180%;‘NEVER AGAIN!’

And let us mean it!

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