December 25, 2010 at 09:08 (Holidays)
· Santa and several top elves colluded to circumvent a ban on Chinese-made toys, despite pressure from the North Pole community to deliver only toys made locally.
· Santa has, over the years, acted to undermine potential successors, privately disparaging one of his nephews as “lazy,” another as “not really committed to the whole Christmas thing,” and yet another as “incapable of growing a beard of the appropriate size, if you know what I mean.”
· Senior North Pole officials were astonished when an elf in Santa’s cabinet proposed halting a long-standing program monitoring pouting and crying. “For years, we’ve been telling people that they’d better not do this,” one said in a confidential cable, “and now we’re removing all restrictions? What’s next? Decriminalizing the failure to watch out?”
· After Santa suffered a serious hip injury, in the late seventies, the Prime Minister of Norway offered him access to several chimneys to conduct entrance and egress exercises.
· A reported mixup in 2004 that brought eleven-year-old Jack Keller, of Seattle, a book of math games instead of a football was not accidental: Santa was sending a message.
· During home visits last Christmas, Santa spied on the C.E.O.s of several Fortune 500 companies, and collected personal data including but not limited to credit-card and frequent-flier numbers.
· The song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” has more basis in truth than was previously thought; elves worried for years about Santa’s philandering, which began to decrease only recently, after Mrs. Claus discovered an illicit text message from an Arizona school-board member.
· Santa doesn’t enjoy going to certain St. Louis suburbs. “They just give me the creeps,” he told one top elf.
· Most cookies left out for Santa end up being fed to the reindeer.
· In 2007, Santa suppressed the delivery of gifts to more than a thousand residents of Los Angeles as a result of his displeasure with the movie “Fred Claus.”
· Just this year, Santa accepted a payment of twelve million dollars to keep Charlie Sheen on the “nice” list.
· A potential environmental disaster was kept secret by the North Pole in 2008, after a large bag filled with painted blocks from Vietnam fell from Santa’s sleigh into the Anglezarke reservoir, in Lancashire, raising fears of lead contamination. Elves with scuba gear and flashlights were sent in to retrieve the blocks under cover of night.
· Contrary to popular belief, Santa cannot really tell when you’re sleeping or when you’re awake, but he will fly into a rage if his ability to do so is questioned.
December 24, 2010 at 08:36 (Holidays)
Why I Go Caroling
By Lenore Skenazy*
It’s during this time of year that I live in a mixed marriage. I love Christmas carols; my husband hates them. I go around whistling them; he runs out of the drug store when they’re playing. I feel cheery and expansive; he feels hunted and haunted. I guess that explains why he never joins me on the one night of the year that I go caroling.
Yes, caroling. Literally walking through the streets of Manhattan’s East Village with a group of warmly dressed singers led by my friend Doug Nervik, who has been doing this for at least a quarter of a century. Early evening, about 20 or 30 — sometimes 40 — of us squeeze into his apartment, where he heats us up some cider and hands out song sheets with the words to everything from “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” (“The Christmas Song”) to “White Christmas” (yes, yes, I know — written by a Jew), to some of the more religious songs, like, “Little Town of Bethlehem,” and, okay, “Away in a Manger.” And “O Come All Ye Faithful,” which suggests we “come let us adore him,” and “him” has a capital H. In fact, the song spells it right out, “Christ, the Lord.”
There. I wrote it. Sometimes I even sing it. Look — Shavuot carols they’re not.
Doug is a professional master of ceremonies/comedian, and his friends are mostly amazing singers, having come to New York to make it big on Broadway. (Which some have!) So he puts on his Santa hat and straps on his accordion, and before we head out into the streets, we stop to sing a heartbreakingly beautiful “Silent Night” in the stairwell of his ancient apartment building. Upstairs, Doug has a neighbor who’s pushing 100. We sing tenderly for her, but loud enough to make sure she hears, and, what can I say? It feels like a mitzvah. A nice, Christian mitzvah.
About two hours later, we end the night singing at a homeless shelter, where the couple dozen men in the shabby rec room often ignore us when we troop in. We’re interfering with their TV time, with their stare-at-a-day-old-New-York-Post time. But 10 minutes into our set, and they’re shouting out requests — “Rudolph!” “Jingle Bells!” “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” “no skipping!” — and they’re singing along. Loud! Everyone pumps our hands as we leave, or gives big hugs. Some of the guys are crying. Me, too — but I’m also grinning. “Have a good one, man!” “Bless you!” “Merrrrrrrry Christmas!”
Or, Merrrrrrry Self-Hating Jew Smothered in Hypocrisy and Giving a Hand to the Other Team? Is it wrong for a Jew to sing these songs? Am I spreading cheer — or Christianity? Should I be doing this at all? I started asking other Jews what they think, and was shocked to find incredibly strong reactions on both sides.
“‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas’ is a song you can’t listen to and feel depressed at the same time,” said Robin Barr, a product inventor in Mission Viejo, Calif. For her, the carols usher in winter, same as “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over” ushers in, well, June.
Sarah Jacobs, a New York City designer of Jewish textiles, has happy memories of her father — a rabbi — singing carols in the car as he drove his kids to Orthodox day school. He’d learned the songs as a child, when they were routinely taught in public school. (No fair!) But, Jacobs says, to sing the songs seriously “is a different matter altogether. They are not just pretty pieces of music but… a form of worship.”
Oy. That’s true. But what if a gal is not worshipping? What if she’s just enjoying some of the prettiest songs she knows? Gosh, one of the best things about the non-“Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” caroling oeuvre is the fact that it’s so old. When else do people spontaneously sing songs ripped from the Middle Ages? It’s hard to beat “Greensleeves,” even if there’s a babe and we are bid “haste, haste to bring him laud.”
Er, bring Him laud.
Sometimes I skip the C word or the J word; sometimes I sing ’em while silently telling God (in a very Tevye way), “You know I don’t really believe this part, right?” And, multitasking worrier that I am, I also manage to worry that I’m being disrespectful to the folks who do believe. So I feel guilty, yet good, and then guilty about the good part. Does it get any more Jewish than that?
So — agreed! There is inherently some conflict in being a Jew who loves carols and who waffles on the religious parts and feels more Jewish than ever when singing “Glooooooria, in excelsis deo,” because I’m always thinking, “Didn’t learn that one in Hebrew school.”
But a-wassailing I shall go again, because, conflicted or not, it’s a wonderful night of singing and ringing and bringing a little cheer to a lot of people, including me. Good ol’ Jewish-to-the-core me, who, on occasion, hastes, hastes to bring you-know-who laud.
And I think God understands.
*Lenore Skenazy is the author of “Free-Range Kids: How To Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts With Worry)” (Wiley, 2010) and “The Dysfunctional Family Christmas Songbook.” (Random House, 2004).
BETHLEHEM, West Bank – Christmas festivities in the Holy Land focus on the West Bank town of Bethlehem, where Christians believe Jesus was born and the Palestinian Authority hosts annual celebrations.
Israel’s government highlights events in Nazareth, a predominantly Palestinian city in Israel where Jesus is believed to have spent much of his life growing up with his mother Mary and her husband Joseph.
But there will be no celebrations this year in a Jewish suburb of Nazareth, after its mayor sparked outrage by refusing to allow Christmas trees to be placed in town squares, calling them provocative.
Nazareth Illit, or Upper Nazareth, is adjacent to Nazareth. It has a sizable Palestinian Christian minority, as does mostly Muslim Nazareth itself.
“The request of the Arabs to put Christmas trees in the squares in the Arab quarter of Nazareth Illit is provocative,” Mayor Shimon Gapso told Agence France-Presse.
“Nazareth Illit is a Jewish city and it will not happen — not this year and not next year, so long as I am a mayor,” he said Wednesday of the northern Israeli town.
“Nazareth is right next door and they can do what they want there,” he said.
Gabso’s decree sparked accusations of racism from the mayor of Nazareth proper.
“This is a racist decision,” said Ramiz Jaraisy, Nazareth’s mayor. “But it comes as no surprise, unfortunately, because this person is already well known for his racist views.”
Reached by phone, Jaraisy told Ma’an that his counterpart “should respect the religious feelings and beliefs of everyone in Nazareth Illit, not just his own religion’s.”
In any case, Christians as well as Muslims in the suburb will ignore Gapso’s dictates, Jaraisy said.
The decision has also angered the town’s Palestinian and Christian minority, who said it highlighted larger concerns about equality in Israel, whose population is 20 percent Palestinian.
“The racism of not putting a tree up is nothing compared to the real racism that we experience here,” said Aziz Dahdal, a 35-year-old Christian resident of Nazareth Illit.
“When we asked the mayor to put up a Christmas tree in the Arab neighborhoods of Nazareth Illit he said this is a Jewish town, not a mixed town,” said Shukri Awawdeh, a Muslim member of the town council.
Awawdeh said there were 10,000 Arabs, most of them Christian, in the town and there was also a large community of Christian Russian immigrants.
“We told him that decorating a tree is just to share the happiness and cheer with other people in the town,” said Awawdeh.
“People here, Jews, Christians and Muslims live in harmony, but when the mayor does something like that, it does not make things better.”
Tel Aviv-based blogger Yuval Ben-Ami slammed the move, saying Gabso “has absolutely no clue what non-Jews around the world would feel when hearing that the mayor of a Nazareth suburb bans Christmas trees.
“He is the mayor who stole Christmas, the mayor of an ethnocentric town with a name that hints at superiority, who rejects a symbol of universal tolerance,” he wrote Wednesday.
Ben-Ami noted that Christmas plans were moving forward in other Israeli cities like Haifa, where Mayor Yona Yahav allowed a large tree to be placed between its Jewish and Palestinian neighborhoods.
He says the initiative proves “that sharing the festive season is possible even in this troubled land.”
Haaretz journalist doubles as anti-”delegitimization” operative
|(Illustration: Hmbr/Wikimedia Commons)
Haaretz has an international reputation as Israel’s most liberal and reliable newspaper. But The Electronic Intifada has discovered that one of the newspaper’s regularly-featured reporters, Cnaan Liphshiz, used his news reports for the publication to promote the agenda of an extreme pro-Israel group with which he was also employed.
At the same time, Liphshiz appears to have made efforts to conceal his work with the Dutch Zionist group CIDI (Centre for Documentation and Information on Israel), an undisclosed conflict of interest which calls into question the reliability of his reports and the editorial standards of Haaretz.
From 2007 until the present, Liphshiz has written about 50 articles in Haaretz which quote information provided by CIDI or its executive director Ronny Naftaniel, usually without offering any countervailing opinion or sources. Many of Liphshiz’s stories are based entirely on information provided by CIDI.
CIDI has confirmed to The Electronic Intifada that Lipshiz worked for the organization, and is likely to work for them again in the future.
CIDI has earned a reputation as one of the staunchest advocates for Israel in the Netherlands, launching stinging personal attacks and smears on public figures and groups who dare to call on Israel to respect human rights. In an article for The Electronic Intifada, Stan van Houcke, a Dutch journalist and author, described CIDI as an organization whose main goal is to cover up Israel’s violations of international law (“Dutch ‘research’ group covers for Israeli crimes,” violations, 5 November 2007).
Using Haaretz to “delegitimize” The Electronic Intifada
On 17 December, Haaretz published a profile by Cnaan Liphshiz of Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal (““Dutch FM: Ties with Israel are like our bond with NATO“).
In the story, Liphshiz writes: “One of Rosenthal’s first statements regarding Israel as minister concerned the website The Electronic Intifada … .”
The Electronic Intifada has been the target of attacks orchestrated by NGO Monitor, an Israeli group linked to the Israeli government and the West Bank settler movement and funded by Islamophobic organizations and individuals in the United States (“Why NGO Monitor is attacking The Electronic Intifada,” 30 November 2010).
Liphshiz’s 17 December article went on to repeat accusations meant to defame The Electronic Intifada — that the publication frequently compares Israel to “Nazi Germany” (an accusation, incidentally, that can be made with much greater justice against Haaretz). Liphshiz did not quote from The Electronic Intifada’s extensive refutation of NGO Monitor’s accusations, or seek a comment from the publication (Haaretz subsequently appears to have removed an entire paragraph of Liphshiz’s article dealing with The Electronic Intifada).
CIDI has also promoted NGO Monitor’s attacks on The Electronic Intifada on its website, including NGO Monitor’s false and fabricated allegations of “anti-Semitism” and use of The Electronic Intifada funds for speaking tours (“Onderzoek naar financiering ICCO van Electronic Intifada,” 26 November 2010).
It would appear that Liphshiz is more interested in promoting NGO Monitor’s and CIDI’s campaign against The Electronic Intifada — and more generally against critics of Israel’s appalling human rights abuses — than acting as a professional and transparent journalist.
Liphshiz’s double role
Cnaan Liphshiz is scheduled to take part in Jewish Identity Day activities in the Netherlands on 9 January 2011. The official website promoting his participation stated that:
“Cnaan is an Israeli reporter for the well-known newspaper [sic] “Haaretz”, and the European Jewish Press, focusing on the campaign to delegetimize [sic] Israel in Europe. Cnaan also writes about immigration trends and Jewish world news.”
It explained that “His background in journalism grew out of serving in the Israel Defense Forces during the second intifada, first as a special forces combatant and then, following an injury, as an intelligence corps researcher in a unit monitoring the intelligence apparatuses of hostile and rival entities.”
It also revealed that, “Before coming to Holland to work at CIDI, He lived in Florentin, a neighborhood in the south of Tel Aviv … .”
Website metadata indicate this webpage was created in October 2010.
After The Electronic Intifada began its inquiries regarding Liphshiz’s undisclosed dual status as a frequent Haaretz reporter and an employee of CIDI, the Jewish Identity Day website was changed to omit any reference to Liphshiz’s employment with CIDI or that he apparently moved to The Netherlands specifically to work for the organization. The relevant section now simply states:
“Before coming to Holland, He lived in Florentin, a neighborhood in the south of Tel Aviv … .” (
However, Google cache and copies of the webpage made by The Electronic Intifada before it was changed confirm the apparent effort to conceal information about Liphshiz’s affiliation with CIDI.
CIDI’s public information officer, Naomi Mestrum, confirmed in a response to questions emailed by The Electronic Intifada that “CIDI knows Mr. Cnaan Liphshiz, but he is not an employee of our organisation. However Mr. Liphshiz did a project involving research for us on a freelance basis this year.”
In response to further inquiries, Mestrum added that Liphshiz “helped us update a statistical research on Jewish immigration to and from Europe. He may help us update and elaborate the same database in the future.”
Regardless of technicalities of whether he is paid as a freelancer or on regular payroll, CIDI confirmed a past and likely future pecuniary relationship between CIDI and Liphshiz. Mestrum did not respond to a question regarding the start and end dates of Liphshiz’s paid work for CIDI.
Charlotte Halle, editor of the Haaretz English edition, confirmed to The Electronic Intifada that Liphshiz had been employed by the Haaretz English edition up to August 2010, “though he has contributed the occasional piece on a freelance basis since then.”
Halle pointed out that Liphshiz’s most recent pieces, including the 17 December profile of Uri Rosenthal, had been commissioned not by the Haaretz English edition but in the online edition.
Gadi Lahav, editor-in-chief of Haaretz online, wrote to The Electronic Intifada that “Cnaan Liphshiz was previously employed by Haaretz, but is now writing occasionally on a freelance basis. Mr. Liphshiz denies that he is employed on a permanent basis by any organization, including CIDI.”
In an apparent reference to Liphshiz’s 17 December article, Lahav added, “As for this specific article, it wasn’t published by the printed edition, and it seems it ran on the website by mistake.”
Liphshiz did not respond to a request for comment emailed to him at an address provided by Mestrum.
What is now clear is that Liphshiz has maintained for an extended period an employment relationship with both Haaretz and CIDI that should have been disclosed to readers and was not. Liphshiz continues to try to evade giving his editors or the public clear answers about the status of his relationship with CIDI. This is not a case of a freelancer writing one or two articles and failing to disclose a passing relationship with an organization that might have been mentioned once or twice, but a regular writer who has contributed dozens of articles favorable to the organization for which he worked, and advancing its advocacy agenda.
Using Haaretz as a cover to push CIDI’s agenda
Liphshiz’s dual role with CIDI is both a matter of public interest, and conflict of interest for Haaretz. In his reports for the newspaper, Liphshiz frequently cites information provided by CIDI without any countervailing view or analysis and without disclosing his own relationship to the group, as a few examples illustrate.
A 9 September 2009 story headlined “Dutch Jews suffered tenfold increase in anti-Semitic attacks during Gaza war” relies entirely on statistics provided by CIDI.
In a 27 June 2008 profile of Dries van Agt, a former Dutch prime minister and outspoken critic of Israel’s human rights violations, Liphshiz counters van Agt’s charges that Israel is “making frequent and excessive use of deadly force against the Palestinians,” by citing CIDI. Liphshiz then cites accusations of “anti-Semitism” against van Agt from various “accusers,” some of whom are unnamed (“‘Dutch Jimmy Carter’ accuses Israel of terrorism in new book“). Many criticisms and questions Liphshiz directs against van Agt appear to be lifted from an article written in Dutch by CIDI founder Ronny Naftaniel (“Van Agt heeft selectief geheugen“).
In an 2 April 2008 story, Liphshiz misleadingly casts CIDI and its director Ronny Naftaniel as courageous defenders of Muslims against the rising tide of Islamophobia in the Netherlands (“Dutch Jews louder than Muslims in condemning ‘Fitna’ film“).
Naftaniel claims credit for criticizing a film by Dutch Islamophobic demagogue Geert Wilders. “We are never afraid to speak out in the harshest of terms against what we think is wrong, be it against Muslim extremism here in the Netherlands, or the Dutch or Israeli governments,” Liphshiz quotes Naftaniel as saying. “But this movie portrays all Muslims as The Enemy. And this is just not true.”
These are examples of numerous articles in which Liphshiz provides an uncritical and favorable platform to CIDI and its (his) boss in Haaretz but does not disclose his relationship.
“Delegitimization” is a political stance not a reporter’s beat
The description of Liphshiz on the Jewish Identity Day website as a journalist “focusing on the campaign to delegetimize [sic] Israel in Europe” is troubling. The characterization of the activities by Palestine solidarity activists and Israeli human rights groups as “delegitimization” is a political stance promoted by such organizations as CIDI itself, NGO Monitor,The Reut Institute and the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
On 9 December, for example, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon held a press conference at which NGO Monitor director Gerald Steinberg named The Electronic Intifada as “a very powerful organization” at the center of a global network to “delegitimize” Israel (transcript of press conference via Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
That Liphshiz may take it as a given that Palestine solidarity activities constitute “delegitimization,” suggests he is less a truth-seeking journalist, than a foot soldier in Israeli government-endorsed propaganda efforts.
In the 17 December article profiling Rosenthal, for example, Liphshiz even repeats claims made by NGO Monitor that the Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv has a “pro-Palestinian agenda” — simply because it has upheld long-standing Dutch government policies regarding the occupied Palestinian territories.
While reporters and journalists may have affiliations to, and may advocate for political and activist groups in accordance with basic freedoms of association and expression, the essence of ethical practice is disclosure of these relationships whenever relevant, especially if they could be seen as affecting the reporter’s work or judgment. In this case Liphshiz has been passing off his advocacy for CIDI as “news” reporting under the banner of Haaretz.
Perhaps Liphshiz sees his “journalism” work as a mere continuation of his time “as an intelligence corps researcher in a unit monitoring the intelligence apparatuses of hostile and rival entities” — in which case disclosure would of course be a problem.
If Haaretz wishes to rescue its journalistic reputation it would be well-advised to ensure that it does not become a mere vehicle for political smear campaigns conducted by extremist organizations and their operatives.
I wonder what Jesus would think were he to return to Bethlehem.
By Ron Forthofer
During Christmas time, the town of Bethlehem in the West Bank, the birthplace of Jesus, comes to mind. I wonder what Jesus would think were he to return to Bethlehem, to Jerusalem and to the rest of the West Bank today. Unfortunately, he would still see a foreign military force occupying the land. Since Jesus had experienced the Roman occupation when he was alive, he might not be too surprised about the occupation.
However, Jesus would also see something he had not witnessed under the Romans. The current foreign power, Israel, has now colonized much of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and there are about 500,000 Israeli colonists living in over 200 illegal Jewish-only colonies and outposts on lands taken from the Palestinians.
(The website www.ifamericansknew.org provides some additional details about what Jesus would observe in Bethlehem today.)
“Towering walls and militarized fences now encircle Bethlehem, turning the 4,000-year-old city into a virtual prison for its Palestinian Christian and Muslim citizens. Bethlehem has only three gates to the outside world, all tightly controlled by Israeli occupation forces.
“Israel has confiscated almost all the agricultural land in the area for illegal settlements, making it impossible for many Palestinian farmers to continue tending their land. Outside the town, the fields where shepherds once watched their flocks are being filled by Israeli housing blocs and roads barred to the descendants of those shepherds.
“‘It is unconscionable that Bethlehem should be allowed to die slowly from strangulation,’ says South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Bethlehem’s residents increasingly are fleeing Israel’s confining walls, and soon the city, home to the oldest Christian community in the world, will have little left of its Christian history but the cold stones of empty churches.”
Jesus would observe that Palestinians in the West Bank are prohibited from entering Jerusalem, thus preventing them from worshipping at their holy sites. He would see that travel is also problematic between Palestinian cities and towns due to the presence of hundreds of Israeli roadblocks, military checkpoints and other obstacles. Thus Palestinians find it hard to conduct commerce, leading to increased unemployment and poverty. For Palestinians, it is also difficult to access medical care or to go to schools that may be located in a neighboring community. Palestinians are forced to travel on narrow and often unpaved roads since they are not allowed on the modern Jewish-only highways that Israel built in the West Bank. In addition, travel between Gaza and the West Bank is nearly impossible for Palestinians mainly due to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Water shortage represents a crisis for Palestinians in Bethlehem as well as in the rest of the West Bank and Gaza. Amnesty International issued an extensive report in October 2009 on this Israeli-caused disaster. Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s researcher on Israel and the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories), said: “Israel allows the Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources, which lie mostly in the occupied West Bank, while the unlawful Israeli settlements there receive virtually unlimited supplies. In Gaza the Israeli blockade has made an already dire situation worse.”
Amnesty reported that Palestinians’ water consumption in the West Bank barely reaches 70 liters a day per person, well under the World Health Organization’s recommended minimum of 100 liters a day. Israelis consume over 4 times as much water as the Palestinians.
The Amnesty Report added: “In some rural communities Palestinians survive on far less than even the average 70 litres, in some cases barely 20 litres per day, the minimum amount recommended by the WHO for emergency situations response.
The stark reality of this inequitable system is that, today, more than 40 years after Israel occupied the West Bank, some 180,000 — 200,000 Palestinians living in rural communities there have no access to running water and even in towns and villages which are connected to the water network, the taps often run dry.”
In an associated news article, Amnesty also pointed out that, in contrast, “Israeli settlers, who live in the West Bank in violation of international law, have intensive-irrigation farms, lush gardens and swimming pools.”
This description covers only a little of what Jesus might see in Bethlehem today. Sadly, this situation doesn’t live up to the ideas of peace on earth and goodwill to men. Neither do the horrific situations in Iraq and Afghanistan and many other places. Clearly much work remains to be done before peace on earth and goodwill to men are a reality.
Another Christmas under Siege
Fr. Faisal Hijazin*
|Trails of an Israeli F16 warplane are seen in the sky over the Church of the Nativity,believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, during the traditional annual lighting ceremony of the main Christmas tree in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on December 15, 2010, ten days before the Christmas. [MaanImages/Luay Sababa]
The heart of Bethlehem is not the Church of the Nativity, the Franciscan Saint Catherine’s Catholic Church or Manger Square, nor the many other places of worship found in this holy city. It is not Rachel’s tomb, now surrounded by a curtain of iron and cement built to sever it from Bethlehem.
Rather, in truth, the heart of Bethlehem is the community of believers that, by its presence, has kept the birthplace of Jesus tended, remembered and venerated since the time that Our Savior appeared on earth, born of a virgin, to save us from our sins. During all these centuries, Bethlehem has remained a Christian community.
This Christmas, Christians around the world will be singing such Christmas Carols as “O Little Town of Bethlehem” without knowing that in truth, they could soon be singing of a town where you can no longer find the living presence of Christ, the community of those baptized into his body, the Church; “O Lost Town of Bethlehem” could be a more accurate sentiment when Christians awake to find that the Christian presence in this small holy city has, after 2,000 years, come to an end.
The fact is that this is a community that has been suffocating under military occupation, and all the restriction of liberty – particularly separation from family living very short distances away due to the “Wall of Separation” – that this subjection to arbitrary regulations and threat of imminent violence carries with it. The prolongation, decade after decade, of these circumstances, means that Christians are leaving their beloved city to seek places where they can raise their families where they can live, work and pray with the dignity of human beings. This is perhaps an accusation of our failure to willingly suffer all things in Christ. Though our faith has sustained us for many years, yet, failing to see change coming, many, and ever more, opt for places that offer brighter futures.
The hardships of the political situation have severely reduced the Christian population. Certainly, there are some voices in the international press who present this flight as a result of Islamic persecution. This is false. While of course the Christian community of Palestine has problems due to its minority status, as happens to minority populations virtually everywhere, still careful polling of emigrating Christians clearly demonstrates that the primary reason for leaving is the condition of living under the heavy thumb of the military occupation, without rights, of the Israeli government. This is a situation that, in one form or another, has gone on for 62 years.
I have been a priest in this region for 25 years and have visited Christians in Israeli prisons, participated in funerals of Christian who have fallen under Israeli bullets and bombs, sought to aid Christian families who have been cruelly divided by the Israeli policy of stripping residency rights for Palestinians, forcing their removal, and even lobbied for Christians to have their property returned after its being confiscated by Israel in order to expand its illegal settlements around Bethlehem.
It has not always been easy to control my own anger, let alone counsel forgiveness to the suffering and bereaved. Some have been able to hear Christ’s words of comfort. Others think of flight. Israel makes no distinction whatsoever between Christians and Muslims. The glaring fact is that the Israelis want the Palestinian land, but do want the Palestinians, the people who have lived there for thousands of years. And, without restrictions on their power, they act accordingly.
While we desire to understand the heart of every man, even our persecutors and oppressors, and desire to speak words of peace and reconciliation to them, yet, perhaps from a weakness in our faith or perhaps an arrogance born of power on their part, we do not seem to have made much of an impact in this way. In 2009 a group of lay people and clergy from the Christian community including myself released the Kairos document in which we tried to tell the world what is happening here. It was a call for justice, understanding and peace. We received much support for our statement, but there is much more to do.
Today, we see the two neighboring cities, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, divided for the first time in history. Draconian limits to freedom of movement have strained family, social and economic connections to the breaking point. Couples from across the wall who want to marry must divide themselves from one of their families or each other, since it is all but impossible for the one living beyond the wall to get permission to live with the spouse on the Israeli side. Palestinians wanting to visit their holy sites as they have for many centuries, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, need hard to obtain Israeli-issued permits. Pilgrims wanting to visit Bethlehem must often pass through arduous procedures at Israeli check points. And the inconvenience has meant that the many pilgrims who do make it to Bethlehem are bused in and out, and spend no time with our people on our friendly streets.
There are people who suffer more in the world. We, like all of God’s children, have much to be thankful for. We join our brothers and sisters in Christ in offering praise. But it is not easy to cast out the shadow in our hearts when we think of what has become of our little town of Bethlehem, so much a Christian symbol, to us even more than to others.
Christians here too are discouraged when they see that many of their brothers and sisters in Christ from the United States actively support the policies that are emptying the land of Christ from its Christian population. They feel rejected by their own. Would it be not more fitting in the name of the Prince of Peace to call for justice and equality for all? If Christians are friends of Israel, do not friends urge their friends towards virtue? If they do not, are they indeed friends?
Our Savior has come to shine his light upon those dwelling in the darkness. May this Christmas enlighten all of our hearts and let that light illumine every dark place, especially those under persecution. May he strengthen us in hope, and unite us in preparing his coming again by works of peace. May this unity give hope to the Christians of the Holy Land, so that the Body of Christ, His Church may find a way to continue in the Lands sanctified by his earthly ministry.
*Father Dr. Faisal Hijazin is the Parish Priest of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Ramallah.
Both of the above reports via Uruknet
|If you are currently in the Bethlehem area, please join us for a demo set for this Friday morning December 24, 2010 at 9 a.m. at Al-Walaja. Contact 0569956478 for information.
This afternoon at around 2:30 Mazin said that we have to go to Al-Walaja immediately. He said he just got a call from the villagers that Israeli bulldozer was clearing an area in a different side of the village (the villagers were still trying to figure out the legal situation) than the familiar site where illegal Israel wall construction has been going on for t he past year. We were at his office at Bethlehem University at the time. We dropped everything we were doing and took off. When we arrived at the site, the bulldozer was idle with a dozen solders and private security personnel around. We found out from the 20 some villagers gathered there that they managed to asked the work to be stopped pending further instructions. Thirty minutes later, some military spokesperson came to talk to the villagers in Arabic (which I don’t understand.) He came along with more armed forces – there were about 50 to 60 by then, more than the number of the local villagers present. If I understood correctly through Mazin’s brief translation, Israeli spokesperson was saying that their work was based on the 2006 order (but that order has expired and currently there is a supreme court case pending.) So as the bulldozer resumed, and the soldiers spreaded out getting villagers away from the work site and started arresting people who simply were hanging around there. While I was taking picture of a Palestinian male being taken away by Israeli soldiers, I suddenly noticed Mazin was surrounded by soldiers in a lower level terrace from where I was standing trying to speak to the solders (probably telling them they don’t have any valid work order and should not resume the bulldozing.) Right at that moment, they decided to take him away. That was around 3:20 p.m., less than an hour after we got there. I only remembered to take a picture of him being taken away from a distance. In rapid succession, Israeli soldiers snatched more Palestinian villagers – in all eight of them, including an older gentlemen, two teeagers, three other gentlemen, and Sheerin Al-Araj whom I knew as the vocal activist from the village.
Mazin was not reachable by phone after that for two hours. Then I reached him by phone and took down some notes from him during a short conversation. He said that they are detained outside Bethlehem Checkpoint 300 at the time. An Israeli soldier named Almog Kahalani was very rough with them. He beat the two young Palestinian men, causing one with stomach problem. The soldiers were very rough with Sheerin that I can hear in the background while talking with Mazin on the phone. Three of them had metal handcuffs, he and the rest were tied with plastic handcuffs that was very tight and causing circulation problem. A young men’s handcuff was so unbearably tight but Israeli soldiers refused to loosening it. The soldiers had just u ntied the plastic ones after about two hours (but kept the metal ones on the other three, Sheerin was one of them) and that’s why Mazin was able to use his hand to hold his phone and speak with me. They were asked to sign on a piece of paper (don’t know what’s the content but must be in Hebrew that nobody understand). But everyone of them refused to sign as advised by a Palestinian lawyer who was present there. While detained there, they tried to speak to the soldiers about international law, but the soldiers were saying that they don’t give a f— about international law and you people and they only care about obeying orders. Mazin reasoned to them that German soldiers were also obeying orders during the Nazi regime. The Israeli solders responded by saying that German soldiers would have shot you by now.
Another hour later, I got another update from Mazin that they have been transferred to Atarot (I don’t know where is this, but people familiar with this said it is near Ramallah.) They are waiting to appear in front of a judge. They are cold and hungry. The Israeli personnel there sprayed cold water on them and claiming it is an accident.
More update as I am still composing this — Mazin said that there were three arrested from Jenin joining them, so now there are total eleven at Atarot detention.
Mazin asked you all to keep Al-Walaja people and village in your prayer. We should be proud of the villager’s nonviolent resistance effort.
If you are currently in the Bethlehem area, please join us for a demo set for this Friday morning December 24, 2010 at 9 a.m. at Al-Walaja, and stay alert tomorrow all day. I will keep you updated as event unfold.
Below is another eyewitness account by an international present at the time:
“Eight Palestinians detained in al-Wallaje as bulldozers began to make way for the Apartheid Wall in the South of the village
Today at around 2 p.m. bulldozers started cleari ng trees, rocks, shrubs etc. to make way for the Apartheid Wall that is designed to enclose the village of al Walaje from the South, on the West Bank side. Three days ago, Israeli authorities had marked the route the Wall with orange plastic straps, indicating that the route of the Wall, which would swallow a natural spring, three graves and run through a small grave yard.
Villagers and a few local supporters walked towards the bulldozers and tried to stop their work. They were prevented from reaching the bulldozer by more than three times their number of Israeli soldiers, border police, and riot police. The villagers were arguing that the IOF had no right to destroy their land and that the legal situation concerning this part of the village was not yet clear, when a commander recognized Mazin Qumsiyeh from an action earlier this year on the other side of the village where the Wall i s already being built. Mazin was standing in a group of people when he was suddenly arrested without the slightest warning or provocation. The IOF then started to violently push the crowd into the village, causing several villagers to fall on the rocky, uneven ground and sustain minor injuries. As the outnumbered villagers were being pushed further and further in, a commander suddenly ran into the crowd and randomly detained several Palestinians who – at that point – had their backs turned to the IOF and were facing towards the village.
Overall, eight Palestinians – one woman and seven men including teenagers and an elderly men were detained violently. Three were handcuffed; five were bound with plastic straps, one of them so tightly that the strap cut into his flesh, which the soldiers refused to loosen for several hours. Two were beaten badly after they were detained.
The eight were first brought to the police station at the “checkpoint 300″ at Rachel’s tomb, and then transferred to Atarot, where they are being investigated currently.”
Submitted by J. Qumsiyeh
The good news is that the bulldozers stopped working today thanks to the brave people of Al-Walaja but they still need our collective support. 100 internationls will be in Al-Walaja tomorrow morning (Friday at 9 AM).
The video that I recorded and loaded this morning summarizes what happened to us after our arrest in Al-Walaja, a peaceful beautiful village that is slated for ethnic cleansing (for the second time). The beatings and pepper spray used on Sheerin and the young men of Al-Walaja was truly vicious. During the arrest, I managed to text message, take notes, and even take a couple of pictures from under the stairwell without the soldiers being aware (details maybe for my next book!). We challenged the soldiers’ demand that we not speak to each other or to them. Many of the soldiers kept saying they are obeying orders and I and others reminded them that obeying fascist order is not an excuse in international courts of justice (we are not there yet, but I believe the day is coming). I was truly inspired by the courage, vision and dedication of villagers like Sheerin and Dia who exemplify decency and dignified poise in front of the machine that still comes up among humans every few decades. From fascism to Nazism to Zionism, the enemy is one: racism and greed that in the end is self-destructive. But if enough good people stand-up, the end may come sooner and more people on all sides would be saved the physical and emotional scars of colonization.
Our friend Olivia Zemor and many others were denied entry on Ben Gurion airport. You can read her statement here (in French, may translate using translate.google.com):
However, thousands of people from around the world still managed to enter Palestine through Israeli controlled ports of entry like Ben Gurion airport.
Some were asked to sign stupid statements about not entering “Palestinian areas”. Of course all of this land is Palestinian areas, they should state entering the ghettos or bantustans to make it clearer.
In the holding cell with tight handcuffs cutting our circulation, we had a sense of peace and self-confidence. We shared smiles and whispered words of encouragement to each other. It was uplifting experience and camaraderie. I myself started singing (Fairuz-Zahrat Al-Madaen, Christmas songs, the Palestinian national anthem etc). After all we were told not to speak to
Why will there not be a US foreign policy that benefits US population? Is it because certain Jews make money out of the tribalism that is Zionism? An article in Haaretz on “How much do U.S. Jewish leaders [sic] make?”
Song for Kairos Palestine (Manal abdo)
BDS Comes to JStreet
Posted by Joseph Dana
In 2005, one hundred seventy Palestinian civil society organizations began a global non-violent boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) aimed at forcing Israel to abide by international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. BDS has since become a major factor in the ‘Israel debate’ as it has opened new possibilities for global civil society to stand in solidarity with Palestinians under occupation. Palestinian non-violence, which is under constant threat due to Israeli military repression in the West Bank, is going global through BDS. Just as the Israeli military fears non-violent demonstrations on the ground since they highlight the true exploitative dimensions of the conflict, the traditional Israel lobbies in the United States fear BDS as it highlights the weak arguments given for extensive support of Israel.
The ‘pro-peace, pro-Israel’ group J Street hosted a debate recently at Princeton University to discuss the ethics and efficacy of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement. The panel of speakers included the author and journalist Max Blumenthal, Jewish Voices for Peace executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson and J Street U director Daniel May. Blumenthal and Vilkomerson both spoke forcefully about the laundry list of Israeli crimes against the Palestinians as well as the inability of a western state to call itself ‘democratic and religious’
Max Blumenthal’s take on May’s speech captures its traditional “Israel lobby’ tone,
“Tragically, May’s case — and by extension, J Street’s case — against BDS boiled down to the Bible and the Holocaust: BDS undermines the 2000-year-old dream that Jews supposedly have of “returning to Israel,” he said, and it denies the persecution Jews have suffered “everywhere they went,” especially in Europe during the Holocaust. Aside from a few token nods May made to the Palestinian popular struggle (which ironically is linked the BDS movement), his case against BDS seemed contrived to trigger the most base emotional responses from Jewish-Americans, especially those who had been subjected to sustained Zionist conditioning.”
Palestinian non-violence and BDS are doing what armed resistance never could; holding a mirror to the face of Israeli propaganda. Companies and cultural groups across the world decline to deal with Israel over it’s inability to behave like a civilized country. However, U.S.- Israel lobbies are still using passe emotional devices like Holocaust guilt to attack BDS and by extension Palestinian non-violence. Palestinian non-violence is viable and growing despite violent Israeli repression. BDS is the global face of Palestinian non-violence and will continue to force groups like JStreet to either confront Israel directly on its behavior or become a gentle version of Israeli propaganda in the United States.For more on the Princeton event, please visit Max’s blog.
How the U.S. Government Promotes Islamophobia
The latest installment in the Washington Post‘s investigative series by Dana Priest and William Arkin, “Top Secret America,” provides a look into how the U.S. government is mired in the deep swamp that is Islamophobia in America (emphasis mine):
Seeking to learn more about Islam and terrorism, some law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies…
Ramon Montijo has taught classes on terrorism and Islam to law enforcement officers all over the country.
“Alabama, Colorado, Vermont,” said Montijo, a former Army Special Forces sergeant and Los Angeles Police Department investigator who is now a private security consultant. “California, Texas and Missouri,” he continued.
What he tells them is always the same, he said: Most Muslims in the United States want to impose sharia law here.
“They want to make this world Islamic. The Islamic flag will fly over the White House – not on my watch!” he said. “My job is to wake up the public, and first, the first responders.”
With so many local agencies around the country being asked to help catch terrorists, it often falls to sheriffs or state troopers to try to understand the world of terrorism. They aren’t FBI agents, who have years of on-the-job and classroom training…
Amazingly, the Center for Security Policy, a neoconservative think tank, is also being listened to by the U.S. homeland security apparatus:
A book expanding on what Shoebat and Montijo believe has just been published by the Center for Security Policy, a Washington-based neoconservative think tank. “Shariah: The Threat to America” describes what its authors call a “stealth jihad” that must be thwarted before it’s too late.
The book’s co-authors include such notables as former CIA director R. James Woolsey and former deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, along with the center’s director, a longtime activist. They write that most mosques in the United States already have been radicalized, that most Muslim social organizations are fronts for violent jihadists and that Muslims who practice sharia law seek to impose it in this country.
Frank Gaffney Jr., director of the center, said his team has spoken widely, including to many law enforcement forums.
“Members of our team have been involved in training programs for several years now, many of which have been focused on local law enforcement intelligence, homeland security, state police, National Guard units and the like,” Gaffney said. “We’re seeing a considerable ramping-up of interest in getting this kind of training.”
The fact that Gaffney speaks with law enforcement on how to combat “terrorism” is disturbing. Matt Duss of Think Progress explains that Gaffney is a person who thinks that “Obama is a Muslim, question[s] whether Obama is an American citizen, [and] believe[s] that the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s new logo is a sign of the president’s ‘submission to sharia.’” Gaffney is not an expert on Islam. In fact, Gaffney did not consult a single Islamic scholar on his “report” on shariah law, and only started studying the religion three years ago.
What’s more, as I explained here, the Center for Security Policy’s general counsel is David Yerushalmi, an advocate for criminalizing Islam and who once wrote that “blacks [are]…the most murderous of peoples.”
Another recent instance of the U.S. government promoting Islamophobia was the arrest of Mohamed Osman Mohamud in Oregon, which in reality was, as Glenn Greenwald put it, the FBI successfully thwarting its own plot.
The next day, this happened:
U.S. investigators said a fire at an Islamic center in Oregon on Sunday was arson and warned they would tolerate no retribution for an attempt by a Somali-born teenager to detonate what he thought was a car bomb.
Police are also investigating the possibility that the gang is responsible for assaulting a tourist, Chilean citizen Jose Toledo, six weeks ago.
In addition to Arabs, or people they thought looked like Arabs, the gang also sought to attack persons they identified as homosexuals.
Upsurge in racism as protesters take to the streets against Arabs, migrant workers
Tel Aviv protesters called on government to deport aliens and refugees, and on local landlords to refrain from renting them apartments.
Just weeks after several dozen state-employed rabbis ignited a major controversy by issuing a letter calling on Israeli Jews not to rent or sell their homes to non-Jews, and one day after an anti-Arab demonstration in Bat Yam, Tuesday saw two more incidents in the rising tide of hatred and racism that appears to be sweeping the country.
In Jerusalem, police said on Tuesday they had arrested nine members of a suspected youth gang that has been targeting Arab passersby in the center of the city in recent months. Police officials also released information on the arrests, which were carried out over a two-week period.
The suspects, who are reportedly residents of Jerusalem and nearby settlements, have been released under house arrest until the completion of the investigation.
Meanwhile, in south Tel Aviv, hundreds of residents demonstrated on Tuesday against the presence of foreigners in their neighborhood. Holding signs declaring “We’ve been afraid long enough, send the infiltrators home,” among other demands, protesters called on the government to deport aliens and refugees, and on local landlords to refrain from renting them apartments.
Several dozen right-wing activists who do not reside in Tel Aviv were said to have joined the demonstration as well.
Attacks coordinated via Facebook
Police investigators in Jerusalem believe the nine suspects under house arrest had been members of a gang that used a 14-year-old girl to trap their victims. Police suspect that the girl would approach Arab men and ask them to smoke a cigarette with her or take a walk with her. She would then lead them to the gang members, who were waiting to attack.
The gang allegedly assaulted its victims with stones, bottles and tear gas. And the attacks were said to be coordinated though Facebook, text messages and phone calls.
Police believe the youths to be responsible for more than 10 attacks on Arabs in recent weeks. Some of the victims required medical treatment in hospital after being assaulted. Most of the incidents took place on Thursday and Saturday nights.
Police are also investigating the possibility that the gang is responsible for assaulting a tourist, Chilean citizen Jose Toledo, six weeks ago.
In addition to Arabs, or people they thought looked like Arabs, the gang also sought to attack persons they identified as homosexuals, Haaretz has learned.
Though the investigation is ongoing, police officials said they are quite certain that the leader of the gang was a 14-year-old and that the attacks were motivated by nationalism.
According to Haim Shmueli, a senior officer with the Jerusalem District Police who briefed reporters yesterday: “Those involved admit to the allegations against them. Some have also linked their actions with those of others and additional arrests are expected. They did this for nationalist reasons – that’s why it involves members of minority groups. Some of the suspects said they were acting out of vengeance because family members had been injured in terrorist attacks. Some of them participated due to peer pressure.”
One victim, 21-year-old Annan Yaghmour from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, told Haaretz about the gang’s attack on him a month ago. The attack occurred on a Saturday night while he was making his way home with a family member, he said.
“Suddenly a girl showed up and asked me for a cigarette and asked me to go with her,” Yaghmour claimed. “I thought there was something odd about it, and I told the boy [my relative] to wait and I went with her. Suddenly I saw two [guys] behind me and eight in front of me. I stopped and said I didn’t want to go any further, but as I tried to walk away the two behind me jumped on me.
“I tried to run but one of them tripped me and I fell and then they all began to hit me,” he continued. “I tried to tell them that I was Israeli and they shouted ‘Where is your ID?’ When I couldn’t find it they shouted ‘Arab, Arab,’ and one of them sprayed tear gas in my face.”
Yaghmour lost consciousness as a result of the attack and was taken to Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Karem, having suffered injuries over his entire body.
Adam Sabih had a similar story to tell, having fallen victim to an attack on October 31, near the same location as the alleged assault on Yaghmour.
“I was walking in Haatzmaut Park, and was speaking on the telephone with my sister in Arabic,” he recalled. “Then someone came along and asked me whether I had a cigarette. I said ‘no’ and continued walking. Suddenly I saw 20-30 guys wearing kippas [skullcaps worn by Orthodox Jewish men] coming at me.
“They asked me what my name was and I told them ‘Adam,’” he continued. “Then they asked me for my last name and I told them ‘Sabih.’ I had not finished saying it when one of them shouted ‘Kill this Arab.’ I don’t know how God gave me the strength to escape and I ran all the way to King George Street.”
“There is law and justice,” Annan Yaghmour’s father said yesterday. “I am glad they caught them and they need to pay for their crimes. My son was beaten badly and nearly killed. I hope this doesn’t happen again. Arabs should not attack Jews, and Jews should not attack Arabs.”
Salam Aghbaria, 20, was praying in the flat he rented in the town when the walls shook violently after Jewish youth threw a number of firebombs into the apartment. Aghbaria miraculously survived. Many of Nassar and Aghbaria’s Arab classmates quickly left their rentals and returned to their families. Now they commute the long distance daily to attend college because it is too dangerous for them to rent flats in town.
What upset the students, their families and leaders of the Palestinians of 1948 is that the Israeli government did not lift a finger against the racist instigator-rabbi, and no measures were taken against the Jewish terrorist groups targeting Arab youth. While some 1948 Palestinians wait for an official response by Israel, tens of senior rabbis in Israel are signing an edict prohibiting Jews from renting or selling their homes to non-Jews, including Arabs and foreign workers.
The Israeli news website Walla! stated that the rabbis are justifying the edict out of fear of inter-marriage between Jews and gentiles. They are also concerned about a drop in the price of residential units where non-Jews live. The edict stated: “Any Jew who sells or rents their home to non-Jews must know that he is costing a loss for his neighbours.” The rabbis further called for a boycott of any Jew who sells or rents his home to a gentile, instructing other Jews to ostracise him, not trade with him, and ban him from entering Jewish holy sites until he revokes the sale or rental to a non-Jew.
The portal noted that all senior rabbis of major cities, who all receive salaries from the state, signed the edict despite the fact that they come from across the religious spectrum. The decree is the last in a series of racist proclamations by Jewish rabbis; an earlier one banned 1948 Palestinians from nominating themselves in the Israeli elections, and another prevented Jews from donating blood to gentiles.
It seems that the political and legal environment in Israel encourages racist killings, as demonstrated by the case of Rabbi Isaac Shapiro, director of the Youssef Hai Religious School in the settlement of Har Brakha, north of the occupied city of Nablus in the northern West Bank. Shapiro recently issued a book justifying the killing of Palestinian men, women and babies. In Law of the King, Shapiro published tens of references from the Torah and Talmud justifying the killing of babies of people who are enemies of Jews.
Haaretz and Maariv newspapers published excerpts of the book noting that Shapiro had stretched the interpretation of killing the infants of gentiles if they were in a place to harm the Jews. Another stretch is Shapiro’s assertion that the children of the leaders of enemies should be murdered to influence the morale of their fathers: “It is acceptable to harm the child of any leader to prevent [the father] from evil acts… We found that jurisprudence justifies the murder of the children of non-Jews in anticipation of the danger they pose in the future if they grow up to become evil like their fathers.”
One of the most dangerous decrees is one signed by a large number of rabbis in the Association of Rabbis of the Land of Israel headed by Rabbi Dov Lior, which urged the Israeli army to indiscriminately bomb Palestinian residential areas. A number of religious officials in Olmert’s former cabinet used this edict to support the purposeful killing of Palestinians during the last war by Israel against the Gaza Strip at the end of 2008. The proclamation stated: “Jewish law permits the bombing of Palestinian civilian targets, and the Torah allows launching missiles in the direction of fire, even if there are civilians there.”
The signatory rabbis went as far as saying that the army does not have to warn civilians before shelling begins.
Rabbi Eliyahu Reskin, a leading settlements rabbi, mocked calls for dialogue between Jewish rabbis and religious officials in the Arab world. Reskin believes the only form of dialogue between Muslims and Jews should be with “bullets”, and asserts that without convincing the Arabs in general, and the Palestinians in particular, that a settlement cannot be imposed on Israel by force, there is no point in such a dialogue.
It is clear that racist incitement by rabbis succeeded in embedding racist sentiments among the Israeli population. According to an opinion poll by the Israeli Institute for Democracy published last week, 83 per cent of Jews in Israel believe that Israel’s Jewish character is more important to them than it being a democracy. Meanwhile, 86 per cent believe that decisions on the future of the state should only be taken by a majority of the Jewish vote only. Some 62 per cent assert that as long as there is conflict with Arab countries, Tel Aviv should not take into consideration the positions of 1948 Palestinians, while 53 per cent say that the state has the right to encourage 1948 Palestinians to emigrate.
Another 76 per cent of Jews think the state should not allow first-degree relatives of Arab Israelis to come to Israel as part of any family reunification schemes. Also, 55 per cent want the state to allocate more funds to Jewish residential compounds than to Arab ones. Meanwhile, 46 per cent said they don’t want an Arab worker fixing their house and 39 per cent did not want to use a foreign handyman.
A study by the dean of social studies at Haifa University, Sami Smouha, revealed that 65 per cent of Israelis refuse to share residential areas with 1948 Palestinians, while 67 per cent of 1948 Palestinians are willing to share living districts with Jews. According to the findings, 65 per cent of Jews believe that 1948 Palestinians represent a danger for Israel because of their natural growth, and the possibility of rebellion and civil disobedience in support of the plight of their brethren in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
A report, issued by the Citizen’s Rights Society, an Israeli human rights group, revealed that hatred levels against Arabs have risen by 100 per cent. But it isn’t only Jewish society that is racist against Arabs, so are the politicians. An article by Moshe Feiglin, a leading member of the ruling Likud Party, published in Maariv on 5 December notes: “The Arab is not the son of the desert but the father of the desert. The Arab brings desert with him wherever he goes … The Arabs are rooted in the culture of thievery. The Arab mind suffers from lack of innovation; there is no good or bad in Arab culture, but only strong and weak.”
There are indicators, however, that the increasing hatred is not only against the Arabs but everything foreign. A mass rally on 9 December in Tel Aviv attended by secular and religious figures called for expelling all foreigners from Israel’s largest city under the motto, “We have become trash dumps because of foreign workers.” Suzy Cohen, an activist in the city who organised the rally, did not hesitate in saying: “I don’t care if they call me a Nazi, as long as we throw out the foreigners.”
The Israeli anti-Zionist thinker Gideon Levy is upset with the rising racism, which he describes as “a cancer quickly spreading through Israel’s body. From the southern most point of Eilat to Tabaria in the North, one Israeli city after another announces ‘I am racist’,” stated Levy. In an article published last week, he condemned the silence of the government and state apparatus regarding expressions of racism. “We are surrounded by silence. There is no government in Israel. There is no one to point out that Arab students have rights in their country,” Levy wrote.
“Foreign workers from Africa are human beings we should respect,” he continued, noting that Israel at the core is a country of “refugees and Holocaust survivors, yet discussion of the fate of foreign workers is limited to demonic solutions where Israelis are competing for the most gruesome remedies. Some suggest building a wall to prevent the illegal entry of foreign workers, while others suggest collective incarceration of foreigners or their expulsion. Meanwhile, the rabbis do not express any sympathy for these wretched foreigners who are part of the human race.”
Jeffrey Goldberg’s Anti-Boycott Bluster & Blunder
“The gradual abolition of the slave trade: or leaving of sugar by degrees in 1792″
by Isaac Cruikshank
“As the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement continues full-steam ahead in its efforts to force Israel to comply with international law, pro-Israel hawks are increasingly attempting to link the movement to anti-Semitism and Nazi Germany-era policies.”
The latest example of this disingenuous and intellectually dishonest smear campaign comes (unsurprisingly) from Jeffrey Goldberg, the former IDF prison guard, unabashed warmonger, and Zionist apologist and propagandist, who recently cheered the New Israel Fund for, in his words, leaving the “BDS swamp.”
Despite Goldberg’s claim to be “running a campaign on this blog against the cheap deployment of Nazi imagery in argument-making,” he does just that, stating that “it’s a fair analogy” to liken the boycott of Israeli goods to the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses in 1933, explaining that “the BDS movement, like no other anti-Israel propaganda campaign, has sent chills down the collective Jewish spine precisely because economic boycotts have been, throughout history, used to hurt Jews.”
Kane, in his cogent response, accurately points out many of Goldberg’s errors. For example, Kane notes that the BDS campaign is not a “European-centered campaign,” as Goldberg writes, but rather is “a Palestinian-led civil society movement that has spread to the Western world.” He also points out that Goldberg is “guilty of conflating Israel with Judaism, and Jews with Israelis,” continuing:
“The BDS movement is not an economic boycott directed against Jews; it is a boycott movement directed against the State of Israel, which labels itself the Jewish State, because of its flagrant violations of international law and its continued occupation of Palestinian land.”
As per the Nazi analogy, Kane writes that while “Nazi Germany instituted a blanket boycott…directed at a persecuted minority just because of their religious faith…[t]he BDS movement is targeting a state, asking Israel to comply with their obligations under international law, because of their unjust and oppressive policies towards the Palestinian people.”
But this is not the limit of Goldberg’s spurious claims and specious equivalency. What could – and should – also be addressed is Goldberg’s blanket contention that “economic boycotts have been, throughout history, used to hurt Jews.”
This statement follows Goldberg’s pattern of labeling any and all human rights efforts as “anti-Semitic” whenever they happen to address war crimes, contempt for international law, rampant and aggressive discrimination, land and water theft, ethnic cleansing, and collective punishment routinely committed by the Israeli government and military and widely supported (or ignored, or justified) by the Israeli public.
Goldberg not only traffics in knee-jerk emotional blackmail, as usual – yelling “Nazi!” in a crowded blogosphere – but also relies on a very selective historical memory regarding the history of boycotts and campaigns to educate the public about ongoing injustice and mobilize it against such atrocities.
In what the BBC describes as “one of the earliest examples of consumers using their purchasing power to reject the trade in goods which have not been ethically produced,” British civil society widely boycotted sugar produced by slaves in the Caribbean in 1791. Spurred by the distribution of thousands of pro-boycott pamphlets by the London Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, eventually some 300,000 Britons boycotted sugar, resulting in sugar sales dropping by anywhere from a third to a half during that time. Many shops even advertised goods produced by ‘freemen,’ while sales of sugar from India, where slavery was not used, increased tenfold over two years.
BBC reports that “Hundreds of thousands of people also signed petitions calling for the abolition of the slave trade. Many supported the campaign against their own interests. For example, in Manchester (which sold some £200,000 worth of goods each year to slave ships) roughly 20% of the city’s population signed petitions in support of abolition. The size and strength of feeling demonstrated by these popular protests made even pro-slavery politicians consider the consequences of ignoring public opinion. One pro-slavery lobbyist of the time noted that the ‘Press teems with pamphlets upon the subject…The stream of popularity runs against us.’”
Also, during this time, even artists joined the fight to expose injustice. Poet Robert Southey spoke of tea as “the blood-sweetened beverage,” and Sir William Fox urged the tea drinker “As he sweetens his tea, let him…say as he truly may, this lump cost the poor slave a groan, and this a bloody stroke with a cartwhip.”
One wonders what could be written today about every dollop of Sabra hummus or each squirt of Ahava moisture-enhancing face “cleanser.”
As Goldberg invokes the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses to disingenuously link BDS to anti-Semitism, he doesn’t address the fact that the boycott lasted (at most) three days, was widely ignored by the German public and abandoned due to its damaging effect on the economy. He then deliberately ignores the historical record, which shows that the ineffective (though unquestionably appalling and racist) Nazi boycott was actually preceded by an anti-Nazi boycott of German business, organized by the American Jewish community.
On March 23, 1933, less than two months after Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor, less than one month after the infamous Reichstag Fire of February 27 (the false-flag operation which paved the way for massive Nazi gains in the parliamentary elections six days later) and the exact same day that the parliament voted overwhelmingly to gave Hitler dictatorial powers, New York City’s Jewish War Veterans, after considering the consequences for the already persecuted German Jewry, became the first American organization to announce a trade boycott of the Third Reich and organize a massive protest parade, in which over 4,000 veterans marched on City Hall and were welcomed by Mayor John P. O’Brien.
Nevertheless, the boycott movement – both in the US and worldwide – was largely unsuccessful, in part due to governments’ unwillingness to cut economic ties with the heavily industrialized Germany, but also because the Jewish community itself was divided on the issue. Historian Lenni Brenner writes that “there were those in the Jewish community in America and Britain who specifically opposed the very notion of a boycott. The American Jewish Committee, the B’nai B’rith (Sons of the Covenant) fraternal order and the Board of Deputies of British Jews refused to back the boycott. However, of all of the active Jewish opponents of the boycott idea, the most important was the World Zionist Organisation (WZO). It not only bought German wares; it sold them, and even sought out new customers for Hitler and his industrialist backers.”
The WZO, intent on pursuing policies which would promote the establishment of a Zionist state in what was then Mandatory Palestine, “saw Hitler’s victory in much the same way as its German affiliate, the ZVfD [Zionistische Vereinigung fuer Deutschland, or the Zionist Federation of Germany]: not primarily as a defeat for all Jewry, but as positive proof of the bankruptcy of assimilationism and liberalism,” Brenner tells us. These sentiments were enthusiastically expressed by the renowned German biographer
Emil Ludwig during a visit to the United States at the time. “Hitler will be forgotten in a few years, but he will have a beautiful monument in Palestine,” he said. “Thousands who seemed to be completely lost to Judaism were brought back to the fold by Hitler, and for that I am personally very grateful to him.” (Meyer Steinglass, “Emil Ludwig before the Judge,” American Jewish Times, April 1936)
Clearly, Zionist opposition to morally-justifiable boycott – in service of its ethnocentric ideology – is nothing new. But as history has shown, boycotts can succeed despite libelous opposition and propaganda – it just takes time.
A portion of this article was previously published in my September 10, 2010 piece, “
The Thin Green Line,” here on Wide Asleep in America.
Mouse over photos for description….
Taken from THIS Report
NETANYAHU I’M GLAD YOU CAME BACK TO THE NEGOTIATING TABLE
200 people demonstrate in city center against ‘Arabs who are taking our daughters’; leftists wave signs reading ‘Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies’
Some 200 people held a demonstration in central Bat Yam Monday evening against relationships between local Jewish women and Arab men.
One of the protestors called out, “Any Jewish woman who goes with an Arab should be killed; any Jew who sells his home to an Arab should be killed.”
‘We will not allow it.’ Bat Yam rally (Photo: Ofer Amram)
During the rally, held under the banner, “We Want a Jewish Bat-Yam”, demonstrators also insulted the prophet Muhammad and made racist remarks against Arabs and their saints.
Police forces maintained order, but did not act when the demonstrators made racist remarks.
“We are not racist, we are just Jews. The Arabs are coming and taking our daughters. We will not allow it,” one of the speakers said.
‘Fed up.’ Leftist counter rally (Photo: Ofer Amram)
Moshe Ben-Zikri of Eilat said the “struggle” began three years ago in Givat Ze’ev. “There were 330 Arab families there, and the Jewish women would walk around with them freely. We vowed this would not happen again.
“Just like we triumphed there, we will triumph in Bat Yam as well. We are not afraid of the police, the media or the Arabs – we only fear God,” he said.
Mayor: Climb on a different tree
Bat Yam Mayor Shlomo Lahyani strongly condemned the event and those who took part in it.
“The city of Bat Yam denounces any racist phenomenon. This is a democratic country with laws,” Lahyani told Ynet angrily. He denied claims made by extreme right-wing activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel that this was a local initiative.
“I would like these honorable gentlemen to find a different tree to climb on, far from Bat Yam. I am certain and I know that most of the protestors are not Bat Yam residents. This is a foolish attempt to create a provocation, which has failed.”
Ben-Gvir and Marzel responded to the mayor’s accusations, saying that “Mr. Lahyani has failed in his attempt to ignore the harsh reality in Bat Yam, which has been taken over by hostile elements and is suffering from assimilation. The crowd which took part in the protest was furious at the failure to deal with this phenomenon. We suggest that Lahyani stop ignoring the danger.”
One of the event’s organizers, Bentzi Gupstein told Ynet Sunday night, “So many Arabs are dating Jewish women, and the public is fed up with it.
A short distance away, about 200 leftists and Arab residents of Bat Yam held a counter protest. They waved signs reading, “We’re fed up with racists” and “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies”.
Also see THIS report from HaAretz
The word “Freedom” is tossed about in contemporary political rhetoric quite often and yet it is poorly understood. It is heavily loaded with both partisan and sentimental value for those who use the word, and it cannot be easily defined for it not only represents the foundation of what the United States was ostensibly founded upon, but it is the watchword for all “democratic” nations. “Freedom” is our aspiration; in its absence we are enslaved, in its presence we are jubilant … but what does “freedom” really mean?
Understanding the concept of “freedom” is easier when you can comprehend what it means to live without freedom: to appreciate the lack of something permits us to better appreciate what it is like when it is made manifest in our presence. A perfect example of this can be found in 20th century history in the nation of South Africa and the tumultuous times of the Apartheid regime that imprisoned Nelson Mandela for 27 years. Nelson Mandela was only one of the political prisoners who lost his personal freedom in the battle for freedom for his people; that was the sacrifice that he made in order to see the hateful Apartheid system end, and for a nonracial system of government to come into being. The fruits of his freedom were manifested through the first “one-person-one-vote” elections in 1994, which marked the true end of apartheid. The subsequent establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was emblematic of this freedom as well. It was convened for the sake of creating a public record about what took place under the apartheid regime, to rehabilitate the nation after living through the ravages of the racist apartheid regime and, more importantly, to compensate those who had been abused under the old apartheid system rather than meting out revenge against those who had perpetrated the offences.
According to Nelson Mandela, freedom can only exist when everyone is free. In other words, freedom in not a personal issue, it pertains to the collective state of the people. Inequality is a great hindrance to true freedom as it creates distinct divisions (or classes) amongst the population that transcends traditional class structures. Having any class system in society, either according to job classification or based on religious belief, you will find that the issue of freedom is stunted by the idea that there is anything that differentiates one individual, or group of individuals, from others. One of the things that you discover by studying the situation that took place in South Africa, and the story of Nelson Mandela, is that freedom and racism are integrally related. When a man can have 3 decades of his life stolen from him because the state opposes the way he thinks, or his dream to live in a free state that does not treat him and his people like 2nd class citizens, that is when you know there is no freedom to be had. Freedom in South Africa, before the end of Apartheid, was an illusion for the simple reason that it was something that only white citizens were able to partake of, so long as they adhered to the barbaric laws of the apartheid regime.
When Nelson Mandela walked out of prison after 27 years he was a free man, but he would not know true freedom until he had the opportunity to cast his vote in the first “one-person-one-vote” election in South Africa on April 26, 1994. Over the days that the polls were open nearly 20 million South Africans of all colours cast their votes for who would represent them in the first non-white-only government. The African National Congress won the majority of support with 62.6% of the vote and, on May 9, 1994, Nelson Mandela was unanimously elected President by the National Assembly. The days of the elections were so important to the people of South Africa that the 27th of April was declared a public holiday: Freedom Day.
As the president of the “new” South Africa it is likely that Nelson Mandela did not, at that point, feel very much like a free man for the simple reason that his time was not his own, something that every head of state would likely agree with were they asked the question of their own situation. In his book “Long Walk to Freedom” Nelson Mandela wrote that “a leader often sacrifices personal freedom in order for a leader to serve the needs of his people” (paraphrased). It is a variation of the idea that personal sacrifices must be made in order to help others. That is the essence of being a truly great leader, of being a truly great human: someone must be willing to give of themselves for the betterment of others. In answering the question, “am I my brother’s keeper”, the response is “yes”, without hesitation, even if that costs something on a personal level.
True freedom, after this model, comes from the expression of an individual’s interpretation of a rather esoteric ideal, an expression that is almost impossible to define in traditional terms as it encompasses so many definitions. People ultimately cobble together their own interpretation of the word, regardless of whether or not it is close to being an accurate definition. When it comes to an individual’s idea concerning freedom there really is no “right answer”, and the truth is an altogether different and irrelevant point to those who believe that “freedom” is a “God-given right”, guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States (for those living in the United States … Canadians have the “Charter of Rights and Freedoms”).
Alas, this is where the idea of “true freedom” enters the concept of relativistic or situational definitions. Some might argue that true freedom is an absolute that cannot be measured against perceived rights and “freedoms” that are conferred upon an individual by the state. At the same time, true freedom cannot be represented by anything that the state can confer upon a citizen for the simple reason that rights and freedoms conferred by the state can be taken away just as easily as they were granted; that does not make the idea of freedom very concrete if it is something that can be removed by a court decision or governmental decision, it makes it sound more like a vague concept that is “open to interpretation” rather than an entrenched right. Take, for example, the right of “Habeas Corpus”, which has been an important part of common law since before the Magna Carta (1215). This “right” was taken away from people in the United States, with the stroke of a pen, after President George W. Bush decided that terrorists did not deserve the same rights as those guaranteed under the constitution to all other defendants.
One of the main problems encountered by people attempting to formulate a concrete definition of the idea behind “freedom” comes when an individual’s expression of their freedom impinges upon another person’s ability to enjoy their life. The problem with individual freedom is that, for the most part, people do not live their lives in such isolated situations that make it possible to do anything they want without having to be concerned with the ramifications of their actions. True freedom does not necessarily mean doing anything you want, whenever you want; it means that you are free to make choices to do the right thing, those things being things that do not interfere with the lives and livelihoods of others. What is truly important is that we are given the ability to make the proper choices when it comes to the exercise of this freedom which is why education is one of the most important things in a “free” society. Without an educated population it is impossible to have a citizenry who understand what their responsibilities as citizens are and, subsequently, what their freedom represents.
Education is the cornerstone of a free society insomuch as it serves to provide a level playing field for every citizen, regardless of their position in society. Where there is an educational system that treats its students with dignity and respect you will find a citizenry that appreciates their freedoms without seeking to violate the rights of others; civility is as much an element of cultural decontamination as it is a part of the permissive nature of the society from which an individual is from. When people believe they are allowed to do anything because it is their “right” to do so, that they are exercising their freedom, the violation of the rights of others will take place more and more frequently for the simple reason that they will not care whether or not their actions have ramifications outside of the immediate moment in which they are operating. This is the great conundrum of freedom that may never be fully satisfied: is one individual’s freedom more important than the freedom of all? What happens when your freedom interferes with another person’s life? Is the pursuit of the one supposed to supersede the other or, are you to alter your plans to accommodate the society of which you are a member? Perhaps the definition of freedom has to include the word “sacrifice”.
The very concept of freedom, from the beginning of modern history, is fluid as can be seen through the history of the United States and its Declaration of Independence. In the Declaration of Independence there are the famous words declaring that we are all endowed with the unalienable rights of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”. One may infer that “freedom” was on the tip of the tongue of the writers of the Declaration, even if it was not actually written down: the words chosen are all synonymous to freedom. However, it must also be remembered that the Declaration of Independence was aimed at a particular crowd: white, male landowners. Women and people who were not white were not considered in the same category as the landowners, nor were they given the right to vote or speak in government. Freedom was not for all; not then, or now.
The very idea behind the “pursuit of Happiness”, for example, can cause contention amongst those who do not share similar views of what that pursuit may actually entail. While one person may feel the pursuit of happiness includes the playing of drums in the middle of the night, their neighbours would likely feel somewhat differently about that expression of freedom and ask the drummer to change their schedule for the sake of community harmony. By playing their drums at another, more appropriate time of the day, it is possible for the drummer to have his pursuit of happiness – to have his expression of freedom – without having his neighbours want to burn down his house in the process.
Freedom is something that will be debated for generations, but the true definition is really not that difficult to find as it relates to the entire human condition; it must be seen as a relativistic term in regards to how we all live, or it holds little personal meaning: if one person thinks themselves to be free while their brothers or sisters are not, what is the value of their freedom? Unless we are all free, unless we are all endowed with the same rights and privileges that every citizen is entitled to enjoy, freedom will remain nothing but a concept to be discussed in university classes and high school civics classes.
When Nelson Mandela spoke to 120,000 supporters in the First National Bank Stadium in Soweto, South Africa, he addressed the fact that there had been problems with crime in the township. Crime had to end, Mandela pleaded, for “Freedom without civility, freedom without the ability to live in peace, was not true freedom at all.” In the end, freedom is more about the things we decide not to do than what we decide to do; it means we are free to live our lives in harmony with each other, regardless of colour or creed, in peace, because that is the way we should be living. It isn’t about doing things that risk the lives of others so that we can have a fleeting thrill. Irresponsibility is not an expression of freedom, it is an expression of immaturity. Freedom is something that, after 27 years in prison for political beliefs, Nelson Mandela could say he understood by virtue of the fact that he could have a meal when he pleased and sleep when he wanted. The little things become precious when you have had everything stolen from you.
Ultimately freedom is what you make of it, it is the lifeblood of our democratic system: we are free to vote, to choose those who will represent us in government and ultimately shape the course that our nation takes in national and international affairs. Our greatest task as freedom loving citizens begins at the ballot box whenever there is an election: if we fail to vote we fail our nations. We abdicate the responsibility that our government expects from its citizens. If we do not vote, if we do not use our freedom to express our opinions at the polls, how can we be surprised when a reactionary political entity is elected that wants to curtail those personal rights and freedoms? Any right conferred by the state can be taken away: we must never allow this to happen. The only way to prevent it is by speaking through our votes. If we do not vote, if we allow apathy to overtake our love for freedom, the damage will have been done. Just remember, if you do not vote, you are entrusting your freedom to the people who do.
Originally posted AT
Once again the israelis/zionists felt threatened by a youtube video that reminds the world of the linkage between Christmas and Palestine, on many different levels.
It seems they made a organized effort to remove this video from youtube by flagging it and voting it down.
So far, they only managed to get it restricted to “adults only” on the grounds that includes “inappropriate material”. That means that only people with a youtube account can see it, thus severely restricting viewership. The same happened last Christmas when our video Christmas video was indeed removed.
Anyway, we need all the help we can get to spread this video, especially since people can see the video if it is embedded on a website or blog.
we also posted the video on wordpress for people without a youtube account:
Bat Yam rally: ‘Arabs dating our sisters’
Organizer of demonstration to take place Monday says ‘public sick of Arabs hitting on Jewish girls.’ Participants include right-wing activist Baruch Marzel
After a rabbis’ letter instructing Jews to not sell or rent apartments to Arabs, racist behavior reaches new low: An organization called Jews for a Jewish Bat Yam is expected to protest on Monday against the “assimilation of young Jewish women with Arabs living in the city or in nearby Jaffa.”
The protest will be held around 7:30 pm near the Bat Yam mall, not far from the police station. The organizers are also expected to show support for the controversial rabbis’ letter.
“It’s a local organization of Bat Yam residents, because the public is tired of so many Arabs going out with Jewish girls,” explained one of the organizers, Bentzi Gufstein. “In addition to the protest, we will hand out pamphlets explain the situation.”
The organization behind this local protest is actually the Lehava organization, which works to prevent intermarriage in Israel. The right-wing activist Baruch Marzel and a few local rabbis will participate in the demonstration, and the organizers are expecting hundreds more.
A poster in Bat Yam. ‘Keeping Bat Yam Jewish’ (Photo: Yaron Brener)
During the past week, posters have been hung around the city calling residents to come out and protest. Some of the posters explain: “I will not allow them to hit on my sister! What would you do if an Arab hit on your sister? Put an end to it! Recently we have learned of a grave phenomenon: Hundreds of girls from Bat Yam and the center get together with Arabs, they are integrated amongst us, their confidence rising. Put an end to it! Lower their confidence!”
Another poster reads: “Keeping Bat Yam Jewish. Arabs are taking over Bat Yam, buying and renting apartments from Jews, taking and ruining Bat Yam girls! Around 15,000 Jewish girls have been taken to villages! Jews, come on, let’s win!”
‘Racists think anything is allowed’
Coincidently, the demonstration on Monday is supposed to take place on the street where former Knesset Member Tamar Gozansky (Hadash) lives. She told Ynet she intended to file a complaint with police against the organizers claiming they are inciting violence.
“What they are saying is racist, another ugly stain on the Israeli conscience. I’m planning on complaining to the police on account that this is incitement according to clause 144 of the penal code, since such a demonstration can cause physical and emotional damage.”
Gozansky noted the October 2000 riots, in which Jews destroyed Arab businesses in the city.
“It might happen again. It’s part of a racist wave overflowing the country. The organizers received encouragement from the attorney general, who has yet to decide whether to do anything about the rabbis who signed the petition objecting to renting apartments to Arabs. The law authorities today are helpless, but the racist today act as if they are allowed to do anything.”
131 ARRESTED IN WHITE HOUSE PROTEST, 11 MORE ARRESTED IN NYC’S TIMES SQUARE
Asked about the lack of support for the war shown by Americans in recent polls, Secretary Clinton replied “I’m well aware of the popular concern, and I understand it.” But in matters of critical national security, she added, our government can’t make decisions “based on polling.” She reminded the reporters, “This administration … inherited an extraordinarily difficult situation. … There was no coherent strategy to unify American’s efforts in the region, no clearly defined mission… Today, we have a very different story to tell.
Asked about the projected withdrawal of US forces scheduled to begin next July, Secretary Gates responded, “The answer is, we don’t know at this point.”
The news media duly reported on all of this. But they seem to have ignored what was going on outside in the snow, where an estimated 500 people, many of them military veterans who had honorably served our country, came to protest the continuation of the war.
Following a rally organized by the group Veterans for Peace, featuring speeches by Daniel Ellsberg (of Pentagon Papers fame), retired CIA officer Ray McGovern, Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges and others, the protesters staged a solemn march to the White House, silent but for the sound of a single drum. When they found their path to the sidewalk in front of the President’s mansion blocked, some of the veterans were not deterred, and began climbing over the obstacles. The police opened the barricades and allowed them access to the sidewalk in front of the White House, where the protesters began chanting.
As the press conference inside the White House continued, the police began arresting the protesters. For nearly four hours, the police handcuffed and photographed 131 people for failing to obey police orders to clear the sidewalk in front of the White House. Those arrested included Ellsberg, McGovern, and Hedges.
At the same time, in a show of solidarity in New York’s Times Square,another rally was held which also resulted in the arrests of members of Veterans for Peace and the brave women of the Granny Peace Brigade- some of them in their eighties and nineties!
None of this was deemed to be newsworthy by the mainstream media. At Raging Pride, we beg to differ.
The Israeli left has been orphaned
In Israel’s nationalistic society, there are still several hundred thousand citizens who think otherwise, but have no alternative leadership to identify with and guide them.
By Gideon Levy
A few thousand Israelis marched last week in Tel Aviv to mark International Human Rights Day. They represented no less than 130 different organizations, and all were political orphans.
The Labor party has been orphaned (for quite a while now ). A reserve general, glorified for his courageous protest during the first Lebanon war and the impressive years he spent doing good work down in Yeruham, is now its Great White Hope. He comes in place of the other general who disappointed, the one who has nothing whatsoever in common with the left.
But the reception given the honest and humble Amram Mitzna indicates that it was premature to crown him the next savior. MK Eitan Cabel has already warned him not to “get near” the party. Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman, of course, came out against “tilting too far to the left.”
Meretz was orphaned a long time ago. Most of the Arab parties don’t even bother to address the Jewish voter. Even the binational Hadash party is still more Arab than Jewish. The “National Left,” a worthy political initiative, may be taking its first steps but is also an orphan without leadership and plagued with the classic sight defect of the Israeli left: an inclination to set its sights on the center.
You don’t build the left, even a nationalist one, with a scathing attack on draft resisters. This organization is at the moment an unfulfilled promise that could become the Kadima of the left. Kadima? No need to waste any words. A senior partner in some of the most anti-democratic and chauvinistic initiatives of the current Knesset, the great deceiver of the voters of the left, this center party has turned out, as expected, to be a party of the immoderate right in disguise.
Look to the left, and all you see is political orphanhood and organizational vacuum. Not that there are millions of Israelis trying to jump on the bandwagon, but even the few deserve more. In Israel’s complacent and nationalistic society, there are still pockets of several hundred thousand citizens who think otherwise, who are shocked at what is going on and worried about where things are going. They have no father and mother, no political party, no ideological movement and certainly no alternative leadership to identify with and guide them. So most of them wrap themselves in their apathy and despair, and a minority find a niche, often too narrow, in the countless non-profits and organizations that march from time to time in Tel Aviv. They fight for the foreign workers, protest violence against women, monitor military checkpoints, demonstrate against the separation fence, fight to protect the environment, protest animal abuse, demonstrate against the ultra-Orthodox and even against furs.
All these causes are worthy, but they don’t add up to any meaningful political activity. They all share an ideological common denominator, and that’s why they all should be part of a broader, unified struggle.
You can’t be an ardent feminist and support Tzipi Livni. You can’t be green and support Gilad Erdan. You can’t care for migrant workers while ignoring the plight of Palestinians without permits who are hunted down here like animals. Livni and Erdan should be judged on the basis of their overall worldview, and it is not a truly liberal and humanistic one. From opposing violence against women to opposing the occupation, from human rights to animal rights, one cause is linked to another, and they all come together to form a worldview. Non-profits don’t do the job here. For this, you need a political party. The task of creating one is difficult. The shelf parties and skeleton companies, the former left – they long ago stopped fulfilling their purpose. Attempts to create new political frameworks in Israel have been full of disappointments and failures. But the vacuum begs for action. It cries out for an alternative that will not eye the center, will not justify itself to the right in response to accusations of being unpatriotic, will not apologize for alleged betrayal and will not be ashamed and ambiguous. What we need is a real, clear left, with no ifs, ands or buts. In a society where “left” is a derogatory term, this is a difficult task. But it is even more difficult to continue on without one.