FLAMES OF HATRED AGAINST THE BDS MOVEMENT

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BDS was the ‘talk of the town’ on Israeli TV last night. The guest was the author of zion’s latest attempt to discredit the movement and link it to terrorist activities within Israel. The man was Edwin Black, the book he wrote is called Financing The Flames.

It was a direct hit against all NGOs involved in supporting the Movement with the outright accusation that Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terrorism in Israel, pulls the cover off the robust use of tax-exempt, tax-subsidized, and public monies to foment agitation, systematically destabilize the Israel Defense Forces, and finance terrorists in Israel. In a far-flung investigation in the United States, Israel and the West Bank.

He singles out a few of the NGOs in question;  such as the Ford Foundation, George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, the New Israel Fund.

The host of the program he appeared on was a bit confused by the statements issued by Black and literally made him look like a fool. It was definitely a case of the smoke from those flames blowing right back into his face.*

According to Black’s ‘logic’ it’s OK for the US government to send Israel 30 Billion (plus) Dollar$ a year to finance the illegal settlements and terrorist activities, but funds collected to combat this (PEACEABLY) is terrorism?*

Just look at the reviews for the book, they say it all…. It is truly comforting to watch the defenders of zion literally grasp at straws to support the insupportable. If this is the best they got, then victory will truly be ours very soon!

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VENCEREMOS!

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If you think you can stomach it, here’s a video of Black ‘fanning the flames’ …

ZIONISM UNSETTLED

ZU-cover_DVD

What role have Zionism and Christian Zionism played in shaping attitudes and driving historical developments in the Middle East and around the world? How do Christians, Jews, and Muslims understand the competing claims to the land of Palestine and Israel? What steps can be taken to bring peace, reconciliation, and justice to the homeland that Palestinians and Israelis share? 
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Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Zionism Unsettled:  A Congregational Study Guide 

What role have Zionism and Christian Zionism played in shaping attitudes and driving historical developments in the Middle East and around the world? How do Christians, Jews, and Muslims understand the competing claims to the land of Palestine and Israel? What steps can be taken to bring peace, reconciliation, and justice to the homeland that Palestinians and Israelis share? 

Zionism Unsettled embraces these critical issues fearlessly and with inspiring scope. The booklet and companion DVD draw together compelling and diverse viewpoints from Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Israel, Palestine, the US, and around the globe. By contrasting mainstream perceptions with important alternative perspectives frequently ignored in the media, Zionism Unsettled is an invaluable guide to deeper understanding. 

Released in January 2014 to immediate critical acclaim, Zionism Unsettled consists of a 74-page illustrated booklet and a free companion DVD. 

A how-to guide for class leaders and focused discussion prompts make it an ideal resource for multi-week exploratory education programs in churches, mosques, synagogues, and all classroom settings.

Order now!

Item No. 26466-14-001

Online http://store.pcusa.org/2646614001

or call 800-524-2612 

Prices:
Single copies: $10
10-19 copies: $8 each
20 plus copies: $6 each

 

Click here to download full-color flyer!

 

Click here to read more praise for Zionism Unsettled.

 

 

IMPLODING ZIONISM

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Not since the weeks following Stephen Hawking’s mega endorsement of the Boycott Movement has zionism gone on the defensive of their evil deeds with such fury. This time the result of a book, written by a Jew. That fact alone is a kick below the belt that really hurts them …. especially since it’s all true.
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There are very few intellectuals or writers who have the tenacity and courage to confront this reality. This is what makes Max Blumenthal’s “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel” one of the most fearless and honest books ever written about Israel. Blumenthal burrows deep into the dark heart of Israel. The American journalist binds himself to the beleaguered and shunned activists, radical journalists and human rights campaigners who are the conscience of the nation, as well as Palestinian families in the West Bank struggling in vain to hold back Israel’s ceaseless theft of their land. Blumenthal, in chapter after chapter, methodically rips down the facade. And what he exposes, in the end, is a corpse.
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Imploding the Myth of Israel
By Chris Hedges
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Israel has been poisoned by the psychosis of permanent war. It has been morally bankrupted by the sanctification of victimhood, which it uses to justify an occupation that rivals the brutality and racism of apartheid South Africa. Its democracy—which was always exclusively for Jews—has been hijacked by extremists who are pushing the country toward fascism. Many of Israel’s most enlightened and educated citizens—1 million of them—have left the country. Its most courageous human rights campaigners, intellectuals and journalists—Israeli and Palestinian—are subject to constant state surveillance, arbitrary arrests and government-run smear campaigns. Its educational system, starting in primary school, has become an indoctrination machine for the military. And the greed and corruption of its venal political and economic elite have created vast income disparities, a mirror of the decay within America’s democracy.

And yet, the hard truths about Israel remain largely unspoken. Liberal supporters of Israel decry its excesses. They wring their hands over the tragic necessity of airstrikes on Gaza or Lebanon or the demolition of Palestinian homes. They assure us that they respect human rights and want peace. But they react in inchoate fury when the reality of Israel is held up before them. This reality implodes the myth of the Jewish state. It exposes the cynicism of a state whose real goal is, and always has been, the transfer, forced immigration or utter subjugation and impoverishment of Palestinians inside Israel and the occupied territories. Reality shatters the fiction of a peace process. Reality lays bare the fact that Israel routinely has used deadly force against unarmed civilians, including children, to steal half the land on the West Bank and crowd forcibly displaced Palestinians into squalid, militarized ghettos while turning their land and homes over to Jewish settlers. Reality exposes the new racial laws adopted by Israel as those once advocated by the fanatic racist Meir Kahane. Reality unveils the Saharonim detention camp in the Negev Desert, the largest detention center in the world. Reality mocks the lie of open, democratic debate, including in the country’s parliament, the Knesset, where racist diatribes and physical threats, often enshrined into law, are used to silence and criminalize the few who attempt to promote a civil society. Liberal Jewish critics inside and outside Israel, however, desperately need the myth, not only to fetishize Israel but also to fetishize themselves. Strike at the myth and you unleash a savage vitriol, which in its fury exposes the self-adulation and latent racism that lie at the core of modern Zionism.

There are very few intellectuals or writers who have the tenacity and courage to confront this reality. This is what makes Max Blumenthal’s “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel” one of the most fearless and honest books ever written about Israel. Blumenthal burrows deep into the dark heart of Israel. The American journalist binds himself to the beleaguered and shunned activists, radical journalists and human rights campaigners who are the conscience of the nation, as well as Palestinian families in the West Bank struggling in vain to hold back Israel’s ceaseless theft of their land. Blumenthal, in chapter after chapter, methodically rips down the facade. And what he exposes, in the end, is a corpse. 

I spent seven years in the Middle East as a correspondent, including months in Gaza and the West Bank. I lived for two years in Jerusalem. Many of the closest friends I made during my two decades overseas are Israeli. Most of them are among the Israeli outcasts that Blumenthal writes about, men and women whose innate decency and courage he honors throughout his book. They are those who, unlike the Israeli leadership and a population inculcated with racial hatred, sincerely want to end occupation, restore the rule of law and banish an ideology that creates moral hierarchies with Arabs hovering at the level of animal as Jews—especially Jews of European descent—are elevated to the status of demigods. It is a measure of Blumenthal’s astuteness as a reporter that he viewed Israel through the eyes of these outcasts, as well as the Palestinians, and stood with them as they were arrested, tear-gassed and fired upon by Israeli soldiers. There is no other honest way to tell the story about Israel. And this is a very honest book. 

“Goliath” is made up of numerous vignettes, some only a few pages long, that methodically build a picture of Israel, like pieces fit into a puzzle. It is in the details that Israel’s reality is exposed. The Israeli army, Blumenthal points out in his first chapter, “To the Slaughter,” employs a mathematical formula to limit outside food deliveries to Gaza to keep the caloric levels of the 1.5 million Palestinians trapped inside its open air prison just above starvation; a government official later denied that he had joked in a meeting that the practice is “like an appointment with a dietician.” The saturation, 22-day bombing of Gaza that began on Dec. 27, 2008, led by 60 F-16 fighter jets, instantly killed 240 Palestinians, including scores of children. Israel’s leading liberal intellectuals, including the writers Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman, blithely supported the wholesale murder of Palestinian civilians. And while Israelis blocked reporters from entering the coastal Gaza Strip—forcing them to watch distant explosions from Israel’s Parash Hill, which some reporters nicknamed “the Hill of Shame”—the army and air force carried out atrocity after atrocity, day after day, crimes that were uncovered only after the attack was over and the press blockade lifted. This massive aerial and ground assault against a defenseless civilian population that is surrounded by the Israeli army, a population without an organized military, air force, air defenses, navy, heavy artillery or mechanized units, caused barely a ripple of protest inside Israel from the left or the right. It was part of the ongoing business of slaughtering the other.

“Unarmed civilians were torn to pieces with flechette darts sprayed from tank shells,” Blumenthal writes. “Several other children covered in burns from white phosphorous chemical weapon rounds were taken to hospitals; a few were found dead with bizarre wounds after being hit with experimental Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) bombs designed to dissolve into the body and rapidly erode internal soft tissue. A group of women were shot to death while waving a white flag; another family was destroyed by a missile while eating lunch; and Israeli soldiers killed Ibrahim Awajah, an eight-year-old child. His mother, Wafaa, told the documentary filmmaker Jen Marlowe that soldiers used his corpse for target practice. Numerous crimes like these were documented across the Gaza Strip.”

By the end of the assault, with 1,400 dead, nearly all civilians, Gaza lay in ruins. The Israeli air force purposely targeted Gaza’s infrastructure, including power plants, to reduce Gaza to a vast, overcrowded, dysfunctional slum. Israel, Blumenthal notes, destroyed “80 percent of all arable farmland in the coastal strip, bombing the strip’s largest flour mill, leveling seven concrete factories, shelling a major cheese factory, and shooting up a chicken farm, killing thirty-one thousand chickens.”

“Twelve [years old] and up, you are allowed to shoot. That’s what they tell us,” an Israeli sniper told Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass in 2004 at the height of the Second Intifada, Blumenthal writes. “This is according to what the IDF [Israel Defense Force] says to its soldiers. I do not know if this is what the IDF says to the media,” the sniper was quoted as saying.

The 2008 murderous rampage is not, as Blumenthal understands, an anomaly. It is the overt policy of the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who advocates “a system of open apartheid.” Israel, as Blumenthal points out, has not lifted its state of emergency since its foundation. It has detained at least 750,000 Palestinians, including 10,000 women, in its prisons since 1967. It currently holds more than 4,500 political prisoners, including more than 200 children and 322 people jailed without charges, Blumenthal writes, including those it has labeled “administrative detainees.” Israel has a staggering 99.74 percent conviction rate for these so-called security prisoners, a figure that any totalitarian state would envy.

Blumenthal cites a survey of Jewish Israeli attitudes on the Gaza bombing, known as Operation Cast Lead. The survey, by Daniel Bar-Tal, a political psychologist from Tel Aviv University, concluded that the public’s “consciousness is characterized by a sense of victimization, a siege mentality, blind patriotism, belligerence, self-righteousness, dehumanization of the Palestinians, and insensitivity to their suffering.” Bar-Tal tells Blumenthal “these attitudes are the product of indoctrination.” And Blumenthal sets out to chronicle the poison of this indoctrination and what it has spawned in Israeli society.

The racist narrative, once the domain of the far right and now the domain of the Israeli government and the mainstream, demonizes Palestinians and Arabs, as well as all non-Jews. Non-Jews, according to this propaganda, will forever seek the annihilation of the Jewish people. The Holocaust, in which Israeli victimhood is sanctified, is seamlessly conflated with Palestinian and Arab resistance to occupation. The state flies more than 25 percent of Israeli 11th-graders to Poland to tour Auschwitz and other Nazi extermination camps a year before they start army service. They are told that the goal of Arabs, along with the rest of the non-Jewish world, is another Auschwitz. And the only thing standing between Israelis and a death camp is the Israeli army. Israeli high schools show films such as “Sleeping With the Enemy” to warn students about dating non-Jews, especially Arabs. Racist books such as “Torat Ha’Melech,” or “The King’s Torah,” are given to soldiers seeking rabbinical guidance on the rules of engagement. Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira and Rabbi Yosef Elitzur, the authors of the 230-page book, inform soldiers that non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature” and may have to be killed in order to “curb their evil inclinations.” “If we kill a gentile who has violated one of the seven commandments [of Noah] … there is nothing wrong with the murder,” Shapira and Elitzur write. The rabbis claim that under Jewish law “there is justification for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults.”

These narratives of hatred make any act of deadly force by the Israeli army permissible, from the shooting of Palestinian children to the 2010 killing by Israeli commandos of nine unarmed activists on the Turkish boat the Mavi Marmara. The activists were part of a flotilla of six boats bringing humanitarian supplies to Gaza. The Israeli propaganda machine claimed that the small flotilla was a covert terror convoy. Never mind that the Mavi Marmara was in international waters when it was attacked. Never mind that no one on the boat, or any of the five other boats, was armed. Never mind that the boats were thoroughly searched before they left for Gaza. The Israeli lie was trumpeted while every camera, video and tape recorder, computer and cellphone of the activists on board was seized and destroyed—or in a few cases sold by Israeli soldiers when they got back to Israel—while those on the boats were towed to an Israeli port and detained in isolation. The ceaseless stoking of fear and racial hatred—given full vent by the Israeli government and media in the days after the Mavi Marmara incident—has served to empower racist political demagogues such as Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman, a camp follower of Meir Kahane. It has also effectively snuffed out Israel’s old left-wing Zionist establishment.

“In Israel you have three systems of laws,” the Israeli Arab politician Ahmed Tibi observes in the Blumenthal book. “One is democracy for 80 percent of the population. It is democracy for Jews. I call it an ethnocracy or you could call it a Judocracy. The second is racial discrimination for 20 percent of the population, the Israeli Arabs. The third is apartheid for the population in the West Bank and Gaza. This includes two sets of governments, one for the Palestinians and one for the settlers. Inside Israel there is not yet apartheid but we are being pushed there with … new laws.”

As Blumenthal documents, even Israeli Jews no longer live in a democracy. The mounting state repression against human rights advocates, journalists and dissidents has reached the proportions of U.S. Homeland Security. The overtly racist cant of the political elite and the masses—“Death to Arabs” is a popular chant at Israeli soccer matches—has emboldened mobs and vigilantes, including thugs from right-wing youth groups such as Im Tirtzu, to carry out indiscriminate acts of vandalism and violence against dissidents, Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and the hapless African immigrants who live crammed into the slums of Tel Aviv. Israel has pushed through a series of discriminatory laws against non-Jews that eerily resemble the racist Nuremberg Laws that disenfranchised Jews in Nazi Germany. The Communities Acceptance Law, for example, permits “small, exclusively Jewish towns planted across Israel’s Galilee region to formally reject applicants for residency on the grounds of ‘suitability to the community’s fundamental outlook.’ ” And all who denounce the steady march of Israel toward fascism—including Jewish academics—are attacked in organized campaigns as being insufficiently Zionist. They are branded as terrorists or collaborators with terrorists. As a headline in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz read: “The settlers are the real government of Israel.”

“Woody [a law school graduate from New York] became my initial liaison to Tel Aviv’s radical left, introducing me to a loose-knit band of a few hundred anarchists, disillusioned ex-soldiers, disaffected children of ultra-Zionists, queers, academics, and generally idealistic and disillusioned young people who came of age during the Second Intifada when the liberal Zionist ‘peace camp’ closed ranks with the militaristic right wing,” Blumenthal writes. “This tiny band of social deviants comprised the only grouping of people I met who sincerely embraced multiculturalism and who took concrete action against the discriminatory foundations of their country’s political apparatus. Right-wingers and many Jewish Israelis who considered themselves part of the social mainstream referred to members of the radical left as smolinim, which simply means ‘leftists,’ but the word carried a deeply insulting connotation of an unacceptable caste, an Other. As branded social outcasts, inflexible in their principles, disdainful of ordinary politics, and brazen in their racial liberalism they resembled nothing so much as the pre-Civil War abolitionists.”

The late Amnon Dankner, the former editor of Maariv, one of Israel’s major newspapers, Blumenthal notes, denounced “neo-Nazi expressions in the Knesset” and “entire parties whose tenor and tone arouse feelings of horror and terrifying memories.” David Landau, the former editor-in-chief of Haaretz, has called on Israelis to boycott the Knesset “to stand against the wave of fascism that has engulfed the Zionist project.” And Uri Avnery, a left-wing politician and journalist, says: “Israel’s very existence is threatened by fascism.”

The disillusionment among idealistic young immigrants to Israel dots the book. As one example, Canadian David Sheen is recorded as saying that everything he had known about Israel and Palestinians was, in Blumenthal’s words, “a fantasy cultivated through years of heavy indoctrination.” But perhaps what is saddest is that Israel has, and has always had, within its population intellectuals, including the great scholar Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who sought to save Israel from itself.

Leibowitz, whom Isaiah Berlin called “the conscience of Israel,” warned that if Israel did not separate church and state it would give rise to a corrupt rabbinate that would warp Judaism into a fascistic cult.

“Religious nationalism is to religion what National Socialism was to socialism,” said Leibowitz, who died in 1994. He understood that the blind veneration of the military, especially after the 1967 war that captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem, was dangerous and would lead to the ultimate destruction of the Jewish state and any hope of democracy. “Our situation will deteriorate to that of a second Vietnam, to a war in constant escalation without prospect of ultimate resolution.” He foresaw that “the Arabs would be the working people and the Jews the administrators, inspectors, officials, and police—mainly secret police. A state ruling a hostile population of 1.5 million to 2 million foreigners would necessarily become a secret-police state, with all that this implies for education, free speech and democratic institutions. The corruption characteristic of every colonial regime would also prevail in the State of Israel. The administration would have to suppress Arab insurgency on the one hand and acquire Arab Quislings on the other. There is also good reason to fear that the Israel Defense Force, which has been until now a people’s army, would, as a result of being transformed into an army of occupation, degenerate, and its commanders, who will have become military governors, resemble their colleagues in other nations.” He warned that the rise of a virulent racism would consume Israeli society. He knew that prolonged occupation of the Palestinians would spawn “concentration camps” for the occupied and that, in his words, “Israel would not deserve to exist, and it will not be worthwhile to preserve it.”

But few, then or now, cared to listen. This is why Blumenthal’s new book is so important.

Written FOR

THE ‘I HATE ISRAEL HANDBOOK’ ~~ ON SALE NOW AT YOUR FAVOURITE BOOKSHOP

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The ‘I Hate Israel Handbook’ that didn’t make me blush at all ;)
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Max Blumenthal’s ‘Goliath’ Is Anti-Israel Book That Makes Even Anti-Zionists Blush

Eric Alterman Dubs Screed the ‘I Hate Israel Handbook’

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COURTESY OF MAX BLUMENTHAL
 

By J.J. Goldberg

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There’s an unpleasant little debate sloshing around the Web lately that tells you all you need to know — and perhaps more than you want to hear — about the current state of relations between Israel and the left.

The debate revolves around an unpleasant book published October 1 by Nation Books, titled “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel.” The author is Max Blumenthal, gonzo journalist, video provocateur and son of onetime Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal. The book is the product, the author says, of four years’ work, including more than a year living in Israel and the Palestinian territories to study the facts on the ground.

As his title makes clear, he didn’t think much of the place. He’s written a collection of 73 short vignettes, weaving together reportage, history and interviews to show the suffering and unbroken spirit of the Palestinians and the callous cruelty of the Israelis. Lest anyone miss the point, many of his chapters have titles like “The Concentration Camp,” “The Night of Broken Glass,” “This Belongs to the White Man” and “How to Kill Goyim and Influence People.”

The hottest debate, though, isn’t over the book itself. It’s about a magazine column devoted to the book. It appeared October 16 in the left-wing weekly The Nation, whose publishing arm put the book out. It’s by Eric Alterman, the magazine’s sharp-tongued media columnist. Its title: “The ‘I Hate Israel’ Handbook.”

A prolific author, academic and liberal pundit, Alterman is regarded as a chronic Israel-basher by the Israel-right-or-wrong crowd, while devoted Israel-bashers call him a “member of the Israel lobby.” He stipulates that Israel’s “brutal occupation” inflicts “daily humiliations” on the Palestinians, but says Blumenthal “proves a profoundly unreliable narrator.” The book, he writes, shows “selectivity” toward truth. Its chapter titles are “juvenile,” its accounts “often deliberately deceptive.”

Alterman elaborated the next day in a blog post. That’s when things heated up. He said the magazine had asked him to write about Goliath, but he’d hesitated, wary of the “avalanche of personal invective” that comes whenever he writes about “BDS types,” meaning those engaged in the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions campaign against Israel. He finally decided to proceed, wanting to be a “team player.”

Then the book arrived. “I expected to disagree with its analysis,” he wrote. “I did not expect it to be remotely as awful as it is…. It is no exaggeration to say that this book could have been published by the Hamas Book-of-the-Month Club (if it existed).”

The left-wing blogosphere erupted. Alterman was called an “ignoramus,” a “smearmeister” and, repeatedly, a “liberal Zionist.” One blogger, writing at the anti-Zionist group blog Mondoweiss.net, where Blumenthal is a regular contributor, questioned Alterman’s right to call himself a critic of Israel, since he sometimes defends it. Another, also at Mondoweiss, questioned The Nation’s judgment for assigning the review to a “liberal Zionist” known for “impassioned devotion to Israel.”

One blog after another took whacks at Alterman’s credibility: He misspelled the name of novelist Yoram Kaniuk (true). He unfairly ridiculed Blumenthal’s descriptions of the long-dead Israeli philosophers Berl Katznelson and Yeshayahu Leibowitz (arguable). He misrepresented Blumenthal’s substantive assertions about Israeli “fascism,” “racism,” “militarism” and more (entirely untrue).

But once you get past spell-checks and gotchas (for the record, Blumenthal refers to poet Allen Ginsberg as “Alan”; mentions the Canaanite god Moloch, from a Ginsberg poem, as “Mollock”; describes the moshav, a small-holders’ farming village, as a “collective farm,” and much, much more) the critics’ main complaint seems to be that Alterman’s review is the only one that’s appeared in print so far. Outside the far-left and anti-Israel blogosphere, “Goliath” has been ignored.

Blumenthal himself, answering Alterman in a Nation post October 23, seemed to want to blame the book’s invisibility on Alterman, claiming he was somehow “trying to frustrate debate.” Alterman, he wrote, is just the latest in a long line of “self-appointed enforcers” who have been trying—“especially since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin” — to “suppress an honest, free and full debate.”

Blumenthal, on the other hand, intends “to loosen the blockade of suppression.” Among other things, he’s interviewed “all sorts of people who are not the usual sources cited by much of the US media, including Israeli dissidents, Palestinian citizens of Israel, Bedouin villagers, Palestinian popular protest leaders, members of the Knesset from across the spectrum, and a host of right-wing Israeli officials, especially from the younger generation.”

Where to begin? First, to the extent that “self-appointed enforcers” tried to limit debate on Israel, it was much worse in the 1980s. The last two decades have seen an explosion of robust discussion. How Eric Alterman might suppress that is unclear. As for the book’s supposedly unusual interviewees, they appear regularly, everywhere from Charlie Rose to The New York Times, Haaretz and the Forward.

Blumenthal doesn’t know the history and ignores the inconvenient bits of the present, which is one reason his book has flopped. Worse, he thinks he knows all he needs to know, and just what readers need to know. He describes Israel’s assault on Gaza without telling of the thousands of rockets bombarding Negev towns for years beforehand. He touchingly recounts the 2004 assassination of Hamas founder Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi but doesn’t mention the hundreds of Israelis killed by Rantissi’s suicide bombers. The Palestinians are guilty of nothing. Israel’s actions are entirely unprovoked, motivated by pure racism.

Strangest of all are his accounts of his interviews with prominent Israelis, from novelist David Grossman to politician Shai Hermesh, in which he preaches to them, browbeats them and then finds them storming out on him — or in Grossman’s case, asking Blumenthal to throw away his phone number. Why? Obviously, they’re unwilling to hear the truth.

Of all the aftershocks in the Blumenthal saga, though, none is more telling than his October 17 appearance at the University of Pennsylvania. His host was political scientist Ian Lustick, author of the September 15 New York Times essay, “The Two-State Illusion,” which argued for a single Israeli-Palestinian state.

Almost halfway through their 83-minute encounter (minute 34:00 on YouTube), Lustick emotionally asks Blumenthal whether he believes, like Abraham at Sodom, that there are enough “good people” in Israel to justify its continued existence — or whether he’s calling for a mass “exodus,” the title of his last chapter, and “the end of Jewish collective life in the land of Israel.”

Blumenthal gives a convoluted answer that comes down to this: “There should be a choice placed to the settler-colonial population” (meaning the entire Jewish population of Israel): “Become indigenized,” that is, “you have to be part of the Arab world.” Or else…? “The maintenance and engineering of a non-indigenous demographic population is non-negotiable.”

Lustick appears stunned. And not only Lustick. Philip Weiss, founder and co-editor of Mondoweiss, who was in the audience, wrote afterwards, in a rare rebuke of his own writer, that he saw “some intolerance in that answer.”

We live in a “multicultural world,” Weiss wrote. There should be room for Israelis. “The issue in the end involves the choice between an Algerian and a South African outcome.” Mass expulsion versus coexistence. “I’m for the South African outcome.”

Blumenthal isn’t. It’s a chilling moment, even for the anti-Zionists among us.

Written FOR

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.
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Related post by Alex Kane
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‘I wanted to show Americans what they’re paying for’–Max Blumenthal on why he wrote ‘Goliath’

PETE SEEGER ~~ IN HIS OWN WORDS

Celebrating Pete Seeger, America’s Troubadour, on his 94th Birthday

Pete Seeger is often described as an icon. This is an apt term for someone who popularized the notion of socially responsible singing in the 20th century, and, along with Harry Belafonte, was among the leading combined cultural figure/activists of his time. Seeger linked Woody Guthrie to Bob Dylan, and then added a connection to Bruce Springsteen; the latter revived many of Seeger’s songs in his landmark The Seeger Sessions recording.
Randy Shaw

Pete Seeger: In His Own Words
new book – now out 

 

Pete Seeger, arguably the person most responsible for the revival and popularity of folk music in the United States, turns 94 on May 3. Seeger’s unparalleled life led him to engage in nearly all of the leading social movements of the 20th century, including the labor sit ins in the 1930’s, the economic justice campaigns of the 1940’s, fighting the blacklist and promoting peace in the 1950’s, the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s and the environmental movement that began in the 1970’s. 
Fortunately, Seeger’s extensive writings are now available in a new book, Pete Seeger: In His Own Words, selected and edited by Rob Rosenthal and Sam Rosenthal. The book offers unusual insight into Seeger’s motivations, and for his relentless optimism in the face of adversity. Seeger has spoken the truth for nearly 100 years, and his writings offer inspiration to all those working for peace, justice and for a better world.
Pete Seeger is often described as an icon. This is an apt term for someone who popularized the notion of socially responsible singing in the 20th century, and, along with Harry Belafonte, was among the leading combined cultural figure/activists of his time. Seeger linked Woody Guthrie to Bob Dylan, and then added a connection to Bruce Springsteen; the latter revived many of Seeger’s songs in his landmark The Seeger Sessions recording. 
If you know little about Seeger, I strongly suggest viewing the 2007 documentary, Pete Seeger: The Power of Song.  It includes remarkable footage of Seeger from the 1930’s to the present, including his singing in the fields of Mississippi to young civil rights activists affiliated with SNCC. The video will lead many to want to learn more about this remarkable man, which is why Rob and Sam Rosenthal’s book of selected letters from Seeger is so important.
A Man of Principle
Pete Seeger has been, above all, a man of principle. He sacrificed a lucrative singing career with the Weavers (their hit, Goodnight Irene, sold over 2 million copies in a single year) because he refused to name names before a Congressional committee. He was kept off network television for seventeen years because of this blacklist, and when he finally returned he gave a kick in the pants to his adversaries by singing his anti-war anthem, Waist Deep in the Big Muddy on the Smothers Brothers Show in 1967. CBS then censored Seeger’s appearance, but thanks to the activism of Tommy Smothers Seeger was allowed to return to the show and sing the song in 1968.
Among the letters uncovered by the Rosenthal’s is one from 1957 titled “The Bar of Judgment.” It includes Seeger’s review of a 1956 album by Burl Ives, in which Seeger describes Ives’ work as “one of the very best collections you can find of sailors’ chanteys and ballads.” He concludes his review by “giving thanks to Burl Ives” for producing such a fine work.
What does this letter tell us about Pete Seeger? Seeger notes in the letter that many were surprised by his positive review considering that Ives was brought before the House Un-American Committee and “fingered, like any common stool-pigeon, some of his early radical associates of the early 1940’s.” Seeger notes that Ives did this “only to preserve his lucrative contracts,” which makes his action “even more despicable.”
Yet Seeger was able to put aside his personal feelings about Ives and write a review that promoted Ives’ album, saying “a good book is useful no matter who wrote it.” At the time, Seeger was still blacklisted, and Ives was reaping commercial success that-absent the blacklist Seeger would also have enjoyed.
Yet Seeger never became bitter, and never sacrificed his principles for money. His musical career was put on hold for years while he lived with his family in a cabin lacking indoor plumbing he built in Beacon, New York on the Hudson River. He would go on to lead the successful effort to restore and revive the Hudson River, an effort described in Seeger’s letters that reveal him to be a master community organizer in addition to all of his other skills.
The Seeger Musical Legacy
If you take a look at the songs Seeger wrote, you will find many associated with him missing. That’s because Seeger was the chief popularize of such Woody Guthrie songs as This Land is Your Land. He also enabled the world to learn the songs of Huddie Ledbetter (aka Leadbelly). Among the letters in the book —“I Knew Leadbelly”—describes the 17 year old Seeger meeting Ledbetter, who wrote Goodnight, Irene and other hits.
In another letter, Seeger recounts that Paul Robeson “was the hero of my youth.” He attended Robeson’s Madison Square Concert in the late 1930’s, and was also present at the 1949 Peekskill riots where right-wing fascists aligned with local police tried to kill the legendary black singer.
The civil rights anthem We Shall Overcome is widely known today because Pete Seeger popularized it in his 1948 edition of “People’s Songs.” He describes the roots of the song in a letter, and how he learned of it in 1947 from Zilphia Horton of the Highlander Fold School.
It’s no wonder that Dylan, Springsteen and virtually every great singer who aspired to reclaim folk traditions revere Pete Seeger. This single man has known all of the folk icons of the 20th Century (he also reclaimed folk songs with Alan Lomax) and still performs concerts into his 90’s!
Bruce Springsteen joined Seeger at the 2009 concert that preceded Barack Obama’s inauguration. In typical Seeger fashion, he sang the version of This Land is Your Land that criticized private property and the nation’s mistreatment of the poor, rather than the sanitized version that has replaced it in schools and more “mainstream” recordings.
Pete Seeger is one of the greatest Americans of the past century. Like Tom Joad, wherever there was a struggle for justice, he was there.
The Rosenthal’s (the father Rob is a professor at Wesleyan University and son Sam is a musician) have done a tremendous service in sorting through Seeger’s file cabinets to retrieve these letters. They have produced a book that all Seeger admirers will want to read.
[Randy Shaw is Editor of BeyondChron. He sang "I Got a Hammer," "Passing Through" and other Seeger songs as a youth in summer camp.

STÉPHANE HESSEL; “IT IS GOOD FOR US TO FEEL OUTRAGE”

 Stephane Hessel who passed away last week at age 95 was a former French resistance fighter. He is seen here urging young people to take to the streets and show their outrage. Ray Suarez and Hessel discuss his book, “Time For Outrage,” which is also titled “Indignez-Vous!” in French.
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Order the book online AT

ISLAMOPHOBIA HAS BECOME A FULL FLEDGED INDUSTRY

 
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But the Islamophobia industry does not just exist in the fever swamps of the online world. There’s real on the ground work being done. And there are disparate players in this industry. They come, principally, from right-wing Zionism and evangelical Christianity, uniting to form a Judeo-Christian front in their battle against Islam. Their funders, too, come from these worlds–though the right-wing Zionist world has fueled the majority of anti-Muslim activists.
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An ‘industry’ built on hate: How the right-wing successfully brought anti-Muslim bigotry into the American mainstream

by Alex Kane

Ahmed Sharif was a 44-year-old Muslim Bangladeshi taxi driver in New York City. It was August 24, 2010, a time that marked the height of vitriolic protests against a planned Islamic center to be located in lower Manhattan, a few blocks away from the site of Ground Zero. Sharif picked up 21-year-old Michael Enright for an early evening ride. Everything was going smoothly until Enright, three blocks away from his stop, yelled at Sharif, “this is a checkpoint, motherfucker, and I have to bring you down.”

Enright, a filmmaker who kept a diary filled with strong anti-Muslim sentiment,pulled out a knife and slashed Sharif across the throat, face and arms. Enright tried to escape, but was arrested by the New York Police Department. Sharif survived, but he packed up and moved to Buffalo, in upstate New York. It was a crime that seemed to fit in with the general climate of hysteria over Muslims that developed that summer.

 

This is how Nathan Lean begins telling the story of how a small group of bigots seized upon the frustrations and fears of post-9/11 America and exploited those feelings to create a circular industry of hate. Lean’s new book, The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims, is a compact and punchy look at this industry stretching across continents that has sowed hatred of Muslims into the fabric of Western society.

The book, written by the editor-in-chief of Aslan Media, comes at an opportune time. Released in September 2012, the book landed just one month after American Muslims witnessed a stark increase in hate attacks during the holy month of Ramadan. A report by the Council on American Islamic Relationsdocumented that the Ramadan of 2012 “saw one of the worst spikes of anti-Muslim incidents in over a decade.”

From the beginning of 2012 to July 20, which is when Ramadan began, there were 10 incidents in which Muslim places of worship were targeted. During Ramadan–specifically over 13 days in August–“Muslim places of worship were targeted eight times.” These incidents include the destruction of a mosque in Missouri by fire; the leaving of pig legs at a planned mosque site in California; and the firing of air rifles outside a mosque in Illinois.

How, exactly, did we get here? By the time Ramadan of 2012 rolled around, it had been almost 11 years since the September 11, 2001 attacks were carried out by a group of Islamic fundamentalists part of Al Qaeda. You would expect anti-Muslim bigotry to decrease after the wounds of 9/11 healed, after it became clear that the vast majority of American Muslims have no inclination to attack their own country. You would be wrong.

Jumping from the U.S. to Israel to Europe, Lean traces the arc of the Islamophobic sentiment that has exploded in the West. The foreword from scholar on Islam John Esposito lays out the importance of Lean’s work: “It exposes the multi-million dollar cottage industry of fear mongers and the network of funders and organizations that support and perpetuate bigotry, xenophobia, and racism, and produce a climate of fear that sustains a threatening social cancer.”

Lean properly places anti-Muslim bigotry in the context of American hysteria over religions and ideologies that refused to conform to mainstream standards. Before jumping into the contemporary context, he reminds readers that Catholics were once the target of acceptable religious bigotry. The conspiracy theories spun out of thin air about Catholics would ring a familiar bell to those consuming Frank Gaffney’s utterly insane theory that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the U.S. government and is subverting it from within.

But by far the most important contribution Lean makes is his unmasking of the bigots who have infused American politics with virulent anti-Muslim sentiment. Lean zeroes in on a number of high-profile episodes and figures to make his points, from the pro-settler Clarion Fund’s distribution of an anti-Muslim film to the 2010 Values Voter summit to Anders Behring Breivik’s killing spree in Norway. Lean points to an “industry” of hate mongers that have gone to “great lengths to sell its message to the public.” The difference, though, between this industry and others is that “in many cases the very networks that spread their products are themselves participants in the ruse to whip up public fear of Muslims….It is a relationship of mutual benefit, where ideologies and political proclivities converge to advance the same agenda.”

The most important nodes in this industry are the online peddlers of hate. The author particularly focuses on Pamela Geller, the blogger at the front of the network of Islamophobes in the U.S. You can see Geller’s fingerprints in many of the public battles over Islam in this country, most prominently the ginned-up hysteria over the Park 51 Islamic center. Currently, Geller is in the spotlight for a series of anti-Muslim ads she has put up in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.–with more on the way. She has used her celebrity, boosted by Fox News (a principal player in the Islamophobia industry), to create cross-continental activist networks against Islam. Robert Spencer, Geller’s partner in crime, is also a focus of Lean’s. “People such as Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, or Martin Kramer, all online Islamophobes, spread each others’ postings and write-ups to their own audience,” writes Lean. “With each new click of the mouse, the story grows.”

But the Islamophobia industry does not just exist in the fever swamps of the online world. There’s real on the ground work being done. And there are disparate players in this industry. They come, principally, from right-wing Zionism and evangelical Christianity, uniting to form a Judeo-Christian front in their battle against Islam. Their funders, too, come from these worlds–though the right-wing Zionist world has fueled the majority of anti-Muslim activists.

Right-wing Christian ideology places Muslims beyond the pale. “The idea that Muslims may also be in possession of God’s revelation and truth, is not only unacceptable, it is an offense so blasphemous that it must be stopped,” Lean notes. Evangelical Christians, as a core part of the Republican base, have actively pushed their ideas about Islam into the mainstream of American politics. They have been aided by figures such as Newt Gingrich, who while reinventing himself as an ardent Christian conservative has also spread panic about Sharia law taking over the United States. Many Christian conservatives are also, of course, Christian Zionists who see Israel as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy that will continue until the Messiah comes down again.

It is this Christian Zionism that closely binds right-wing evangelicals with strong supporters of the Jewish state. The Zionists who spread anti-Muslim bigotry can be placed in three camps, according to Lean: religious (Jewish) Zionism, Christian Zionism and political Zionism. “For Religious Zionists, prophecy is the main driver of their Islamophobic fervor. For them, Palestinians are not just unbidden inhabitants; they are not just Arabs in Jewish lands. They are not just Muslims, even. They are non-Jews–outsiders cut from a different cloth–and God’s commandments regarding them are quite clear,” he writes. And there is the political Zionism that sheds religious language but is still hostile towards Muslims. As Max Blumenthal wrote, these figures, some of whom are neoconservatives, believe that “the Jewish state [is] a Middle Eastern Fort Apache on the front lines of the Global War on Terror.”

Lean’s spot-on analysis about how Zionism is connected to Islamophobia is a refreshing departure from other works and institutions that shy away from examining the connection. The most prominent investigative reporting on Islamophobia and its sources of funding has come from the Obama-linked Center for American Progress (CAP). But the Zionist motivations of many of the funders CAP highlights are not interrogated. You have to turn to this piece by activists Donna Nevel and Elly Bulkin on those connections to get the full picture.

Lean also pinpoints how anti-Muslim bigtory has spread from the Internet world to the very heart of some government policies on terrorism. From the New York Police Department’s surveillance program to Peter King’s hearings on “Muslim radicalization,” anti-Muslim bigotry has become institutionalized in some quarters of government.

But Lean’s discussion of how parts of the U.S. government have become infused with Islamophobia does not tell the full story–and this is the main critique I have of an otherwise excellent book. Lean correctly focuses on how the right has manufactured fear and hatred of Muslims. But it would be wrong to leave out the other side of the equation: how liberals in this country who are part of the Democratic Party have also helped anti-Muslim sentiment to spread.

This is not to say that Democrats spew Islamophobia in their election campaigns. No, the Democratic Party does not go that far. But they are largely silent when ugly anti-Muslim bigotry comes into play, which allows the right to step into the vacuum in a debate over Islam in the U.S. When the Democrats run away from the issue, there is no one left in the mainstream to challenge the right’s Islamophobia.

As Deepa Kumar, author of her own book on Islamophobia, pointed out in The Nation, Islamophobia is a “bipartisan project.” Liberal Islamophobia, Kumar writes, “may be rhetorically gentler but it reserves the right of the US to wage war against ‘Islamic terrorism’ around the world, with no respect for the right of self-determination by people in the countries it targets.” You can see this liberal Islamophobia in action when you look at the fact that “Obama has continued Bush’s policies of torture, extraordinary rendition and pre-emptive prosecution. American Muslims continue to be harassed and persecuted by the state.” And then there was Obama counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan pronouncing that the NYPD’s targeting of Muslim in their surveillance program was legitimate. “My conversations with Commissioner [Ray] Kelly indicate he’s done everything according to the law,” Brennan told reporters.

While the White House walked back his comments, Brennan’s continued presence in the administration tells you all you need to know. Liberal Islamophobia’s march continues ahead–and ignoring how the Obama administration has failed to combat anti-Muslim bigotry is setting people up for failure. The way to combat Islamophobia is through activism and coalition-building, but if you ignore its manifestations no matter where they emanate from, you won’t get very far.

Besides that oversight, though, Lean’s The Islamophobia Industry is a vital contribution to the still-growing body of literature on anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. If you want to understand the genesis of the right’s toxic Islamophobia and how it has spread, pick up Lean’s book. You won’t regret it.

Written FOR

ISRAEL: HATRED IN NEW SCHOOL CURRICULUM

First a look at the proposed curriculum for the new school year, followed by a book review dealing with hatred in the schools, and how to combat it …
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בן גוריון. בבתי הספר ילמדו גם עליו (צילום: AFP) 

Schools to teach about Zionist leaders. Ben-Gurion (Photo: AFP)

State mandates schools to teach Zionist values

With school year fast approaching, Education Ministry orders schools to put emphasis on national anthem and symbols

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 The  title for this post appears as is assuming that ‘zionist values’ =hatred.

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The report from Ynet can be read HERE

 

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Book review: how Israeli school textbooks teach kids to hate

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Asa Winstanley *

At the height of Israel’s brutal 2008-09 assault on the Gaza Strip, then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni claimed that “Palestinians teach their children to hate us and we teach love thy neighbor” (232).

The first part of this myth is propagated by people like US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and more recently Newt Gingrich, who both spread the baseless claim that Palestinian schoolbooks teach anti-Semitism. This calumny originated with anti-Palestinian propagandandists such as Israeli settler Itamar Marcus and his “Palestinian Media Watch.”

In an important new book, Palestine in Israeli School Books, Israeli language and education professor Nurit Peled-Elhanan buries the second part of Livni’s myth once and for all.

Peled-Elhanan examines 17 Israeli school textbooks on history, geography and civic studies. Her conclusions are an indictment of the Israeli system of indoctrination and its cultivation of anti-Arab racism from an early age: “The books studied here harness the past to the benefit of the … Israeli policy of expansion, whether they were published during leftist or right-wing [education] ministries” (224).

She goes into great detail, examining and exposing the sometimes complex and subtle ways this is achieved. Her expertise in semiotics (the study of signs and symbols) comes to the fore.

Inculcation of anti-Palestinian ideology in the minds of Israel’s youth is achieved in the books through the use of exclusion and absence: “none of the textbooks studied here includes, whether verbally or visually, any positive cultural or social aspect of Palestinian life-world: neither literature nor poetry, neither history nor agriculture, neither art nor architecture, neither customs nor traditions are ever mentioned” (49).

Palestinians marginalized, demonized by Israeli textbooks

On the occasions Palestinians (including Palestinian citizens of Israel) are mentioned, it is in an overwhelmingly negative, Orientalist and demeaning light: “all [the books] represent [Palestinians] in racist icons or demeaning classificatory images such as terrorists, refugees and primitive farmers — the three ‘problems’ they constitute for Israel” (49).

“For example in MTII [Modern Times II, a 1999 history text book] there are only two photographs of Palestinians, one of face-covered Palestinian children throwing stones ‘at our forces’ … [t]he other photograph is of ‘refugees’ … placed in a nameless street” (72).

This what Peled-Elhanan terms “strategies of negative representation.” She explains that “Palestinians are often referred to as ‘the Palestinian problem.’” While this expression is even used by writers considered “progressive,” the term “was salient in the ultra-right-wing ideology and propaganda of Meir Kahane,” the late Israeli politician and rabbi who openly called for the Palestinians to be expelled. Peled-Elhanan finds this disturbing, coming as it does “only 60 years after the Jews were called ‘The Jewish Problem’ ” (65).

She reprints examples of the crude Orientalist cartoon representations of Arabs, “imported into Israeli school book [sic] from European illustrations of books such as The Arabian Nights” (74). Arab men stand, dressed in Oriental garb, often riding camels. The cartoons of Arab women show them seated submissively, dressed in traditional outfits. Meanwhile, two Israelis on the same page are “depicted as a ‘normal’ — though caricaturistic — Western couple, unmarked by any ‘Jewish’ or ‘other’ object-signs” (110-11). The message is clear: Arabs do not belong here with “us.”

Justifications for massacre

Peled-Elhanan concludes: “The books studied here present Israeli-Jewish culture as superior to the Arab-Palestinian one, Israeli-Jewish concepts of progress as superior to Palestinian-Arab way of life and Israeli-Jewish behavior as aligning with universal values” (230).

While Israeli war crimes are not entirely ignored, the textbooks do their best to downplay or justify massacres and ethnic cleansing. “[T]he Israeli version of events are stated as objective facts, while the Palestinian-Arab versions are stated as possibility, realized in openings such as ‘According to the Arab version’ … [or] ‘Dier [sic.] Yassin became a myth in the Palestinian narrative … a horrifying negative image of the Jewish conqueror in the eyes of Israel’s Arabs’ ” (50-1).

Deir Yassin was a Palestinian village where, in 1948, a notorious massacre of around 100 persons by terrorists from the Zionist militas Irgun, Lehi and Hagana took place. Yet note in the example above that is is only the negative image of Israel that is “horrifying.” The massacre of unarmed men, women and children is otherwise not a cause for concern.

Israeli education going backwards

With reference to previous studies of Israeli school textbooks, Peled-Elhanan finds that, despite some signs of improvement in the 1990s, the more recent books she examined have if anything got worse. The issue of the Nakba, the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948, is for the most part not ignored, but instead justified.

For example, in all the books mentioning Deir Yassin, the massacre is justified because: “the slaughter of friendly Palestinians brought about the flight of other Palestinians which enabled the establishment of a coherent Jewish state” — a result so self-evidently good it doesn’t need explaining (178).

Contrary to the hope of previous studies “for ‘the appearance of a new narrative in [Israeli] history textbooks’ … some of the most recent school books (2003-09) regress to the ‘first generation’ [1950s] accounts — when archival information was less accessible — and are, like them ‘replete with bias, prejudice, errors, [and] misrepresentations’ ” (228).

There is some sloppy editing here, and the academic jargon at times slips into the realm of mystifying. But those quibbles aside, Peled-Elhanan’s book is the definitive account of just how Israeli schoolchildren are brainwashed by the state and society into hatred and contempt of Palestinians and Arabs, immediately before the time they are due to enter the army as young conscripts.

*Asa Winstanley is a journalist from London who has lived and work in occupied Palestine. His website is: www.winstanleys.org.

Written FOR

FINALLY, A HANDBOOK ON HOW TO SMASH ISRAELI APARTHEID

“Targeting Israeli Apartheid is the guide many of us in the movement have been waiting for. This forensic, clear and systematic account details the where, who, how and why of the flows of capital and contracts which enable the colonisation of Palestine to continue.” 
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Taking its cue from the unified Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, Targeting Israeli Apartheid examines the Israeli economy and details the Israeli and international companies complicit in Israeli state repression. Based on original research in Palestine, the book shows how these companies can be targeted and provides the international BDS movement with the information necessary to bring the Palestinian struggle to the doorsteps of those who profit from Israeli apartheid.

The book begins by examining the Israeli economy industry by industry and suggesting where the movement should focus its campaigning energy in order to be most effective. Part two contains five in-depth geographical case studies. The final section looks at how campaigners can bring the fight home to the UK.

The rationale for this book is simple: information for action.Targeting Israeli Apartheid: a BDS Handbookprovides the international BDS movement with the information necessary to bring the Palestinian struggle to the doorsteps of those profiting from Israeli apartheid.

The book begins by examining the Israeli economy industry by industry and suggesting where the movement should focus its campaigning energy in order to be most effective. Part two contains five in-depth geographical case studies. The final section looks at how campaigners can bring the fight home to the UK.

Targeting Israeli Apartheid picks out Barclays Bank as the British bank with the most substantial investments in Israeli companies, including companies based in Israeli settlements. The book goes on to examine the investments of several British universities and UK pension funds revealing investments in companies based in Israeli settlements and arms companies supplying weapons to the Israeli state. Finally, the book shows how charities registered in the UK donate to the Israeli army and settlements.
 
“Targeting Israeli Apartheid is the guide many of us in the movement have been waiting for. This forensic, clear and systematic account details the where, who, how and why of the flows of capital and contracts which enable the colonisation of Palestine to continue.”
– Ewa Jasiewicz – Coordinator of the Free Gaza movement
Click here to order a copy of Targeting Israeli Apartheid: a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Handbook
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Click here to download a copy
Source

CENSORED ARTWORK OF GAZA’S CHILDREN PUBLISHED IN BOOKFORM

Despite zionist attempts to hide the truth by censorship, the ‘hidden’ works of Gaza’s children is now available in bookform …. just in time for the holidays.
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Buy your copy today. Send another as a gift to a family member or a friend this holiday season! A Child’s View from Gaza: Palestinian Children’s Art and the Fight Against Censorship
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Book of censored Gaza children’s artwork published

Nora Barrows-Friedman

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Artwork made by children in Gaza who lived through Israel’s attacks in the winter of 2008-09 and exhibited by the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) in the Bay Areais now available in book form in order to reach a wider audience.

The collection of original artwork was scheduled to be exhibited in September by the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland (MOCHA), but due to intimidation and pressure from Israeli lobby groups, the museum canceled the exhibit at the last minute

MECA immediately sprung into action and arranged for the artwork to be shown at a vacant gallery space around the corner from the children’s museum. Days before the doors opened, MOCHA’s board told MECA’s executive director Barbara Lubin that they could reinstate the exhibit at the original museum space, but that the collection would have to be “modified.”

Lubin and MECA responded:

We at MECA made a commitment to the children of Gaza to share their experiences and perspectives, and consider any modifications to the art exhibit as a form of censorship. Children everywhere deserve to be heard, but we have an even greater responsibility to listen to the stories of children under siege and who survived Israel’s brutal military assault in 2008-2009.

In a press release for the book’s publication, MECA states that the drawings featured in A Child’s View from Gaza: Palestinian Children’s Art and the Fight Against Censorship “serve as part of the historical record of the horror inflicted on the Palestinian people during Operation Cast Lead as experienced by children. Photos of the aftermath and the recent efforts by pro-Israel groups to censor the children’s art are also highlighted in the book.”

They added:

With beautiful, high-resolution print images of the exhibit, the book also features a special foreword by celebrated author, Alice Walker, as well as an essay by MECA Executive Director, Barbara Lubin, describing the struggle against the censorship.

As we approach the three-year anniversary of Israel’s brutal assault on the Gaza Strip, in which over 1400 civilians were killed including 352 children, the need to support the ones who survived to tell their stories and the trauma they experienced through art is now more crucial than ever.

The book is available for order on the MECA website.

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THOUSANDS OF PALESTINIANS TO REMAIN IN PRISON DESPITE SHALIT DEAL

The impending prisoners swap for Gilad Shalit’s release leaves the Israelis gloating, as thousands of other Palestinians remain in Israeli prisons…
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Here are some thoughts on just one of them;

Political Prisoners

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
It is good news that over 1000 Palestinian political prisoners will be released in a prison swap deal.  But there are still thousands of Palestinian political prisoners.  This Saturday we will be discussing in our cultural group the new book by Marwan Barghouthi about his life behind bars.  He will apparently not be part of this prisoner exchange deal neither will Ahmed Saadat of PFLP nor other key leaders.  For English readers on this list, I translated my review of Barghouthi’s book (originally in Arabic) and included it here.  Below that I include some text on prisoners from my book “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment.” Hopefully those two sections will give you some idea about the struggles of political prisoners now in the news. Hopefully, Hamas (which did not get all it wanted but did score a political victory here) and Fatah (which scored a political victory by abandoning the futile US-led bilateral negotiations) could now implement their signed agreements especially on representation in the PNC.
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Comparing Books by political prisoners: Nelson Mandela and Marwan Barghouthi
Review by Mazin Qumsiyeh

I read Nelson Mandela’s inspiring autobiography many years ago. His book was titled “Long Walk to Freedom” because it was done after the end of apartheid.   Marwan Barghouthi’s book is not an autobiography in that sense because our people’s walk to freedom is still ongoing. It is thus titled “One thousand days in prison isolation cell” and refers to a part of the struggle. We indeed look for the day that our political prisoners can write books at the end of the road to freedom.

Barghouthi’s book is dedicated to his wife, his children, to the Palestinian people, to the Arab and Islamic world, to all those who struggle and resist occupation and colonization, and to fellow prisoners. Mandela’s book similarly recalls family, people, and fellow political prisoners.

Barghouthi recalls his village life in Kuber with much passion and love in his newest book but you will find the national cause dominate the book. While Kuber is mentioned two or three times, Palestine is mentioned on just about every paragraph. Mandela had a rural beginning in a small village called Mvezo and still retains that love of land.  He was a shepherd and ploughed lands.  He dreamed of becoming a lawyer and was like Barghouthi interested in learning. He enrolled at Birzeit University in 1983 but due to exile and other factors only finished his bachelor in 1994 (in history and political science).  In 1998, he got masters in international relations. Both Mandela and Barghouthi led youth movements in their teens and became strong leaders even as they were pursued and jailed.

Mandela like Barghouthi reports on mistreatment, lengthy incarcerations, resisting, and all that you expect from someone who went through such experiences.  Mandela like Barghouthi says that it is not what he actually did that he was being punished for but for what he stood for. Both were charged by the respective apartheid regimes of leading armed guerrilla groups.

Through these writings, you see a common characteristic: great humility.  They do not elevate themselves above the thousands who struggle for freedom.  Even though some of us consider them key leaders, they themselves see their role as foot soldiers. Barghouthi describes being beaten on his private parts and losing consciousness waking later to find a gash on his head from falling and hitting the cement wall.  The gash left a permanent mark.  But immediately after describing this, Barghouthi merely says (p. 21) that is it is merely a small example of what tens of thousands of activists were subjected to.

In the mid 1950s Mandela devised a plan and convinced fellow ANC leaders to adopt it that created a decentralized structure. Cells are formed at the grassroots level and select among them leadership at intermediate levels which insured secrecy and yet some level of democracy and operational meaning.  Barghouthi recalls how he was not happy about Arafat’s autocratic structure and especially those around Arafat many of them were corrupt and not dedicated to the Palestinian struggle.

Barghouthi and Mandela speak of psychological warfare including the games of good investigator and bad investigator played to break prisoners’ will.  A lot of what he says about mistreatment in prison will not be new to Palestinians alive today.  Most Palestinians above age 30 have tasted at least some of these pains.  Of course Barghouthi suffered more than most Palestinian males his age.

Barghouthi talks about how critical the visit by his lawyer was to break his isolation and makes him feel connected to life outside the prison.  Mandela also refers to the psychological boost received by knowing that people outside continue the struggle and care about the freedom of political prisoners.

Barghouthi states on page 130 how in prison you have lots of time to think.  He recalls these thoughts in detail and they range from his feelings of solidarity with all persecuted and oppressed people around the world to poor programming on Palestinian television (when the channel was allowed in prisons).  Barghouthi speaks about his passions like reading books. He speaks of his love for his family. He speaks of women liberation. He speaks of learning languages in jail. The thoughts of Mandela in jail also dealt with similar issues. Barghouthi describes solitary confinement as “slow death” (p. 81). Mandela calls them the “dark years”.

Barghouthi speaks about how the US and western positions put significant pressures on Arafat and that finally, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas was appointed prime minister.  Abbas, according to Barghouthi, was known for his positions against resistance (p. 156).  In one section he talks about how leadership did not rise to the challenge or match the enormous struggle, aspirations and needs of the people.

Barghouthi says on page 148 that Israel can defeat a particular leader or faction or group of people but cannot defeat the will of the Palestinian people. On the next page he articulates beautifully why resistance in all its types is so critical to success in achieving our collective goals.  The cost of occupation and colonization must be made unbearable or at least more than the benefit from it for Israel to back off.

Barghouthi speaks about how his political actions did not stop in jail.  He gives several examples including the Palestinian factions observing a cease fire that started 19 December 2001 on the eve of the visit by American envoy General Anthony Zinni. That cease fire lasted for nearly a month but was broken by Israel’s assassination of Ra’ed Karmi.

Barghouthi recalls that one of the more painful episodes was the abduction of his son Qassam. His letter to his son takes 30 pages of the book! It is an amazing letter that recalls the history of Palestine, the history of struggle, the history of the prisoner movement and much more.  But the letter also reflects on feelings and attitude of Barghouthi himself in key periods of his life.  How he felt when his son was born while he is in jail.  How he built a relationship with his wife despite being a man spending most of his life either on the run or in jail.  It is very detailed mentioning dates and events and surroundings that put the reader (his son and us) in those circumstances.  He recalls the death of his father 5 August 1985.  He talked about his biggest pains (which were not the interrogations, torture or solitary confinement) but when he was exiled to Jordan in the late 1980s.  Yet he also says that after his family joined him in exile from the homeland, the family life alleviated the pain of exile from his homeland. The letter ends with recommendations he gives to his son like any father gives to his son.  But here the recommendations are about exercising, reading books, learning languages, and keeping friendly relations with fellow prisoners.

The book finishes with a section about his wife and a final section about collaborators in Israeli jails.  It is significant that he decided to conclude with detailed exposure of the despicable methods of collaborations. Similarly, Mandela’s autobiography includes a section on treason.

Oliver Tambo described Mandela as passionate, fearless, impatient and sensitive.  I never met either Mandela or Barghouthi personally but after reading these books, I can say that I agree not only with these adjectives applied to Mandela and Barghouthi but I can think of many others: humble, honest, intelligent, articulate, and I can go on but I will leave that to historians to give people their due.  But knowing such people at least through their writings and writings of others about them adds to our conviction that freedom is inevitable to nations that have such individuals.
—————————
Prison struggles in the book “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and empowerment”

In this book I discuss the efforts for release of political prisoners that started in the 1920s when the women movement in Palestine succeeded in gaining release of three prisoners (Chapter 6). In chapter 7, we find that “On 17 May 1936, prisoners in Nur Shams prison declared a strike and confronted the prison guards who ordered soldiers to open fire. One inmate was killed and several wounded as prisoners shouted in defiance: ‘Martyrdom is better than jail’.(ref) On 23 May 1936, Awni Abdel Hadi, secretary general of the Arab Higher Committee, was arrested.(ref)…. On 9 September 1939, fighters took over Beersheba government facilities and released political prisoners from the central jail.”

When the British government felt more confident in 1942-43 about the prospects of winning the war, it released some Palestinian political prisoners and allowed others to return from exile. Attempts to revive political activity during this period were nugatory. Awni Abdel Hadi returned from exile in 1943 and revived Hizb Al-Istiqlal, with help from Rashid Alhaj Ibrahim and Ahmed Hilmi Abdel Baqi, and even started a national fund.”

In other section sof the book, I discussed the struggle of Palestinains inside the Green Line, many of them ended in jail as political prisoners.  Like Palestinains in the West Bank and Gaza, they supported their political prisonesr and struggled for their release. The struggle in the occupied territories continued. When Israel introduced extensions of so-called ‘administrative detention’ (detention without trial) for up to six months, a strike among Palestinian political prisoners started 11 July 1975.

Political prisoners in Israeli jails also organised themselves into effective committees [during the uprising of 1987] which carried out collective strikes which were especially effective in the 1980s and early 1990s.36 King interviewed Qaddourah Faris (from Fatah) who was a key leader of the prisoner movement. He talked about a successful hunger strike for humane treatment that involved 15,000 prisoners throughout Israeli jails.(ref) In 1990, Israel held over 14,000 Palestinian prisoners in more than 100 jails and detention centres at one time according to Middle Rights Watch.(ref) Even Israeli supporters like Anthony Lewis became outraged enough to write:

“The Israeli Government has taken thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza into what it calls ‘administrative detention.’ That means they are held as prisoners, for up to six months at a stretch, without trial. At least 2,500 of the detainees are imprisoned in Ketziot, a tent camp in the burning heat of the Negev desert. On Aug. 16 Israeli soldiers shot and killed two of-the detainees there … The story had further grim details that I shall omit because they cannot be confirmed … The prisoners at Ketziot, it must be emphasised, have not been convicted of doing anything. They have had not a semblance of due process. They are there because someone in the Israeli Army suspects them – or wants to punish them. Mr. Posner went to Ketziot to see two Palestinian lawyers being held there and four field investigators for a West Bank human rights group, Al Haq. He concluded that they had been detained because of ‘their work on human rights and as lawyers.”(ref)

On 6 December 1998, during President Clinton’s visit, over 2,000 political prisoners went on hunger strike demanding to be released. Their message to both the Israeli and Palestinian leadership was not to negotiate issues that do not place their release on the agenda.

In September 1988, the Israeli army stated that the number of detainees it held was 23,600 and Peter Kandela reported cases of the use of torture on detainees.94 After the Oslo Accords many thousands of Palestinians were released. But many thousands more were imprisoned in the uprising that started in 2000. In total, over 700,000 Palestinians spent time in Israeli jails. On occasion, nearly 20 per cent of the political prisoners were minors.95
           
Political prisoners in Israeli jails also participated in non-violent resistance. Israel radio reported on a hunger strike by prisoners in the camps of Jenin, Ramallah and Nablus, who demanded improvement in their deplorable conditions in 1987.96 Al-Ansar prison in southern Lebanon, where thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese political prisoners were held by Israeli occupation forces, showed incredible acts of resistance and resilience, ranging from hunger strikes to refusal to obey orders to writing.97

Thousands of Palestinian prisoners went on a hunger strike from 15 August to 2 September 2004. During this time, the Israeli authorities tried various methods from persuasion to threats to beatings to break the strike; 13 UN agencies operating in the occupied areas expressed their concern.98
           
Outside the prisons, Palestinians and internationals protested and worked diligently to spread the word about the prisoners’ demands and their plight. It started with the prisoners’ families, many of whom joined the hunger strike. Crowds assembled on 16 August 2004 outside local offices of the Red Cross and marched to the Gaza headquarters of the United Nations where they delivered a letter addressed to Secretary General Kofi Annan, calling for him to apply pressure on Israel and improve the prisoners’ conditions. They demonstrated again in the thousands two days later.99 The PA, Palestinians inside the Green Line and the ISM called for hunger strikes outside the prisons to support the prisoners’ demands.100 The strike slowly gained momentum despite repressive measures.101 Israel’s Public Security Minister Tzahi Hanegbi stated: ‘Israel will not give in to their demands. They can starve for a day, a month, even starve to death, as far as I am concerned’102 Eventually, the prison authorities conceded that the prisoners were entitled to some basic humanitarian rights.

Palestinian female political prisoners in Telmud Prison were mistreated and on 28 November 2004 their spokeswomen who complained about this was beaten and punished. When others complained, they too were punished, so they too went on hunger strike.103

Prisoners continued to use hunger strikes to protest against ill treatment and draw attention to their plight. For example, on 16 February 2006, Jamal Al-Sarahin died in prison. He was a 37-year-old ‘administrative detainee’ (held without charge or trial) who had been detained for eight months and badly mistreated. Prisoners called a one-day hunger strike.104

On 11 March 2006, a sit-down strike in front of the ICRC in Hebron was held to demand better treatment of prisoners. On 27 June 2006, 1,200 Palestinian political prisoners in the Negev Desert started a hunger strike to protest against the arbitrary and oppressive practices of the prison administration. In total, over 700,000 Palestinians have spent time in Israeli jails and the latest statistics show that 11,000 are still being held according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society.105

By 2009, Palestinians in Israeli prisons had achieved a number of successes by non-violent struggle and civil disobedience, including wearing civilian clothes (no orange uniforms), access to news, reasonable visiting rights and better access to healthcare. But the Prison Administration continues to chip away at those rights.106 Unfortunately, the PA is forced to subsidise the cost to Israel of maintaining Palestinian prisoners.

Because so many people are jailed for their resistance activities, Palestinian society has a profound respect and appreciation for the sacrifices of the prisoners. Time spent in prison is considered a badge of honour. Prisons also shape character. One former prisoner stated:

Like any human community, there are contradictions, but there is a common thread in the experience in prison that gives us strength, a common goal, a common purpose. We are joined together in struggle, so our shared experiences only make us stronger.107

(Excerpts from the book: “Popular Resistance in Palestine” by Mazin Qumsiyeh, Pluto Press, Available in Arabic from Muwatin, Ramallah).

THE POETRY OF STRUGGLE

 “The most effective thing we can do is use our voice in an ethical way,” he tells me. “I think the most prominent and positive thing an artist can do is stand on the right side of history and stand with oppressed peoples. So rather than just staying silently on the sidelines or going and whitewashing apartheid in Tel Aviv and talking maybe one or two lines about peace, we have the opportunity to use our voices in a more general sense.”
*

Remi Kanazi’s poetry of struggle

Alexander Billet *

Remi Kanazi performs live. (Valerian Mazataud)

 

It’s early June, a few days after Gil Scott-Heron’s death. There’s something about the passing of an icon like him that makes the search for new, vibrant rebel art all the more urgent. In a strange twist of serendipity, I just happen to be sitting down to read Poetic Injustice by Remi Kanazi. The first lines hit me like a punch in the gut:

I never saw death
until I saw the bombing
of a refugee camp
craters filled with
dismembered legs
and splattered torsos
but no sign of a face
the only impression
a fading scream

I’m hooked. Without gilding the lily, it’s safe to say that there are a lot of parallels between the works of Scott-Heron and those of Remi Kanazi. Both of their bodies of work are a simultaneous expression of identity and a puncturing of borders — real and imagined. Both frequently blur the line between poetry and music. And both rely on a kind of plain-spoken articulation that dodges between pleasure and pain, drama and humor, vicious oppression and inspiring resistance.

It’s difficult to believe that poetry and spoken word were things that Remi more or less stumbled into. “I grew up in a small town in Western Massachusetts,” he says to me over the phone, “and for me, growing up on lefty hip-hop, to have the voice of spoken word really filled a huge void. My brother and sister had just taken me to see Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, and that was the transformational trigger point. I started writing every day after that.”

No doubt that this voice has been honed over time. By now, as Poetic Injustice indicates, Remi has achieved a deft power, vividly versatile and completely unafraid while never drifting into sentimentality. Throughout this short, 50-page book, the author travels through a variety of settings; pompous American mouthpieces are humorously rebuked (“The Dos and Don’ts of Palestine”), solidarity powerfully invoked (“From Rikers to Bagram”), the horrors of US-Israeli imperialism graphically depicted (“A Poem for Gaza”). These are only a sampling.

Reinventing art as identity

Tying it all together are the 48 three-line poems peppered throughout the book — 48 symbolizing the year of the Nakba (catastrophe) when approximately 750,000 Palestinians were kicked off their land by Zionist militias. Divided into four parts (each dedicated to one of his four grandparents, all among that original displaced generation), each short verse provides a snippet of emotional truth of existence and resistance under occupation:

From my rooftop I can see an Israeli sunbathing

on the balcony my grandfather built…

 

A pregnant woman dies at a checkpoint

Sometimes a hand in the face is as powerful as a pistol…

 

Kids slingshot hip-hop, mix beats and break

in refugee camps. Reinvent art as identity

and tag the wall with the footsteps of their future…

As rewarding as reading Remi’s words can be, it’s little substitute for seeing him perform. His energy seems boundless, the humor and vigor of his words coming to life in the performer’s animation. To that end, Poetic Injustice comes with an audio CD of Remi reading fifteen of his favorite selections. It’s a perfect complement, adding immeasurable weight to the book itself.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve had the pleasure (albeit via email) of working with Remi on the Punks Against Apartheid petition urging Jello Biafra to cancel his show in Tel Aviv — a push that we can thankfully now say was successful.

Given the circumstances, it’s near-impossible not to think of another parallel to Gil Scott-Heron, namely the 2010 efforts that successfully convinced him to do the same. There’s also something of an irony — namely that even though the most powerful tool an artist has is his or her voice, what the movement for the cultural boycott of Israel demands is the withholding of that very same voice.

Stand on the right side of history

Nonetheless, Remi believes that an artist’s power is enhanced by his or her refusal to play Israel. “The most effective thing we can do is use our voice in an ethical way,” he tells me. “I think the most prominent and positive thing an artist can do is stand on the right side of history and stand with oppressed peoples. So rather than just staying silently on the sidelines or going and whitewashing apartheid in Tel Aviv and talking maybe one or two lines about peace, we have the opportunity to use our voices in a more general sense.”

In fact, the push for a cultural boycott is taking place at a time when rebel poets like Remi have the potential to reach a wide audience. The revolutions across the Arab world have been accompanied by a flourishing of art, music and culture. Politically charged groups like DAM and Arabian Knights have never been more popular. And while right-wing pundits like Pam Geller still insist that Arab culture consists of little more than camels and scimitars artists on both sides of the pond may still go a long way to countering this racism.

“I think that what some of the artists are doing today is brilliant because they’re refusing to be tokenized. If you listen to the music of Omar Offendum or The Narcycist or, in Arabic, the music of DAM, they completely shatter this notion that they’re going to be this post [11 September 2001] image of what is Arab or Muslim or Palestinian.” In other words, it’s this insistence on humanity despite all obstacles that makes these artists so potent.

The same goes for Remi’s book. And that’s precisely why it would be wrong to simply call this work “poems about Palestine.” Much like Scott-Heron’s portrayals of an oppressed black America inspired people well beyond the borders of Watts and Harlem, so do Remi Kanazi’s words speak toward a struggle that is, for lack of a better term, universal.

“The reason I become a poet was to educate, inspire, to act,” he says. “I’m not a nationalist, I’m not an ethnocentrist. This isn’t about me being a Palestinian or me being an Arab. It’s about a system of oppression and what’s being done to a people. So whether you’re talking about police brutality or the US-Mexico border or Afghanistan or the war in Iraq or the plight of Palestinians, what they’re going through and the injustice that’s being perpetrated against them is what matters. And that’s what we’re working against — systems of oppression, what’s being done to a people.”

This subtle yet dynamic interplay between art and struggle is what makes Poetic Injustice such a crucial contribution. It’s the feeling that for all its specificity, we’re reading not just about the Palestinians but about ourselves. And indeed, every struggle has its own art, it’s own poetry. As Remi Kanazi well knows, it’s this ability for beauty that makes the fight worth it:

I’ll exist in a world that

fights against racism

like Martin and Malcolm bleeds ghetto tales of Steve Biko

as a song that never dies

no matter what apartheid

makes of our bodies

feeds mouths in Belfast streets

and resurrects Bobby Sands’ message

so that we will never

be hungry again

 

Remi Kanazi’s Poetic Injustice can be purchased on Amazon.com.

*Alexander Billet is a music journalist and activist living in Chicago. He runs the website Rebel Frequencies and is a columnist for SOCIARTS. He has also appeared in Z Magazine, CounterPunch and PopMatters.com.

 

Written FOR

IN THE LAND OF DOUBLE NARRATIVE

 double narrative

The book that Naveh and Adwan wrote, together with two other scholar/activists, Dan Baron (Israeli) and Adnan Musallom (Palestinian), is called Learning Each Other’s Historical Narrative: Palestinians and Israelis. It begins: “Schoolchildren studying history in times of war and conflict learn only one side of the story — their own — which is, of course, considered to be the ‘right’ one.”

In the Land of Double Narrative

by Mimi Schwartz*

We are in the Olive Room of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem for a meeting with two history teachers — an Israeli and a Palestinian — who have written a double narrative of this land. The Israeli, Eyal Naveh, in his open-necked shirt, has a casual toughness you find in many Israelis over sixty, yet with keen, blue-grey eyes that are empathetic despite having fought seven wars to defend his right to stand here.

We don’t know what his Palestinian coauthor looks like, because he is on the speakerphone. After waiting two hours at the checkpoint, Dr. Sami Adwan knew he’d be too late for us and returned home to Bethlehem. “This is typical of the problem here,” says Naveh. “I was stuck in traffic; that is all right. My Palestinian colleague was stuck at the checkpoint. That is not all right.”

Our group of thirty-five sighs and nods. We are lawyers, entrepreneurs, peace activists, professors, political operatives, and writers, mostly American and many Jewish, who are on a ten-day, fact-finding trip to Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. Our host is J Street, an American organization committed to a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli crisis, one with strong security for Israel and a viable state for the Palestinians.

I’m here in 2010, partly because of a 1924 photograph over my desk: of my father visiting Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem, one of hundreds who watched the ceremony of laying the cornerstone of Hebrew University that year and imagined a Jewish democracy built on justice and fairness. I also liked the J Street itinerary. We are meeting all sides from Israel’s president to the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister: from Jewish settlers, to West Bank resistance fighters, to UN officials in Gaza. “A whiplash trip,” is how Jeremy Ben Ami, the head of J Street, described it. And so it is, each voice informing and contradicting the next, except for two other Palestinians who had to cancel because of checkpoint issues.

textbook

A new textbook on Israel/Palestine offers two parallel historical accounts with space in the middle for students to join the conversation.

So today’s hitch is not a fluke; it is part of the double narrative of this land. You hear it in words like the Nakba, or Catastrophe, which is how Palestinians describe the first war in 1947, the one the Israelis call the War of Independence because it began after the Arabs rejected the UN pronouncement of the State of Israel — and attacked. And in what the Israelis call the Security Wall, designed to stop the suicide bombers from blowing up discos in Tel Aviv and bus stations in Jerusalem — and the Palestinians call the Racist Wall or the Apartheid Wall because it cuts into their land and prevents their moving freely into Israel proper for jobs and family, as they did before the Intifada, a word that conjures up the liberation movement for Palestinians and the existential threat of annihilation for Israelis.

The book that Naveh and Adwan wrote, together with two other scholar/activists, Dan Baron (Israeli) and Adnan Musallom (Palestinian), is called Learning Each Other’s Historical Narrative: Palestinians and Israelis. It begins: “Schoolchildren studying history in times of war and conflict learn only one side of the story — their own — which is, of course, considered to be the ‘right’ one.”

They wanted to correct the way “one side’s hero is the other side’s monster,” so, in 2002, after the Oslo Accords, they recruited twelve teachers to try out the double narrative text in their ninth- and tenth-grade classes. The Israeli version is on the left:

The war … is known as the War of Independence because it resulted in independence for the Jewish community in the land of Israel, in spite of the fact that at the beginning local Arabs, and then armies from Arab countries … attacked isolated Jewish communities, Jews in the cities, and on the roads…. They also employed terror tactics — all Jewish people, settlements and property were considered to be legitimate targets.

The Palestinian version is on the right:

Fighting and clashes between the Jews and the Palestinians began after UN Resolution 181 was passed by the General Assembly on November 29, 1947. The situation deteriorated into an unequal confrontation. Zionist forces were organized, armed and trained. Not only were they superior to the Palestinians, who for over 30 years had been exhausted by unjust British policy and Zionist terrorism, but these gangs were also superior to the Arab armies, which entered the war on May 15, 1948.

And in between is white space for students to join the conversation. Naveh tells us that people are ordering the book around the world, but you won’t find it in Israeli or Palestinian schools because of political fury on both sides. “No permission yet, but we keep trying,” says Adwan on the speakerphone.

Such a book could get beyond the sound bites of vengeance and fear, our group agrees. It could promote understanding and empathy. If only… I think of what Napoleon said: ‘that history is myth that men agree to believe in” and how the double narrative undercuts that myth — and the agendas that depend on telling one side of the story.

***

It’s the oldest of stories — and begins this way: Abraham, the patriarch, comes from Ur (somewhere in Iraq) to the land of Canaan (now Israel/Palestine) with his wife Sarah. They are childless for so long that Sarah, beyond the age of childbirth, agrees to let Hagar, her Egyptian handmaiden, have a child with Abraham. His name is Ishmael. Years pass and, miraculously, Sarah gives birth to Isaac.

So far, Jews, Christians, and Muslims agree, even about God testing Abraham’s devotion by commanding him to go to the mountain and sacrifice his only son. But then comes one word — Isaac — and the story splits apart.

Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the  mountains I will tell you about.” (Genesis 22:3-212).

“We believe it wasn’t Isaac, but Ishmael who was to be sacrificed by Abraham,” said Dr. C., the Pakistani Muslim teacher of “Understanding Islam,” a course I took at our Adult School before this trip. Its aim was to promote interfaith understanding and dialogue. “Ishmael was ‘the only son.’ Isaac wasn’t even born yet,” he added. The Jews and Christians in class flinched. This was not our story. Genesis says “Isaac” and we believed it, our forefather was not to be displaced by the forefather of the Muslims. “And what’s more,” Dr C. continued, “unlike Isaac, who struggles against his fate, Ishmael goes willingly to God. In fact he volunteers. So it is written in the Qu’ran.”

That night, I reread Genesis and found no signs of Isaac struggling. In fact, Isaac was duped. When he asks Abraham where the burnt offering for sacrifice is, Abraham says, “God will provide.” End of that episode. So I didn’t see where Dr. C. was coming from.

I read on into the problem of God’s double promise. First there’s a covenant with Abraham that Isaac, and his descendants, will inherit the land (which is why religious Jews claim both sides of the Jordan River as their birthright):

And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding, and I will be their God.

Then there’s the promise that Ishmael will rule. After he and his mother Hagar are expelled from Abraham’s camp and dying of thirst in the wilderness, God says through the Angel of Death:

Come lift the boy up and hold him fast with your hand and I will make a great nation of him. (Genesis: 28:18)

And a well of water appears.

Muslims reenact this part of the story every year in Mecca, said Dr. C. with pride, “I myself took part.” And he told us how, dressed in a plain white loincloth like the other pilgrims on the Haj, he circled seven times as Hagar did “until Allah, Blessed Be He, was convinced of her devotion and made water miraculously appear.”

When Abraham dies, Isaac and Ishmael return to Hebron to bury him next to Sarah. I didn’t know that until Dr. C. showed us a PBS film about the three great faiths. I liked the story and the question asked by one of Christian theologians in the film: “Is it the beginning of a new story or the end of an old one?” He didn’t know, but I heard reconciliation in the two heads bowed, side by side, and wished this were the scene we all kept imagining, retelling it often to our children.

***

Shuhada

The thriving Arab marketplace that used to exist here on Shuhada Street, at the edge of Hebron, closed down after Israel imposed a checkpoint at one end.

Our bus takes the Settlers’ road that bypasses the checkpoint with its long line of trucks and cars and heads for Hebron, the West Bank’s biggest city. Our guide, Ilana, is a passionately peppy, Israeli-American in her late twenties who leads an organization dedicated to bringing Jews to the West Bank to see life through Palestinian eyes.

Ilana points out the Wall, and the expanding Jewish settlements that have exclusive rights to this road (Palestinians can’t drive on it) — and the two-color water towers. Palestinians often have their water shut off by the Israelis and so need extra water tanks on their roofs for storage. Those are the black ones. Israeli settlers don’t have these problems and have one tank, in white. “That’s how you tell who is who in this occupied land,” she explains.

And yet, looking out the bus window, I am struck by the lush countryside, the neat rows of vineyards, bright white houses, and fields of olive and fruit trees. I expected more shacks and trash. Whether it’s from foreign aid or the Palestinian Authority’s growing power to keep order in the West Bank, Palestinian life (despite Jewish settlements, some rising like fortresses) looks thriving, even prosperous.

We stop on the edge of Hebron, at the Cave of the Patriarchs where Abraham and Sarah are supposed to be buried, along with Isaac, Sarah, and other founding mothers and fathers of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. According to the Bible, Abraham paid good money for this spot: four hundred silver shekels to Ephron, the Hittite, turning down a free burial site. As an outsider, Abraham must have wanted proof of ownership:

So Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre — both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field was deeded to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. (Genesis: 23:17)

It was about real estate, even then.

We don’t go inside the Cave of the Patriarchs — this is not that kind of trip — so I don’t see the subterranean caves, or spaces where Jews, Muslims, and Christians, depending on the century, come to pray. Ilana’s focus is on the Israeli soldiers standing on Shuhada Street that abuts the Cave complex. “Israel needs five hundred soldiers to protect six hundred settlers and two hundred rabbinical students. Why? Because they live in this Arab neighborhood.” Several of us shake our heads. What a waste!

The Israeli soldiers, less than a dozen, are heavily armed and solemn. No one smiles or waves, the way I remember in a younger Israel. It was 1972, and my family spent a sabbatical year in Haifa. Israel had taken over the West Bank in the 1967 war, but the moral and political ambiguity of occupation had not yet set in. We hiked with Israeli friends in the Jordan Valley, we shopped freely in Arab souks in the Old City of Jerusalem, and the army stood guard, holding a moral compass that pointed one way: to defend Israel’s right to exist. We all felt proud of the soldiers and they felt proud of themselves, smiling easily.

“Can you imagine?” Ilana says, “This was once a thriving Arab marketplace.” She looks down the long street of boarded-up stalls. Except for one souvenir stand, it’s like a ghost town from a movie set. An old man and a child walk towards us, single file, along a narrow walkway defined by concrete barriers. Someone says, “apartheid,” and Ilana points to the checkpoint at the other end of the street that everyone must pass through. I ask one of Ilana’s helpers, a red-bearded rabbinical student from Jerusalem, where the people of Hebron shop now that this marketplace is closed. He shrugs, “Nowhere.”

“Did the shop owners get compensated at least?” Another shrug.

mural

Israeli settlers plastered what was once a thriving bus station with murals and placards aimed at challenging Arabs’ right to live in Hebron.

Across the road from the shuttered stalls is a long wall with murals. “This was once a thriving bus station,” says Ilana. She mentions that the Jewish settlers put the murals up and moves on. I stop to study the colorful pastel scene of Hassidic Jews on crowded streets and read the heading: “Christians and Jews are welcome to live here as they did in the old city of Hebron.” (No Arabs though.)

The wall’s history is in four parts, beginning with the “Roots of the Jewish People.” Here in Hebron, it says, our forefathers and mothers are buried. Here is the capital of Judea where King David began his reign. And here in 1929 “Arab marauders slaughter the Jews. The community is uprooted and destroyed.” There is a plaque with two candles and picture of a rabbi and his wife, among the seventy or more killed in those riots. The British, then in control, evicted the remaining Jews, wanting no more trouble here.

The last mural has the heading “Liberation, Return, and Rebuilding” and beneath it: “1967: liberation of Hebron and reestablishment of the Jewish community.”

“Ethnic cleansing” pops into my head, which I resist. Yet what else to call it when a people are wiped out of Hebron after centuries of living here? A sign leans against the stone wall:

This land was stolen by Arabs following the murder of the Hebron Jews in 1929. We demand Justice! Return our Property to Us!

The lettering is in bright red, full of fury and self-righteousness. I recoil from the certainty of hate.

sign

“I recoil from the certainty of hate,” Schwartz writes, reacting to this sign in Hebron.

Still, Ilana told only half the story when she blames the Jews for living in this Arab neighborhood. Before 1929, it was the Jewish neighborhood; the settlers are arguing for the right of return, much like the Palestinians who had to flee Jaffa and Ramallah in 1947. It’s ironic how, whichever narrative it is, the themes stay the same: displacement, exile, right of return, victimhood, injustice.

“Before 1929,” says Herzl, a psychiatrist from Wisconsin who is part of our group, “Jews and Arabs lived in peace. “In fact, my grandparents were rescued by Arab neighbors during the 1929 riots.” I want to know more, but we get separated at the checkpoint. Instead, behind me I hear:

“Wasn’t Hebron where the bloodiest riots of Intifada took place?”

“Wasn’t that rabbi killed here?”

“Yes, and then that Goldstein guy slaughtered twenty-seven Muslims who were praying at the Ibrahimi Mosque….”

marketplace

Beyond the checkpoint in Hebron, shoppers flock to a bustling marketplace.

Ilana interrupts to point out four Arab schoolgirls in blue uniforms. “They must pass through the checkpoint to and from school and until recently, they had to go through an x-ray machine. Some parents were so concerned about radiation, they kept the children home.” We feel their parental despair — with outrage.

Half a block beyond the checkpoint, everything changes. We are in the middle of a bustling marketplace, both modern and timeless. There are rows of bright yellow buses and cabs, windowed storefronts, and streets crowded with stalls and tables piled high with blue jeans, embroidered dresses, pita, or shoes. There’s even one with string beans. Why isn’t this part of Ilana’s story? Does it lessen the impact of the empty street? Or the Arab schoolgirls? Not for me. I’m drawn to the gray narratives, the contradictory truths: the deserted souk and the thriving marketplace; the evils of the Occupation and the Massacre of Jews in 1929. And now, the third narrative told by Herzl: of Jewish rescue by Arab neighbors. How can there be peace without recognizing it all?

***

“This restaurant is Hebron’s best,” says the assistant mayor, who greets us in a room full of lattices strung with grapevines, the sun’s rays streaming in. Each table has two Palestinians who will tell their story, says Ilana, as we sit down to mounds of hummus, pita, and black olives, all the good stuff. Beside me is a young Palestinian teacher, slim and earnest, who speaks excellent English and says, shyly, that he spent a few months in the United States.” I’m about to ask where, when the mayor stands to welcome us. An urbane man in Western dress, he tells us how important it is for us to be here together. “Even the Jews among us should feel welcome.” I wince.

Then Herzl stands up — it’s his turn to introduce our group and say how pleased we are to be here. People keep dipping into hummus, familiar with the routine until we hear, “This day is special for me because my family comes from Hebron.” The restaurant quiets. The mayor’s contingent looks up. We all do, as Herzl tells with great pride how his grandmother was one of the four hundred Jews who were hidden by twenty-eight Arab families during the massacre of 1929.

Ali

Ali, a Palestinian whose brother was killed by Israeli soldiers, is part of a growing nonviolent resistance movement.

His great grandparents came to Hebron from Eastern Europe in the 1800s, very religious people. They multiplied and prospered, he says, until 1929 when those who survived had to leave. He pauses, his voice shaky with emotion: “I am the first of the family to come back here, to break bread with descendants of those who may have saved my grandmother and others in my family. To you,” he looks at the mayor, “I want to say thanks.” Everyone is silent, unsure about how to respond. Stories like this, of “the Other” being decent, are not spoken around here; they get whispered or lost, fitting no one’s political agenda. And yet, as the history teachers said, how else are we to change how “one side’s hero is the other side’s monster?”

Herzl didn’t dwell on those who were killed, although the descendants of the murderers were also probably in the room. “That wasn’t what I wanted to think about,” he told me later. “Dwelling on victimhood only leads to victimhood, revenge to more revenge.” It turns out that the three young Palestinian men who speak next have come to the same conclusion. They are part of the growing Arab movement that promotes nonviolent resistance to win their Palestinian state. Ali, a brooding man with an electric smile, comes “from a family of fighters” (Israelis would say “terrorists”). He and his mother have been in Israeli jails and his brother was killed by Israeli soldiers, and yet Ali has turned fury into a peace-focused political strategy. “Being pro–one side is not enough. You must be pro-solution,” he says. Jews must like his message for Ali is invited to speak in Israel proper and abroad. “I never knew I’d be in so many synagogues, telling what I tell you today.”

After all the speakers, I talk more with the Palestinian beside me. He grew up on a small farm next to a Jewish settlement and says there was a hole in the barbed wire fence between them. He and the Israeli children would crawl through, trading marbles for figs and plums. To this day, his family has a photo of both families in their farmhouse, taken at some shared celebration. During the Intifada, the fence was replaced; there’s no connection anymore. I ask what it would take to change that. “Take down the fence,” he says. Simple, really, when the answer comes out of individual experience that is good.

***

From my window in the Intercontinental Hotel, I see a mosque across the street, the afternoon light glowing red on its stone. Not much movement. Has it been abandoned? I ask the concierge, who says it may be used sometimes; he doesn’t know its name. When I take a swim at the hotel pool, surrounded by bikinis and voluptuous white towels, I imagine the Muezzin’s call to pray, maybe even hear its low murmur on the other side of this stucco wall.

Tel Aviv

A view from the author’s window in Tel Aviv.

From my window, to the right of the mosque, I see Tel Aviv’s beaches: white sand and calm blue waters. To the left is a building complex with its back against the sea and a semi-circle, like a small stadium, in the middle. Every Israeli knows what’s here: the burnt shell of the Dolphin Disco blown up by a suicide bomber in 2001. They know twenty-one Israelis, mostly teenagers, were killed and 120 were wounded. They know there were many other attempts to bomb it — and that a Palestinian terrorist group claimed responsibility for its “success.” And that, after this tragedy, the Army tightened security, increased checkpoints, and building the Security Wall became a priority. And that, nine years later, enemy rockets are still falling on the borders next to Gaza and Lebanon, but no more suicide bombers have gotten through to this heart of Israel.

The name of the mosque is Hassan Bek. It was an important mosque, but when many Arabs fled in 1947, it sat idle — until Israeli developers made plans for this site. Then the Muslim community in Jaffa (who are Israeli citizens) joined together, through fundraising and political protest, to make it a place of worship again. It has become a symbol of their rights as Israeli Arabs in the future Israel. Will they be respected? Will they be knocked down?

In the States we have a great debate about allowing a mosque close to Ground Zero. The memories of victims collide with the rights of those who, fairly or not, are seen as guilty by association. America is a big enough place with a short enough history to absorb a few such clashes. But in this small land, there is no room to maneuver; ground zero is everywhere you stand.

***

I am on the midnight flight home from Amman, laptop open at 2 a.m. writing about Jordan:

Today we met King Abdullah and Queen Rania, and what a Camelot couple they are. She is beautiful, a Palestinian who talked with great enthusiasm about building schools and health centers. He is urbane, very savvy, and of all the leaders we met, he seems most willing to articulate both sides of the conflict. Is it because he is across the border?

Rania

King Abdullah and Queen Rania speak at the 2009 World Economic Forum. Credit: Creative Commons/World Econmic Forum.

The guy beside me touches my sleeve. “Will you send me a copy of what you are writing?” He’s dark, slim, and Mediterranean-looking, with a tiny scar on his cheek — and an appealing earnestness as he hands me a slip of paper: “Abdul A.” neatly handwritten, with an email address below it. “I was looking over your shoulder and want to read more.” He smiles. “You are writing about my king.” Abdul lives in Florida now, a U.S. citizen, he says, but with family still in Jordan.

I’d like to keep writing, use this time to sort out the many voices we heard, all interesting, all persuasive; but this man continues. He tells me how he was born in Saudi Arabia, grew up in Amman, but his roots are in Hebron. “I am a Palestinian,” he says solemnly, “and I tell my three children the same!” His family left Hebron in 1937, the same year my father left Germany, I realize. Which is probably why, when he asks me where my roots are, I answer “Germany” instead of “New York,” my usual response. “My parents left because of Hitler.”

He nods. “You are Jewish.”

“Yes,” I say. He nods again.

Now I could shut my computer and then my eyes, as on other long flights next to talkative strangers. But here is a Palestinian who is not royalty, not in the high-powered political loop we’ve been in all week — and yet an essential part of it. “Why do you still feel Palestinian?” I ask.

“Roots are roots. Do you not identify as a German?” He immediately rethinks. “No,” he says before I can shrug, “I can understand why not.”

Again, a good place to stop talking — except he says, “My family once saved a Jewish family. My grandmother would often tell the story of what she and my grandfather did.”

Now I am really engaged. “Was it during the massacre of Jews in 1929?” I pause before the word “massacre,” not wanting to offend with ten more flight hours to go. Abdul shrugs. “I don’t know when exactly, maybe it was 1929. I only know the family story.”

I can’t help imagining Abdul grandparents saving Herzl’s grandfather and think: How great would that be! I scan the aisle looking for Herzl’s silver hair; he is somewhere on this plane.

“Have you been back to Hebron recently?” I wonder if he has seen the Israeli soldiers on Shuhada Street and the dozens of empty stalls.

“No, the last of my family left under the Jordan rule, a difficult time. But the family house… maybe, Allah Be Praised, is there. I’d like my children to see it one day.”

Abdul returns to the story of rescue. “My grandmother said a Jewish family came to the door, saying, ‘Please save us!’ So my grandfather took them to the basement and hid them. If someone comes to your door for help, it is written in the Qur’an that you must help.”

I wish friendship rather than religion had made the difference, but I won’t quibble. In my father’s German village, during Nazi times, Christians brought soup at night to hungry Jews, someone shared a ration card, another saved a Torah, but in dozens of interviews for a book I wrote, I found no one who defied an angry mob outside the door.

“There was a Jewish man on our trip whose family had lived in Hebron for generations.” I say, “and his grandfather was rescued in 1929 by Arab neighbors. In fact he’s on this airplane!”

“Is that him?” Abdul points to heavyset man in a black T-shirt who had asked me for the pretzel snack I wasn’t eating. I shake my head, turning to look for Herzl one more time. “I don’t see him.”

Another possible stopping point, but Abdul keeps on, shifting from past to present. He is a computer programmer who has suffered an aneurysm, so he’s on medical leave. And his three-year-old daughter has diabetes since birth and he must give her eight shots of insulin every day. He was never religious, he says, but now goes to the mosque daily to pray for her. He takes out her picture, a sweet chubby child, and I see tears in Abdul’s eyes. “I would gladly give up my life for her to have a good one. Why not? I’ve been all over the world, I’ve done so much.” I doubt he is older than forty, and think, how powerful his willingness to sacrifice his life. “She’s adorable. I wish all the best for her and for you.” He sits up. “Whatever is God’s will,” and thanks me. “You are kind.”

checkpoint

Some parents choose to keep their children home from school to protect them from the daily radiation of x-rays at this checkpoint in Hebron.

We become less cautious. We talk about the settlers taking over Palestinian land. Terrible, he says, and I agree. We talk about the checkpoints and he emphasizes how they stop people from earning a living, and I agree. “If this region has peace, I think the whole world would have peace,” Abdul says and I, very comfortably, challenge what I hear as subtext: that if Israel went away, everything would fall into place. “What about the Shias and Sunnis?” I ask. “They will battle without the Israelis.”

“You are right. This is a problem,” he says.

“What about Hamas and Hezbollah?” I ask. “Israel can’t pretend they are not there.”

Abdul says the same thing that Prime Minister Fayyad of the Palestinian Authority told us: “These groups will lose power if there is peace.” Abdul and I are on the same track, nodding, pleasant, sensible. And then out of the blue: “You know what created Hamas?” his voice rising now. “The Americans!” “You know what created Hezbollah? The Israelis!” I hear the words bounce off the ceiling. Whoa! I can’t let that go by, another version of the blame game, that everything is everyone else’s fault.

“I don’t believe this to be true,” I say, telling him, lecture-like, that Palestinians must also take responsibility. “Everyone must give a little to build trust on small issues before the big problems can be tackled.” His eyes glaze over. “It’s like in marriage,” I say. “My husband hates when I leave my shoes in the bathroom. If he complains nicely, I’m more likely to say “Sure, I can fix that…” Abdul’s eyes light up. “You are right. It’s the same with my wife, only I am the messy one!”

We venture below the “We-all-want-peace mantra” until anger builds, we are quiet for a while, and then we start again. Maybe because I know about his daughter, and he knows about my marriage, even about my shoes.

Waiting for our baggage at JFK airport, I finally see Herzl. I tell him about Abdul and his family story about saving a Jewish family. “Where is he?” Herzl asks, with great excitement. “I must talk to him.” At first I can’t find Abdul among the hundreds waiting, but then I spot him, a smaller man than I thought, not someone you’d notice in his black chinos, dark shirt, unhurried. He must have a long layover. “There he is!” I say, “next to the cart with the boy sitting on a green trunk.” Herzl hurries over. They talk. I see Abdul smile. I can’t see Herzl’s face, until he walks back to me, beaming. “I am so happy you told me that,” Herzl says, and, taking a deep breath, whispers loudly, “I told him thank you.”

Baggage in hand, we get ready for home or other flights, but for this moment we’ve found some common ground to stand on — and a small narrative we all can tell.


*Mimi Schwartz is the award-winning author of five books, most recently, Good Neighbors, Bad Times — Echoes of My Father’s German Village (2008). Other books include Thoughts from a Queen-Sized Bed (2002) and Writing True, the Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction (with Sondra Perl in 2006). For more information, go to www.Mimischwartz.net.
*
Originally written FOR
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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.
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Another book that is a MUST read is discussed HERE

NO MORE ENEMIES ~~ A NEW BOOK ~~ A MUST READ

NO MORE ENEMIES ~~ A NEW BOOK ~~ A MUST READ


A frequent contributor to this Blog and very dear friend of mine just had a very special book published. Deb Reich* is dedicated to the concept of ‘no more enemies’, thus the title of the book…

The idea of No More Enemies belongs to everyone on the planet.

It’s a simple idea, really – but it could change our entire world. The idea is that the concept of “enemies” is obsolete, that it does not serve humanity any more, that it has become very destructive, that it should be retired. The evidence is out there in plain sight… we just have to connect the dots.

There are many signs, from many directions, that the old enemies-oriented worldview is being displaced by emergent new paradigms of partnership, shared responsibility, and co-evolving. This shift is made possible and made easier by the new global Internetwork of communication.

“No More Enemies” unfolds for you dozens of doorways into this idea – whoever you are, wherever you are.

Please think of the book as a personal invitation meant for you. The No More Enemies train is rolling now – hop on board! Read about the idea from multiple perspectives. Think about it and consider its implications. Share your thoughts with your friends. Once you embrace the idea, you own it!

The new post-enemies era belongs to everyone.

It’s an era of hope and challenge and renewal.

No More Enemies.

 

*Deb Reich is a writer and translator in Israel/Palestine. She has lived in New York, Wadi Ara, Abu Ghosh, Karkur, Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom and Jerusalem, among other places.

 

 

No More Enemies is available from Amazon …. Details HERE

Also on FaceBook

POETIC INJUSTICE ~~ BOOK LAUNCH

Remi Kanazi’s new book Poetic Injustice: Writings on Resistance and Palestine, is out today!


What folks are saying about it…..

ADVANCE PRAISE for Poetic Injustice:

“Read his words out loud…let their compassionate anger…spur you to action.”
Ali Abunimah, author and co-founder of the Electronic Intifada

“There is more truth, and perhaps finally more news, in Remi Kanazi’s poems than the pages of your daily newspaper.”
Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize winner

“Breathtakingly honest prose…run out and get this collection today.”
Cynthia McKinney, former US Congresswoman

“This book of poems is a shining example of tomorrow’s Palestine.”
Ronnie Kasrils, former South African government minister

“A voice which refuses to be silenced.”
John Berger, novelist and Booker Prize winner

“Feel the power and pain of Palestine’s struggle.”
John Pilger, award-winning journalist and filmmaker

“Back from Gaza, Remi Kanazi’s poems make tears come to my eyes.”
Stéphane Hessel, former French ambassador

“A poet with immense power and bravery.”
Elmaz Abinader, author and poet

The collection is accompanied by a full length CD. To learn more about Poetic Injustice, check out www.PoeticInjustice.net, where the book is exclusively available.
 

Hope you order your copy today AT


 

Join Remi at a Gala Book Release Party


POETIC INJUSTICE: WRITINGS ON RESISTANCE AND PALESTINE

The latest from Remi Kanazi…


Advance Praise for Poetic Injustice

“It is through art not the news that we feel and begin to understand the long night of suffering and humiliation endured by the Palestinians. There is more truth, and perhaps finally more news, in Remi Kanazi’s poems than the pages of your daily newspaper or the sterile reports flashed across your screens.”
-Chris Hedges
, Pulitzer Prize winner and Nation Institute senior fellow

“Some poetry is meant to make you sit in quiet contemplation. Not so with Remi Kanazi’s. Read his words out loud for yourself and your friends. Let their compassionate anger, their intricate dance of ideas, their unflinching witness, wash over you, dance with you, pick you up, and spur you to action.”
-Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse

“With Poetic Injustice, Remi Kanazi has burst onto the scene with breathtakingly honest prose that shakes the reader’s preconceived notions of the Middle East and pokes holes into the conventional wisdom that far too many people refuse to question. Run out and get this collection today—it will shake you up in a good way.”

-Cynthia McKinney, former US Congresswoman and Green Party presidential nominee

“You want to hear a voice which refuses to be silenced, and only such voices carry the deep truth about what’s happening these days, about what’s happening in Gaza or Iraq or East Jerusalem? OK. If you do, listen to Remi Kanazi and the lucidity of his anger.”
-John Berger, novelist and Booker Prize winner

“Remi Kanazi’s poetry, full of defiance and longing, allows us to feel the power and pain of Palestine’s struggle.”
-John Pilger, award-winning journalist, author, and filmmaker

“Repression creates resistance. It also generates beautiful artistic works, which become a cultural weapon in the struggle for the realisation of dreams.This book of poems is a shining example of tomorrow’s Palestine.”
-Ronnie Kasrils, African National Congress activist and former South African government minister

“Back from Gaza, Remi Kanazi’s poems make tears come to my eyes. Poetry more than any other means communicates what is deepest in man, what gives us hope beyond crime and despair.
-Stéphane Hessel, former French ambassador and participant in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“In Poetic Injustice, Remi Kanazi lines up his word soldiers and marches into the battle of identity, occupation, loss and exile. Stripping the spin and gloss from policies and politics, Kanazi volleys truths from his own life as a Palestinian-American and as a witness to the oppression and occupations, state terrorism and racism. A poet with immense power and bravery, he underlines each phrase, word and line with devotion.”
-Elmaz Abinader, author, poet, and PEN Award winner

A personal note from Remi….

I’m very excited to share that my debut poetry collection & CD, Poetic Injustice: Writings on Resistance and Palestine, will be out this January and is available for pre-order today!! This collection is the culmination of my work over the last five years and I’m really happy to be sharing the news with all of you. To purchase the collection, visit

NEW BOOK ….. NEW LOOK ….. POPULAR RESISTANCE IN PALESTINE

Book launch: Popular Resistance in Palestine

“Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment” was just published and is available in Europe and by mail from the publisher. Web page for the book is available at the author’s website. The book can be pre-ordered in the US from McMillan Books and retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble and is available in Australia through Palgrave McMillan. It is also available soon in the Educational Bookshop in Jerusalem. Soon available in Arabic (looking for publisher, version ready) and other languages.

The author Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh will be speaking in Stuttgart, Germany at this conference November 26-28 and will be in Italy January 4-14 (some slots for additional invitations in Italy are still open).  A book tour is being planned for February and March in the US and Europe.

The book summarizes and analyzes the rich 130-year history of popular resistance in Palestine discussing the challenges and opportunities faced in different historical periods. The aim is to put before the reader the most concise, yet most comprehensive and accurate treatment, of a subject that has captured the imagination and interests of the global community.  Looking at the successes, failures, missed opportunities and challenges in this period allows people to chart a better direction for the future.

“This is a timely and remarkable book written by the most important chronicler of contemporary popular resistance in Palestine. Mazin Qumsiyeh brilliantly evokes the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi, Edward Said, Rachel Corrie and many others, to tell the unvarnished truth about Palestine and Zionist settler colonialism. With its focus on ‘history and activism from below’, this is a work of enormous significance. Developing further his original ideas on human rights in Palestine, media activism, public policies and popular, non-violent resistance, Mazin Qumsiyeh’s book is a must read for anyone interested in justice and how to produce the necessary breakthrough in the Israel-Palestine conflict” Prof. Nur Masalha, author of ‘The Politics of Denial: Israel and the Palestinian Refugee Problem’

“Qumsiyeh’s inspiring accounts of both the everyday and the most extraordinary acts of Palestinian indigenous resistance to colonialism expose the misguided claims that Palestinians have never tried nonviolence; in fact, they are among the experts, whose courage, creativity, and resilience are an inspiration to people of conscience everywhere. Even with the arms of a military superpower, the Israeli government’s failure to quell the Palestinians’ spirit and insistence on human rights reminds us that the greatest strength of all belongs to those with justice on their side, who will ultimately triumph.” Anna Baltzer, author of ‘Witness in Palestine’

“Mazin Qumsiyeh’s insider’s chronicle of Palestinian civil resistance and its quest for self-reliance, independence, political rights, and self-liberation clearly shows that collective nonviolent action by Palestinians has been neither episodic nor an aberration, but remarkably consistent and for nearly a century. His sweeping account belongs on the bookshelves of Israelis who are fearful, Palestinians who are unsure of next steps, and a global community that has yet to take a meaningful stand for peace with justice. Anyone concerned about the future for all the peoples of the Middle East will take encouragement from his invigorating analysis.” Mary Elizabeth King, Professor of peace and conflict studies and author of ‘A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance’

“Mazin Qumsiyeh’s book is enlightening and powerful.  It reveals the human suffering and destruction of Palestinian people and land, which are the appalling consequences of Israel’s ethnic, nationalist, military, project that has displaced the indigenous Palestinian population and committed crimes of genocide and apartheid. In spite of such injustice, we can all take hope and inspiration from Mazin’s stories of the lives of the courageous Palestinian people who make the real, often unrecorded, history.  Their peaceful spirit and persevering struggle for human rights and international law, has been, and continues to be, carried out (in the main) by popular nonviolent resistance.  Their method of active NV resistance deserve to be known more widely by the International community who need to see such examples, so they too can reject violence, militarism, and war, and build their security and freedom on Human rights and International Law.” Mairead Maguire, Nobel Prize Winner

ACCEPT PALESTINE AS A FRIEND ON FACEBOOK


I recently wrote a book review for a new title called Letters From Palestine. Another brilliant review by Mary Rizzo can be seen HERE. The book in question is a MUST READ for anyone who wants to see how life is on the ‘other side’ of the wall….. a MUST READ for anyone that wants to better the situation.

About the Book

Many books have been written dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the pro-Israeli perspective. However, relatively few reflect the Palestinian point of view. Letters from Palestine is one of the rare books that offers an American audience the chance to listen to and learn about the lives of actual Palestinian people as they describe what it is like to live in the occupied territories of the West Bank or Gaza, or to grow up as a Palestinian in the U.S.

Many of these stories can be read almost as if each contributor is writing a letter to an American friend that will give the reader a vivid sense both of the writer’s own personality and his or her daily life as a Palestinian. To further this sense of personal intimacy, each contribution is accompanied by a photograph and an introductory paragraph or two about the writer.

The contents include not only accounts of everyday trials, hassles and humiliations that Palestinians suffer, but stories of triumphs over these adversities and the use of humor to cope with the sometimes almost surreal absurdities of life under occupation. These stories — lively, poignant, tragic, funny, reflective, heartbreaking — as a whole contain much to inspire the reader with the resourcefulness of the Palestinian people and to demonstrate their resilience and creativity under the most trying of conditions. There are also stories about life under the destructive sieges of 2002, and the book ends with some searing firsthand dispatches of what people experienced during the savage bombardment of Gaza in 2008-2009.

In sum, here you will meet and come to know Palestinians in all their humanness and begin to see them beyond the usual stereotypes. Most of all, the stories in this book are meant to introduce Americans to contemporary Palestinians who represent both the traditions of their culture and the bright promise of their future.

 

I just received the following from the author, Dr. Kennith Ring…..

 

I’ve recently been working with a British woman who read the book to set up a Facebook page for the book.  If you are on Facebook, you can access it by going to this link: http://on.fb.me/dDabXL (Even if you’re not on Facebook, I think this link will work for you.) 

Now here’s a simple favor I’d like to ask of you if you are on Facebook.

Just click on the “+ share” at the top of the page. It will bring down a scroll menu. By then clicking on the “f” Facebook link, a dialog box will open which asks “what’s on your mind,” plus a picture of the book cover and a link to the publisher’s website. You can then type a message into the box such as “great book…a must read,” etc. Then click the “share” box at the bottom of the page and it will automatically be posted to your Facebook page and will then become visible to your friends.

This will help to make a larger audience aware of the book and, with luck, word will continue to spread about it – and more people will buy it.

MORE OF CHOMSKY’S JIBBERISH RESPONDED TO

Jeff Blankfort commented:
This is a brilliant dissection of the contradictions that Chomsky has been allowed to get away with for decades. Regardless of his motives, Chomsky’s faulty reading of the Israel-US relationship has well served the Zionist cause immobilzing any serious resistance against it in the US and abroad.. Knott’s article should be required reading for every activist concerned not only with justice for the Palestinians but actually doing something it about beyond holding conferences and shouting useless and ineffective slogans.


Faithful Circle – A response to Noam Chomsky’s book ‘Fateful Triangle’

Hypotheses and Tests

“Israel has never fired a shot in the defense of American interests”
By Jay Knott

1. Hypotheses

“Dear Mr. President: We write to affirm our support for our strategic partnership with Israel, and encourage you to continue to do before international organizations such as the United Nations. The United States has traditionally stood with Israel because it is in our national security interest and must continue to do so. Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East and a vibrant democracy. Israel is also a partner to the United States on military and intelligence issues in this critical region. That is why it is our national interest to support Israel at a moment when Israel faces multiple threats from Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the current regime in Iran.” – Jewish Virtual Library [1].

This is the beginning of the resolution passed by the US Senate on June 21 2010, supporting Israel’s attack on a convoy of unarmed aid ships headed toward Gaza, which killed nine people.

It begins with four sentences, each one of which asserts that Israel is a strategic asset of the USA. But if Israel is such an ally, why the need to emphasise it? It’s as if the senators are arguing with someone who says that Israel is NOT as useful as we tend to believe. Whoever that is, it’s not Noam Chomsky. Both left-wing thinkers like Chomsky and establishment politicians reinforce the idea that US interests coincide with those of Israel, though they differ on how good US interests are. Sometimes, when people say something too stridently, it is because they secretly know that it is false.

This review was sparked off by an online critique of Noam Chomsky’s views on the Middle East by Jeff Blankfort, a reply to it, and the internet discussions around them [2], [3]. Several contributors to these discussions come from traditional anti-racist left-wing backgrounds, but, unlike most of the left, have taken it to its logical conclusion, opposing Jewish power as the most important form of ethnically-based oppression in the West today.

Chomsky fan Hammond [3] urges Blankfort’s supporters to read Chomsky’s “Fateful Triangle” [4]. So I did. I am not impressed by Chomsky’s fame nor by the book’s approximately two thousand references. I look at the arguments.

Professor Chomsky made one of the greatest discoveries in twentieth-century science, the language instinct, in a 1959 critique of psychologist B. F. Skinner [5]. Because he’s a genius, we expect more of him than unsubstantiated platitudes. But everyone makes mistakes. Einstein spent the better part of his career trying to explain why the universe is not expanding, and Chomsky didn’t figure out that there are genes for grammar [6].

He flayed Skinner on the vagueness of his terms, and for changing the meaning of words when convenient. Chomsky therefore knows that vagueness makes a hypothesis untestable, and therefore unscientific.

Chomsky brought clarity to the science of language development, but he is surprisingly contradictory on the politics of the Middle East, for a man with such a scientific, logical brain. For example, on the one hand, he denies the importance of the Israel Lobby. After all, if Israel is helping US ‘elites’ maintain their ‘hegemony’ in the ‘region’, they would hardly need a lobby to remind them of it. Universities and co-operatives are tentatively discussing a boycott of Israel. Chomsky argues against a boycott of Israeli produce, because the Lobby would call us ‘hypocrites’, unless we boycott the US too [7]. So he thinks this ‘unimportant’ Lobby could undermine a boycott of Israel by mere accusations.

By page 4, Chomsky already makes it clear that he defends the Jewish State. He criticizes its current policies, which he says are caused by American Zionists, who cause its “moral degeneration and ultimate destruction”. In my pamphlet “The Mass Psychology of Anti-Fascism” [8], I sarcastically cited Stephen Zunes [9] for claiming America was responsible for pushing poor little Israel into Lebanon in 2006. I didn’t realize how close Zunes’s attempt to make excuses for Jewish murderers was to Chomsky’s position until I read ‘Fateful Triangle’. Chomsky and his followers want us to believe that Israeli ethnic cleansing has ‘degenerated’ since 1948 because of American influence. This means the Deir Yassin massacre of 1948 was morally superior to those in Lebanon in 1982, but the Hannukah slaughter of 2008-9 was worse.

He says US ‘support’ has blocked Israel trying more moral policies, to the ‘despair’ of progressive Israeli Jews, on page 442. There is a cruder version of this ‘corruption’ narrative. It is part of the almost universally believed story of Jews as eternal vicitims. It enables Jewish Americans to support apartheid whilst thinking of themselves as liberals. They blackmail the left into accepting a much softer attitude toward Jewish supremacy than toward white identity.

Chomsky is by no means the worst example of chutzpah in the left. He is contradictory rather than duplicious. He exposes Jewish emotional blackmail. He is contemptuous of professional Holocaust survivors like Elie Wiesel. He is fearless and merciless at ridiculing the hypocrisy and hysteria for which American Jewish organizations are notorious, who claim that critics of the Lobby are anti-semitic. Some on the left also harrass and slander pro-Palestinian peace activists. Since Israel is the only beneficiary of these divisive tactics, we call them ‘crypto-Zionists’.

But Chomsky’s main weakness is his failure to scientifically test his assertion that Israel is an ally of the USA. On page 3, without evidence, he says that US policy favors “a Greater Israel that will dominate the region in the interests of American power”.

To this end, Chomsky assumes that Arab nationalism is anti-West, whereas Jewish nationalism is pro-West. The former was allied to the Soviet Union. But this is at root a circular argument – the US supports Israel because it is an ally, and Israel is an ally because the US supports it. The reason some Arab leaders temporarily turned to Russia is because they were rejected by America, and the main reason for that is the influence of Israel. Chomsky confuses cause and effect.

The phrase ‘control of the oil’ is thrown around by Chomsky and his circle as liberally as the word ‘region’. It’s a vague leftist feel-good dumbing-down designed to prevent us from thinking through exactly what ‘control’ means, why precisely cruise missiles are useful to oil companies, and if killing Palestinian children helps US interests.

At this point, I should define ‘US interests’. I mean the interests of the US capitalist class. Unconditional support for Israel is obviously against the interests of the majority of Americans, who belong to the proletariat. But in that respect, it doesn’t differ from other unethical US foreign policies. What differentiates Zionism is that it is opposed to the interests of most of the ruling class too.

I used a Marxist phrase there. Chomsky prefers saying ‘elites’ rather than ‘bourgeoisie’ in his bestselling books. Even if the ‘elites’ really do ‘perceive’ it is in US interests to throw seven million dollars a day into a black hole, they are mistaken, and Palestine Solidarity has the task of explaining that to them and to those who work and vote for them.

Chomsky claims that the US supports Israel because Israel supports US war crimes – “Israel showed how to treat third-world upstarts properly” (page 29). This puts the cart before the horse. Right after World War II, Zionists were third-world upstarts themselves, engaged in terrorism in Palestine against an imperialist power. President Truman supported these upstarts, and later, when they were no longer upstarts, president Eisenhower supported upstarts against them.

This shows two things:
1. America doesn’t automatically oppose upstarts, and
2. Israel persuaded America to support its fight against upstarts which threaten Israel, rather than America supporting Israel because it combats upstarts which oppose America.

Israel has never fired a shot in the defense of American interests. But its friends in the media make it look as if the two countries’ enemies are the same, by amalgamating very different Arab and Muslim causes and parties. Most of these oppose Israel in principle – only a very small subset are inherently anti-American. It is in America’s interests to divide them. It is in Israel’s interests to prevent this. And it is in humanity’s interest to divorce America and Israel.

Chomsky’s claim to be a Zionist means a binational state, with the right of ‘self-determination’ of the two nations within Palestine. It’s clear which of the nations would dominate the other, but Chomsky appears to be unaware of this.

To his credit, on page 442 of his book, Chomsky predicted the defeat of the Israeli Defense Forces, which didn’t happen until seven years later, in Lebanon, in 2006. The Gaza flotilla massacre of 2010 was another disastrous error for Israel, leading to a split with Turkey, formerly its most important ally in the ‘region’. There is an opportunity to start to undermine Zionism, the only remaining example of serious racial oppression in the Western world. Is Chomsky on board?

Contradicting his view that Israel obeys America, Chomsky refers to the normal state of politics in the USA as ‘complete obedience’ to Zionist opposition to freedom of speech, on page 337, under the heading ‘The West Falls Into Line’. He also says how the allegation of ‘anti-semitism’ is used to blackmail the elite political spectrum in Western countries into supporting Jewish supremacy in the Middle East, but then he drops the ball, reiterating hackneyed rhetoric about US policy. It’s not really US policy. It is the policy of supporters of a foreign power pretending to be pro-American.

Note that my argument does not imply promoting patriotism. It means saying, in effect, IF you are a patriotic American, you should oppose your country’s ardent support for Israel. Neither does it imply anti-semitism. It means recognizing that the interests of most of the inhabitants of the USA would be served by reducing support to Israel. The interests of the Jewish minority would be served by increasing it. This should not be controversial. In particular, the American left, with its keen awareness of ‘privilege’, should be able to listen to this argument. But mostly, it cannot.

At one point, Chomsky discusses the hypocrisy of the Israeli leaders in using pogroms against Jews in Russia in the nineteenth century as an excuse for doing the same thing in Lebanon in 1982. But he doesn’t try to question the view that Jews have always been victims, wherever they have wandered. This myth was reiterated by Republican president George Bush Senior when he was trying to defend himself against the ‘anti-semitism’ slur by groveling to the Lobby in 1991.

On page 446, Chomsky describes young American Jews, raised on the handouts of the Anti-Defamation League, having a ‘corrupting’ effect on Israel. He must also be very aware of the corruption of Israeli teenagers effected by taking them to the ruins of German concentration camps and teaching them to hate [10], or the Hillel Jewish campus organization which teaches young American Jews that Israel is their homeland. He doesn’t go far enough in criticizing the obsession with ‘the’ Holocaust which gets more intense the further it recedes into history.

After complaining about Israel’s rape of Lebanon in the nineteen-eighties for a few hundred pages, Chomsky resorts to the ‘region’ trick to try to explain it. Page 442:

“The US has been more than pleased to acquire a militarized dependency, technologically advanced and ready to undertake tasks that few are willing to endure – support for the Guatemalan genocide, for example – while helping to contain threats to American dominance in the most critical region in the world, where ‘one of the greatest material prizes in world history’ [the Saudi oilfields] must be firmly held”.

On page 462, he regrets Israel’s “dependence on the US with the concomitant pressure to serve US interests”. One would expect that the USA would not give a country $7 million a day, more than all other countries combined – without demanding that it serves its interests. But the predictions of this hypothesis fail. Israel feels no pressure at all to serve US interests, and Israeli politicians boast of American subservience, whilst their American accomplices harrass those who state this simple truth. This is true whether you are a media mogul, a movie star, a politician, or an anti-war activist.

At the beginning of his book, Chomsky claims that Israel helps the US by protecting the Saudi oilfields. At the end, he says it blackmails the US by threatening to launch a nuclear attack on this great material prize. Iran could also greatly harm the Western world by blocking the Strait of Hormuz through which fleets of oil tankers pass – but somehow, America stands up to Iran. Why can’t it stand up to Israel? Because it’s an asset?

Chomsky expounds a deal of effort showing how the US media is biased in favor of Israel and against Palestinians, but he doesn’t call a spade a spade: the only serious racial prejudice left in America is pro-Jewish bias. That is why Israeli children’s deaths are reported at a rate seven times higher than those of Palestinian’s [11].

2. Tests

I propose testing Chomsky’s views using the time-honored methods of asking

- what does the theory predict will happen, and does it actually happen?
- is the theory the simplest explanation of what happens?
- what would we expect to happen if the theory was not true, and does it actually happen?
- is there an alternative theory which better explains what happens?

There are two rival hypotheses:

1. The main reason for the USA’s unconditional support for Israel’s unique persistence in imposing apartheid is that it is in US capitalist interests
2. The main reason for this support is the power of American Jewish organizations

Chomsky defends, with contradictions, the first hypothesis. Mearsheimer and Walt defend the second.

Let’s test each theory using scientific methods. Politics is not an exact science like physics, but we can at least try.

1. The basic principle of science: does Chomsky’s hypothesis [4] lead to a simpler explanation of events than Mearsheimer and Walt’s Israel Lobby theory [12]?

2. An abstract test. ‘Abstract’ does not mean ‘vague’, but is scientifically respectable. Without any concrete examples, one can test the Chomsky hypothesis as follows: it is reasonable to say that, for any two nations, they have areas where their interests coincide, and areas where they clash. The USA never acts against Israel’s interests, with some very minor exceptions. This means that, without giving any examples, we can say that America always supports Israel’s interests when their interests collide.

3. Falsificacion: ask what would be the case if Chomsky’s hypothesis is wrong. What would poor little Israel do if it were NOT serving US interests, if Americans ceased to corrupt it? Would it let the Palestinians back, decommision its nuclear weapons, and abandon its racial definition of citizenship?

4. Which of the arguments depends on the scientific methods outlined above, and which on vague, shifting definitions?

Chomsky makes, without argument, the assertion that if it were not for Israel’s ‘perceived geopolitical role’, a trite, content-free phrase, the Israel Lobby would ‘probably’ be unable to persuade the ‘elite’ to support Israel (page 22). So why do they bother, then? Why do Jews rant and rave in the media about ‘anti-semitic incidents’ whenever anyone in the US makes timid criticism of their country? It’s not that politicians perceive that Israel is an asset, it’s just that they know what happens to those who perceive otherwise – the Lobby makes some calls, and they lose their jobs [13]. Chomsky’s theory that Israel is an ally would predict the Israel Lobby would barely exist – real allies of the US like Japan don’t have energetic, well-funded lobbies in Washington DC, ready to call on hordes of faithful followers to phone politicians and write letters to newspapers defending their nations’ interests. They don’t need them. Chomsky’s theory fails the test.

There is more to it than just rich Jewish organizations like the ADL and AIPAC. There is social pressure not to mention the Lobby. Whereas no-one accuses Chomsky of racism for claiming that Jews suffer for the interests of other Western peoples, in complete defiance of the evidence, those of us who point out that the reverse is true, with the facts on our side, are accused of anti-semitism. If Israel were an asset, there would be no need for this manipulation of our Western European culture, which has a unique record of abandoning racism, despite what the left tells us.

The ‘Israeli Sparta’ argument put forward in the Wall Street Journal etc. by Jewish neo-conservatives posing as classical scholars can easily be disposed of. Sparta defended Greece. Israel does not defend America. On page 21, ignoring the evidence, Chomsky agrees with the pseudo-Hellenists, saying that the Israeli Defence Forces provides a backup for the US armed forces. In fact Israel has never been able to supply soldiers for any US operation in the region. In the Iraq crisis of 1990, Syria gave military support to the US, but not Israel. Israel was unable to respond even when Iraqi missiles landed on Tel Aviv, because it would have split the coalition invading Iraq. Chomsky’s argument fails the test.

Chomsky reviewed ‘The Israel Lobby’ [12] when it broke through the censors of the US liberal left [14]. “Another problem that Mearsheimer and Walt do not address is the role of the energy corporations. They are hardly marginal in US political life… How can they be so impotent in the face of the Lobby?” he asks [15]. Chomsky’s review of ‘The Israel Lobby’ implies the oil companies CANNOT be powerless in the face of a mere lobby. But the assumptions behind Chomsky’s question don’t stand up.  Mearsheimer and Walt DO address the role of these companies, explaining how, if they had their way, US policy in the Middle East would change. Leftists in America half-adopt Karl Marx’s ‘materialist conception of history’ without naming it (they say ‘corporate greed’ instead). It is one of the few aspects of Marxism which can be tested, and it fails miserably to explain the US position on the Israel/Palestine question. The interests of big corporations do not lead to invading Lebanon, persecuting Palestine, and stirring up Islamic extremism.

Why has the US consistently supported Israel, and inconsistently supported Arab nationalists? Egypt’s Nasser, Iraq’s Hussein and Syria’s al-Assad all had a pretty good record of keeping down ‘upstarts’, particularly radical Islamic ones, so why not, according to Chomsky’s logic, ally with the radical Arab nationalist states? The US has allied with various Middle Eastern states at various times, but only its support for Israel is invariant. Again, these questions constitute a test of Chomsky’s hypothesis. You try to figure out what the hypothesis would predict, then try to find counter-examples, where the actual events are incompatible with the predicted ones. It isn’t difficult, particularly in this case.

Chomsky claims that one reason America supports Israel is because it is a ‘laboratory’ for US military and surveillance technology. This is easily tested by asking if any other country would be eager to take Israel’s place.

The argument that oil is the main reason for US support for Israel is too trivial to waste time on. When America attacks a Middle Eastern country, the left chants ‘no war for oil’. If the policy causes the price of oil to drop, capitalism benefits. If the price rises, the oil companies benefit. Either way, the left trumpets the evidence. The ‘oil’ explanation cannot be falsified. It is not wrong – it is not even a valid hypothesis.

In a similar violation of scientific methodology, Chomsky tries to use the fact that the USA approves of Israeli war crimes as evidence that the dog wags the tail, that Israel serves Uncle Sam. In fact, this ‘evidence’ contributes nothing at all to our understanding of the relationship between the two states. It is equally compatible with the two opposing arguments, so it is not a test which selects which of them are true. Chomsky does give some of the same examples of American subservience as Mearsheimer and Walt in ‘The Israel Lobby’ [12]

- US presidents mildly criticize Israel building settlements on Palestinian land
- Israeli politicians express open contempt for the supposedly most powerful man in the world, bragging of how ‘The Jewish Lobby’ (their words) will bring this uppity goy into line
- And so it comes to pass
but Chomsky doesn’t ask the obvious question – is this all
1. an elaborate charade to make it look as if the Lobby can determine US policy regarding Israel in order to cover up for white/US/capitalist hegemony, by diverting attention to the Jews, or
2. is the most elegant/economical/likely explanation that Jewish power trumps Western European interests in the USA?

By means of the Lobby, the tail wags the dog. Its the simplest, clearest, and most economical explanation of the facts. This is how science progresses. A good example of why simpler is better can be found in a recent paper on the evolution of social insects such as ants and bees [16]. We should try to use the same criterion in the study of human societies.

Like everything else, the question of Jewish control of the media can be approached emotionally. I prefer the scientific approach. I approach the argument about Jewish control of the press, etc., on its merits, not on how much it reminds people of ancient Tsarist calumnies. Surely the most simple explanation of the fact that

“Israel has been granted a unique immunity from criticism in mainstream journalism and scholarship” (page 31)

is because Jews are overrepresented in mainstream journalism and sholarship, and quite a few of these Jews defend Jewish interests. This kind of statement is acceptable in Israel, whose inhabitants are mostly proud of what they call ‘the Jewish Lobby’ in America. It is acceptable in countries like Malaysia. Why is it so difficult for us?

The answer is obvious. We are afraid of being anti-semitic. I found a solution to this problem. I stopped caring about it.

4. – ‘Fateful Triangle’, Noam Chomsky, South End Press, 1999
5. – “A Review of B. F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior”, Noam Chomsky, http://cogprints.org/1148/1/chomsky.htm
6. – ‘The Language Instinct’, Steven Pinker, Harper Perennial Modern Classics, November 2000
8. – ‘The Mass Psychology of Anti-Fascism’, Jay Knott, 2008, http://pacificaforum.org/mass
9. – ‘How Washington Goaded Israel Into War’, Stephen Zunes, http://www.antiwar.com/orig/zunes.php?articleid=9605, August 2006
10. – ‘Defamation’ – a movie about the Anti-Defamation League – http://ishare.rediff.com/video/others/defamation-movie-trailer/888451
11. – ‘If Americans Knew’ media analyses, http://www.ifamericansknew.org/media/
12. – ‘The Israel Lobby’, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, August 2007
13. – “They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby”, Paul Findlay, Lawrence Hill Books, 1989
14. – ‘The Atlantic’ magazine rejected the original ‘Israel Lobby’ paper, on the transparently false grounds of ‘poor scholarship’. When it came out as a book, the authors toured the USA to promote it, but found that local papers didn’t send reporters to cover it. The Lobby demonstrated the authors’ hypothesis by trying to suppress it.
15. – ‘The Israel Lobby?’ – Noam Chomsky, 2006, http://www.zcommunications.org/the-israel-lobby-by-noam-chomsky
16. – “Natural selection alone can explain eusociality”, Nowak, Tarnita and Wilson – http://www.physorg.com/news201957206.html

Source and worthwhile comments found AT

THE ART OF RESISTANCE

(Michael Rivero on the wall)
Israel’s wall in the occupied West Bank, including in and around East Jerusalem, was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in July 2004. Although it is often compared to the Berlin Wall, it differs in several essential aspects. The Israeli side — located within the so-called “free world” — is often decorated by officialdom with idyllic landscapes designed to conceal its “concrete” reality. On the Palestinian side, the interior walls of the prison that is the occupied West Bank, resistance art is now flourishing.


Art as resistance: “Against the Wall” reviewed
Raymond Deane

The relationship between art and politics has always been ambiguous and contested. For many people, “art is above politics,” overlooking that art is embedded in the social world and at the mercy of those (publishers, promoters, galleries, etc.) whose mediation between artist and public is in the fullest sense political.

Artists may trust to the innate power of their work to transcend its exploitation as propaganda. Or they may offer it precisely for such purposes (agit-prop). Or they may seek to withhold it by participation in a campaign of cultural boycott, a tactic being increasingly deployed against the Israeli state.

A seemingly exceptional situation arises when the political context from which art emerges is simultaneously the surface on which it is inscribed. The Berlin Wall has been described as “the world’s longest canvas” and was used as such by artists like Thierry Noir, Keith Haring and a host of unknowns.

However, this art appeared mostly on the Western side of the wall, and hence supposedly symbolized, in the words of a dedicated website, “the free expression of the open society of West Berlin” as opposed to “the blank walls of the repressed society that was East Berlin” (Berlin Wall Art).

Although the wall surrounded West Berlin, the citizens of that city were free to travel at will, unlike their East-Berlin counterparts. Hence, West Berlin wall art was viewed approvingly by the capitalist regime that would engulf the former German Democratic Republic once Germany was reunited, while those who sought to resist Stalinism from within were denied any such outlet.

Israel’s wall in the occupied West Bank, including in and around East Jerusalem, was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in July 2004. Although it is often compared to the Berlin Wall, it differs in several essential aspects. The Israeli side — located within the so-called “free world” — is often decorated by officialdom with idyllic landscapes designed to conceal its “concrete” reality. On the Palestinian side, the interior walls of the prison that is the occupied West Bank, resistance art is now flourishing.

Unlike the East German authorities, the Israelis seem content to leave this art in place. This may be linked to the celebrity of some of the participating artists, in particular the Englishman Banksy whose “Girl with balloons” features on the cover of William Parry’s Against the Wall. Parry, a London-based journalist and photographer, documents “the art of resistance in Palestine.”

This beautifully produced book falls into a number of the traps concealed within the ambiguous art/politics relationship evoked above. However, it ultimately retains its value and impact as both a political and aesthetic document, perhaps exemplifying the German philosopher Walter Benjamin’s famous thesis that “[t]here is no document of culture that is not at the same time a document of barbarism.”

One risk inherent in “political art” is that it may be seen to exploit oppression in the interests of an artist’s reputation and bank balance. Banksy’s 2007 “Santa’s Ghetto” project in Bethlehem, central to Against the Wall, sought to subvert these risks by forcing those wishing to view works by their favorite artists to travel to the occupied Palestinian territories and see for themselves the conditions under which Palestinians live.

However, if “the art of resistance” is thus equated with that of non-Palestinian celebrities, there is a risk that the agency of the Palestinians themselves is again being denied. Does such a project not itself symbolically enact the disempowerment it is supposedly opposing? The only Palestinian artist mentioned by name in this book is Suleiman Mansour (110) who apparently “participated in this project” (i.e., “Santa’s Ghetto”), but none of whose work is reproduced. The Palestinian artwork reproduced is invariably anonymous (147, 158-9).

Given the unsanctioned origins of street art and the guerilla-like tactics its creation often entails, it seems peculiarly adapted to a campaign for the destruction of the very surface on which it is created, in this case the apartheid wall. Further, such art invites and must tolerate the kind of defacement that is prohibited in the art gallery environment. Banksy’s “living room” scene has been “debeautified” with Arabic graffiti reading: “Park your car here for 3 NIS [New Israeli Shekels]” (29). His catapult-wielding rat was destroyed by locals who took offense at being compared (as they saw it) to a rodent (51), while his donkey undergoing a security check (110-111) was saved from a similar fate by the canny Palestinian owners of the building where it was painted, who removed the relevant section of wall and sold it to a Westerner.

Such cultural misunderstandings aside, the Palestinian response to this “outsider art” has been far from uncritical. The New York artist Swoon was “told by one of the elders from the refugee camp that they don’t necessarily want the kids to start viewing that area positively, and so they see the work as a thing of beauty, but in a place where beauty shouldn’t be.” Nonetheless, writes Parry, the people of Bethlehem “were effusive, ready to adopt Banksy as a son of the struggling city, given the number of tourists the project’s work has attracted” (10).

Parry’s text is impressively wide-ranging. His exposition of the historical and political realities of Palestinian life, particularly as it is bounded by the wall, is detailed, lucid and accurate. His photographs are themselves works of art, many of them focusing on Palestinian people and places rather than just on the artworks.

Yet the most striking photographs are those of artworks within their environment, such as the young Italian street artist Blu’s “giant baby, blowing soldiers made of money” on the wall near Aida refugee camp (64-65, and again, at dusk, 70-71). Indeed for me Blu, his compatriot Erica il Cane (“How the oppressed become the oppressor,” 68-9) and the Spaniard Sam3 (66-67, 68) stand out from the other named artists; their images seem to have more intrinsic subversive power than those of the more celebrated Banksy.

“Pardon our Oppression” is the title of a mural by the veteran Ron English (58-59), designed “to link American” — and European, he might have added — “support to the oppression of the Palestinian people.” Such a quasi-penitential acceptance of responsibility, common to much of the art reproduced here, extends the scope of “the art of resistance” to our Western societies and adds further depth to this tremendous and essential book.

Raymond Deane is a composer and Cultural Boycott Officer of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (www.ipsc.ie).


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