Thoughts on Germany and Palestine

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD 

The conference in Stuttgart about Palestine was themed “Separated in the past, together in the future”, was sold-out, and had some high powered speakers and lots of energy (1). We listened, spoke, networked, bought each others’ books, ate, hugged, cried, and laughed.  I mostly spent lots of time in thinking; maybe because waiting at airports or because such conferences give us opportunity to reflect or whatever.  Thoughts are a mixed blessing.  In that labyrinth of neurons firing sometimes uncontrollably, we are transported to the past, to the present, to the future, whipsawed by images and stories and sounds and smells.  The one minute I am thinking of my delay of three hours at the bridge to Jordan while Israeli Shin Bet agents scurry around trying to figure out what to do about me.  I reflect on my angered indignation verbalized twice to a young white clean-cut guy (maybe Russian?).  Did I challenge him too much or was it too little?

In visiting Germany one cannot help but reflect on history.  The thoughts are transported to periods before I was born, periods in history and facts I have read and verified and contrast it with myths that are taught daily to unsuspecting publics. Germany lives in the modern presence but the mist of a heavy and dark past moves all around sometimes getting thick and blurring visions.  Some people pump such smoke trying to convince Germans and themselves that this is that mist emanating from a relevant past.  We think and speak of how best to explain to Germans that guilt feelings are misdirected.  How do we explain the Nazi-Zionist collaborations and the horrors that happened because of a misunderstanding of what really happened nearly seven decades ago (2).  But most of all I reflect on both how good people can be and how much evil they can do.  After all, what makes an Ilan Pappe, brilliant professor, humanist who shed all his tribal borders and moved to touch his humanity?  And what makes an Ehud Barak, a war criminal with blood of thousands on his hands?

Not in my name is the message that a brilliant Jewish German woman (Evelyn Hecht-Galinski) gave in her speech.  Her clarion voice echoed those of prophets speaking to decadent kings of the past articulating in passionate moral clarity what horror awaits if they stay their destructive course.  As human beings, we cannot choose to stand on the side line while a grave injustice is being committed.  We cannot stand by and watch as Western governments succumb to lobbies and send weapons and money that are used to commit horrific crimes.  As citizens of those countries we cannot be silent.  I listen to Evelyn’s words (translated from German to English) and to the tone of her strong voice and determined looks that penetrate to the hearts of a mesmerized audience.  I think this is what decency and courage look like.

I listen to Ilan Pappe brilliantly articulating in very simple and common language what the underpinning of this “issue” is about (that it is a simple colonialism and racism, nothing special other than the success of propaganda in drowning this fact with much mythologies, lies, and nonsense).  He explains how we are allowed to criticize specific Israeli policies like attacks on Gaza etc but we are not allowed to criticize the ideology (Zionism) behind these policies.  We must move from dealing with the symptoms rather to deal with the etiology. He mentioned how Zionists themselves for decades used terms like Hityakvut (to colonize) to describe their activities which amounted to creating a state by destroying a country (his book “the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” remains a classic).  But my mind wonders back to olive trees being uprooted in Al-Walaja.  My thoughts are wandering all over the map.  Feelings of moral outrage, mix with memories of childhood playing in hills that was not yet infected with colonies.

I listen to my friend Dr. Haidar Eid describe life in Gaza and could only think about the absurdity that he is less than two-hour drive from where I am but that I could only get to meet him face to face for the first time thousands of kilometers away in Stuttgart, Germany of all places.   It is not fair that he is imprisoned in the concentration camp with 1.5 million prisoners whose only crime is that they are not Jewish and as such were ethnically cleansed and occupied. Haidar’s years in South Africa gave him the ability to really understand similarities and differences of our “hafrada” (Hebrew for segregation) with “Apartheid” (Afrikaaner for segregation).  Ali Abunimah’s articulate description of where we are with the BDS movement and the media struggle in the US complements nicely our talks about life and struggle in Palestine.

Felicia Langer was there. She served for decades as an Israeli lawyer trying to defend Palestinian political prisoners in kangaroo courts of colonial apartheid.  I think that the image of her and me and Haidar on the stage is an image of what the future of an inclusive democratic state will be like.

I listen to my friend Lubna Masarwa who verbalized better than any of us the moral indignation that is right and urgent.  She says “we are struggling as Palestinians, we are tired and we want you to do is urgent and the world keeps letting Israel commit massacres and continue its ethnic cleansing practices..why…enough is enough..we are fed up..” My thoughts here bounce across in a room full of dark walls trying to think of why the disease of apathy is so hard to cure among humans.  Silence and indifference while injustice and war crimes are being committed is not just some distant historical episode but a brutal living reality.  Children in Auschwitz seven decades ago and children of Gaza and Sabra and Shatila today are after all still children.  Their eyes and their suffering may be ignored by most of humanity but their truth will penetrate deeper than any fog of mythology.  It can no longer be said by anyone in the age of the internet that “we did not know.”

I talked about Popular Resistance in Palestine (the subject of my just published book) and explained in as simple a language I could what it means to live here and struggle here and love.  I explain that we are in this all together (humanity) and that this is not just a struggle by and for Palestinians.   Summarizing 130 years of resistance is not easy.  At the conference there is really little time, everyone wants to talk to us, to get a book signed, to exhange cards, to hug…

The organizers did a masterful job.  I stayed with a  wonderful Palestinian host (Anton).  Two of the key organizers also spoke about the plight of the Bedouin communities in the Negev.  Attia and Verena Rajab (and their young son who also volunteered) epitomize kindness and hard work but also of love that should be the model for all of us.

More can be said about this conference but ultimately, I say Lubna said it well “enough talk, time for action.”



1 For conference information and resources, see and



2 Menachem Begin became prime Minister of Israel and many boulevards are named after him. This is a guy who admired fascists and Nazis and even modeled his group’s uniforms and goose-steps after them. His groups sent a letter to Nazi Germany seeking alliance   Einstein and others wrote in the NY Times about Begin’s group: “Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our time is the Emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.” –See also “FDR, Ruth Gruber and me: Zionists stymie WWII rescue plan,” by Ronald Bleier October 2006

– There is also “Escaping Auschwitz: A Culture of Forgetting” by Ruth Linn, Cornell U. Press, 2004. It’s about Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler who escaped from Auschwitz in 1944 and gave detailed information to the Jewish Council of Slovakia that could have saved a large proportion of the Hungarian Jews who had not yet been deported. But the Jewish Council suppressed the information in order to get a trainload of their own (Zionist) people out and aided in the death of 437,000 Hungarian Jews. A summary about Hungarian Jews is found in “Kasztner’s List: Zionist collaboration in Hungary”

See also Bauer, Yehuda, Jews for sale?: Nazi-Jewish negotiations, 1933-1945, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 1994.

– I urge everyone to also read Lenni Brenner’s book “51 Documents: History of Nazi-Zionist Collaboration”.

– There are also data in my book chapter 6

– Hajo G. Meyer, 83 yo survivor of the concentration camps wrote me a note once:  “Are you aware that besides the Ha’avarah agreement the terrorist and murderer Avraham Stern had written to the Nazis on January 11th 1941 to fight with his Irgun forces together with the Nazis against the British! That is, I think, still stronger stuff.”

– And finally, the leadership of the Yishuv and the Zionist movement did sign a shameful deal with the Nazis “The Transfer Agreement” (see the book by Edwin Black with that title).


Before Julian Assange runs off to Equador for asylum, could he at least come up with some ‘leaks’ that really matter to us all…

There are three things that have been bugging us for decades now…. there have been all sorts of theories about them, but to date, no answers.

If he can come up with the truth we might start taking him serious on other issues …..

In order of the events….

1. Who killed John F. Kennedy?

2. What role did the FBI play in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.??

3. Who is behind the horrors of 9/11???



‘Hot Zioleaks’

Top 10 Wikileaks Palestine Nuggets

By Yousef

Wikileaks, the website set up to be a clearinghouse for classified information leaked through secure online channels, has once again published thousands of leaked documents, this time pertaining to American diplomacy around the world. The leaked reports are in the form of “cables” which are diplomatic communications or reports shared between embassies and U.S. diplomatic officials. The origins of the cables vary from different U.S. embassies around the globe to the Department of State in Washington, D.C. While the communications cover relations with many different countries, a significant portion deals with nations in the Middle East.

This post will focus on the most recent leaks as they relate to Palestine, and below are 10 of the more interesting passages relating to Palestine, the Palestinians and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Note that quotes in the text below are from the documents themselves, which may be paraphrased summaries of conversations and are not necessarily verbatim. There is very little here that should come as a surprise to those closely following the international relations of the Middle East and the politics around Palestine. These documents do, however, provide interesting context and color to these relations that were previously unavailable. Since this seems to be the first part of a large document dump by Wikileaks, I will update this post or create another one as the information becomes available. 



Qatar’s Prime Minister met with Senator John Kerry and discussed a variety of issues including Qatar’s views on the Palestinian issue. At the time, the Prime Minister suggested proximity talks which were ongoing between the Israelis and Palestinians would waste time – in his estimate 4-6 months. He also emphasized that negotiations without Hamas are unlikely to be fruitful since the “Palestinian Authority (PA) cannot sign off on an agreement on behalf of the Palestinians where open divisions exist.” To no one’s surprise, Qatar’s PM was not keen on the role Egypt has been playing in the region. Egypt, which has “no end game” in mind when it comes to brokering Hamas-Fatah reconciliation talks, is like a doctor relying on only one patient for business: “the physician is going to keep the patient alive but in the hospital for as long as possible.” 



Egypt’s head of General Intelligence Omar Suleiman would provide little evidence to suggest the Qatari leader’s criticism of their biased brokering was untrue. In a conversation with U.S. General Patreaus he stated that “Egypt’s three primary objectives with the Palestinians were to maintain calm in Gaza, undermine Hamas, and build popular support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. ” Suleiman also stated that Egypt would continue to be committed to Palestinian reconciliation. “It is hard,” he said, “but I am always optimistic. I consider myself a patient man, but I am loosing [sic] patience.” 



Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) just before becoming prime minister again and forming the current Israeli coalition government. When describing “his approach to ‘economic peace’ with the Palestinians, Netanyahu suggested he would cut through bureaucratic obstacles to Palestinian economic development to build a ‘pyramid’ from the ‘bottom up’ that would strengthen the Palestinian Authority, and offer the Palestinians a viable alternative to radicalism.” He also indicated he wasn’t interested in a sovereign Palestinian state emerging in the West Bank, but rather “an agreement over territory,settlements and ‘refined’ Palestinian sovereignty without an army or control over air space and borders.” Further evidence of Netanyahu’s stance, which he states is not unlike Livni’s, is described in a cable about a meeting between Netanyahu and a Congressional Delegation (CODEL) in late April 2009. He states “A Palestinian state must be demilitarized, without control over its air space and electro-magnetic field, and without the power to enter into treaties or control its borders. Netanyahu concluded that he and opposition leader Tzipi Livni ‘only disagree about the name,’ i.e. the two-state solution.” 



An Israeli assessment of Palestinian leadership: “Of particular interest throughout the meetings was the subject of the Palestinian political situation. It was widely agreed that President Abbas is currently in a weakened political state, and Israeli officials generally cast a dour assessment of Abbas’s future. In one exchange, Amos Gilad stated his opinion that Abbas will not survive politically past the year 2011. Gilad further stated that Abbas is facing unprecedented criticism within the Palestinian Authority over his handling of the Goldstone report, and that this, coupled with a stubborn HAMAS, has weakened Abbas considerably. The Israelis said the perception in the Arab world was that the U.S. had encouraged Abbas to take difficult positions on Goldstone and settlements only to walk away from him. ASD Vershbow queried Gilad over measures that could be taken to bolster Abbas. Gilad responded by stating that Israeli-Palestinian peace discussions need to be resumed immediately, but without preconditions, and that both parties need to seek further cooperation on a range of issues — specifically on the security sector front. Gilad expressed optimism over the current atmosphere in the West Bank, citing improvements in the security and economic spheres, and further stated that the reduced Israeli Defense Force (IDF) footprint in the West Bank has made conditions ripe for advancing the relationship.” 



This cable, from a 2007 meeting between U.S. Congressmen and Netanyahu, sheds light on Netanayhu’s strategy vis-a-vis Hamas and Fatah: “Netanyahu said Abbas was a ‘nice man who means well,’ but he added that Israel and the U.S. should focus on ‘bringing down Hamas’ through an ‘economic squeeze’…Netanyahu predicted that Palestinians would vote for Abbas if they believe that he can deliver the money. He suggested putting in place an ‘economic squeeze with an address,’ so that Hamas would receive the popular blame.” 


Israel-PA consultations before Israeli assault on Gaza? According to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in this cable: “the GOI had consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas. Not surprisingly, Barak said, the GOI received negative answers from both.”


7. Europeans, particularly the French,are not pleased with their role in peace process: “A sense of frustration and ambition informs the French approach toward the Middle East peace process: they are frustrated that they must rely on the USG and on stubborn parties in the region to end a conflict whose persistence adversely affects their national interests, and they are ambitious to play a larger role in the peace process, in order to facilitate a successful outcome and to enjoy the prestige that such a role would earn them. As a case in point, last week Kouchner had to cancel a planned visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories in part because of the continuing tension there, and in part because of Israel’s refusal to allow him to visit a French hospital in Gaza.”




Germans suggested using Goldstone Reports at UNSC as leverage over Israel’s policy of home demolition: “Heusgen said that Germany ‘perceives this differently’ and thought Netanyahu needed ‘to do more’ in order bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table. With Palestinians in East Jerusalem getting notices from Israeli authorities that their houses will be destroyed, it would be ‘suicide’ for President Abbas to move under the current circumstances. Heusgen said he could not fathom why Netanyahu did not understand this. He suggested pressuring Netanyahu by linking favorable UNSC treatment of the Goldstone Report to Israel committing to a complete stop in settlement activity. Gordon said that making a direct linkage between the two would almost certainly be counterproductive, but agreed that it was worth pointing out to the Israelis that their policy on settlements was making it difficult for their friends to hold the line in the UNSC. Heusgen said this certainly would be an issue when Netanyahu and ‘half of his cabinet’ visit Berlin on November 30 for bilateral government consultations.” 



UAE reaction to Hamas 06 election victory: The UAE ‘felt the Muslim Brotherhood rally behind Hamas’ after its electoral victory in the Palestinian territories, and that the Hamas victory should be a lesson to the West. UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid sounded a note of optimism when he told Secretary Rice February 23 that Hamas, ‘with some pressure,’ would understand the need to respect the will of the international community.” 



Israel loves cooperation with PA: Amos Gilad “noted that Israeli-PA security and economic cooperation in the West Bank continues to improve as Jenin and Nablus flourish, and described Palestinian security forces as the ‘good guys.”

Posted AT


Israel accused over ‘cruel’ Gaza blockade

Report calls for end to embargo, saying easing agreed by Israel six months ago has done little to improve plight of Gaza civilians

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem
Gaza farmer
A Palestinian farmer picks strawberries for export at a farm in Beit Lahia, Gaza Strip, yesterday. Photograph: Mohammed Othman/Demotix

Gaza’s 1.5 million people are still suffering from a shortage of construction materials, a ban on exports and severe restrictions on movement six months after Israel agreed to ease its blockade on the territory, according to a report from 21 international organisations.

The loosening of the embargo has done little to improve the plight of Gaza’s civilians, according to the coalition, which includes Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid and Medical Aid for Palestinians. It calls for fresh international action to persuade Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade.

Israel agreed to ease its restrictions on goods and materials allowed into Gaza following its attack on a flotilla of aid boats in May, in which nine Turkish activists were killed. Since then the import of food and many other consumer items has resumed, although there is still a ban on exports and severe restrictions on construction materials. Israel argues that the latter could be used by militants for military purposes.

Tony Blair, the representative of the Middle East Quartet of the US, the UN, the EU and Russia, echoed the call for Israel to accelerate its easing of its blockade in an interview at the weekend. “There has been significant change in Gaza, but not nearly as much as we need,” he told the Associated Press.

According to today’s report, Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza Blockade, imports of construction materials are 11% of the 2007 pre-blockade levels. Despite having agreed to allow in materials for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to rebuild its schools and clinics damaged or destroyed in the three-week war in 2008-09, Israel has permitted only 7% of the necessary amount.

Many of the thousands of homes and businesses hit during the war are still unrepaired almost two years later because of the shortage of building materials.

Exports remain banned with the exception of strawberries and carnations for European markets. Israel now allows clothing factories to import fabric, but blocks the export of finished items.

But some businesses are still unable to import raw materials they need. According to the report, two-thirds of Gaza’s businesses have closed since the blockade was tightened in June 2007, and the rest are operating at restricted capacity.

Israel is maintaining an overall ban on the movement of people, with the number of permits granted to people to leave Gaza less than 1% of the number 10 years ago, the report says. There has been a rise in the number of businesspeople allowed to travel, “but ordinary Gaza residents are still denied access to their friends and family, and to educational opportunities in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and abroad”.

There has been no change on the “buffer zone” around Gaza’s perimeters, which swallows 35% of Gaza’s arable land and 85% of maritime fishing waters “with devastating impact on the economy and people’s rights and livelihoods … Boundaries of the restricted areas are highly arbitrary and enforced by live fire,” says the report. Since the blockade was eased six months ago, six civilians have been killed and 50 injured by Israeli fire in the buffer zone.

“The so-called ‘easing’ of the Gaza blockade does not change the fact that there’s still a cruel and illegal blockade collectively punishing the entire civilian population,” said Amnesty director Kate Allen. “The only real easing has been the easing of pressure on the Israeli authorities to end this cruel and illegal practice.” Jeremy Hobbs, director of Oxfam, said: “Israel’s failure to live up to its commitments and the lack of international action to lift the blockade are depriving Palestinians in Gaza of access to clean water, electricity, jobs and a peaceful future.”

The coalition calls for renewed international pressure on Israel over Gaza. “There cannot be a just and durable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without an end to the isolation and punishment of people in Gaza,” the report says. “The government of Israel and parts of the international community remain reluctant to fully lift the blockade as long as Hamas holds power in Gaza. Yet upholding the rights and needs of civilians in Gaza must not be conditional on other political objectives.”

In a statement, COGAT, the Israeli military body responsible for Gaza, said the report’s claims were “biased and distorted and therefore mislead the public”. It said the number of trucks entering the Gaza Strip every day had increased by 92% since last June. There were security and logistical issues regarding exports of goods and and the import of construction materials, it added.

“Israel will not allow any hidden agenda party to disrupt the process to which both the government of Israel and the international community are fully committed”.




Israel is in it’s full glory today because of the latest Wikileaks ‘leaks’. As was said in a previous post, Had WikiLeaks didn’t exist, Israel would have had to invent it. It appears that in reality, it was.

Even the Palestinian Authority, Israel’s puppet, has it’s strings tangled over the latest accusations… Cable among hundreds of thousands revealed by WikiLeaks says that Israel tried to coordinate Operation Cast Lead with Fatah and Egypt. A full report from HaAretz can be read here…. Palestinians: Gaza war claim exposed by WikiLeaks is untrue

Israel’s rejoicing in the matter can be seen in a number of articles from the Israeli press…

WikiLeaks fiasco doesn’t embarrass Israel one bit

Netanyahu: WikiLeaks cables prove Israel is right on Iran

Analysis: Wikileaks vindicate, don’t damage, Israel

PM on WikiLeaks: ‘Now World Knows what Arabs Say About Iran’

WikiLeaks: Ahmadinejad Is Hitler


Bottom line is…. not a single criticism of Israel appears anywhere in this latest dump; an impossibility in the wake of the lethal Israeli attack on the aid flotilla last May! Makes one question the validity of the ‘leaks’.  



Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian people

On the occasion of the Palestinian Partition Plan and the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian people, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi calls for recognition of a Palestinian state after years of struggle.

Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative called for the recognition of the Palestinian state after several years that have passed, and after the Palestinian Partition Plan which only resulted with the establishment of the Israeli state on the occupied Palestinian territories and did not comply with the creation of a Palestinian state.

On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, Dr. Barghouthi said “It is now time to end the occupation and put an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people which includes the displacement and uprooting of millions of Palestinian and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital and ensuring the Right of Return.”

Dr. Barghouthi called for the world to change words and decisions into actions which include the recognition of a Palestinian state and to end the injustice that has been prevalent since 1947 which includes the Nakba, Naksa, and the continuous series of crimes of occupation, killing, displacement, looting of land, settlement expansion and the Judaization of occupied Jerusalem.

He asserted that the dangers of the system of apartheid that has been established by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories calls for a boycott, divestment and sanction approach such as the one adopted in South Africa.

Dr. Barghouthi also urged Palestinian parties to restore national unity in order to successfully deal with the risks and future of the Palestinian national state, to raise the popular resistance and steadfastness of the Palestinian people, to increase the mobilization of the international solidarity, to create a type of diplomatic resistance, and to declare a Palestinian state with full sovereignty on all 1967 lands with Jerusalem as its capital and to refuse any solution of a state with temporary borders.




Good for the goose, but not for the gander?

It’s OK for Israel to spy on the United States but the reverse is forbidden? Assuming the following allegations are true, for once, the United States is justified in its actions… 

U.S. spied on Israel’s Washington embassy, claims ex-envoy

Wire-tapping began at some point after 1996 and took a number of years for embassy officials to discover, says Itamar Rabinovich.

The United States broke an Israeli code and tapped the secure phone line in the Israeli Embassy in Washington without Jerusalem’s knowledge.

That revelation about Israeli-American relations did not come from WikiLeaks, but rather from former ambassador to Washington Itamar Rabinovich, in a radio interview yesterday.

rabinovich - Alon Ron - November 29 2010  

Former ambassador to Washington Itamar Rabinovich.

Photo by: Alon Ron

Rabinovich did not say exactly when the code was broken and when Israel found out about it, but it was understood from his remarks that the tap started after his 1993-1996 tenure in the U.S. capital and was discovered only years later.

The former envoy said that every staffer at the Israeli Embassy in Washington is warned about possible leaks of conversations held in the building and on ordinary phone lines, but also on the secure phone line.

After the Americans broke the code, Israel’s deepest policy secrets were apparently exposed.

“Every ‘juicy’ telegram was in danger of being leaked,” Rabinovich told Army Radio’s Razi Barkai. “We sent very few of them. Sometimes I came to Israel to deliver reports orally. The Americans were certainly tapping the regular phone lines, and it became clear that in later years they were also listening to the secure line.”

Wiretapping, code-breaking and intercepting of messages is the province of the National Security Agency. It is no secret that despite intelligence cooperation and an understanding between the two countries that they will not spy on each other, both Israel and the United States have been involved in such actions.

For example, Israel has had involvements with agents like Jonathan Pollard, and stolen sensitive information and technological secrets for its security industries.

No spies caught

As far as is known, American spies have not been caught by Israel’s intelligence services, although there have been instances when U.S. intelligence operatives contacted Israeli citizens and explored the possibility of recruiting them.

The Americans have also used their military attaches to gather information.

Israel believes that over the years, U.S. intelligence services have been listening – or at least attempting to listen – to conversations between key people in Israel and staff at its missions around the world.

For that reason, diplomats going abroad are instructed by the Shin Bet security service to treat every conversation as if it is being tapped and to make sure not to reveal secret information.

However, the assumption was still that the secure phone line could not being tapped.




It is doubtful whether in recent years Israel’s foreign and defense policy received such significant backing and reinforcement as happened Sunday. At least on the Iranian front, and apparently in respect to quite a few other issues too, world leaders – including the Arab world – think like us but are ashamed to admit it. WikiLeaks exposed this shame.

The world thinks like us

WikiLeaks boosted Israel by revealing that most world leaders share our views

Had WikiLeaks didn’t exist, Israel would have had to invent it. The massive leak of US diplomatic documents produces a clear, unequivocal picture: The whole world, and not only Israel, is terrified by the Iranian nuclear threat.

Iran’s nuclearization is not Israeli paranoia, as certain camps try to argue. It makes all world leaders, from Riyadh to Moscow, lose sleep. The Iranian issue is the common thread in the hundreds of thousands of documents that were leaked and it produces a narrative whereby the world expects Israel and the United States, in this order, to do something to stop “Hitler from Tehran.”

Some people feared WikiLeaks’ leaks because of the embarrassment to American diplomacy and the fears that the lives of US agents would be jeopardized. Yet that was a false alarm. The leak does not hurt America’s foreign policy, with the exception of a few tales recounted by junior diplomats.

The leak reinforces the main message of two US administrations – which turned out to be incredibly similar to the main message conveyed by Israeli governments: Iran constitutes the clear, immediate and greatest threat to the world’s stability, and the world needs to act towards uprooting this malignant tumor. All the rest is dwarfed by it.

Israel largely unscathed

Some media outlets indeed tried to make a big deal out of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s supposed order to US diplomatic staff to spy after senior UN officials. However, scrutinizing the documents makes it clear that this had to do with concerns about close cooperation between some UN officials and Hamas Hezbollah. This theme had been frequently raised by Israel too.

In fact, the ocean of leaks has not yet produced an item that casts a negative light on Israel. Netanyahu came out of it (relatively) ok, Olmert came out of it (relatively) ok, and even Mossad Chief Meir Dagan’s statement about the US need to encourage the protest of intellectuals and students in Iran is commensurate with a liberal, democratic worldview and with accumulated experience in toppling dictatorships.
It is doubtful whether in recent years Israel’s foreign and defense policy received such significant backing and reinforcement as happened Sunday. At least on the Iranian front, and apparently in respect to quite a few other issues too, world leaders – including the Arab world – think like us but are ashamed to admit it. WikiLeaks exposed this shame.


The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.


… “the leadership of the Palestinian Authority lacks the courage to undertake such a bold initiative”.

Will the Palestinian Authority declare an independent state … or collapse?
By Stuart Littlewood 

The other day I looked back with sadness on how nothing had changed for the better since my last trip to Palestine three years ago. On that occasion I also visited Gaza, an experience indelibly etched on my memory.

The situation there only goes from bad to worse – intolerably worse. But if I’m dispirited, heaven knows how the average Palestinian must feel as a result of the incompetent leadership they have had to endure these last 63 years… a leadership which failed to coherently argue and convey the justice of the Palestinian cause and never bothered, even to this day, to formulate and put into action an effective communications plan to win freedom.

The Israelis, though accomplished propagandists, are not very bright. In the battle for hearts and minds they have a violent story to tell and a lousy reputation to defend. And it’s getting worse every day. In their greed they score potentially damaging own-goals and leave the moral high ground to their victims.

Their conduct reveal a cruel streak. They trample human rights and show no respect for international law. They are steeped in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Yet the Palestinians shrug and let the endless flow of priceless PR opportunities slip away.

The Palestinian Authority, which is supposed to be leading the fight-back, has little to say to the outside world and the many sympathisers out there. The task of informing and educating is left to a handful of exiles, academics, dedicated internet site operators, conscientious UN personnel like John Ging and Richard Falk, political mavericks like George Galloway, bold ‘freelancers’ like Ken O’Keefe, a host of courageous charities on the ground and rising numbers of students across the globe. Jewish peace activists play a vital role too.

All work hard to keep the issue alive, no thanks to the PA.

The front that Palestine presents to the world remains disunited, chaotic and dysfunctional, just the way Israel and the US like it. Fatah, with a history of sleaze and corruption, has taken on a role similar to that of the hated Milice in World War 2, the ass-licking paramilitary outfit set up by the Vichy French government, with Nazi help, to fight the French Resistance and do much of the Nazis’ dirty work. Parallels with what’s happening now in the Holy Land are unmistakable.

Fatah should remember that when the Nazis were beaten the French people took their revenge on surviving members of the Milice.

Hamas, defending its packed coastal enclave, meanwhile allows itself to be demonised and makes no move to overhaul its image – a puzzling omission and a blunder with huge self-inflicted consequences.

We are watching the sort of self-indulgent and ultimately self-destructive lunacy no-one in this day and age can afford, least of all the Palestinians. Who can blame sympathisers for throwing up their hands in exasperation, crying “Enough! A pox on you all,” and reaching for the ‘off’ switch?

If any real progress is to be made, things must now change drastically within Palestinian ranks.

My own finger was hovering over the ‘off’ switch when an excellent piece by Jeff Halper entitled “Palestine 2011” dropped into my Inbox and made me sit up. When this remarkable man speaks I, for one, listen.

Will a jolt from the outside create “new circumstances for peace”?

For many years Jeff Halper and his organisation ICAHD (Israeli Campaign Against House Demolitions) have closely monitored the Israeli occupation and its sinister methods, sometimes courageously facing the bulldozers and re-building what they knock down. ICAHD’s analyses and other resource materials are essential reading for anyone wishing to properly understand the situation. If you visit ICAHD in Jerusalem, as I have done twice, you can arrange to be taken on a tour to see the awful truth.

“We are at a dead-end of a dead ‘process’,” says Halper, adding: “Israel will
never end its Occupation voluntarily; the best it may agree to is apartheid,
but the permanent warehousing of the Palestinians is more what it has in

Given the massive ‘facts on the ground’ Israel has established in the Occupied Territories, Halper believes the international community will not exert enough pressure to make the two-state idea a reality. Even if they wanted to, the veto power enjoyed by Israel’s sponsor, the US, wouldn’t allow it. “And the Palestinians, fragmented and with weak leadership, have no clout. Indeed, they’re not even in the game….we have arrived at the end of the road.”

However, he predicts that 2011 will create a new set of circumstances in which a just peace is possible, but the necessary game-changing jolt must come from outside the present “process”.

He puts forward two possibilities. The first is a unilateral declaration of independence by the Palestinian Authority on the 1949 armistice lines (the 1967 “Green Line”) together with an application for UN membership. A Palestinian state within those pre-1967 borders, which UN member states, including the US, already recognise, would be accepted by most countries in the world. Such a move would place reluctant powers like the US, Britain and Germany in an awkward position and force the hand of the international community.

The trouble is, says Halper, “the leadership of the Palestinian Authority lacks the courage to undertake such a bold initiative”.

It’s more likely, he thinks, that 2011 will see a continuing deadlock in “negotiations” and the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, bringing to an end the current process. It would be unthinkable for Israel to allow Hamas to fill the vacuum, so it would be faced with the prospect of re-occupying the Territories at full security strength, a massive burden. Such a move would, of course, inflame the Muslim world and generate massive protests worldwide, again forcing the hand of the international community. “Looked at in this way,” Halper observes, “the Palestinians have one source of enormous clout: they are the gatekeepers.”

Jeff Halper throws some welcome shafts of sunlight onto a bleak landscape. But is civil society, in Palestine and abroad, in any shape to seize the opportunities presented by either of these scenarios? Activists, wherever they are, need to prepare for what happens and agree how to react if the Palestinian Authority falls.

“Abbas may be weak and pliable, but he is not a collaborator,” says Halper. Well, he certainly had me fooled. If it waddles like a collaborator, quacks like a collaborator and jumps through hoops like a collaborator, it sure as hell ain’t no patriot duck! Abbas might have created a better impression if he’d carried the fight to the Israelis and the US, demanded the enforcement of international law and UN resolutions, refused to negotiate before Israel complied, and insisted on any subsequent talks being supervised by the UN, not by Israel’s ally, financier, arms supplier and all-purpose bitch.

Far from upholding Palestinian rights, “honest broker” America torpedoes them at every turn even under this peace-prize president. It must be sidelined somehow.

To my mind the international community, with or without the US, could have used leverage to force an end to the occupation any time during the last 63 years, and could do so tomorrow. The great mystery – for many – is why the Palestinian Authority and the Arab community of nations have not explored that angle energetically enough.

It has always been vitally important to counter Israeli propaganda. Abbas should have set up a professional communications unit, trained and funded Palestinian embassies around the world to educate and inform, and orchestrated an effective worldwide campaign.

Why didn’t he? His ‘silent routine’ and reluctance to make waves lend weight to accusations of collaboration. The only information coming out of the PA’s embassy in London, for example, is social ‘froth’ like details of the next concert. Its website hasn’t been updated for since April, which just about sums up the uselessness of Abbas and his henchmen.

Compare this with the slick, always-on-the-ball Israeli operation.

As for Hamas, they certainly have what it takes in terms of raw courage, firm resolve and popular support to fill the void, as they did in the 2006 elections. But they are unapproachable at a time when they need to open up, forge friendly links and defuse the West’s fears and misconceptions. Without a careful makeover and general re-branding they’ll have a hard road ahead and so will their people.

If 2011 doesn’t bring Jeff Halper’s “jolt from outside”, and a dose of salts to flush Palestine’s insides, the ‘off’ switch will remain a serious temptation.



How will you explain this to God?

IDF officers get photo of dead child  

‘How will you explain this to God?’ says letter sent from Spain to homes of officers exposed on ‘war criminals’ website. ‘I’ve gotten used to curses, but when such a thing arrives at your doorstep, it’s very unpleasant,’ reserve colonel tells Ynet

Colonel (res.) Bentzi Gruber, a deputy commander of an Israel Defense Forces division, was at a training base in Tze’elim last week. His wife called to tell him that he had received a letter from Spain, which didn’t particularly surprise him. But when she opened the envelope, she was shocked.

“Unfortunately, I’ve gotten used to curses and scathing words against me, but when such a thing arrives at your doorstep, it’s very unpleasant,” he tells Ynet.

Gruber is just one of the officers who received a threatening poster from Spain, after his name appeared on a website referring to IDF soldiers involved in Operation Cast Lead as “war criminals”.

The poster includes a picture of a young child buried in the sand. His head is the only thing sticking out and he appears to be dead. Two hands in the background, apparently belonging to a soldier, are directed at him. The picture’s caption reads, “How will you explain this to God?’

The letter was sent in an envelope from Madrid to the homes of Colonel (res.) Gruber and several other IDF officers, including Central Command Chief Avi Mizrahi and outgoing Military Intelligence Director Amos Yadlin. Some of the posters include a picture of an injured or dead young woman being held by a soldier. The English sentence is similar.

The army does not know at this stage the exact number of letters sent to the officers’ home. The website included dozens of addresses of IDF officers, most of whom are believed to have received such letters.

Signed: Rodriguez

“When my wife told me what it was all about, I felt bad,” recounts Colonel (res.) Gruber, an Armored Corps officer who played an active role in the Gaza operation due to his senior position. “It’s disgusting. It’s really unpleasant when such a thing reaches your doorstep, but it won’t make me stop doing what I do.”

Since the end of the Gaza operation, Gruber has delivered more than 150 lectures in many countries on the IDF’s activity and ethical code. He admits that he has been met with curses and signs reading “wanted” quite a few times.

“I’ve gotten used to this attitude in some places, but such a letter is much more difficult to deal with,” he says.

Gruber’s exact home address appeared on the same website that was later removed. The letter was signed by “Rodriguez”, and the address is handwritten on the envelope.

“There’s no doubt that it could get worse,” the reserve officer says. “It might even result in real harm to one of the officers. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’m supposed to travel to the United States for a series of lectures, and this is something that cannot be ignored. It’s extremely troubling.”

After Operation Cast Lead, the army placed a gag on the identity of brigade commander for fear of legal proceedings against them. The prohibition was lifted later on, but fears that the information will be misused remain.

The IDF is also checking whether the details published on the website were revealed by a military source. Officials estimate, however, that the information was collected on the Web and did not originate in the army.

“The phenomenon of classifying IDF officers as ‘war criminals’ is unacceptable, and it’s even worse when their homes and relatives are targeted with this filth. We must do all we can to back this officers, while working to reduce this phenomenon,” says a senior military source.


The Website mentioned above can be seen HERE


If it’s OK to crush to death a protester with a bulldozer, why shouldn’t it be OK to shoot out the eye of another protester? According to the Israeli ‘Justice’ System, it IS OK as can be seen in the following…..

Emily Henochowicz being rushed away for treatment after she was hit in the eye with a tear gas canister during a demonstration in May.

Photo by: Daniel Bar-On

Police exonerate Israeli officer who shot canister that hit U.S. activist’s eye

Art student Emily Henochowicz was seriously injured during a protest against the IDF’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in late May.

The Judea and Samaria district police found no criminal wrongdoing in the actions of the Border Police soldiers who left an American art student without an eye after getting hit in the face with a tear gas canister at a protest in Qalandiyah six months ago.

The incident took place on May 31, when Emily Henochowicz, a student at Cooper Union College in New York, took part in a small protest against the Israel Defense Forces raid on the Turkish flotilla to Gaza that morning.

Video footage of the incident shows Henochowicz, who carried a Turkish flag, injured from a tear gas grenade. She lost one of her eyes, and suffered several other fractures. Henochowicz has since returned to the United States to complete her studies.

Following the incident, Henochowicz’s family filed a complaint to the Judea and Samaria district police which is responsible for investigating the operational activity of the Border Police in the West Bank. The family argued the policeman shot the canister directly at the student, against regulations.

Henochowicz submitted her testimony, as did the Border Police batallion commander, company commander and the officer who fired the canister. The Border Police officers claimed the gas canister only hit Henochowicz after it ricocheted off a barricade. The police investigators claimed this version of events is backed by video footage of the incident. The police case has been transferred to the central district attorney to decide whether charges will be filed.

Attorney Michael Sfard, representing the Henochowicz family, slammed the police investigation, dubbing the Judea and Samaria police “a sewage treatment plant for the Border Police.” He said the investigation was negligent, pointing out that investigators did not bother to speak to Haaretz reporter Avi Issacharoff and photographer Daniel Bar-On, who were present at the scene and captured the incident in print and photos.

“Every investigation of killing or injuries ends up emitting this stench of blamelessness,” Sfard said. “This particular case shows that the negligence borders whitewash. Anyone who finds no need to question objective witnesses, who have stated the Border Police officer took direct aim, is obstructing the investigation and is as good as confessing to having no interest in finding the truth.”

When reached for comment, police would only say the case was now with the district attorney’s office.




Photostory: somber holiday under occupation
Sanne Winderickx* writing from Aida refugee camp

The holiday of Eid al-Ahda — the Feast of the Sacrifice — is celebrated by Muslims across the world to commemorate the prophet Abraham’s sacrifice of a sheep in the place of his son Ishmael. Palestine is no different than most countries where the holiday is observed, but with one notable exception: the Israeli occupation. While sheep are smuggled into Gaza from Egypt through underground tunnels, Palestinians in the West Bank face their own Israeli-imposed restrictions. These hardships however fail to dim the generosity, grace and sense of community that mark these three holy days of Eid. 

Israeli military checkpoints limit the access of family visits to the homes of relatives and deny the exit of hundreds of Palestinians wanting to leave the West Bank to make the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. The Stop the Wall Campaign reported that 46 percent of the West Bank will be annexed to Israel once the separation wall is completed, denying farmers and villagers access to their land. More than one-third of the West Bank land is “closed” for Israeli military training and a further 31 percent is controlled by Israeli settlements, according to the UNHCR. The result is that Palestinian farmers including sheep herders are left in severe economic difficulty at a time when business should be thriving.

Despite the Israeli control over the area, the spirit and kindness of the festivities prevails even among those worst affected by the occupation. Curious to experience the true meaning of this special holiday, I visited with families and friends in Aida refugee camp in the Bethlehem district. Situated in Area C of the West Bank — where the Israeli occupation maintains total control — and almost entirely surrounded by Israel’s wall including four military watchtowers that were completed in the area in 2007, the camp’s inhabitants are constantly reminded of the reality of occupation. Yet during the holiday the camp’s narrow streets were filled with people greeting and congratulating everyone who passed by. Boys played with their new toy guns and girls walked hand-in-hand parading proudly in their colorful outfits. One family told me their dream of owning land in order to keep their own sheep. Another insisted on the importance of remembering Palestinian prisoners, often held in Israeli jails with no official charges and little opportunity to receive visits from their loved ones.

At times the festivities were burdened by a somber tone — a constant reminder of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and independence — but somehow I left feeling reconnected with a more than subtle sense of hope and happiness.

All images were taken by Sanne Winderickx during the Eid al-Adha holiday in Bethlehem and the Aida refugee camp.


A Palestinian villager comes to Bethlehem with his sheep, hoping to find a buyer.
Three days before the first holy day of Eid al-Adha, sheep owners gather in a valley behind Bethlehem’s city center to show off their livestock to Muslims who no longer keep their own. Whether you have twenty sheep to sell or only one, this is the place to negotiate the best price for the holiday celebration.
Proud new owners of their sheep load the sacrificial animal onto their vehicle.
Men and boys assess the quality of the sheep.
After the morning call to prayer on the first day of Eid al-Adha, families visit the graves of families and loved ones. While the holiday is meant to be a day of celebration and happiness, for many it is also a day of remembrance.
In Aida Refugee Camp, political prisoners in Israeli jails are remembered by hanging their pictures along the buildings of the camp.
The large size of some families often means that the trunk of the car is reserved for children. But the thought of receiving money and sweets from their relatives makes the trip an exciting adventure not to be missed.
A family event, the act of sacrificing the sheep is done in the home. It is said that only those who witness the slaughter may eat from its meat.
After weighing the meat it is divided equally into three parts. One-third for the family, one-third for friends and neighbors and, as is the tradition, the last third is distributed to the poor who are seldom able to eat meat. Eleven bags of meat have been prepared and labelled which the children will humbly bring to the homes of the families they wish to support.
Throughout the day men walk through the streets of the camp greeting their friends. Children in the streets are entertained by visiting one of the many street stands, bringing a vibrant spirit of unity to the camp to celebrate the holiday.
The second day of the Eid al-Adha holiday brings the family together for a feast of mansaf, a traditional Palestinian meal of lamb, rice and pine nuts.

*Sanne Winderickx is a Belgian freelance photographer currently working in Bethlehem, Palestine where she also teaches documentary filmmaking at the Lajee Center in Aida refugee camp.



Following the lead of DePaul University,Princeton students call for a boycott of Hummus produced in the Occupied Territories..

Much of the battle is, of course, being waged on Facebook. The Palestinian webpage calls for a boycott on Sabra while a competing group, Tigers for Israel, is asking to “save the hummus”. A preliminary tally of votes shows Princetonites are not yet willing to give up the Israeli product.

Princeton students: Boycott Sabra hummus

Palestinian group wants Israeli product removed from campus stores because it serves ‘occupation’

Hummus feeding the ‘occupation’? Next week students at New Jersey’s Princeton University will be called upon to prevent Sabra-brand hummus from being sold at restaurants and stores on campus.

A number of Palestinian students, joined by a Chilean Jew, decided to campaign against the tasty snack on the grounds that it serves “the occupation”.

The boycott attempt is fueled by the Palestinian students’ discovery that the Israeli Strauss company, which owns Sabra together with Pepsi, supports and cares for soldiers from the Golani Brigade.

The Princeton Committee on Palestine decided to hold a vote deciding whether to sell Sabra’s competitors on campus after pointing out the irony that hummus, traditionally an Arab dish, was being marketed by a company affiliated with a state allegedly violating Palestinians’ rights.

Much of the battle is, of course, being waged on Facebook. The Palestinian webpage calls for a boycott on Sabra while a competing group, Tigers for Israel, is asking to “save the hummus”. A preliminary tally of votes shows Princetonites are not yet willing to give up the Israeli product.




On the Gaza human shield case

By Jared Malsin


Majid Rabah, 11, right, with his mother, in their home in Gaza City’s Tel Al-Hawwa neighborhood. Two Israeli soldiers used Majid as a human shield during the 2009 invasion of Gaza. Last Sunday, an Israeli military court let the two soldiers walk free with a suspended sentence. 

My report for Ma’an on the case, published on Tuesday 23 November 2010, is posted below.

Amira Hass also wrote this excellent article on the case, arguing that Israeli generals, not lowly soldiers, should be held accountable for alleged war crimes. Human Rights Watch also released a statement on the matter, calling the suspended sentence a “slap in the face for the victims of violations during Operation Cast Lead.”

Gaza boy used as human shield: I’ll always remember

GAZA CITY — Majid Rabah, 11, says he will always remember the “black day” that Israeli soldiers ordered him to open bags they thought were rigged with explosives.

“Every moment I remember what happened,” he said in his home in Gaza City’s Tel Al-Hawwa neighborhood Tuesday.

An Israeli military court gave a suspended sentence and a demotion Sunday to the two soldiers who used Majid as a human shield, in a ruling he and his family said did not do justice to the trauma.

“When will the child forget what happened? This cannot be compared to three month’s [suspended] sentence,” said Majid’s mother, Fatima Rabah, 49. She added that she didn’t expect justice from the Israeli court system, and would prefer that an international court take up the matter.

“This will give Israeli soldiers a license to do whatever they like to Palestinian children. Many Palestinian children have died from Israeli guns and no one punished them,” she said. Majid himself said he was neither surprised nor satisfied by the Israeli court’s ruling.

Human rights advocates also said Sunday’s ruling sent the message that Israeli soldiers could violate Palestinian’s rights without consequences.

“This ruling implies that it is allowed for Israeli soldiers to use Palestinians, including children, as human shields, without being punished,” said Ayed Abu Eqtash of the organization Defense for Children International.

He said the case against the two soldiers was nothing more than an exercise in “Israeli PR” in the wake of judge Richard Goldstone’s UN-mandated report on alleged war crimes in Gaza.

“Israel wants to show the international community that it is abiding by Goldstone’s recommendations, but these procedures do not lead to accountability.”

Eqtash said the Israeli Supreme Court issued a ruling in 2005 barring the military from using Palestinians as human shields, but DCI has documented 15 cases in which children were used as such since then.

In the most recent documented case, on 19 August, a DCI investigation found that a 13-year-old boy from a village near the West Bank city of Nablus was beaten then forced at gunpoint to open doors in a house where the army suspected a wanted Palestinian was hiding.

Majid was used as a human shield on 15 January 2009, just as Israel’s 3-week offensive on Gaza appeared to be peaking. Israeli ground forces were smashing their way through Tel Al-Hawwa, a neighborhood of tower blocks south of Gaza City.

According to Majid and his mother, when Israeli soldiers began storming buildings in their area, families, nearly 40 people in all, in the building took shelter in the dirt-floor basement. While the others cowered in one corner, soldiers from the Givati Brigade arrived and ordered Majid, in Hebrew, to open two Samsonite duffle bags they found in a bathroom in the other corner.

In an affidavit provided to DCI, Majid gave more details: “The soldier approached me and grabbed my shirt from my neck and dragged me away. ‘He’s a child,’ my mother began shouting. I thought they would kill me.”

“I became very scared and wet my pants,” he recalled, “I could not shout or say anything because I was too afraid. The soldier dragged me 20 meters away. He pointed his weapon at me. He was shouting at me and I did not understand him, so he grabbed me and pushed me against the wall.”

Trembling with fear, he managed to open the first bag, which contained money and personal possessions brought to the basement by another resident in his building. When he was unable to open the other, one of the soldiers grabbed him by the hair, slapped him in the face, then shot the bag with his rifle, he said.

Later that day, Majid’s mother said, soldiers came to the basement to separate men from women and children, who were told to leave the building. Fearing that the men were being arrested, the women and children fled to Al-Quds Hospital, a Red Crescent installation nearby.

That same day, Israeli warplanes bombed the hospital with white phosphorus, forcing patients, hospital workers and hundreds of sheltering civilians to flee amid gunfire and shelling. Majid, his two sisters, and mother left in an ambulance to the Red Cross center in Gaza.




Shouting To Be Heard

By Cecilie Surasky*

Kurt Hoffman

Some inside the Jewish world have asked why a group of 14 young activists affiliated with Jewish Voice for Peace chose to disrupt Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in New Orleans. Five of these young Jews stood up during Netanyahu’s G.A. address to unfurl banners and chant “The occupation delegitimizes Israel” and “The loyalty oath delegitimizes Israel.”

Ours is not the first group to be challenged for choosing tactics of nonviolent direct action. Martin Luther King famously wrote in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”: “You may well ask: ‘Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?’ You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue… Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.”

These young activists went to the heart of the Jewish community to demand that our teachers and rabbis, family members and colleagues stop living in a closed monologue and start living in an open dialogue. Though these activists would have preferred a two-way conversation, the fact is that they, like many before them, had to shout to be heard, to demand that the organized Jewish community confront the truth — that it supports Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation and human rights violations with both money and institutional power.

Jewish Voice for Peace wants open dialogue and debate, and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on fairness and equality. That is the only way to a just peace in the Middle East. But the organized Jewish community works overtime to marginalize the voices of Jews — and others — who support equality between Israelis and Palestinians.

And while our struggle within the Jewish world is personal and painful for us, we know that it is actually Palestinians whose voices need and deserve to be heard. A lasting peace will only be possible when Palestinians are seen as truly equal and their claims no longer ignored — whether in Jewish community forums across North America, or at the diplomatic negotiating table with Israel.

Our young people also interrupted Netanyahu’s speech to remind the Jewish community of its bedrock values, too easy to lose sight of in the face of our fears: “That which is hateful to you, do not do unto another.” They wanted to remind us that no conversation about Qassam rockets in Sderot is complete without also discussing settlers in Hebron who hurl feces, urine and stones down on the heads of Palestinians; the denial of 1.5 million Gazans access to adequate food, fuel, health care or housing; the escalated campaign of arrests aimed at nonviolent human rights activists or the dual standards of law in the West Bank.

But this has been a nearly impossible discussion to have. Over the years, there have been countless attempts to cancel events with Palestinian speakers or critics of Israeli policies. San Francisco’s Jewish Community Federation even used controversial funding guidelines to limit speech on Israel and prevent organizations it funds from publicly associating with groups like ours.

The institutional Jewish world, however, is losing its battle to act as though we don’t exist. We exist. And like it or not, many in the younger generation are starting to hold and act on views similar to ours.

One member of our team of young Jews is involved in her campus Hillel. One graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary. One is a Jewish educator; one a rabbi. One member, an Israeli, lost sight in one eye at age 17 when he was shot by an Israeli soldier at a protest against the separation barrier. Another is an Israeli army veteran. This group is deeply connected to the Jewish world and wants to stay connected.

It is a shame that in a community that claims to welcome the next generation, these young people felt they needed to shout to be heard. When the Jewish world truly listens — not just to these young Jews but also to Palestinians — there will be no more need for disruptions.

*Cecilie Surasky is deputy director of Jewish Voice for Peace.



Omitting basic facts that would challenge the regime of domination, the program focused on platitudes that promoted an undefined peace, excluding any mention of justice. Typical comments from participants included: “I must see the conflict from our joint shared side.” “Our past must not determine our future.” “We should join together to make this future closer to the present.” “I want us to really live like neighbors.”

Arava Institute claims to promote peace, but remains silent on justice

by Adalah-NY*

The Arava Institute’s online event “With Earth and Each Other,” held Sunday, November 14, exemplified why the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions is vital. The event was billed as a celebration of Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians working together for the environment. But it failed to educate viewers about the most basic facts of Israeli policies, and thus simply reinforced the status quo. The event, billed as not “political,” suggested that the Middle East conflict can be resolved if people of different religions and ethnicities are nicer to each other. It presented no information on the fundamental and systematic inequalities that are at the root of the conflict.

Adalah-NY and numerous other groups had urged participants, including religious and environmental organizations and performing artists like Pete Seeger, Dan Bern, and Mandy Patinkin, to respect the Palestinian boycott call and bow out. Arava Institute was targeted for boycott due to its failure to condemn Israel’s on-going ethnic cleansing of Bedouin residents of the Negev desert, where Arava is based, and Arava’s very close partnerships with the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the Israeli government. The Israeli government and the JNF have been instrumental in cleansing the land of the indigenous Palestinian residents and planting over their villages with trees. While Arava extolls international cooperation in service of the environment, they remain silent about Israeli and JNF policies, including, as one recent example, the Israeli government’s destruction (five times in succession) of Al Araqib, a Bedouin village in the Negev, to make way for a JNF forest.

“With Earth and Each Other” was completely silent about Israeli colonialism, settlements, house demolitions, appropriation of water, and uprooting of olive trees. The tone of obfuscation was set in the first minutes when one of Arava’s Israeli Jewish students, Gavriel Vinevgard, introduced himself by saying, “My parents live in the Golan Heights here in Israel.” However, Israel has militarily occupied and illegally colonized the Golan Heights, part of Syria, since 1967. No country recognizes the Golan Heights as part of Israel.

At another point, the narrator gestured to a huge concrete wall Israel built and explained, “Behind me is the wall that separates Israel from Palestine. The water that we share doesn’t recognize the barriers that we build.” But Israel built 80% of that wall inside the occupied West Bank, separating Palestinians from Palestinians, rather than separating Palestinians from Israelis. And Israeli settlers live on both sides of the wall, siphoning off the West Bank’s most plentiful water resources while spewing polluted water into Palestinian communities.

Omitting basic facts that would challenge the regime of domination, the program focused on platitudes that promoted an undefined peace, excluding any mention of justice. Typical comments from participants included: “I must see the conflict from our joint shared side.” “Our past must not determine our future.” “We should join together to make this future closer to the present.” “I want us to really live like neighbors.”

Viewers and participants were told that water, air, and land must be shared by all peoples in the region, across borders. But they were not told that Israel monopolizes these resources for its Jewish residents and controls the borders in order to do so. Israelis use around three and a half times as much water as West Bank Palestinians. Israel is building settlements over two of the West Bank’s three main water aquifers in an effort to keep control of those resources. And in the Negev desert, where Arava is located, Israel denies entire Bedouin villages’ access to running water.

Land distribution is similarly skewed. In the West Bank, where 2.5 million Palestinians live, Israel’s military controls and administers approximately 60% of the land (known as Area C), with 500,000 Jewish settlers directly controlling 42% of the West Bank. Within Israel, Arava’s partner, the JNF,directly controls 13% of the land, and effectively controls 93% of Israel’s land through its role in the Israel Land Administration, renting and leasing only to Jewish citizens. This violates the rights of Israel’s Palestinian citizens, who comprise 20% of Israel’s population.

Pete Seeger opened the hour-long program with a song about Martin Luther King Jr. and the importance of joining together to struggle nonviolently for change. Seeger may not know that most of the Palestinians and Israelis who are nonviolently protesting Israeli rights abuses together in the West Bank also support the economic, academic and cultural boycott of Israel, another proven nonviolent tactic.  Seeger had promised to make a strong statement about Palestinian dispossession during the program, but the closest he came was a tangential reference to the Montgomery bus boycott.

The event leaves the impression of a project to corral idealistic youth into activities of friendly inter-communal cooperation that enforce a strict silence on issues of dispossession.  Palestinians have called for a boycott of these types of activities, similar to the international boycott imposed on apartheid South Africa, because experience shows that they serve as a cover for the entrenching of discriminatory policies. Staged by an Israeli academic institution that calls itself “non-political,” “With Earth and Each Other” was a “feel good” event. The event implied that peace can be achieved without justice, and so unintentionally confirmed the importance of the Palestinian call for a boycott of these sorts of activities.

For more background on the event:

Letter to Pete Seeger from Jeff Halper, Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions,

Letter from over 40 organizations to Pete Seeger (including Adalah-NY),

Letter from 17 groups in the Gaza Strip to Pete Seeger,

Letter to Pete Seeger from Israelis from BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within

Fact Sheet: Boycott the Arava Institute’s “With Earth and Each Other,” Adalah-NY,

*Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel is a grassroots strategic alliance of concerned organizations and individuals in New York, formed to demand an immediate, unconditional, and permanent end to U.S. and U.S.-sponsored Israeli aggression in the Middle East.

Read HERE my post about Pete Seeger’s participation in the event… PETE SEEGER: IN LIEU OF A TRIBUTE


Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

The Palestinian right of return is not for the US, Israel, or Israel’s supporters, to bargain away

by Nima Shirazi*

When discussing possible solutions to the current Israeli/Palestinian impasse during a recent panel discussion entitled “Jewish Perspectives on the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions Movement,” participant Gil Kulick suggested a return to the proposals of the 2000 Clinton Parameters, the 2002 Nusseibeh-Ayalon agreement, and the 2003 Geneva Accords. This would effectively declare the Nakba a Zionist fait accompli and force us to pretend that a wholly demilitarized Palestinian state – existing on 42% of the 80% of the 22% of 100% of their original homeland – is a viable expression of nationhood.  In terms of Israel’s actual legal obligations regarding the Palestinian right of return, Kulick said this: “The right of return will have to be exercised within the Palestinian state…and I think everyone understands that.”

Who “everyone” is was never fully addressed by Kulick or his anti-BDS co-panelist, Kathleen Peratis, who stated during her presentation that the Palestinian Authority would “settle” for relinquishing the right of return.  What both Peratis and Kulick, who also referred repeatedly to the possible concessions to be made by Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad, failed to either point out or understand is that neither Abbas nor Fayyad have any popular political mandate from the Palestinian people.  Whereas both Rebecca Vilkomerson and Hannah Mermelstein spoke of the BDS movement as a non-violent consensus of Palestinian civil society, supported by over 170 Palestinian organizations and encompassing not only the aspirations of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, but also Palestinian citizens of Israel and those in the Diaspora, Peratis and Kulick held firm to the idea floated by the United States and Israel that Abbas and Fayyad somehow actually speak on behalf of the Palestinian people as a whole and can somehow legally and officially bargain away their inalienable human rights and their rights as enshrined in international law.

What should have been pointed out by either the other panelists or the audience is that Abbas is no longer the elected president of the PA, his four-year term having expired on January 24, 2009.  Though theoretically appointed to an open-ended, extended presidency at the behest of the PLO’s Central Council, Abbas actually serves at the pleasure of the United States and Israel.  Additionally, “prime minister” Fayyad was unilaterally appointed by Abbas as a replacement for the  democratically-elected Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in 2007, despite not having any legal authority to do so and in spite of the fact that Fayyad’s own political party garnered a mere 2.41% of the vote in the 2006 elections, the least of any of the six parties running.  Fayyad even resigned his appointed post in March 2009 only to be reinstated by Abbas two months later.

Furthermore, the right of return is not a bargaining chip to be bartered away by the US-approved Palestinian leadership.  It is affirmed repeatedly in international law, from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 13.2) to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 (Articles 44, 46, and 49) and is deemed an inalienable and individual right meaning that it is impossible for any governing or official body to abrogate or deny this right on behalf of an entire people.  As the mere act of “expulsion” is illegal, the right to return after a forced displacement is self-evident.

The 1948 UN General Resolution 194 specifically applies the right of return to the Palestinian refugees. Paragraph 11 states “that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”

This resolution has been reaffirmed practically every year since its adoption with near unanimity.  While it is true that while General Assembly resolutions are “non-binding,” unlike Security Council resolutions, Israel’s admittance to the UN as a member state (Resolution 273) was conditioned on the explicit acceptance and implementation of Resolution 194 and its stipulations. Consequently, Israel is bound, as a condition of membership in the UN, to implement 194 and to facilitate the return of the Palestinian refugees.  Everyday it refuses to do this – which is everyday over the past 62+ years – it has been in violation of its own UN membership and international law.
It is disheartening, to say the least, that Kathleen Peratis, who is a lawyer, demonstrates so little knowledge of these basic elements of international law.  At one point during the panel discussion, Peratis also falsely claimed that Israel’s “legitimacy” as a state is verified by the international mandate of United Nations General Resolution 181.  Yet, not only was UNGR 181 a non-binding resolution, accepted with a vote of 33 to 13 (with 10 abstentions) only after extensive  diplomatic bullying and arm-twisting by both the US and Russia, but it was also merely a recommendation – not an affirmation or creation of anything – that required the approval of both Jewish Zionist and Palestinian Arab for it to be implemented.  As the resolution was understandably rejected by the Palestinian representatives (and only begrudgingly accepted by the Zionists as a jumping off point for continued colonial expansion), it has absolutely no legal authority and by no means legitimizes Israel’s subsequent unilateral declaration of independence in 1948.

That Israel exists is beyond doubt.  That a community of European settler-colonialists had a legal mandate from the international community to establish an ethnocratic state on land inhabited by other people, however, is not.  That Israel can only exist as a discriminatory state that privileges its Jewish citizens should be evidence enough that the concept of what Israel “is” should not only be reevaluated, but also redefined.

*Nima Shirazi is a political commentator from New York City. His analysis of United States policy and Middle East issues, particularly with reference to current events in Iran, Israel, and Palestine, can also be found in numerous other online and print publications, as well as his own website,


One of the most incredible statements uttered by Franco Frattini was that “the Israeli government wanted peace”. Is the man blind? Does he read the newspapers? Wasn’t he briefed by his diplomats before the visit? If he was, and was in possession of the facts of the situation, his statement would be even more scandalous than those made by someone steeped in ignorance.

Birds of a feather?

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (R) gestures during a press conference with his Italian counterpart Franco Frattini at the ministry of foreign affairs in Jerusalem on November 23, 2010.

Franco Frattini is either a fool or ignorant, or possibly both

By Khalid Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem

During his recent visit to Israel and the Gaza Strip, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini revealed rather brazenly his low intellectual capacity, a scandalous lack of honesty as well as stunning ignorance of the situation in this part of the world. He made many strident statements which can be described as, inter alia, hasty, inaccurate, mendacious and ignorant.

While in the small Israeli town of Sderot, a conspicuously complacent Frattini told a group of Israeli jingoists and right-wingers, “You are victims of this extreme entity that is taking hostages its own people and attacking you.”

This, of course, is far from the truth; the people of Gaza are victims of the clear genocidal policies of Israel and Israelis. The Zionist state claims that it withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005. In reality, Israel has maintained absolute control of the coastal enclave’s skies, territorial waters and border crossings. Furthermore, Israel imposed a draconian blockade on that territory, inflicting one of the harshest human tragedies in modern history with its collective punishment of the people of Gaza.

Israel claims that the siege was imposed in response to projectiles fired from Gaza on nearby Israeli colonies. However, the truth is that the siege was an established Israeli policy and the Zionist state has violated ceasefire agreements with Hamas consistently.

In brief, Israel wants to retain the “right” to murder and maim as many innocent Palestinians as possible with absolute impunity and without any response from the victims. Various statements from Israeli rabbis – never disowned by Israel’s political elite – demonstrate that racism is rife in Israel and non-Jews are regarded as inferior beings.

It is tempting to ask how the Italian Foreign Minister could refer to the people of Sderot as victims and the people of Gaza as aggressors when Israel has killed and maimed thousands of Palestinian civilians; 1,400 alone (one-third of them children) were killed during Operation Cast Lead last year; 13 Israelis were killed. It is safe to assume that Frattini wasn’t told by his Israeli hosts that Sderot was built on the ruins of the Palestinian town of Najd from which the Arab population was driven out by Jewish militias on 13th May 1948.

Are Palestinian lives that worthless? Or is Frattini indoctrinated in classical Italian fascism, albeit laminated with a thin veneer of pseudo-liberalism? Frattini told the settlers that Hamas “is taking hostage its own people and attacking you.” Even Israel acknowledges that Hamas has been preventing attacks by some splinter groups.

Does the Italian politician know – or care – that Hamas won the parliamentary election in the occupied territories in 2006, an election that was monitored closely by the international community, including the European Union (EU) and US, Israel’s guardian-ally? And that the election was declared to be “free and fair”?

It is true that the EU and US rejected the election outcome once it became clear that Hamas, not the western-backed secular puppets, was the winner. The blame for this does not lie with Hamas; it is and remains an expression of western hypocrisy, moral duplicity and false commitment to true democracy.

One of the most incredible statements uttered by Franco Frattini was that “the Israeli government wanted peace”. Is the man blind? Does he read the newspapers? Wasn’t he briefed by his diplomats before the visit? If he was, and was in possession of the facts of the situation, his statement would be even more scandalous than those made by someone steeped in ignorance.

How can a government that keeps building illegal settlements on occupied territories really want peace? How can a government that makes withdrawal from occupied territories contingent on the outcome of a referendum, in utter contempt of international law, be a true seeker of peace? How can a government be truly interested in peace when it gives heavily-armed, ultra-right wing Jewish settlers carte blanche to attack unarmed Palestinian farmers and vandalise their property? How can a government that includes in its coalition far-right parties whose spiritual leaders claim openly that non-Jews, presumably including Frattini, are merely donkeys and animals, view peace with its non-Jewish neighbours as a prime objective?

To cap it all, Frattini referred to the “danger” facing the whole world from Iran. What was the man talking about? Has Iran ever said that it seeks world domination if it acquires nuclear weapons? There is one aggressor and aggressive state in the Middle East which already possesses a nuclear arsenal; why didn’t Franco Frattini ask the Israelis about that?

Perhaps the Italian minister and his neo-colonial mindset still thinks that Muslims have to be pacified and kept under control, at the mercy of a nefarious Zionist state. When people like Frattini represent the West on visits to the Middle East, it is a clear demonstration that it is futile for anyone, least of all the Palestinians, to expect Western politicians to do anything to achieve peace with justice for the people in historic Palestine. In any case, as long as their Foreign Minister thinks that the Israelis want peace and Palestinians don’t, Italians can have no constructive role in the region.

Written FOR


As you Americans sit down with your family on this Thanksgiving Day, think of the Gazans that have nothing to thank you for. Think of the over 1500 citizens of Gaza that were murdered with weapons made in your country. Think of the additional 3 BILLION dollars that will be spent on warplanes bound to Israel soon to continue the process of genocide.

Image by Latuff

As you look at the glowing faces of your beautiful children think of the over 5 hundred children in Gaza whose lives were snuffed out because you didn’t care enough to tell your government to STOP SUPPORTING GENOCIDE.

As you enjoy your good health think of the people of Gaza who are denied the basic humanitarian needs including medical supplies, thanks to a siege and blockade that your government has supported from day 1.

Image by Latuff

The following video will help you think about those things mentioned above….. pass your laptop around the dinner table today and share it with your guests…. it’s a must see for all Americans.



Reflections of an ‘unAmerican’ American

As a child in elementary school I was taught many songs about ‘my’ history. One that comes to mind was called ‘My Country Tis of Thee’….
“Land where my fathers died”…… what a confusing line to someone whose father was very much alive…..

Was the system trying to force an identity onto me?

And what about the tales we were told about the Pilgrims, the first Thanksgiving, etc. , etc. What possible significance could these have to a child whose parents immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe just a few years earlier?

And what about the students of Afro-American heritage…. why were they denied a true picture of what really happened to their ancestors? Not until Alex Hailey wrote the book ‘Roots’ were many of the facts exposed.

We were told that America was a ‘melting pot’….. that’s fine, but what about the ingredients in that pot? The school I attended was in a working class Jewish community in the southern part of Brooklyn. We were ‘taught’ that America was a ‘Christian’ nation. What was ironic about this is the fact that those that taught us this were for the most part Jewish. So, just what did that mean? Were we to lose our identity as Jews and start calling ourselves Christians?

Christmas and Easter were both Holidays for us, yet we did not celebrate them at home. Did that make us ‘unAmerican’? Somehow the term ‘melting pot’ did not fit, it was more like a slow cooker where the ‘minority ingredients’ were either burnt away or totally blended in with the other ones in the mix.

There was a sprinkling of non Jews in my school, there were Puerto Ricans whose families moved up north to secure a better life. There were a handful of Afro- Americans as well as some students of Chinese origin. All had a culture of their own, and all were denied that culture…. it just wasn’t American. It was a confusing situation for all of us.

When John Kennedy threw his hat in the ring to become the next President we heard ramblings that he did not stand a chance because he was a Catholic. Were Catholics not Americans? Were we forever to be ruled by the predominant WASPS? Again, a very confusing situation.

Brings to mind a joke that my grandmother used to say to me; You are American born, that means that one day you can become the President…. of the local synagogue…. There was allot of truth in what she said, yet, I was to feel proud to be an American….

The Cold War presented new challenges to our ‘nation’….. “America, love it or leave it!” WTF????? Was dissent not allowed? Was criticism not allowed?? What about the ideals set down by our ‘Founding Fathers’ when the ‘nation’ was established? Was all of that merely documents to be viewed in museums? Were we to believe that the Constitution and Bill of Rights were totally outdated and invalid? On one hand we were taught about the glorious principles of ‘our’ Revolution, on the other hand we were taught that to believe in those principles was unAmerican. Whatever happened to the concept of ‘We the people’? should that be changed officially to ‘We the Sheeple’? Again, a most confusing situation.

So, I ask, where do all of the above ramblings and reflections leave us today? I can only surmise that America is in reality a false nation with false prophets…. am I wrong?

Enjoy the following traditional Thanksgiving treat…

If you get the urge to sing along….. here are the lyrics….

This song is called Alice’s Restaurant, and it’s about Alice, and the
restaurant, but Alice’s Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant,
that’s just the name of the song, and that’s why I called the song Alice’s
You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant
You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant
Walk right in it’s around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant

Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on – two years ago on
Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the
restaurant, but Alice doesn’t live in the restaurant, she lives in the
church nearby the restaurant, in the bell-tower, with her husband Ray and
Fasha the dog. And livin’ in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of
room downstairs where the pews used to be in. Havin’ all that room,
seein’ as how they took out all the pews, they decided that they didn’t
have to take out their garbage for a long time.

We got up there, we found all the garbage in there, and we decided it’d be
a friendly gesture for us to take the garbage down to the city dump. So
we took the half a ton of garbage, put it in the back of a red VW
microbus, took shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed
on toward the city dump.

Well we got there and there was a big sign and a chain across across the
dump saying, “Closed on Thanksgiving.” And we had never heard of a dump
closed on Thanksgiving before, and with tears in our eyes we drove off
into the sunset looking for another place to put the garbage.

We didn’t find one. Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the
side road there was another fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the
cliff there was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile
is better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up we
decided to throw our’s down.

That’s what we did, and drove back to the church, had a thanksgiving
dinner that couldn’t be beat, went to sleep and didn’t get up until the
next morning, when we got a phone call from officer Obie. He said, “Kid,
we found your name on an envelope at the bottom of a half a ton of
garbage, and just wanted to know if you had any information about it.” And
I said, “Yes, sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie, I put that envelope
under that garbage.”

After speaking to Obie for about fourty-five minutes on the telephone we
finally arrived at the truth of the matter and said that we had to go down
and pick up the garbage, and also had to go down and speak to him at the
police officer’s station. So we got in the red VW microbus with the
shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the
police officer’s station.

Now friends, there was only one or two things that Obie coulda done at
the police station, and the first was he could have given us a medal for
being so brave and honest on the telephone, which wasn’t very likely, and
we didn’t expect it, and the other thing was he could have bawled us out
and told us never to be see driving garbage around the vicinity again,
which is what we expected, but when we got to the police officer’s station
there was a third possibility that we hadn’t even counted upon, and we was
both immediately arrested. Handcuffed. And I said “Obie, I don’t think I
can pick up the garbage with these handcuffs on.” He said, “Shut up, kid.
Get in the back of the patrol car.”

And that’s what we did, sat in the back of the patrol car and drove to the
quote Scene of the Crime unquote. I want tell you about the town of
Stockbridge, Massachusets, where this happened here, they got three stop
signs, two police officers, and one police car, but when we got to the
Scene of the Crime there was five police officers and three police cars,
being the biggest crime of the last fifty years, and everybody wanted to
get in the newspaper story about it. And they was using up all kinds of
cop equipment that they had hanging around the police officer’s station.
They was taking plaster tire tracks, foot prints, dog smelling prints, and
they took twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circles
and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each
one was to be used as evidence against us. Took pictures of the approach,
the getaway, the northwest corner the southwest corner and that’s not to
mention the aerial photography.

After the ordeal, we went back to the jail. Obie said he was going to put
us in the cell. Said, “Kid, I’m going to put you in the cell, I want your
wallet and your belt.” And I said, “Obie, I can understand you wanting my
wallet so I don’t have any money to spend in the cell, but what do you
want my belt for?” And he said, “Kid, we don’t want any hangings.”
I said, “Obie, did you think I was going to hang myself for littering?”
Obie said he was making sure, and friends Obie was, cause he took out the
toilet seat so I couldn’t hit myself over the head and drown, and he took
out the toilet paper so I couldn’t bend the bars roll out the – roll the
toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape. Obie
was making sure, and it was about four or five hours later that Alice
(remember Alice? It’s a song about Alice), Alice came by and with a few
nasty words to Obie on the side, bailed us out of jail, and we went back
to the church, had a another thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat,
and didn’t get up until the next morning, when we all had to go to court.

We walked in, sat down, Obie came in with the twenty seven eight-by-ten
colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back
of each one, sat down. Man came in said, “All rise.” We all stood up,
and Obie stood up with the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy
pictures, and the judge walked in sat down with a seeing eye dog, and he
sat down, we sat down. Obie looked at the seeing eye dog, and then at the
twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows
and a paragraph on the back of each one, and looked at the seeing eye dog.
And then at twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles
and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one and began to cry,
’cause Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American
blind justice, and there wasn’t nothing he could do about it, and the
judge wasn’t going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy
pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each
one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. And
we was fined $50 and had to pick up the garbage in the snow, but thats not
what I came to tell you about.

Came to talk about the draft.

They got a building down New York City, it’s called Whitehall Street,
where you walk in, you get injected, inspected, detected, infected,
neglected and selected. I went down to get my physical examination one
day, and I walked in, I sat down, got good and drunk the night before, so
I looked and felt my best when I went in that morning. `Cause I wanted to
look like the all-American kid from New York City, man I wanted, I wanted
to feel like the all-, I wanted to be the all American kid from New York,
and I walked in, sat down, I was hung down, brung down, hung up, and all
kinds o’ mean nasty ugly things. And I waked in and sat down and they gave
me a piece of paper, said, “Kid, see the phsychiatrist, room 604.”

And I went up there, I said, “Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I
wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and
guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill,
KILL, KILL.” And I started jumpin up and down yelling, “KILL, KILL,” and
he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down
yelling, “KILL, KILL.” And the sargent came over, pinned a medal on me,
sent me down the hall, said, “You’re our boy.”

Didn’t feel too good about it.

Proceeded on down the hall gettin more injections, inspections,
detections, neglections and all kinds of stuff that they was doin’ to me
at the thing there, and I was there for two hours, three hours, four
hours, I was there for a long time going through all kinds of mean nasty
ugly things and I was just having a tough time there, and they was
inspecting, injecting every single part of me, and they was leaving no
part untouched. Proceeded through, and when I finally came to the see the
last man, I walked in, walked in sat down after a whole big thing there,
and I walked up and said, “What do you want?” He said, “Kid, we only got
one question. Have you ever been arrested?”

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the Alice’s Restaurant Massacre,
with full orchestration and five part harmony and stuff like that and all
the phenome… – and he stopped me right there and said, “Kid, did you ever
go to court?”

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the twenty seven eight-by-ten
colour glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and the paragraph on
the back of each one, and he stopped me right there and said, “Kid, I want
you to go and sit down on that bench that says Group W …. NOW kid!!”

And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W’s
where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after
committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly
looking people on the bench there. Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father
rapers! Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me! And
they was mean and nasty and ugly and horrible crime-type guys sitting on the
bench next to me. And the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one, the meanest
father raper of them all, was coming over to me and he was mean ‘n’ ugly
‘n’ nasty ‘n’ horrible and all kind of things and he sat down next to me
and said, “Kid, whad’ya get?” I said, “I didn’t get nothing, I had to pay
$50 and pick up the garbage.” He said, “What were you arrested for, kid?”
And I said, “Littering.” And they all moved away from me on the bench
there, and the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean nasty things, till I
said, “And creating a nuisance.” And they all came back, shook my hand,
and we had a great time on the bench, talkin about crime, mother stabbing,
father raping, all kinds of groovy things that we was talking about on the
bench. And everything was fine, we was smoking cigarettes and all kinds of
things, until the Sargeant came over, had some paper in his hand, held it
up and said.

“Kids, this-piece-of-paper’s-got-47-words-37-sentences-58-words-we-wanna-
officer’s-name-and-any-other-kind-of-thing-you-gotta-say”, and talked for
forty-five minutes and nobody understood a word that he said, but we had
fun filling out the forms and playing with the pencils on the bench there,
and I filled out the massacre with the four part harmony, and wrote it
down there, just like it was, and everything was fine and I put down the
pencil, and I turned over the piece of paper, and there, there on the
other side, in the middle of the other side, away from everything else on
the other side, in parentheses, capital letters, quotated, read the
following words:


I went over to the sargent, said, “Sargeant, you got a lot a damn gall to
ask me if I’ve rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I’m
sittin’ here on the bench, I mean I’m sittin here on the Group W bench
’cause you want to know if I’m moral enough join the army, burn women,
kids, houses and villages after bein’ a litterbug.” He looked at me and
said, “Kid, we don’t like your kind, and we’re gonna send you fingerprints
off to Washington.”

And friends, somewhere in Washington enshrined in some little folder, is a
study in black and white of my fingerprints. And the only reason I’m
singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar
situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if your in a
situation like that there’s only one thing you can do and that’s walk into
the shrink wherever you are ,just walk in say “Shrink, You can get
anything you want, at Alice’s restaurant.”. And walk out. You know, if
one person, just one person does it they may think he’s really sick and
they won’t take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony,
they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them.
And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in
singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. They may think it’s an
organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said
fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and
walking out. And friends they may thinks it’s a movement.

And that’s what it is, the Alice’s Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement, and
all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it come’s around on the guitar.

With feeling. So we’ll wait for it to come around on the guitar, here and
sing it when it does. Here it comes.

You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant
You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant
Walk right in it’s around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant

That was horrible. If you want to end war and stuff you got to sing loud.
I’ve been singing this song now for twenty five minutes. I could sing it
for another twenty five minutes. I’m not proud… or tired.

So we’ll wait till it comes around again, and this time with four part
harmony and feeling.

We’re just waitin’ for it to come around is what we’re doing.

All right now.

You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant
Excepting Alice
You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant
Walk right in it’s around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant

Da da da da da da da dum
At Alice’s Restaurant

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