ISRAEL APPLAUDS THE EMERGENCE OF FASCISM IN BRAZIL

Fascist Bolsonaro wins Brazil Elections. During the campaign he promised to move Brazil’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and kick the Palestinian Embassy out of Brasilia.

Image by Carlos Latuff

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Davidi Hermelin, President of The Int’l Center for Public Diplomacy In Israel speaking at ILTV Studio about the evolving relationship with Brazil.

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BREAKING NEWS ~~ MAJOR BDS VICTORY IN ISRAEL

Supreme Court allows US student accused of supporting BDS to enter Israel

Lara Alqasem’s lawyers hail ruling rejecting state’s attempt to bar her entry to study; interior minister calls decision a ‘disgrace’

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that an American student accused of advocating boycotts of Israel can enter the country, putting an end to a weeks-long saga that drew scrutiny of an Israeli law allowing alleged anti-Israel activists to be barred from entry.

Lara Alqasem, 22, has been held in detention for the past 15 days after arriving in Israel for a master’s program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The state alleged that Alqasem, who was a member of the pro-boycott Students for Justice in Palestine group while studying at the University of Florida, supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

In accepting her appeal, the Supreme Court overturned a ruling by a lower court that upheld the ban on her entry under a 2017 law forbidding BDS activists from entering Israel.

US student Lara Alqasem at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on October 17, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

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PRINCIPLED ANTI ZIONISM ~~ A GUIDE

What does principled anti-Zionism look like?  And what might it accomplish?

At its best, a principled anti-Zionism understands that freedom isn’t merely an optimal byproduct of struggle, but its only acceptable outcome.

A guide to principled anti-Zionism

An optimal anti-Zionism supersedes Palestine’s geography.  It likewise transcends ethnocentric interests. Anti-Zionism is a politics and a discourse, sometimes a vocation, but at its best it is also a sensibility, one attuned to disorder and upheaval.  It is a commitment to unimaginable possibilities—that is, to realizing what arbiters of common sense like to call “impossible.”

What, then, does a principled anti-Zionism look like?  And what might it accomplish? Here are some suggestions:

  • It is internationalist in the classic Marxist sense of the term; as such, it informs and absorbs liberation movements around the world.
  • It is anti-capitalist because Palestine will be free only when nobody within its borders is exploited.  (You can agitate for something less perfect, yes, but the language should reflect the limitations of that approach.)
  • It recognizes that mass extinction is earth’s immediate forecast.  Israel has destroyed Palestine’s environment with an array of bulldozers, munitions, and chemical weapons, along with overdevelopment to accommodate settlers.  It is, in short, an ecological catastrophe requiring what Anthony Galluzzo terms a “decelerationist socialism” to avert or at least mitigate our “literal gothic nightmare.”
  • It moves beyond opposition to military occupation.  Decolonization is key. The difference may appear semantic, but it’s actually significant.  In addition to disrupting the colonizer’s physical and political control, decolonization aims to abolish the settler’s psychic influence.
  • It is feminist in both theory and practice.  There’s no pre-patriarchal history in Palestine to satisfy our nostalgia, but this shouldn’t prevent us from pursuing a post-patriarchal future.  It’s critical to decouple visions of this pursuit from Western orthodoxies around sex and gender.
  • It opposes all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.  This principle on its own decisively rebukes Zionism.
  • It is anti-imperialist.  While anti-Zionism and anti-imperialism are coterminous, some elements of the pro-Palestine crowd yearn for a world the USA can dominate without Israeli interference.  Other elements of the crowd have a bad habit of supporting US interventions that either benefit or directly involve Israel (as in Syria). Imperialism executes colonial fantasies of redemption; it has no place in any serious political community.
  • It doesn’t reduce Palestine to a branding device that can be invoked or ignored depending on the mood of editors and prize committees, or an instrument of celebrity to be calibrated according to market fluctuations in the pundit economy.
  • It doesn’t give progressive politicians a pass when they suck up to the Israel lobby.

These suggestions, I realize, risk transforming Palestine into a utopian tableau, perhaps a search for some kind of “Palestinian Wakanda,” as a prominent activist put it at a recent event I attended.  There’s much to be said about the benefits that would come from basic freedoms (travel, medical care, civil rights, housing, and so forth). I see no appreciable conflict between efforts at short-term relief and long-term emancipation.  Upholding principles that maintain the dignity of struggle foregrounds an effective material politics. We oughtn’t surrender notions of possibility to people who adore a stunted imagination.

Moreover, the suggestions don’t simply appeal to Palestine solidarity activists; they also demand that progressive formations take up anti-Zionism.  We’re well past the point where it’s acceptable to dispose of Palestine as a matter of choice or necessity. There’s significant opposition to Israeli brutality on the US left, but hardly any consequence in electoral culture for cosigning or ignoring that brutality.

Done without care, opposition to Israeli brutality can reify other forms of oppression, or it can conceptualize Israel as an aberration from honorable American values.  Israel doesn’t corrupt the United States—nor does the United States corrupt Israel. Both states originated through corruption—as paragons of foreign settlement, land theft, environmental degradation, racial inequality, and labor exploitation—a condition they mutually reproduce within and beyond their borders.  Israel doesn’t distract the United States from its otherwise noble mission in the world; it helps the United States manage a world order beneficial to its ruling class.

Disrupting those benefits is easier than it might seem.  We shouldn’t voluntarily concede to the oppressor, first of all.  The needs of power aren’t our guidepost for liberation; our notions of justice aren’t derivative of colonial logic.  At its best, a principled anti-Zionism understands that freedom isn’t merely an optimal byproduct of struggle, but its only acceptable outcome.

NETANYAHU WELCOMES THE UNWELCOME

“The president of the Philippines isn’t a wanted guest here, and his visit is a shameful diplomatic stain.”

Duterte in Israel: Holocaust, Rape Excuses and Weapons

Duterte in Israel: Holocaust, Rape Excuses and Weapons

Everything the Phillipines’ president has done in his Israel visit so far – and he still has one day to go

Haaretz

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Israel sparked headlines before it even began, and those expecting him to keep causing commotion during the trip were not disappointed.

Here are five highlights – or what some would call lowpoints – of the controversial leader’s four days in Israel, plus Haaretz’s must-read Editorial and a bonus at the end.

1. Defending rape

After landing in Israel on Sunday, Duterte addressed an audience of Filipinos at an event in Jerusalem, where he defended remarks about rape he made a week earlier.

According to a foreign reporter who was at the event, the president listed “democracy and freedom of expression” as justifications for his statement that “if there are many beautiful women, there will be many rape cases as well.”

2. ‘Passion for peace’

The next day, Duterte met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “May we continue to be blessed with a strong relationship,” Duterte said after the meeting.

“We share the same passion for peace. We share the same passion for human beings. But we also share the same passion of not allowing a family to be destroyed by those who [have] corrupt ideologies… In this sense, Israel can expect any help that the Philippines can extend.”

Later that day, Duterte layed a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum – a visit that some criticized as inappropriate given that in 2016, Duterte compared his crackdown on drug dealers and users to the Holocaust.

“Critics compare me to Hitler’s cousin,” he said two years ago. “Hitler massacred 3 million Jews… there’s 3 million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

4. ‘The devil himself’

On Tuesday, Duterte met President Reuven Rivlin and told him that he was encouraging his military to purchase Israeli equipment.

While protesters outside called Duterte a dictator and a criminal, Rivlin brought up his counterpart’s visit to Yad Vashem. “I have to emphasize that the whole of humanity, not just the Jewish world and the free world, felt that Hitler represents the devil himself,” Rivlin said, without mentioning the 2016 incident.

5. Secret stops

Duterte’s public schedule contains no mention of events related to arms transactions, despite the fact that several such events are expected to be on the president’s itinerary, including the display of advanced weapons and equipment.

The sale of Israeli-made weapons to the Duterte regime has come up against public criticism as a result of the human rights violations in the Philippines, and as a result of comments by Duterte that have sparked outrage.

6. A Hitler admirer at Yad Vashem

“The president of the Philippines isn’t a wanted guest here, and his visit is a shameful diplomatic stain.”

ANOTHER RACIST MOVING TO ISRAEL

Roseanne Barr coming to Israel

Fresh off racism controversy, the comedian says she will move to Israel for a few months in order to study with a Rabbi.

Roseanne Barr

Watch this short video to see the rabbi in question’s own racism ….

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach tells crowd: Down with the Palestinians

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Fresh off a racism controversy that got her fired from hr award-winning television show, comedian Roseanne Barr says that she will travel to Israel in order to study with a Rabbi.

‘I have an opportunity to go to Israel for a few months and study with my favorite teachers over there, and that’s where I’m going to go and probably move somewhere there and study with my favorite teachers,’ Roseanne, 65, said on a recent podcast with celebrity Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.

DILEMMAS EXTRAORDINAIRE

What will Israel do with 7 million Palestinians, expected to double their current population in 3 – 4 decades?

 Israel’s existential dilemma
 
By Khalid Amayreh

What will Israel do with 7 million Palestinians, expected to double their current population in 3 – 4 decades?
 
Observers of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have come to realize that Palestinian demographic growth within mandatory Palestine (Israel proper, the West Bank and Gaza Strip) now constitutes the most formidable strategic challenge facing the Jewish state and the Zionist movement as a whole. One Israeli strategic expert called this challenge “the mother of all problems and nightmares facing Israel.”
 
Israel doesn’t ignore the problem, of course, despite its awesome military might and the almost unlimited and unrestricted American backing. Thus the Palestinian demographic “threat” is a constant subject of often acrimonious arguments involving politicians, strategic planners as well as intellectuals, statisticians and  demographers.
 
Never the less, Israeli officials and spokespeople, especially those associated with the Benjamin Netanyahu government’s  harsh  policies toward the Palestinians, are often seen trying to dismiss the issue as just another banal challenge facing the Jewish state.
 
Israeli routinely publishes the latest demographic forecasts on the eve of major Jewish holidays, such as the Jewish New year. However these studies seem far from reliable as statistical manipulation of these studies raises the eyebrows of evenhanded professionals. For example The Palestinian population of Israel is subcategorized into Muslim Arabs,  Christian Arabs Bedouin Arabs, Druze Arabs, and Circassians.  No similar categorization  is listed or mentioned, even fleetingly, when dealing with the Jewish population, although there are many distinctive Jewish groups such as Eastern  Orthodox  Jews,  Haridi ultra-Orthodox, Western Ashkenazi Orthodox, Reform Jews, Conservative Jews,  Chabad Jews, etc.
 
It is widely believed that the ultimate aim of this tendentious manipulation is to present Jews as a united demographic bloc while portraying the Palestinians as a divided  and  heterogeneous population with many sects and sub-sects.
 
More to the point, Israel from time to time publishes politically motivated  reports about the growth of settler population in the West Bank as opposed to a purportedly dwindling Palestinian birth rate. 
 
Notwithstanding, the naked demographic facts seem so imposing and virtually udisputable   that no person valuing rectitude would deny.
 
Predictably, these facts leave a very narrow margin for optimism for Israeli expansionists and advocates of Greater Israel or the so-called biblical irredentism.
 
Last year, a group of veteran military officers raised large signs in Tel Aviv reading: “Israel is about to have an Arab majority” and “ when will Jews become a minority in the only Jewish state in the world”? The protesters, who included prominent former military commanders, also accused the Israel’s right wing government of taking the country to a bi-national state.”
 
The protesters were by no means phobic and the slogans they raised were by no means hyperbolic. They were simply voicing the views of many silent Israelis. And the driving motivation behind their activity was by no means their concern  for the Palestinians and their human or civil  rights but rather their concern for the future of Israel and Zionism.
 
Israeli intellectual Uri Avnery, who died this week at the age og 94, believes the government is hiding vital demographic data, pertaining to Jewish and Palestinian demography, from the Israeli public
 
Avnery pointed out in one of his articles several months ago that the  Palestinian population between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan was either equal to or slightly higher than the Jewish population.
 
For its part, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, a usually reliable think-tank, reported a few months ago that the Palestinian population in the West Bank. Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and Israel proper was  nearly equal to the Israeli Jewish population in the same territories.
 
Palestinians will double their population in 3-4 decades
 
Palestinian as well as Israeli demographers calculate that Palestinians in mandatory Palestine will double their current population  figures within 3-4 decades due to their significantly  higher birth rate. In other words, Palestinians, baring an unthinkable  Israeli feat like expulsion  or some sort of genocide,  would become a numerical majority and Israeli Jews would become a numerical minority.
 
In addition, it is projected that in 50 years from now, Israel will be surrounded by 800 million-1 billion Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa. In other words, Israel would be reduced to  a small island in the midst of a huge sea of Arabs and Muslims.
 
Morbid dreams
 
Israel constantly  whishes  a miracle of some sort would occur and the Palestinian demographic “menace” would disappear or significantly subside. But we are talking about wishful thinking and day- dreaming which is more an expression of deep frustration than a realistic hope. It is also an expression of the deepening historical predicament facing Zionism.
 
True, Israel has always been trying to confine the largest possible Palestinian population within the smallest possible area of land. This is the reason Israeli bulldozers hasten to  destroy newly-built Arab homes in Area-C of the West Bank where Israel, according to the hapless Oslo Accords,  has full civilian and security authority. In the final analysis, Israel wants as much as possible of Palestinian geography and as little as possible of Palestinian demography. This is what Zionism is all about.  Nonetheless, this brashly racist  and manifestly fascist policy will eventually boomerang on Zionism and Israel  as Palestinians are already beginning to increasingly giving up the two-state solution and opting for one democratic and unitary state comprising  Israel and the Occupied Territories.
 
Israel has, whether we like it or not, has  already decapitated, once and for all, any remaining prospects for a viable and territorially contiguous state for the Palestinians. And the Palestinians would rather die than accept  a “dwarfed  state”, e.g., one  without East  Jerusalem, without the repatriation of refugees, and without ending the occupation that began in 1967. Needless to say, any Palestinian leader contemplating accepting such a scandalously dismal deal will most probably not live long enough to regret his folly.
 
Now, with the 2-state solution virtually dead, only two probabilities remain: 1- the one-state solution, which would spell  the end of Zionism, that is why it will be absolutely  rejected by Israel.
 
The other probability is open-ended conflict. That is the most logical scenario for the future.
 
But, once again, what would Israel do with, or more correctly to, 7 million Palestinians, who are expected to double their number in 3-4 decades which is not a long period?
 
Would Israel  poison them? Would it sterilize them to prevent them from procreation? Would it use against them secret but deadly  chemical agents that would make the death of millions look  quite natural? Would it withhold food and water from them? Would it banish them?
 
Or would it concoct some stark cause alibi like carrying out massive bombings of Israeli population centers and then blame the bombings on  Hamas? Or would it simply terrorize them into leaving their homes like Bashar Assad did to millions of “non-conformist” Syrians in active cooperation and collusion  with Russia, Iran and Hizbullah?
 
It would be utterly naïve and too gullible to rule out any of these hair-raising scenarios  especially in light of the likelihood that the US would almost certainly  support Israel, irrespective of the nefariousness  of Israeli actions including possible genocide in which millions would perish. ( some millenarian Messianic Jews are so eager to see an  evangelical president at the White House,  who would grant  Israel a total carte blanch to effect a final solution for the Palestinian issue as evangelical Christian Zionists are thoroughly convinced that Israel should be allowed to implement the Lord’s will)!.
 
In light, it is essential the Palestinians remain quite vigilant and steadfast because steadfastness  (e.g. preserving and consolidating  the demographic card) is the only winning card we possess and if we win it we win everything and if we  lose it we lose everything.
 
Finally, we must carefully refrain from giving Israel a pretext to take  draconian or unthinkable measures against our very existence.  Wining the demographic card is not only a matter of procreation. It is also a matter of wisdom, winning more friends, non-violence, resilience, and patience.

Related thoughts …

Israel is neither truly Jewish nor truly democratic
 
B Khalid Amayreh
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The usual mantra Israeli spokespersons and PR spinners routinely invoke to bamboozle people unfamiliar with Israel’s brutal treatment of Palestinians  is that Israel is both Jewish and democratic.
 
The truth of the matter, however, is that Israel is neither truly Jewish nor truly democratic.
 
To be truly Jewish, one should adhere to the tenets of the Torah, the central scripture of Judaism.
 
Israel doesn’t do that, apart from occasionally paying lip service to holidays and religious symbols as well as some historical events whose authenticity is highly questionable.
 
Otherwise, Israel is a hotbed of all sorts of vices and immoralities, including murder, theft, adultery, sodomy, and idolatry.
 
I am confident that if Moses the Prophet  were to appear today and see what has become of the very people who claim adherence to him, and the Torah and Ten Commandments he received , he wouldn’t hesitate to say: “sorry, but I’m not a Jew!”
 
In fact, a deep and honest appraisal of Israel should unravel the clarion reality that the so-called Jewish state is not only far from encapsulating the true prophetic traditions of Judaism, but is in fact an idolater antithesis of Judaism. One Orthodox rabbi described Israel as “the modern Golden Calf.” His description is not far-fetched.
 
For example, the Torah exhorts Israelites to treat “strangers amongst you” respectfully and honorably… because you were strangers yourselves in the land of the Pharaohs.”
 
Another example is the “Golden Rule” many Zionist Jews love to quote when speaking to non-Jewish audiences: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary”.
 
This golden rule, established by the Babylonian rabbi Hillel HaGadol, or Hillel HaZaken,  purportedly treats all humans as equal.
 
Unfortunately, we often see that the very same Zionists who invoke Hillel’s golden rule happened to be amongst the most vociferous defendants of Israel’s fascist and evil  behavior, especially its manifestly criminal treatment of the Palestinian people. Israel actually is a sea of oppression and inequity as far as the Palestinians are concerned. Israel tried every conceivable act of savagery and barbarianism against a people whose only “crime” is that they don’t belong to the “holy tribe.”
 
 
Commenting on the ongoing and seemingly unending Palestinian plight, the great Spanish writer Santiago Alba-Rico wrote:   “Perhaps Palestinians are not the most punished people on earth, but they are indeed the most openly punished people on earth; perhaps they are not the people who have suffered the most but they are the people whose sufferings are the most uninterruptedly visible. Paradoxically, this visibility (beyond the lies) makes the victims even more vulnerable; it confers a kind of biblical dimension to the aggression.”
 
In truth, the gargantuan oppression meted out to Palestinians by Israel should compel all honest people under the sun to consider Israel as no less than a gigantic crime against humanity, a crime no less horrendous and no less diabolical than history’s worst.
 
The Democracy claim?
 
I don’t deny that Israel does have many democratic features, including regular elections, a vigorous media and a lot of checks and balances.
 
However, we can’t ignore the fact that Israeli democracy is plagued with many crippling flaws which very much eviscerate that democracy of its democratic essence, rendering it a sham democracy.
 
Take for example the definition of Israel as a Jewish state first and a democratic state second. This unequivocally means that “Jewishness” always comes first and that democracy always comes a distant second.
 
So, one really wonders: How can Israel be Talmudic and democratic at the same time? This is more than a procedural paradox. This is a pure eternal oxymoron.
 
This structural built-in scandal has been enshrined into a law. Dubbed as the Nationality Law, whereby only “Jews” in Israel have the right to self-determination. The fascist camp in the Jewish state , including the Likud, Bayt Hayehudi and Avigdor  Lieberman’s party, have been trying desperately to defend the brashly fascist piece of legislation. Netanyahu, who has the gift of gab, but suffers from conspicuous intellectual shallowness, challenged critics to name a single Arab citizen whose rights have been undermined or compromised by the law. One Arab Knesset member retorted, asking Netanyahu to name a single individual Jew who was targeted by the laws of Nazi Germany.
 
The moral here is that once you target an entire group of people, you effectively target every member of the group.
 
Besides, the Arab citizens of Israel are not new comers to the land. In fact one can safely claim that 99% of Israeli Arabs predated 99% of Israeli Jews in Israel\Palestine.
 
More to the point, there are a thousand evidences corroborating the view that Israel is more a real shamocracy than a real  democracy.
 
We who live in this country know too well that Jews and non-Jews who commit the same crime don’t receive similar punishments. The non-Jew receive an extremely harsh punishment whereas the Jew receives an extremely lenient punishment.
 
The Israel press have reported cases of Jews convicted of murdering rather premeditatedly African refugees and only receiving a few months in jail. There are Thousands of examples illustrating the inherently racist and scandalously duplicitous justice system in Israel.
 
A truly democratic state gives equal weight to lives of people, irrespective of their creed and race. In Israel, however, your life carries a weight and has sanctity only if you are Jewish.
 
In 2014, the Israeli army mercilessly murdered hundreds of innocent Palestinians in Gaza who Israel admitted were totally “uninvolved” in hostilities.
 
However, the Israeli Military Advocate General found no criminal wrongdoing in the  army’s conduct. Israel concocts all sorts of mendacities,  prevarications  and verbal juggling to conceal the truth and make it look nebulous.
 
However, we all know deep in our hearts that the real reason for Israel’s refusal or reluctance  to carry out a meaningful investigation into the Nazi-like  massacres of Palestinians, carried out knowingly and deliberately, has to do with Israel’s racist perception of   non-Jewish lives.
 
Hence, it would be a sort of fornication with truth to claim that Israel is a democratic state.  In fact, it is an insult to language to call Israel a democratic state.

BELLA CIAO URI AVNERY ~~ A TRUE FRIEND ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL

Veteran left-wing journalist, lawmaker and peace activist Uri Avnery died Monday at age 94 in Tel Aviv.

The Gush Shalom founder was one of the first Israelis to actively seek a Palestinian state as a peaceful solution to the conflict: ‘The difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist depends on your perspective’

Uri Avnery, Veteran Peace Activist and Among First Israelis to Meet Arafat, Dies at 94

Ofer Aderet

 

Veteran left-wing journalist, lawmaker and peace activist Uri Avnery died Monday at age 94 in Tel Aviv. A founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement, Avnery was also one of the first Israelis to actively advocate for the establishment of a Palestinian state, more than 70 years ago.

As a youth he fought with the Irgun pre-state underground militia and later in life moved to the left of the political spectrum. He was also editor-in-chief of the iconic liberal weekly, Haolam Hazeh, for 40 years.

The eternal peace activist never shirked controversy and was involved in fateful events in the country’s history, some of which he documented and others he actively took part in shaping. But while Avnery’s supporters saw his ideas as groundbreaking, detractors denounced him as an enemy of the people.

Avnery asked to be cremated, for his archives to be donated to the National Library, and his money toward peace activism. He summarized his life by noting that while his ideals “won a resounding victory” theoretically, in practice they “were defeated politically.”

Avnery was born in Germany in 1923 as Helmut Ostermann. He grew up in Hannover as one of four offspring of a comfortable, bourgeois family. The family immigrated to British Mandatory Palestine in November 1933, a few months after Hitler rose to power. After a few months at Nahalal in the north, the family moved to Tel Aviv, where he lived until his death.

Avnery started his political career on the right side of the political map. He said that as a youth he admired Zeev Jabotinsky and saw himself as a Revisionist. In 1938, when he was 15, he joined the Irgun to fight the British forces “for the right to our own state,” as he put it. “I was convinced that we deserved independence, just like everyone else,” he recalled.

In an interview with Haaretz in April 2014, Avnery said of his activities with the Irgun: “I distributed leaflets [during a period when the Irgun killed many people], and as such I bear responsibility. The Irgun planted bombs in markets in Jaffa and in Haifa, which killed dozens of women and children, and I supported that.”

Vocation in life

In his Hebrew-language memoir “Optimi” (“Optimistic”), Avnery wrote that his service with the Irgun taught him political lessons for later on his career: “We were freedom fighters,” he wrote. “In my eyes, the British authorities were a terrorist organization. Back then, I learned that the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist depends on your perspective.”

Three years later, he dropped out of the underground militia. “The Irgun’s war against the Arabs bothered me a great deal. I was very much opposed to their anti-Arab line,” he said. He later explained he believed that, just as the Jews had the right to a national life, “The Arabs in the country have the same right.”

His older brother, Werner, joined the British army at that time and committed suicide during his service. Afterward, Uri adopted the name “Avnery” as his surname for its resemblance to the name “Werner.”

From a young age, Avnery saw himself as a politician. As someone whose life had changed completely as a result of politics – Hitler’s rise to power in his homeland – he saw it as the most significant vocation in life.

Initially, Avnery favored the idea of a single state, one in which a new people would arise as a union of two peoples – the Arabs and the Hebrews. The idea was espoused by the movement he established in 1946 which was called Bama’avak (“The Struggle,” aka The Young Israel).

He believed at that time that the national Hebrew movement was a natural ally of the Arab nation, and advocated cooperation between both movements under a joint name. “This is an ideal built on a culture partnership of homeland and history,” he said.

Accordingly, Avnery was disappointed on November 29, 1947, when the United Nations ratified the UN Partition Plan. “I couldn’t accept the partition of the country. Tul Karm, Hebron and Nablus were my country,” he said, adding, “The joy over carving up the country into pieces angered me a great deal. I dreamed of a joint national movement based on a common love of the land.”

This ideal didn’t withstand the test of reality. During the War of Independence in 1948-49, he discovered that “the vision of joint life in the country had died.” He later said: “I was a peace activist before the war, but the war was existential – a matter of life and death.”

Avnery served in the “Samson Foxes” commando unit. He was seriously wounded during the final days of the war, while fighting in the Kiryat Gat region. The worldview he adhered to until his dying day was formed during the period in which he was hospitalized for his wounds. One of those beliefs was the two-state solution.

In his memoir he wrote: “The war totally convinced me there’s a Palestinian people, and that peace must be forged first and foremost with them. To achieve that goal, a Palestinian nation-state had to be established.”

In this sense, Avnery was a groundbreaker. “During that period, there weren’t even 10 people in the world who believed in that,” he declared. “But today, it’s a global consensus. Even Netanyahu – who doesn’t think of realizing it – has been forced to say he supports it,” he wrote, referring to the prime minister’s “two-state speech” at Bar-Ilan University in 2009.

Avnery published his impressions of the war in Haaretz and Haaretz’s evening paper, Yom, Yom, while the fighting raged. At the end of the war, he compiled them in his first book, “In the Fields of the Philistines, 1948,” which became a best seller and briefly made Avnery a national hero.

But he felt the book did not provide a full description of the war, so in 1950 he published a follow-up, “The Other Side of the Coin,” which described the war’s darker side. Its publication stirred outrage and turned Avnery from “a popular man to top of the list of hated people; from a beloved person to someone who smeared Israel’s name,” as he put it.

In 1949, at the young age of 25, Avnery was appointed chief editorial writer at Haaretz. He left soon after, though, citing political differences with the newspaper’s then-editor, Gershom Shoken.

In 1950, Avnery and his friends purchased the Haolam Hazeh weekly news magazine from its founder, Uri Cesari. Avnery became its editor-in-chief for the next 40 years, and under his stewardship Haolam Hazeh became antiestablishment, subversive, sensationalist and a consensus-breaker. It operated under the legendary slogan “Without Fear, Without Prejudice.”

Avnery expressed his worldview in a number of areas: Opposition to worship of the military; religious coercion; the absence of a democratic constitution; discrimination against ethnic groups; and David Ben-Gurion’s anti-Arab policy.

The weekly sought to crusade against establishment corruption. It published a list of hard-hitting investigative pieces and exposed public and political scandals. Then-Shin Bet security service head Isser Harel defined Avnery at the time as “Government Enemy No. 1.” Ben-Gurion dubbed the magazine “that certain weekly.”

Alongside its political and social agenda, Haolam Hazeh also dabbled in tabloid journalism, publishing trashy gossip stories and photographs of naked women. This combination was seen by many as a journalistic revolution, in terms of both writing style and the magazine’s approach. The weekly also proved controversial, with its editorial offices being bombed on several occasions and its archive completely destroyed following an arson attack in 1972.

Avnery received belated recognition for his journalistic endeavors in 2004 when he won the Sokolov lifetime achievement award.

Political movement

In addition to journalism, Avnery increasingly became more political. In 1965, after the Knesset passed a law against defamation – which Avnery saw as specifically targeting his news magazine – he established a radical protest movement called Haolam Hazeh – Koah Hadash (New Force).

The movement’s political platform incorporated the values of liberty, equality and peace. Avnery was elected to the Knesset on this platform in November 1969 and was reelected four years later. His parliamentary activities included tackling religious coercion, promoting civil marriage, denuclearizing the Middle East and gay rights.

In his eyes, his biggest political mistake was voting in favor of the unification of Jerusalem after the Six-Day War in 1967. He subsequently explained his vote as an attempt to prevent the restoration of East Jerusalem to Jordanian rule, based on the hope of realizing a two-state solution and turning a united Jerusalem into the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state.

Avnery later returned to the Knesset in 1979 as a founding member of the Sheli party (aka Left Camp of Israel). In a speech that year in favor of ratifying the peace treaty with Egypt, he said: “They say we will have a small country, but there is no greater mistake than this. Peace doesn’t reduce the size of the country. It enlarges it exponentially. In another year, we’ll get in our cars and drive on the weekends to Cairo and Alexandria. Two days later, we’ll take the train to Damascus and Aleppo, we’ll fly to Algiers and Baghdad, we’ll sail to Casablanca and Sudan. When you wake up in the morning to the sight of the pyramids outside your hotel window, as happened to me, it will be like a dream. Is this a utopia? That word doesn’t frighten us.”

In his valedictory Knesset speech in 1981 (as he relinquished his seat to an Arab lawmaker), Avnery was the first lawmaker to present the Palestinian flag alongside the Israeli one. “Those who couldn’t believe yesterday that Sadat would ever speak here will not be able to believe that someday Yasser Arafat will speak here,” he said.

Avnery was one of the first Israelis to have contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization. He had his first contacts with an Arafat envoy in 1974, which led to his founding the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace in December 1975.

In July 1982, at the height of the first Lebanon war, Avnery met with PLO chief Arafat in Beirut – the first time Israelis had met with the Palestinian leader. Avnery said at that meeting: “The fact that we are sitting here together in the middle of this terrible war is a sign that in the future our two peoples will find a solution to coexist. Palestinians and Israelis. I believe there will be a Palestinian state alongside Israel and both sides will live together in peace in two countries that, little by little, will develop good neighborly relations, and even better.”

Several cabinet members called for Avnery to be put on trial for high treason, but the attorney general decided no crime had been committed.
Avnery and Arafat met a dozen more times in the years that followed.

Human shield 

In 1993, months after then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin expelled hundreds of Islamic activists to Lebanon, Avnery established Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc) – a movement that supported the establishment of a Palestinian state, making Jerusalem the capital of both countries and dismantling the settlements in Palestinian territory.

A year later, when Arafat returned to Gaza, he invited Avnery to his reception and sat alongside him on the podium. In 2003, during the second intifada, Avnery spent time at the presidential compound in Ramallah, operating as a “human shield” for Arafat – for fear Israel might attempt to assassinate him.

Avnery had many critics who opposed his politics and ideology. Extremists labeled him a traitor and slanderer of Israel. While editor of Haolam Hazeh, he was subjected to physical attacks and once had both his arms broken after being ambushed. In 1975, he was seriously wounded after an assailant stabbed him on his own doorstep.

Avnery, and many in his circle, admitted he had some difficulties when it came to people skills. A friend once said: “Avnery is disabled like Trumpeldor was. Trumpeldor lacked an arm; Avnery lacks feeling.” The activist wrote in his memoir: “There’s something wrong with my emotional relations with people. And the worst thing about it is, I don’t really care.”

He said he only ever told his wife, Rachel, he loved her when she was on her deathbed, and that he had never cried – not even during funerals for his comrades in arms. His rivals would delight in highlighting his deficiencies as expressed in his mother’s will. She left him no inheritance “since he didn’t take care of me and instead went to visit that murderer Yasser Arafat.”

Avnery published seven books and a vast number of articles in various publications, including in the pages of Haaretz. “Optimist” was published around the time of his 90th birthday. “I feel like an imposter,” he said at an event marking his birthday. “Someone wrote by mistake that I’m 90 – I feel half that age.”

Avnery ended his life with mixed feelings. On the one hand, he was convinced he had turned his political ideas – first and foremost his support for establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel – into a “global consensus.” On the other, he admitted he had failed to realize these ideas politically. “Life goes on, the struggle continues. Tomorrow is a new day,” he wrote on the last page of his memoir.

His wife, Rachel, a teacher and ideological partner, died in 2011. They were partners for 58 years and chose not to have any children.

EYEWITNESS TO ISRAELI TERROR

Eyewitness onboard boat to Gaza says Israeli forces beat passengers and stole thousands of dollars, antibiotics during raid

Dr. Swee Ang is a medical doctor and was a passenger onboard the al-Awda, a ship headed to Gaza as part of the Freedom Flotilla. The Israeli navy commandeered the vessel on July 29, 2018.

The last leg of the journey of al-Awda (the boat of return) was scheduled to reach Gaza on 29 July 2018. We were on target to reach Gaza that evening. There are 22 on board including crew with $15,000 of antibiotics and bandages for Gaza. At 12.31 p.m. we received a missed call from a number beginning with +81… Mikkel was steering the boat at that time. The phone rang again with the message that we were trespassing into Israeli waters. Mikkel replied that we were in International waters and had right of innocent passage according to maritime laws. The accusation of trespassing was repeated again and again with Mikkel repeating the message that we were sailing in international waters. This carried on for about half an hour, while al-Awda was 42 nautical miles from the coast of Gaza.

Dr. Swee Ang. (Photo: Blizard Institute
Queen Mary University of London)

Prior to the beginning of this last leg, we had spent two days learning non-violent actions and had prepared ourselves in anticipation of Israeli invasion of our boat. Vulnerable individuals especially those with medical conditions were to sit at the rear of the top deck with their hands on the deck table. The leader of this group was Gerd, a 75-year-old elite Norwegian athlete and she had the help of Lucia, a Spanish nurse in her group.

The people who were to provide non-violent barrier to the Israelis coming on deck and taking over the boat formed three rows – two rows of threes and the third row of two persons blocking the wheel house door to protect the wheel house for as long as possible. There were runners between the wheel house and the rear of the deck. The leader of the boat Zohar and I were at the two ends of the toilets corridor where we looked out at the horizon and inform all of any sightings of armed boats. I laughed at Zohar and said we are the Toilet Brigade, but I think Zohar did not find it very funny. It was probably bad taste under the circumstances. I also would be able to help as a runner and will have accessibility to all parts of the deck in view of being the doctor on board.

Soon we saw at least three large Israeli warships on the horizon with five or more speed boats (Zodiacs) zooming towards us. As the Zodiacs approached I saw that they carried soldiers with machine guns and there was on board the boats large machine guns mounted on a stand pointing at our boat. From my lookout point the first Israeli soldier climbed on board to the cabin level and climbed up the boat ladder to the top deck. His face was masked with a white cloth and following him were many others, all masked. They were all armed with machine guns and small cameras on their chests.

They immediately made to the wheel house overcoming the first row by twisting the arms of the participants, lifting Sarah up and throwing her away. Joergen the chef was large to be manhandled so he was tasered before being lifted up. They attacked the second row by picking on Emelia the Spanish nurse and removed her thus breaking the line. They then approach the door of the wheel house and tasered Charlie the first mate and Mike Treen who were obstructing their entry to the wheel house. Charlie was beaten up as well. Mike did not give way with being tasered in his lower limbs so he was tasered in his neck and face. Later on I saw bleeding on the left side of Mike’s face. He was semi-conscious when I examined him.

They broke into the wheel house by cutting the lock, forced the engine to be switched off and took down the Palestine flag before taking down the Norwegian flag and trampling on it.

They then cleared all people from the front half of the boat around the wheel house and moved them by force and coercion, throwing them to the rear of the deck. All were forced to sit on the floor at the back, except Gerd, Lucy and the vulnerable people who were seated around the table on wooden benches around her. Israeli soldiers then formed a line sealing off people from the back and preventing them from coming to the front of the boat again.

As we entered the back of the deck we were all body searched and ordered to surrender our mobile phones or else they will take it by force. This part of search and confiscation was under the command of a woman soldier. Apart from mobile phones – medicines and wallets were also removed. No one as of today (4 August 2018) got our mobile phones back.

I went to examine Mike and Charlie. Charlie had recovered consciousness and his wrists were tied together with plastic cable ties. Mike was bleeding from the side of his face, still not fully conscious. His hands were very tightly tied together with cable ties and the circulation to his fingers was cut off and his fingers and palm were beginning to swell. At this stage the entire people seated on the floor shouted demanding that the cable ties be cut. It was about half an hour later before the ties were finally cut off from both of them.

Around this time Charlie the first mate received the Norwegian flag. He was visibly upset telling all of us that the Norwegian flag had been trampled on. Charlie reacted more to the trampling of the Norwegian flag than to his own being beaten and tasered.

The soldiers then started asking for the captain of the boat. The boys then started to reply that they were all the captain. Eventually the Israelis figured out that Herman was the captain and demanded to take him to the wheel house. Herman asked for someone to come with him, and I offered to do so. But as we approached the wheel house, I was pushed away and Herman forced into the wheel house on his own. Divina, the well known Swedish singer, had meanwhile broken free from the back and went to the front to look through the window of the wheel house. She started to shout and cry “Stop –stop they are beating Herman, they are hurting him”.  We could not see what Divina saw, but knew that it was something very disturbing. Later on, when Divina and I were sharing a prison cell, she told me they were throwing Herman against the wall of the wheel house and punching his chest. Divina was forcibly removed and her neck was twisted by the soldiers who took her back to the rear of the deck.

I was pushed back to the rear of the boat again. After a while the boat engine started. I was told later by Gerd who was able to hear Herman tell the story to the Norwegian Consul in prison that the Israelis wanted Herman to start the engine, and threatened to kill him if he would not do so. But what they did not understand was that with this boat, once the engine stopped it can only be restarted manually in the engine room in the cabin level below. Arne the engineer refused to restart the engine, so the Israelis brought Herman down and hit him in front of Arne making it clear that they will continue to hit Herman if Arne would not start the engine. Arne is 70 years old, and when he saw Herman’s face went ash color, he gave in and started the engine manually. Gerd broke into tears when she was narrating this part of the story. The Israelis then took charge of the boat and drove it to Ashdod.

Once the boat was on course, the Israeli soldiers brought Herman to the medical desk. I looked at Herman and saw that he was in great pain, silent but conscious, breathing spontaneously but shallow breathing. The Israeli Army doctor was trying to persuade Herman to take some medicine for pain. Herman was refusing the medicine. The Israeli doctor explained to me that what he was offering Herman was not army medicine but his personal medicine. He gave me the medicine from his hand so that I could check it. It was a small brown glass bottle and I figured that it was some kind of liquid morphine preparation probably the equivalent of Oramorph or Fentanyl. I asked Herman to take it and the doctor asked him to take 12 drops after which Herman was carried off and slumped on a mattress at the back of the deck. He was watched over by people around him and fell asleep. From my station I saw he was breathing better.

With Herman settled I concentrated on Larry Commodore, the Native American leader and an environmental activist. He had been voted Chief of his tribe twice. Larry has labile asthma and with the stress all around my fear was that he might get a nasty attack, and needed adrenaline injection. I was taking Larry through deep breathing exercises. However Larry was not heading for an asthmatic attack, but was engaging an Israeli who covered his face with a black cloth in conversation. This man was obviously in charge.

I asked for the Israeli man with black mask his name and he called himself Field Marshall Ro…..Larry misheard him and jumped to conclusion that he called himself Field Marshall Rommel and shouted how can he an Israeli take a Nazi name. Field Marshall objected and introduced himself as Field Marshall ? Ronan. As I spelt out Ronan he quickly corrected me that his name is Ronen, and he Field Marshall Ronen was in charge.

The Israeli soldiers all wore body cameras and were filming us all the time. A box of sandwiches and pears were brought on deck for us. None of us took any of their food as we had decided we do not accept Israeli hypocrisy and charity. Our chef Joergen had already prepared high calorie high protein delicious brownie with nuts and chocolate, wrapped up in tin foil to be consume when captured, as we know it was going to be a long day and night. Joergen called it food for the journey. Unfortunately when I needed it most, the Israelis took away my food and threw it away. They just told me ”It is forbidden” I had nothing to eat for 24 hours, refusing Israeli Army food and had no food of my own.

As we sailed towards Israel we could see the coast of Gaza in total darkness. There were three drilling rigs in the northern sea of Gaza. The brightly burning oil flames contrasted with the total darkness the owners of the fuel were forced to live in. Just off the shore of Gaza are the largest deposit of natural gas ever discovered and the natural gas belonging to the Palestinians were already being siphoned off by Israel.

As we approached Israel, Zohar our boat leader suggested that we should start saying goodbye to each other. We were probably two to three hours from Ashdod. We thanked our boat leader, our captain, the crew, our dear chef, and encouraged each other that we will continue to do all we can to free Gaza and also bring justice to Palestine. Herman our Captain, who managed to sit up now, gave a most moving talk and some of us were in tears.

We knew that in Ashdod there will be the Israeli media and film crews. We will not enter Ashdod as a people who had lost hope as we were taken captive. So we came off the boat chanting “Free Free Palestine” all the way as we came off. Mike Treen the union man had by then recovered from his heavy tasering and led the chanting with his mega-voice and we filled the night sky of Israel with Free Free Palestine as we approached. We did this the whole way down the boat into Ashdod.

We came directly into a closed military zone in Ashdod. It was a sealed off area with many stations. It was specially prepared for the 22 of us. It began with a security x-ray area. I did not realize they retained my money belt as I came out of the x-ray station. The next station was strip search, and it was when I was gathering up my belongings after being stripped when I realized my money belt was no longer with me. I knew I had about a couple hundred Euros and they were trying to steal it. I demanded its return and refused to leave the station until it was produced. I was shouting for the first time. I was glad I did that as some other people were parted from their cash. The journalist from Al Jazeera, Abdu,l had all his credit cards and $1,800 taken from him, as well as his watch, satellite phone, his personal mobile, his ID. He thought his possessions were kept with his passport but when he was released for deportation he learnt bitterly that he only got his passport back. All cash and valuables were never found. They simply vanished.

We were passed from station to station in this closed military zone, stripped searched several times, possessions taken away until in the end all we had was the clothes we were wearing with nothing else except a wrist band with a number on it.  All shoe laces were removed as well. Some of us were given receipts for items taken away, but I had no receipts for anything. We were photographed several times and saw two doctors. At this point I learnt that Larry was pushed down the gangway and injured his foot and sent off to Israeli hospital for check-up. His blood was on the floor.

I was cold and hungry, wearing only one teeshirt and pants by the time they were through with me. My food was taken away; water was taken away, all belongings including reading glasses taken away. My bladder was about to explode but I am not allowed to go to the toilet. In this state I was brought out to two vehicles – Black Maria painted gray. On the ground next to it were a great heap of rucksacks and suit cases. I found mine and was horrified that they had broken into my baggage and took almost everything from it – all clothes clean and dirty, my camera, my second mobile, my books, my Bible, all the medicines I brought for the participants and myself, my toiletries. The suitcase was partially broken. My rucksacks was completely empty too. I got back two empty cases except for two dirty large man size teeshirts which obviously belonged to someone else. They also left my Freedom Flotilla T-shirt. I figured out that they did not steal the Flotilla tee as they thought no Israeli would want to wear that tee in Israel. They had not met Zohar and Yonatan who were proudly wearing theirs. That was a shock as I was not expecting the Israeli Army to be petty thieves as well. So what had become the glorious Israeli Army of the Six Day War which the world so admired?

I was still not allowed to go to the toilet, but was pushed into the Maria van, joined by Lucia the Spanish nurse and after some wait taken to Givon Prison. I could feel myself shivering uncontrollably on the journey.

The first thing our guards did in Givon Prison was to order me to go to the toilet to relieve myself. It was interesting to see that they knew I needed to go desperately but had prevented me for hours to! By the time we were re-x-rayed and searched again it must be about 5 to 6 a.m.. Lucia and I were then put in a cell where Gerd, Divina, Sarah and Emelia were already asleep. There were three double decker bunk beds – all rusty and dusty.

Divina did not get the proper dose of her medicines; Lucia was refused her own medicine and given an Israeli substitute which she refused to take. Divina and Emelia went straight on to hunger strike. The jailers were very hostile using simple things like refusal of toilet paper and constant slamming of the prison iron door, keeping the light of the cell permanently on, and forcing us to drink rusty water from the tap, screaming and shouting at us constantly to vent their anger at us.

The guards addressed me as “China” and treated me with utter contempt. On the morning of 30 July 2018, the British Vice Consul visited me. Some kind person had called them about my whereabouts. That was a blessing as after that I was called “England” and there was a massive improvement in the way England was treated compared to the way China was treated. It crossed my mind that “Palestine” would be trampled over, and probably killed.

Charlie Andreasson@Andreasson_C

We failed, we never reached Gaza. Once again Israel showed its ugly face and by force boarded our ship on international waters and stole our private belongings like watches, money, credit cards, driving licenses, etc. Once again we got to know what it’s like to be Palestinians

At 6.30 a.m. 31 July 2018, we heard Larry yelling from the men’s cell across the corridor that he needed a doctor. He was obviously in great pain and crying. We women responded by asking the wardens to allow me to go across to see Larry as I might be able to help. We shouted “We have a doctor” and used our metal spoons to hit the iron cell gate get their attention. They lied and said their doctor will be over in an hour. We did not believe them and started again. The doctor actually turned up at 4 p.m., about 10 hours later and Larry was sent straight to hospital.

Meanwhile to punish the women for supporting Larry’s demand, they brought hand cuffs for Sarah and took Divina and me to another cell to separate us from the rest. We were told we were not going to be allowed out for our 30 minutes fresh air break and a drink of clean water in the yard. I heard Gerd saying “Big deal”

Suddenly Divina was taken out with me to the courtyard and Divina given four cigarettes at which point she broke down and cried. Divina had worked long hours at the wheel house steering the boat. She had seen what happened to Herman. The prison had refused to give her one of her medicines and given her only half the dose of the other. She was still on hunger strike to protest our kidnapping in international waters. It was heart-breaking to see Divina cry. One of the wardens who called himself Michael started talking to us about how he will have to protect his family against those who want to drive the Israelis out. And how the Palestinians did not want to live in peace…and it was not Israel’s fault. But things suddenly changed with the arrival of an Israeli Judge and we were all treated with some decency even though he only saw a few of us personally. His job was to tell us that a tribunal will be convened the following day and each prisoner had been allocated a time to appear, and we must have our lawyer with us when we appear.

Divina by the end of the day became very giddy and very unwell so I persuaded her to come out of hunger strike, and also she agreed to sign a deportation order. Shortly after that possibly at 6 p.m. since we had no watches and mobile phones, we were told Lucia, Joergen, Herman, Arne, Abdul from Al Jazeera and I would be deported within 24 hours and we would be taken to be imprisoned in the deportation prison in Ramle near Ben-Gurion airport immediately to wait there. It was going to be the same Ramle Prison from which I was deported in 2014. I saw the same five strong old palm trees still standing up proud and tall. They are the only survivors of the Palestinian village destroyed in 1948.

When we arrived at Ramle prison Abdul found to his horror that he his money, his credit cards, his watch, his satellite phone, his own mobile phone, his  ID card were all missing – he was entirely destitute. We had a whip round and raised around a hundred Euros as a contribution towards his taxi fare from the airport to home. How can the Israeli Army be so corrupt and heartless to rob someone of everything?

Conclusion:

We, the six women on board al-Awda had learnt that they tried to completely humiliate and dehumanize us in every way possible. We were also shocked at the behaviour of the Israeli Army especially petty theft and their treatment of international women prisoners. Men jailors regularly entered the women’s cell without giving us decent notice to put our clothes on.

They also tried to remind us of our vulnerability at every stage. We know they would have preferred to kill us but of course the publicity incurred in so doing might be unfavourable to the international image of Israel.

If we were Palestinians it would be much worse with physical assaults and probably loss of lives. The situation is therefore dire for the Palestinians.

As to international waters, it looks as though there is no such thing for the Israeli Navy. They can hijack and abduct boats and persons in international water and get away with it. They acted as though they own the Mediterranean Sea. They can abduct any boat and kidnap any passengers, put them in prison and criminalise them.

We cannot accept this. We have to speak up, stand up against this lawlessness, oppression and brutality. We were completely unarmed. Our only crime according to them is we are friends of the Palestinians and wanted to bring medical aid to them. We wanted to brave the military blockade to do this. This is not a crime. In the week we were sailing to Gaza, they had shot dead seven Palestinians and wounded more than 90 with life bullets in Gaza. They had further shut down fuel and food to Gaza. Two million Palestinians in Gaza live without clean water, with only two to four hours of electricity, in homes destroyed by Israeli bombs, in a prison blockaded by land, air and sea for 12 years. The hospitals of Gaza since the 30 March had treated more than 9,071 wounded persons, 4,348 shot by live fire from a hundred Israeli snipers while they were mounting peaceful demonstrations inside the borders of Gaza on their own land. Most of the gun-shot wounds were to the lower limbs and with depleted treatment facilities the limbs will suffer amputation. In this period more than 164 Palestinians had been shot dead by the same snipers, including medics and journalists, children and women. The chronic military blockade of Gaza has depleted the hospitals of all surgical and medical supplies. This massive attack on an unarmed Freedom Flotilla bringing friends and some medical relief is an attempt to crush all hope for Gaza. As I write I learnt that our sister Flotilla, Freedom, has also been kidnapped by the Israeli Navy while in international waters.

BUT we will not stop, we must continue to be strong to bring hope and justice to the Palestinians and be prepared to pay the price, and to be worthy of the Palestinians. As long as I survive I will exist to resist.  To do less will be a crime.

PIRACY … OVER AND OVER AGAIN … WESTERN SILENCE OVER AND OVER AGAIN

On Friday Israel attacked a Swedish yacht, in int’l waters exercising right of ‘innocent passage’ taking medical supplies to Gaza. All 12 people aboard kidnapped & illegally detained in Israel. Demand they be released to continue their journey.

Image by Latuff

Still little news of 12 people attacked & detained. Read account of 69yr old UK doctor, founder of re her similar experience when Israeli navy last week attacked . Their dehumanising experiences highlight what Palestinians face daily.

UPDATE ...

A second Gaza Flotilla boat named Freedom was hijacked by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) navy in international waters.  Freedom is sailing under a Swedish flag and its passengers and crew are from a number of nations. 

The whereabouts of the kidnapped participants is unknown.

Many boats in the past have been captured, however this should not be seen as normal. It is still violent and illegal. 

With your support the Freedom Flotilla will continue until the blockade ends and Palestinians of Gaza regain their full freedom of movement. Some people are doubling the size of their checks and sending them in for next year.

If you want to take action to protect the members of Freemom and future boats, you can contact the United Nations or the respective government officials from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States: https://jfp.freedomflotilla.org/news/sos-just-future-for-palestine

 

Here’s an eyewitness account of the last hijacking …

The psychotic tenderness of being boarded by the Israeli navy at sea

 Yonatan Shapira

Yonatan Shapira was aboard the Al Awda boat in the Gaza Freedom flotilla when it was stopped in international waters by Israeli sailors three days ago and all on board arrested. His Facebook report in Hebrew was translated by Ofer Neiman, with the headline, “Israeli citizen and Palestine solidarity activist Yonatan Shapira on Israel’s dirty attack on the peaceful Gaza flotilla: יונתן שפירא מדווח מהמשט – עברית להלן” That translation follows.

So just as the IDF Spokesperson said: “The overtaking of the Al-Awda ship was carried out without violence and without exceptional events”.

And indeed, everything was as usual –

They slammed Herman the captain’s head against the wall again and again while threatening to take him to the ship’s belly and finish him off when no one is watching.

A fist in the face of Arne Birge the old mechanic.

And the finest tradition: Electric shocks. This time we wore life vests of the type that covers the chest well. But don’t worry, the brave naval commando combatants just electrocuted [Tasered] Charlie, the first officer, in his head. And more electric shocks to Juergen the cook and to 60 year old Mike, a chair of a trade union and a human rights activist from New Zealand.

But at the same time, things were done with a kind of psychotic tenderness.

Like in a strange play, soldiers (men and women) with weapons and vests packed with munitions and personal cameras, but wearing white shirts with the national flag embroidered in a shiny blue color and wearing white masks on their faces. Last time it was all-black.

And let’s keep in mind: Had we been Gazan fishermen or children approaching the Gaza fence, they could have simply put a bullet in the head of each of us and that’s it.

The IDF Attorney unit has also confirmed that that there’s no need for an investigation.

‘LIBERAL’ ZIONISM IN DEFENSE OF APARTHEID

I have always maintained that there is no such thing as a ‘liberal zionist’ …. Here’s proof of that.

But the truth is, the Nation State bill is not overturning the applecart. In fact, it’s reaffirming some of the key ideas that always lay at the heart of the Zionist project, bringing about the correct balance of “Jewish” and “democratic” that has always been the secret sauce that makes Israel work.

Watch this short video prepared by Rabbi Brant Rosen

On the Fallacy of “Liberal Zionism”

Everything You’ve Heard About Israel’s Nation State Bill Is Wrong

Israel’s new Nation State Law, which passed last week with the aim of affirming the country’s Jewish character, has come under considerable fire.

The new legislation is made up of mostly symbolic declarations that reaffirm the symbolism, calendar, and meaning of the “Jewish State.”

And it took about eleven seconds before critics went ballistic.

Ahmed Tibi, an Arab member of Knesset and the former aide to PLO leader Yasser Arafat, declared “with shock and sorrow the death of democracy.” He was joined in his condemnation by other opposition members who shouted “Apartheid!” as they tore up the law defiantly. The chief legal counsel of ACRI, the Israeli equivalent of the ACLU, agreed. “This is a racist law,” he pronounced.

Nor was the umbrage limited to Israeli activists. The New York Times published no fewer than four different pieces, each more critical than the last.

While the Times stopped short of calling the bill racist, one of its pieces opened with an outright falsity, claiming that the law declared that “only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country”— when in fact the law explicitly says “national self-determination,” something entirely different from individual freedoms (more on that later).

In its main coverage of the new legislation, New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief David Halbfinger gestured towards a different, widespread criticism of the bill, casting the bill as just another step in Israel’s inexorable march into darkness.

“Wrapping up its business before a long summer recess, the right-wing, religious coalition that rules Israel’s Parliament moved aggressively this week to push through its polarizing agenda, piling up points at the expense of its already weakened foes,” he wrote.

But the truth is, the Nation State bill is not overturning the applecart. In fact, it’s reaffirming some of the key ideas that always lay at the heart of the Zionist project, bringing about the correct balance of “Jewish” and “democratic” that has always been the secret sauce that makes Israel work.

And a closer look at the criticism the bill has engendered will reveal it to be nothing more than prefabricated outrage from Israeli opposition parties, American Jewish liberals, and the usual chorus of anti-Zionists and anti-Semites.

To be sure, each of these groups have different core interests and each believes different things. But all have become totally reflexive in their rejection of anything coming out of the current government. It is, in fact, hard to imagine that in the current political climate, there could have been any version of the Nation State bill coming from this government that would not have set off alarms.

Before diving in, a note about who this article is for, and who it’s not for. If you have been vociferously denouncing the law but have not read it yet (it’s a quick read); if you believe it doesn’t matter what’s in the law because its passage by a Right-Wing Israeli Government qualifies it for your fury; if you are receiving a salary or other compensation to criticize Israel; or if you simply despise Israel—this piece is not for you.

But if you’re a fair-minded person who’s troubled by the noise surrounding the law, or if you’ve read it but don’t understand why it needed to be passed, I have a lot to tell you.

o, what’s actually in the law? When you look more closely, it’s really not very controversial — or at least, it shouldn’t be.

Most mundanely, it ratifies the Hebrew calendar as the official holiday schedule of the State of Israel and it establishes Independence Day, Memorial Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day as holidays, too. It also reaffirms Israel’s special connection to diaspora Jewry. None of this is new.

Among its more talked-about provisions, however, was the clause about the Hebrew language, which for the first time was made into Israel’s sole official language, a status it has shared with Arabic up til now.

Critics have said that in the new bill, Arabic has been “demoted.” And at a highly abstract level, they are right.

And yet, the law is careful to clarify that the Arabic language will not only be granted “special status,” but also that “this clause does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect.”

Now, the primacy of Hebrew in the Jewish State is an obvious matter, and has been since Israel’s inception. It is the language of public discourse, of Knesset deliberations (including speeches of Arab members of Knesset), of the nightly news, of the culture, of the courts, of university classes, and of the laws themselves. Ratifying this is something quite ordinary, which democratic countries like Spain and France have done long ago.

Furthermore, the clarifying clause makes it impossible for the demotion of Arabic to be anything other than symbolic. To turn this into “the end of democracy” is nonsense.

Similarly offensive to critics was the clause according to which “The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

This, too, is almost synonymous with the very idea of a Jewish state. What could a right of “national” self-determination to non-Jewish communities inside Israel possibly mean other than ending the Jewish state as such?

More to the point, what democratic country on earth offers national self-determination to twenty percent of its citizens? With few and minor exceptions, the U.S. gives no minorities any such right. In Israel, such a right is something the Jewish majority has never granted and never promised, and never could have or should have, since day one.

This clause is not a violation of democratic principle, much less “racist” or “Apartheid,” so long as individual rights continue to be guaranteed. And they are, through the other Basic Laws that make up Israel’s constitutional reality.

Similarly baffling were objections to the law’s determination that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.” No doubt, in the context of today’s politics, anything about Jerusalem smells like jumping on the Trump-Bibi bandwagon.

Yet there is nothing at all new in it. The hope that some may have of internationalizing the Western Wall or dismantling the sprawling urban neighborhoods of Gilo and Pisgat Ze’ev has never been more than a fantasy.

At the same time—and this is crucial—the law does not define Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, thereby leaving fully open the possibility that, when the geopolitical time is right, major Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem like Isawiyyeh, Silwan, or Jabel Mukkaber could become part of a future Palestinian State by simply redefining the city’s map.

What many in the West fail to understand is the role that Jerusalem has played in Israel’s self-definition since well before the Six Day War that led to the city’s unification under Israeli rule. There’s a reason why the IDF risked a lot to take the strategically unimportant eastern Jerusalem in 1967, and why Jerusalem, but not the West Bank, was effectively annexed in 1980.

Naomi Shemer’s song “Jerusalem of Gold”—one of the most iconic songs in Israeli history—became popular before the city was reunified. Regardless of international recognition, and in the face of global disregard, Israel declared Jerusalem its capital within two years of its independence, and has insisted on it ever since.

Finally, critics were angered by the bill’s declaration that “Jewish settlement” be “a national value” that the state will continue to promote.

Once again, distilling reality from projected fear is crucial here. The word being translated as “settlement” is hityashvut, which to any Israeli ear refers more to the Galilee and the Negev and the history of building new Jewish communities a century ago across the country than it does to the West Bank.

Yes, it is true that a major coalition partner, The Jewish Home, would love to claim a victory for the settlers of Judea and Samaria; that’s politics. But it’s the courts, not the politicians, who will interpret the law; and there is nothing in the phrasing that even hints at the West Bank; historically charged terms such as “in the Land of Israel” are nowhere to be found.

Again, you can decide that Jews should never have been encouraged to settle in their historic homeland, and the idea of a place on earth that continues to encourage it—even offering them citizenship and financial benefits for doing so—is something you can’t live with.

But then you really shouldn’t call yourself a Zionist, or even a supporter of Israel, in any meaningful sense. Building a Jewish homeland—through sovereignty, through culture, and through settlement—has always been the core purpose of the country. Should it really not appear in its Basic Laws?

Nor does anything in the law make Israel unusual for a European-style democracy. France, a country that granted equal rights to all a century before America freed its slaves, nonetheless has a single national language. The United Kingdom has an established church, as well as a hereditary monarchy. Germany will put you in prison if you deny the Holocaust.

Limits on pristine and abstract rights, especially the right to feel equally central to the narrative of the democracy in which you live, are acceptable because they are limited, and because people are complicated and human, with a real history that inevitably influences the core principles of their social contract.

Even democracies have a right to enshrine in law the things that make them unique.

To suggest that Israel alone shouldn’t be allowed to is self-evidently absurd, and smells a lot more like political noise-making than honest criticism.

It’s true that Israel’s Nation State law was passed by a right-leaning national government. But a much more meaningful way to look at it is in its historical and constitutional context.

This law has been in the works at least since the early 2000s, a time when two major forces arose that threatened the Zionist project as it was historically understood. The first was the rise of “post-Zionism,” a small but passionate intellectual-political movement that explicitly repudiated the idea of a “Jewish state” and sought to transform the country into a “state of all its citizens” by stripping it of any connection to Jewish history, peoplehood, or symbolism.

The second, more important factor was the “constitutional revolution” led by then-Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, which recognized earlier Basic Laws as having constitutional status, and which culminated in the passing of two new Basic Laws (Basic Law Human Dignity and Liberty, and Basic Law: Freedom of Employment) that established the core rights of Israeli citizens, Jewish or not.

These basic laws were not at all a bad thing. The fact is, Israel is both a Jewish state and a liberal democracy, and basic freedoms must be protected for all.

But defenders of Zionism correctly noted that such laws would have to be balanced with similar protections of Israel’s flag and anthem and the original vision of the country as not just a refuge for oppressed Jews but also as the embodiment of the aspirations of the Jewish people.

Much of what we see in the law is the direct result of the big debates that happened back then—debates I was directly involved in.

The bottom line is that Israel is the Jewish State, and this law tells us what that means, just as other Basic Laws tell us what goes into its democratic foundations.

You can freely dislike the idea of an ethnically or historically based democracy for a specific people. But know that it’s not fascism, it’s not the rise of ethno-national-populist-alt-right-MAGA-Bannonism. That’s just a category error—one that a lot of people really want you to make right now.

Israel’s Nation state bill reflects rather, the constitutional reality of nearly every European democracy, and European democracy has always been a little different from American democracy.

If you have any interest in understanding what’s really a fascinating and historic development in a country far away, the one I actually live in, tune out the noise.

PINKWASHING THE OCCUPATION

Scene from the 2016 Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade. 

 

On June 8, when some 250,000 people attended the pride march in Tel Aviv, just some 44 miles away Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip faced Israeli snipers. For LGBTQ Palestinians, Tel Aviv’s pride week is a source of pain and anger each year. Pride is “used as a tool to normalize and justify occupation,” 20-year-old Omar told Mondoweiss. “Israelis oppress Palestinians, Palestinian women, Palestinian children, LGBT Palestinians. Anyone who is not Israeli Jewish, they oppress.”

LGBTQ Palestinians: Israel uses Pride celebrations to ‘normalize and justify occupation’

When Ali*, a member of the LGBTQ community in occupied East Jerusalem, saw images from Tel Aviv’s pride week inundating his social media earlier this month, he felt angered.

“I feel used when I see all of these people flooding the streets of Tel Aviv. It’s irritating seeing all of these fellow queers who share some of my experiences being used by Israel to pinkwash settler colonialism,” the 22-year-old said.

The term “pinkwashing” is used by activists to describe Israel’s practice of promoting itself as a “gay haven” in the Middle East in order to distract attention from its human rights abuses, which have defined its 70-year-long colonization of historic Palestine and more than half-century occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

On June 8, when some 250,000 people attended the pride march in Tel Aviv, just some 44 miles away Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip faced Israeli snipers.

Depending on which news channel you decided to turn on, you could be faced with images of colorful outfits and rainbow flags overflowing the streets of Tel Aviv, or injured Palestinians being rushed to an ambulance after being shot by the Israeli army.

During the pride march in Tel Aviv, Israel simultaneously shot dead at least four unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, including a 15-year-old. The small Palestinian territory has been held under a devastating Israeli air, land, and sea blockade for more than a decade.

Since the Great March of Return began in Gaza on March 30 to demand the right of Palestinians to return to their lands and homes they were expelled from during the creation of the Israeli state in 1948, Israeli snipers have killed at least 131 protesters and have injured tens of thousands.

For LGBTQ Palestinians, Tel Aviv’s pride week is a source of pain and anger each year.

Pride is “used as a tool to normalize and justify occupation,” 20-year-old Omar told Mondoweiss. “Israelis oppress Palestinians, Palestinian women, Palestinian children, LGBT Palestinians. Anyone who is not Israeli Jewish, they oppress.”

“You cannot be accepting to one minority while oppressing so many other minorities, including a minority you allegedly say you advocate for and support,” said Omar, who is also a resident of East Jerusalem.

‘I see daily violence’

LGBTQ Palestinians have long pointed out that their experiences under Israeli occupation do not differ from other Palestinians, despite Israel attempting to paint its image as a haven for LGBTQ peoples.

“To Israel, you are just Palestinian. It doesn’t matter if you are a woman or a man, straight or queer. You’re Palestinian so you will be subjected to all forms of oppression and discrimination and violence that Israel subjects all Palestinians to,” Omar said.

Israel occupied and subsequently annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, a move which was not recognized by the international community until US President Donald Trump’s official recognition of the city as Israel’s capital last year.

Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem do not hold citizenship in Israel or the Palestinian territory and instead were issued temporary Jerusalem residency IDs, which can be revoked by the Israeli state for a variety of reasons.

Israel has expelled nearly 15,000 Palestinians from the city since 1967, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), while hundreds have been evicted from their homes owing to the Israeli settler movement.

While Palestinians in East Jerusalem are subject to Israeli civil law — as opposed to Israeli military law like Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza — they face routine discrimination and violence by Israeli forces.

In East Jerusalem, Palestinians are constantly subjected to harassment and arrest. As of April, 432 Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem were being held in Israeli prison, according to Palestinian prisoners’ right group Addameer.

“I see daily violence here,” Ali said. “When you walk on the streets, everywhere I go I see an [Israeli] settler with a rifle over the shoulder, or I see soldiers and policemen.”

‘If they see you have darker skin or if they see that you are wearing something with Arabic writing on it — or even if you have an Arabic tattoo. If they see any signs that you are Palestinian, they will stop you, search you and interrogate you.”

According to Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the youth are the main target of harassment and arrest by Israeli forces, particularly since the 2015 uprising in which many young Palestinians carried out lone-wolf attacks on Israelis, resulting in hundreds of Palestinians being killed as Israel was accused of practicing a “shoot-to-kill” policy.

“Everything is militarized in East Jerusalem,” Ali told Mondoweiss. “It’s violent and they wonder why the youth are sad and they have all this anger within them.”

Palestinians have to constantly fear for their safety, as one wrong move could result in prison or even death.

“If we plan for a picnic, we cannot even bring a knife to cut the vegetables and fruit,” Ali explained. “If the soldiers stop you, no matter how much time you would spend explaining to them that the knife is being used to cut vegetables, they will not believe you.”

“You will always be viewed as a potential terrorist.”

But Tel Aviv’s pride is part of Israel’s entertainment industry, meant to distract people from its routine violation of Palestinian rights, Ali said. “When they are dancing at pride, they are not seeing the everyday violence we [Palestinians] are subjected to.”

“All of these things are used to create this idea that Israel is introducing the world to Israeli culture,” Ali told Mondoweiss. “It’s mainstreaming Israeli entertainment in order to attract people to the state.”

In 2005, Israel launched “Brand Israel” — a marketing strategy meant to “rebrand the country’s image to appear relevant and modern.” Much of this strategy has been focused on promoting cultural events and entertainment in order to recreate Israel as a destination having “a productive, vibrant and cutting-edge culture,” according to American writer Sarah Schulman.

An intricate part of this rebranding was promoting Israel as a “world gay destination” and improving “Israel’s image through the gay community in Israel.”

‘I felt totally invalidated’

Omar was shocked to see many of his favorite drag entertainers from the United States performing at Tel Aviv’s pride and tweeting their support for the event.

“I felt totally invalidated,” he said “You’re celebrating queerness and being different among people who are either war criminals or complicit in war crimes through their silence.”

“How can you stand against [LGBTQ] oppression, and yet still go and subject other people to it? They are complicit in homophobia. They are complicit in hatred. They are complicit in the slaughter of their LGBTQ brothers and sisters and what have you in between,” Omar explained.

According to Omar, this dissonance is aimed at confusing the identities of LGBTQ Palestinians.

“I am privileged enough to be educated and aware. But Israeli pride is designed to make Palestinian queers question their identity. They are told, by Israel, that they have to choose between being gay and being Palestinian,” Omar said.

In actuality, however, LGBTQ individuals have existed in the Middle East since the birth of the Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian identities, Omar said.

“If you dig through fables or poetry from thousands of years ago, homosexuality is present. It’s there,” he told Mondoweiss.

“Historically we have always been rich in representation. I don’t know about acceptance, but that doesn’t mean that people were not living their homosexual/queer lives.”

According to Ali, if Israel does care about a Palestinian’s sexuality, it is only to use that information against the individual.

This at times plays out in the form of Israel attempting to coerce Palestinians into being collaborators and informants by threatening to shame LGBTQ Palestinians within their communities.

“Sometimes if you go to a protest, they [Israel] will try and shame you. If the army has access to information where they know you are queer, then they will threaten to tell everyone about your sexual identity,” he said.

“They don’t care about anyone’s identity, unless it can be used in their favor,” he added.

Israel’s practice of blackmailing Palestinians on the basis of their sexuality is just one of a myriad of techniques Israel uses to coerce Palestinians into providing information to Israeli authorities, according to al-Qaws, a Palestinian LGBTQ grassroots organization.

The Israeli army often extorts Palestinians “on the basis of their lack of access to healthcare, disrupted freedom of movement, exposure of marital infidelities, finances, drug use, or anything else,” the group has noted.

‘Freedom means no fear’

Omar tells Mondoweiss that Israel’s use of pinkwashing emboldens attempts to silence Palestinians who criticize Israel’s colonization of historic Palestine.

“Whenever we mention Palestinians undergoing ethnic cleansing or violence under the occupation, Israelis, Zionists, or white Americans mention homophobia in Palestine to counter it.”

But “there’s just as much homophobia in the Jewish community as there is in Palestine, or Lebanon, or Jordan — and even in the United States,” Omar said.

“Toxic masculinity is not unique to Palestine or the Palestinian society. It’s almost a universal queer experience, especially in conservative areas.”

For Omar, navigating the traditional society of East Jerusalem and the older Palestinian generations, while also being forced to maneuver through the violence of Israel’s occupation is particularly difficult.

“It’s really hard for you to feel safe if you’re a feminine man because on one hand your identity is misunderstood or misrepresented in your own community. And, on the other hand, you’re oppressed, you’re targeted by Israel. They want you killed in Israeli society.”

“It’s a struggle,” Omar continued. “But do I feel safer in Israeli places? No. Not as a Palestinian and not as a queer person.”

For Omar and Ali, pride events are far from their ideas of freedom.

“Freedom to me means no fear,” Omar said. “It’s being able to live and act the way I would normally act without fearing for my life.”

“For Palestinians, we don’t know when it is safe for us to be ourselves. Under Israel’s occupation, how can we exist without possibly dying at any moment?”

In a similar vein, Ali says he can “be free without pride.”

“Pride started as a protest. Now it’s more of a capitalist venture. It lost its essence,” he said. “I don’t feel like this is what I want or that this is what symbolizes freedom.”

The most important issue for Ali is feeling accepted inside his own community. “I don’t want to put myself off from my own society. I want to be part of my society,” he said.

“I want to be safe from Israel or any other authority in historic Palestine that is oppressing me for being who I am. This is freedom — being safe and empowered and being a part of this society and staying where I am without dealing with harassment and threats.”

As Omar watched the parties and dancing unfold in Tel Aviv, while facing the daily violence of occupation in his home of East Jerusalem and witnessing the continued Israeli massacre in Gaza, one question continued to come to his mind.

“I want to ask these people: What are you so proud of? Is it the bloodshed, the injustice, the ethnic cleansing? What are you so proud of?”

*The names of the interviewees have been changed to protect their identities.

WATCHING THE ISRAELI ‘LEFT’ GO RIGHT

His anti-intermarriage stance is shared within the Zionist community: notably by Dennis Ross, former White House negotiator who co-chairs the Jewish People Policy Institute.

Israeli left leader says intermarriage by U.S. Jews is ‘actual plague’ and he vows to find ‘a solution’

*

Isaac Herzog is the outgoing leader of the Israeli political “left,” the Zionist Camp coalition, and the new chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, which seeks to strengthen bonds between Jews worldwide. In an interview on Israeli TV (for which David Sheen provided translation), he describes intermarriage between American Jews and non-Jews as a “plague” for which he seeks to find a “solution”.

“I’ll tell you a personal story. Last summer I traveled [with my wife] to the USA for a vacation. I graduated from a Jewish school in New York. And we went to meet friends. I have a ton of friends in the U.S.A. And I encountered something that I called an actual plague. I saw my friends’ children married or coupled with non-Jewish partners! And the parents beat their breasts and ask questions, and are suffering. Listen, it’s every [Jewish] family in the U.S.A.! And we are talking about millions. And I said there must be a campaign, a solution. We have to rack our brains to figure out how to solve this great challenge.

Herzog is an expert on love. He has warned that his party must not be seen as “Arab-lovers.”

The intermarriage rate among American Jews is 58 percent, but 71 percent among the non-Orthodox.

The young are making these choices voluntarily. Herzog’s breast-beating, suffering friends are surely in the more traditional, religiously-identified Jewish community. Herzog attended the Ramaz school in New York when his father served here as an Israeli diplomat. He went on to Cornell and NYU. Among less-strongly-identified U.S. Jews, there is wide acceptance of intermarriage, because Jews are mixing freely with non-Jews at schools and jobs, and in neighborhoods.

Herzog is a regular at J Street, the liberal Zionist pro-Israel lobby group; and

His anti-intermarriage stance is shared within the Zionist community: notably by Dennis Ross, former White House negotiator who co-chairs the Jewish People Policy Institute.

 

ZION NOW DECIDES WHO IS A JEW

In his new book, Yossi Klein Halevi basically says if you don’t accept the idea of a Jewish state, you’re not a Jew. And STFU.

Maybe HE should STFU!

Literary hero Yossi Klein Halevi says anti-Zionist Jews aren’t Jewish

Every couple of years a pro-Israel book comes out that gets red carpet treatment in American Jewish circles. That was true for Ari Shavit’s 2013 book, My Promised Land. Now it’s happening with Yossi Klein Halevi and Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor.

Halevi appeared at the J Street conference this spring, and on an AIPAC tour, too. He did an event with David Gregory, another with Abigail Pogrebin and a Muslim imam sponsored by the Jewish Federations. Liberals adore him: Cokie Roberts gave him a fulsome blurb (“Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor offers a model… for Middle East peacemaking”). And Halevi has been hailed as a guide by New York Times editors Jodi Rudoren and Bari Weiss at various Jewish gatherings.

One thing these folks don’t seem to notice is that Halevi, who moved to occupied East Jerusalem from Brooklyn more than 30 years ago, is such a fervent Jewish nationalist that he does not consider anti-Zionists to be Jews. Halevi wants support and understanding from American Jews; but if you are against the existence of a Jewish state, or have concluded that Jewish sovereignty hasn’t worked out for Palestinians or Jews– Halevi says you’re not a Jew.

In his book he writes that Judaism cannot now be separated from Zionism.

Is it possible, as anti-Zionists insist, to separate Zionism from Judaism? Is Zionism mere “politics,” as opposed to Judaism, which is authentic “religion”?…

If by Zionism one means the Jewish attachment to the land of Israel and the dream of renewing Jewish sovereignty in our place of origin, then there is no Judaism without Zionism. Judaism isn’t only a set of rituals and rules but a vision linked to a place. Modern movements that created forms of Judaism severed from the love of the land and dream of return all ended in failure.

By the time the state was established, anti-Zionism had become peripheral in Jewish life. Aside from a vocal fringe, most ultra-Orthodox Jews made their peace with a Jewish state. Israel’s Declaration of Independence was signed by representatives of almost the entire spectrum of the Jewish community–from ultra-Orthodox to Communists. That document attests to the legitimacy, within the Jewish people, of the state created by Zionism.

In recent years, there have been renewed attempts, especially on the fringes of the Diaspora left, to create a Jewish identity severed from Israel. But with nearly half the world’s Jews living in a thriving Jewish-majority state, that debate has long since been resolved. If in the past one couldn’t separate the land of Israel from Jewish life, today the same holds true for the state of Israel.

So if you don’t accept the idea of a Jewish state, you’re not a Jew.

During an appearance at Duke University last fall, Halevi filled in the point. He said it was OK for American Jews to criticize Israel about its religious practices at the Western Wall, but not about its security practices. And again, anti-Zionists are not part of the Jewish community.

Tough love is legitimate. when the love is evident. I would make a distinction between a group like J Street and Jewish Voice for Peace. I don’t agree with J Street on a whole range of issues, especially on the Iran Deal. But J Street is part of a normative Jewish conversation. Jewish Voice for Peace, supporters of BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] to my mind have placed themselves outside the confines of the Jewish community.

Every community is defined by its red lines. I believe that in our Israel conversation we need to have low red lines. But we still need red lines, and groups, individuals, who actively support Israel’s enemies,who support effectively the destruction of the Jewish state, these are voices that should have no place in our communal conversation. And so the question of tough and love, there needs to be a balance.

Halevi also said that it worries him that more and more American Jews are opting out of the relationship with Israel, because American Jews need to be engaged with Israel right now to save Israel from the ultra-Orthodox, who have done the least to build the Jewish state but are being “anti-Zionist” in their efforts to limit access to the western wall. BTW, others have said the same thing to American Jews: Shut up about who we kill, but please weigh in on how we can pray.

You’d think Halevi’s intolerance about Who is a Jew might make him a bit too crispy for liberal audiences. But they overlook this intolerance. Halevi got a whole session to speak about his book at J Street this year. J Street obeys Halevi’s norms– inasmuch as it features a lot of center-right Zionists, including Tzipi Livni, who lied about the Gaza slaughter; but it excludes members of JVP (though Leanne Gale snuck in with some pro-BDS talk, and Jeremy Ben-Ami always says I’m part of the Jewish community).

J Street accepts Halevi’s red lines because: These are the norms of the American Jewish establishment. Being Jewish entails being Zionist. That conflation is now being undermined on a number of fronts by younger Jews who don’t like the way the Jewish state behaves in their name. But a lot of older Jews haven’t gotten the memo, or they’re in denial (“Where did we go wrong in our homes and schools?”).

P.S. Halevi reminds me of Shavit because Shavit was also heralded till his provincialism caught up with him. Nathan Thrall exposed Shavit’s rightwing Zionism in LRB; Reja-e Busailah showed that Shavit’s narration of the Lydda expulsion was insufficient and irresponsible; we did a piece about Shavit’s adoration of “sex in the toilets” in Israel.

MOST DISGUSTING IMAGE OF THE YEAR ~~ IN ISRAEL, MILITARISM BEGINS AT CONCEPTION

Militarism begins at conception? An ad for a maternity ward in one of Israel’s top hospitals depicts a fetus wearing a military beret and saluting.

An advertisement for Ichilov Hospital’s Lis Maternity and Women’s Hospital. (Screenshot)

Ad for Israeli maternity ward portrays fetus as future soldier

By Mairav Zonszein

An advertisement for a maternity ward in one of Israel’s top hospitals, published in the right-wing newspaper Makor Rishon this past week, has been making the rounds on social media.

The ad for Lis Maternity Hospital, part of Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, shows a fetus wearing a military beret, with a caption reading: “Received the Presidential Award of Excellence, 2038.”

Portraying an unborn child as a soldier is disturbing in its own right, regardless of country. In Israel, an occupying power whose military has for over five decades been primarily concerned with maintaining control over a civilian population, this ad is even more charged and offensive. Furthermore, its timing is especially disturbing, considering that the IDF killed 60 Palestinians and wounded over 2,400 in a single day in Gaza, while continuing to exert control over millions of stateless Palestinians.

The notion that a good hospital will produce good soldiers is pathological. That a top hospital believes the best way to get women to choose their maternity ward is by convincing them their baby is destined to be a successful soldier in the Israel Defense Forces is also a genuine indication of just how militaristic Israeli society is. As if women don’t have enough on their minds as they approach birth, now they must be reminded that in 18 years, their child will be conscripted into the army. Regardless of their politics, Israeli mothers (and fathers) go through hell when their children — specifically their sons — serve in the army.

Israel, which consistently attacks Palestinian leadership and society for giving birth to “terrorists” and educating children to hate, seems to conveniently forget the deep militaristic, violent roots of its own society. This ad is just one indication of that.

Some Israelis on Facebook have expressed their disgust and outrage, demanding the hospital pull the ad. When asked for comment, Ichilov Hospital Spokesperson Avi Shoshan wrote in an email: “This was a one time ad published in Makor Rishon.” He did not answer my request to respond to those who are disturbed by the ad.

ISRAELI RACISTS LAUD TRUMP

“I think it’s quite fitting for a racist soccer team to give homage to a man who encapsulates what Israel has embodied under the cover of liberalism, namely a self-righteous and violent goal of establishing a racial and religious supremacy. This is not just about his embassy move, this is about a shared—and destructive—vision for the world.”

Beitar soccer fans march in Jerusalem chanting racist slogans

Israel’s Most Racist Soccer Club Renames Itself After Donald Trump

If there were ever two entities that deserve each other, it’s Beitar Jerusalem and Donald Trump.

Jerusalem’s most successful soccer team, Beitar Jerusalem, has announced—in celebration of the US embassy relocation to Jerusalem and assumedly in triumph following the massacre of 60 Palestinians in Gaza who were protesting the move—that they are now naming themselves after Donald Trump. In a message posted on their Facebook page, the soccer club wrote, “For 70 years has Jerusalem been awaiting international recognition, until President Donald Trump, in a courageous move, recognized Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel.”

If there were ever two entities that deserve each other, it is Beitar Jerusalem and Donald Trump. Just as Trump has a 45-year documented past of racism, the latest chapter being his statement that undocumented immigrants are “animals” (no, he wasn’t just referring to MS-13), Beitar Jerusalem shares a similar history and similar rhetoric. They are known internationally less for their on-field success than their anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hiring practices and fan supporters who engage in racist violence.

It was in the 1990s when this club, whose supporters had always rooted themselves in the hard-right, anti-Arab, anti-Muslim politics of “revisionism,” formed ”hooligan” clubs modeled after the violent skinhead soccer fan formations in Western Europe. (Their admiration for groups that were openly sympathetic to Nazi tells a story all its own.)

It was also in the 1990s when the these “fan clubs” particularly the one most known for racist violence, called La Familia, adopted the slogan and chant, “Death to the Arabs.” Their abuse of Arabs and Muslims was not confined to players on other teams. The club signed black, Muslim Nigerian defender Ibrahim Ndala in 2004. As Samirian Mishra wrote on the Football in Paradise blog, Ndala “left the club after just five games because of the torrent of abuse he received from his own fans.”

Mishra quotes Ndala saying,

“I left Betar because the fans abused me…. It was a bitter experience for me. They sang to me ‘son of a bitch,’ ‘Arab, go home.’ In Nigeria, I did not experience this kind of behaviour in my life, and it happened to me only in Beitar, and from the country, I came from, the rivalry was neither political nor ethnic, and because I was a Muslim I could not play Beitar.”

When the team, in 2013, signed two Muslim players, Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev, their “fans” set fire to a team office and Sadayev was met with boos and fan walk-outs when he scored a goal. When a fan favorite, captain and goalkeeper Ariel Harush, put his arm around Sadayev and Kadiyev on the field, in a show of support, he became an object of scorn. When Harush spoke out against racism and posted messages of solidarity toward Sadayev and Kadiyev, he was threatened with violence. This continued for several years, and Harush was booed every time he touched the ball. Both Muslim players left after the end of the season. Harush eventually was driven from the team as well.

Fans also chanted anti-Arab chants at Naala, Sadayev, and Kadiyev, which was bizarre, since none were Arab and the club refuses to sign Arab players. This is why Newsweek wrote about the team with the sub-headline, “Jerusalem’s favorite football team has hiring policies reminiscent of Apartheid and Jim Crow.”

Then there was the infamous moment in March of 2012 when hundreds of Beitar “fans” rushed a West Jerusalem mall, chanting “Death to Arabs,” and assaulted the Palestinian custodians who were there to clean up their trash. Mohammed Yusef, one of the cleaners, called it “a mass lynching attempt.” The headline in Haaretz was, “Hundreds of Beitar Jerusalem fans beat up Arab workers in mall; no arrests.”

This is the team now named after the president of the United States of America. I reached out to human-rights attorney and assistant professor at George Mason University Noura Erakat for her response to the conjoining of Beitar Jerusalem and Donald Trump. She said,

“I think it’s quite fitting for a racist soccer team to give homage to a man who encapsulates what Israel has embodied under the cover of liberalism, namely a self-righteous and violent goal of establishing a racial and religious supremacy. This is not just about his embassy move, this is about a shared—and destructive—vision for the world.”

We have seen in other countries the ways that soccer-fan clubs can easily become shock troops of ethnic cleansing. This is Beitar Jerusalem, and they are getting further inspiration from the actions and rhetoric of the president of the United States. They deserve each other, but neither the Palestinian people nor the people of this country deserve either of them.

MUST SEE VIDEO (BEFORE MAY 22nd)

ABSOLUTELY STUNNING FOOTAGE – A MUST SEE (before May 22)

Can’t figure out those Palestinians? Maybe this short film by Dr. Rona Sela, an Israeli curator, researcher of visual history and culture, and lecturer at Tel Aviv University, can help.

Rona Sela has made her 46-minute documentary film ‘Looted and Hidden’ available for free on Vimeo until 22 May, on the occasion of 70 years Nakba.

(Click on link … Watch on Vimeo)

Arabic an Hebrew subtitles

Thanks to Sam Bahour for sharing the above

 

 

ON VIDEO ~~ THE EMBASSY OF DOOM

 As Ivanka smiled in Jerusalem, deadly bloodshed and violence erupted in Gaza, ending any dream of peace in the Middle East just as experts warned — but Trump recklessly ignored them.

‘Ashamed to Be Jewish’: As Trump Base Celebrates Embassy Move, Horrified U.S. Jews Mourn Gaza Deaths

I’ve always hated these kinds of expressions. Ashamed to be American, ashamed to be Jewish, ashamed to be whatever… Don’t allow states to soil you with their behavior. Israel claims to represent international Judaism. It doesn’t. But expressions of this kind seem to concede the point, however good the intentions behind the sentiment.

On a related note, I really get the sense Israel knows it has lost a generation of American Jewish youth for good, but it just doesn’t care anymore.

VIDEO ~~ TRUMP PICKS THE DEVIL TO PRAY FOR PEACE IN JERUSALEM

Who did Trump send to pray at the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem? A man who thinks all Muslims and Jews are going to hell.

Israel has no problem with anti–Semites whenever it’s politically expedient

Netanyahu’s choice was no better ….

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump reportedly received a blessing in Jerusalem on Sunday from Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef — who was condemned by the Anti-Defamation League earlier this year for comparing black people to monkeys.

Jared And Ivanka Blessed By Israeli Rabbi Who Compared Black People To Monkeys

 

WATCH LIVE ~~ WORSE DAY EVER IN GAZA

Over 41 Palestinians have been murdered just today as protests against the U.S. Embassy relocation to Jerusalem as the March of Return continues in the lead up to the 70th anniversary of the Nakba tomorrow.

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What should have been a day of joy …

Mother’s Day in Palestine by the talented Palestinian artist Mary Hazboun

THE AGE OF AQUARIUS IS DAWNING IN THE HOLY LAND

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation

Visions of hope and peace surround us today from both sides of the wall in the Holy Land. Sunset will usher in the Hebrew Month of Sivan on one side whilst the Holy Month of Ramadan starts on the other.

Despite efforts of the forces of evil to increase the divisions and hatred between both of our peoples, this is the season that brings us hope that all will end well …. let us truly welcome The Age of Aquarius! Let the sun shine in!

When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius
Aquarius
Aquarius
Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation
Aquarius
Aquarius
When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius
Aquarius
Aquarius
Aquarius
Aquarius
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in, the sunshine in
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in, the sunshine in
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in, the sunshine in
Oh, let it shine, c’mon
Now everybody just sing along
Let the sun shine in
Open up your heart and let it shine on in
When you are lonely, let it shine on
Got to open up your heart and let it shine on in
And when you feel like you’ve been mistreated
And your friends turn away
Just open your heart, and shine it on in
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To our Muslim readers, family and friends …..
Ramadan Kareem!
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And to our Jewish readers, family and friends …..
Chodesh Sivan Tov!
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