‘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.

ISRAEL IS OFFICIALLY DIVIDED BY LAW

The ‘Only Democracy’ in the Middle East has changed its tune officially

Image by Latuff


 

Israel's nation-state law

THREE AGAINST TWO MILLION …. AND YET THEY ARE WINNING

In a Washington Post article on Thursday 19 July, President Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East advisor Jared Kushner, US Zionist Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and special Mideast adviser Jason Greenblatt, another ardent Zionist,  sought to overlook Israel’s  real crimes against humanity inflicted repeatedly  on  some two million helpless Palestinians languishing under a Nazi-like siege imposed and maintained by Israel.

 

Image by Marina Grechanik.

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Khalid Amayreh responds to the Three Zionist shapers of  Trump’s Palestine policy 
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In a Washington Post article on Thursday 19 July, President Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East advisor Jared Kushner, US Zionist Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and special Mideast adviser Jason Greenblatt, another ardent Zionist,  sought to overlook Israel’s  real crimes against humanity inflicted repeatedly  on  some two million helpless Palestinians languishing under a Nazi-like siege imposed and maintained by Israel.
 
The three Zionist supremacists, whose loyalty is first and foremost to international Zionism and only second to   Donald Trump,  accused the Palestinian Islamic Resistance group, Hamas, of producing “misery for the people of Gaza”, saying that unless Hamas unilaterally recognized Israel, abided by previous agreements and renounced resistance to Israeli aggression “there is no good option.” The trio, who ostensibly adopt the political views of the Israeli far right, including the Jewish settlement movement, offered to give humanitarian aid to Palestinians in return for recognizing Israel and terminating all forms of resistance to the Israeli occupation army.
 
 The 11-year draconian siege is apparently meant to punish Gazans for electing Hamas which refuses to recognize Israel for religious and moral reasons.
 
This writer is thoroughly familiar with a long list of US diplomats and peace envoys to the Middle East  ever since William Rogers who initiated the Rogers’ peace plan  in the late 1960s, which Israel rejected. But frankly I have never  been affronted by such brazenly and fanatically one-sided diplomats who so shamelessly adopt the manifestly fascist views of the Israeli right while pretending to maintain a semblance of neutrality between Israel and her enduring victims.
 
 The trio seem, at least from this writer’s vantage point, so lacking in rectitude and scandalously ignorant of the basic issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict We are talking about a group of  ideological fanatics who tend to think  the 100-year conflict began yesterday. For example, they miserably fail to understand that the almost desperate but determined Palestinian resistance to unmitigated Israeli oppression is made inevitable by incessant Israeli aggression as well as concerted efforts to subjugate and humiliate one of the most ancient peoples of the Middle East whose only “crime” is its resilient quest for freedom and independence..  Kushner, Greenblat and Freidman simply don’t know that the Palestinians are putting up a last-ditch defense for their very survival in the face of powerful and immensely callous Zionist movement which succeeded in having the US government at its beck and call.
  
Kushner and Grerenblat, it is manifestly clear, are accustomed to dealing with corrupt Arab despots who have little moral credibility  and who  virtually view America as their God on Earth. Well, Gentlemen, I have some news for you:  There are Arabs of a different mantle who are not eager to be America’s puppets or agents.
 
The three morally bankrupt Zionist officials urged Hamas to recognize Israel just like other Arab countries in the region did. Well, since when were these undemocratic and grossly dictatorial entities a role model for the Palestinian people to adopt, emulate or imitate?
 
Moreover, the three Jewish-American diplomats conveniently forgot to tell us which Israel they were asking us to recognize? Is it Israel according to the UN partition plan of 1947? Is it Israel with the pre-`1967? Is it Israel with Jerusalem and the Haram Sharif? Or, indeed, is it Greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates?
 
More to the point, the three Zionist fanatics shamelessly demanded that Hamas  ought to recognize Israel, even  in the absence of  a reciprocal Israeli recognition of a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian  state with East Jerusalem as its capital!
 
As we all remember, the PLO did recognize Israel in the context of the hapless Oslo Agreement. And we saw and endured (actually continue to endure) the bitter harvest of that scandal called the Oslo Accords. Hence the question: Must we repeat  the same blunder to appease and  please Israel firsters?
 
The PLO gave Israel everything the Zionist state demanded. It gave Israel  a free  and solemn recognition, it gave up legitimate armed resistance which is perfectly lawful under international law. It gave up our national honor and dignity, all in order to demonstrate our good will and sincere commitment to peace. And what did we get from Israel in return? Well, we got  150 new colonies, and a police state without a state called the Palestinian Authority.. 
 
As to Israel itself, it has been growing bolder and bolder in denying us our most  basic rights as human beings living in our ancestral homeland.
 
It would be misleading to think that the Nazificaion of Israel has been consummated and completed with the adoption by the Israeli Knesset  of the so-called Nationality Bill into a law.  Nay! Much is still coming up, and just as the Nuremburg laws in Nazi Germany were only a stage, the Nationality Law will be proven sooner or later  a mere small detail in the Nazification of Israel.  I am not a Prophet of doom and gloom, but the writing is on the wall and I would be utterly foolish to pretend that I am just having a nightmare.
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Mazin Qumsiyeh adds ….
de facto and now de jure racism/apartheid
 Finally, the Israeli Knesset puts it into words/law and is now de jure as
well as de facto racist/apartheid "Jewish nation-state" . The new "law"
violates international treaties and norms (including the 1976 International
Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid).
But on the bright side no one can now defend Israel as a "democracy" since
it is now not by practice alone but by clearly worded "law" that it is an
apartheid racist state for and by the Jewish people (imagine if a similar
law about "whites" or "christians" was instituted in any other country). 
See the following links

israel-adopts-racist-jewish-nation-state-law

israels-nation-state-law-apartheid-is-a-process/

israel-passes-controversial-nation-state-bill

Images by Latuff

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‘HUSH’ IS THE NEW LAW IN ISRAEL

Israel can now ban critics of the occupation from giving presentations to school children, according to a law passed Monday night by Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. Known as the“Breaking the Silence” law.

Image by Latuff

Israeli law bans former soldiers and critics of the occupation from speaking in schools

Israel can now ban critics of the occupation from giving presentations to school children, according to a law passed Monday night by Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. Known as the“Breaking the Silence” law, the bill passed with a majority of 43 votes in favor and 24 against.

The bill was submitted by the right-wing Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s party and states individuals and groups that seek to “inflict harm upon IDF soldiers” are barred from entering educational institutions “when this activity is of a nature that undermines state education goals, or is such that endeavors to inflict harm upon IDF soldiers who are a consensus in Israeli society.”

The legislation specifically targets the the left-wing Israeli group Breaking the Silence (the organization’s name was in the official working title of the bill) which collects and publishes testimony from former Israeli army soldiers about the military’s human rights abuses against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The group regularly conducts tours inside the West Bank city of Hebron as well as lectures in Israeli schools.

One of the law’s clauses expands the reach to prohibit persons or groups who “initiate legal proceedings outside Israel against IDF soldiers for an action carried out in the course of their military duty.”

Haaretz reported lawmakers added this section in an eleventh hour amendment. It impacts people like Hagai El-Ad, the director of the left-wing Israeli NGO B’Tselem, which was the subject of previous legislation to strip human rights groups of the tax-exempt status. 

In 2016 El-Ad asked members of the UN Security Council to sanction Israel for its settlement activity. Because of that speech, El-Ad will likely be prohibited under the new law from giving lectures inside Israeli educational institutions.

B’Tselem spokesperson Amit Gilutz told Mondoweiss he plans on ignoring the law. Gilutz said he is “certain all of our outreach activities to the Israeli public will continue regardless of this or another law. It is our basic duty.”

In a joint statement released by B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, El-Ad responded,

“Control over the Palestinians requires control over Israel’s perceptions. Controlling Palestinians involves incessant violence, and the attempts to address Israeli opposition to this violence requires oppressing those who oppose and labeling them ‘enemies from within’,” El-Ad said. “When the occupation will finally end, this piece of legislation will not be worthy even of a footnote.”

In protest of the law members of Breaking the Silence took to the Knesset on Tuesday where they held a lecture for Israeli students. Ynet reported from event, quoting from Ido Even-Paz, the Breaking the Silence activist who led the session, “[T]he Breaking the Silence Law is only the harbinger of the actions being taken to silence opposing voices,” adding that “similar laws that will pass in the future will only raise the barrier against anyone who dares to resist. Now it requires us to be brave and fight.”

A MESSAGE FROM ROGER WATERS

No updates available yet on the fate of those ‘captured’ by the Israeli pirates

Gaza bound with cargo of medicine. Godspeed our hearts are with you.

You MUST join the protests to end the illegal siege on Gaza!

A MUST WATCH BEFORE ZION BANS IT … WHAT ISRAEL DOES NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW

Lost cities of Palestine: Haifa, Nazareth, and Jaffa

 

Rarely seen archival footage accompanies memories and accounts of forgotten Palestinian cities – highlighting the catastrophic effect the creation of Israel in 1948 had on them.

Haifa, Nazareth, and Jaffa have all been overshadowed by Tel Aviv, but in their day each of the Palestinian cities had magnificent commercial and cultural ability.

“Palestinians born after 1948 don’t realise what they have missed,” says writer Raef Zreik.

“We only realise what we’ve lost when we hear people’s stories about Palestine before 1948. People who spent the night at to clubs and movies in Haifa, who spent the night there and the next day took taxis from Al-Hanateer Square to go back home at the American University in Beirut. You could do what you liked. We not only lost our cities in 1948, but also our open relationship with the Arab world.”

Made for Al Jazeera Arabic in 2011, Lost Cities of Palestine provides a rare opportunity to see Palestine as it was in the 30s and 40s and learn about the everyday life and culture of urban Palestine before 1948.

TURKEY BANS MY BLOG …. WHAT AN HONOUR!

I received the following email this morning … (in part)

A Turkish authority has issued an order to block your WordPress.com site: https://desertpeace.wordpress.com/

As a result of this order, your site is now inaccessible for Internet visitors originating from Turkey. They will instead see a message explaining why the content was blocked.

Visitors from outside of Turkey are not affected.

The banning of DesertPeace follows the banning of Carlos Latuff’s  Twitter account in Turkey…

Here are some reasons why Turkish officials deemed the ban necessary …

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There are many more examples, but the above will give you a good idea.

IRELAND SETS THE PACE FOR BDS

Thank you Ireland!

Ireland becomes the first country ever to pass a law boycotting goods from illegal Israel settlements in Palestine!

Image by Carlos Latuff

Irish senate passes bill banning products from Israeli settlements

 

The Irish senate has voted in favor of a bill banning the importation of products from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, paving the way for the country to become the first EU nation to enforce a boycott of Israeli settlement goods.

The bill, which passed on Wednesday in the upper house of the Irish parliament, the Seanad, will need to make its way through more Seanad votes and then the lower house before becoming law.

The bill passed with 25 lawmakers voting in its favor, 20 against it and 14 abstaining.

Palestinian officials and activists supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement hailed the move as courageous.

Hanan Ashrawi of the PLO Executive Committee released a statement after the vote saying she was “truly honored to extend our sincere appreciation of and deep gratitude to the Seanad Éireann who took a courageous and principled stand in support of peace, justice, and morality.”

Ashrawi praised the “historical friendship and solidarity between both the Palestinian and Irish peoples,” adding that the legislation bears great significance for Palestine, particularly in the context of Ireland’s firm commitment to defending social justice, equality and freedom and the rights of the oppressed, including the Palestinians, a people in captivity and exile.”

She went on to implore other EU countries and the international community to follow in Ireland’s path “to hold Israel accountable and to act on their declared principles and policies by banning all settlement products and beginning a process of de-occupation in Palestine.”

While the bill calls only for the boycott of the importation of goods produced in Israeli settlements, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed it “gives a tailwind to those who seek to boycott Israel and is utterly contrary to the principles of free trade and justice”. The bill does not ban all Israeli products.

According to the Irish Times, the EU has estimated that settlement goods make up about one percent of the €50 million annual imports from Israel to the country, at €500,000.

The Irish government, however, estimated in 2012 that the figure stood closer to €1.5 million.

The Irish Times highlighted that many fruits and vegetables imported from Israel come from the settlements, specifically Medjool dates. The dates are farmed by settlers in Jericho, famous in Palestine for its dates, on occupied Palestinian land.

According to the newspaper, if enacted into law, regulating settlement goods may prove difficult for the country, given reports of Israeli settlement companies bypassing EU labeling regulations by bringing products from settlement farms to processing facilities inside Israel proper, from where they are labeled and shipped out.

“By using such tactics, exporters can present their goods as ‘made in Israel’, thereby enjoying preferential access to the EU’s markets,” the Irish Times reported.

The Israeli government, which slammed the bill as “populist, dangerous and extremist,” has increased its measures to combat the BDS movement, as it has expanded to include companies, universities, and religious institutions around the world divesting from organizations complicit in Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights.

Despite previous pressure from Israel on Ireland to kill the legislation, the Irish lawmaker behind the bill, Frances Black, said in a statement prior to the vote that “trade in settlement goods sustains injustice”.

“In the occupied territories, people are forcibly kicked out of their homes, fertile farming land is seized, and the fruit and vegetables produced are then sold on Irish shelves to pay for it all,” she said, adding that “settlements are war crimes, and it’s time for Ireland to show some leadership and refuse to support them.”

2nd GROUP OF YOUNG JEWS REALISE WHAT ‘BIRTHRIGHT’ REALLY MEANS

Another group of young American Jews just walked off their Birthright trip, to meet with a Palestinian family and see the reality of the Occupation for themselves, a reality Birthright actively hides

8 left-wing activists stage 2nd Birthright walkout in less than a month

Participants affiliated with IfNotNow leave trip four days early to meet with Palestinian family whose home is slated for demolition in East Jerusalem

Birthright has refused to show us the truth about the occupation’s impact on Palestinians, instead asking us to visit a site operated by a far-right settlement organization. We’ve decided instead to go meet with the Sumarin family, a family that has lived in East Jerusalem under threat of eviction for years to learn from them and hear their story.

More HERE on FacBook page

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And HERE on Twitter

THE DELUSIONAL POTUS IN IMAGES

“I think they like me a lot in the UK.” – Donald Trump, before his London visit.

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I C E NOT WELCOME IN NEW YORK

Waiting for global warming to melt  I C E

New York City played host to the biggest ever gathering of homeland security officials and private security corporations. They will be coming from all over the country to plot how they can place even more of our hermanxs in cages and concentration camps — and how they can continue to profit at all of our expense.

Say it loud, and say it clear: ICE is not welcome here!

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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PITY THE POOR DOUCH-BAG

Norman Finkelstein offers his support for Alan Dershowitz as he has become a social refugee in elite resorts across the Northeast due to his support for the Trump Administration.

Alan Dershowitz, on the run, on vacation, by Katie Miranda.

First they came for Alan Dershowitz

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First they came for me in Martha’s Vineyard,
But I was in Nantucket.
Then they came for me in Nantucket,
But I was in Cape Cod.
Then they came for me in Cape Cod,
But I was in Bar Harbor.
Then they came for me in Bar Harbor,
But I was in the Hamptons.
Then they came for me in the Hamptons,
But I was in … Coney Island.
Coney Island!
I no longer cared what befell me.

[For reference.] 

Not quite the same ….

IN ISRAEL GENOCIDE IS A MEANS OF SURVIVAL

You’re just not supposed to say it too overtly. The liberals, and especially the goyim, may start getting the wrong ideas.

Speaker at Israeli gov’t conference promotes genocide against Arabs and non-Jews

A week ago, the Israeli Ministry of Education held a conference in Jerusalem for the state’s religious education sector (Ynet reports, Hebrew, English here). Education Minister Naftali Bennett was also present. The theme was “speaking about the values of the Jewish family in 2018, about education to healthy sexuality, modesty, feminism, values and Zionism.”

On the stage was an aging terrorist, Moshe Zar, a former founding member of the Jewish-terrorist movement “Jewish Underground” (in 1980’s), who said the following:

“I am known for saying ‘Build a house, it’s like you wiped out a hundred Arabs. Build a settlement, it’s like you wiped out tens of thousands of goyim [‘non-Jews’]’. That’s the truth”.

His words were applauded by a considerable number of the public, including the settler standing beside him, Yael Shevach, the widow of rabbi Raziel Shevach, who was murdered in January on a road in the occupied West Bank outside the settlement he lived in.

Israeli journalist David Sheen has provided the video with subtitles here.

The immediate context within the conference was about settlement in “Judea, Samaria and Gaza”. After a video was screened, Zar told about an attack that had occurred in a settlement and said that construction of the settlements is “our sweet revenge”.

“Our revenge, the revenge of all of us, will be only in the settlement of Eretz Israel” [the land of Israel]. 

Of course, when such genocidal euphemism comes out in mainstream press, you have to do some damage control. Thus, the Ministry of Education issued a statement distancing itself from Zar’s expressions:

“The Ministry of Education and head of the state-religious education condemn decisively Moshe Zar’s egregious words, which were said on his behalf alone. We are speaking of an unfitting expression which does not reflect the spirit and policy of the Ministry of Education, which acts a lot to promote all of the sectors in the Israeli society, including the Arab sector.”

Notice a few things here, which make this statement highly questionable:

First, state-religious education is exclusively Jewish. The claim of promoting other ‘sectors’ does not relate to the state-religious education sector itself. And this is the eighth consecutive year the education ministry held this conference. Second, how could the ministry not know of Zar’s ideology? He is known for it – he literally boasts of it (“I am known for saying”…). In the ’80s, he was part of “a terrorist group that planted bombs in the cars of Arab mayors and plotted to destroy the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem,” per the NYT. After the killing of his son Gilad in 2001 (who was a security officer of the Israeli settler Samaria Regional Council) by Palestinian militants, Moshe Zar vowed that he would establish six settlements in his son’s memory (a settlement for each letter in his name in the Hebrew spelling). Rabbi Raziel Shevach was murdered outside a settlement that Zar established in 2002 – Havat Gilad. In 2015, Zar expressed some regret for his past terrorist activities and objected to the ‘tag price’ revenge terrorism attacks, but nonetheless remained an avid proponent of the settlement enterprise. Even if the Ministry viewed Zar as a kind of ‘moderate settler’ who was no longer an ‘active terrorist’, still, they could not claim to not have known about his ideology, in which he replaced the bomb with the settlement, as it were. (Let it nonetheless be noted that Zar was buying up private Palestinian land for settlement since 1979, that is, simultaneously with his terrorist activity).

Then Zar issued his own statement to Ynet, clarifying that he was merely ‘misunderstood’:

“Of course I referred with my words only to Arab terrorists who killed my son Gilad and the rabbi Raziel Shevach and many thousands of Jews. I live with Arabs in co-existence from my birth, out of the belief that in mutuality it is possible to live in peace.”    

This one is disingenuous on several levels. First of all, Zar did not refer merely to Arab ‘terrorists’. To suggest that this is naturally to be understood (“of course”) is like suggesting that the category, Arabs, equals terrorists. Second, he did not merely say Arabs, he added to it “goyim” (non-Jews). This added notion, which appears very calculated and even meticulously self-cited, brings this way beyond the mere tit-for-tat supposed context. It is very clearly a Judeo-centric notion of ‘Judaization of the land’ with genocidal undertones. 

And then there is of course Zar’s claim that since his birth (1938) he lives in ‘co-existence’ with ‘Arabs’. Zar was not only a member of the Jewish Underground, he was also a member of Ariel Sharon’s Unit 101 which committed the notiorious Qibya Massacre in 1953. Some ‘co-existence’ that is.

So this is, once again, one of those somewhat uncomfortable slips of the tongue, in which someone says something that is just a touch too overt, and you have to do damage control and tell people to move on. Like when Education Minister Bennett said that he “killed many Arabs and there’s no problem with that”.  

But notice what Zar was really saying, even in the conservative, watered down interpretation: Israeli settler-colonization of what Zionists consider ‘Eretz Israel’, is a form of bureaucratic genocidal “sweet revenge”.

You’re just not supposed to say it too overtly. The liberals, and especially the goyim, may start getting the wrong ideas.  

FINKELSTEIN’S THOUGHTS ON GAZA

The siege is not irrelevant to a legal determination of Israel’s right to use force—be it proportionate or disproportionate, moderate or excessive, lethal or nonlethal—to prevent demonstrators from breaching Gaza’s perimeter fence. 

The Gaza blockade is illegal– and so is the use of force to maintain it

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) is among the leading guardians of human rights in the world. Sari Bashi is HRW’s Israel/Palestine Advocacy Director. She can lay claim to an impressive academic pedigree (BA, Yale; JD, Yale), and she co-founded the important Israeli human rights group Gisha. It thus cannot but depress that Bashi is so wanting in elementary moral and legal judgment when it comes to the people of Gaza.

Shortly after the Israeli massacre in Gaza on 14 May 2018, Bashi posted a commentary under the title, “Don’t Blame Hamas for the Gaza Bloodshed.”

Its essence is captured in the opening sentence: “Israel has a right to defend its borders, but shooting unarmed protesters who haven’t breached its frontier is disproportionate and illegal.” Insofar as the demonstrators didn’t pose an “imminent threat to life,” Bashi concludes, Israel had no right to use lethal force against them and, in any event, did not “exhaust” nonlethal means “such as tear gas, skunk water, and rubber-coated steel pellets” to throw back the assembled crowd.

The UN has pronounced Gaza unlivable, while Sara Roy of Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies has written, “Innocent people, most of them young, are slowly being poisoned by the water they drink.” Is it not a tad unseemly, not to say unsettling, for the representative of a respected human rights organization to coach Israel how to stay within the letter of the law—before resorting to bullets, you must first try “tear gas, skunk water, and rubber-coated steel pellets”—while it’s herding two million people, half of them children, in an unlivable space in which they are slowly being poisoned?

To be sure, Bashi is not oblivious to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza caused by Israel’s blockade. But she makes out no legal nexus between the effects of the siege and Israel’s right to use force. Instead, she dwells on the apparently paradoxical outcome that whereas Israel imposed the blockade to weaken Hamas, it has in fact “helped Hamas grow in strength.”

But the siege is not irrelevant to a legal determination of Israel’s right to use force—be it proportionate or disproportionate, moderate or excessive, lethal or nonlethal—to prevent demonstrators from breaching Gaza’s perimeter fence. For brevity’s sake, I would want to touch here on one basic, uncontroversial point. (A forthcoming article by Jamie Stern-Weiner and this writer parses the more nuanced legal issues.)

It is a tenet of international law that no state can resort to forceful measures unless “peaceful means” have been exhausted (UN Charter, Article 2). This principle is as sacred to the rule of law as the analogous Hippocratic Oath, primum non nocere (first, do no harm), is to medicine. Now consider the situation in Gaza. Nearly all competent observers agree:

·      Israel has imposed an illegal blockade on Gaza;

·      The illegal blockade has created a humanitarian catastrophe;

·      The impetus behind the protests at the perimeter fence is the illegal blockade, and their objective is to end it.

It is to be noted that even Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu concedes the last bullet point. “They’re suffocating economically,” he observed, “and therefore they decided to crash into the fence.”

If Israel wants to protect its border, then it need not resort to either lethal or nonlethal coercion. It merely has to lift the siege. Israel’s refusal to take this preliminary peaceful step puts it in double breach of international law: the imposition of an illegal blockade and the unlawful resort to armed force when peaceful means have not been exhausted.

It is cause for wonder why Bashi doesn’t see that Israel’s resort to any force against Gaza demonstrators cannot be legally justified. It is cause for dismay that she counsels Israel to use nonlethal repression in order to corral Gaza’s inhabitants in a hellhole, instead of counseling it, not just as a matter of political expedience but also as a matter of law, to end the siege. If, by way of comparison, police repeatedly enter a man’s premises in flagrant violation of the law, the homeowner finally resists, and the police try to subdue him, would a human rights representative be advising the officers to use graduated force?

​Indeed, prior to Israel’s slated violent eviction/demolition of the Bedouin village Khan al-Amar in the West Bank, HRW itself did not recommend that the army first use “tear gas, skunk water, and rubber-coated steel pellets” but, on the contrary, bluntly warned Israel that such an act would constitute a “war crime.

Were the siege of Gaza lifted, it would put Israel on the right side of the law as it yielded the double dividend of enabling the people of Gaza to breathe and terminating the purported threat to Israel’s border. In other words, it would render all talk of force superfluous.

 

SUICIDE IS FINAL, YET THE CRISIS CONTINUES

 Until recently suicide in Gaza had been rare, partly due to Palestinian resilience and strong clan networks, but mostly because killing oneself is forbidden in traditional Muslim societies. Since 2016, suicide rates have been rising, reflecting rising levels of despair and hopelessness in the population.

Writer Mohannad Youis, 22, took his life in Gaza last year sparking outcry from friends and peer over the struggles young people who grew up under siege have endured, and mental health. (Image: Arab48)

How the death of a talented young Palestinian writer brought to light a sharp rise in suicides.

 Sarah Helm

When Mohanned Younis, a 22-year-old student, returned to his home in a relatively prosperous part of Gaza City one night last August, he was in an agitated state. He had been depressed, his mother, Asma, recalled. But she was not too worried when he locked himself in his room.

A talented writer whose short stories, many posted on his Facebook page, had won a wide audience, Mohanned was about to graduate in pharmacy, expecting excellent grades.In his writing, he gave voice to the grief and despair of his generation. Only books gave him some escape. He often shut himself away to read and write, or to work out with his punch bag.

The next morning, Mohanned didn’t stir. When Asma, helped by her brother Assad, broke into his room, they found him dead. He had asphyxiated himself.

Such was Mohanned’s social media following that news of his death reverberated across Gaza and beyond with a flood of shock, sadness and admiration. “He was a fighter who only had his sad stories to fight with,” was one of many comments posted on Facebook. But the very public mourning for the death of a talented young writer meant that Mohanned’s suicide was not just one more tragedy in a territory where thousands of young lives are cut short. Now it was impossible to deny what many had been whispering: the misery of the siege and despair for the future, especially among the most talented young Gazans, was leading to a disturbing upsurge in suicides.

Horrifying events in the Gaza buffer zone over the past week have focused world attention on the suffering and desperation of Gaza’s Palestinians, as tens of thousands have risked their lives to protest against their imprisonment behind Gaza’s fences and walls. Since the start of the Great March of Return, a series of protests that began at the end of March, more than 100 people have been killed, mostly by Israeli snipers ranged behind the perimeter fence.

Often it has looked as if these protesters were literally throwing themselves in front of Israeli bullets. In the early days of the protests, I spoke to young people on the buffer zone who said they didn’t care if they died. “We are dying in Gaza anyway. We might as well die being shot,” said a teenager, standing at the border near the city of Khan Younis. He was with friends who felt the same, including one who had already been shot in the leg, and was in a wheelchair.

If the world’s cameras were to move a little deeper into Gaza, into the streets and behind the doors of people’s homes, they would see the desperation in almost every home. After 10 years of siege, the 2 million people of Gaza, living packed on a tiny strip, find themselves without work, their economy killed off, without the bare essentials for decent life – electricity or running water – and without any hope of freedom, or any sign that their situation will change. The siege is fracturing minds, pushing the most vulnerable to suicide in numbers never seen before.

Until recently, suicide has been rare here, partly due to Palestinian resilience, acquired over 70 years of conflict, and strong clan networks, but mostly because killing oneself is forbidden in traditional Muslim societies. Only when suicide is an act of jihad are the dead considered martyrs who go to heaven; others go to hell.

In nearly three decades of reporting from Gaza, I almost never heard stories of suicide before 2016. At the start of that year, nine years into the full-blown siege, a British orthopaedic surgeon volunteering in Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital told me that she and her colleagues were seeing a number of unexplained injuries – which they believed had been caused by falling, or jumping, from tall buildings.

By the end of 2016, suicides were happening so often that the phenomenon had started to become public knowledge. Figures quoted by local journalists suggested the number of suicides in 2016 was at least three times the number in 2015. But according to Gaza’s health professionals, while figures cited in the media do indicate a substantial rise, they vastly underestimate the true rate. Suicides are “disguised” as falls or other accidents, and misreporting and censorship are common because of the stigma against suicide.

However, since 2016, there have also been a spate of self-immolations across Gaza, in which men set themselves alight for all to see.

“We didn’t have these catastrophic events 10 years ago,” said Dr Youssef Awadallah, a psychiatrist in Rafah, a city on Gaza’s border with Egypt. Mental health professionals and relatives of the deceased blame the effects of the siege, which they say is far more damaging to the wellbeing – mental and physical – of the population than successive wars have been. Doctors in Gaza are warning that the prolonged siege of the territory has caused a mental health “epidemic” of which the growing number of suicides is only one part – citing increases in schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug addiction and depression. For the first time, UNRWA, the United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, has started screening all primary healthcare patients for possible suicidal tendencies following what they describe as the “unprecedented increase” in deaths.

Men and women of all age groups, from all social backgrounds, are vulnerable to suicidal impulses, say doctors in Gaza. On a single day in March, a girl of 15 and a boy of 16 both hanged themselves. Among the dead are men who despair because they can’t support their families; women and children who are victims of abuse, often in situations of severe poverty and overcrowding; and even pregnant women, who say they don’t want to bring children into a life in Gaza. In April, a woman who was seven months pregnant slit her wrists.

Among the most vulnerable of all are Gaza’s brightest students, some of whom have killed themselves just before or after graduating. In March, while interviewing a bankrupt businessman in his home, I saw a photograph of a smart, bespectacled young man, prominently displayed – in such a way that I assumed he had been a “martyr”, someone killed in the conflict. But his portrait displayed none of the iconography associated with the martyr posters that are visible all over Gaza. I had a translator with me, and he recognised the picture: the businessman’s son had been one of his cleverest friends at university. “He hanged himself,” said the businessman. “He saw no future in Gaza.”

Months before the astonishing scenes of carnage accompanying the Great March of Return, the story of Mohanned Younis had drawn particular attention. This was not only because his writing, with its imaginative depictions of Gaza’s half-life, was admired – but because after his death, some began to describe him as martyr. His mother told me: “He is more than a martyr.”

Friends said he had fought the enemy with his pen, and had died a victim of the siege. On his death Mohanned also won warm praise for his courage and his writing from many of his social media fans, and even, in a eulogy, from the Palestinian minister of culture, Dr Ihab Bseiso. Bseiso, a member of the secular Palestinian Authority that holds power in the West Bank, appeared to imply he considered Mohanned a martyr, saying he had “no need to apologise for his early departure”. His stories would never be forgotten, he added: “You will remain one of the giants of our time, Mohanned”.

But this discussion of Mohanned’s “martyrdom” has spread fear in Gaza, particularly among parents who worry that their own children might do the same if they thought they could avoid hell. One father of two graduates told me: “We see our children through school and university, and they have worked hard and are eager to enter the world and get jobs and be normal – then nothing. If suicide is to be considered a ‘noble’ death, more might choose that way. It is very dangerous.”

Read more at the SOURCE

IN PHOTOS ~~ THE FEARLESS WOMEN OF WALL STREET

Our group wanted to do something in solidarity with the Gaza Women’s March yesterday so decided to spend a few hours with the Fearless Girl statue – our Ahed – at Bowling Green because there are so many tourists there – maximum exposure.  We do this once or twice a month and there is always a very positive reaction.    

Some people respond to the little statue very affectionately with hugs, yesterday she got a kiss (from an adult).  It seems we actually manage to create the Ahed connection among some visitors.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer, Commentary by Chippy Dee

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MARTHA’S VINEYARD BANS THE BANNER

“Oh, sack of shit, Thy name is Dershbag.”

Image by Latuff

Wah!!! Dershowitz shunned on Martha’s Vineyard!

Today everyone is talking about Alan Dershowitz’s article in the Hill complaining that he has been socially banned on Martha’s Vineyard because of his advocacy for Donald Trump.

[S]ome of my old friends on Martha’s Vineyard.. are shunning me and trying to ban me from their social life on Martha’s Vineyard. One of them, an academic at a distinguished university, has told people that he would not attend any dinner or party to which I was invited…. Others have said they will discontinue contributions to organizations that sponsor my talks.

This is all familiar to me, since I lived through McCarthyism in the 1950s, when lawyers who represented alleged communists on civil libertarian grounds were shunned. Some of these lawyers and victims of McCarthyism lived on Martha’s Vineyard. I never thought I would see McCarthyism come to Martha’s Vineyard, but I have. I wonder if the professor who refuses to listen to anything I have to say also treats his students similarly. Would he listen to a student who actively supported Trump? What about one who simply supported his civil liberties?

These childish efforts to shun me because I refused to change my position on civil liberties that I have kept for half a century discourages vibrant debate and may dissuade other civil libertarians from applying their neutral principles to a president of whom they disapprove. But one good thing is that being shunned by some “old friends” on Martha’s Vineyard has taught me who my real friends are and who my fairweather friends were. From a personal point of view, I could not care less about being shunned by people whose views regarding dialogue I do not respect…

I will not change my views as a result of these attempts to ostracize me, but there are some who may remain silent for fear of being shunned. Silence is not my style….

Jeet Heer marvels that Dershowitz was not shunned before and mocks:

Socrates was forced to eat hemlock. Ovid, Dante, & Emma Goldman were sent into exile. Margaret Sanger was jailed. Rosa Luxemburg, Gandhi and Martin Luther King were killed. Spinoza was excommunicated. Alan Dershowitz can’t find anyone to dine with at Martha’s Vineyard.

Norman Finkelstein comments, via email:

“Oh, he wants ‘vibrant debate’: I suppose that’s why he threatened to bankrupt University of California press if they published my book [Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-semitism and Abuse of History, 2005], and called on Governor Schwarzenegger to kill the book.
“Oh, and I suppose it’s because of his opposition to McCarthyism that he sent a 60-page smear document to every faculty member and administrator at DePaul so as to deny me tenure [in 2007].
“Oh, sack of shit, Thy name is Dershbag.”

MUST WATCH DOCUMENTARY ON HOW I ESCAPED FROM THE WORLD’S LARGEST OPEN AIR PRISON

I recall my personal experience back in 2010 when I was stuck in Gaza unable to peruse my higher education in Spain due to continued closure on Gaza borders. Mind the Strip, is a documentary tracking my story as a student denied basic right to education and the struggle to reach my Spanish school after medical advocacy campaign.

I think of those who are still locked off in the open air prison, Gaza, unable to exercise the basic right to education.

“Mind the Strip” tells the story of Ayman Quader, a young Palestinian from the Gaza Strip. As a humanitarian worker, he decides to leave his country to study a master in Peace, Conflict and Development Studies in Spain. All his papers are ready: the student Visa, the acceptance letter from the University and even an scholarship.

Leaving the Gaza Strip, though, will be not easy. Stuck in a country under a horrible siege, Ayman will have to sort his way out.

BYE BYE AMERICA! … BONNE FÊTE CANADA!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA ! – BONNE FÊTE CANADA

Rambling down Memory Lane…….

July 1st has always been a special day for me. Fifty one years ago today I left the United States and applied for Landed Immigrant Status in Canada. My wife and I picked this date as it was a National Holiday and we figured there would be less security at the Toronto Airport…. and less questions. It was a special day in Canada, it was the 100th anniversary of Confederation.
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My suspicions proved correct…. there was only a handful of security personnel on duty and I was asked only two questions…
“How long do you plan on staying in Canada?”…. to which I responded “Forever!”
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The second question was “Are you a subversive?”…. to which I responded quite naively “What does that mean?”
“Do you consider yourself a threat to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second or any one of her heirs?” (pronounced ‘hairs’ when I verbalise this story)…. to which I responded “Definitely not!”
“Welcome to Canada! Here is your Landed Immigrant Status Card!” (Let it be known that in no way did I consider the Royal Family ‘Divine’ in any way, but I did not feel I was a threat to their existence.)

Little did that Immigration Officer know, but in the United States I WAS considered a subversive…. in fact, I carried with me a ten page document of allegations against me from Army ‘Intelligence’ which ended with the words “Your entrance into any branch of the Armed Forces at any time would be detrimental to the security of our nation.” How much more of a ‘subversive’ can one hope to be?
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It would be ‘safe’ to say that I owe my life to the FBI. The document I mentioned above was full of information provided by them. Their ‘planted’ informants knew the exact date and time that I joined the Communist Party of the United States. They knew every move I made during all my years of activity.
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On my 18th birthday I registered with the Draft Board. We had to do that by law in those days. A few years later I received my order to report for my physical examination. I will never forget the short, burly man in charge that day…. Sgt. Randazzo. His face and voice haunts me to this day. The day I had to report was like a mini High School Reunion. Almost every male in my graduation class was present that day. We were lined up and were asked if we were interested in volunteering for the Marines. As this was a sure way to be sent to Viet Nam, there wasn’t a single volunteer. Randazzo then proceeded to pick every third person in line to serve in the Marines. But…… immediately before that an announcement was made…. “Anyone that was ever arrested, please go to Room 101.” Off I went….. which meant that poor Michael, who was standing next to me, was picked to be a Marine…. it should have been me, but I was being interrogated instead. Needless to say, Michael does not speak to me to this day.
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If you move the ‘timer’ to 7:50 on the following video, you will get a pretty good idea what that interrogation was like….
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A few months later I received my 4F. At first I was given ten days to deny the allegations in the document I received…. non compliance earned me my 4F. The rest is history…..
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Moving on…. here we were in a new country, a country with totally different values and definitions than the one we had just left. But, I felt that we were still not ‘home free’…. our new government might discover our past and deport us, so we prepared for this by purchasing a framed photograph of Her Majesty and hanging it in the hallway of our new apartment. If the Royal Mounted Police ever came to ‘visit’ it would be the first thing they saw. We had two new statuses that we did not want to lose…. Landed Immigrant and NON Subversive!
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My political activities continued throughout my years in Canada, including running in elections for both the Federal Parliament and the Province of Ontario…. on the ticket of the Communist Party of Canada. This Party was/is legal, so my status of Non Subversive did not change.
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Fifty one years later there is once again hope that Canada will become the Free North Proud and Free that it once was. The Tories’ reign of terror has finally ended. Let us hope we never see a repeat of it. Never say never!
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA ! – BONNE FÊTE CANADA
Proud to be a Canadian ….. except for this …

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.

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