Thursday, August 27, 2009


This excerpted article is from an Israeli mainstream media source. However, it does refer to evidence that undercuts racist ideas about “the Arabs.” Common Zionist parlance doesn’t allow that they are “Palestinians,” since that might indicate that they have lived in what is called Israel for centuries and may have some rights.

The article also raises questions about the “it’s our land, we were here first” argument used by apologists of Israel’s ethnic cleansing policies. So, are all the Polish, Russian, English, etc. Jews who populate Israel the original inhabitants of the land? How can the people who never left be outsiders? And what’s more, even if they never went anywhere could they qualify as Jews under the right of return…. How about the right of original residence?

Then there is the question of what the “diaspora” really was. True, the ancient kingdom of Judea was abolished by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 135 AD, but it took about five centuries for the majority of the population to be non-Jewish. And prior to the abolition of the Jewish kingdom large expatriate communities of Jews had been living (for centuries) in Alexandria, Rome, Athens and other urban centers of the Roman Empire. So this story is not so simple as it has been presented, in Zionist “education” and in religious schools (as a child I remember thinking that all the Jews were in Israel and then suddenly they were kicked out… at, say 1:15 PM on a Tuesday, and that was that). – Rick Congress

In an article titled “Arabs of Jewish Descent” published August 9, 2009 on the web site by Hillel Fendel he quotes an Israeli rabbi who said that he has believes that up to 85 percent of Arabs in “greater Israel” are of Jewish descent.

Fendel’s article cites the narrator in a new film about the efforts of Tzvi MiSinai to find the Jewish roots of what Fendel calls “Israel’s Arab enemies.” “In our search for the lost Ten Tribes in India and Afghanistan, we seem to have forgotten to look for their descendants in our very own backyard.” Says the film’s narrator.

MiSinai traveled throughout occupied Palestine and heard stories from villagers who remember observing Jewish customs when they were children. Besides documenting the extent of Jewish ancestry among Palestinians, MiSinai is also proselytizing, trying to get them to embrace their Jewish roots and convert (*editor’s note: this idea is not in the plans of the Israeli government. They don’t want the Palestinians to become Jews and outnumber the European Jews. They want them to get out.)

Fenton’s article goes on to say, “It is generally accepted that most Jews left Israel after the failed Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE. Yet many remained, and of these, many are still here, after having been forced to convert to Islam. ‘It turns out that a large part of the Arabs of the Land of Israel are actually descendants of forced converts to Islam over the years,’ says Rabbi Dov Stein of the nascent Sanhedrin rabbinical council. “There are some studies that say that 85 percent of the Arabs in Israel are descended from Jews; others say there are fewer.”

“The claims are not new. Early Zionist leaders David Ben-Gurion and Yitzchak Ben-Tzvi wrote in a book 100 years ago: “If we investigate the origins of the Felahim, there is no doubt that much Jewish blood runs in their veins.” The authors cited an edict in the year 1012 by Caliph el-Hakim, who ordered the non-Muslims to either convert or leave Israel.
It is estimated that 90 percent of the Jews chose the former, though many continued to practice Judaism in secret. The decree was revoked 32 years later - apparently too late for about 75 percent of the converts…

“Prof. Ariela Oppenheim of Hebrew University conducted a genetic study that backs up conclusions of Jewish-Arab genetic similarities. “…despite the dispersion of Jews around the world for 2,000 years, they essentially kept their Jewish continuity,” Oppenheim said. “In addition, we found that the Jewish population is surprisingly close, genetically, to the Arabs living here in Israel.”

She said that the study shows that both the Arabs of Israel and the Jews are descended from the Kurds of Aram in Babylon – the birthplace of the Patriarch Abraham.

“It’s clear that we’re all from the same family,” Oppenheim concludes. “Most unfortunately, however, there are conflicts even within families, and sometimes brothers fight as well. I wish this is what will bring the Redemption, but I’m very sad to say that I don’t think so…”

Monday, August 17, 2009


GAZA FREEDOM MARCH DEC. 27 - JAN. 1 on the one year anniversary of the Israeli massacre of Gaza.

photo by Rick Congress, March 2009, Gaza


Amnesty International has called the Gaza blockade a "form of collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza, a flagrant violation of Israel's obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention." Human Rights Watch has called the blockade a "serious violation of international law." The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, Richard Falk, condemned Israel’s siege of Gaza as amounting to a “crime against humanity.”

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter has said the Palestinian people trapped in Gaza are being treated "like animals," and has called for "ending of the siege of Gaza" that is depriving "one and a half million people of the necessities of life."

One of the world's leading authorities on Gaza, Sara Roy of Harvard University, has said that the consequence of the siege "is undeniably one of mass suffering, created largely by Israel, but with the active complicity of the international community, especially the U.S. and European Union."

The law is clear. The conscience of humankind is shocked.

The Palestinians of Gaza have exhorted the international community to move beyond words of condemnation.

Yet, the siege of Gaza continues.

Upholding International Law

The illegal siege of Gaza is not happening in a vacuum. It is one of the many illegal acts committed by Israel in the Palestinian territories it occupied militarily in 1967.

The Wall and the settlements are illegal, according to the International Court of Justice the Hague.

House demolitions and wanton destruction of farm lands are illegal.

The closures and curfews are illegal.

The roadblocks and checkpoints are illegal.

The detention and torture are illegal.

The occupation itself is illegal.

The truth is that if international law were enforced the occupation would end.

An end to the military occupation that began in 1967 is a major condition for establishing a just and lasting peace. For over six decades, the Palestinian people have been denied freedom and rights to self-determination and equality. The hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were forced out of their homes during Israel’s creation in 1947-48 are still denied the rights granted them by UN Resolution 194.

Sources of Inspiration

The Gaza Freedom March is inspired by decades of nonviolent Palestinian resistance from the mass popular uprising of the first Intifada to the West Bank villagers currently resisting the land grab of Israel's annexationist wall.

It draws inspiration from the Gazans themselves, who formed a human chain from Rafah to Erez, tore down the border barrier separating Gaza from Egypt, and marched to the six checkpoints separating the occupied Gaza Strip from Israel.

The Freedom March also draws inspiration from the international volunteers who have stood by Palestinian farmers harvesting their crops, from the crews on the vessels who have challenged the Gaza blockade by sea, and from the drivers of the convoys who have delivered humanitarian aid to Gaza.

And it is inspired by Nelson Mandela who said: “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. ... I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

It heeds the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who called his movement Satyagraha-Hold on to the truth, and holds to the truth that Israel's siege of Gaza is illegal and inhuman.

Gandhi said that the purpose of nonviolent action is to "quicken" the conscience of humankind. Through the Freedom March, humankind will not just deplore Israeli brutality but take action to stop it.

Palestinian civil society has followed in the footsteps of Mandela and Gandhi. Just as those two leaders called on international civil society to boycott the goods and institutions of their oppressors, Palestinian associations, trade unions, and mass movements have since 2005 been calling on all people of conscience to support a non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions until Israel fully complies with its obligations under international law.

The Freedom March also draws inspiration from the civil rights movement in the United States.

If Israel devalues Palestinian life then internationals must both interpose their bodies to shield Palestinians from Israeli brutality and bear personal witness to the inhumanity that Palestinians daily confront.

If Israel defies international law then people of conscience must send non-violent marshals from around the world to enforce the law of the international community in Gaza. The International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza will dispatch contingents from around the world to Gaza to mark the anniversary of Israel's bloody 22-day assault on Gaza in December 2008 - January 2009.

The Freedom March takes no sides in internal Palestinian politics. It sides only with international law and the primacy of human rights.

The March is yet another link in the chain of non-violent resistance to Israel's flagrant disregard of international law.

Citizens of the world are called upon to join ranks with Palestinians in the January 1st March to lift the inhumane siege of Gaza.

لمزيد من المعلومات الرجاء الاطلاع على بيان السياق

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Saturday, August 15, 2009


The upsurge of overwrought, red-faced screaming white people mobbing health care forums, or parading around with tea bags hanging from their WalMart hats has set some commentators to musing about what's behind this backlash. It's not so hard to fathom.

A common sight on our TV screens is some grossly overweight "middle American" holding up a sign about Obama's death panels, weeping into the Fox News microphone saying that "We are losing our country!" Or they might phrase it, "are we losing our America?" The answer is : YES.

Millions of white, stupid American are losing their country. And it's about time. This ignorant, whining mass of racists, religious fascists, and fast food consumers deserves any misfortune they get. Demographics are putting them into a minority status. They are kicking up a fuss, but their social weight and political power is slipping away, and it's all for the good.

These are the ones who thought Jim Crow America was great, who bought into every dumb-ass military adventure or CIA caper from Guatemala and Iran in 1954, to the Domincan invasion of 1965 ... Chile 1973, Vietnam, Grenada! nauseum. They were Nixon's silent majority and their kids became Regan's born-again racists as he cashed in on the Southern Strategy.

Let these dopes become an abused, shut-out minority. Let this country be flooded by smart, enterprising people from Mexico, Nigeria, China. Let's see mosques and Hindu temples abound (I'd prefer that everyone would be an atheist, but you can't have everything), let's see chicken fried steak driven out by curried lamb. Let's see the NFL and MLB be eclipsed by soccer (real football) and cricket (maybe I'll understand the rules by then). Let's see if the future non-redneck majority of the state of Georgia wants the Confederate battle flag to remain part of the state flag.

"We're losing our American values, our culture" wail the brigades of porcine rightist populists from small town USA (even those of them who live in larger cities are mentally small-town). What values? White people are the anointed ones, the only real Americans. Culture? They haven't given us Jazz, or Blues or Theater, literature or cinema. Besides corn dogs and NASCAR what have they produced? Billie Ray Cyrus?

These people (the book, by Thomas Frank, "What's the Matter With Kansas" was written about them) have been too addle-brained to act in their best economic interests. As a social class they have a common cause with organized labor and working class blacks and latinos. But no, they've never had any truck with these lesser beings. They have stuck with the middle and upper class con artists who can lead them around by the nose, whispering about god, abortion, guns, aliens (from Mars or Ecuador, same thing to them -- an opinion poll would probably find that they think nuking Roswell, NM would solve the illegal alien problem), etc.

As a consequence they have voted for and supported all of the scams that allowed the ruling rich to poison the air, water and land; loot their pension funds, sell them fake mortgages, take away their jobs and leave them dazed and confused ... seduced and abandoned.

If they are the base of the Republican party then the Republicans have no future. This won't necessarily lead to anything progressive in US politics. The Democrats will just occupy the mid-left, the center and the right of the political spectrum and do what major political parties have always done: represent the interests of finance capital and corporations (the Democrats are just smarter at it than the Republicans). To paraphrase what Bill Maher quipped: The Republicans have moved into a mental insitution and the Democrats have become Republicans.

The "true" Americans of Sarah Palin's constituency can't understand any of this ... no surprise there.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Battle for Bil'in


Below is an excerpt from an article giving background on the struggle. I was there with a Code Pink delegation in June of 2009 and got my first whiff of teargas since the 1960s -- Rick Congress

The Battle For Bil'in

By Eileen Fleming

24 February, 2009

[Bil'in, Feb. 23, 2009] For four years, the beleaguered agricultural village of Bil'in in the West Bank has resisted the route of Israel's Wall; which in Bil'in is composed of miles of electrified-barbed wire fencing that denies the landowners access to their legally owned land.

The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that The Fence must be moved and the stolen land restored to the Bil'in villagers; but civil and military authorities have not complied and last week, night time raids by Israel escalated.

Mahmoud Zwahre, a coordinator of the Popular Committee Against The Wall, wrote:

Imagine being awakened to the sound of a stun grenade. Imagine such a grenade landing in your front yard every night. This is the reality that residents of Palestinian villages who are struggling against the apartheid wall are forced to deal with since the attack on Gaza.

These nightly invasions by the army, which terrorize villagers, are becoming ever more frequent. Invasions take place three to four times a week in the villages of Beit Likia and Bil'in. In the last week, the villages of Ma'asara, Ni'ilin and Jayus too have joined the list, as troops have been harassing those who participate and organize the village protests.

Around 12:30 at night the solders [knocked on] the door of my house [demanding] I open the door; more than 10 solders entered my house without my permission…they pushed me out side in the cold weather with very light clothes…they told me that they are going to arrest me and they [bound] me …I'm on the ground on my knees at that time; I thought that I'm in Guatanomo…and then they told me…we are going to arrest you next week we are going to come in more difficult way; so don't come to demonstrate, don't organize demos…While they was checking in my house they found emails for many friends from solidarity associations.

Today or tomorrow we are going to win because we have the faith.-end Mahmoud

Even with the four years of media blackout on the popular struggle, thousands of Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals have been waging a nonviolent campaign of resistance to the construction of the route of Israel's Wall in the Occupied Territories.

Palestinian farmers, mothers, children and activists have been braving teargas, beatings, bullets, arrest, and even death to rise up against the most well equipped army in the world, with nothing more than their own bodies and determination.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that The Wall is a violation of International Law because it cuts through the West Bank appropriating Palestinian land and destroying Palestinian villages and economy in order to establish more illegal settlements.

The route of The Electric Fence in Bil'in and the Israeli army prohibits the indigenous people to tend and harvest their olive groves. Over 2,003 dunums of prime agricultural land have been confiscated by The Electric Fence.

The Israelis built apartments for 750 settlers that the indigenous people are forbidden to enter.

In Billin, the Green Line is five miles from The Electric Fence and the Popular Committee in Bilin has been fighting the illegal actions of the Israeli government with demonstrations and legal actions.

The Israeli government attempts to justify their land theft by returning to the Ottoman Law that states if the landowner doesn't tend his land it can be confiscated by the State. The Israeli army and The Electric Fence have prevented the indigenous people from accessing their legally owned land, thus depriving them of food, income and human rights.

After the indigenous people of Bilin brought their case to the Israeli Municipal Court and the High Court; both courts agreed the building of the settlement dwellings was indeed illegal and ordered the construction to cease in January 2006. Construction continued and the settlers moved in and the High Court accepted these 'facts on the ground' but the indigenous people have not given up seeking justice.