Thursday, July 29, 2010

1954, the Lavon Affair, ... 2005, the Harriri Affair?

The Lavon Affair (1954) and Israel's game in Lebanon (2010)

In 1954 Israeli agents, members of "Unit 13," an Israeli espionage group under the direction of Defense Minister Pinhas Lavan, set off explosives in a British owned theater and a U.S. Information Agency library in Cairo and a post office in Alexanderia. The object was to put the blame on Egyptian radicals -- militant Muslims and or communists. The goal was to sour relations between Egypt and Western nations and make the British delay or cancel their planned withdrawal from the Suez Canal, turning it over to Gamel Abdul Nassar's nationalist government.

The ineptly conceived and executed plan soon unraveled and backfired on the Israelis. The leader of the underground group was picked by the Egyptian security police and "turned" so that he aided them in arresting the rest of the Unit 13 members. The fallout from the botched operation led to much finger pointing and to resignations and firings of government ministers.

Recently, as the article below explains, an Israeli spy network was exposed in Lebanon. The following article raises an interesting question about this spy network and the Harriri assassination. Was this another Lavon Affair, but more artfully done? --Rick Congress

The Hariri Assassination: Israel ’s Fingerprints
by Rannie Amiri

In the Middle East , the link between political machinations, espionage and assassination is either clear as day, or clear as mud.
As for the yet unsolved case of the February 2005 murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, the underpinnings of this covert operation including the role of Israel have now surfaced.
A crackdown on Israeli spy rings operating in Lebanon has resulted in more than 70 arrests over the past 18 months. Included among them are four high-ranking Lebanese Army and General Security officers—one having spied for the Mossad since 1984.
A significant breakthrough in the ongoing investigation occurred in late June and culminated in the arrest of Charbel Qazzi, head of transmission and broadcasting at Alfa, one of Lebanon ’s two state-owned mobile service providers.
According to the Lebanese daily As-Safir, Qazzi confessed to installing computer programs and planting electronic chips in Alfa transmitters. These could then be used by Israeli intelligence to monitor communications, locate and target individuals for assassination, and potentially deploy viruses capable of erasing recorded information in the contact lines. Qazzi’s collaboration with Israel reportedly dates back 14 years.
On July 12, a second arrest at Alfa was made. Tarek al-Raba’a, an engineer and partner of Qazzi, was apprehended on charges of spying for Israel and compromising national security. A few days later, a third Alfa employee was similarly detained.
Israel has refused to comment on the arrests. Nevertheless, their apparent ability to have penetrated Lebanon ’s military and telecommunication sectors has rattled the country and urgently raised security concerns.
What does any of this have to do with the Hariri assassination?
Outside the obvious deleterious ramifications of high-ranking Lebanese military officers working for Israel , the very legitimacy of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is now in question. The STL is the U.N.-sanctioned body tasked with prosecuting those responsible for the assassination of the late prime minister. On Feb. 14, 2005, 1,000 kg of explosives detonated near Hariri’s passing motorcade, killing him and 21 others.
It is believed the STL will issue indictments in the matter as early as September—relying heavily on phone recordings and mobile transmissions to do so.
According to the AFP, “A preliminary report by the U.N. investigating team said it had collected data from mobile phone calls made the day of Hariri's murder as evidence.”
The National likewise reported, “The international inquiry, which could present indictments or findings as soon as September, according to unverified media reports, used extensive phone records to draw conclusions into a conspiracy to kill Hariri, widely blamed on Syria and its Lebanese allies ...”
In a July 16 televised speech, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah speculated the STL would use information gleaned from Israeli-compromised communications to falsely implicate the group in the prime minister’s murder:
“Some are counting in their analysis of the (STL) indictment on witnesses, some of whom turned out to be fake, and on the telecommunications networks which were infiltrated by spies who can change and manipulate data.  
“Before the (2006) war, these spies gave important information to the Israeli enemy and based on this information, Israel bombed buildings, homes, factories and institutions. Many martyrs died and many others were wounded. These spies are partners in the killings, the crimes, the threats and the displacement.”
Nasrallah called the STL’s manipulation an “Israeli project” meant to “create an uproar in Lebanon .”
Indeed, in May 2008 Lebanon experienced a taste of this. At the height of an 18-month stalemate over the formation of a national unity government under then Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, his cabinet’s decision to unilaterally declare Hezbollah’s fixed-line communication system illegal pushed the country to the brink of civil war.
Recognizing the value their secure lines of communication had in combating the July 2006 Israeli invasion and suspecting that state-owned telecoms might be compromised, Hezbollah resisted Siniora’s plans to have its network dismantled. Their men swept through West Beirut and put a quick end to the government’s plan. Two years later, their suspicions appear to have been vindicated.
Opposition MP and Free Patriotic Movement head Michel Aoun has already warned Nasrallah that the STL will likely indict “uncontrolled” Hezbollah members to be followed by “… Lebanese-Lebanese and Lebanese-Palestinian tension, and by an Israeli war on Lebanon .”
Giving credence to Nasrallah and Aoun’s assertions, Commander in Chief of the Israel Defense Forces Gabi Ashkenazi, predicted “with lots of wishes” that the situation in Lebanon would deteriorate in September after the STL indicts Hezbollah for Hariri’s assassination.
Ashkenazi’s gleeful, prescient testimony to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs Committee betrays what Israel hopes the fallout from the STL’s report will be: fomentation of civil strife and discord among Lebanon ’s sectarian groups, generally divided into pro- and anti-Syria factions. Ashkenazi anticipates this to happen, of course, because he knows Israel ’s unfettered access to critical phone records will have framed Hezbollah for the crime.
Israel’s agents and operatives in Lebanon and its infiltration of a telecom network have been exposed. At the very least, the STL must recognize that evidence of alleged Hezbollah involvement in Hariri’s death (a group that historically enjoyed good ties with the late premier) is wholly tainted and likely doctored.
The arrest of Qazzi and al-Raba’a in the breakup of Israeli spy rings should prompt the STL to shift its focus to the only regional player that has benefited from Hariri’s murder; one that will continue to do so if and when their designs to implicate Hezbollah are realized.
It is time to look at Tel Aviv.
Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator

Rannie Amiri is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Rannie Amiri

Monday, July 26, 2010


Recently there have been some statements from members of the ultra-rightist Zionist/Nationalists that they could perhaps live in a "single democratic" state with the Palestinians. Some of them even live in the illegal settlements on the West Bank. the article below by Uri Avnery explains what this supposed breakthrough in Israeli thinking really is: a poorly disguised fraud and a prelude to the final goal: total ethnic cleansing of "Greater Israel." --Rick Congress

By Uri Avnery – Israel

Since I witnessed the rise of the Nazis during my childhood in Germany, my nose always tickles when it smells something fascist, even when the odor is still faint.

When the debate about the “one-state solution” began, my nose tickled.

Have you gone mad, I told my nose, this time you are dead wrong. This is a plan of the Left. It is being put forward by leftists of undoubted credentials, the greatest idealists in Israel and abroad, even certified Marxists.

But my nose insisted. It continued to tickle.

Now it appears that the nose was right, after all.

This is not the first time that a kosher leftist plan leads towards extreme rightist consequences.

That happened, for example, to the ugliest symbol of the occupation: the separation wall. It was invented by the Left.

When attacks multiplied, leftist politicians, headed by Haim Ramon, offered a miracle-solution to the problem: an impassable obstacle between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. They argued that it would stop the attacks without recourse to brutal actions in the West Bank.

The Right opposed the idea vehemently. To them it was a conspiracy to fix the borders of the state and promote the two-state solution, which they saw (and still see) as an existential threat to their designs.

But suddenly the Right changed its tune. They realized that the wall offered a wonderful opportunity to annex large tracts of West Bank land and turn them over to the settlers. And that is what happened: the wall/fence was not put up along the Green Line, but cuts deep into the West Bank. It takes away large areas of land from the Palestinian villages.

Nowadays leftists are demonstrating every week against the wall, the Right is sending soldiers to shoot at them, and the two-state solution has been set back.

Now the rightists have discovered the one-state solution. My nose is tickling.

One of the first was Moshe Arens, former Israeli minister of defense. Arens is an extreme rightist, a fanatical Likud member. He started to talk about one state from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, in which the Palestinians would be granted full rights, including citizenship and the vote.

I rubbed my eyes. Is this the same Arens? What has happened to him? But this apparent mystery has a simple solution.

Arens and his companions are faced with a mathematical problem that seems insoluble: turning the triangle into a circle.

Their aim has three sides: (a) a Jewish state, (b) the whole of Eretz Israel, and (c) democracy. How to combine these three sides into one harmonious circle?

Between the sea and the river there now live about 6.5 million Jews and 3.9 million Palestinians – a proportion of 59 percent Jews to 41 percent Palestinians (including the inhabitants of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Palestinian citizens of Israel.) This number does not include, of course, the millions of Palestinian refugees who are living outside the country.)

Several “experts” have tried to dispute these numbers, but respected statisticians, including Israelis, accept them with tiny changes here and there.

The proportion, alas, is rapidly changing in favor of the Palestinians. The Palestinian population is doubling every 18 years. Even taking into account the natural increase of the Jewish population in Israel and the potential immigration in the foreseeable future, one can predict with almost mathematical precision when the Palestinians will constitute the majority between the Jordan river and the sea. It’s a matter of years rather than decades.

The inescapable conclusion: one can reconcile between any two of the three aspirations, but not all three at once: (a) a Jewish state in the entire country cannot be democratic, (b) a democratic state in the entire country cannot be Jewish, and (c) a Jewish and democratic state cannot include the entire Eretz Israel.

Simple. Logical. One does not have to be Arens, an engineer by profession, to see this. Therefore the Right is looking for another logic that would allow the creation of a Jewish and democratic state in the entire country.

Last week Haaretz published a stunning sensation: prominent personalities of the extreme Right – indeed, some of the most extreme – accept the solution of one-state from the sea to the river. They speak about a state in which the Palestinians will be full citizens.

The rightists quoted in Noam Sheizaf’s article do not hide their reasons for adopting this line: they want to obstruct the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, which would mean the end of the settlement enterprise and the evacuation of scores of settlements and outposts throughout the West Bank. They also want to put an end to the growing international pressure for the two-state solution.

Among some leftists in the world, who advocate the one-state solution, the news was greeted with great joy. They pour scorn on the Israeli peace camp (leftists enjoy nothing more than deriding other leftists) and heap praise on the Israeli Right. What magnanimity! What readiness to break out of the box and adopt their opponents’ ideals! Only the Right will make peace!

But if these good people would read the texts, they would discover that it ain’t necessarily so. To be precise, it’s the very opposite.

All of the six rightists quoted in the article are united on a number of points which deserve consideration.

First: all of them exclude the Gaza Strip from the proposed solution. Gaza will no longer be a part of the country. Thus, the number of Palestinians will be reduced by 1.5 million, improving the menacing demographic balance. (True, in the Oslo agreement, Israel recognized the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as one integral territory, but the rightists consider the Oslo agreement anyhow as the tainted product of leftist traitors.)

Second: the one state will, of course, be a Jewish state.

Third: the annexation of the West Bank will take place at once, so that the building of settlements can go on undisturbed. In a Greater Israel, the settlement enterprise cannot be limited.

Fourth: There is no way to grant citizenship to all Palestinians forthwith.

The author of the article summarizes their positions thus: “a process that will take from about a decade to a generation, and at its conclusion the Palestinians will enjoy full personal rights, but the state will remain, in its symbols and spirit, Jewish…This is not a vision of ‘a state belonging to all its citizens’ and not ‘Isratine’ with a flag combining the crescent and the Star of David. The one state still means Jewish sovereignty.”

It is worthwhile to listen well to the explanations provided by the initiators themselves:

Uri Elitsur, former director general of Israel's Judea and Samaria Council (the leadership of the West Bank settlers, known as Yesha): “I speak of a Jewish state which is the state of the Jewish people, and in which there will exist an Arab minority.”

Hanan Porat, a founder of Gush Emunim (the religious settlers’ leadership, and the man who called upon the Jews to rejoice after the Baruch Goldstein massacre in Hebron): “I am against the automatic citizenship proposed by Uri Elitsur, which is na├»ve and could lead to grievous consequences. I propose the application of Israeli law to the territories in stages, first in the areas in which there is (already) a Jewish majority, and within a time-span of a decade to a generation in all the territories.”

Porat proposes dividing the Palestinians into three categories: (a) Those who want an Arab state and are ready to realize this by terrorism and struggle against the state – they have no place in Eretz Israel. Meaning: they will be expelled. (b) Those resigned to their place and to Jewish sovereignty, but not ready to take part in the state and fulfill all their obligations towards it – they will have full human rights, but no political representation in the institutions of the state. (c) Those who declare that they will be loyal to the state and swear allegiance to it – they will be granted full citizenship. (They will, of course, be a small minority.)

Tzipi Hutubeli, a Knesset member on the extreme fringe of Likud: “On the political horizon there must be citizenship for the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria…That will happen gradually …This process must take place over a long time, perhaps even a generation, in the course of which the situation on the ground will be stabilized and the symbols of the Jewish state and its character will be anchored in law…

"The question mark hovering over Judea and Samaria will be removed…First comes my deep belief in our right over Eretz Israel. Shiloh and Bet-El (in the West Bank) are for me the land of our ancestors in the full meaning of the term…At this moment we speak about conferring citizenship in Judea and Samaria, not in Gaza. Let it be clear: I do not recognize political rights of Palestinians over Eretz Israel…Between the sea and the Jordan there is room for one state, a Jewish state.”

Arens writes: “The integration of the Arab population (inside Israel) into Israeli society is a prior condition, and only afterward can one speak about citizenship for Palestinians in the territories.” Meaning: Arens proposes focusing on the integration of the Arab citizens of Israel – something that has not happened in the last 62 years – and only afterward thinking about the question of citizenship for the West Bank population.

Emily Amrussi, a settler who organizes meetings between the settlers and the Palestinians of the neighboring villages: “Don’t describe me as one pushing for the 'one state.' In the end we may arrive there, but we are still very far from there. Let’s talk first about one country…We don’t talk about citizenship, but in terms like relations between neighbors… First let them become my good neighbors, and then we shall give them rights…In the far future, it will be necessary to move towards citizenship for everybody.”

Reuven Rivlin, Knesset Speaker adds: “The country cannot be divided…I oppose the idea of a state belonging to all its citizens or a bi-national state and am thinking about arrangements of joint sovereignty in Judea and Samaria under the Jewish state, even a regime of two parliaments, Jewish and Arab…Judea and Samaria will be a co-dominion, held jointly…But these are things that take time…Stop waving demography in my face.”

The regime described here is not an apartheid state, but something much worse: a Jewish state in which the Jewish majority will decide if at all, and when, to confer citizenship on some of the Arabs. The words that come up again and again - “perhaps within a generation” - are by nature very imprecise, and not by accident.

But most important: there is a thunderous silence about the mother of all questions: what will happen when the Palestinians become the majority in the One State? That is not a question of "if," but of "when": there is not the slightest doubt that this will happen, not "within a generation," but long before.

This thunderous silence speaks for itself. People who do not know Israel may believe that the rightists are ready to accept such a situation. Only a very naive person can expect a repetition of what happened in South Africa, when the whites (a small minority) handed power over to the blacks (the large majority) without bloodshed.

We said above that it is impossible to "turn the triangle into a circle." But the truth is that there is one way: ethnic cleansing. The Jewish state can fill all the space between the sea and the Jordan and still be democratic – if there are no Palestinians there.

Ethnic cleansing can be carried out dramatically (as in this country in 1948 and in Kosovo in 1998) or in a quiet and systematic way, by dozens of sophisticated methods, as is happening now in East Jerusalem. But there cannot be the slightest doubt that this is the final stage of the one-state vision of the rightists. The first stage will be an effort to fill the entire country with settlements, and to demolish any chance of implementing the two-state solution, which is the only realistic basis for peace.

In Roman Polanski’s movie Rosemary’s Baby, a nice young woman gives birth to a nice baby, which turns out to be the son of Satan. The attractive leftist vision of the one-state solution may grow up into a rightist monster.

- Uri Avnery is an Israeli journalist and writer. He contributed this article to

Saturday, July 24, 2010

More Tales of Isareli Democracy in Action

Bill to criminalize peaceful protest moves forward in Israeli Knesset

From the Muzzle Watch web site

Posted on July 22 2010 by Cecilie Surasky

Real News Network, a professional online alternative to US corporate media, has this comprehensive report about a Knesset bill to criminalize Palestinian, international and Israeli efforts to promote and enact boycotts against Israel. Last week, it passed its “preliminary reading” in the Knesset, with two more rounds to go to become law.

If passed, this stunning bill will mark the most severe and antidemocratic backlash thus far against the boycott, sanctions and divestment movement (BDS) to pressure Israel to abide by international law.

The video below includes an interview with Dalit Baum of Who Profits, the project of Israel’s Coalition of Women for Peace that documents which companies profit from Israel’s occupation. The proposed law would put the Coalition out of business, mandating that any Israeli who promotes boycotts be held liable for economic losses suffered by an Israeli company because of the boycott. The report also references the Reut Institute report about the “soft warfare” against Israel –which the rest of the world calls civil society advocacy for universal democratic rights– which we have covered here at length. There’s also recent news about the harassment of Israeli refuser and BDS support Yonatan Shapira, though no mention of arrest of Palestinian Israelis Ameer Makhoul and Omar Said and others. The entire law depends on the ability of Israeli intelligence services to build and maintain a large databases of internationals and Israelis.

Settlement-based businesses have already reported significant losses due to a new Palestinian Authority ban on settlement-produced goods. The law would ban international supporters of BDS from the country for 10 years, and would financially devastated the Palestinian Authority by withholding monies rightfully owed to the Palestinians according to international law.

The bill, supported by the so-called “centrist” group Kadmia, is one third of the way to being passed.It is part of a cluster of anti-democratic laws being pushed through the right wing Knesset including, according to Peace Now’s Yariv Oppenheimer: the “NPO registration bill,” the “cinema-loyalty bill” (which demands a loyalty statement as a condition for receiving a budget from the state for making movies), the “citizenship revocation bill” and the “loyalty bill”. Oppenheimer goes on:

Along with these bills, the coalition is succeeding in promoting bills that discriminate in favor of the right wing side of the political map and which give privileges to settlers and their supporters. The “law for pardoning opponents of disengagement,” the “Golan referendum bill” and the “bill for preserving the rights of Israeli citizens in parts of the Land of Israel to which Israeli law does not apply”–all these are legislative initiatives that place the settlers in a unique legal status above other citizens, and even above the Knesset.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010





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Monday, July 19, 2010

Dressed for Success? Which kind of clothes would you think originated in Europe and which in the Middle East?

Which kind of clothing is worn by the most devout of Jews? Did the kings of Judea wear black suits with black hats? Did the rebbes in 19th century Poland wear loose robes and white keffiyehs?

Maybe it indicates something. Maybe Judaism as we know it today was forged outside of ancient Israel/Judea. Maybe what are known as its traditions were created in Europe and in Islamic Spain?

Maybe Zionist mythology about an expelled people returning to the ancient homeland is, shall we say? the mark. Who looks more at home in the Middle East? Or should we say, more of the Middle East? The Arab fashion model or the orthodox black suits?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The official Zionist story versus Jabotinsky

posted by R. Congress

An essential part of the Zionist narrative is that the establishment of the State of Israel is a coming home after centuries of exile. The expelled Jews were just trying to survive and maintain their identity as a people in a hostile Europe until they could finally return home and re-establish their original nation in the Middle East.

Of course the Zionists never take up the issue of whether there ever was any forced exile of Jews when the Roman Emperor Hadrian abolished the Provincia Judea in 132 AD and renamed it Syria Palestina (all the verifiable historical records go against any such single mass expulsion story). Nevertheless, The return home of the wandering people is a lynch pin of Zionist mythology.

Any attempts to do actual objective research on this topic is spurned by official Israeli academia. Those who raise this issue not surprisingly risk being called anti-semitic, politically motivated enemies and so on. The official Biblical/National narrative must not be challenged. (Israeli scholar Shlomo Sand's book “The Invention of the Jewish People” goes into this in detail. A book well worth reading.)

Here's a question then. What would they say when one of their founding icons, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, rejects this thesis and declares the Jews to be first and foremost Europeans? Jabotinsky was an active Zionist in British Mandate Palestine and Europe who died in 1940.

He was an arch-rival to David Ben Gurion for leadership of the movement. Rejecting the social-democratic rhetoric of Ben Gurion's Labor Party, he led the militant Revisionist movement and, influenced by the theorists of Italian Fascism, envisioned the Jewish nation as a forceful, unitary organization that submerged class divisions into a corporate state.

Among his young followers during that time were future Likud party Prime Ministers Itzak Shamir and Menechem Begin. The Likud party has its roots in the Revisionist movement and Jabotinsky can be said to have, in the long run, triumphed over Ben Gurion.

In Shlomo Avinieri's book, The Making of Modern Zionism, The Intellectual Origins of the Jewish State (Basic Books, New York, 1981) he writes of Jabotinsky:

“ ...There is no appreciation of the force, authenticity, let alone legitimacy of Arab nationalism in Jabotinsky's writings. It is true that the confrontation with Arab nationalism has always been a contentious point with many Zionist thinkers, but to a person who viewed nationalism in general as such a central force in world history as did Jabotinsky, this omission is even more surprising. Moreover, in what Jabotinsky wrote and said about the Arabs generally there is a certain tone of condescension, if not outright contempt.

It is true that Jabotinsky maintains, with all his pathos, that the Arabs living in the future Jewish state would enjoy equal civil rights as individuals. But when it comes to Jabotinsky's general attitude to the Arabs as a cultural and political force, he is far less generous.

The reason for this is found in Jabotinsky's basic view about the superiority of European versus non-European culture, and this superiority is evinced in his view of the relative merits of Zionism versus the Arab world. His writings consequently abound with instances in which he insists—counter to the nuances of Zionism-- that in returning to its ancestral land in Palestine, the Jewish people is not returning to the fold of the Orient: on the contrary to Jabotinsky the Jews are, and should always remain, an Occidental, European nation, and he condemns and sort of idealization of the Orient, which sometimes becomes very popular in Zionism and modern Hebrew literature.

In 1927 Jabotinsky argues this point very strongly in an article called “The Arabesque Fashion,” in which he reiterates his views that the Jews are a European people, deeply embedded in European culture, and that in the Occident, and not in the Levantine Orient, lies the cultural fate of of the Jews. He even goes so far as to maintain that the Sephardim possess a European, and not a Middle Eastern culture:

'We, the Jews...have no connection with that “Orient,” perhaps even less that other European people.

'It cannot be argued that we belong to the Orient because we came originally from Asia. All Central Europe is full of races who also came from Asia—and at a much later period than we. All the Ashkenazi Jews, and certain half the Sephardi ones, have been resident in Europe for two thousand years. This is sufficient time for spiritual integration.

'Moreover, not only have we been residents in Europe for many generations, not only have we learnt a lot from Europe, we are also one of the peoples who have created European culture—and we are one of the most important people of that culture.

'The spiritual atmosphere of Europe is ours, and we have the same rights in it just like the Germans and the English and the Italians and the French.

'...And in Palestine this creativity will continue. As Nordau has put it so well, we come to the Land of Israel in order to push the moral frontiers of Europe up to the Euphrates...'”

Monday, July 12, 2010

Yet Another Example of Israel's Thriving Theocracy....Uh! I mean Democracy

From Haaretz

Published 11:34 12.07.10

Latest update 11:34 12.07.10
Police arrest Women of the Wall leader for praying with Torah scroll

Anat Hoffman, the women's prayer group leader, was arrested for holding a Torah scroll in violation of a High Court ruling on prayer at the Western Wall.

Jerusalem Police on Monday arrested the leader of the Women of the Wall group for carrying a Torah scroll while praying at the Western Wall, Army Radio reported.
Women of the Wall

Anat Hoffman, the women's prayer group leader, was arrested and taken in for questioning after she was caught holding a Torah scroll in violation of a High Court ruling prohibiting women from reading the Torah at the Western Wall.

Dozens of Women of the Wall members arrived at the holy site on Monday morning for the traditional festive prayer in honor of the first day of the month of Av.

"This is another example of the ultra-Orthodox establishment imposing its stances on the public," a spokeswoman for the group said.

Women of the Wall has previously clashed with ultra-Orthodox worshippers over the group's desire to pray at the Western Wall wrapped in prayer shawls or wearing phylacteries, which some rabbis have called provocations.

In November 2009, another of the group's women was arrested for wearing a prayer shawl (tallit). At the time, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz said the act was a provocation meant to turn the wall into a fighting ground.

"We must distance politics and disagreement from this sacred place," Rabinowitz had said.

The Masorti Movement said in response to Hoffman's arrest: "The arrest of the Women of the Wall chairwoman is a foolish act. The Western Wall plaza belongs to the entire nation and the Haredim have expropriated it."

Hoffman is one of the prominent activists of the Movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel and serves as head of the Religious Action Center – the public and legal advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

EDDIE GUITAR SLIM JONES, a great song from an artist who traveled the road from Jazz/Blues to R&B to early Rock & Roll

EDDIE "GUITAR SLIM" JONES (from Wikipedia... yes, sometimes it's a reliable source)

Early life

Eddie "Guitar Slim" Jones was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, United States.[3] His mother died when he was five, and his grandmother raised him, as he spent his teen years in the cotton fields. He spent his free time at the local juke joints and started sitting in as a singer or dancer; he was good enough to be nicknamed "Limber Leg."[4]
[edit] Recording career

After returning from World War II military service, he started playing clubs around New Orleans, Louisiana. Bandleader Willie D. Warren introduced him to the guitar, and he was particularly influenced by T-Bone Walker and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown.[3] About 1950 he adopted the stage name 'Guitar Slim' and started becoming known for his wild stage act. He wore bright-colored suits and dyed his hair to match them, had an assistant follow him around the audience with up to 350 feet of cord between amplifier and guitar,[5] and would occasionally get up on his assistant's shoulders, or even take his guitar outside the club and bring traffic to a stop.[citation needed] His sound was just as unusual — he was playing with distorted guitar more than a decade before rock guitarists did the same, and his gospel-influenced vocals were easily identifiable.[6]

He got together with Muddy Waters in Los Angeles, California for some lively playing.[7]
[edit] Recordings

His first recording session was in 1951, and he had a minor rhythm and blues hit in 1952 with "Feelin' Sad", which Ray Charles covered. His biggest success was "The Things That I Used to Do" (1954).[3] The song was released on Art Rupe's Specialty Records label.[8] The song spent weeks at number one on the R&B charts and sold over a million copies, soon becoming a blues standard.[1]

He recorded on many labels, including Delmark Records and Specialty Records.[9] The recordings made in 1954 and 1955 for Specialty are his best.[10]
[edit] Death

His career having faded, Guitar Slim became an alcoholic, and then died of pneumonia in New York City at age thirty-two.[10] Guitar Slim is buried in a small cemetery in Thibodaux, Louisiana, where his manager, Hosea Hill, resided.
[edit] Influence on later musicians

Buddy Guy, Albert Collins [5] and Frank Zappa[11] were influenced by Slim. Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded a cover version of "The Things That I Used to Do".[12]

MORE EVIDENCE OF "DYNAMIC, DEMOCRATIC ISRAEL" AT WORK, and they are very cosmopolitan too...

From Haaretz July 11, 20010

Lieberman's settlement bars Russian-Israeli families from buying homes
Settlers in Nokdim, home to Russian-born FM, fear new residents not classified as Jewish by halakhic law could corrupt local morals.

By Chaim Levinson

The Nokdim secretariat ruled two weeks ago to bar non-Jewish Russian-Israelis from buying homes in the small Bethlehem-area settlement where Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman makes his home. The decision came after a frenzied debate between residents over whether the entry of individuals not considered Jewish by religious law would lead to "assimilation" or improper behavior on the part of veteran residents and their children.

The current fracas was sparked after a number of families of Russian origin applied to be accepted in the community. In each of the families, at least one member is not Jewish according to halakha, or religious law. Nokdim is a mixed community of religious and secular Israelis, both native and Russian-speaking, in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc southeast of Jerusalem.
The West Bank settlement of Nokdim

After several residents expressed opposition to admitting the families, the settlement's absorption committee decided to bring up the issue at a secretariat meeting. Two weeks ago the panel decided the families' applications would be rejected.

Nokdim's secretary, Yossi Heiman, told Haaretz: "If there were an easy solution to this issue, we wouldn't have to hold hearings on it. There are many considerations both ways; there are also strong arguments in favor of accepting these families. But, ultimately, the majority decided they were opposed to such a high number of these families coming in and changing the community's demographics.

"The biggest problem is that if you accept 10 families in which the mother isn't Jewish, then soon there will be 30 children, and tomorrow your son could fall in love with the good-looking girl next door. It's a real problem," Heiman said.

"It's difficult enough with the dozens of terrorists who enter each morning," added Nokdim resident Amit Gruen, in apparent reference to Palestinians employed in home construction in the settlement.

"We have to separate ourselves from the gentiles in commerce and everything else - particularly when it comes to living with them. It could lead to assimilation or idol worship; it opens the door to all kinds of trouble. They might lead us into committing offenses that Jews normally don't do, like idolatry and incest and all kinds of other perversions. That's why we have no place for them here," he said.

"In principle, the fact that they serve in the army is a problem. They must not serve in the army - the fact that the state brought them over doesn't mean a thing. Just as it brought them over, it can send them back to their own countries," Gruen said.

Gil Gan-Mor, an attorney heading the branch on housing rights at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said any decision not to accept a family as residents in a community on the basis of race, religion or sex is illegal discrimination.

Friday, July 9, 2010

My comments on "Non-violence as a principle" debate from Mondoweiss


A few days ago Phil Weiss' Mondoweiss blog had a gigantic post from a Matt Taylor who had made a running critique of several previous posts on the topic. It was sort of a meta-rebuttal in defense of his idea of prinicpled non-violence. In my view his whole world view and,much worse, his views on specifc actions, is at best idiot nonsense. At worst (and he can get worser and worser) he's giving aid and comfort to oppressors (his remarks on the Mavi Mamara massacre are the worst).

There were (and they are still coming) scores of comments on this subject. Some of them were good, some bad, some incoherent and some were very good. I don't envy Phil or Adam having to monitor the reader's comments section. It must be really tedious. are my few postings. It should be easy to pick up the context of what I am replying (or ranting) to. Also I have edited them a bit to correct grammar and to make some points a bit clearer.

first post

Richard Congress July 6, 2010 at 9:01 pm
Matthew Taylor’s posting/ running argument for his brand of nonviolence against activists who disagree with him, and who also happen to live in the real world, are really, really awful.
He is putting forth a holier than thou bunch of mystical drivel that is a CANCER on oppressed peoples’ struggles for liberation.
Do I sound too harsh? Am I too dismissive of the, to paraphrase, the years of alleged scholarship on Ghandi and nonviolence? No not at all.

Why do I say it is a cancer? Because it is a utopian, debilitating doctrine that always gives the benefit of the doubt to the oppressors and denigrates those who fight back for their rights. Usurpers always like to state that they are defending law and order and that any insurgency is illegitimate unless it is properly “peaceful.”

How many times have we heard pro-zionist defenders of Israeli state terrorism ask in dismay, “where is the Palestinian Ghandi?” They are violence-baiting any opposition to Israeli violence.if a real Ghandi presented himself to the IDF they would promptly shoot him in the head.

It looks like the pacifists in our movement are acting like a fifth column. (is this too incendiary? I’m very, very pissed off and have had it with haughty lectures from “principled pacifists.”)

The criticisms of the passengers on the Mavi Marmara who were under murderous armed attack by a remorseless IDF commando unit are nauseating. Taylor would have them wearing saffron robes and chanting OMMMM, or something. The use of Hindu religious jargon to criticize the vetting of the passengers is more evidence of the fantasy-land nature of this kind of church dogma style pacifism.

There has never been a successful major social change or victory of the downtrodden scored via any so-called principled philosophy of non-violence. Not in India where there was an armed movement. Fear of mass violence always plays a role in an usurper yeilding formal power in the face of the mass opposition of an invaded populace. Besides,look at India now, in spite of formal independence, and the high-tech enrichment of a modest to small sized sector of the population, it’s a disaster of poverty and theft of land from destitute peasants. (see Ahrundati Roy’s article “talking with the comrades” about the armed resistance of these peasants–resistance which is the only thing keeping them from losing everything.)

The civil rights movement in the US used very practical tactics of mass mobilizations and passive resistance. This fitted both the goal and political environment. The goal was not socialist revolution to turn society upside down. It was to eradicate Jim Crow, to win formal democratic equal rights. that goal was won, by and large. Of course any democratic right has to be constantly defended as we have seen with the Nixon Southern Strategy beginning in 1968 in which these gains have been chipped away, along with other things like labor rights, and checks on corporate power.

A big factor in the civil right struggle was the popularity of Malcom X and the later ghetto rebellions. These were not planned acts of violence; they were uprisings provoked by police sadism and wanton brutality. They played a constructive role in gaining social programs. The government had to respond in some way, and not with just more force. Some valuable social programs to help the destitute and open up opportunities for jobs and education were instituted. Now many of then have been taken back or downsized. It just shows that it's a constant struggle in this economic and political system.

Taylor should look up the history of the Deacons for Defense in the south. They stopped KKK raids into black neighborhoods by showing up with shotguns and rifles to protect civil rights leaders who were threatened with attacks by the Klan on their homes.
The Deacons were not the only such group during that period. They also played a constructive role in the movement. I doubt that anyone in their neighborhood berated them for not understanding Hindu teachings on nonviolence.

Finally, there is the issue of winning over the Israeli people…I suppose by not scaring them too much. I’m not going to say much about that. It’s just another example of the oh so moralistic pacifists catering to the oppressor. And yes, most of the Israeli Jews are the oppressors. Can they be persuaded? Don’t count on it. And don’t base all of your plans for the Palestinian struggle for their rights on pleasing the colonizers.

second post

Richard Congress July 7, 2010 at 7:07 am
Non-Violence as a principle is a metaphysical, philosophically idealist (idealist in the sense of non-materialist) form of religious belief. It begins from unprovable (or untestable in the real world) dogmas and then filters what ever happens in the world through this dismisses anything that doesn’t support its unprovable first principles. That is to say it’s a scam, like all religions and many secular ideologies.
Was Ghandi a Ghandist? Marx, irritated at the antics of some of his followers, said “I am not a Marxist.” The tactics, strategies, end goals, etc. have to be evaluated in this world and this life. Pacifism can’t do this because it is other worldly and takes as good coin the unprovable (or propositions that cannot be empirically tested). It’s like a biologist arguing with a creationist.

third post

Richard Congress July 8, 2010 at 9:29 am
“The entire world, especially Europe and Russia, must give Israelis and the Jewish people some sort of of ultimate, clear, final, and comprehensive apology for centuries of persecution, and some kind of collective assurance of ‘Never again’”! [Matthew Taylor]

There have been apologies ad infinitum for the Holocaust for decades. Misplaced reparations from Germany to Israel in the billions, on and on. It’s been converted into a world wide cult of philo-semitism.

And the Zionists will never be satisfied. They love everyone cringing and apologizing forever. They love it. And there will be no end of disgusting schmucks like Dershowitz, Netanyahu, Schumer, Weisel etc. demanding more apologies. It gives them permanent moral superiority and a cover for Israel to commit any crime it can get away with. The Holocaust is three generations in the past, but it STILL serves a useful purpose to justify Israeli ethnic cleansing.
Neither the Palestinian people, nor the Arabs (and Turks) as a whole own the Jews any apology for the atrocities of the Europeans.

Where did the Jews expelled from Spain go to? They went to the protection of the Ottoman Empire.
Enough already with this harping on the world’s guilt for the Holocaust! Other people have suffered ethnic/racial/religious oppression and campaigns of extermination.

Apologists for Zionism’s reactionary, and intrinsic impulse towards expulsion and (if they can get away with it) extermination of Palestinians will never stop invoking the Holocaust. Waving the bloody shirt of victimization has been their trump card in trying to silence any criticism of Israel.

Those Jews who belong to a synagogue or other Jewish organizations have been brain washed with the story of the history of the world centering around Jewish victimhood. And they have been taught a contempt for any other people who also claim to have been oppressed, and they have been taught paranoia and racist hatred against Islam and all Arabs. They have to unlearn this poisonous propaganda.

When I had to got to temple in the 1950s (after my bar-mitzvah I was free) there was none of this going on. When I returned to the same temple (in Indianapolis) twenty years later for one of my nephew’s bar-mitzvah I was stunned to see a big “Holocaust Resource Center” had been built on and that the whole synagogue and service had been radicalized with crude, full-throated Israeli nationalism.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

From The Onion

From the Onion
U.S. Flag Recalled After Causing 143 Million Deaths

April 13, 2010 | ISSUE 46•26 ISSUE 46•15
Flags affected by the recall range from halftime-show extravaganza models to the smallest lapel pins

WASHINGTON—Citing a series of fatal malfunctions dating back to 1777, flag manufacturer Annin & Company announced Monday that it would be recalling all makes and models of its popular American flag from both foreign and domestic markets.

Representatives from the nation's leading flag producer claimed that as many as 143 million deaths in the past two centuries can be attributed directly to the faulty U.S. models, which have been utilized extensively since the 18th century in sectors as diverse as government, the military, and public education.

"It has come to our attention that, due to the inherent risks and hazards it poses, the American flag is simply unfit for general use," said Annin & Company president Ronald Burman, who confirmed that the number of flag-related deaths had noticeably spiked since 2003. "I would like to strongly urge all U.S. citizens: If you have an American flag hanging in your home or place of business, please discontinue using it immediately."

Enlarge Image

Added Burman, "The last thing we would want is for more innocent men and women around the world to die because of our product."

Millions of U.S. flag–related injuries and fatalities have been reported over a 230-year period in locations as far flung as Europe, Cuba, Korea, Gettysburg, PA, the Philippines, and Iraq. In addition, the company found that U.S. flag exports to Vietnam during the late 1960s and early 1970s resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, a clear sign that there was something seriously wrong with its product.

Despite fears about the flag's safety—especially when improperly used or manipulated in ways not originally intended—sales continued unabated over the years, potentially putting billions of unsuspecting people in danger.

"At first, we wanted one of our flags in every home in America," Burman said. "Unfortunately, the practical applications of this product are far outnumbered by the risks it presents. Millions have died needlessly, and when you ask people why, they point to the flag."

Enlarge ImageUnfortunate casualties of Old Glory’s near-continuous 230-year use.

Added Burman, "Frankly, we should have pulled it off the market decades ago."

Studies conducted by the Annin & Company research and development department revealed that faulty U.S. flags have caused more than just injuries and deaths. During the mid-1950s, the flags were found to have the bizarre side effect of causing fear, paranoia, and hysterical behavior among millions of Americans. This was dismissed as an isolated event until September 2001, when similar symptoms reemerged on a massive scale.

As hazardous as the flags may be on their own, Annin & Company officials claimed the products become even more dangerous when used in conjunction with other common household items.

"When combined with alcohol, excessive patriotism, grief, or well-intentioned but ultimately misguided ideals, U.S. flags transform into ticking time bombs, just waiting to go off," Burman said.

Manufacturers are addressing the flag's unsafe and potentially lethal alignment of stars and stripes by designing a revised model that they hope will cut down on deaths in the United States and overseas, where experts say the flag is nearly 1,000 times as deadly.

In the meantime, Annin & Company is advising all Americans to either ship their flags back to the manufacturer or, if no time permits, dispose of them in an efficient manner.

"I understand that people might be reluctant to stop using a product they have found to be reliable over the years," Burman told reporters. "But I can't in good conscience allow them to use something I know to be dangerous. We'll try to make adjustments soon and come up with something that benefits everybody rather than hurting them."

Added Burman, "In the interim, I would recommend that all Americans switch to the Canadian flag, which seems to be working just fine."
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