Friday, July 29, 2011

Israeli army attacks Dutch music orchestra with tear gas

The Dutch street orchestra 'Fanfare van de Eerste Liefdesnacht' (see video below)from Amsterdam was attacked with tear gas today by the Israeli army during their performance in the Palestinian village Kufr Qadum near Nablus.

The Dutch musicians were confronted with tens of soldier who shot tear gas canisters from behind their military jeeps during the musical performance. The Dutch musicians found themselves surrounded with snipers. Several members of the music band were injured and suffered from tear gas inhalation.

Kufr Qadum is a village near Nablus that has suffered in recent years from radical Jewish settlers who attack the villagers, cut down olive trees and set fire to fields. The roads that lead to the village are often blocked by Israeli military checkpoints.

The Dutch music orchestra has traveled around the West Bank during two weeks to perform in towns, villages and refugee camps. The band consists of 25 musicians with different musical instruments. They were invited by the town council of Kufr Qadum to perform in the village.

Dutch band performing 'Unadikum' at Yabous Festival in East Jerusalem:


Photos can be obtained from Bernice Siewe:

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For more information contact Lysbeth Pypker :

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

An un-American response to the Oslo attack BY GLENN GREENWALD

Glenn Greenwald
THURSDAY, JUL 28, 2011 07:29 ET

Over the last decade, virtually every Terrorist plot aimed at the U.S. -- whether successful or failed -- has provoked greater security and surveillance measures. Within a matter of mere weeks, the 9/11 attacks infamously spawned a vast new surveillance statute (the Patriot Act), a secretly implemented warrantless eavesdropping program in violation of the law, an explosion of domestic surveillance contracts, a vastly fortified secrecy regime, and endless wars in multiple countries. As it turned out, that massive over-reaction was not a crisis-driven anomaly but rather the template for future actions.

The failed Christmas Day bombing over Detroit led to an erosion of Miranda rights and judge-free detentions as well as a due-process free assassination program aimed at an Muslim American preacher whose message allegedly "inspired" the attacker. The failed Times Square bombing was repeatedly cited to justify reform-free extension of the Patriot Act along with a slew of measures to maximize government scrutiny of the Internet. That failed plot, along with Nidal Hasan's shooting at Fort Hood, provoked McCarthyite Congressional hearings into American Muslims and helped sustain a shockingly broad interpretation of "material support for Terrorism" that criminalizes free speech. In sum, every Terrorist plot is immediately exploited as a pretext for expanding America's Security State; the response to every plot: we need to sacrifice more liberties, increase secrecy, and further empower the government.

The reaction to the heinous Oslo attack by Norway's political class has been exactly the opposite: a steadfast refusal to succumb to hysteria and a security-├╝ber-alles mentality. The day after the attack -- one which, per capita, was as significant for Norway as 9/11 was for the U.S. -- Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang, when asked whether greater security measures were needed, sternly rejected that notion: "I don't think security can solve problems. We need to teach greater respect." It is simply inconceivable that any significant U.S. politician -- the day after an attack of that magnitude -- would publicly reject calls for greater security measures. Similarly inconceivable for American political discourse is the equally brave response of the country's Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, whose office was the target of the bomb and whose Labour Party was the sponsor of the camp where dozens of teenagers were shot:

He called on his country to react by more tightly embracing, rather than abandoning, the culture of tolerance that Anders Behring Breivik said he was trying to destroy.

“The Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation,” Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg insisted at a news conference. . . .

Stoltenberg strongly defended the right to speak freely -- even if it includes extremist views such as Breivik’s.

“We have to be very clear to distinguish between extreme views, opinions — that’s completely legal, legitimate to have. What is not legitimate is to try to implement those extreme views by using violence,” he said in English.

Stoltenberg’s promise in the face of twin attacks signaled a contrast to the U.S. response after the 9/11 attacks, when Washington gave more leeway to perform wiretaps and search records.

It reflects the difference between the two countries’ approaches to terrorism. The U.S. has been frustrated by what it considers Scandinavia’s lack of aggressive investigation and arrests.

Since the attacks, Stoltenberg and members of Norway’s royal family haveunderlined the country's openness by making public appearances with little visible security.

Norway's government understandably intends to investigate what happened and correct any needed gaps in security, such as slow police response; but what it refuses to do is transform itself into a closed, secret surveillance state. About all of this, The New York Times today says that "Norway’s policy on public security [] seemed defined by a belief that bad things happen elsewhere." No: it is defined by a belief that there are other values besides security that matter a great deal and that pursuing security above all other values, in a quest for absolute safety, is both self-destructive and futile.

This realization was once not only common in the American political ethos, but its defining feature. Patrick Henry's decree -- give me liberty or give me death -- resonated for generations precisely because it underscored that Americans were willing to subordinate physical security to other values (such as freedom and privacy). The American Revolutionaries were long revered in our political culture because -- by risking everything, including their lives, to wage war against the most powerful empire on Earth -- they chose liberty and freedom from state intrusion over personal security.

Multiple provisions of the U.S. Constitution reflect this same prioritization of values. The Fourth Amendment bars the police from entering our homes without search warrants and probable cause even though that restriction means that some of the most heinous and dangerous of criminals -- from mass murderers to child rapists -- will remain un-apprehended. The Fifth Amendment bars imprisonment without due process and the Bill of Rights imposes a slew of restrictions on the state's power to convict accused criminals even though it means that those same horrific criminals may sometimes go free, able to commit their crimes again. This subordination of security to other values was long the defining attribute of the American political identity, because we didn't want to live in a Singapore-like Security State or an East-German-like Surveillance State.

All of this has given way -- among the political class in the U.S. -- to a supreme fixation on safety at the expense of every other value: a fixation that is in equal measures cowardly, authoritarian and exploitative. Patrick Henry's long celebrated tribute to courage has been turned on its head by the degraded cowardice of GOP tough-guy leaders -- such as Pat Roberts, John Cornyn, and Rush Limbaugh -- shrieking that civil liberties are worthless if you're dead: i.e., that safety is the paramount goal. Meanwhile, as virtually every other country that suffers a horrendous Terrorist attack puts the accused perpetrators on trial in their real court system in the city where the attack occurred -- the subway bombers in London, the train bombers in Madrid, the shooters in Mumbai, the Bali nightclub bombers in Indonesia -- it is only the U.S., the self-proclaimed Home of the Brave, that is too frightened to do so, instead concocting military tribunals and sticking accused terrorists in cages on a Caribbean island, as members of both parties spew base fear-mongering to bar trials on American soil.

Just to highlight how extreme is the fear-based American repudiation of openness and transparency, consider the responses to the efforts of two Democratic Senators, Sens. Wyden and Udall, to force the Obama administration to explain what Wyden previously called the Secret Patriot Act:

The Obama administration continued Wednesday to resist the efforts of two Democratic senators to learn more about the government’s interpretation of domestic surveillance law, stating that “it is not reasonably possible” to identify the number of Americans whose communications may have been monitored under the statute. . . .

“Every time the American public finds out that laws have been rewritten in secret or the administration can't give a basic answer, it erodes public confidence and makes it harder for intelligence agencies to do their jobs,” said Wyden, who for the past two years has decried what he calls a de facto "secret law" governing domestic surveillance.

So drowning in secrecy is the National Security State that the Obama administration refuses even to explain how it interprets and applies surveillance powers enacted by Congress. Even more perverse, the article describes how the Obama administration has been touting its commitment to openness by hailing the declassification of a 200-year-old document on cryptography: one that has been publicly available for years in Europe. As a new ACLU report documents -- one co-authored by former FBI agent Mike German -- "We are now living in an age of government secrecy run amok."

What's most striking, and ironic, is that the Norwegian response to the Oslo attack is so glaringly un-American even though its core premise -- a brave refusal to sacrifice liberty and transparency in the name of fear and security -- was once the political value Americans boasted of exhibiting most. What we now have instead is the instinctive exploitation by political elites of every threat -- real and imagined -- as a means of eroding liberties, privacy and openness, based in part on fear and in part on an opportunistic desire for greater power. That's why Norway's courageous, principled response seems so foreign to American eyes and ears.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

If the UN votes to recognize a Palestinian State in September is it good for the Palestinians, or bad for the Palestinians?

In the article below Illan Pappe argues that establishing a Palestinian mini-state on the 22% of its pre-1948 borders that the Gaza strip and the West Bank represent is no solution. He's obviously right. But does that mean the campaign to get individual countries to recognize a Palestinian State and have the UN vote to recognize such a state is wrong?

In reality, no one really believes that if the UN were to recognize the West Bank and Gaza as a Palestinian state anything would come of it. It's abundantly clear that the Israeli government and the White House's definition of such a state has no qualities of statehood known to humankind.

When Obama, or Netanyahu (only under duress, through clenched teeth) say "OK, let's have two states," they mean a very strong Israeli Jewish State which controls an unarmed, dependent, Palestinian prison camp with a flag and national anthem.

Israel doesn't even want that phoney solution to happen and Obama is just mouthing the words in order not to look like a totally abject apologist for every crime Israel commits. In the long run (or maybe not so long run) Israel want to push all Palestinians out of Israel proper, Gaza and the West a minimum (Likud and Israel Betainu are direct heirs to Ze'ev Jabotinsky's Revisionist Zionists who made claims to Egypt's Sinai and the East Bank of the Jordan).

The campaign for the recognition of a Palestinian state is symbolic. But it serves to put Israel/US on the spot to put up or shut up. It exposes their hypocrisy of opposing any proposal for something that they say they are for, and it exposes and publicizes the ridiculous conditions they put on such a so-called state (no army, no control of their own airspace and borders, the right of Israel to keep troops there, etc). It also puts the lie to the Israel/US claim that the “negotiation process” must be the way to go.
Israel won't even slow down the illegal building of colonies in the West Bank, let alone stop them. All the concessions have to be on the Palestinian side; Israel concedes nothing; it just continues to take.

In so many words, the campaign for the UN to vote for a Palestinian state in September is an educational campaign and serves to rally those who favor Palestinian human rights and oppose Israeli oppression and ethnic cleansing. That's a good thing. Besides, this is one tactic in a very long, hard struggle.

--Rick Congress

The grumpy diplomats of the rogue state
Ilan Pappe
The Electronic Intifada
22 July 2011

The move to declare Palestine, within 22 percent of its original being, as an independent state at the UN is a charade whether it succeeds or not. . . . A solution has to include all the Palestinians (in the occupied territories, in exile and inside Israel) and has to be based on the construction of a new regime for the whole land of historical Palestine, offering equality and prosperity for all the people who live there now or were expelled from it by force in the last 63 years of Israel's existence."

The Israeli ambassador to Spain, Raphael Schutz, has just finished his term in Madrid. In an op-ed in Haaretz's Hebrew edition he summarized what he termed as a very dismal stay and seemed genuinely relieved to leave.

This kind of complaint seems now seems to be the standard farewell letter of all Israeli ambassadors in Western Europe. Schutz was preceded by the Israeli ambassador to London, Ron Prosor, on his way to his new posting at the United Nations in New York, complaining very much in the same tone about his inability to speak in campuses in the United Kingdom and whining about the overall hostile atmosphere. Before him the ambassador in Dublin expressed similar relief when he ended his term in office in Ireland.

All three grumblers were pathetic but the last one from Spain topped them all. Like his colleagues in Dublin and in London he blamed his dismal time on local and ancient anti-Semitism. His two friends in the other capitals were very vague about the source of the new anti-Semitism as both in British and Irish history it is difficult to single out, after medieval times, a particular period of anti-Semitism.

But the ambassador in Madrid without any hesitation laid the blame for his trials and tribulations on the fifteenth century Spanish Inquisition. Thus the people of Spain (his article was entitled "Why the Spanish hate us") are anti-Israeli because they are either unable to accept their responsibility for the Inquisition or they still endorse it by other means in our times.

This idea that young Spaniards should be moved by atrocities committed more than 500 years ago and not by criminal policies that take place today, or the notion that one could single out the Spanish Inquisition as sole explanation for the wide public support for the Palestinian cause in Spain, can only be articulated by desperate Israeli diplomats who have long ago lost the moral battle in Europe.

But this new complaint -- and I am confident that there are more to come -- exposes something far more important. The civil society struggle in support of Palestinian rights in key European countries has been successful. With few resources, sometimes dependent on the work of very small groups of committed individuals, and aided lately by its biggest asset -- the present government of Israel - this campaign has indeed made life quite hellish for every Israeli diplomat in that part of the world.

So when we come and assess what is ahead of us, we who have been active in the West are entitled to a short moment of satisfaction at a job well done.

The three grumpy ambassadors are also right in sensing that not only has Israeli policy in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip come under attack, but also the very racist nature of the Jewish state has galvanized decent and conscientious citizens -- many of them Jewish -- around the campaign for peace and justice in Palestine.

Outside the realm of occupation and the daily reality of oppression all over Israel and Palestine, one can see more clearly that history's greatest lesson will eventually reveal itself in Palestine as well: evil regimes do not survive forever and democracy, equality and peace will reach the Holy Land, as it will the rest of the Arab world.

But before this happens we have to extricate ourselves from the politicians' grip on our lives. In particular we should not be misled by the power game of politicians. The move to declare Palestine, within 22 percent of its original being, as an independent state at the UN is a charade whether it succeeds or not.

A voluntary Palestinian appeal to the international community to recognize Palestine as a West Bank enclave and with a fraction of the Palestinian people in it, may intimidate a Likud-led Israeli government, but it does not constitute a defining moment in the struggle for the liberation of Palestine. It would either be a non-event or merely provide the Israelis a pretext for further annexation and dispossession.

This is another gambit in the power game politicians play which has led us nowhere. When Palestinians solve the issue of representation and the international community exposes Israel for what it is -- namely the only racist country in the Middle East -- then politics and reality can fuse again.

And slowly and surely we will be able to put back the pieces and create the jigsaw of reconciliation and truth. This must be based on the twofold recognition that a solution has to include all the Palestinians (in the occupied territories, in exile and inside Israel) and has to be based on the construction of a new regime for the whole land of historical Palestine, offering equality and prosperity for all the people who live there now or were expelled from it by force in the last 63 years of Israel's existence.

The obvious discomfort the three diplomats felt and expressed is not due to any cold shoulder shown to them in local foreign ministries or governments. And therefore while many Europeans can make their lives miserable, their respective governments can still look the other way.

Whether it is financial desperation and external Israeli and American pressure that bought Greece's collaboration against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla or it is the power of intimidation that silences even progressive newspapers like the Guardian in the West, Israel's immunity is still granted despite its diplomats' misery.

This is why we should ensure that not only Israeli ambassadors feel uncomfortable in European capitals, but also all those who support them or are too afraid to confront Israel and hold it to account.

Ilan Pappe is Professor of History and Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter. His most recent book is Out of the Frame: The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel (Pluto Press, 2010).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Palestinian newborns are dying at Israeli checkpoints," The Lancet

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Palestinian newborns are dying at checkpoints
Posted by Libby Powell | 5
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In their home just outside of Bethlehem, a young couple, Farid and Nadia, put their son to bed. First-time parents, they tiptoe in and out of his nursery. The view from the window is dominated by the drab grey slabs of the Separation Wall, which stands just 20 metres from the house. ‘I fear that he will grow up thinking this is normal,’ Farid says.

Nadia is a Jerusalem ID holder. Farid, however, only holds a green West Bank ID card and is prohibited from owning property or driving a car in the district. ‘The night that my wife went into labour,’ Farid recalls, ‘we made our way to hospital. Because I wasn’t allowed to drive I had to sit beside her. She was in severe pain. I thought she was going to deliver in the car. At the checkpoint, we were made to wait. They wouldn’t allow us to switch so I could drive, although she was clearly in severe pain.’

After the delay, the Israeli military who guard the checkpoint forced Nadia to drive herself to hospital.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 10 per cent of pregnant Palestinian women were forced to endure labour or childbirth at a checkpoint between 2000 and 2007, resulting in the death of at least 35 babies and five women during the seven-year period. This data is at the centre of a new research abstract published this week in the leading medical journal, The Lancet.

The abstract’s author, Halla Shoaibi, is a lawyer at the University of Michigan. She believes there may be grounds for Israel to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity for obstructing pregnant Palestinian women as they try to reach medical care during labour.

Israel has over 500 checkpoints and barriers across occupied Palestine; a journey that should take minutes can take hours. Approximately 18,000 pregnant Palestinian women each year will develop complications.

Sexual and reproductive health consultant Carol Bradford says that checkpoint delays complicate an already fragile situation: ‘The Thaddeus and Maine “Three Delays Model” identifies the main causes of needless death of a mother and, often, her newborn. The first delay is getting out of the home when a woman needs emergency care; the second is in getting to the facility; and the third is when the facility can’t help her because it doesn’t have the right equipment or supplies. All three are at play in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The Fourth Geneva Convention states that ‘expectant mothers shall be the object of particular protection and respect’. Yet, in 2009, the Committee Against Torture said it was ‘seriously concerned’ by the ‘undue delays and denial of entry’ at Israeli checkpoints of those seeking urgent medical care. Shoaibi’s analysis will investigate a claim against Israel based on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 7 (1) (k), which prohibits ‘inhumane acts…intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health’.

Individual testimonies lodged with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights certainly indicate inhumane treatment, great suffering and the loss of life as a result of checkpoint delays. A testimony given in August 2003 reported the birth, and death, of a baby girl at a checkpoint in northern West Bank. The mother was prevented from reaching an ambulance on the other side. The baby died after the father was forced to cut his baby’s umbilical cord with a stone.

Yet, despite the gravity of individual cases, Shoaibi will need to show that Israel’s actions are intentional, widespread and systematic. The statistic of one in 10 [women giving birth at checkpoints] would suggest a widespread problem. But it’s very likely that even this number is a huge underestimation, because many cases from isolated rural areas never get reported.

Proving Israel’s strategic intent to cause suffering will be a challenge. However, there have been indications of an attitude of aggression amongst the Israeli military towards childbearing Palestinian women. In March 2009, there was international outrage over a set of t-shirts commissioned by Israeli soldiers depicting a pregnant Palestinian with a target over her belly. Over the image were the words One shot – two kills.

Graffiti on the Apartheid Wall. Photo by upyernoz under a CC licence.

Whether or not Shoaibi is able to validate a claim to the International Criminal Court, the fact that a significant number of pregnant women have routinely been denied safe passage to a hospital must raise alarm bells. The international rule of occupation requires Israel to enable the people of occupied Palestine to live as ‘normal’ a life as possible.

‘Is it normal that our women are giving birth at checkpoints?’ asks Farid. ‘If you think it’s normal I have nothing more to say.’

Gilad Atzmon and Sara Gillespie

Retired IDF Major General Denounces Israeli government attack on democratic rights

Published 03:08 19.07.11
Latest update 03:08 19.07.11

Yes Mr. Lieberman, I'm a proud Jewish terrorist
The foreign minister says Yesh Din, the organization of whose public council I am a member, is a terrorist organization - 69 years after the British Mandatory government defined me as a terrorist.

By Shlomo Gazit

In 1942, as a young boy, a high school student in Tel Aviv, I joined the Haganah (the main pre-state underground Jewish militia ). The British Mandatory government considered me, and others who did as I did, to be members of an illegal organization. Two years later I enlisted in the Palmach, the elite strike force of the Haganah, and during my period of activity in the framework of the Jewish resistance movement the British government considered me a "terrorist." Afterwards I fought in the War of Independence and spent another 32 years in the Israel Defense Forces as a career soldier.

Today I consider the continuation of our occupation rule in Judea and Samaria an existential danger. As I see it, this situation is threatening the main achievement to which I contributed 70 years ago: the establishment of a sovereign and democratic Jewish state. If we don't separate as soon as possible from the Palestinian population on the ground, Jewish and democratic Israel will be unable to survive.

A few years ago I became a member of the public council of Yesh Din - Volunteers for Human Rights. I can't influence Israel's diplomatic decisions, but I saw it as my duty to contribute to upholding the law in the occupied under our control. I believe that the Israeli government, the Knesset and the vast majority of the people want the law to be enforced in the area east of the Green Line, just as they want it to be enforced to the west of it. But in the present situation, unfortunately, there is no equal treatment for Jews and Arabs when it comes to law enforcement. The legal system that enforces the law in a discriminatory way on the basis of national identity, is actually maintaining an apartheid regime. And I wanted to prevent that with my activity and contribution as a member of the council of Yesh Din.

The Palestinian resident in the occupied territory is unable in most cases to stand up for his rights and to find his way in the State of Israel's civil and military bureaucratic maze. The group of researchers and volunteers (mainly female ) of Yesh Din serve as his mouthpiece. We do not presume to decide who is right in each and every instance. Our job is only to learn about all the details of the complaint and to bring it to the authorities.

The Israeli administration in the area, the IDF and the Israel Police, don't like our activity. They feel uncomfortable dealing with the complaints that we place before them. But none of them claims that our activity is unnecessary, unacceptable or subversive.

Yesterday something shocking happened. A respectable minister in the Israeli government, the foreign minister, the man who heads the Yisrael Beitenu party, called the organization of whose public council I am a member, Yesh Din, a terrorist organization - 69 years after the British Mandatory government defined me as a terrorist.

At the time I considered the epithet attached to me by the Mandatory government a badge of honor. Today I see the same title, which this time was attached to me by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, as a new badge of honor. I believe that the activity of Yesh Din deserves a medal. I see our activity as a crucial attempt to save the State of Israel from becoming an apartheid regime.

The foreign minister should have been the first to understand that. Doesn't he understand that a person who condemns the activity of Yesh Din is in effect announcing a deliberate intention to maintain a miscarriage of justice, a deliberate intention to maintain separate systems of law and justice for Jews and Arabs? Under these circumstances, Mr. Lieberman, I'm proud to be called a "terrorist" by you.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The debt is not nearly as scary as you think: Government budgets are nothing like family budgets

The debt is not nearly as scary as you think: Government budgets are nothing like family budgets

By David Graeber
New York Daily News
Thursday, April 21st 2011

We have to live within our means. That's what President Obama repeatedly tells us, echoing a point Republicans have been making for years. Like households, governments must husband our resources and balance our budgets, or future generations will surely pay.

There's a problem here. The analogy is ridiculous. Government budgets - and the U.S. budget in particular - are absolutely nothing like a household budget.

Here are five reasons why:

1. Households can't levy taxes.

True, governments, like households, have revenue coming in and expenses to be paid out. But if the breadwinner in a family has a job, he doesn't get to decide what he's paid for it. The U.S. government can charge its employer (the taxpayer) pretty much anything it wants to.

2. When households owe money, they owe it to other people. The U.S. debt is owed mainly to ourselves.

Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. debt is not mainly owed to China. In fact, roughly 70% of it is owed right here at home. Even more remarkably, the vast majority of that is owed to the government itself - mainly to the Federal Reserve or other government accounts. Granted, the Fed is a semi-independent entity, but the President appoints its chairman and its purpose is to serve the U.S. public. Money owed to a bank you ultimately control is simply not the same as money your family owes to Citibank.

3. When households owe money to other people, they can't just print it. The government can.

This is how it works: Technically, it's not the government but the Fed that prints the money, then "lends" it to the Treasury. But the effect is ultimately the same, since the Fed can print as much money as it likes and the government doesn't really have to pay it back.

The only real limit is the danger of inflation: If we flood the economy with too many dollars, the dollar itself might begin to lose its value. This is the scare story the deficit hawks always trundle out. The irony is that at the moment we have exactly the opposite problem: Not enough money is circulating, so the Fed right now is printing dollars with reckless abandon.

4. When someone in your household writes a check, the recipient tends to cash it. Not so when the U.S. sells Treasury bonds to banks in Brazil or China.

They rarely cash them in, but mainly just sit on them, rolling them over each year. This is because U.S. Treasury bonds have come to substitute for gold as the world's reserve currency. So our foreign debt isn't exactly debt, either. True, some economists worry that if we print too many dollars, other nations might eventually find something else to use as reserves, and start cashing in their T-bonds. But that's an unlikely prospect, because it would mean having to create an entirely different global banking system.

5. If a household doesn't pay its debts, creditors can take them to court or call the cops. Internationally, we are the cops.

Why are countries like Brazil or China effectively giving us money and pretending they are loans? Well, consider this: A major reason the U.S. has a deficit to begin with is that we spend more on our military than all other nations in the world combined. But the military backs up the entire financial system. Think of these "loans," then, as the salary we're being paid for acting as the world's enforcers.

There's every reason to believe politicians know all this - that in private, they'd tend to agree with Dick Cheney's famous assessment: "Deficits don't matter." Most probably know that if we ever really did balance the budget, it would likely throw our economy into a tailspin. So why are they suddenly telling us that when it comes to their solemn promises to the rest of us - for instance, Social Security and Medicare - they just don't have the money?

David Graeber, an anthropologist, is author of "Debt: The First 5,000 Years."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Confessions of an Antr-Semitic WASP

Jefferson Morley

from World Opinion Search

As a Jew-loving liberal I must say that David Greenberg’s recent piece in Slate on Yale’s center for the study of anti-Semitism struck me as abstract, and one-sided–yet I took it personally. When I quit my kvetching, I decided that Greenberg’s usually capacious historical vision had failed to capture the reality of anti-Semitism in the city where I live, Washington DC.

The piece evokes anti-Semitism as a threat to the Jewish community worldwide, particularly as articulated by Islamic fundamentalists, including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Some liberals, he says, are faint of heart when it comes to talking about this. Greenberg (a former colleague at the New Republic in the mid-1980s) asks: “How did liberalism—historically the philosophy of toleration and equal rights—come to be so squeamish about confronting Jew-hatred in its contemporary forms?

Here’s how:

There is a growing non-violent movement in Israel, the Palestinian territories, the United States and Europe called BDS, which stands for the boycott of, divestment from, and sanctions on the current government in Tel Aviv because it disenfranchises, demonizes, and denies the rights of about half of the human beings under its sway, solely on the basis of race and religion.

The BDS movement is liberal, in precisely the same way the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa was liberal. BDS, for example, seeks to open up the apartheid roads in Israel that are now restricted for the use of believers of one faith only. BDS says the existence of a “Jews-only” highway is long-term folly as a security measure for Jewish people and ill-liberal on its face.

The BDS movement confronts a democratically-elected and messianically nationalistic government that daily seizes the land of people of one faith for the exclusive use of the people of another.

BDS seeks to call attention to the fact that Israel receives more U.S. taxpayer dollars than any country in the world, while its leaders barely conceal their intention to draw our nearly bankrupt government into yet another war in the Middle East in the near future.

In short, BDS is rooted in the same human desire for participatory government—the same revulsion against arbitrary power–that fuels the unexpectedly inspiring events known as the Arab Spring. Yet to declare one’s support for the BDS movement in Washington invites—no, insures– that you will indicted as an “anti-Semite” in a liberal American journal. If you are lucky, you will only be charged with the misdemeanor of being “squeamish” about Jew hatred.

That’s how it happened to me.

So excuse me, while I plead innocent to Jew-hating. Greenberg’s worries (and Ron Rosenbaum’s) about anti-Semitism seem abstracted from the reality of American politics in 2011. The most successful anti-Semite in recent U.S. presidential politics was Pat Buchanan, a charming and intelligent Irishman who undeniably has some gut animus against my Hebrew kin. He sometimes displays the same bile for my black brethren and the Latino “illegal immigrants” in my life–and for much the same reason. These dusky humanoids threaten Buchanan’s sense of the United States as a white Christian republic, which is why I never voted for the man.

Was Buchanan over-the-top when he described the U.S. Congress as “Israel’s amen corner in Washington?” Maybe. Was the U.S. Congress over the top in giving a strutting bully named Netanyahu 29 standing ovations for during his recent Capitol Hill cameo? Definitely. We need analysis of that Zionist debacle more urgently than another sotte voce warnings about the somewhat more distant threat (at least to sane Washington discourse) of Jew hatred.

Greenberg doesn’t name any liberals who deny the reality of Jew-hatred in the Arab world, but I suppose there are a few. I don’t know or like any of them. For the sake of argument, I can agree with Paul Berman’s suggestion that the anti-Semitism of the Muslim Brotherhood somehow inspired the 9/11 hijackers and the global Islamist movement. So what? Save for pre-modern Yemen, the newly mobilized publics of the Arab world show little tolerance for or interest in the damaged and discredited leaders of what our hero Hitchens has usefully dubbed “Islamofascism.” Let’s do what we can to keep it that way.

As a taxpayer, I’m not that worked up about the strain of Jew hatred in the Muslim Brotherhood’s culture right now because my money does not fund the Egyptian Islamic party. I do pay for the regime in Tel Aviv. As a voter, I think my preferences are even-handed. In policy terms, the U.S. government has a few ways to shape the behavior of the Muslim Brotherhood in a more liberal direction—and it should use all of them. The U.S. government has many more levers to nudge the Israeli government in a more liberal direction—and it should use all of them.

As for the micropolitics of the Yale anti-Semitism center, Greenberg attributes the closure of the first center to some subtle, unspoken bad faith of American liberals that the administration can’t quite articulate. Ron says it is “shameful.” As an alumnus, I agree Yale should clear the air with a concise explanation of why the first center did not meet university standards and why the second does. It’s a teachable moment.

For all his complaining, Greenberg does not address the rather more tangible role of the campus BDS movement in Yale’s decision. This multicultural movement–which naturally includes more than a few Jewish kids–made it clear to the administration of the school that an anti-Semitism center would be held to high standards of liberal discourse. It seems to me (from afar) that Yale responded to these legitimate concerns while trying to keep the boundaries of discussion as wide as possible.

Instead of addressing the arguments of the Yale BDS movement, Greenberg props up a straw man.

“Yes, yes,” he says. “Criticism of Israel isn’t necessarily anti-Semitic. Everyone agrees about that. What liberals seem to have a hard time admitting these days is that criticisms of Israel can ever be anti-Semitic. “

This liberal doesn’t have a hard time admitting that. The Jewish people have always had lots of enemies. They don’t need any more. That’s why the Muslim Brotherhood and Benjamin Netanyahu should be watched closely. But why am I getting so huffy and personal about this?

Greenberg’s essay torqued me because I am a 10th generation white Anglo Saxon Protestant (WASP) whose formative education began when I first met Jewish people. It happened when I was enrolled in 6th grade at the almost totally Jewish Ethical Culture school on New York’s Upper West Side. It was there, among the liberal Jews, that I contacted an apparently incurable lifelong case of the dread social disease known as “secular humanism.”

I attended Fieldston, the high-achieving high school in the Bronx that gave the world J. Robert Openheimer, the visionary physicist who warned against nuclear weapons, and Lloyd Blankfein, the Goldman Sachs visionary who got rich while my 401K evaporated, I came of age with a fatal weakness for Henny Youngman jokes and Jewish women. I eventually married one. Her father was an Ashkenazi Jew from Romania, and I was glad to have a mensch of a father-in-law. It seemed natural.

Actually I never met my father-in-law. Nesti Arene died a decade before I met my wife. But I sure love him from afar. He was darkly handsome aspiring musician who studied with Pablo Casals while still in his teens. In Nazi-occupied Paris, he lived under an assumed name to evade a national security apparatus that sought to liquidate Jews and communists. He was expelled to Argentina, and, via a romantic twist of fate, wound up bringing new levels of excellence in classical music to the people of El Salvador. Toward the end of his life, he became a refugee again. In 1980, he and his family had to leave San Salvador or be killed by a U.S.-funded national security apparatus that sought to liquidate Jews and communists. Blown across the globe by 20th century geopolitics, my father in law never lost his sense of culture or his sense of humor. My kind of mensch.

Yet because I am a BDS supporter, I am by the current norms the nation’s capital, a borderline anti-Semite whose views have no place in respectable debates in Washington. I’m also alleged to be an enemy of academic freedom at my own alma mater. I’m “squeamish.”. Some might allow as I’m not really a Jew hater, I’m just “objectively” helping the anti-Semitic conspiracy that plans to wipe out the Jewish people in the near future. (Actually, my views on Iran are actually more complicated than that but never mind.) I hope my old friends Greenberg and Rosenbaum don’t think I’m trafficking in age-old anti-Semitic stereotypes. I don’t think I’m a self-hating (non) Jew. But if it turns out I am, I suppose I will feel bad about it. In my own mind, I’m just a slightly evolved WASP: a Wannabe Ashkenazi Supporting Palestinians.

From the Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel

CWP Update: The New Boycott Law
Dear Friends,

The boycott law which passed last night in the Knesset is illegitimate. We will not comply with this law, and this is also our message to the public. The Coalition of Women for Peace, together with Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, Physicians for Human Rights and the Public Committee Against Torture are about to appeal to the Supreme Court to drop the law on the account of its unconstitutional essence and violation of civil liberties.

Eilat Maoz, CWP Coordinator, quoted this morning in NRG-Maariv (Hebrew):"an illegitimate government passes an illegitimate law to protect an illegitimate occupation, while complaining about de-legitimization. We will continue boycotting, protesting, demonstrating and resisting the occupation – and we call on everyone else to do so".

Right to Resist Campaign – Blocking the Bill
When we launched our campaign Right to Resist, speaking against the boycott bill was considered a taboo even in progressive liberal circles. Public identification with boycotts and the BDS Movement seemed too big of a risk for most. Today, boycotting the occupation is more popular in Israel than ever.

CWP activists and staff have been working around the clock to generate the widest public opposition possible to this bill: monitoring and reporting live from Knesset committee meetings; launching a video-campaign featuring leading Israeli artists, cultural figures and activists speaking out against this bill; securing endorsement of an urgent appeal to halt the legislation by more than 50 Israeli civil society organizations including those objecting boycotts; securing extensive media coverage in Israel; conducting international advocacy efforts reaching unprecedented visibility; soliciting a letter by European Parliament Members to EU Commissioners to express their concern, and, finally, launching a mass-emailing campaign – in the past two days, more than 19,000 emails were sent to 120 Knesset Members, requesting them to vote against the bill. This complete transformation of public discourse is a great achievement - and the appeal to the Supreme Court is on its way.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Note in bottle found in Potomac River: "help! I'm being held hostage by neo-cons"

A kayaker paddling in the Potomac River found an empty bottle of Schlivovitz with a note inside floating in the water. He turned the note over to Washington D.C. police department.

The note read: "Help! This is your President speaking! Dennis Ross, Hillary and Geithner have locked me in the Oval Office broom closet. They will only let me out to go to the bathroom and read prepared statements going along with neo-liberal economic policies, neo-con war-making policies and heartless social policies.

I also have to write 'whatever Israel does is good for America,' and 'I'll never have another small, tactical difference with Netanyahu ever again,' on a blackboard 100 times a day. They've replaced me with a double and Michell and the kids can't tell the difference."

A D.C. police representative said they will "look into the matter" and open an investigation.

A confidential source within the top secret Self-Deluded Liberal squad of the D.C. police told a reporter: "I've suspected something like this was going on. How else can you explain the policies and statements coming from the White House? We all know that President Obama is dedicated to liberal New Deal social leveling programs, fair taxation, non-military diplomatic solutions to world problems and cries himself to sleep at night worrying about the plight of the Palestinian people."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ron Paul (R-Texas) speaks out against House resolution threatening Palestinians on "negotiations"

From Rep. Ron Paul's website: It takes a Republican libertarian to speak against the US government's collusion with Israel to crush the Palestinian people. Have you ever heard of any "progressive Democrat" doing the same?

Statement on H Res 268, Reaffirming the United States commitment to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations:

Mr. Speaker I rise in opposition to this resolution. While I certainly share the hope for peace in the Middle East and a solution to the ongoing conflict, I do not believe that peace will result if we continue to do the same things while hoping for different results. The US has been involved in this process for decades, spending billions of dollars we do not have, yet we never seem to get much closer to a solution. I believe the best solution is to embrace non-interventionism, which allows those most directly involved to solve their own problems.

This resolution not only further entangles the US in the Israeli/Palestinian dispute, but it sets out the kind of outcome the United States would accept in advance. While I prefer our disengagement from that conflict, I must wonder how the US expects to be seen as an “honest broker” when it dictates the terms of a solution in such a transparently one-sided manner?

In the resolution before us, all demands are made of only one side in the conflict. Do supporters of this resolution really believe the actors in the Middle East and the rest of the world do not notice? We do no favors to the Israelis or to the Palestinians when we involve ourselves in such a manner and block any negotiations that may take place without US participation. They have the incentives to find a way to live in peace and we must allow them to find that solution on their own. As always, congressional attitudes toward the peace process in the Middle East reveal hubris and self-importance. Only those who must live together in the Middle East can craft a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

Democrats and Labor: A Murder-Suicide Pact

Tue, 07/05/2011 - 23:50 — Bruce A. Dixon

The nation's largest union, the NEA just endorsed President Obama's re-election campaign, despite the fact that under its Race To The Top program, the Obama administration has waged a relentless jihad to purge organized teachers from their workplaces. Does the NEA suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, in which the abused sympathize with their abusers instead of themselves? What does this say about the real relationship between Democrats and organized labor?

Democrats and Labor: A Murder-Suicide Pact

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

When the father of former black Republican congressman J.C. Watts observed not long ago that an African American voting Republican was kind of like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders, he could have been speaking for labor and all people of color as well. It's not recorded what the old man had to say about Democrats. But if old Mr. Watts is still around the current antics of corporate funded Democratic governors in California and New York and elsewhere, and of our corporate funded Democrat in the White House might cause him to compare that Republican Colonel Sanders with the Democratic Popeye's.

Labor and Democrats have had this bargain for a while now. Democrats get all of labor's cash contributions ---- not nearly what the corporations give, but still a substantial amount. Labor also mobilizes tens of thousands of volunteers in dozens of states to knock on doors, to staff phone banks and to canvass precincts for Democrats on every level. A disproportionate number of those volunteers, and of union members are black and brown, of course.

To understand what kind of bargain this is, let's look at what labor gets for its money, its manpower, and its selfless dedication to the Democratic party's cause.

In California, the state legislature for the fifth time in recent years passed a bill that would compel growers to recognize farmworker unions whenever a majority in any workplace signed union cards. Democratic governor Gerry Brown, the recipient of vast quantities of union money and union volunteer labor, did exactly the same thing his Republican predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger did the last four times. He vetoed it. On the other coast New York's Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo, similarly blessed by the unions in his campaign, wages war upon public workers, slashing their pay, trying to raise their retirement age and two-tier their pensions to divide younger against older workers.

Barack Obama campaigned in 2007 and 2008 promising to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, to re-evaluate NAFTA, to walk a picket line with striking workers as the president, and to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. He was rewarded by the support of every large union in the country.

But like every other corporate Democrat, President Obama abandoned the promises and instead played the part of the Democratic Popeye's to the Republican Colonel Sanders. President Obama froze the pay of federal workers and saddled GM's auto workers with their own underfunded retiree health plan.

But President Obama's longest running campaign against the right of working people to organize and fight for equity and democracy has been against public school teachers. Banksters, hedge fund speculators and the Obama administration want to privatize public schools, turning them into low-cost holding tanks for the poor on their way to prison or minimum wage jobs at McWal-Marts. Organized teachers, when united with organized parents, are a major obstacle on that road and have been savagely attacked by the Obama administration's Race To The Top program.

So did the chickens of the National Education Association, the nation's largest remaining union do last week? You guessed it.... they endorsed Popeye's fried... or rather Obama's re-election campaign almost 17 months before the election.

The character of relations between labor unions and Democrats is clear. Corporate funded Democrats agree to take labor's money and volunteers, and to try their best to undermine and kill those labor unions. The suicidal union leaders in their turn agree to continue to fund and enable the assault upon them. NEA's endorsement is only the latest ratification of this deal. The bargain between labor and Democrats is truly a murder-suicide pact.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at

Obama's role: "progressive" front man for US imperialism & corporate plunder

The Strange Silencing of Liberal America

by John Pilger

Global Research, July 7, 2011

How does political censorship work in liberal societies? When my film, Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia, was banned in the United States in 1980, the broadcaster PBS cut all contact. Negotiations were ended abruptly; phone calls were not returned. Something had happened. But what? Year Zero had already alerted much of the world to the horrors of Pol Pot, but it also investigated the critical role of the Nixon administration in the tyrant’s rise to power and the devastation of Cambodia.

Six months later, a PBS official told me, "This wasn’t censorship. We’re into difficult political days in Washington. Your film would have given us problems with the Reagan administration. Sorry."

In Britain, the long war in northern Ireland spawned a similar, deniable censorship. The journalist Liz Curtis compiled a list of more than 50 television films in Britain that were never shown or indefinitely delayed. The word "ban" was rarely used, and those responsible would invariably insist they believed in free speech.

The Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe, New Mexico, believes in free speech. The foundation’s website says it is "dedicated to cultural freedom, diversity and creativity". Authors, film-makers, poets make their way to a sanctum of liberalism bankrolled by the billionaire Patrick Lannan in the tradition of Rockefeller and Ford.

Lannan also awards "grants" to America’s liberal media, such as Free Speech TV, the Foundation for National Progress (publisher of the magazine Mother Jones), the Nation Institute and the TV and radio programme Democracy Now! In Britain, Lannan has been a supporter of the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, of which I am one of the judges. In 2008, Patrick Lannan personally supported the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, he is "devoted" to Obama.

On 15 June, I was due in Santa Fe, having been invited to share a platform with the distinguished American journalist David Barsamian. The foundation was also to host the US premiere of my new film, The War You Don’t See, which investigates the false image-making of war-makers, especially Obama.

I was about to leave for Santa Fe when I received an email from the Lannan official organising my visit. The tone was incredulous. "Something has come up," she wrote. Patrick Lannan had called her and ordered all my events to be cancelled. "I have no idea what this is all about," she wrote.

Baffled, I asked that the premiere of my film be allowed to go ahead as the US distribution largely depended on it. She repeated that "all" my events were cancelled, "and this includes the screening of your film". On the Lannan website "cancelled" appeared across a picture of me. There was no explanation. None of my phone calls was returned, nor subsequent emails answered. A Kafka world of not-knowing descended.

The silence lasted a week until, under pressure from local media, the foundation put out a brief statement that too few tickets had been sold to make my visit "viable" and that "the Foundation regrets that the reason fr the cancellation was not explained to Mr. Pilger or to the public at the time the decision was made". Doubts were cast by a robust editorial in the Santa Fe New Mexican, The paper, which has long played a prominent role in promoting Lannan events, disclosed that my visit had been cancelled before the main advertising and previews were published. A full-page interview with me had to be hurriedly pulled. "Pilger and Barsamian could have expected closer to a packed 820-seat Lensic [arts centre]."

The manager of The Screen, the Santa Fe cinema that had been rented for the premiere, was called late at night and told to kill all his online promotion for my film, but took it upon himself to re-schedule the film for 23 June. It was a sell-out, with many people turned away. The idea that there was no public interest was demonstrably not true.

Theories? There are many, but nothing is proven. For me, it is all reminiscent of the long shadows cast during the cold war. "Something is going to surface," said Barsamian. "They can’t keep the lid on this."

My talk on 15 June was to have been about the collusion of American liberalism in a permanent state of war and the demise of cherished freedoms, such as the right to call government to account. In the United States, as in Britain, serious dissent – free speech -- has been substantially criminalised. Obama, the black liberal, the PC exemplar, the marketing dream is as much a warmonger as George W. Bush. His score is six wars. Never in US history has a president prosecuted as many whistle-blowers; yet this truth-telling, this exercise of true citizenship, is at the heart of America’s constitutional first amendment. Obama’s greatest achievement is having seduced, co-opted and silenced much of liberal opinion in the United States, including the anti-war movement.

The reaction to the Lannan ban has been illuminating. The brave, like the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, were appalled and said so. Similarly, many ordinary Americans called into radio stations and have written to me, recognising a symptom of far greater suppression. But some exalted liberal voices have been affronted that I dared whisper the word, censorship, about such a beacon of "cultural freedom". The embarrassment of those who wish to point both ways is palpable. Others have pulled down the shutters and said nothing. Given their patron’s ruthless show of power, it is understandable. For them, the Russian dissident poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko once wrote, "When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie."

"The War You Don’t See" is available on

John Pilger is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by John Pilger

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What is the 'right' type of resistance?

from Al Jazeera

Media coverage of the Palestinian resistance movement is shaped to fit the Western narrative of nonviolence.
Ibrahim Shikaki Last Modified: 06 Jul 2011 09:28

Even when Palestinians resist nonviolently, the Israeli response is always violent

Over the past few months, several international media outlets have published articles fixating on the so-called "new" Palestinian nonviolent movement. Two fallacies have accompanied such reporting and analysis. First the use of the term "nonviolent" and its connotations; and second, the narrative surrounding the movement.

Unfortunately, the source of these articles is often respected media outlets that have reported fairly on the Palestinian cause, including Al Jazeera English.

The latest articles in the series are Al Jazeera English's "Green shoots emerge at Qalandia checkpoint", the Economist blog's "Here comes your non-violent resistance", and Time magazine's "Palestinian Border Protests: The Arab Spring model for confronting Israel".

The articles are replete with quotes such as "but the traditional resistance of burning tires and throwing stones will not change overnight. We need to give the world a picture of nonviolent Palestinian resistance", and "we're going to continue marching in nonviolence until it is very clear in the international media who is violating human rights".

#1: There is no such thing as Palestinian "nonviolent" resistance

To start with, the danger of using the term "nonviolent resistance" insinuates that any other form of resistance is violent, hence giving it a negative undertone.

In Arabic, Palestinians do not distinguish between violent and non-violent resistance, but rather between armed resistance and popular resistance. The Palestinian people and political factions have relied on both forms, as well as others, throughout the past century.

In fact, and unlike other colonial schemes in South Africa or Algeria, the goal of the Zionist colonial plan is to uproot and ethnically cleanse Palestine of its indigenous people - hence, by simply existing and standing firm on their land, Palestinians are actually resisting.

While I don't mean to advocate for a specific form of resistance here, there must be a clear distinction between two different notions.

On the one hand, there are attempts to impose the idea that nonviolence is the only form of resistance "allowed", thus falsely implying that all other forms of resistance are violent, immoral or illegal. On the other hand, a general consensus views resistance as a legitimate right of the Palestinian people, as it is the right of any people living under oppression, colonisation and foreign occupation.

According to this view, popular resistance is perceived to be more effective than armed resistance at this stage of struggle. Because of the discrepancy between these two statements, the term "violent" has been extended to reach the throwing of stones at Israeli tanks or heavily armoured military checkpoints.

Many different forms of popular resistance characterised the first Intifada, including children jumping from house to house during curfew hours to provide sugar and flour to neighbors; youth playing soccer on the edges of streets so as to warn graffiti writers when a military vehicle was passing through; volunteer work; commercial strikes and boycotts; as well as mass protests that included throwing stones at army outposts and military vehicles.

The fact is, facing a brutal war machine with stones is but a symbolic gesture. It is a symbol of the vast discrepancy in power between the Palestinian people and Israel's war machine.

Stones aimed at Israeli tanks or other armed vehicles were a means for the unarmed indigenous people of Palestine to demonstrate their refusal of occupation and oppression. Youth, women, the elderly and all sectors of society participated in this form of resistance.

Stones could be violent, however, when used systematically by Israeli soldiers to smash Palestinians' limbs, as part of a policy ordered by Yitzhak Rabin, then Israeli minister of defence, to "break their bones". The Knesset refused to even investigate Rabin's order, and he was never been held accountable.

Moreover, media outlets advocating for these nonviolent tactics have chosen to completely overlook the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Although it does not fall under the two forms of resistance mentioned earlier, it can be only be categorised as a strictly non-violent tactic, aiming to pressure Israel to abide by its obligations under international law.

The overwhelming growth in the BDS movement, met with little to no coverage of its successes by most mainstream media outlets can only be an indicator of the hypocrisy of their coverage of Palestinian resistance: only shedding light on forms of resistance they categorise as relevant - or, dare I say, worthy.

Finally, it is important to comprehend the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that is often called "complex". In fact, and at the risk of oversimplifying, it is a conflict between an oppressor and an oppressed. Within that context the use of violence and force can be exemplified perfectly in the words of Paulo Freire:

"Never in history has violence been initiated by the oppressed. How could they be the initiators, if they themselves are the result of violence? How could they be the sponsors of something whose objective inauguration called forth their existence as oppressed? There would be no oppressed had there been no prior situation of violence to establish their subjugation. Violence is initiated by those who oppress, who exploit, who fail to recognise others as persons - not by those who are oppressed, exploited and unrecognised."

#2: Western narrative and terminology

The second problem posed by this narrative and the discourse surrounding these articles is more significant and more worthy of criticism.

The articles present the current so-called nonviolent movement as the "correct" way to resist, where Palestinians' choice of the correct resistance method will demonstrate our worthiness to be given our rights and independence.

Portraying our rights to freedom and self determination as contingent upon our chosen method of resistance is at best inaccurate, and at worst rather racist.

Implying that our rights have not been fulfilled because we have not demonstrated our worthiness of them relieves Israel of the need to uphold international law and grant us our basic rights, and also excuses Western hegemonies for awarding Israel full impunity to carry on with its violations and crimes.

It must be made clear that our right to return and to end Israel's occupation, colonisation and apartheid are guaranteed by international conventions, and their fulfillment is an obligation - irrespective of the methods of resistance we choose to follow, or any other factors, for that matter.

In addition, suggesting that popular protest is a new phenomenon in Palestine where "the real Martin Luther King-style nonviolent Palestinian protestors have arrived" is a shameful distortion of facts by media outlets.

Resistance in Palestine, and particularly popular resistance, is more than a century old, where the overwhelming majority of resistance to Zionist colonisation, British rule, and later Israel's oppression has taken the form of civil,popular uprisings. Palestinian popular resistance can only be Palestinian-style! Journalists need to abandon lazy journalism, and expand their memory-span to more than ten years.

Thus we are allowed to follow Western values and figures, or the footsteps of those whoever they find acceptable, such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr (MLK). While everyone is waiting for the next "Palestinian Gandhi", what if we want a Palestinian Che Guevara or Malcolm X?

It was them, after all, who analysed and focused on the "international western power structure", a structure that has only developed in influence and tools since the 50s and 60s. And while having the utmost respect for the satyagraha of Gandhi and MLK's battle in the civil rights movement, Palestinians need not look far to find role models within Palestine's history and heritage for alternative means of resistance.

In this issue, as in others, the hypocrisy of Western hegemonic powers is prevalent.

Democracy is only acceptable if the outcomes are what they have chosen - only neoliberal economic policies that please the real axis of evil (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organisation) are allowed in developing countries; and queer communities around the world must follow Western mechanisms of pride and advocacy.

Though these are all apparently different issues, the same paradigm applies to all of them: Western hegemonic ideologies and forms of action are used to measure the legitimacy of others that are suggested around the world.

Particularly for Palestinians, narrative is one of the key issues.

Israel has the world in its hands, not because it is threatening them by force or military power, but because it controls the discourse. That is why when a group of Israelis harass Palestinians and plot to assassinate a head of mosque they are referred to in the media as "mobsters and gangs", or mentally unstable such as Baruch Goldstein - never as "terrorists" or "extremists".

This is similar to the indirect control processes applied throughout hundreds of years of colonialism, the same trope has been used to reinforce the coloniser's power: the primitive barbarians vs the enlightened people.

A recent ad campaign in the US demonstrates this, it reads: "In any war between the civilised man and the savage, support the civilised man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."

It is our role as Palestinians to be aware of the narrative distortions and to fight against that discourse. If we succeed, it would be much harder for someone such as Binyamin Netanyahu to humiliate the Palestinian people and the so-called Palestinian "leadership" in front of the US congress as he did so recently.

The 'right' form of resistance?

While there is no question that, within Palestinian society, all forms of resistance to oppression must be respected and valued, it is crucial not to be dragged into the Western narrative, especially since a large number of us among the nation's youth are already exposed to it by the media, the internet or via studying abroad.

The idea that there is only one "right" way of resistance or that armed and popular resistance are contradictory is false (or at least lacks historical evidence) if a simple review of colonial history is applied (Algeria, South Africa, etc).

The priority nowadays, indeed, should be to widely engage all movements, groups, and individuals in the demand to produce a new legitimate leadership institution that represents all Palestinians regardless of their venue. That body would be able to democratically (and internally) identify the most potent form of resistance.

In the aforementioned articles, Palestinian participants in popular protests are often quoted in a manner such as: "If some teenagers threw rocks, they had apparently failed to attend the workshops on nonviolence the organisers had arranged", and that they "insist no stones were thrown until Israeli troops fired tear gas, and then only by adolescents".

These statements show Palestinian protesters to be apologetic for the symbolic gesture of throwing stones - and this is at the expense of questioning the very presence of Israel's occupation forces.

History has shown that Israel's use of extreme violence is a constant - irrespective of the violent or nonviolent actions of Palestinians. It is crucial we realise that throughout the years of our struggle against Zionism and colonialism, the Zionist response to all the various forms of resistance was, in essence, the same - violence.

Sixty years ago, forty years ago, in the first and second Intifadas, and in the recent "peaceful" marches, the Israeli response was always violence and bloodshed - young men and women have been shot with live and rubber-coated ammunition, beaten with clubs and suffocated by toxic gas.

It would be naive to expect the Israeli response to differ in the future, nor would it be required to resist nonviolently to show the ugly face of Israeli occupation - since it is demonstrated in every single action of Palestinian daily life.

Regardless of our strategy, Israel will continue to deny our existence as a nation, will not admit the ethnic cleansing it committed in 1948, and will continue its suppressive measures of oppression against Palestinians everywhere.

It is our role to focus on our similarities and points of agreement about resistance rather than our differences.

The Palestinian people must mobilise around resisting Israeli apartheid through a program that is generated from a discussion within a truly representative body - which is only possible through direct elections for a new Palestinian National Council (PNC).

Ibrahim Shikaki is a UC Berkeley graduate. He works as an associate researcher at the Palestine Economic Research Institute (MAS) and is a Ramallah-based youth organiser.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Greek consulate, governor confirm ‘powerful’ pressure on Greece led to flotilla ban

US boat to Gaza as it cast off from Athens

by Alex Kane on July 4, 2011

For the past few days, speculation has run rampant that the Greek government, presiding over a country in dire economic straits, was heavily pressured into issuing an order that banned the “Freedom Flotilla” ships from sailing out towards Gaza. And while the extent and details of that pressure remain unknown, two official sources from the Greek government have now confirmed that heavy pressure was put on Greece.

Greece, for its part, has claimed that the ban on flotilla ships leaving their ports was issued because of “the need to protect national interests” and the “immediate dangers to human life posed by the attempt to break the blockade.”

The first confirmation came via a Jewish Voice for Peace tweet, which announced that someone from New York’s Greek consulate told a caller that the U.S. government “ordered” Greece not to let the U.S. Boat to Gaza sail out of a Greek port. According to the caller, the U.S. State Department had nothing to say when asked about the Greek consulate’s comment.

The second confirmation came today, when a reporter from the Guardian interviewed the provincial governor of the Ionian islands, which includes Corfu, a Greek island from where a flotilla ship is waiting to set sail for Gaza. Jack Shenker reports:

The flotilla activists have always claimed they had local political support for their mission, and from what [Spiros] Spirou, [the provincial governor], told me it appears that they’re right. In open defiance of his political bosses in Athens, Spirou told the Guardian and al-Jazeera that he “admires and supports the activists’ struggle” and would make no attempt to stop their boat from making a break for international waters if it chose to do so.

But the local coastguard don’t come under Spirou’s control, and the decision from the central Greek government to stop any flotilla vessels from leaving port appears increasingly irreversible. “Greece loves peace, but at this moment it can’t confront more powerful economic forces,” said the governor. He confirmed that official attempts to tie the flotilla up in bureaucracy and paperwork were merely a pretext for preventing it from sailing at all.

“The ban has come from the ministries in Athens and I have no responsibility for it at all – I’ve tried to get in contact with them and get an explanation but I have not been able to get through,” he insisted. “Right now Greece is in crisis and decisions have been taken at an international level.”

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Future headline from the New Yolk Crimes

Texas Governor Rick Perry announced at a news conference today that Texas will secede from the United States to become a sovereign Christian republic and enter into a confederation with Israel.

"Not only will our bold move bring us all closer to Judgement Day and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, it will also give the Texas Republic a strong military and political ally to prevent the godless socialist USA from from interfering with our holy mission," declared Perry, who now holds the title of President of the "Sovereign, Kingdom Come Republic of Texas, LLC."

A statement was issued from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's office which said, "Israel hopes that this will be an amicable departure between the US and Texas and that our three great nations can negotiate a mutual defense and economic cooperation treaty that will benefit us all." Unofficial sources within the Israeli government intimated that relocation to Texas of Arabs could help solve the Jewish state's demographic problems and also help Texas. "Hey," an unidentified source from within the Israeli government told the press speaking of the population transfer plan, "the Arabs aren't Mexicans. I know Rick Perry can work with that."

Flotilla is about liberation and human rights

Huwaida Arraf: ‘[The flotilla] is not about aid, this is about Palestinian human rights, this is about liberation’

by Adam Horowitz on July 1, 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Beware of Israelis bearing gifts to Greek prime ministers

Netanyahu's big fat Greek Wedding

from Haaretz
Published 22:47 01.07.11
Latest update 22:47 01.07.11

Netanyahu has invested in his relationship with Greece over the course of the past year-and-a-half, and his gamble has finally paid off as Greece blocks Gaza-flotilla-bound departures from its ports.
By Barak Ravid Tags: Gaza flotilla Gaza Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sometimes seems almost too arrogant and self assured for his own good. However, unlike in most instances, this weekend he actually has justification for his haughtiness.

Netanyahu’s personal investment in his relationship over the past year-and-a-half with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in which he increased diplomatic ties with the floundering European nation seems to have put the final nail in the Gaza flotilla’s coffin.
Netanyahu, Papandreou

In his speech Thursday night for the Israeli Air Force Flight School graduation ceremony, Netanyahu discussed diplomatic efforts being made to prevent the Gaza flotilla from setting sail. The only leader that Netanyahu mentioned by name in his address was Greece’s George Papandreou.

Just a day earlier, the prime minister spoke with his Greek counterpart, imploring him to issue an order preventing ships from disembarking from Greece toward the Gaza Strip. Unlike in the past, Papandreou responded positively, and a top Israeli official involved in the talks between the Greek prime minister and Netanyahu said that Israel knew as early as Thursday afternoon that Greece was planning to block ships from leaving its ports toward the strip.

The romance between Netanyahu and Papandreou began in February of 2010, when the two met coincidentally at the “Pushkin” restaurant in Moscow. Netanyahu took advantage of their chance encounter to speak with the Greek prime minister about Turkish extremism against Israel and the two quickly became friends.

The Israeli and Greek leaders have spoken to each other at least once a week ever since they met in Moscow.

The Turkish flotilla to Gaza in May of 2010 led to serious concern among the intelligence and military ranks in Greece, who began pressuring the government to strengthen diplomatic ties with Israel. Papandreou did not need much convincing.

In July of 2010 he arrived in Jerusalem, the first official visit of a Greek prime minister to Israel in 30 years. A few weeks later Netanyahu travelled to Athens, spending a whole day with Papandreou and other officials on a nearby island.

Israeli diplomats can attest that the budding friendship between the two countries over the course of the past year-and-a-half has been nothing short of dramatic. Intelligence communication has increased, the IAF has conducted a number of joint exercises with Greece’s air force and Netanyahu has requested Papandreou’s assistance in passing on several messages to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Many of Netanyahu and Papandreou’s talks in the past few months have revolved around the severe financial crisis Greece is currently suffering. Netanyahu recently decided to come to the aid of his newfound friend in a meeting of foreign ministers and European leaders, imploring them to provide Greece with financial aid.

“Netanyahu has become Greece’s lobbyist to the European Union,” an Israeli diplomat said.

In recent weeks, as efforts to stop the impending pro-Palestinian flotilla to Gaza came to a head, Netanyahu reaped the benefits of his investment in Israel-Greece ties and his gamble on the European country paid off.

He was able to create a viable alternative to relations with Turkey in several regards, showing Erdogan that Israel will not hesitate to become close to its greatest enemy in the West.

And when the moment of truth came, Greece followed through and ordered all Gaza-bound departures be blocked from leaving its ports. Greece’s decision, along with the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation's (IHH) announcement that it would not be sending the Mavi Marmara and the president of Cypress’s statement forbidding ships from sailing to Gaza sealed the fate of the flotilla almost entirely.

“The flotilla organizers did not take into account that Greece of July 2011 is not the Greece of May 2010,” said a top Israeli official that worked intensively in the past few months to prevent the Gaza flotilla mission from taking place.

“Today there is a different Greece when it comes to Israel,” he added. “The organizers of the flotilla did not understand this, and now they are paying the price.”

Friday, July 1, 2011

‘Campaigning against Israeli apartheid has resulted in 23 Palestinian solidarity activists facing US federal grand jury’

by annie on June 29, 2011

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Maureen Clare Murphy, managing editor of Electronic Intifada has written an important article for Al Jazeera titled Criminalising Palestinian solidarity. Murphy herself has been issued a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury the government says is "an investigation into violations of the laws banning material support to foreign "terrorist organisations."

The following video appears on Murphy's Blog @EI

New exciting breakthroughs in Israeli democracy, now more "vibrant" than ever

from Mondoweiss

Knesset Committee outdoes itself with ‘bill to prevent harm to the state of Israel through boycotts’
Jun 30, 2011 09:43 am | Lizzy Ratner

What will those modern-day McCarthys in the Israeli Knesset think up next?

By now we’ve all become accustomed to the creepy, liberty-limiting laws emerging every few months or so from the right-wing (though hardly always right-wing) precincts of the Israeli Knesset. I’m thinking, of course, of the Nakba law, the Loyalty Oath law, the law requiring NGO’s to declare their sources of funding, and so on and so on and so on. But the last few weeks have seen a flurry of anti-Democratic efforts that have been impressive even by the current Knesset’s standards. There was the bill proposed earlier this month by four right-wing members of Knesset that would give the government the power to disband existing NGOs and refuse to register new ones if they “deny the Jewish character of the State” – a clear jab at the country’s Arab population. More recently, on Sunday, two proposals were presented to the Ministerial Legislation Committee, each designed to limit the amount of money “political” NGOs can receive from foreign entities – and foreign entities, by the way, include the United Nations and the European Union.

Now there is “The Bill to Prevent Harm to the State of Israel Through Boycotts.” That’s right, a law that would make it a civil violation to call publicly for a boycott of the State of Israel.

The latest version of this law, which is a flagrant strike at democracy, free speech, and the right to resist, passed the Knesset’s farcically-named Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee on Monday. This means the bill has a strong chance of becoming law soon. The bill targets “anyone who publishes a public call for a boycott of the State of Israel” and threatens them with a fine to be determined by the courts. In addition, the bill takes direct aim at NGOs that support boycotts by threatening to retract or deny their tax exempt status.

Yossi Gurvitz at +972 has a disturbing analysis of how the bill will work, whom it will target, and what it sets out to do. As the title of his article suggests, it is nothing less than "a way to persecute the Israeli left."

Meanwhile, the website for Coalition of Women for Peace, which has been leading a campaign against the bill called “Right to Resist,” describes the bill as “one of the most dangerous anti-democratic laws promoted in this current Knesset.” It continues: “It criminalizes non-violent, legal and legitimate means to promote social and political aims that are protected in civil rights of freedom of expression, opinion and assembly.”

It’s hard to imagine how a bill like this could be legal, but legality, like morality, doesn’t seem to bother the bill’s supporters much. According to the Coalition of Women for Peace, Yisrael Beiteinu MK David Rotem, who chairs the Knesset committee that passed the law, responded to a question by Palestinian MK Taleb Assana suggesting the bill breaches international law with the verbal equivalent of a shrug. "International law is none of my interest," he apparently said.

Herewith, a translation of the “The Bill to Prevent Harm to the State of Israel Through Boycotts":

Bill for prevention of damage to the State of Israel through boycott – 2011


1. In this law, “boycott of the State of Israel” – deliberate avoidance of economic, cultural or academic ties with a person or other party, solely for reason of his/her/its relation to the state of Israel, to any of its institutions or to any area under its control, which could cause them economic, cultural or academic harm.

Boycott – a civil wrong

2. (a) Anyone who publishes a public call for a boycott of the state of Israel, and its content and circumstances may reasonably be expected to lead to a boycott, and the publisher is aware of this possibility – is committing a civil wrong and the law of Tort [new version] shall apply to him/her.

(b) Regarding Section 62a of the law of Tort [new version] causing breach of contract by calling for a boycott of the state of Israel shall not be seen as sufficient justification.

(c ) If a court finds that a wrong has been committed under this law, it shall be permitted to order the party committing the wrong to pay compensation independently of actual damage done (exemplary damage). When determining the sum of compensation the court shall take into account the circumstances of the wrong, its severity and its scope.

Regulations regarding restrictions on participation in a tender

3. The Minister of Finance is permitted, pending authorization by the Constitutional Committee of the Knesset, to set regulations regarding restrictions on participation in a public tender, due to undertakings made by a party making an offer to participate in a boycott of the state of Israel, including undertakings not to purchase products or services produced or provided in the state of Israel, in any of its institutions or in an area under its control.

Regulations regarding withholding of benefits

4. (a) The Minister of Finance, with the agreement of the Minister of Justice, is permitted to decide with regard to any party who knowingly publishes a public call to impose a boycott on the State of Israel or regarding any party who agreed to participate in a boycott [in special cases], that –

(1) The party shall not be considered a public institution (charity) for purposes of Section 9(2) of the Income Tax Ordinance;

(2) The party shall not be eligible to receive funding from the council for regulation of sports gambling according to Section 9 of the law for regulation of sports gambling 1967;

(3) The party shall not be considered a public institution (charity) for purposes of receiving support according to Section 3a of the Budget procedures law 1985;

(4) The provisions of the state guarantees law 1958 shall not apply to the party;

(5) The party shall not be eligible for benefits under the law for promotion of capital investments 1959 and under the law for promotion of research, development and industry 1984.

(b) The enforcement of the authority of the Minister of Finance in accordance with subsection (a)(2) shall be done with the agreement of the Minister of Sport, and the enforcement of his authority in accordance with subsection (a)(3) shall be done with the agreement of the Minister appointed by the government to be responsible for the budget section, as defined in para (2) of the definition ‘responsible for the budget section’ in the Budget law 1985. The enforcement of his authority in accordance with subsection (a)(5) shall be done with the agreement of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Employment.


4[sic]. The Minister of Justice is appointed to implement this law.