Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tel Aviv race riot: another product of the "onlydemocracyinthemiddleeast"

from +972 website
Wednesday, May 23 2012|Noam Sheizaf
Africans attacked in Tel Aviv protest; MKs: ‘infiltrators’ are cancer

Coalition MKs incited the crowd against the refugees and asylum seekers during a protest in south Tel Aviv, which was followed by attacks on African immigrants and confrontations with police. A Likud MK called for the prosecution of Israelis giving shelter to Africans.

More than 1,000 Israelis protested this evening (Wednesday) against the African refugees and asylum seekers who have settled in South Tel Aviv in recent years. According to eyewitnesses’ reports, the crowd grew angry and ultimately violent, following speeches from Knesset members, including members of the government coalition.

It was one of the most violent protests Tel Aviv has known in recent years. Confrontations were continuing between police and Jewish citizens at around 10:30 p.m. local time.

Dozens of protesters tried to move from the Hatikva neighborhood, where the rally was held, towards Tel Aviv’s Shapira neighborhood, where most African asylum seekers and migrants live. They were stopped by police. Protesters attacked a car passing by carrying African passengers, smashing its windows. Shops associated with the African community were vandalized. [UPDATE: As of midnight, activists in Hatikva are still reporting looting and occasional attacks on immigrants.]

In light of increasing violence and harassment in recent days, activists walked refugee children in Tel Aviv home from school on Wednesday in order to prevent them from potential attacks.

According to Maariv’s website, the mob chased a man from Eritrea, who took shelter in a storefront and was rescued by police. At least two journalists were attacked. One fled the area and the other, whose notepad was snatched by protesters, was sheltered by the cops.

Earlier, Knesset members spoke at the event. Some blamed government inaction for the “infiltration problem,” while others heaped accusations on human rights organizations helping the refugees. Knesset Member Miri Regev called the refugees “a cancer in our body.” Regev, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, said that “leftists” are preventing the state from deporting the refugees back to Africa. Knesset Member Danny Danon (Likud), who also spoke at the event, wrote in a Facebook status tonight that “Israel is at war. An enemy state of infiltrators was established in Israel, and its capital is south Tel Aviv.”

According to one of the eyewitnesses, the most inflammatory speaker was MK Michael Ben-Ari, a former member of Meir Kahane’s racist Kach party, who was a resident of south Tel Aviv himself before moving to a settlement. “The police commissioner wants to give the African jobs,” said Ben-Ari, referring to a statement by Chief of Police Yochanan Danino, who recently urged the government to allow the refugees to work in Israel, in order to prevent the crime rate from rising. “This will bring another 50,000 people here,” said Ben Ari.

Asylum seekers in Israel are given temporary residence permits but are not permitted to work in Israel. The government has stated before the High Court that will not enforce the ban on employment, but calls are regularly heard from the right to crack down on employers to prevent the refugees from working.

Several local residents also spoke at the rally. Most of them mentioned their fears of a “rising crime rate.” “We are afraid to walk the streets at nights,” said one of the speakers. “The infiltrators are taking over our neighborhood and over our jobs,” said another speaker.

According to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there are presently some 60,000 African asylum seekers in Israel. Most entered the country by foot through its southern border. While they are termed “infiltrators” by the government, some 85 percent are from Eritrea and Sudan, to which Israel has agreed until now not to return them in light of the situations in those countries. They fall under a form of group protection from deportation, but their individual refugee claims are not processed.

A few recent crimes against Israelis that were linked to the African community have recently received considerable attention in the local media. They led to a wave of protest and declarations by politicians against the refugees and asylum seekers. MK Ofir Akunis, a member of Likud and a Netanyahu proxy, is set to promote a Knesset bill which will criminalize Israelis who employ, drive or give shelter to refugees.

UPDATE: The Israel Police tweeted that in the last week, 11 suspects, most of them minors, were arrested for attacking African refugees in Tel Aviv on several occasions. They used clubs and pepper spray against their victims.

Haggai Matar contributed to this report.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Israel's Buffoon, the UN Nabka

From The Palestine Chronicle

By Vacy Vlazna

On May 15, 1948 the unilateral proclamation of the State of Israel which erupted into the brutal Palestinian Nakba or Catastrophe was also catastrophic for United Nations (UN) ringing the death knell for its stature and authority.

Like medieval kings, the US and Israel employed the UN to be its fool running around with a cap o' bells and sceptre (rendered useless by US veto) beginning with the 1947 Resolution 181, passed on 29 February by members (under coercion) recommending the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine into Jewish and Palestinian states which was understandably rejected by Palestine but accepted by Israel as a step toward its Zionist expansionist goal for the full realisation of a Jewish Eretz Israel.

Ironically, on 30th February Menachem Begin, head of the terrorist gang, Irgun, brazenly announced the Zionist immutable dogma, "The partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognised... Jerusalem was and forever will be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever."

Disregarding Begin's rant, apart from having no mandate to approve or enforce the partition, 'the United Nations had no business offering the nation of one people to the people of many nations. Its General Assembly had neither the legal nor the legislative powers to impose such a resolution or to convey title of a territory; Articles 10, 11 and 14 of the UN Charter bestows the right on the General Assembly merely to recommend resolutions.'

The Nakba marks the onset of Israel's systematic ethnic cleansing strategy with the destruction of over 500 Palestinian villages and the forced expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinian civilians fleeing Haganah, Irgun and Lehi units that carried out the savage and systematic military offensives codenamed Plan Dalet:

These operations can be divided into the following categories:

Destruction of villages (setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris), especially those population centers which are difficult to control continuously.

Mounting search and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the village and conducting a search inside it. In the event of resistance, the armed force must be destroyed and the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state.

Forced to leave their cherished lands, the Palestinian exodus dispersed to 58 squalid refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank as well as in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. All 4.9 million Palestinian refugees come under the authority of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA). Its provision of health, education and humanitarian aid is vastly inadequate to the needs of the camps' three generations of desperate people.

UNRWA is funded mainly by the USA, the EU Commission, UK and Germany. This cabal of collaborators which has ignored Palestinian human and political rights since 1948, are in fact, the camps' prison guards perpetuating the normalisation of the Israeli occupation thus relieving Israel of its obligation to honour the Palestinian right of return set down in Resolution 194 (December 1948 ) of which Article 11 reads;

(The General Assembly) Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

Israel dismissed Resolution 194, then flagrantly legislated in 1950 The Law of Return that gives all Jews the right to emigrate to and settle in Israel (aliyah) and obtain citizenship. Billions of dollars are spent promoting aliyah, the zenith of Zionism, and spent establishing 200 illegal colonies for over 500,000 illegal, mainly thuggish, colonists on occupied Palestinian land protected by the nuclear might of the Israeli military.

Within days after Palestine's failed bid to have its right to membership of the UN passed in September 2011, Israel insolently announced a further 1100 units to be built in the Gilo colony, and weeks later announced the future expansion of 50,000 illegal Israeli houses in Palestinian East Jerusalem. In April 2012, another three colony outposts, Bruchin, Rechelim and Sansana were approved flying in the face of Palestine's prime condition for resuming the 'peace process' - that Israel stops colony expansion.

The end of November 2011, saw Israel's houseboy, the Leader of the Free World and Honest Peace Broker, spit out his dummy summarily withdrawing the US and funding from UNESCO because it approved Palestinian membership to its organisation thereby jeopardising thousands of UNESCO's humanitarian projects.

Since 1948, there have been over 105 General Assembly UN resolutions and over 224 Security Council resolutions passed against Israel in relation to Palestine, Lebanon and Syria condemning or deploring Israel for deportations of Palestinians, for refusal to cooperate with the UN, for assassinations, for killing Palestinian students, for denying human rights of Palestinians, for raids on Gaza, for Israel's use of resources from occupied territories, for failure to abide by the Geneva Conventions, for repeated military interventions in Lebanon and Syria, reiterating Israel's claim to Jerusalem is null and void, calling on Israel to cease building settlements in occupied territories, to comply with UN decisions, reaffirming the "inalienable rights of the Palestinian people", including the right to national sovereignty and the right of name a few.

Most have have been ignored and /or vetoed by the USA.....

8 years ago, the UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on the matter of the Israeli Annexation/Apartheid Wall that 'Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated, and to repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto, in accordance with paragraph 151 of this Opinion".

To this day, brave Palestinians demonstrate and struggle against the relentless encroachment of the Annexation Wall on their lands.

In 2009, Resolution 1860 calling for the full cessation of war between Israel and Hamas was passed on the 9th January - TWO WEEKS after the war began with 200 Palestinians slaughtered on the first day. Ignoring the resolution Israel leisurely prolonged its Operation Cast Lead against unarmed and trapped Gazan families with another 9 days of hellish attacks. It ended the war a discreet two days before Obama's inauguration.

In March 2012, Michael Mandel, law professor at Canada's York University stridently criticised the UN's International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to refuse jurisdiction over Gaza war crimes:

"It's disgraceful but not surprising that the ICC has dismissed Palestine's complaint against Israel. It sat on the complaint for over three years, always proudly announcing that it was investigating it to give the appearance of impartiality. Meanwhile the ICC jumped to attention in less than three weeks when the US government, which is not a signatory to the treaty, wanted to go to war against Libya, justifying Western aggression with bogus charges against the Libyan regime...Ocampo [ICC prosecutor]and company have been busy putting Africa on trial for crimes aided, abetted and exploited by the rich countries, while the US government killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and tens of thousands of Afghans, and Israel has been committing Nuremberg's 'supreme international crime' of aggression against the Palestinians for 45 years."

Also on May 10, the Electronic Intifada reported that UNRWA's Commissioner General, Filippo Grandi's appeal "to the Israeli government to find an acceptable solution, noting that the [2000 Palestinian political prisoners] hunger strikers' demands are generally related to the basic rights of prisoners, as stipulated in the Geneva Conventions." was hastily removed from UNRWA's website.

Israel's impunity to commit war crimes, crimes against humanity, its 64 year defiance of UN resolutions amplify the UN's lethal incompetence. 187 member nations, (not including Israel's quislings and human rights hypocrites; USA, UK, Australia, Germany, France), are too gutless or subservient or self-serving to protect and enforce the international laws for which they are legally obligated;

International human rights law lays down obligations which States are bound to respect. By becoming parties to international treaties, States assume obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights. The obligation to respect means that States must refrain from interfering with or curtailing the enjoyment of human rights. The obligation to protect requires States to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses. The obligation to fulfil means that States must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights.

The 64 years of the uninterrupted Palestinian Nakba with its sweeping scale of tragic suffering challenges the UN's moral and political credibility and its very existence as Israel's buffoon.

- Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001. She contributed this article to

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

To believe this op-ed from the Jerusalem Post is to be functionally Psychotic

Here is the actual worldview, the reducto ad absurdum, of Zionism: the entire world is planning on killing off all the Jews. The proof is that the world won't give Jews a free pass to kill off the Palestinians. The central religious sacrament of Zionism is the Holocaust. Christians believe in original sin. Jewish Zionists believe in original chosenness for Jews to be valued above all other people. The closer is that all non-Jews are born with original guiltyness for the holocaust, which they can never live down.

BUT the main reality these day is that the Jewish State has been getting away with murder and theft and its protector, the USA, and NATO, let it happen.
Op-Ed Contributors

Yes, all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic!
05/20/2012 22:31
That is to say, the historical circumstances under which Israel and the Jews exist in the world today render any non anti-Semitic criticism of Israel impossible.

‘But surely you don’t believe,” they always ask you, “that all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic?” It is a noticeably patronizing question, of course, in that it is obviously an admonition that all civilized, thinking people must answer “no” or “of course not.” It is an important question, however, because of its real answer, which is unequivocally and unquestionably “yes.”

The idea that all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic horrifies some, offends and mortifies others, and terrifies still more. The usual reaction to it is something along the lines of “how can you say that?!” Nonetheless, it is exactly what I am saying in regard to Israel and its critics.

I do not speak, however, of intentional or conscious anti-Semitism (though it is a major factor), nor of inadvertent or ignorant anti-Semitism (though this also plays a mighty role). All criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic because of hate, or prejudice, or malice, or stupidity, or indeed any of those very human vices so often regarded as the devil’s work by upper-middle-class liberals.

All criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic because of the specific historical circumstances under which we currently live. That is to say, the historical circumstances under which Israel and the Jews exist in the world today render any non-anti-Semitic criticism of Israel impossible. And, ironically, these are circumstances that Israel’s opponents have themselves created.

To hold that this is not the case requires acting – and demanding that others act – as if these circumstances do not exist, even as they sit as patiently as a pachyderm in the parlor waiting for us to notice them and, sometimes, when our self-willed ignorance grows too infuriating, murder our children and set off bombs in our streets.

Nonetheless, these circumstances are not complex, nor are they numerous. They are simply these: A large portion of the world, West and East, has come to believe that Arabs and Muslims have earned the right to murder Jews.

Derived from this right, they have also come to believe that the destruction dismantling, and erasure of the State of Israel, and the slaughter, expulsion, and/or perpetual subjugation of its Jewish population are entirely legitimate and indeed desirable.

Derived from the preceding is the belief that the Jewish people in general, in Israel or the Diaspora, either do not exist as a people deserving the same rights as other peoples, or are an evil and debased people who must be slaughtered, expelled, and/or perpetually subjugated in order to prevent them from committing further debased evils.

UNDER SUCH circumstances, it is clear that: The existence, rights and dignity of Israel and the Jews are considered to be intertwined to the point that no differentiation between them is possible.

The existence, rights and dignity of Israel and the Jews are considered uniquely contingent upon their conduct and whether or not that conduct meets with the approval of the non-Jewish world.

Because of the beliefs outlined in the previous section, Israeli and Jewish conduct will never meet with the aforementioned approval.

As a result, Israel and the Jews are, in essence, held indistinguishable by a court whose proceedings are perpetual and whose verdict is known beforehand. Under such circumstances, there is no criticism, no evidence for the prosecution, which does not aid in the process of an unjust trial before a monstrous court. Which is not, put simply, anti-Semitic.

It is either subjectively anti-Semitic, in that it consciously and intentionally aids in this injustice; or it is objectively anti-Semitic, in that it unconsciously and unintentionally does the same thing. The distinction – if there ever was one – between the two is now meaningless. Either way, the result is the same.

It may be, of course, that some criticism of Israel will be deemed necessary in spite of the consequences, and the need for a public hearing will overwhelm the need to prevent a victory of sorts for anti-Semitism. If so, however, those doing the criticizing ought to be honest enough to acknowledge the objective consequences of doing so, whatever is said or left unsaid along the way.

So, it must be said again: Yes, all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. Yes, it is so because of specific historical circumstances. Yes, it is inescapable. Yes, it holds true however well-intentioned such criticism may be. Yes, it holds as true for Jewish as for non-Jewish critics of Israel.

The Middle East conflict, David Ben-Gurion said a long time ago – and he was right – is not about the Jews and the Arabs, it is about the Jews and the world, a world that is overwhelmingly not Jewish, and thus bears certain responsibilities toward its Jewish minority. If and when the world finally accepts these responsibilities, criticism of Israel that is not anti-Semitic will become possible.

Until then, however, there is at least a possible solution to the problem, should critics of Israel be willing to entertain it. It is a modest imperative: Work toward less anti-Semitism. This imperative does not demand silence, but it does require a measure of self-reflection that is (and I in no way exempt myself) a task of the most supreme difficulty for us all.

The writer is an author and editor living in Tel Aviv.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Palestinians are not American Indians

Recently, in his blog Mondoweiss, Phil Weiss mused about the taunt often thrown about by supporters of Israel about how it was created. The fans of the Jewish (and democratic?) State think it is a priceless barb when someone says, or holds up a sign that says: "America was founded by clearing out the Indians, so you are no different than us."

Usually the reply to this is two wrongs don't make a right. Yes, the USA took the land from the Indians, but that didn't make it moral or the right thing to do and it doesn't justify what Israel did and still does.


There’s an important flaw in the ethnic cleansing comparison between what the European colonists of North America did in the 17th through the 19th centuries and what the Zionist colonizers have been doing since 1947 (or thereabouts, I’m not trying to nail down a fixed starting point).

It’s about the relationship of forces. The Native inhabitants of this continent never had a chance. Their small numbers were overwhelmed with an unstoppable tidal wave of millions of people coming in from Europe. There were a few stands made by the plains Indians that stunned the U.S. Army, but that was it. Even without the large technological advantage, the sheer powers of numbers sealed the fate of American Indians. The demographics were unbeatable.

The relationship of forces in Palestine was and is quite different. A well armed minority of Jews, with a lot of help from rich, technologically advanced Western nations was able to establish a state by force and expel most of the larger Palestinian population. But they didn’t expel them far enough or wipe them out. Within the area of “Greater Israel” under the control of the Israeli government and military (any difference there?) the populations are about even, with the Palestinians increasing at a higher rate than the Jews (I’m not saying “Israelis” to compare with “Palestinians” because its an empty, meaningless category. In the Jewish State only Jews have the rights that we in the USA would associate with citizenship.)

So when Zionists laugh and poke fun at people in the USA, saying “Hey! We only did what you guys did…ha ha.” They should stop and think about the real difference between the two experiences. Being a tiny minority, the American Indians were crushed as a people and have to this day never recovered. Not so with the Palestinians and their future won’t be like that which befell Native Americans.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

While all liberal Democrats bow down and kiss AIPAC's ass Ron Paul speaks out

It Will Lead To War By Ron Paul

Statement on H.R.4133 ˆ United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012, May 9, 2012

Mr. Speaker: I rise in opposition to HR 4133, the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, which unfortunately is another piece of one-sided and counter-productive foreign policy legislation. This bill's real intent seems to be more saber-rattling against Iran and Syria, and it undermines US diplomatic efforts by making clear that the US is not an honest broker seeking peace for the Middle East.

The bill calls for the United States to significantly increase our provision of sophisticated weaponry to Israel, and states that it is to be US policy to "help Israel preserve its qualitative military edge" in the region.

While I absolutely believe that Israel ˆ and any other nation -- should be free to determine for itself what is necessary for its national security, I do not believe that those decisions should be underwritten by US taxpayers and backed up by the US military.

This bill states that it is the policy of the United States to "reaffirm the enduring commitment of the United States to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish state." However, according to our Constitution the policy of the United States government should be to protect the security of the United States, not to guarantee the religious, ethnic, or cultural composition of a foreign country. In fact, our own Constitution prohibits the establishment of any particular religion in the US.

More than 20 years after the reason for NATO's existence ˆ the Warsaw Pact ˆ has disappeared, this legislation seeks to find a new mission for that anachronistic alliance: the defense of Israel. Calling for "an expanded role for Israel within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), including an enhanced presence at NATO headquarters and exercises," it reads like a dream for interventionists and the military industrial complex. As I have said many times, NATO should be disbanded not expanded.

This bill will not help the United States, it will not help Israel, and it will not help the Middle East. It will implicitly authorize much more US interventionism in the region at a time when we cannot afford the foreign commitments we already have. It more likely will lead to war against Syria, Iran, or both. I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill.

Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Journalist, Plaintiff Chris Hedges Hails "Monumental" Ruling Blocking NDAA Indefinite Detention

Journalist, Plaintiff Chris Hedges Hails "Monumental" Ruling Blocking NDAA Indefinite Detention

Predator Nation

Tomgram: Engelhardt, Predator Nation
Posted by Tom Engelhardt at 5:51pm, May 13, 2012.

In addition, a couple of reminders: we’re always at the edge, financially speaking, and one good way to help keep us afloat, if you’re already an Amazon customer, is to do your shopping via any TomDispatch book link -- like this one for Ecotopia. As long as you arrive at Amazon via a TD link, we get a small cut of whatever you buy there at no cost to you. In addition, if you’re in a generous mood, you can still get a signed, personalized copy of my book, The United States of Fear, in return for a contribution of $75 (or more). Just visit our donation page to check out the offer. Believe me, we appreciate your support in any form! Tom]

America as a Shining Drone Upon a Hill
On Staring Death in the Face and Not Noticing
By Tom Engelhardt

Here’s the essence of it: you can trust America’s crème de la crème, the most elevated, responsible people, no matter what weapons, what powers, you put in their hands. No need to constantly look over their shoulders.

Placed in the hands of evildoers, those weapons and powers could create a living nightmare; controlled by the best of people, they lead to measured, thoughtful, precise decisions in which bad things are (with rare and understandable exceptions) done only to truly terrible types. In the process, you simply couldn’t be better protected.

And in case you were wondering, there is no question who among us are the best, most lawful, moral, ethical, considerate, and judicious people: the officials of our national security state. Trust them implicitly. They will never give you a bum steer.

You may be paying a fortune to maintain their world -- the 30,000 people hired to listen in on conversations and other communications in this country, the 230,000 employees of the Department of Homeland Security, the 854,000 people with top-secret clearances, the 4.2 million with security clearances of one sort or another, the $2 billion, one-million-square-foot data center that the National Security Agency is constructing in Utah, the gigantic $1.8 billion headquarters the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency recently built for its 16,000 employees in the Washington area -- but there’s a good reason. That’s what’s needed to make truly elevated, surgically precise decisions about life and death in the service of protecting American interests on this dangerous globe of ours.

And in case you wondered just how we know all this, we have it on the best authority: the people who are doing it -- the only ones, given the obvious need for secrecy, capable of judging just how moral, elevated, and remarkable their own work is. They deserve our congratulations, but if we’re too distracted to give it to them, they are quite capable of high-fiving themselves.

We’re talking, in particular, about the use by the Obama administration (and the Bush administration before it) of a growing armada of remotely piloted planes, a.k.a. drones, grimly labeled Predators and Reapers, to fight a nameless, almost planet-wide war (formerly known as the Global War on Terror). Its purpose: to destroy al-Qaeda-in-wherever and all its wannabes and look-alikes, the Taliban, and anyone affiliated or associated with any of the above, or just about anyone else we believe might imminently endanger our “interests.”

In the service of this war, in the midst of a perpetual state of war and of wartime, every act committed by these leaders is, it turns out, absolutely, totally, and completely legal. We have their say-so for that, and they have the documents to prove it, largely because the best and most elevated legal minds among them have produced that documentation in secret. (Of course, they dare not show it to the rest of us, lest lives be endangered.)

By their own account, they have, in fact, been covertly exceptional, moral, and legal for more than a decade (minus, of course, the odd black site and torture chamber) -- so covertly exceptional, in fact, that they haven’t quite gotten the credit they deserve. Now, they would like to make the latest version of their exceptional mission to the world known to the rest of us. It is finally in our interest, it seems, to be a good deal better informed about America’s covert wars in a year in which the widely announced “covert” killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan is a major selling point in the president’s reelection campaign.

No one should be surprised. There was always an “overt” lurking in the “covert” of what now passes for “covert war.” The CIA’s global drone assassination campaign has long been a bragging point in Washington, even if it couldn’t officially be discussed directly before, say, Congress. The covertness of our drone wars in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, Somalia, Yemen, and elsewhere really turns out to have less to do with secrecy -- just about every covert drone strike is reported, sooner or later, in the media -- than assuring two administrations that they could pursue their drone wars without accountability to anyone.

A Classic of Self-Congratulation

Recently, top administration officials seem to be fanning out to offer rare peeks into what’s truly on-target and exceptional about America’s drone wars. In many ways, these days, American exceptionalism is about as unexceptional as apple pie. It has, for one thing, become the everyday language of the presidential campaign trail. And that shouldn’t surprise us either. After all, great powers and their leaders tend to think well of themselves. The French had their “mission civilisatrice,” the Chinese had the “mandate of heaven,” and like all imperial powers they inevitably thought they were doing the best for themselves and others, sadly benighted, in this best of all possible worlds.

Sometimes, though, the American version of this does seem... I hate to use the word, but exceptional. If you want to get a taste of just what this means, consider as Exhibit One a recent speech by the president’s counterterrorism “tsar,” John Brennan, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. According to his own account, he was dispatched to the center by President Obama to provide greater openness when it comes to the administration’s secret drone wars, to respond to critics of the drones and their legality, and undoubtedly to put a smiley face on drone operations generally.

Ever since the Puritan minister John Winthrop first used the phrase in a sermon on shipboard on the way to North America, “a city upon a hill” has caught something of at least one American-style dream -- a sense that this country’s fate was to be a blessed paragon for the rest of the world, an exception to every norm. In the last century, it became “a shining city upon a hill” and was regularly cited in presidential addresses.

Whatever that “city,” that dream, was once imagined to be, it has undergone a largely unnoticed metamorphosis in the twenty-first century. It has become -- even in our dreams -- an up-armored garrison encampment, just as Washington itself has become the heavily fortified bureaucratic heartland of a war state. So when Brennan spoke, what he offered was a new version of American exceptionalism: the first “shining drone upon a hill” speech, which also qualifies as an instant classic of self-congratulation.

Never, according to him, has a country with such an advanced weapon system as the drone used it quite so judiciously, quite so -- if not peacefully -- at least with the sagacity and skill usually reserved for the gods. American drone strikes, he assured his listeners, are “ethical and just," "wise," and "surgically precise” -- exactly what you’d expect from a country he refers to, quoting the president, as the preeminent “standard bearer in the conduct of war.”

Those drone strikes, he added, are based on staggeringly “rigorous standards” involving the individual identification of human targets. Even when visited on American citizens outside declared war zones, they are invariably “within the bounds of the law,” as you would expect of the preeminent “nation of laws.”

The strikes are never motivated by vengeance, always target someone known to us as the worst of the worst, and almost invariably avoid anyone who is even the most mediocre of the mediocre. (Forget the fact that, as Greg Miller of the Washington Post reported, the CIA has recently received permission from the president to launch drone strikes in Yemen based only on the observed “patterns of suspicious behavior” of groups of unidentified individuals, as was already true in the Pakistani tribal borderlands.)

Yes, in such circumstances innocents do unfortunately die, even if unbelievably rarely -- and for that we couldn’t be more regretful. Such deaths, however, are in some sense salutary, since they lead to the most rigorous reviews and reassessments of, and so improvements in, our actions. “This too,” Brennan assured his audience, “is a reflection of our values as Americans.”

“I would note,” he added, “that these standards, for identifying a target and avoiding... the loss of lives of innocent civilians, exceed what is required as a matter of international law on a typical battlefield. That’s another example of the high standards to which we hold ourselves.”

And that’s just a taste of the tone and substance of the speech given by the president’s leading counterterrorism expert, and in it he’s no outlier. It catches something about an American sense of self at this moment. Yes, Americans may be ever more down on the Afghan war, but like their leaders, they are high on drones. In a February Washington Post/ABC News poll, 83% of respondents supported the administration’s use of drones. Perhaps that’s not surprising either, since the drones are generally presented here as the coolest of machines, as well as cheap alternatives (in money and lives) to sending more armies onto the Eurasian mainland.

Predator Nation

In these last years, this country has pioneered the development of the most advanced killing machines on the planet for which the national security state has plans decades into the future. Conceptually speaking, our leaders have also established their “right” to send these robot assassins into any airspace, no matter the local claims of national sovereignty, to take out those we define as evil or simply to protect American interests. On this, Brennan couldn’t be clearer. In the process, we have turned much of the rest of the planet into what can only be considered an American free-fire zone.

We have, in short, established a remarkably expansive set of drone-war rules for the global future. Naturally, we trust ourselves with such rules, but there is a fly in the ointment, even as the droniacs see it. Others far less sagacious, kindly, lawful, and good than we are do exist on this planet and they may soon have their own fleets of drones. About 50 countries are today buying or developing such robotic aircraft, including Russia, China, and Iran, not to speak of Hezbollah in Lebanon. And who knows what terror groups are looking into suicide drones?

As the Washington Post’s David Ignatius put it in a column about Brennan’s speech: “What if the Chinese deployed drones to protect their workers in southern Sudan against rebels who have killed them in past attacks? What if Iran used them against Kurdish separatists they regard as terrorists? What if Russia used them over Chechnya? What position would the United States take, and wouldn’t it be hypocritical if it opposed drone attacks by other nations that face ‘imminent’ or ‘significant’ threats?”

This is Washington’s global drone conundrum as seen from inside the Beltway. These are the nightmarish scenarios even our leaders can imagine others producing with their own drones and our rules. A deeply embedded sense of American exceptionalism, a powerful belief in their own special, self-evident goodness, however, conveniently blinds them to what they are doing right now. Looking in the mirror, they are incapable of seeing a mask of death. And yet our proudest export at present, other than Hollywood superhero films, may be a stone-cold robotic killer with a name straight out of a horror movie.

Consider this as well: those “shining drones” launched on campaigns of assassination and slaughter are increasingly the “face” that we choose to present to the world. And yet it’s beyond us why it might not shine for others.

In reality, it’s not so hard to imagine what we increasingly look like to those others: a Predator nation. And not just to the parents and relatives of the more than 160 children the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has documented as having died in U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. After all, war is now the only game in town. Peace? For the managers of our national security state, it’s neither a word worth mentioning, nor an imaginable condition.

In truth, our leaders should be in mourning for whatever peaceful dreams we ever had. But mention drones and they light up. They’re having a love affair with those machines. They just can’t get enough of them or imagine their world or ours without them.

What they can’t see in the haze of exceptional self-congratulation is this: they are transforming the promise of America into a promise of death. And death, visited from the skies, isn’t precise. It isn’t glorious. It isn’t judicious. It certainly isn’t a shining vision. It’s hell. And it’s a global future for which, someday, no one will thank us.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute's His latest book is The United States of Fear (Haymarket Books).

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch and join us on Facebook.

Copyright 2012 Tom Engelhardt

The Hater in the Sky

From 972+
by Eli Valley

Friday, May 11, 2012

Want to know what a Jewish State is? Just visit Brooklyn


On Thursday, May 10, the New York Times published a front page story about instances of sexual abuse of children in the Hassidic and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn. The story wasn't about how scandalous it was that such things happen in this large (said to number 250,000) expanding, insular theocratic world.

The scandal is that those parents and maverick rabbis who denounced the assaults, wanted the culprits called to account and prevented from repeating their crimes and, in the face of community inaction, even went to the police, have been publicly pilloried, declared traitors to the Jews and treated as outcasts.

Children whose parents have pressed charges against sexual predators have been expelled from school (privately run religious schools), relatives of those who have sought justice are pressured to make their brother, son, or in-law shut up, and fliers have been posted in the neighborhood listing who is to be shunned.

In this Brooklyn based Jewish Statelet all its members must submit to the discipline of the Rebbes and abide by their rulings. They say, “never report a crime committed by another Jew.” “Don't ever bring the goyish outside world into our affairs. Don't make us look bad,you will be crushed...removed from the community.” Our Brooklyn Jewish State is run by a gang of religious/political theocrats who impose a Talmudic police state on its inhabitants. Any entanglement with the outside gentile world must be done through the offices of the official religious leadership. Obviously they can't control everything in their little kingdom, but they try and use the power they have to keep everyone in line. If a person's whole life is the religious cult that they belong to, the threat of excommunication is a powerful one.

But, “Wait a minute!” you might protest. “You can't make an analogy between a Jewish cult in Brooklyn and the real Jewish State of Israel. Israel is secular and democratic.” True, the founders of the zionist state were not religious, but they based their supposed secular nationalism upon being a part of a religion: Judaism. But the secular nationalist/zionists took all of the fairy tales of the Bible and tried to invent some sort of plausible historical cover story to make it credible, but it's essentially religion dressed up as social science. As a sweetener to keep the religious fundamentalists from rocking the boat, they turned over to the orthodox rabbis the control of marriage, divorce, child custody, funerals, religious affairs (meaning no reform or conservative rabbis) and even the definition of who is a Jew (meaning who can be a citizen).

If you want to see the future of Israeli society, look at the Brooklyn orthodox cults. This same element is growing in size and influence in the so called secular Israel. The orthodox are a rising force in Israeli society and are infringing on the democratic rights of the secular Israelis, particularly a woman's ability to participate in everyday public life. But this threat is to secular Jews in Israel. The 25% of Israeli citizens who are not Jews (Palestinian Muslims and Christians) already have no rights, thanks to the seculars (the non-Israeli citizens under Israeli domination in the West Bank and Gaza have less than no rights).

The secular zionist Jews in Israel have always resembled the orthodox cults in their “us against them” mentality. For the religious nut cases they are the chosen people living by the rule of god (or is it G-D?) and the Torah and not being defiled by the inferior contaminated ones, the goyem. For the alleged “secular” Zionist nationalists they are circling the wagons to defend themselves against the rest of the world that is dedicated around the clock to killing all the Jews. These zionists thrive upon universal, enduring anti-semitism to bind them together. Instead of the Torah, they base their beliefs upon the Holocaust. That is their Torah. The results are similar.

Democracy in Israel, from the beginning, has been only for Jews. Israel in now under increasing pressure because of the staunch resistance of the Palestinians and the growing world wide awareness of the ethnic cleansing being carried out by Israel along with the weakening of the influence of the USA, Israel's vital backer.

This pressure is causing the secular Zionists to demand loyalty and orthodoxy from the congregation...that is to say the Jewish Israelis. Israel's leaders have said that the Jewish character of Israel is more important than the democratic frills. If an Israeli Jew supports the boycotting of products that come from the stolen Palestinian land of the West Bank, he or she is subject to prosecution. Those who try and hold a meeting to commemorate the Nakba (the Catastrophe, as the Palestinians call it in 1948 when 700,000 were driven from their land) are subject to legal action. Other laws are being proposed which will further restrict free speech and action. The distance between the orthodox religious nuts and the “secular” Zionist/Nationalists is closing. Netanyahu is making himself the Prime Rebbe.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Two views: Jeff Halper and Susan Abulhawa on Israel's plans and the Palestinian repsonse

Frank Barat is a human rights activist based in London, UK and is coordinator of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. RSS 'We've gone way beyond Apartheid' Peace activist Jeff Halper speculates that Israel may annex Area C - with the consent of the Palestinian Authority. Last Modified: 02 May 2012 14:27 'We've gone beyond the occupation. The Palestinians have been pacified', says Jeff Halper I caught up with Jeff Halper, long time Israeli peace activist, director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and author of numerous books, while he was on a European speaking tour. Here is what he had to say about the situation in Palestine/Israel: Frank Barat: I'd like to start by talking about what's happening in Jerusalem. When I came in 2007, you took us to Silwan, explaining the huge house demolition plan the Israeli government had in mind, telling us that thanks to the efforts of many and including an intervention by the US, the demolitions didn't happen. Today, nonetheless, it looks like the demolitions will take place. Could you give us an update on this, and also give us a broader view of what people now often refer to as the 'ethnic cleansing' of Jerusalem? Jeff Halper: Well let me give you a broader picture about the whole thing and then we can go back and put it into context. I think what's coming down the pipeline is that Israel today has basically finished this. We've gone beyond the occupation. The Palestinians have been pacified and from Israel's point of view the whole conflict, the whole situation has been normalised. Netanyahu went last month to Washington to meet with Obama. When he came back his adviser was asked what was new about this meeting. And his adviser said, "This is the first time in memory that an Israeli Prime Minister met with a US president and that the Palestinian issue was not even mentioned, it never came out." So, in that situation where the US is really paralysed because Netanyahu has both parties in congress and Obama does not want to do anything - Netanyahu is going to make the last move in nailing this whole thing down. "The Palestinian population has been brought down low enough... so Israel could annex Area C and give them full citizenship." - Jeff Halper, Israeli peace activist Israel could well annex Area C. Area C is 60 per cent of the West Bank. Now, the European council general in Jerusalem and Ramallah, a couple of months ago sent a report to the EU, saying that Israel has forcibly expelled the Palestinians from Area C. Forcible expulsion is hard language for European diplomats to use. So Area C has less than 5 per cent of the Palestinian population. In 1967 the Jordan Valley had about 250,000 people. Today, it's less than 50,000. So the Palestinians have either been driven out of the country, especially the middle class, or they have been driven to Area A and Area B. That's where 96 or 97 per cent of them are. The Palestinian population has been brought down low enough, there is probably somewhere around 125,000 Palestinians in Area C, so Israel could annex Area C and give them full citizenship. In other words Israel can absorb 125,000 Palestinians without upsetting the demographic balance, you see. And then, what is the world going to say? It's not apartheid; Israel has given them full citizenship. So I think that Israel feels it could get away with that. No one cares about what's happening in Area A and Area B. If they want to declare a state, they can declare a state. Israel has no interest in Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron. The US, by the way, has already agreed that the settlement blocks are part of Israel. Annexing Area C does not go so much beyond the settlement blocks. It's just pushing the envelope a little bit more. Then you come to Jerusalem. I think what Israel is going to do is that it will give the Palestinians in the north and the south, in Beit Hanina, Shuafat, Tubat... it will allow them to have Palestinian citizenship. Israel, in a sense, gets rid of 100,000 Palestinians. What the government has already indicated it was going to do is that the wall around Jerusalem will be the border. So what's happening today is that because of the house demolitions and the policy of freezing the constructions Israel is allowing - it's still illegal of course - but Shuaffat and Anata, have now been cut out by a huge wall a huge terminal. The tremendous building behind the wall is still in Jerusalem, so Palestinians are moving from inside the wall into that area. And the same thing is true in the north. So you are getting maybe another 100,000 or so Palestinians to move into those areas. Then, once they are there, Israel cuts them off. Israel now says the wall is the border, we give up Anata, Shuafat - and so in a sense, what you've done is join those areas into Area C. So now Israel has the whole country, its isolated the 97 per cent of the Palestinians into area A and B. Jerusalem is now 80 to 85 per cent Jewish because these big Palestinian populations you either got them out completely like Shuafat and Anata or inside the wall you've given them Palestinian citizenship so you don't have to deal with them. So Israel retains kind of that centre. And it's over. In other words, we're finished. Israel is now from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, the Palestinians have been confined in Areas A and B or in small enclaves in East Jerusalem, and that's it. Now the wrinkle is that I think they will do this with the agreement of the Palestinian Authority because Fayyad is a neoliberal. Inside Story: Israeli Apartheid Week Fayyad is saying to Israel, we don't need territory. If you give us economic space, to do business, and our business class can do okay and we can trickle down to our working classes, it's good enough. So we don't need Area C. As a matter of a fact what the European Counsel General said in its report is that the Palestinian Authority has given up Area C. Completely. When government or agencies come to the Palestinian Authority for investments, the PA tell them invest only in Area A and Area B. Do not invest in Area C. They've given up C. The idea is that Israel allows trade, to move freely between these Palestinian enclaves. I call it "viable apartheid". I think Fayyad has developed a viable apartheid, saying that in the neoliberal world we need economic space, not territorial space. You let us move our goods freely into the Arab world, you give us an access to the Israeli market, and it's fine. In other words, all the developments, like this new city Rawabi for upper-class Palestinians, are in the contours of Area A and B. They are now building a highway from Ramallah to Jericho; the Japanese are building it with the PA. Then either the Japanese or USAID will build from Ramallah to Bethlehem so greater Jerusalem, with E1, will be incorporated into Israel. I think you can get into a deal where Israel annexes Area C, it's taken Jerusalem, they'll give the Palestinians something symbolic like control of Haram Al Sharif/The Temple Mount, you can put up a capital in Abu Dis again. Basically, what I am saying is not only that they are they going to nail this down but they will do it with the agreement of the Palestinian Authority. If you give Israeli citizenship to the Palestinians in Area C and the PA agrees, that's economic peace that Netanyahu and Fayyad talk about. So that's the big picture. FB: So when people talk about a Palestinian state on 22 per cent of historical Palestine, it's not even that, right? The number is much smaller. JH: Yes, what Fayyad is saying is our state does not have to be on any particular amount of territory; our state is an economic state and we can work around you annexing this and that because we can make our cities. The idea is that Israel we'll give them a bit of Area C, to put the enclaves a little bit more together. So you still have the cantons, of the north, the south and Gaza. So they will still be cantonised but what Fayyad is saying is we can make a go of that. Both Netanyahu and Fayyad have moved from a territorial conception of two states to an economic conception of two states, which is a whole different kind of thing. "The Zionists have always said that once the Arabs despair... that was the end, victory for them... [Many Palestinians] say they don't care anymore. Let me have a job, let me live my life and I'll be happy." - Jeff Halper The problem that the bosses have is how to sell that to the Palestinian people. But it seems to me that this is what is coming down the pipeline. What Israel is relying on, maybe the PA as well, I don't know how to put this exactly. Israel feels that the Palestinians have been defeated. It's over. Resistance is impossible because of the Israeli army, the Palestinian proxy army, the wall, I mean, you can't mount a third intifada. Israel policy since the Iron Wall of 1923 has been despair. I wrote an article about this once "Despair as a policy". The Zionists have always always said that once the Arabs despair, and Jabotinsky put it interestingly "despair of the land of Israel ever becoming Palestine" - that was the end, victory for them. Israel feels that it's what we have got now. If you go today to the West Bank, Gaza might be different, you'll hear the people say that they don't care anymore, let me have a job, let me live my life and I'll be happy. In a sense, Fayyad feels he can respond to that. FB: Some pogroms took place recently when a group of Beitar soccer fans attacked Palestinian workers in a shopping mall. Were those people a few bad apples, or are these type of events do indeed say something about Israeli society? JH: They are more than bad apples. They are not completely Israeli society either. This football team in Jerusalem is connected to the Likud. In Israel many football clubs are associated with political parties. There is a very close relation between the ideology of Likud and Begin and the Beitar football team. They see the Arabs as the enemy. So it reflects about a third of the Israeli public, that is very committed to expansion, settlements, see the Arabs as the enemies. It reflects that. You know, in Beitar, their chants, it's not just the pogroms. They chant everytime their team scores a goal, "Death to the Arabs". That's what 20,000 people chant. Beitar for example has never ever had an Arab player. The Arabs are beginning to be more prominent in Israeli football teams. Not in Beitar Jerusalem. This pogrom is kind of an extension of this. It's all in the context of kids, for the most part its kids that have seen Israel moved into a neoliberal economy, more and more Thatcherite, and you have tremendous income disparity in Israel. Israel is now in the OECD, it has one of the highest income disparity I think, maybe the US excluded. Kids have got no real future, that's part of the context too. Those kids come from the housing projects, very much like National Front in France or EDL in England, people that only have this racist emotional outlet for their frustrations, and football is great for that. It channels anger away from the government. That's why they sponsor football teams! FB: How important are the words we use, in your opinion when it comes to Palestine/Israel? Ilan Pappe recently told me that we should rethink our dictionary/vocabulary. Can we objectively still talk about peace/occupation? Shouldn't we talk about the right to resist and apartheid instead? JH: For sure. We deal a lot with words in our analysis. There are two words, because I think occupation is an old word. We are way beyond occupation. I think we are also way beyond apartheid. There are two words that capture the political reality but don't have any legal substance today. One of them is Judaisation. It's a word that the government uses, to Judaise Jerusalem, the Galilee, so that's a Judaisation process that really is the heart of what's going on. But it has no legal reference. So one of our project, we're working with Michael Sfard and some other lawyers, is to try to introduce those terms into the discourse with the idea of trying to give them some legal frame. We have to try to match the political process, the political reality, because it is unprecedented in the world. Another term is "warehousing" because I think that captures what's going on better than apartheid. Warehousing is permanent. Apartheid recognises that there is another side. With warehousing it's like prisons. There is no other side. There is us, and then there are these people that we control, they have no rights, they have no identity, they're inmates. It's not political, it's permanent, static. Apartheid you can resist. The whole brilliance of warehousing is that you can't resist because you're a prisoner. It's like prisons. Prisoners can rise in the prison yards but prison guards have all the rights in the world to put them down. That's what Israel has come to. "The only Palestinian agency is the PA - and it has no legitmacy." - Jeff Halper They are terrorists and we have the right to put them down. In a sense Israel has succeeded with the international community, and the US especially to take out of this situation the political. It's now solely an issue of security, just like in prisons. It's another concept that does not have any legal reference today but we'd like to put that in because warehousing is not only in Israel. Warehousing exists all over the capitalist world. That's why I am writing about Global Palestine. I'm saying that Palestine is a microcosm of what's happening around the world. FB: You recently wrote: "Unlike most of my comrades, I do not think that activism by itself can achieve political results...until a reinvigorated Palestine National Council (PNC) or other representative agency can be constituted, a daunting but truly urgent task, Palestinian civil society might coalesce enough to create a kind of interim leadership bureau". Is this being done in your opinion and what could we, solidarity activists, do better? JH: No, and that's the problem. Because even if there is a collapse of this political situation we are talking about and new possibilities emerge, like a one state, bi-national or regional confederation, all kinds of possibilities that don't exist today. And let's say BDS and resistance have an effect. I really believe this conflict is unsustainable. I don't think Israel can win. So if Israel's project collapses, then what? Because today, there is no Palestinian agency. Palestinian Authority President Abbas has opted for 'economic peace' with Israel instead of an end to the occupation - a move which has financially pacified many in the West Bank [GALLO/GETTY] The only Palestinian agency is the PA - and it has no legitimacy. And then, in a way, to tell you the truth, I was a little bit upset with the Palestinian Left when Abu Mazen (President Mahmoud Abbas) went to the UN to ask for recognition of Palestine and they undercut him. Not because they were wrong; I could agree with them. I agree that it does not help, but don't do that two weeks before he goes. This whole thing was gelling for a year. So you say, a year, nine months before, no. We don't accept this. You don't undercut the person who for most people represents Palestine two weeks before he goes. Where were you before? The other question I have for people who say that Abbas has not legitimacy, that he should not have gone... so what? I mean, we have to liberate Palestine, right? And Abu Mazen is not the one to do it, so what? I kept asking all those people, so what do you suggest? You're against him going, fine. So what are you suggesting? The only thing they came back with, weakly, was BDS. BDS is a tool, not a strategy, it's not going to liberate Palestine. It's a tool. OK, let's say BDS succeeds, Israel is brought down to its knees by this tactic. So what? Who is going to pick up the pieces? There is no agency. Who is going to decide if it is a two-state solution, a one state, who is going to negotiate? That's the real problem. The only agency that has that mandate, legitimacy, and is really representative is the Palestine National Council (PNC). I have no idea where that initiative is going. I understand in a way why they are not talking about it because it's very delicate and they are doing it quietly. I mention this but I am not writing about it, because it's not my issue, it's a Palestinian issue. But the point is that without Palestinian leadership and without an agency, we're stuck. I feel that we've gone as far as we can go. We've brought this to governments, we've raised public awareness, we've had campaigns, we've done this for decades, we've made this collectively, one of two or three really global issues. But without Palestinians we can only take it so far. This is their moment. If there is no PNC and the PA is either going to collapse or be collaborationist, then what? I am trying to challenge a little bit my Palestinian counterparts. Where are you guys? To tell me "BDS" is not the answer, that's a tool. In some ways, the Palestinians that we work with owe us a certain strategy. Even if they don't want to get into the details of this PNC thing, they should say something is cooking. Because what's going to happen is that people will get fed up, depressed, and move on to other issues. There are many issues around the world. One word embodies that: colonialism. For the Palestinians it is definitely settler colonialism. There is no question, it's obvious. People coming in from Russia, saying it's my country. Okay. For the Jewish point of view it is no settler colonialism. There is a genuine feeling that there is a tie to this country, they speak Hebrew - in other words, the Jews are not strangers. You can agree to disagree or whatever but the problem is that as the colonial discourse gets stronger and stronger in the Palestinian left, there really is going to be a deligimitisation of anything Israeli. It's important because our conception with the left in Israel has always been that whatever the solution was, it had to be inclusive, like in South Africa. Now, there is a retreat from that. In other words, the alternative to the South African model is the Algerian one. Once you liberate Palestine you guys go back to to where you came from - you're out of here. That is why I don't think it is settler colonialism. There is no mother country. It isn't like France where you could go back to France. Where are the Israelis going to go back to, especially now with all those new generations? It's not being articulated, nobody is saying it. It's being articulated under the rubric of normalisations. The Palestinian Left is pulling back from working with groups like ours, even the anti-Zionists like ourselves. You see it, for example, in the global march to Jerusalem. It's always phrased as "this is a Palestinian and international struggle". Where are we? Even non-Zionist? Where are we? The answer that I got from a few people was "we put you with internationals". Which is wow, that means something. My problem is that I cannot obviously be part of a struggle which is not inclusive. It deserves to be addressed in-house, in the movement, not in public. I was forced to bring it up in the global march to Jerusalem. I was pressed to endorse the march publicly but they said not as the head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions because we can't use the word Israeli. You have to endorse the march as the head of the committee against house demolitions. I said no and that set up a whole discussion. An organiser of the march wrote that this whole issue of inclusivity was a western preoccupation. We are at a very crucial stage here where first of all the Palestinians have to take over and second of all, there has to be an end goal. If in fact the left is starting to say "it's colonialism" and we are not working with you guys anymore, this has tremendous implications. Frank Barat is a Human Rights activist based in London. He is the coordinator of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. He has edited two books; Gaza in Crisis with Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe, and Corporate Complicity in Israel's Occupation with Asa Winstanley. He has also participated in the book Is There a Court for Gaza? with Daniel Machover. The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy. Solidarity and Realpolitik: My Response to Jeff Halper By Susan Abulhawa Some years ago, I was on a panel with three men, Jeff Halper among them, at a Sabeel conference in Pennsylvania. Each panelist was asked to give their vision for a solution to the 'Palestine/Israel conflict'. Because I was sitting at the end of the table, I was the last to speak. I listened to each one of my fellow participants lay out different versions of a two-state solution, each more depressing than the other, each with irrelevant nuances (all previously articulated by Israel, by the way) on how to make the refugee problem just go away. They spoke the tired talk of land swaps, compromise, several surreal highways that bypass humanity for miles on end, and more creative solutions designed to circumvent the application of human rights where Palestinians are concerned. When my turn came, I spoke of Palestinians being accorded the same basic rights that apply to the rest of humanity, including the right to return to one’s home after fleeing a conflict. I spoke of equality under the law regardless of religion. I spoke of a construct that would prevent one group from systematically oppressing another. I spoke of human dignity and the universal right to it. I spoke of equal access to resources, including water, regardless of religion. I will never forget Jeff Halper’s response, which he was eager to voice even before I had finished speaking. He began with a smile, the way an adult might smile at the naive remarks of a small child. He needed to give me a lesson in reality, and proceed to tell me, in the patronizing way of someone who knows best, that my vision lacked “how shall I say it…Realpolitik”. I did not waiver then, nor have I since, on my position that Palestinians are not a lesser species who should be required to aspire to compromised human dignity in order to accommodate someone else’s racist notions of divine entitlement. That said, I do not consider Jeff Halper racist and I acknowledge the mostly positive impact he has had in bringing attention to one of Israel’s enduring cruelties, namely the systematic demolition of Palestinian homes as a tool to effectuate ethnic cleansing of the native non-Jewish population. But in my view, that does not entitle him to speak of what Palestinians should or shouldn’t do. I also don’t think it qualifies him as an anti-zionist when he clearly accepts the privilege accorded to Jews only. After all, Jeff Halper is an American from Minnesota who made aliyah (Israel’s entitlement program that allows Jews from all over the world to take up residence in my homeland, ultimately in place of the expelled natives). Perhaps is it my lack of Realpolitik, but I cannot reconcile embracing the very foundation of zionism on one hand, and calling oneself an anti-zionist on the other. In a recent interview on Al Jazeera’s website with Frank Barat, he did just that. He also laid out a dismal scenario for the future of Palestinians, based on what Israel is very likely plotting, namely the annexation of Area C and the pacifying of the Palestinian Authority (also likely) with economic incentives and mini Bantustans they can call a state. But he missed the mark, repeatedly, when it came to Palestinians themselves, as if he sized us all up with a glance and decided he was not impressed. Despite the burgeoning nonviolent resistance taking place all over Palestine, in various forms ranging from demonstrations, significant solidarity campaigns, hunger strikes, and more, he says that “[Palestinian] resistance is impossible” now. At best, he trivializes the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is the first coordinated nonviolent movement of Palestinians inside and outside of Palestine that has also managed to inspire and capture imaginations of individuals and organizations all over the world to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom. Again, my lack of Realpolitik here, but to me, creating a situation where it is possible to force the implementation of human rights and restore dignity to Palestinian society is in itself an end. Jeff Halper seems unable to consider anything other than a negotiated agreement to be an end. He enumerates all that is wrong with internal Palestinian issues. Of course there are problems. We know our leadership is doing little more than pick up the trash and keep people in line while Israel steals more and more of our land. We are not happy about it either. But he seems to suggest that he, along with other Israelis I presume, have been carrying the burden of resolving this conflict. In one instance he says: “We’ve (I assume Israeli leftists?) brought this to governments, we've raised public awareness, we've had campaigns, we've done this for decades, we've made this collectively, one of two or three really global issues. But without Palestinians we can only take it so far.” Then he adds: “I am trying to challenge a little bit my Palestinian counterparts. Where are you guys?” If I read this correctly (and I will grant the benefit of the doubt that it was not meant as it reads), then he clearly sees himself at the forefront of the Palestinian struggle where his Palestinians counterparts are disorganized, haphazard, or not present. He even suggests that at this crucial time, “Palestinians have to take over,” further supporting the suggestion that Palestinians are not at the helm of the resistance. He also asserts that importing Jews from all over the world to live in colonies built on land confiscated from private Palestinian owners is “not settler colonialism”. What is it then? But back to his strange assertion that Palestinians “should take over” (from whom?), he describes an instance where he refused to participate in the global march to Jerusalem because the Palestinian organizers (who took over?) did not want to include the world “Israel,” the name of the country that denies our very existence and seeks in every way to eradicate us. Is it that Jeff Halper wants “Palestinians to take over” as long as Palestinians do so in a way that does not offend the sensitivities of the very people deriving privilege at their expense? That is not how solidarity works. I don’t presume to tell Israelis what they should or should not do but I would like to see Israelis concentrate on their own failures rather than ours. I would sure like to hear those who have made aliyah acknowledge that it was not their right to do so; that making aliyah is a crime against the native people who have been and continue to be forcibly expelled to make way for those making aliyah. I would like to hear an apology. The trauma that Palestinians feel is very much part of the Realpolitik and it is not unlike the trauma in the Jewish psyche. It comes from the same humiliation and anguish of not being considered fully human. Of being treated like vermin by those with the guns. If Halper truly understood that, perhaps dropping the word “Israel” – a word that hovers over the rubble of our destroyed homes and suffuses the pain at our collective core – would have been a no brainer expression of solidarity. - Susan Abulhawa is the author of Mornings in Jenin (Bloomsbury 2010) and the founder of Playgrounds for Palestine ( She contributed this article to

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bob Marley's Family Gives Thumbs Down to Racist Zionist Use of Marley's Music

Published 12:34 06.05.12 Latest update 12:34 06.05.12 Bob Marley's heirs threaten to sue right-wing Israeli MK Jamaican reggae star's heirs claim 'insulting' use of 'Iron Lion Zion' by MK Aryeh Eldad, saying it threatens Marley's legacy. By Uri Zer Aviv Tags: Israel crime Israel culture Heirs of Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley have sent a warning letter to MK Aryeh Eldad, threatening legal action over the unauthorized use of the song "Iron Lion Zion" for propaganda purposes. In the film clip, which was removed from the Internet in light of the warning, the National Union MK can be seen with his grandchildren, while Marley's song plays in the background. Added to the words of the famous song were phrases that promote Eldad's political outlook: "If you support two states for two peoples, where one of them is Jordan, if you are against the Arab occupation, say 'Amen.' Just one hope on the right [wing], Yes." In the warning letter, received by Eldad's parliamentary aides, the legal representative of Marley's heirs slammed him for insulting the reggae musician's legacy. Amit Karmon, Adv., who represents Media Men Group, wrote, "Marley's heirs are deeply hurt by the stated rights violation and the extreme, overt and insulting political use of the late Mr. Marley's creation and legacy, which, putting it mildly, humiliates him and his efforts." In a conversation with Haaretz, Eldad rejected the claim, saying he "does not feel threatened," and that the legal action is petty in light of today's Internet reality.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Be Sure and Catch The Spring Tour of Jazz/Indian Fusion Band, Snehasish Mozumder and SOM

Snehasish & Sound of Mandolin Dates May 12th - Alankar event, Los Angeles CA May 25th - Queens Kickshaw, astoria (acoustic set) 9pm May 31st - Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 9pm June 1st - WNYC greenspace, NYC 7pm June 19 - Arts & Ideas Festival, New Haven CT 12pm June 21 - Barbes, Brooklyn NY 8pm * snehasish returns to US Master Mandolinist Snehasish Mozumder & SOM (sound of mandolin) Classical and jazz fusion's Snehasish Mozumder's double-neck mandolin is at the center of a band that swings it North Indian style. facebook page - like us v=x8-pHs8BhVc Snehasish Mozumder and s.o.m. debut album avail itunes: ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: explore mission: albums on itunes / / info/Booking:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012