Sunday, October 28, 2012

Israeli TV admits: No rockets were ever fired from UNRWA schools in Gaza during “Cast Lead”

from the Electric Intifada
Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Thu, 10/25/2012 - 18:22

On 17 January 2009, Israeli forces bombed a school run by the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip.
(Iyad El-Baba / UNRWA)
Another staple of Israeli propangada has been busted, as Israeli television has – years late – admitted that claims rockets were fired from UNRWA schools in Gaza were false.
UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, issued a statement yesterday, in eastern occupied Jerusalem, that says in part:
Israel’s highest-rating news programme, Channel Two News, has published a statement correcting false claims that rockets were fired from schools operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) during the Gaza war in 2008-2009. The statement makes clear that Israeli officials themselves acknowledged that such claims were false and that there was no evidence to support them.
“We heard this misinformation during the war when there was shelling on and around the Agency’s schools and our main warehouse in Gaza”, said UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness, “but Israeli officials made it clear to the UN during the war itself that they knew claims about militants in UNRWA installations were completely false. Constant, unchecked repetition of this misinformation has been very damaging to the Agency and has produced some very poor and biased journalism, which I will continue to confront. This is the third time in just a few months that a major news organisation has issued a public retraction because of false information about UNRWA.”
The UNRWA statement also notes that during its offensive, Israel destroyed other UN facilities, including warehouses containing millions of dollars worth of desperately needed relief supplies.
Systematic targeting of Gaza’s schools?
In part, the constant propaganda refrain must have been an attempt to justify what can only have been systematic targeting of Palestinian schools by Israel.
As a 2009 report (PDF) by Oxfam, Amnesty International and 14 other European human rights and aid agencies – one year after “Operation Cast Lead” – stated:
During the military offensive, 18 schools were destroyed, (including eight government schools, two private schools and eight kindergartens) and at least 280 were damaged. Six of the destroyed government schools were in North Gaza alone, affecting almost 9,000 students who had to relocate to other schools.

On 17 January 2009, Israeli forces bombed a school run by the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip.
(Iyad El-Baba / UNRWA)
The report, Failing Gaza: No building, No recovery, No more excuses, added:
There are 640 schools in Gaza - 221 UNRWA schools, 383 government schools and 36 private schools - serving more than 440,000 students.
88% of UNRWA schools and 82% of government schools operate on a double shift. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some schools are currently operating three shifts per day.
164 students and 12 teachers from government schools were killed during the military offensive. A further 454 students and five teachers were injured. 86 children and three teachers from UNRWA schools were killed and a further 402 students and 14 teachers were injured.
What this means is that with 18 schools destroyed and 280 damaged – 46 percent – almost half – of all schools in Gaza were hit by the Israeli army.
If this was not deliberate, then the Israeli army, which claims to be “the most moral army in the world,” is also one of the most poorly trained and inaccurate.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Survey: Most Israeli Jews support apartheid regime for the "onlydemocracyinthemideast"

Survey: Most Israeli Jews would support apartheid regime in Israel
Survey, conducted by Dialog on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, exposes anti-Arab, ultra-nationalist views espoused by a majority of Israeli Jews.
By Gideon Levy | Oct.23, 2012 | 2:32 PM | 103

Apartheid without shame or guilt
By Gideon Levy | Oct.23,2012 | 2:32 PM | 17

Most of the Jewish public in Israel supports the establishment of an apartheid regime in Israel if it formally annexes the West Bank.

A majority also explicitly favors discrimination against the state's Arab citizens, a survey shows.

The survey, conducted by Dialog on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, exposes anti-Arab, ultra-nationalist views espoused by a majority of Israeli Jews. The survey was commissioned by the Yisraela Goldblum Fund and is based on a sample of 503 interviewees.

The questions were written by a group of academia-based peace and civil rights activists. Dialog is headed by Tel Aviv University Prof. Camil Fuchs.

The majority of the Jewish public, 59 percent, wants preference for Jews over Arabs in admission to jobs in government ministries. Almost half the Jews, 49 percent, want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones; 42 percent don't want to live in the same building with Arabs and 42 percent don't want their children in the same class with Arab children.

A third of the Jewish public wants a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset and a large majority of 69 percent objects to giving 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote if Israel annexes the West Bank.

A sweeping 74 percent majority is in favor of separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. A quarter - 24 percent - believe separate roads are "a good situation" and 50 percent believe they are "a necessary situation."

Almost half - 47 percent - want part of Israel's Arab population to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority and 36 percent support transferring some of the Arab towns from Israel to the PA, in exchange for keeping some of the West Bank settlements.

Although the territories have not been annexed, most of the Jewish public (58 percent ) already believes Israel practices apartheid against Arabs. Only 31 percent think such a system is not in force here. Over a third (38 percent ) of the Jewish public wants Israel to annex the territories with settlements on them, while 48 percent object.

The survey distinguishes among the various communities in Israeli society - secular, observant, religious, ultra-Orthodox and former Soviet immigrants. The ultra-Orthodox, in contrast to those who described themselves as religious or observant, hold the most extreme positions against the Palestinians. An overwhelming majority (83 percent ) of Haredim are in favor of segregated roads and 71 percent are in favor of transfer.

The ultra-Orthodox are also the most anti-Arab group - 70 percent of them support legally barring Israeli Arabs from voting, 82 percent support preferential treatment from the state toward Jews, and 95 percent are in favor of discrimination against Arabs in admission to workplaces.

The group classifying itself as religious is the second most anti-Arab. New immigrants from former Soviet states are closer in their views of the Palestinians to secular Israelis, and are far less radical than the religious and Haredi groups. However, the number of people who answered "don't know" in the "Russian" community was higher than in any other.

The Russians register the highest rate of satisfaction with life in Israel (77 percent ) and the secular Israelis the lowest - only 63 percent. On average, 69 percent of Israelis are satisfied with life in Israel.

Secular Israelis appear to be the least racist - 68 percent of them would not mind having Arab neighbors in their apartment building, 73 percent would not mind Arab students in their children's class and 50 percent believe Arabs should not be discriminated against in admission to workplaces.

The survey indicates that a third to half of Jewish Israelis want to live in a state that practices formal, open discrimination against its Arab citizens. An even larger majority wants to live in an apartheid state if Israel annexes the territories.

The survey conductors say perhaps the term "apartheid" was not clear enough to some interviewees. However, the interviewees did not object strongly to describing Israel's character as "apartheid" already today, without annexing the territories. Only 31 percent objected to calling Israel an "apartheid state" and said "there's no apartheid at all."

In contrast, 39 percent believe apartheid is practiced "in a few fields"; 19 percent believe "there's apartheid in many fields" and 11 percent do not know.

The "Russians," as the survey calls them, display the most objection to classifying their new country as an apartheid state. A third of them - 35 percent - believe Israel practices no apartheid at all, compared to 28 percent of the secular and ultra-Orthodox communities, 27 percent of the religious and 30 percent of the observant Jews who hold that view. Altogether, 58 percent of all the groups believe Israel practices apartheid "in a few fields" or "in many fields," while 11 percent don't know.

Finally, the interviewees were asked whether "a famous American author [who] is boycotting Israel, claiming it practices apartheid" should be boycotted or invited to Israel. About half (48 percent ) said she should be invited to Israel, 28 percent suggest no response and only 15 percent call to boycott her.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Exile and the Pathetic, re: Mark Ellis' bigoted, ethnocentric rant posted on Mondoweiss Oct 13

Over these past several months I've wondered why Phil Weiss has
seemingly made the column by Ellis a fixture on his otherwise
excellent blog, Mondoweiss. After a few days of actually reading Ellis' postings
and trying to parse his tedious stream-of-consciousness entries about
the trivia of his daily activities and cryptic allusions to “the
prophetic,” I finally gave up and stopped reading his stuff.

But I at least kept running my eyes over his column just to see if
anything was there of interest. Finally, there was something --
something especially noxious.

I don't know Greta Berlin, or know anything about her activities. I
also haven't seen the offending Twitter message that says Zionists ran
the Nazi death camps. Berlin has apologized and says that sending it
out was a mistake and that the Twitter was supposed to go to a certain
group of people (I guess like a listserve) to discuss. And that the
content was supposed to be discussed as an example of something to be

Is she being truthful, or not? Is more behind this incident? I don't know.

Be that as it may, just focusing on the words in Ellis' latest post
about Jews in history , what is antisemitism, universalism, the
supposed sins of the left and the ever, transcendentally hovering,
crank references to “the prophetic” is enough of a reason to dismiss
Mark Ellis as someone who is not only a mystical obscuritanist, but a
peddler of reactionary crap.

These are Ellis' own words:

“Indeed, we don’t seem to learn much in our dealings with
anti-Semitism. Trying to counter anti-Semitism by labeling it racism
or prejudice... or referring to Jews simply as an ethnic group as Norman Finkelstein did at the
American Jewish relationship with Israel forum at the New School a few
days ago, is to tread a politically correct line that goes nowhere.
This is true as well with Anna Baltzer’s forum presentation
emphasizing the need to stop privileging Jewish voices on the issue of

“In the West at least, though no doubt beyond the West as well, I state
it boldly: Jews are not simply an ethnic group that has experienced
racism and prejudice. Nor are Jews perceived as such. No matter how
irritating the thought is to those who espouse the universal values of
freedom and equality, anti-Semitism will not be dealt with effectively
in this framework. Otherwise, after all these years, why would
anti-Semitism persist so blatantly in anti-racism movements on the

Ellis continues:

“What do Jews represent? Jews represent the prophetic in its various
forms, a distinctive line in history that is ancient and contemporary.
Jews represent a type of prophetic engagement that is not completely
assimilated. Jews are not explainable solely within the usual
sociological classifications....”

Ellis then goes on to attack the left's secular humanist stance of
universal values

“Though the universal appeal contains a truth, in the case of
Israel/Palestine it has limited value. Freeing Gaza is not, first and
foremost, a universal struggle. Freeing Gaza is a particular
Palestinian struggle that has garnered support around the world. For
Palestinians to mistake their struggle as universal rather than
particular is to make a similar mistake that Jews on the Left make
about anti-Semitism. It assumes that Jews and Palestinians are
subsumed within the larger category of struggles for justice and that
others have the same claim on the future of Israel/Palestine that Jews
and Palestinians do.”

Why does Ellis attack Norman Finkelstein for referring to Jews as an ethnic
group? Why does he attack Anna Baltzer for NOT wanting to give Jewish
opinions on Palestine/Israel special weight or better said, a veto.
Why does he reject viewing Israel/Palestine from a universalist
perspective. Is the Palestine solidarity making any claims to determine their future?
What's up with this retrograde/supernatural nonsense
about “the prophetic?” Why the vitriol over the left's alleged

Jews are not transcendent, or innately “prophetic,” or more moral than
other people. They are no better and no worse than anyone else. The
world does not see Jews as prophetic, or magical either (maybe he's
thinking of evangelical Christians who see Jews as the raw material to
detonate the second coming of Christ, who will save the Christians and cast
the Jews down to hell).

To understand Zionism, Israel and the Palestinian struggle you have to
see it as a battle of a colonized people against an illegitimate,
colonial settler state. The European-born Zionist movement saw the
world through the same racist, Western lens as did the colonial
powers, such as the UK, Turkey,and Russia—all of which Hertzel lobbied
for sponsorship of a Jewish state.

It's anti-colonialism and universalism that allows us to truly
understand what's going on in Israel/Palestine. Israel's system is
like apartheid. The Palestinian's struggle is like that of the
Vietnamese against the USA, and the Baharainis struggle against the
Saudi and US backed monarchy. International solidarity is a good

Why the particularism of Ellis about Israel/Palestine? He offers no
logical cogent reasons. The left is allegedly anti-semitic and any criticism the
left makes of anti-semitism isn't good enough for Mark Ellis. Israel
is exempt from univeralism, Jews are special, not a mere ethnic
group—they are “prophetic,” above the mundane world. What inference
can you make? Where do his arguments lead? It appears to me that Elis
believes that the Jews have a special, spiritual claim to Israel,
activists who work in support of the Palestinians struggle for equal
rights (they tend to be on the left) are anti-semities or tolerate
anti-semitism, no matter how much they deny it.

In my opinion it all ties together and points to Ellis' worldview as
exempting Jews and Israel from having to conform to the values and
behavior of “lesser people.” In short, Ellis is politically rightwing
and more than soft on Zionism. His main role is spreading confusion
inside the movement.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The slandering of Gaza flotilla activist Greta Berlin

By Larry Derfner
Published October 5, 2012

A lie of omission is as good a lie as any other.

It’s amazing how blatantly, how shamelessly a Jewish Agency official named Avi Mayer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Jerusalem Post, Canada’s National Post and I don’t know how many other “pro-Israel” entities have slandered Greta Berlin, a prominent spokeswoman of the Free Gaza Movement, as an advocate of the worst, sickest kind of anti-Semitism. They’ve deliberately left out Berlin’s explanation for a tweet she sent out a few days ago, and without her explanation, one is indeed left to conclude that she’s a crazed Jew-hater. A lot of people, of course, want to believe that about a woman so closely identified with the flotillas that sailed to Gaza, so this story has gone viral.

And it is based on a lie of omission, which is as good a lie as any other. Here’s what happened:

On Sunday, Berlin tweeted the following: “Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews.” The tweet linked to a video said to be of a deceased Jew-hater named Eustace Mullins going on about how the Jews plotted with Hitler to kill anti-Zionist Jews, how the “zi” in Nazi stands for “Zionist” – the worst sewage.

Mayer, who reportedly oversees social media for the Jewish Agency, noticed Berlin’s tweet, watched the video and starting tweeting and Facebooking it like crazy. Then the Jewish Telegraphic Agency did a story on Berlin’s tweet that was picked up in Haaretz and God knows where else, the Jerusalem Post did a story on it, the right-wing National Post ran a column on it.

All these stories referred to Berlin’s apology on the Free Gaza Movement website – but only to one part of it: the part where she explains that she didn’t mean for the tweet to go out on the Free Gaza Movement’s Tweeter account, but only to a group of people on her personal Facebook page. Reporting this and only this as her “apology” naturally made Berlin look even more evil.

What Mayer, the JTA, the Jerusalem Post and National Post left out was the other part of Berlin’s explanation that was posted on the Free Gaza Movement’s website: that her tweet was intended for a Facebook discussion among “a group of people who were discussing propaganda and racism, and this link was an example of the terrible propaganda that could be spewed on websites.”

The news stories also omitted the Free Gaza Movement’s statement that it “condemns” the content of the video, which was titled “Zionists Ran the Holocaust and the Concentration Camps.” (Here is the apology in full.)

So Berlin’s full explanation, which Mayer and the writers of those news stories chose not to report, is that her tweet was not a statement of her views, but a headline for the video she was sending to a discussion group on “propaganda and racism” as an “example of the terrible propaganda that could be spewed on websites.”

In other words, Berlin’s explanation, available for all to see, is that the tweet and video don’t represent her views – they represent views she considers extremely dangerous.

Do you believe her? I do, absolutely. I don’t agree with the overall view of Israel-Palestine held by Berlin and the Free Gaza Movement (although I do support the mission of their flotillas, which is to break the blockade of Gaza) – but to think that she believes in this psychotic, frothing-at-the-mouth garbage about Jews? No, I do not.

But I have to admit – when I first heard about the tweet, and read Avi Mayer’s Facebook entries and the JTA story, I found it unbelievable … yet I believed it, because there it was in black and white, the original tweet plus the video, all written up in the newspapers and websites in stories that purportedly included Berlin’s side of the story.

It was only after I read Berlin’s actual side of the story that I realized that Mayer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, The Jerusalem Post and the National Post were telling good old lies of omission. They’ve slandered Greta Berlin and the Free Gaza Movement, in most if not all cases out of right-wing political motives. (The writer of the Jerusalem Post article, Benjamin Weinthal, is a right-wing propagandist posing as a journalist. He quotes another right-wing propagandist, NGO Monitor’s Gerald Steinberg, saying: “The NGO activists in the so-called ‘Free Gaza’ campaign have always reflected obsessive, irrational and immoral characteristics, and the revelation of links to crude anti-Semitism provides additional evidence.”)

I’d say shame on them all, but like I said, they’re shameless.