Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Martin Luther King avoided visiting Israel

from Omar Barghouti published by Arab New York blog

Despite the typical Israeli propaganda at the end, this article reveals important information about how Israel even 50 years ago was obsessed with branding and trying to instrumentalize African-American leaders to whitewash its crimes against the Palestinians in order to gain access in Africa and elsewhere.

It confirms the fundamental value of propaganda to Israel-- a state built on ethnic cleansing, colonization and, crucially, a fabricated, deceptive image.

The racist views of Israel's consul to Atlanta at the time also make an "interesting" read!
How Martin Luther King Jr. avoided visiting Israel
Documents that have come to light 45 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. show Israel's efforts to woo the civil rights leader – a campaign that never came to fruition.
By Ofer Aderet | Feb.23, 2013 | 5:23 PM | 5
In this Aug. 28, 1963 file photo, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. makes his "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington.Photo by AP

The Israel Consul in Atlanta, Zeev Dover, had an interesting idea 50 years ago. In order to bring the State of Israel closer to the "black community," he made a suggestion to the Foreign Ministry: To send books on Judaism and Israel to "the libraries of every black college." Alongside this, Dover recommended inviting African-American lecturers to "black colleges" who "had visited Israel and are familiar with our history." In this way, he hoped Israel could contribute towards "introducing the sophisticated nature of the national movement for the social-cultural regeneration of the people of Israel to this group."
These ideas can be found in a memorandum under the heading "Ties with the black community," sent by the consul to the Israeli Embassy in Washington on November 9, 1962. The memo is part of a selection of documents that deal with Israel's ties with the black community in the United States, and with its failed attempts to host the black leader Martin Luther King in Israel.
These documents were recently released by the State Archives, on the 45th anniversary of King's assassination. Studying them is also relevant during the run-up to the visit of another black leader to these shores – U.S. President Barack Obama.
The internal debate within Israel regarding Martin Luther King was revealed in a classified document that the consul in Atlanta sent to the Washington embassy in August 1962. Exactly a year later, King led the huge demonstration in Washington, where he delivered his historic "I have a dream" speech.
The Israel Consul in Atlanta wrote that he "places great importance on forming connections with the black leadership," but added: "In my opinion the time is not yet ripe for his visit to Israel." He explained that this was because King represents "the militant wing of the civil rights movement," and that important organizations "are not in agreement with him and oppose his methods." He also added that alongside the global fame King had attained, he also had managed to alienate groups of moderate African Americans.
The consul raised the concern that inviting King to Israel would lead to "severe negative responses," and recommended that "in any case, we should not be the first country that gives King so-called international status." He also warned that King's visit to Israel could harm Israel's ties with Southern states in the U.S., who felt threatened by the dominant radical leader. At the end of the memo he recommended "shelving the idea until the right moment," and added "our efforts to enter into discussions with different factors in the black community must be done…without being overly conspicuous."
The next letter he sent on the subject to his superiors at the Foreign Ministry, in November 1962, presented a more complex picture: On the one hand, the black community does not have real impact or importance in the U.S. – and therefore Israel shouldn't go out of its way to woo it. On the other, he noticed the unrest that had begun, and warned that Israel should not ignore it.
"It is important that we define what our specific objectives are towards this population, and accord them the appropriate treatment," he wrote. He added the argument that African-Americans only comprise 11 percent of the population of the U.S., and said that: "despite the high birthrate [they] will remain a minority. Moreover, many more years will pass until this racial minority recovers from the economic and educational backwardness that is the result of discrimination."
When reading the consul's words, it's worth bearing in mind the spirit of the times they were written in. Today they may seem racist and arrogant: "Uniting and driving the Negros is the urge to defend themselves against discrimination and all that entails. It is unlikely that in the near future, the Negros will become a group with the political and economic influence consistent with their numbers in the total population. This is also because of their low average levels of education and affluence, and also since domestic pressures are at the top of their concerns, with the rest of the world taking second place to their struggle for recognition."
However, the consul warned that "we should not ignore this large population," and recommended "fostering contact with all its branches more than ever before." He also said that Israel's main concern should be directed towards "laying the ground for the future."
Among other things, the consul suggested emphasizing the historical similarities between Jews and blacks as persecuted minorities, but added that "our first goal must be, in my opinion, filling the gap in [their] knowledge and clarifying the eternal connection between the Jewish people and their country."
He attached to the letter a list of dozens of American colleges that had black students. "In the southern U.S., blacks are concentrated in their own special colleges, which allows us special access to this sector without the fear of 'discrimination' on our part that could occur after making a special and separate request to students on mixed campuses" he wrote.
While the Israeli government had not yet formulated its final position regarding King, there were other organizations in Israel that hurried to invite him to visit. The Histadrut labor federation received King's confirmation – but for some unknown reason he cancelled his visit. This pattern repeated itself several times over the next few years: Authorities in Israel invited him, he responded in the affirmative, but the visits never took place. In 1964, following the announcement that King was to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Israeli representatives met with him.
Deputy Prime Minister Abba Eban met with King in Washington and invited him to visit Israel. King accepted, but a date was not set. Five months later, in March 1965, the Israeli ambassador in Washington, Avraham Harman, invited King as an official guest of the Israeli government to visit "on any date at his convenience." This invitation was another that went unfulfilled.
In December that same year, King met with Shimon Yallon, the consul general of Israel in Atlanta. At the start of the meeting King said he had held an "open invitation" to visit Israel for four years, but that his visit had, unfortunately, yet to take place.
Half a year later, King wrote to the Israeli ambassador in Washington. In his letter, he said that he was "very embarrassed" he didn't respond to his request over the course of several months. He justified this as follows: "Just the other day one of my secretaries discovered a large number of letters that had been placed in a folder of 'letters to be filed.'…Your letter was, unfortunately, one of those in that particular folder...I can assure you that it was not due to sheer carelessness but to the pressures of an understaffed and overworked office."
But despite the apology, King ended the letter with a reservation: "At this writing, it is not possible for me to give you a date when I can go there, but I do hope that my schedule will soon ease up so that I can accept an invitation to go to Israel," he wrote to the ambassador.
The trend started to change in 1967. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol wrote to King that he was happy to hear about his coming visit to Israel, and offered government sponsorship for the trip. In May 1967 King responded, saying that he would accept the invitation and that he would be happy to meet the prime minister personally: "Take this means to express my deep appreciation to you for the invitation you extended me to come to your wonderful country," he wrote. The outbreak of the Six-Day War gave him an excuse to cancel the visit again. Less than a year later, in April 1968, he was assassinated.
One can understand why Israel made such efforts to bring about a visit from King – as a visit from a Nobel laureate could have improved Israel's standing in the U.S. and Africa, where he was revered. As to the question of why King did not accept the invitations, there is no clear-cut answer.
"King was sympathetic to Israel and declared support for its right to exist in peace. But given all the delays and evasions, it seems he did not want to identify himself with Israel to this extent during the struggle for equal rights for blacks in the United States," write Shlomo Mark and Hagai Zoref at the State Archives. "It is possible that the fact that during the 1960s his status began to decline in the African-American community, with the rise of more radical groups that were identified with anti-Israel positions, such as Malcolm X and the Black Panthers, also contributed to this," they added.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

Jim Crow in Palestine: parallels between US and Israeli racism


Curtis Bell
The Electronic Intifada
21 February 2013

There are no shortage of parallels between oppression of blacks in the Jim Crow South and Israel’s present-day oppression of Palestinians.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama does a good job of showing what blacks endured before the civil rights victories of the 1960s. I visited there last fall and was especially struck by one particular image — a 1926 map of the small and isolated patches of Birmingham where city zoning regulations allowed blacks to live.

What struck me was the similarity of this map to maps of the isolated patches of the West Bank including East Jerusalem where Palestinians are allowed to live. The map then made me think about other similarities between the oppression of blacks in the Jim Crow South and Israel’s present-day oppression of Palestinians.

The methods for keeping blacks within their enclaves in Birmingham were more direct and brutal than the redlining agreements among banks and realtors that maintained a de facto segregation in the North. Municipal zoning laws in Birmingham prevented sales to blacks outside designated areas, and if a black person somehow acquired a house outside the designated area, even if just across the street, the house would be blown up.

Similarly, the Israeli legal system keeps Palestinians within restricted areas of East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank. Palestinians living outside those areas have been evicted and their homes destroyed or occupied by Jewish settlers. Eighteen thousand Palestinian homes have been destroyed by Israel since 1967, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

The black areas and white areas of Birmingham were very different physically. The black areas often lacked municipal amenities or services such as street lighting, paved streets, sidewalks, garbage collection and sewers that the white areas had. Similarly, the Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem often lack these same basic facilities and services, and the differences between Palestinian areas and those reserved for Israeli settlers are clear to all.
Arbitrary arrests

Suppression of the human rights of blacks in the South was maintained by both “legal” and extralegal means. State and municipal Jim Crow laws restricted residence, use of public facilities, use of public transport, interracial marriage and other aspects of life in the South. White courts and police forces enforced these laws and the whole system of segregation. Arbitrary arrests under vagrancy laws yielded large numbers of black prisoners (who were often forced to do hard labor). Nonviolent civil rights marches and protests were met with police and state National Guard violence.

Similarly, Israeli control over the lives of Palestinians is maintained by a system of laws, courts, police and Israeli military that discriminates against Palestinians. Laws restrict where Palestinians can live, where they can travel, what roads they can travel on, and whether they can live with their spouse in another part of the country. Permits to travel from the West Bank to East Jerusalem for work are tightly controlled and dependent on “good” behavior.

“Administrative detentions” have led to the indefinite incarceration of thousands of Palestinians without trials. The Israeli military meets unarmed protests against the separation wall and the taking of Palestinian land with violence.

Black compliance with the system of segregation in the South was ensured by extralegal as well as legal means, including economic threats, harassment of various sorts, and extreme violence. More than 5,000 lynchings were recorded between 1882 and 1959, and many beatings and killings went unrecorded. Violence against blacks increased as the civil rights movement grew in strength during the 1950s and 1960s. In one year alone 30 black homes and churches were bombed in Birmingham. The white-controlled legal system only rarely prosecuted white-on-black violence.
Daily violence

Similarly, harassment and violence against Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank including East Jerusalem occurs almost every day. The settlers try to force Palestinians off their land or to leave the region entirely. The settlers threaten or attack children on their way to school and shepherds in the fields. Palestinian land, wells and olive groves are occupied. The Israeli military protects the settlers, and the Israeli legal system only rarely prosecutes settler harassment or violence.

Blacks in the Jim Crow South had no control over the governments that oppressed them and denied them their share of common resources. The 15th Amendment of 1870 gave blacks the right to vote, but that right was progressively taken away in Southern states following the failure of reconstruction. Discriminatory registration procedures were introduced and were enforced by violence. As late as the 1960s, many counties in the South, even those with black majorities, had no registered black voters. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 finally changed that.

Similarly, the four million or so Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have no say in the government that in fact controls them. They cannot vote in the Israeli elections.

Palestinians did vote for a virtually powerless Palestinian government in 2006 in which a majority of seats in the parliament went to Hamas, a political party. The Hamas legislators were immediately arrested and jailed by Israel. Many were kept in prison for more than five years and the elected parliament has never been able to meet. Even if the parliament could meet, it would have only limited control over limited enclaves of the West Bank. Israel controls the water, electricity, borders, airspace, exports and imports of the enclaves, and the Israeli military enters the enclaves and arrests Palestinians at will.

Nonviolent methods such as marches, boycotts and direct actions are a critical tool for the success of any human rights movement, such as the American civil rights movement, that confronts a power structure with a monopoly on physical force. The civil rights movement in the United States maintained the practice of nonviolence to a heroic degree over many years, even in the face of violent repression from the Southern white power structure. Participants aroused the conscience of the rest of the nation and the world.
Tactics of resistance

Similar methods are now of central importance for the Palestinian rights movement. Protest marches against the separation wall, “Freedom Rides” on Israeli-only public transit, and “camp-ins” on land illegally expropriated for Israeli settlements are becoming common now in Palestine. Internationally, boycotts of all sorts and divestment from companies that maintain and profit from the occupation of Palestinian land are taking hold.

The blacks in the American civil rights movement made their appeal to the federal government for redress of wrongs committed at the lower levels of state and local governments. The federal government was already formally committed to the rights of blacks through the 14th and 15th amendments as well as various Supreme Court decisions. They also had authority and power over local governments.

The aroused conscience of the nation and of the world finally forced the United States federal government to act. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson could not continue to present the United States to the world as the land of freedom and democracy when its own citizens were being beaten for asserting their freedom and their right to vote.

Here too there are parallels between the civil rights movement in the American South and today’s movement for Palestinian rights. Israel cannot indefinitely present itself as a law-abiding, humane and democratic state when it denies the human rights of the four million or so Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

The federal government of the United States shares responsibility for the continuing denial of Palestinian human rights, just as for many decades it shared responsibility for the denial of human rights to blacks in the Jim Crow South by not enforcing federal law. Now, and for many decades, United States diplomatic support has allowed Israel to violate international law with impunity.

The United States has blocked United Nations sanctions against Israel for such violations of international law as the occupation of Palestinian land, the colonization of the West Bank by placing settlers on that land, and the annexation of East Jerusalem, the historic home of Christian and Muslim Palestinians.
America breaks own law

In addition, the United States federal government provides about $3 billion in military aid to Israel every year, and may be violating its own laws in doing so, as pointed out by a recent letter to Congress from 15 leaders of major American Christian churches (“Religious leaders ask Congress to condition military aid to Israel on human rights compliance,” Presbyterian Church USA, 5 October 2012).

The letter urged an “investigation into possible violations by Israel of the US Foreign Assistance Act and the US Arms Export Control Act, which respectively prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limit the use of US weapons to ‘internal security’ or ‘legitimate self-defense.’” The letter cited evidence for human rights violations on the part of Israel and for Israel’s use of US arms against Palestinian civilians.

The tactics for resisting segregation brought significant changes for blacks in the South. Hopefully, with commitment and perseverance, similar methods may someday accomplish the same for Palestinians.

Curtis Bell is a peace activist in Portland, Oregon. He is a member of the board of Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, an organization that works for Palestinian rights within the Unitarian Universalist denomination.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

'Bailout': Barofsky's Adventures in Groupthink City

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
07 February 13

eil Barofsky isn't going to like this, but the first person I thought of when I read the former TARP Inspector General's book, Bailout, was G. Gordon Liddy. Not that he has anything in common politically with Nixon's fanatical arm-roasting hatchet man, but after reading Bailout I had the same thought I had after reading Liddy's memoir, Will - that every now and then, a born writer ends up in some other, far more interesting profession, and we don't find out about it until he or she is forced for some reason to write a book.
Bailout has its first paperback release this week, and Barofsky accordingly is making the media rounds (check out Comedy Central tomorrow), where he'll mainly be asked about the political revelations in the book. You know, the inside-baseball stories of how the officials who administered the TARP bailout fought transparency at every turn, failed to do due diligence on the health and viability of bailout recipients, seemed totally uninterested in creating safeguards against fraud, and generally speaking spent more time bitching about the media and plotting against the likes of Elizabeth Warren and, eventually, Barofsky himself than making sure the largest federal rescue in history wasn't a complete waste of money.
As the former Special Inspector General of the TARP, a key official who was present at the highest levels throughout most of the bailout period and saw from the inside how both the Bush and Obama administrations attacked the economic collapse, Barofsky does have that story to tell, and the book unsurprisingly is full of historically weighty scenes and factoids that will be culled by reporters like me for years to come.
But there's a secondary and I think more interesting subplot to this book, a personal story that will give it more staying power. Just like Will was really a journey-of-self-discovery story that just happened to have the Watergate burglary as a backdrop (the book's real climax comes in the post-Watergate prison years, where Liddy really "finds himself"), Bailout is a kind of Alice in Wonderland tale of an ordinary, sane person disappearing down into a realm of hallucinatory dysfunction, with Tim Geithner playing the role of the Mad Hatter and Barofsky the increasingly frustrated Alice who realizes he's stuck at the stupidest tea party he ever was at.
Though you would think it would be an angry book, Barofsky describes his experiences with a wry, anthropological detachment, almost in awe at these strange and irrational characters who seem so obsessed with intramural squabbles and other irrelevancies (when the newly-appointed Barofsky asks for advice from the Treasury Department's Inspector General, Eric Thorson, Thorson's first tip, delivered in total seriousness, is to get an account at the Treasury Dining Room, where a presidential appointee can get good food at cheap prices) while the world economy is melting down all around them.
The book is full of morbidly funny scenes, like for instance when Barofsky describes his inner trepidation in taking the oath of office on the extremely religious Hank Paulson's personal Bible:

Paulson is famously a devout Christian Scientist and as I put my Jewish hand on the Paulson family Bible, I fleetingly pictured it bursting into flames . . .

In that same surreal scene, Paulson, in his first meeting with Barofsky, rambles on about the decisions he's faced with, including whether or not to use TARP funds to rescue the auto industry. Barofsky listens politely, believing he's just accidentally present while an important official is thinking out loud, when suddenly Paulson looks at him. "So what do you think?" Paulson asks.
This moment underscores the randomness that seems to have permeated a lot of bailout policy. Barofsky realizes that Paulson is actually asking advice of a career criminal prosecutor - a man he's only just met, who knows nothing about the subject - on whether or not to bail out Detroit. "What do I think?" he wonders to himself. "I think the only thing I know about the domestic automobile industry is that sweet '95 Chevy Camaro I parked outside."
Another section reads like something straight out of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Barofsky has it explained to him that an Inspector General shouldn't be too much of a "junkyard dog" ("You don't want to be seen as promoting yourself") and you don't want to be a "lapdog," either (because Congress will get upset and drag you over the coals if they find out you're playing golf with the people you're supposed to be policing). Instead, an IG should be porridge whose regulatory temperature is "just right" - a "watchdog," which in Washington parlance means you want Congress to know you're doing something, but you don't want it to think that it owns you.
Again, all of this advice Barofsky gets has nothing to do with what's best for, you know, the actual country - maybe, in this circumstance, the country needed a "junkyard dog" in that spot, but that's not the way things are done inside the Beltway. According to the twisted logic of this place, your goal is to find a happy medium, where you don't anger too many of the people in the agency you're supposed to be policing, but you also don't go so soft on them that Congress crawls up your rear end.
This is a persistent theme of the book: that Washington is a kind of upside-down world where everyone is all the time frantic about some emergency or other - you can't ever be sure what it is, exactly, except that it almost certainly isn't one of the real-world problems the locals were hired to solve, like the loss of 5,000 points of Dow Jones value in a year or the awesome quantity of toxic/fraudulent loans infecting the books of our major banking institutions. Instead, the characters Barofsky encounters seem to worry endlessly about one-upping each other, not rocking the boat, and avoiding looking like tools in the media and/or to their bosses.
In an early chapter, Barofsky describes a major international drug prosecution against the FARC rebels in Colombia undertaken by the U.S. Attorney's office in the Southern District of New York that gets undermined when the Washington office - apparently afraid that a regional office nailing a major South American cartel would make the main office look like asleep-on-the-job twits - races frantically to prevent indictments from being handed down before they can be put in nominal charge of the case.
In another scene, the Treasury IG, the aforementioned Thorson, scrambles to throw together a last-minute investigation of some schmuck bailout-recipient bank in Beverly Hills before Barofsky's SIGTARP office - which would take over oversight responsibilities from Thorson- was up and running. Thorson conducts a review of the bank's receipt of bailout funds, then seemingly arranges to plant a question with a local reporter about the investigation, which Thorson immediately says, in an email cc'ed to top Treasury officials, that he must respond to - because he has "a responsibility here to have accomplished some work" and that this investigation was "the one job that would demonstrate our required involvement" in the bailout oversight.
In other words, Thorson felt that it was the responsibility of his office to show, to a reporter, that he had actually done something, and not sat on his thumbs while hundreds of billions of dollars were flowing out of Treasury's coffers.
Anyway, in the end, Barofsky suffers an Alice-like end, essentially ejected from the Beltway Wonderland for being different. You remember how Alice was ejected by the King and Queen after giving her evidence - Rule 42, "all persons more than a mile high must leave the court":

"Well, I shan't go, at any rate," said Alice: "besides, that's not a regular rule: you invented it just now."

"It's the oldest rule in the book," said the King.

"Then it ought to be Number One," said Alice.

It's clear by the end of the book that Barofsky is a similar kind of mutant/unwanted smartass in this world, veering way too far into "junkyard dog" territory. His SIGTARP reports on the bailout are unflinchingly critical of the bailout effort, and in particular the glaring discrepancies between what was promised in areas like home mortgage modification and what was actually delivered.
There is an interesting moment when Barofsky and his deputy Kevin Puvalowski realize that, over a year into the bailout, Treasury official Herb Allison, a close confidant of Geithner, has made a subtle change to the language describing the aims of the ill-fated HAMP mortgage modification program. Allison ends up claiming that the goal of the program was only to make 3 to 4 million offers of trial modifications, as opposed to actually helping 3 to 4 million people stay in their homes, which is what the president and the Treasury originally announced.
By the end of 2009, only 70,000 permanent modifications had been completed, a long way from the stated goal. When Barofsky confronts Allison about the problem, he says only that there's a "moral hazard" issue with giving out too many modifications, that expanding the program it isn't fair to people who made their mortgage payments all along.
Obviously, neither Geithner nor Allison ever worried much about "moral hazard" when they were handing out billions in no-conditions cash to irresponsible banks. Barofsky realizes then that the government is not only willing to bend the truth to give itself political cover, but more importantly is essentially unconcerned with fixing the problem of mass foreclosures.
Again, this is a world that is really blind to the fact that it is connected somehow to the rest of the country outside of D.C. - so changing language to make it look like certain goals have been met makes perfect sense, given that nobody outside their fairy-tale bubble really exists to them. It's a kind of creepy collective narcissism captured perfectly by the ever-grumpy Tim Geithner when interviewed by another SIGTARP deputy, Geoff Moulton, who asked Geithner if he could think of any mistakes he might have made in administering TARP.
Geithner thought, then answered:

The only real mistake I can think of is that there were times when we were unnecessarily unsure of ourselves. We should have just realized at the time how right each of our decisions was.

Barofsky left SIGTARP in early 2011. He's teaching at NYU now and after writing this book, essentially unemployable in Washington. That sucks for him, but the benefit for the rest of us is this trippily entertaining account of how crazy Washington is.
If you follow issues like Too-Big-To-Fail or Wall Street corruption long enough, you realize that the reason things don't get done about them by our government has very little to do with ideology or even politics, in the way most of us understand politics.
Instead, it's a bizarre, almost tribal mentality that rules our capital city - a kind of groupthink that makes extreme myopia and a willingness to ignore the tribe's ostensible connection to the people who elected them a condition for social advancement within. Most normal people don't get to see what that place is like, because most of the rearview-mirror accounts of that world are written by people who somewhere along the line became infected by the Beltway disease. Only a few true outsiders make it out alive, and only a few of those write books. This is one of the best.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

On the latest raw Arab-hatred of Israel’s “centrist” political star Yair Lapid

From Ali Abunimah's blog, Electric Intifada

Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Sat, 02/02/2013 - 20:17

The first thing Israel’s “center left” star Yair Lapid did after his “Yesh Atid” list took 19 seats in Israel’s recent election was to declare that he’d never form a coalition with parties representing the 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Now Lapid has expanded on his hatred of Arabs by invoking the memory of his late father Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, a Holocaust survivor, politician and former chairman of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial Israel uses to bolster international political support for Zionism.

The younger Lapid told Time magazine this week:

You know my father didn’t come here from the ghetto in order to live in a country that is half Arab, half Jewish. He came here to live in a Jewish state. And we have 3.3 million Palestinians now between the sea and the eastern border of Israel. If we don’t do something about it, her generation [nods toward a 15-year-old girl at our table] is going to spend her time with six or seven or eight million Palestinians. So doing nothing about it is shortsighted.

Don’t think this is raw bigotry? Just switch it around: imagine the reaction if any politician from any “democracy” declared that there were too many Jews, too many black people …. that their numbers needed to be reduced. It’s not that politicians never say those things; they do. But when they do they are labeled accurately as racists or worse, but certainly never “centrists,” “leftists” or “democrats.” But Zionism, as we know, is judged by lower standards.
Tommy Lapid compared Israel’s crimes against Palestinians to persecution of Jews

Tommy Lapid was certainly no great champion of human rights, let alone Palestinian rights. You can’t be and serve as Israel’s “minister of justice,” which he did. But Abu Yair was often lucid enough to draw a comparison between the ghetto he came from and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

In 2004, after Israel demolished hundreds of Palestinian homes in Rafah, in the occupied Gaza Strip, Lapid reacted to a widely circulated photo of an elderly Palestinian woman sitting in the rubble of her house:

In an interview with Israel Defence Forces radio, Mr Lapid revealed that the army was considering demolishing another 2,000 homes in Rafah to widen the so-called Philadelphi road on the border with Egypt.

The UN estimates at least 1,600 people have lost their homes Referring to the TV picture, Mr Lapid said he was “talking about an old woman crouching on all fours, searching for her medicines in the ruins of her house and that she made me think of my grandmother.”

“I said that if we carry on like this, we will be expelled from the United Nations and those responsible will stand trial at The Hague,” Mr Lapid told Israel radio, describing his argument in cabinet.

On another occasion, in 2002, Lapid condemned the Israeli army for writing numbers on the foreheads of Palestinian prisoners, comparing it to the Nazi practice of tattoing concentration camp inmates. “As a refugee from the Holocaust I find such an act insufferable.”

Lapid also compared the routine harassment of Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron to the anti-Semitism of pre-World War II Europe. “It was not crematoria or pogroms that made our life in the diaspora bitter before they began to kill us,” he said in 2007, “but persecution, harassment, stone-throwing, damage to livelihood, intimidation, spitting and scorn.”

It is interesting that unlike his father, Yair Lapid has not spoken out against the raging anti-Arab and anti-African bigotry consuming Israel. Instead, he is its most respectable and “centrist” champion.