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Anti-Semitism vs. Anti-Zionism in France – Consortiumnews

By Lawrence Davidson We are at a new stage of the fight to realize Palestinian rights and free both Palestinians and...

Canada’s NDP as Tools of US Imperialism, Israeli Zionism

Do New Democrat MPs who belong to the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group (CIIG) have carte blanche to flout party policy? Last week CIIG executive member Murray...

Bizarro Zionism: Zionists Call Human Rights Supporters Racist

What to call someone who claims to oppose racism, except for that directed against Palestinians? Judge someone by what they have done and continue to...

When Zionism Rubs Up Against Reality

Photo by Jordi Bernabeu Farrús | CC BY 2.0 “The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and...

Zionism in the Light of Jerusalem

Photo by Emmanuel DYAN | CC BY 2.0 Donald Trump’s official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is an embarrassment. A salutary embarrassment. It’s...

In Age of Forest Fires, Israel’s Law Against Palestinian Goats Proves Self-inflicted Wound for...

A ban by Israel on herding black goats – on the pretext they cause environmental damage – is to be repealed after nearly seven...

The Dark Inevitability of Zionism – Consortiumnews

Among the growing assaults on freedom of speech is an Israeli-driven campaign to criminalize a campaign to boycott Israel over...

Video: Tony Hall “Free Speech Is Dead, When A Tenured Professor Can Be Suspended...

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Canadian Prime Minister Misleads on Zionism

Canada’s Prime Minister would like us to believe that the ideology that shaped Israel is designed to fight anti-Jewish prejudice. But, even when anti-Semitism...

Jewish Voices from the Past make Mincemeat of Zionism and anti-Semitism

Zionism has always seemed to me to be a mischievous political creed, untenable by any patriotic citizen of the United Kingdom. — Lord Edwin Montagu Show...

Antisemitism Report tries to Whitewash Zionism

The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee has just issued its report ‘Antisemitism in the UK’ in response to concerns about “an increase...

Video: NATO missiles for Syria terrorists? Zionism/Wahhabism = West’s heresies to destroy the great...

Russia has warned against supplying anti-aircraft missiles to terrorist groups in Syria. The foreign ministry spokeswoman said any anti-Russia stance would ... Via Youtube

Zionism is the ‘enemy of peace’ & IDF should be tried as terrorists, say...

New claims of anti-Semitism in Britain’s Labour Party have emerged as Shadow Cabinet ministers and...

Video: Richie’s 1st Ever Guest On May 1st Sunday View Gilad Atzmon Talking About...

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Video: Jim Marrs On The Illuminati, Judaism V Zionism and The Looming Threat Of...

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The Widening Cracks in Zionism

Zionism has imposed an ideological orthodoxy that seeks to lock Jews – and Western politicians – into unquestioning support for...

Tories seize on Zionism comments, unrepentant Livingstone sets out to foil newts

Anti-Semitism is an internal “virus” the Labour Party must treat, according to London Mayor Boris...

Zionism: Imperialism in the Age of Counter-revolution

Coercive Engineered Migration: Zionism's War on Europe (Part 11 of an 11 Part Series) During the 1920s General Secretary of the Communist Party of...

Video: Yvonne Ridley On The Real Reason For The Migrant Crisis, Zionism & The...

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Pegida-UK – Smoke, Mirrors and Zionism: The Zionist Takeover of PEGIDA-UK

I was expelled from UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party, during my candidacy as a prospective Member of Parliament for West Lancashire for my...

Video: “Extremist Militant Zionism Took Over Israel In The 1980’s & Now It’s Completely...

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Video: “Extremist Militant Zionism Took Over Israel In The 1980’s & Now It’s Completely...

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How Zionism Corrupts Judaism

Judaism is a religion based on humanistic principles offering powerful arguments for social justice, but it has been hijacked by Zionists who have twisted it into an excuse...

Why Remaining Silent About the Perils of Zionism is Not an Option

Johnny E. Williams In academia, most scholars shun speaking and writing about the state of Israel’s siege and wars in Palestine. Our silence suggests support...

‘Zionism erased our Jewish-Arab identities’

Noga Sofer With the savage attacks on Gaza by Israel it is not surprising many see the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians to be eternal...

Israel, Genocide, and the ‘Logic’ of Zionism

Justin Raimondo History is full of ironies: World War I, marketed to Americans as a "war to end all wars," paved the way for an even more massive slaughter....

The face of demented Zionism yet again revealed: Will the American people continue funding...

The "up and coming" well-known and much admired Israeli politician and parliament member Ayelet Shaked of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home has again branded Palestinians as terrorists,...

Zionism in the Age of the Dictators

Lenni Brenner  RINF Alternative News I’m American, but my first book, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (now finally back in print), was published in Britain. American...

The Do Nothing Peace Machine: Why Zionism Negates Peace

William A. Cook RINF Alternative News In 2010 I edited The Plight of the Palestinians: A Long History of Destruction, a collection of articles by world...

The Blind Alley of J Street and Liberal American Zionism

Norman Solomon and Abba Solomon  RINF Alternative News Since its founding six years ago, J Street has emerged as a major Jewish organization under the banner...

The Strange Case of Canadian Zionism

The Conservatives are trying to rally Canadian Jews to their right wing imperialistic worldview. At the start of last month Stephen Harper spoke to the...

The Long History of Zionism in Canada

Yves Engler RINF Alternative News Canada's Conservative government is trying to convince Canadian Jews to support its right-wing imperialistic worldview. Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently spoke...

The long history of Zionism in Canada

Canada’s Conservative government is trying to convince Canadian Jews to support its right-wing imperialistic worldview. Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently spoke to the annual Toronto gala of the Jewish National Fund, which has a long history of dispossessing Palestinians and … Continue reading

Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism

Jews in today's Israel must reconnect to Jewish heritage before it was distorted by Zionism. (Ryan Rodrick Beiler) When the Zionist movement appeared in Eastern...

‘Iran should isolate global Zionism’

Iranian President Hassan Rohani™s chief of staff says the Islamic Republic should isolate œglobal Zionism.” The cruel and illegal sanctions against Iran should be lifted...

US, Russian deal a ‘defeat for Zionism’

The agreement between the United States and Russia on a diplomatic proposal to resolve the Syrian crisis is a œgreat victory” for the whole...

US, Russian deal a ‘defeat for Zionism’

The agreement between the United States and Russia on a diplomatic proposal to resolve the Syrian crisis is a œgreat victory” for the whole...

Zionism root of Palestine plight: Rabbi

All that is happening in Palestine today has been created or exacerbated because of the invention of Zionism, says Rabbi Dovid Feldman of Jews...

Zionism root of Palestine plight: Rabbi

All that is happening in Palestine today has been created or exacerbated because of the invention of Zionism, says Rabbi Dovid Feldman of Jews...

Zionism supporter to lead UK economy

Ian Livingston, 48, is publically recognized as a staunch supporter of Zionism.British Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed the most outspoken supporter of Zionist...

Zionism supporter to lead UK economy

Ian Livingston, 48, is publically recognized as a staunch supporter of Zionism.British Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed the most outspoken supporter of Zionist...

Zionism supporter to lead UK economy

Ian Livingston, 48, is publically recognized as a staunch supporter of Zionism.British Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed the most outspoken supporter of Zionist...

Zionism supporter to lead UK economy

Ian Livingston, 48, is publically recognized as a staunch supporter of Zionism.British Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed the most outspoken supporter of Zionist...

Zionism supporter to lead UK economy

Ian Livingston, 48, is publically recognized as a staunch supporter of Zionism.British Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed the most outspoken supporter of Zionist...

American Jewish Poet Hilton Obenzinger on Israel, Zionism, and the Radical Sixties

Born in Brooklyn, New York, the borough that served as the homeland for millions of Jews for decades, Hilton Obenzinger carries Jewish history and lore around with him both mournfully and gleefully.

His many books draw attention to his own Jewish roots, including an oral history he conducted with his Aunt Zosia Goldberg entitled Running Through Fire: How I Survived the Holocaust. There’s also a collection of his poetry entitled This Passover Or The Next I Will Never Be in Jerusalem, which received the American Book Award of the Before Columbus Foundation.

More than 60 years after he celebrated his first Passover with his own family of origin, he’s getting ready to celebrate Passover again with the family he’s created with Estella Habal, an Associate Professor of Asian American Studies at San Jose State University.

With Passover 2013 on the horizon -- it starts March 25 -- I sent Obenzinger an email and took up a long-standing conversation that we’ve kept going through wars, occupations, Seders, and reunions of Sixties radicals.

Jonah Raskin:
How will you celebrate Passover this year?

Hilton Obenzinger: We’ll have an extended family feast: my wife and I, our kids and grandkids. As usual, we’ll combine Passover, Easter, and the arrival of spring. It’s a raucous crowd: Jews, Filipinos, Chinese, and more. We use an illustrated Children’s Bible to tell the story of slavery and the escape of the Jews from Egypt, then move on to Jesus and the last Seder, and finish the Biblical story with the crucifixion and the resurrection. Eventually, we reach the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and sing “Let My People Go.”

We pour plenty of wine, shout good wishes for the Palestinians, Native Americans, and everyone else running for freedom. We end the evening with lines from a version of the Haggadah I wrote: “Next year in Jerusalem delivered from bondage.”

What makes you proud to be a Jew?

Jewish culture is rich and varied with a transnational sense of peoplehood. In Europe, my ancestors were everything from ultra-orthodox to Polish nationalists, to escape-to-America émigrés, to Zionist and Communist. The Nazis murdered almost all of them. In the face of that horror and other horrors of history, Jewish survival is astonishing.

I’m especially proud of the American Jewish experience that pushed me, and others, to join the civil rights and social justice movements. I’ve heard it said that support for equality and justice flows from Jewish ethics and from the history of Jewish persecution. I’d like to believe it.

What are you most ashamed about Jews as an ethnic group?

From my point of view, Zionism turned out to be a moral disaster for the Jews. American Jews have been suckered into supporting Israel in unthinking ways. This has been changing, but not enough American Jews are yelling and screaming to stop Israel’s expansion.

Have you been attacked at Stanford because of your beliefs?

After I began to teach at Stanford in the 1990s, a professor wrote a letter denouncing me as a “terrorist.” He was a very nice guy, very progressive -- except when it came to Israel. A switch would go off and he’d go bananas.

You have used the expression “Zionist crackpot.” What does it mean to you?

I don’t mean the typical supporter of Israel. I mean those people who fall into the extremist syndrome and who are motivated by a deep-rooted sense that Jews are always the victims and that Israel is always under attack even when it’s the aggressor.

Forty years ago, did you believe there would be a resolution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians?

Yes. And I still do.

Do you see a resolution to the conflict in your own lifetime?

Assuming I live another decade or two, probably not. But you never know. Who would have thought the Soviet Union would collapse? Or a black man would be president? I may not live to see it but it’s likely to happen.

Do you think that there can be a one-state solution to the conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis?

Of course, there can be -- which doesn’t mean it will happen, at least in the near future. The conflict is not at root religious and it hasn’t been going on for thousands of years, as many claim. It started about 130 years ago when Zionism, a Western political movement, called for the settlement of Palestine and the exclusion of the native people. It’s a conflict started by people, not by God; humans created it; humans can fix it.

What do you see happening now?

Israeli Jews are a nationality with their own language and culture, as are the Palestinians, so it would take a lot of good faith to fit all of them together, including the refugees. Good faith is not an abundant commodity nowadays. Meanwhile, the Israeli government has been doing all it can to prevent a two-state solution by expanding settlements and uprooting Palestinian communities.
One state may be inevitable, since the foundations for a viable Palestinian state have been greatly undermined. Israel might move further in its current colonialist direction, creating reservations for the natives and a large open-air prison in Gaza. I don’t care if there are one or four states, actually, just so long as equality and democratic rights are at the core of all of them.

What have you learned from studying the Holocaust?

When we protested the war in Vietnam many of us didn’t want to be “good Germans” -- people passively accepting evil and genocide. My family’s murder always weighs on my mind, so for me it’s imperative to speak out about injustice.

I produced my aunt’s oral testimony called Running through Fire about her escape from the Warsaw Ghetto. I learned from her that everything is muddy -- with some Germans acting morally and courageously and some Jews acting in a craven fashion. I also leaned that in a situation of utter horror, no matter how smart and skilled and, in her case, how beautiful you were, pure luck is a determining factor. I’ve also learned to keep my passport up-to-date.

What does it mean to you to be a Jew?

After my son’s birth I felt compelled to pass on to him a positive Jewish experience without the corruptions of anti-Arab racism, and the “Jewish Disneyland” kitsch that American Jews love. I wanted my son to laugh, to enjoy the bar mitzvah experience, to feel comfortable being Jewish and Filipino -- which is his mother’s ethnic identity.

What do you think Jews and Arabs have in common?

I told my aunt who survived the Nazis that if she could meet Palestinians in refugee camps she would like them, and that they were a lot like her. Palestinians, like Jews, value education and culture, and they insist on persisting. They, too, have historical memories that they won’t allow to be erased and that they act upon. Both Israeli Jews and Palestinians have also managed to drive each other insane. It’s painful watching two peoples destroy each other.

You’ve written about “the Holy Land.” Is it holy to you?

There’s so much blood and hatred there, that it’s hard to conceive of the place as holy.

At Stanford, where you teach, is there a visible Jewish population and a visible Arab population? What observations have you made about them?

Stanford gentility is strong and has its virtues. A lot of the Jewish students sympathize with the Palestinian cause nowadays and a Jewish critic of Israel is hardly an oddity.

You’re involved with Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project? What is it?

2015 will be the 150th anniversary of the introduction of thousands of Chinese workers to build the first transcontinental railway across North America. The work culminated with Leland Stanford driving the famous “golden spike” to complete the line that connected East and West. Despite the photographs, drawings, and observers’ testimonies about the Chinese workers who labored from sunrise to sunset, not a single primary document -- not a letter or a notebook -- has been identified.

So there’s a real Stanford connection, isn’t there?

Construction of the railroad was central to creating the wealth that Leland Stanford used to found the university. Eventually, we’d like to build a monument to the Chinese railroad workers on campus.

What is it about your own experience as a Jew that might help you understand the experience of the Chinese railroad workers?

I remember my father’s experience as an immigrant having to work in dangerous factories. The Chinese in America suffered a lot of abuse -- racial violence, mass deportations, expulsions, and discrimination. Early Chinese immigrants were tenacious and ingenuous and determined to possess the country and be possessed by it -- just like anyone else.

The Columbia protest of 1968 took place 45 years ago. How do you remember it now? In fact, you wrote a book, Busy Dying, that’s in part about that experience. How did writing the book alter your sense of the past?

I have totally blanked out my graduation, but I remember sitting in Low Library in the president’s office in around-the-clock meetings to talk about negotiations and how to nonviolently defend ourselves.

Why did you write your book?

I read accounts of the Sixties and was disturbed by the distortions, stereotypes, and outright lies.

The title Busy Dying borrows from Dylan’s “Busy Being Born.” Did Dylan help shape your Sixties experience?

The line is from “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)." It goes, “he not busy being born is busy dying.” Dylan’s music provides much of the soundtrack of my memories. The lines “busy being born” and “busy dying” express the sense of urgency we faced in the Sixties.

When you look back at the Sixties does it seem like an era mostly of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, or would you propose another trinity?

I got plenty of drugs but not enough of sex. I loved a lot of the rock ‘n’ roll, but I was also into country music, bluegrass, and Vivaldi. In 1968 we were “freaks” because we rebelled. The hippie part of the Sixties is too narrowly focused on middle class white kids, not the GIs fragging their officers, Freedom Riders, or Black Panthers.

At Stanford are you among the sons and daughters of the elite, who will go on to rule the Empire?

Half the undergraduates aren’t white and most aren’t rich. Of course, when Chelsea Clinton attended Stanford that pretty much defined the school’s reality. But I’ve also known students who joined the Zapatistas, organized unions, helped manage their pueblo’s casino to invest tribal funds wisely, restored native farming to the Big Island in Hawaii, develop educational programs in poor communities.

What about recent protest on campus?

In the fall of 2011, the Big Game between Berkeley and Stanford took place at Stanford right after the police attacks on Berkeley students occupying tents on campus. There was a joint rally of students from both schools -- something that I think has never happened before in their fierce rivalry -- to show solidarity against police brutality. It was one of the most astonishing moments in Stanford history. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

Zionism on verge of collapse: Iran pres.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) meets with the deputy head of Hamas political bureau, Moussa Abu Marzouk (L), Monday, March 4, 2013.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Zionism is on the verge of collapse as developments in the region move in line with the aspirations of regional nations.

“Today, the trend of circumstances is making headway to the benefit of nations and in line with the materialization of their cause and a glance at the 50-year history of the presence of Zionists in the region suggests that they are on the downward course of collapse,” Ahmadinejad said.

The Iranian president made the remarks during a meeting with the deputy head of Hamas political bureau, Moussa Abu Marzouk, on Monday.

President Ahmadinejad said that Palestine has been a “decisive issue for the entire region and the world and today the fate of the whole region has been tied to the liberation of the holy al-Quds (Jerusalem).”

The Iranian chief executive further reiterated the Islamic Republic’s support for the oppressed Palestinian nation and their efforts to liberate the occupied territories.

Marzouk, for his part, said that resistance is the sole way to achieve victory against the Zionist regime.


‘Muslim unity must end Zionism’

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses the 26th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran on January 27, 2013.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called on Muslim nations to pursue “specific aims” to achieve unity, saying putting an end to Zionism should be among the goals of unity.

“Under circumstances that the corrupt, uncultured and murderous Zionists are occupying and killing oppressed people, we should not sit idly by,” President Ahmadinejad said in an address to the 26th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran on Sunday.

He added that Muslims should unite against the evil and bullying powers and noted that monotheism, justice and love for humans are among other objectives of unity among Muslim nations.

The Iranian chief executive censured the existence of dissension among Muslims and stated that an incomplete understanding of the Holy Quran and Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is the reason behind such differences.

Ahmadinejad further criticized the ongoing economic system in the world, saying the global economic system transferes the assets of nations to the pockets of certain powers.

The 26th International Islamic Unity Conference started in Iran’s capital, Tehran, with the presence of Shia and Sunni thinkers from 102 countries. The participants are scheduled to discuss the issue of unity among Islamic Ummah and the existing problems of the Muslim world during the two-day event.

The 25th International Islamic Unity Conference was held in Tehran in February 2012. A major part of the conference revolved around the topic of Islamic Awakening and the popular uprisings in the Arab world.

The Islamic unity conference provides an opportunity for scholars to share views and review problems facing Muslims while presenting solutions.


Zionism vs Dominionism

Both Eric Cantor and Michele Bachmann have extreme religious views.  In Cantor's Zionism  God expressly desires a piece of land in Middle East be ruled and occupied by Jews.  Bachmann's  Dominionism asserts that Christians should play a special role in the American Republic.  However, the major news outlets have treated their religous beliefs very differently.  While it is open season on Bachmann, Cantor's Zionism is off limits.  In a bizarre marriage of extremism, Zionism and Dominionism are joined at the hip; one never speaking a word against the other.  But which one is truly dangerous for America?

Michele Bachmann

David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, and Jann Wenner, editor of  Rolling Stone, have a problem with Michele Bachmann’s religion.  Two recent articles by both magazines focused almost exclusively on her religious convictions, which, in the words of Matt Taibi make Mrs. Bachmann “batshit crazy. Not medically crazy, not talking-to-herself-on-the-subway crazy, but grandiose crazy, late-stage Kim Jong-Il crazy”.

Recent American history has for the most part avoided deep discussions regarding the "validity" of personal religious beliefs in politics.  This is no longer the case and a can of worms has been opened by The New York Times, The New Yorker, Newsweek and Rolling Stone that will have implications for all the political forces in Washington, not just the Christian right.   

Taibbi’s piece came out first, and he painted her  in very Taibbiesque colors as a politically shrewd religious fanatic. The copycat hatchet job in The New Yorker came off as boring and tactless with far too much cringe factor.  Ryan Lizza’s 8,500 word piece began with the shocking revelation that the middle aged Bachmann is careful not to be photographed in casual clothes.

The New Yorker of years gone by could have summed up Michele Bachman's religious beliefs with a terse sentence describing how God spoke to her and told her to become a tax attorney for the IRS: enough said.  The remaining 8,450 words could have been spent on William James or the origins of Lutheran communities in Texas.

The bottom line on both pieces is that Michele Bachmann is dangerous because she actually believes in her religion, and that will not do for Mr. Remnick and Mr. Wenner; they would much prefer she became a Unitarian.  Both are convinced that we cannot actually have people really believing this stuff running for president.

The New York Times editor, Bill Keller, jumped on the bandwagon with his editorial:  “I care a lot if a candidate is going to be a Trojan horse for a sect that believes it has divine instructions on how we should be governed..”

Newsweek/The Daily Beast was not to be outdone with their double whammy Newsweek cover of the crazed Bachmann and  Michelle Goldberg’s article explaining how Bachman and Texas governor Perry are dominionists and dangers to the Republic.  “..the GOP is now poised to nominate someone who will mount an all-out assault on (the separation of church and state). We need to take their beliefs seriously, because they certainly do.”  According to Goldberg these overtly Christian candidates are on the fringe because they believe a country that is 90% Christian should be governed by Christians and be culturally biased toward Christianity.

It's clear that our mass media is not thrilled about Michele Bachman’s religion.  But to what extent is Michele Bachmann's  religion really dangerous?  Has it started any wars or cost the taxpayer anything?  Is it guiding our foreign policy or alienating the United States from large swaths of the world?   

Keller from the The New York Times opens the floodgates for asking tough questions about our political leadership's religious beliefs:

"This year’s Republican primary season offers us an important opportunity to confront our scruples about the privacy of faith in public life — and to get over them. We have an unusually large number of candidates, including putative front-runners, who belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans." 

Eric Cantor

Eric Cantor is not running for President but he is the House Majority Leader and third most powerful person in the House of Representatives.  In a recent meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Cantor’s office made the following statement:  "Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington." The official statement goes on to say that “that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.”

This statement is remarkably dangerous, and possibly treasonous.  Mr. Cantor is basically telling the world that his office will serve as a check on the President on behalf of Israel.  The second part of the statement is ludicrous.  How is the United States reliant on Israel for its security?  It's a perfect example of how endlessly repeating a piece of rhetoric somehow makes it true.

Is Mr. Cantor convinced that the United State’s strategic geopolitical interests are intertwined with Isreal’s because of his religious beliefs or did he come to that conclusion through sound strategic thinking?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a tough chat with Netanyahu following Joe Biden's humiliation in Israel, when, unbeknownst to him, the Israelis announced new settlements in Jerusalem during his visit.  Later, the administration made a statement that said the "relationship" between the United States and Israel depended on the pace of negotiations with the Palestinians.  An infuriated Senator Chuck Schumer, the third ranking Democrat in the Senate, made this statement.

"That is terrible," Schumer said today. "That is the dagger because the relationship is much deeper than the disagreements on negotiations, and most Americans—Democrat, Republican, Jew, non-Jew--would feel that. So I called up Rahm Emanuel and I called up the White House and I said, 'If you don’t retract that statement you are going to hear me publicly blast you on this,'" Schumer said.

Mr. Schumer is willing to take the side of Israel over the Presidential administration of his own party because of his allegiance to Israel.  What is the relationship with Israel doing for the United States?  Is Mr. Schumer’s  support of Israel directly related to his religious beliefs and the religious beliefs of many of his constituents?

AIPAC is sending 20% of Congress to Israel this summer.  According the The Washington Post

“A record 81 House members, about a fifth of the chamber, are spending a week in Israel this month, courtesy of a foundation set up by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobby.”

Considering Congress’s brilliant performance this summer with the debt limit, do they have nothing better to do then spend 10 days being lobbied by the Israeli government?  Are they there because Israel supplies us with oil or because of someone’s religious beliefs?

Michele Goldberg of Newsweek/The Daily Beast said we must take Michele Bachmann's and Governor Perry’s “beliefs seriously, because they certainly do”.  But will Perry and Bachmann get us into a regional war because of their beliefs?

The Arab Spring has invigorated the democratic aspirations of all peoples of the Middle East and its logical last act will be the West Bank and Gaza.  Egpyt’s religious  fundamentalism is no longer under the firm hand of the American supported Mubarak.  Syria’s Assad is desperately holding on to power against the Sunni majority and is certainly capable of making a diversionary attack on Israel to maintain his control.  Finally, when the millions of disenfranchised Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan rise up, Israel could very well face a a battle on several fronts.  Should the United States commit itself to a multi-front war against practically the entire Middle East because of Eric Cantor’s and Chuck Schumer's religion? 

This September the United Nations will be voting on whether it should recognize Palestinian statehood.  This measure will pass the general assembly by an overwhelming majority but it will  be vetoed by the The United States in the Security Council, enraging Muslims across the world and causing lasting anti-Americanism.  Geo-politically it's  a losing position, yet the United States will sacrifice it’s own well being for that of Israel.  This is a clear example of how religion effects politics, yet Mr. Remnick, Mr. Wenner, Ms. Goldberg and The New York Times will not question the religious beliefs of Mr. Cantor and Mr. Schumer.  

September 11 and Iraq

During the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks little will be heard on why we were attacked.  Were we attacked because of Michele Bachmann’s religion?

Robert Frisk of The Independent addresses this directly.

"But I'm drawn to Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan whose The Eleventh Day confronts what the West refused to face in the years that followed 9/11. "All the evidence ... indicates that Palestine was the factor that united the conspirators – at every level," they write. One of the organisers of the attack believed it would make Americans concentrate on "the atrocities that America is committing by supporting Israel". Palestine, the authors state, "was certainly the principal political grievance ... driving the young Arabs (who had lived) in Hamburg".

The motivation for the attacks was "ducked" even by the official 9/11 report, say the authors. The commissioners had disagreed on this "issue" – cliché code word for "problem" – and its two most senior officials, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, were later to explain: "This was sensitive ground ...Commissioners who argued that al-Qa'ida was motivated by a religious ideology – and not by opposition to American policies – rejected mentioning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict... In their view, listing US support for Israel as a root cause of al-Qa'ida's opposition to the United States indicated that the United States should reassess that policy." And there you have it."

The war in Iraq was part of an agenda created by neo-conservatives in the 1990’s.  The neo-conservatives  aligned themselves with Israel for religious reasons, and they used the events of 9/11 to promote their agenda for a new Middle East. There is no escaping that the neo-conservative agenda was forged in large part do to religious beliefs, beliefs that eventually led to hundreds of thousands of dead civilians, thousands of dead soldiers and millions of refugees, many of whom where Christian.

American support for Israel has no strategic logic, only a religious one.   This begs the question, which religion is the true danger to the United States?
Matt Taibbi writes that “Bachmann is a religious zealot whose brain is a raging electrical storm of divine visions and paranoid delusions.”  He may be correct, but  is she dangerous?  Mr. Cantor believes that a family in Miami Beach that can demonstrate its Jewishness has every right to pickup and relocate to a settlement in the West Bank  while a Palestinian who was born there, whose parents and grandparents where born there must remain in a refugee camp because he is a member of the wrong religion.  This is abhorrent to any American yet Mr. Cantor and Mr. Schumer insist we must support "the relationship".   

Is Michele Bachmann’s Religion a Danger to America?

It most certainly is.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth 

One only has to imagine the founder of said religion on a return visit.  A thirty-three year old carpenter in the days before power tools with a visceral dislike for money changers could make quite a scene on the Goldman Sach’s trading desk.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 

Would he be hobnobbing at the Council on Foreign Relations and taking AIPAC junkets to Israel or would he be with the disenfranchised in Palestinian refugee camps?

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 

Would he be brainstorming with the neo-cons to dream up new wars or would he be standing with those that say enough already?

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Would he be in Davos or Jackson Hole conspiring to make billions for bankers and the mega-rich or would he be comforting those out of jobs, out of homes and out of luck?

Mr. Remnick and Mr. Wenner are right to fear Michele Bachman’s religion, because if by some miracle the country actually heard and followed its message, quite of few of our current cultural, political and economic leaders would find themselves in the wrong side of history.

Is Michele Bachmann Authentic?

The founder of Mrs. Bachmann’s religion was never one to beat around the bush.  A wealthy, well dressed scribe wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus would have none of him.

Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go."

Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

The fox is cunning- all men have cunning and to get as far as Mrs. Bachmann has in politics, we can safely assume that the fox can rest in her.  The birds of the air are pride and she, like all people, certainly has her share of it.  The question is, does the spirit have a place to reside in her as well and this can only be answered by Mrs. Bachmann and the founder of her religion.

The more important question is whether we as a nation have left room for the founder of Michele Bachmann’s religion to rest his head.  Mr. Remnick, Mr. Wenner, The New York Times and many others think he has too much room.  

We should be so lucky.

The is article was edited by Jim Horky 

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by Stephen Lendman

Longstanding Israeli policy is notoriously racist - worse than South African apartheid according to observers familiar with both systems.

Palestinians face ruthless persecution in a nation affording rights to privileged Jews alone. They have virtually none whatever. 

They're fair game for whatever harshness Israel has in mind - including lawless imprisonment and mass murder.

Ethiopian Jews fare no better - unwanted because they're black. Citizenship doesn't matter. Persecuting them is standard Israeli practice.

Last week a video emerged showing police beating an Ethiopian IDF member.

On Sunday, thousands of Ethiopian Israelis protested mostly peacefully - against what happened and widespread discrimination.

Hundreds of Israeli social activists and concerned Knesset members joined Sunday's rally. It came three days after an earlier one protesting police beating an Ethiopian Israeli soldier.

Police reacted as expected - viciously with stun grenades, water cannon fire, pepper spray and beatings.

Scattered protester violence was in response to policy brutality - mostly scuffles, throwing stones and plastic water bottles.

Numerous injuries and arrests followed. Participants chanted "Violent police officers belong in jail." "For blacks and whites, racism is the devil." "Police state." "No to racism."

They held signs saying "A violent policeman must be put in prison." "We demand equal rights."

Not in Israel notorious for ruthlessly denying them. One protester spoke for others saying:

"Being black, I have to protest today. I never experienced police violence against me personally, but it is aimed at my community which I have to support."

Protesters want social inequality addressed. They want violent police charged, tried, convicted and imprisoned for criminality too serious to ignore.

Netanyahu lied saying police abuse cases "will be looked into." Whitewash is standard Israeli policy.  

Over 135,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel. They're treated like second-class citizens or worse.

Their fundamental rights are denied. They face high unemployment, rotten jobs when available, poverty wages and discriminatory mistreatment.

A midday Monday rally is planned. Police warned if "public safety" is threatened, they'll "be forced to disperse the demonstration using means" of crowd control - code language for unrestrained brutality.

Nineteen Sunday protesters face charges of rioting and assaulting police. Innocence is no defense. Guilt by accusation is longstanding Israeli policy. Police brutality doesn't matter.

One protester said the following:

"We have long been the punching bag and scapegoat for everything in this country. People say that they’re with us, that they brought us here." 

"They didn’t bring us here. We came because of Zionism, not like others who came for economic benefits." 

"When you’re a Zionist, you believe with a full heart that this is your country."

"Our forefathers lived here, and we also have the right to live here. But what is going on now is simply a catastrophe." 

"It is racism for the sake of racism. You look for a job today, and even if you’re the best around, there’s a price. Your color carries a price.

"But we will not stay silent any longer. We are not our parents’ generation, who kept quiet, kept their heads down and said ‘amen’ to everything." 

"That period is over. We are a new generation fighting for our rights."

"We are the first to volunteer for the elite units in the military. I personally know many in the community who’ve already fought in three wars." 

"And the state - what it does it tell them to do? Pardon the expression, but it tells them to go stick it you know where."

A 19-year-old protesting IDF soldier said:

"There are too many instances of racism against our community. We kept quiet and kept quiet, and because of that, people who were victims of police violence ended up killing themselves." 

"The boy who was beaten up last week, you can see on the video that he didn’t do anything. He was beaten up for nothing, and it’s really enraging."

"What we’re doing now has nothing to do with what’s going on in Baltimore. They have their issues. We have ours. But we understand them. We both suffer from racism." 

"There, it’s more extreme. People were murdered by police. Here they just got beaten up. Who knows? Maybe somebody was killed by police here, and we don’t even know about it."

"In any event, we will not be silent any longer. It can’t be that our blood is only good for fighting wars." 

Another protesting black soldier said "I almost lost my life for the country, and this is how they treat me."

An Ethiopian protester told Israeli bystanders: "See, our blood is just like yours."

Another said "I feel like we're strangers, like we're not Jews. We fight all these wars, but this is the real war" - for long denied justice.

Things quieted down Sunday around midnight. What happens Monday and thereafter remains to be seen.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

The U.S-Israel Alliance: War, Chaos and Netanyahu’s Big Lie

Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – The relationship between the U.S. and Israel in the last 6 years under the Obama administration has never been stronger.  In 2012, The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) declared that President Obama’s aid package for Israel was the largest in U.S. history, a fact that is hard to ignore: 

President Barack Obama requested a record $3.1 billion in military assistance to Israel for the 2013 fiscal year. The requested amount is not just the largest assistance request for Israel ever; it is the largest foreign assistance request ever in U.S. history

President Barack H. Obama and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s alleged tenuous relationship is not what it seems.  Sure they probably annoy each other, but Obama has provided U.S. foreign aid just as every U.S. President before him.  The invitation granted by the speaker of the house John Boehner to Netanyahu so that he can present his case against Iran to the U.S. congress to prove that Obama’s negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program was a “bad deal.”    According to Netanyahu, Iran threatens Israel’s existence and the world.  Netanyahu’s speech was political theater.  Several democrats did not attend Netanyahu’s show.  Those that did criticized Netanyahu for trying to undermine the Obama administration is once again, all political theater.  The democrats who skipped Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent speech to show solidarity with President Obama’s policy towards Iran were going to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) event featuring an appearance by Netanyahu the following week as the Washington Examiner reported earlier this month:   

All of the members skipping Netanyahu’s congressional speech the Examiner interviewed were quick to say their anger toward the prime minister and his attempt to scuttle the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program did not extend to pro-Israel committee.

“Why would I not want to meet with my friends? They’re coming to see me next week and why wouldn’t I see them?” asked Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., referring to two American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbyists he’s known and worked with for 25 years

Since 1948, U.S and Israeli actions taken in the Middle East has proven to be a tragic period for all people of the Middle East whether Arab, Christian, Jew, Kurdish, Sunni or Shiite.  Nothing but wars and Sectarian conflicts, poverty and Western-funded extremists has destroyed Arab countries and killed millions of Muslim men, women and children that are physically and emotionally scarred for the rest of their young and innocent lives. 

Can anyone think of the U.S. and its Democratic ideals as a success?  The U.S. has done everything it can to create “order out of chaos.”  In 1947 following the “creation of Israel” by Great Britain when the Foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour confirmed a “national home of the Jewish People” when he sent the Balfour Declaration to Walter Rothschild, head of the Rothschild banking dynasty, the Palestinian people have been living in hell.  Palestine became a prison enforced by Israel’s security apparatus that resembles what George Orwell described as a total police state in his classic book “1984.”  Palestine has been divided; 1.7 million Palestinians live in an open air prison in the Gaza strip while others live in the West Bank under a police state controlled by heavily armed Israeli soldiers and police.  The Palestinians have been losing lands in an unprecedented fashion and in recent decades only to be accelerated under Netanyahu’s watch with a 40% increase in 2014 alone, outpacing the prior year. 

Israel’s ambitions for nuclear weapons capability began after Israel became a Western sponsored state with the U.S, U.K. and France as its main allies.  Many conflicts in the Middle East soon followed.  The Israeli war of Independence against the Arab countries included Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria which led to the 1949 Armistice which outlined the borders of Israel.    The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soon began military operations against Egypt, Lebanon and Jordon to prevent terrorist attacks against its Jewish citizens.  In 1956, Great Britain and France joined Israel in attacking Egypt after its government decided to nationalize the Suez Canal after the U.S. and Great Britain declined to fund the Aswan Dam.  Israel was forced to retreat from the attack by the U.S. and the USSR.  Soon after, the Six-Day War in 1967 began when Israel fought againstEgypt, Syria and Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and others contributed weapons and troops to the Arab forces.  Israel defeated the Arab armies and expanded its territory in the West Bank which included East Jerusalem to Jordan, the Golan Heights in Syria, the Sinai and the Gaza strip.  Then the War of Attrition (1967-1970), the Yom Kippur War (1973) and the War in Lebanon (1982) which the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) invaded Southern Lebanon to eliminate Palestinian guerrilla fighters (the resistance) from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) which led to the Israeli Security Zone in South Lebanon.  Then the South Lebanon conflict with Hezbollah that lasted for at least 20 years.  It still continues today.   The first and Second Intifadas began with the Palestinian uprising against a brutal Israeli occupation and the disappearance of their lands.  Several wars soon followed.  The last war called ‘Operation Protective Edge’ which Israel launched against the Gaza Strip.  According to the State of Palestine Ministry of Health who reported on August 17, 2014 that there were 2,300 deaths and over 19,000 injured in Gaza which was a devastating conflict that traumatized the Palestinian people especially the children.  It is a tragic consequence that will last a lifetime for many.    

During all of the conflicts, Israel was seeking weapons to defend their new “Jewish” nation.  Israel was eventually exposed as an undeclared nuclear power thanks to an Israeli man named Mordechai Vanunu who spent 18 years in the Shikma Prison in Ashkelon, with 10 of those years in solitary confinement.  Mordechai exposed Israel’s secrets nuclear program to the British press in 1986.

Israel is the aggressor.  It’s an illegal occupation which began under the British government and it is supported by other Western-powers, mainly the U.S. and France.  Israel’s history is filled with conflicts and terrorism against the Arab world.  Israel has committed political assassinations, supported extremists to topple governments including its current support to “moderate rebels” to oust Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.  It has control over the natural resources including vital water supplies that Palestinians solely depend on to survive.  So my question is why everyone is surprised by Netanyahu’s speech he recently gave in the U.S. House of congress?  Several members of congress were “appalled” or “upset” because he disrespected U.S. lawmakers, but the reality is that the majority of elected officials in congress and every administration even before Obama have approved military aid for Israel’s security since Israel was created in 1948.  Who are they fooling?  Netanyahu sounded like he was the U.S. president with constant standing ovations and thunderous applauds by the AIPAC controlled congress.  Those on both sides of the aisle whether democrat or republican always look forward to Jewish (Zionist) support for campaign funds.  There are several members of congress who have dual citizenships that seek to protect Israel at all costs (although the actual “costs” come at the expense of U.S. taxpayers). The U.S. has been involved in the Middle East for a long time.  Do not expect peace or stability.  War and conquest is the true nature of both the Americans and Israeli’s regarding Middle East policies.  ISIS is a perfect example of how the U.S. operates by bringing democracy to an already volatile region with its support of the Syrian rebels, al-Nusra and the decade old “al-Qaeda” with weapons to topple governments not in line with Washington only proves that war is on the agenda.  Not only does the U.S. and its allies support ISIS and other terrorist organizations to topple Arab governments they protect them according to an article by Michel Chossudovsky titled Obama’s “Fake War” against the Islamic State (ISIS). The Islamic State is protected by the US and its Alliesand made an important point when he said:

What would have been required from a military standpoint to wipe out an ISIS convoy with no effective anti-aircraft capabilities?  Without an understanding of military issues, common sense prevails.  If they had wanted to eliminate the Islamic State brigades, they could have “carpet” bombed their convoys of Toyota pickup trucks when they crossed the desert from Syria into Iraq in June

The U.S. and Israel clearly want chaos in the Middle East.  It is obvious.  However, Netanyahu did say that:

The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics.  Because America and Israel, we share a common destiny, the destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope. Israel is grateful for the support of American — of America’s people and of America’s presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama

Yes, the alliance between the U.S. and Israel is “above politics” and I agree it’s supposed to achieve “Full Spectrum Dominance” with the West and Israel controlling every aspect of Arab life including its lands, economy, and its natural resources in the Middle East.  This is the “destiny” which Netanyahu speaks of.  There is a vast amount of resources including the obvious oil, water and natural gas in the Middle East for which both the U.S. and Israel is solely interested in.  It also provides a market for the Military-Industrial Complex and corporate interests.  Netanyahu’s speech in Washington resembles what a genuine hypocrite that will claim it is he who is a victim of hatred, while committing heinous crimes against those he hates.  Netanyahu thanked President Obama for his support over the years which are no surprise:                  

We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel.

Now, some of that is widely known.  Some of that is widely known, like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N.  Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well- known.

I called him in 2010 when we had the Carmel forest fire, and he immediately agreed to respond to my request for urgent aid.  In 2011, we had our embassy in Cairo under siege, and again, he provided vital assistance at the crucial moment.  Or his support for more missile interceptors during our operation last summer when we took on Hamas terrorists

‘Operation Protective Edge’ was supported by the Obama administration.  They have collaborated on various programs including Israel security forces that provided training to U.S. Police forces.  I was not surprised by the recent revelations in Chicago, Illinois concerning its secret black sites used by the Chicago police department to detain and even torture suspects.  This happened under former White House Chief of Staff and also an IDF civilian volunteer and Israel supporter Rahm Emanuel whose father Benjamin M. Emanuel was once a member of the Irgun, a terrorist organization that operated in Mandate Palestine.  As Netanyahu continued:

But Iran’s regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran’s regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime. 

The people of Iran are very talented people. They’re heirs to one of the world’s great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots — religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship

Netanyahu said that “religious Zealots” imposed a dark brutal dictatorship?  Well I guess the Western-backed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi or the “Shah of Iran” and his secret police force the Savak who terrorized the Iranian people was their preference to keep Iran under their control.  Savak was trained and supported by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Israeli Mossad.  The most brutal dictatorship in the Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia is an ideal model for the U.S. and Israel.  If you look at the dictatorships the U.S. has supported to spread “American-Style Democracy” in the last 100 years.  The results of “American-style democracy” were disastrous causing human rights violations, countless deaths and disease.  Those same nations the U.S. either invaded or helped overthrow their respective governments (many of them democracies) still suffer from Washington’s “medicine.”  From Pinochet in Chile, to the Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua, Papa and Baby Doc Duvalier regime in Haiti to the Gulf Monarchies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and the list goes on, U.S. policy is about dominating nations for geopolitical interests including for the control of their natural resources.  The U.S. and Israel have an interest in the Middle East and that is to dominate it under their so-called “World Order.”   If they remove Syria and then Iran, the Middle East would become a region that would look like Iraq or Libya.  It would be a cash bonanza for the Military-Industrial Complex if they keep the civil wars among different sects and tribes going, creating a market for weapons exports.  Netanyahu said Iran is a “grave threat” to World peace.  Can someone say “Samson Option”?  Seymour M. Hersh’s ‘The Samson Option’ noted a commentary by Norman Podhoretz that summarizes how Israel would respond if they were on the verge of defeat at the hands of Arab nations in the Middle East:    

For Israel’s nuclear advocates, the Samson Option became another way of saying “Never again.”  [In a 1976 essay in Commentary, Norman Podhoretz accurately summarized the pronuclear argument in describing what Israel would do if abandoned by the United States and overrun by Arabs: "The Israelis would fight . . . with conventional weapons for as long as they could, and if the tide were turning decisively against them, and if help in the form of resupply from the United States or any other guarantors were not forthcoming, it is safe to predict that they would fight with nuclear weapons in the end. ... It used to be said that the Israelis had a Masada complex . . .but if the Israelis are to be understood in terms of a 'complex' involving suicide rather than surrender and rooted in a relevant precedent of Jewish history, the example of Sarnson, whose suicide brought about the destruction of his enemies, would be more appropriate than Masada, where in committing suicide the Zealots killed only themselves and took no Romans with them." 

Podhoretz, asked years later about his essay, said that his conclusions about the Samson Option were just that—his conclusions, and not based on any specific information from Israelis or anyone else about Israel's nuclear capability 

What Mr. Podhoretz was describing was a “if we go down, everyone else is going down with us” scenario which is a dangerous policy for the world peace.  Netanyahu also says that Assad who is backed by Iran is slaughtering Syrians.  This serves the Obama Administration’s long-term goal to remove Assad from power: 

Iran's goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world's oil supply

Netanyahu claim that the Jewish people can defend themselves which I agree especially when you have nuclear weapons that can destroy the entire Middle East:

We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves

Iran, Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah) and Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza) are targets for the U.S. and Israel.  They want to destabilize Syria and Iran and turn it into an Iraq and Libya with tribal and sectarian infighting among the populations.  The U.S. destroyed Iraq with the intention of dividing the people.  They create the conflict, develop hatred along Sunni and Shiite sects, and enforce a government subservient to Western interests.  How does this benefits Israel?  They keep the wars going by destabilizing regimes through ISIS and other Western-funded terrorist groups while Israel expands its territories beyond its borders.  Once Syria and Iran are destroyed, the U.S. and Israel will have no use for ISIS.  No more weapons will be shipped to ISIS and other groups and the U.S. and Israel with its military capabilities can easily defeat ISIS as Chossudovsky mentioned in his article.  It sounds cynical but it’s the truth.  It is what I call “Mafia-Style” politics, something the U.S. and Israel are very good at.  The world is not fooled by the bickering between the democrats and republicans because as we all know, they are one, united with an “unbreakable bond “with Israel as Obama declared in 2013.  We all know that without U.S. support, Israeli occupation of Palestine would end tomorrow.  But that will not happen unless the U.S. Empire falls from power and only then, a lasting peace will ensue.     

Netanyahu concluded with “May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America” And no one else, right Mr. Netanyahu?  What kind of God would bless two nations that have committed genocide against its indigenous populations?  Why would God bless a nation that lies to its people and declares war on nations that want their sovereignty respected?  If this is the God we as humans supposed to honor, then God is not who we think he is. 

In conclusion, Netanyahu should listen to an interview conducted by Press TV based in Tehran, Iran in 2014 with Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, associate director of ‘Neturei Karta International: Jews United against Zionism’ ( and was asked about U.N. monitor Richard Falk who accused Israel of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.  His response was as follows:

With the help of the almighty, I pray to the almighty to bestow upon me his truth, his wisdom. We are always confounded by this seeming ignorance of the issues and the ignoring of what is happening. The issues are clear from day one.  Well over one hundred years ago when this Zionist ideology came about of Jewish people creating their own sovereignty and then eventually deciding to make their sovereignty in the Holy Land, the biblical authorities in the Holy Land, the chief rabbi of Palestine, Rabbi Dushinsky..., of that time, and later in 1947 prior to the ratification of... Israel by the United Nations, the chief rabbi was Rabbi Dushinsky; he went to a meeting in Jerusalem [al-Quds] with the members of the United Nations and he pleaded with them in the name of Judaism and the religious community that we do not want, in any form, a state …, that it is illegal, it is illegitimate. Judaism does not permit us to have to have a Jewish sovereignty, Judaism does not permit us to oppress other people, steal the land, or in any manner being uncompassionate to the people.

On the contrary we were living together with the Muslim community, with the Arabs and Muslims for hundreds and hundreds of years in Palestine and every Muslim state in total harmony without any human rights group to protect us and since this creation of Zionism and then eventually … Israel, there is an endless river of bloodshed. It is impossible to subjugate people and expect that there will be peace. Now, we are condoning what is emanating from this fact that there is a state but the fact is that it defies logic; it flies in the face of …,  righteousness and everything that the humanity calls for, by occupying Palestine and so our rabbis universally opposed the existence of … Israel and that the world should totally confuse this issue.

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In the aftermath of successive Israeli military strikes on civilian homes, hospitals, mosques, television stations and refugee faculties, public antipathy towards Israel has reached fever pitch in many parts of the world as Tel Aviv pushes forward with its bloodiest military operation in Gaza to date.

Despite an extensive effort to harness social media to promote its slogans and talking points, mainstream opinion is increasingly viewing Israel’s ongoing campaign, referred to as Operation Protective Edge, as an indefensible demonstration of raw military force against a civilian population.

Images of maimed children, inconsolable families, and Gaza’s burning skyline have dominated global news coverage for much of the last four weeks. In the face of a ceaseless assault that has taken the lives of more than 1,700 and injured over 9,000 others, sympathy for the Palestinian cause has never been higher.

Amid continued calls for the cessation of violence, Israel has taken a defiant stance and vowed to push ahead with its stated objective of dismantling cross-border tunnels built by Hamas, which is being increasingly interpreted as a case of mission creep to legitimize a protracted military offensive.

Israel’s stated military objectives serve to obscure the unstated goal of its operation: preventing the newly formed Palestinian unity government – the product of a landmark reconciliation deal between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party – from carrying forward a Palestinian bid for statehood.

Israel’s latest offensive on Gaza cannot be seen in isolation; it is linked to the collapse of US-backed peace negotiations that began last July, aimed at establishing an outline for a final agreement intended lay the groundwork for Palestinian statehood by April 2014.

Tel Aviv refused to yield during negotiations, insisting on a long-term military occupation of the West Bank and refusing to freeze construction of Jewish settlements. The Obama administration proved unwilling to place any meaningful pressure on Israel to encourage it to make the kind of urgent concessions needed for the continued viability of the talks.

Washington’s deal failed to provide guarantees for an Israeli military withdrawal from the West Bank, and failed to guarantee East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The conditions required Palestine to acknowledge Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people,” effectively renouncing any claim to their historic lands.

The disillusioned Palestinian leadership unanimously approved a decision to join fifteen UN conventions and international treaties, in addition to forming an alliance with Hamas, following Israel’s failure to release the final tranche of Palestinian prisoners that it agreed to as part of the framework for the discussions.

Israel condemned the reconciliation deal and called on the international community to boycott the new unity government due to Hamas’ participation; it also claimed that the Palestinian Authority (PA) would now be held responsible for any rocket attacks launched from Gaza. Tel Aviv has since declared war on Hamas precisely in an attempt to impede the operations of the Palestinian unity government.

There are also notable economic considerations that may be influencing Israel’s position toward Gaza. 40 per cent of Israel’s electricity supply is dependent on natural gas, while rising energy prices threaten to undermine the country’s economic growth. Gas imports from neighboring Egypt have slowed due to instability in the Sinai Peninsula, while the near-depletion of Israel’s offshore Tethys Sea gas fields proves to be a major political obstacle.

An estimated 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas was discovered off the coast of Gaza in 2000, with a projected market value of $4 billion. The fields have not been developed due to Israel’s fears that Hamas would reap the proceeds of any gas deal with the Palestinian Authority. Tel Aviv is also politically opposed to the Palestinians acquiring extensive economic resources that could be used to lay the foundations for statehood.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon was quoted discussing his opposition to Hamas receiving any gas royalties in 2007, stating, “It is clear that without an overall military operation to uproot Hamas control of Gaza, no drilling work can take place without the consent of the radical Islamic movement.”

Tel Aviv has made major offshore oil and gas discoveries in 2009 and 2010, with the Tamar and Leviathan fields that combined hold an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of gas. However, most of the Levant Basin lies in hotly disputed territorial waters between Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Cyprus.

Gaza’s Marine-1 and Marine-2 gas wells are adjacent to other Israeli offshore installations, and Tel Aviv’s ability to develop the fields – at minimum to serve as a potential short-term supply to stave off future energy shortages – depends on thwarting Palestinian bids for statehood, allowing Israel to continue managing of all the natural resources nominally under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.

The ongoing offensive against Gaza represents Israel’s rejection of the two-state solution; on the other hand, it also opposes a bi-national one state solution. Tel Aviv has demonstrated that it is only interested in maintaining the status quo: a colonial settler state built on Jewish supremacy over land and resources by means of the violent repression and subjugation of ethnic Arabs.

Operation Protective Edge has done more than exhibit the grossly asymmetric military superiority of one side over the other: it has again exposed the willful bias of western capitals and various media outlets that favor Israel unconditionally, in the face of its deliberate attacks on civilians and violations of international law.

The United States provides $3 billion in annual military aid to Israel, and while strong language has been used to condemn Tel Aviv’s military transgressions, Washington’s foreign policy discourse has unflinchingly placed the primacy of Israel’s security above all else.

Israel acts with total impunity, without regard for any consequences, precisely because Washington has obediently provided Tel Aviv with diplomatic cover, shielding it from any form of accountability. The United States was also the only country that voted against launching a UN investigation into human rights violations committed by the Israeli military in Gaza.

The Obama administration did indeed condemn Israel’s recent shelling of a UN school, which killed at least 16 Palestinians, calling Tel Aviv’s actions "totally unacceptable and totally indefensible." In a brazen display of duplicity, Washington then confirmed it would provide Israeli forces with restocked supplies of ammunition, including mortar rounds and grenade launchers.

If Israel is genuinely interested in restoring security to its citizens, it should acknowledge that fewer rockets were fired into Israel in 2013 than at any point in the past decade, by virtue of a negotiated ceasefire mediated by Egypt that ended Israel’s eight-day campaign against Gaza in 2012. Hamas hadn't fired a single rocket until the current offensive began, and it established a special police force tasked with suppressing the rocket fire of splinter groups.

Indiscriminately targeting the men, women and children of Gaza provides Israel with no tactical military advantage; it only ensures that an entire generation of Palestinians will be radicalized in their opposition to Tel Aviv and bent on avenging their fallen compatriots by any means necessary, fueling the endless cycle of violence that has plagued the region for decades.

Tel Aviv could have long since brokered a compromise with the Palestinian Authority through the framework of the two state solution, but by continuing to enforce a punishing regime of apartheid and settler colonialism, backed by ultra-nationalism and militant Zionism, it is undermining its own legitimacy in the court of public opinion and exposing itself as deplorable rouge state.

This article appeared in the August 05, 2014 print edition of The Malaysian Reserve newspaper. 

Nile Bowie is a columnist with Russia Today, and a research affiliate with the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), an NGO based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be reached at

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Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – Professor Antony C. Sutton’s ‘Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution’ recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. Professor Sutton taught at California State University, Los Angeles and was a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He wrote numerous books based on Wall Street corruption and their involvement in world wars including ‘Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler’ and ‘Wall Street and FDR’ both published in 1976. Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution is a historical classic based on Professor Sutton’s extensive research on whom and why Wall Street helped fund the Bolshevik Revolution. If you want to understand the conspiracy by the West who overthrew Czarist Russia and replaced it with one of the most dangerous political movements in the 20th century known as the “Bolsheviks”, then Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution is one history book you should add to your list. The Bolsheviks murdered millions of Russian people since the start of the Russian revolution in 1917 where it is estimated that between 20 and 66 million who were executed, starved and even tortured to death, many in the labor camps known as the gulags. Nobel Prize winner and author of ‘The Gulag Archipelago’ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn declared that more than 66 million Russian people were murdered. Solzhenitsyn’s book was based on his personal experience as a prisoner, but it was also a well-researched document of what actually happened in the gulags according to eyewitness accounts. The Western elites wanted total control of Russia’s economy and society with a communist regime in place and they succeeded with their plans as the Bolsheviks became their enforcers; the Czars were eventually removed from power.

Recently in a speech regarding Crimea, President Vladimir Putin had said “In short, we have every reason to assume that the infamous policy of containment, led in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, continues today.” There is truth to that statement; according to ‘Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution’ it is a historical fact that the Wall Street elites had planned to undermine Russia’s sovereignty dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries. In the early 19th Century, Western Financiers created a revolution to overthrow Czarist Russia; Professor Sutton makes the connection between the United States and German interests in untapped Russian markets with prominent financiers such as J.P. Morgan, David Rockefeller and Leaders of the Bolshevik revolution Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and Leon Trotsky. Sutton explains his methods on how he obtained information:

Since the early 1920s, numerous pamphlets and articles, even a few books, have sought to forge a link between “international bankers” and “Bolshevik revolutionaries.” Rarely have these attempts been supported by hard evidence, and never have such attempts been argued within the framework of a scientific methodology. Indeed, some of the “evidence” used in these efforts has been fraudulent, some has been irrelevant, much cannot be checked. Examination of the topic by academic writers has been studiously avoided; probably because the hypothesis offends the neat dichotomy of capitalists versus Communists (and everyone knows, of course, that these are bitter enemies). Moreover, because a great deal that has been written borders on the absurd, a sound academic reputation could easily be wrecked on the shoals of ridicule. Reason enough to avoid the topic. 

Fortunately, the State Department Decimal File, particularly the 861.00 section, contains extensive documentation on the hypothesized link. When the evidence in these official papers is merged with nonofficial evidence from biographies, personal papers, and conventional histories, a truly fascinating story emerges. 

We find there was a link between some New York international bankers and many revolutionaries, including Bolsheviks. These banking gentlemen — who are here identified — had a financial stake in, and were rooting for, the success of the Bolshevik Revolution.

Who, why — and for how much — is the story in this book

Professor Sutton asks:

“What motive explains this coalition of capitalists and Bolsheviks?”

He explains Wall Street’s intentions on creating the Bolshevik Revolution against Czarist Russia:

Russia was then — and is today — the largest untapped market in the world. Moreover, Russia, then and now, constituted the greatest potential competitive threat to American industrial and financial supremacy. (A glance at a world map is sufficient to spotlight the geographical difference between the vast land mass of Russia and the smaller United States.) Wall Street must have cold shivers when it visualizes Russia as a second super American industrial giant. 

But why allow Russia to become a competitor and a challenge to U.S. supremacy? In the late nineteenth century, Morgan/Rockefeller, and Guggenheim had demonstrated their monopolistic proclivities. In Railroads and Regulation 1877-1916 Gabriel Kolko has demonstrated how the railroad owners, not the farmers, wanted state control of railroads in order to preserve their monopoly and abolish competition. So the simplest explanation of our evidence is that a syndicate of Wall Street financiers enlarged their monopoly ambitions and broadened horizons on a global scale. The gigantic Russian market was to be converted into a captive market and a technical colony to be exploited by a few high-powered American financiers and the corporations under their control. What the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Federal Trade Commission under the thumb of American industry could achieve for that industry at home, a planned socialist government could achieve for it abroad — given suitable support and inducements from Wall Street and Washington, D.C.

In an interesting note, Sutton explains how British Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared that there was a “Jewish Conspiracy” to control the world. He believed that the Bolshevik Revolution was a first step towards that goal:

The argument and its variants can be found in the most surprising places and from quite surprising persons. In February 1920 Winston Churchill wrote an article — rarely cited today —for the London Illustrated Sunday Herald entitled “Zionism Versus Bolshevism.” In this’ article Churchill concluded that it was “particularly important… that the National Jews in every country who are loyal to the land of their adoption should come forward on every occasion . . .and take a prominent part in every measure for combatting the Bolshevik conspiracy.”

Churchill draws a line between “national Jews” and what he calls “international Jews.” He argues that the “international and for the most atheistical Jews” certainly had a “very great” role in the creation of Bolshevism and bringing about the Russian Revolution. He asserts (contrary to fact) that with the exception of Lenin, “the majority” of the leading figures in the revolution were Jewish, and adds (also contrary to fact) that in many cases Jewish interests and Jewish places of worship were excepted by the Bolsheviks from their policies of seizure. Churchill calls the international Jews a “sinister confederacy” emergent from the persecuted populations of countries where Jews have been persecuted on account of their race.  

Winston Churchill traces this movement back to Spartacus-Weishaupt, throws his literary net around Trotsky, Bela Kun, Rosa Luxemburg, and Emma Goldman, and charges: “This world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing.” 

Churchill then argues that this conspiratorial Spartacus-Weishaupt group has been the mainspring of every subversive movement in the nineteenth century. While pointing out that Zionism and Bolshevism are competing for the soul of the Jewish people, Churchill (in 1920) was preoccupied with the role of the Jew in the Bolshevik Revolution and the existence of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy.

Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution is a must have for those who want to understand how far Wall Street will go to subjugate populations into perpetual slavery. They wanted total control of Russian society which resulted in the deaths of millions of people. The Russian people were victims of a conspiracy, one that Mr. Sutton’s brilliant research proves.

Many universities do not include ‘Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution’ in their syllabus as “required” reading materials. Of course, it can be labeled as “conspiratorial” and not relevant to Russian history especially in the American university system. However, it is a must read for those who wish to understand how Wall Street bankers were involved in funding a revolution to remove the Czars from power.

Every university, public and private schools around the world should include “Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution’ as a requirement for their history classes. Sutton connects the Russian revolution to Wall Street elites who funded the operation. It is an essential chapter in world history that allows you to understand how financial elites manipulate the politics and society so they can control the economy for their advantage. Not only educational institutions should include Professor Sutton’s books as part of their lesson plans, but every man, woman, child,  historian, political scientist, economist or those who are simply looking for the truth, ‘Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution’ is one history book that should be in everyone’s library. It is a history lesson that should not be missed.

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India’s Sham Democracy

India's Sham Democracy

by Stephen Lendman

India is like America. Democracy is fantasy. Two major parties dominate. 

In India most often. Others compete. At most, some become junior coalition partners.

Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) governance control things. They take turns. They're largely two sides of the same coin.

Indian elections ran in nine phases. From April 7 to May 12. The longest election in Indian history. Over 800 million were eligible to vote.

Over 8,000 candidates competed. They did so for India's Lok Sabha. It's House of the People. Its lower house. Parliamentarians represent 543 constituencies.

Turnout exceeded 66%. Highest ever for general elections. On May  16, results were announced. 

Ruling Congress party candidates were trounced. They won 44 of 554 seats. BJP aspirants won a majority 282 seats. The BJP National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won 336 seats.

Money power triumphs no matter who wins. Like in America. In Europe. In Israel. Most elsewhere . Democracy is fantasy.

Narendra Modi is India's new prime minister. He's no democrat. Or agent of change. 

He's pro-business writ large. He's notoriously anti-populist. He's neoliberally one-sided. He represents strongman rule. His Gujarat tenure was ruthless. 

He was responsible for its 2002 massacre. Up to 2,000 Muslims were slaughtered. Thousands more were injured. Hundreds went missing.

Children were burned alive. Rape and other atrocities were committed. Widespread looting occurred. Property destruction was vast.

Modi initiated what happened. He condoned it. He remains unaccountable. In 2012, a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team cleared him of involvement.

Muslims justifiably were enraged. Cold-blooded mass murder was whitewashed. State terrorism triumphed. Perhaps more of the same ahead with Modi in charge.

Not according to New York Times editors. They headlined "With Narendra Modi, a Change in India."

They praised what demands denunciation. They lied claiming Modi's victory "reflects a changing country more willing to extend governance to those outside the established elite."

Obama congratulated him. He invited him to Washington. Modi promised "economic revival."

"He set a good tone…(He) promised to work for the good of all Indians," said Times editors. He omitted explaining which ones he means.

Wall Street Journal editors headlined "India's Modi Moment," saying:

"(H)e has a rare mandate to enact (greater) market-opening reforms" than already. "Indian equities soared…"

"Mr. Modi's record offers reason for optimism." He's an "archetypal energetic executive…(He) welcomes foreign investment."

"He has a gut sense of the economic aspirations of ordinary Indians."

"Picking (men) of ideas to balance his own strength as a man of action would be a winning combination."

Washington Post editors called Modi "a compelling alternative as a leader with a record of overseeing a decade-long boom in the state of Gujarat, primed by aggressively tackling infrastructure and energy bottlenecks, paring excessive regulation and attracting private investment." 

"He has promised to do the same for the country at large, sketching ambitious plans for new cities linked by bullet trains."

Arundhati Roy calls India's model one "designed to uphold the consensus of the elite for market growth" at the expense of fairness. 

It "metastasized into something dangerous." High-level corruption reflects it. So does hardline rule.

Roy compared Hindu persecution of Muslims to Hitler's treatment of Jews. "What kind of India do they want," she asked earlier?

She described a "limbless, headless, soulless torso left bleeding under the butcher's clever with a flag driven deep into her mutilated heart?"

She commented on India's election, saying:

"…"(W)e're always told there's going to be a trickle-down revolution."

"You know, that kind of opening up of the economy that happened in the early '90s was going to lead to an inflow of foreign capital, and eventually the poor would benefit."

"Well, trickle down hasn't worked, but gush up has. After the opening up of the economy, we are in a situation where…100 of India's wealthiest people own 25 percent of the GDP."

"Whereas more than 80 percent of its population lives on less than half a dollar a day."

Roy noted horrendous malnutrition, hunger and human misery.
India's growing middle class comes at the expense of a "much larger (permanent) underclass."

Small farmers among others suffer. Around 250,000 committed suicide. "If you try to talk about (it) on Indian television channels, you actually get insulted…"

Roy's new book is titled "Capitalism: A Ghost Story." It explains well. It makes a strong case. It shows globalized capitalism created unprecedented inequality, violence, racism and ecocide.

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian/journalist/sharp critic of New Delhi policy.

He called BJP candidates winning decisively a clear mandate. He's not encouraged. He expects worse of what voted rejected ahead.

He commented on Hinduism's strong pro-Israeli sentiment. "Hindutva and Zionism shared a muscular nationalism that developed - because of their context - a programmatic apathy to Islam and Muslims," he said.

In 1884, BJP candidates won two seats. This year "the tide turned," said Prashad.

It did so despite Modi's genocidal legacy. Anti-Congress sentiment mattered more.

India has "a powerful Hindu Right government with a very weak opposition," Prashad added. "It is the worst of all worlds."

Congress prioritized neoliberal policies. They combined "liberalization, privatization and globalization."

Prashad calls it "an explosive mix that brought India in line with the planet's rising inequality."

It's grown steadily for years. Especially so in the new millennium. Extreme depravation affects around "680 million Indians."

Congress policies exacerbated things. Inequality escalated during its tenure. Voters reacted.

Its candidates were rejected. BJP ones replaced them and then some. Both parties represent monied elites. Corruption is deep-seated.

BJP and Congress largely govern the same way. Prashad said Modi's Gujarat "malnutrition rate is so high that it is worse than the average…in sub-Saharan Africa."

Its development model is exclusively pro-business. Modi family-controlled companies profit handsomely.

He "ran as a development candidate with a carefully calibrated argument," said Prashad.

He turned truth on its head. He claimed neoliberalism didn't create inequality. He blamed corruption. He "tied it to the mast of Congress."

He rode an anti-ruling party wave. He did so successfully. He reflects hard right Hindu nationalist extremism.

He'll form his government going forward. He'll have to decide whether it's "the ideology he concealed in plain sight or from the campaign rhetoric…he delivered," said Prashad.

Election results showed India's left considerably weakened. Its alternative is rebuilding "strength outside parliament through popular political struggles," Prashad stressed.

Did ordinary Indians get what they wanted, he asked? Was it "good governance or Hindu nationalism?"

On the one hand, they get what they voted for, good or bad.

On the other, they're stuck with the worst of both worlds they deplore. Hardline pro-business Hindu nationalists are empowered for the next five years.

For hundreds of millions of deeply impoverished Indians, it'll feel like a lifetime.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Israelis slowly wake up to the Nakba

Middle East Eye – 15 May 2014

LUBYA, Israel – Palestinians are due to stage marches in both the occupied territories and Israel Thursday to commemorate the loss of their homeland 66 years ago – an event they call the Nakba, or “Catastrophe” – a little more than a week after Israeli Jews celebrated the anniversary of the Jewish state’s birth.

But for many Israeli Jews, it is becoming ever harder to mark their Independence Day without confronting the fact that Israel’s establishment created a new set of victims, said Eitan Bronstein, founder of Zochrot, or “Remembering”, an organisation dedicated to teaching Israeli Jews about the Nakba.

“Once, the Nakba was a non-issue for Israeli Jews. Many had never heard of it or didn’t know what the term meant. But now it is unavoidable. Israelis have to face it.”

Long excluded from the Israeli national discourse, the Nakba – and the ensuing destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages – is slowly forcing itself into the consciousness of ordinary Israelis. And that is creating new sources of tension and potential conflict.

Last week, as Israeli Jews held street parties celebrating Independence Day according to the Hebrew calendar, some 20,000 of their compatriots – Palestinians citizens of Israel – gathered in a forest half way between Nazareth and Tiberias. In the largest Nakba procession ever staged in Israel, they waved Palestinian flags as they marched to Lubya, one of more than 500 Palestinian villages destroyed in the aftermath of Israel’s creation.

As has become typical in recent years, the march produced a counter-demonstration: hardline Jewish nationalists staged noisy celebrations close by, fervently waving Israeli flags and trying to get as close to the march as police would allow.

‘Fifth column’

Scenes of the Nakba procession – all over social media, as well as the Israeli news – upset the Israeli right. Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, and leader of Israel is Our Home party, called Palestinian citizens who joined the march “a fifth column whose aim is the destruction of Israel”. He added that their rightful place was not in Israel but “Ramallah”, where the Palestinian Authority is headquartered.

Numbering 1.5 million, the Palestinian minority comprises a fifth of Israel’s population. Able to reach the destroyed villages, unlike most Palestinian refugees, they have increasingly shouldered the struggle to keep alive the memory of what was lost in 1948.

Most Israeli Jews, however, regard efforts to revisit 1948 as a threat to Zionism, said Bronstein. A long-standing consensus in Israel is that any concession to Palestinians on the refugee question could open the door to the right of return, destroying Israel’s Jewish character.

Im Tirtzu, a far-right youth movement opposed to what it sees as growing anti-Zionist influences on Israeli society, organised protests at several Israeli universities this week as Palestinian students tried to hold Nakba commemorations.

Matan Peleg, Im Tirtzu’s director, said: “The left is trying to promote these Nakba events to make Israelis feel guilty about our Independence Day. But Israelis aren’t falling for it. We know who started the war.”

Israel has long insisted that the many Palestinians left of their own accord or that their exodus was possibly even coordinated by Arab leaders. Palestinians in turn have always vehemently denied this narrative and insist that the civilian population was forced out.

Peleg said Israel respected the human rights of its Arab population more than any Arab state in the Middle East. “Israelis are made angry by the hypocrisy. When we see the Palestinian flag being raised, we know that they [those on the march] don’t want Israel to exist.”

Sights like those at Lubya are likely to fuel a “harsh” reaction from Israel, said Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian and expert on the events of 1948. “Unfortunately, we are likely to see more draconian legislation in the future and the possibility of brutal violence,” he said.

The Israeli parliament has already passed a law preventing any publicly-funded institution – such as schools, universities and libraries – from providing a voice to the Palestinian narrative of 1948.

New assertiveness

Pappe said an announcement last month by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of new legislation to define Israel in exclusively Jewish terms indicated further efforts to eradicate discussion of the Nakba and Israel’s responsibility.

Ziad Awaisi, one of the Nakba march organisers, said such moves were only galvanising the resolution of Palestinians on the refugee issue. “A new, young generation is ready to be more assertive about the Nakba and the rights of the refugees. They are willing to confront the Israeli authorities,” he said.

Estimates are that one in four Palestinian citizens of Israel belongs to a family expelled from its home in 1948, making them a potentially powerful force in Israel for a historical re-evaluation.

The “March of Return” has been held annually since 1998, each year to a different destroyed village. In recent years, the number of participants has swelled dramatically, with young families and youths playing an ever greater part.

The erased village of Lubya is covered by a pine forest known to the Jewish population as Lavi Park and nowadays chiefly visited by walkers, cyclists and families out for a barbecue.

Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Israeli parliament who has emerged in recent years as a stern critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, asked in a commentary last week: “Can the Nakba and Independence coexist in the same space?”

Calling Israelis ”insensitive”, he wrote: “All around the country, cemeteries were desecrated, holy places were turned into storerooms and animal pens, entire villages were wiped off the face of their tilled earth, and one person’s place of mourning and devastation became another’s place of leisure and holiday-making.”

Representing refugees

At Lubya, refugees spoke longingly of their desire to return to a village that was once home to nearly 3,000 Palestinians. Many were among the 750,000 Palestinians forced out of the new state of Israel in 1948 and into refugee camps across the region.

Awaisi said the large attendance at this year’s march may have reflected in part the fact that a significant proportion of Lubya’s refugees ended up in Yarmouk, a camp in Damascus that is now caught in the midst of Syria’s civil war.

“It is important that we show the refugees that we are active on their behalf, especially when the Palestinian leaders [based in Ramallah] grow ever quieter on the right of return.”

But, he added, local tensions were also driving a renewed interest in the Nakba. “The recent attacks on our communities, including mosques and churches, and the failure of the police to do anything, are a reminder to people that our presence here is under threat. This march was a way to say: We are here and we are not going anywhere.”

Nakba initiatives inside Israel are taking off on various fronts, adding to the tension with Israeli Jews.

Zochrot, or Remembering in Hebrew, is a small but growing organisation of Israelis – Jews and Palestinians – whose goal is to be “provocative”, said Raneen Jeries, the group’s media director. “We want to make them [Israeli Jews] angry. That is how we raise awareness. They have to take note of the history they were not taught at school.”

Map of destroyed villages

Last week Zochrot launched a phone app called iNakba, the first of its kind. In three languages, English, Arabic and Hebrew, it flags up on an interactive map all the Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948, allowing users to locate them and share information.

Jeries said it had been an instant success, gaining thousands of downloads on its first day.

“Colonial regimes like Israel use maps as a political tool, to erase communities, heritage, even nations. But this app puts Palestine back on the map. With the help of users, it will create the most accurate map ever and reconnect the refugees to their villages.”

For the past decade Zochrot has been running regular visits for Israelis to the ruins of different villages, often buried under pine forests and hidden inside gated communities reserved for the Jewish population.

Zochrot has created a “nakba kit” for teachers, though it is barred from use in the classroom by education officials.

The group has also created an archive of filmed interviews with veteran Israeli fighters from the 1948 war, who admit their role in expelling Palestinians and, in some cases, participating in massacres. Most Israeli Jews are still taught a long-discredited narrative that Palestinians fled under orders from Arab leaders.

Last year Zochrot held the first-ever conference on the practical implementation of a right of return, at a time when most Israeli Jews still reject even the principle.

Holy places reclaimed

Groups of refugees inside Israel have been trying to reclaim mosques and churches, usually the only buildings still standing in the destroyed villages, defying Israeli orders that have typically declared the ruins “closed military areas”.

In two destroyed Christian villages in the Galilee, Biram and Iqrit, youths have set up encampments next to the surviving churches, daring Israel to force them out.

Such efforts are leading to confrontations.

Last month a refugee family that tried to hold a baptism in a church at al-Bassa, now the industrial zone of the northern Jewish town of Shlomi, was attacked. A group of Jewish residents reportedly called them “stinking Christians” and smashed the camera of the official photographer.

Shlomi’s mayor, Gabi Naaman, told the Haaretz newspaper that refugee families trying to renovate or use the church were “trespassing”. He added that the building was too dilapidated to be safe. “I will act to close the place down because it’s dangerous, and I will block any entry to it in the future.”

At other sites, such as at the historic mosque of Ghabsiyya, east of Acre, Israeli authorities have been trying to prevent refugees from using the building by sealing it off with razor wire and high walls.

According to Pappe, as Israelis are faced with the realities of 1948, there is likely to be an ideological entrenchment. “Israelis may admit the ethnic cleansing [of 1948] but then they say it was justified, or that the Palestinians were the successors of the Nazis, or that Israel was going to be exterminated.”

But Jeries insists that the work of the Nakba groups is only just beginning. “Israeli society now acknowledges the Nakba. But there is much more to be done,” she said. “Israeli Jews don’t yet want to take responsibility for it: to fix historical injustices and take back the refugees. It is going to be a long process.”

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Onward, Christian soldiers

Middle East Report Online - 13 May 2014

For the past 18 months the Israeli government has gradually raised the stakes in its campaign to pressure Palestinian Christians to serve in the Israeli military. In April, Israel upped the ante once again, announcing it would henceforth be issuing enlistment notices to Christians who have graduated from secondary school. This time, the Greek Orthodox patriarch responded, sacking a senior Nazareth priest, Jibril Nadaf, who had styled himself the spiritual leader of a small but vociferous group of Palestinian Christians who back the government campaign.

The enlistment drive began quietly in October 2012 with a clandestine “recruitment conference” arranged by the Defense Ministry to which Christian Scout groups, mostly from the Greek Catholic and Maronite communities, were invited. Then, in the summer of 2013, standing alongside Nadaf, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, went public. He declared at a press conference: “Members of the Christian community must be allowed to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). You are loyal citizens who want to defend the state. I salute you and support you. We will not tolerate threats against you and we will act to enforce the law with a heavy hand against those who persecute you.”

The April announcement was the first concrete step toward fulfilling Netanyahu’s vow, though for the time being the recipient will be able to treat the letter as an “invitation” rather than a formal draft notice. The military said it would begin by sending out 800 letters to Christians who had reached conscription age.

As the campaign proceeds, Israeli officials are watching carefully to see how the local Christian population responds and, more importantly, what reaction this effort provokes from the international community and church hierarchies.

The group of Palestinian Christians led by Nadaf has established a Forum for Christian Recruitment, which is advising the government on how to advance enlistment. Nadaf articulates their thinking: “We have broken through the barrier of fear. The time has come to prove our loyalty, pay our dues and demand our rights. Because the State of Israel is our heart, Israel is a holy state, a strong state, and its people, Jews and Christians alike, are united under one covenant.”

The overwhelming majority of Christians appear unpersuaded by such appeals and oppose military service, voluntary or otherwise. But Israeli officials employ a combination of pressures — arrests, threats of prosecution for incitement and civil suits for financial damages — to intimidate the scheme’s critics.

Meanwhile, church authorities inside Israel and abroad find themselves in uncomfortable territory, pushed by local congregants to act but loathe to antagonize the Israeli government. Both the Greek Orthodox Church, representing the largest Christian denomination in Israel, and the Vatican are heavily dependent on Israeli good will. Israel provides entry permits for priests and nuns to work in religious institutions, and mostly averts its gaze from the churches’ intentionally opaque tax and property affairs.

That may in part explain why appeals from Palestinian Christian leaders to Pope Francis to intervene during his May visit to the Holy Land have so far gone unheeded. For many months, the Greek Orthodox patriarch had also ignored repeated requests from the local community to defrock Nadaf. A spokesman revealed that senior clerics finally agreed to sack the priest. “We warned him before to keep to his priestly duties and not to interfere in matters of the army. When he did not heed our warning we held a meeting of the church court, which decided to sack him,” said ‘Isa Muslih.

Divide and Rule

Palestinian leaders in Israel, representing a minority of the country’s 1.5 million citizens, or one fifth of the population, view the government’s efforts to recruit Christians to the military as an elaboration of long-standing divide-and-rule policies.

Founded explicitly as a Jewish state, Israel has preserved the foundations of the Ottoman millet system, which gave each confessional group’s religious leadership exclusive control over personal status matters, such as marriage, divorce and burial. Having separated these confessional groups, Israel then granted preferential status to the Jewish community in many areas of the law, treating it as a part of a global Jewish nation and consequently entitled to national rights. Members of the Palestinian community are accorded only inferior sectarian or tribal identities: Muslim, Christian, Druze, Bedouin and Circassian.

Conscription has also been structured around these confessional identities. Israeli Jewish men are drafted for three years, and women for two, after graduating from high school, unless an individual is exempted on religious, physical or psychological grounds. Among the Palestinian minority, on the other hand, conscription has always been a hugely divisive issue.

Druze leaders signed an agreement with Israel in 1956 to draft all males from their community, which comprises one tenth of the Palestinian population. The tiny Circassian population followed suit. Both communities, vulnerable to sectarian fighting, preferred to seek the military patronage of the young state of Israel.

It seems there was little enthusiasm among the Israeli political and military establishments for conscripting Muslims. The Sunni Muslim population, today comprising 80 percent of the Palestinian minority, was seen as a potential fifth column, likely to ally with Israel’s enemies, whether Palestinian fighters in exile or neighboring Arab states. Giving the Muslim population military training and equipment was therefore ruled out.

In the state’s first decade, however, there were hopes that the small Christian community might be persuaded to agree to the draft. A key figure was George Hakim, the Greek Catholic bishop for the Galilee. He founded a Christian militia during the 1948 war, and many of his followers were allowed by Israel to return from exile in Lebanon at the end of the fighting. Hakim went on to transform the Greek Catholic Scouts into a Zionist youth movement, as a political counterweight to the joint Jewish-Arab Communist Party, which was the only mainstream non-Zionist movement permitted in Israel.

In 1958 Hakim considered signing an agreement on military service similar to what the Druze leadership had signed, but found little support among Christians. A photograph in Hillel Cohen’s book Good Arabs, on the early collaborators with the new state of Israel, shows Hakim seated next to Druze leader Sheikh Amin Tarif at an IDF parade marking Independence Day in 1959.

Instead, the Christian and Muslim communities received a general exemption from the draft. There is a provision for members of either community to volunteer, though communal leaders actively discourage such service.

The Bedouin, physically isolated from the rest of the Palestinian minority in their separate and heavily deprived villages, often in the semi-desert Naqab (Negev) region, have been among those most likely to volunteer, usually as trackers. Like the Druze, many were persuaded by a discourse that presented military service as proof of loyalty to the state and, consequently, a way to gain benefits and access to jobs. But in recent years the number of Bedouin volunteers has slowly declined, as the Bedouin come to understand that service rarely offers them escape from social and economic marginalization and strengthen their connections to external political actors, particularly the Islamic Movement.

Israel’s Model Christians

Israel’s intention is to end the current arrangement for the Christian community. Like the Druze, Christians account for about one tenth of Israel’s Palestinian population. Christian supporters of the enlistment campaign hope to reach an agreement with the government that would mirror the one between the state and the Druze.

In return for their conscription, the Druze are recognized as possessing very limited attributes of nationhood: Their ID cards identify them as “Druze” rather than generic “Arabs”; and they have their own education system, separate from the Arab one, emphasizing a narrative of Druze history that presents their community — and their allies, the Jews — as oppressed for centuries by Muslim rulers.

In practical terms, the benefits of military service for the Druze are chiefly individual rather than communal. After conscription, many are recruited to the prison service, where most work as lowly warders, or to the Border Police, a much-feared paramilitary force that operates in both Israel and the Occupied Territories. Most significantly, former Druze soldiers get preferential access to the scarce plots of land made available to the Palestinian minority. For many, given discriminatory land allocation and planning systems, it is their only hope of building a home legally.

Shadi Khaloul, a former Israeli paratrooper and spokesman for the Forum for Christian Recruitment, speaks of Christians needing to “live freely [and] rediscover our identity and history.” He highlights the importance of establishing a separate school system for Christians, reviving and teaching in the ancient and near-extinct language of Aramaic, which, like Hebrew, preceded Arabic in the Levant.

Khaloul is the model for the new Christian the Israeli government wants to cultivate. His grandparents were “present absentees,” or internal refugees, expelled in 1948 from the mostly Maronite village of Kafr Bir‘im in the Upper Galilee, one of the hundreds of Palestinian villages destroyed during and after the war. Refugees from Kafr Bir‘im — along with those of another Christian village nearby, Iqrit – have battled without success to be allowed to return to their villages, based on a written promise by the army that their “evacuations” in 1948 were temporary. But Khaloul is not affiliated with this effort and indeed bears no obvious grudge over his family’s dispossession. Rather, he believes, exaggerated loyalty to the state is the best route to regaining his rights. He is fiercely proud of what he views as a native Judeo-Christian identity that predates the Arab conquests of the Holy Land.

His family, like many others from Kafr Bir‘im, ended up nearby in the village of Jish. But Khaloul refuses even to acknowledge this village’s Arabic name. For him, it is the ancient community of Gush Halav, and his identity is Maronite-Aramaic rather than Arab. Khaloul argues that the Maronites and Jews share the language of Aramaic and that both communities suffered persecution at the hands of Muslims for hundreds of years. Following pressure from Khaloul, Jish schools became the first in Israel to offer Aramaic classes until eighth grade, paid for by the Education Ministry.

Listening to Khaloul, one can understand why Israel has chosen this moment to push Christian military service. “We are part of Israel and it is important that we keep our country strong, especially when our brothers are being persecuted and slaughtered only a short distance away [in Syria and Egypt].”

The 2011 Arab uprisings and their aftermath provoked genuine fear among many Palestinians in Israel, especially Christians. They believe that these events demonstrate how easily communal relations can break down and turn to violence without strong state structures in place. Given its virile army and its financial and diplomatic support from the United States, Israel seems, at least to some, like the only reliable oasis of calm in the region.

Benjamin Netanyahu is keen to play on these fears. In a Christmas video message to local Christians, he referred to Christians as “loyal citizens” and urged the youth to enlist, adding that the Forum would “grant protection to supporters of enlistment and to the conscripts themselves from threats and violence directed at them.”

Hana Suwayd, a Christian member of the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, was among those who read the prime minister’s comments as endorsing the formation of Christian militias. “He is trying to sell this to Christians with the idea that Israel will arm and train you to defend yourself against your Muslim neighbors.”

Suwayd and others are only too aware where such scare tactics could lead, as illustrated by a notorious incident a decade ago in the village of Rama in the central Galilee. There, a knife fight in which a Druze youth was fatally stabbed by a Christian teenager led to a campaign of intimidation of the village’s Christian population, culminating in Druze soldiers firing an anti-tank missile at the local church.

Nazareth Center Stage

Palestinian leaders in Israel regard Netanyahu as the driving force behind the military enlistment campaign. It was on Easter 1999, during Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister, that simmering sectarian tensions in Nazareth exploded into street fights between Christians and Muslims.

The conflict had been stoked by a series of cynical government interventions in the run-up to Pope John Paul II’s visit for the millennium. Netanyahu set up two ministerial committees to arbitrate in a dispute over control of a public square next to the city’s main holy site, the Basilica of the Annunciation. In an unprecedented decision, the government overruled the local municipality and backed the efforts of a group of Muslims to build a large mosque next to the Basilica. Planning permission was never granted, and the mosque was never built. But the initial government ruling ensured that sectarian strife mounted for many months, fueling tensions that have not entirely abated to this day.

The latest campaign to recruit Christians to the military is seen as an extension of Netanyahu’s earlier efforts. And again Nazareth, the effective capital of Palestinian citizens of Israel, has been thrust onto center stage. Home to the largest community of Christians in Israel, the city of 85,000 also has a two-thirds Muslim majority. Sectarian conflict here reverberates throughout the Palestinian minority.

The main political parties representing Palestinian citizens of Israel have staged protests in the city, including one in April at which youths dressed as soldiers and carried toy rifles. They declared the area a closed military zone, setting up barbed wire and a mock checkpoint. The “soldiers” then acted out a show in which they harassed other youths as a way to highlight what military service in the Occupied Territories entails. A pamphlet handed out to passersby warned that Israel wanted to achieve “the disintegration of the Palestinian national minority into warring sects.”

The Higher Follow-Up Committee, the main political body representing the Palestinian minority, has also called for a major rally against the enlistment drive on May 17. Other leaders have urged Christian youngsters publicly to burn their call-up papers.

In addition to the Forum for Christian Recruitment, Nadaf’s followers have established in Nazareth the first joint Christian-Jewish political movement, called Bnei Habrit, or Children of the Covenant. It is led by Bishara Shlayan, a former merchant navy captain, whose uncle, Ihab, is the Defense Ministry’s adviser on Christian issues. Ihab Shlayan initiated the October 2012 conference to encourage Christian Scouts to join the military.

The party’s public platform is so far largely restricted to encouraging Christian enlistment and supporting Israel as a Jewish state. It has also launched a plan to erect a 100-foot statue of Jesus — modeled on Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer — on the Mount of Precipice, overlooking the city. The tourism minister, Uzi Landau, is reported to have given the project his blessing. Shlayan says the statue will be a “symbol of love and peace.”

From the start Israeli officials have sought to make examples of any prominent opponents of the enlistment drive.

Leaders from the Christian community in Nazareth heavily criticized the government’s original recruitment conference and Nadaf’s participation after details emerged in late 2012. Abir Kopty, a former Nazareth councillor and prominent blogger, and ‘Azmi Hakim, then head of the Greek Orthodox council, the Orthodox community’s political leadership, were called soon afterward for interrogation by the Shinbet, Israel’s domestic intelligence service. They were accused of incitement to violence and told to sign statements promising not to refer to Nadaf by name again. In what appeared to be an attempt at further intimidation, they were required to provide a DNA sample — in violation of Israeli law, according to Adalah, a legal organization for the Palestinian minority.

Israel’s Palestinian Knesset members have also rounded on Nadaf and his supporters, accusing them of being collaborators. Miri Regev, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party and head of the Knesset’s interior committee, responded by calling the MKs “Trojan horses” and urged the police to investigate them for incitement against Nadaf. The MKs’ parliamentary immunity has so far scotched such efforts. But Hakim and the Greek Orthodox council are now facing a civil action for harassment and defamation from Nadaf, who is suing each for $170,000.

Other protests have also been treated with the “heavy hand” promised in 2013 by Netanyahu. Police broke up a silent protest against Christian enlistment held by students on the campus of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Three students were arrested.

And Ghassan Munayyir, a 44-year old political activist from the city of Lod in central Israel, was arrested in April after posting on Facebook photographs of Nadaf and other Palestinian Christians who met the finance minister, Yair Lapid, to discuss the introduction of a draft for Christians. Munayyir had commented: “For the sake of freedom of speech and transparency, the faces and names of the ‘honorable’ who appear in the following photos are the same ones who want to enlist your sons against your people. Remember this.” According to the police, these words constituted a “threat.” Munayyir was released to house arrest, but only after agreeing to the confiscation of his computer and phone.

Sowing Discord

At the same time that Netanyahu and Nadaf promote enlistment, a political ally of Netanyahu’s is pushing for the creation of a new Christian national identity, echoing the status already assigned to the Druze.

Yariv Levin, chairman of the ruling Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu faction, began by introducing a law, passed in February, that for the first time distinguishes between the rights of Palestinian Christians and Muslims. The measure is a minor one: It provides Christians with separate representation in the national employment advisory council. But it lays the foundations for a much grander scheme declared by Levin to create a Christian nationality, leaving the traditional “Arab” one to refer to Muslims only.

Levin makes no secret of his motives. In a February 14 interview with Haaretz, he said his legislative initiatives were meant to “connect us [the Jewish majority] and the Christians…. They’re our natural allies, a counterweight to the Muslims who want to destroy the country from within.”

Hanin Zu‘bi, a Palestinian MK, believes that the enlistment campaign is a sign of the Netanyahu government’s desperation: “It understands that our Palestinian identity has strengthened over the past decade and is doing everything it can to weaken us as a community. Netanyahu is effectively creating a loyalty test — serving in the army — that is required only of Christians. The implication is that Muslims are, by definition, disloyal.”

Providing additional help is a far-right youth group, Im Tirtzu. It is best known for waging a campaign of intimidation against “leftist trends” in schools and universities, working closely with senior Likud officials. It was involved, too, with the October 2012 recruitment conference and has been providing organizational and financial help to the Forum for Christian Recruitment ever since. Im Tirtzu is reticent about divulging its funding sources. But investigations by the Israeli media show that in 2008 and 2009 it received donations of over $100,000 from Christians United for Israel, a Christian Zionist organization led by US pastor John Hagee, a close ally of Netanyahu’s.

Despite the government’s aggressive promotion of the enlistment drive, the figures for new recruits are not terribly impresssive. According to the IDF, about 2,000 Christians reach the age of conscription each year. Currently, 150 are reported to be serving. The numbers volunteering since the launch of the enlistment campaign have risen marginally, from about 40 per year to around 50.

In another sign of the enlistment movement’s lack of a popular base, Shlayan’s new party avoided fielding candidates in Israel’s 2014 municipal elections, even in Nazareth.

Nonetheless, the success of Netanyahu’s enlistment campaign is probably not best measured in the number of new recruits it secures. His government in the late 1990s had no interest in upsetting the Vatican by building a mosque provocatively close to the Basilica of the Annunciation. Success could be gauged by the extent of the conflict the proposal generated, not the mosque’s realization.

And so it is with the draft of Christians. Netanyahu does not need many Christians to sign up for military service to sow discord, both between the various Christian denominations and more generally between the Christian and Muslim communities. And with the careful use of legislative changes, the government may think it can gradually prise apart Christians and Muslims, whether they approve or not.

Nazareth’s two recent divisive and closely run municipal elections serve as a warning of things to come. In the current climate, it was inevitable that the two main candidates would be seen by some of their followers as representing confessional rather than political identities: The long-time mayor, Ramiz Jaraysi, of the Communist-allied Democratic Front, is Christian, while his challenger, ‘Ali Salam, his former deputy who ran as an independent, is Muslim.

In the first election, in October 2013, Salam won by a handful of votes, a victory that was overturned a short time later after Jaraysi’s party demanded a recount. Jaraysi insisted on counting an envelope of postal ballots that had not been properly signed by election officials. Jaraysi’s win was secured by these votes, which — embarrassingly for him — were mostly from Nazareth’s volunteer soldiers, many of them probably Christian. As claims and counter-claims from both parties mounted, Israel’s supreme court ruled that a new election must be held.

That contest took place in March, and Salam won with a near two-thirds majority in an election in which sectarian sentiments came even more obviously to the fore. Salam has quickly tried to calm Christian concerns, including among his first decisions a declaration of March 25 — Annunciation Day — as a citywide holiday and the naming of a neighborhood as the “Virgin Mary Quarter.”

But as Nadim Nashif, director of Baladna, a youth movement in Haifa that is leading opposition to Christian enlistment, has observed, Salam’s actions are likely to be counterproductive, only reinforcing sectarian politics.

Most of the Palestinian leadership in Israel has interpreted the enlistment drive as primarily a renewed effort at divide and rule. Should Netanyahu succeed, he will have reversed the long-term commitment of Israel’s Christian and Muslim communities to unity. That would have damaging repercussions for the minority’s political institutions like the Higher Follow-Up Committee and its secular parties that cut across the sectarian divide.

‘Clash of Civilizations’

But there are signs that another, deeper goal may be motivating the government’s campaign to enlist Christian soldiers.

For many years Netanyahu and the Israeli right have cultivated ties to Christian Zionist movements in the US. The two sides have found mutual interests in an alliance. For Christian Zionists, Israel’s support is vital to realization of an “ingathering” of Jews to advance the supposed Biblical prophecy of the end of days and the return of the Messiah. For Israel, Christian Zionists have added lobbying clout in Washington and invested usefully in settlement projects in Jerusalem and other religious sites in the West Bank.

But surprisingly, until recently, Christian Zionists had had no visible involvement with or meaningful impact on the Christian Palestinian population in Israel.

Historically, Palestinian Christian leaders, far from adopting Zionist positions, have taken a prominent role in Palestinian national movements, whether through figures like George Habash, founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or Azmi Bishara, who led the political campaign inside Israel to end its status as a Jewish state. Religious leaders, too, like Elias Chacour, the Greek Catholic archbishop of the Galilee, have had a profound effect on educating Christian communities abroad about the injustices perpetrated by Israel on the Palestinian minority. Books like his Blood Brothers or Anglican bishop Riyah Abu al-‘Assal’s Caught in Between became seminal texts for many pilgrims to the Holy Land.

Christians in Israel are also advocates for international campaigns against Israel, using their connections abroad, for example, to promote the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement now championed by some overseas churches. Israel has become increasingly unnerved by what it terms “delegitimization,” with some believing this effort could soon be the biggest threat facing Israel.

None of this history fits comfortably with the Manichean thinking of the Israeli right, which presents Israel as sitting on the fault line between a Judeo-Christian west and the barbarian hordes of the Islamic east. Or as Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, explained, a Jewish state should act as “a rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism.” Better for Netanyahu and the right if Palestinian opposition to Israel is limited to Islamic extremists.

In so far as is possible, the Israeli right may be hoping to reposition Palestinian Christians on Israel’s side of the divide, through a mixture of financial incentives, legislated privileges and mounting sectarian pressures derived from a presumed Muslim backlash. If such is the goal, then Christian Zionist movements in the US may be key allies, not least because of their deep pockets. Christian Zionists have been involved in supporting Israel for some time through organizations such as the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem and evangelical broadcasters like GOD-TV. The latter network features Nasir Siddiki, a British preacher who converted to Christianity from Islam, and Benny Hinn, the Jaffa-born, Texas-based evangelist whose regular tours of the Holy Land enjoin participants to “experience Israel.”

But signs of involvement by US Christian Zionists in Nazareth and surrounding communities have also started to come to light. The first group of Palestinian Christian Zionists was recently established in the town of Kafr Yasif, near Acre. They are reported to have ordained a former Anglican priest as their bishop. Rumor has it that they are receiving overseas funds. There is the relationship between Im Tirtzu, Nadaf’s Forum and John Hagee. And Nazareth, after decades of central government opposition to establishing a university in the city, is now in line to be the home of a large branch campus of Texas A&M University, funded by donations raised by Hagee. This deal was dropped on Nazareth following behind-the-scenes negotiations involving President Shimon Peres and reportedly personally approved by Netanyahu. Local officials are not displeased, as the campus will bring an investment up to $100 million. The reality is, however, that the chief local beneficiaries will probably be Christian (as was the case with the massive injection of government funds in advance of the papal visit in 2000). Muslims in Nazareth may therefore resent the project.

It may be that Netanyahu hopes these financial ties will give incentive to some parts of the Palestinian Christian population, or its leaders, to move closer to support for Israel, along the lines of the Druze community. Universal backing from Palestinian Christians is unnecessary; noisy divisions within the community would be enough to underscore the Israeli right’s “clash of civilizations” thesis. With religious leaders like Nadaf at his side, Netanyahu can make a plausible case that brave Christians are speaking out while others are keeping a low profile for fear of retribution from the Muslim extremists among whom they live.

This argument, in the Israeli right’s thinking, could be an important weapon in weakening support among Christians overseas for BDS and other “delegitimization” campaigns. But along the way, such insinuations may intensify sectarian tensions between Palestinian Muslims and Christians to a breaking point. And that may be enough to ensure that Netanyahu’s clash of civilizations thesis becomes self-fulfilling prophecy.

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Israeli Independence Produced Palestinian Suffering

Israeli Independence Produced Nakba Suffering

by Stephen Lendman

Yom Ha'atzmaut (Independence Day) commemorates Israel's May 1948 Declaration of Independence.

It's celebrated annually on 5th of Iyar. It's according to the Hebrew calendar. It's preceded by Yom Hazikaron. It remembers fallen Israeli soldiers. It's Israel's Memorial Day.

Palestinians have reason to mourn. Edward Said explained Palestine's "holocaust," saying:

"Every human calamity is different, but there is value in seeing analogies and perhaps hidden similarities."

He called Nazi extermination "the lowest point of (Jewish) collective existence."

Palestinians today "are as powerless as Jews were" under Hitler,, he explained. They're devastated by "power used for evil purposes."

Ilan Pappe discussed Palestine's ethnic cleansing. He explained war without mercy.

He did so in exhaustive detail. He obtained previously suppressed documents. He explained what everyone needs to know. More on what he said below.

On May 6, Haaretz headlined "Israel celebrates 66 years of independence," saying:

"Israelis across the country flocked to public parks and hiking trails on Tuesday to celebrate Independence Day with barbaques and other leisure activities."

"Earlier Tuesday, (unindicted war criminal) President Shimon Peres kicked off the day with the annual sing-along at (his) President's Residence in Jerusalem."

Palestinians didn't join in. They're not singing-along. They've got no reason to celebrate. Awards Peres gave IDF recipients came at their expense.

Festivities began Monday night. Things did so with pomp, flair and bombast. They kicked off the official Independence Day ceremony.

They included a torch-lighting ceremony. For the first time, all torch-lighters were women.

Peres called on Israelis to "be proud, but never satisfied." He stopped short of explaining how much more Palestinian land he covets.

He stole plenty earlier as prime minister. He did through other ministerial posts.

"I remember (Israel's) first days and the dream we had," he said. "I have to admit that the dream was too small when I see the reality that was born out of it."

Other festivities included displaying Israeli military might. The IDF opened some of its bases to visitors. Menacing warplanes overflew.

Israeli recounting of events preceding and following its independence twists truth. It reinvents history doing so.

Its war was well-planned. Palestinians never had a chance. In early March 1948, future Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion met with leading Zionists and military officers.

They finalized war plans. It was called Plan D (Dalet in Hebrew). It followed Plans A, B and C.

It bears repeating. It was war without mercy. It reflected Ben-Gurion's earlier plan. "I am for compulsory transfer," he said.

"I do not see anything immoral about it," he claimed. Hundreds of thousands of displaced or murdered Palestinians were considered a small price to pay.

Things unfolded as planned. Independence took six months to achieve.

Arab armies were no match for Israeli strength. False narratives claimed otherwise. Invaders were outmanned and outgunned.

According to Pappe, systematic terror followed. About 800,000 Palestinians were expelled. Doing so reflected genocidal ethnic cleansing.

Hundreds of Arab villages were depopulated. So were 11 urban cities. They included large parts of Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv and Haifa.

Many thousands of innocent victims were massacred. Mass rapes and other atrocities were committed.

Palestinian homes, property and belongings were bulldozed, demolished, and/or burned.

Palestinians wanting to return couldn't. They were systematically prevented from doing so.

Horrific Israeli crimes were committed. They matched what convicted Nazis were hanged for at Nuremberg.

They included cold-blooded mass murder. Survivors remember Deir Yassin. Other Palestinian villages were targeted the same way. Wholesale slaughter followed. So did mass displacement.

On April 9, 1948, things began. Israeli soldiers entered Deir Yassin. They did so violently. They machine-gunned houses randomly. Many inside were slaughtered.

Remaining villagers were assembled. They were murdered in cold blood. Children and infants weren't spared. They were treated like adults.

Elderly and infirm victims got no mercy. Women were raped before being killed. Estimates place the death toll at around 120.

An eyewitness said:

"I was (there) when the Jews attacked. (They) closed on the village amid exchanges of fire with us."

"Once they entered the village, fighting became very heavy in the eastern side and later it spread to other parts, to the quarry, to the village center until it reached the western edge."

"The Jews used all sorts of automatic weapons, tanks, missiles, cannons. They enter(ed) houses and kill(ed) women and children indiscriminately. The (village) youths...fought bravely."

Ensuing fighting killed dozens more. Many other villages were attacked the same way. Ethnic cleansing involved mass slaughter and displacement.

It's longstanding Israeli practice. Official policy aims for maximum land with minimum Arabs. "Every attack has to end with occupation, destruction and expulsion," said Ben-Gurion.

He meant displace, depopulate, slaughter. Do it without mercy. Erase Palestinian culture and history.

Replace it with Jewish tradition. Twist truth doing it. Justify genocidal slaughter any way it takes. Current Israeli policy hasn't changed.

Slow-motion genocide replaced decades earlier flank speed. It continues unabated. Forty-seven years of occupation reflect institutionalized persecution.

State terror defines official Israel policy. Palestinians have no power over their daily lives. They're terrorized. They live in fear for good reason. They face:

  • economic strangulation;

  • collective punishment for being Muslims, not Jews;

  • loss of basic freedoms;

  • Gaza under siege;

  • enclosures by separation walls, electric fences and border closings;

  • regular curfews, roadblocks, and checkpoints;

  • bulldozed homes, crops and orchards; as well as

  • arrest, imprisonment, and torture without cause.

They endure assaults, extra-judicial assassinations and punitive taxation.

They're denied basic services. They're essential to life and well-being. They include healthcare, education, and living-wage employment.

It's enough nourishing food and water. International tribunals don't help. Occupation harshness persists.

Zionism's roots began things. It became international in scope. Its founder Theodor Herzl said:

"We must expropriate gently the private property on the state assigned to us."

"We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border…(We must do it by) denying it employment in our country."

The Al-Nakba Awareness Project (ANAP) involves volunteers with limited resources. They partner with likeminded local, regional and national organizations.

They're committed for truth and justice. They support universally recognized human and civil rights. They want rule of law principles enforced.

They want Palestinians recognized as victims. They want longtime denied justice reversed. Without it, regional peace is impossible.

Separate isn't equal. Years ago, two states were possible. No longer, they believe. Israel controls over 60% of West Bank land. More is added daily.

It vows to seize all of Jerusalem. It wants it as Israel's exclusive capital. One state for all its people equitablely is the only just solution.

Separating people by religion and/or ethnicity unfairly reflects institutionalized apartheid.

A so-called "Jewish and democratic state" is Orwellian. It's oxymoronic. It faux democracy. It's solely for Jews.

ANAP endorses "an integrated, egalitarian state with freedom and equal rights for all its citizens."

Arabs must be treated no less fairly than Jews. Zionism is enemy to Jews and non-Jews alike.
It's ideologically over-the-top. It surpasses the worst of South Africa's deplorable past. It's white, Jewish supremacist.

It's incompatible with fairness. It denies justice. It's heading Israel for self-destruction.

Systems short of viability can't survive. "A house divided against itself can't stand," said Lincoln. Forty-seven years is a historical blink-of-the-eye heartbeat.

Israel must repudiate Zionism, ANAP believes. It must "transform itself into a normal, multi-ethnic, constitutional democracy…" It must treat all its people equitably and fairly.

It must move beyond daily struggles. It must renounce war and other forms of violence.

It must embrace peace, equity and justice. It must govern without prejudice to survive.

Israel falls short and then some. It has a choice. Change or eventually perish. There's no in between.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Proposed Basic Law Declares Israel a Jewish State

Proposed Basic Law Declares Israel a Jewish State

by Stephen Lendman

Israel is the only nation without fixed borders. It wants them expanded. It wants territory not its own stolen.

It has no constitution. Basic Laws substitute. Netanyahu is a world class thug. He shames the office he holds. 

He heads the most ruthless regional regime. It's one of the world's worst. It threatens its neighbors. It mocks democratic governance. Days earlier Netanyahu said:

"It is my intention to submit a Basic Law to the Knesset that would provide a constitutional anchor for Israel's status as the national state of the Jewish people."

He called doing so the most "basic ingredient in our national lives…" 

Officially establishing it "will win legal status just as other central ingredients that constitute our fundamental core that have already been ruled into the Basic Law of Knesset," he said.

"Unfortunately, as we have seen recently, there are those who do not recognize this natural right and who seek to appeal the historical, legal and moral justification for the existence of the state of Israel as the nation-state of our people." 

"I see it as one of my basic missions as prime minister to fortify the state of Israel as the nation-state of our people."

Doing so highlights peace process illegitimately. It drives another nail in its coffin. It's been fantasy since begun decades earlier. It's worse than ever under Netanyahu.

Israeli Arab citizens face institutionalized persecution. Occupied Palestinians fare much worse. They're treated as subhumans. 

They vilified for not being Jewish. They're denied fundamental rights. They're confined to largely isolated communities. 

Their homes are bulldozed and destroyed. Their land is systematically stolen. They're dispossessed. They're hugely repressed.

They face deplorable socioeconomic discrimination. So do Israeli Arabs. They're considered a fifth column threat. They're called a demographic one.

Netanyahu wants them further marginalized. He wants more ruthless discrimination imposed. He wants democratic values more than ever eliminated.

He lied saying non-Jewish minority rights will be respected. They're not now. They'll be less so. 

Netanyahu turned truth on its head, saying:

"It is hard for me to understand that among those calling on Israel to make concessions in Judea and Samaria due to their understandable desire to avoid a bi-national state are those who oppose defining Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people."

"It is impossible to speak out in favor of a Palestinian nation-state just to preserve the Jewish character of the State of Israel, and at the same time, to oppose recognizing that the State of Israel is the nation-state of Jewish people."  

"Supporting the creation of a Palestinian nation-state and opposing the recognition of a Jewish nation-state undermines in the long run the principle of the State of Israel's right to exist."

Israel's "Declaration of Independence sets, as the cornerstone in the life of the state, the national Jewish identity of the State of Israel." 

"To my great regret, as we have seen recently, there are those who do not recognize this natural right."

"They seek to undermine the historic, moral and legal justification for the existence of the State of Israel as the national state of our people."

"(T)he most basic component in our life as a nation will receive constitutional status similar to the other main components that are the foundation of our state, as determined in the basic laws."

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett is a hard-right extremist coalition partner. He heads Israel's Habayit Hayehudi party. He supports what demands denunciation, saying:

"The nationality law is important for defining Israel as a Jewish state for the coming generations, and on this essential matter there must not be a (division between) left and right…" 

"This law is part of the coalition agreement with Habayit Hayehudi, just like the referendum law that passed in the last Knesset session, and we consider its advancement an important goal."

Labor party head Isaac Herzog denounced Netanyahu's proposal.

"With all its being, the Labor Party supports Israel as a Jewish and democratic state," he said. 

"Labor built the state and its leaders formulated the Declaration of Independence, the foundational document that anchors Israel as a Jewish state." 

"Unfortunately, the diplomatic destruction Netanyahu is causing will lead Israel to lose its Jewish majority and become a binational state. This unfortunate fact is something no law can hide."

Meretz leader Gal-On added:

"The State of Israel also has non-Jewish citizens living in it, so it must define itself as the state of the Jewish people and of all its citizens. Whoever supports the two-state solution supports Palestinian sovereignty and asks the Palestinians to recognize Israeli sovereignty but not the character of the state." 

Arab Knesset member Mohammed Barakeh heads Hadash. "Netanyahu is completing the series of racist laws that have been emerging in recent years and is leading Israel to become the first racial state of the 21st century," he said. 

"The intent of his legislation is to realize John Kerry's description of Israel as an apartheid state." 

"Passage of this law will revive the international debate over the issue of Zionism as racism." 

"Arab citizens are not passersby in this country and they are not Netanyahu's guests." 

"Our fight for equality and democracy alongside all believers in democracy will continue with or without Netanyahu's deluded and dangerous law."

"He's gone too far" this time. It doesn't surprise. He deplores equal rights. He vilifies Palestinians. He does so for not being Jewish. He terrorized them for years. He wants harsher treatment instituted.

Likud's MK Yariv Levin and Habayit Hayehudi's Ayelet Shaket recently introduced legislation similar to Netanyahu's.

It called the "land of Israel" Jews historic homeland. It afforded them exclusive self-determination rights. It ludicrously highlighted Israel's democratic status.

Enacting Netanyahu's "Jewish state law" aims at getting Israel's High Court endorsement. Doing so will change Israel's current self-styled definition. It's currently called "a Jewish and democratic state."

Israel's 1948 Declaration of Independence declared its Jewish status. A 1985 Basic Law amendment officially added "democratic."

Fact: You can't have both. They're opposites. They're contradictory. Democracy guarantees equal rights for all citizens.

It does so regardless of race, color, creed, gender, language, religion, political views, national or social origin, as well as other common characteristics.

Days earlier, John Kerry said Israel risks becoming an apartheid state. He ignored decades of apartheid policies. They exceed South Africa's worst dark days.

His "unitary state" characterization suggests business as usual. It refers to top down control. 

It denies Palestinians self-determination. It exposes US/Israeli peace process hypocrisy.

Total Israeli control exists. Palestinians have no say whatever. Sovereign independence is denied. So are fundamental rights. Kerry admitted Israel's chokehold.

Apartheid remains official Israeli policy. Peace process duplicity rubber-stamps it. 

Enacting legislation affording Israel exclusive Jewish state status assures institutes it. Supreme Court justices have final say. Approval will write it in stone. It remains to be seen what happens. 

Hatnuah party head Tzipi Livni and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said they oppose Netanyahu's proposal in its current form. Passage is uncertain.

Hard right Senator Rand Paul (R. KY) said he'll introduced legislation. It proposes cutting all US Palestinian funding unless the PA recognizes Israel as a Jewish state.

He did so in response to Fatah/Hamas unity pronouncements.

"In the absence of such a clear, unambiguous statement on the part of the newly unified Palestinian government, the United States should act to enforce the law and cut off aid to the Palestinian government until they recognize Israel's right to exist," he said.

Earlier he urged cutting US Israeli funding. He opposes foreign aid. He prioritizes national defense. He does so when America's only enemies are ones it invents.

He's a 2016 presidential aspirant. His politics run counter to mainstream America. Washington is infested with likeminded extremists. World peace hangs in the balance.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

The “Uganda Plan” Revisted? US Congressional Candidate Proposes ‘New Israel’ in Southeast Texas

Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News- A congressional candidate named Allan Levene is proposing a solution to Israel’s problem with the Palestinians (since 1948) by creating a second ‘Israeli’ state in Eastern Texas. Yes, you read this right. Eastern Texas. According to the Times of Israel, Mr. Levene’s idea would only work if “eminent domain” is established by the US government and if Israel withdraws to it pre-1967 borders. That would set the stage for a ‘New Israel’ within the United States:

The idea, briefly, is to take (through eminent domain) roughly 8,000 square miles of sparsely populated land bordering the Gulf of Mexico and give it to Israel as a second, non-contiguous part of the State of Israel. Israel would get the land only if it agrees to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders

I would be curious to see how Texans would react to a Jewish homeland in East Texas. Besides one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the United States is located in San Antonio, Texas called ‘Christians United for Israel (CUFI)’ who wish to educate Christians on why they should support the State of Israel:

While millions of Christians support Israel, there are millions more who do not yet vocally stand up for the Jewish state. It is crucial to educate Christians on the Biblical and moral imperatives to support Israel and to build Christian support for Israel throughout America

If Levene’s plan follows through if he is elected to congress, Will Texans still support a state of Israel in their own backyard? But Levene says “everybody wins” if the US government agrees to partition the state of Texas:

Israel wins because it would gain a new, peaceful territory far from the strife of the Middle East, in a place where, as Levene suggests, “the climate is similar,” and Israel could “have access to the Gulf of Mexico for international trade.” The U.S. wins because it would no longer need to send Israel billions of dollars a year in foreign aid. Texas wins because of all the construction jobs from building an entirely new state within its borders. The Palestinians win because they get the West Bank, and because now Israel, too, gets to see just how fun it is to have a non-contiguous state. Everybody wins!

The father of modern-political Zionism and the founder of the State of Israel, Thomas Hertzl considered a number of locations including Uganda, Argentina and even Alaska to form a Zionist state of Israel. The Times of Israel also stated:

And, in fact, it’s an idea with plenty of precedent. Theodor Herzl temporarily embraced a British proposal to establish a Jewish homeland in Uganda (though the backlash against the idea almost destroyed the Zionist movement). And in 1938-40, various plans were floated to settle European Jewish refugees in the Alaska territories – a notion that later inspired Michael Chabon’s novel, “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union.”

This idea of a Jewish State besides one based in Palestine is not new. An interesting event took place in Basel, Switzerland on August 26th, 1903. Before the British government offered the country of Palestine to the Zionist political movement in 1948, a country in Africa called Uganda was on the list of possible future Jewish settlements known as the “Uganda Plan”. Before Palestine was turned into the state of Israel, Uganda was seen as a possible home for the Jewish people who were persecuted in Russia. They were subject to anti-Jewish sentiments among the Russian population. Other areas in the world were also considered for a Jewish homeland including Patagonia in Southern part of Argentina. In Joseph Telushkin’s ‘Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know about the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History’ stated a historical fact that “Britain stepped into the picture, offering Herzl land in the largely undeveloped area of Uganda (today, it would be considered an area of Kenya).” The proposal was controversial to the Jewish community. The idea was rejected at the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905. It is interesting to note that a small number of Jewish families did immigrate to Kenya before and after World War II, mostly in the capital of Nairobi. Today, there are a few hundred Kenyan Jews living in Nairobi.

It is hard to imagine the state of Israel in Africa. Besides, racism in Israel is comparable to Apartheid South Africa in the 1960’s. With Ethiopian Black Jews living in Israel facing unprecedented levels of racism including the forced massed sterilizations on Ethiopian women according to a report conducted by Haaretz in 2012 reported that “Women who immigrated from Ethiopia eight years ago say they were told they would not be allowed into Israel unless they agreed to be injected with the long-acting birth control drug Depo Provera, according to an investigative report aired Saturday on the Israel Educational Television program “Vacuum.” According to IRIN, a humanitarian news and analysis service launched by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in 2012, racism against Ethiopian Jews in Israel does exist:

An estimated 125,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, but while they are supposed to be full citizens with equal rights, their community has continued to face widespread discrimination and socio-economic difficulties, according to its leaders. A recent decision – as reported by local media – by 120 homeowners not to sell or rent their apartments to Israeli-Ethiopian families has brought discrimination against Ethiopian Jews in Israel back into the spotlight. 

Hundreds of Ethiopian Israelis took to the streets on 18 January to protest the move by landlords in the southern city of Kiryat Malakhi – Shay Sium’s hometown.

It is an interesting part of history that forces to ask the question: What if Israel did make Uganda, a country in Eastern-Africa their home? If the Palestinians, Ethiopian and Sephardic Jews suffer from racism in modern-day Israel, imagine if Uganda was turned into a Jewish homeland? Would it have been another Palestine? “Shall we choose Palestine or Argentina? Thomas Hertzl wrote.  Argentina? That would have been interesting, but Eastern Texas as the ‘New Israel’? Would Texan’s then be the new Palestinians?  Creating a state through “eminent domain” would treat the citizens of Texas as such.  And it sure won’t be a good start to diplomatic relations.  What is interesting about Allan Levene is that he is running for a congressional seat in two states, Hawaii and Georgia under the Republican Party, but not in the state of Texas. Another very interesting note on Levene’s candidacy is that “He also wants to put conspiracy theories to rest by investigating national catastrophes with not one, not two, but three separate commissions.” I actually agree with his idea for new commissions, perhaps a new “911 commission?” Allan Levene’s proposal would not happen anytime soon, even if he is elected. But the real question we should ask is, would Washington and Brussels consider creating a ‘New Israel’ in Eastern Texas if a war were to take place in the Middle East resulting in the destruction of several countries including Israel?  It does raise a serious debate.

Israel Seeks Regional Anti-Iranian Alliance

Israel Seeks Regional Anti-Iranian Alliance

by Stephen Lendman

Israel is a global menace. It threatens world peace. It wants regional hegemony. 

It wants all rivals eliminated. It wants powerless, balkanized mini-states replacing them. Longstanding policy reflects it.

In 1982, Israeli Foreign Affairs senior advisor Oded Yinon urged it. He published a document titled "A Strategy for Israel in the NIneteen Eighties."

The late Israel Shahak (1933 - 2001) obtained it. He translated it. He retitled it "The Zionist Plan for the Middle East."

The Association of Arab-American University Graduates called it "the most explicit, detailed and unambiguous statement to date of the Zionist strategy in the Middle East."

"Its importance...lies not in its historical value but in the nightmare which it represents." It continues unfolding. Divide and conquer explain it.

Balkanizing Iraq into Sunni, Shia and Kurdish areas reflects it. Israel wants all regional states treated the same way.

Especially Iran. Israel wants the Islamic Republic eliminated altogether. Nonexistent threats are invented. War is threatened.

An earlier article discussed an unholy Israel/Saudi Arabia alliance. Both represent the worst of rogue state ruthlessness.

Crimes of war and against humanity are standard practice. Last October, Saudi Prince Bandar arrived secretly in Israel.

Doing so broke a longstanding taboo. Bandar was the first Saudi official to visit Israel. He came to discuss mutual interests.

They included toppling Syria's Assad. They want Iran confronted belligerently. They're strange bedfellows. 

They formed a dark anti-Tehran alliance. It's hard imagining a darker regional one. 

It's an axis of evil writ large. It combines Saudi wealth with Israeli might. It's nuclear armed and dangerous. 

Its other weapons are formidable. It useds them lawlessly. It does so ruthlessly.

Riyadh wants a Sunni awakening. Israel wants a key regional rival eliminated. On April 15, Press TV headlined "Israel, seeking anti-Iran alliance."

Former Israeli secret service Shin Bet head Ami Ayalon urges it. According to Press TV:

"He said Israel should consider Iran as a 'threat to all pragmatic players in the region.' 

It "should work (toward) the goal of establishing a coalition against Tehran."

Ayalon "mocked a US intelligence assessment…" Iran isn't pursuing nuclear weapons, he said. Claiming otherwise is false.

His comments followed Israeli intelligence admitting no "smoking gun" exists suggesting an Iranian nuclear program military component.

"The Israeli minister without portfolio expounded that the Zionist who insists Iran is a danger to (Israel's) existence should not rule out any option against Tehran," said Press TV.

"Analysts believe while the international community is analyzing the US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, Israel and the United States are colluding against the Islamic Republic," it added.

Doing so may subvert P5+1 talks. Final resolution agreement may not follow. Longstanding US/Israeli anti-Iranian policy remains unchanged.

Obama violated interim agreement terms straightaway. Doing so revealed his real intentions. US deals aren't worth the paper they're written on.

Promises made are systematically broken. Iran bashing continues. Big Lies persist. Targeting Iran's peaceful nuclear program is red-herring cover for regime change.

Tehran deplores nuclear weapons. It has none. It's not developing any. It prioritizes a nuclear-free Middle East. 

Israel is the only regional state with them. It's so-called open secret is common knowledge. Its arsenal is longstanding. It's formidable. Israel threatens its use if needed.

It uses radiological, biological and chemical weapons against adversaries. Palestinians are regularly attacked. Iran prioritizes peace and stability. 

It hasn't attacked another nation in centuries. It's an enviable record. It's ignored. Tehran sought normalized Western relations for decades.

It offered major nuclear concessions. It did so in vain. Will this time be different? Not if Israeli priorities take precedence. Not if Obama goes along. Not if he continues longstanding anti-Iranian hostility.

Occasional conciliatory rhetoric masks his likely real intentions. Hypocrisy defines them. Earlier he asked Congress to hold off imposing new sanctions.

Unilaterally he imposed his own. Will ongoing P5+1 talks end up more subterfuge than real? Will hoped for conflict resolution fail?

Will longstanding anti-Iranian policies persist. Will its nuclear facilities be attacked? Will doing so ignite regional war? 

Will Obama risk more conflict than already? Will Syria be directly  targeted at the same time?

Washington deplores peace and stability. Longstanding policy prioritizes war. Multiple US ones remain ongoing. 

Will Iran follow Obama's Eastern Ukrainian strategy? Will endless conflicts persist? Nonexistent threats are invented to wage them.

Diplomatic mumbo jumbo justifies them. Millions of corpses attest to their barbarity. Obama has lots more death and destruction in mind.

So does Israel. Iran is their main regional target. Anything goes is official policy to eliminate its independent government. 

It's going all-out by all means possible. Rogue states operate this way. America and Israel the world's two worst. Axis of evil extremism defines them.

They threaten world peace and security. They risk global war. Out-of-control policies head inexorably toward igniting it.

Rogue leadership risks what responsible governance wouldn't dare. Advancing imperial priorities matters most. Doing so involves eliminating all rivals.

Waging war on humanity follows. Doing so risks destroying it altogether. Attacking Iran reflects madness. Targeting Russia is worse.

WW I was called the war to end all wars. WW II followed. WW III will end future wars. Mushroom cloud denouement assures it.

Imagine risking armageddon. Imagine destroying planet earth to save it. Imagine calling doing so humanitarian intervention. 

Imagine lunatics making policy. They infest Washington and Israel. They risk the unthinkable. They do it mindlessly.

Israel conspiring with Arab states against Iran may be pretext for greater conflict. Its ultranationalist defrocked/reinstated Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman admitted holding secret talks.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry lied claiming "no ties or talks with Israel at any level."

Ignored was Prince Bandar's October 2013 visit. Mutual strategizing against Iran followed. Despots run most regional Arab states.

Overtly they're hostile to Israel. Private diplomatic contacts are maintained. Mutual interests unite them. 

Lieberman lied claiming concern over Iran's nuclear program transcends anti-Israeli sentiment.

"For the first time, there is an understanding (regionally) that the real threat is not Israel," he said. Nor "Jews or Zionism."

"It is Iran, global jihad, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. There are contacts. There are talks, but we are very close to the stage in which within a year or 18 months, (they'll) no longer be secret."

They'll "be conducted openly." He claims being in touch with "moderate" Arabs. Ones he means don't exist.

He's comfortable visiting rogue states like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and others.

"I have spent more than a few years (engaging in) meetings and talks with them," he said.

"As far as they are concerned," he claims, "there is only one red rag and that is Iran." Gulf states want Sunni-dominated regimes. They want Shia ones eliminated.

They're comfortable about belligerent confrontations. Lieberman expects future open diplomatic relations with them. He expects peace accords signed by 2019 or perhaps earlier.

"I'm certain by then we will have a situation in which we have full diplomatic relations with most of the moderate Arab states," he said. 

"And you can count on my word," he added. How while occupation harshness continues he didn't explain. 

While brutalizing Palestinians persists. While peace remains a convenient illusion. While achieving it is more distant than ever. 

While justifiable Palestinian anger may erupt like twice before. While Israeli crimes keep being exposed. While rogue leaders threaten humanity.

While Israel remains the only regional nuclear threat. While all Arab states know what they rarely acknowledge. 

While Israel and Washington bear full responsibility for incendiary Middle East conditions.

According to the Israeli think tank Institute for National Security Studies:

"To Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, the cost of open relations with Israel at this time may be higher than the benefit, given the position of the Arab street."

As long as institutionalized racism remains official Israeli policy, overt rapprochement may not follow.

Not according to Lieberman, saying:

"I think that they too are stewing in their own juice and reaching an awareness that there will be no choice but to move from the secret stage of the dialogue between us to the open stage of the talks."

Saudi Arabian ones Israel calls "historic," Riyadh denies holding them. So does Kuwait. It's state-run KUNA news agency said:

"There (are) no meetings or contacts, formal or informal, secret or declared, with Israel."

Anti-Iranian schemes persist. Resolving things responsibly look distant.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Netanyahu Declares War on Palestine

Netanyahu Declares War on Palestine

by Stephen Lendman

He's a world class thug. He represents the worst of rogue state leadership. He exceeds Sharonian evil. Why Israelis put up with him they'll have to explain.

He's militantly racist. He deplores peace. He thrives on violence and instability. He blames Palestinians for Israeli crimes.

He calls sham peace talks legitimate ones. They've been stillborn decades. They remain so now.

Netanyahu wants Palestinians denied all rights. He wants them cowed into submission. He wants his rules enforced. 

Palestinians have no legitimate peace partner. They never did. For sure not now. They're on their own like always. Israel spurns equity and justice. Occupation harshness persists.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu ordered government officials to stop cooperating with PA ones. It's in response to Abbas' "grave violation of (his) commitments to the framework of the peace talks," he claimed.

He lied saying so. Israel bears full responsibility. He stressed eliminating meetings between Israeli ministers and their Palestinian counterparts. 

He did so in response to Abbas applying to join 15 UN bodies and treaties. He wants Palestinians denied their legal rights.

Cabinet secretary Avichai Mendelblit informed Israeli minsters by telephone. Only low-level cooperation is permitted.

Israeli Defense Ministry/PA contacts continue. Maintaining them relates to security. Abbas serves as Israel's enforcer. Peace talks aren't affected.

Fatah official Mohammed al-Madani said he's unaware of details on what happened. "If true, this decision is mistaken," he said.

"It’s impossible to sever the ties between Israelis and Palestinians. We must continue to have normal relations in order to reach a just and lasting peace."

Opposition Labor chairman Isaac Herzog reacted. He accused Netanyahu of aggravating sensitive conditions.

"The prime minister is handing petrol and flammable materials to the last of Israel's haters," said Herzog.

"It's not clear what good will come of this superfluous move of cutting off relations with the Palestinian Authority," he added. "In fact, it's quite clear what damage will come of this step." 

"It will harm the interests of the state of Israel and its economic sector. The prime minister has begun a process of disengagement between Israel the world." 

"This is the result of frustration and helplessness, and the prime minister of Israel's lack of ability to operate within a plan and reached any sort of achievement in that realm. Frustration and helplessness are not diplomatic policy." 

Meretz party MK Nitzan Horowitz said:

"Netanyahu is confirming that he killed the diplomatic process after making the talks explode, when he didn't give them a real chance in the first place. He's destroying what's left."

He's hurting Israel most, he added. His action is "irresponsible" and "dangerous."

Environmental Protection minister called his decision "useless." It "deserv(ed) prior discussion," he added.

"I intend to ask the prime minister to hold an in-depth discussion on the significance and implications of this decision," he said.

Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky supports the move. Palestinians need contacts more than Israel, he said.

"It's a serious mistake to think that we need to pay a price just so people will talk to us," he added. 

"I commend the prime minister for his decision to respond with determination to the Palestinian Authority's provocations."  

Hardline Economy Minister Naftali Bennett called settlement construction Israel's divine right.

"Some people describe the construction as a boom in settlement activities, and I am telling them we will continue to build in the capital of our Jewish homeland," he said. 

"Some tried to prevent us from living in our capital, but Zionism will continue to build, nobody will ever be able to stop us."

PA spokesman Ehab Bseiso said Israel undermined efforts "to revive the negotiations, to proceed with a constructive solution to the challenges facing the peace process."

Former US peace negotiator Aaron David Miller claimed:

"A collapse of the (talks) add(s) to the perception that we really don't know what we're doing."

Gulf Research Center senior advisor Mustafa Anali said Arab expectations of Washington are about as low as they can get.

"That's because Arabs never trusted this administration as a peacemaker."

Obama deplores peace. He's a warrior. He waged multiple direct and proxy wars. He's done so throughout his tenure. He's targeting Russia. He's playing with fire.

He wants all independent governments removed. He wants pro-US vassal states replacing them. He one-sidedly supports Israel. He says one thing. He does another.

Netanyahu goes way out of his way to incite conflict. He bears full responsibility for failed talks. Washington shares it. Kerry tried disingenuously to deflect blame.

Hours before Netanyahu's order, he blamed Israel for impasse peace talks conditions. He did so during Senate Foreign Affairs Committee testimony.

He said Abbas applying for UN body memberships followed Israel disrupting so-called peace talks.

"Both sides, whether advertently or inadvertently, wound up in positions where things happened that were unhelpful," he said. 

"Clearly, going to these treaties is not helpful, and we have made that crystal-clear," he added.

"Unfortunately, prisoners were not released on the Saturday they were supposed to be released. And so day one went by, day two went by, day three went by." 

"And then in the afternoon, when they were about to maybe get there, 700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem and, poof, that was sort of the moment. We find ourselves where we are"  now.

Damage control followed Kerry's testimony. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said he was misunderstood. He didn't place blame primarily on either party, she claimed.

"Secretary Kerry has been consistently crystal clear that both sides have taken unhelpful steps, and at no point has he engaged in a blame game," she said. 

"The fact is, it is up to the parties and their leaders to determine whether they are going to make the tough choices needed, and that has always been the case."

Kerry's above quoted comments need no further explanation. He blamed both sides. He criticized Israel most. It deserves it entirely. 

Abbas should have joined all world bodies years ago. He should have done much more. He abstained instead of acting responsibly. 

Throughout his tenure, he's been a reliable Israeli collaborator. Betrayal defines his policy. Joining world bodies doesn't matter without willingness to use them.

Most important is holding Israel responsible for high crimes too grave to ignore. Abbas never did so before. Expect nothing this different time. 

Failure renders his action meaningless. Kerry and Netanyahu made mountains out of mole hills. Criticizing legal Palestinian rights reveals their true agenda. 

They want them entirely denied. They want Israel alone afforded them. They want Palestinians ruthlessly exploited. They want war, not peace.

Israel reacted sharply to Kerry's remarks. An unnamed Israeli official was "deeply disappointed." He referred to what he called his "poof speech."

He countered holding Palestinians responsible for Israel's intransigence. Kerry's remarks "both hurt the negotiations and harden Palestinian positions," he claimed.

Kerry "knows that it was the Palestinians who said 'no' to continued direct talks with Israel in November; who said 'no' to his proposed framework for final status talks; who said 'no' to even discussing recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people; who said 'no' to a meeting with Kerry himself; and who said 'no' to an extension of the talks," he said.

"At the same time, in the understandings reached prior to the talks, Israel did not commit to any limitation on construction." 

"Therefore, the Palestinian claim that building in Jerusalem, Israel's capital, was a violation of the understandings is contrary to the facts." 

"Both the American negotiating team and the Palestinians know full well that Israel made no such commitment."

An unnamed PA official holds Israel entirely responsible. It's "undermining the American role in the peace process," he said.

Palestinian negotiators "never raised any issue that is not already an Israeli obligation."

Settlement construction is illegal, he stressed. Israel is obligated to halt it entirely. Failure to release prisoners agreed on threw fuel on the fire.

Months of talks reveal failure. Israel "clearly show(s) no interest" in viable Palestinian statehood.

It demands Abbas rescind his world body applications. Palestinian officials said they stand as submitted. They won't be reversed.

An unnamed Israeli official said "Israel wants to see the negotiations continue and will persist in its efforts to resolve the current crisis."

At the same time, he warned: "In response to unilateral Palestinian steps, Israel will take unilateral steps of its own."

It began doing so. It widens the gap between both sides. It makes conflict resolution less likely.

Given Israel's longstanding hardline position, it's virtually impossible. With Netanyahu in charge, it's zero.

Giving peace a chance is no option. Conflict resolution is more distant than ever.

Days earlier, Netanyahu imposed other punitive measures. He said more would follow. He suggested tax revenues due Palestine would be frozen.

Israel collects them and customs duties. It's obligated to return them to PA officials. They provide operating revenues. 

They amount to about $100 million monthly. They're on goods imported into Palestine. Israel froze them earlier. It was during times of heightened security and diplomatic tensions.

Twenty-six political prisoners scheduled for release remain incarcerated. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and General Yoav Mordechai were told "to prepare a list of all possible measures."

One suspends Palestine's Wataniya wireless provider. It operates in the West Bank. Permission to do so in Gaza will be denied. 

Implementing 3G cellular technology in PA-assigned areas is frozen. So are Area C promotion master plans.

On Tuesday, Abbas arrived in Cairo. He came for an emergency Arab League foreign ministers meeting. It convened at his request. 

Failed peace talks were discussed. He asked for economic help. He wants $100 million monthly in case Israel withholds tax revenues.

Arab League foreign ministers want talks continued. Why they'll have to explain. They're futile. They reflect decades of failure. Nothing is different this time.

London-based Asharq Al-Awsat quoted unnamed Palestinian sources saying PA "leadership is open to the idea of extending negotiations but not at any price."

In response to Netanyahu ordering government officials to stop cooperating with PA ones, Hamas called for ending PA security coordination with Israel.

It urged greater resistance against occupation harshness. It said Palestinians should "give full rein" to doing so. 

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoun said Abbas should act based on Netanyahu's decision. He should let resistance "deter the Israeli occupation and defend our people, our land, and our holy sites."

He should end negotiations. He should recruit regional and international opposition. He should challenge Israeli lawlessness. If not now, when?

Failed peace talks show Hamas was right. Negotiating with Israel assures failure. Doing so negatively impacts Palestinians. They're much worse off than ever.

Earlier talks did more harm than good. Sham ones work this way. They accomplish nothing. They give Israel free rein to benefit at Palestinians' expense.

They suffer horrifically under Israel's boot. Nothing suggests improvement going forward. 

Challenging Israeli repression responsibly matters most. The alternative is slow-motion suffocation.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

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Palestinians in Israel: Squaring the circle

An interview with Jonathan Cook

Five Books – 25 February 2014
Interviewed by: Bethan Staton

Outside of the Middle East, many people understand Palestine to mean the West Bank and Gaza, and Palestinians as the people living in these areas. But Palestinians who remained in Israel after the creation of the state in 1948 – when some 700,000 were displaced in the Nakba or catastrophe – now make up around 20% of Israel’s population. Could you explain a bit more about this community, and why it has been overlooked?

The difficulty for Palestinians remaining in what becomes Israel after 1948 is that the Palestinian national movement develops in exile, in the occupied territories and the neighboring Arab states. Palestinians in Israel are excluded and shielded from these developments and left in what amounts to a political and social ghetto. Israel strictly circumscribes their understanding of who they are and anything to do with their history, heritage and culture. Israel controls the education system, for instance, and makes it effectively impossible to talk about Palestinian issues there: you can’t discuss what the PLO is or the nakba, for example. This is designed to erode a sense of Palestinian-ness.

For most of the Palestinian minority’s history inside Israel, there’s also a reliance on the Israeli media, which won’t allow discussion of Palestinian identity either. In the state’s early years, Israel does not even refer to Palestinians as Arabs; they are described as ‘the minorities’, purely in sectarian or tribal terms as Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bedouin. It’s an innovation later on that the state recognises them as generic “Arabs”.

Another thing to remember is that the urban, educated middle class is destroyed in 1948. The elites are almost completely expelled. Nazareth is the only city where an urban population survives in any significant numbers. What you are left with is a series of isolated rural peasant communities, and these are not likely to a be the vanguard of a Palestinian national movement. So after 1948 we are already looking at an isolated, severely weakened Palestinian community within Israel, and it is very easy to manipulate this community, to strip it of its identity.

But this system of control starts to break down, first with Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in 1967. That releases the ‘virus’, as some would see it, of Palestinian nationalism to the Palestinians inside Israel. They start to reconnect with people on the “other side” in places like Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah. Families are reunited. Palestinians in Israel begin to realise how much they have been held back, oppressed.

The shift is only reinforced later with Israel’s loss of control over the media. When Arabic satellite television comes along, for example, the state is no longer able to control what its Palestinian citizens hear and see. And Palestinians are provided with an external window both on the ugliness of the occupation and their own situation, and on the centrality of the Palestinian cause to the rest of the Arab world.

So in more recent decades have we seen an increase in the kind of literature that deals with these identity issues? And a change in how these issues are considered?

The greatest problem facing Palestinians inside Israel is how to respond to their situation. They are cut off, isolated, excluded from the centres of power and even from the self-declared identity of a Jewish state. They’re an alien, unwelcome presence within that state. So the question is: how do you respond?

There are two main possibilities: through resistance, whether violent or non-violent, whether military, political, social or literary; or through some form of accommodation. And herein lies the tension. And this is what is especially interesting about the Palestinians in Israel, because to remain sane in this environment they have to adopt both strategies at the same time.

You see this politically in the Israeli Communist Party, the most established of the non-Zionist parties Palestinians vote for. The Communist movement is a Jewish-Arab one, so its Palestinian members are especially exposed to this tension. It is no surprise that some of the leading figures of Palestinian literature and art in Israel have been very prominent in the Communist party. Emile Habiby, for instance, was the editor of the Communist newspaper Al-Ittihad. The tension is obvious in the philosophy of the Communist party, which supports the idea of Jewish-Arab equality but within the framework of a Jewish state. This is a very unusual kind of communism: one that still thinks it’s possible to ascribe an ethnic identity to the state and yet aspire to the principle of equality within it. Palestinian Communists have been struggling with this paradox for a long time.

How successful is the attempt at reconciliation? Is there continued belief in, and support for, a Jewish state?

A central tenet of the Israeli Communist Party is “two states for two peoples”. So who are the “peoples” being referred to? One is the Palestinian people. But what is the other? Is it the Israeli people or the Jewish people? For Israeli Jews at least, it is clearly the Jewish people. In fact, within Israel there is no formally recognised Israeli nationality – only a Jewish nationality and an Arab nationality. The idea of “two states for two peoples” is vague, and it’s meant to be vague to keep Palestinians comfortable within the Israeli Communist Party. But the implication is that we are talking about two states, one for the Palestinians and one for the Jews.

The Communist Party stands for elections as the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash). The implication is that peace (a Jewish state) is reconcilable with equality. This is very problematic: the Palestinian intellectuals at the forefront of the party try to evade this contradiction. But you can’t really fudge it, you can’t square the circle.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Emile Habiby ends up writing the quintessential character in Israeli Palestinian literature: Saeed the Pessoptimist. This character represents the tension the minority lives: pessimism imbued with optimism. The Jewish state is the situation you’re trapped in, that’s pessimistic; the optimism looks to the equality you think you can aspire to, despite the reality. Saeed is always trying to square the circle. This very much becomes a theme of Palestinian literature in Israel.

Somebody like the poet Mahmoud Darwish, on the other hand, chooses a side. He does not try to keep a foot in both camps. Darwish says ‘I’m with the resistance’, and he leaves.

Sabri Jiryis also left Israel, after the publication of his book The Arabs in Israel, which is on your list. Could you tell us a bit more about the book, which could perhaps serve as an introduction to the background to this context?

That’s right. The book came out in English in 1976, but in Hebrew it was published in 1966. That is a very important date: it marks the end of the military government, the first 18 years when Israel imposes a system of military rule over its Palestinian citizens, separate from the democratic system that governs the Jewish majority. It is rather like the system of military rule that operates in the occupied territories today. When Jiryis was writing, of course, he didn’t know the military government was about to end, but he produces the definitive book on that period.

Jiryis is a lawyer writing a largely academic book, and it’s the first of its type to be written by a Palestinian inside Israel. Interestingly, like several other prominent Palestinian writers, he chooses to write in Hebrew – as do, for example, Anton Shammas and Sayed Kashua. In resorting to the language of your oppressor, you accommodate. Jiryis is resisting through content, but the language he employs is an accommodation.

He is writing at the close of the military government, and giving a victim’s view of it. It tells the Palestinian side but it is accessible to the Jewish population. So the work is highly subversive. It is also a counterpoint to Jewish academics who are writing books about Palestinians inside Israel in this period, people like Ori Stendal, who works with the intelligence services. The Israeli ‘experts’ studying the minority, and this is true to this day, are mainly working within the security paradigm, trying to understand the threat posed by the ‘Arab Israelis’ and refining the system of control. Jiryis is doing the exact opposite: he is trying to expose and shame the system.

Many of the Palestinians in Israel who write of the horrors of this period end up leaving. We see this, for example, with Fauzi el-Asmar, a Palestinian poet and a contemporary of Jiryis, who is forced out. His writings and activism are subversive, and so the state jails him. In his book To Be an Arab in Israel, he recalls his interrogators telling him ‘We will only make your life easy once you sign this piece of paper to say you’re leaving’. The task here is to get him out of the country, because the last thing Israel wants is people who are defining and shaping an identity for Palestinians within Israel. El-Asmar ends up leaving and becomes an American academic. Jiryis, too, leaves and goes to Lebanon and joins the PLO there. Those who stay but want to keep their integrity keep trying to square the circle: accommodating on one level, while resisting on another.

And I guess this process has the effect of shaping the landscape of Palestinian literature and identity within Israel – making it more accommodating?

More pessoptimist! Nazareth and Haifa are the only two places where a Palestinian middle class, an intellectual elite survived. They had to find some way to be true to themselves as intellectuals, but they also had to find a way to accommodate with the oppressor. And the ways they accomodate are interesting: their subversion is subtle, ironic, and so on. Kashua ends up living among Jews, speaking Hebrew with his kids, half in the Jewish camp and half in the Arab camp, ashamed and proud of his Arabness at the same time. This is the eternal problem of the pessoptimist.

One also has to understand where this comes from: choice. Early figures like Jiryis end up leaving. The process of writing his book seems to resolve in his own mind his status. He confronts the problem of his half-citizenship and rejects it.

So the Jiryis book you have chosen is this book, the book he wrote in Israel before he left. What precisely does he produce before leaving?

He is like a political scientist examining a Kafkaesque situation. He is analysing these absurd laws that look like they are the foundations of a democracy while they are really the walls of a prison. He is trying to explain the paradoxes in the law, and in the wider concept of a Jewish and democratic state. The abuses of the military government simply clarify things.

Take, for example, the Fallow Lands Law, an Ottoman law adopted by Israel that requires landowners to farm their land. If they leave the land untended for more than three years, it can be taken by the ruler and reassigned to those who need it. Under the Ottomans, it is a piece of almost-socialist legislation.

Israel, however, totally subverts the law’s intent. Now the military governor has each Palestinian land owner in his malevolent grip. In this period, no Palestinian resident can leave his or her community without a permit from the military government. So the farmer who needs to get to his land to tend it must either accommodate with the military government (i.e. become a collaborator) or resist and lose his land. In short, he has two awful choices.

As a lawyer, Jiryis is trying to understand how these laws work, how they cohere, how they create a system of control. And he’s really the first Palestinian to try and do that. Another writer, Fauzi el-Asmar embodies the emotional, poetic, artistic response to the situation, but Jiryis grasps the dynamics of it and breaks down the complexity. Really he is describing Israel’s version of Apartheid.

As you said, the book documents the period of military rule, which came to an end in the 1960s. How do you think a reader coming to the book should understand those details in relation to what has happened since, and what the situation is today?

This is one of the things I find interesting about Jiryis. The book is an act of resistance: he was trying to produce a road map that would allow Palestinians to understand the nature of their oppression, so they could be better equipped to fight it. If you don’t understand a problem you can’t fix it, and what Jiryis is trying to do is make the hidden and veiled visible: he’s taking apart the clock to see how all the mechanisms fit. When people understand the system, they can challenge it, try to remake it.

What may not be clear to him when he is writing is whether the system is reformable or needs overthrowing. In the end, Jiryis sides with the military resistance: he goes off and joins the PLO in exile. Although he’s not a fighter, he takes a side. He’s no longer a Palestinian Israeli: he’s simply a Palestinian.

At the same time, though, he’s rooted to the idea of steadfastness, or sumud – this is another feature of Palestinian literature. As soon as Oslo is signed, he returns. In fact, he is the first of the PLO exiles to apply and come back to Israel under the terms of the Oslo Accords. But when he returns, he chooses to live in Fassuta, his ancestral village way up in the north, next to Lebanon. The place is really out in the sticks. But this is where he wants to be: it is his home, his village, his land.

This is very much a response to the peculiarity of Israeli citizenship, which lacks a corresponding Israeli nationality. For most citizens their nationality is Jewish or Arab. That means for Palestinians there is no common nationality that connects them with the Jewish population. And unlike Jewish Israelis, those with Arab nationality have no national rights, only inferior individual rights. In other words, Palestinians in Israel have a very deprived form of citizenship, almost like a guest worker. That creates a very strong feeling of insecurity, impermanence, temporariness: the antithesis of sumud. So they root themselves to a place. Jiryis is a good example of this. I think it is incredible for a man who was such a central figure in the legal establishment of the PLO to come back to the anonymity of Fassuta the first chance he gets.

Perhaps that would be a good time to mention Sayed Kashua’s Let it be Morning?

Sayed Kashua is a great example of the pessoptimist, especially in terms of the way he writes and what he writes about. He has developed a semi-autobiographical character over many years in the Hebrew newspaper Haaretz. He also has the only sitcom on mainstream Israeli TV written by a Palestinian, in which the main character Amjad tries to square the circle: he aspires to live in a Jewish community, to live like a first-class citizen, while constantly fearing that the pretence on which he has constructed his life will be exposed and shattered. Fear of exposure and humiliation drives him. In other hands it would be tragedy, but because Kashua has a wicked sense of humour it is uproariously funny.

It is never quite clear how much Amjad or Kashua’s other characters are really him. He is always playing around with identities, and this is another interesting feature of Palestinian art inside Israel, especially cinema. When reality is so strange, a hybrid documentary style – fact merged with fiction – helps to capture the truth while also offering the protection of distance. Humour does the same. Good cinematic examples of this are films like Hany Abu Assad’s Ford Transit or Eli Suleiman’s Divine Intervention.

Palestinian identity in this context has to be very fluid. One weakness of Jewish academic studies of Palestinians in Israel is that they ascribe the population linear identities. One professor, Sami Smooha, is famous for identity surveys in which he tries to assess whether the minority is becoming ‘more Palestinian’ or ‘more Israeli’. That is really wrong-headed: for Palestinians in Israel there has to be a fluidity of identity to cope with these terribly complex legal, political, emotional situations. And that’s reflected in the character of the pessoptimist.

In Let it be Morning there’s definitely a sense of tension between what the narrator wishes to be the case, and the reality of what’s going on in his life. When he returns from Tel Aviv to the Arab village where he grew up it’s difficult to tell what reality is, and what is coloured by his needs and desires. And the sense of everything slipping out of control is very overwhelming.

Let It Be Morning is unusual for Kashua because it is a serious, nightmarish work – it is the pessoptimist at his very darkest. There is a reason for that: Kashua is writing in the early days of the second intifada when things reached a nadir for Palestinians in Israel. They were living in Israel, often under threat from suicide bombings just like Israeli Jews, but at the same time constantly under suspicion as terrorists themselves from the Jewish population. This is precisely the problem faced by the narrator, a journalist like Kashua working for a Hebrew newspaper and who feels increasingly alienated from his workplace and the Jewish city where he and his family live. He craves a sense of security and so decides to return to his Arab village, right next to the West Bank.

But the relocation offers him no real comfort. He has become too Jewish after a 10-year absence to fit back into the village, torn itself between lingering patriarchal Palestinian traditions and the faux-modernity and materialism its residents aspire to as “half-Israelis”. Their constant accommodations and dependence on their state, Israel, are simply vulgar reminders of the narrator’s own more sophisticated efforts at the same. So the narrator finds himself a “dancing Arab” – the title of his first, seemingly very autobiographical novel – trying to please everyone, and failing dismally.

Survival for Palestinians depends on creativity and adaptability, and a sense of communal cohesion. This is at the heart of the concept of sumud (or steadfastness). But the village is put to an extreme test in Kashua’s book when it is surrounded by tanks and its inhabitants find themselves cut off from the modern world, Israel, and from the old world, Palestine. This is a clear metaphor for the Palestinians inside Israel: they are cut off from both sides. Suddenly the villagers are isolated, and their society and sense of solidarity quickly break down. They stop being a community and become instead competing families, capable of cruelty and inhumanity.

Kashua is playing with a very familiar nightmare scenario for Palestinians inside Israel – the continuing fear of transfer, the threat of being expelled this time, of not holding on to what was kept in 1948. This is something I did not understand until I was living here. There really is a tangible fear that at any moment they and their families could be transferred, that the war of 1948 never finished. This is a large part of the incentive for accommodation: there is a huge sword hanging over your head. You could be expelled; if you put a foot wrong, you could be out the door; the trucks are waiting.

In the book, Kashua seems to communicate an unsureness about the extent to which he’s cooperating or collaborating. The mechanisms and institutions of society are always working towards strengthening themselves. Just by participating in society you are necessarily a part of that, contributing to it. I’ve spoken to many people about this sense, even in the West Bank.

The difference in the Occupied Territories is that for Palestinians there the Israelis are basically the Shin Bet, the army, the police and possibly the settlers – agents of the state. These people appear as unfamiliar, hostile beings. When Palestinians encounter them, it is clearly a master-slave relationship.

Inside Israel it is different. If you are a Palestinian taxi driver in Israel you spend all day speaking Hebrew to people in the back of your cab. You are constantly accommodating, performing as the Good Arab. For most Palestinian youth in Israel this experience arrives as a shock when they start a first job or go to university. They move from a familiar place where all the children around them are like them, speaking Arabic, and then suddenly they are in a world where they are seen as something alien. Often they face hostility, contempt, aggression, subtle or otherwise, from those they must spend time with.

So one thing you often see with Palestinians in Israel is a need to declare their separateness, to make a statement about their identity. That may not necessarily be as a Palestinian; it can be a sectarian identity. So, for example, you see many young Muslim women wearing the hijab, while Christian girls walk around with a cross around their neck. People don’t want to be caught in embarrassing or humiliating situations. It is a way to avoid the danger of being accepted and then rejected, revealed as the Other.

The next book on your list is Hatim Kanaaneh’s A Doctor in Galilee. I guess this gives a very human perspective on some very practical issues and material manifestations of the situation now and historically, obviously through the context of healthcare.

Hatim is a friend, and he sought my opinion on the book while he was drafting it. I find his story, again, illustrative of the problems we’ve been talking about. His family realises he has a talent and they make major sacrifices to send him to Harvard to get a medical degree. This is at the end of the military government, and a very difficult time for Palestinians inside Israel. They are a very isolated community, cut off from the world, barely connected to the transport infrastructure, living in a ghetto, and Hatim makes this incredible leap to go and train as a doctor at Harvard.

Hatim, I think, embodies the qualities of the pessoptimist, even if a very self aware one, one who understands early on that he is trying to square the circle. He has a set of impressive skills, ones denied to other Palestinians in Israel, and acquired because his family suffered to make this possible for him. It is both a huge burden and a considerable weapon. So he wants to put his new skills to good use, to the benefit of his society. The pessimist understands the disastrous circumstances of his community, but the optimist wants to believe his community – and the relationships between Jews and Arabs – can be improved.

He is not simply fixing broken bodies, he is trying to create an infrastructure of public health care for his community. He’s trying to create sewage systems and bring fresh water into the villages, to liberate the inhabitants from the prisons created for them by the state. Israel is a modern country, but it has left the Palestinian villages a hundred years behind. Kanaaneh comes with the tools of modernity to save these villages. The optimist wants to believe this can be done, and that once Israelis see what Palestinians are capable of they will warm to them, see them as human, as equals.

Hatim’s struggle is conducted through the Health Ministry, where he rises to the most senior position ever held by a Palestinian citizen. He assumes he is going to break down the stereotypes, that he will win over the Jews as friends, and that when they revise their opinion of him they will do the same with the rest of the Palestinian minority. He is a man with vision and optimism, but he is trapped in a world that demands pessimism. He starts to see himself more and more as an Uncle Tom and to lose faith in the Jewish colleagues around him. He identifies the racism as so entrenched that he doubts there is a way to circumvent it. He becomes deeply disillusioned. But despite all that he chooses sumud as his act of part-accomodation, part-resistance.

I think the sense of responsibility among people to give back to one’s community is quite common, but in this context the feeling of being ‘unwanted’ within a state structure, so to speak, adds an element of feeling the need to justify one’s own existence. And in the book everything seems pretty hopeless at points. You get a real sense of banging your head against a brick wall.

When Hatim finally quits the Health Ministry, he sets up the first real NGO for Palestinians inside Israel with an international perspective, the Galilee Society. This is an act of subversion. He is trying to bypass Israel and go directly to the international community, because he realises that otherwise no help will be forthcoming from his own state. But at the same time it is not a completely rejectionist stance: he also knows he must work with Jewish society. By reaching out to the international community, he hopes to shame Israel into action.

So the potential for the community to create alternative structures to serve itself is limited, and when it comes to things like infrastructure and healthcare, the state is very necessary. And this makes cooperating and working with the state necessary.

He is resisting by setting up the Galilee Society, but he is also doing it within the framework of accommodation. He’s got a foot in both camps because that is the only option for those who stay. Leaving is a defeat for sumud, for steadfastness. That is why Palestinians see the need to come back to the place where they started: that is the only thing that distinguishes them from other Palestinians, it is the only strength they have.

You’ve also selected So What by Taha Muhammad Ali. It’s a selection of his poetry from 1971-2005. How does this deal with ideas of longing and return?

Taha Muhammad Ali was an internal refugee, or a “present absentee”, this gloriously Orwellian term Israel assigns to those who after 1948 are still present in Israel but absent from their property. Safuriya, his village, which is right next to Nazareth, represents this tension acutely – of presence and absence. Many of the refugees, like Taha’s family, fled to Nazareth and set up their own neighborhood called Safafri that overlooks the old, destroyed village. So they wake up in the morning and open the curtains to look out on the land that they lived on before they were expelled in 1948. He is so present he is almost there, but at the same time he is always absent. This is not an untypical condition: one in four Palestinians in Israel are present absentees.

Here you have another way of looking at the pessoptimist: the present and the absent. The present person is the optimist, the absent person is the pessimist. Some of the best Palestinian poets, including Darwish, were internal refugees, always living with this tension in their being.

Poetry has a very important place in the Palestinians’ artistic pantheon, and it becomes particularly powerful as a vehicle for the Palestinians because it speaks to the whole Arab world. People set poems to music, so it was more than literature, it became part of a wider Arabic culture. It was a way to tell the Palestinian story, the Palestinian sense of loss to the whole Arab world; it was the best kind of newspaper you could have and at the same time gave a sense that the loss of the Palestinian homeland was also a loss for all Arabs, a loss of independence and a sense of self respect that they all shared.

Darwish, the most famous Palestinian poet, faces the tension and stays inside Israel for quite a while. But in the end he, like Jiryis, cannot live with it. Taha Muhammad Ali is a pessoptimist. He does not have the heart for pure resistance. He prefers to find the middle ground, some kind of accommodation.

And how is that expressed in the poetry?

Famously he said ‘There is no Israel and there is no Palestine’, which is something you could never imagine Darwish saying. In fact, invariably there is from Taha a rejection of posturing, self-importance and, above all, a deep disquiet at all-consuming hatred, however justified it might seem by circumstance. In one poem,’Twigs’, he focuses on the things he remembers – small things, details like the taste of bread and water. It ends with an assessment that at our death “hate will be / the first thing / to putrefy / within us”. But at the same happiness is never quite present either. One of his lines, used as the title of a great biography in English, is “My happiness bears no relation to happiness”.

There is also a poem, Revenge, where he talks about how he wants to kill the man who stole his family’s home in 1948, thereby “expelling me into a narrow country”. He says “if I were ready – / I would take my revenge!” So for a brief, deceptive moment it seems as though he has found an inner voice of resistance. But in true Taha style he then subverts it all. He recites all the reasons why he would not be able to kill him, such as if the man had loved ones, or friends or even casual acquaintances who might miss him. But even that is not enough of a concession. He also argues that he would leave the man be even if he had no one who cared for or loved him. “Instead I’d be content / to ignore him when I passed him by / on the street – as I / convinced myself / that paying him no attention / in itself was a kind of revenge.” So here is the pessoptimist; a man who starts with grand talk of resistance, but in the end despite himself recognises a need to accommodate, to live with others, to refuse to bow to their level.

Do you think it’s as if there’s a sense of humanity – both in the sense of practical needs and sympathy for others – getting in the way of taking any kind of action?

Taha died a couple of years ago, but there are videos of him on YouTube. You see when he talks, there is a wonderful boylike mischief in his face, a kind of perpetual smile even as he talks about very sad things, the losses endured by himself and his family, and his community. There is an eternal optimism in tiny things: he says “the best drink is water and the best food is bread”. The tiny things in life can give you a great deal of pleasure, and maybe you have to focus on the small things because the big things are too depressing, too overwhelming.

But the day to day is so important because it keeps people going, and it’s also what keeps people accommodating, in a sense.

Taha had four years of formal education because his whole schooling was brought to an end by the Nakba. In 1948 the present absentees lose everything – it is year zero. Taha and his brothers start to rebuild their lives in Nazareth, selling bread from a street trolley. Eventually he opens a souvenir shop next to the Basilica, selling trinkets to tourists, and probably regales them with his stories too. But most of the time there is nothing to do. You can see shop owners like him today, sitting there or dozing or listening to the radio. But you can imagine Taha reading loads of poetry, teaching himself because he understands that only through poetry can he reclaim his voice and reach out to people with his stories.

As a self-taught poet, he finds his own language. Unlike Darwish, he does not use classical Arabic, the heavy, serious Arabic. Instead he uses the street language. He talks to the ordinary man and woman. He does not want poetry to be this big, weighty thing. The subject for him is not the grand Palestinian drama, but the small, inconsequential things that have been lost or destroyed, the efforts to rebuild on the personal scale, to take pleasure in the tiny things that survive. He seeks the reasons for optimism, love and compassion over the urge for hatred and revenge. There is a bitterness too but it must never be allowed to trump what really matters.

Your final book choice is Sleeping on a Wire, by David Grossman.

I felt we should have one work from an Israeli Jew, because they have done so much to shape Palestinian identity inside Israel. There are some great books on Palestinians in Israel, as well as some truly awful ones. I see David Grossman’s book as interesting because it is really the first attempt to grapple with the Palestinian identity issue in Israel from a Jewish perspective. I do not think it is entirely successful, and I have a problem with his politics, but it is clear he is trying to do it honestly, that he is seeking to understand.

The problem is that he is a liberal Zionist, and there is a constant tension between his liberalism and his Zionism. So the liberal in Grossman wants to understand the trauma that befell the Palestinians in Israel, wants to reach out to them, wants to understand them. But at the same time the Zionist in him fears what their narrative represents. So what happens in each chapter, like a nervous tic, which I find fascinating, is Grossman immersing himself in their stories deeply, allowing them to speak unmediated, but then afterwards he can’t stop himself from interpreting for them, or judging them.

So what’s the structure of this, what form does this take in the book?

It is a very common liberal Zionist position: the need to have the last word, and to create the framework of the narrative. His book is subversive because he is an Israeli Jew giving Palestinians the chance to tell their story, to explain their situation in great depth. He’s very good about letting Palestinians speak clearly and honestly and transparently, you sense that he’s not manipulating the conversations and he’s not editing out stuff, he just wants to hear, he gives you it all. But the context for this act of generosity is a Zionist one. He and his subjects are in a Jewish state, and it has to be one as far as Grossman is concerned. So however much he sympathises with the Palestinians, and however much he understands, however much he feels their pain: sorry, but at the end of the day the Jewish State is more important.

I found the book very frustrating, because he has this great ability to tell his subjects’ stories, but then the narrator, himself, comes in at the end to tell us what we should make of what we have just heard. He cannot leave it to us to make up our own mind; he has to create for us a prism to see through.

This is an important point when we talk about the tension faced by Palestinian Israelis: that profound tensions exist for Israeli Jews too. It’s a hard thing to face, with honesty, the problematic realities of a state that one supports and is a part of. Perhaps this is a different kind of struggle, of individuals coming to terms with the structures of their own privilege, and trying to accommodate difficult truths into a particular vision.

And I think this is a general problem for Israeli Jews: that the narrative of Palestinians, including or maybe especially those inside Israel, is too overwhelming, too threatening, too disconcerting, too guilt-inducing to cope with. Which is why most Israeli Jews won’t really listen. What is interesting about Grossman is he has enough emotional strength to hear it, but then needs to package it up in a way that he and his readers can cope with.

So do you think the book is valuable as a document of the Palestinian story in Israel, or as an example of attitudes towards that, of Jewish Israeli considerations of the issue?

I think it’s useful as both. Grossman’s motive was probably to write something that, because it was written by an Israeli Jew, would be accessible to people who find it difficult to hear the Palestinian narrative. He hoped to bridge a kind of social divide and help heal wounds.

The book is also a fascinating historical document. One chapter is dedicated to the Islamic movement in its early years, a subject little written about apart from in Arabic. It’s very interesting to see how the Islamic movement saw its role in the early 1990s, caught in a certain moment, at the end of of the first Intifada and just before Oslo. Or the unrecognised villages and their struggle at that time to live in a twilight world of being present and absent in a different sense: on the ground but off the map. Visible to the eye but invisible to Israeli bureaucrats, at least in terms of public services.

Grossman was writing at a moment when Israeli Jews were very pessimistic. Soldiers had been told by their prime minister Yitzhak Rabin to break the bones of Palestinians in the occupied territories to crush the first intifada. It was a time when Israeli Jews were realising that there was serious and organised opposition to the occupation, that their supposed benevolent rule was rejected by Palestinians.

The question of who the Palestinians inside Israel were, and how they were connected to these events, becomes important. Grossman is trying to reach out to the Palestinians in Israel to find some common ground, in the hope of defining an Israeliness. Possibly there’s an element of the security mentality – ‘let’s understand the enemy’. But he is too intelligent and sensitive just to be doing that. He is genuinely trying to find out whether some kind of accommodation can be reached, to ask: are they going to move closer to us, or further away? Because from a Jewish Israeli perspective, the Palestinians inside Israel are seen as the Achilles’ heel of the Jewish state.

At the beginning you alluded to a relatively recent sense of changing and developing Palestinian identity in Israel, through literature, media and so on. How are these books, which explore that, being received? And are things changing in terms of their relationship in wider Israeli society?

It’s an interesting question. Where’s Israeli Jewish society heading? If you look at the Israeli Jewish books about Palestinians in Israel they date from certain periods. In the late 1970s there is a rash of books written as a result of Land Day, when Palestinians in Israel engaged in a major confrontation with the state to stop confiscations of their land. Six demonstrators are killed during the protests. It’s a crisis for both sides: the Palestinians realise their citizenship is not real citizenship; and Israeli Jews appreciate that their rule over this group is contested. The lens through which this is seen is chiefly then a security one. How do we control them better? More books emerge during the 1990s, the Oslo period, because the question then is: what kind of citizenship can a Jewish state concede to the Palestinian minority after a peace agreement? How is the state’s security to be defined? Nowadays it seems to me Israeli Jewish society is much less interested in understanding Palestinians inside Israel.


I think now they are seen as more of a threat, and the chief interest is how to separate from them, not how to live with them. They are seen as a demographic problem, framed in the language of security. The issue is about “us”: how to protect the Jewish majority. This is the material of policy papers, not books.

Aside from that do you think the issues facing Palestinians within Israel are becoming more important in terms of wider questions about Israel and Palestine, and the possibility of a final settlement?

It is becoming clearer to Israel that Palestinians inside Israel are a key fault line in the peace process. Netanyahu has made the Palestinians’ recognition of Israel as a Jewish state a precondition for an agreement. So in terms of the peace process, Palestinians inside Israel are now a – if not, the – core issue.

During 1948 Israel created a demographic structure – through mass expulsions, and through laws to ensure that only Jews could immigrate – to guarantee that the state was and would remain incontestably Jewish. Now in the current peace talks, what Israel wants from the Palestinian leadership is for them to sign up to this, saying, we’re fine with it. And this is supposed to close the 1948 file, which is still an open file for the Palestinians. And this is why I think Palestinians inside Israel are seen increasingly less as a community in themselves and more as another one of the final status issues. The Palestinians’ fight inside Israel for equality and democracy ultimately risks creating a right of return – because real equality requires that Palestinians have the same rights of naturalisation as Jews enjoy under the Law of Return. And then you would have refugees returning and Israel’s Jewish majority being eroded.

And this puts another layer onto what you mentioned about accommodation: that’s a very big question resting on the shoulders of Palestinians in Israel. Yet as I mentioned earlier, I have the sense the reality of Palestinians living within Israel is not really recognised widely. When outsiders are introduced to the reality for the first time, they tend to find it puts everything in a very new perspective.

And it’s overwhelming. It’s overwhelming for everybody. The reason Grossman is reframing all the time is because it is overwhelming. The reason Sabri Jiryis and Mahmoud Darwish leave is because it’s overwhelming. The reason Taha Muhammad Ali and Sayed Kashua adopt the pessoptimist worldview is because it’s overwhelming. The reason Hatim Kanaaneh digs in his roots as deep as he can is because it’s overwhelming. And for outsiders it is overwhelming too; the reality is more complex and more paradoxical and more entrenched and more irreconcilable than anyone could have imagined.

It’s not just a case of drawing a better border. It’s much more complicated than that. It’s redressing decades and decades of injustice, and in doing so maybe creating new injustices. Because so many Jewish immigrants came and settled here and gave up lives elsewhere. What happens to them? You can’t just create a new set of injustices. How do you reconcile these problems? How do you square all these circles?

Tagged as: ,

Disgraceful NYT Op-Eds

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Israeli Ethnic Cleansing

Israeli Ethnic Cleansing

by Stephen Lendman

It's longstanding state policy. It's what former Israeli politician Yigal Allon called maximum land with minimum Arabs. 

It's dispossessing them for Jewish exclusivity. It's doing it extrajudicially. It's doing it without compromise.

It's claiming all land Israel wants belongs exclusively to Jews. Palestinian rights don't matter. They're persecuted for their faith, ethnicity and presence. 

They're ethnically cleansed to make way for Jews. It's happening one bulldozed Palestinian home at a time. Destroying entire communities reflect it.

Last September, Jordan Valley Khiret Khallet Makhul community homes were demolished. Sixty Bedouin Arab Israeli citizens were affected.

They've lived there for many years. They grazed their livestock. They had to sleep outside with no shelter.

Last August, Israel's Supreme Court rejected their petition. It sought to legitimize their legally built structures. 

Since demolition, Israeli soldiers prevented community members and international aid agencies from erecting tents for shelter.

Their fundamental rights were denied. What Israel wants it gets. Ethnic cleansing is longstanding Israeli policy. The Jordan Valley is being systematically Judaized. Most of it is already.

Civil Administration policy denies Arab communities access to their own land. It does so various ways.

Closed military zones are declared. So are nature reserves. Palestinian land is declared state owned. They're excluded from nearly 90% of the Jordan Valley.

In areas where they live, they're prohibited from building homes and other structures. They can't do it without state authorized permits. They're practically impossible to get.

When Palestinians build on their own land, demolition orders follow. From 2006 through April 2013 alone, hundreds of Palestinian homes were targeted. 

Around 1,600 family members were affected. Many were one or more times earlier. Israeli policy reflects its Judaization strategy.

It includes annexing Palestinian land. It's exploiting its water and other resources. It's denying homeless Palestinians humanitarian aid.

It's violating fundamental international laws. It's doing it repeatedly. It's ongoing during sham peace talks. 

It prevents equitable conflict resolution. It punishes Arabs for not being Jews. Jordan Valley Khirbet 'Ein Karzaliyah residents are affected. 

On January 8, their homes and other structures were demolished. Their only water pipe was destroyed.

Three families were affected. They include 10 adults and 15 children. They're farmers. They raise livestock. 

Their possessions include three tents, six pens, five livestock sheds, two chicken coops and three flocks. They consist of about 750 sheep and goats.

In 1972, IDF commanders lawlessly declared their area a closed military zone. They claimed it was needed as a firing zone.

Residents explained otherwise. Until two years ago, no military activity was present.

In 2003, Israeli Civil Administration officials began ordering residents to evacuate their own land. Some of their homes and facilities were destroyed.

In January 2010, residents were ordered to leave the area within 72 hours. Closed military zone authority was again cited.

Palestinians petitioned Israel's High Court. At the same time, it issued an interim injunction. It halted evacuations. It did so pending their intention to rule on the issue.

On January 31, 2011, a hearing followed. Residents were denied their legitimate rights. State officials lied saying their land was needed for military training.

They claimed residents had no right to live on their own land. They were offered other sites. They were unacceptable. Palestinians refused justifiably.

It's their land. It's their right to live there. Resolution was months in coming. Justice was systematically denied.

On December 3, 2013, High Court justices ruled for Israel. They said Palestinians failed to prove their permanent residency status.

They were given three days to remove their belongings. They were told to resolve their differences with state authorities.

No understanding was reached. It didn't surprise. Israel is all take and no give. It demands. It does so extrajudicially. It offers practically nothing in return.

'Ein Karzaliyah families faced imminent dispossession. International law doesn't matter. Israel does whatever it wants. It does it repeatedly. It does it with impunity.

Palestinians have no rights. They're systematically denied. On January 8, 'Ein Karzaliiyah residents were left homeless. B'Tselem director Jessica Montell commented, saying:

"Israel has once again forgotten that control entails responsibility. The Jordan Valley cannot be addressed as a merely theoretical issue, discussing its future while completely disregarding the fate of its residents." 

"At the moment, the authorities must set aside their political ambitions and consider the fate of 25 individuals, who do not know how they’ll get through the night and how their flocks, their only source of income and livelihood, will fare."

A previous article discussed Israeli plans to perhaps annex the entire Jordan Valley. It's 30% of the West Bank. 

Israel controls nearly 90% of it already. It wants the rest. It wants Palestinians entirely excluded. They're systematically being removed.

Israel wants the entire area Judaized. It wants Arabs excluded. Nearly all Jordan Valley land lies in Area C. 

It's under exclusive Israeli control. De facto annexation exists. Israel wants it made official. 

Many communities were ordered to leave. They have no choice. They're forced out if don't leave voluntarily. 

Thousands of Bedouin Arab Israeli citizens are affected. Israel wants them all out. Legally the Jordan Valley is occupied territory.

Israel is responsible for the well-being of its residents. It includes respecting their fundamental rights. 

They include the right to live, build, and earn a living on their own land. Dispossessing legitimate residents violates fundamental international law.

Israel is obligated to respect it. Other nations are obliged to assure it. Professor William Cook comments about the longstanding plight of Palestinians.

His newest book is titled "Decade of Deceit 2002-2012." It's a major contribution toward understanding decades of Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Fifty-five essays explain longstanding Palestinian suffering. They cover indignities imposed by a racist/rogue occupier.

Palestine's Nakba never ended. State terror is official policy. Israel calls it self-defense. Lawful resistance to live free is called terrorism. 

Daily life includes persecution, home demolitions, dispossessions, land theft, targeted assassinations, mass arrests, incarceration, torture, denial of virtually all rights, and living in fear of what's next.

Palestinians are largely on their own. World leaders able to help turn a blind eye. They support Israel's worst crimes.

In early January, Fars News interviewed Cook. He called longstanding Israeli persecution unjustifiable, indefensible and discriminatory.

"America’s poor suffer the consequences," he said. "(S)chools have no money to care for the deprived Americans, and that is but an example of what happens when we dedicate the taxpayers' money to slaughter and mayhem in a land we claim must defend itself when we can't even identify the boundaries of that state because it refuses to identify its borders as they are continually growing as they inflict further genocide on the people of Palestine." 

Israel was established "in a pit of intentional deception," he explained. It was done "to create a false send of legitimacy to justify before the world community its right to exist."

Its creation came by stealing Palestine. It did so by ethnic slaughter and dispossession. It reflect Zionism's dark side. It includes high crimes against peace, equity and justice.

Where is the moral outrage? Cook asks: "How can the world communities allow such a state of affairs to exist?" 

Why aren't Israeli leaders held accountable? Why is Palestinian suffering allowed to continue? Why aren't their legitimate rights respected? Why isn't international law enforced?

Terrorism's infrastructure lies in Israel's occupation, says Cook. Decades of Israeli leaders bear full responsibility. Palestinians are wrongfully blamed for their crimes.

Israel is guilty of slow-motion genocide. World leaders ignore what's longstanding. According to Jeff Halper:

"The problem in the Middle East is not the Palestinian people, not Hamas, not the Arabs, not Hezbollah or the Iranians or the entire Muslim world." 

The problem is Israel, he stresses. Its leaders bear full responsibility for decades of regional "instability, extremism and violence…"

World leaders able to change things do nothing. They let Israel  continue occupation harshness. 

They permit high crimes against peace. They let Palestinian suffering persist unjustly. They do it for their own self-interest.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

‘NYT’ Reporter Treats Israeli Boycott as Immoral and Anti-Semitic, Reminiscent of Nazis

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New York’s Zionist Mayor

New York's Zionist Mayor

by Stephen Lendman

On January 1, Michael Bloomberg was out. Bill de Blasio replaced him. Zionism remains empowered.

Imagine letting Israel influence NYC policy. Imagine giving AIPAC say.

Imagine Obama doing the same thing. Stanley Fischer is a Zionist zealot. Obama nominated him for Fed vice chairman. 

He's rubber-stamp approval away from assuming his post. He'll let Israel influence US monetary policy.

On January 24, de Blasio delivered an unannounced address. He spoke in midtown Manhattan. He did so at a closed door AIPAC event.

Capital New York (CNY) calls itself "a publication for and about the people and institutions that shape New York, delivering fast, original, essential analysis and reporting on city and state politics and the media industry."

CNY reporter Azi Paybarah tried covering de Blasio's address. Security staff blocked him. Candidate de Blasio pledged more openness, transparency, and inclusiveness than his predecessor.

Mayor de Blasio wants his unswerving fealty to Israel kept secret. Capital New York got an audio recording of some of what he said. It's not what he wants his constituents to hear.

"Part of my job description is to be a defender of Israel," he said.

"There is a philosophical grounding to my belief in Israel and it is my belief, it is our obligation, to defend Israel, but it is also something that is elemental to being an American because there is no greater ally on earth, and that's something we can say proudly."

"There is no deeper connection across boundaries than this connection we share."

"We take inspiration from Israel for how it has stared down terrorism and kept moving forward."

It's done it through lawless aggression. It's been through cold-blooded murder. Land theft and ethnic cleaning reflect it.

So do decades of lawless occupation harshness. Palestinian rights don't matter. They're systematically denied. 

State terrorism is official Israeli policy. So is slow-motion genocide. De Blasio didn't explain.

He visited Israel three times. He expressed solidarity with its people. They're "on the front line of fighting so many challenges," he said. 

He's mindless of Palestinian rights. Only Jews matter. Racism resides in Gracie Mansion. Palestinians aren't welcome.

De Blasio is "inspir(ed)" by Israeli ruthlessness. Maybe he intends treating New Yorkers the same way.

Word got out about his AIPAC address. Reporters challenged him. He offered a weak-kneed mea culpa. He said he'll urge his aides to be more open about his whereabouts.

He said AIPAC wanted journalists excluded from its event. Public officials are supposed to let constituents they serve know what they're doing. headlined "Reporter Kicked Out of Bill de Blasio's Secret Pro-Israel Speech," saying:

He "wants you to know he shovels his own snow-encrusted sidewalk…" He's polar opposite when it comes to "wooing the powerful pro-Israeli lobbying group AIPAC..."

Candidate de Blasio denounced BDS activism. He called it "inflammatory, dangerous and utterly out of step with the values of New Yorkers."

"An economic boycott represents a direct threat to the State of Israel. That’s something we need to oppose in all its forms." 

"No one seriously interested in bringing peace, security and tolerance to the Middle East should be taken in by this" campaign.

Public de Blasio speeches feature demagogic boilerplate. He stresses income inequality, expanding sick-pay leave, taxing the rich, and other social issues.

He's held office less than one month. Early indications aren't encouraging. Expect business as usual to continue. He was chosen for that reason. He won't disappoint.

New Yorkers never had a true populist mayor. They don't have one now. De Blasio reflects same old, same old. 

He's old wine in new bottles. He differs from Bloomberg in style alone. He represents the same monied interests.

His AIPAC speech omitted social issues. He focused solely on pledging allegiance to Israel.

Two attendees said he never once used the word "progressive." He features it in public addresses.

He concluded saying: "City Hall will always be open to AIPAC. When you need me to stand by you in Washington or anywhere, I will answer the call, and I'll answer it happily cause that's my job."

His job is serving NYC residents. All of them equitably and fairly. Not Israel. 

Not monied interests at the expense of public ones. Not other powerful, privileged ones exclusively. 

It's not hard imagining what's coming. Expect constituent hopes to be dashed. Early indications suggest it.

Bruce Ratner is Center for Constitutional Rights President Emeritus Michael Ratner's brother. 

Their ideologies are polar opposite. Bruce is a prominent real estate developer. He's a corporate predator. He's the NBA Brooklyn Nets' minority owner.

His Brooklyn mega-development project ran roughshod over local community needs. Longtime resident/noted architect Frank Gehry called it "a nightmare for Brooklyn, one that, if built, would cause irreparable damage to the quality of our lives."

De Blasio's anti-developer/landlord rhetoric rings hollow. He endorsed Ratner's project. He did so wholeheartedly. 

He's progressive in name only. He's a longtime Democrat party hack. He has close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton. 

He was a Clinton administration Housing and Urban Development official. He managed Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign. 

Bill Clinton administered his swearing-in ceremony. Doing do affixed the Clinton name to his mayoralty.

Both Clintons are unindicted war criminals. They deplore populism. They're imperial tools. They're beholden to monied interests. They support unrestrained corporate empowerment.

They're unaccountable. They've got blood on their hands. They represent America's dark side.

Voters never learn. They're suckers for political deception. No matter how many times before they've been fooled, they're easy marks for more of the same.

They learn the hard way. They discover reality too late to matter. No one holds high office in America without careful advance vetting.

Monied interests run things. They choose winners and losers. Voters have no say. America mocks democracy. None whatever exists. 

Government of, by and for wealth, power and privilege defines things. De Blasio's mayoralty represents the worst of what most voters deplore.

Nation magazine long ago betrayed its readers. It disingenuously calls itself "the flagship of the left." It never was. It's not today.

Last August, it endorsed de Blasio, saying:

"His candidacy is an opportunity for New Yorkers to reimagine their city in boldly progressive ways."

He represents "a once-in-a-generation opportunity (for them) to rewrite the narrative of their city."

One observer compared him to candidate Obama. Promises made were broken. De Blasio sounds like the same broken record.

He appointed Anthony Shorris deputy mayor. He's been active in New York politics for nearly three decades. 

He was Ed Koch's budget director and finance commissioner. He was Bloomberg's deputy schools chancellor. He was Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive director.

His current appointment entails cutting New York's budget deficit. He'll do it on the backs of city workers. 

Expect neoliberal harshness continued. De Blasio is no populist. His rhetoric pays lip service to progressivism and social justice. His record supports wealth and power interests.

Wall Street crooks contributed generously to his campaign. They buy politicians like toothpaste. 

They don't bankroll populists. They back business as usual candidates. They know what's forthcoming in return. De Blasio's inaugural address suggested it, saying:

"We do not ask more of the wealthy to punish success. We do it to create more success stories."

He's no harbinger of America's shift left. None whatever exists. Neoliberal harshness remains policy. 

Government of, by, and for everyone equitably remains a distant dream. New York is America's money power capital. It's the epicenter of plutocratic excess. 

Monied interests manipulate things their way. They use money to make more of it. They do it the old-fashioned way. They steal it.

They chose de Blasio. He's their man. He won't disappoint. Wall Street is safe in his hands. 

Big Apple progressivism awaits another day. Make it another era. For sure not now.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Harper in Israel

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Promised Land Disenchantment

Promised Land Disenchantment

by Stephen Lendman

Many Israelis want out. Haaretz said "almost 40 percent of (them) are thinking of emigrating." Recent polling said they'd leave if financially able.

Israeli governance combines militarism, repression, corruption, and neoliberal harshness. 

It's no fit place to live in. Many Jews vote with their feet and leave. Others prepare by securing foreign passports. 

Many of Israel's best and brightest go. In 2012, over 14% of Israeli science and engineering doctorate holders lived abroad for three or more years. They left to work or study.

They're in no rush to return. Many never do. It's hard getting them back once they're gone.

One of the most commonly given reasons for leaving isn't why they left. It's why it took them so long to do so. 

At the same time, with so many of Israel's best and brightest leaving, why would their counterparts abroad consider immigrating?

On October 8, Haaretz headlined "Israel has worst rate of brain drain in West, study shows." It cited a Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel report.

It's titled the "State of the Nation Report 2013." A press release cited Israel's deteriorating higher education system. In part it said: 

"The country’s top universities have fewer senior faculty positions today than they did four decades ago. 

"Since 1973, the number of students per professor has more than doubled." 

"The universities have moved away from employment of higher costing academic researchers and have increasingly outsourced the teaching to non-research, external lecturers." 

"Israel's academic brain drain to the United States is unparalleled, with 29 Israeli scholars in the US for every 100 remaining at home in 2008 (the most recent data available), an increase from the 25 per 100 in the US just four years earlier." 

"This is several orders of magnitude more than the 1.1 Japanese or the 3.4 French scholars for each 100 remaining in their respective home countries."

The emigration rate of Israeli researchers is the highest among Western countries. In the past 40 years, education spending per student dropped sharply.

In 1979, it was NIS 82,000 per student. In 2011, it was 26,500. Since then, funding increased. According to Taub Center executive director Dan Ben-David, amounts spent were far too little. Comprehensive change is lacking.

After establishing world-class research universities, "Israel underwent a dramatic about-face," said Ben-David.

"Over the course of the last four decades, the place of research universities has consistently fallen lower down the priority scale," he added.

The years between 2002 and 2010 fared worst of all. The prevalent academia view calls it "the lost decade." Ben-David considers the post-1970 period the lost four decades.

In 1973, every 100,000 Israelis included 131 senior faculty members. In 2011, it was 62. It represents a 53% decline.

Over the same period, student numbers pursuing higher education rose over 400%. Teaching staff increased 40%.

Last April, Haaretz headlined "Putting a lid on Israel's brain drain."

Worldwide technology companies demand top highly skilled engineers. They need other professionals. It prompts many qualified Israelis to pull up stakes and leave.

Eynet Guez heads Relocation Jobs. It's an Israeli-based firm. It provides "global relocation" and headhunting services.

"It's a bit sad, but these days we are seeing greater adventurism than in the past, due mainly to a feeling of despair and pessimism about what is happening in Israel," said Guez. 

"In the past, people were less open to innovation and daring, because they believed they had options for getting ahead locally."

According to survey results her firm conducted, the number of high-skill/high-salaried professionals looking to improve their quality of life increased significantly.

They're leaving with or without higher pay. Quality of life matters more for some. Most don't come back.

On October 14, Jerusalem Post editors discussed the issue. Easy solutions are lacking, they said. IDF elite Talpiot Program graduates head for Silicon Valley. Some run high-tech Boston companies.

Reports surface about US hi-tech firms buying Israeli start-ups. They take their technology and skilled professionals to America.

"The latest public debate" came after three Jewish scientists won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Ariel Warshel and Michael Levitt are Israelis. They all work in America.

They hold dual citizenships. Ben-David warned for years about the "catastrophic consequences" of the "hemorrhaging of leading minds."

Nearly a decade ago, science and technology minister Matan Vilna'i established a program. It encouraged outstanding Israeli scientists and researchers studying abroad to return home.

Nurit Eyal heads the Israel National Brain Gain Program. He's working to encourage Israeli emigres to come back.

He offers help finding employment. He's in direct contact with Israeli companies looking to hire. He says Israelis with one or more scientific degrees "can be absorbed in industry, medicine and research institutions or academics."

Hebrew University president Menahem Ben-Sasson urges government to provide more university funding. So does Ben-David. According to the Jerusalem Post (JP):

"(W)hile these are worthy initiatives that might convince talented Israelis to stay put, underlying trends and the Jews’ penchant for wandering seem to mitigate against easy solutions."

Years earlier, emigration was considered unpatriotic. Today it's a legitimate upward mobility option.

A recent Geocartography Knowledge Group survey found 48% of Israelis saying they'd rather live elsewhere. They wish they were born abroad.

Security, weather, physical surroundings and other issues were cited. "(W)andering seems to be in Jews DNA," said JP. 

Throughout most Jewish history, "they existed as a people without a physical homeland. No government policy will change this."

In October, Israel's Channel 10 aired a series titled "The New Emigrants." Former IDF chief of staff Uzi Dayan said:

"Those who emigrate from Israel will forever be seen as a betrayal to the Zionist idea. Let us bring the Jewish nation back to their birthplace."

"Those who leave to go to Germany disgust me." More on German emigration below.

"To the Israelis who justify their emigration because of material reasons, I must remind you of anti-Semitic contention, that the Jews' homeland is wherever they feel good. Zionism contends that the only good place for the Jews is their homeland."

At the same time, Dayan acknowledged "plenty to fix in our country, but it should be corrected in our country."

"Every person has the right to choose where to live, just as I have the right to speak my mind about it," he added.

Talmudic and other teaching forbids Jewish homeland emigration. Zionist ideologues abhor the idea. More recently, criticizing emigres is less common.

Around 20,000 or more live in Germany. Berlin resident Tal Alon said she started Hebrew magazine Spitz in 2012. She did so because "exciting things" are happening there.

Thousands of Jews live in Berlin. Alon "moved for the experience, the adventure, to satisfy the will to broaden (her) horizons," she said.

She established Spitz to connect with local German and Israeli communities. It aims to "serve as a bridge for Hebrew speakers in the Berlin landscape."

Spitz means sharp tip. "It's a word that moved from German - and some claim Yiddish - to Hebrew," said Alon.

Financing and producing revenue is hard. Dozens of contributors haven't been paid. Currently around 250 subscribers get Spitiz free. Hundreds of copies are distributed throughout the city.

Many Israelis come to Berlin for similar reasons. It's multi-cultural. It's a magnet for young artists, musicians and writers. 

It's easy for Israelis to get second passports. With it, they can live anywhere in Europe.

Around 100,000 Israelis hold German passports. Thousands apply annually for German citizenship. Germany attracts Jews because it's government wants to make amends.

It's an international city. Jews have deep roots in Germany. Post-war Jewish population was around 30,000. After Soviet Russia dissolved, over 200,000 emigrated.

In 2004, more former Soviet Jews went to Germany than Israel. Many fewer emigrate now. Israelis keep coming. Ex-pats call it a good place to raise children.

On October 10, New Yorker contributor Ruth Margalit headlined "The Real Reason for Israel's Brain Drain," saying:

Over "half a million Israelis" live abroad. Most reside in America or Canada. More recently, many emigrated to Europe. Germany is a favored destination.

Ex-pats "tend to be young and educated, in search of graduate degrees or better-paying jobs. Their reasons for leaving are largely financial or educational."

Most stay. Some return. Israel is increasingly unaffordable. One ex-pat said his parents came out of retirement to help."

A recent Calcalist financial publication survey found 87% of Israelis over aged 25 dependent on parents for support. It's not a luxury. It's necessary to meet expenses.

Calcalist interviewed an unnamed 40-year old Israeli engineer. His wife works. They have four young children.

They need both sets of parents for help. They can't make ends meet on their own. Nor can many other Israelis.

"I went to the army," the engineer said. "I pay my taxes. I feel like I'm doing everything right. It's really frustrating. I just can't see us managing on our own."

Promised land hype is more illusion than reality. Many Israelis give up and leave.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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Israel aims to silence growing international criticism with Texas A&M deal in Nazareth

Mondoweiss – 3 January 2013

Two months ago officials from Israel and Texas made an unexpected announcement, unveiling an ambitious plan to build in Israel the first branch of an American university, at a probable cost of $100 million.

The greatest surprise of all was the location: Texas A&M University, one of the biggest in the US, is set to open its new campus in Nazareth, a town of 80,000 in the Galilee, home to the largest community of Christians in Israel and the unofficial capital of the country’s Palestinian minority.

Israel hopes to accomplish several goals from the venture: silence international criticism for its having the highest levels of poverty and inequality among the advanced economies; drive a wedge further between Palestinian Christians and Muslims; stymie efforts by Palestinians in Israel to win educational autonomy; and strike a powerful blow against mounting pressure from the movement for an academic and cultural boycott.

Since Israel’s creation more than six decades ago, Palestinian citizens, who today number 1.5 million and comprise a fifth of the total population, have complained of systematic discrimination and marginalisation in a self-declared Jewish state.

Nazareth has been campaigning to host the country’s first Arab university for 30 years, but has faced adamant opposition from successive Israeli governments, which have rejected any cultural or educational autonomy for the minority. Even in the separate school system for Palestinian citizens, Jewish officials maintain strict control over the most trivial aspects of the curriculum.

But Israel seems to be changing tack in dramatic and high-profile fashion. The government is now hurriedly preparing to overturn a law against the establishment of foreign campuses in Israel so that the university can open in Nazareth on schedule, in October 2015.

Bridge to peace?

At a ceremony on October 23 in Jerusalem, Texas governor Rick Perry and Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, signed an agreement committing Texas A&M to assist in raising funds for the new university, which has been christened the “Peace Campus”.

As its name suggests, the Nazareth branch is being sold as an initiative to help build bridges in a troubled region. Both sides are keen to highlight that the intake of students will be drawn from Israel’s Muslim, Christian and Jewish populations, as well as attracting overseas students. There is even improbable talk of Palestinians from the occupied territories or Arabs from the wider Middle East attending.

At the signing ceremony, Perry said: “We want to see the Nazareth branch as a means to preserving peace and building understanding between cultures.”

Understandably, Nazareth officials have mostly welcomed the move, not least because it will inject much-needed investment and capital into a city that has long been starved of public funds.

But as the dust settles on the deal, questions are being raised about what really lies behind this unexpected reversal of Israel’s long-standing policy towards its Palestinian minority. Is the deal as straightforwardly a good thing as it looks?

It rather depends who is answering the question.

Raja Zaatry, director of Hirak, a Nazareth-based centre campaigning for greater access for Palestinian citizens to higher education, calls the deal “not a good scenario”, and one that has “the potential to be dangerous”.

Zaatry and others’ fears relate to a strange brew of Israeli interests in the Nazareth deal: from its economic concerns as a member of the club of wealthiest nations, to its growing ties to the Christian Zionist far-right in the US, as well as its long-standing policy of internal colonialism towards the Palestinian minority.

Suspicions among Nazareth officials of Israeli bad faith have only been intensified by the fact that negotiations were conducted without their participation. Instead the deal was agreed, after talks behind closed doors, by Peres and the Israeli education minister, Shai Piron, on one side and Perry and the Texas A&M chancellor, John Sharp, on the other.

Speaking at a press conference after the signing ceremony, Perry called the Nazareth campus “an offshoot of this long-term courting of each other.” And yet the courting stage has been highly furtive.

For Nazareth’s leadership, the deal was effectively dropped into its lap unannounced – and the day after nationwide municipal elections, following a period when all the minority’s politicians had been greatly distracted by local matters.

Similarly, it appears most officials at Texas A&M were caught equally off-guard. At least some members of the university’s board of regents, which is supposed to approve and oversee major projects, found out about the impending agreement only from the local media.

Need for economic growth

Israel’s desire to get Texas involved in effectively subsiding the higher education of its Palestinian minority can probably be explained in part by pressures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Israel joined the OECD, an exclusive club of the 35 most developed economies in the world, in 2010, chiefly as a way to open the door to foreign investment and lower credit ratings.

But it has faced a series of critical OECD reports that have painted a picture of a strong economy – one bolstered by significant recent finds of natural gas in the Mediterranean – damaged by social cohesion indicators among the worst in the OECD. Israel, for example, has the OECD’s highest rate of poverty, at 20 per cent, beating even Mexico.

The Israeli right has sought to blame two communities for the country’s poor performance in these indices: the Jewish ultra-Orthodox and the Palestinian minority. Both communities generally have low educational qualifications, as well as high levels of unemployment and poverty.

The OECD has warned that these factors could undermine Israel’s attractiveness to investors and its scope for long-term economic growth.

But there are very different reasons for the economic weakness of the ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian minority. The former have chosen a religious lifestyle that rejects secular education and greater economic integration; in the case of the Palestinian minority, as Israeli politicians recognise – at least in private – its social and economic woes have been imposed from without.

At a meeting this month with Angel Gurria, the head of the OECD, Netanyahu promised things would change. “Creating growth is the critical thing that we are committed to.”

In that spirit, Israeli billionaire Stef Wertheimer opened the first industrial park in Nazareth in the summer, after bureaucratic hurdles placed in the way of the project for years were belatedly lifted. He plans to take advantage of the thousands of jobless Palestinian graduates who trained in hi-tech but have been unable to find Israeli companies willing to employ them.

The opening of a university in Nazareth appears to be part of the same trend, according to Zaatry. Israel wants to improve its economic credentials by tapping the potential of the Palestinian minority, without having to redirect state funds away from the Jewish population.

Christian Zionists intervene

Other aspects of the arrangement, however, have set off alarm bells, most especially the news that Texas A&M will not be providing the money directly. Fund-raising will be undertaken at least in part by US evangelicals, led by John Hagee.

Hagee is the founder of Christians United for Israel, a Christian Zionist organisation with more than a million supporters in the US that is best known for raising money to help extremist settlements in the West Bank, which are intended to destroy any chances of a peace agreement.

Christian Zionists support Israel’s Jewish population unreservedly in the hope that by encouraging all Jews to come to Israel they can advance a supposed Biblical prophecy of an end of times, in which the Messiah returns.

Given his oft-expressed disdain for Palestinians in the occupied territories, why is Hagee transforming himself into the economic and educational saviour of Palestinians in the heart of Israel?

In fact, Hagee appears to have been at the forefront of the negotiations over the Nazareth campus. He has even boasted that it was he who engineered the first meetings between Texas A&M and the Israeli leadership. Hagee is known to be close to Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Christian Zionist motivations for the deal are not hard to identify. Governor Perry has a strong evangelical following, and may be hoping that the Nazareth campus will help boost his credentials with the wider Christian Zionist movement in the US if, as expected, he seeks the Republican party’s next presidential nomination.

Sharp, Texas A&M’s Catholic chancellor and a former college roommate of Perry’s as well as long-time friend of Hagee’s, has sounded more than a little Christian Zionist in his utterances. He told the New York Times the Nazareth campus was a realisation of a passion: “I wanted a presence in Israel. I have felt a kinship with Israel.”

Jennifer Rubin, a neoconservative columnist for the Washington Post, indicated this month a possible reasoning by the US right in promoting the deal. She noted that it was revealing that Texas, “the heartland of America, especially among evangelical Christians”, rather than New York, home to many US Jews, was behind the deal.

“Americans to a greater degree than ever before identify with and support Israel, both for religious reasons and in recognition of our common defense against Islamic jihadists,” she wrote. “In Texas, as in so many other places in the United States, the idea of divesting in, boycotting or condemning the Jewish state, our best and arguably only stable ally in the region, is anathema.”

Certainly, for Israel and its supporters the establishment of a university in a Palestinian community in Israel will be a useful weapon in its arsenal against the growing pressure for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), especially on US campuses.

This is one of Zaatry’s concerns. He observed: “Israel’s reasoning for advancing a university in Nazareth is at least in part Zionist: to show how democratic Israel is and to silence its critics. That is useful in fighting BDS.”

The fight for autonomy

And then there is the matter of educational autonomy. Palestinian leaders in Israel have been lobbying for funding for a university in a Palestinian community, ideally one that offers courses in Arabic, since the early 1980s.

This has been a priority for several reasons.

The Palestinian population is heavily under-represented in Israeli higher education because of a raft of discriminatory practices, including psychometric tests and exam score-weighting that skew results towards Hebrew-speakers.

Many potential Arab students are also deterred from pursuing higher education in Israel when faced with the inevitable culture shock and educational disadvantage of entering an exclusively Hebrew-speaking environment.

In addition, the location of colleges only in Jewish communities makes finding accommodation extremely difficult for Palestinian students, both because of the practice of reserving dormitory places for former soldiers and because private landlords are averse to renting property to Palestinian citizens.

And finally, an Arab university is regarded as a vital necessity in helping young women from more conservative, especially religious, families break into higher education. Israeli officials have long been advised that such families are loath to allow daughters to live away from home when it requires moving to a Jewish community, where moral standards are seen as laxer.

As a result, only 11 per cent of the student body is from the Palestinian minority, even though Palestinian citizens account for about quarter of the age group that dominates Israeli higher education. The problem has become especially acute in recent years, with a third of all Palestinian students now opting to study abroad, usually in Jordan, rather than struggle through the many obstacles placed in their way in Israel.

Nonetheless, said Zaatry, efforts by the Palestinian leadership in Israel to make higher education more attractive have been consistently stymied by Israeli education officials.

In 2003 Elias Chacour, the Greek Catholic archbishop of the Galilee, set up a small college, Mar Elias, in his hometown of Ibilin. Spurned by the Israeli Council for Higher Education (CHE), Chacour, a Nobel peace prize nominee, made a deal with Indianapolis University, a private Methodist school, to become an overseas campus.

Despite this assistance, Mar Elias was constrained by funding difficulties and a series of Israeli bureaucratic restrictions. It remained a tiny college, teaching a few dozen students, until it closed in 2009, when Israel outlawed arrangements of the kind between Mar Elias and Indianapolis.

However, the core staff re-established the campus in Nazareth, this time as the independent Nazareth Academic Institute. Despite becoming the first Arab higher education institution ever to receive accreditation in Israel, the CHE immediately sought to hamper its operations.

A siege on Nazareth Institute

The Institute, which is allowed to offer just two degree courses, chemistry and communications, is the only recognised college of higher education in the Galilee denied state funding. Bishara Kattouf, one of the Institute’s directors, said: “It seemed clear that the Council [for Higher Education] refused funding because we are an Arab college. It has been a huge struggle to raise the money privately.”

It was also made a requirement of accreditation that the Institute run a compulsory course on “peace studies” for all students.

The OECD has been lobbying Israeli authorities to upgrade the Nazareth Institute’s status since 2010, without success.

That year the Institute’s president, George Knaza, admitted that the Council for Higher Education only agreed to recognise his college following a commitment that he not seek state assistance, “I guess the council hoped we’d die from lack of funding, but we have a very strong drive for life. If we want to develop and contribute to Arab society, we have to have state support. This should also be a state interest.”

In the meantime, while arguing there was no public money available for a university in Nazareth, the CHE upgraded Ariel College, making it the first university located in a settlement. Ariel is so deep inside the occupied territories that annexing its land to Israel would effectively cut the West Bank in two.

Ariel university, which the CHE has awarded a $125 million budget, has been encouraged to recruit Palestinian citizens from nearby communities inside Israel, such as Kafr Qassem, to blunt criticism that the university practises a form of apartheid by excluding Palestinians in the occupied territories from its programmes.

This summer, in an apparent effort to keep up the pressure on the Nazareth Institute, the CHE refused to award degrees to its first-ever graduating class. Kattouf said: “It’s ridiculous. We were told our financial situation is too unstable. But it is only unstable because the Council refuses to help us with funding.

“We have big ambitions for the Institute and there is a lot of local demand but without help from the state our development will always be very slow.”

Until now the CHE has also stood in the way of approving the building of a dedicated campus for the Institute. It has maintained its opposition even though a plot of land, on the lower slopes of the Mount of Precipice, is available and Munib al-Masri, a Palestinian tycoon from Nablus in the West Bank, has committed to funding the construction.

Largely overlooked in the coverage of the Texas A&M deal is the fact that the only way the US university can set up a campus in Israel is by partnering with an Israeli college, as degrees must be issued by the CHE to remain within Israeli law. Texas is therefore reliant on Nazareth Institute to make the agreement possible.

But equally the Institute needs Texas if it ever wants to solve its problems of funding, approval of a campus, and the ability to award degrees. Privately, Nazareth Institute officials admit they are in no position to resist the deal. It has been presented as a sink-or-swim offer.

Zaatry noted: “The government effectively waged a war of attrition against the Institute. It thought they wouldn’t survive long, given that they have to subsidise every student by 20,000 shekels [$5,600] a year. It has been surprised by their staying power.”

Nonetheless, there are real concerns about what will be left of the Nazareth Institute once the deal is implemented. It currently has about 120 students, compared with 58,000 at Texas A&M. After the merger, student numbers at the Nazareth campus are set to rocket to 10,000 within a decade. The suspicion is that the Nazareth Institute will be entirely subsumed, with Texas and the CHE calling the shots.

Suher Basharat, dean of students, has hinted that the new arrangement was far from the ideal solution. “We hoped and wanted to be an Israeli academic institution in every respect, not a branch [of a foreign university],” she told the Haaretz newspaper.

Dangerous downsides to deal

No one in Nazareth wants publicly to be seen opposing too strongly a project that is expected to bring to the city investment and potentially many jobs.

But there are growing suspicions that Israel may have preferred this option because, while it is likely to strengthen a small middle class within the Palestinian minority economically, it is also likely to have two significant negative repercussions. The deal will weaken the minority’s key ambition for cultural and educational autonomy, and it risks dangerously inflaming tensions and divisions along sectarian lines.

With the Texas deal secured, Israeli education officials have effectively averted the mounting pressure posed by the Nazareth Institute, as well as the Palestinian minority’s leaders and the OECD, to concede educational autonomy in the shape of an Arab university.

What the final arrangement between the Nazareth Institute and Texas will look like in practice is still far from clear. But the indications so far are that, in line with the signing ceremony, Texas and Israeli officials will reserve for themselves exclusive control. According to media reports, the language of tuition will be English, and Texas A&M will decide – presumably in conjunction with the CHE – on courses and on staff recruitment.

Having a university in Nazareth should – at least theoretically – make it easier for young Palestinian women to study, but it is unlikely to address another, more pressing concern. If Palestinian students feel deterred from higher education by the difficulties of studying in Hebrew, their second language, it is far from obvious they will be encouraged by the chance to study in their third or fourth language, English. Given that they will be competing with Israeli Jews and overseas students, they are likely to be at a distinct disadvantage.

The fear is that the Nazareth campus will do little to extend the number of Palestinian students entering higher education beyond the current narrow circle of those drawn from middle-class families already accessing higher education.

But even more disturbingly, the heavy influence of Christian Zionists on the agreement could have profound ramifications for Christian-Muslim relations in the city, which are already on a knife edge.

A history of divide and rule

Nazareth, though a holy place to Christians, is a city with a two-thirds Muslim majority – one of the legacies of the 1948 war that established Israel by dispossessing and expelling Palestinians from their historic communities. A significant number of refugees from neighbouring Muslim villages fled to Nazareth for sanctuary, overnight altering its demographic balance.

Since then, Israel has repeatedly tried to inflame tensions between the two communities, especially in Nazareth.

The most notorious flare-up occurred in the city in the late 1990s, after the government – then, as now, led by Netanyahu – made an unprecedented decision to back a provocative scheme by a local group of Muslims to build a huge mosque in a public square next to Nazareth’s main Christian holy site, the Basilica of the Annunciation.

In fact, the government never issued the necessary planning permit and later went on to destroy the mosque’s foundations. But the damage had already been done: by Easter 1999 Christians and Muslims were fighting in the streets over control of the site.

Netanyahu seems again to be in the mood to stir up tensions, apparently as part of Israel’s long-standing divide-and-rule approach to Palestinians, both in Israel and the occupied territories.

His timing seems to have been inspired by the Arab Spring, with Israel now promoting a self-serving argument that Christians in Israel should wake up to the dangers of regional persecution from Muslims.

In August Netanyahu announced a new government initiative to end the exemption of Christians from serving in the Israeli military. Until now, only the small Druze community has served, with both Muslims and Christians refusing the draft.

On this view, as Azmi Hakim, leader of the Greek Orthodox community council in Nazareth argued, Christians are encouraged to identify with and seek protection from the Jewish state. “Israel is telling young Christians that the military will arm them and teach them how to fight. For some, it can be a seductive message.”

Muslims and many Christians are deeply concerned this could be the trigger for renewed strife between them.

‘Zionising’ Palestinian Christians

As part of Netanyahu’s meddling, he appears to be encouraging greater involvement from Christian Zionists in the region.

In the summer Bishara Shilyan, the brother of the Ministry of Defence’s adviser on Christian recruitment, established a Christian-Jewish political movement in Nazareth, the first-ever such party.

Hakim believes Shilyan is receiving funds from a group of local Palestinian Christians in the town of Kafr Yasif, north-west of Nazareth, who have allied themselves to Christian Zionism. Behind them, it is widely assumed, stands US Christian Zionist money.

Allison Deger reported in Mondoweiss last month on a venture by US Christian Zionists to sell small plots of land for $1,200 a time between Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee, as a way to strengthen an evangelical broadcasting network based in Jerusalem and Texas.

How the Holy Land Dream Company has acquired the plots, given that 93 per cent of land in Israel is state-owned and can only be leased by Jews, is so far unclear.

Other evangelical channels have recently established themselves in Jerusalem, including God-TV. It is working closely with the Jewish National Fund, a semi-governmental agency, to plant a forest in the Negev to displace Palestinian Bedouin from their ancestral lands.

Is the Christian Zionist team behind the Peace Campus in Nazareth – Pastor Hagee, Governor Perry and Chancellor Sharp – playing a tangential role in these developments?

One possibility is that Netanyahu and the Israeli right may hope to promote closer involvement by US evangelicals in the lives of the Palestinian Christian community in Israel. That could be potentially useful in undermining the revival of Palestinian nationalism inside Israel that followed the collapse of the Oslo Accords from 2000 onwards.

Palestinian Christians have traditionally been at the forefront of the Palestinian national movement, both in Israel and the occupied territories. They have thereby discredited claims from Israel that it stands on the fault line of a clash of civilisations between a Christian-Jewish west and a Muslim east.

The outlines of a possible Israeli strategy in response may be emerging, one that requires both strengthening the role of Christian Zionists in the Holy Land – with a university campus in the heartland of the Christian population in Israel – and demanding military service from local Christians.

That way, Netanyahu and the right may hope they can start to erode local Christians’ identification as Palestinians and generate new sources of conflict between the Christian and Muslim populations.

The “Zionisation” of local Christians would be a major achievement for the Israeli right. Not least it would clear the path for US evangelicals to claim they represent the true interests of Christians in the Holy Land.

Possibly even more importantly, it would isolate overseas churches that have traditionally shown solidarity with the Palestinians. Some of them are starting to take a lead in the promotion of the BDS campaign and what Israel characterises as a campaign of “delegitimisation” – another strong reason for Israel to want to recruit local Palestinian Christians to its cause.

The Nazareth campus may mark a change of tactic by Israel. But it seems the same cynical strategy is alive and kicking.

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A previous article discussed the American Studies Association (ASA). It's the nation's oldest and largest organization involved in the interdisciplinary study of US culture...

US Universities of Shame

US Universities of Shame

by Stephen Lendman

A previous article discussed the American Studies Association (ASA). It's the nation's oldest and largest organization involved in the interdisciplinary study of US culture and history.

Members include academics, researchers, librarians, and public officials and administrators.

Academic ones represent many disciplines. They include history, literature, religion, art, architecture, philosophy, music, science, ethnic studies, anthropology, sociology, political science, education, and gender studies among others.

On December 16, ACA members voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions. They did so justifiably. They did so overwhelmingly. 

Their December 4 resolution supported social justice. It opposed "all forms of racism, including anti-semitism, discrimination, and xenophobia..."

It stood in "solidarity with aggrieved peoples" everywhere. It did so righteously. It did it honorably. It did the right thing. It did it because it matters.

It said America "plays a significant role in enabling" Israel's occupation, its "illegal settlements and (its) Wall in violation of international law..."

It supports "systematic discrimination against Palestinians." It's had a "devastating impact on (their) well-being..." Their fundamental rights are denied.

Palestinian academic freedom is denied. ASA "is dedicated to the rights of students and scholars to pursue education and research without undue state interference, repression, and military violence" everywhere.

It "resolved (to) honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions." 

It's justified, it said, for the following reasons:

  • US military and other support for Israel;

  • Israel's systematic violation of international laws and UN resolutions;

  • the harsh impact of its longstanding occupation;

  • "the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights," and

  • strong ASA member support.

Their resolution is binding until Israel stops violating human and civil rights, as well as international law. It doesn't apply to Israeli scholars. ASA supports their academic and related rights.

In response to ASA's boycott, four US universities cancelled their memberships. They include Brandeis, Penn State, University of Indiana, and Kenyon College.

Indiana University president Michael McRobbie affirmed his support for wrong over right. He did so disgracefully. He issued a statement, saying:

"Indiana University joins other leading research universities in condemning in the strongest possible terms the boycott of institutions of higher education in Israel as proposed by the American Studies Association and other organizations." 

"Boycotts such as these have a profound chilling effect on academic freedom, and universities must be clear and unequivocal in rejecting them." 

"Indiana University strongly endorses the recent statement on this matter by the Association of American Universities and the long-standing position in this area of the American Association of University Professors." 

"Indiana University values its academic relationships with colleagues and institutions around the world, including many important ones with institutions in Israel, and will not allow political considerations such as those behind this ill-conceived boycott to weaken those relationships or undermine the principle of academic freedom in this way." 

"IU stands firmly against proposals that would attempt to limit or restrict those important institutional relationships or this fundamental principle."

"Indiana University will contact the ASA immediately to withdraw as an institutional member. We urge the leadership of the ASA and other associations supporting the boycott to rescind this dangerous and ill-conceived action as a matter of urgency."

Other US universities issued statements opposing ASA's boycott. Doing so supports Israel's worst crimes. It's done reprehensibly.

Culpable schools include Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Cornell, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, University of Maryland, University of Indiana, Wesleyan University, and New York University.

It bears repeating. Opposing ASA's courageous stand endorses Israel's worst crimes. It supports occupation harshness. It supports militarism writ large.

It opposes Palestinian liberation. It's against their right to live free on their own land in their own country.

It supports longstanding Israeli crimes of war, against humanity, and slow-motion genocide. It shames their academic reputation in the process. It destroys their credibility.

It gives pause to what they teach in classrooms. Supporting wrong over right has no place in academia. It has no place anywhere. It demands unflinching opposition.

Harvard's Drew Gilpin Faust said the following:

"Academic boycotts subvert the academic freedoms and values necessary to the free flow of ideas, which is the lifeblood of the worldwide community of scholars." 

"The recent resolution of the ASA proposing to boycott Israeli universities represents a direct threat to these ideals, ideals which universities and scholarly associations should be dedicated to defend."

University of Maryland president Wallace Loh and senior vice president/provost Many Ann Rankin issued the following joint statement:

"We firmly oppose the call by some academic associations - American Studies Association; Asian-American Studies Association - to boycott Israeli academic institutions." 

"Any such boycott is a breach of the principle of academic freedom that undergirds the University of Maryland and, indeed, all of American higher education."

"Faculty, students, and staff on our campus must remain free to study, do research, and participate in meetings with colleagues from around the globe." 

"The University of Maryland has longstanding relationships with several Israeli universities. We have many exchanges of scholars and students. We will continue and deepen these relationships." 

"In the United States, we can disagree with the governmental policies of a nation without sanctioning the universities of that nation, or the American universities that collaborate with them." 

"To restrict the free flow of people and ideas with some universities because of their national identity is unwise, unnecessary, and irreconcilable with our core academic values."

Wesleyan University president Michael Roth called ASA's boycott "a repugnant attack on academic freedom, declaring academic institutions off-limits because of their national affiliation."

He "deplore(s)" what he calls ASA's "politically retrograde resolution...Under the guise of phony progressivism, the group has initiated an irresponsible attack on academic freedom. Others in academia should reject this call for an academic boycott."

Roth ignores important facts. 

The Alternative Information Center (AIC) explained. It published a report titled "Academic Boycott of Israel and the Complicity of Academic Institutions in Occupation of Palestinian Territories."

Numerous Israeli universities have long disturbing histories. They support colonization, occupation and apartheid. 

They turn a blind eye to Israeli crimes of war and against humanity. They include:

  • Tel Aviv University;

  • Bar-Ilan University; 

  • Hebrew University;

  • Haifa University;

  • the Weizman Institute;

  • Peres Academic Center;

  • Technion;

  • the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center; 

  • Haddasah College;

  • Judea and Samaria College for Engineering;

  • Jordan Valley College; and

  • Hollon College among others.

Nearly all Israeli academic institutions give IDF soldiers academic benefits. Doing so increases in times of war. It shows support for lawless aggression.

At the same time, many Israeli academics oppose their government's policies. They do it in writing. They do so publicly. They courageously support right over wrong. They risk their careers doing it.

Israeli Arab citizens comprise over 20% of Israel's population. Less than 10% have BA degrees. Less than 5% have master's degrees. Around 3% hold doctorates.

Only about 1% of Israeli institutions of higher learning are Palestinians. Israeli colleges and universities reject three times as many Arab applicants as Jewish ones.

Blatant discrimination is policy. Hebrew and Arabic are official Israeli languages. No major Israeli academic institution offers courses conducted in Arabic.

Palestinians not registered as students are treated differently from Jews. Hebrew University requires police-issued character references to visit its campus. It's to ensure they're not "terrorists."

Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University and others have separate campuses in Occupied Palestine. They're situated on stolen Palestinian land.

High ranking military and security officials hold positions in Israeli universities. Doing so legitimizes their crimes of war and against humanity.

Academic freedom is a universal principle. Not in Israel. Political dissent is discouraged. It's stifled. Anti-government activism risks trouble.

Students face disciplinary action. Academics are shunned by their colleagues. Some risk dismissal. Israeli academic freedom is more illusion than reality.

The campaign against South African apartheid included academic boycotts. Numerous well-known organizations supported it.

It was harsher than the global BDS campaign. It virtually spurned South African colleges and universities altogether. It did so for their complicity with apartheid. It was a model for future boycotts.

Israel is more vulnerable economically than South Africa. BDS and supportive boycotts are politically and psychologically damaging.

They build on their own momentum. Their pressure is effective. Doing the right thing is more than its own reward. When sustained, it gets results.

BDS is stronger and more effective than ever. Omar Barghouti co-founded the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

On December 13, he headlined "On Academic Freedom and the BDS Movement," saying:

ASA's "academic boycott of Israel provides fresh evidence that (BDS) may be reaching a tipping point on college campuses and academic associations."

Israel "treat(s) (it) as a 'strategic' threat." John Kerry called it an "existential threat" to Israel.

BDS "represents the overwhelming majority of Palestinian society," said Barghouti. It "seeks to realize basic Palestinian rights under international law."

It does so by "applying effective, global, morally consistent pressure on Israel and all the institutions that collude in its violations of international law..."

Judith Butler is a UC Berkeley philosopher. She co-directs its Program of Critical Theory. She calls BDS:

"the most important contemporary alliance calling for an end to forms of citizenship based on racial stratification, insisting on rights of political self-determination for those for whom such basic freedoms are denied or indefinitely suspended, insisting as well on substantial ways of redressing the rights of those forcibly and/or illegally dispossessed of property and land."

Supporting it is a universal imperative. ASA supports justice. It's not alone. In April, the Association for Asian-American Studies endorsed an academic boycott.

It was the first US academic association to do so. It won't likely be the last. Justifiable initiatives have legs. They attract growing numbers of followers.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Truth drowns out misguided illusions. Spreading it is essential. Influential voices do it best.

The Teachers' Union of Ireland unanimously called for "ceas(ing) all cultural and academic collaboration (with the) apartheid state of Israel."

The French-Speaking Belgian Students (FEF) represents 100,000 members. It adopted "a freeze of all academic partnerships with Israeli academic institutions."

UC Berkeley and other North American universities called for divesting from Israeli companies. Those profiteering from occupation were targeted.

Calls for boycotting Israel are increasing. Legal scholar Noura Erakat says doing so represents "an ethic of legitimate dissent."

Francis Boyle supports BDS based on the South African anti-apartheid model. So do many other distinguished academics and public figures.

It's no longer taboo to do so. It's a vital imperative. It's important to urge others to do it. It's essential to hold Israel accountable. 

BDS has nothing to do with compromising academic freedom. It has everything to do with demanding long denied justice.

Barghouti calls boycotting Israeli academic institutions vital. They're complicit "in planning, implementing, justifying or whitewashing aspects of Israel’s occupation, racial discrimination and denial of refugee rights."

Collusion takes many forms. Doing so spurns Palestinian rights. Zionism harms Jews and Arabs alike. It's the enemy of peace, equity and justice.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (UNESCR) calls academic freedom: 

  • "the liberty of individuals to express freely opinions about the institution or system in which they work,

  • to fulfill their functions without discrimination or fear of repression by the state or any other actor, 

  • to participate in professional or representative academic bodies, and 

  • to enjoy all the internationally recognized human rights applicable to other individuals in the same jurisdiction."

The 1993 World Conference on Human Rights said:

"All human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated." 

"The international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis."

Academic freedom requires letting all views be aired freely. It obligates institutions of higher learning to do so.

Peace, equity and justice requires holding Israel accountable. Ignoring its crimes of war and against humanity no longer is acceptable.

Academic institutions and others need to be in the forefront for justice. Failure to do so destroys their credibility.

A Final Comment

On December 27, Francis Boyle wrote Harvard president Faust. He responded to her opposition to ASA's academic boycott. He wrote as follows:

Dear President Faust:

"I notice your condemnation of the ASA Boycott against Israel in today's New York Times." 

"I note for the record that Harvard has never once apologized to those of us Harvard Alums who participated in good faith in the Harvard Divestment/Disinvestment Campaign against Israel when your predecessor Larry Summers accused us of being anti-Semitic - a charge which he refused to defend against me as related below." 

"As a matter of fact, Harvard is so notoriously anti-Palestinian that the late, great Edward Said refused to accept Harvard's top chair in Comparative Literature when Harvard offered it to him." 

"As a loyal Harvard alum I spent an entire evening with Edward at a Chinese Restaurant in Manhattan trying to convince Edward to take this Chair." 

"I thought it would be good for Harvard to have Edward teaching there. As a lawyer and a law professor, I can be quite persuasive." 

"But Edward would have none of my arguments. As Edward saw it, Harvard was so anti-Palestinian that Harvard would have thwarted his intellectual creativity to move there." 

"So Edward stayed at Columbia. Of course Edward was right. And the anti-Palestinian tenor and orientation of Harvard has certainly gotten far worse since when Edward and I were both students at Harvard." 

"Harvard should be doing something about its own longstanding bigotry and racism against the Palestinians. Not criticizing those of us trying to help the Palestinians suffering from Israeli persecution, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and outright genocide."

Yours very truly,
Francis A. Boyle
Professor of Law 

Harvard isn't alone among major US academic institutions. Support for Israel's worst crimes is widespread. So is spurning fundamental Palestinian rights.

International law affirms them. It high time discriminatory US academic institutions did so. Nothing less is acceptable! Not now! Not ever!

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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The National – 10 December 2013

As United States envoys shuttle back and forth in search of a peace formula to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a matter supposedly settled decades ago is smouldering back into life.

In what was billed as a “day of rage” last month, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets to protest against a plan to uproot tens of thousands of Bedouin from their ancestral lands inside Israel, in the Negev.

The clashes were the worst between Israeli police and the country’s large Palestinian minority since the outbreak of the second intifada 13 years ago, with police using batons, stun grenades, water cannon and arrests to deter future protests.

Things are only likely to get more heated. The so-called Prawer Plan, being hurried through parliament, will authorise the destruction of more than 30 Bedouin villages, forcibly relocating the inhabitants to deprived, overcrowded townships. Built decades ago, these urban reservations languish at the bottom of every social and economic index.

Bedouin leaders, who were ignored in the plan’s drafting, say they will oppose it to the bitter end. The villages, though treated as illegal by the state, are the last places where the Bedouin cling to their land and a traditional pastoral life.

But the Israeli government is equally insistent that the Bedouin must be “concentrated” – a revealing term employed by Benny Begin, a former minister who helped to formulate the plan. In the place of the villages, a handful of Jewish towns will be erected.

The stakes are high, not least because Israel views this battle as a continuation of the 1948 war that established a Jewish state on the ruins of Palestine.

Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, argued last week that the fight over the Negev proves “nothing has changed since the days of the tower and stockade” – a reference to heavily fortified outposts the Zionists aggressively built in the 1930s to evict Palestinians from the land they had farmed for centuries.

These outposts later became land-hungry farming communities that gave the Jewish state its territorial backbone.

Mr Lieberman’s view reflects that of the government: “We are fighting for the lands of the Jewish people, against those who intentionally try to rob and seize them.”

The labelling of the Bedouin as “squatters” and “trespassers” reveals much about the intractability of the wider conflict – and why the Americans have no hope of ending it as long as they seek solutions that address only the injustices caused by the occupation that began in 1967.

In truth, both Israel and the Palestinians understand that the war of 1948 never really finished.

Suhad Bishara, a lawyer specialising in Israeli land issues, has called the Prawer Plan a “second nakba”, in reference to the catastrophic events of 1948 that stripped the Palestinians of their homeland.

Israel, meanwhile, continues to conceive of its 1.5 million Palestinian citizens – however peaceable – as just as alien and threatening to its interests as the Palestinians in the occupied territories. The roots of the Prawer Plan can be traced to one of Zionism’s earliest principles: “Judaisation”. There are cities across Israel, including Upper Nazareth, Karmiel and Migdal Haemek, founded as Judaisation communities next to large Palestinian populations with the official goal of “making the land Jewish”.

Judaisation’s faulty premise, in the pre-state years, was the fantasy that Palestine was “a land without a people for a people without a land”. Its sinister flip side was the cheery injunction to Zionism’s pioneers to “make the desert bloom”, chiefly by driving out Palestinians.

Nowadays, the term “Judaisation”, with its unpleasant overtones, has been discarded in favour of “development”.

There is even a minister for “developing the Negev and the Galilee” – Israel’s two areas with large concentrations of Palestinians. But officials are interested only in Jewish development.

Last week, in the wake of the clashes, the Israeli Haaretz daily published leaked documents showing that the World Zionist Organisation – an unofficial arm of the government – has been quietly reviving the Judaisation programme in the Galilee.

In an effort to bring another 100,000 Jews to the region, several new towns are to be built, for Jews only, dispersed as widely as possible in contravention of Israel’s own national master plan, which requires denser building inside existing communities to protect scarce land resources.

All this generosity towards Israel’s Jewish population is at the expense of the country’s Palestinian citizens. They have not been allowed a single new community since Israel’s founding more than six decades ago. And the new Jewish towns, as Arab mayors complained last week, are being built intentionally to box them in.

For officials, the renewed Judaisation drive is about asserting “Israeli sovereignty” and “strengthening our hold” over the Galilee, as if the current inhabitants – Israeli citizens who are Palestinian – were a group of hostile foreigners. Haaretz more honestly characterised the policy as “racism”.

Judaisation casts the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in zero-sum terms, and thereby makes it unresolvable. In considering its Palestinian citizens, Israel speaks not of integration, or even assimilation, but of their enduring status as a “fifth column” and the Jewish state’s “Achilles heel”.

That is because, were principles of justice and equality ever to be enforced, Palestinians in Israel could serve as a gateway by which millions of exiled Palestinians might find their way back home.

With the policy of Judaisation revoked, the Palestinian minority could end the conflict without violence simply by pulling down the scaffolding of racist laws that have blocked any return for the Palestinians since their expulsion 65 years ago.

This is why Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu demands as part of the current peace negotiations that the Palestinians sanctify the Judaisation principle by recognising Israel as a Jewish state. It is also why the talks are doomed to failure.

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Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News - Iran’s New President Hassan Rouhani has requested that Israel to sign and become a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as he spoke for a second time at the United Nation General Assembly. “As long as nuclear weapons exist, the threat of their use exists,” Rouhani said, citing the American bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.  Rouhani is calling for “nuclear-free zone” in the Middle East.  Israel is the only country in the Middle East that had not and will not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Israel would use nuclear weapons if it felt it was threatened by any nation in the Middle East.  The nuclear capability of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) defensive capabilities just reached another plateau this past April.  It purchased its 5th nuclear submarine that can be deployed anywhere in the world with first strike capability.  The Israel News Agency reported that Israel purchased a fifth Dolphin class submarine called the “INS Rahav” from Germany.  The article headlined “Israel Launches Ninth Submarine, Ready To Strike Iran Nuclear Weapons.”  Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “The submarines are a strong, strategic tool for the IDF. The State of Israel is ready to act anytime, anywhere – on land, sea and air – in order to ensure the security of Israel’s citizens.”  The submarines are equipped with Israeli-designed Popeye missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.  It is no secret that Israel has nuclear weapons.  Some estimates suggest that Israel has between 100 and 400 nuclear weapons.  No one knows exactly how many nuclear bombs Israel possesses, but we do know they have the capability to produce them at a moment’s notice.

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Since Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; the Dimona Nuclear Research center is not subject to inspections from the international community such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  According to the Federation of American Scientists in a 2007 report, Israel has between 75 and 400 nuclear warheads, but some estimates have their nuclear warheads at less than 200. It is also known that Israel has the ability to deliver them by intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range of 5,500 kilometers or 3,400 miles, the Jericho III missile named after the biblical city of Jericho, various aircrafts and of course submarines.  The report stated the following:

By the late 1990s the U.S. Intelligence Community estimated that Israel possessed between 75-130 weapons, based on production estimates. The stockpile would certainly include warheads for mobile Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 missiles, as well as bombs for Israeli aircraft, and may include other tactical nuclear weapons of various types. Some published estimates even claimed that Israel might have as many as 400 nuclear weapons by the late 1990s. We believe these numbers are exaggerated, and that Israel’s nuclear weapons inventory may include less than 100 nuclear weapons. Stockpiled plutonium could be used to build additional weapons if so decided

Israel’s nuclear program began after World War II.  Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion once said “What Einstein, Oppenheimer, and Teller, the three of them are Jews, made for the United States, could also be done by scientists in Israel, for their own people”.  David Ben-Gurion wanted to establish a Jewish State with a military force that would repel an attack by any of its adversaries especially in the Arab world.  Ben-Gurion’s speech to the elected assembly of Palestine Jews on October 2nd, 1947 made it clear on the intentions of a new Jewish state:

Political developments have swept us on to a momentous parting of the ways – from Mandate to independence. Today, beyond our ceaseless work in immigration, settlement and campaign, we are set three blazing tasks, whereof fulfillment will condition our perpetuity: defense, a Jewish State and Arab-Jewish Cupertino, in that order of importance and urgency.

Security is our chief problem. I do not minimize the virtue of statehood even within something less than all the territory of the Land of Israel on either bank of the Jordan; but security comes unarguably first. It dominated our concerns since the Yishuv [Jewish community in Palestine] began from the start of colonization we knew we must, in the main, guarantee it ourselves. But recent upsets and upheavals in Palestine, in the Middle East and in the wide world, and in British and international politics as well, magnify it from a local problem of current safety into Zionism’s hinge of destiny. In scope, in intensity, in purport, it is entirely different now. Just think of the new factors that invest the problem with a political significance of unprecedented gravity – and I could add a dozen others: the anti-Zionist policy pursued by the Mandatory Government during the past ten years, the obliteration of European Jewry with the willing aid of the acknowledged leader of the Palestine Arabs, the establishment of an Arab League active and united only in combating Zionism, Bevin’s ugly war against the Jews, the crisis in Britain and its political and economic aftermath, the creation of armed forces in the neighboring States, the intrusion of the Arab Legion. And not a single Jewish unit exists.

We can stand up to any aggression launched from Palestine or its border, but more in potential than yet in fact. The conversion from potential to actual is now our major, blinding headache. It will mean the swiftest, widest mobilization, here and abroad, of capacity to organize, of our resources in economics and manpower, our science and technology, our civic sense. It must be an all-out effort, sparing no man.

Several months later on May 14th, 1948, the state of Israel became a reality with David Ben-Gurion as its first Prime Minister.  Ben-Gurion, Executive head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946 until 1956 and the head of the influential Weizmann Institute of Science and Defense Ministry Scientist Ernest David Bergmann recruited Jewish Scientists from abroad during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.  Israel recruited and funded Jewish scientists to help Israel establish a nuclear program.  By 1949, the Israel Defense Forces Science Corps or ‘Hemed Gimmel’ was in search of Uranium in the Negev Desert, but only small amounts were discovered in phosphate deposits.  Hemed Gimmel financed several students to study nuclear technology overseas.  One of the students attended the University of Chicago to study under Enrico Fermi, who developed the Chicago Pile-1, the first nuclear reactor.  Fermi also made scientific contributions to nuclear, quantum and particle physics among others.  By the late 1950s Shimon Peres had established LEKEM, or the ‘Science liaison Bureau’ a new intelligence service that would search for technology, materials and equipment needed for Israel’s nuclear program.  By 1952, Hemed Gimmel was under Israel’s Ministry of Defense to become the Division of Research and Infrastructure (EMET).    By June 1952, The Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) was established with Ernest David Bergmann as the first chairman.  Hemed Gimmel was renamed Machon 4 which became the “chief laboratory” of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC).  France was a major partner for Israel’s nuclear program.  France also sold weapons to Israel.  The France-Israel relationship was instrumental in the development of the Dimona Nuclear Research Center.  Israel signed American President Dwight Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace, an agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation between the U.S. and Israel along with Turkey to build a “small swimming pool research reactor” at Nachal Soreq.  It was the first step to building the Dimona nuclear research center in the Negev desert in collaboration with France who faced political turmoil in its former colonies in North Africa.  Israel also faced Arab hostilities in the Middle East, so the cooperation on matters regarding new military technology complemented each other.  On March 20, 1957 a public signing ceremony to build a “small swimming-pool research reactor” took place between France and Israel.  But the reality was that France and Israel collaborated to build a larger facility at Dimona.  In ‘Israel and the Bomb’ by Avner Cohen, he describes Ben Gurion’s ambitious plan regarding Israel’s nuclear program was advanced through the Atoms for Peace Initiative:

With the return of Ben Gurion to power in 1955, nuclear energy became a matter of national priority.  Ben Gurion gave political backing and financial support to those in the Ministry of Defense who were committed to promoting nuclear energy-Peres, Bergmann, Mardor, and the nuclear enthusiasts at Machon 4.  There was also a change in the international climate concerning nuclear energy, in the wake of Eisenhower’s December 1953 Atoms-for-Peace initiative.  Until then, nuclear energy in the United States, Canada, and Britain, the three major countries dealing with nuclear energy, was largely closed to other countries.  The Atoms for Peace Initiative made nuclear energy technology available to the rest of the world.     

The United States under President Eisenhower allowed Israel to seek a nuclear program that would advance its defense capabilities militarily.  By 1958, the construction of the Negev Nuclear Research Center located in the Negev desert in secret through the Protocol of Sevres agreement.   It was a secret agreement between Israel, France and Great Britain at Sevres, France to overthrow Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser through an invasion of Egypt after Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal. Four days after the Sèvres meeting, Israeli forces invaded Egyptian territory.  French and British forces invaded shortly after they vetoed a US sponsored UN Security Council resolution under the guise that they would separate both Israeli and Egyptian forces after Egypt refused their call to withdraw from the Suez Canal.

In 1958, Charles de Gaulle became President of France.  Almost immediately after he assumed office, he wanted to end France’s assistance to Israel’s nuclear program.  He would only support Israel’s nuclear program if international inspectors were allowed to inspect Dimona and that Israel would declare that its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes and that under no circumstances reprocess plutonium.  Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres negotiated with the French government allowing a window of opportunity for French companies to continue its work until 1966 with the Israeli government.  Israel also had declared its nuclear program was “peaceful”.  BBC News received secret documents that the British government also supported Israel’s nuclear program by sending illegal and restricted materials that started in the 1950′s.  In 1961, the Ben-Gurion informed the Canadian government that a pilot plutonium-separation plant would be built at the Dimona facility.  By 1962, the nuclear reactor at Dimona went “critical” meaning a critical mass with a small amount of fissile material was needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction.  Shortly after, Israel secretly acquired more than 90 tons of uranium oxide (yellowcake) from Argentina to fuel the reactor.  By 1965 the Israeli reprocessing plant was completed and ready to convert the reactor’s fuel rods into weapons grade plutonium for a nuclear bomb.  After the Six-Day War, Israel went live producing nuclear weapons.  A new era began in the Middle East.  One that was a dangerous step to a nuclear disaster if Israel decided to use its nuclear weapons against an Arab country.      

In Seymour M. Hersh’s ‘The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy’ stated the concerns Israel’s leaders had, especially Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion if they did not obtain nuclear weapons.  Hersh wrote:

“What is Israel?” he was quoted by an aide as asking. “. . . Only a small spot. One dot! How can it survive in this Arab world?” Ben-Gurion believed that he understood Arab character and was persuaded that as long as Arabs thought they could destroy the Jewish state, there would be no peace and no recognition of Israel. Many Israelis, survivors of the Holocaust, came to believe in ein brera, or “no alternative,” the doctrine that Israel was surrounded by implacable enemies and therefore had no choice but to strike out. In their view, Hitler and Nasser were interchangeable. 

For these Israelis, a nuclear arsenal was essential to the survival of the state. In public speeches throughout the 1950s, Ben Gurion repeatedly linked Israel’s security to its progress in science.  “Our security and independence require that more young people devote themselves to  science and research, atomic and electronic research, research of solar energy . . . and the like,” he told the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, in November 1955.

 Ernst Bergmann explicitly articulated the ein brera fears in a letter two years later: “I am convinced . . . that the State of Israel needs a defense research program of its own, so that we shall never again be as lambs led to the slaughter.” 

Ben-Gurion, Shimon Peres, and Ernst Bergmann believed that Israel’s independent arsenal finally could provide what President Eisenhower would not—the nuclear umbrella.

Israel’s nuclear program was built on the belief that it had “no alternative” but to build a nuclear weapon to deter Arab aggression.  Their experience with the Holocaust justifies their intentions on maintaining their nuclear weapons.  Israel’s believes that another Holocaust can be prevented, this time not from Germany but from Iran.  But many Israeli’s during the development stages of nuclear weapons were not keen on obtaining a nuclear bomb because of the Holocaust:

Less compelling to the military men was the moral argument against the bomb raised by some on the left and in academia: that the Jewish people, victims of the Holocaust, had an obligation to prevent the degeneration of the Arab-Israeli dispute into a war of mass destruction” Stated Hersh.  “ Those who held that view did not underestimate the danger of a conventional arms race, but believed that, as Simha Flapan, their passionate spokesman, wrote, “the qualitative advantages of Israel—social cohesion and organization, education and technical skills, intelligence and moral incentive—can be brought into play only in a conventional war fought by men.”

Another aspect of Israel’s foreign policy one should consider is the ‘Samson Option,’ a policy that calls for a retaliation using nuclear weapons against an enemy who threatens the Jewish homeland of its existence.  Hersh explains:

Dimona’s supporters had convinced most of the leadership that only nuclear weapons could provide the absolute and final deterrent to the Arab threat, and only nuclear weapons could convince the Arabs—who were bolstered by rapidly growing Soviet economic and military aid—that they must renounce all plans for military conquest of Israel and agree to a peace settlement. With a nuclear arsenal there would be no more Masadas in Israel’s history, a reference to the decision of more than nine hundred Jewish defenders—known as the Zealots—to commit suicide in A.D. 73 rather than endure defeat at the hands of the Romans.

In its place, argued the nuclear advocates, would be the Samson Option. Samson, according to the Bible, had been captured by the Philistines after a bloody fight and put on display, with his eyes torn out, for public entertainment in Dagon’s Temple in Gaza. He asked God to give him back his strength for the last time and cried out, “Let my soul die with the Philistines.” With that, he pushed apart the temple pillars, bringing down the roof and killing himself and his enemies.  For Israel’s nuclear advocates, the Samson Option became another way of saying “Never again.”

[In a 1976 essay in Commentary, Norman Podhoretz accurately summarized the pronuclear argument in describing what Israel would do if abandoned by the United States and overrun by Arabs: "The Israelis would fight . . . with conventional weapons for as long as they could, and if the tide were turning decisively against them, and if help in the form of resupply from the United States or any other guarantors were not forthcoming, it is safe to predict that they would fight with nuclear weapons in the end. ... It used to be said that the Israelis had a Masada complex . . .but if the Israelis are to be understood in terms of a 'complex' involving suicide rather than surrender and rooted in a relevant precedent of Jewish history, the example of Sarnson, whose suicide brought about the destruction of his enemies, would be more appropriate than Masada, where in committing suicide the Zealots killed only themselves and took no Romans with them." Podhoretz, asked years later about his essay, said that his conclusions about the Samson Option were just that—his conclusions, and not based on any specific information from Israelis or anyone else about Israel's nuclear capability.] 

In a White House press conference on May 18, 2009, US President Barack Obama’s concern about “the potential pursuit of a nuclear weapon by Iran.”  The United States and other Western nations have not announced any plans to disarm Israel’s nuclear weapons but rather focused its attention on Iran’s nuclear program.  Obama said “Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon would not only be a threat to Israel and a threat to the United States, but would be profoundly destabilizing in the international community as a whole and could set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.”  Israel already won the arms race in the Middle East.  What is to stop Israel’s “Zealot” mentality from using nuclear weapons in the Middle East?  Israel has threatened Iran in the past.  In a 2006 interview with Reuters former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres “the president of Iran should remember that Iran can also be wiped off the map.” It was a response after a false claim Israel and its allies made on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comment in a 2005 speech at the Ministry of Interior conference hall in Tehran called “The World without Zionism” when he said Israel must be “wiped off the map” which was misinterpreted.  Earlier this year, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said that the US and Israel would take action against Iran, “I don’t see it as a binary kind of situation: either they [the Iranians] turn nuclear or we have a fully fledged war the size of the Iraqi war or even the war in Afghanistan,” Barak continued “What we basically say is that if worse comes to worst, there should be a readiness and an ability to launch a surgical operation that will delay them by a significant time frame and probably convince them that it won’t work because the world is determined to block them.”  Rouhani is seeking negotiations that would put Iran, the United States and Israel on a path to a peaceful resolution.  One that will recognize Iran’s right to a “peaceful” nuclear program for its country so that they can export more oil and use the revenues it earned for the benefit of the Iranian people.  But do not expect any significant breakthrough between Iran and the US/Israel alliance that seeks to dominate the Middle East politically, economically and militarily.

The Obama administration is not seeking any negotiations with Iran unless they stop its nuclear program which will not happen.  Iran will insist that they are signatories to the NPT and have an “inalienable right” to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  Israel will not be a signatory to the NPT because “This resolution is deeply flawed and hypocritical. It ignores the realities of the Middle East and the real threats facing the region and the entire world” according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Another reason Israel will not sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty is because they are victims of the Holocaust which is why they have violated hundreds of U.N. Security Council resolutions and has used chemical weapons on the Palestinians.  The talks between Iran and the US that will be held in Geneva will fail come this October because the US wants to dominate Iran.  Iran has its principles it will stand by, but so will the US on Israel’s behalf.  The US and its staunch allies want Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza strip and the West Bank and every nation on earth under their rule.  That is the plan.

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Double Injustice

Double Injustice

by Stephen Lendman

Rasmea Yousef Odeh is a 66-year-old Palestinian/American human rights champion. She's a feminist, activist, educator and community leader.

Since 2004, she's been the Chicago-based Arab American Action Network's associate director. She's widely respected and loved.

She's involved with issues related to human and civil rights, social, economic and political justice, immigrant rights, racial profiling, gender violence, and more.

In 2013, the Chicago Culture Alliance (CCA) honored her with its "Outstanding Community Leader Award."

CCA called her a woman who "dedicated over 40 years of her life to the empowerment of Arab women, first in her homes of Palestine, Jordan, and Lebanon, where she was an activist, and then the past 10 years in Chicago."

She was born in Palestine. She endured Israeli harshness. She was lawlessly convicted for alleged membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). She committed no crimes.

From 1969 - 1979, she languished unjustly in Israeli prisons. She was treated horrifically. She endured torture and sexual abuse.

Her sentence was commuted as part of a prisoner release deal. She was deported to Lebanon.

She earned a law degree. In 1995, she emmigrated to America. Since 2005, she's lived in Chicago.

An Arab American Action Network statement said:

She "dedicated ten years to the Chicago Arab-American community, working with women on issues ranging from promoting literacy and political education to addressing domestic violence and anti-Arab and Muslim sentiment."

She's a founding member of the United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) Chicago chapter.

USPCN said "(h)er career spans close to five decades, and her influence spans continents." She's a dedicated human rights champion.

She's "a living legend in the eyes of thousands across the world. (She's) one of our precious elders. (She) leads by example, and organizes block to block and house to house."

On October 22, she was arrested in Chicago. It was on behalf of Eastern District of Michigan federal prosecutors. It's the jurisdiction where she applied for citizenship.

On November 13, she was arraigned. Judge Laurie Michelson entered a not guilty plea on her behalf. She was released on bond.

She's wrongfully charged with Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization. It pertains to allegedly lying on her 1994 immigration application.

She didn't mention being arrested by Israel 45 years earlier. Occupied Palestinians have no rights whatever.

Arab/American persecution is longstanding. Post-9/11, Washington declared war on Islam.

Muslims are war on terror scapegoats. They're vilified for being in America at the wrong time. They're denied justice.

They're dehumanized, spied on and framed. They're tried on secret evidence. They're convicted on bogus charges. They're given long sentences. They're treated harshly as political prisoners.

Islamic tenets are ignored. The Koran teaches love, not hate; peace, not violence; charity, not selfishness; and tolerance, not terrorism.

Its five pillars include profession of faith, prayer five times daily, fasting during Ramadan, charity, and performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime for those able to afford it.

It doesn't matter. Muslims are public enemy number one. They're stereotypically portrayed as dangerous gun-toting terrorists. They're lawlessly targeted. They're vilified for praying to the wrong God.

The Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, and 64 other human rights organization expressed outrage over Rasmea's indictment.

They issued the following statement on her behalf, saying in part:

"In the last year alone, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights, and in collaboration with the National Lawyers Guild and other organizations, has documented over 75 cases of intimidation and legal bullying."

"These include perceived surveillance, FBI contacts and discriminatory enforcement of laws against advocates for Palestinian rights."

"Rasmea's arrest and indictment must be viewed within this wider context of widespread attempts to intimidate people into silence on one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time."

Her "indictment is also an illustration of increasingly draconian enforcement of immigration laws, which have left immigrant communities devastated at the hands of Obama’s Department of Homeland Security."

"As students, we stand in solidarity with Ms. Yousef. We consider both her arrest and the charges against her to be illegitimate, and see them for what they are: acts of political repression."

Rasmea is a "beloved member of Chicago's Palestinian community." Her arrest "is part of an ongoing campaign of repression by the US government against those organizing in opposition to Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people."

It appears connected to a September 2010 incident. Obama administration ordered raids targeted Chicago and Minneapolis anti-war/pro-Palestinian activists.

Homes were ransacked. Computers, cell phones, books, photos, correspondence, papers, and other possessions were seized.

Twenty-three victims were subpoenaed to testify before grand juries.

They have extraordinary investigative powers. Prosecutors take full advantage. They manipulate proceedings abusively. They do so for outcomes they wish. Victims are vulnerable to bogus indictments.

Anyone can be subpoenaed for any reason or none at all. Proceedings are conducted in secret. Disclosure is prohibited without judicial authorization.

Answering questions is mandated. Lawyers can't intervene to help clients while testifying. Double jeopardy doesn't apply.

Without indictments, prosecutors need Criminal Division Attorney General permission to try again.

Victims have no protections against false witness testimonies. They're defenseless. They're vulnerable to prosecutorial indictments.

Innocence is no defense. Justice is routinely denied. Political intimidation continues. Rasmea is one of many victims.

If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison. She can be fined. Her citizenship can be "revoke(d), cancel(led), and declare(d) null and void."

Her next court appearance is for discovery and related matters. No date was set. Her trial will follow. Detroit-based Eastern District of Michigan US District Court Judge Paul D. Borman will preside.

Michael Deutsch is a Chicago-based activist attorney for justice. He's a National Lawyer's Guild member.

In 1970, he joined the People's Law Office. He represents victims of police state injustice. In 2003, he was chosen Public Interest Lawyer of the Year.

He's a past Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director. He said Rasmea's situation "appears to be the Department of Homeland Security behaving in a discriminatory fashion, targeting Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians for selective prosecution."

Other Chicago area Palestinians were wrongfully targeted. Their ordeal continues.

"We know that the US government works closely with Israeli officials, and therefore it is a certainty (it) knew of (Rasmea's) legal history at the time she emigrated and at the time she applied for citizenship," said Deutsch.

"Why then is she being charged now after 20 years of model citizenship and good deeds in service of her community?"

He cited an August ACLU report titled "Muslims Need Not Apply." It exposes the US Immigration Services' "Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program."

It "targets Muslims, Arabs, Middle Eastern, and South Asian immigrants to deny them their requests for citizenship," said Deutsch.

Margaret Jackson is American Friends Service Committee interim regional director. She condemned Rasmea's treatment, saying:

"As a person of color, I can tell you I’ve experienced racism in this society. I'm proud to stand with Rasmea Odeh."

A Final Comment

Organizations opposing Rasmea's indictment in alphabetical order include:

Al-Awda New York, Palestine Right to Return Coalition
American Friends Service Committee
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
American Muslims for Palestine
Arab Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle East
AROC: Arab Resource & Organizing Center
Bay Area Committee to Stop Political Repression (BACSPR)
Bay Area Women in Black
Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights
Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign - Vancouver
Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine
Canada Palestine Association
Center for Constitutional Rights
Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights
College and University Workers United
Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine
Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism
Council on American-Islamic Relations - Chicago
CUNY Law Students for Justice in Palestine
Friends of Deir Ibzi'a
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Hampshire College Students for Justice in Palestine
INCITE! Women and Trans* People of Color Against Violence
Independent Jewish Voices-Vancouver
Interdenominational Advocates for Peace (IDAP)
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
International League of People's Struggles
Jewish Voice for Peace
Jewish Voice for Peace - Bay Area
Jewish Voice for Peace - Chicago

Jewish Voice for Peaee - Detroit
Jewish Voice for Peace - Philadelphia
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Justice for Palestinians - San Jose, CA
Labor for Palestine
Legalease Collective, CKUT, Montreal
Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign
Muslim Defense Project of the National Lawyers Guild -New York Chapter
National Lawyers Guild - Chicago
National Lawyers Guild Free Palestine Subcommittee
National Students for Justice in Palestine
New York City Labor Against the War
NYC Queers Against Israeli Apartheid
Palestine Aid Society
Palestine Solidarity Group - Chicago
Palestine Solidarity Legal Support
PAWA: Palestinian American Women's Association
Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace (PCAP)

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid – Toronto, Canada
Red Sparks Union - Vancouver
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
San Francisco Women in Black
Socialist Action
Solidarity: a socialist, feminist, anti-racist organization
Sunbula: Arab Feminists for Change
The Dream Defenders
Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East
United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
US Palestinian Community Network
WBAI Justice and Unity Campaign
Women of Colour Collective at the McGill Faculty of Law
Voice of Palestine

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Dead in the Water Peace Talks

  Call it the curse of Zionism. Traditional Jews deplore it. True Torah Jews Against Zionism (TTAZ) say it: advocates "a political and military end to...

Israeli Apartheid Ruthlessness

Israeli Apartheid Ruthlessness

by Stephen Lendman

Israel exceeds the worst of apartheid South Africa. Ninety-year-old Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc) founder, Uri Avnery, has many commendable attributes. Recognizing apartheid reality isn't one of them. More on that below.

He supports peace between Israel and all Arab countries. He calls Gush Shalom "resolute," "militant," "radical," and "consistent." He wants Israeli occupation ended. 

He endorses Palestinian self-determination inside pre-1967 Green Line borders. It represents 22% of historic Palestine. He's for minor territorial exchanges based on mutual consent.

He wants Jerusalem established as the East and West capitals of two states. He opposes the inviolable right of all diaspora Palestinians to return. He wants annual quotas. 

Establishing them violates international law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13 states:

"(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."

UN Resolution 181 called for an Independent Arab state by October 1, 1948. It said:

"(A)ll governments and peoples (were) to refrain from taking any action" to delay it.

The Security Council was asked to take all "necessary measures" to implement it.

Resolution 242 called for an end to Israel's Six Day War and withdrawal of its armed forces from occupied territories.

Resolution 298 called territory acquired by military conquest inadmissible.

According to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, apartheid reflects unconscionable acts "committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over (another) or groups, and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime."

Israel's Law of Return applies only to Jews. It violates international law.

Palestine belongs to Palestinians. They're willing to settle for 22% of their historic land. They're entitled to it all. Perhaps Avnery never read international law. It's inviolable.

He doesn't understand apartheid. On October 26, he headlined "Taking Apartheid Apart."

"Is Israel an apartheid state," he asked? It's that and much more. It's an international crime. It's far worse than what South African Blacks endured. 

According to Avnery, "apartheid is often used purely for propaganda purposes." It's "rhetorical(ly) use(d) to denigrate one's opponents."

South Africa was based on "racial superiority," he said. True enough. "Racism was its official creed." Zionism isn't racist, he claims. It "mix(es) nationalism and religion."

Zionists claim anti-Semites are racist, he said. "On the whole, (Arabs) inside Israel (are) much like many national minorities in Europe or elsewhere."

"They enjoy equality under the law, vote for parliament, are represented by very lively parties of their own, but in practice suffer discrimination in many areas. To call this apartheid would be grossly misleading."

At age 90, perhaps Avnery is senile. His account of Arab life in Israel is polar opposite reality. Annual Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) reports assess conditions accurately.

Police state harshness targets Israeli Arabs. Their fundamental human and civil rights are denied. Tens of thousands of Bedouin citizens perhaps fare worst.

They're systematically dispossessed. Their homes are demolished. They’re ethnically cleansed from their own land. 

Those remaining are denied schools, healthcare, running water, electricity, paved road, postal service, and other vital services.

Fundamental rights of other Israeli Arabs don't matter. Inflicting harshness is longstanding Israeli policy.

In Occupied Palestine, Israeli apartheid way exceeds South African cruel and inhumane punishment. Independent observers of both systems say so.

It includes murder, extermination, enslavement, torture, arbitrary arrests, illegal imprisonments, denial of the right to life and liberty, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and other abusive acts imposed by Jews on Arabs.

Former UN Special Human Rights Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine, John Dugard, said:

"Israel is clearly in military occupation of the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories). At the same time, elements of the occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid, which are contrary to international law."

Current UN Special Human Rights Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine, Richard Falk, said "Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid in relation to the Palestine people should be taken with the utmost seriousness by all those who affirm human solidarity and care about making visible the long ordeal of a suffering and vulnerable people."

Karine MacAllister wrote about the crime of apartheid, saying:

It "involves or necessitates the denial of the other; of their presence, rights and existence on the land and reconstruction of the past, namely that the land was empty before the advent of Zionist settlement, hence the movement's slogan describing 'a land without people for a people without land.' "

Zionism's essence is "a sophisticated legal, social, economic and political regime of racial discrimination that has led to colonialism and apartheid as well as the dispossession and displacement of the Palestinian people."

Israeli apartheid separates indigenous Palestinians from their land and heritage. Doing so is lawless. According to Fourth Geneva's Article 49:

"Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportation of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of the motive." 

Nor shall "(t)he Occupying Power...deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."

The Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (the Apartheid Convention) defines it as:

"similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa (for) the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them."

Apartheid is racism's worst form. Israeli apartheid is worst of all. It mirrors what Nazi Germany did to Jews.

Avnery denies reality. South African apartheid pass laws segregated blacks from whites.

Their movements were restricted. Carrying pass books at all times was required. They had to show them on demand or face arrest.

South Africa's law evolved from the 18th and 19th centuries. Entry into cities was restricted. Blacks were forcibly relocated.

Most were denied public amenities and many forms of employment. Pass books became apartheid's most hated symbol.

Israel's military occupation is far worse than South African repression. It's a sophisticated form social, economic, political and racial discrimination.

It combines suffocating strangulation and slow-motion genocide. It incorporates and worst elements of colonialism and apartheid.

It includes repressive dispossession, displacement and state terrorism. It separates Palestinians from their land, heritage and culture.

It denies them fundamental human and civil rights. It treats them like subhumans. It wants their resistance crushed. Ideally it wants them eliminated altogether.

It does so through violence, intimidation, land theft, home demolitions, targeted assassinations, murder, mass arrests, torture, destruction of agricultural land and isolation.

Israel's ID/permit system mirrors South African pass books. It requires all permanent residents and citizens over 16 to have color-coded ID cards. They're called te'udat zehut.

They're for West Bank and Gazan Palestinians, East Jerusalem ones, Israeli Arab citizens, and Jews solely to distinguish them from persecuted Arabs.

Palestinians are denied fundamental rights. They're constricted on where they may live, work, move, or be allowed through West Bank checkpoints. Less restrictive permits are extremely hard to get. 

Jews may come and go freely. Palestinians are treated worse than undesirable aliens.

ID cards and permits are part of Israel's Kafkaesque matrix of control. Jews only communities, commercial and other areas exclude Arabs. Bypass roads are for them alone. Checkpoints, roadblocks, barriers, and other impediments control movements. 

So do border crossings. Curfews are regularly imposed. Israel's Separation Wall is stealing 12% of post-1967 Palestine.

It has nothing to do with security. It further ghettoizes Palestinian communities. It isolates them. 

Gazans are besieged. Travel to and from the West Bank is nearly impossible. Rarely granted special permission is required to do so.

For most Palestinians, leaving or entering Israel freely is virtually impossible. So are ordinary activities most people take for granted.

About 2,500 military laws govern things. They cover virtually every aspect of daily life.

Permits are required to build, make home renovations, grow crops, open a factory or business, import equipment, export merchandise or crops, or conduct many other day-to-day activities. Freedom is a four-letter word. It's nonexistent.

Bureaucratic harshness imposes enormous burdens. Palestinians are virtual prisoners on their own land. Comparing Israeli apartheid to South Africa's is simple. 

It's far worse than what Blacks endured. It's over 46 years old and counting. It shows no signs of ending. 

Its worse than ever now. Institutionalized racism defines it. So does state terror ruthlessness.

Life under South African apartheid reflected cruel and unusual punishment. Israel upped the stakes to an unprecedented level. 

It's unrelenting. It's unforgiving. It reflects longstanding ruthlessness writ large. Police states operate that way. Israel is one of the world's worst. 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Israel and the dangers of ethnic nationalism

An interview with Jonathan Cook, by Joseph Cotto

Counterpunch – 4 November 2013

Cotto: What sort of general impact would you say Zionism has had on the Middle East?

Cook: Zionism was a reaction to the extreme ethnic nationalisms that dominated – and nearly destroyed – Europe last century. It is therefore hardly surprising that it mirrors their faults. In exporting to the Middle East this kind of nationalism, Zionism was always bound to play a negative role in the region.

Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, developing the concept of a Jewish state in response to the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe in the late nineteenth century. One notorious incident that appears to have shaped his views was France’s Dreyfus affair, when a very assimilated Jewish army officer was unjustly accused of treason and then his innocence covered up by French elites.

The lesson drawn by Herzl was that assimilation was futile. To survive, Jews needed to hold firmly on to their ethnic identity and create an exclusivist state based on ethnic principles.

There is a huge historical irony to this, because Europe’s ethnic nationalisms would soon end up tearing apart much of the world, culminating in the expansionary German war machine, the Second World War and the Nazi death camps. International institutions such as the United Nations and international humanitarian law were developed precisely to stop the repeat of such a cataclysmic event.

Once in the Middle East, Zionism shifted the locus of its struggle, from finding a solution to European anti-semitism to building an exclusive Jewish homeland on someone else’s land, that of the Palestinians. If one wants to understand the impact of Zionism in the Middle East, then one needs to see how destabilising such a European ideological implant was.

The idea of ethnic-religious supremacism, which history suggests is latent in many ethnic nationalisms, quickly came to the fore in Zionism. Today, the dominant features of Zionist ideology in Israel are:

  • a commitment to segregation at all levels – made concrete in the separation wall across the West Bank;
  • a belief in ethnic exclusivism – Palestinian citizens inside Israel are even denied an Israeli nationality;
  • a kind of national paranoia – walls are built to protect every border;
  • an aversion, paradoxically given the above, to defining its borders – and with it a craving for expansion and greater “living room”.

All of this was predictable if one looked at the trajectory of ethnic nationalisms in Europe. Instead, we in the West see all this as a reaction to Islamism. The reality is we have everything back to front: Zionism, an aggressive ethnic nationalism, fed reactionary forces in the region like political Islam.

Cotto: If Israel adopted its pre-1967 borders, would this, in your opinion, contribute to the peace process?

Cook: Of course, it would. If nothing else, it would show for the first time two things: one, that Israel is prepared to exhibit good faith towards the Palestinians and respect international law; and two, that it has finally decided to define and fix its borders. Those are also two good reasons why I don’t think we will see Israel adopt such a position.

There is a further, implicit question underlying this one. Can a Palestinian state on 22 per cent of historic Palestine, separated into two prison-cantons with limited access to the sea, be a viable state?

No, I don’t think it can – at least not without remaining economically dependent on Israel and militarily vulnerable to it too. That, we should remember, also appears to have been the view of the international community when it tried to solve this problem more than 60 years ago. The United Nations Partition Plan of 1947 gave the Jewish minority 55 per cent of historic Palestine to create a Jewish state, while the Palestinians, the majority of the population, received 45 per cent for an Arab state.

One doesn’t have to believe the partition plan was fair – as most Palestinians do not – to understand that even the Western-centric UN of that time did not imagine that a viable state could be created on 22 per cent of Palestine, or half of the “Arab state” it envisioned.

That is why I have long maintained that ultimately a solution to the conflict will only be found when the international community helps the two sides to find common ground and shared interests and to create joint institutions. That might be vaguely termed the one-state solution, but in practice it could take many forms.

Cotto: It is often noted that Palestinians live in far more impoverished socioeconomic conditions than Israelis do. From your standpoint, can this be attributed to Israeli aggression?

Cook: In essence, it is difficult to imagine it could be attributed to much else, unless one makes the racist assumption that Palestinians or Arabs are naturally lazy or incompetent.

In terms of Israel’s greater economic success, there are several factors to take into account. It receives massive subsidies from the US taxpayer – billions of dollars in military aid and other benefits. It has developed very lucrative hi-tech and homeland security industries, often using the occupied territories as laboratories for it to test and showcase its weapons and surveillance systems. It also benefits from the financial connections it enjoys with worldwide Jewry. Just think of the property market in Israel, which is artificially boosted by wealthy US and European Jews who inject money into the economy by buying an Israeli condo.

But equally importantly – as a just-published report from the World Bank concludes – it has prospered by plundering and exploiting Palestinian resources. The World Bank argues that Israel’s de facto annexation of 62 per cent of the West Bank, known as Area C in the Oslo Accords, has stripped any nascent Palestinian state of almost all its resources: land for development, water for agriculture, quarries for stone, the Dead Sea for minerals and tourism, etc. Instead these resources are being stolen by more than 200 settlements Israel has been sowing over the West Bank.

Israel also exploits a captive, and therefore cheap, Palestinian labour force. That both benefits the Israeli economy and crushes the Palestinian economy.

Cotto: Some say that Israel’s settlement policies directly encourage violence from Palestinian militants. Do you believe this to be the case?

Cook: Yes, of course. If you came armed with a gun to my house and took it from me, and then forced me and my family to live in the shed at the end of the garden, you could hardly be surprised if I started making trouble for you. If I called the police and they said they couldn’t help, you could hardly be surprised if I eventually decided to get a gun myself to threaten you back. If, when you saw I had a gun too, you then built a wall around the shed to imprison me, you could hardly be surprised if I used the tools I had to make primitive grenades and started lobbing them towards the house. None of this would prove how unreasonable I was, or how inherently violent.

Cotto: Many claim that, if Israel were to shed its Jewish ethnocentrism, Muslims and others nearby would adopt a more favorable opinion of it. Do you agree with this idea?

Cook: Ethnocentrism for Israel means that the protection of its Jewishness is synonymous with the protection of its national security. That entails all sorts of things that would be considered very problematic if they were better understood.

Israel needed to ethnically cleanse Palestinians in 1948 to create a Jewish state. It needs separate citizenship and nationality laws, which distinguish between Jews and non-Jews, to sustain a Jewish state. It needs its own version of the “endless war on terror” – an aggressive policy of oppression and divide and rule faced by Palestinians under its rule – to prevent any future internal challenge to the legitimacy of its Jewishness. It needs to keep Palestinian refugees festering in camps in neighbouring Arab states to stop a reversal of its Jewishness. And it has had to become an armed and fortified garrison state, largely paid for by the US, to intimidate and bully its neighbours in case they dare to threaten its Jewishness.

Ending that ethnocentrism would therefore alter relations with its neighbours dramatically.

It was possible to end similar historic enmities in Northern Ireland and in South Africa. There is no reason to believe the same cannot happen in the Middle East.

Cotto: If Israel were to cease being an ethnocentrically Jewish state, do you think it would be able to survive?

Cook: Yes. Israel’s actions have produced an ocean of anger towards it in the region – and a great deal of resentment towards the US too. And that would not evaporate overnight. At a minimum there would be lingering distrust, and for good reason. But for Israel to stop being an ethnocratic state, it would require a serious international solution to the conflict. The international community would have to put into place mechanisms and institutions to resolve historic grievances and build trust, as it did in South Africa. Over time, the wounds would heal.

Cotto: In the event that Israel were to end its ethnocentrically Jewish policies, do you believe that Islamist militants would hold less of a grudge against the Western world?

Cook: The question looks at the problem in the wrong way in at least two respects. First, Israel’s ethnocentrism – its exclusivity and its aggressiveness, for example – is one of the reasons it is useful to Western, meaning US, imperialism. Reforming Israel would indicate a change in Western priorities in the region, but that does not necessarily mean the West would stop interfering negatively in the region. Reforming Israel is a necessary but not a sufficient cause for a change in attitudes that dominate in the region.

Second, many Islamists, certainly of the fanatical variety, are not suddenly going to have a Damascene conversion about the West because Israel is reformed. But that should not be the goal. Good intentions towards the region will be repaid in a change in attitude among the wider society – and that is what is really important. When George Bush and his ilk talk about “draining the swamps”, they are speaking only in military terms. But actually what we should be doing is draining the ideological swamp in which Islamic extremism flourishes. If the Islamists have no real support, if they do not address real issues faced by Arab societies, then they will wither away.

Cotto: What do you think the future of Israel holds insofar as Middle Eastern geopolitics are concerned?

Cook: That is crystal ball stuff. There are too many variables. What can be said with some certainty is that we are in a time of transition: at the moment, chiefly economic for the West and chiefly political for the Middle East. That means the global power systems we have known for decades are starting to break down. Where that will ultimately lead is very difficult to decipher.

Joseph Cotto writes for the Washington Times.

Tagged as: ,

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Anti-Defamation League’s Top 10 Anti-Israeli Groups

Anti-Defamation League's Top 10 Anti-Israeli Groups

by Stephen Lendman

ADL fronts for Jewish supremacy. It supports Israeli rights over Arabs. It backs occupation harshness. It believes colonizing Palestine for dominance and exploitation is OK.

It's one of 52 Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization (CPMAJO) Zionist organizations.

They disseminate pro-Israeli propaganda. They conduct smear campaigns against its critics. They spew hate and malicious lies.

They do so under the ruse of fighting anti-semitism. They claim support for human rights equitably for all. Their policies are polar opposite.

ADL's history is long and disturbing. It's shamelessly loathsome. It believes Arabs are inferior to Jews.

It wants Palestinians denied self-determination. It believes Jews alone have rights. 

It favors conflict over peace, equity and justice. It's a monument to unfairness. It substitutes myths for facts. It spews hate. It's a rogue organization writ large.

It publishes an annual top 10 anti-Israeli organization list. On October 21, a press release headlined "ADL Lists Top 10 Anti-Israeli Groups in America in 2013," saying:

They're "fixated with delegitimizing Israel." They "demonstrated the ability to reach new segments of the American public with a hostile and misleading narrative about Israel."

According to national director Abe Foxman:

"The Top 10 anti-Israel groups are the most significant players in the domestic anti-Israel movement today." 

They prioritize "delegitimizing Israel and convincing the American public that (it's) an international villain that deserves to be ostracized and isolated."

It's all that and then some. Don't expect Foxman to explain.

"In compiling its list, ADL considered various criteria," it said.

They include:

  • organizing ability;

  • sponsoring and endorsing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns;

  • sponsoring and participating in anti-Israeli rallies, panel discussions or conferences; and

  • pursuing anti-Israeli lobbying and other policy initiatives.

Israel and influential Jews exert enormous sway over government and media policy, they say.

Israel is compared to Nazi Germany. One state for Jews and Arabs is advocated.

Support is given to legitimate resistance groups Israel wrongfully calls terrorist organizations.

According to Foxman:

ADL's top ten represents "the worst of the worst anti-Israel groups."

"They lob any and every accusation against Israel, including charges of Nazi-like crimes, 'apartheid' policies, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and genocide." 

"Their accusations are rarely, if ever, balanced with an acknowledgement of Israel's repeated efforts to make peace with the Palestinians, or the legitimate terrorism concerns faced by Israeli citizens."

Foxman masquerades as a human rights champion. He consistently turns truth on its head. His lies long ago wore thin. He repeats them ad nauseam.

He's a longstanding Islamophobe. He ignores rule of law principles. He supports the worst of Israeli crimes.

He deplores the notion of Arabs and Jews having equal rights. He endorses greater apartheid harshness than Black South Africans endured.

He menaces peaceful conflict resolution. He's done so throughout his career.

His top 10 list in alphabetical order includes:

(1) ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism)

It's an activist group against war, imperialism, bigotry, civil and human rights, as well as Palestinian equity and justice.

Its right over wrong agenda trumps Zionist hatemongering.

(2) American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)

It's a national education and advocacy organization. Making ADL's list proves it's "hitting the mark," it said.

According to national media and communications director Kristin Szremski:

"In trying to defame us, (ADL) recogniz(es) the impact of our work in educating the American public about Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian people."

"Of course we provide training about recognizing and exposing Zionist organizations."

It's 'because Zionism is racist. (It) has at its core the call for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Palestine. The American public deserves to know the truth."


It calls itself "a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement." It opposes "US funded wars and occupations."

It challenges global militarism. It "redirects (its) resources into health care, education, green jobs, and other life-affirming activities."

It's not exclusively for women. Co-founders Medea Benjamin, Diane Wilson, and Starhawk urge male participation. 

At the same time, it especially wants "mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters, female workers, students, teachers, healers, artists, writers, singers, poets and all outraged woman (to) rise up (against) global militarism."

(4) Friends of Sabeel-North America (FOSNA)

It "promotes awareness and understanding" of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

It does so "through educational programs for North American Christians."

It "seeks reconciliation between people of the Holy Land in a vision of peace based on principles of a just peace." 

It prioritizes "the urgency of ending US support for Israel's illegal military occupation."

(5) If Americans Knew (IAK)/Council for the National Interest (CNI)

IAK calls its mission "inform(ing) and educat(ing) the American public on issues of major significance that are unreported, underreported, or misreported in the American media."

It believes conflict resolution and justice depend on revealing vital truths major media scoundrels suppress.

Founder Alison Weir acknowledged making ADL's top 10 list. "We are pleased ADL noticed," she said.

"We are pleased to announce that (IAK) is in this elite group of principled organizations."

Weir is a longtime member of ADL's top five Americans against Israeli injustice.

The Council for the National Interest (CNI) "works for US Middle East policies that represent the highest values of our founders and our citizens and that work to sustain a nation of honor, decency, security, and prosperity."

It congratulated its other truth-telling comrades for making ADL's top 10 list. "(Y)ou are the pride of the United States and the whole world," it said.

"It's one of the highest accolades truth-telling fighters against racism and bigotry could hope for." 

(6) Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP)

It seeks equity, peace, security, and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians.

It does so through "grassroots organizing, education, advocacy, and media." 

It calls itself the only US Jewish organization providing a voice for Jews and their allies seeking peace "through justice and full equality for Jews and Muslims alike."

(7) Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)

It "informs and shapes public opinion and policy by serving as a trusted resource (for) decision makers in government, media and policy institutions."

It's committed to "enhancing the political and civic participation of American Muslims."

It "promot(es) Islamic values of mercy, justice, peace, human dignity, freedom and equality for all."

ADL advocates polar opposite policies.

(8) Neturei Karta

It promotes Torah Judaism. "Its only loyalty is to G-d and His revelation."

It believes Jews were exiled "due to Divine decree."

It's anti-Zionist. It calls its ideology "heresy." It rejects its "aggression against all peoples."

"Today this cruelty manifests itself primarily in the brutal treatment of the Palestinian people," it said.

It claims doing so violates core Torah principles. It seeks peace and reconciliation with all peoples and nations.

Furthering it is especially vital in Middle East Islamic countries, it says. It's where Zionists have "done so much to ruin Jewish - Muslim understanding."

It welcomes everyone of good will to join them.

(9) Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)

It opposes apartheid and occupation. It does so through protests, memorials, and other initiatives. 

It highlights the plight of Palestinians against longstanding Israeli aggression and occupation.

(10) US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

It's a "diverse coalition working for freedom from occupation and equal rights…" 

It does so "by challenging US policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." It seeks peace, justice, and conciliation by "chang(ing) the US role." It calls its initiative the essential way to do it.

Policies ADL and 51 other Zionist organizations endorse are polar opposite those the above organizations support.

They believe peace, equity and justice are verboten. They support wrong over right. They promote Israeli supremacy, exceptionalism and specialness.

They're comfortable about its belligerence, persecution, racism, occupation harshness and land theft.

They believe Israel's rights alone matter. They claim it has a divine right to all parts of Judea and Samaria it wishes. They consider Arabs subhuman. It shows in their longstanding hatemongering policies.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


USA Topics 9/11 Agenda 21 Assassinations Banks Bush, George Jr Boston Bombings Bohemian Grove CIA Cointelpro Corruption DARPA Democrats Disinformation Congress Drones Eugenics FBI Federal Reserve Guantanamo HAARP ...

How come Uri Avnery knows so little about Israel, or apartheid?

Palestine Chronicle – 28 October 2013

Yes, I know. Uri Avnery has achieved many great things as a journalist and a peace activist. He has probably done more to educate people around the world about the terrible situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, and for longer, than any other single human being. And, to boot, he’s celebrating his 90th birthday this week. So best wishes to him.

Nonetheless, it is important to challenge the many fallacious claims Avnery makes to bolster the arguments in his latest article, dismissing the growing comparisons being made between Israel and apartheid South Africa.

There is much to criticize in his weakly argued piece, based on a recent conversation with an unnamed “expert”. Avnery, like many before him, makes the mistake of thinking that, by pointing out the differences between Israel and apartheid South Africa, he proves that Israel is not an apartheid state. But this is the ultimate straw-man argument. No one claims Israel is identical to South Africa. You don’t need an expert to realize that.

When people call Israel an apartheid state, they are referring to the crime of apartheid as defined in international law. According to the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, apartheid comprises inhumane acts “committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime”.

So what color the victims of apartheid are, what proportion of the population they constitute, whether the economy depends on their productive labor, whether the early Zionists were socialists, whether the Palestinians have a Nelson Mandela, and so on have precisely zero relevance to determining whether Israel is an apartheid state.

A key distinction for Avnery is between “Israel proper” and the occupied territories. In the territories, Avnery admits, there are some parallels with apartheid South Africa. But inside Israel, he thinks the comparison is outrageously unfair. Let’s set aside the not-insignificant matter that Israel refuses to recognize its internationally defined borders; or that one of its major strategies is a colonial-style divide-and-rule policy that depends on establishing differences in rights for Palestinians under its rule as a way to better oppress them.

Avnery’s motives in highlighting this territorial distinction should be clear. He believes the occupation is a crime and that it must end. But he also believes that Israel as a Jewish state should continue after the occupation ends. In fact, he sees the two matters as inextricably tied. In his view, Israel’s long-term survival as a Jewish state depends on severing it from the occupied territories.

This concurs with fairly standard liberal Zionist ideology: segregation is seen as offering protection from demographic threats posed by non-Jews to the future success of the Jewish state, and has reached its apotheosis in the building of the West Bank wall and the disengagement from Gaza. Avnery is simply one of the most humane proponents of this line of thinking.

But for this reason, as I have argued before, Avnery should be treated as an unreliable mentor and guide on matters relating to Palestinians inside Israel – the group that is hardest to deal with under a strictly segregationist approach.

Avnery is unlikely to treat criticism of “Israel proper”, such as the apartheid comparison, based on the merits of the case. He reacts defensively. Admitting that Israel is an apartheid state inside its internationally recognized borders would undermine the legitimacy of his prized Jewish state. It would indicate that his life’s work of campaigning for the creation of a Palestinian state to preserve his Jewish state was misguided, and probably harmful.

The most outrageous claim Avnery makes in the article, precisely to deflect attention from the problem of a self-defined Jewish state and its relations with a large Palestinian minority, is the following:

On the whole, the situation of the Arab minority inside Israel proper is much like that of many national minorities in Europe and elsewhere. They enjoy equality under the law, vote for parliament, are represented by very lively parties of their own, but in practice suffer discrimination in many areas. To call this apartheid would be grossly misleading.

One does not need to concede that the comparison with apartheid is right, both in the occupied territories and inside “Israel proper” – though I do – to understand that it is, in fact, Avnery who is being grossly misleading here.

There is no sense in which Israel’s treatment of its 1.5 million Palestinian citizens is comparable, as Avnery argues, to the situation of national minorities in European states. Palestinian citizens do not simply face unofficial, informal or spontaneous discrimination. It is structural, institutionalized and systematic.

Here are a few questions Avnery or those who agree with him need to answer:

  • Which European states have, like Israel, nationalized 93 per cent of their land so that one ethnic group (in Israel’s case, Jewish citizens) can exclude another ethnic group (Palestinian Arab citizens)?
  • Which European states operate vetting committees, enshrined in law, in hundreds of rural communities precisely to prevent one ethnic group (Palestinian Arabs) from living in these communities?
  • Which European states have separate citizenship laws – in Israel’s case, the Law of Return (1950) and the Citizenship Law (1952) – based on ethnic belonging?
  • Which European states have designed their citizenship laws, as Israel has done, to confer rights on members of an ethnic group (in Israel’s case, Jews) who are not actually yet citizens or present in the state, privileging them over a group (Palestinian Arabs) who do have citizenship and are present in the state?
  • Which European states have more than 55 laws that explicitly discriminate based on which ethnic group a citizen belongs to?
  • Which European states, like Israel, defer some of their sovereign powers to extra-territorial bodies – in Israel’s case, to the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund – whose charters obligate them to discriminate based on ethnic belonging?
  • Which European states deny their citizens access to any civil institutions on personal status matters such as marriage, divorce and burial, requiring all citizens to submit to the whims and prejudices of religious leaders?
  • Which European states do not recognize their own nationality, and make it possible to join the dominant national group (in Israel’s case, Jews) or to immigrate only through conversion?

Maybe Avnery can find the odd European state with one such perverse practice, or something similar. But I have no doubt he cannot find a European state that has more than one such characteristic. Israel has all of these and more; in fact, too many for me to enumerate them all.

So if Israel inside its recognized borders is nothing like European states or the United States, or any other state we usually classify as democratic, maybe Avnery or his supporters can explain exactly what kind of state Israel is like.

Tagged as: , ,

Max Blumenthal’s Goliath, Life and Loathing in Greater Israel Part I

Paul Jay, Senior Editor, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay. And welcome to Reality Asserts Itself. When I was a teenager...


              JOHN CHUCKMAN   Some Israelis are fond of comparing Israel’s displacement of Palestinians to the historical experience of North Americans in displacing indigenous people, but the comparison is inaccurate on almost every level. First, comparing events of two hundred years ago and today is misleading: norms of human […]

Guilt-Edged Insecurity

Beirut Being subjected to the Zionist lobby can get tedious—particularly its chronic parading of an often disoriented and fast-deteriorating fellow, who should surely be tending...

Court nixes push for ‘Israeli nationality’

Al-Jazeera – 18 October 2013

A court decision this month that rejected Israelis’ right to a shared nationality has highlighted serious problems caused by Israel’s self-definition as a Jewish state, say lawyers and human rights activists.

A group of 21 Israelis had appealed to the Supreme Court to demand the state recognise their wish to be classified as “Israeli nationals”.

Since Israel’s founding in 1948, authorities have refused to recognise such a nationality, instead classifying Israelis according to the ethnic group to which each belongs. The overwhelming majority are registered as either “Jewish” or “Arab” nationals, though there are more than 130 such categories in total.

Critics say the system, while seemingly a technical matter, has far-reaching effects. The citizenship laws, they say, undergird a system of systematic discrimination against the one-fifth of Israel’s population who are non-Jews – most of them belonging to Israel’s Palestinian minority.

Some observers also fear that the court ruling, which effectively upheld Israel’s definition as a Jewish state, will strengthen the aversion of Israel’s right-wing government to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly insisted that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority recognise Israel as a Jewish state as a condition for reaching a peace agreement.

‘I am an Israeli’

The case was brought to court by the “I am an Israeli” movement, led by Uzi Ornan, a retired linguist from northern Israel. The group, which includes both Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, argued that they should be allowed to change their nationality to “Israeli”.

“This ruling is very dangerous,” said Ornan. “It allows Israel to continue being a very peculiar country indeed, one that refuses to recognise the nationality of its own people. I don’t know of another country that does such a thing. It is entirely anti-democratic.”

The “I am an Israeli” movement objects to Israel’s system of laws that separate citizenship from nationality. While Israelis enjoy a common citizenship, they have separate nationalities based on their ethnic identity. Only the Jewish majority has been awarded national rights, meaning that Palestinian citizens face institutionalised discrimination, said Ornan.

He added: “It tells the country’s Arab citizens that they have no real recognition in their own country – that they will always be treated as foreigners and they will always face discrimination.”

Others view the ruling more positively. Anita Shapira, a professor emeritus of Jewish history at Tel Aviv University, said creating a new category of “Israeli national” would undermine the Jewish essence of the state and alienate Jews from other countries who felt a connection to Israel through a shared religion.

“The attempt to claim that there is a Jewish nationality in the state of Israel that is separate from the Jewish religion is something very revolutionary,” she said.

The “I am an Israeli” movement’s petition was originally heard and rejected in 2007 by a district court in Jerusalem. The group then appealed to the Supreme Court, the second time that Israel’s citizenship laws have been challenged in this venue.

In the first hearing, in 1971, Justice Shimon Agranat ruled that it was “illegitimate” so soon after Israel’s founding for the petitioners to “ask to separate themselves from the Jewish people and to achieve for themselves the status of a distinct Israeli nation”.

Though more than 40 years had passed, that position was largely upheld in the new ruling. Asher Grunis, the head of the Supreme Court, decided: “The existence of an Israeli ethnic nationality has not been proven.” Another judge who heard the case, Hanan Melcer, warned that conceding such a nationality would jeopardise “the Jewish and the democratic nature of the state”.

Unequal treatment?

However, legal analysts have drawn the opposite conclusion. Aeyal Gross, a law professor at Tel Aviv University, wrote in the Haaretz newspaper that the court’s decision “will continue to obscure the possibility of having real democracy in Israel”.

Hassan Jabareen, the director of Adalah, a legal rights group for the Arab minority in Israel, said the state’s refusal to recognise a shared nationality stripped Palestinians inside Israel of equality in most areas of their lives, including access to land, housing, education and employment. “It is also disturbing that Israeli law treats Israel as the Jewish homeland for Jews everywhere, even those who are not citizens of Israel,” he said.

Jabareen said this was achieved through the 1950 Law of Return, which allows Jews anywhere in the world to come to Israel and gain automatic citizenship.

Israel used another law – the Citizenship Law of 1952 – to belatedly confer citizenship on the Palestinians who remained on their land following the 1948 war that established Israel.

The Law of Return effectively provides an immigration policy only for Jews. Under the terms of the Citizenship Law, only a few dozen non-Jews – those who marry an Israeli citizen – qualify for naturalisation every year.

Israel passed another law in 2003 that bars most Palestinians from the occupied territories and Arabs from neighbouring states from being eligible to naturalise, even if they marry an Israeli.

At the time, officials said the law was needed to prevent terrorism, but most observers believe the legislation’s real aim was to prevent what Israelis call “a right of return through the back door” – the fear that Palestinians would use marriage to Palestinians inside Israel to win citizenship and thus erode the country’s Jewish majority.

Ornan and others complain that the ethnic and religious basis of Israeli citizenship is further accentuated by Israel’s adoption of arcane personal status laws dating from the Ottoman period. There are no civil institutions dealing with most areas of Israelis’ private lives, forcing citizens to be identified with their religious community. Civil marriage, for example, is not possible inside Israel, and anyone marrying across the religious divide must marry abroad, typically in Cyprus, and then register the marriage upon their return.

Civil rights groups such as “I am an Israeli”, as well as the Palestinian minority’s political parties, have been trying to challenge the citizenship laws, arguing that they are the key to Israel’s system of structural discrimination.

Adalah has established an online database showing that Israel has more than 55 laws that explicitly discriminate between Jewish and Palestinian citizens. This number has grown rapidly in recent years, said Jabareen, as the Israeli right-wing has been forced to legislate many established but uncodified discriminatory practices that were under threat of being ruled unconstitutional by the courts.

In one recent example, Netanyahu’s government passed the Admissions Committee Law in 2011, to prevent the Supreme Court ruling against vetting committees that have long denied Palestinian citizens access to hundreds of communities controlling most of the land in Israel. The government acted after a Palestinian citizen of Israel, Adel Qaadan, spent two decades in a legal battle to be allowed into one such community, Katzir. Qaadan was among the petitioners who lost this month’s case to be recognised as an Israeli national.

Growing divide

The court ruling highlighted the growing divide between the ruling right-wing coalition on one side, and civil rights groups and the Palestinian leadership in Israel on the other.

Since the mid-1990s, the Palestinian political parties have increasingly challenged Israel’s claim to be a “Jewish and democratic state”. Instead, they have demanded that Israel be reformed into what they call a “state of all its citizens”, or a liberal democracy.

Leading Israeli politicians, including a recent prime minister, Ehud Olmert, have admitted that discrimination against Palestinians exists. However, they have suggested that it is informal and similar to the discrimination faced by minorities in many democratic western countries.

Civil rights groups, on the other hand, claim that the discrimination is structural to Israel’s definition as a Jewish state. One member of parliament, Ahmed Tibi, has pointedly commented: “This country is Jewish and democratic: Democratic towards Jews, and Jewish toward Arabs.”

A survey published this month by the Israel Democracy Institute found that 49 percent of Israel Jews supported giving more rights to Jewish citizens than to Palestinian citizens. The same survey found that barely more than one-quarter of Palestinian citizens felt a sense of belonging to Israel.

Israel’s domestic intelligence service, the Shin Bet, has officially defined the campaign for a state of all its citizens as “subversion”. It has also said it will “thwart the activity of any group or individual seeking to harm the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel, even if such activity is sanctioned by the law”.

The main proponent of this campaign, Azmi Bishara, who led the Balad party, was accused of treason by the Shin Bet a short time later and forced into exile.

‘No citizenship without loyalty’

In recent years, the Israeli right-wing has grown increasingly concerned about challenges to the state’s Jewishness. The Yisrael Beiteinu party – led by Avigdor Lieberman, a former foreign affairs minister and a political ally of Netanyahu – has lobbied for loyalty laws to restrict the Palestinian minority’s political activities. In the past two general elections, Lieberman has campaigned under the slogan, “No citizenship without loyalty”.

Over the summer it was announced that members of Netanyahu’s coalition government were drafting a basic law that would formally define Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people”.

According to reports in the Israeli media, the bill would allow only Jews the right to national self-determination, Hebrew would be the only recognised language, and Jewish religious law would be used as guidance in Israeli courts. Haaretz has argued that the bill would institute “apartheid” in Israel and turn the state into what it called a “Jewish and racist state”.

At the same time, Netanyahu’s government has also established a “Jewish Identity Administration” to work in Jewish schools. It is headed by Avichai Rontzki, a former chief rabbi of the Israel Defence Forces who at the time was accused of bringing more extremist religious views into the military.

The administration’s stated aim is to “restore the State of Israel’s Jewish soul” by teaching pupils to “love the Jewish homeland”. According to leaks to the Israeli media, Berman Shifman, a consultant who advised the goverment on the new unit, warned that the key idea behind the administration was “taken from fascism, not from the field of education”.

Tagged as: , ,

Why Are So Many Jews Leaving Israel?

THOSE WHO are interested in the history of the Crusades ask themselves: what brought about the Crusaders’ downfall? Looking at the remnants of their proud fortresses all over the country, we wonder.

The traditional answer is: their defeat in the battle of the Horns of Hattin, twin hills near the Lake of Galilee, in 1187, by the great Muslim Sultan Salah ad-Din (Saladin).

However, the Crusader state lived on in Palestine and the surroundings for another hundred years.

The most authoritative historian of the Crusades, the late Steven Runciman, gave a completely different answer: the Crusader kingdom collapsed because too many Crusaders returned to their ancestral homelands, while too few came to join the Crusaders. In the end, the last remnants were thrown into the sea (literally).

THERE ARE vast differences between the Crusader state that existed in this country for two hundred years and the present State of Israel, but there are also some striking similarities. That’s why their history always attracted me.

Lately I was reminded of Runciman’s conclusion because of the sudden interest of our media in the phenomenon of emigration. Some comments bordered on hysteria.

The reasons for this are two. First, a TV network reported on Israeli descenders abroad, second, the award of the Nobel chemistry prize to two ex-Israelis. Both caused much hand-wringing.

“Descenders” (Yordim) is the Hebrew term for emigrants. People coming to live in Israel are called “ascenders” (Olim), a term akin to pilgrims. Probably the word has something to do with the fact that Jerusalem is located on a hill surrounded on all sides by valleys, so that you have to “go up” to reach it. But of course there is an ideological Zionist connotation to the terms.

Before the founding of our state and during its first few decades, we saw ourselves as a heroic society, struggling against great odds, fighting several wars. People leaving us were looked upon as deserters, like soldiers running away from their unit during a battle. Yitzhak Rabin called them ‘trash”.

What made the TV story so frightening was that it showed ordinary middle-class young Israeli families settling for good in Berlin, London and New Jersey. Some of their children were already speaking foreign languages, abandoning Hebrew. Terrible.

Until lately, “descending” was mostly attributed to misfits, lower-class people and others who could not find their place in ordinary society. But here were normal, well-educated young couples, Israeli-born, speaking good Hebrew. Their general complaint – sounding rather like an apology – was that they could not “end the month” in Israel, that their middle-class salaries did not suffice for a decent living, because salaries are too low and prices too high. They singled out the prices of apartments. The price of an apartment in Tel Aviv is equivalent to 120 months’ average middle class income.

However, sober research showed that emigration has actually decreased during the last few years. Polls show that the majority of Israelis, including even a majority of Arab citizens, are satisfied with their economic situation – more than in most European nations.

THE SECOND reason for hysteria was the award of the Nobel Prize to two American Chemistry professors who were educated in Israel, one of them born in a Kibbutz.

Israel is immensely proud of its Nobel laureates. Relative to the size of the country, their number is indeed extraordinary.

Many Jews are deeply convinced that the Jewish intellect is superior to that of any other people. Theories about this abound. One of them is that in medieval times, European intellectuals were mostly celibate monks who did not bequeath their genes to any offspring. In Jewish communities, the opposite happened: the rich were proud to marry their daughters to especially gifted Torah scholars, allowing their genes to start life in privileged circumstances.

Yet here were these two scholars who left Israel decades ago to graze in foreign meadows, continuing their research in prestigious American universities.

In former years, they would have been called traitors. Now they only cause profound soul-searching. One of the two had left Israel because the highly-regarded Weizmann Institute did not offer him a professorship. Why did we let him go? What about all the others?

Actually, this is not a specifically Israeli problem. Brain-flight is taking place all over the world. An ambitious scientist longs for the best of laboratories, the most prestigious university. Young minds from all over the world flock to the US. Israelis are no exception.

We have good universities. Three of them figure somewhere on the list of the world’s hundred best. But who can resist the temptations of Harvard or MIT?

THE SUDDEN disillusion caused Israelis to take a hard look at Israeli academia. It appears that our standards are slipping all along the line. Our universities are under-funded by the government, the number of professors and their quality decreasing. High-school students are slipping in their exams.


Immense funds are swallowed by the army, whose demands grow from year to year, though our security situation is improving all the time.

Our eternal occupation of the Palestinian territories is a drain on our meager resources. So are the settlements, of course. Our government invests in them huge sums of money. The exact amounts are a state secret.

In the long run, a small country with limited resources cannot sustain a huge army, as well as an occupation regime and hundreds of settlements, without depriving everything else. One single fighter plane costs more than a school or a hospital or a laboratory.

BUT MY worry about emigration is not limited to material considerations.

People do not leave for material reasons only. They may think that they are emigrating because life in Berlin is cheaper than in Tel Aviv, apartments easier to find, salaries higher. But it is not only the strength of the attraction of foreign lands that counts – it is also the strength or weakness of the bond to the homeland.

In the years when “descenders” were considered trash, we were proud of being Israeli. During the fifties and sixties, whenever I presented my Israeli passport at any border control, I felt good. Israel was viewed with admiration throughout the world, not least by our enemies.

I believe that it is a basic human right to be proud of one’s society, one’s country. People belong to nations. Even in today’s global village, most people need the sense of belonging to a certain place, a certain people. No one wants to be ashamed of them.

Today, when presenting his passport, an Israeli feels no such pride. He may feel a sense of contrariness (“us against the whole world”), but he or she is conscious of his country being considered by many as an apartheid state, oppressing another people. Every person abroad has seen countless photos of heavily armed Israel soldiers confronting Palestinian women and children. Nothing to be proud of.

This is not a subject anyone ever speaks of. But it is there. And it is bound to get worse.

Jewish Israelis are already a minority in the country ruled by Israel, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. The majority of subjects deprived of all rights is growing by the year. Oppression will necessarily grow. The image of Israel throughout the world will get worse. Pride in Israel will fade.

ONE EFFECT is already becoming obvious.

A prestigious recent poll conducted among American Jews shows a marked loosening of the attachment young Jews there feel for Israel.

The American Jewish scene is dominated by elderly professional leaders who were never elected by anyone. They exert immense power over American political life, but their influence in their own community is slipping. Young Jewish Americans are no longer proud of Israel. Some of them are ashamed.

These young Jews do not, in general, stand up to protest. They are afraid of providing ammunition to the anti-Semites. They are also educated from childhood that we Jews must stand together against the Goyim who want to destroy us.

So, instead of raising their voice, they keep quiet, leave their communities, disappear from sight. But this process can be utterly disastrous for Israel, Our leaders rely completely on the stranglehold they have on American politicians. If these perceive that the Jewish support of Israel is diminishing, they will be quick to liberate themselves.

THERE IS another aspect to the Zionist part of the equation.

Zionism is supposed to bring Jews to Israel. That is what it is all about. But Zionism can be a two-way street.

Israel declares itself to be “the State of the Jewish People”. Jews all over the world are considered de facto Israeli nationals. But if there is no basic difference between a Jew in Haifa and a Jew in Hamburg, why stay in Haifa when life in Hamburg seems to be so much better?

I have campaigned for decades to exchange Zionist theology for a simple Israeli patriotism. Perhaps the time has finally come to do so – after turning Israel into a country we can be proud of again.

URI AVNERY is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

Why Are So Many Jews Leaving Israel?

THOSE WHO are interested in the history of the Crusades ask themselves: what brought about the Crusaders’ downfall? Looking at the remnants of their proud fortresses all over the country, we wonder.

The traditional answer is: their defeat in the battle of the Horns of Hattin, twin hills near the Lake of Galilee, in 1187, by the great Muslim Sultan Salah ad-Din (Saladin).

However, the Crusader state lived on in Palestine and the surroundings for another hundred years.

The most authoritative historian of the Crusades, the late Steven Runciman, gave a completely different answer: the Crusader kingdom collapsed because too many Crusaders returned to their ancestral homelands, while too few came to join the Crusaders. In the end, the last remnants were thrown into the sea (literally).

THERE ARE vast differences between the Crusader state that existed in this country for two hundred years and the present State of Israel, but there are also some striking similarities. That’s why their history always attracted me.

Lately I was reminded of Runciman’s conclusion because of the sudden interest of our media in the phenomenon of emigration. Some comments bordered on hysteria.

The reasons for this are two. First, a TV network reported on Israeli descenders abroad, second, the award of the Nobel chemistry prize to two ex-Israelis. Both caused much hand-wringing.

“Descenders” (Yordim) is the Hebrew term for emigrants. People coming to live in Israel are called “ascenders” (Olim), a term akin to pilgrims. Probably the word has something to do with the fact that Jerusalem is located on a hill surrounded on all sides by valleys, so that you have to “go up” to reach it. But of course there is an ideological Zionist connotation to the terms.

Before the founding of our state and during its first few decades, we saw ourselves as a heroic society, struggling against great odds, fighting several wars. People leaving us were looked upon as deserters, like soldiers running away from their unit during a battle. Yitzhak Rabin called them ‘trash”.

What made the TV story so frightening was that it showed ordinary middle-class young Israeli families settling for good in Berlin, London and New Jersey. Some of their children were already speaking foreign languages, abandoning Hebrew. Terrible.

Until lately, “descending” was mostly attributed to misfits, lower-class people and others who could not find their place in ordinary society. But here were normal, well-educated young couples, Israeli-born, speaking good Hebrew. Their general complaint – sounding rather like an apology – was that they could not “end the month” in Israel, that their middle-class salaries did not suffice for a decent living, because salaries are too low and prices too high. They singled out the prices of apartments. The price of an apartment in Tel Aviv is equivalent to 120 months’ average middle class income.

However, sober research showed that emigration has actually decreased during the last few years. Polls show that the majority of Israelis, including even a majority of Arab citizens, are satisfied with their economic situation – more than in most European nations.

THE SECOND reason for hysteria was the award of the Nobel Prize to two American Chemistry professors who were educated in Israel, one of them born in a Kibbutz.

Israel is immensely proud of its Nobel laureates. Relative to the size of the country, their number is indeed extraordinary.

Many Jews are deeply convinced that the Jewish intellect is superior to that of any other people. Theories about this abound. One of them is that in medieval times, European intellectuals were mostly celibate monks who did not bequeath their genes to any offspring. In Jewish communities, the opposite happened: the rich were proud to marry their daughters to especially gifted Torah scholars, allowing their genes to start life in privileged circumstances.

Yet here were these two scholars who left Israel decades ago to graze in foreign meadows, continuing their research in prestigious American universities.

In former years, they would have been called traitors. Now they only cause profound soul-searching. One of the two had left Israel because the highly-regarded Weizmann Institute did not offer him a professorship. Why did we let him go? What about all the others?

Actually, this is not a specifically Israeli problem. Brain-flight is taking place all over the world. An ambitious scientist longs for the best of laboratories, the most prestigious university. Young minds from all over the world flock to the US. Israelis are no exception.

We have good universities. Three of them figure somewhere on the list of the world’s hundred best. But who can resist the temptations of Harvard or MIT?

THE SUDDEN disillusion caused Israelis to take a hard look at Israeli academia. It appears that our standards are slipping all along the line. Our universities are under-funded by the government, the number of professors and their quality decreasing. High-school students are slipping in their exams.


Immense funds are swallowed by the army, whose demands grow from year to year, though our security situation is improving all the time.

Our eternal occupation of the Palestinian territories is a drain on our meager resources. So are the settlements, of course. Our government invests in them huge sums of money. The exact amounts are a state secret.

In the long run, a small country with limited resources cannot sustain a huge army, as well as an occupation regime and hundreds of settlements, without depriving everything else. One single fighter plane costs more than a school or a hospital or a laboratory.

BUT MY worry about emigration is not limited to material considerations.

People do not leave for material reasons only. They may think that they are emigrating because life in Berlin is cheaper than in Tel Aviv, apartments easier to find, salaries higher. But it is not only the strength of the attraction of foreign lands that counts – it is also the strength or weakness of the bond to the homeland.

In the years when “descenders” were considered trash, we were proud of being Israeli. During the fifties and sixties, whenever I presented my Israeli passport at any border control, I felt good. Israel was viewed with admiration throughout the world, not least by our enemies.

I believe that it is a basic human right to be proud of one’s society, one’s country. People belong to nations. Even in today’s global village, most people need the sense of belonging to a certain place, a certain people. No one wants to be ashamed of them.

Today, when presenting his passport, an Israeli feels no such pride. He may feel a sense of contrariness (“us against the whole world”), but he or she is conscious of his country being considered by many as an apartheid state, oppressing another people. Every person abroad has seen countless photos of heavily armed Israel soldiers confronting Palestinian women and children. Nothing to be proud of.

This is not a subject anyone ever speaks of. But it is there. And it is bound to get worse.

Jewish Israelis are already a minority in the country ruled by Israel, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. The majority of subjects deprived of all rights is growing by the year. Oppression will necessarily grow. The image of Israel throu