Sunday, February 3, 2019

I listen as Israeli activist Jeff Halper speaks at a local church

Last night I attended a talk given by Jeff Halper, a man I met 9 years ago when he was attending a hearing in Chicago on Israeli violations of human rights. He spoke last night primarily about a one state solution for all the people of Palestine/Israel.

Jeff was born and spent his youth in the U.S. before moving to Israel and becoming a citizen there in 1974. He is active in the Israeli Campaign Against Housing Demolitions (ICAHD) that rebuilds Palestinian home demolished by Israel. Israel uses demolitions as a way of evicting Palestinians citing Israeli laws that prevent any construction in Palestinian areas. Jeff mentioned in his talk that ICAHD had over the years rebuilt 300 homes, but that Israel had demolished 50,000 since 1967. I took a look at my post about Jeff from 9 years ago and noted the figure for demolitions at the time was 24,000 so Israel has been very busy.

On this trip to the states, Jeff is also promoting his new book, War Against the People, that tells of the large worldwide market for Israeli military and security related hardware. He told us that Israel is the second largest arms supplier to China and he displayed a map of the world indicating all the places where Israeli items from Kfir jets to crypto-analytic software are sold. Israel promotes its products as tested and proven which Jeff told us means used upon the Palestinians.

With all this income from exports, one has to wonder why the United States is providing Israel with $38 billion in military hardware over the current ten year long "memorandum of understanding" signed by President Obama. The answer is, of course, that the great majority of that money must be spent on U.S. military equipment. It is a gift both to Israel and U.S. military contractors.

Jeff spoke passionately for 90 minutes, letting us know what I already knew, that the two-state solution offered in what were claimed to be peace talks and the solution that is automatically voiced by U.S. politicians who know it is a safe position to take, is dead. He showed a map of the West Bank that makes it obvious that there is no place for a Palestinian state. Israel never intended such a state to be and has always refused to call its rule of the West Bank an occupation since in the view of most Israelis the land is Israel's that just happens to have Arabs living on it...for now.

If not two states, then the future must be one state for all the people, not just Jews. In answer to what the state might be called, Jeff joked it might be "Palestein" but the concept is quite serious. The group associated with the promotion of the idea was founded by 100 people, Jews and Arabs, including Jeff, called One Democratic State Campaign (Facebook) and has a ten point political program outlining what ODSC stands for...

1. a single constitutional democracy
2. the right of return for Palestinian refugees
3. individual rights shared by all
4. collective rights (no discrimination against any community)
5. immigration open to all
6. construction of a shared society (institutions open to all)
7. economic justice (ending the current full services for Jews and substandard service for Arabs)
8. commitment to human rights, justice and peace.
9. joining with those in Arab countries who long to see democracy in their states as well
10. joining the international community of progressives supporting an alternative global order that
stands for egalitarianism and the end of intolerance, oppression and wars

I see nothing in this list I would disapprove, but as I mentioned in a question I asked Jeff, the government of Israel, one that has been repeatedly supported by a majority of Israelis, stands four square for sustaining the oppressive apartheid system they conduct at present. The road to implementation of a single state for all will be rough and cannot make progress without the support of the United States, which, though it claims to be for liberty and justice for all, backs the opposite in Israel.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Bradley Burston on toxic Zionism

Bradley Burston of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has written a powerful opinion piece that is so impressive I reproduce it here. Zionism was originally an attempt to shelter a helpless people by giving them complete control in a country of their own, but with the unlimited power it now has under the protection of the United States it has become a monster of oppression allowing Zionists, if they so choose, to act like Nazis once did with impunity and for the same reason: power without accountability. Like National Socialism, Zionism will fail because the contempt for others that comes with power is inevitable in the two ideas.

          There's something inside me that I can't seem to get rid of. I push it down, try to pay no attention, but still it rattles around down there, souring the system. Then, over the last miserable couple of weeks, I realized that it's time I brought this up, to the surface, and, at long last, dealt with it.

It's about ZionismZionism as a form of toxic masculinity.

Toxic masculinity, as in: I, as a self-decreed Alpha, can do whatever the Capital Eff I please, to whomever I please, for whatever personal benefit I can extract, with absolutely no fear of negative consequence.

As in: I should be able to badger and bludgeon anyone I please, in order to get my way, regardless of the issue, regardless of how many people it hurts, demeans, infuriates, oppresses.  

Why? #BecauseZionism.

It has to do with toxic masculinity in behavior, policy, enforcement, in word and deed. In the West Bank, and in Israel proper.

It has to do with just one week, in which right-wing Israeli soldiers attacked and fought with Israeli Border Police, in an effort to forcibly release settlers the Border Police troops had arrested for throwing stones at Palestinian homes in the West Bank. 

You read that right.  

It has to do with settlers pressuring cabinet ministers to attend a protest AGAINST their own government, for not acting fast enough to respond to terrorist attacks by immediately legalizing – in the vernacular, "Koshering" - thousands of settlement homes which even Israel recognizes were built illegally on Palestinian-owned land. Obedient as dogs under a threatening stick, nine ministers, one short of a cabinet majority, attended the protest, 

You read that right.

All in the service of Zionism as a form of toxic masculinity – all for the sake of the new Greater Israel, where 2,000 wrongs make a right wing.

All for the sake of Zionism, which has testosteronized into a he-man, screw-everyone-but-us government of the settlers, by the settlers, for the settlers. A government deriving its just powers from the consent of the settlers. And no one else. 

It has to do with overstepping – crushing underfoot - all imaginable bounds, just because you can. It has to do with Israel pressuring U.S. state and federal government to enact anti-BDS legislation, and reportedly asking German Chancellor Angela Merkel to act to cut-off German funding to organizations and institutions which Benjamin Netanyahu's office views as critical of its policies – among them, the Israeli news and commentary website +972 Magazine, and, most astonishing, the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

You read that right, too.

It has to do with doing all that, and then saying nothing, looking the other way, when a Texas school district allegedly fires a children’s speech pathologist because she refused to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel, prompting a lawsuit over First Amendment rights.

All for the sake of a Zionism which now takes the worst, most obnoxious elements of what may be called the Israeli personality, and glorifies them, to the exclusion of what was once actually positive here. 

Meet the New Zionist Man: Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Bezalel Smotrich, of the radical settler-dominated Tkuma faction of the hardline Bayit Hayehudi party. 

Famed for: Having called an LGBTQ Pride march a "parade of beasts"; having urged segregation of Arabs and Jews in hospital maternity wards ("It is natural that my wife would not want to lay down next to someone who just gave birth to a baby who might want to murder her baby in another 20 years."); having said that children throwing stones at soldiers should be shot to death, and having declared, regarding Israelis, that God commanded Jews not to sell homes to Arabs.

Current claim to fame: Author of profoundly surreal legislation initially approved Sunday by the Netanyahu cabinet, which would, if passed by the Knesset, magically legalize no fewer than 65 illegal West Bank outposts, supply them with infrastructure, government services, connection to the Israel Electric Corporation power grid, and a Treasury guarantee of a mortgage for any settlers who want to build a new home where they are – as well as effective immunity from official enforcement actions like eviction and demolition. 

Or Meet the New Zionist Man: Yair Netanyahu, prospective Knesset Likud candidate, and the potty-mouthed, racist, girlfriend-humiliating, hormone-driven, uber-privileged, colossally arrogant sock-puppet son of the prime minister. 

Watch him progress in stature and influence as he publicly advocates ethnic cleansing against millions of Muslims, promotes anti-Semitism against left-leaning Jews, swears on the witness stand like a leave-drunk sailor, and, for dessert, makes obscene gestures in a courtroom, 

Watch his proud parents kvell. 

Why? 'Cause he's a real man. Cause he's a real rightist. Cause he's Israeli and Jewish and Likud.

Because Zionism now equals settlements. And democracy-strangling legislation. Because in order to win the favor of the crucial swing vote of racist ultra-masculine (in their own minds) neo-Kahane neo-fascists and, yes, to win the favor of the settlement movement, Israel's leaders now call for war when the military is against it. 

Groveling at the feet of the far-right, beating their chests like male great apes in display, Israel's leaders now want to uproot and expel family members of terrorists - even when the Shin Bet and senior army and police officials have explicitly and repeatedly told the cabinet ministers that the expulsions are counter-productive in combating terror, and are directly in conflict with to Israel's short- and long-term interests at home and abroad.

You read that right. 

It's gotten so bad that the discourse of toxic masculinity now also extends to those who oppose Zionism, and who have adopted its aversion to sympathy and compassion for any of those who stand on the other side of the conflict.

So where does that leave me? 

It leaves me, and an enormous number of other Jews, orphaned of a homeland, supplanted by well-meaning evangelicals and foreign anti-Semites and other Greater Israel-friendly supporters of settlements and permanent occupation and permanent Netanyahu and permanent warfare and permanent collective punishment and denial of basic rights for millions of Palestinians. 

I can tell you this: If this is Zionism, I am so off the bus. 

If you'll excuse me, I have some uprooting and expulsion of my own to do. Inside me.

There may be no cure for toxic masculinity, but that's no reason to leave it to fester where it is.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Khashoggi murder in perspective

The world is in an uproar, quite properly, over the murder of one Saudi journalist in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.

At the same time, it makes clear the hypocrisy of the world over the daily killings by sniping of unarmed Palestinians at the Gaza/Israel border. These killings, actually executions, are being done by the IDF, the army of Israel with not the slightest reprimand from Washington.

The life of a journalist lost is unacceptable, but the many lives, thousands over the years, of Palestinians by Israel is even more so.

Here is an email I have sent to my U.S. Representative, Jan Schakowsky...

Dear Jan: I know that you, like me, are outraged by what appears to have happened to one man at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. Yet, I know you are more than willing to overlook the many killings of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers executing them at the Gaza/Israel border on a daily basis, ongoing now for months.

I would like to think this is due to the views of your donor base and not to your personal feelings. You are a very commendable Congressperson with a record that, with the exception of Israel, deserves praise. Even then you do occasionally show some thought on that country as you did when you refused to attend the speech to Congress by PM Netanyuhu when he was invited by Republicans. I hope that before you retire you will find the courage to stand up for liberty and justice for all for a people kept under the boot of Israel for over 60 years now with the full support of the USA.

Friday, October 5, 2018

State anti-boycott laws will fall

There's good news today from Palestine Legal telling of a judge stopping the enforcement of Arizona's anti boycott of Israel law, Arizona being one of 25 states to have such a law pushed through by the Israel lobby. Since the Supreme Court has long held that a corporation is a person with rights protected by the Constitution, it stands to reason that freedom of speech by a business cannot be limited by states.

The anti-boycott of Israel laws specify that if a business participates in a boycott of Israel, the state will not do business with it. This is an attempt to cripple the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement (BDS) that was started by the Palestinians as a peaceful method of putting pressure on Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank, to give equal rights to Palestinians and to allow Palestinians to return to their homes in Israel.

Eventually a case such as this one in Arizona will work its way to the Supreme Court where it will be ruled unconstitutional, invalidating all such state laws.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Zionism is anti-Semitism? A must read

Five years ago Joseph Massad wrote an essay for Al Jazeera's website, The Last of the Semites, subtitled, "It is Israel's claims that it represents and speaks for all Jews that are the most anti-Semitic claims of all."

How can this possibly be? Can you think of a any title more likely to make people scoff?

I gave him a chance and he makes a solid case, pointing out that Zionism shared with European anti-Semitism the idea than Jews in Europe were not Europeans, but a people apart who could never belong and needed to be moved from Europe to a place of their own. This is in contrast to the view of the great majority of European Jews who did not have any desire to go to Palestine and felt themselves to be part of the countries in which they lived. Massad's article is a must read.

Zionism was having a very hard time attracting Jews to Palestine until after World War 2. Then, with the aid of anti-Semitism in the US and Britain that denied Jews in the displaced persons camps of Europe entry, Zionists were assured of an influx of Jews to Palestine, who had nowhere else to go. In fact Zionists did what they could to keep the US and Britain from admitting Holocaust survivors. For detailed information on this period, read In the Shadow of the Holocaust by Yosef Grodzinsky.

Today, Benjamin Netanyahu continues to tell European Jews that they should move to Israel and insists that he in his role as Israeli Prime Minister speaks for Jews worldwide, outright denying by this that such people, equal to the number of Israelis, are simply American, German or English. In other words they are to be discriminated as Jews, called out to leave their homes against their own preference to be known as citizens of their native lands.

In short, Hitler had and Netanyahu has the view that half the world's Jews should not stay where they are for the fact that they are Jews. Hitler had no objection to German Jews going to Palestine and neither does Netanyahu. In fact Zionists worked out a deal with Hitler in 1933 to expedite such a move. You may recall an eager Netanyahu rushing to Paris after the Charlie Hebdo killings. The man is concerned with convincing non-Israeli Jews that they should leave their own countries for a place he designates for them, while at the same time proclaiming he speaks for them.

Anti-Semitism is the idea that Jews are not like other people, but must be set apart. Zionism endorses this with the added ideas that there is only one place where Jews do belong and it must be exclusively theirs with the expulsion of non-Jews who are native to the place selected. In the long run, this cannot last, but the horror of the Holocaust gave it a boost that has kept the idea going as Israel moves further to the right. This is to be expected of a society based on discrimination that blatantly oppresses under the protection of a country that has the gall to claim it stands for liberty and justice for all. It says volumes that Donald Trump is very popular in Israel.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

a primer on Israel/Palestine, and emotional non-sequiturs

I began this blog years ago with the intention of spreading the truth about the plight of the Palestinians, wrongly maligned in the United States and inaccurately portrayed in history by "The Story of Israel" that is accepted without question in the U.S.

The first years of this blog make up a tutorial on the situation in Israel/Palestine. As this foundation has been built, my postings have tapered off. But I have found an excellent tutorial that covers the period from the start of Zionism through 2014 from the Middle East Research and Information Project. It is 16 pages of small print, but it covers the subject all in one place.

Few will read it.

It is a fact that emotions rather than facts determine the views of most people. Learning about any subject takes effort and few will bother to understand foreign affairs particularly with a mainstream media that paints a ridiculously simplistic picture that any TV viewer can effortlessly watch. If you or I have a generally good or bad feeling about something, even a full presentation of facts that show the feeling is unfounded will be resisted. It is the "my country right or wrong" idea and we see it now in the outright anger that greets new data showing global warming to be real.

Eyes glaze over and attention wanders when Americans should be paying careful attention to a situation that could well bring our country to grief is discussed. Today, in 2018, the U.S. policy in the middle east is the policy that Israel wishes it to be. Donald Trump has moved the U.S. embassy for Israel to Jerusalem, the Israeli settlements continue to expand, Palestinians are murdered by Israeli soldiers sniping them down at the Gaza border, and Iran is demonized. The policy of Benjamin Netanyahu is the policy of Donald Trump.

Rather than attend to the facts, people will support Israel for reasons that have nothing to do with the situation over there. For example, one might say "I have a good Jewish friend that I know strongly supports Israel. He knows more about it than I do and I wouldn't feel right not supporting him." Can you see there is no logical connection here?

Or how about, "I know about the Holocaust and the Jews deserve a place of their own where they feel secure." This thinking disregards entirely the people who are native to Palestine that were ejected by force when Zionists took the area for themselves exclusively in 1948 and continue to take more today. Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once said, "After the Holocaust, Jews are allowed to do anything." It is the same logic.

If my neighbor is terribly wronged by others, does that give him a license to throw me out of my house though I had nothing to do with the wrong done him, because he says he would feel safer having my house for his exclusive use?

The above reasoning is not rational. The only way to take a stand on any issue is to base it on facts that can be used to build an opinion that can be defended. Many Americans who are Jews are revolted by what they see going on in Israel and openly repudiate it, Jewish Voice for Peace being a large group of such people. They base their view on what they know to be true about Israel. Listen to what they say. I do.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Israelis ask for international pressure against Israel

I once wondered what might happen if Palestinians simply marched, unarmed, against the Israeli barriers erected on Palestinian land, whether it be the huge concrete wall or simply the 500 foot deep "no-go" zone in Gaza. Could the Palestinians do what Gandhi had done when he resisted the British presence in India with mass protest that placed human bodies against armed force?

In the last months, I got my answer. Palestinians did exactly that and were shot down at random by Israeli soldiers sniping at them from behind a fence hundreds of feet from where the Gazans stood demonstrating, no threat to Israel. Here is a photo of a Palestinian shot in the face with a tear gas canister, something designed to disperse people, to injure them.

Things have gone so far in Israel that Israelis, a small minority, are asking the outside world to intervene. Of course, there have always been Israeli human rights groups, such as B'Tselem, Breaking the Silence and others I list on this site that have worked against the extreme rightward movement of Israeli society but I think the members of these groups all realize change will not come from the inside.

Here is an essay by two Israelis asking for international intervention, intervention that the United States, alone, always prevents. This protection of a serial violator of international law show that modern Israel is the creation of the United States, ironic for a country that once claimed to be for liberty and justice for all.