Tuesday, May 31, 2011

memorial for Gaza flotilla dead

Today I went to downtown Chicago where there was a gathering to remember the people killed by Israeli commandos who boarded the Gaza flotilla this time last year. A picture of each victim was held by someone. It was also a send-off to local people (3 from Illinois) who are going to be aboard the ship Audacity of Hope, carrying Americans in the flotilla that will be sailing to Gaza at the end of June. Below is one of them, Kathy Kelly, addressing the group.

We walked across the Michigan Avenue bridge over the Chicago River to the building where the Israeli consulate is located. Police were present, of course, as were a couple of guys representing a lawyers group that is on hand to advise of legal issues if problems arise. None did. I would estimate there were about 35 people present, about the same number who will be on the Audacity of Hope. You can read what each of those passengers and crew has to say.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Canada Park

Within the occupied territories is a park built with money donated to the Jewish National Fund by Canadians called, appropriately enough, Canada Park.

In this compelling 30 minute program produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation twenty years ago (1991) the story of how this clean, modern, attractive place came to be built over three destroyed Palestinian villages, the silent evidence of which remained in 1991, is told.

Be aware that as I write, the Jewish National Fund is attempting to create a forest on the site of the Al Arakib bedouin village in the Negev desert. The Israeli police/IDF have destroyed that village a scarcely believable 2 dozen times (tents are erected and then they are swept away).

UPDATE: January 1, 2012. The following video is an account of the operations of the JNF and Canada Park is mentioned. The video starts with the situation at El Arakib.

Friday, May 27, 2011

last trip home for Raed Abu Hamad

Never heard of him? Neither had I. He's just one more dead Palestinian, not surviving a term in Israel's prisons. Israel says he killed himself but his body has marks on it of mistreatment. A Palestinian doctor examines him and then he is put into an Israeli ambulance to be transferred to a Palestinian ambulance - which is where you should join the story in this video at 19:40 and watch to the end, the earlier part deals primarily with the doctors.

You'll see how the dead are treated by the family and the society in this very intimate view that accompanies the body from the ambulance to the graveyard. This is not something that we in the West are likely to otherwise see.

This is a chapter in Sleepless in Gaza and Jerusalem. I highly recommend the entire series for an understanding of the humanity of a people treated as less than human by Israel.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

3 cheers for Rae Abileah!

Today I called all three of my people in Congress and let them know how disgusted I was with the standing ovations for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as he spoke to them. The man has no business addressing the legislature of a country supposedly dedicated to freedom and justice for all.

But there was one very bright spot in the darkness - Rae Abileah of CodePink who courageously shouted out the truth to Netanyahu. She is an eloquent speaker. Listen to her tell of her views and of the event as she is interviewed by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. Go to 30:30 in the video

This is a screenshot of Rae Abileah - not an embedded video - it will not play.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

racism in 1947 just like today

Here is a remarkable article published in the NY Times in 1947 describing the attitudes of Zionist settlers toward the Arabs. Thanks to Paul Woodward of War in Context for this information.


Sure of Superiority, Settlers Feel They Can Win Natives by Reason or Force
By Clifton Daniel

JERUSALEM, March 19 — Palestine’s Zionists are generally confident that relations with their Arab neighbors can be satisfactorily adjusted once the country’s political status has been settled.

If not confident, they rarely allow themselves to be troubled by the problem, being usually preoccupied with issues they consider more urgent. That attitude, which has been manifested in numerous conversations that I have had in the past three weeks with everyday citizens of all degrees, has developed in spite of the fact that the presence of the Arab majority is fundamentally the largest obstacle to the achievement of Zionism’s national aims.

It is an attitude shared by almost everyone, no matter which of the many proposed political solutions he may advocate. A non-party professional man of Rehovoth summarized it when he said: “Give use time, give us peace and give us a policy.”

Surprised at Mention

Talking to Jews in ordinary walks of life — not Zionist leaders — one gets the impression that relations with the Arabs are not among there major concerns. Some were even surprised that in the present circumstances the subject should be discussed.

Their unconcern seems to be the product of several factors. First of all, they feel, although not boastfully, that as a people they are superior to the Arabs in skill and education. “Look at an Arab village and a Jewish settlement side by side,” one of them remarked recently. “There is a difference of 200 or 300 years.”

Another man stated the difference even more bluntly when he described the Western Jew as bearing the same relation to the Oriental Arab as the white man to the native in a colonial system. Some of the chauvinistic youth carry this feeling of superiority so far as to despise the Arab as an inferior.

Whatever the degree of their superiority complex, however, the Jews are certainly confident of their ability to bring the Arabs to terms — by persuasion if possible, by might if necessary. The program of the largest terrorist group, the Irgun Zvai Leumi, is to evacuate the British forces from Palestine and declare a Zionist state west of the Jordan, and “we will take care of the Arabs.”

Some of this confidence may be whistling in the dark. In any case the usual emphasis is not on might but persuasion. There appears to be a sincere belief among Zionists that their settlement in Palestine has conferred large and tangible benefits on the indigenous population. Everyone can cite an example from their own experience.

“I would be deceiving you if I told you that we are consciously thinking about improving the condition of the Arabs all the time,” one man told me. “Naturally we devote our first and best efforts to our own people coming from Europe. We help the Arabs incidentally — largely by example. As a result of our example they are freeing themselves from feudalism.”

Sure Arabs Are Grateful

The Zionists are convinced that the Arabs are grateful for the improvements introduced by Jews and would so express themselves if not incited by the politicians to make a show of hostility.

Wherever Arabs are left to their own inclinations, Zionists frequently tell you, they show themselves friendly. They make a ceremony of welcoming new Jewish settlements, often bringing coffee and food on the first day. They sit side by side with Jews in public markets, work in Jewish enterprises, buy from Jewish stores in spite of the Arabs’ anti-Zionist boycott, and deal with Jewish banks. Their inherent willingness to get along with Jews is the primary article of the Zionists’ faith.

Nevertheless, Arab-Jewish relations are admitted by Zionists to be almost entirely commercial. The relationship is usually one of buyer and seller, employer and employee. The cultural gulf, Zionists say, is such that social relationships are virtually impossible. Simple country Arabs sometimes invite their Jewish neighbors to their traditional festivities but the invitations are admittedly seldom returned.

Look for Common Interests

“Wherever there are common interests relations are good,” one Zionist observed. A young skilled workman who had joined his Arab colleagues in a strike against the Iraq Petroleum Company in Haifa explained his cooperation by saying: “We have common interests.”

There is a belief that areas of common interest would be enlarged if the political irritant could be removed from Arab-Jewish relations.

A leader of the diamond industry in Tel Aviv contended that substantially enlarging the Jewish community in Palestine was the only way of coming to a settlement with the Arabs. His theory was that the Arabs would either ignore or try to crush a numerically inferior community and that immigration was the only means of bettering the Zionists’ bargaining position.

Neither he nor virtually any other Zionist with whom I talked would consider being subject to the Arab majority in Palestine. They wish to feel secure in their culture, religion and economy and to be free to develop a Zionist national home in their own way without restrictions.

Some Jews in Palestine have already attained that feeling of freedom from the restrictive presence of Arabs. In Nevah Ilan the Arab problem did not seem to exist for the young, husky French settlers, mostly veterans of the resistance.

Nevah Ilan, established four months ago, is almost literally up in the clouds, and the Arabs are far below. Eager, enthusiastic and optimistic, the settlers are absorbed in the task of restoring life to a barren but beautiful hill. Almost their only contact with their neighbors has been one visit by an Arab, who showed great interest in their plans and methods.

Tel Aviv Self-Contained

The all-Jewish metropolis of Tel Aviv is self-contained and separated from the rest of the country. The average resident has no daily contact with the majority element of the country — a fact that is probably true of most Jews in Palestine.

Tel Aviv residents do not worry about the Arab problem, a young journalist there said. They do not consider it insurmountable.

“Perhaps we do not have enough contact with the Arabs,” a business man mused somewhat self-reproachingly.

pictures of the past

Below are three moving photos, 2 from 1948 and one taken recently that recall the expulsion of the Palestinians from their land. I found these photos within a very moving post, Why Jews Need to Talk About the Nakba, by Israeli Noam Sheizaf. His thoughts are well worth reading and I've posted these pictures as an inducement to doing so. He speaks of the deliberate avoidance of the situation of the Palestinians in Israel public school education, of the relevance of what happened to the Palestinians with the Native-American experience and to the history of the Jews.

Palestinian refugees in 1948
A Palestinian girl and a man in a refugee camp, 1948
The ruins of Lifta, a Palestinian village near Jerusalem

Monday, May 23, 2011

top recipients of Israel PAC money

Thanks to the Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs for this listing of the top recipients of Israel PAC money.

You will see the leaders of both the House and Senate on this list. I'm sorry to say both of my Illinois senators are here, one of them, Mark Kirk, received so much money that he has already made the career top ten list for the Senate on his first year being in that body.

Also note the presence of House firebrand-for-Israel Illeana Ros-Lehtinen who is the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Note Eric Cantor, the guy who told Israel "we've got your back".

Keep in mind that AIPAC, the #1 Israel lobbying group, has managed to avoid being required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)....continued below...

The description of FARA states (boldface mine):
FARA is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities. Disclosure of the required information facilitates evaluation by the government and the American people of the statements and activities of such persons in light of their function as foreign agents.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Deliberate Deceptions still going strong

In 1993, former U.S. Congressman Paul Findley wrote Deliberate Deceptions
subtitled "facing the facts about the U.S. - Israeli relationship. The book consists of a series of fallacies, each followed by the truth that refutes it. Fully annotated, Findley goes to great lengths to back up what he writes with history and quotes from the people involved.

What hit me most powerfully is what he writes in the epilogue, remembering that this was written almost 20 years ago and George Ball was saying essentially the same thing 40 years ago. These points still hold today.

> Israel is an embattled state largely because of is long history of aggressive territorial expansion at the expense of Arabs, especially Palestinians.

> In its zeal to control the Arabs whose land it seized, Israel engages in inhumane practices that violate international law and the idealistic vision that brought Israel into being

> Israel will remain an embattled state until it ends its occupation of Arab land, its subjugation of the inhabitants, and its discrimination against Arab citizens

> The United States provides the support without which Israel could not maintain its repression of human rights and territorial expansion. This collusive relationship severely damages U.S. influence worldwide. It has led our government into the disgraceful practice of turning a blind eye to Israeli violations of both international and U.S. law, a habit widely noted by foreign leaders.

If anything, the United States has become "Israelified", now doing things typical of Israel such as extra-judicial targeted killing about which it openly brags (bin Laden) and the absolute refusal to see any responsibility for growing international chaos that is driven by what ones own country does. Thousands upon thousands of Iraqis and Afganis are dead from the pointless U.S. interventions in two countries, yet we look upon the slaughter as righteously motivated, just as Zionists think nothing of the woe they lay upon the Palestinians.

I cannot begin to calculate how harmful to the U.S. has been its relationship to Israel, yet the voices in Congress keep trumpeting the "special relationship" in what will one day be seen clearly as a great perversity in American history.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nakba message

I wrote the following to my two senators and congresswoman to mark the Nakba of the Palestinians...

On the occasion of the Nakba (catastrophe) for the Palestinians, a people you do not hear, with no voting bloc to earn your respect, I have a brief quote from Native-American Luther Standing Bear of the Lakotah (Sioux) Nation, who, though long dead, could speak for the Palestinians today.

"They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one: they promised to take our land and they took it. It was not hard to see that the white people coveted every inch of land on which we lived. Greed. Humans wanted the last bit of ground which supported Indian feet. It was land - it has ever been land - for which the White man oppresses the Indian and to gain possession of which he commits any crime. Treaties that have been made are vain attempts to save a little of the fatherland, treaties holy to us by the smoke of the pipe - but nothing is holy to the white man. Little by little, with greed and cruelty unsurpassed by the animal, he has taken all. The loaf is gone and now the white man wants the crumbs"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

ethnic cleansing, done cleanly

If you are at all interested in the subject of Israel, which means if you are reading this blog, then you should be reading the Israeli newspaper Haaretz as well. The full paper is published in Hebrew and only part is translated to English but not a day goes by without something valuable to read - it is what a newspaper should be - honest with its readers.

What I want to have you read today is about what has always been suspected - that Israel gets rid of Palestinians in any way it can. Clearly the Nazi method of extermination cannot be undertaken because there would be no way to keep it under wraps, but the motivation is there, always has been since the founding of Zionism, and the feeling that Arabs of any stripe are less than human is widely held (even by my brother-in-law, who, though Jewish, is not Israeli).

So, though no big surprise, it is now official as the headline states - Justice Ministry admits it covertly canceled residency status of 140,000 Palestinians. Please read the story.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Israeli Pappe on history and his story

In this engrossing interview, Israeli professor of history Ilan Pappe speaks of his own coming to the truth, how his fellow citizens and Haifa University react to him, what happens to students who move from eagerness to learn when undergrads to fears for their careers at grads. Since this video was made in 2010, Pappe has left Israel for Exeter University in Britain where he is head of the history department.

His advice to Americans - if we learn the truth about Israel we will go with the victim and not the victimizer. Informing Americans is what this blog is all about.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

the value of 2500 lives

On the occasion of Osama bin Laden's death, it's worth considering the value of life and how the loss of life is presented.

On 9/11, the attack on the World Trade Center resulted in about 2500 lives being lost. In the following weeks, articles about those who were killed dominated the newspapers. The New York Times printed thumbnail pictures of everyone along with short biographies and the United States went all-out to award the families of the deceased compensation even if they had life insurance. Those who did the killing were studied as portraits in insanity; crazed terrorists and religious fanatics. There was no doubt the lives of the innocents were precious and a great deal of attention was given to finding out how it happened.

by contrast...

From the year 2000 to the end of 2009, over 2500 (2969) Palestinians who were unarmed and not involved in hostilities were killed by Israelis according to the Israeli human rights NGO, B'tselem. Though it is possible that some of the incidents made it to the American press, it's safe to say that they did not receive much attention and most likely no names of the individuals killed were mentioned. For almost all of these victims there would be no picture or biography. Though it is possible that some of the families of those killed received some compensation from Israel, the practice is extremely rare.

In 2000, the Israeli Defense Forces announced that, unless there were special circumstances, there would be no investigation of Palestinian civilian deaths as a result of IDF action. Only just this year (2011) has the IDF agreed to investigate incidents and only because of the prodding of B'tselem. Though Israel received about $3 billion a year in military hardware between 2000 and 2009 (it gets more now) some of which was used to kill some of these Palestinians, there was never a thought of holding Israel responsible for the use of the weapons. In fact, the United States exempts Israel from the duty to report how foreign aid money is spent, a requirement for all other recipients.

If you are interested in what weapons were used to kill these Palestinians, that information is available from the Federation of American Scientists or presented in a slide show here.

The United States is rightly outraged at the attack on the WTC on 9/11. It is completely silent on the ongoing deaths of Palestinians. What is a human life worth? If you were an American at the WTC on 9/11 the value is huge. If you were a Palestinian at any time over the past 60 years, it is essentially nil.

American opinion of the Palestinians has been low over the years and is not changed by any events. American opinion of Israelis has risen in recent years regardless of the harshness of their treatment of Palestinians and even of the full scale military assault of late 2009, Operation Cast Lead. In America, Israel's public image is literally bulletproof, no matter how many bullets or other weapons it unleashes, it is admired as indicated by the Gallup poll results shown below (more info here). Is there any doubt why Palestinians are frustrated with America as the "peace broker"?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Peres and Netanyahu both spoke but far more interesting than what either said are the comments posted on the Haaretz site of which I reproduce a few...

From "Vladek"
Judaism has spread world wide and influenced the values of many peoples and nations. It's values have not been compromised by nationalism. However Israel has developed its own narrow nationalism attempting to label the state and everything it does as Judaism. It is Israel that is damaging Judaism whereas adhering to Jewish values would give Israel a clear path to truth, justice, reconciliation and peace.
From "Unsavory Echo"
(The Holocaust) evokes absolutely NO sympathy for Israel or it's occupation! As a matter of fact, what it DOES do is raise the obvious question of how it is that a people who have suffered indignity, injustice, dispossession, displacement, and subhuman treatement in their past, can possibly subject others to the same? Mr. Netanyahu ' choice to evoke the memory of the Holocaust in the context of rationalizing Israel's tarnished international image is an insult to its memory! He and his bunch have "de-legitimized" it more than all Israel's adversaries and anti-Semites combined! In two years he's managed to effectively do what they have never quite been able to do. And one has to wonder whether it's ignorance or arrogance which prompts him to attribute it to them?
From "David in California"
I am sorry to say this, but Israel has become an albatross for the world's Jews, and so has the Internet. In the 1950s, '60s and even the '70s, this wasn't so, and Israel enjoyed more sympathy than it does today. Then along came the writings of the New Historians and of Holocaust revisionists and critics of the Israel lobby in USA. Then came the Internet. Then came more writings of many passionate anti-Jewish critics, all added together. Now the global consciousness not only rejects expansionist Israel but has become imbued with contempt for historical Jewry. I think there will be absolutely no way to escape a destiny of hatred in world opinion unless Jews are willing to wake up and make serious amends.