Saturday, April 28, 2012

support the Palestinian hunger strikers

A few days ago I posted news of the mass Palestinian hunger strike involving 2000 prisoners. Today I found a petition that can be signed to support those strikers and I encourage you to sign it as I did. Palestinians outside of Israel in the occupied territories are subject to no law but that of the Israeli military. This Guantanamo justice means raids by Israeli soldiers in the middle of the night are routine, as is imprisonment with no charges and kangaroo military courts where the judge is an officer of the army that made the arrest. Prisoners can be held indefinitely and family visits are very difficult since family members must apply to Israel for permission to travel into Israel with little chance of approval. You can find detailed documentation in three of the many excellent publications from the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem: Without Trial, Kept in the Dark and Barred from Contact.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Rashid Khalidi on Ben Gurion's 1937 letter

What is called the Israeli narrative on the history of Palestine would have us believe that Arabs fled from the area when Zionist Jews came; that the indigenous people were scared and left voluntarily. The Zionists did not want to expel those who lived in the area they wished to make a Jewish state but, once the Arabs were gone took advantage of the situation.

This is fiction. What has decisively laid it to rest among knowledgeable people has been the work of those who are called the "new historians" of Israel. Benny Morris and Ilan Pappé are two. It is a comment on the favoritism toward the work of Jewish scholars on Palestinian issues that the truth was not accepted from the people who were subject to the mass expulsion, nor from Arab scholars.

In this video from the Palestinian Studies TV, Professor Khalidi of Columbia University addresses the issue of what David Ben Gurion (considered the father of Israel) himself said about the expulsion of Arabs in a letter he wrote to his son in 1937 which contradicts claims that expulsion was not on the agenda. Khalidi also touches on other subjects related to the American discourse on Palestine. This video was prompted by the pro-Israel organization CAMERA claiming that Ilan Pappé had misrepresented the Ben Gurion letter.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rep. Ellison's clear thinking

Though this little speech is two months old, Rep. Ellison's simple appeal is just as powerful now. To start a war with Iran would be insanity, yet all the Republicans who hoped to be presidential candidates (except Ron Paul) couldn't be too belligerent and even President Obama needs to put Israel at ease almost weekly with anti-Iran comments.

Palestinian mass hunger strike

A mass hunger strike involving 2000 Palestinian prisoners began on April 17. I'm sorry to say I did not learn of it until today when I read a story on the Electronic Intifada about the BBC not reporting it.

EI states, "Palestinian prisoners are protesting Israel’s practice of administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — as well as solitary confinement, the denial of family visits and access to education, and other punitive measures of Israel’s system of arrest and detention which is designed to break the Palestinian struggle for freedom and liberation."

By the way, the force behind EI, Maureen Murphy, who I have mention before, is one of the people the FBI has subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury, a subject in itself. She and others have refused to appear. So far, no action has been taken against them but the threat of imprisonment for refusal hangs over them.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

must watch CBS story

The news magazine 60 Minutes has aired a story about the dwindling population of Christians in the Holy Land. It is a breakthrough of sorts because it dares to touch the third rail of American politics, Israel, in a way that is not flattering. What is most notable about the broadcast is smooth talking Israeli ambassador Michael Oren. As you watch him, can't you imagine him as your friendly neighbor next door, as pleasant and easy-going as one could imagine, and handsome too! Could such a guy tell anything but the truth?

This is Israel's huge advantage in the United States - it has a large number of advocates for Israel who, like Ambassador Oren, look as American as can  be, speak highly of Israel in the halls of power and, because of their open manner convey sincerity. With such folks speaking as they do, why would any American bother to find out the facts?

Watch through to the end because it is there that Mr. Oren reveals the kind of behind the scenes move for censorship that is the hallmark of the Israel lobby in the United States.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Israel sinks lower and lower

Today was a very interesting one regarding Israel.

On one hand, video was released of an Israeli solder hitting a bike rider, on a ride in support of the Palestinians, in the face with his rifle. Of course, brutality by the IDF and settlers is old news but I try to place news here for those who may browse this blog or be visiting for the first time. According to Mondoweiss, "The activists who numbered between 60 and 200 according to differing reports were attempting to bicycle on Route 90, the main north/south artery in the Jordan Valley.  The road is designated for Jewish travelers only. "

On the other hand, Israel pulled a brand new stunt by threatening foreign airlines service to Israel in order to pressure them to deny peaceful protesters seats on planes headed to Israel. Why? Because the folks were planning to attend a non-violent protest in support of the Palestinians. Incredibly, the airlines caved in to this, but the result was probably more productive for the protesters than if they had simply been allowed in to protest. Says one Israeli official, "we have given the other side a victory on a silver platter."

The frenzy with which Israel opposes peaceful people continues to get worse. The whole world is watching.  Things are changing and Israel knows the countdown to the end of apartheid is unstoppable. There is simply no longer a way to spin things as they have been doing since the foundation of the Jewish state. The invisible people are finally being seen.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

regarding Gunter Grass' poem

German author Gunter Grass has released a poem he calls What Must Be Said.

Here is my response to it...

Our psychology, while developed to protect the individual, is very dangerous. At root is the thought that one’s own thinking is objective.

The individual easily assumes that his own reasoning is both logical and based on a hard reality. One also jumps to conclusions about the thinking of others based on suspicion. All of this swims within the mindset created by the psychological environment of the times, in which history plays a large part.

The frightening thing about Israel’s leadership is the mindset of victimization, of “never again”. This paranoia that gives rise to epic self-righteousness sees aggression and the stockpiling of weapon upon weapon as normal, it sees the unilateral pre-emptive strike as prudent. It sees “get him before he gets you” as common sense. With this mindset, what the world sees as peace will never come because no action on the part of the other except abject subservience will ever be acceptable.

Netanyahu and friends are incapable of seeing themselves in the other and do not have any conception that humiliation is unappealing to everyone; Jew, Arab and Iranian alike.
Outside Israel, the horror of the holocaust and feelings of guilt have created a different mindset, one that says “we must never criticize Jews, because they are a special case in history with which we are complicit” This is strongest in Germany for obvious reasons and it is made manifest by submarines and financial payments.

Put these two complimentary mindsets together and you have a license for Israel to commit all manner of mayhem – the perpetrators feeling no qualms about whatever they do, and the Western observers trying to assuage their consciences by saying little or nothing about the mayhem.

This is why Grass so perfectly titles his effort “what must be said”. He wants to shatter this rigid psychological crystal that binds both the Israelis and the West and makes Israeli initiated tragedy inevitable.

Israel is a not a result of the action of a group of dedicated Jewish fighters in Palestine. That was necessary but not sufficient for the creation. Far from a miracle of God as some would have it, Israel is the result of the complementary mindsets described above acting in concert. As with so many things, what seemed to many like a good idea at the time is now playing out into a disaster of human rights and potential world war.

Grass’ work will likely have little effect on his generation or the one after. It is only the youth who are born free of the mindset (before it is inculcated) that have the fresh eyes that will make it possible to stop feeding Israel with the weaponry that makes it the beast it was inevitable it would come to be.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

targeting UNRWA

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which I have mentioned before, could hardly be a more benevolent organization. It has been providing for the Palestinian refugees from just after the establishment of Israel to the present time. The  58 refugee camps it maintains are a reminder of the fact that millions of people are still prevented by Israel from returning to the towns from which they were evicted.

Obviously, these camps are facts on the ground which Israel would love to see eliminated and it should be no surprise that the Jewish state has done all it can over the years to oppose funding for UNRWA.

I just received a notice from UNRWA that it will not be able to run the summer games for Palestinian youth that it has conducted for the past six years due to a shortage of funds.

In the United States, U.S. Representative Illeana Ros-Lehtinen is continually acting for Israel in calling for the elimination of funding for anything having to do with the Palestinians, UNRWA in particular. Israel, however is the beneficiary of billions of dollars annually agreed to for ten year periods and then gets additional gifts on top of it.

This is testimony to the control of U.S. foreign policy in Israel/Palestine by the Israel lobby.

You might consider donating to UNRWA on your own, as I do. It's the least an American citizen can do to counteract the capture of the Congress.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land

"We don't see the suffering that the Palestinians are undergoing through the occupation. We don't really understand how bad the occupation is for them. No empathy. The sympathy. No sight of women unable to reach a hospital to give birth and...their babies dying at the checkpoint because they can't get through. If you don't see that your heart doesn't skip a beat and say - something is wrong with the occupation."

Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land is an 80 minute video that, though it goes no further than the years of Ariel Sharon as Israeli Prime Minister, it hits all the topics that remain true today. The techniques of Israel's PR are covered fully along with the failure of U.S. journalists to do their job of reporting the whole story. Unfortunately, it all remains true today.

This is the video that Rick Steves viewed and afterward commented that he felt he had been duped by Israel.

The program is available for sale but you can watch it all if you are willing to put up with the words FOR PREVIEW ONLY faintly displayed throughout.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

how do ceasefires end?

Nancy Kanwisher has written an article at the Huffington Post that documents how lulls in conflict between Israel and the Palestinians end. It contains this remarkable chart...

To the left is the percentage of conflicts that end after the number of days specified at the bottom. The bars are black for Israel, gray for Palestinian attacks and white for both on the same day. As can easily be seen, for all pause durations shown, Israel is always the leader in resuming attacks and is the only party that resumes attacks after the longer pause durations (10 days or more). The full article is well worth reading.