My meeting with Henry Waxman Nov 09, 2010 11:53 pm | Brian Van Slyke
Disclaimer: I wrote the following a couple of hours after my encounter with Congressman Henry Waxman today. This is not verbatim, it is not a transcript, but it is my recollection of the conversation. I've kept in everything from our discussion as I remembered it - including the things I said that could have been much better.
It's not every day you see a Representative of the House outside of the coffee shop you're about to enter. Well, at least not one as recognizable as the liberal titan Henry Waxman. But there he was: talking on his phone on the street corner, only ten feet away from me.
Dear lord, I thought to myself. Should I say something to him? Should I say something about ending military aid to Israel, ending the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan? Oh god, I should, but I hate confrontations.
The congressman continued to walk around on his phone, talking to someone who was probably Very Important about a Seriously Important Subject. Should I say something?
Waxman went into a next door restaurant and sat down to eat with another man, someone I didn't recognize. Oh damn, there went my opportunity, I thought. I don't want to interrupt his lunch – that would be rude.
And I almost walked away. But then I thought: Our two wars and occupations are rude - they don't give a damn if they interrupt anyone's lunch. I'm never going to get this opportunity again. So I quickly contacted some friends and asked – what should I say to Henry Waxman? Several people told me: just tell him you're young, you're Jewish, and you're disappointed in the way congress has dealt with Israel and Palestine. Let the conversation go from there.
I waited around for a few minutes outside, deliberating with myself if I should spark what was sure to be a tense conversation in a crowded place. And just as I was about to chicken out – this was a Congressman, after all – I saw Mr. Waxman and his companion exit the restaurant, walking directly towards the car I was standing next to.
Excuse me, I said as Waxman approached, before I really realized what I was doing, are you Henry Waxman?
Yes I am, he replied, strolling up to me, ready to talk with this random citizen on the street. This was actually a pleasant surprise – I was expecting him to shake my hand and then quickly rush off to whatever Important Meeting he had next.
It wasn't to remain pleasant for very long.
My name's Brian Van Slyke, and I'm a young Jewish American, I said.
Okay, nice to meet you, he said as he stuck out his hand for me to shake.
I took his hand and shook , and the words just spilled out: I just want to say that I'm really disappointed in the way your Democrat-led congress has dealt with the Palestine/Israel issue.
Well, there was no going back now.
He nodded his head slowly, as if he already knew where this were going.
I can't believe that Congress continues to provide Israel with 3 billion dollars in military aid every year, I continued. To me, this is in direct opposition to the promotion of freedom, democracy, and human rights you liberal Democrats claim to promote.
He stood up a little straighter and his eyes widened – this certainly wasn't what we was expecting to hear.
That money is supporting an apartheid wall, it is being employed to expand Israel's illegal colonies, it is maintaining a deadly and unjust occupation, it -
Wait a minute, he said, waving his hand. Let me stop you right there before you take your rhetoric too far.
Okay, I had had my say – I was ready to hear his response.
There are nations in the Middle East that want nothing more than to wipe Israel off the map, and that money we give is to protect them from that threat. The Separation Wall was installed to stop terrorist attacks. It was put up and it has stopped Palestinians from blowing themselves up and killing innocent Israelis.
I could almost see him mentally going down the AIPAC checklist of responses.
You can't - I began to interject.
Wait a minute, he insisted, waving his hand again. Let me say what I have to say. You said your part, let me say mine. That was fair, I thought. I don't like when people interrupt me, so I was willing to respect that for him as well – even though he had certainly cut me off only moments ago.
He went on: And the settlements, he seemingly emphasized his watered-down choice of the words - settlements – to contrast my far more accurate term (colonies), well they are another story. If you are talking about the settlements in Jerusalem, that's one thing. If you're talking about the settlements in the West Bank, that's another. The settlements in East Jerusalem are a difficult matter, as they are in the capital of that state [Israel]; but if you're going to have a Palestinian state, they are going to want East Jerusalem for their capital. The settlements in the West Bank, well I certainly agree that those have to stop in order to bring about a two-state solution. But the Separation Wall, that has saved innocent people's lives.
This was just too much – I had so many rebuttals boiling inside of me that I nearly blurted them all out at once. But I took a deep breath and decided to take him point-by-point: I think you're completely wrong there. That Wall, which is enforcing apartheid rule, is not maintaining peace but fostering misery. It makes life unbearable for many Palestinians – it has stolen countless Palestinian land; it has cut families and towns off from each other; trips to work or school that were once normal now take hours or are just impossible to make at all. Its destroying lives, towns, and economies while stealing land. You can't say that's saving innocent lives because -
He cut me off: Look, before terrorists were killing Israelis in buses and now they're not.
I'm sorry, I said, slightly indignant, I let you finish, so will you let me finish what I was saying?
No, you said your thing, then I said my thing, and now I have to go. We don't have time to talk about this whole issue in this small discussion. By the way, I think you're understating some of your case and overstating other parts. He, along with the man he had been dining with, started to make towards the car next to me. But I wasn't ready to let him get off that easily.
The military aid to Israel which you and the rest of congress provide is the thing that is killing innocent people. That money goes to build weapons that kill Palestinians, bulldoze homes, and maintain Gaza as the world's largest open air prison camp! It -
There are Arab nations in the Middle East that want to destroy Israel! He stammered, still heading towards the car. Some of those include Palestinians!
Now, that just made no sense. He was obviously frustrated.
First of all, I began (okay, I was losing my cool too – my voice was on the rise), that just has no basis in reality! Palestinians don't have a nation. You can't just make things-
They were supposed to! Israel withdrew from Gaza and said have this country, we will help you build an economy - but their will was to elect Hamas! He was reaching for the car door, opening it, but still facing me and arguing.
There were so many absurd statements in that single sentence that I was simply flabbergasted. Honestly, my next reply should have been more thoughtful, but I was just at a loss for words. I had no idea how to reply to a man that was so detached from reality.
You honestly don't understand the situation, do you? You don't seem to know the issue at all, it's as though-
I know what apartheid is! He insisted as he climbed into the passenger seat and his companion entered the driver's side. I know what apartheid looks like. That is not apartheid.
He closed the door without another word.
I bent down and looked into the window, but he refused to make eye contact with me and stared straight ahead as his companion put the keys into the ignition.
No, I raised my voice loud enough so that the car window wouldn't be a barrier. You know who knows what apartheid looks like? That would be Desmond Tutu! I'm pretty sure Desmond Tutu is more familiar with apartheid than yourself. And he says that there is apartheid in Israel and Palestine!
The congressman just shook his head and did not respond. The engine had started and his companion, who hadn't said one word the whole time, shifted the car into drive.
By the way, that's Archbishop Desmond Tutu, I continued, perhaps louder than I should have, Nobel peace prize winner, who lived under and struggled against apartheid in South Africa. Are you really going to disagree with Desmond Tutu on what apartheid looks like?
The car drove off without another response.
I looked around and saw that there were people looking at me oddly – but I didn't feel ashamed, I just became aware that my heart was pounding from nervousness and adrenaline. I was glad that I had overcome my initial trepidation.
I finally went and got that coffee I was initially after.
I don't think our little argument will change Congressman Waxman's mind in anyway, nor do I suspect that he will he wake up tomorrow suddenly aware of the errors of his way. Yet, I do think our encounter shook him up. I'm fairly positive that the last person he would've expected to challenge him on military aid to Israel would be a young Jewish kid on the street. But alongside my Jewish peers that openly challenged Prime Minister Netanyahu just yesterday, I think we're beginning to show the old guard that we do not share the loyal-to-Israel-no-matter-what mentality. Instead, that identity is rapidly fading for many Jews who are instead reclaiming their long legacy of standing for social justice.
So, I hope Mr. Waxman tells his colleagues – Democrats and Republicans alike – of this unfortunate, annoying, and surely frustrating occurrence. And this is the message I hope he carries: whether you are the Prime Minister of Israel speaking to a massive gathering of Jews, or you are a Congressperson outside of a coffee shop who happens to meet a young Jew, it is no longer safe to assume that we all abide by the blind allegiance to a state that falsely claims to speak for everyone of us. Rather, our allegiance is to our fellow human beings, and especially to those that are oppressed - and that means challenging the apartheid and colonialist policies of Israel wherever we find them.
I hope they are beginning to understand that we are everywhere.
Brian Van Slyke is an activist as well as an educator. He has facilitated workshops and classes on everything from organizing protests to the history of colonialism and slavery. He was raised by a Jewish mother who taught him solid non/anti-Zionist principles.
Jewish Values vs. Israeli Policies: Why five young Jews disrupted PM Netanyahu in New Orleans Nov 09, 2010 11:50 pm | Rae Abileah
The five young Jewish activists after disrupting Netanyahu.
Being young and Jewish and realizing what Israel's occupation is really like, contrary to what we may have been taught in our religious schools or high school trips to the holy land, can be a lonely journey. It can be compared to a "coming out" experience, where sharing your perceptions with friends and family, let alone a room full of over 4,000 Jews, can be a daunting task. While more American Jews—and particularly young American Jews—are growing disillusioned with Israeli policies implemented in the name of all Jews with the support of old-guard groups such as AIPAC, it is still often a scary thing to publicly criticize Israel within the broader community.
In New Orleans during the Jewish Federation's General Assembly (GA), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) created a safe space for young Jews, like myself, whose stomachs are still churning from the bombings in Gaza nearly two years ago, and whose eyes can no longer be averted from the daily reality of oppression for Palestinians. We came together to organize effectively and from the heart. And if we have faith in our generation's capacity to transform politics and create peace, then we can believe in JVP's mission as possible in the face of all odds.
Image from Israeli television news of Emily Ratner being removed from the GA.
On Monday morning, the GA plenary began with Oscar the Grouch -- seriously, the Sesame Street puppet opened the plenary with a satire about how gross it was that Israelis were so friendly, always sharing, caring and helping each other out. Next, New Orleans Mayor Landrieu stressed a belief in tikkun olam, the Jewish principle of "repairing the world", and almost in the same breath, an unending support for Israel. Contradiction? We think so. Our well-orchestrated protest began with the bold voice of local New Orleans resident Emily Ratner, who stood up after applause for Netanyahu and proclaimed, "The Loyalty Oath delegitimizes Israel!" as she unfurled a banner with the same message. (The protest was captured on video by AP here) As Emily was removed from the room she continued shouting, and Netanyahu commented from the podium, "If they came to delegitimize Israel, they came to the wrong address." We believe we were knocking on exactly the right door, with a message to the Jews in attendance: Israel's occupation and oppressive policies delegitimize Israel in the eyes of the world.
The second protester was Israeli resident Eitan Isaacson who unfurled a banner stating, "Silencing Dissent Delegitimizes Israel." He was forcefully removed from the building while chanting in English and Hebrew. Isaacson stated that the purpose of the action was as follows: "We're here to call out the elephant in the room. Israel continues to expropriate Palestinian land for Jewish-only communities, passes increasingly racist laws in the Knesset, the foreign minister wants to strip Palestinian citizens of their citizenship -- these are the reasons Israel is becoming a pariah in the world."
After Netanyahu continued to decry delegitimization, Matthew Taylor of Berkeley, CA, arose, unfurled a banner reading "Occupation Delegitimizes Israel" and spoke the slogan loudly. Taylor was pushed to the ground, his button-down shirt ripped open, and his shoe flung from his foot (he lost the shoe during the protest). (Photo: attached) Meanwhile, an enraged rabbi grabbed Taylor's banner and proceeded to rip it to pieces with his teeth and fists.
Several minutes later, Israeli activist Matan Cohen stood up on his chair to unfurl yet another banner while shouting, "The siege on Gaza delegitimizes Israel!" Matan is the founder of Anarchists Against the Wall in Israel and has been a prominent organizer at Hampshire College. Cohen explained his reasoning for demonstrating: "Right now, the choice for those of us who care about the future of Israel and Palestine is between the status quo--which includes continued settlement expansion, the siege of Gaza, and the racist Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman--or Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions. Given that choice, Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions will win every time."
A photo of Abileah's arm after the protest.
And finally, after Netanyahu summarized the two "greatest threats" to Israel – a nuclear Iran and "delegitimizers"– I stood up and unfurled a pink banner that read, "The settlements betray Jewish values" and in Hebrew: "Justice, justice you shall pursue," a verse from Deuteronomy. The crowd had grown increasingly hostile with each disruption, and I was instantly attacked from all sides. A man in the row in front of me pulled the El Al seat cover off his chair and tried to gag me with it. Another man came up from the side and grabbed me by the throat. I fell into a pile of chairs until two female sheriffs buoyed me up and hustled me out of the room. The police later confided that they were trying to protect me from the angry mob and get me out of there in one piece.
The JTA reported: "Jeff Shapiro from San Antonio grabbed her from behind and put her in a choke hold, dragging her backwards towards the floor. When asked later if he had ever put a woman in a chokehold, he replied, 'Not really. No. I really did not know what was going to happen, I wanted to keep her in check. I was trying to help.'" Jeff Shapiro, according to an Internet search is the president of the synagogue brotherhood and a 7th grade teacher at Temple Beth-El, and is the chair of the Federation's San Antonio Association for Jewish Education.
Some in the audience chanted "Am Yisrael Chai" and later "Bibi! Bibi!" to try to drown out our voices. Others tackled us or shouted obscenities. But not all were outraged by our actions and words. We heard later about the many Jewish students who were brought to tears seeing the visual display of an internal conflict of values they themselves felt.
As Rob Eshman's blog in the Jewish Journal summarized:
"What were they against?" one Israeli journalist in the audience asked rhetorically. "The loyalty oath? The occupation? Gaza? Most Jews would agree with them."
Why did we feel the need to take such a bold, direct action that some might view as rude or inappropriate? We would have been content to stand silently holding up our banners, revealing the truth in a more subtle, somber way, but the instant violence projected at us meant that our banners were ripped from our hands within seconds of unfurling them. Giving voice to the cause of justice seemed the moral thing to do. We also would have been happy to participate in dialogue, had the GA created a comprehensive program that encouraged a multiplicity of views and opinions. Rather, the GA was a propaganda grounds for furthering a narrative about the state of Israel that simply does not stand up to the facts as we have witnessed them. When the traditional routes of civic engagement fail us, we turn to nonviolent direct action, and the time-honored tactics that secured women the right to vote, an eight-hour day for workers, and civil rights protections for people of color.
By staging this loud disruption of Netanyahu's speech, we inserted an alternative narrative into the GA and into the media in Israel and the US. The Israeli occupation and the oppression of Palestinians in Israel cannot be ignored. We made visible the unsettling disconnect between Jewish values of social justice and current Israeli policies. Instead of the single-sided story Netanyahu and his supporters hoped to present, we were able to create a dynamic conversation that reverberated through the papers, radio stations (including the Israeli Army Radio), blogs, twitter, and among the delegates. Our disruption has been picked up by AP, the New York Times, Haaretz, The Jersualem Post, NPR, Democracy Now!, The Jewish Forward, Ynet News, and many more outlets. We heard from many students who said the protest sparked discussions about Israel's policies and emotional exchanges. A group of rabbinic students met to discuss the occupation. With our actions, we opened up the possibility for people to have genuine dialogue about these issues, and we are part of a seismic generational shift in the Jewish community that Peter Beinart outlined in his groundbreaking piece in the New York Review of Books entitled "The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment." (Incidentally, Beinart tweeted after our action, "Expect more of this.") We are not willing to leave our Jewish and democratic values at the door, which means we must stand up and criticize Israeli policies.
The shift is also evident in blogger comments about the actions we took at the GA, which include remarks such as: "I think the use of force in this instance against people peaceably holding banners is more than a bit ridiculous." Rabbi Moshe Waldoks commented, "These protests would not have been necessary if the American Jewish leadership at the GA had created an open opportunity to ask the questions that need to be asked about the loyalty oath…"
A new website launched November 8, www.YoungJewishProud.org, presents our group's Young Jewish Declaration, a compelling vision of collective identity, purpose and values written as an invitation and call to action for peers who care about Israel and Palestine. It is also a strong challenge to elders. The declaration includes these words: "We are your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren… We refuse to knowingly oppress others, and we refuse to oppress each other. We won't be won over by free vacations and scholarship money. We won't buy the logic that slaughter means safety. We will not quietly witness the violation of human rights in Palestine."
The actions are in part a protest of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and Jewish Public Affairs Council (JCPA) newly announced $6 million dollar program to target campus, church, peace and human rights groups that are working to end Israel's human rights violations through nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions pressure campaigns. The Federations and JCPA are calling this initiative the "Israel Action Network." Critics say it is a "Shoot the Messenger" approach.
We also announced the creation of a spoof Birthright Trip called Taglit-Lekulanu, Birthright for All, open to Palestinian and Jewish-Americans, which was followed up with a spoof denial. The goal of the spoof was to highlight the one-sided narrative that Birthright presents, the ways it renders Palestinians invisible. The rebuttal laid bare the problematic assumptions underlying Birthright trips, such as the emphasis on marrying Jews and procreating. The spoof was picked up Tuesday, November 9 by Haaretz in a piece that sheds a glaring light on the Birthright agenda.
Perhaps the most inspiring voice of the day came from the youngest member of the JVP delegation, 17-year-old Hanna King, a freshman at Swarthmore College, who was quoted in the Jewish Daily Forward as saying, "I think I'm very much succeeding in practicing tikkun olam and derech eretz by standing up for the rights for all people. It such hypocrisy for these Jewish leaders that I grew up learning to say that, you know, that the Holocaust was a tragedy but what we're doing to [the Palestinians] is fine." In an article in Haaretz, King continued to say, "We believe that the actions that Israel is taking, like settlements, like the occupation, like the loyalty oath, are contrary to the Jewish values that we learnt in Jewish day school. This is not Tikkun Olam. Oppressing people in refugee camps is not Tikkun Olam. And it is a hypocrisy that I cannot abide. We must be tough on all countries that abuse human rights but I care about Israel because for me it's personal. " Rae Abileah is a 28-year-old Jewish-American of Israeli descent and is a national organizer with CODEPINK Women for Peace and a member of Jewish Voice for Peace. She lives in San Francisco, CA and can be reached at email@example.com.
Memo to NYT: fix your boilerplate Nov 09, 2010 08:18 pm | James North
Journalists use the term "boilerplate" for brief standard explanations. Here, for instance, is how the BBC describes the West Bank settlements:
"All the settlements on occupied territory are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this."
Simple. Truthful. Unbiased. Sixteen words.
Here's how Isabel Kershner handled the same reality in today's New York Times:
"Located within the city limits set by Israel after the 1967 war, Israelis consider it [the Har Homa settlement] an integral Jewish neighborhood of their capital. But the Palestinians and much of the world consider it and similar Jewish developments across the 1967 lines as illegal settlements on occupied land."
Kershner's formulation is a modest improvement on some of the Times's previous versions. But she still leaves the impression that settlement legality is a matter of opinion, instead of a violation of international law.
Here's the hidden subtext:
"An integral Jewish neighborhood" (just like the old King's Highway in Brooklyn, or Rogers Park in Chicago), is being challenged by "Palestinians and much of the world" (people with an irrational hatred for Israel), who "consider" (it's just their opinion) that such "Jewish developments" (like Co-op City in the Bronx) are "illegal settlements."
Sisyphus in the South Hebron hills Nov 09, 2010 02:50 pm | David Shulman
November 6, 2010, Samu'a, West Bank
Another good day, as good days go in south Hebron. This means two relatively hopeful reports in a row; my readers may begin to lose interest, or to suspect my judgment has somehow become impaired. Certainly, the objective situation, including much violence and terror on the ground in south Hebron, is worse than ever, given this settlers' government that is contemptuous of Palestinians, blind to the catastrophe that it itself is creating, and utterly unwilling to make even the slightest move toward peace. Then there's the virulently anti-democratic right, well represented in the government by the Foreign Minister and others of his ilk from the Israel Beitenu party; they, together with other members of the Knesset from the far and not-so-far right, have initiated an unprecedented wave of racist and chauvinist legislation (you can find the whole list in Neve Gordon's recent essay on "Thought Crimes" in the London Review of Books). If you want to know what it feels like to see the country you live in slide, day by day, toward a rabid, ruthless authoritarianism, or worse—invidious comparisons are ready at hand-- all you have to do is read the Israeli newspapers. Nearly every day we wake to another new and terrible surprise.
Actually, it's much worse than what I've just described. Some of the racist bills before the Knesset may not pass; some may be referred to the Supreme Court, which, hopefully, will pronounce them in contravention of the Basic Laws (though the Knesset can then still overrule the court); some—especially those penetrating into the conscience of the individual and attempting to force it to conform—may not be enforceable. It's important to keep in mind that the men and women who have proposed these laws have a visceral hatred for humane and democratic values and that they are now all too close to the centers of power, their voices heard in cabinet meetings and, with disgusting regularity, in the media. These are people who cheerfully use the democratic framework in order to subvert it. But the truly demoralizing experience is watching the minds of your neighbors and other ordinary people become infected, as if by a virus, with the mean and brutal vision of the far right and its paranoid delights, above all its loathing of Palestinians and failure to recognize them as fully human. A sinister sickness stalks the streets of Israel. The settlers were the first to cultivate it, but it is the amorphous, volatile, and at the same time strangely supine center where it has now taken root.
It is early November, and so far there has been no rain to speak of. Ezra says this is punishment for our sins—and this time he means not just the endless evils of the occupation but the cumulating sins against the planet and its forms of life by human beings everywhere. We are picking stones from the baked soil of a field just under the "illegal outpost" of Asahel, with its row of ugly pre-fab buildings and its watch-tower and its fence. The field belongs to farmers from Samu'a who have had no access to it until today; they cannot approach their own lands bordering on the settlement without Israeli activists beside them. Khalid shows us what this means: high on the slope, and relatively removed from the outpost, is a field recently hoed and plowed, ready now for the rain, if it ever comes, and the sowing of seeds. The soil looks dark and perhaps—if you stretch your imagination to the limit-- even potentially fertile. But "our" field is a washed-out, dessicated, caked and crumbly brown, with nothing but thorns and bristles and half-buried rocks to hold the eye. It has been untouched for a long time, except perhaps by the settlers' goats. In a wild, utopian burst of faith, we have come to clean it and heal it and coax it back to life, though we know that the chances its Palestinian owners will actually be able to plant and reap here are close to nil.
We expect the settlers to descend on us at any moment, but very surprisingly on this hot Shabbat morning the few inhabitants of Asahel appear to be asleep. We work peacefully for an hour, and the field begins to look a little better. It is full of hidden life: a preying mantis sunning herself on a rock; a hibernating yellow scorpion discovered under another rock; several tough white partridge eggs; fresh droppings from the wild deer and antelopes we see from time to time in south Hebron. There is no dearth of stones, but eventually we move on over the hill to another field, immediately abutting the outpost. Now we are no longer alone: a corpulent, bearded settler dressed in Shabbat white, with a huge, pious skull-cap on his head, emerges above us, screaming profanities, his wife and one or two others close behind him. I remember him all too well.
It's just over a year since I last came here, with our Palestinian friends from Samu'a, to clear away the stones. Now I'm wondering if some kind of bad karma is rooted in this field. Looking at the unimaginable proliferation of stones before us, I do a quick mental calculation. Last time we managed to work for half an hour or so before the soldiers arrived. Today there are more stones than ever. Let's say we manage to clear at least one of the ruined terraces, assuming we get a respite of an hour or so before we're either arrested or driven away. At this rate—say, optimistically, four or five hundred stones removed from the ground, three or four times each year—it will take us some 50 years to clear the whole field. And anyway what good will it do? The settler, oozing smugness and derision, is shouting: "How good of you idiots to clear the field for me! You know I'm the one who is going to use it. You know your Palestinian friends all belong to the Hamas, which means you, too, are serving the Hamas. But please do go on working." He may well, of course, be quite right about the fact that he, and no one else, will successfully claim this field. Khalil—erect, manly, unafraid-- cannot bear it, and he shouts back uphill, in Hebrew, at the settler: "God knows that this land is mine. God knows."
Do stones grow naturally in this soil, like thorns, like the hardness that petrifies the human heart? No, the problem is that since the terraces have all been destroyed, the rains, when they finally come, wash away the topsoil, exposing the infinite store of rocks underneath. We are working well now, it is hot, my hands are scratched and aching, there are not enough hoes and shovels, and it is all borrowed time, since the settler, breaking the Shabbat rules, of course, has already summoned the army on his cellphone. Soon the soldiers begin to filter down the hill, and then the police arrive, too. Yehuda and I consult: how far do we want to go in confronting them? Last time we were arrested here together and spent the day in the Kiryat Arba' station; for once we had time to talk at leisure. Since then he has written a first novel, about to be published, and he has a good plot sketched out for his next one. I'd welcome the opportunity for another long talk, but today we have about ten guests from abroad with us, and we don't want to get them into trouble. We decide we'll wait to see the inevitable order declaring this field a Closed Military Zone—closed, that is, to Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, not to settlers—and then follow Khalid's lead as best we can. If they arrest any of the Palestinians, of course, we will insist on being arrested with them.
Strangely, miraculously, the soldiers have arrived without the signed order. Of course they can phone back to headquarters and have one delivered. But for the moment, they adopt the superficial tones of reason (is it possible that even they are fed up with the settlers?). "What are you doing here? What's going on?" We're working, we answer, in the fields that belong to these people. "What do you mean by 'belong'?" asks the officer in charge, a lean, young, rather soft-spoken man. It's a good question; that something might actually "belong" to Palestinians is, perhaps, a novel idea in the south Hebron hills. Yes, I say, they own this field, and they have the kushans—the Ottoman land-registry documents—to prove it. The officer has never heard of a kushan, and we have to explain. He is not overtly hostile. He calls the Palestinian owners together and tells them, in Arabic: You say you have documents. Bring them tomorrow morning to such-and-such an office, and we'll check into it. In the meantime, stop the work. He says it over and over, ten, twelve times. The Palestinians repeat their claim. Minutes pass, and an incongruous, unhappy intimacy seems to develop between the two parties thrown together on this rugged hill, the soldiers who serve the occupation—and the settlers—and these men from Samu'a who are trying desperately to survive with dignity and, against all odds, to reclaim their land.
Still no written order. Maybe, we joke among ourselves, the Mahat, the senior commander in the area, doesn't want to defile the Shabbat by signing it. Maybe, Yehuda says, they've devised a new system, the "Sacrament of the Closed Military Zone"—the Mahat has only to pass his hand over the printed form and, with God's help, it signs itself. In any case, the Palestinians are reluctant to leave without that formal piece of paper driving them away. It is humiliating to them, and besides, they are farmers who have touched again their ravished soil; they go back to the shovels, they scrape away more thorns, pry more boulders from the ground, and we work beside them in the sun, thirsty, waiting for some resolution. Time goes by. Finally, they tear themselves away, and we follow them uphill toward the road. I guess the karma of this field isn't bad after all. For once, you could almost say, we won. In a reality recalcitrant as rock, today we cut loose a few small stones.
Of course, in the end they, and we, must lose, as Khalid bitterly says: Every time it's like this, they say bring us the papers so we can examine them, then it drags on for months and we have no access to the field, and the rains come and go without sowing, and eventually we lose our claim. Israeli law cruelly says that a field that is not worked for three consecutive years reverts to state ownership. It also says that a field that is more than 50% rocks belongs to the state. There are, I assure you, still plenty of rocks on that hillside, though we made a dent.
Yet even minor victories count in the ongoing micro-struggle of south Hebron, where every well and plot of land and olive tree has to be fought for, held on to with all our might in the face of the settlers' insatiable greed and the predatory system that nourishes and protects that greed. So it was a good enough morning, and for once no one got hurt or arrested, and they didn't even manage to drive us away with their guns and bureaucratic forms. The fat white settler, perhaps slightly disgruntled, screams at our backs as we move away from Asahel. "You scum, you fools, you idiots, you whores, you wicked sinners, you will be going straight to Hell." This is too much for me, so, against my usual rule, I turn back toward him and I shout: "It is you, and those like you, who have turned this place into a living hell." He sputters and fumes. Zviya—a relatively new recruit to our ranks, a retired head-mistress with the decisiveness and authority and open heart that go with that role—says, walking beside me, "Don't you have to die to go to hell?" Two weeks ago she saved a Palestinian sheep that soldiers tried to steal; she embraced the sheep, which was bleating in terror, and held on hard even when the soldiers hit her and tried to pry it out of her arms, until in the end they gave up and the sheep ran back to its herd. She's made for Ta'ayush, anyone can see it. "You know," I say to her, watching the dizzy hills offering themselves to the flames of the midday sun and the distant blue horizon dipping toward infinity, "I think that when we die we don't actually go anywhere. I think we simply are not. Or maybe we become a clod of baked earth in some field like this one, and that's just fine with me." She laughs. "I want to be cremated when I die," she says, "and I used to want my ashes to be spread over some of the many places I have loved in this world, but recently I've changed my mind. I want them to spread my ashes over the hills of south Hebron."
David Shulman is the Renee Lang Professor of Humanistic Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an activist with Ta'ayush.
Gaza's hospitals: Bring your own medicine Nov 09, 2010 01:45 pm | Hani Almadhoun
In the summer of 2005 when I was visiting my family in Gaza, my 3 year old niece, Roa, had an incident and I took her to the local hospital. The doctor told us he could not see Roa, who was bleeding from her head, because it was a non-life-threatening case and he sent us home. As we needed to get medical attention to Roa, I remembered the local mosque had a clinic and since it was few blocks away from the PA-run hospital, we went there. This Doctor was professional, gracious and upbeat. He took care of Roa in a minute and treat her injuries and we've paid about a dollar for his services. The clinic was run by a Hamas group that was then not part of the government. I was pleasantly surprised with the service and care we received at this medical clinic.
But fast forward now to the year 2010, when Hamas is the de facto government of Gaza and you will see a different image of the crumbling health care system under this current government. I have been reading a number of news reports about the crisis facing the health care system in Gaza and especially the Strip's largest hospitals. As I was writing this article, I spoke to a number of relatives and friends in Gaza to verify those reports.
Palpress reports the story of Tamer, a 14 year old school boy who was hit by a car on November 4th on his way back from school. He now rests in Gaza hospital, but his family reports that it took a doctor 36 hours to see their child. Worse, when the nurse came to take care of his injuries, the nurse instructed the family to go to the nearest pharmacy and purchase bandages, gauze pads, roller bandages, and silk tape so that their son can be cared for. The nurse said that his hospital is out of stock of those items. Of course Tamer's family made a number of trips to the nearby pharmacy and picked those items up. Another patient confirms that the nurse asked them to purchase non-latex gloves so that he can use them to do his job.
The Gaza government's Director General of Pharmacies, Dr. Muneer Albarash, confirms that Gaza lacks 100 kinds of medications and 160 kinds of other medical supplies. Of course he points fingers to the Ramallah government for not sending in those supplies, especially in the last two months.
But when I spoke to a number of relatives, they confirmed that the local pharmacies are not short on medical supplies and medications where people now go to purchase what they need when they need it. "When I pick something up from the pharmacy, it reads 'not for sale', or 'donated by this government or that' " said Mohammad, a relative of mine.
Dr. Albarash seems to deny the accusations that his government sells donated medical supplies to raise money. "Those are unfounded rumors." Instead he said that the Health Ministry in Ramallah only sent 37 percent of Gaza's allocated medical supplies. That may be true, but the government in Gaza received a lot of medical supplies from many entities and groups such as the UAE Red Crescent and the Arab Physicians Association. So, I wouldn't be surprised if the cash-strapped government sold some of those supplies to make payroll.
When it comes to health care, there are things that Hamas has done right. For example, Gaza has a few specialist doctors who used to run their own shows and charge patients an arm and a leg for, say, back surgery. Those dozen specialists were making a killing, but they are unable to meet the demand for their services and their prices were too steep. Solution: Hamas made those doctors act as mentors to local physicians and surgeons to train them in carrying out back surgeries. As a result, instead of having one doctor that does those surgeries, there are a dozen of so of those trainees who benefited from this program.
Why isn't the chokehold applied to Rae Abileah, a young woman protesting Netanyahu at the Federations General Assembly in New Orleans, a bigger story? Here is JTA's Jacob Berkman, the Fundermentalist:
When the final protester stood up and opened a banner reading, "Young Jews say the loyalty oath de-legitimizes Israel," Jeff Shapira from San Antonio grabbed her from behind and put her in a choke hold, dragging her backward towards the floor. When I asked Shapira later if he had ever before put a woman in a choke hold, he replied: "Not really. No. I really did not know what was going to happen, I wanted to keep her in check. I was trying to help." ...
Fundermentalist's take: Shapira said he was just trying to help, but in the end the aggressive responses from audience members to the protesters isn't helping Jewish federations any with some segments of the very demographic that they are trying desperately to reach. While clearly some of the younger attendees at the GA helped in shouting down the JVP protesters, a number of young leaders in the Jewish world told me that the scene made them very uncomfortable, that while they do not agree with JVP's tactics, they too are critical of the policies that were being protested. And the hostility they witnessed from some audience members gave them pause to wonder if the federation system, ideologically, is a good fit.
My response to Fundermentalist: You are equivocating about an outrage. When America had slavery, the great editor William Lloyd Garrison wrote, "I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch—and I will be heard." (David Bromwich quotes it here.)
JVP is in the Wm Lloyd Garrison role. They are leading. They will be heard.
De Gaulle/Arafat Nov 09, 2010 12:55 pm | Philip Weiss
The latest London Review of Books has a wonderful piece by Jeremy Harding reviewing two biographies of Charles De Gaulle. It is easy to admire De Gaulle now as a great leader and supporter of decolonization; what I never knew was how difficult was De Gaulle's rise. The Allied powers looked on the French resistance with great suspicion, and on De Gaulle as a headstrong nationalist believer with too much charisma. Roosevelt and Churchill sought to displace him with more pliable types. And De Gaulle struggled to unify the resistance-- indeed to build an idea of French identity.
I've collected a few excerpts below that had me thinking about the analogy to the Palestinian resistance, Palestinian nationalism, and the leader of that struggle, Yasser Arafat. In the end it is hardly surprising, as Harding shows, that Arafat himself made the analogy. This is what historical study should be about, looking at the past not to explain our own struggles, but to shine a light on them, and gain inspiration from them. When you read this piece and then hear Palestinians dismiss the P.A. as Vichy or Collaborationist, you understand that they are not just rejectionist, they are operating in a strong historical framework. Harding:
By the end of July  only five or six thousand of De Gaulle's compatriots had answered his appeal to join the Free French. The question for many unfree French had been to effect a realistic salvage of their country and swallow their national pride: from this angle, De Gaulle's stance looked reckless and irresponsible...
As his voice became more influential and people began to tune in to the broadcasts, spinning the dial away afterwards, so that the wireless wasn't set to an incriminating wavelength, he issued calls for mass displays of 'symbolic resistance' which worked directly on the stifled patriotic impulse and, increasingly, on the republican imagination of his listeners...
Churchill could see the merits of De Gaulle, while Roosevelt held him in barely disguised contempt as a dangerous marginal. Notwithstanding his affection for France, Roosevelt felt in 1942, as Stalin did, that it would have to adjust to a new status in the world, of which De Gaulle lacked any proper sense...
The PCF [French Communist Party] was yet another in a ring of rivals surrounding the general and, as Hazareesingh says [Le mythe gaullien by Sudhir Hazareesingh], De Gaulle was struggling on two fronts, hoping to assert that his was the only legitimate voice speaking for France on the international stage, while coming to an accommodation with the non-Gaullist strands of the Resistance.A unified Resistance, one of the most vexed areas of the picture, became a possibility towards the end of 1942, when the PCF sent delegates to London and agreed terms with De Gaulle; Free French forces were by then a respectable size, around 40-50,000 strong and a credit to the general. That left the Allies. 'As soon as America entered the war,' De Gaulle noted, 'the Free French were eliminated from the Allied conferences.' The 26 signatories of the 'Declaration by United Nations' against the Axis in 1942 did not include France; De Gaulle was not invited to Washington a few months later..
By now,  the Americans believed they might have found an alternative to De Gaulle: General Henri Giraud, a senior officer who had been captured by the Germans and subsequently escaped – a Vichy loyalist, wanted by the Reich and ready to do the Allies' bidding....
the way De Gaulle saw it [to Churchill:] Ought Washington really to be making all the decisions, including whether or not to deal with the enemy? 'You allow the Americans leadership of the conflict when you should be exercising it, morally in any case. Do so! European opinion will support you.' But already Churchill had put De Gaulle's broadcasts from London on hold and asked the president whether he should scrap them altogether if Washington had another man in mind. 'I hope you get to Berlin before the Americans,' De Gaulle told the Soviet ambassador in London...
When he met De Gaulle for the first time in Casablanca, Roosevelt told him he should not imagine he was the sole legitimate representative of the French, since he hadn't been elected. Neither had Joan of Arc, De Gaulle replied...
the difficulties he experienced in 1942-43 would confront many of the liberation movements in the European colonies after World War Two: the rocky path towards recognition as 'sole legitimate representative' of a people; the ambiguous presence of a puppet regime or rival 'liberators'; deathly partisan feuding; the epic contest with powerful backers. Together, Fenby's account and De Gaulle's own war memoir read as a draft schedule for modern independence struggles in the rest of the century; they also anticipate Washington's wishful thinking, which persisted through the Cold War, when the forces it backed in the Third World weren't always the ones to prevail.
De Gaulle was not an anti-colonial: throughout the war he had been ready to take on the British when he felt they were undermining French interests in Lebanon and Syria, and he clung tenaciously to the idea of a French neo-colonial commonwealth of African states after their independence in 1960. He had presided over Algerian decolonisation not because he believed it to be just, but because he had come to grasp that hanging on would do immense damage to France. Nonetheless, he knew what it was to embark on a national liberation struggle for a people under occupation, raise an army against the enemy and face down a superpower.[*] Gradually, his name became associated with decolonisation struggles as he attempted, without much success, to find a role for France as a buffer against US foreign policy; as president, during a speech in Phnom Penh, he would have harsh words to say about the American presence in Vietnam, the 'national resistance' it had fuelled in the south, and the folly of Washington's war.
[*] Hazareesingh has pointed out in a recent issue of Foreign Policy that Arafat used to wear a cross of Lorraine.
Obama, they're laughing at you Nov 09, 2010 11:13 am | Seham
And more news from Today in Palestine:
Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing Settlers to build 800 new homes in Ariel: Peace Now JERUSALEM, (AFP) -- Jewish settlers are poised to begin work on a new settlement outcropping comprising 800 new homes in the sprawling West Bank settlement of Ariel, Israel's settlement watchdog said on Tuesday. According to Peace Now spokeswoman Hagit Ofran, the new outpost will encircle the Palestinian town of Salfit, which lies just to the south of Ariel in the northern West Bank. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=332362
US disappointed by plans for new Jerusalem homes WASHINGTON (AFP) -- The United States is "deeply disappointed" over Israel's announced plans to build 1,300 new settler homes in annexed East Jerusalem, a State Department spokesman said Monday. Washington is "deeply disappointed by the announcement of advanced planning for new housing units in sensitive areas of East Jerusalem," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters. The United States saw the announcement as "counterproductive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties," he added. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=332105
Blueprint Negev, Rebecca Manski Picking up a passenger by the hot, treeless roadside, Bedouin advocate 'Ali Abu Subayh wheels his Fiat around onto a path, spitting rocks and coating the windows with dust, headed toward an "unrecognized village" in southern Israel. Between the 1950s and 1970s, the Israeli government displaced the Bedouin of the Negev desert into a sliver of land less than 2 percent the size of their former range. The government built seven townships for the Bedouin, and simultaneously declared all existing Negev Bedouin villages to be illegal. Today, Abu Subayh and 80,000 other Bedouin citizens of Israel born in one of these 45 "unrecognized" villages are threatened with further displacement. More than once, Abu Subayh, a field worker with the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages, has himself returned home to find a piece of paper flapping on the post at the entrance to the goat pen—a demolition order. http://mondoweiss.net/2010/11/blueprint-negev.html
Sebastia's living community sidelined for ancient ruins, Sarah Irving The most obvious difference between the two leaflets is the sites they describe. The first covers the Roman, Byzantine and Crusader remains at the heart of the village, as well as the Ancient Greek, Roman and medieval remains on the hilltop, which is five-minute walk away. The second only mentions the latter. It also features a stern injunction: "Do not enter the village of Sebastye [Sebastia] without the express permission of the IDF [Israeli army] authorities. All visits to the National Park are subject to security regulations for visitors in Judea-Samaria," the Israeli name for the occupied West Bank. The archaeological "park" is actually a series of excavated buildings from various historical periods, surrounded by Palestinian olive groves which probably cover more remains going back to the Bronze Age. The Israeli authorities' forbidding instructions to visitors of the park stem from the fact that the site is designated as Area C, so that it can be visited by Israeli citizens. The village, on the other hand, is Area A -- Palestinian Authority-controlled -- under the classifications which date back to the Oslo accords. Technically, Israeli citizens break the law by entering the village. http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11613.shtml?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+electronicIntifadaPalestine+%28Electronic+Intifada+%3A+Palestine+News%29
Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Bil'in night-raided by soldiers pursuing wounded demonstrator Today at about 3 in the morning the Israeli army entered the village of Bil'in. About 50 soldiers came in by jeep and by foot. As they arrived to the two targeted houses, they ran and took positions outside, while a number of them entered the house of two brothers. Soldiers hammered on the door of one house, demanding to see 30 year Ashraf al-Khatib. It turned out they were at the wrong house. They then went to another house by forcing one of Ahsraf's brothers to show them the way to where Ashraf lives. Soldiers entered that house and his brother's family's house, and with the same procedure woke up the family, again asking for Ashraf al-Khatib. His brother, Haytham al-Khatib, is a journalist from the human right's group B'tselem and was one of the people roused by the army. Though they had again entered a house where their target did not live, they remained inside for about one and a half hours, searching all the rooms. http://palsolidarity.org/2010/11/15421/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+palsolidarity+%28International+Solidarity+Movement%29
International organizations urged to abandon online Israel event BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- In a letter, 17 organizations in the US and abroad were urged by several groups to respect the Palestinian boycott call and cancel their participation in a November Internet event, "With Earth and Each Other." The event is organized by Friends of the Arava Institute, and other partners, including the Jewish National Fund, to benefit Israel's Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, a statement from the group Adalah-NY said in a statement Monday. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=332008
#BDS: Boston-area towns back pro-Palestinian resolutions BOSTON (JTA) -- Voters in five Boston-area districts backed a nonbinding resolution supporting Palestinian rights in Israel. The ballot question passed with about 56 percent in favor in the five districts in the Nov. 2 election. The referendum, sponsored by a group called Massachusetts Residents for International Human Rights, an offshoot of the Somerville Divestment Project, asked voters if the state representative from their district should be instructed to vote in favor a nonbinding resolution calling on the U.S. government "to support the right of all people, including non-Jewish Palestinian citizens of Israel, to live free from laws that give more rights to people of one religion than another." http://youthanormalization.blogspot.com/2010/11/bds-boston-area-towns-back-pro.html
Israeli Abuse of Palestinian Children Teenager detained at Hebron checkpoint HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli troops detained a young man at a military checkpoint south of Hebron on Monday evening, his parents said. Anan Ismael, 19, was headed home from work in Beit Awwa, near Hebron, in a taxi when he was stopped and detained, relatives said. An Israeli military spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking comment. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=332106
UNRWA Strikes Wreak Havoc in Refugee Camps Refugee camps across the West Bank have been thrown into crisis by a United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA) strike. Schools, health centres, sanitation and food distribution have been suspended for over two weeks as a result of pay disputes between management and ground staff. "The students just sit at home now," says Mahmoud Tohee, popular committee chairman for Al-Amari camp, Ramallah. "The schools are closed completely." The children have already missed a fortnight, and the streets they play in are filled with trash and sewage, left to fester by UNRWA's striking labourers. Sick residents are forced to travel elsewhere for treatment now that the health centre has closed. http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?article1604
In Palestine, Occupational Hazards It's late May, and I'm sitting in a stylish apartment furnished with Palestinian antiques, dining with colleagues from Birzeit and Al-Quds Universities. They've studied and worked in Paris and New York, Amman and Cairo; next week they have meetings in Geneva and Berlin. And yet, they cannot travel nine miles to conduct research in a Jerusalem archive, and they cannot meet in person with scholars from universities in Gaza. http://chronicle.com/article/In-Palestine-Occupational/125246/
SA Rabbi Denies Existence of Apartheid in Israel, Iqbal Jassat – Pretoria The late Palestinian author and eloquent spokesman for the Palestinian cause in the West, Edward W. Said, in a '96 essay titled 'Mandela, Netanyahu, and Arafat' brilliantly captured the contrasts amongst these leaders. But the defining gaps were not related to personalities; instead Said unpacked crucial differences related to and informed by ideology. For instance he cited Nelson Mandela's commitment to the African National Congress' [ANC] single goal for which it was created: the end of apartheid, and the institution of legal equality – one person, one vote – between blacks and whites. http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=16396
Confrontations in East Jerusalem JERUSALEM (Ma'an) – Confrontations erupted on Tuesday morning between Israeli forces and hundreds of Palestinian school children in the East Jerusalem town of Al-Isawiya. An Israeli police spokesman said workers from the Jerusalem municipality performing car safety checks were pelted with stones by local youth. He said the police responded and dispersed the young men. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=332166
Fatah PA detains controversial blogger QALQILIYA (Ma'an) -- Residents of a conservative northern West Bank city were surprised when security forces detained a controversial blogger whose postings on Facebook had infuriated Muslims. A high-ranking source in the general Palestinian intelligence services told Ma'an that the detainee, who was not identified, was arrested in Qalqiliya. He refused to give specific details and would not identify the detainee. However, Ma'an has learned from other security sources that the man "who claimed divinity" is a 25-year-old university student. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=331563
Abbas should release journalist, Tareq Abu Zaid, press freedom group says BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms called on President Mahmoud Abbas to release journalist Tareq Abu Zaid, a correspondent for Aqsa TV. "Today marks one year after the arrest of Abu Zaid in the city of Nablus in the West Bank," MADA said in a statement calling on Abbas to release the journalist so he can celebrate an upcoming Muslim holiday. Abu Zaid in February was sentenced to a year and a half in prison despite a Supreme Court decision to release him. Aqsa TV is the official broadcaster of Hamas, the rival movement of Fatah, which controls the PA. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=332038
...Hamas: Alleged meeting 'more like home raid' JENIN (Ma'an) -- A reported meeting between Israeli intelligence and Hamas officials was less a consultation and more a series of home raids and interrogations, Hamas representatives said. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Tuesday that PA officials had complained to Israeli internal intelligence leaders about a meeting held between department representatives and Hamas leaders in the northern West Bank. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=332280
Hamas Hamas nixes Arafat commemoration in Gaza Strip The decision comes as representatives of the Fatah and Hamas prepare to meet in Syria to discuss ways of solving the dispute between them. As it has every year since taking control of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, on Monday Hamas announced its decision to ban Fatah supporters from holding a rally in the Gaza Strip to mark the anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death. Zakariya al-Agha, member of the Fatah Central Committee, said the Hamas government had informed him formally of the decision to ban the rally, which was scheduled to be held on November 11. He said the rally, which had been planned by Fatah, was supposed to be held in Gaza City's Katibeh Square. http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=194540
Palestinian 'sentenced to death by hanging' BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A court in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip has sentenced a man from Beit Lahiya to death by hanging after he was convicted of killing a child, a Palestinian human rights group said Monday. Zahi Abdul Rahman Al-Masri, 32, was convicted of the willful killing of Samah Sofian Al-Shamali, 9, on in December 2004, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said in a statement expressing grave concern over the continued application of the death penalty in the occupied Palestinian territories. The group called on the Palestinian Authority to announce an immediate moratorium on the use of capital punishment and on President Mahmoud Abbas "not to ratify these cruel and inhumane sentences." http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=332043
Anger and curses as women pray out loud at Western Wall JERUSALEM (AFP) -- More than 100 Jewish women endured curses and abuse early Monday as they tried to pray out loud at the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, where women are banned from raising their voices. As the group of worshippers gathered at the back of the women's section of the wall and began singing and praying, accompanied by a police escort, a knot of outraged onlookers -- most of them men -- began shouting abuse. The women are part of a group called Women of the Wall. The organization's mission is to win the social and legal right for women to wear prayer shawls, pray and read out loud from the Torah collectively at the wall -- practices which have traditionally been reserved for men. As they raised their voices in song, several dozen Orthodox men gathered for an impromptu counter-demonstration, shouting abuse and trying to pray louder in a bid to drown out the women's voices. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=332110
Analysis/Op-ed Noam Chomsky on Gaza That the Israel-Palestine conflict grinds on without resolution might appear to be rather strange. For many of the world's conflicts, it is difficult even to conjure up a feasible settlement. In this case, not only is it possible, but there is near-universal agreement on its basic contours: a two-state settlement along the internationally recognised (pre-June 1967) borders—with "minor and mutual modifications", to adopt official US terminology before Washington departed from the international community in the mid-1970s. http://www.newstatesman.com/middle-east/2010/11/israel-chomsky-obama
Israeli Banks Profiteering from Occupation, Stephen Lendman Wall Street does it. Other Western banks do it. They all exploit markets, often ripping off customers illegally. Why not Israeli banks also in their own back yard, easily in expanding settlements. The Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) includes 10 feminist organizations and non-affiliated activist women in Israel. Founded in 2000, it advocates "radical social and political change," and is "a leading voice against the occupation, committed to feminist principles of organizing and Jewish-Palestinian partnership in a relentless struggle for a just peace." http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=16394
The Resurrection of Ariel Sharon, William A. Cook 'He's neither alive nor dead.' Raanan Gissin, Sharon's former advisor, made the above comment last month as quoted in the Jerusalem Post (20-10-2010) upon the exhibit of a lifelike sculpture by Noam Braslavsky in Tel Aviv. The wax figure shows the comatose Sharon's chest move up and down "to depict Sharon's dependence on a breathing machine." Some have found the work unsettling. "It's very tragic," Gissin noted. It's "only sickening voyeurism," Kadima MK Yoel Hasson declaimed. Braslavsky created "the sculpture because Sharon has been absent from the public eye for so long," according to the Post's article. Regardless, the exhibit has stirred up the Israelis as they are forced to revisit the former PM who is not yet dead. http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=16397
Al-Qaeda's Latest Christmas Gift to Israel, Maidhc Ó Cathail While Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) may have claimed responsibility for the parcel bomb plot, it's worth considering how this latest Yemen-linked terror scare has been a gift to their avowed enemies. A mere two weeks before the discovery of mail bombs addressed to "two places of Jewish worship in Chicago," Rupert Murdoch sounded prescient as he received an award from the Anti-Defamation League for his support of Israel. "The terrorists continue to target Jews across the world," declared the media mogul in his acceptance speech. "But they have not succeeded in bringing down the Israeli government – and they have not weakened Israeli resolve." Equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, the Fox News owner smeared the growing worldwide condemnation of Israel's rogue behaviour as an "ongoing war against the Jews." http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=16395
Graduates Cut Out of Basra Oil Boom On a recent afternoon in the southern city of Basra, a cry went up in the local bazaar that the police were coming. In an instant, street-sellers rolled up their wares and scattered. One of the vendors, Gasim Talib, wasn't so lucky. As he received an earful from the local officers, Talib had some strong words of his own. "What do you want me to do? There are no jobs; there isn't even a government to find us jobs. How can I make a living if I don't sell on the streets?" Talib said. http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/VVOS-8AZQLZ?OpenDocument&RSS20=02-P
WikiLeaks: The Smear And The Denial The UK and US media smears described in Part 1 should be kept in mind when considering the gravity and importance of the latest WikiLeaks. In addition to thousands of previously unreported civilian killings, the leaks revealed more than 1,300 claims of torture by Iraqi police and military between 2005 and 2009. More than 180,000 people were detained at some point between 2004 and 2009, or one in 50 Iraqi males. http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/11/wikileaks-the-smear-and-the-denial/
Lawsuit filed in Okla. against Islamic law ban Okla. Muslim sues to block ballot measure barring courts from using Islamic, international law. An Oklahoma Muslim filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday to block a state constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters that would prohibit state courts from considering international law or Islamic law when deciding cases. The measure, which got 70 percent of the vote in Tuesday's election, was one of several on Oklahoma's ballot that critics said pandered to conservatives and would move the state further to the right. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/11/lawsuit-filed-okla-islamic-law-ban/
Night raid in Bil'in Nov 09, 2010 09:04 am | Hamde Abu Rahme
(Photo: Hamde Abu Rahme)
Today, November 9 at about 3:00 in the morning, the Israeli army entered the village of Bil'in. About 50 soldiers entered the village by jeep and foot. When they arrived at the two targeted houses, they ran and took positions outside while a number of soldiers entered the house.
(Photo: Hamde Abu Rahme)
At first the soldiers were hammering on the door of one house, demanding to see 30-year old Ashraf al-Khatib. It turned out they went to the wrong house. They then went to another house – forcing one of Ashraf's brothers to show them where Ashraf lives. Soldiers then entered that house, and his brother's family's house, and again they woke up the family, asking for Ashraf al-Khatib. His brother, Haytham al-Khatib, is a journalist from the human right's group B'tselem and was of the ones woken up by the army. Even though they entered a house where their target didn't live, they stayed there for about one and a half hours, searching all the rooms.
Haytham al-Khatib told me about his 6-year-old son's reaction to waking up to see dozens of soldiers in his house, "he asked me to close the door, because he didn't want to see them." Haytham himself was prevented when he wanted to record the raid in his family's houses – the soldiers simply locked him in a room for more than an hour, away from his children and wife. The children in the houses are ages 1,5 and 8 years old, and this is not the first time they have seen their homes raided at night.
However, after 1.5 hours of searching for the target in three houses, two of which he doesn't reside in, Ashraf al-Khatib was not found. Five weeks ago Ashraf was shot in his leg with live ammunition by an Israeli soldier during a demonstration in Bil'in. The bullet went through his leg, breaking the bone. Even though he was heavily injured and in major pain, the soldiers tried to arrest him. Luckily he was brought to safety, and then taken to a hospital for surgery by fellow protesters. Tonight the army decided to come and take him in front of his wife and 1.5 year old daughter instead.
The soldiers finally retreated from the targeted houses by foot, walking toward the military road that follows the illegal segregation fence in Bil'in, at about 4.30 AM. The village of Bil'in has suffered from frequent night raids over the last few years, and a number of villagers have been taken for interrogation and imprisoned for their non-violent resistance to the occupation and segregation wall on Bil'in's land.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs a mulligan after his speech to the Jewish Federation in New Orleans on Monday. He was interrupted by the heckling of Jewish peace activists. But the problem was his response: Instead of brushing it off, he said the accusers believed that "Israel is guilty until proven guilty," adding: "The greatest success of our detractors is when Jews start believing that themselves. We've seen that today."
On the positive side, one audience member distinguished himself by picking up a protest banner left behind by the demonstrators and ripping it with his teeth.
After the final protestor stood up and opened a banner reading, "Young Jews say the loyalty oath delegitimizes Israel," Jeff Shapira from San Antonio grabbed her from behind and put her in a choke hold, dragging her backwards towards the floor.
When asked later if he had ever put a woman in a choke hold, he replied, "Not really. No. I really did not know what was going to happen, I wanted to keep her in check. I was trying to help."
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Thurs, November 11 Church of Gethsemane 1012 Eighth Avenue (bet 10th St. & 11th St.) Brooklyn NY
Jewish Perspectives on the BDS Movement
A respectful dialogue on BDS—whether you already have a position on it or you want to clarify for yourself the complex issues it raises.This event will provide an opportunity to hear from people who disagree about whether BDS is an appropriate and effective strategy.
Being happy–is it good for the Jews? "Before Professor Dershowitz accused me of being an anti-Semite (news to me), I was a happy person. Since then, I'm still a happy person". –Michael Santomauro
An antisemite condemns people for being Jews, I am not an antisemite.--Michael Santomauro
Most of us are mentally trapped to think Jewish. Actually, it is safe to say that virtually every mainstream publication or or other type of media organ is "nothing more than a screen to present chosen views." The great battle over the last century has been a battle for the mind of the Western peoples, i.e., non-Jewish Euros. The chosen won it by acquiring control over essentially the complete mainstream news, information, education and entertainment media of every type, and using that control to infuse and disseminate their message, agenda and worldview, their way of thinking, or rather the way they want us to think. Since at least the 1960s this campaign has been effectively complete. Since then they have shaped and controlled the minds of all but a seeming few of us in varying degree with almost no opposition or competition from any alternative worldview. So now most of us are mentally trapped in the box the chosen have made for us, which we have lived in all our lives. Only a few have managed to avoid it or escape it, or to even sometimes see outside of it, and so actually "think outside of the (Jewish) box." --Michael Santomauro