Israeli settlers have started building 1,649 homes in the last two months Nov 14, 2010 03:34 pm | Kate
And more news from Today in Palestine:
Settlers / Land, property, and resource theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Watchdog: Israel started 1,650 new settler homes since freeze end (AFP) Jewish settlers have started building 1,649 homes since the end of a freeze in construction on 26 September, watchdog Peace Now said Sunday, more than making up for the 10-month ban on new building. Figures compiled in a new report by the Israeli group show that in more than two-thirds of the cases, building work had begun on the foundations for new homes, with work being carried out in 63 separate settlements. During 2009, construction work began on 1,888 new housing units, the report said, citing data from Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics. "Had the construction continued at the same speed without the freeze, work would have begun on 1,574 units during the 10 months of the moratorium," Peace Now said. "In the six weeks since the end of the moratorium, the settlers have managed to start construction on a similar number of units." http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=33367
Settlement mayor sought tax cuts for city 'not ruled from Israel' The message Ariel's Mayor Ron Nachman and the Ariel municipality have been trying to stress over the past few months regarding the refusal of some artists to appear at the city's new cultural center because it is not within Israel, is that the residents of Ariel are Israeli citizens just like anywhere else ... However, it has recently come to light that in 2001, the municipality of Ariel petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court against the tax authorities to return the Value Added Tax it paid between 1994 and 1998, arguing that it is not part of Israel according to the law, because "the Ariel Local Council and the municipality, composed of residents of the region, convenes in the region and is managed from Ariel," and the city is not governed from Israel. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/settlement-mayor-sought-tax-cuts-for-city-not-ruled-from-israel-1.324514
Destroying Palestinian olive trees / César Chalala Olive trees have been mentioned in the Bible, the Qur'an and the Torah. Olive oil is a key product of the Palestinian national economy, making up 25% of the total agricultural production in the West Bank. César Chelala explores why the Israel Defense Forces have been accused of uprooting olive trees to facilitate the building of settlements ... What do settlers actually want? To destroy Palestinians' livelihood with impunity? To create a barren land, unfit for trees and people? http://www.theglobalist.com/StoryId.aspx?StoryId=8805
ISM: Beit Hanoun commemorates 2006 massacre, Israeli forces shoot Gaza rubble collector ...The Israeli operation was called 'Autumn Clouds'. One day after the Israeli army declared that it had finished the operation in Beit Hanoun after international pressue, 20 people were killed and at least 45 were injured as a large number of shells were fired at the town. Many of the victims were women and children and 11 were from the same Al-A'athamein family. The massacre took place after a siege and street occupation by Israeli ground troops between the 2nd and 8th of November 2006 ... A group of 1500 unarmed women demonstrated during the 7 day siege of the town in an effort to free men gathered in a mosque, only for Israeli troops to open fire on them too. 2 of the women were killed and a further 20 injured, highlighting that however the peaceful the resistance is, the same brutality applies. http://palsolidarity.org/2010/11/15486/
Gary Moore supports boycott: is summer on the way? As winter falls, some glimmers of hope. The news earlier this month from the Irish section of the cultural boycott is that Gary Moore, a name beloved - or at least vaguely familiar to aficionados of '70s and '80s hard rock/blues, is joining the boycott of Israel. On tour in Russia, he declared that he wouldn't visit the 'criminal state' of Israel 'because of its racist policies against the Palestinian people' . This is one of the straightest statements of support for boycott from an artist. Nice in itself, nice also to add another name to the roster. But I think someone like Gary Moore joining the boycott has wider resonance. Here's why http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com/2010/11/gary-moore-supports-boycott-is-summer.html
Authors speak out against cultural boycott Joseph Finder and Jeremy Blachman says Israeli citizens should not be punished, international media and Israeli government are to blame ... Are authors set to join musicians, and most recently, filmmaker Mike Leigh in boycotting Israel? After a wave of cancellations from musicians like the Pixies and Elvis Costello, who decided to boycott Israel, the question on everyone's lips is what will happen, if anything in the book market? http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3972567,00.html
Israeli forces detain teenage girl in Hebron Israeli forces detained a Palestinian girl in Hebron's Old City on Sunday, the director of the local detainees' society said. Amjad Najjar said 15-year-old Hadeel Talal Issa Abu Turky was detained near the Ibrahimi Mosque and taken to a police station. Hadeel was previously detained in 2009 accused of attempting to stab an Israeli soldier in the same area, but Ofer military court found her innocent and she was released on bail, Najjar said. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=333704
Israel mulls US settlement deal (AJ) The US has offered Israel an incentive package to reinstate a 90-day moratorium on West Bank settlement building, in an effort to revive stalled peace talks with the Palestinians, diplomatic sources said. The proposed moratorium, which would not include building in occupied East Jerusalem, was discussed in Israel's weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, but Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, said final details of the plan were still being worked out. http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/11/2010111323542905184.html
Netanyahu: US proposal not final PM tells cabinet American incentives package offered in exchange for 90-day construction freeze in West Bank 'undergoing consolidation process' ... Ahead of the meeting, four ministers from the Likud party ... expressed their opposition to the three month renewal of the settlement construction freeze. Ya'alon called the US offer a "honey trap" that would eventually result in another crisis with the US once the three-month freeze expires, or "perhaps even earlier." What does the American package offer in return for 'one final freeze'? *US agrees to veto all UN Security Council and international resolutions that are critical of Israel or unilaterally advance Palestinian statehood and boost efforts to fight against Israeli de-legitimization. *Requesting that Congress approve the supply of 20 stealth fighter jets worth $3 billion. *Additional and wider security guarantees when an agreement is reached with the Palestinians. Yet the agreements with the US are as of this moment, unwritten and merely a verbal agreement. [much more in this article] http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3984137,00.html
Settlers: Netanyahu's word worthless Leaders of West Bank's Jewish communities blast plan to impose 90-day construction freeze. 'No limit to deceitfulness and dishonesty; PM waging war on Land of Israel,' they say ... Speaking to Ynet on Sunday, Naftali Bennett said, "Three weeks ago Netanyahu told the world he would not extend the freeze even by one day unless the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Now – nothing ... Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika said any announcement on the renewal of the West Bank construction freeze would "begin the countdown to the end of Netanyahu's government. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3984114,00.html
Fatah-Hamas talks to resume after Eid GAZA CITY: Reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas have been "deferred to next year," a well-known source told the London-based daily Al-Quds. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the issue of security was the main obstacle in the meetings that started last Tuesday in Damascus. The source added that the gap between the two sides is very big. However, officials from both sides confirmed that the meetings would continue after Eid Al-Adha holidays. http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article188493.ece
Renowned Palestinian band to perform in Bethlehem The renowned Palestinian band Al-Ashiqeen will perform for the first time in Bethlehem on Wednesday ... Al-Ashiqeen was established in Damascus in 1977. The band was then led by Hussein Munthir and Hussein Nazik was the main composer. In 1982, the band performed before late Palestinian president and historic leader Yasser Arafat and most of the PLO leaders when they first appeared in public after withdrawal from Beirut. The band was dissolved in the 1980s only to re-form in 2002. The group is now based in Ramallah http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=333717
Vox Taxi - Vox Dei / Uri Avnery ...In the eyes of our conversation partners, questions about whether it is worthwhile to make peace or not, whether peace is good or bad for the Jews, are meaningless, if not downright stupid. Questions which make no sense, since we are having a debate only with ourselves. There will never be peace, because the Arabs will never want peace. End of discussion. Who is to blame for this attitude? If there is one person who is guilty more than anyone else, it is Ehud Barak. http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1289698446/
Interview: Jane Frere, artist Artist Jane Frere's time in the West Bank inspired her to create work that gave a voice to the people there ... [Her paintings] are dynamic, insistent works, all drawing on "the wall", the eight-metre high concrete barrier built by the Israelis to segregate Palestinian areas and further restrict movement of people. One series of paintings, Checkpoint Births – Madonna and Child, deal with women who are forced to give birth at checkpoints when they are not allowed through to get to hospital, putting mother and baby's lives at risk. http://news.scotsman.com/entertainment/Interview-Jane-Frere-artist.6622710.jp
Perhaps rather too much of "Sheena Queen of the Jungle" to this, but interesting Queen of the desert / Yaron Sasson British tourist who married Bedouin man 17 years ago, converted to Islam, and made Negev her home aims to make a change in Bedouin society in terms of treatment of women and animals ... The Israel Land Administration recently razed the unrecognized village of al-Arakib, north of Rahat, for the sixth time. Janice, like her friends, is very uncomfortable with the situation. "It's hard for me to see this. It's their land," she says. "It's very hard to put a person who has been free all these years between four walls. My husband's father lives in a tent next to his home. It was hard for him to move into a house." http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3978977,00.html
Iraq MPs salvage power-sharing pact after walk-out (AFP) BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraqi lawmakers appear to have salvaged a power-sharing deal that gives Nuri al-Maliki a second term as premier, days after a dramatic walk-out from parliament by his former rivals ... Leaders from the three main parties to the pact met before a session of parliament on Saturday and agreed to reconcile their differences and address the protests of the Sunni-backed bloc led by former premier Iyad Allawi. MPs passed the deal by consensus, a parliamentary official told AFP http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101114/wl_afp/iraqpoliticsgovernment
Iraq initials 2 deals to develop oil fields (AP) A pair of international energy consortiums have initialed deals with Iraq to develop two prized gas fields. Turkey's TPAO, with partners Kuwait Energy and Korea's KOGAS, signed deals with Iraq's government on Sunday to develop the 4.6 trillion cubic feet Mansouriya field in eastern Iraq for $7 per barrel of oil equivalent. Kuwait Energy and TPAO will also work together to develop the 1.1 trillion cubic feet Siba field in the south. They will be paid $7.50 per barrel of oil equivalent. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3984327,00.html
Which 'human rights' do you call for? / Kourosh Ziabari One of my close friends is suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a severe mental illness which has almost paralyzed his entire life ... Psychiatrists in Iran have prescribed several drugs for my friend and he has been taking them over the past years; however, when I met him a few weeks ago, he informed me of a shocking, unanticipated incident which I'm still unable to believe. My friend told me that the Canadian and Italian manufacturers of his medicines have ceased exporting their products to Iran following the imposition of United Nations Security Council's fourth round of sanctions against Iran and it's possible that they refuse to export their other pharmaceutical products to the country as a result of the sanctions, as well ... Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon regularly lashes out at other countries for what he claims to be their abuses of human rights; however, his own country, with a long period of abusing the rights of its ethnic minorities, refuses to export medicines to Iran because it wants to "abide by the UNSC resolutions". http://www.intifada-palestine.com/2010/11/which-human-rights-do-you-call-for/
US senator says 'stunned' at Karzai comments (Reuters) WASHINGTON - Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a recent visit, said on Sunday he was "stunned" at Karzai's comments to a Washington newspaper, which appeared at odds with U.S. military strategy. In an interview with The Washington Post, Karzai said he wants the U.S. military to scale back the visibility and intensity of its operations in Afghanistan and end night raids that he said incited people to join the Taliban insurgency. http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N14203721.htm
Palestinian stowaways found on freighter New Bedford, Massachusetts - Two Palestinian men were found stowing away on a New Bedford-bound freighter, authorities said yesterday. Crew members found the two late last week and notified authorities. The ship was kept offshore, and state and local police as well as Coast Guard officials boarded it to take custody of the two men. Federal agents searched the ship before it was allowed to enter New Bedford, said Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Feinstein said the men were trying to get to Canada, and that authorities believe it may be a case of human smuggling. Authorities said the men posed no threat to national security. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/11/14/palestinian_stowaways_found_on_freighter/
Protest the Hebron Fund this Tuesday as they head out to sea Nov 14, 2010 11:53 am | Adam Horowitz
From a press release sent out by protest organizers:
Sixteen human rights groups are preparing to picket an annual New York City fundraising event that raises money for Jewish settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Hebron. Organizers say they will hold a silent protest at the entrance to the Chelsea Piers, 23rd Street and West Side Highway, on November 16 from 5:30 to 7:00pm (details below).
This will be the third consecutive year in which the Brooklyn-based Hebron Fund's annual fundraiser has faced protests. Last year, human rights groups criticized the New York Mets and Major League Baseball for hosting the event at Citi Field. In 2008 the Marriott Marquis was the site of a protest against the fundraiser. It is unclear if protests have led the Hebron Fund to change venues annually.
Susan Beschta from Code Pink explained, "All Israeli settlements violate international law, and Hebron's settlers are among the most violent and racist of Israel's settlers. It's outrageous that on top of the billions of our tax dollars that our government gives to Israel annually, the US gives a tax break for donating to groups like the Hebron Fund that help to drive Palestinians from their homes." According to all major human rights organizations, the UN, the International Court of Justice, and governments around the world, all Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem violate the Fourth Geneva Convention.
This year's Hebron Fund fundraiser has been organized as a Hudson River cruise and entitled the "Hebron Aid Flotilla" in an apparent attempt to mock the international Freedom Flotilla that sailed last spring to break the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza. The Israeli military attacked the flotilla in international waters, shooting and killing nine passengers, including an American citizen, aboard a Turkish-flagged ship, the Mavi Marmara, and injured an additional 58 passengers.
The Hebron Fund announcement for the event states that "settlements are legal," that "this administration may decide to fly in the face of US law and commitment," and that "the tax deductible status of the meager donations to Hebron's Jews comes under repeated scrutiny - for no good reason except for racism and Anti-Semitism." Keynote speaker and former Netanyahu advisor Caroline Glick has written in the Jerusalem Post that President Obama is "treating Israel like an enemy."
In a recent New York Times report on the many US nonprofits that fund Israeli settlements, a senior US State Department official was quoted saying "It's a problem. It's unhelpful to the efforts that we're trying to make."
According to a 2007 report on Hebron, "Ghost Town," by the Israeli human rights organizations B'Tselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Hebron is characterized by "a phenomenon of routine and sometimes extremely violent settler abuse of Palestinians" that aims to "get them to leave the area." The two groups documented settler attacks that included physical assault, including beatings, at times with clubs, gunshots, stone throwing, hurling of refuse, destruction of shops, shattering of windows, thefts, cutting of fruit trees, and verbal insults.
In 2007, Hebron Fund Executive Director Yossi Baumol told The American Prospect's Matthew Dussthat "[d]emocracy is poison to Arabs," "Israel must not give Arabs a say in how the country is run," and "[y]ou'll never get the truth out of an Arab." Noam Arnon, a 2009 Hebron Fund fundraiser honoree, called Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein "an extraordinary person'' in 1995, according to a report by the Associated Press. In 1994 Goldstein massacred 29 unarmed Palestinians who were praying in a Hebron mosque, and wounded over 100 more.
WHAT: Silent picket with photographic images of anti-Palestinian acts by Israeli settlers and soldiers in Hebron, Palestine
WHERE: in front of the Chelsea Piers, 23rd Street and the West Side Highway
WHEN: Tuesday, November16, 2010, 5:30-7:00 p.m.
ENDORSED BY: Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, Al-Awda NY, American Jews for a Just Peace, Brooklyn For Peace, Code Pink, Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine, Delaware Valley Veterans for Peace, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-USA, Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews Say No!, Middle East Crisis Response, Siege Busters working group, WESPAC, Women in Black – Union Square, Women of a Certain Age, Woodstock Veterans for Peace
Talk to Rep. Brian Baird before he leaves office in conference call sponsored by Ta'anit Tzedek – Jewish Fast For Gaza Nov 14, 2010 11:13 am | Rabbi Brant Rosen
When Congressman Brian Baird (D-Washington) announced last December that he would not be seeking another term, the cause of justice in Israel/Palestine lost one of its truly courageous advocates in Congress. Especially when you consider the face of the incoming House and Senate – a Congress that is already gearing up to do Netanyahu's every bidding – the loss of one such as Baird is profound indeed.
If you'd like to participate in what will likely be Baird's final public discussion of Israel/Palestine as a congressman, you should know that he will be featured in a conference call hosted by Ta'anit Tzedek - Jewish Fast For Gaza on Thursday, November 18 at 12:00 pm (EST). The access information for the call is at the bottom of this post.
In truth, Baird has been one of the precious few politicians in Washington who has been willing to openly advocate for Palestinian human rights. Take a look at the clip above and you'll see him say the US should consider withholding aid to Israel if it continues to settle the West Bank and East Jerusalem. He also pleads the case of the Palestinians because "ignoring the plight of these good people is at our peril."
Baird has been particularly fearless on the issue of Gaza. He has visited the strip on three separate occasions, the second of which occurred immediately following Cast Lead in February 2009. While the rest of Congress was lining up to defend Israel's right to decimate Gaza, this is what Baird had to say:
The amount of physical destruction and the depth of human suffering here is staggering... Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed, schools completely leveled, fundamental water, sewer, and electricity facilities hit and relief agencies heavily damaged. The personal stories of children being killed in their homes or schools, entire families wiped out, and relief workers prevented from evacuating the wounded are heart wrenching – what went on here, and what is continuing to go on, is shocking and troubling beyond words...If this had happened in our own country, there would be national outrage and an appeal for urgent assistance.
After his third visit to Gaza in February 2010, Baird called on the US to break Israel's blockade by delivering aid in a "Berlin airlift" style mission. You may also recall that he was also one of the few members of the House to vote against (and in fact openly excoriated) the infamous House Resolution 867 - the bill that "unequivocally opposed any endorsement or further consideration" of the Goldstone Report.
Baird also happens to be the Corrie family's Congressman, supporting them steadfastly since Rachel's killing in 2003. He continues to stand by Craig and Cindy Corrie as they pursue their wrongful death suit against the Israeli government.
Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), who represents the Olympia area, said the family had been subjected to an ugly counter-campaign for pursuing their daughter's case. He and others say it's a pattern that's increasingly common. "Any questioning of Israel is met with hostility, no matter who asks the questions -- a congressman, a journalist or even the president of the United States," said Baird, adding that his support of the Corrie family had cost him campaign donations.
What else can we say except that Congressman Baird's fearless voice will be sorely, sorely missed in Congress?
Here's the info on this Thursday's conference call. It promises to be a powerful and important conversation:
"After the Elections: US Policy, Israel and Gaza" - A Conversation with Congressman Brian Baird
Recently, the director of the OIFF, Carole Zabar, wrote an article where she threw several unfounded accusations at the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). PACBI published a statement on the festival just yesterday, which I think asks readers of this site to carefully think through the agenda and mission statement of the OIFF before promoting the festival. Here is one excerpt from the PACBI letter that is revealing:
(1) In a recent statement, Mr. Isaac Zablocki, the Director of the Israel Film Center, OIFF's main partner, said: 
"The goal of the center is to share with the public these amazing [Israeli] cinematic achievements coming out of a country that is normally only seenthrough news headlines. Through our viewing library, screenings and promotion of films, we hope to share with the public a new slice of Israeli reality… an Israel filled with innocence, humor, and ideals."
This strikingly echoes the logic of the official Israeli propaganda campaign title Brand Israel, which aims to divert attention from Israel's violations of international law and Palestinian rights to its artistic and scientific achievements. One of its main founders of the Brand Israel campaign, Arye Mekel, the deputy director general for cultural affairs in the Israeli foreign ministry, described it to the New York Times :
"We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits. This way you show Israel's prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war."
A former deputy director general of the Israeli foreign ministry, Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, explained upon launching the Brand Israel campaign in 2005: "We are seeing culture as a hasbara tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture."
The problem here is that the OIFF project claims not to take a political position but partners with an institution like the Israel Film Center whose views are clear, not to mention that OIFF director, Carole Zabar, endorses the idea of Israel as a democracy "albeit with some challenges," as PACBI writes. Thus, for those wishing to adhere to the criteria for cultural boycott the festival's positions seem suspect, despite some of its intentions.
At least one Palestinian filmmaker has refused to screen her film at the festival, and perhaps it would be important for many other filmmakers to do the same in order to pressure the festival organizers to think more carefully about the event's role in promoting Israel's image.
On a separate point, Zabar's own accusations at the boycott movement and her disinformation should warrant pause. Of note is Zabar's claim in the article that the South African anti-apartheid boycott movement was just economic. I suppose this was a cheap attempt to delegitimize the academic and cultural component of the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. It would have helped, however, if she had gotten her facts straight. A brief Google search online would have been enough to show how the cultural boycott of South Africa was even endorsed formally by the United Nations Committee Against Apartheid.
Sami Hermez is a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Lebanese Studies, St. Antony's College, Oxford University.
The Goldbergian principle: People who hate Jews are anti-Semites, anti-Zionists are anti-Semites, thus anti-Semites who like Israel are just fine. Nov 14, 2010 10:35 am | Ali Gharib
After the break-up the latest plot by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to attack the U.S. by FedExing bombs set to blow up in mid-air, Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic set out to use the attempted attack as a way to disprove 'linkage' -- ie, the notion that solving (or even pressuring Israel to solve) the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a productive step towards helping the U.S. with its myriad problems in the Mid East, including international extremist Muslim terror.*
Goldberg specifically offers a roundabout defense of settlements:
[T]he people... who manufactured these bomb are fundamentally annihilationist in outlook, meaning that they have as a primary goal the killing of Jews, everywhere. This shouldn't be a controversial conclusion to make, but there are many people out there who believe that al Qaeda and its fellow travelers are angry over settlements. They are not. They are angry over the continued existence of Jews.
It's a bit of a funny stance to take for someone who has participated in several loud attempts (despite his logic's severe flaws) to characterize harsh criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism. Another poignant example of Goldberg's conflation is his attempt to conflate Judaism with Zionism -- cf, his attempt to label Weiss and other anti-Zionists as 'not Jews.' I'm in no way endorsing the logic (I'm a tireless advocate of non-violence to the point of dabbling in pacifism), but if you say that 'all Jews are Zionists' you no longer have the privilege of saying that those who attack Jews outside of Israel are not doing so because of Israel.
Goldberg tirelessly works to erase the very distinction he blames these terrorists for not seeing. In short, Goldberg wants to have his cake (Judea and Samaria, maybe) and eat it, too: Those who dare take on Israel do it because they hate the Jews, but those that attack the Jews don't care a whit about Israel.
At some point, Goldberg will have to make the choice between defending all Jews everywhere (yes, Jeffery, even anti-Zionists) and defending/apologizing for Israel's expansionist policies. Or, given his booming silence on the matter of Glenn Beck's anti-Semitic tirade, maybe his choice is already quite clear.
* Linkage does not, as the common straw-man argument would have it, mean immediately solve these problems, mind you, but help to solve them by reducing one of the strongest recruiting points for violent Islamic radicals and one of the starkest points of contention between the U.S. and even 'moderate' Muslims worldwide.
Cantor pledges Republicans will stand with Israel against Obama (btw, Cantor is Jewish, does that matter?) Nov 14, 2010 09:21 am | Philip Weiss
There is a justifiable uproar over the fact that Eric Cantor, the Republican whip, has pledged his party's greater allegiance to Netanyahu than Obama [quotes below]. Andrew Sullivan calls it a "scandal." Jim Traub at Foreign Policy asks, "Did Bibi win the midterms?" and then picks up a statement Cantor--"the leading GOP voice on Israel"--made on talk radio:
Cantor said that "it is very controversial" to "slam our ally, Israel," adding that "most Americans understand that Israel's security is synonymous with America's security." Actually, it's extraordinary to think that any country's security can be "synonymous" with that of the United States...
I'll quote Greenwald in a moment, but I want to get to my slight irritation with the coverage. Does it matter that Cantor is Jewish? All the commenters step around this fact. (Except Laura Rozen: Cantor "is set to become the highest ranking Jewish member of Congress in history.") They don't want to feed anti-Semitism; some of them are Jews, they obviously believe that you can be Jewish and American and not be biased toward Israel. And that's true, you can.
But I think his Jewishness is relevant. Whenever an article praises Cantor for his support of Israel, they like to point out that he is only Jewish GOP member of Congress. And I bet that if any one of these writers told you about Cantor's siding with Netanyahu over a drink, they'd mention his Jewishness. It would be like talking about about political opposition to stem-cell research without referring to evangelical Christians.
Are there evangelical Christians who support stem-cell research? I'm sure. But the politics of the question have a strong religious component; and journalists make generalizations, justifiably. And Zionism (whatever its imperial or Christian veneers) is a religiously-borne ideology.
I can't wait till Jewish attitudes here are diverse. They are not now. Zionism captured Jewish life 40-70 years ago; Dershowitz says that it is the sacred mission of Jews to defend Israel. This is an invocation that I and every other Jew has heard. As J Street proclaimed the other day, "a deep commitment to Israel...[is] interwoven deep in the soul of American Jewish political identity." I agree, lamentably. It's woven, and the only way we will unweave it is to acknowledge its prominent presence. And as to dual loyalty, Eric Alterman and John Judis both explained that dual loyalty is part of support for Zionism. So did the anti-Zionist Rabbi Elmer Berger 70 years ago. So did Herzl's rich English hosts 110 years ago when they told him to get lost, they were doing fine in England.
And the reason it's vital to talk about these things now is that you can't unpack the disastrous American decision to invade Iraq or the push now to go to war with Iran (or indeed the unending support for Israeli colonization of the West Bank, or the defeat of the right of return in the 40s and 50s when American presidents were demanding the return of the refugees) without talking about the lobby and the construction of Jewish identity. I submit that not acknowledging the Jewish piece of this is a kind of forcible political stupidity that inhibits genuine understanding. But here is Greenwald:
"Regarding the midterms, Cantor may have given Netanyahu some reason to stand firm against the American administration.
"Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington," the readout continued. "He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other."
Leave aside the absurdity of believing that Israel needs to be protected from the extremely deferential and devoted Obama administration. So extraordinary is Cantor's pledge that even the Jewish Telegraph Agency's Ron Kampeas -- himself a reflexive American defender of most things Israel -- was astonished, and wrote:
"I can't remember an opposition leader telling a foreign leader, in a personal meeting, that he would side, as a policy, with that leader against the president. Certainly, in statements on one specific issue or another -- building in Jerusalem, or somesuch -- lawmakers have taken the sides of other nations. But to have-a-face to face and say, in general, we will take your side against the White House -- that sounds to me extraordinary."
In Israel, 'likeminded' people just like to live in the same neighborhood, and town too Nov 14, 2010 08:51 am | Philip Weiss
Nathan Jeffay has a story in the Forward from Tel Aviv about a new bill, headed for passage, that would authorize housing-sale discrimination in certain small communities on the basis of "social suitability"-- which seems to mean Jewish not Palestinian.
Israel is poised to enshrine in law the right of some villages to handpick residents, following the advance of legislation that some decry as carte blanche for ethnic discrimination.
There is an interesting comment in the piece from a guy who evidently grew up in the U.S. He is talking about the "absorption" committees that carry out the discrimination:
Joel Golovensky, president of the Institute for Zionist Strategies, a think tank dedicated to Israel's continuation "as both a Jewish and a viable democratic state," said that critics of the committee ignore Israel's culture of likeminded people living together, and view Israel as if its culture is the same as America's. "I was educated in America, and it was very difficult for me to see how life in this respect is different here." The committees, he said, "clearly separate people, like a million other things separate people, but I would not call it discrimination; I would call it empowering [for communities]."
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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.