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Slater: rightwing Jewish support for Israel risks anti-Semitic backlash when U.S. wakes up

Posted: 08 Aug 2010 10:23 AM PDT

Great piece by Jerry Slater on How bad can the Jewish Rightwing get? in which he responds to the Tablet attack on critics of Israel and argues that rightwing Jewish complicity in the occupation and the Israel lobby poses a danger to the Jewish status in the west:

Rather than guarding against anti-Semitism, the insults, coarseness, irrationality and dishonesty of the Jewish rightwing risks setting off an anti-Semitic backlash. To be sure, I don't think there is much likelihood of this at present, but being Jewish myself and with some personal experience with anti-Semitism in the past, I cannot dismiss the danger out of hand: coming of age in America in the 1940s, I heard about, saw, and personally experienced plenty of anti-Semitism.

       More importantly, it is well to keep in mind the historical experience of the Jews: in the past two thousand years Jews have frequently been a tolerated minority, and sometimes have even risen to powerful and respected positions in some of the most advanced and civilized states—like England, Spain, Portugal, France, and of course Germany—only to see their social standing, their accomplishments, their livelihood and often their very lives suddenly swept away by a deadly outbreak of anti-Semitism. In light of this history, the possible resurgence of anti-Semitism in the West cannot be entirely discounted, for it has never been definitively defeated and eliminated and has always survived, even if deep under the surface, as if lying in wait for some national political or economic crisis to once again burst out in full fury.

       With that in mind, it is one thing to label (explicitly or by unmistakable innuendo) the most prominent and brave of the Jewish critics of Israel.. as "self-hating Jews," a charge that is so preposterous and revolting that only fools take it seriously. It's another matter altogether to continue assailing the serious, informed, and justifiably highly respected non-Jewish critics of Israel—Mearsheimer, Walt, Sullivan, Chas Freeman, Scott McConnell, Michael Desch, and others.

      The problem is not that these men themselves--all of them patient, of good will, and genuinely committed to the best interests of Israel--will get really angry at the supposedly "pro-Israel" Jews in general, let alone countenance an anti-Semitic backlash. Rather, the real concern is how ordinary Americans as well as unwise or unprincipled politicians will react, if or when they finally catch on to the fact that Israel's policies and the still-strong support of them by a large majority of American Jews are inflicting serious damage on American foreign policy, and perhaps even basic national security. Although the Jewish rightwing blandly denies that there is any connection between the hatred of Islamic fanatics and terrorists for the United States and the history of the near-unconditional American support of Israel, the denial is preposterous, since Osama bin Laden and many other al-Qaeda or other terrorist leaders have repeatedly said that their primary motive for attacking this country—including 9/11-- is its support for Israel's occupation and repression of the Palestinians.

Bad for Israel

As well as being bad for the United States, the American Jewish rightwing is bad for Israel. Israel today is in desperate straits. Even leaving aside the dangers to its national security or very existence created by its endless provocations of the Arab or Islamic world, whose fanatics will almost certainly eventually gain possession of nuclear weapons, the poison created by the stupidity and criminal behavior of the Israelis towards the Palestinians is rapidly seeping into the politics and society of Israel itself. Israel today is well on its way to making a mockery of its claim to be a civilized Western democracy—even if only for the Jews, let alone for the more than five million Arabs whom it effectively rules or controls, directly or indirectly. And with every passing day the news gets worse, as new signs emerge of the gathering descent of the Jewish state into authoritarianism, religious fundamentalism, anti-intellectualism, state repression, majority tyranny, and international pariahdom.

      A growing number of Israeli commentators openly express their fear that Israel—a Jewish state, who could have imagined it—is sliding into fascism, and desperately call on the United States to help save Israel from itself. In vain, I fear, given the domestic politics of the Israeli issue in this country, as well as (as Scott McConnell has astutely observed) the reluctance of so many Jews and Gentiles to speak out and subject themselves to the repugnant attacks of the Jewish rightwing.

Bad for the Jews

In the entire history of the Jews there has never been a state such as America of the last fifty years or so: certainly not anti-Semitic, and not even merely "tolerant," but perhaps even philo-Semitic. Where else have we ever been more secure—certainly not in Israel—and, beyond elemental safety, more integrated, respected, prosperous, honored—and, yes, powerful? Even so, given our overall historical plight, as well as the fact that we constitute less than 2% of the American population, one might hope for greater wisdom and insult-free discourse from the Jewish rightwing.

        Beyond the potential dangers of fouling the nest, the Jewish rightwing is betraying what we have been pleased to think of as "Jewish values," but which are really what is best in Western civilization as a whole: a commitment to reason, truth, and justice. The Jewish rightwing is making a mockery of these values: routinely lying, resorting to the tactics of the guttersnipe, and debasing rational and civilized discourse. Indeed, such a discourse would be essential even if the Jewish rightists had something of value to contribute to the debate over Israeli policies and U.S. support of them, and all the more so when they are devastatingly wrong about the true national interest, well-being, and moral standing of Israel.

Shalala is doubly humiliated

Posted: 08 Aug 2010 09:37 AM PDT

A brilliant post by MJ Rosenberg at TPM does what Senator Sam Ervin or Woodward and Bernstein instructed my generation to do in our youth, but that no mainstream journalist is allowed to do when it comes to the Israel lobby, and follow the money. Rosenberg grabs on to the story that former Education Secretary, now University of Miami president, Donna Shalala was "humiliated," per Ynet, a week or so back at Ben-Gurion airport. 

This is from the Israeli daily Yedioth Achronoth:

"When Shalala arrived at the airport, she was not recognized as a VIP and was even afforded what she claims to be "special" treatment because of her Arab last name. She claims she was held for two-and-a-half hours during which she was asked invasive and humiliating personal questions. Despite the delay, she managed to board the flight to the US. Officials who spoke with her said she was deeply offended by the treatment she received."

But guess what. Shalala, after a few day's reflection. is not offended at all. .

On the contrary, back in Miami she defended the Israeli policy of ethnic profiling -- followed by humiliation applied to such security threats as post-60 year old former cabinet officials and university presidents.

"While I was inconvenienced, Israel's security and the security of travelers is far more important," said Shalala, who is of Lebanese descent. "I have been going in and out of Israel for many years and expect to visit again."


So I checked with my friend who knows the scene at the University of [Miami]. "Are you crazy? If Shalala hinted at criticizing Israel, millions of dollars the university is counting on would dry up instantly. She can't say a word or the university will have to put all its expansion plans on a shelf forever, not to mention the scholarships that will disappear."

And that is how it works. I have been remiss on focusing mostly on Congress. I am afraid that even I don't know the half of it.

Note that Shalala was going to Israel to help oppose academic boycott, at the behest of the American Jewish Congress. What's that about, huh? The same thing? I suspicion, yes. And what about President Lee Bollinger's plans to expand Columbia University to Manhattanville in Harlem. Did his tolerance of the David Project's forays into classrooms reflect concerns about raising money?

Levy: 'Defining Israel as a Jewish state condemns us to living in a racist state'

Posted: 08 Aug 2010 09:09 AM PDT

I just heard Brooke Gladstone of On the Media, NPR, grill Wadah Khanfar, an Al Jazeera executive, about how the network is hurting the peace process by running stories suggesting that Mahmoud Abbas was wrong to attempt to cashier the Goldstone Report. O hallowed peace process. Does she have any idea what the unending peace process has produced for Palestinians? Or what it has produced for Israelis? In a word, Jim Crow. But Gladstone's is an establishmentarian shibboleth. You will be barred from the mainstream if you say you don't believe in the peace process. Here is Gideon Levy in Haaretz on the Zionist insistence that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state. Why isn't this in the American discourse?

Defining Israel as a Jewish state condemns us to living in a racist state...

There is also no argument about the justice of the Law of Return: Israel is the place of the Jews who want to live there. The real argument is over the law's exclusivity, over the fact that it applies only to Jews. That's where it all begins. One could understand the need after the Holocaust, the necessity in the first years of the state, but 62 years after the founding of the state the time has come to reexamine the long-obsolete concepts. Does anyone actually know the meaning of the term "Jewish state" that we bandy about so much? Does it mean a state for Jews only? Is it not a new kind of "racial purity"? Is the "demographic threat" greater than the danger of the state's becoming a religious enthnocracy or an apartheid state? Wouldn't it be better to live in a just democracy? And how is it even possible to speak about a state being both Jewish and democratic?

Bromwich: Passionless Obama is letting ideologues push 'fantasy' of Iran war

Posted: 08 Aug 2010 07:51 AM PDT

David Bromwich has a devastating essay up on Huffpo, called "One More War, Please" that begins with the question, "Will the summer of 2010 be remembered as the time when we turned into a nation of sleepwalkers?" and then goes through the devastations of America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, showing how they are corrupting American government and destroying the U.S. reputation in the Middle East. Bromwich describes the mainstream's weary response to all disclosures as being: "It's awful -- we already knew -- it doesn't matter."

What of the future war, the war a significant body of Israeli and American opinion is already preparing, the war against Iran? President Obama has called Israel a "sacrosanct" ally, and even before he used language so pious, fulsome, and unsuitable to the leader of an independent republic, Iran did not entirely trust the United States. To remember why, we would have to violate President Obama's pledge to look only at the future, and actually look at the past. But let us follow his injunction for the moment; look only at the war of the future. How, then, does Iran link up with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? From the tenor of Obama's recent words about Afghanistan, one would suppose he is doing the best he thinks possible now -- namely, getting out -- but at the speed his domestic opponents compel, that is, more slowly than he knows it would be right to do. With Iran, by contrast, Obama seems to be doing what he believes is wrong -- namely adding momentum to the pressure for a future war -- but, again as with Afghanistan, he is doing it more slowly than he knows his opponents would prefer to accomplish their result. The war party within his administration is placated but not yet happy. Possibly the result Obama is hoping for is that these two manifestations of slowness, slow on the right side in Afghanistan, slow on the wrong side with Iran, will meet somewhere in the middle, and spare us two catastrophes at once. Yet time, in politics, doesn't work like that; a fact this president often seems unwilling to absorb...

Should we Americans also tremble for our country when we think of the wind we are sowing in Iran?

There is little disagreement about the facts. "No one believes," as Philip Giraldi put it recently, "that Iran is anything but a nation that is one small step away from becoming a complete religious dictatorship, but the country has a small economy, a tiny defense budget, and, as far as the world's intelligence services can determine, neither nuclear weapons nor a program to develop them." Yet President Obama and his advisers, if they dare to look, can watch House Resolution 1553 gaining signatures and stealing a march on their policy. The resolution is a demagogue's dream of bogus collective security. It declares American support, in advance, for an Israeli attack on Iran, and gives the unheard-of approval by the U.S. to a foreign power to use "all means necessary" to advance its own interests, and to follow its own definition of those interests. The resolution incidentally adopts the language of Israeli propaganda when it refers to Iran as an "immediate and existential threat."

Will Iran become our third war of the moment? Sanctions which, Benjamin Netanyahu has said, should soon become "crippling sanctions" already have us in lockstep on that path. To be satisfied with his advice, we have only to believe the Likud theory that Iran is a "suicide nation" whose rulers would gladly send their first nuclear weapon (still some years off) to destroy Israel and kill the Arabs in Israel along with the Jews; and that they would do it in the certain knowledge of bringing annihilation upon Iran itself. For Israel, unlike Iran, is known to have a large nuclear arsenal and the ability to launch a nuclear attack. It is a projection of fantasy not of policy to suppose the United States has a duty to join or support an Israeli attack on Iran. Yet not one word has thus far been spoken by anyone around the president to counteract the fantasy.

Those who pushed hardest for the Iraq war, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Frank Gaffney, William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Liz and Dick Cheney and many others familiar and obscure are now turning up the heat for an attack on Iran. Why so much pressure so early? The reason may lie in the very improbability of the cause. Given the geographical position of the U.S. and the overwhelming strength of our offensive weapons and armed forces, the only way that we could possibly feel threatened by Iran is by taking Israel's side early and acquiring Israel's enemies as our enemies. Determined American hostility toward Iran is seen as the major step here. Vestigial decencies oblige the sane among the war party to admit there is no danger to Israel from Iran, just now, let alone an "existential threat" that implicates the United States. This will cease to matter if the enmity can be carved in deep enough grooves in the coming months.

To maintain the old wars and give us a new, the war party have now to argue, as they did in Iraq, that the only intelligent war is preemptive war, and that nuclear ambitions mark a special case. Besides, they can add, as they did in Iraq, and as they did in Afghanistan until a few weeks ago, an Israeli or American attack will bring the added benefit of improved democracy in Iran. There is a difference however. In Iraq, the war party successfully inducted a few native Iraqis into their cause. They called them the Iraqi National Congress, and rewarded with money and status the confidence man who led them, Ahmed Chalabi. They have not yet found a comparable party of Iranians, however minuscule, to defend the theory of the emancipationist bombing of Iran. People don't want to be bombed, as a general thing. Also, as the electrical grid of Iraq may suggest, and as the design of "mobile mullahs" for Afghanistan may confirm, a set of conquerors who know nothing about the objects of their actions can be relied on to translate even what successes they have into disasters.

November 2010 may well turn the president's majority into a minority party. What then becomes of our past, present, and future wars? The Likud, in both Israel and America, may prove itself ready for action sooner than President Obama would like, just as the Tea Party picked up energy faster and harder than he looked for in the spring of 2009. In that earlier contest (and the same will hold true in this), a slow response and a delayed counterstatement did not earn a credit for prudence to offset the support it squandered on the way. When your reactions fall so far behind the pace of events, your footing is altogether lost. We have a president now whose most reliable quality is to remove the sting of panic but also the prod of urgency from every political situation. That trait has turned out to be a far from an obvious asset. "It's awful -- I already knew -- and we have everything under control." The temperamental posture calls for him to strike an attitude of calm indifference to violent passions. Yet nowhere does political passion so quickly exceed all measure as in the craving for a war which no one in command has unmistakably discouraged.

Hedges's 2001 account of attack on Gaza boys anticipated Goldstone Report

Posted: 08 Aug 2010 07:41 AM PDT

Many people have sent me raves about Chris Hedges's appearance the other night at the Gaza boat fundraiser. They have praised his work on the issue, in particular his 2001 Harper's piece, A Gaza Diary. It included the stunning scene below. We will make no progress in American policymaking till we acknowledge the atrocities against the Palestinians (and American atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan). These stories are, after all, repeated across the Arab world, and they are not myths. Yes this story is before the settlements were removed from Gaza, but the disdain for Palestinian life, that is what Goldstone documented. And NPR wants us to suppress the Goldstone report! Hedges:

I sit in the shade of a palm-roofed hut on the edge of the dunes, momentarily defeated by the heat, the grit, the jostling crowds, the stench of the open sewers and rotting garbage. A friend of Azmi's brings me, on a tray, a cold glass of tart, red carcade juice.

Barefoot boys, clutching kites made out of scraps of paper and ragged soccer balls, squat a few feet away under scrub trees. Men in flowing white or gray galabias—homespun robes—smoke cigarettes in the shade of slim eaves. Two emaciated donkeys, their ribs protruding, are tethered to wooden carts with rubber wheels. / It is still. The camp waits, as if holding its breath. And then, out of the dry furnace air, a disembodied voice crackles over a loudspeaker.

"Come on, dogs," the voice booms in Arabic. "Where are all the dogs of Khan Younis? Come! Come!" / I stand up. I walk outside the hut. The invective continues to spew: "Son of a bitch!" "Son of a whore!" "Your mother's cunt!"

The boys dart in small packs up the sloping dunes to the electric fence that separates the camp from the Jewish settlement. They lob rocks toward two armored jeeps parked on top of the dune and mounted with loudspeakers. Three ambulances line the road below the dunes in anticipation of what is to come.

A percussion grenade explodes. The boys, most no more than ten or eleven years old, scatter, running clumsily across the heavy sand. They descend out of sight behind a sandbank in front of me. There are no sounds of gunfire. The soldiers shoot with silencers. The bullets from the M-16 rifles tumble end over end through the children's slight bodies. Later, in the hospital, I will see the destruction: the stomachs ripped out, the gaping holes in limbs and torsos. 

Yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight young men, six of whom were under the age of eighteen. One was twelve. This afternoon they kill an eleven-year-old boy, Ali Murad, and seriously wound four more, three of whom are under eighteen. Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered—death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo—but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.

We approach a Palestinian police post behind a sand hill. The police, in green uniforms, are making tea. They say that they have given up on trying to hold the children back.

"When we tell the boys not to go to the dunes they taunt us as collaborators," Lt. Ayman Ghanm says. "When we approach the fence with our weapons to try and clear the area the Israelis fire on us. We just sit here now and wait for the war."

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Date: August 9, 2010 9:37:00 AM EDT
Subject: NEWS from Vincent REYNOUARD

Dear Correspondents,

You may have missed this: I don't recall seeing a redistribution by any of you. 

As far as I know the only publication to have printed it is the Italian daily Rinascita (in translation, July 31).

It seems likely the prisoner will be deported to France this week. Naturally I'll make his new address known when I'm informed of it.

Demonstrations outside French and Belgian consulates or embassies are in order.

Thank you for your attention,


Message of July 25th, 2010

Dear friends,

First of all, thanks to all of you who, following my detention, have written to me here at Forest prison. Having neither envelopes nor stamps in sufficient number, I cannot answer, and I'm sorry for that. Still, thank you for your showings of support, which go straight to my heart. I'll ask those who wish to write me to enclose in their letters a stamped envelope (at "Europe" postal rate) for the reply.

On July 23rd the judges in Brussels declared that the arrest warrant issued for me by France was valid. Therefore extradition is now unavoidable. It will doubtless come about in ten days' time or so.

My lawyers have asked me to take certain actions to try to avoid prison in France, or at least minimize the length of detention. I shall do nothing of the sort. In effect, I want it to be possible to say that in 2010, in France, a father of eight children, aged from 1 to 17, languishes in prison simply for having publicly expressed revisionist arguments.

I want it known that in France, in 2010, a father of eight whose only weapon is a pen languishes in prison.

I'll be told in reply that, for now, 99.9% of people don't care. And it's true. But I repeat: we revisionists look further ahead, towards the day when, with the help of events, moods will change. Perhaps we'll be dead then. But when future researchers, unhindered by current taboos, study this history – our history – of the period 1990-2010 and see the repression of which the revisionists have been victims, then the conclusion to make will be obvious.

As I write, I think of my dear wife and my dear children.

I think of their state of mind... Yesterday, in the visiting room, Marina was crying. She told me my 14-year-old son wasn't eating and that the five "little ones" wanted their father. That hurts but, beside the fact that the Truth holds certain rights over us, if I carry on the revisionist struggle – the implications of which run well beyond the realm of History – I carry it on precisely for my children, as well as for other peoples' children, for the Palestinians, for Europe, and, more generally, for a world rid of this New World Order built on the ruins of the 3rd Reich.

Whatever the hardships, I will never give in. The cops, judges and prisons will make no difference. The seed has been sown; it will germinate and, some day, it will grow.


Prison de Forest
52 avenue de la Jonction


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