Dec 12, 2010

"The Ordeal of Civility" continues


Danziger himself learned both Hebrew and English as a child. "I am a bilingual and I believe that I actually respond differently in Hebrew than I do in English. I think in English I'm more polite than I am in Hebrew," he says. "People can exhibit different types of selves in different environments. This suggests that language can serve as a cue to bring forward different selves."

Sent: Sunday, December 12, 2010 5:54 PM
Subject: [e-l] Person's Language May Influence How He or She Thinks About Other People




The vast majority of Arab Israelis speak Arabic at home and usually start learning Hebrew in elementary school. The subjects in this study were Arab Israelis, fluent in both Hebrew and Arabic, who were students at Hebrew-speaking universities and colleges. Researchers Shai Danziger of Ben-Gurion University and Robert Ward of Bangor University took advantage of the tensions between Arabs and Israelis to design an experiment that looked at how the students think differently in Arabic and Hebrew. Their hypothesis: "It's likely that a bilingual Arab Israeli will consider Arabs more positively in an Arab speaking environment than a Hebrew speaking environment," says Danziger.

The study used a computer test known as the Implicit Association Test, which is often used to study bias. Words flash on the computer screen, and subjects have to categorize them by pressing two keys on the keyboard as quickly as possible. It's a nearly automatic task, with no time to think about the answers. The trick is, the subjects are classifying two different kinds of words: words describing positive and negative traits and, in this case, names -- Arab names like Ahmed and Samir and Jewish names like Avi and Ronen. For example, they might be told to press "M" when they saw an Arab name or a word with a good meaning, or "X" when they saw a Jewish name and a word with a bad meaning. In this example, if people automatically associate "good" words with Arabs and "bad" with Jews, they'll be able to do the classifications faster than if their automatic association between the words is the other way around. In different sections of the test, different sets of words are paired.

For this study, the bilingual Arab Israelis took the implicit association test in both languages â€" Hebrew and Arabic â€" to see if the language they were using affected their biases about the names. The Arab Israeli volunteers found it easier to associate Arab names with "good" trait words and Jewish names with "bad" trait words than Arab names with "bad" trait words and Jewish names with "good" trait words. But this effect was much stronger when the test was given in Arabic; in the Hebrew session, they showed less of a positive bias toward Arab names over Jewish names. "The language we speak can change the way we think about other people," says Ward. The results are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Danziger himself learned both Hebrew and English as a child. "I am a bilingual and I believe that I actually respond differently in Hebrew than I do in English. I think in English I'm more polite than I am in Hebrew," he says. "People can exhibit different types of selves in different environments. This suggests that language can serve as a cue to bring forward different selves."

Recent Activity:

Stay on top of your group activity without leaving the page you're on - Get the Yahoo! Toolbar now.

Find useful articles and helpful tips on living with Fibromyalgia. Visit the Fibromyalgia Zone today!

Be a homeroom hero! Help Yahoo! donate up to $350K to classrooms!



NYTimes: A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives


From The New York Times:

A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives

In theory, clearinghouses exist to safeguard the integrity of the multitrillion-dollar derivatives market. In practice, they also defend big banks' dominance.

Michael Santomauro
@ 917-974-6367

What sort of TRUTH is it that crushes the freedom to seek the truth?

Recent Activity:

Be a homeroom hero! Help Yahoo! donate up to $350K to classrooms!

Find useful articles and helpful tips on living with Fibromyalgia. Visit the Fibromyalgia Zone today!

Stay on top of your group activity without leaving the page you're on - Get the Yahoo! Toolbar now.



And on Saturday, he benchpressed 400 Congressmen / The Latest from Mondoweiss for 12/12/2010


From: "Mondoweiss" <>
Date: December 12, 2010 7:03:06 AM 

Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.
Here are the headlines from Mondoweiss for 12/12/2010:

And on Saturday, he benchpressed 400 Congressmen
Dec 12, 2010 12:27 am | Philip Weiss

Thursday, December 9. A fundraiser in Century City, Ca, for the Israel Defense Forces raises $9 million is hosted by Haim Saban:

DOUBLE your donation and get 2 FREE GIFTS

"At the conclusion of Hanukkah, we remember how the Maccabees triumphed in the face of odds," Haim [Saban] said while addressing the crowd. "Let's not forget that the Jewish people overcame the Syrian-Greeks, the Roman empire, the Spanish Inquisition, the Russian pogroms, the Holocaust. We are a resilient people, a strong people, a successful people." And with a defiant voice, as if he were speaking directly to Israel's enemies, he said: "We are here to stay and stay forever."

...he kicked off a kind of bidding war that brought the fundraiser's total from an initial $2.5 million to $8,750,000.

"On the way in, [wife] Cheryl said to me, 'I think we should match what we raise tonight,'" Saban told 1,000 dinner guests from the podium. "I said, 'You're the boss.'"

The "unprecedented sum" of $2.5 million—which, until that moment had been the highest amount raised during the Sabans' tenure as chairs—became $5 million.

Friday, December 10. The next day. Haim Saban must have a private plane; he's at the Saban Center of the Brookings Institution in Washington. So is Hillary Clinton:

" [...] I appreciate the friendship that you and Cheryl have given to me and to my family. You've been friends for many years. And certainly, as anyone who knows Haim understands, as an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, he is unparalleled, but also as a champion for peace. He represents in many ways in the best qualities of both Israel and America. He's generous, he's irrepressible, and absolutely unstoppable. And he has dedicated his energy and support to so many important causes and helped so many people. But he has probably no deeper passion than the one we are here discussing tonight – strengthening U.S.-Israeli relations and securing a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. [...]"

Thanks to Jeff Blankfort.

Comment on this article >
Like The Latest from Mondoweiss for 12/12/2010 on Facebook

671 'New York Times' readers recommend letter calling Israel a 'fascist state' that is dragging us down
Dec 11, 2010 11:48 pm | Philip Weiss

One of those signs that is sure to send a chill through the Israel lobby.

A couple of days ago Roger Cohen did an anguished Op-Ed for the New York Times about the American Jewish community's intolerance of criticism of Israel, even as Israeli leadership is destroying "the Zionist dream." The column brought an outpouring of comments, about 238 so far. 

And what is remarkable about the comments is that, while there is a lot of the inevitable defense of anything Israel does, the best letters are from Jews and non-Jews who are sharply critical of Israel and want a more open discussion. And if you rank the letters as readers did, by # of recommendations, the top ten letters are all critical, with the exception of one that is neutral. The #1 letter far and away is one that calls Israel a "fascist state" for Palestinians, and says that Israel is dragging the U.S. down, and the second letter is from a man who complains that he can't talk about Israel in front of his Jewish friends. And a couple of other letters express strong Palestinian solidarity or strike as I do at racist constructions of Jewish identity. 

It raises the questions: If these are the Times's readers, why aren't they better represented in the Times' coverage and opinion columns, and for that matter in the liberal press generally, and in Congress? How can the Washington Post justify its virtually-all-neoconservative Op-Ed page when intelligent Americans maintain these views? Where are the non-Zionists, Palestinian solidarity folks and realists in our discourse?

Here's a quick sample (the rankings in parens): 

(1) Jon Raney, Bellingham Washington, 671 readers:

The treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli state is shameful. The attempt of Jewish and other organizations to stifle any public discussion of this treatment and its implications for the Israeli state are more shameful,and the knee-jerk support of what has become a fascist state, at least for those of its citizens or occupied people, is most shameful of all.

DOUBLE your donation and get 2 FREE GIFTS

Furthermore, as Mr. Cohen points out, if the policies which the Israelis and their supporters are attempting to defend by preventing any rational public discussion of their legal and moral nature are allowed to continue Israel will cease to be a Jewish state as it has already ceased to be a real democracy. So if we in America can't summon the courage to stop supporting the unlawful occupation and annexation of Palestinian land for moral or legal reasons, we should certainly do so for reasons of realpolitic. If the Israelis don't see that a two-state solution SOON is in their best interests they can hardly be regarded as rational, let alone reliable, allies. I don't see any reason we in America should allow the Israelis to drag us down with them, and if we do we'll have no one but ourselves to blame.

(2) Ruskin, Buffalo, 498 readers:

...I cannot do anything but lament that my friendship with two people I admire tremendously, for their careers and what went into them, can survive only as long as I - a gentile - never bring up the subject of what is going on in the nation to which they are devoted. I hate that.

(3) SE, Washington DC (evidently Sara Ehrman), 469 readers

I'm an old lady who grew up in the Labor Zionist movement and have been a member of the Board of Americans For Peace Now since its inception. I am alarmed by the weakening of democracy and pluralism in Israel and consider this a greater threat to the security of the Democratic State of Israel than any threat coming from beyond its borders. Speaking of borders, where are the borders?

(5) Jack D, Shanghai, 429 readers:

The extremists will destroy Israel from within before the Muslims can do it from the outside.

(7) Mike in Asia, 400 readers

Being called a false, self-hating Jew is starting to sound like an honor.

In Hebrew school I was taught that "never again" meant taking a serious, critical look at intolerance and bigotry. But I was always afraid to bring up Palestine around older members of my family. Decades later, one of them smiled when Abu Ghrahib torture was brought up.

Jews are one of the most assimilated, well-to-do demographic groups in the USA. But if you read the Jewish press, they're going out of their way to feel victimized and persecuted.

(8) Abe Louise Young, of Texas, recommended by 399 readers:

Ten years ago, I visited Israel on a free tour for American Jewish students called Birthright Israel. The Rabbi who led the trip made abhorrent jokes: "The only good way to look at an Arab is through the sights of a rifle." I tried to organize discussions of peace and nonviolence in relation to the Mideast conflicts with the other students on the trip, and was threatened with being returned to America on the first flight out, and charged for the airfare. In his rage at being challenged, the Rabbi said, "You are not a real Jew." This trip was intended to build warm feelings for Israel in the hearts of American Jewry, but alienated me deeply. My passionate support for Palestinian statehood has only strengthened.

and this person is further down, but interesting:

pvolkov, Vermont, 94 readers:

I can only state that more real anti-semitism is being encouraged by the behavior of many official Jewish organizations in trying to suppress the real concerns of caring Jews and their friends, than what those of us who critize Israel are being accused of.

Comment on this article >
Like The Latest from Mondoweiss for 12/12/2010 on Facebook

Kissinger '73: 'If they put Jews in gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it's not an American concern'
Dec 11, 2010 10:50 pm | Philip Weiss

The Nixon library in California is playing Assange to get attention? It released 265 hours of Nixon tapes this week. Some shockeroos, on Jews. From The Times:

DOUBLE your donation and get 2 FREE GIFTS

[In 1973] Nixon and Mr. Kissinger were brutally dismissive in response to requests that the United States press the Soviet Union to permit Jews to emigrate and escape persecution there.

"The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy," Mr. Kissinger said. "And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern."

"I know," Nixon responded. "We can't blow up the world because of it."

Note that Soviet Jews weren't able to get out in big numbers until the 1980s...

Then there's this. Anti-Semitism, and then the military issue. And yes the military question is tied into Jewish liberalism; it goes back to S.Y. Agnon characters lying to get out of service for stupid wars in Poland...

Nixon listed many of his top Jewish advisers — among them, Mr. Kissinger and William Safire, who went on to become a columnist at The New York Times — and argued that they shared a common trait, of needing to compensate for an inferiority complex.

"What it is, is it's the insecurity," he said. "It's the latent insecurity. Most Jewish people are insecure. And that's why they have to prove things."

Nixon also strongly hinted that his reluctance to even consider amnesty for young Americans who went to Canada to avoid being drafted during the Vietnam War was because, he told Mr. Colson, so many of them were Jewish.

"I didn't notice many Jewish names coming back from Vietnam on any of those lists; I don't know how the hell they avoid it," he said, adding: "If you look at the Canadian-Swedish contingent, they were very disproportionately Jewish. The deserters."

Comment on this article >
Like The Latest from Mondoweiss for 12/12/2010 on Facebook

Goldberg/Netanyahu: Because of Spanish Inquisition, and Holocaust, Israel gets to have a nuclear monopoly
Dec 11, 2010 04:40 pm | Scott McConnell

At the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies conference, Jeffrey Goldberg gave a plug for the worldview of Ben Zion Netanyahu, the 100 year old father of Israel's prime minister who is reportedly much more a nationalist extremist than his son Bibi. In his essay published last September in The Atlantic, Goldberg sought to convey a semblance of journalistic neutrality about the wisdom of an Israeli attack on Iran, and his depiction of Ben Zion Netanyahu was in that vein: he simply characterized the elder's Netanyahu's writing and quoted a lot of Israelis who believe he holds great influence over his son.

But before an enthusiastic neocon audience Friday morning in Washington, Goldberg acknowledged his admiration. "I'm a huge reader of his [Bibi's] father's work" Goldberg said, adding that the elder Netanyahu's interpretation of the Spanish Inquisition as not primarily religious but a form of proto-Nazism, once thought radical, was now "generally accepted." The implication Goldberg drew from the work is that anti-Semitic rhetoric "inevitably turns into to anti-Semitic physical violence."

There are real world consequences in this mode of thought. The elder Netanyahu (and hardly him alone) elide hostility to Zionism with hostility towards Jews. The implication is that rhetoric critical of Zionism is but a precursor to exterminationist violence. Those who criticize the policies of Israel are nothing more than proto-Nazis. For Israel, such a doctrine would seem to rule out meaningful negotiation or peaceful coexistence with enemies.

It doesn't surprise me that Goldberg is a fan of Netanyahu senior, but to the extent that Goldberg is influential for framing American foreign policy, it signals a doctrinal departure for the United States as well.

Following Goldberg on the panel was Israeli general Yaacov Amidror. He reiterated Israeli strategic doctrine, which holds that neither Iran nor any other enemy of Israel can ever be allowed nuclear capability, and made it clear that when he is involved in decisive governmental counsels, he would be pushing for a war that he acknowledged would be "long" and "dirty". No one in Israel wants war, he said, but they would prefer it to a nuclear Iran.

This is a familiar refrain, now voiced by many American politicians. Republican candidate John McCain used virtually the same words. Still it is jarring to hear it expressed succinctly in person.

To sum up, the Netanyahu/Goldberg/Amidror argument is

1) that any rhetorical expression of anti-Zionism is a close cousin to rhetorical anti-Semitism, which is the precursor to genocide; 

and 2) that only Israel, of all the countries in the Middle East, can be allowed to possess nuclear weapons.

Whatever the sustainability of this doctrine—and I doubt that Israel will be able to maintain its nuclear monopoly for another generation, regardless of what happens with Iran--it certainly would seem to undermine one of the main selling points of Zionism, that the Jews should have a state "like all the others". For it requires that Israel be treated not "like the others", but instead be given an exemption from the rules of statecraft as they have evolved in the nuclear age. Israel is demanding that it be allowed to act as the United States did not act, when it failed to start a preemptive war against the nuclear programs of Soviet Union in the late 40's or China in the early 60's. It asks to be guaranteed in perpetuity the sort of nuclear monopoly the United States had from 1945 to 1949.

And through the medium of Jeffrey Goldberg and others, the American establishment is being induced to accept this view.

Comment on this article >
Like The Latest from Mondoweiss for 12/12/2010 on Facebook

Israel used lethal tear gas grenades but promises not to use them again
Dec 11, 2010 02:50 pm | Kate

and other news from Today in Palestine:

DOUBLE your donation and get 2 FREE GIFTS

Land, property, resource theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers

Lawyer: Settlers planning to seize Jerusalem home
10 Dec - Settler groups are planning to take over another house in Silwan, a flashpoint neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, a presidential legal advisor said Friday. Ahmad Ar-Ruweida, Jerusalem legal affairs advisor, said his office has received information that settler organizations, supported by right-wing parties and Israeli police, plan to seize a Palestinian property in the Batn Al-Hawa area of Silwan. The home would be the fifth property seized by settlers in the last three months, the lawyer said, and the 40th home in Silwan to be occupied by settlers.

UN concerned about illegal exile of Jerusalem lawmakers
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- UN special coordinator for the Mideast peace process Robert Serry expressed concern on Saturday over illegal Israeli court rulings to exile Arab MP Mohammed Abu Tir and other public officials from the occupied city of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem merchants forced to have signboards of their stores written in Hebrew
11 Dec - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli municipal council in the occupied Palestinian city of Jerusalem decided to force owners of stores to change all kinds of outdoor signboards into the Hebrew language instead of Arabic or English. Maariv newspaper said on Friday that the council decided last week to demand the merchants in the holy city to remove the signboards written in Arabic and English from their stores and replace them with ones written in Hebrew. According to the decision, the owners of stores will not be allowed to use another language in their signboards if the Hebrew language does not occupy half of the banner, or else they will not get licenses for their stores. [Quebec did this in 1977, with the law at one point being declared unconstitutional, but that problem was circumvented by requiring French to be 'markedly predominant' on signs. Any connection between these two acts, Canada being so chummy with Israel now?]

Keeping alive a sense of decency in Arab East Jerusalem / Ian Buruma
...systematic humiliation of Palestinians, by allowing settlers to get away literally with murder, has a corrupting effect on Israeli society. Citizens are coarsened by the casual brutality meted out to a minority, and become inured to it. Even if most Israelis never see a roadblock, the security wall, or forcible evictions, the habit of looking away, not wishing to know, is a form of corruption. This is why the Friday afternoon protests, however ineffectual in the short run, are essential. The demonstration of solidarity makes Israel a more civilized place. It keeps alive a sense of decency, a hope that a better society is still possible – for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Video: Settler violence -- interview with Ahmad Jaradat
10 Dec Alternative Information Center - Fall 2010 was marked by a drastic rise in attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians.


Gaza worker shot in foot near Israel border
11 Dec - Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man Saturday as he was collecting stone aggregates north of Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip, medics said. Medical officials explained that the man, who was not identified, sustained an injury to his left foot and was evacuated to hospital. On Friday, Israeli forces shot and injured four stone collectors.

Medic: Soldiers fire at teen near Gaza border
10 Dec - Israeli soldiers fired at a Palestinian teenager collecting rubble near Gaza's border on Friday afternoon, medics said. Gaza medical services spokesman Adham Abu Salmia said the 16-year-old was shot north of Beit Lahiya and transferred to the Dar Ash-Shifa hospital in a stable condition. Abu Salmia said the incident brings the number of workers injured at the border to 96 since March ... Israel declared a "buffer zone" along the border inside the Strip, which officially extends 300 meters into the coastal enclave. Its military considers it a "combat zone" and fires at Palestinians who enter the area. A UN study in August found that in practice, Palestinians have been prevented from accessing land up to 1,500 [meters] inside the border.

Latest Israeli bombing plunges Gaza into darkness / Rami Almeghari
10 Dec - Air strikes by Israeli warplanes at dawn on Thursday caused serious damage to the Gaza Strip's only power plant, plunging the territory -- which already suffers from frequent outages -- into darkness ... The damage forced the plant to reduce production from its usual 65 megawatts daily to about 35 megawatts, Abu Sisi said, far short of current needs. Unless the damage is repaired it may lead to even longer outages than the power cuts people in Gaza already live with.

Israeli troops used prohibited teargas rounds
JERUSALEM, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Israel's army said on Thursday it had used potentially lethal teargas grenades of a type banned by its rules, but promised it would never happen again.

Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Palestinians injured, American arrested after Israeli troops quell peace march
11 Dec - AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- Several Palestinians were injured Saturday after Israeli troops cracked down on a weekly anti-wall march in the West Bank town of Beit Ummar near Al-Khalil ... The troops began firing stun and smoke grenades when demonstrators neared the Beit Ummar entrance north of Al-Khalil, arresting an American national, the witnesses added.Marchers waived flags from Brazil and Argentina as a gesture of the two countries' recognition of the Palestinians' right to establish an independent state on 1967 borders.

West Bank rallies mark intifada anniversary
RAMALLAH 10 Dec -- Protesters in villages across the occupied West Bank commemorated the 23rd anniversary of the start of the first intifada on Friday. In Bil`in, the weekly anti-wall rally marked the one-year anniversary of village leader Abdallah Abu Rahmah's detention and International Human Rights Day. The demonstration was larger than usual, organizers said, and several Palestinian leaders joined the march from the village center to a gate in the separation wall.

Remembering the First Intifada, International Human Rights Day, and the imprisonment of Abdallah Abu Rahme
(with video by Katib) Many Palestinian leaders participated in the demonstration in solidarity with the residents of Bil'in, including Mustafa Barghouti, leader of the Mubadara Movement; Hisham Abo Riya, leader of the Palestine Liberation Front; Muheeb Awad, a Fatah leader and member of the Palestinian parliament; members and a leader of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front; and many Palestinians from outside of Bil'in. They were joined by dozens of international and Israeli supporters.

Connection between the human rights and West Bank demonstrations? / Joseph Dana
11 Dec ...Why is it that thousands of leftist Israelis are able to gather under a public umbrella of human rights, joint struggle and value and not think about venturing into the West Bank to struggle with Palestinians? One path of co-existence lies in these joint actions of solidarity and since Palestinians are not allowed to enter Tel Aviv it is the responsibility of Israelis to go to the West Bank.The disconnection between human rights in Tel Aviv and human rights in the Occupied Territories was on display yesterday.

Boycott roundup: Day of action against TIAA-CREF
10 Dec - Palestine solidarity activists are organizing a day of action today, 10 December, to encourage "people of conscience" to join the more than 18,000 who have already signed a US-wide petition urging financial holdings corporation TIAA-CREF to disinvest from construction vehicle manufacturer Caterpillar Incorporated.

Israel offers a payout to flotilla victims
11 Dec - JERUSALEM: Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, has proposed paying $100,000 compensation to each family of the nine pro-Palestinian activists killed during a raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla. In exchange, Israel wants Turkey's help in protecting the Israeli navy against lawsuits. The offer was made last weekend in Geneva. The activists were shot by Israeli marines who boarded the aid-carrying ship the Mavi Marmara which was trying to breach Israel's Gaza blockade in May. The draft proposal also offered an Israeli expression of regret over the incident, according to Israeli diplomatic sources, but stopped short of Turkey's demand that Israel formally apologise.

Gaza solidarity convoy arrives in Isfahan
TEHRAN, 11 Dec The Asian People's Solidarity for Palestine convoy arrived in Isfahan Province on Friday, Iran's Mehr News Agency (MNA) reported. The members of the humanitarian aid convoy began their journey to the besieged territory of Gaza in India, travelled through Pakistan, and then arrived in Sistan-Baluchestan Province in southern Iran. They entered Kerman Province on Thursday, travelled to Yazd Province, and arrived in Isfahan on Friday. They plan to travel to the cities of Qom, Tehran, Zanjan, and Tabriz and then cross into Turkey. The convoy is composed of people from different religions from India, Pakistan, Japan, Indonesia, Nepal, and Iran, including veterans from a number of wars.


PA re-arrests activist hours after chest operation
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- The family of Dr. Adnan Maswadi, a 67-year-old activist from Al-Khalil, said his blood is in the hands of the Palestinian Authority security forces, who returned him to political detention right after undergoing an angioplasty on Thursday. [normal practice is to keep the patient in hospital overnight in case of complications]

Rights for All slams PA political arrest campaign in West Bank
GENEVA, (PIC)-- The Swiss organization Rights for All strongly denounced the Palestinian Authority (PA) for the arbitrary politically-motivated arrest campaign it is carrying out in the West Bank and for ignoring international appeals for the release of political prisoners. The Geneva-based Rights for All said it started to make intensive contacts with many UN institutions in order to pressure de facto president Mahmoud Abbas to order the release of political prisoners in his jails, especially the six hunger strikers who have been refusing to eat or drink since November 26.

Siege / Restriction on movement / Rights violations

Palestinians, contained / Karl Vick (
20 Dec issue - The Wall has made it much harder for young Palestinians to know Israel -- and understand its people -- On the question of Israelis, Ramzi Thaer Rafik knows what he knows. He spoke to one once. Five years ago. "I was 10 years old, but I remember it very well," he says. The Israeli was a soldier, and he demanded to know why the young Palestinian was going from one end of his village to the other. Ramzi informed him that he was on his way to school.,9171,2036142,00.html

Political/Diplomatic news

Palestinians to decide on return to indirect talks (AP)
11 Dec - RAMALLAH, West Bank – Palestinian officials said Saturday they'll decide in coming days whether to agree to a U.S. proposal to return to indirect peace negotiations with Israel, after Washington's efforts to relaunch direct talks collapsed over Israeli settlement building. The officials also expressed disappointment with the Obama administration, saying the U.S. should have held Israel accountable for the latest impasse, instead of saying both parties bear responsibility.

US seeks 'clean start' in peace talks (AFP)
WASHINGTON 11 Dec -- US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday sought a clean start in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks by urging both sides to tackle "without delay" the core issues of their decades-old conflict ... "It is time to grapple with the core issues of this conflict: on borders and security, settlements, water and refugees, and on Jerusalem itself," Clinton told an audience that included key US, Israeli and Palestinian players.

Split EU narrows Mideast plea to call for 'urgent progress' (AFP)
BRUSSELS 10 Dec - The EU, under pressure from former European leaders to sanction Israel over the Middle East peace impasse, is expected due to its own divisions to restrict its stand to a plea for 'urgent progress'. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton steps up efforts to break the deadlock following a failed US push for an Israeli settlement freeze, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has come under growing pressure to take tough action. In a December 2 letter to Ashton, 26 former EU leaders, including her predecessor Javier Solana, urged her to threaten Israel with sanctions for failing to respect the freeze on new settlements.

Barak raises anew the possible partition of Jerusalem (AFP)
WASHINGTON 11 Dec -- Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday raised anew the prospect of sharing Jerusalem with the Palestinians as part of a peace deal, in sharp contrast with views held by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

US says recognition of Palestinian state premature (Reuters)
SANTIAGO 10 Dec – Brazil and Argentina's recognition of a Palestinian state is premature, Undersecretary of State William Burns said during a visit to Chile on Friday ... Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, who was due to meet with Burns on Saturday, criticized his remarks. "I think it's unpropitious that once again the United States has publicly expressed an opinion about sovereign actions taken by the Argentine Republic," Timerman told Reuters.

Other news

Poll: Split over sending Palestinian fire crews to Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) – A slim majority of the respondents to a reader poll on Ma'an's Arabic-language news site said sending Palestinian firefighters to help battle Israel's fire was "disgraceful" ... Of 48,870 readers who responded to the 7-day poll, 50.3 percent (24,524) described Palestinians' participation as a disgrace, but 48.7 percent (23,761) said sending Palestinian firefighters to help was civilized and a humanitarian duty. [Is this one of those Internet polls where you can vote as often as you want to?]

Thousands celebrate PFLP anniversary in Gaza
11 Dec - Thousands of supporters celebrated the 43rd anniversary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Gaza City on Saturday. Politburo member of the leftist faction Jamil Majdalawi delivered a speech urging rival factions Hamas and Fatah to end "the unjustified disagreement which harms the Palestinian people, resistance fighters and negotiators."

Hundreds march for freedom of religion in Jaffa
10 Dec - Hundreds of Muslim and Christian residents of Jaffa took to the streets Friday in protest against a complaint filed by residents of a luxury apartment complex, who say the noise emitted by mosques and the nearby St. George's Cathedral is too loud. Protesters held signs saying, "We were here before you, if you don't like it, get out", and "No one will move us from our holy land" as well as "We won't ask for your permission on when and how to pray".,7340,L-3997290,00.html

Israel's left and right march separately for human rights
10 Dec - Haaretz [oddly, this aspect of the march was not reported by AFP] Over 5,000 people participated in a march marking International Human Rights Day on Friday in Tel Aviv. The marchers gathered at Tel Aviv's Habima Theater in the morning and were divided into two groups for the actual march: one for left-wing groups and one for right-wing groups ... At the march on Friday, those from the right-wing side held signs saying things such as "Tel Aviv + Ariel = Israel," Ariel being a large settlement in the West Bank, and "Jews also have human rights."

Images from Tel Aviv's 1010 Human Rights March

Fatah - Hamas

Hopes of Fatah-Hamas reconciliation still alive
11 Dec ...Munib Masri, a Palestinian businessman and head of the Reconciliation Committee, an advocacy group that is trying to push the parties back together, explained why he's still optimistic, even when others say it's time to start viewing the Palestinian fracture as permanent.,0,5711954.story

Fatah leader: 'Dangerous repercussions' if affiliates executed
GAZA CITY 11 Dec -- Hamas' decision to execute three Fatah members accused of killing an iman could have dangerous repercussions, a senior Fatah leader warned Saturday. Abu Samhadana, a member of its Revolutionary Council, said the decision would rip apart "the already-torn social structure in Palestine," and that the executions would be "the last nail in the coffin of Palestinian reconciliation," in a statement.

Fatah riven with fights
With accusations against Abbas and his circle multiplying, the struggle within Fatah is turning personal, writes Saleh Al-Naami

Analysis / Opinion / Culture

Palestinian nonviolence: Is the Budrus model still viable? (CSM)
10 Dec - ..."Bilin has become a symbol, a subject of Master's theses, films, blogs, and articles," says Menachem Klein, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv. "Budrus and Bilin maintain the resistance while the Palestinian elite attend talks and readily accept painful concessions on settlements."  Yet he calls these weekly events a "ceremony" that may not actually achieve change. Indeed, even as "Budrus" is embraced by audiences from America to Germany to the West Bank, the momentum generated by Budrus is waning. Only nine villages hold regular demonstrations and they are often met with a harsh Israeli response,

Come join the march of the many / Hagai Elad
10 Dec - Our government is currently spearheading the attack against the foundations of our democracy ... It is also responsible for the separation regime that is taking an even stronger hold in the occupied territories, the shameful treatment of refugees and migrant workers, and the close links that have been forged between those ruling the country and those groups seeking to intimidate and tag as "disloyal" anyone they see fit, targeting, among others, academia and human rights organizations.

Light amid the darkness / Gideon Levy
10 Dec - An expedition behind police lines into the smoldering communities of Mt. Carmel, where everyone learned a lesson last weekend, of one kind or another ... On Shabbat, we had been walking with him in Ein Hod; Josh reported on the situation to homeowners on his mobile phone. Now he is sitting at the entrance to his own house, new and spared any damage, and charging the phone in his car. There is no electricity in the village. Nor is there any electricity in Ein Hud, up the hill, but there they are used to it: Until two years ago, the village was unrecognized and unelectrified. The word "evacuation" is also loaded with significance in this village of refugees; they have already been evacuated from Ein Hod and not allowed to return.

A general overhaul / Uri Avnery
...The fire started near Ussafiyeh. In this Druze locality, with its 10,000 inhabitants, there was no fire station. Nor was there any in the neighboring Druze locality of Daliyat al-Carmel, which has 15,000 inhabitants. The Arab local councils, which are discriminated against in most spheres, are disadvantaged in this sphere, too. This week, racism revenged itself. If there had been fire stations in the Druze localities, the fire could have been put out in short order, even with the East wind and the dry trees, before it could develop into a disaster. The Ussafiyeh station could have safeguarded the whole Carmel area, which is always liable to burn. ...

Uneasy but necessary -- the UNRWA - Palestinian relationship / Randa Farah
30 Nov ...She proposes that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is a unique humanitarian organization, but is neither static and homogeneous, nor is it apolitical. Rather, Farah contends that it is a site of multiple and sometimes contradictory interests. She concludes that in the current political climate, UNRWA's presence is significant mainly because it attests to the international responsibility toward the Palestinian refugees, and as a signatory to UNGA resolution 194 (III), their right of return.

Keep dreaming: This week in Palestine / David Breakstone
The vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization recommends a visit to Palestine -- Looking for a unique holiday destination, something exotic, inexpensive, close to home and not yet inundated by Israelis? I've discovered just the spot. It's called Palestine. I got up close by joining a tour run by Ir Amim, an NGO that "seeks to render Jerusalem a more viable and equitable city for the Israelis and Palestinians who share it."

The 'real Jew' debate / Roger Cohen, NYT
LONDON 9 Dec -- Ira Stup was raised in Philadelphia attending Jewish day school and camps. He found his home in the Jewish community and was "intoxicated with Jewish democracy" as framed in the ideals of Israel's foundation. Now he has returned deeply troubled from a one-year fellowship based in Tel Aviv.

Palestinian American hip-hop artists asks you to 'Consider Violence' / Maryam Jameel
10 Dec - Chicago-based Palestinian American rapper Gon isn't apologizing. In his recently released hip-hop album Consider Violence, Gon aggressively confronts political and personal realities, boldly lyricizing his uncompromising opinions ... He is simply inviting people to listen, inviting them to think. In his single "White Flag," he satirizes the idea of protesting and invoking change with his music -- "Peace in Palestine, they say resist with rap, how cute, we'll make a song and then they'll give it back," he writes.

Film: Why can't a Palestinian woman tell her own story? / Robert Fisk
11 Dec ...Julian Schnabel's new movie Miral, a feature film which follows the life of Rula Jebreal, a real-life Palestinian-Israeli woman who became a journalist, author and television presenter. Schnabel, who is Jewish, lives with Jebreal in New York. Their movie begins and ends with the death of Hind Husseini, a remarkable and courageous Palestinian woman who found orphans from the Jewish massacre of Arab villagers at Deir Yassin in 1948 and started a boarding school for girls that still exists in Jerusalem. Husseini died in 1994, but Rula was one of her pupils. Her childhood – losing her mother, choosing to be a well-educated woman, sucked into the intifada, arrested and brutalised by the Israelis – is the story of Miral.


Grenade blast rocks Palestinian camp in south Lebanon (AFP)
BEIRUT  11 Dec -- A grenade attack on the home of a member of an Al-Qaeda splinter group rocked a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon overnight without causing injuries, a security official said on Saturday.

So who exactly is sowing strife in Lebanon? / Franklin Lamb
10 Dec ...Perhaps not since the Vietnam War, with the exception of Iraq, has an American Embassy so inextricably inserted, bullied and  entangled itself into the internal affairs of another country, than the U.S. Embassy here in Beirut. Or so brazenly  targeted a nationalist political party that won the largest number of votes in the most recent election and that likely represents a majority of the country's population. Not since 1982 has it occurred in Lebanon.


Friday: 8 Iraqis killed, 11 wounded
Following Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani's call for the swift execution of terror suspects, the United Nations has asked Iraq to abolish its death penalty. At least eight Iraqis died in new attacks and another 11 were wounded. In Baghdad, a blast targeting a bus near a popular coffee shop killed two people and wounded seven others. A policeman was killed and two others were wounded in a blast in Alam.

Iraqi PM unlikely to form gov't until year's end (AP)
11 Dec - IRBIL, Iraq – Iraq's prime minister said Saturday he's still seeking Cabinet nominations from the country's top politicians, signaling he likely will not form a new government much earlier than the Dec. 25 deadline. Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, had pledged to announce his new government by Dec. 15 and end the political deadlock that began after parliamentary elections in March failed to produce a clear winner.

Iraqi media complain of tightening curbs
10 Dec - Journalists in Iraq are calling for new laws to ensure their rights are protected, amid concerns that the government is increasingly acting to limit freedom of expression.

Barzani backs Kurdish referendum
11 Dec - A prominent Iraqi Kurdish leader has called for the right to self-determination for his region, the AFP news agency says. Massoud Barzani's remarks on Saturday came as Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister-designate, is attempting to form a cabinet, in which Barzani's bloc is expected to obtain several ministerial posts.

Iraqi Kurd leader says Kirkuk belongs to Kurdistan (Reuters)
ARBIL, Iraq, Dec 11 -- Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said Saturday that his semi-autonomous region has the right to self-determination and to the disputed city of Kirkuk, which is located above some of Iraq's largest oil reserves. The fate of Kirkuk is one of the main issues of contention between the Kurdish region and the central government in Baghdad, which are locked in disputes over land and some of the world's richest oilfields.

Other Mideast

Jordanian, Palestinian soccer fans clash (AP)

AMMAN, Jordan – Fans of rival Jordanian soccer teams clashed after a match, injuring 250 people in violence that pointed to the deep divisions between the nation's native Bedouin clans and its Palestinians ... Although most of Jordan's Palestinians — excluding natives of the Gaza Strip — carry Jordanian passports and enjoy citizenship rights unmatched by other Arab host governments, many of them complain that they are barred from taking up security and army posts or holding other top positions in the Jordanian government.

Justice sought over Jordan violence (Al Jazeera)
(video) A day after violence following a football match in Jordan left at least 250 fans injured, investigators are seeking answers to what went wrong ... Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports from Amman.

White House plans more Iran sanctions
10 Dec - Reporting from Washington — The Obama administration said Friday that it was planning additional economic sanctions against Iran and acknowledged that the Islamic Republic might be trying to manipulate the West by continuing slow-moving talks with the U.S. and five other major powers.,0,6976805.story

Iran media airs 'murder confession' (Al Jazeera)
10 Dec - State television shows fourth interview with woman whose sentence to death for adultery has sparked global outrage ... In the new footage broadcast on English-language Press TV, Ashtiani was brought from prison to her home outside the city of Tabriz in northwestern Iran. She was shown acting out the alleged December 2005 killing with an actor portraying her husband.

Afghanistan / Pakistan

Hunger and anger in Afghanistan / Kathy Kelly
11 Dec - The Obama administration has announced the imminent release of a December Review which will evaluate the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan.  The military has yet to disclose what the specific categories for evaluation will be.  Yet many people in Afghanistan might wish that hunger along with their anger over attacks against civilians could top the list.  In Afghanistan, a nation where 850 children die every day, about a quarter of the population goes hungry.

15 dead, 24 injured in Afghan bombings
11 Dec - Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan -- Civilians bore the brunt of insurgent violence in a series of attacks Friday and Saturday that killed at least 15 people and injured 24, Afghan officials said. The bombings took place in the south and the northern province of Kunduz, both home to the Pashtun plurality fueling the Taliban insurgency against NATO troops and the Afghan government.,0,5817876.story

4 killed in US drone strike in NW Pakistan
10 Dec - At least four people were killed and two others injured in a U.S. drone strike launched Friday evening in Pakistan's northwest tribal area along the Afghan border, reported local Urdu TV channel Geo. According to the report, four missiles were fired by U.S. drones at a vehicle suspected of carrying militants in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan, a place believed to be a stronghold of Taliban and al-Qaeda militants. Friday's strike is the fourth of its kind since December and the 21st since November.

US drone strike victims stage rally in Pakistan's capital
10 Dec - Victims of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal region Friday afternoon staged a demonstration in the country's capital Islamabad and asked the world community to take notice of the attacks, which they said kill civilians. Sadaullah, a 17-year-old boy from the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan, who lost two legs in a U.S. strike, was among scores of tribesmen who held the first ever rally against the drone strike outside the parliament in Islamabad.

US envoy Holbrooke critically ill
11 Dec - US special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan is in critical condition after heart surgery on Saturday morning.

U.S. and other world news

Attorney General Eric Holder defends anti-terrorism stings (Reuters)
SAN FRANCISCO 10 Dec – Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday strongly defended undercover sting tactics like those used last month to capture an Oregon man charged with trying to plant a fake bomb at a holiday festival ... "I make no apologies for how the FBI agents handled their work in executing the operation," Holder said in the remarks released before he spoke. "Those who characterize the FBI's activities in this case as 'entrapment' simply do not have their facts straight -- or do not have a full understanding of the law," he added.

Gov't accused of fuzzy math in Gitmo report / William Fisher
11 Dec - A prominent public interest law firm that has defended numerous Guantánamo Bay detainees charged Thursday that a recent government report on a high rate of recidivism among former inmates is loaded with "vague and unsubstantiated claims and misinformation."

Debate over Peto thesis reaches the halls of government as Israel/Palestine proxy battle rages on in Canada / Avi Lewis
Check out this extraordinary exchange in Ontario's legislature (Hoskins is the Liberal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the other two are Conservative members of the provincial parliament.) ... Ok, so what exactly is going on here?  Well, first of all, Canada has been ruled for the last five years by a hard right Conservative government that is now widely recognized as Israel's most fervent supporter on the world stage. In the same period, the BDS movement has been growing stronger in Canada, along with Israeli Apartheid Week – which launched in Toronto in 2005 and is now in more than 60 cities around the world.

WikiLeaks: Advancing an Israeli agenda? / Maidhc O Cathail
Like 9/11
, WikiLeaks has been singularly good for Israel. Asked on the night of September 11, 2001 what the terrorist attacks meant for U.S.-Israel relations, Benjamin Netanyahu, the then former prime minister, tactlessly but accurately replied, "It's very good." And on the day after WikiLeaks' publication of U.S. diplomatic cables, Netanyahu "strode" into a press conference at the Israeli Journalists Association, looking "undoubtedly delighted" with the group's latest embarrassment of U.S. President Barack Obama.

They bombed al-Jazeera's reporters. Now the US is after our integrity. / Wadah Khanfar
Al-Jazeera reporters have been tortured and killed in defence of their values. That's why the WikiLeaks story must be challenged ... Cables from the US embassy in Doha were made accessible by WikiLeaks, alleging that Qatar was using Al-Jazeera as a tool for its foreign policy. While nothing could be further from the truth, US diplomats had the freedom to express their opinions.

Hacker shuts down Dutch ministry website
10 Dec - The website of the Dutch public prosecution and police department were shut down by hackers Friday, after a young hacker was arrested over the cyber attacks in support of WikiLeaks on Wednesday.

WikiLeaks chief moved to isolation in British jail (AFP)
LONDON 11 Dec -- WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange was in an isolation unit of a London jail Saturday, as new leaked US diplomatic cables revealed a row between the Vatican and Ireland over a child abuse inquiry ... Assange was in "very good" spirits but "frustrated" that he could not answer the allegations that WikiLeaks was behind cyber attacks launched on credit card firms that have refused to do business with the website.

Pro-WikiLeaks protests in Australia
10 Dec - Hundreds protest against the arrest of Julian Assange and accuse the Australian government of opposing free speech.

WikiLeaks splits as volunteers quit to set up rival websites
11 Dec - Former WikiLeaks volunteers are planning to launch a rival whistle-blowing website next week amid growing indications that the US government is on the verge of filing its own charges against Julian Assange. Lawyers for the 39-year-old Australian said yesterday that they believed American prosecutors are planning to charge the WikiLeaks founder using either espionage or computer misuse legislation.

Comment on this article >
Like The Latest from Mondoweiss for 12/12/2010 on Facebook

Gutenberg… Assange
Dec 11, 2010 02:47 pm | Philip Weiss

Ann Blair, writing in the Boston Globe, "Information overload, the early years:"

But around 1500, humanist scholars began to bemoan new problems: Printers in search of profit, they complained, rushed to print manuscripts without attention to the quality of the text, and the sheer mass of new books was distracting readers from the focus on the ancient authors most worthy of attention. Printers "fill the world with pamphlets and books that are foolish, ignorant, malignant, libelous, mad, impious and subversive; and such is the flood that even things that might have done some good lose all their goodness," wrote Erasmus in the early 16th century, in the kind of tirade that might seem familiar to anyone exhausted by what they find online today.

(h/t Brian Dana Akers)

Comment on this article >
Like The Latest from Mondoweiss for 12/12/2010 on Facebook

The Jewish community begins to embrace… the Goldstone Report!
Dec 11, 2010 11:03 am | Philip Weiss

I went to the Rabbis for Human Rights conference in New York this week, and my chief impression was that the Jewish community is warming up to the Goldstone Report 15 months late. Maybe this is the effect of the boycott movement, which is a bridge too far for the J Street Jews who dominated the conference-- but what I saw was a growing awareness that Israel has exhibited contempt for others' judgment of its actions and that the community effort to shut down the Goldstone Report a year ago only enhanced Israel's isolation from all norms of conduct (filling the sails of the boycott movement).

Let me get to my data: On a panel about international law, Dinah PoKempner of Human Rights Watch and the Council on Foreign Relations said that while flawed, the Goldstone report was very good and generic, not unlike many other such international reports, and that of course Judge Goldstone was a leader of the effort to establish international human rights law. But: "the Jewish community and the Israeli government mobilized and it was very difficult to get anyone to talk about it in a sane and rational way." Goldstone was demonized, she said, using traditional tools of charges of antisemitism and self-hatred. And meantime the Israeli efforts to comply with international law (as the U.N. demanded) have fallen short. The chief army prosecutor in Israel had his house defaced by graffiti.

Steven Gerber of Rabbis for Human Rights chimed in. He pointed out that "a number of extremely prominent human rights organizations and NGO's came out with extremely critical reports" about Gaza that were little different from Goldstone's report. And Gerber too said with disdain, "The US Government and certain groups mobilized" against Goldstone. From the audience, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb spoke of the most horrifying part of that mobilization: the attempted bar mitzvah shunning of the judge.

At the next panel I went to, an appealing young rabbi named Rachel Goldenberg said that she had spent a lot of the "capital" she has with her synagogue's board to speak out in support of the Goldstone Report in her Yom Kippur sermon. This at a shul in Middletown, Connecticut. And Goldenberg also said that she is about to give a report to her congregation on an October visit to Israel and occupied Palestine. (Though, yes, she noted that her congregants would generally prefer to fight antisemitism than get involved with the poor Palestinians and their problems.)

Straws in the wind? Maybe; but that's my stock in trade, and I see the left side of the Jewish community shedding its defensiveness around Goldstone. Yes, I have a vested interest in such an opening; I am part of a team putting out a book on the Goldstone Report in the new year (which you should buy here). But I tell you the Jewish community is softening. There is a growing recognition of the terrible direction that Israel is headed. While I was at the conference, Peace Now issued a bold (for it) statement saying that the world's response to the Mt. Carmel fires in Israel shows that Europe is not trying to delegitimize Israel. No, racial discrimination is against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

And if a speaker had denounced Goldstone at the rabbis' conference, as Reform leader Eric Yoffie denounced Goldstone at J Street last year, he would have been denounced loudly in turn. In fact, I'm pretty sure I saw Yoffie sitting there at the PoKempner-Gerber panel on international law. The two panelists stood up for Goldstone, and he said nothing.

Comment on this article >
Like The Latest from Mondoweiss for 12/12/2010 on Facebook

Assange is held in cell where they once held Oscar Wilde
Dec 11, 2010 10:33 am | Philip Weiss

Huffpo. And Assange is as shocking to the old information order as Wilde was to the sexual order. It's amazing to me how many old-school journalists are trashing this guy, who has delivered more information about how the world operates than anyone, ever. The New Republic is filled with bitter condemnation, Todd Gitlin of the Columbia Journalism School is against Assange. This is one of those historical Which side are you on, moments. Glenn Greenwald has been carrying on the good fight at Salon-- "pure authoritarianism--" and Naomi Wolf has bravely called Assange's captors the dating police. It's true that the territory that Assange has discovered is a scary one, but it is bound to make civilization better. Think of it; the U.S. has lost its way, we are involved in two brutal occupations halfway around the world that are alienating all Muslims, three occupations if you count Israel's of Palestine, and journalists here are against learning more about it.

Comment on this article >
Like The Latest from Mondoweiss for 12/12/2010 on Facebook

Solarz may not have liked the lobby, but he milked it to survive in '82
Dec 11, 2010 09:27 am | Philip Weiss

Last week I ran posts saying that the late Stephen Solarz was a fool for the Israel lobby and yesterday MJ Rosenberg responded, saying that his friend Solarz was a good guy who took pro-Palestinian stances when he was able and actually disdained the power of the lobby.

That in turn drew a response from a friend, saying in essence, Solarz loved the lobby when his political survival depended on it. "Solarz actually stood with Carter in '80 (over Kennedy), which is definitely worth something. But on the Gulf War, here's what he said when the Clinton campaign sent him down to Florida to destroy rival Paul Tsongas in March '92:"

''At a moment when potentially the fate of Israel hung in the balance, Clinton was prepared to use force. Tsongas was not.''

- from an Adam Nagourney story ("Tsongas campaign bogs down") in USA Today, 3/9/92

And Solarz owed his survival in Congress to the lobby. When Solarz's district was due to be targeted in the '82 round of redistricting, he traveled the country raising pro-Israel money and building one of the largest warchests in all of Congress.

DOUBLE your donation and get 2 FREE GIFTS

The idea was to fortify himself if his district got merged with Schumer's, as everyone expected. Schumer turned to Wall Street for his money. In the end, Solarz and Schumer had so much money each that they were both left alone.

Here's an NYT story from 1/82 that pretty much tells you all you need to know about Solarz/Israel money:

Representative Stephen J. Solarz was in Cleveland the other day delivering a fervent address on the security and survival of Israel. As he drew to a close, Mr. Solarz, who speaks in a manner that is both confident and affable, came to the matter closest to his heart and the real reason he had flown more than 1,000 miles for a two-hour visit. ''Like the Israelis, I have an interest in defensible borders,'' he said. ''I am also concerned about the security and survival of myself.''

A three-term Democratic Congressman who has always won his Brooklyn district with ease, Mr. Solarz, 41 years old, is concerned about what the impending reapportionment by the State Legislature could do to his seat. In preparation for the possibility that he may to have run in a primary against another Democratic incumbent, or that he may end up with as many as 180,000 new constituents, Mr. Solarz has been busy raising money.

The organizers of the Cleveland lunch - a small affair of 30 persons whose host was Ted Bonda, the owner of the Cleveland Indians - hoped to raise $10,000. Mr. Bonda knows Mr. Solarz from their memberships on the Board of Trustees of Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. Mr. Solarz, who has been able to use his position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and his prominence in Jewish organizations as mechanisms for raising funds around the country, is preparing for a potential primary fight costing at least $600,000. Raising money has been a major occupation for Mr. Solarz during the current Congressional recess, and in the last year he has been in San Francisco, Boston, Seattle and Detroit on fund-raising forays. He said that this month's financial report to the Federal Election Commission will show that he raised $475,000 by the end of December.

The Congressman gave his out-of-town audience, many of whom were affiliated with the Cleveland Jewish Community Federation, one reasonfor contributing toward his political longevity.

''If I win in 1982 I should be in pretty good political shape,'' he said. ''I will be in a position to become chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.''

The story of Solarz saving himself in '82 by raising pro-Israel money could be a great satirical movie. The story is told wonderfully here by Steve Kornacki at Capital New York. Sometimes you have to call a spade a spade, and this story is all about the importance of Jewish money to the Democratic Party's operation. 

When the figures from the '80 census were tallied, New York was assigned to lose five House seats, a reduction from 39 to 34, with leaders from both parties in Albany empowered (through a commission they chose) to redraw the lines. The basic parameters were clear from the outset: Each party would give up two seats (with incumbents pitted against each other in primaries, if necessary), with a "fair fight" between a Democratic and Republican incumbent in a fifth district.

As a freshman from overrepresented Brooklyn, Schumer was an obvious target, and with his district abutting Solarz's, it was only natural to merge the two. Thus, his victory in 1980 set off a political and financial arms race like New York had never seen. Solarz, who had taken to traveling the country and the globe through his Foreign Affairs work, used his influential post to cultivate elite national donors, with a particular emphasis on pro-Israel money.

In 1981 alone, he held fund-raisers in Cleveland, San Francisco, Detroit and Los Angeles, among other cities, raking in nearly $500,000—then a whopping sum for a House man. "As Albert Camus once wrote, 'Nothing so wonderfully concentrates a man's mind as the imminent thought of execution,'" he told a New York Times reporter at the time.

But Schumer defied his freshman status and kept pace. After winning a spot on the Banking Committee, he set about making friends on Wall Street, tapping the city's top law firms and securities houses for campaign donations. "I told them I looked like I had a very difficult reapportionment fight. If I were to stand a chance of being re-elected, I needed some help," he would later tell the Associated Press.

By the spring of 1982, the largest bankroll in the entire House belonged to Solarz, with nearly $700,000. The third-largest belonged to Schumer, with nearly $500,000. The strength each man demonstrated was enough to scare party leaders in Brooklyn and Albany into keeping them apart in redistricting. When the new maps were finally drawn in June '82, Democrats served up Jonathan Bingham (who declined to run against fellow incumbent Mario Biaggi in the newly configured 19th District) and the eccentric Frederick Richmond (thrown into a new majority-minority 11th District, where Major Owens ultimately won the seat) and left Leo Zeferetti to fend for himself (and lose) against Republican Guy Molinari. Schumer and Solarz were left alone, free to grow in the House for another decade if they wanted.

When the process ended, Schumer invited Solarz to lunch. "We talked about friendship," he said afterward. "Everything's all right now.''

Comment on this article >
Like The Latest from Mondoweiss for 12/12/2010 on Facebook

Your donation to Mondoweiss ensures we will continue to cover the most important issues surrounding Israel/Palestine and US foreign policy.
donate today.


Follow Mondoweiss on Twitter and Facebook


Upcoming Events

Thurs, November 11
Church of Gethsemane
1012 Eighth Avenue
(bet 10
th 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.



Recent Activity:

Get great advice about dogs and cats. Visit the Dog & Cat Answers Center.

Stay on top of your group activity without leaving the page you're on - Get the Yahoo! Toolbar now.

Be a homeroom hero! Help Yahoo! donate up to $350K to classrooms!