JERUSALEM (JTA) -- After a pregnant Al Jazeera producer was asked to remove her bra during an Israeli security check, the Foreign Press Association in Israel is threatening to boycott news briefings.
Najwan Simri Diab underwent a security check Tuesday in order to attend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's annual briefing with the foreign press in Jerusalem.
She said she was taken aside and asked first to remove her coat and her shirt, and then her bra, or she would not be permitted to attend the event.
Diab, who grew up in an Arab village in northern Israel and now lives in the Beit Safafa neighborhood of Jerusalem, has an official government press card and was invited to the event. She has worked for Al Jazeera in Israel for the past eight years and has attended the briefing in previous years.
Diab told Ynet that Arab journalists were singled out for a more rigorous security check.
On Wednesday, the Qatar-based Al Jazeera filed a complaint with Israel's Government Press Office and the Foreign Press association over the security check.
The Foreign Press Association released a statement Wednesday about the incident, saying that "The Foreign Press Association is outraged over the treatment members received at the hands of Israeli security personnel during Tuesday night's invitation-only gathering with the prime minister. While we appreciate the need for security, it is not remotely acceptable to invite people for cocktails at a five-star hotel and then make them undress at the door."
The Shin Bet responded in a statement.
"All those invited to the event were checked in keeping with the accepted security procedures for such an event," the Israeli security service said. "Three journalists refused to be checked under these procedures and chose not to take part in the event."
Helen Thomas: Freedom of Speech and the Zionist Albatross
By DIANE SHAMMAS
On January 8 the Society of Professional Journalists' Executive Committee voted to retire the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award. The SPJ's full board is expected to give their final approval within 10 days. In the meantime, amidst the unrelenting backlash, Helen Thomas has rebounded as a columnist for a North Virginian community paper, Falls Church News Press.
The core criticism against Helen Thomas is not so much her one comment captured on video May 27, 2010, or the subsequent round of comments shared at a diversity workshop in Dearborn on December 2 that both Wayne University and the Society for Professional Journalists assert is their reason for pulling her awards. Rather, it is what all of the comments symbolize --an opposition to Zionism. Please how long do many of us who fight against social injustice, including a growing number of anti-Zionist American and Israeli Jews, have to engage in this tireless defense that we are not against Jews or Israelis, but a racist ideology? A racist ideology that was responsible for the ethnic cleansing of three quarters of the indigenous population of Palestine in 1948 similar in impact to the catastrophe of the dispossession of American Indians and the redistribution of the tribal lands of the Five Civilized Tribes [1887 Dawes Allotment Act].
Hurling accusations of anti-Semitism do not work for people, like me, who have spent time in Gaza and the West Bank, and have experienced first-hand the devastating effects of the siege, occupation, and collective punishment. I lived for four months in the Gaza Strip, teaching university students and analyzing survey data on post-traumatic youth and adults after what some refer euphemistically to Israel's 2008-2009 War. In Bethlehem, everywhere I turned there was a sinuous, omnipresent concrete wall that separates Palestinians from their agricultural lands. Flashback images emerge where upon entering the Jewish settlement in Hebron I was greeted with the words, "Gas Arabs signed by JDL" scrawled on a retaining wall. Further on, there is Abraham's watering hole where Palestinians are forbidden to take a dip. My Palestinian guide and a Palestinian student friend of mine could not enter, but the settlers not knowing I was of Arab American descent allowed me to descend the winding steps to the spring. The visceral racism sparked the recollection of my father's stories about his experiences in the Jim Crow South when he would travel to the car auctions in Baton Rouge.
In the mid-1950s, Helen Thomas also had been to Israel. She visited former Palestinian villages and met up with Palestinians driven from their homes in 1948. So, what explains her protracted criticism of Israel in front of Rabbi Nesenoff's video-camera? Schechter's interview with Thomas provides some insight that for fifty years "she censored herself as a reporter" but currently in her role as an opinion columnist she perceived that she had a freer rein. One observer opined that Thomas' comments typify an oppositional response heard among persons of Arab descent .
Although not being in Helen Thomas' skin, I can only offer a perspective as a fellow Lebanese-Arab American. More than being oppositional, Thomas' comments reflect an accumulative anger and ire at an America that has not only vilified Arab Americans in their media and immigration laws for over a century, but also with a U.S. foreign policy that for over 60 years biases Israel and is complicit in perpetuating the oppression against the Palestinians.
The criminal nonchalance of the international community in watching Lebanon go up in flames during the 16-year civil war, and in 2006 hearing Condoleezza Rice's analogize Israel's slaughter of 1,200 Lebanese civilians to "the birth pangs of the Middle East". And, the piece de resistance the U.S. occupation and wholesale destruction of the high civilization of Iraq and the U.S. military's abuse and torture of the civilian population.
Like other ethnic groups in the U.S., Arab Americans have transnational ties to their countries of origins. When Israel attacks innocent civilians in Gaza and Lebanon with American made and donated F16s, phosphorus and cluster bombs, Arab Americans psychologically absorb the assault and annihilation, because it is more than likely they have close relatives and friends residing in these countries.
With well over a century of emigration to the U.S., Arab Americans have proven themselves as loyal Americans, who like Helen's parents and my paternal grandparents sought and became U.S. citizens. Shortly after 9/11, Noam Chomsky remarked that being anti-Arab, e.g., making overt racist comments against Arabs is considered legitimate; whereas, being anti-Black or anti-Semitic, is not. This is not to say, that racism does not exist against African Americans or Jewish Americans, just that if racist remarks are expressed openly it is rightly denounced as unacceptable. Lamentably, anti- Arab and anti-Muslim racism is not uniformly condemned in the U.S. or abroad.
For example, where was the public censure of Ann Coulter when she remarked that "press passes can't be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the President"?
Numbering over three million in the United States, Arab Americans are asking for a fair shake like any other U.S. citizen and a more balanced foreign policy towards Palestine. Ms. Thomas' outcry embodies a half century of frustration and mental occupation that Arab Americans feel as their voices of historical truth is pilloried, discredited, and dismissed as either delusional or Anti-Semitic. Are not Arab Americans a part of America's participatory democracy that as an under-represented minority are penalized and ostracized when they speak out against social and political injustice perpetrated against them and their sisters and brothers in the Middle East? Ms. Thomas has apologized for her remarks to the novice interviewer/filmmaker Rabbi Nesenoff. Yet, while defending Helen Thomas' freedom of speech, the Society for Professional Journalists deems her remarks as "inappropriate and offensive". Why then is it not considered equally reprehensible when Rabbi Nesenoff, a man of the Book, has not apologized to the Mexican American community after a widely circulated you tube, entitled "The Mexican Weatherman" pictured him delivering a hokey and racist impersonation of a Mexican priest. Nesenoff justified his off color comedy stint under the pretext of getting into the spirit of Purim. /1/ While for some of us he was fanning the flames of anti-immigrant rhetoric that helped to fuel the present climate of hatred behind the recent Arizona shootings.
In light of the enormous contribution that Helen Thomas has made to the field of journalism, the context in which she spoke candidly should be rightfully recognized and her media awards restored back to her name. Or does our country's unwavering allegiance to the Zionist ideology irrevocably trump and excoriate any truth-telling of Palestinian suffering?
Diane Shammas holds a Ph.D. in International and Urban Education and Policy, with a specialization in Arab American Studies. She is a lecturer in American Studies and Ethnicity. She can be reached at email@example.com
The last step in liberation
The last step in liberation of Palestine and the rest of humanity: Developing a winning attitude
By Mazin Qumsiyeh
After I finished my last book on popular resistance in Palestine over the past 130 years, I became 100% sure that political Zionism will fail and that Palestinian refugees will return to their homes and lands. My certainty is based on the lessons of history in Palestine and lessons from similar struggles like South Africa, Vietnam, and Algeria. Some of the peculiarities that will be critical for our success are:
- The incredible and inspiring history of the local popular resistance: The subtitle of my book is "A history of hope and empowerment". Over 200 forms of popular resistance are practiced including a wide spectrum of what we call in Arabic Sumud. Resistance is the main thing that stood in the way of the Zionist project. Five and a half million Palestinians still live in the dreamed of "Eretz Yisrael".
- The logarithmic growth of the boycotts, divestments and sanctions movement. In five years alone (2005-2010), we achieved more than what we were able to achieve in BDS movements in South Africa from the 1950s to the 1980s.
-The unrest in in Algeria and Tunisia tell us that the era of backward selfish undemocratic Arab leadership will (and must) come to an end. There are tremendous intellectual resources in the Arab world that can then be unleashed to build a vibrant society (at levels of culture, economics, scientific, etc.)
- Despite the heavily censored/controlled mainstream media, people of good conscience were and are able to get the truth out and many of the myths of Zionism were demolished. The internet only accelerated this.
-The publication of the civil society call to action in 2005 and the Palestine Kairos document in 2009 has given tremendous push to activism around the world including in mainstream churches.
- The growth of International solidarity was unparalleled in history. Despite the attempts by the Israeli authorities to stop this international support by many methods (including refusing entry to many activists), the movement only grows stronger. We went from few hundreds to tens of thousands and from one ship to seven; and as many as 60 ships are coming to break the siege on Gaza later this year.
- We are very proud and persistent people. The thriving art and culture scene in Palestine and among Palestinian community in exile are a testament to this spirit of a people who seek life and refuse to be dehumanized. We do not and will not resort to the tactics of those who chose to be our enemies. From Dabka to good food to other cultural traditions, Palestine remained not only physically in our surroundings but deep in our hearts. We developed the most educated populace in the region.
In Palestine, these and many other reasons increase our certainty in the inevitability of a successful end to our decades of repression, colonization and occupation. We faced, almost alone, the best-organized, best-financed, most western-supported colonial enterprise in history. Rational human beings see that the spread of fundamentalism is only fostered when Israel is made an exception and is funded and protected while it flouts human rights and International law. Zionists act to control and manipulate and we must continue to calmly resist and refuse to be enslaved. We tell our stories with dignity and we explain why this racist/tribalistic system is harmful to all of humanity. We do it without hatred to any person but with anger and hatred at the inhuman actions of a deluded few who think they can get away with war crimes and crimes against humanity forever. People around the world increasingly see the reality and join our struggle. I talk and show reality in Bethlehem area to groups of visitors almost every day in Palestine. I get invitations to speak abroad frequently but I chose to limit such trips abroad because there is so much to do at home.
We speak to diverse groups sometimes to the consternation of puritans on all sides. I spoke for example at colleges and schools in the US where the majority of students and faculty were Jewish (e.g. Brandeis, Manhattenville), I spoke at NATO defense college, at conservative Churches, at synagogues and Jewish community centers, at editorial board meetings of influential papers largely owned by Zionists, and we even spoke at a US Naval Academy. In the West Bank I spoke to visitors ranging from Church leaders, to US congressmen, to British Parliamentarians, to the US consular officers, and even to Israeli academics. Some people especially on the left balk at these events and some even openly criticized us for these kinds of engagements. But if we are willing to speak to Israeli soldiers telling them how they are committing war crimes by obeying orders and we manage to occasionally (though rarely) touch a cord in the heart of our direct oppressors, why can't we talk to all other human beings regardless of their background. It is counterproductive to imagine the worst in humanity; misjudge the trends in history; and insist that we can only talk to those we agree with or go with the flow. This is a losing attitude that relegates many on the left to holding signs at street corners without creatively thinking how do we get power. It also relegates those in power to complacency and corruption and mistrust of people. Many develop their diagnostic language (the corporate media is controlled, the Zionist lobby is too strong, the politics cannot change, power structures are what they are etc.) but are not willing to seriously take action to make this world a better place.
In this year, we will be seven billion human beings on this earth. The distortions in many countries (including Italy and Israel/Palestine) of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer cannot and will not continue. Fear of change is what paralyzes many people. As others have pointed out, our biggest fear is not that we will fail but that for many human beings, the biggest fear is that we can be more successful than our wildest dreams. I believe indeed it is fear of success that keeps most people complacent. After all, for many if they really go seriously after their dreams (personal or collective) and succeed then it will show that the years they spent worrying and being afraid have indeed been only because of their lack of courage to change themselves.
Neurobiologists tell us that we humans only use a tiny fraction of our brain (we are told that geniuses use 1-2%). In the 1950s civil rights movement in the US, a common saying was "free your mind and your ass will follow". I think positive change always comes after people changed attitude in life to a positive direction. This is not only possible but it is imperative and inevitable. The more people realize this, the quicker we will get there. And we should all be working on the nature of the society to follow our inevitable win: one based on human rights and the rule of law not of military might and repression.
There are so many layers to the story about theevacuation of the Jews from Auschwitz.
According to the documents presented by John Ball,there was a deal with the US to remove the Jews before the Russians got to Auschwitz; and what a deal!
Apparently it was OK for the Soviets to enslave the Poles, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Hungarians and Czechs, and half of all Germans but the Jews had to be brought to safety in the West. That tells us lots about the priorities. The Jews were far more important than anyone else. Such a shock!
I strongly suspect that the Germans realized this. When the Jews were given a choice to stay or evacuate, I suspect the Germans took written statements from all those who wanted to stay, perhaps merely signed notes in a common logbook. Those recorded choices to stay, or evacuate might be available in a file somewhere. (Any ideas, anyone, Carlo?)
In any event, the hoax is unraveling big time in front of our eyes here. more than 1/4 million Jews to go west with the alleged greatest mass murderers of Jews in all of human history seems too preposterous a theory to sustain much longer.
Friedrich Paul Berg
Learn everything at http://www.nazigassings.com
Nazi Gassings Never Happened! Niemand wurde vergast!
Just a note to let you know that my book is now available on Amazon. You can also read excerpts. Click the link below and you'll see the book as well as two reviews, both of which gave the book 5 stars. If you have already read the book and feel inclined I would appreciate a review. Positive reviews do have an effect on sales and sales do have an effect on the public's awareness of this issue. The book is also available on my website - www.richardforer.com - as are writings, radio and TV interviews etc are on my website. Here's the link to Amazon: Thanks, Rich
By Peter Schmidt
Many historians say a key difference between the Vietnam War and today's U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq is that far fewer members of their profession are stepping forward to be public critics of policies associated with the "war on terror."
Participants in a panel discussion held here last weekend, at the annual conference of the American Historical Association, said historians' relative silence about today's policies stems not from agreement, but from trends in their field that have discouraged their scholarly peers from becoming actively involved in public debates.
They argued that historians in academe need to be doing much more to inform policy makers and sway public opinion on matters such as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, by sharing their views with members of Congress, submitting op-eds to local newspapers, giving talks, and reaching out to local activists.
Carolyn Eisenberg, a professor of history at Hofstra University, said "a great number of historians are profoundly at odds with the thrust of 'the war on terror,'" but their opposition "has scarcely registered in the public debate—it is barely a peep."
"It is time, I think, for today's historians to reclaim both the role of policy expert and the role of truth teller to the state," said another panel member, Priya Satia, an assistant professor of modern British history at Stanford University, who gave a talk arguing that the U.S. government has sought to limit public debate over its actions in Iraq in much the same way that Britain tried to avoid public scrutiny of its own Iraq occupation, after World War I.
"Given how important historical interpretation, and misinterpretation, have been to decision making in the war on terror, it simply makes sense for professional historians to participate more actively in public debate about it," Ms. Satia said.
A retired U.S. Army colonel, Peter R. Mansoor, who is now a military historian at Ohio State University argued that the Bush administration had "managed to forget nearly every lesson" of the Vietnam conflict in its approach to Iraq and Afghanistan, and ended up making many of the same mistakes the United States made in Vietnam as a result.
"History may not repeat itself," said Colonel Mansoor, who formerly served as an adviser to Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq, "but it does rhyme, and policy makers can either choose to recognize these rhythms, or suffer the adverse consequences of their lack of insight into humanity and its often violent past." He argued that if historians in academe do not get involved in debates over foreign policy, "we cede the ground to people in think tanks," specifically citing the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
The panel's remarks seemed well received by its audience in Boston's Hynes Convention Center, but others who were not in the room had markedly different views.
"These sorts of self-indulgent, back-patting exercises are an embarrassment to academia," Danielle Pletka, the American Enterprise Institute's vice president for foreign and defense policy studies, said in an interview on Tuesday. Rattling off a long list of people within her think tank who have doctorates in history, she said historians in academe "are not ceding any ground—that ground got taken away from them."
"The last time I checked, the op-ed papers of the newspapers were as open to historians as they were to anyone else," Ms. Pletka said. "If you want to be a senior public-policy decision maker, move to Washington and join the government."
Alan Charles Kors, a professor of European history at the University of Pennsylvania, said historians should be active as private citizens and "should speak out on matters on which they have strong—and ideally informed—opinions." But, he argued, historians in fact "spoke out a great deal" about the actions of George W. Bush's administration, and "they—along with the entire left with a handful of exceptions—have given Obama a pass on what they deemed Bush a war criminal for pursuing."
Certainly, a few historians in academe have consistently been vocal critics of some actions undertaken by the U.S. government since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. One who stands out was a member of last weekend's panel discussion, on "The Public Uses of History and the Global War on Terror": Juan Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, who often has taken federal officials to task for historical analogies he regarded as way off the mark, such as former Vice President Richard B. Cheney's comparison of Al Qaeda to the Nazis.
Another prominent academic historian in debates over U.S. policy is Andrew J. Bacevich, a professor of international relations and history at Boston University and the author, most recently, of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (Metropolitan Books, 2010).
But most historians' opposition to foreign and domestic policies adopted in response to the terrorist attacks has been fairly diffuse. More than 2,600 signed a 2003 petition by a group called Historians Against the War opposing the invasion of Iraq, and in 2007 that group persuaded the American Historical Association to adopt a resolution strongly attacking the Bush administration for "practices inimical to the values of the historical profession" in its conduct of "the war in Iraq and the so-called war on terror."
At the same time, however, Ms. Eisenberg of Hofstra said she had discovered "mostly a crashing silence" in her efforts, as a member of Historians Against the War, to collect essays critical of U.S. foreign policy submitted by historians to newspapers and magazines.
Rick Shenkman, an associate professor of history at George Mason University and the editor and founder of that university's History News Network, said "historians largely have liberal sympathies," but he too has noticed a dearth of public criticism of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars by scholars in his field. "The country itself has tended to ignore those wars, and so has the history profession," he said.
While many historians agree that scholars in their field are much less vocal in their criticisms of the "war on terror" than had been the case during the Vietnam War era, they do not appear to have reached much of a consensus as to why.
In her panel presentation, Ms. Eisenberg blamed historians' failure to get more involved in public-policy debates partly on changes in the profession. Given the intense competition among historians for jobs in academe, she said, people in the field feel overwhelming pressure to produce books and peer-reviewed articles if they wish to land a new job on a college faculty or receive tenure or a promotion. They have little incentive to give talks, work with grass-roots organizations, correspond with members of Congress, or speak to local news outlets because colleges do not reward such behaviors as much in weighing scholars' value.
In an interview on Wednesday, however, Larry G. Gerber, a professor emeritus of history at Auburn University and chairman of the American Association of University Professor's committee on college and university governance, said the changes in tenure standards described by Ms. Eisenberg had been under way for decades, beginning around the Vietnam War.
Ms. Eisenberg also posited that the turmoil of the Vietnam War era had "fostered a certain disdain for the study of powerful white men" that, while paving the way for great advances in social and cultural history, has led fewer historians to focus on how decisions are made in Washington. Colonel Mansoor made a similar point, arguing that neglect of the study of military history had left fewer scholars equipped to call attention to mistakes the previous administration was making in Iraq.
Another participant in the panel discussion, Greg Grandin, a professor of history at New York University, argued that scholars were more comfortable speaking out about American foreign policy during the Vietnam era because it was a period in which universities were expanding and they could be more secure in their jobs. A member of the audience went so far as to argue that we live in a period similar to the McCarthy era, in which scholars feel they will jeopardize their careers by taking stands on controversial subjects.
Mr. Cole of the University of Michigan rejected the idea that historians in academe risk dire professional consequences for weighing in on such policy matters. Colonel Mansoor said scholars who jumped into such battles should expect to take some hits, but tenure exists to embolden them in those situations. "It is the people with tenure, it is the senior people, who should speak out," he said.
Some historians interviewed after the meeting argued that the relative silence of today's historians, in comparison with those of the Vietnam War era, stems mainly from the absence of the draft and comparatively high casualty rates that fanned resistance to that earlier conflict.
"This is not the 1960s, and neither [the Afghanistan nor the Iraq] war has risen to the level of the Vietnam War in attracting public opposition in the universities or on the streets," said Mr. Shenkman of George Mason University and the History News Network.
Gordon S. Brown, a professor emeritus of history at Brown University, said "these wars are detached from our lives in a way that Vietnam was not" and "the historical profession is only reflecting that."
By Alan Hart
Short answer: Great effort is made to hunt down and prosecute suspected Nazi war criminals, no effort is made to bring Zionist war criminals to justice.
On 13 January, the BBC's World News web site had a lengthy story with the headline Global Nazi investigations rise for a second year. The writer of it was one Mario Cacciottolo who, quick research informed me, "Runs a photography website, plays poker, is a BBC journalist and grew up in Malta's red-light district." (His other 50 listed stories for the BBC include "Brilliant" news for lesbian couples and What sort of man wears mantyhose?)
Cacciottolo's 13 January story was based on the latest report by the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC). According to it, the number of ongoing investigations into Nazi war criminals increased last year. From April 2009 to March 2010 there were 852 investigations being conducted worldwide, compared with 706 during the same period in 2008/09. The period 2009/10 was the second consecutive year that the number of investigations into suspected Nazis has risen - there were 608 in 2007/08.
Efraim Zuroff, the head of the SWC's Jerusalem branch, was quoted as saying there were two reasons for the rise in the number of prosecutions. "It's clear that we're reaching the end of the period in which this work will be possible. (Because all suspects will be dead). This has motivated countries with the political will to make an effort to prosecute former Nazis… The other reason is that Germany in particular has changed its prosecution policy, to allow more suspects - particularly those who were not officer class and those of non-German origin - to be prosecuted." The increase in the number of German prosecutions was the most dramatic, up from 27 in 2008/09 to 177 in 2009/10. And that was why the SWC awarded Germany an A-grade for its efforts to prosecute ex-Nazis. Previously only the United States had been given the SWC's top marks.
The SWC report also gave nine countries failing grades for their investigative efforts -Norway, Sweden, Syria, Australia, Canada, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, and Ukraine. (I am surprised about Canada being on the list because its government has a well deserved reputation for doing Zionism's bidding).
If there was an institution working to bring Zionist war criminals to justice, it would have to award failing grades to every country on Planet Earth.
As Efraim Zuroff said, it is a matter of political will, but President Obama's burial of the Goldstone Report is surely proof that it does not exist for calling and holding Israel's leaders (some of them) to account for their crimes.
At the time of writing we are waiting to see if Britain's coalition government will introduce legislation to prevent Israeli leaders being prosecuted. It is under pressure from Zionism to do so.
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