The Palestinians: The forgotten People

William James Martin

 

It is impossible to understand the present Palestinian/Israeli conflict without understanding the past, in particular, the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe, who are not Semitic people, but indigenous to Eastern Europe.

In 1900, there were no Ashkenazi Jews living in Palestine; essentially none, that is, but a few, small mostly temporary Russian Jewish settlers, not totally unusual for various cults in the Holy Land at that time. Theodore Herzl, frequently designated ‘The Father of Modern Zionism’, because of the publication of his book, The Jewish State, in 1896, and because of this founding of the World Zionist Congress, a year later stated in 1897: Continue reading

One State; a republic for all of its citizens, an introduction.

Sami Jamil Jadallah

Sami Jamil Jadallah

Sami Jamil Jadallah

Note: Dear readers: The Arab – Israeli conflict has defied so many generations of Israelis and Palestinians, so many Noble Prize winners, so many US presidents, so many wars, and so many proposed solutions.  There is only one solution, the One State solution. For months I had the honor to work with a groups of Israelis and Palestinians negotiating and drafting both the introductions and the Preamble for the One State. I hope all of you will support and promote the “One State: A Republic for all of its citizens” as the only thing on the table to solve the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Continue reading

The New Anti-Semitism

Uri Avnery

The Nazi Propaganda Minister, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, calls his boss, Adolf Hitler, by hell-phone.

“Mein Führer,” he exclaims excitedly. “News from the world. It seems we were on the right track, after all. Anti-Semitism is conquering Europe!”

“Good!” the Führer says, “That will be the end of the Jews!”

“Hmmm…well…not exactly, mein Führer. It looks as though we chose the wrong Semites. Our heirs, the new Nazis, are going to annihilate the Arabs and all the other Muslims in Europe.” Then, with a chuckle, “After all, there are many more Muslims than Jews to exterminate.”

“But what about the Jews?” Hitler insists.

“You won’t believe this: the new Nazis love Israel, the Jewish State – and Israel loves them!”

THE atrocity committed this week by the Norwegian neo-Nazi – is it an isolated incident? Right-wing extremists all over Europe and the US are already declaiming in unison: “He does not belong to us! He is just a lone individual with a deranged mind! There are crazy people everywhere! You cannot condemn a whole political camp for the deeds of one single person!”

Sounds familiar. Where did we hear this before?

Of course, after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

There is no connection between the Oslo mass-murder and the assassination in Tel Aviv. Or is there?

During the months leading up to Rabin’s murder, a growing hate campaign was orchestrated against him. Almost all the Israeli right-wing groups were competing among themselves to see who could demonize him most effectively.

In one demonstration, a photo-montage of Rabin in the uniform of an [] SS officer was paraded around. On the balcony overlooking this demonstration, Binyamin Netanyahu could be seen applauding wildly, while a coffin marked “Rabin” was paraded below. Religious groups staged a medieval, kabbalistic ceremony, in which Rabin was condemned to death. Senior rabbis took part in the campaign. No right-wing or religious voices were raised in warning.

The actual murder was indeed carried out by a single individual, Yigal Amir, a former settler, the student of a religious university. It is generally assumed that before the deed he consulted with at least one senior rabbi. Like Anders Behring Breivik, the Oslo murderer, he planned his deed carefully, over a long time, and executed it cold-bloodedly. He had no accomplices.

OR HAD he? Were not all the inciters his accomplices? Does not the responsibility rest with all the shameless demagogues, like Netanyahu, who hoped to ride to power on the wave of hatred, fears and prejudice?

As it turned out, their calculations were confirmed. Less than a year after the assassination, Netanyahu indeed came to power. Now the right-wing is ruling Israel, becoming more radical from year to year, and, lately, it seems, from week to week. Outright Fascists now play leading roles in the Knesset.

All this – the result of three shots by a single fanatic, for whom the words of the cynical demagogues were deadly serious.

The latest proposal of our fascists, straight from the mouth of Avigdor Lieberman, is to abrogate Rabin’s crowning achievement: the Oslo agreements. So we come back to Oslo.

WHEN I first heard the news about the Oslo outrage, I was afraid that the perpetrators might be some crazy Muslims. The repercussions would have been terrible. Indeed, within minutes, one stupid Muslim group already boasted that they had carried out this glorious feat. Fortunately, the actual mass-murderer surrendered at the scene of the crime.

He is the prototype of a Nazi anti-Semite of the new wave. His creed consists of white supremacy, Christian fundamentalism, hatred of democracy and European chauvinism, mixed with a virulent hatred of Muslims.

This creed is now sprouting offshoots all over Europe. Small radical groups of the ultra-Right are turning into dynamic political parties, take their seats in Parliaments and even become kingmakers here and there. Countries which always seemed to be models of political sanity suddenly produce fascist rabble-rousers of the most disgusting kind, even worse than the US Tea Party, another offspring of this new Zeitgeist. Avigdor Lieberman is our contribution to this illustrious world-wide league.

One thing almost all these European and American ultra-Rightist groups have in common is their admiration for Israel. In his 1500 page political manifesto, on which he had been working for a long time, the Oslo murderer devoted an entire section to this. He proposed an alliance of the European extreme Right and Israel. For him, Israel is an outpost of Western Civilization in the mortal struggle with barbaric Islam. (Somewhat reminiscent of Theodor Herzl’s promise that the future Jewish State would be an “outpost of Western culture against Asiatic barbarism”?)

Part of the professed philo-Zionism of these Islamophobic groups is, of course, pure make-believe, designed to disguise their neo-Nazi character. If you love Jews, or the Jewish State, you can’t be a Fascist, right? You bet you can! However, I believe that the major part of this adoration of Israel is entirely sincere.

Right-wing Israelis, who are courted by these groups, argue that it is not their fault that all these hate-mongers are attracted to them. On the face of it, that is of course true. Yet one cannot but ask oneself: why are they so attracted? Wherein lies this attraction? Does this not warrant some serious soul-searching?

I FIRST BECAME aware of the gravity of the situation when a friend drew my attention to some German anti-Islamic blogs.

I was shocked to the core. These outpourings are almost verbatim copies of the diatribes of Joseph Goebbels. The same rabble-rousing slogans. The same base allegations. The same demonization. With one little difference: instead of Jews, this time it is Arabs who are undermining Western Civilization, seducing Christian maids, plotting to dominate the world. The Protocols of the Elders of Mecca.

A day after the Oslo events I happened to be watching Aljazeera’s English TV network, one of the best in the world, and saw an interesting program. For a whole hour, the reporter interviewed Italian people in the street about Muslims. The answers were shocking.

Mosques should be forbidden. They are places where Muslims plot to commit crimes. Actually, they don’t need mosques at all – they need only a rug to pray. Muslims come to Italy to destroy Italian culture. They are parasites, spreading drugs, crime and disease. They must be kicked out, to the last man, woman and child.

I always considered Italians easygoing, loveable people. Even during the Holocaust, they behaved better than most other European peoples. Benito Mussolini became a rabid anti-Semite only during the last stages, when he had become totally dependent on Hitler.

Yet here we are, barely 66 years after Italian partisans hanged Mussolini’s body by his feet in a public place in Milan – and a much worse form of anti-Semitism is rampant in the streets of Italy, as in most [or “many”?] other European countries.

OF COURSE, there is a real problem. Muslims are not free of blame for the situation. Their own behavior makes them easy targets. Like the Jews in their time.

Europe is in a quandary. They need the “foreigners” – Muslims and all – to work for them, keep their economy going, pay for the pensions of the old people. If all Muslims were to leave Europe tomorrow morning, the fabric of society in Germany, France, Italy and many other countries would break down.

Yet many Europeans are dismayed when they see these “foreigners”, with their strange languages, mannerisms and clothes crowding their streets, changing the character of many neighborhoods, opening shops, marrying their daughters, competing with them in many ways. It hurts. As a German minister once said: “We brought here workers, and found out that we had brought human beings!”

One can understand these Europeans, up to a point. Immigration causes real problems. The migration from the poor South to the rich North is a phenomenon of the 21st century, a result of the crying inequality among nations. It needs an all-European immigration policy, a dialogue with the minorities about integration or multiculturalism. It won’t be easy.

But this tidal wave of Islamophobia goes far beyond that. Like a Tsunami, it can result in devastation.

MANY OF the Islamophobic parties and groups remind one of the atmosphere of Germany in the early 1920s, when “völkisch” groups and militias were spreading their hateful poison, and an army spy called Adolf Hitler was earning his first laurels as an anti-Semitic orator. They looked unimportant, marginal, even crazy. Many laughed at this man Hitler, the Chaplinesque mustachioed clown.

But the abortive Nazi putsch of 1923 was followed by 1933, when the Nazis took power, and 1939, when Hitler started World War II, and 1942, when the gas chambers were brought into operation.

It is the beginnings which are critical, when political opportunists realize that arousing fear and hatred is the easiest way to fortune and power, when social misfits become nationalist and religious fanatics, when attacking helpless minorities becomes acceptable as legitimate politics, when funny little men turn into monsters.

Is that Dr. Goebbels I hear laughing in hell?

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. A member of the Irgun as a teenager, Avnery sat in the Knesset from 1965–74 and 1979-81.

Palestine’s ‘last village’ faces the bulldozers

Jonathan Cook
Lifta to make way for Jewish vacation homes
By Jonathan Cook in Lifta
On a rocky slope dropping steeply away from the busy main road at the entrance to West Jerusalem is to be found a scattering of ancient stone houses, empty and clinging precariously to terraces hewn from the hillside centuries ago.
Although most Israeli drivers barely notice the buildings, this small ghost town — neglected for the past six decades — is at the centre of a legal battle fuelling nationalist sentiments on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.
Picking his way through the cluster of 55 surviving houses, their stone walls invaded by weeds and shrubs, Yacoub Odeh, 71, slipped easily into reminiscences about the halcyon days in Lifta.
He was only eight years old in January 1948 when the advancing Jewish forces put his family and the 3,000 other Palestinian villagers to flight.
Over the coming months, as the Jewish state was born, they would be joined by 750,000 others forced into exile in an event that is known by Palestinians as the “nakba”, or catastrophe.
Despite the passage of time, Lifta’s chief landmarks are still clear to Mr Odeh: the remains of his own family’s home, an olive press, the village oven, a spring, the mosque, the cemetery and the courtyard where the villagers once congregated.
“Life was wonderful for a small child here,” he said, closing his eyes. “We were like one large family. We played in the spring’s waters, we picked the delicious strawberries growing next to the pool.
“I can still remember the taste of the bread freshly baked by my mother and coated with olive oil and thyme.”
The village not only occupies a unique place in Mr Odeh’s affections. It has also come to symbolise a hope of eventual return for many of the nearly five million Palestinian refugees around the world.
In the words of Ghada Karmi, a British academic whose own family was forced from their home close by, in the Jerusalem suburb of Katamon, Lifta “remains a physical memorial of injustice and survival”.
The reason is that Lifta is the last deserted village from 1948 still standing in modern-day Israel.
More than 400 other villages seized by Israel war were razed during and after the war of 1948 in what historians have described as a systematic plan to make sure the refugees had no homes to return to.
Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian who examined the 1948 war in his book the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, has termed the villages’ destruction an act of “memoricide” — erasing for Israelis all troubling reminders of an earlier Palestinian presence.
The destroyed villages’ lands were used by the new state either to build communities for Jewish immigrants or to plant national forests, said Eitan Bronstein, spokesman for Zochrot, an Israeli group dedicated to teaching Israelis about the nakba.
A handful of other Palestinian communities, such as the old city of Jaffa and Ein Hod near Haifa, survived the wave of demolitions but were quickly passed on to new Jewish owners to be reinvented as artists’ colonies.
Only Lifta was neither destroyed nor reinhabited, its homes standing as a solitary, silent testament to a vanished way of life, said Mr Bronstein.
But even that small legacy is under imminent threat from the bulldozers.
In January the Israel Lands Authority, a government body responsible for Lifta’s lands, announced a plan to build a luxury housing project over the village, including more than 200 apartments, a hotel and shops.
The project, said Meir Margalit, a Jerusalem city councillor, would be targeted at wealthy foreign Jews, mainly from the United States and France, looking for summer vacation homes in Israel.
The developers have promised to incorporate some of the old buildings into the complex, although most observers — including leading architects — say that little of the orginal Palestinian village will be recognisable after the project is completed.
Instead, according to Mr Bronstein, Lifta will belatedly suffer the same fate as the hundreds of villages destroyed by Israel decades ago. “The message is that we are finishing what we started in 1948,” he said.
Esther Zandberg, a commentator on architecture for the Israeli Haaretz daily, agreed: “Although it is termed a preservation effort, it is in effect, paradoxically, an erasure of all memory of the original village.”
Critics have been joined by Shmuel Groag, one of the project’s original architects, who has accused the developers of failing to respect the basic rules of conservation in their treatment of Lifta.
Lifta’s families, backed by several Israeli groups, including Rabbis for Human Rights, petitioned the courts to stop the project, saying the site should be preserved in its existing state.
The Jerusalem district court temporarily froze the development in March, and is expected to issue a ruling in the coming days.
The families have also appealed to Unesco, the United Nations organisation in charge of educational, scientific and cultural matters, to declare Lifta a world heritage site.
The development, however, is backed by the leading conservation bodies in Israel, including the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the Council for the Preservation of Historic Sites. The council’s director, Isaac Shewky, said the costs of a proper restoration would be “astronomical”.
Unlike most of the other 20,000 refugees and their descendants from Lifta, many of whom live in the West Bank and Jordan, Mr Odeh is able to visit his former village because he lives a few kilometres away in East Jerusalem.
He said he would ultimately like to see the families offered a chance to reclaim their former homes. “We will never forget Lifta. Our dream is to come back.”
Few observers expect such a scenario in the current political climate. The Palestinian right of return is widely seen by Israeli Jews as spelling doom for Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state.
That fear was only accentuated by the images of refugees in Syria storming border fences in the Golan Heights in May and June, in what was widely seen in Israel as an attempted return to their former homes.
Mr Bronstein said: “Lifta poses such a threat to Israelis because it offers a starting point for imagining how the right of return might be implemented. It offers a model for the refugees.”
Mr Odeh, who offers guided tours of Lifta, has to share the site with many Israeli visitors. Young religious boys have turned the still-functioning village pool into a mikveh, or ritual immersion bath. Other Israelis use the site as a favourite hiking spot. And in the evenings, drug-users take shelter in the homes.
Lifta is also facing rapid encroachment from West Jerusalem. It is ringed by major roads linking Jerusalem to the West Bank settlements; on the ridge above, a high-speed rail link to Tel Aviv is being built; and in the valley below a military complex is believed to house the government’s underground nuclear bunker.
Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook won this year’s Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

A version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.

Israel and the Issue of Delegitimization

Dr. Lawrence Davidson

Dr. Lawrence Davidson, 1 July 2011

Part I

On 23 June 2011 MJ Rosenberg published an interesting piece in the Huffington Post entitled “Netanyahu Is the One ‘Delegitimizing’ Israel.” Deligitimization as used here is, according to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, a “buzzword in the world of pro-Israel activism.” Rosenberg tries to turn the concept back on the Zionists by claiming it is their own actions that are actually eroding Israel’s legitimacy. He is correct but there is more to be said on this topic. First, some additional background information.

In 2010 the Zionists decided they would try to split the opposition by defining different categories of criticism of Israel. Those who are critical of just particulars, this or that Israel policy or tactic, were put in the category of acceptable critics. I would point out that this was a big concession on their part for, if you think back ten years or so, any public criticism of Israel was assumed to be inspired by anti-Semitism. In any case, that charge has now been narrowed down to those assigned to a second category–the “delegitimizers.” These are the ones who, allegedly, are critical in a way that calls into question the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. According to the Zionists, this delegitimizing approach is, so to speak, beyond the pale, or as the American Zionist leader William Daroff put it, a “cancerous growth.”

The Zionists have gone to a lot of trouble to make this process of categorization appear well thought out and researched. In March of 2010 the Tel Aviv based Reut Institute issued a 92 page report which defines delegitimizing criticism as that which “exhibits blatant double standards, singles out Israel, denies its right to exist as the embodiment of the self-determination of the Jewish people, or demonizes the state.”

Rosenberg says this effort on the part of the Zionists is a gambit “to change the subject from the existence of the occupation to the existence of Israel…That is why Prime Minister Netanyahu routinely invokes Israel’s ‘right of self-defense’ every time he tries to explain away some Israeli attack on Palestinians…If the whole Israeli-Palestinian discussion is about Israel’s right to defend itself, Israel wins the argument. But if it is about the occupation–which is, in fact, what the conflict has been about since 1993 when the PLO recognized Israel–it loses.” He concludes, “Israel [is] not being isolated because it is a Jewish state and hence illegitimate, but because of how it treat[s] the Palestinians.”

Part II

Rosenberg certainly has a point. However, one can draw a more general and troublesome message from the Zionist notion of delegitimizers. This more basic insight goes like this:

1. The distinction drawn by the Zionists between acceptable and unacceptable criticism works only if one assumes that the policies and tactics of the Israeli state leading to, on the one hand, expansion into the Occupied Territories (OT), and on the other, the segregation of its non-Jewish minorities, are not structural. Or, to put it another way, that Israel’s imperial and discriminatory policies are not a function of the ethno/religious definition of the state. But what happens if Israel’s tactics and polices are not just opportunistic, but indeed structural? What if the behavior of the government flows from the very nature of a country designed first and foremost for a specific group? If that is the case, you cannot separate out criticism of this or that policy from criticism of the very character of the Israeli polity. Policies and state ideology are all of one piece.

Please note that I am not singling out Israel in this regard (though, as we will see, I do single it out in other ways). Actually, it would not matter if Israel (or any other country) was Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, White, Black, American, English, Russian, Chinese, or created by and for little green men from Mars. If any state:

a) is designed to first and foremost serve one specific group while
b) having in its midst minorities which it systematically segregates by
c) either structuring its laws in a discriminatory way, and/or purposely educating its citizenry to act in a discriminatory fashion
d) then from the standpoint of civilized, modern democratic principles, one can justly question not only its tactics and policies, but the legitimacy of the social/political structure that generates them.

This is so whether the country is expansionist or not. In other words, if Israel had never moved beyond its 1967 borders and never set up its wretched colonial regime in the OT, there would still be a problem because of the way it treats Israeli Arabs. Here is where I would take the Rosenberg argument one step further. It is not just the occupation, it is Zionism as a guiding socio-political ideology that is illegitimate.

2. Given the ideological insistence that Israel must be a “Jewish” state, how does one argue against Zionist Israel without opening oneself to the charge of anti-Semitism? The best way to do so is by generalizing out Rosenberg’s argument – by taking the general position that all governments that use their laws to discriminate against minority groups delegitimize themselves. In the case of Zionist Israel (which, we should keep in mind, does not represent all Jews) just ceasing to behave in an imperialist fashion may be necessary, but it is not a sufficient corrective. Israel must cease to structure its laws and social behavior in a discriminatory fashion and for that it has to get rid of its present Zionist governing ideology. If Israel wants to be both Jewish and a legitimate, civilized, modern democratic state, it has to find a non-discriminatory way to do it. As long as it stays a Zionist state, it will constantly be hoisting itself with its own petard.

3. Beyond Israel’s borders, it is the Zionist political and media efforts to convince world opinion that they must be considered both legitimate and be allowed to operate in a discriminatory fashion that are particularly corrupting. To explain this let us address the Zionist charge that deligitimizers “single out Israel” by using “blatant double standards.”

This assertion has become so common that when one ventures into a public forum to discuss Israeli behavior, one is almost assured the following question: Why are you singling out Israel? How about all those other countries doing horrible things to people? How about the Russians slaughtering Chechynians? How about the Chinese committing cultural genocide against Tibet? What about Darfur? If you think about it, the question is an unfortunate one from the point of view of those asking because, implicitly, it (quite accurately) puts Israel into the same category as all these other bad guys and that certainly is not what the questioner intends. In any case, there is a ready answer to the question and it goes like this:

The fact that Zionist influence spreads far beyond Israel’s area of dominion and has long influenced many of the policy making institutions of Western governments, and particularly that of the United States, makes it imperative that Israel’s oppressive behavior be singled out as a high priority case from among the many other oppressive regimes that may be candidates for pointed criticism and even boycott. In other words, unlike the Chinese, the Russians and other such governments, the Israelis and their supporters directly influence, in a corrupting fashion, the policy makers of our own countries and this often makes our governments accomplices in Israel’s abusive policies. This being so, singling out Israel is not hypocrisy, but rather necessity. William Daroff, the Zionist leader mentioned above who appears on the look out for “cancerous growths,” might find this pathology in the on-going corruptive nature of his own organization’s influence.

Part III

From the standpoint of intellectual debate it is not difficult to defeat Zionist arguments. I have been doing it for years both in writing and in public forums. I humbly admit that (where they have not turned into bedlam) I have never lost one of these encounters. However, international affairs and the fate of nations are not normally settled by intellectual debates. Nor, unfortunately, are they often settled by international law. Historically, they are settled by political intrigue and back room lobbying (at which level Zionist influence works) and/or brute force.

Is there a way around this historical roadblock? I think so. There is a growing, world-wide movement of civil society seeking the isolation of Israel at all levels. This is the same strategy that brought change to apartheid South Africa. And, toward the growth of this movement, intellectual debate is very useful and important. It is no accident that the Zionists point to those who advocate boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel as the number one enemies within their category of delegitimizers. I think they know, or at least sense, that the BDS movement is the very best long term strategy for those who wish to force Israel to rid itself of what makes it truly illegitimate– its Zionist ideology.

 

Dr. Lawrence Davidson

Dr. Lawrence Davidson

Dr. Lawrence Davidson is professor of history at West Chester University. He is the author of numerous books, including Islamic Fundamentalism and America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood.

The author is a regular contributor to RamallahOnline.com.More articles can be found on RamallahOnline.com, Logos Journal, and Dr. Davidson also maintains an online blog, you can find it at http://www.tothepointanalyses.com

The U.S.-Israeli Train Wreck

Truman letter Jewish State

Jeff Gates, 1 June 2011

President Obama hopes to head off a train wreck in September at the U.N. General Assembly. That’s when member nations plan to press for an independent Palestine. The Israel lobby is furious.

 

Critics doubt that the General Assembly has the authority to recognize Palestine. Yet protection of member sovereignty has been a goal of the U.N. since its founding. Thus the priority that Israel placed on U.N. recognition after President Harry Truman acknowledged Israel on May 14, 1948, eleven minutes after the Zionist enclave declared itself a state.

 

Truman refused to recognize this enclave as “the Jewish state.” Despite Barack Obama’s reference to the Jewish state in a recent speech on the Middle East, during the final days before granting recognition and thereby “legitimacy,” Truman was consumed with the fear that Zionist aspirations would lead to a racist or a theocratic state.

 

Those concerns led Zionist leader Chaim Weizzman to lobby Truman with a seven-page letter reassuring him that Jewish settlers envisioned a thoroughly secular state similar to the U.S. and Great Britain. Truman underscored that understanding when he recognized not the “Jewish state” (a description he crossed out) but the “State of Israel.”

 

Today’s train wreck should have been foreseen when Weizzman lied to Truman about Zionist intentions. As with every U.S. president since, Truman was deceived.

 

Truman letter Jewish State

The Joint Chiefs cautioned Truman about the “fanatical concepts” of a Jewish-Zionist elite that sought recognition as a legitimate state. Even then, U.S. military leaders warned that this extremist enclave sought “military and economic hegemony over the entire Middle East.” Truman, a Christian-Zionist, chose to believe otherwise.

 

Albert Einstein was also worried. He and other concerned Jews described the Zionist political party that produced Menachem Begin, Ariel Sharon and now Benjamin Netanyahu as a “terrorist party” with “the unmistakable stamp of a Fascist party.”

 

The Train Wreck

 

Truman’s worst fears have since been realized except that the effects were far worse than either he or the Joint Chiefs envisioned. To persuade other nations to endure this enclave of fanatics, the U.S. assured nearby Arab neighbors that Israel would seek no more land.

 

We now know that the Zionists saw nation-state recognition as only an initial foothold in the region from which to expand their territory and wield geopolitical influence—behind a U.S.-enabled facade of legitimacy.

 

Secretary of State George Marshall assured Truman that if he recognized these extremists as a legitimate state, Marshall would vote against him. This former WWII general anticipated the dynamics that have since devastated U.S. national security as we Americans were induced to expend our blood and treasure in support of Zionist goals.

 

The U.S. now appears culpable due to our alliance with a nuclear-armed theocratic enclave of extremists with an apartheid domestic policy and an expansionist foreign policy.

 

The U.S. diplomatic community also warned Truman against recognition, as did the intelligence community and the policy planning staff at the State Department. Clark Clifford, chairman of Truman’s 1948 presidential campaign, told Truman that if he withheld recognition, campaign funding expected from the Israel lobby would be withheld.

 

Ally or Agent Provocateur?

 

Fast-forward to 1967 and we find this same transnational network pre-staging a conflict designed to appear defensive. Since mythologized as the heroic “Six-Day War,” that agent provocateur operation set in motion geopolitical reactions still playing out today.

 

How far ahead of time was this provocation planned? An Israel Air Force general conceded that attack simulations began in the early 1950s. United Artists president Arthur Krim and his wife, Mathilde, began a strategic friendship with Texas Senator Lyndon B. Johnson. By acquiring property near the LBJ Ranch, Mathilde, a former Irgun operative, could carry on an affair with Johnson while her husband chaired the finance committee for the Democrats.

 

On the night that the Six-Day Land Grab began, Mathilde was enjoying a sleepover in the Johnson White House. But for that Zionist aggression, would Israel have been able to live peacefully with its neighbors? Israel and its supporters staged an elaborate charade to recast this provocation as defensive. That ruse included the cover-up of an Israeli assault on the U.S.S. Liberty that killed 34 Americans and left 175 wounded.

 

Then as now, the fabled “Israelites” were portrayed as victims of a hostile world. Then as now, anyone chronicling the consistency of this duplicity risks portrayal as an “anti-Semite.”

 

This trans-generational deceit continues to undermine U.S. national security at every turn. Zionist treachery began long before George Marshall and the Pentagon cautioned Truman against what these fanatics would now deny the Palestinians: legitimacy.

 

By the consistency of our support over more than six decades, the U.S. now appears guilty by association. If the U.N. vote becomes a diplomatic train wreck, we have only ourselves to blame.

 
A Vietnam veteran, Jeff Gates is a widely acclaimed author, attorney, investment banker, educator and consultant to government, corporate and union leaders worldwide. He served for seven years as counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. He is widely published in the trade, popular and academic press. His latest book is Guilt by Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War. His previous books include Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street From Wall Street and The Ownership Solution: Toward a Shared Capitalism for the 21st Century. Topical commentaries appear on the Criminal State website. You may reach him at jeff DOT gates AT criminalstate DOT com. The author contributed this article to Ramallah Online, more articles by Jeff Gates on Ramallah Online can be found here.

Institutionalized Arab Inequality in Israel

Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman, 26 Feb 2011

In December 2010, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel published a study titled, “Inequality Report: The Palestinian Arab Minority in Israel,” saying:

Affecting Jews as well, it takes many forms, including:

– privileged v. deprived groups;

– Western Jews (Ashkenzim) v. Eastern ones (Mizrakhim);

– men v. women;

– Israeli-born Jews (Sabar) v. immigrant ones (Olim);

– Orthodox v. secular Jews;

– urban v. rural ones;

– progressive v. hardline extremists;

– gay v. straight, and so forth.

Mostly, it represents majority Jews against minority (largely Muslim) Israeli Arabs, indigenous people living in their historic homeland, comprising 20% of the population or about 1.2 million people, excluding East Jerusalem and Golan.

Under international law, they’re considered a national, ethnic, linguistic and religious minority, but not under Israel’s Basic Laws. As a result, they face “compound discrimination” as non-Jews, as well as for belonging to one or more sub-groups. For example, women, Bedouins, the disabled or elderly.

Institutionalized inequality excludes them from state resources, services and positions of power, including:

Legalized Inequality

As citizens, they’re denied equality and freedom in a Jewish state. Over 30 laws directly or indirectly discriminate besides new ones at various stages in the legislative process.

Citizenship

It affords no equality, granting it solely to Jews, and under a new law, it may be lost for reasons alleging “disloyalty” or “breach of trust.”

Income/Poverty

Affecting over half of Arab families, they’re disproportionately poor compared to one-fifth of Jews. Arab towns, villages and Bedouin communities are the poorest.

Redistribution of Resources and Social Welfare

Resources are disproportionately allocated to Jews, a policy institutionalizing inequality.

Employment

Arabs are discriminated against with regard to work opportunities, pay, and conditions, largely because of entrenched structural barriers, especially affecting women, the disabled, and other sub-groups. Failure to perform military service impedes men, even when no connection between it and job qualifications exist.

Arabs are also underrepresented in civil service jobs, Israel’s largest employer. They constitute about 6% of public employees, despite affirmative action laws requiring fair representation.

Land

Longstanding and more recent laws deprive them of its access and use. Admissions committees in many agricultural and community towns exclude them based on alleged “social unsuitability,” amounting to legalized apartheid.

As a result, Arab towns and villages suffer severe overcrowding, their municipalities having jurisdiction over only 2.5% of total state land. Moreover, since 1948, about 600 Jewish municipalities were established, no Arab ones.

Education

Israel’s Ministry of Education has centralized control, excluding Arab educators from decision-making authority. Moreover, State Education Law sets objectives, emphasizing Jewish history and culture. Though Arabs represent 25% of school children, funding for them is far less than for Jews.

Arabic Language

Though an official state language, it holds vastly inferior status to Hebrew, including regarding resources allocated for its use.

Health

On average, Jewish life expectancy exceeds Arabs who face much higher mortality rates, especially past age 60. In addition, Palestinian infant mortality is double that for Jews. Poorer Arab communities are especially impacted, lacking facilities to keep pace with needs.

Political Participation

Arabs have unequal access to all areas of public life and decision-making, including the legislature, judiciary, and civil service. Moreover, Israel’s Attorney General and extremist MKs tried to disqualify Arab parties from political participation, and overall limit their political voices.

In addition, legislation targets free movement and speech, including attempts to restrict political travel to Arab nations called “enemy states.” Further, police routinely use force to arrest Palestinian demonstrators to silence dissent.

“Years of deliberate discrimination, unequal citizenship and a limited voice in the political system have left Palestinian citizens” feeling vulnerable, marginalized, insecure and distrustful of state authority, exacerbated by being considered a “fifth column.”

Framework of Legalized Inequality

Israel’s Basic Laws afford rights solely to Jews. Arabs clearly aren’t wanted so aren’t treated equally under the law. As a result, institutionalized discrimination harms them in all aspects of daily life, including citizenship and family unification rights, forcing them to live apart or insecure under threat of separation.

A Case Study of Discriminatory Resource Allocation

Government provides “budget balancing grants” to municipalities and local councils to fund essential services. Arab communities are systematically cheated despite far greater need.

The current system affords extra grants to towns absorbing new Jewish immigrants, so-called “front line” communities, and others called “socially diverse,” excluding Arab ones considered homogeneous. Nearly always, Jewish communities are helped. Adalah’s 2001 Supreme Court petition for redress is still pending.

Further, Amendment 146 to the Income Tax Act affords Israeli communities near Gaza and others exemptions for political reasons. All Arab towns and villages were excluded.

A Case Study of Military Service Excluding Arabs from Railway Inspection Work

In 2009, the Israeli Railway Company (IRC) and another firm employing guards concluded an agreement, excluding applicants with no military service from consideration. Over 130 Arab citizens held guard positions. The decision threatened their status or ability to obtain future employment. A temporary September 2009 court injunction prevented those employed from being fired. After a follow-up February 2010 hearing, the Railway Company cancelled the exclusionary provisions.

A Case Study of Arab Family Unsuitability to Live in Rakefet

Fatina and Ahmed Zubeidat hold Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design College of Architecture degrees with distinction. Both are practicing architects. After marrying in 2006, they applied to live in Rakefet, located in Misgav in northern Israel. Its admissions committee requires applicants take an acceptance test. It excluded them on grounds of “social unsuitability.” In September 2007, Adalah petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court, demanding admissions committees be abolished. In October, the Court ordered Rakeft set aside land for the family, pending a final decision. It’s still pending.

A Case Study of Unrecognized Bedouin Al Araqib Village Destruction

On July 27, 2010, al-Araqib residents were awakened at dawn, surrounded by police carrying guns, tear gas, truncheons and other arms. Declaring the village a “closed area,” its 250 residents were ordered out in two minutes, warned that resistance would forcibly remove them.

Almost immediately, 1,300 police officers began demolishing homes while residents tried salvaging belongings. All 45 houses were bulldozed. Villagers were displaced and their belongings confiscated. Police also uprooted 4,500 olive trees. Tax Authority representatives accompanied police, seizing property of indebted residents.

No prior warnings were given. A week later, the village was destroyed a second time, police again using excessive force, including pushing, stomping, dragging, assaulting, and cursing people present at the time. Adalah immediately demanded a criminal investigation. Numerous other villages have also been targeted. None so far have gotten redress.

A Case Study of a Possible First Ever Unrecognized Bedouin Village High School

None exist in any unrecognized Bedouin village. In Abu Tulul region, El-Shihabi is home to about 12,000 Bedouin citizens. About 750 are of high school age. However, only about 170 can attend 12 – 15 km away, requiring public or other transportation to reach.

In 2005, Adalah petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court for 35 Bedouin girls and six local NGOs, demanding an accessible high school be built nearby. In January 2007, the Court ruled for one to begin operating on September 1, 2009 to no avail. On September 22, 2009, Adalah again petitioned for enforcement, including that non-implementation be considered in contempt of court.

A Case Study of Mother and Child Clinic Closures

In October 2009, Israel’s Ministry of Health (MOH) closed clinics in three unrecognized villages – Qasr el-Ser, Abu Tlul and Wadi el-Niam. They specialize in post-natal care with three others established after Adalah’s successful 1997 Supreme Court petition.

MOH’s reasons for closure were bogus. As a result, the health and lives of thousands of pregnant Bedouin women, new mothers and their babies are at risk. On December 16, 2009, Adalah petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court, demanding clinics remain open. On August 11, 2010, two reopened. The other is still closed.

Case Study about Protesters Killed in October 2000

In October 2000, at the start of the Second Intifada, police killed 13 unarmed Palestinians, protesting occupation brutality. Snipers shot most in the head or chest. Hundreds of others were injured and over 1,000 arrested. Despite Or Commission recommendations, no one was held responsible. Over 10 years later, no commander, soldier, policeman, or political official was charged with cold-blooded murder. Given impunity, they remain safe from prosecution.

Legitimate Political Activity Criminalized

In November 2009, Israel’s Attorney General indicted Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh, leader of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash), for participating in four nonviolent protests against Israel’s Separation Wall, the 2006 Lebanon war, and its officials remaining unaccountable for the October 2000 killings.

In January 2010, the Knesset House Committee voted to strip Tajammoa/Balad party MK Sa’id Naffaa of his parliamentary immunity. Israel’s Attorney General then indicted him for visiting Syria in September 2007 as part of a holy site pilgrimage. Charges included contact with a foreign agent.

Earlier, MK Azmi Bishara, then National Democratic Assembly/Balad head, was indicted for political speech -for “supporting a terrorist organization (Hezbollah).” In fact, he merely analyzed factors leading to Israel’s southern Lebanon occupation and right to resist it. Charges followed the Knesset voting to strip him of parliamentary immunity. At the time, it was unprecedented in Israeli politics. In February 2006, Israel’s Supreme Court dismissed all charges unanimously.

Nonetheless, on June 7, 2010, the Knesset House Committee revoked Tajammoa/Balad member Haneen Zoabi’s parliamentary privileges for participating in the May 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. As a result, she lost her diplomatic passport, overseas travel privileges, and right to have the Knesset pay her legal expenses in case of criminal prosecution. Overall, she was viciously assailed. Called a “terrorist” and “traitor,” extremist ministers and MKs wanted, but failed, to have her Knesset membership and citizenship revoked.

Two recent articles explained Israel’s gross mistreatment of Israeli Arab citizens, accessed through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/10/viciously-attacking-israeli-arabs.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/12/social-inequality-in-israel.html

Socially, politically and economically they’re denied rights for being Arabs in a Jewish state, affording them solely to Jews. Increasingly less of them, in fact, benefit under predatory neoliberal harshness, rewarding the rich, abandoning the rest.

As a result, Israel is a nation of extreme, growing inequality, mostly affecting Arabs. Studies, in fact, found Israel, America and Britain the most unequal western societies, an indictment of neoliberal betrayal.

Moreover, Muslims face violent and ad hominem attacks, with no protections afforded them. As a result, some call Israel a failed state, more hypocrisy than democracy, resembling how Arundhati Roy once described India, calling it a “limbless, headless, soulless torso left bleeding under the butcher’s clever with a flag driven deep into her mutilated heart.”

For Israeli Arabs, it’s daily reality. For Occupied Palestinians, its worse. For besieged Gazans, it’s catastrophic because world leaders abandoned them.

A Final Comment

On February 25, a full Spanish High Court panel (its Audencia Nacional) rejected a Spanish prosecutor’s attempt to halt investigation into America’s involvement in torture at Guantanamo. In response, the Center for Constitutional Rights said:

“This is a monumental decision that will enable a Spanish judge to continue a case on the ‘authorized and systemic plan of torture and ill treatment’ by US officials at Guantanamo.” Former commanding officer Gen. Geoffrey Miller “has already been implicated, and the case will surely move up the chain of command.”

Importantly, “this will be the first real investigation of the US torture program….This is a victory for accountability and a blow against impunity.” CCR applauded Spain’s High Court decision “for not bowing to political pressure and for undertaking what may be the most important investigation in decades.”

If successful, might other unindicted US and Israeli war criminals be far behind? Also, will courageous lawyers like persecuted Paul Bergrin be vindicated? At times, justice moves in slow, incremental steps. Perhaps this is a first major one.

Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

A General Overhaul

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery, 11 Dec 2010

THE JUDGE: “You are accused of murdering your wife and two children. How do you plead: Guilty or not guilty?”

The accused: “Your honor, I do not deal with the past. I think about the future!”

No, not a scene from a comedy. Something very similar really happened. That is how Eli Yishai, the Minister of the Interior, Binyamin Netanyahu and the other nincompoops responded this week to the accusations of gross negligence which resulted in the unprecedented giant firestorm that ravaged large parts of Mount Carmel and caused the deaths of 42 people.

THE EPITOME of chutzpah was reached by Eli Yishai (Shas). In bygone days, a Japanese minister would have committed harakiri on the very first day of the conflagration. But Yishai addressed the public on the last day and claimed that he was the victim of a lynching because he is “Orthodox and Sephardi”.

But even if he had been a blue-eyed secular Ashkenazi, he should have been thrown down the government stairs. And not only because of his “ministerial responsibility”, as the State Comptroller politely phrased it.

If Yishai had faced the judge mentioned above, he would have answered: “Your honor, all my predecessors also murdered their wives and children. So why do you single me out? Only because I am Orthodox and Sephardi?”

One shocking piece of evidence suffices to attach personal blame to this individual. When the fire broke out, Haifa airport, where the fire-fighting planes were stationed, did not stock a single kilo of fire-retardant material. The stock in the entire country was enough for the first 20 minutes only. Israel had to send SOS messages to all the countries throughout the world, including some smaller and poorer than us, to beg for the material.

Was that the responsibility of his predecessors in the 50s or the 90s?

Lately, Yishai has stood out as the compulsive persecutor of refugee children, in order to save the “Jewish” state. If he had invested in the fire-fighting services a fraction of the energy and enthusiasm which he invested in promoting the man-hunters of the “Oz” immigration unit, the fire would have been conquered within an hour, instead of blazing in unabated fury for three days. Not to mention his threats to break up the government coalition if the subsidies of the Orthodox were reduced.

In Yishai, some of the main traits that caused the disaster are concentrated: a blown-up ego, total devotion to the interests of his party, and complete indifference for the government tasks entrusted to him.

But, he asserted, he “warned”. All of the politicians “warned”. Every one of them keeps in the back pocket of his trousers a bunch of letters he has written in the last few years to cover his ass. But the duty of a minister is not to “warn”. His duty is to act, and if he can’t – to resign.

THE MAIN responsibility, however, does not rest with Eli Yishai, but with Binyamin Netanyahu. It is he who appointed this good-for-nothing to this job, just as he appointed Avigdor Lieberman as Foreign Minister and Limor Livnat as Minister for Culture. And all the other ministers, almost all whom are quite unsuited for their tasks

Netanyahu’s own conduct during the crisis, in which the entire country was glued to the TV screens for days, every hour of each day, bordered on farce. While the fire-fighters were busy trying to extinguish the fire, he was equally busy trying to extinguish the growing criticism of himself. He hurried from place to place, surrounded not only by a ring of bodyguards but by an even larger ring of photographers. He immortalized himself in every possible pose, each one expertly staged, following the example of the President of Chile during the rescue of the miners. He talked and talked, and from every word arose a strong smell of phoniness.

Nothing was spontaneous, nothing came from the heart. Everything a pose, everything unserious. One moment he entrusted Interior Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch with the responsibility for the entire operation, the next moment he forgot all about him, as if he had never existed. The height of comedy was attained when he appointed the mayor of Netanya, appropriately named Miriam Feirberg (“Mountain of Fire”) as special commissioner for compensation. It was a moment’s flash of inspiration, without consulting anyone, without any staff work (there was no staff, anyhow). Even his closest advisers were surprised. Two days later he accepted her resignation.

Netanyahu also invented a substitute for a Commission of Inquiry: a press conference.

But it appears that Netanyahu knows his people. The polls show that a large part of the public has been profoundly impressed by his dynamic leadership.

BUT BEYOND the failings of individual politicians who pose as leaders, a frightening picture of the entire ruling establishment has been revealed.

For a moment, the curtain of the media flatterers, PR experts and assorted ass-lickers, who create an artificial reality, has been raised. The picture that has emerged is of total chaos. The flames shed light on only one accidental part – the fire-fighting services – but there is no doubt that a similar situation exists in almost all other departments of the government, from the defense ministry to the education system.

Until now, we surmised. Now we know for sure.

What was revealed this week for all to see was a shocking landscape of incompetence and inability, irresponsibility and ass-covering, lack of planning and lack of foresight, lack of “staff work” and lack of coordination between the various government offices. Many years of party corruption have led to a situation where at every crucial point the wrong person occupies the wrong position. The crime of “political appointments” has crippled the civil service.

The lack of an efficient fire-fighting service, as described this week by the State Comptroller, is only a symptom of the disease. It was not discovered this week, and not this year. Already 42 years ago, on June 10, 1968, I warned the Knesset about this situation and demanded the setting up of a national fire-fighting force, like the national police force, with a single commander and a standing general staff. The establishment ignored the proposal. So did the media. Nothing was burning – until Mount Carmel turned into a flaming inferno.

We know already that the same situation prevails in the education system, which is producing a generation of ignoramuses, as was revealed this week by PISA, an authoritative international study. The pupils of the “Jewish State”, the sons and daughters of the People of the Book which always prided itself on its superior intellectual level, are now well below the average of the developed countries.

We do not know what is really happening in the army, whose officers are protected by a defensive ring of army spokesmen and army liars, censors and fawning journalists called “military correspondents”. Lebanon War II revealed a picture of a military not much better than the fire-fighting service this week. It is known that the present Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, “has rehabilitated the army”. Everybody knows. How do they know? Anyone from the outside checked?

In order to turn Israel into a modern state, we need a thorough change in the entire establishment. Instead of busying ourselves with empty slogans, like “a Jewish and democratic state”, we should see to it that Israel becomes, first of all, a state capable of safeguarding the security and well-being of its citizens – all of them.

THAT BRINGS us straight to the overturned hubble-bubble (Nargileh in Palestinian Arabic).

From the first moment on, I was worried that the fire would ignite a huge conflagration of racist flames. After all, the fire did break out near an Arab locality (Yes, the Druze are Arabs, too). I asked myself: how long will it take until the racists are falling over themselves fighting to exploit this opportunity?

At first I was pleasantly surprised. In many ways, the disaster brought out the most positive sides of Israeli society, which are hidden in normal times. In this area, too, an unusual self-restraint prevailed this time. Common sense said that even the wildest terrorist would not start a fire next to his own home.

But the police – who are deeply stained by anti-Arab discrimination – could not restrain themselves for two whole days. Thus, at the height of the disaster, when the public was glued to the TV screen and emotions were running as high as the flames in the forest, the police released a sensational piece of news: they had caught two Arab boys, aged 14 and 16, who were guilty of starting the whole thing.

Even if this news had any foundation, it could have quietly waited for two or three days, until the flames were put out. But the police were all aflame.

They announced at the top of their voices that the two brothers were having a picnic and their nargileh had overturned. That is a doubtful story to start with. But even if the boys had inadvertently caused the fire by their negligence, was there a need to treat them like hardened criminals, drag them brutally from their home in the middle of their family lunch, interrogate them harshly and try to get them to incriminate each other? In the end they were released and the police grabbed another boy of 16. All this was very different from the behavior of the police some time ago, when a group of Yeshiva students inadvertently started a large fire on the Golan Heights.

THE EVENT did actually have a racist face, but from a quite different perspective. Racism played a major role in it.

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. Look at the episode of the prophet Eliah and the prophets of Baal on the Carmel (1 Kings 18:38): “then the fire of the Lord fell…” But perhaps Eli Yishai and his folks don’t read the Bible as frequently as this atheist.

The neglect of the Druze localities had a dramatic effect on our ability to extinguish a fire on the Carmel. The 42 victims paid with their lives for this racism.

THE FIRE was a kind of dress rehearsal. In Israel, people don’t say “If a war breaks out” but rather “When the next war breaks out”. It is quite certain that if another war breaks out, it will dwarf the Carmel fire. Thousands of missiles will fall on all parts of Israel, causing many fires simultaneously.

No one is ready for that. The same government that is sabotaging all peace efforts and is leading us towards war – is not ready for war on any level.

Even without this danger, it is clear that the political establishment is in need of a general overhaul, nothing less. That is impossible with types like Eli Yishai and his master, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who proclaimed this week that the courageous female police officer, Ahuva Tomer, and the 41 cadets who were killed by the fire died because they broke the sabbath. Neither with types like Binyamin Netanyahu and his cabinet, nor with the so-called “opposition”.

What is needed now is nothing less than an awakening of the “silent majority”. They must understand that by their indifference, they are no less guilty than the politicians who were, after all, elected by them. Nothing will move unless the passive public becomes active. Mass protests, big demonstrations, joint action by intellectuals and others. Only thus can civil society assert itself and bring about the total overhaul that has become a burning necessity.

THE JUDGE: “You are accused of murdering your wife and two children. How do you plead: Guilty or not guilty?”

The accused: “Your honor, I do not deal with the past. I think about the future!”

No, not a scene from a comedy. Something very similar really happened. That is how Eli Yishai, the Minister of the Interior, Binyamin Netanyahu and the other nincompoops responded this week to the accusations of gross negligence which resulted in the unprecedented giant firestorm that ravaged large parts of Mount Carmel and caused the deaths of 42 people.

THE EPITOME of chutzpah was reached by Eli Yishai (Shas). In bygone days, a Japanese minister would have committed harakiri on the very first day of the conflagration. But Yishai addressed the public on the last day and claimed that he was the victim of a lynching because he is “Orthodox and Sephardi”.

But even if he had been a blue-eyed secular Ashkenazi, he should have been thrown down the government stairs. And not only because of his “ministerial responsibility”, as the State Comptroller politely phrased it.

If Yishai had faced the judge mentioned above, he would have answered: “Your honor, all my predecessors also murdered their wives and children. So why do you single me out? Only because I am Orthodox and Sephardi?”

One shocking piece of evidence suffices to attach personal blame to this individual. When the fire broke out, Haifa airport, where the fire-fighting planes were stationed, did not stock a single kilo of fire-retardant material. The stock in the entire country was enough for the first 20 minutes only. Israel had to send SOS messages to all the countries throughout the world, including some smaller and poorer than us, to beg for the material.

Was that the responsibility of his predecessors in the 50s or the 90s?

Lately, Yishai has stood out as the compulsive persecutor of refugee children, in order to save the “Jewish” state. If he had invested in the fire-fighting services a fraction of the energy and enthusiasm which he invested in promoting the man-hunters of the “Oz” immigration unit, the fire would have been conquered within an hour, instead of blazing in unabated fury for three days. Not to mention his threats to break up the government coalition if the subsidies of the Orthodox were reduced.

In Yishai, some of the main traits that caused the disaster are concentrated: a blown-up ego, total devotion to the interests of his party, and complete indifference for the government tasks entrusted to him.

But, he asserted, he “warned”. All of the politicians “warned”. Every one of them keeps in the back pocket of his trousers a bunch of letters he has written in the last few years to cover his ass. But the duty of a minister is not to “warn”. His duty is to act, and if he can’t – to resign.

THE MAIN responsibility, however, does not rest with Eli Yishai, but with Binyamin Netanyahu. It is he who appointed this good-for-nothing to this job, just as he appointed Avigdor Lieberman as Foreign Minister and Limor Livnat as Minister for Culture. And all the other ministers, almost all whom are quite unsuited for their tasks

Netanyahu’s own conduct during the crisis, in which the entire country was glued to the TV screens for days, every hour of each day, bordered on farce. While the fire-fighters were busy trying to extinguish the fire, he was equally busy trying to extinguish the growing criticism of himself. He hurried from place to place, surrounded not only by a ring of bodyguards but by an even larger ring of photographers. He immortalized himself in every possible pose, each one expertly staged, following the example of the President of Chile during the rescue of the miners. He talked and talked, and from every word arose a strong smell of phoniness.

Nothing was spontaneous, nothing came from the heart. Everything a pose, everything unserious. One moment he entrusted Interior Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch with the responsibility for the entire operation, the next moment he forgot all about him, as if he had never existed. The height of comedy was attained when he appointed the mayor of Netanya, appropriately named Miriam Feirberg (“Mountain of Fire”) as special commissioner for compensation. It was a moment’s flash of inspiration, without consulting anyone, without any staff work (there was no staff, anyhow). Even his closest advisers were surprised. Two days later he accepted her resignation.

Netanyahu also invented a substitute for a Commission of Inquiry: a press conference.

But it appears that Netanyahu knows his people. The polls show that a large part of the public has been profoundly impressed by his dynamic leadership.

BUT BEYOND the failings of individual politicians who pose as leaders, a frightening picture of the entire ruling establishment has been revealed.

For a moment, the curtain of the media flatterers, PR experts and assorted ass-lickers, who create an artificial reality, has been raised. The picture that has emerged is of total chaos. The flames shed light on only one accidental part – the fire-fighting services – but there is no doubt that a similar situation exists in almost all other departments of the government, from the defense ministry to the education system.

Until now, we surmised. Now we know for sure.

What was revealed this week for all to see was a shocking landscape of incompetence and inability, irresponsibility and ass-covering, lack of planning and lack of foresight, lack of “staff work” and lack of coordination between the various government offices. Many years of party corruption have led to a situation where at every crucial point the wrong person occupies the wrong position. The crime of “political appointments” has crippled the civil service.

The lack of an efficient fire-fighting service, as described this week by the State Comptroller, is only a symptom of the disease. It was not discovered this week, and not this year. Already 42 years ago, on June 10, 1968, I warned the Knesset about this situation and demanded the setting up of a national fire-fighting force, like the national police force, with a single commander and a standing general staff. The establishment ignored the proposal. So did the media. Nothing was burning – until Mount Carmel turned into a flaming inferno.

We know already that the same situation prevails in the education system, which is producing a generation of ignoramuses, as was revealed this week by PISA, an authoritative international study. The pupils of the “Jewish State”, the sons and daughters of the People of the Book which always prided itself on its superior intellectual level, are now well below the average of the developed countries.

We do not know what is really happening in the army, whose officers are protected by a defensive ring of army spokesmen and army liars, censors and fawning journalists called “military correspondents”. Lebanon War II revealed a picture of a military not much better than the fire-fighting service this week. It is known that the present Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, “has rehabilitated the army”. Everybody knows. How do they know? Anyone from the outside checked?

In order to turn Israel into a modern state, we need a thorough change in the entire establishment. Instead of busying ourselves with empty slogans, like “a Jewish and democratic state”, we should see to it that Israel becomes, first of all, a state capable of safeguarding the security and well-being of its citizens – all of them.

THAT BRINGS us straight to the overturned hubble-bubble (Nargileh in Palestinian Arabic).

From the first moment on, I was worried that the fire would ignite a huge conflagration of racist flames. After all, the fire did break out near an Arab locality (Yes, the Druze are Arabs, too). I asked myself: how long will it take until the racists are falling over themselves fighting to exploit this opportunity?

At first I was pleasantly surprised. In many ways, the disaster brought out the most positive sides of Israeli society, which are hidden in normal times. In this area, too, an unusual self-restraint prevailed this time. Common sense said that even the wildest terrorist would not start a fire next to his own home.

But the police – who are deeply stained by anti-Arab discrimination – could not restrain themselves for two whole days. Thus, at the height of the disaster, when the public was glued to the TV screen and emotions were running as high as the flames in the forest, the police released a sensational piece of news: they had caught two Arab boys, aged 14 and 16, who were guilty of starting the whole thing.

Even if this news had any foundation, it could have quietly waited for two or three days, until the flames were put out. But the police were all aflame.

They announced at the top of their voices that the two brothers were having a picnic and their nargileh had overturned. That is a doubtful story to start with. But even if the boys had inadvertently caused the fire by their negligence, was there a need to treat them like hardened criminals, drag them brutally from their home in the middle of their family lunch, interrogate them harshly and try to get them to incriminate each other? In the end they were released and the police grabbed another boy of 16. All this was very different from the behavior of the police some time ago, when a group of Yeshiva students inadvertently started a large fire on the Golan Heights.

THE EVENT did actually have a racist face, but from a quite different perspective. Racism played a major role in it.

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. Look at the episode of the prophet Eliah and the prophets of Baal on the Carmel (1 Kings 18:38): “then the fire of the Lord fell…” But perhaps Eli Yishai and his folks don’t read the Bible as frequently as this atheist.

The neglect of the Druze localities had a dramatic effect on our ability to extinguish a fire on the Carmel. The 42 victims paid with their lives for this racism.

THE FIRE was a kind of dress rehearsal. In Israel, people don’t say “If a war breaks out” but rather “When the next war breaks out”. It is quite certain that if another war breaks out, it will dwarf the Carmel fire. Thousands of missiles will fall on all parts of Israel, causing many fires simultaneously.

No one is ready for that. The same government that is sabotaging all peace efforts and is leading us towards war – is not ready for war on any level.

Even without this danger, it is clear that the political establishment is in need of a general overhaul, nothing less. That is impossible with types like Eli Yishai and his master, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who proclaimed this week that the courageous female police officer, Ahuva Tomer, and the 41 cadets who were killed by the fire died because they broke the sabbath. Neither with types like Binyamin Netanyahu and his cabinet, nor with the so-called “opposition”.

What is needed now is nothing less than an awakening of the “silent majority”. They must understand that by their indifference, they are no less guilty than the politicians who were, after all, elected by them. Nothing will move unless the passive public becomes active. Mass protests, big demonstrations, joint action by intellectuals and others. Only thus can civil society assert itself and bring about the total overhaul that has become a burning necessity.

Uri Avnery
Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery (Hebrew: אורי אבנרי‎, also transliterated Uri Avneri, born 10 September 1923) is an Israeli writer and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. A member of the Irgun as a teenager, Avnery sat in the Knesset from 1965–74 and 1979-81.[1] He was also the owner of HaOlam HaZeh, an Israeli news magazine, from 1950 until it closed in 1993.

THE JUDGE: “You are accused of murdering your wife and two children. How do you plead: Guilty or not guilty?”

The accused: “Your honor, I do not deal with the past. I think about the future!”

No, not a scene from a comedy. Something very similar really happened. That is how Eli Yishai, the Minister of the Interior, Binyamin Netanyahu and the other nincompoops responded this week to the accusations of gross negligence which resulted in the unprecedented giant firestorm that ravaged large parts of Mount Carmel and caused the deaths of 42 people.

THE EPITOME of chutzpah was reached by Eli Yishai (Shas). In bygone days, a Japanese minister would have committed harakiri on the very first day of the conflagration. But Yishai addressed the public on the last day and claimed that he was the victim of a lynching because he is “Orthodox and Sephardi”.

But even if he had been a blue-eyed secular Ashkenazi, he should have been thrown down the government stairs. And not only because of his “ministerial responsibility”, as the State Comptroller politely phrased it.

If Yishai had faced the judge mentioned above, he would have answered: “Your honor, all my predecessors also murdered their wives and children. So why do you single me out? Only because I am Orthodox and Sephardi?”

One shocking piece of evidence suffices to attach personal blame to this individual. When the fire broke out, Haifa airport, where the fire-fighting planes were stationed, did not stock a single kilo of fire-retardant material. The stock in the entire country was enough for the first 20 minutes only. Israel had to send SOS messages to all the countries throughout the world, including some smaller and poorer than us, to beg for the material.

Was that the responsibility of his predecessors in the 50s or the 90s?

Lately, Yishai has stood out as the compulsive persecutor of refugee children, in order to save the “Jewish” state. If he had invested in the fire-fighting services a fraction of the energy and enthusiasm which he invested in promoting the man-hunters of the “Oz” immigration unit, the fire would have been conquered within an hour, instead of blazing in unabated fury for three days. Not to mention his threats to break up the government coalition if the subsidies of the Orthodox were reduced.

In Yishai, some of the main traits that caused the disaster are concentrated: a blown-up ego, total devotion to the interests of his party, and complete indifference for the government tasks entrusted to him.

But, he asserted, he “warned”. All of the politicians “warned”. Every one of them keeps in the back pocket of his trousers a bunch of letters he has written in the last few years to cover his ass. But the duty of a minister is not to “warn”. His duty is to act, and if he can’t – to resign.

THE MAIN responsibility, however, does not rest with Eli Yishai, but with Binyamin Netanyahu. It is he who appointed this good-for-nothing to this job, just as he appointed Avigdor Lieberman as Foreign Minister and Limor Livnat as Minister for Culture. And all the other ministers, almost all whom are quite unsuited for their tasks

Netanyahu’s own conduct during the crisis, in which the entire country was glued to the TV screens for days, every hour of each day, bordered on farce. While the fire-fighters were busy trying to extinguish the fire, he was equally busy trying to extinguish the growing criticism of himself. He hurried from place to place, surrounded not only by a ring of bodyguards but by an even larger ring of photographers. He immortalized himself in every possible pose, each one expertly staged, following the example of the President of Chile during the rescue of the miners. He talked and talked, and from every word arose a strong smell of phoniness.

Nothing was spontaneous, nothing came from the heart. Everything a pose, everything unserious. One moment he entrusted Interior Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch with the responsibility for the entire operation, the next moment he forgot all about him, as if he had never existed. The height of comedy was attained when he appointed the mayor of Netanya, appropriately named Miriam Feirberg (“Mountain of Fire”) as special commissioner for compensation. It was a moment’s flash of inspiration, without consulting anyone, without any staff work (there was no staff, anyhow). Even his closest advisers were surprised. Two days later he accepted her resignation.

Netanyahu also invented a substitute for a Commission of Inquiry: a press conference.

But it appears that Netanyahu knows his people. The polls show that a large part of the public has been profoundly impressed by his dynamic leadership.

BUT BEYOND the failings of individual politicians who pose as leaders, a frightening picture of the entire ruling establishment has been revealed.

For a moment, the curtain of the media flatterers, PR experts and assorted ass-lickers, who create an artificial reality, has been raised. The picture that has emerged is of total chaos. The flames shed light on only one accidental part – the fire-fighting services – but there is no doubt that a similar situation exists in almost all other departments of the government, from the defense ministry to the education system.

Until now, we surmised. Now we know for sure.

What was revealed this week for all to see was a shocking landscape of incompetence and inability, irresponsibility and ass-covering, lack of planning and lack of foresight, lack of “staff work” and lack of coordination between the various government offices. Many years of party corruption have led to a situation where at every crucial point the wrong person occupies the wrong position. The crime of “political appointments” has crippled the civil service.

The lack of an efficient fire-fighting service, as described this week by the State Comptroller, is only a symptom of the disease. It was not discovered this week, and not this year. Already 42 years ago, on June 10, 1968, I warned the Knesset about this situation and demanded the setting up of a national fire-fighting force, like the national police force, with a single commander and a standing general staff. The establishment ignored the proposal. So did the media. Nothing was burning – until Mount Carmel turned into a flaming inferno.

We know already that the same situation prevails in the education system, which is producing a generation of ignoramuses, as was revealed this week by PISA, an authoritative international study. The pupils of the “Jewish State”, the sons and daughters of the People of the Book which always prided itself on its superior intellectual level, are now well below the average of the developed countries.

We do not know what is really happening in the army, whose officers are protected by a defensive ring of army spokesmen and army liars, censors and fawning journalists called “military correspondents”. Lebanon War II revealed a picture of a military not much better than the fire-fighting service this week. It is known that the present Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, “has rehabilitated the army”. Everybody knows. How do they know? Anyone from the outside checked?

In order to turn Israel into a modern state, we need a thorough change in the entire establishment. Instead of busying ourselves with empty slogans, like “a Jewish and democratic state”, we should see to it that Israel becomes, first of all, a state capable of safeguarding the security and well-being of its citizens – all of them.

THAT BRINGS us straight to the overturned hubble-bubble (Nargileh in Palestinian Arabic).

From the first moment on, I was worried that the fire would ignite a huge conflagration of racist flames. After all, the fire did break out near an Arab locality (Yes, the Druze are Arabs, too). I asked myself: how long will it take until the racists are falling over themselves fighting to exploit this opportunity?

At first I was pleasantly surprised. In many ways, the disaster brought out the most positive sides of Israeli society, which are hidden in normal times. In this area, too, an unusual self-restraint prevailed this time. Common sense said that even the wildest terrorist would not start a fire next to his own home.

But the police – who are deeply stained by anti-Arab discrimination – could not restrain themselves for two whole days. Thus, at the height of the disaster, when the public was glued to the TV screen and emotions were running as high as the flames in the forest, the police released a sensational piece of news: they had caught two Arab boys, aged 14 and 16, who were guilty of starting the whole thing.

Even if this news had any foundation, it could have quietly waited for two or three days, until the flames were put out. But the police were all aflame.

They announced at the top of their voices that the two brothers were having a picnic and their nargileh had overturned. That is a doubtful story to start with. But even if the boys had inadvertently caused the fire by their negligence, was there a need to treat them like hardened criminals, drag them brutally from their home in the middle of their family lunch, interrogate them harshly and try to get them to incriminate each other? In the end they were released and the police grabbed another boy of 16. All this was very different from the behavior of the police some time ago, when a group of Yeshiva students inadvertently started a large fire on the Golan Heights.

THE EVENT did actually have a racist face, but from a quite different perspective. Racism played a major role in it.

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. Look at the episode of the prophet Eliah and the prophets of Baal on the Carmel (1 Kings 18:38): “then the fire of the Lord fell…” But perhaps Eli Yishai and his folks don’t read the Bible as frequently as this atheist.

The neglect of the Druze localities had a dramatic effect on our ability to extinguish a fire on the Carmel. The 42 victims paid with their lives for this racism.

THE FIRE was a kind of dress rehearsal. In Israel, people don’t say “If a war breaks out” but rather “When the next war breaks out”. It is quite certain that if another war breaks out, it will dwarf the Carmel fire. Thousands of missiles will fall on all parts of Israel, causing many fires simultaneously.

No one is ready for that. The same government that is sabotaging all peace efforts and is leading us towards war – is not ready for war on any level.

Even without this danger, it is clear that the political establishment is in need of a general overhaul, nothing less. That is impossible with types like Eli Yishai and his master, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who proclaimed this week that the courageous female police officer, Ahuva Tomer, and the 41 cadets who were killed by the fire died because they broke the sabbath. Neither with types like Binyamin Netanyahu and his cabinet, nor with the so-called “opposition”.

What is needed now is nothing less than an awakening of the “silent majority”. They must understand that by their indifference, they are no less guilty than the politicians who were, after all, elected by them. Nothing will move unless the passive public becomes active. Mass protests, big demonstrations, joint action by intellectuals and others. Only thus can civil society assert itself and bring about the total overhaul that has become a burning necessity.

Uri Avnery
Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery (Hebrew: אורי אבנרי‎, also transliterated Uri Avneri, born 10 September 1923) is an Israeli writer and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. A member of the Irgun as a teenager, Avnery sat in the Knesset from 1965–74 and 1979-81.[1] He was also the owner of HaOlam HaZeh, an Israeli news magazine, from 1950 until it closed in 1993.

Murdoch drums up “war” where propaganda collides with truth

Stuart Littlewood

Stuart Littlewood, 3 Nov 2010

In his recent pep-talk to the Anti-Defamation League, media magnate Rupert Murdoch complains about “an ongoing war against the Jews”

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/-the-aim-is-to-make-israel-a-pariah–15550.

He seems desperate to divert attention from the mounting resentment around the world towards Israel. But his threadbare argument collapses straightaway because no distinction is made between criminal Israelis and Jews generally. The one remains carefully hidden behind the other.

And the anti-Semitism label tends to get pinned on anyone and everyone in European society, “from its most élite politicians to its largely Muslim ghettoes”, who speaks against or as much as frowns at the racist regime.

The after-dinner audience he was addressing no doubt lapped it up, but unfortunately for Mr Murdoch people are better informed nowadays. I doubt if the wider audience buys it.

What they find unacceptable is Israel’s lawlessness and unrestrained killing. The much-hyped religious dimension is only relevant insofar as the perpetrators hide behind religion’s skirts and misinterpret religious texts to whitewash their crimes.

What also undermines Mr Murdoch’s case is the fact that not all Jews support the state of Israel or approve the dispossession and removal of its indigenous (Arab) population. An increasing number, to their credit, actively campaign against it.

And not all of Israel’s supporters are Jewish. They include battalions of Christian Zionists.

It is not surprising that the “Jewish state” has come under strong criticism. Any state, with or without tribal or religious underpinnings, would be roundly condemned if it misbehaved in the same way.

As for the speech, Mr Murdoch kicks off by telling the ADL:

“You have championed equal treatment for all races and creeds.”

If only that were true. As their website and mission statement show, the ADL are preoccupied with supporting Israel. They are not interested in combating Israeli hate groups or defending the security of (let’s say) the Palestinians.

He continues:

“My own perspective is simple: We live in a world where there is an ongoing war against the Jews… Now the war has entered a new phase. This is the soft war that seeks to isolate Israel by de-legitimizing it…  In this war, the aim is to make Israel a pariah.”

Israel has already made itself a pariah by its hateful attitude, disregard for international law and defiance of UN resolutions. A question mark hangs over its own legitimacy while it attempts to isolate and de-legitimize the democratically elected government of neighbouring Palestine, whose remaining lands it covets and illegally occupies or blockades.

“Often this new anti-Semitism dresses itself up as legitimate disagreement with Israel.”

Disagreeing with Israel is anti-Semitic? We laughed at the Germans for having no sense of humour. Must we now laugh at the Israelis?

Israel’s unwillingness to accept criticism is part of its undoing. Rejecting out of hand the Goldstone Report in relation to war crimes against the Gazans only magnifies the regime’s arrogance. Are deniers of Goldstone any better than deniers of the Holocaust?

“For me, this ongoing war is a fairly obvious fact of life. Every day, the citizens of the Jewish homeland defend themselves against armies of terrorists whose maps spell out the goal they have in mind: a Middle East without Israel.”

Armies of terrorists? Every day? Really?

The principle of homeland defence, of course, applies equally to Arabs. The high-tech terror they face is real and bristles with state-of-the-art weaponry. It is a hundred times worse than any terror faced by Israeli citizens. Check the death and destruction statistics.

In case Mr Murdoch hadn’t noticed, Israel itself is widely regarded as a terror state frequently resorting, as it does, to assassinations and extra-judicial executions, abductions and torture, massacres and starvation sieges, air-strikes, armed incursions, the use of prohibited weapons on civilians and massive violations of human rights? It must be galling for the regime’s well-wishers to see how perfectly Israel fits the terrorist definition used by the US to blacklist and squelch countries that get in its way.

Talking of maps, I hear the Israelis have already deleted Palestine (and Palestinian place-names) from theirs. And it’s well known that they demolished and obliterated hundreds of Palestinian villages after putting the inhabitants to flight.

“Israel becomes increasingly ostracized, while Iran – a nation that has made no secret of wishing Israel’s destruction – pursues nuclear weapons loudly, proudly, and without apparent fear of rebuke.”

No fear of rebuke for Israel either. It is the only state in the region not to have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Given its 200 (or is it 400?) nuclear warheads and its freaky leadership, Israel poses a serious threat to its neighbours and far beyond. Moreover, it hasn’t signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and hasn’t ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty or the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Can Mr Murdoch, by any chance, show proof of Iran’s nuclear weapons programme? And since Israel has spoken of nuking Iran, what is the point of claiming Iran wishes Israel’s destruction?

“Some believe that if America wants to gain credibility in the Muslim world and advance the cause of peace, Washington needs to put some distance between itself and Israel.”

Now you’re making sense, Mr Murdoch…

“My view is the opposite. Far from making peace more possible, we are making hostilities

more certain.”

Now you’re not. Hostilities have been going on for years.

The latest panic in Western capitals over the “undetectable” printer cartridge bombs is a powerful warning that countries aligning themselves with the US-Israel axis are asking for trouble. Ordinary westerners are tired of being put in harm’s way by America’s coziness with Israel and by Britain’s sniffing around both of them like a bitch in heat.

Disengagement is what most people around here have long wanted.

“Far from making things better for the Palestinian people, sour relations between the United States and Israel guarantees that ordinary Palestinians will continue to suffer.”

Does this mean Israel would turn the screws on the helpless just for spite?

“The peace we all want will come when Israel feels secure.”

Peace will only come when EVERYONE feels secure. It is not a one-way street.

As Mr Murdoch surely knows, Hamas have said they will accept Israel within its internationally-recognised 1967 borders, which is the same position adopted by the United Nations. This, the most obvious avenue to peace, is studiously ignored by Israel.

“Right now we have war. There are many people waging this war. Some blow up cafes. Some fire rockets into civilian areas… Some are fighting the soft war, through international boycotts and resolutions condemning Israel.”

And some wage war on women and children and even target unarmed fishermen.

Some also commit acts of piracy and murder on the high seas against volunteers bringing humanitarian aid.

That’s war. And it’s dirty war, waged by Israel. But boycotting Israeli goods and tourism is not war. It’s exercising one’s freedom of choice. It’s registering one’s disgust. Israel’s tourism minister was this week doing the same thing, urging that “Turkey must be totally boycotted as a tourism destination”.

Face the truth, ask forgiveness

If Mr Murdoch, with all his persuasive powers, cannot put up a convincing defence of Israel, no-body can. He shows here that anyone attempting it is on a hiding to nothing.

The root of the problem is the fundamental evil of the Zionist Project and the fanatics in the US, Britain and elsewhere who backed it and still fan the flames.

I commend to Mr Murdoch the Jerusalem Declaration of 2006 by the Local Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, who daily have to operate amidst the disruption and devastation inflicted by Israel on Palestinian life. They reject Christian Zionist doctrines as “a false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation”, and they reject the alliance of Christian Zionist leaders with the governments of Israel and the United States that impose pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine.

Christian Zionism supports these policies and “advances racial exclusivity and perpetual war”. The Declaration calls on everyone to “liberate themselves from ideologies of militarism and occupation”.

Perhaps Mr Murdoch is not yet ready for that kind of liberation. For the timebeing he talks up a “war against the Jews” when it is merely the flashpoint where propaganda lies finally collide with the sickening truth about Israel. It’s a slow motion train-crash that’s been waiting to happen.

So I haven’t given up on Mr Murdoch just yet. However you regard him he’s a remarkable man. Who knows – in the end he may decide there is no honour in Israel’s rogue schemes and it would be more sensible for the regime to stop the lies, face the truth, atone for its crimes, hand back what has been stolen, conform to international law, charter rules and normal codes of conduct, and respect neighbours’ rights.

That’s the way forward.

And it should not forget to ask forgiveness from God, from the US taxpayer and from those in the wider Jewish community who have winced with shame. Seeking a pardon from the Holy Land’s Arab communities – Muslim and Christian – for treating them so abominably for 60-odd years would be a hard road to take but is the only way to achieve reconciliation and ultimately find contentment.

Stuart Littlewood

Stuart Littlewood

Stuart Littlewood is an industrial marketing specialist turned writer-photographer. In 2005 he was invited to write and shoot pictures for a book about the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. ‘Radio Free Palestine’ was published in 2007. For details please see www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk.

My oath to Israel’s “Jewish democracy”

Supreme Court of Israel, Jerusalem. Taken from the Crown plaza hotel. (2006, Wikimedia Commons)

Jonathan Cook in Nazareth, 15 Oct 2010

In all likelihood, I will be one of the very first non-Jews expected to swear loyalty to Israel as an ideology rather than as a state.

Until now, naturalising residents, like the country’s soldiers, pledged an oath to Israel and its laws. That is the situation in most countries. But soon, if the Israeli parliament passes a bill being advanced by the government, aspiring citizens will instead be required to uphold the Zionist majority’s presumption that Israel is a “Jewish and democratic state”.

My application for citizenship is due to be considered in the next few months, seven years after my marriage to a Palestinian citizen of Israel. The country’s 1.3 million Palestinians — usually referred to by officials as “Israeli Arabs” — are a fifth of the population. I, like a few others in my position, am likely to make such a pledge through gritted teeth and with my fingers crossed behind my back. Whatever I declare publicly to interior ministry officials will be a lie. Here are the reasons why.

One is that this law is unapologetically racist. It applies only to applicants for citizenship who are non-Jews. That is not because, as most observers assume, all Jews in Israel would willingly make the pledge but because one significant group would refuse, thereby nullifying their right to become Israelis. That group is the ultra-Orthodox, religious fundamentalists distinctive for their black dress, who are the fastest growing group among Israel’s Jewish population. They despise Israel’s secular state institutions and would make a loyalty oath only to a state guided by divine law.

So Israel is demanding from non-Jews what it does not require of Jews.

Another reason is that I do not believe a Jewish state can be democratic, any more than I believe a democratic state can be Jewish. I think the two principles are as incompatible as a “Christian and democratic state” or a “white and democratic state”. I am not alone in this assessment. Eminent academics at Israel’s universities think the same. They have concluded that the self-declared Jewish state qualifies not as a liberal democracy but as a much rarer politlcal entity: an ethnocracy.

One of the leading exponents of this view, Professor Oren Yiftachel of Ben Gurion University in the Negev, points out that in ethnocracies, the democratic aspects of the regime are only skin deep. Its primary goal is to maintain one ethnic group’s dominance over another. Israel, it should be noted, has many laws but none guarantees equality. The discrimination, Prof Yiftachel notes, is legislated into the structure of citizenship so that one ethnic group is entitled to privileges at the expense of the other group in all basic aspects of life: access to land and water, the economy, education, political control, and so on.

Even the ethnic group’s majority status is maintained through sophisticated gerrymandering: Israel gives citizenship to Jewish settlers living outside its recognised borders, while banning the Palestinians it expelled in 1948 from ever enjoying immigration rights that are shared by Jews worldwide.

The third reason is that the new oath itself strengthens an elaborate structure of institutionalised discrimination based on Israel’s citizenship laws.

Few outsiders understand that Israel provides citizenship under two different laws, depending on whether you are a Jew or a non-Jew. All Jews and Jewish immigrants, as well as their spouses, are entitled to automatic citizenship under the Law of Return. Meanwhile, the citizenship of Israel’s Palestinians — as well as that of naturalising spouses like myself — is governed by the Citizenship Law. It is this bifurcated citizenship that made possible a previous outrage: Israel’s ban on the right of its Palestinian citizens to win citizenship, or often even residency rights, for a Palestinian spouse through naturalisation.

It is again the Citizenship Law for Palestinians, not the Law of Return for Jews, that Israel is preparing to revise to force the spouses of Palestinian citizens, myself included, to pledge an oath to the very state that confers on them and their Palestinian partners second-class citizenship.

The fourth reason is that this oath is a classic example of “slippery slope” legislation. Despite the exultations of Avigdor Lieberman, the far-right minister who campaigned under the election slogan “No loyalty, no citizenship”, this law in its current formulation will probably apply to only a few hundred applicants each year.

Currently exempt are all existing citizens, whether Jews or Palestinians; non-Jewish spouses of Jews naturalising under the Law of Return; and Palestinian partners blocked entirely from the naturalisation process. Only the tiny number of non-Jewish spouses of Israel’s Palestinian citizens will have to take the pledge. But few believe that the oath will remain so marginal for ever. A principle of tying citizenship rights to a declaration of loyalty is being established in Israel for the first time.

The next targets for this kind of legislation are the non-Zionist political parties of Israel’s Palestinian minority. The Jewish parties are already formulating bills to require parliament members to swear an oath to a “Jewish and democratic state”. That is designed to neuter Israel’s Palestinian parties, all of which share as their main platform a demand that Israel reform from a Jewish state into a “state of all its citizens”, or a liberal democracy.

Next in Lieberman’s sights, of course, are all of Israel’s 1.3 million Palestinians, who will be expected to become Zionists or face a loss of citizenship and possibly expulsion. I may be one of the first non-Jews to make this pledge, but many are sure to be forced to follow me.

Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

A version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.