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December 10, 2011 The Fearmongers ON THE anniversary of David Ben-Gurion’s death, the usual
memorial meeting was held at his graveside in Sdeh Boker,
the Negev desert village where he lived in his retirement.
There is no cemetery, just his grave and that of his wife
Paula. The newspapers published a picture of Binyamin Netanyahu
making a speech under a big photo of the late leader gazing
thoughtfully into the distance. One little detail in the picture caught my eye: Netanyahu
was wearing a kippah. Why? Ben-Gurion was a convinced atheist. He refused to wear
a kippah even at funerals. (Though a complete atheist
myself, I do sometimes wear a kippah at funerals, out of
consideration for the feelings of others.) The place was not a synagogue, nor even a cemetery. So why
for God’s sake (sorry) did the man put this black kippah on
his head? For me that is a sign of what I call the re-Judaization of
Israel. ZIONISM WAS, among other things, a revolt against the
Orthodox Jewish religion, that was associated with the
Diaspora which Zionists contemptuously call Galut
(“exile”). All the founding fathers of Zionism – Theodor
Herzl, Max Nordau, Chaim Weizmann, Ze’ev Jabotinsky and the
rest – were convinced atheists. So why did Ben-Gurion give the religious parties two
autonomous education systems, financed by the state? Why did he release pupils of religious seminars
(“yeshivot”) from military service? People of my age can remember the situation. Ben-Gurion,
like all of us, believed that the Jewish religion was about
to die out. Some old people, who spoke Yiddish, were still
praying in the synagogues, but with time they would
disappear. We, the young new Israelis, were secular,
modern, free from these old superstitions. Not in his darkest nightmares (or daymares) could Ben-
Gurion have imagined a time when religious pupils, some of
whom are not taught in their schools even the most basic
modern skills, would amount to nearly half the Israeli
Jewish school population. Or that the number of religious
shirkers now deprives the army of several divisions. Step by step, the religious community is taking over the
state. The religious settlers, the religious anti-Arab
pogromists, their allies and ultra-right collaborators are
gaining new footholds by the day. Just now the army has
announced that 40% of candidates for junior officers’
courses are wearing kippahs. In 1948, when our army came
into being, I did not see a single kippah-wearing soldier,
not to mention an officer.) But the danger of re-Judaization goes far beyond the
political sphere. LET ME take a metaphor from nature. The premier necessity in nature is survival. There are many
different strategies for survival, and nature embraces all
of them – as long as they are successful. The gazelle survives by running away. When in danger, it
escapes. It is very successful in this. Fact: the gazelles
have survived. The lion survives by fighting. When in danger, it attacks.
It relies on its teeth and claws. It is very successful in
this. Fact: the lions have survived. Jews have survived by fleeing. They were immensely
successful in this. After thousands of years of the most
atrocious persecutions, pogroms and holocausts, they are
still there. Their dispersal over the world furthers this
technique. At the slightest danger, they can escape from
one country to another. Jews have not built Taj Mahals or majestic cathedrals.
Their treasures are holy texts, literature and music –
things you can store in your head and take with you when
you are on the run. Like some animals in nature, Jews sense the slightest
danger from far away. It’s like a red light in their head –
it goes on when nobody else yet perceives the menace.
(Indeed, I would not be alive today if my father had not
perceived the danger of the Nazi regime from the first day
and organized our escape, while almost everybody around was
scoffing at him.) Zionism wanted to turn the gazelle into a lion. It said: no
more running away. When in danger, we stand and we fight. No more the cowardly Jew of the anti-Semitic caricature.
From now on, the heroic Israeli, upright and proud. And, as seems to be human nature, we overcompensate for the
past. We have become aggressive, militaristic, even brutal.
The oppressed have become oppressors. Jews used to say: “If
force does not work, try using your brain.” Israelis say
“if force does not work, try using more force.” (I confess
that I coined this phrase many years ago as a joke. Alas, a
joke no more.) HOWEVER, LATELY it seems to me that the old Jew has not
disappeared. He has only been hiding. Hiding inside the
Israeli. He and his little red light are right there. How did I find out? Just by listening to Binyamin
Netanyahu, with or without his kippah. Netanyahu has invented (or adopted) a peculiar style of
ruling: governing by playing on people’s fears. Since coming back to power, he has been treating us to an
endless series of fears. Fearmongering is the order of the
day – every day. At the beginning there was Barack Hussein Obama, who
threatened to punish us for not giving up our sacred right
to build settlements all over the country God himself
promised us. Unfortunately, Obama capitulated right away,
so another menace was needed. No problem. Mahmoud Abbas, yesterday’s “plucked chicken”,
turned into a roaring tiger and applied to the United
Nations to accept the State of Palestine as a member. As
everybody knows, that was a mortal threat to Israel. It was
only averted by Obama’s (yes, the same Hussein Obama)
promise to use his veto on behalf of Israel. But the
Palestinians have nevertheless been accepted by UNESCO, so
the terrible danger has not been banished. Than came the Arab Spring. As Netanyahu realized from the
first moment, even before our great and glorious friend
Mubarak was sent to the glass cage, that presented a mortal
threat. Now it has been eerily confirmed: Islam, deadly
Islam, is taking over Egypt. Islam, as Netanyahu tells us at every opportunity, is a
murderous anti-Jewish creed. There are no moderate
Islamists – they are all out to throw us into the sea. Even
in our former ally Turkey. And they are winning not only in Egypt. These terrible
Islamists have already won in Morocco and Tunisia, and are
going to win in Libya, Jordan, Yemen, Syria. Our “villa”
will be surrounded not just by a jungle, but by a jungle
full of deadly Islamist predators. How absolutely
terrifying. Then another frightful danger was exposed just in time:
human rights associations are threatening the very
existence of Israel. They are part of a world-wide anti-
Semitic conspiracy. Fact: they are financed by foreign
governments. A new law had to enacted against them in a
hurry. Fortunately, such laws were recently enacted in some
former Soviet countries. So our Moldavian foreign Minister
(or, rather, our foreign minister from Moldavia), Avigdor
Lieberman, obtained the text from his great friend,
Alexander Lukashenko, that model democrat from Belarus, and
the other renowned democrat, Vladimir Putin. All these mortal dangers were enough to wipe out the sudden
surge of social protest, but they were nothing compared to
that awful, overwhelming danger: the Iranian Bomb. The Iranian Nuclear Bomb means a Second Holocaust, no less.
Only the strong leadership of Binyamin Netanyahu can save
us in the nick of time. Faced with such petrifying danger, nobody asks the relevant
question: why would any Iranian leader attack a country
that has plenty of nuclear bombs of its own and the ability
to devastate all of Iran in a “second strike”? The German
government is providing us with the sixth of the submarines
we have just for this purpose. Yes, the Iranian leaders may be religious fanatics. But we
have plenty of those, too, and some are members of our
government coalition. At the moment the country is in an
uproar because the rabbis demand that religious soldiers
may leave any military ceremony where female soldiers are
allowed to sing. “A woman’s voice is her sexual part,” a
holy text asserts. And a prominent rabbi has just announced
that a religious soldier should rather face a firing squad
than listen to a woman singing. (I am not making this up.) But Iran is dominating our public discourse. All the red
lights are blinking like mad. The Jew inside us is
mortally afraid. The gazelle says: Run. The lion says:
Attack. THE BIBLE tells us: “Happy is the man that feareth alway!”
(Proverbs 28:14). But constant fear is a bad adviser when
conducting your affairs, the more so when directing the
policies of a state. But it may be good politics when you
want to keep your own people in check while chipping away
at democracy, equality and human rights. So let’s release the ghetto Jew inside us and send him on
his way. Let’s overcome our fear of fear itself. And, while
we are at it, let’s kick the fearmongers out.
(Thanks, Dan. R)
—– Original Message —–From: frank scottSent: 12/9/2011 5:06:00 PMSubject: fwd: excerpt
The Terrible Beauty of Wikileaks
December 10th, 2011
excerpt from essay on Wikileaks and the Palestine Papers which appears in The Arabs Are Alive, the first issue of Critical Muslim, edited by Ziauddin Sardar and Robin Yassin-Kassab.
[Regarding the absence of cables related to Israel in the Wikileaks trache:]
Of course, there were always simpler explanations. There were no significant cables from Tel Aviv because the embassy there serves a largely symbolic function. Israel has never had to deal with diplomats because since its birth it has had direct access to the White House. This was impressed upon the US state department early when on 10 June 1949, future US ambassador George McGhee, who was responsible for the Palestinian refugee problem, met the Israeli ambassador in London to deliver a warning from President Harry Truman and secretary of state Dean Acheson that the US would withhold $49 million in promised loan guarantees unless Israel agreed to the return of at least half the Palestinians who had been ethnically cleansed by the Zionist forces. The Israeli ambassador calmly advised McGhee that he was wasting his time because his contacts in the White House had assured him that the decision would be overturned. Shortly afterwards, McGhee received a message from David Niles, the White House liaison to the Jewish community and a leading Zionist, informing him that the president had officially dissociated himself from the plan.
This of course is the tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many of these diplomats are well informed and competent, but the US policy in relation to the region is not made by diplomats who are conscious of the US national interest but by Washington politicians who are conscious only of domestic electoral concerns.email: firstname.lastname@example.org… Frank Scott writes political commentary and satire which appears in print in The Independent Monitor and online at the blog Legalienate â€¨â€¨http://legalienate.blogspot.com
December 9, 2011
The Quartet Dance
The game of political hot potato continues as Palestinians continue to avoid direct talks with Israel and Israel declines to submit a proposal on borders and security to the Middle East Quartet.
Ynet News reported last week that Saeb Erekat submitted the Palestinian proposal on borders November 14 in a meeting with the Quartet representatives, well ahead of the January 26 deadline proposed by the Quartet in October. The map was marked with the 1967 borders, together with Palestinians proposals for a 1.9 percent land swap. Palestinians made a similar proposal to Israel in 2008.
However, Prime Minister Netanyahu “balked” and has declined to submit a counterproposal, insisting that any proposal should be presented in direct negotiations with Palestinians, not through the Quartet. The Netanyahu government has not endorsed the 2008 proposals of its predecessor, nor has it as yet made border proposals of its own.
This week, the Israeli government explained their unwillingness to submit a proposal by criticizing the Palestinians and the Quartet’s process. Yoaz Hendel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s communications director said that the Palestinian Authority is avoiding direct negotiations by using the Quartet as a proxy. “The Palestinians are playing the blame game,” Hendel said. “They are presenting proposals to the Quartet, instead of to Israel, with their objective being to avoid direct talks and instead do everything through the Quartet.”Palestinians are reluctant to enter into direct negotiations due to the inherent power imbalance, unless Israel agrees to the conditions set forth by the Obama administration in May.
On October 26, the Quartet called for the sides to present comprehensive proposals within 90 days. Palestinians interpreted that to mean that the sides were to present the proposals to the Quartet, but Israel interpreted it to mean that the sides would present the proposals to each other 90 days after the direct negotiations started.
The Quartet representatives will return to the region next week in hopes of finding the right formula to start direct talks.
In a speech December 2, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said, “it is profoundly in Israel’s long-term security interest to lean forward on efforts to achieve peace with Palestinians…”. “The dream of a secure, prosperous, Jewish and democratic state can only be achieved with two states living side by side in peace and in security … Now is the time for Israel to take bold action and to move towards a negotiated two-state solution”, he said.
Panetta also suggested that Israel has a responsibility to advance U.S. security interests in the Middle East. “… every strong relationship … demands that both sides work towards common goals. And Israel too has a responsibility… to build regional support for Israel and the United States’ security objectives.”
In addition he addressed Israel’s increasing “isolation” from traditional partners in the region. He encouraged Israel to “reach out and mend fences with those who share an interest in regional stability,” specifically Turkey, Egypt and Jordan.
At the same forum, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concerns for Israeli democracy. The session was off the record, so there is no official word on what she said, but Ha’aretz cites a source who was in the room who said the Secretary of State, “explained that she is astonished by the legislative initiatives in favor of restricting left-wing NGOs, as well as by the exclusion of women from public spaces and other phenomena.”
She drew sharp criticism from some Israeli ministers. Minister Gilad Erdan said that “it would be better were elected officials to concentrate on affairs in their own countries.” Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said that the criticism is “completely exaggerated.” However, opposition leader Tzipi Livni defended Secretary Clinton’s remarks by saying she hoped the concern would, “awaken those still blind to the ugly wave washing over Israel from inside.”
The Israeli cabinet released $100 million in taxes and customs last week to the Palestinian Authority, after holding them for four weeks. The PA depends on the money to pay the salaries of about 150,000 employees. The transfer of the funds is required under the 1994 Oslo agreement, but some in the Israeli cabinet argue that unilateral actions by the PA, such as the UN bid and the reconciliation with Hamas, nullify parts of Oslo.
According to the New York Times, critics of the decision to hold the funds say, “such a policy only serves to undermine its own goals for the Palestinian Authority.” This includes functioning institutions such as the security forces.
According to a message from Mr. Netanyahu’s office sent to journalists, the decision was made, “after the Palestinian Authority stopped taking unilateral moves. The statement added, “If the Palestinians return to taking unilateral steps, we will weigh again the transfer of funds.”
According to Daoud Kuttab, writing for the Washington Post on November 24, President Abbas has been telling aides that he is planning to reject $150 million in U.S. funds set aside for Palestinian security. Members of Congress have been keen to punish the Palestinians for seeking recognition in the UN and this summer, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen placed a hold on $800 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development. This hold has affected education, health, and democratic governance projects in the territories. It was only after pressure from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak that Congress released $200 million, $50 million for ongoing projects and $150 million for the security forces.
TAKE ACTION!. Write your member of Congress today to let them know that you support all continued U.S. economic assistance to the Palestinians. Tell your representatives in Washington that U.S. financial assistance is helping provide the building blocks for peace.
After pressure from Qatar and Turkey, Hamas is reported to be planning to remove its headquarters from Syria because of the brutal crackdown on dissent. Syria has been violently supressing protests demanding reform since March. Hamas has been centered in Damascus since being driven out of Jordan in the late 1990s. Now they will move their operations to Cairo and Qatar. Leader Khaled Meshal is planning to meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan to discuss increasing Hamas’ presence in the kingdom. A Hamas official told the The Wall Street Journal (cited in Ma’an News), “Qatar and Turkey urged us to leave Syria immediately…they said, ‘Have you no shame? It’s enough. You have to get out.'”
The Syrian government and Hamas both deny these reports. According to Ma’an News, “Hamas has denied in recent weeks it is planning to move the Damascus headquarters, dismissing various reports of plans to relocate to Cairo or other, more stable Arab capitals.” Hamas receives support from Iran, but is not Shiite. The ruling Alawite minority in Syria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon, are primarily Shiite and are heavily supported by Shiite Iran.
According to Peace Now, the Israeli Minister of Defense is planning to approve a new Israeli agricultural farm called Givat Eitam, south of Bethlehem. Additionally, the Israeli Ministry of Housing reportedly has a plan to build 2,500 housing units in Givat Eitam. The plan would double the size of the settlement Efrat, which blocks Palestinian expansion in Bethlehem.
These construction plans could be a significant obstacle to the two state solution and creation of a viable Palestinian state. Under several plans for border adjustments, such as the Geneva Initiative, Efrat would be part of a Palestinian state. This development would also cut off the southern parts of the West Bank with the center by intruding on Road 60, which connects Hebron to BethlehemEarly Likud Elections in Israel
In a surprise move, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called December 5 for Likud party leadership primaries to take place early next year. This move seems designed to take advantage of the wave of his popular support after the release of Gilad Shalit and Palestinian failure to achieve statehood so far in the UN. There are also reports that he may call for Parliamentary elections as soon as June, in part to give him a fresh political mandate to deal with the U.S. administration after our elections in November.Extra Reading:
*The Washington Post featured Hagit Ofran, the director of Peace Now’s Settlements Watch project, in a story about the attacks on Israel’s democracy and civil society.
*Bethlehem’s 1,500 year-old Church of the Nativity will undergo much needed renovations for the first time in 150 years.
*UNRWA provides details on positive developments in the first half of 2011 that provided marginal relief for Gaza’s depressed economy. However, the refugee unemployment rate remains high at 33.8 per cent.
*Please join our Facebook page for links and resources throughout the week.
Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a coalition of 24 national Church denominations and organizations, including Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions. It works to encourage U.S. government policies that actively promote a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ensuring security, human rights and religious freedom for all people of the region.
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(Thanks, Sami. R)
Palestinian statehood is within reach
By FinalCall.com… News
Updated Dec 8, 2011 – 12:43:23 PMOne-on-One with author, professor and international law expert Dr. Francis A. Boyle Dr. Francis A. Boyle is a scholar in the areas of international law and human rights. He has written and lectured extensively in the United States and abroad on the relationship between international law and politics especially relating to the Palestinian struggle for statehood. Currently Professor Boyle lectures on international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. While in Rosemont, Illinois recently for a panel discussion and book signing at the American Muslims for Palestine conference, Dr. Boyle spoke with The Final Call’s Ashahed M. Muhammad. Ashahed M. Muhammad (The Final Call Newspaper:) I enjoyed the forum as well as the panel discussion that followed. What is the most important thing you think the people should come away with leaving this conference after listening to your words relating to Palestinian statehood?Dr. Francis Boyle (FB:) There are many issues that I could have talked about because it’s so complex, but the matter of fact is we need to let the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah know that we want them to go for full-fledged United Nations membership despite the enormous pressure that is being put on them by the Americans, the British, the Canadians, the so-called Quartet in the United Nations—that they have to do this. I think if all the supporters weigh in with Ramallah, with (Palestinian Authority) President (Mahmoud) Abbas with the PLO Executive Committee, hopefully they’ll do it. There are no legal obstacles to their membership. The votes are there in the UN General Assembly and President Abbas just needs to take the next step. FCN: So with the overwhelmingly supportive UNESCO vote recently with only a few abstentions and the number of nations who voted against only in the teens, you think that portends heavily in favor of official recognition. FB: Right. If this UNESCO vote was a test vote by the Palestinian leadership to see how many votes they’d get in the General Assembly and they need two-thirds to vote in the General Assembly not counting abstentions, no shows or ‘no’ votes. So if you look at the UNESCO vote they had two-thirds of those states voting either yes or no. So clearly the votes are there in the General Assembly. So it really—now—I’ve done all I can as a lawyer to set this thing up. Where we’re really now is (we need) people to say to President Abbas and the PLO Executive Committee—ignore the Americans, ignore the British, ignore their flunky Ban Ki-moon and go for that full UN membership and then we can launch and wage a legal intifada against Israel all over the world. That’s the most important message. FCN: Tell us a bit about the book ‘The Palestinian Right of Return Under International Law’ and why you wrote it? FB: I wrote it because when it was announced the peace negotiations were opening again—the new round—I knew at the heart of these negotiations would be the ‘Right of Return.’ I also knew that again, the usual culprits the British, the Americans, the UN, would put enormous pressure on the Palestinians to compromise on the ‘Right of Return.’ So I wanted to write a book that would provide counter pressure and counter information so that all Palestinians could understand the legal, political and diplomatic basis to the ‘Right of Return.’ So that’s why I wrote the book the way I did. FCN: Any final words or thoughts you’d like to add? FB: I just want to express my best personal regards to Minister Louis Farrakhan and all at the Nation of Islam. We’ll be having a convention—an organization that I work with in Chicago—I think in late April where I’ll be lecturing on African-American’s right of self-determination so, maybe Minister Farrakhan would be so kind as to come. It will be at East-West University in April. FCN: Thank you. FCN is a distributor (and not a publisher) of content supplied by third parties. Original content supplied by FCN and FinalCall.com… News is Copyright 2009 FCN Publishing, FinalCall.com…. Content supplied by third parties are the property of their respective owners.