Anti-Semitism

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Father Roy writes:   The following report was published in today’s Jerusalem Post.  Why would the US be pressuring the Arab countries not to provide the promised financial aid to the Palestinians?  One can speculate.  Perhaps Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened a unilateral attack on Iran … or Syria or Lebanon or somebody … if Israel’s “security” is put in jeopardy.  One thing is certain.  The illegal settlements-building continues. 

Israel’s elections on January 22 will reveal the kind of leadership the people of Israeli want in the future.  One wonders whether the highly-organized World Jewish Community will attempt to influence the elections.  As the crisis in the Holy Land develops, UN officials stress the urgency of the situation.  Many of us fear another resurgence of anti-Semitism at the grassroots level.  

Peace, Roy  

Father Roy

Father Roy

source: www.jpost.com…

PA official: US pressuring Arab FMs not to visit Ramallah

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

12/29/2012 16:41

Arab League Secretary-General visits Ramallah for the first time while four foreign ministers cancel visit at last minute; PLO official says US, Israel pressure Arab countries not to provide financial aid to the Palestinians.

Palestinian officials in Ramallah on Saturday accused the US of putting pressure on Arab foreign ministers not to visit Ramallah.

The accusation came as Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby arrived in Ramallah for talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. This was the first visit to the West Bank by an Arab League secretary-general.

Four Arab foreign ministers who were supposed to accompany Elaraby backtracked in the last minute.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amru was the only minister to accompany the Arab League chief on his visit to Ramallah.

PLO executive member Wasel Abu Yusef told reporters that the US Administration was behind the cancellation of the four Arab ministers’ visit to the West Bank.

“The Americans prevented the Arab foreign ministers from visiting Ramallah,” Abu Yusef charged.

Some of the ministers who called off their visit claimed that they did not want to pass through IDF checkpoints on their way to Ramallah.

But Elaraby and the Egyptian foreign minister arrived in Ramallah aboard a Jordanian helicopter, which landed in the Mukata presidential compound.

Abu Yusef and other Palestinian officials also accused the US of exerting pressure on the Arab countries not to provide the Palestinians with financial aid.

“The US and Israel are imposing an economic blockade on the Palestinian State and are preventing the Arab countries and Western donors from providing Palestinians with financial aid,” he added.

“Unfortunately, these countries have succumbed to the pressure, further intensifying the financial crisis in the Palestinian Authority.”

Abu Yusef, who is also head of the Palestinian group Arab Liberation Front, accused the US and Israel of waging war on the Palestinians following last month’s UN vote in favor of enhancing the status of a Palestinian state.

Elaraby said after the meeting with Abbas that the Arab countries have yet to fulfill their promise to give the Palestinians $100m. per month to solve its severe financial crisis.

He said that the Arab League would hold “consultations” with its members to ensure that they meet their commitment toward the Palestinians.

“We must admit that Palestine needs material and political support,” Elaraby said. “The Palestinian Authority can’t manage its affairs without financial support.”

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Sonja Karkar of Australians for Palestine writes about Michael Leunig’s article, defending his cartoon, “First they came for the Palestinians …” Leunig’s article also appears below. To see the actual cartoon itself click here.

When a celebrated Australian like Michael Leunig speaks so eloquently and sensitively about the appalling situation of the Palestinian people, it does give many people pause to consider their own attitudes, long skewed against the Palestinians by decades of demonising propaganda.  

Normally a man of few words, Leunig always finds a way of paring down the issues to their core to touch what is human in us.  Today though he gave us more:  today he explained why he cannot be silent in the face of oppression and the systematic destruction of one society by another.  He may have been speaking about his moral duty as a cartoonist, but all people of conscience would have to ask themselves why they have neglected to speak in defence of a people so long maligned and so mercilessly denied justice.  It will be the

beginning of the end for those perpetrating the injustices once people discover the human in themselves and refuse to quaver before the worn and age-old catch cries intended to savage reputations and ambitions and focus instead, as Leunig says, “on the plight of the subjugated, the ones most neglected, severely deprived and cruelly afflicted.”   

Sonja Karkar, Editor of australiansforpalestine.com…

Michael Leunig

Michael Leunig

Link to the original article in ‘The Melbourne Age’: www.theage.com……

Just a cartoonist with a moral duty to speak

by Michael Leunig

SEVERAL years ago I was invited to speak at Melbourne’s Jewish Museum on the subject of ”The cartoonist as society’s conscience”. I gladly accepted but within a week was informed by the museum that the invitation had been withdrawn because of my views on Israel. Although I had been somewhat critical of aggressive Israeli government policies I had never publicly outlined my broad views on Israel and was puzzled by the cancellation and bemused by the gross irony of being excluded from a discussion about conscience because I had acted with conscience in my work.

Upon reflection I wondered if an internal philosophical disagreement lay behind this peculiar cancellation. Whatever, a door had been closed to me.

I relate this tale as a backdrop to more recent circumstances in which it has been publicly inferred that I am anti-Semitic because of a cartoon I created expressing sad dismay at the plight and suffering of the Palestinians in the recent bombardment of Gaza.

As a cartoonist I am not interested in defending the dominant, the powerful, the well-resourced and the well-armed because such groups are usually not in need of advocacy, moral support or sympathetic understanding; they have already organised sufficient publicity for themselves and prosecute their points of view with great efficiency.

The work of the artist is to express what is repressed or even to speak the unspoken grief of society. And the cartoonist’s task is not so much to be balanced as to give balance, particularly in situations of disproportionate power relationships such as we see in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a healthy tradition dating back to the court jester and beyond: to be the dissenting protesting voice that speaks when others cannot or will not.

My recent cartoon (“First they came for the Palestinians … “) was a lament based on the famous lines attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller that neatly highlight the way apathetic or frightened silence in the face of injustice is a dereliction of moral duty. It is interesting to note that Niemoller had been an active Nazi supporter but a decade after the war became a pacifist.

Although greatly valued in contemporary Jewish culture, the poem’s message is universal and eternal; it could apply to any oppressed group, including the Palestinians who, even with their relatively feeble rockets, are so obviously oppressed.

In spite of all the highly organised rhetoric justifying Israel’s actions, the intuitive, heartfelt moral shape of the situation is becoming clearer and more obvious to the world the longer the conflict goes on. When all is said and done, it looks like the Palestinians have been massively robbed and abused, and are engaged in a desperate struggle for survival and liberation.

Israel on the other hand would appear to be conducting an imperialistic campaign of oppression supported and substantially armed by the most powerful nation on earth. My cartoonist’s duty and conscience compel me to focus on the plight of the subjugated, the ones most neglected, severely deprived and cruelly afflicted.

I am not against Israel but I am opposed to what I regard as its self-defeating, self-corrupting militarist policy, which is not only excessively homicidal and traumatising but sows the seeds of irreversible hatred and can never bring a lasting peace. One expects more from a prosperous democratic country. It’s as if this young nation Israel has not yet come to maturity; so delinquent, irresponsible and unwise are its actions.

I sense that the Jewish community in this country is itself increasingly divided on the question. I also suspect that the more aggressive Israel supporters fear this moral unease and quiet doubt in their community and are angered by any cartoons or commentary that might encourage such doubt. In spite of what the bullies say, I suspect they are not really upset by any “anti-Semitism” in my cartoons (there is none) but by the possible impact of a cartoon on the doubters. The better the cartoon, the more it must be discredited. What cheaper way to discredit than the toxic smear of anti-Semitism.

I am not sure whether it is legal to publicly call someone an anti-Semite without evidence but it certainly feels like hate talk to me, as well as a damaging thing to say about someone who does not agree with you. That’s often why it is said of course.

At my advanced age, I know I am not an anti-Semite, not even vaguely or remotely, but others would seem to know better as false accusers always do.

If only there was some sort of test I could sit for to clarify the situation, but there is no science to this obsessive and vapid denunciation.

It’s cynical, it’s bullying and it’s lazy. Stupidly, it’s also a case of the boys who cry wolf.

Over the years it has been implied that I am “a second degree anti-Semite”, “a new-world anti-Semite” and a “latent anti-Semite” as well as a simple old-fashioned common or garden anti-Semite. I now learn to my amazement that to make comparisons between Israeli policy and any Nazi behaviour is in itself an anti-Semitic act. So much for free speech. I say all nations that throw their military weight around, occupying neighbouring lands and treating the residents with callous and humiliating disregard are already sliding towards the dark possibilities in human nature.

My cartoons have also had me labelled a misogynist, a blasphemer, a homophobe, a royalist, a misanthrope and a traitor, to name but a few. I would sum it all up by saying: I am a cartoonist.

Michael Leunig is an Age cartoonist.

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This incident once again raises the thorny question of what counts as ‘anti-Semitism’. If someone referred to Syria as a ‘cancer’ in the Middle East, it might be considered unhelpful and belligerent but hardly racist!

I agree that the broadcaster’s choice of words was poor indeed, but he is entirely right about the role the country plays in polarizing groups of people against each other, and its a subject worthy of serious discussion.

I appreciate that political positions can simply be masks for racist ideologies, but the international community needs to find some way of dialoguing about the human and political situation in Israel/Palestine without becoming entangled in issues of race and religion.

Father Dave 

Irish broadcaster calls Israel a “cancer”

A popular Irish broadcaster and columnist said he is not anti-Semitic, after calling Israel “the cancer in foreign affairs” during a broadcast.

“Israel is the cancer in foreign affairs. It polarizes the Islamic community of the world against the rest of the world,” Vincent Browne said last week on his TV3 channel show, Tonight with Vincent Browne.

“Unless you deal with the problem of Israel and the Palestinians in that part of the world, there’s going to be conflict and disharmony. It’s a massive injustice — they stole the land from the Arabs,” he continued.

Browne said he would not apologize for the remarks, the Irish Independent reported, saying his criticism was justified, though he agreed his word choice was poor.

“What I resent is the suggestion that because you’re critical of Israel, you’re automatically anti-Semitic. I don’t think that’s acceptable,” he told the newspaper.

No complaints have been lodged against the broadcast, a TV3 spokesman told the Independent.

Israel’s deputy ambassador to Ireland Nurit Tinari-Modai told the Jewish Chronicle that the embassy had received calls and e-mails decrying the remarks.

“I would have never believed that the day would come when a presenter on Irish TV station would make racist, anti-Semitic remarks,” Tinari-Modai told the Chronicle.

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This is depressing in the extreme! I thought you could only get away with this sort of rubbish in Australia nowadays!

Let’s be clear about this: criticism of a government’s actions and policies is not an act of racism! Indeed, in this case it is the apparently racist policies of the Israeli government that are the target of our criticism!

Anti-Semitism is a form of racism. It’s attacking a person or a people on the basis of their race. It should not be tolerated by any society, and neither should any other form of racism.Criticism of the State of Israel, on the other hand, on account of government policies that discriminate between people on the basis of their race is surely anything but racist in itself!

It is possible, of course, that criticism of the State of Israel could be thinly-veiled racism, where bogus arguments are manufactured to incite hatred against the race of people associated with the state, but that would need to be shown. Are the criticisms of the State of Israel bogus or are they legitimate? Is the oppression of the Palestinian people an illusion or is it a reality? Are the deaths, the housing demolitions, and the countless humiliations suffered by these people who live under a system that deals differently with persons according to their race some sort of media stunt or are there genuine grievances here that need to be addressed? Surely these are legitimate and important issues to discuss!

God help us when it becomes a crime to ask these questions!

Father Dave

source: www.ws…

California passes resolution defining criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism

By Tom Carter
4 September 2012

Last month, the California State Assembly passed a resolution urging state educational institutions to more aggressively crack down on criticism of the State of Israel on campuses, which the resolution defines as “anti-Semitism.” The anti-democratic resolution is the latest step in the broader campaign to stifle and suppress dissent on California’s increasingly volatile campuses.

The California State Assembly is the lower house of the state legislature, consisting of 80 members. The resolution—H.R. 35: “Relative to anti-Semitism”—was passed by a vote of 66 to 80, including a majority of both Republicans and Democrats in the Assembly.

The resolution was drafted by Republican Linda Halderman and passed without public discussion. The vote on the resolution came when most students were between semesters and away from their campuses.

The resolution (available here) uses the classic trick employed by defenders of Israel’s Zionist regime: lumping together any criticism of the Israeli state’s policies or of the US government’s support for them with racist attacks on Jews.

On the one hand, the resolution denounces “swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti in residential halls, public areas on campus, and Hillel houses,” and denounces those who accuse “the Jewish people, or Israel, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.”

On the other hand, the bulk of the resolution is dedicated to defining criticism of the state of Israel as “anti-Semitism.” It lists the following as examples of “anti-Semitism”:

• “language or behavior [that] demonizes and delegitimizes Israel;”

• “speakers, films, and exhibits” that indicate that “Israel is guilty of heinous crimes against humanity such as ethnic cleansing and genocide;”

• describing Israel as a “racist” or “apartheid” state;

• “student-and faculty-sponsored boycott, divestment, and sanction campaigns against Israel;”

• “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination;”

• “applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation;” and

• “actions of student groups that encourage support for terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah.”

This list makes clear that the accusations of anti-Semitism are a red herring, employed to attack students’ democratic rights and stifle dissent. The resolution recalls the smear campaign against German author Günter Grass and his poem “What Must Be Said” earlier this year.

Defending the poem, the World Socialist Web Site explained: “Anti-Semitism is the term used to describe racist hatred aimed at the oppression and persecution of Jews—and in the case of the Third Reich, the extermination of Jews. Grass’s criticisms of the war policy of the Netanyahu government are not directed against Jews, nor against Jews in Israel. His overwhelming concern is the well-being of both the Jewish population in Israel and the Iranian people. This is in stark contrast to the Israeli government.

“The Israeli regime does not represent the interests of the Jewish population, but rather a tiny rich and corrupt clique that has always worked closely with American imperialism.” (See Defend Günter Grass!)

The aggressive narrowness of the resolution’s definition of acceptable political discussion, combined with its broad definition of anti-Semitism, prompted the University of California to distance itself from the resolution, though without rejecting or denouncing it. “We think it’s problematic because of First Amendment concerns,” UC spokesman Steve Montiel told the San Francisco Chronicle last week.

The resolution does clearly implicate the First Amendment, which protects not only criticism of the state of Israel, but generally protects anti-Semitic hate speech as well.

Moreover, it must also be said that the State of Israel is, as a matter of fact, guilty of crimes against humanity.

To cite only a more recent example, the 574-page UN Goldstone Report published in 2010 found that the State of Israel had deliberately targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza during the 2008-2009 “Operation Cast Lead.” The invasion of Gaza saw 1,400 Palestinians killed compared with 13 Israelis killed. More than 21,000 buildings, factories, and apartments were damaged or destroyed.

Under California H.R. 35, it appears that the Goldstone report is now to be considered “anti-Semitic.”

The resolution also contains a denunciation of “suppression and disruption of free speech that presents Israel’s point of view.” This appears to be a reference to the “Irvine 11” incident last year, in which 11 students shouted down Israeli ambassador Michael Oren during his speech at the University of California at Irvine.

The 11 students shouted, “Michael Oren, you’re a war criminal,” and “You, sir, are an accomplice to genocide.” These students were later arrested, charged, and convicted of the crimes of “conspiracy” and violating Oren’s rights. (See University of California students convicted for protesting Israeli ambassador’s speech.)

The resolution goes on to state that the “Assembly recognizes recent actions by officials of public post secondary educational institutions in California [e.g., the prosecutions of the Irvine 11] and calls upon those institutions to increase their efforts to swiftly and unequivocally condemn acts of anti-Semitism on their campuses and to utilize existing resources . . . to help guide campus discussion about, and promote, as appropriate, educational programs for combating anti-Semitism on their campuses.”

On California’s campuses, as on campuses and workplaces internationally, explosive class antagonisms are increasingly apparent. Massive tuition hikes year after year coupled with job losses and skyrocketing youth unemployment present an entire generation of young people with an increasingly impossible situation.

State authorities in California, which is controlled by the Democratic Party, have watched the large campus protests that took place across state campuses over the past two years with hostility, consternation, and fear.

Over the past year, at the behest of Democratic Party officials, demonstrating students across the state have been attacked by paramilitary police squads armed with batons, tear gas, and flash grenades, with hundreds of students arrested and jailed. The world’s attention was captured when students peacefully protesting tuition hikes at UC Davis were pepper sprayed by police in cold blood.

In the face of increasing tensions and protests, state authorities are moving to clamp down on the campuses, intervening to “guide campus discussion” and criminalize criticism of both domestic and foreign policy. Under the guise of criticizing “anti-Semitism” the state government signaling that the persecution of student protesters will be tolerated or welcomed.

The resolution concludes that “strong leadership from the top remains an important priority so that no administrator, faculty, or student group can be in any doubt that anti-Semitic activity will not be tolerated in the classroom or on campus, and that no public resources will be allowed to be used for anti-Semitic or any intolerant agitation.”