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This is an insightful article by Huffinton Posts’ Robert Naiman. One can put a positive spin on Obama’s visit and speeches. While he didn’t promise to do anything to help the ‘peace process’ along, he didn’t seem to want to hinder it either – something that the Israeli government has relied on the US to do through successive administrations!

Indeed Obama would be doing the world a great service if he allowed some of Israel’s Arab and international neighbors to take a more intentional role in solving the Israel/Palestine debacle, and we all know that he has no personal desire to prop up Benjamin Netanyahu!

Father Dave

source: www.huffingtonpost.com…

Flotilla 3.0: Redeeming Obama’s Palestine Speech With Gaza’s Ark

There’s a half-empty way and a half-full way of looking at President Obama’s Jerusalem speech about the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.

The half-empty way of looking at it is: this was Obama’s white flag of surrender. To everyone around the world who for decades has been assuming that at the end of the day, the president of the United States would lead the way to resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, Obama was saying:

Don’t look at me. Just because the United States is the principal military, diplomatic, and economic protector of the Israeli government, doesn’t mean that I, as the president of the United States, will do anything about the military occupation of millions of Palestinian human beings. Bibi doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state, Bibi’s government doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state, AIPAC doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state, and Congress — which defers to AIPAC — doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state. Of course, many of them mouth the words — not Bibi’s government, they don’t even do that — but those who mouth the words oppose any practical measure that would help bring an independent Palestinian state into existence. They’re “two state fakers.” Settlement freeze? Impossible. UN membership for Palestine? Can’t be done. No, according to the two state fakers, the only option on the menu in the restaurant for the Palestinians is to return to negotiations without a settlement freeze, negotiations that for 20 years have brought more land confiscation, more settlements, more restrictions on Palestinian movement and commerce, more oppression. And so, Obama was saying, my hands are tied. Don’t look at me.

The half-full way of looking at it is this: it was a great speech. If you “price in,” as the markets say, acceptance that the U.S. government isn’t going to lead on this, it was a great motivational speech. President Obama made a very compelling case that someone else should do something.

The interesting thing is that whether you see it as a great motivational speech or a white flag of surrender, the practical consequences for the public are largely the same: the initiative for justice is going to have to come from somewhere else. The best that we can probably expect from Obama is that if the initiative for justice comes from somewhere else, he won’t get in the way, or won’t get in the way very much. While that is much less than we are entitled to expect, it is much more than the Netanyahu government and its supporters want. They demand that President Obama do everything he can to get in the way of justice. So, if he doesn’t get in the way of justice, or only does so halfheartedly, he’ll be helping us more than they want.

Some people look to Europe. If Europe got serious about curtailing imports from Israel if the occupation doesn’t end, that’s something the Israeli business elite would take seriously, and they would put pressure on the Israeli government to compromise, rather than lose their export income. It’s striking to contrast how Europe is treating its trade with Israel to how it is treating its trade with Iran. In the case of Israel, Europe is toying with the idea of seriously curtailing imports from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In the case of Iran, Europe has shut down virtually all trade, including trade in lifesaving medicines, in violation of international humanitarian law. Giving Israel a little more of the Iran treatment could go a long way. In addition, Europe could support membership for Palestine at the International Criminal Court, and then could support legal action against the settlements and land confiscation at the ICC. So, Europe certainly has a lot of room to get serious about ending the occupation.

Some people look to the Arab Spring. Since 1979, the Camp David Treaty as implemented has been a pillar of the occupation. As many Egyptians see it, it wasn’t supposed to be like that. Under the treaty, the Israeli military was supposed to withdraw from the West Bank. But of course, that never happened. What happened instead is that for 30 years the Mubarak regime traded compliance with Israeli policy towards the Palestinians for U.S. agreement to look the other way while the Egyptian government beat the Egyptian people. Now Egypt has a democratically-elected government. What if that government made ending the occupation a political and diplomatic priority?

read the rest of this article here

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A powerful and pointed article from my friend, Miko Peled.

As the son of one an Israeli general, Miko knows the culture and people of Israel well. As an American citizen, he also understands American realpolitik.

Father Dave

Miko Peled and Father Dave in September 2011

Miko Peled and me in September 2011

source: electronicintifada.net…

Obama won’t bring peace to Palestine

Miko Peled 19 March 2013

If US President Barack Obama wanted to move the Palestine/Israel issue along, he would need to demand that Israel free thousands of political prisoners it holds in violation of international law, end its violations of Palestinian human rights, lift the siege on Gaza or at the very least end the indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians.

However, because the fear that retribution by Israel’s lobby will be swift and painful, none of these things will be said — much less demanded — even though they are well-documented and widely known. And so, President Obama’s planned trip to Israel will not offer any solution to the Palestine/Israel conflict.

The Israeli-Palestinian issue is, politically, a toxic wasteland that no US president in his right mind would want to clean up. It has become a vicious cycle of deceit and double standards, and it will contaminate any US politician who tries to clean it up. One may trust that President Obama, being fully aware of this, will avoid getting involved with this issue in his second term, just as he did in his first term.

Even if he does visit the West Bank city of Ramallah during his planned visit, there can be little doubt that Barack Obama will continue to stand behind Israel and place his real efforts elsewhere. It’s the cost of doing business.

Blank check

The official US stance on the Israeli-Palestinian issue is that it needs to be resolved within the framework of a two-state solution but without the US pressuring the parties to reach a resolution. The pressures placed upon politicians in the US by the Israel lobby have created a reality in which criticizing Israel constitutes political suicide.

Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren, the Torquemada of the Israel lobby, stated recently on the satirical television program The Colbert Report that: “there are not many issues for which there is bipartisan support, the support for Israel is a true bipartisan issue” (“Obama’s Israel trip – Michael Oren,” 5 March 2013).

“Support for Israel” means a blank check. Understandably, Oren takes pride in this because it is an accomplishment for which his inquisition-style lobby has worked tirelessly. So much so, that the only vote on this issue that is acceptable in Washington is a vote that is aligned with Israel.

Reckless and destructive

The price of doing business in US politics is to applaud, encourage and pay for Israel to do whatever it wants, regardless how reckless and destructive it may be, and to ignore the plight of the Palestinians. This was true before the last Israeli elections, and now with the results of the Israeli elections clearly showing that Israelis have no interest in resolving the Palestinian issue, the president would have to go against Israeli electorate as well as the Israel lobby in the US, and all this to accomplish something no American president would even dare to articulate: peace and justice for Palestinians.

The naïve hope that Obama’s second term in office will be different than his first on this issue is just that, naïve. A just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian question will not come from an American president, nor will it come from an Israeli prime minister. The resolution of the conflict will come as a result of the fall of the Zionist state, not unlike the fall of theapartheid regime in South Africa.

No substance at all

As student groups, churches, trade unions, civil society organizations and the movement calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel increase their pressure, Western governments who are now complicit in Israel’s crimes will inevitably be forced to halt their support for Israel.

This, along with the ongoing pressure from popular Palestinian resistance, disobedience and defiance of the laws that allow the Zionist occupation of Palestine to function, will bring about a democracy in Palestine, in place of the Zionist state.

But this will not come about of its own accord. People who care about Palestinians and Israelis and who care about justice and peace need to act vigorously and demand a democracy with full equal rights in Palestine/Israel. As for the president’s planned visit, we may expect, and we will surely see no substance at all.

Miko Peled is the author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.

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I am encouraged by this article, not only because it lucidly rebuffs the equating of Palestinian activism with Antisemitism but also because it appeared on a University website (in Connecticut, USA).

It is important that these discussions take place on University campuses, and it is important that free speech be given full reign in these contexts. Students must be encouraged to pursue the truth about Israel/Palestine without being pilloried as racists for doing so!

Father Dave

source: http://www.dailycampus.com/commentary/column-pro-palestine-does-not-mean-anti-semitic-1.3008671#.UUXKhRxTCSo

Pro-Palestine does not mean anti-Semitic

By Omar Allam

The screams of an Israeli Air Force fighter jet ricochet through the barren lands of Gaza, as the sounds of explosions reverberate off the bones of 11 Palestinian children and women, who were charred to death during the air strike.

Almost 50 miles away in Tel Aviv, the Israeli military stated the target was a terrorist militant group in Gaza.

This was reported by the Huffington Post.

These air strikes were another part of the Israeli deterrence policy to create extreme preventive punishment and make any attack or retaliation too costly. U.S. media coverage of the Israeli attack on Gaza portrayed the war as an “endless conflict between two foreign entities” and claimed that Israel is justifiably “defending itself,” according to The Guardian.

One can only condemn the violence, as it is never the answer to any issue.

Nonetheless, western media has focused so much attention on Israel, and has ignored the Palestinian perspective on the apartheid system in the contested territory, that Americans have associated Palestinians as a terrorists and Palestinian support with anti-Semitism.

But, is someone really anti-Jewish if you criticize Israel?
To answer such a question, one would need to discuss the issue with a follower of the Jewish religion.

Stanley Heller is a semi-retired schoolteacher, and he is also a Jew. Heller, like most people, has no tolerance for Anti-Semitism. It “is a hideous crime; it’s a stupid blind hatred,” Heller said.

As Executive Director of the 30-year-old Middle East Crisis Committee, Heller also is a firm supporter in equality and human rights for all.

He explained that, “Jews were once viewed as inferiors, sub-humans, disturbers of the peace and not only by Nazis, but by lots of people and, ironically, Palestinians are facing the same type of discrimination, today.”

In Israel, there is “an ever-deepening apartheid. … Palestinians are being driven away from their homes. In addition, there is aggressiveness against any type of resistance, violent and non-violent,” Heller said. Palestinians are now confined to walled ghettos.

In Gaza, they’re subjected to a blockade of essential basic necessities, and are facing economic sanctions placed by Israel.

Heller, however, is not the only Jew advocating for basic human rights for Palestinians. There are many Jewish groups pushing for Palestinian human rights such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Orthodox Jews United Against Zionism, Rabbis for Human Rights, etc.

A cable released by Wikileaks showed that the officials in U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv wrote, “as part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed (…) on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge.”

The vidence supporting human right violations against Israel is overwhelming; nonetheless there has been limited coverage over the worsening human rights conditions that Palestinians face.

Adam Antar, founder of the Students for Justice in Palestine, a newly founded organization on campus, stated, “the asymmetrical burden of casualties on the part of the Palestinians is one of the most widely acknowledged injustices across the globe. There is nothing racist about advocating for peace and justice for the Palestinians, who have been targeted simply for their existence and identity. In fact, criticizing Israeli policies supports equality and combats racism.”

The state of Israel has laws dictating the segregation of Palestinians from Israelis pertaining to where they can work, where they can live, to what bus they can get on. Similar laws were created in the post-Civil War era in the U.S. to ensure the denomination of African Americans. The Civil Rights movement is justifiably the story of our greatest American heroes, those who stood up for equality and justice. But when Palestinians try to stand up for the same goals, they are labeled as troublemakers, terrorists, and racists.

So to the question, “is someone really Anti-Jewish if he or she criticizes Israel?” The answer is clearly no.

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This is an important essay by Gilad Atzmon. Certainly his central claim – that the Palestinian solidarity movement is being hijacked by a Judeo-centric agenda – will be more true in some areas than others.

There will always remain some groups that are  outrightly anti-Semitic. Even so, Atzmon is surely correct – that the Zionist narrative that so dominates mainline media has had a significant influence in shaping Palestinian activism worldwide.

Is there a path back? Atzmon hopes so, but he doesn’t give us any details as to where to start.

Father Dave

source: http://www.redressonline.com/2013/03/time-for-palestine-solidarity-movement-to-liberate-itself/

Time for Palestine solidarity to liberate itself

By Gilad Atzmon

The Palestine solidarity movement is being hijacked and forced to swallow a Judaeo-centric agenda that has nothing to do with the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to return to their homeland from which they were ethnically cleansed.

Palestine solidarity activists are increasingly required to subscribe to the Judaeo-centric notion that Jews and Jewish suffering are uniquely special; that Jews alone are like no other people; that the Jewish holocaust is like no other genocide; and that racism comes in degrees of vileness depending on who the victims are, with anti-Semitism being worse than any other form of racism because it targets Jews.

Conversely, according to this Judaeo-centric worldview, when it comes to the Palestinians the exact opposite is the case.

We are expected to believe that, unlike the Jews, the Palestinians are not special at all and are just like everyone else. Palestinians, we are now required to believe, are not the victims of a unique, racist, nationalist and expansionist Jewish nationalist movement. Instead, we are told to agree that, as with Native Americans and Africans, the ordeal of the Palestinian people is the result of run-of-the-mill 19th century colonialism – just more of the same old boring apartheid.

So, we are instructed to swallow the racist notion that Jews, Zionists and Israelis are exceptional, like no one else, while Palestinians are always, somehow, ordinary, always part of some greater political narrative, always just like everyone else. Their suffering is never due to the particularity of Jewish nationalism, Jewish racism or even the domination of US foreign policy by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). No, the Palestinian is always the victim of a dull, banal dynamic – general, abstract and totally lacking in particularity.

read the rest of this article here: http://www.redressonline.com/2013/03/time-for-palestine-solidarity-movement-to-liberate-itself/

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This is an excellent article by Glenn Greewald, highlighting the way that media propaganda drives the West’s militaristic political agenda, while reminding us that it does not have to be this way, and that genuine ‘acts of journalism’ do still take place!

I suspect that we will look back on this period of history one day and see it as the era of media manipulation, where journalists and TV presenters took on the role once played by brown-shirted secret police – sanitizing approved criminal acts on the one hand and silencing dissidents on the other.

I note that the links in this article are very much worth following. Dave

As published on Salon.com…

Journalism v. Propaganda

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

22 July 12

The US and Israel blame Iran for the suicide attack in Bulgaria, but offer no evidence for the accusation.

Almost immediately after a suicide bomber killed five Israeli tourists in Bulgaria on Wednesday, Israeli officials, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, blamed Iran, an accusation uncritically repeated by most Western media outlets even as Bulgarian investigators warned it would be a “mistake” to assign blame before the attack could be investigated. Now, Israel, along with the U.S., is blaming Hezbollah and, therefore, Iran for the attack. Today’s New York Times article by Nicholas Kulish and Eric Schmitt – headlined “Hezbollah Is Blamed for Attack on Israeli Tourists in Bulgaria” – uncritically treats those accusations as confirmed fact despite no evidence being offered for it

American officials on Thursday identified the suicide bomber responsible for a deadly attack on Israeli vacationers here as a member of a Hezbollah cell that was operating in Bulgaria and looking for such targets, corroborating Israel’s assertions and making the bombing a new source of tension with Iran. 
One senior American official said the current American intelligence assessment was that the bomber, who struck Wednesday, killing five Israelis, had been “acting under broad guidance” to hit Israeli targets when opportunities presented themselves, and that the guidance had been given to Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, by Iran, its primary sponsor. Two other American officials confirmed that Hezbollah was behind the bombing, but declined to provide additional details. 
The attacks, the official said, were in retaliation for the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, for which Iran has blamed Israeli agents – an accusation that Israel has neither confirmed nor denied. “This was tit for tat,” said the American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still under way. . . . 
A senior Israeli official said on Thursday that the Burgas attack was part of an intensive wave of terrorist attacks around the world carried out by two different organizations, the Iranian Quds Force, an elite international operations unit within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, as well as by Hezbollah.

By “identified,” “confirmed” and “corroborated” Iranian and Hezbollah responsibility, what The New York Times means is this: American officials asserted that this was so, even as they “declined to provide additional details” and even though “the investigation was still under way.” Indeed, this accusation is, as the NYT sees it, “confirmed” and “corroborated” even though “no details yet about the bomber like his name or nationality” are known; even though their anonymous American source “declined to describe what specific intelligence – intercepted communications, analysis of the bomber’s body parts or other details – led analysts to conclude that the bomber belonged to Hezbollah”; even though “the Bulgarians are still trying to figure out how the bomber entered the country, how he traveled around and where he stayed”; and even though the Bulgarian Foreign Minister said: “We’re not pointing the finger in any direction until we know what happened and complete our investigation.” All The Paper of Record knows is that U.S. and Israeli officials have blamed Iran and Hezbollah, and – as usual – that’s good enough for them. Identified, Confirmed and Corroborated.

By stark contrast, The Washington Post’s Karin Brulliard, reporting from Jerusalem, commits an act of actual journalism with her story on this event. She, too, notes the official accusations of Hezbollah and Iranian responsibility, but, as Think Progress’ Ali Gharib points out, she heavily qualifies that in the third paragraph of her story: “Israel offered no concrete evidence tying the bombing to Iran, and Bulgarian officials cautioned that it was too early to attribute responsibility.” That’s called basic journalism: instead of just repeating official claims, treating them as “confirmed,” and shaping the entire article around those assertions, she prominently notes that there is no real evidence to lead anyone to believe these accusations. She then adds more skepticism: “U.S. intelligence officials said it was ‘plausible’ that Hezbollah carried out the attack but that analysts at the CIA and other agencies were still evaluating the intelligence surrounding the bombing and had not reached a conclusion.”

I have no idea who is behind the attacks. If it turns out to be Hezbollah and/or Iran, that will not shock me: after all, if it is perceived that you have sent hit squads onto a country’s soil to murder their nuclear scientists, it’s likely that the targeted nation will want to respond with violence of their own. But there is no evidence to confirm the American and Israeli accusations. A reader of the New York Times article would not know that, while a reader of Brulliard’s article in the Post would. That’s the difference between journalism and propaganadistic stenography. It’s really not that difficult or complex, when repeating government claims, to note clearly and prominently that no evidence has been furnished to support those claims.

Following up on the argument I made about the Syria bombing – that Western political and media circles would treat the attack on Syrian officials as something to praise: the U.S. State Department, even when assuming it was a suicide bomb, refused to denounce the attack and came close to praising it, while The New York Times referred to the rebels’ “brazen assassination of top security officials.” While denying responsibility for the Bulgarian attack, Iranian officials noted this posture

The speaker of Iran’s Parliament, Ali Larijani, criticized the United States for not condemning the bombing in Damascus on Wednesday that struck at President Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle, killing three senior defense officials. “By not condemning the assassination in Syria, the Americans show that they believe in good assassinations and bad assassinations,” he said, according to the Fars news agency.

Indeed, in one of the grandest understatements of the year, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, when asked about U.S. policy toward Israeli human rights abuses, recently acknowledged: “We are not always consistent.” That’s true even when it comes to the question of what counts as Terrorism and whether it is good or bad.