Nurit Peled-Elhanan is the daughter of Israeli General, Matti Peled. Elhanan’s daughter, Smadar, was killed in the 1997 Ben Yehuda Street suicide attack in Jerusalem. Despite all the above, she has become an outspoken critic of Zionism and Israeli apartheid.
Peled-Elhanan is currently professor of language and education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is a co-laureate of the 2001 Sakharov Prize for Human Rights and the Freedom of Speech, awarded by the European Parliament.
The following address was given to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine on March 4th, 2009
If you can’t view this video, click here.
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!
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
The following article appeared on the Press TV website but is largely a commentary on one that appeared in the Jerusalem Post on Friday.
It appears that the Israeli government is getting increasingly frustrated with the shift towards Palestine that is being exhibited across Europe.
The Israeli government’s concerns are not without foundation. This week two more countries have made moves to upgrade Palestine’s official status:
- Tuesday, March 5, Ma’an News Agency broke the news on that Sakir Ozkan Torunlar, Turkey’s consul general in Jerusalem, will be accredited as Turkey’s ambassador to the Palestinian Authority (full story here).
- Thursday March 7, 2013; with an overwhelming vote of 299 to 20, the Swedish Parliament upgraded the status of the Palestinian representative office in the country to a full status, granting the mission the title of ‘embassy’ (full story here).
The international isolation of Israel is progressing steadily. How long will the USA be willing to stand against the tide?
Tel Aviv frustrated by EU’s pro-Palestine slant: Israeli official
According to a report published by the Jerusalem Post on Friday, an unnamed Israeli official criticized the EU over its “negative” policy toward Tel Aviv.
The Israeli official said there was “no positive agenda between Israel and Brussels, only negative.”
“There are only sticks, no carrots,” the official stated, criticizing the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, for certain issues such as pushing the EU members on February 22 to enforce restrictions on products from the illegal Israeli settlements built in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Even the Netherlands, which is one of the strongest allies of Israel, followed Ashton’s advice and recommended that the business owners effectively label products from the Israeli settlements, the official said.
“When it comes to Israel they are very vocal. When it comes to the Palestinians, they are very timid.”
The Israeli official also pointed to the internal report by the EU heads of mission in al-Quds (Jerusalem) and Ramallah on February 27 which was leaked to the media.
The report said the EU programs should not be “used to support settlements and settlement-related activity, including funding for research, education or technological cooperation.”
“Every year they put out a report that is critical of Israel, even though their mandate is to strengthen ties with the PA (Palestinian Authority),” the official stated.
The Tel Aviv regime has increased its illegal settlement expansion following an upgrade of Palestine’s status at the UN to a non-member observer state on November 29, 2012.
Many countries, including some of Tel Aviv’s allies, have condemned the Israeli plans to construct illegal settler units in the occupied Palestinian territories.
On December 10, 2012, the 27-nation European nation said it was “deeply dismayed by and strongly opposes Israeli” plans to expand illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, including in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
According to this report from the Tehran Times, we’ve had yet another statement from the Iranian President in support of Palestine! It seems that the man is trying to position himself as a bridge-builder between Shiite and Sunni Muslims through his open support of Hamas.
It would be interesting to know exactly what transpired between Ahmadinejad and Marzook on the subject of Syria. Syria is Iran’s main ally in the region and does not want to see the current regime overthrown. Hamas, on the other hand, have been channeling military personnel into Syria to help topple the Assad government!
Even so, however we understand Syria’s place in the equation, the basic picture for Israel is clear. Muslim countries are uniting more openly around Palestine and Israel is experiencing ever-greater international isolation. And already their last remaining ally – the USA – is starting to waver!
Liberation of Palestine, the goal of Muslims, freedom-loving nations: Ahmadinejad
TEHRAN – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that the liberation of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) has become a common goal of all Muslims and freedom-loving nations.
He made the remark during a meeting with Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, a senior member of Hamas, in Tehran on Monday.
A glance at Zionists’ decades-long presence in the region proves that they are in a state of collapse, Ahmadinejad noted.
He added that the Palestinian question is a crucial issue for the whole world, and its liberation is tied with the destiny of the entire region.
The president also reiterated Tehran’s support for the oppressed people of Palestine until they achieve victory.
Commenting on the Syrian crisis, Ahmadinejad noted that it is a high time that all sides in Syria make efforts to settle the conflict through dialogue.
For his part, Marzook said Palestinians can achieve victory over the Zionists only through resistance, emphasizing the need to promote unity between the Islamic Ummah.
The Palestinian official also called for making efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis through mutual understanding.
This is an important essay. Philip Weiss’ aim is not only to debate the merits of Zionism but moreso to raise the question of why the merits of Zionism are never publicly debated!
Weiss believes that the lack of discourse if a vital part of the strategy for keeping Zionist policies in place. These policies need to be challenged, but they can’t be properly challenged if their belief-framework is beyond the bounds of acceptable discussion.
It’s time for the media to talk about Zionism
by Philip Weiss on December 4, 2012
Last week, New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan characterized me as “the anti-Zionist Jewish-American journalist who writes about the Middle East.” That’s my reputation; I can’t take exception to her words. But when Sullivan quoted Jeffrey Goldberg, she did not say he was Jewish or a Zionist–or that he had once emigrated to Israel because he believed that America was unsafe for Jews, and served as an officer in Israel’s army before coming back here and recommending Israel’s militant policy toward Arabs to America.
Sullivan’s double standard is indefensible, but it is typical of a standard of censorship in our journalism. American media are not talking to their readers about Zionism. They are not even attempting to describe the ideology that is at the heart of the problem in Israel and Palestine. The media are honest with their audiences about other movements of a religious character, from evangelism to opposition to stem-cell research to radical Islam. So they should be honest with them about Zionism.
Zionism is a 115-year-old movement inside Jewish life that says there is a need for a Jewish state in Palestine because Jews are unsafe in the west and Jews have a biblical connection to Palestine. Some people say that this is too complicated a concept to explain to Americans. (Norman Finkelstein joked that Zionism might as well be a hairspray and it’s irrelevant to the discussion at the New School in October). I don’t think so. Beliefs are very important; and Americans have a right to know why so many American Jews believe in the need for Israel at a time when this concept is warping our foreign policy.
It’s not enough for a reporter to say that someone is pro-Israel. Zionism draws on a person’s worldview and has a religious character, it supplies meaning to his or her life. It is often a core understanding that drives that person’s positions in other areas (see Neoconservatism). And it is deeply enmeshed in the official Jewish community.
I believe the media have refused to explore the Zionist issue because it would involve a lot of squeamish self-interrogation on the part of Jews. Imagine Ted Koppel having a panel where Wolf Blitzer, Robert Siegel, David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell, Richard Engel and Ed Rendell would have to explain what Zionism means to them. The acknowledgment of Jewish prominence in the Establishment, and of the power of Zionism, would make a lot of Jews uncomfortable, so the conversation is verboten.
But so long as these beliefs are not examined, and Israel and its supporters continue to play such a large role in our policymaking, the silence is bad for Jews. It allows people who are justifiably angry over our foreign policy to believe that all Jews support Israel, or suspect that we disguise our dual loyalty with misleading prescriptions about American security. It allows Zionists to seek cover for our country’s blind support for Israel by stating that there is no difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism– when there is absolutely a difference. See Jewish Voice for Peace. See Hannah Arendt. See Judith Butler.
And it allows Jews to avoid very important historical/existential questions that we really ought to be asking publicly, and urgently answering: Do I feel unsafe in America or Europe? If I feel unsafe in America what am I doing here? (A theme of Shlomo Sand’s new book.) If I feel safe do I need Israel? Do I believe in the need for a Jewish state? At what price? Who is Israel making unsafe in my name?
I think all Jews should be openly debating these matters; but they won’t till the belief question is raised by the mainstream media. There are signs that the ice is melting. Last week Andrew Sullivan, an influence leader if anyone is, published a mini-essay (attacking the liberal Zionist Spencer Ackerman’s dream of a laser war) in which he stated that Zionism is another hurtful 20th century “ism” that has run its course, and modern political reality is inconsistent with the goal of a Jewish-majority state. Ethan Bronner (a reputed liberal Zionist who seems to understand that Zionism has lost its way) boldly gave Rami Khouri space on the front page of the New York Times during the Gaza assault to attack Zionism. On NPR Jim Fallows said bravely that there has always been a tension between Israel’s creation as a Jewish state and a democracy; you really can’t be both, he was suggesting.
As Fallows and Sullivan seem to know (and Matt Yglesias and David Remnick will surely come to profess some day, and Jonathan Cook knew years ago, and the late Ibrahim Abu-Lughod knew when he was a teenager in Jaffa) the contradiction between democracy and Jewish nationalism has been inherent in the Zionist project from the start, but has always been described as a tension rather than a contradiction so as to make Zionists and their friends feel better about their undertaking. The Nakba of 1948 continues today with the ethnic cleansing of Area C on the West Bank and the pulverizing of Gaza. But liberal Zionists have given themselves permission to dither about the destruction of Palestinian rights by calling this longstanding contradiction a tension that will be resolved when there is a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish-majority state. As if tomorrow Palestinians will gain their rights in the context of an expansionist Jewish state. As if Oslo is a more meaningful political paradigm than the Likud Party, which draws deeply on Zionist ideology and grows more rightwing by the minute.
Zionism came out of the real condition of Jews in Europe in the late 19th and 20th centuries. I can well imagine being a Zionist at other periods of Jewish history. I would have been a Zionist if I had been in Kafka’s circle in Prague in the 19-teens with the rise of anti-Semitism. I would have been a Zionist if I had been born into the family of my mother’s best friend in Berlin in the 1930s.
But I was born in America, in the 20th century. In my lifetime Zionism has been a dangerous ideology for Palestinians and for the wider Middle East. Zionism has endorsed the Iron Wall strategy of militancy on Israel’s ever-moving borders. Zionism has created a Sparta, just as Hannah Arendt predicted that it would in 1948 when she saw that Israel was born in war, and saw the purging of Palestinian refugees from the Jewish state to be.
I consider myself a liberal anti-Zionist, or a non-Zionist (because the label is less confrontational to the Zionists I am trying to wean from their mistaken belief). I like liberal traditions of personal freedom in the United States, including the tradition of tolerance of religious and ideological claims I find preposterous. These liberal principles have guaranteed my freedom as a minority in the U.S. and granted me a darn good life, including jobs in the First Amendment business and marriage to someone who is not Jewish-a marriage that could not take place in Israel where there is no civil marriage.
I am an anti-Zionist because I reject the entire religious nationalist program: I don’t see a need for a Jewish state, I don’t see Jerusalem as my home any more than Kenya, where my people came from before the temple period. I don’t subscribe to the racial theory of the Jewish people. I take America at its word. I don’t like political separation of people on an ethnic basis and first class citizenship granted to one over the other; and I see the current militant and totalitarian aspects of Israeli society as flowing from a belief system, Zionism, the way that Soviet oppressions grew out of the Politburo’s interpretation of Communism.
I oppose Zionism, too, because the Israel lobby plays such a hurtful role in our foreign policy, and the Israel lobby is inherent in Zionism as it has evolved. From the beginning Zionism depended on the support of imperial powers. Herzl turned to the Kaiser and the Sultan, Weizmann turned to the British Prime Minister, Ben Gurion turned to the American president. “We became part of what is perhaps the most effective lobbying and fund-raising effort in the history of democracy,” Alan Dershowitz said. Yes, and that lobby helped generate the conditions of 9/11, the Iraq War, the murders of Robert Kennedy and Rachel Corrie and Furkan Dogan, and the hysteria about Iran.
The sooner we have this conversation, the greater diversity we will see in the Jewish community and American foreign policy. We can transform the special relationship and isolate Israel for human rights violations and pressure it to transform itself.
When we have this conversation, liberal Zionists will be pressed to decide what they believe in more, liberalism or Zionism. Leading writers like Matthew Yglesias, Eric Alterman, Richard Wolffe, Peter Beinart and Spencer Ackerman, who have kept their liberal and Jewish nationalist dishes spinning forever in the air alongside one another without having to deal with the fait accompli of that ideology-the cruel joke that Oslo has been for the Palestinians, the prison that is Gaza– will have to come down on the democracy side or the Jewish state side. And I am sure many will come down on the democracy side. I am sure that many will answer as I have, and say that they prefer a society where minorities have equal rights to one in which one group is privileged over another.
But we should not give them cover. We must have a real and open conversation in the American Jewish community for all to see. Are you a Zionist, and why? Do you feel unsafe in America? And what sort of unsafety have your beliefs created in a foreign land?