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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.

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Patrick Seale really nails it in this article.  Why is the US and Europe so passionately committed to regime change in Syria. Only a fool would believe that their unrelenting effort is motivated by compassion for suffering Syrians.

The record of the Syrian government has been far from perfect, but we must not forget that Syria has been a haven of religious tolerance in the Middle East for many years, and one of the last places where Christians have been able to worship freely. And now Obama and his allies are arming the radical jihadists in an attempt to overthrow Assad. Why? The answer should be obvious, but only Seale and a handful of independent commentators seem to have the insight to see it and the courage to state it.

The end-game is not Syria at all but regime change in Iran. And why does Obama hate Iran so much? Has he genuinely taken on the agenda of the Zionist extremists and American neo-conservatives or is he just playing politics? That’s a question that even Seale doesn’t feel confident to answer.

Father Dave (nb. highlights are mine)

From Middle East Online

2012-06-05

What Is Obama’s Game Plan?

President Barrack Obama’s Middle East policies seem increasingly problematic. His expanded use of missile strikes by Predator drones against targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere — now being launched at a rate of about one a week – seem certain to create more ‘terrorists’ than they kill. They arouse fierce anti-American sentiment not least because of the inevitable civilian death toll. Obama is said to decide himself which terrorist suspect is to be targeted for killing in any particular week, as if to confer some presidential sanction on operations of very doubtful legality.

Even more worrying is Obama’s apparently wilful sabotage of two diplomatic initiatives, one by Europe’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the other by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan. Ashton has been leading an attempt by the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) to negotiate a win-win deal with Iran over its nuclear programme, while Annan has been struggling to find a negotiated way out of the murderous Syrian crisis. Obama seems intent on compromising both initiatives.

Catherine Ashton managed to launch the P5+1 talks with Iran in Istanbul on 14 April once she had agreed the ground rules with the chief Iranian negotiator, Saeed Jalili. She pledged at that time that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) would be a key basis for the talks, thus sending a clear signal that Iran, as a signatory of the NPT, had the right to enrich uranium up to 3.5% for power generation and other peaceful purposes. She also declared that the negotiations would “be guided by the principle of the step-by-step approach and reciprocity,” thus giving a strong indication that sanctions would be lifted in stages once Iran gave up enriching uranium to 20% and provided convincing evidence that it was not seeking nuclear weapons. Iran responded favourably to this approach and the talks got off to a good start.

But, at the next meeting on 23 May, held this time in Baghdad, they ground to a virtual halt. No progress of any sort was made save for an agreement to meet again in Moscow on 18-19 June. The early optimism was dispelled because Obama had hardened the U.S. position. There was to be no recognition of Iran’s rights to enrich lower grade uranium — indeed the P5+1 refused even to discuss the subject — and no easing of sanctions. On the contrary, Iran was faced with the prospect of even stiffer sanctions coming into force on 1 July. The only sweetener was an offer of some spare parts for Iran’s civilian aircraft in exchange for an Iranian pledge to freeze 20% enriched uranium. Iran was asked, in effect, to give up its trump card in exchange for peanuts. It was no surprise that Tehran considered the miserly offer insulting.

Obama seems to have been persuaded that Iran, already reeling under crippling sanctions, would meekly submit to American demands if still more pressure were applied. This was a fundamental error of judgement. Far from submitting, Iran reacted defiantly. Hopes for a win-win deal evaporated. There are now no great expectations of a breakthrough at the Moscow talks.

What is Obama up to? He seems to have adopted Israel’s hard line view that Iran should be compelled to close down its nuclear industry altogether — a clear deal-breaker. It is not altogether clear whether he is doing so to counter accusations of weakness from his Republican challenger Mitt Romney or whether his hard, uncompromising line is intended to stave off Israel’s much-trumpeted threats to attack Iran in the coming months which, in view of the American electoral calendar, would inevitably suck in the United States.

Obama has already joined Israel in clandestine warfare against Iran. In a major article last week in the New York Times, David E Sanger revealed that “from his first months in office, President Barack Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities…” The United States and Israel then jointly developed the cyber-weapon Stuxnet, which caused considerable damage to the centrifuges in Iran’s Natanz facility.

By any standards, launching Stuxnet against Iran was an act of state terrorism. That Israel should engage in such practices is not surprising: Its entire regional policy is based on subverting and destabilising its neighbours so as to ensure its own supremacy. But how can the United States, which claims to be the supreme guardian of the international order, justify such base behaviour?

Not content with sabotaging Catherine Ashton’s efforts, Obama is also undermining Kofi Annan’s difficult mission in Syria. The American president pays lip service to Annan’s peace plan while, at the same time, secretly coordinating the flow of funds, intelligence and weapons to Bashar al-Asad’s enemies. Numerous sources attest that the United States has taken upon itself the role of deciding which among the various armed rebel groups deserve support. One must only suppose that, in his eagerness to bring about the fall of the Syrian regime, Obama will not fall into the trap of funding and arming jihadis, many of them linked to al-Qaida, who have flowed in from neighbouring countries to fight the Syrian regime.

In a word, Obama seems to have embraced the argument of Israeli hawks and American neo-conservatives that bringing down the Syrian regime is the best way to weaken and isolate the Islamic Republic of Iran, sever its ties with Lebanese and Palestinian resistance movements, and eventually bring about regime change in Tehran.

The puzzle is to understand what has happened to Obama. This former professor of constitutional law was expected to correct the flagrant crimes of the Bush administration — such as the horrors of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, the water-boarding, the network of secret prisons where torture was routine, the practice of extraordinary rendition. Instead, by his own violent and questionable acts, he is widening the gulf between the United States and the Muslim world.

No less a person than Henry Kissinger has, in a recent Washington Post article, reminded the United States of the dangers of humanitarian intervention in Syria. “If adopted as a principle of foreign policy,” he wrote, “this form of intervention raises broader questions for U.S. strategy. Does America consider itself obliged to support every popular uprising against any non-democratic government…?” If Asad were overthrown, he argues, a new civil war could follow as armed groups contest the succession. “In reacting to one tragedy, we must be careful not to facilitate another.”

Kissinger’s main point is that states are sovereign within their borders. The United States may have strategic reasons to favour the fall of Asad but “not every strategic interest rises to a cause for war; were it otherwise, no room would be left for diplomacy.” In other words, the world should support the Annan peace plan and give it time to work.

Patrick Seale is a leading British writer on the Middle East. His latest book is The Struggle for Arab Independence: Riad el-Solh and the Makers of the Modern Middle East (Cambridge University Press).

Copyright © 2012 Patrick Seale – distributed by Agence Global