palestine

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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.

Father Dave

source: mondoweiss.net…

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?

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Father Roy writes:   Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA spokespeople have made clear in recent days that they intend to bring a resolution to the UN General Assembly, possibly as early as Thursday, November 29.   The highlights in JPost’s article are mine.   Peace, Roy

After Gaza, focus turns to Palestinian bid at UN

11/23/2012 04:16

‘Post’ learns that Washington urging Israel not to build in E-1 area between J’lem, Ma’aleh Adumim in response to PA statehood bid.

Washington is urging Israel not to allow construction in the area known as E-1 between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim as a possible response to the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition next week at the UN, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Building in E-1, which would create contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim to the northeast beyond the Green Line, is something various Israeli governments have long wanted to do, but which US opposition has prevented.

Building there is one of a number of measures Jerusalem has discussed as a possible retaliation for a Palestinian statehood bid.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA spokespeople have made clear in recent days that they intend to bring a resolution to the UN General Assembly, possibly as early as Thursday, November 29, which is the anniversary of the 1947 UN partition vote.

Diplomatic officials said the recent fighting in the Gaza Strip would likely serve as an even greater impetus for Abbas to bring the measure to the UN, in an attempt to make himself – and the PA – relevant after being sidelined throughout the eight-day crisis.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has come out publicly against the move, as have a number of key EU countries, such as Britain, Germany and France.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague told Parliament on Thursday: “While there is any chance of achieving a return to talks in the coming months, we continue to advise President Abbas against attempts to win Palestinian observer state status. We judge that this would make it harder to secure a return to negotiations, and could have very serious consequences for the Palestinian Authority.”

The Post has also learned that European diplomats are holding separate discussions with Israel and the PA about the wording of the resolution that will be brought to the UN, and the possibility that it will be modified a bit to mollify Israel and temper Jerusalem’s response.

One of Israel’s chief concerns regarding the step is that as a result of being given statehood status by the UN General Assembly, the Palestinians will be able to take Israel to the International Criminal Court, something only states can do. One suggestion under review is the possibility of a side letter whereby the PA would commit not to take Israel to the ICC as long as diplomatic negotiations begin within a certain period of time.

It is not yet clear how the EU will vote on the UN measure, and whether it would reach a consensus and abstain or – as was the case when the Palestinians sought entrance into UNESCO as a state last year – some EU countries will support the measure, others will oppose it, and still others will abstain.

On Thursday, France indicated it is likely to support the PA’s statehood bid. Without specifically saying which way France would vote, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius hinted at support.

“I would like to remind you of campaign pledge number 59 of…President François Hollande, which said that there would be an international recognition of a Palestinian state,” Fabius told members of the French Senate.

A French government source said the comment was intended to indicate that Paris was leaning towards voting for the Palestinian request.

During a visit by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Paris late last month, Hollande said he regretted “the temptation of the Palestinian Authority to go to the General Assembly to get what it couldn’t through negotiations.”

But Fabius, who met Abbas last weekend amid attempts to secure a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, appeared to be signaling a change of tack.

The government of then-president Nicolas Sarkozy voted in favor of granting the Palestinians full membership of UNESCO last year.

One European official said that while it was clear Abbas had a built-in majority at the UN to get the measure passed, he wanted European support to ensure it had the legitimacy of the world’s established democracies. He said it was not clear whether the lack of EU support would prevent Abbas from moving forward with the bid.

Even during the height of the Gaza crisis, Netanyahu, during numerous talks he held with various world leaders, raised this issue. According to government sources, Netanyahu asked his interlocutors why they were not calling on Abbas to stop the rockets from Gaza.

“They would tell him to ‘get serious,’ and that Abbas has no control, to which Netanyahu would reply, ‘So what is all the talk about statehood recognition at the UN,’” one source said. The idea, he added, was to demonstrate how divorced from reality the whole UN proposal was, and how Abbas needed to be convinced not to go through with the plan.

Further, the source asked, “If the Palestinians go to the UN and get recognition, next time there is a rocket attack from Gaza, why can’t we attack Ramallah, and why can’t we take them to the ICC and accuse them of war crimes?” Reuters contributed to this report.

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Father Roy writes:The mainstream media simply refused to cover the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.  One is tempted to ask who owns the (deleted) mainstream media.  Not to worry, Peers.  Let’s thank God for the Internet.  On the Internet there’s information at our fingertips.  We network and exchange what we know.  Attitudes influenced in Cyberspace create facts on the ground.  The days of “Ignorance is Bliss” are over.  “Let not your hearts be troubled, Peers.”  We’ll figure out ways to right some wrongs.  Cooperative efforts will be required, of course.  But when we really and truly think about it, all we need to do … one individual at a time … is focus collectively and simultaneously on the issues that matter most to us and reach consensus.  That’s all we need to do.   Peace, Roy 

Russell Tribunal on Palestine offers alternative perspective

Posted on October 9, 2012

In an effort to publicize Israeli violations of international law against the Palestinian people, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine held its fourth session this past weekend.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine, an independent human rights organization founded in 2009, has convened in Barcelona in 2010, London in 2010 and Cape Town in 2011 to present different aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The New York City session focused on denouncing the United States and the United Nations for their complicity in the actions of Israel and failure to bring justice to the region.

“Several participants would like to press for changes in the [United Nations], such as ending the veto power of the richest and most powerful nations, which allows for the U.S. to single-handedly obstruct justice,” said Sherry Wolf, media coordinator for the tribunal.

The tribunal said the United States and the United Nations have supported Israel with economic and military aid. According to its findings, Israel receives 60 percent of U.S. Foreign Military Financing and has been the largest beneficiary of U.S. foreign aid since 1976.

This session featured notable speakers such as Ilan Pappé and Noam Chomsky and jurors including Alice Walker and Angela Davis, in hopes of garnering media attention.

However, Wolf said this has proven to be extremely difficult, particularly in the United States.

“There is an enforced blackout of Palestinian voices and points of view in the U.S.,” Wolf said. Mainstream media were well-informed about our tribunal with some of the most prominent names in civil rights, scholarly, cultural and legal circles and simply refused to cover it.

Ilan Pappé, the opening speaker at the tribunal and a renowned Israeli historian, said the mainstream media must use a historical perspective to fully understand the issue.

“I think that hearing a different narrative, a different version of these events … eventually makes way on how politicians, journalists and the common public relate to the issue of Palestine,” Pappé said.

Emah Rajeh, a CAS junior and member of NYU Students for Justice in Palestine,

“It is without a doubt a historic step in the right direction,” Rajeh said. “For years, dissent or criticism of Israel has been seen as taboo, but with this tribunal, we hope it will encourage understanding the conflict as not a relationship between equal parties, but as one that consists of an oppressor and an oppressed.”

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine plans to hold its final session in February 2013 to present the cumulative conclusions of all the hearings. The location of this session has not yet been announced.

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Father Roy writes:

The report pasted below is in today’s news.  It’s self-explanatory.  I did a bit of highlighting in the first paragraph so that y’all can get the gist of the report with a mere glance.

Scroll down to the concluding paragraphs and you can read about the recent exchange of words between Palestine’s President Abbas and Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.  Peers, what do you have to say about the exchange?  My off-line neighbor, George, with whom I frequently talk politics on the ground, describes Lieberman as a “raving lunatic” who should be denied the dignity of responses.  George seldom hesitates to express his feelings.  George thinks that I should be more honest with my feelings, also.  It’s futile to argue with George, but I occasionally suggest that he learn the LOD (the language of diplomacy).  I’ve offered to give him lessons.

Peers, one must never misunderestimate the efficacy of the LOD.  Whatever it is that a person has to say, he or she can always find a nicer way to say it.  It’s a true story we’re living, so let’s lighten up.  Let’s have a good laugh at ourselves, just for fun, to start off the month of September.  Remember the story of Ambassador Daniel Bernard which caused a media sensation in 1971?  It was an international incident.  Israel seeks head of French Envoy.   It is alleged that France’s Ambassador to the Court of St. James was overheard making comments about “that shitty little country who could cause another world war” … while he was attending a cocktail party … wearing a tux and sipping gin … in London.  Whatever happened to Ambassador Bernard?  Does anybody know?  Is he still in the French Diplomatic Service?  Perhaps CMEP’s Warren Clark would know.  Perhaps Paula, Dante’s grandmother, would know.  Please read on.

Peace,

Roy

P.S.   Reminder….  Let’s mark our calendars.  Benjamin Netanyahu will be in New York City from 27 September (Thursday) until 30 September (Sunday), and he intends to address the United Nations General Assembly.

Britain to Support PA Financially Despite UN Bid

British official confirms his country will not suspend financial aid to the PA even if it turns to the UN for recognition as a state.

By Elad Benari

Britain will not suspend financial aid to the Palestinian Authority if the latter submits a new application to the UN seeking recognition of Palestine as a non-member state of the General Assembly, a British official confirmed Friday.

The PA recently announced its intention to turn to the UN General Assembly for recognition as a state.

In September 2011, Abbas applied for full UN membership at the UN Security Council. Israel and the U.S. staunchly opposed the bid, which failed due to a lack of support in the 15-member council.

Speaking to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency on Friday, UK deputy-consul general in Jerusalem Ben Saoul highlighted that the British government would continue to support the PA financially until 2015 to help build a Palestinian state and support economic development.

Britain’s financial aid to the Palestinians is about $160 million per year, he said. A portion of this aid goes directly to the PA’s treasury, and the rest goes through UNRWA and non-governmental organizations.

The deputy consul-general said he met with representatives of European donor organizations to discuss the financial crisis in the PA. Ending this crisis, he said, is a top priority for Britain and for the European Union.

The PA government currently faces its worst financial crisis since its 1994 establishment. The PA’s labor minister recently warned that a shortfall in the delivery of aid from Arab donor nations means the PA will be unable to pay employees their July salaries or pay off debts it owes to private businesses.

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad warned several months ago that the Palestinian Authority may soon fail financially and cease to exist.

A PA economist predicted that the PA is on the verge of collapse, warning that the later it happens, the harder it will be.

Asked whether his country would vote for or against the new UN bid, Saoul did not give a clear answer, telling Ma’an, “We don’t want to jump to conclusions.”

Lieberman wrote a letter to the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, in which he said that Abbas is an obstacle to peace and does not act in the interests of his own people.

Lieberman also wrote that Abbas should be replaced because he “apparently is uninterested or unable… to reach an agreement which would bring an end to the conflict.”

Abbas responded to Lieberman’s letter by saying he “doesn’t deserve an answer” and adding, “When he talks about the use of diplomatic terror he does not deserve anything. Everyone knows that we want peace between the two states, and for them to live and stability and security.”

Lieberman responded to Abbas’ remarks by saying the PA Chairman “is busy financing and glorifying terrorists and devotes all his time to political terrorism against Israel
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According to this report, the Israeli government has designated roughly 18% of the West Bank as ‘closed military zones’ to be used by the IDF for training and military exercises!

The idea that this confiscation of land and the consequent abuse of its inhabitants can somehow be excused as a military necessity is outrageous!

This report was aired on RT – the Russian 24/7 English-language news channel which offers a Russian view on global news. I wonder how much coverage this news received in the mainline Western media?

Go on! Share this video! Get the word out!

Father Dave