Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Zionism and the holocaust

September 15, 2014

 

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In fact very many orthodox Jews not only in Palestine but all over the world view with the deepest misapprehension, not to say dislike, this principle of a Zionist home in Palestine…The scheme of of a Zionist Home seems to make Zionist political predominance effective in Palestine by importing into the country extraneous and and alien Jews from other parts of the world..
Lord Islington in the British House of Commons June 21, 1922

 
Judaism has been corrupted by its politicization.  For some, a form of idolatry seems to have been embraced, making Israel an object of worship, much like the golden calf in the Bible.  It is not only Palestinians who have been the victims of this enterprise, but Jewish moral and ethical values as well.

Allan C Brownfeld, the American Council for Judaism,
Aug 9, 2014

 

It is commonly accepted that knowledge of the Nazi holocaust had a profound psychic effect on people after the end of World War ll. Before television carried horrific images at breakneck speed around the world, people relied on radio, newsreels and the printed word Even then most people were staggered by reports of Nazi cruelty. Such monumental evil seemed beyond category. It simply exploded our mental horizons. News of Hiroshima had the same effect.How could humans act like this?
The death of so many however was a boon to Zionism. Three million Jews remained in Europe after the war, many having been saved by decent people. Various governments responded to the calamity and were prepared to aid the struggling remnant.

 
In this period Zionism hardly distinguished itself. Another “new historian” Tom Segev unearthed this embarrassing fact. It seemed that Ben Gurion was more committed to Jewish sovereignty in Palestine than rescuing Jews caught in the Nazi net. This infamous clinical attitude was best summed up in the Zionist leader’s famous 1938 remark:

 

If i knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England but only half by transporting them to Palestine I would choose the second-because we face not only the reckoning of those children but the historical reckoning of the Jewish people.

 
Was Ben Gurion that cold hearted? Hardly but he had committed his whole life to the formation of the Jewish state in Palestine. He was never interested in a mere “homeland”. He would never be satisfied with anything but a state with no room for the Palestinian people.

 
After the Peel Commission (1937) recommended partition as the only solution to the growing Palestinian resistance, the wily leader accepted this as a mere stop gap to Jewish sovereignty. He fully understood that the Palestinians “had legitimate fears and grievances”. He stated to party members in 1937:
We will abolish partition and expand to to the whole of Palestine. I do not see partition as the final solution of the Palestine question…it is not the end but the beginning…we will expel the Arabs and take their place.

 
One must be aware that the deepening global understanding of the Zionist endgame and its hypocritical face to the rest of the world slowly come about through the pioneering work of the humanist Israeli historians. They have unearthed what so long has been covered up.

 

 

As it was becoming obvious in the mid 40s that Nazism was headed for a catastrophic defeat the American president Franklin Roosevelt sent his close fiend, a New York Jewish lawyer Morris Ernst around the USA to galvanize support for the rescue of broken European Jewry. Ernst was stunned at the lack of support of Jewish leaders. He discovered to his great chagrin that almost to a person They were committed not to a Jewish homeland but a Zionist state.

 

 

Getting the Jewish survivors to emigrate to Palestine would have filled the Yishuv with much needed recruits in filling the country. No Jew would be forced to go anywhere much less to Palestine. Ernst again was shocked at the response he received. ”I was thrown out of parlors of friends,” he wrote. ”They said, Morris you are undermining the Zionist movement.”

 
It turned out that the sophisticated Roosevelt understood the Jewish community better than his bosom friend. He had predicted to Ernst

 
They (Zionists) know they can raise vast sums for Palestine by saying to donors ”there is no other place this poor Jew can go.” But if there is a world political asylum for all people irrespective of race, creed or color, they cannot raise their money. Then the people who do not want to give the money will have no excuse to say “What do you mean there is no place they can go but Palestine?They are the preferred wards of the world.”

 

Ernst many years later later said that everywhere he found “ a deep genuine often fanatically emotional vested interest in putting over the Palestinian movement” in men “who are little concerned about human blood if it is not their own.”

 

Roosevelt and Ernst were universalists. They had met their match in men who were tribalists. The progressive values of the early idealists were gradually being trumped by a movement whose core belief rested on land, and nationalism. They had little understanding of the moral . price to be paid. In their enthusiasm they were unable to see what would happen when Torah was replaced by an Israeli flag.

 
The brilliant Orthodox scholar Yeshayahu Leibowitz (d.1994) put it this way:

 

 

The historical Jewish people, despite all its contradictions and despite all the division that arose within it never considered the state apparatus—that is the force of organized power under which the people live—as one of the constitutive elements of its national essence. The same holds true with regard to the land…In its historical consciousness the people existed outside outside all territorial attachments…Its national identity is incarnated in one specific, immanent element—Judaism.

 
Ben Gurion was a secular Jew whose prime aim was to was to convert Jews to become members of a secular nation. He needed bodies fast to fill the country. For him the historical Judaism of mercy, charity, compassion and introspection was dead. Zionism needed strength, self-affirmation and power. Brilliant tactician that he was, Ben Gurion sent out his operatives into the DP camps to basically force these survivors to come to Palestine. Soldiers were needed for the upcoming battle. Many of course did not want to go. America not Israel was the goldene medine (the promised land). The same holds true for American Jews today. Israel has turned out to be no safe haven at all.It is the most dangerous place in the world for Jews.

 

Less than half of the European Jewish remnant came to Israel. One can understand why so many resisted the often crude pressure of the Zionists. What could Palestine offer them? It was not even a country with a highly developed infrastructure. Many had been coerced into coming to a strange land. Zionists had seized control in these holding camps and they did everything in their power to steer people to Palestine.

 
How things would have been different had Zionists simply agreed to a homeland. The land could have been shared but the age-old virus of nationalism, so foreign to Judaism won the day and we see the tragic results today.

Palestinian Humiliation and Terrorism

September 12, 2014

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We in the West paid no attention to the massive injustice done to the Palestinian people in years after the founding of the Jewish state (May 15,1948). There were many reasons for this. The first was the widespread feeling that after the holocaust and suffering of European Jewry a homeland was owed to the Jewish people. The fact that it was in an area called Palestine populated for 12 centuries by largely Muslim citizens seemingly did not register. Then in 1967, 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homes. These people who had nothing to do with the European massacre were made to pay the price. While few argued against finding a refuge for the war-torn Jews of Europe was necessary the idea of founding a state in the midst of the Arab world and displacing the indigenous population was a fundamental error.It is now only coming to be understood as a historical wrong.

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In the post-war period the Arab countries of course were incensed at the Zionist coup but they were never any match for the powerful military of the new state, built up by largely American support. The two major wars led by Egypt ended in defeat and humiliation for Arabs of the Middle East. Often these countries were at each others throats and were never united enough to win the land back or demand the return of refugees despite the resolutions (242, 93) of the newly formed United Nations.It is now known despite the massive propaganda that Israel was never in at risk in being defeated. As Mordecai Bentov a member of the israeli government candidly admitted,”The entire story of the danger of extermination was invented in every detail exaggerated a posteriori to justify the annexation of of new Arab territory.”

The United States came out of World War ll as a colossus. It had 50% of the world’s wealth and only 6% of its population. Europe was in ruins and most importantly within the republic American Jews were formidable actors in the defense of Israel. The Arab voice in America was negligible. All US presidents from Truman on toed the Israeli line . The USA  so accommodating to Jewish refugees showed no interest in alleviating Palestinian suffering. No people likes to be disappeared treated as the disposable flotsam and jetsam of history so the inevitable happened. Palestinians reached for the gun and resorted to terror like the Israelis had before them—kidnappings, hijackings and assassination. It had worked for the Zionists and they figured it would work for them.

On May 5,1974, 26 years to the day that Israel was declared a state, three fedayeen( guerillas), members of the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PDFLP) stormed a school in Ma’alot (formerly the Arab village of Tarchiha) on the Lebanese border. They wished to enact a prisoner exchange. Rather than wait for the 6 o’clock curfew the Israeli Defense Force stormed the school and in the chaos 16 young people were killed either by Palestinian grenades or Israeli bullets. The PDFLP spokesman later stated that no harm would come to them if the demands were met. American public opinion stoked by Israeli propaganda went wild. In Israel another picture unseen in in the west was seen. The IDF leader Moshe Dayan was attacked by the Ma’alot Council Chairman Eli ben Yaacov who screamed at him “You have made us the stepchildren of Israel—because most of us are from Morocco.” This was a reference to the well known discrimination against Jews from Arabic countries. The very next day the Israeli air force killed 52 civilians in a reprisal raid on an impoverished refugee camp. 36 American supplied Phantom jets had efficiently done their work.

The day before the Ma’alot disaster a young 25 year old Palestinian was interviewed in Beirut and he made the point of this article: I am a Palestinian and I am not concerned with world opinion including american which has done nothing for our very fair cause through more than 26 years. The world can respect you only when you are strong enough to stand in the face of the world and fight for your cause.

From then on until the work of the New Israeli Historians the Palestinians to our way of thinking were nothing but terrorists.. They had sprung seemingly full-blown out of Medusa’s head for no earthly rhyme or reason. One of the reasons we must have hope in Israel is that there have always been sterling Jews of conscience who understood at a deep level the historical plight of the Palestinian people..One of the many was Ya’acov Talmon(d.1980) the Polish-born a professor of Modern History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Talmon

In 1969 Talmon wrote a letter to the Minister of Information Yisrael Galili. Talmon noted that the Jewish national home had been imposed on the Arabs by the great power. He told the minister that he did not recognizethe Arabs of Palestine as a moral or legal entity in Palestine. Why should you therefore wonder when the Arabs or other describe you as colonizers and claim that they cannot reach and agreement with you because you do not recognize the principle of mutual respect but look only toward expansion…and I ask you in your capacity as Minister of Information what shall I answer the thinkers and educated people of other nations when they ask me why should not the Arabs join the ranks of freedom fighters when he hears the words of Galili?You deprive him of the right of his right to national existence and self-determination. When the British attempted to do the same to with you didn’t he Haganah, the Irgun and the Stern gang resort to terror and violence. Yes, Mr. Minister what do you expect my answer to be?”

The other Exodus

September 9, 2014

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Above all, let me reiterate, the refugee problem was caused by attacks by Jewish forces on Arab villages and towns and by the inhabitants’ fear of such attacks, compounded by expulsions, atrocities, and rumors of  atrocities, and by the crucial Israeli Cabinet decision in June 1948 to bar a refugee return.

Benny Morris, “Revisiting the Palestinian Exodus of 1948

We came and turned the native Arabs into tragic refugees. And still we have to slander and malign them, to besmirch their name. Instead of being deeply ashamed of what we did and trying to undo some of the evil we committed…we justify our terrible acts and even attempt to glorify them”
Nathan Chofshi, Jewish Newsletter, New York, 9 February 1959, cited in Erskine Childers, ‘The Other Exodus’ in Spectator, London, 12 May 1961

After WW ll the world recoiled at the plight of European Jews. At that time there was no television, internet or instant graphic reproductions of human suffering. There were however radio newspapers and newsreels and all justifiably recorded the fact of the Shoah. It permeated Western consciousness and created waves of sympathy and compassion for the bedraggled remnant of survivors. It also paved the way for the creation of the Jewish state, Israel.

For all intents and purposes, the Palestinians became invisible. As Israel was declared a state on May 14,1948 and as 750,000 indigenous people were expelled from their homeland with their property confiscated, the world shed few tears for Palestinian refugees living in tents, wards of the United Nations. They seemed absolutely impotent in pleading their just cause as Zionists had for Jewish refugees.

Immediately the hasbara began. Hasbara a common Hebrew word meaning explanation,public relations or advocacy>the modern state of Israel is masterful at this, employing thousands particularly in North America to put the most positive spin on Israel’s actions. after the latest massacre in Gaza, israeli diplomats are fanning out and lobbying Canadian MPs.

In 1945, there was little competition to the hasbara.The Palestinians were stunned, unorganized, trying to survive after the Nakba, the Arabic word for catastrophe.

The world bought the line that Palestinians left of their own accord thinking they would return when Arab armies would liberate them. It took decades for the truth to emerge but with the rise of the new historians in the 70s and 80s the facts were clear. The Palestinians were terrorized into retreat and two of the biggest terrorists were former PMs Menachem Begin (Irgun) and Yitzhak Shamir (Stern Gang).

Just before the state was proclaimed in May, on April 9 1948 91 men, women and children were murdered i the small village of Deir Yassin. Most of the men were working in Jerusalem when the attack came and when Jacques de Reynier of the Red Cross arrived he found many bodies tossed into a cistern and about others thrown to the side. 30 babies wee among the murdered which today after much research is considered to be 93. The survivors were stripped and paraded in open trucks on King George V Avenue in Jerusalem. Further indignities awaited them.

So shocking was this brutal event that the future PM Ben Gurion apologized to King Abdullah of Jordan. “Now Jews too have behaved like Nazis and my entire being is shaken” said agriculture minister Aharon Cizling in November of that year. There was no doubt however of the psychological import of the massacre. According to the brilliant Hungarian-British writer Arthur Koestler this bloodbath was “the decisive factor in the exodus of Arab refugees.” Israel historian Ilan Pappe (The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine) reiterated the same analysis(The has meticulously recorded 31 massacres, from December 1947 to January 1949.

It would be many years before Palestinians recovered from their catastrophic expulsion from their homeland. It would be 30 years before the Israeli historians uncovered the lie of Palestinians voluntarily leaving their homes.

There seemed but one way out, one sure way that people would sit up and take notice. That was the age old tactic of all liberation movements:terror. the age old tactic of resistance to such an intolerable situation. Others of course called this terrorism. Palestinians were driven to neighbouring countries like Jordan (almost 1 million) the West Bank(700,000) and adjacent Arab countries. The USA so accommodating to Jewish refugees showed no interest in alleviating Palestinian suffering. There simply was no domestic counter valence to the fact of the holocaust and Jewish American political clout.

The powerful western media had virtually disappeared Palestinian suffering. Sadly the only force which makes people sit up and take notice is terror and that was what captured global media attention.

This next move was aptly phrased by a young Palestinian Maher Yamani who hijacked an airliner in Athens

What could we do? We tried all ways possible, until we found the way of the gun…we Palestinians cannot accept a piece of our own land as charity from another country.”

Catholics and Zionism

September 5, 2014

 

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We seemed to have thought of everything except the Arabs
Judah Magnes

In London deranged thug attacked British MP George Galloway in broad daylight breaking his jaw al the while screaming about Hitler and the holocaust. The kicker is the assailant identified himself as a Catholic Zionist.

I was one once. Right after the war and into the 60s you couldn’t help being a Zionist. At that time Catholics did not have language for our support for the little country in the Middle East which was founded to be a safe haven for Jews.

In my case it was natural. Growing up as I did in a largely Jewish area of downtown Toronto, Jews were my friends and team mates. With the exception of the eastern European accents of their parents they were no different than others in the great stew I found myself in.

In retrospect I was blind to the plight of the Palestinians and the tragedy of the Nakba, their shocking dispossession from their historic homes. They were as invisible to me as they were to the early Zionists of the dawn of the 20th century.

By pure happenstance by geography and upbringing my life trajectory was steered in the right direction. At an early age I became aware of antisemitism and racism. It formed my worldview and I naturally carried it into my teaching. I wrote about this in my memoir Never Neutral: A Teaching Life. I thought Catholics should know about the holocaust and as an act of reparation and of deep gratitude I exposed my students to the holocaust and its lessons.

It took sometime however for the scales to fall from my eyes. One of the main reasons I suspect was that Arabs in general were off my radar. Like most people in Anglo Toronto I saw them as kind of exotic creatures, desert nomads. They were a total abstraction, devoid of any history. Jews I knew but who knew Palestinians or Arabs?

The world was legitimately enthralled by the portraits of Jews building a new home in this small country after the ravages of Nazism. Let nobody stand in their way. Sadly the Palestinians who bore no responsibility for the Jewish tragedy subconsciously became the new enemy.

We had no understanding of the early years of Zionism (1882 and on) when the population of Palestine was 96% Palestinian and Muslim. In 1945 the Jewish population of this same area was less than 7% of the total. we had no idea that Jerusalem for example had been overwhelmingly Arab since the seventh century. For us true believers Zionism had the exclusive right to this patch of land. Facts of the incremental dispossession of the indigenous people were seldom heard in the West. So powerful was the dream of Zionism and fellow supporters like myself. We were literally caught in a romantic trance. In the 60s and 70s we could have easily reiterated the words of The Zionist founder Theodore Herzl’s good friend Max Nordau who one day in 1897 exclaimed to him,”But there are Arabs in Palestine. I did not know that!”

This slowly began to change.

Sad to say it the reason for the change was the sudden appearance of Arabs on the screen and in the news.

The Catholic Zionist

September 4, 2014

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Your honour we present to you. Mr Neil Masterson, age 39.He is accused of attacking the Honorable George Galloway, six time elected MP (Bradford West) of the Respect Party.

In a bizarre assault the 39 year old Masterson put the boots to the 61 year old Galloway in the Notting Hill district of London on Friday Aug 29. Even with a broken jaw Galloway got up and followed the thug and pointed him out to police.

Interviewed later Galloway said that his assailant wore an Israeli Defence Force t-shirt and was “shouting support for Israel and opposition to my views on Israel” as he unleashed a “torrent of punches and kicks.”

Ironically, Masterson whose rage sent Galloway to the hospital overnight was charged with “religiously aggravated assault” as well as common assault on a passerby who jumped into the fray.
Masterson will appear as Hammersmith magistrate Court next Monday.

Now the term “religiously aggravated” appears to fit the assailant as he described himself as a Catholic Zionist and Anti Islamic. He threatened to slit Galloway’s throat on his Facebook page. As he beat on the face of the well known critic of Israel’s policies, Masterson ranted about Hitler and the Holocaust.

Immediately a drive to cover Masterson’s costs raised $4,000.

In Today’s Telegraph,a Conservative paper, political commentator Peter Oborne took the very high road and made some very salient points:

There is something very disturbing about the response to this event by the mainstream British political establishment. Mr Galloway has received no public message of sympathy from a single MP from any party – nothing from Speaker Bercow, from the Prime Minister, or from any of the other elected political leader.

I know that Mr Galloway is a very controversial figure and that many people, for honourable reasons, disagree very strongly with his views. Yet that is irrelevant. The attack on Mr Galloway is beyond doubt an attack on British democracy itself.

It is a basic principle of our political culture that men and women must be able to speak up for the causes they believe in without threats or violent reappraisal. Had an MP been attacked by some pro-Palestinian fanatic for his support of Israel, I guess there would have been a national outcry and rightly so. Why then the silence from the mainstream establishment following this latest outrageous assault on a British politician?

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When I read all of the above, I mused that I too was a Catholic Zionist when I was Masterson’s age. This was before I became a Groucho-Marxist and believed what I saw rather than what was fed to me by books like Leon Uris’s Exodus which I devoured in 1958. That was before I understood the meaning of the biblical Exodus, the exegesis of which has totally escaped the illiterate Catholic Zionist, Neil Masterson.

Nobel peace prize for Harper? Not!

September 3, 2014

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On Friday, Augst 29 the head of B’nai Brith Canada announced his intention to put forward Harper’s name for the world’s most prestigious peace prize, for his “outstanding moral leadership” in support of Israel during its conflict with Hamas militants in Gaza.

“Moral clarity has been lost across much of the world, with terror, hatred and antisemitism filling the void,” said Frank Dimant, CEO, B’nai Brith Canada, in a statement.

“More than any other individual, he has consistently spoken out with resolve regarding the safety of people under threat — such as opposing Russian aggression and annexation of Ukrainian territory — and has worked to ensure that other world leaders truly understand threat of Islamic terrorism facing us today,” Dimant added.

Now you have to know Dimant is a lifer inside this organization, typical of the Jewish groups who have lost the young people by their failure to wsee the former ground vanish below them. As Peter Beinart, a  disillusioned  Zionist recently wrote “It’s hard to sell occupation in a post-colonial age.” Now the most popular leader in Israel ahead of Netanyahu is Naftali Bennet whose main policy is annexation of all West Bank lands. And you wonder why more and more young diaspora Jews are cutting ties with Israel and  Revisionists like Dimant.

Dimant’s sad nomination is simply part of the last gasp of the older generation of idolators of Israel who said little as the state degenerated from its liberal principles it enshrined in its Declaration of Independence May of 1948 viz that “the new state would ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex, and guaranteed freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.” That horse left the stable in 1977 when the ex-terrorist Menachem Begin became Prime Minister.

30 years earlier Albert Einstein inter alios signed a letter in the NY Times (Dec,4,1948) warning American Jews about the current visit of Begin to the USA. Many had lent their names to his welcoming. Did they know what they were signing and who they were championing?

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The signators (which included Hannah Arendt) warned Americans to ignore the Freedom party’s talk of “freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism.” Judge them by their deeds.Remember the slaughter of the innocents on April 9 in the village of Deir Yassin (which still burns in Palestinian memory).This is Begin’s handiwork. At this time In the new state the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdullah in Jordan.

Begin and his gang did not fool many perceptive American Jews.Deir Yassin “exemplifies their character. Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority.”
For Einstein and friends, Begin’s tribe, “bears the unmistakable stamp of a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a “Leader State” is the goal.

With the arrival of the Likudniks in 1977 Israel  defaulted on its rather grand vision. Revisionist Zionism, supremacist and racist simply could not be reconciled with the liberal and progressive values of Zionism’s earlier iteration I.t has taken way too long for diaspora Jewry to grasp this fact. To their credit idealist Zionists are funally breaking the code of silence. And poor dDmant is going in the opposite direction.

Dimant’s nomination of Harper for a Nobel Prize should be seen as a comedic jest particularly after the burning children of Gaza was defended by the Prime Minister.

The American prophets ended  their letter with an eerie warning: it is imperative that the truth about Mr. Begin and his movement be made known in this country. It is all the more tragic that the top leadership of American Zionism has refused to campaign against Begin’s efforts, or even to expose to its own constituents the dangers to Israel from support to Begin.

Now many Zionists are raising  a similar warning flag.

Gaza and simple pleasures

August 30, 2014

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Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own or so the master says in Matthew’s gospel. Particularly in his’ time when life was short and often brutal—there was more enough daily trouble to go around. Life has always tossed us curve balls—mental and physical ailments, disappointments of all kinds, thwarted dreams. All too true but as Teilhard told us, “By virtue of Creation, and still more the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.” A rich faith life helps to direct our gaze and point us in the right direction.

Daily we live under a waterfall of grace. the seemingly small pleasures nourish us. The happiest people are those who are engaged in our common struggle for humanization. While it is true that wherever we are it is Egypt and pharaoh is still on his throne and life is less than it should be, people come together in communities, organizations and movements to make life more tolerable if not better.

Many through sheer luck, birthright or yes, talent, have all their physical needs looked after and sadly end up as Nietzsche said of the last men, live a life of pitiable comfort. The pleasure principle is their sole ambition. They have their reward as superficial as it may be.

For those who are truly alive La lucha continua as the California Grape workers used to say…the struggle continues. The world needs our engagement. One can never retire from this summons.

The great pacifist A.J.Muste used to go to New York Mets games to unwind. I like to go to the Toronto Boardwalk and watch my grandkids play soccer. What an exhilarating experience, watching these pre-teens race up and down the pitch, cheered on parents and friends. I watch the boats on the lake, the caring coaches and refs and the spirited determination on these innocent children This goes on all over this city on summer nights, all run by volunteers. A simple pleasure. A kairos even as the missies crash into Gaza

I am aware that as of August 24, nearly half a million Palestinian children in Gaza who were scheduled to start a new school year were unable to do so because of Israel’s savage massacre which took the wholly innocent lives of about 500 precious ikons of the divine The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights puts the number at 518, while the Palestinian Center for Human Rights reckons 519.

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Cousins of the 4 Palestinian kids killed while playing soccer on a Gaza beach

In an interview last week Pernille Ironside the chief of UNICEF Gaza’s field office said that,” the future of Palestinian children in Gaza is extraordinarily bleak. The entire population has experienced a deep form of trauma, and there isn’t a single family in Gaza who hasn’t experienced personally death, injury, the loss of their home, extensive damage, displacement. The psychological toll that has on a people, it just cannot be overestimated, and especially on children. I’ve met children who have experienced extraordinary wounds, who have watched as family members were dismembered before their eyes, obliterated….I mean, the impact and the type of weaponry that’s being used is literally shredding and obliterating people, and particularly children, who are so small and vulnerable.
Ms Ironside, the very best of the wonderful people who work for the United Nations stated in her usual professional manner that “there appears to be a rollback in terms of the compliance with the norms of international humanitarian law that dictate civilians and civilian objects, including shelters that are run for relief purposes, are protected spaces at all times.”

I observe in stunned disbelief that local rabbis are not shaking their fists in rage over the deaths of these children. I wonder why the Catholic bishops are so mute on such an egregious betrayal of civilized norms.

At the same time i am grateful for Israeli writers like Gideon Levy and Amira Hess who never stop challenging Israel for its betrayal of ethical Zionism.

I watch my grandkids cavort on the boardwalk’s soccer pitch I rejoice in such a simple pleasure and as I take Dougie for an ice cream after his game i am deeply aware of 519 Palestinian children and one Israeli who will never grow up to kick a soccer ball.

DOUGIE

Racism: No tears for Palestinian children

August 29, 2014

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“Life is the only real counselor; wisdom unfiltered through personal experience does not become a part of the moral tissue.

Edith Wharton

Something here has to rise up and scream: Enough. All the excuses and all the explanations will not help – there is no such thing as a child that is allowed to be killed and a child that is not. There are only children killed for nothing, hundreds of children whose fate touches no one in Israel, and one child, just one, around whose death the people unite in mourning.

Gideon Levy in Haaretz Aug. 24, 2014

Many of the Zionist critics of Israel often mention the deep racism in Israel today Poll after poll indicates this sad fact. Peter Beinart in his book The Crisis of Zionism states that the poll results of Israeli attitudes towards Arabs are shocking. He then lays the results out with this statement: “As painful as it is for Jews to admit that race hatred can take roots among a people that has suffered so profoundly from it the ground truth is that occupying another people requires racism, and breeds it”.

Walls of course facilitate racism. Think about what that concrete monstrosity means that snakes across Israel today. Not only has it stolen 10% of Palestinian land, but it screams “I don’t even want to even see you.”. These poor Israeli kids who are forced to humiliate Arabs on a daily basis ultimately will see them as less than human.

There were no walls at Harbord Collegiate playground in the summers when I was a kid playing on three city championship ball teams with all Jewish kids in the early 50s. Athletics and demography can do that for you if you are lucky enough and wise enough to take the universal lessons dropped in your lap

One of the most shocking examples of this ingrained racism is contained in Israeli journalist Yoram Binur’s 1990 expose My Enemy, My Self, a book which rocked Israel. Like John Howard Griffin’s opus Black Like Me in the southern USA in the late 50s. Binur successfully passed into the culture as “the other”, in his case a lowly Palestinian doing menial jobs.

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Fluent in Arabic, the author experienced the daily abuse as a Palestinian living under military rule in the Occupied Territories. Treated with utter disdain by his Jewish employers, he begins to hate his fellow Israelis who had no idea he was a former lieutenant in the IDF.

How prophetic Binur was. While he was underground the first Intifada broke out. His eerie conclusion:

If you respect them and their rights to freedom and independence, you dont have a problem, but if you just ignore it, you fall into a greater risk and this is the reason I wrote the book, because I feel the biggest risk is just around the corner and no one paid attention. Israel will not be a democracy anymore. You cannot apply a dictatorship to Palestinian camps five minutes from Jerusalem, as we do now, and keep a democracy,“

Binur’s sobering account of Jewish racism was at tghe same time also confirmed by Israel’s premier novelist David Grossman .In 1987 Grossman was commissioned to write about life in the Occupied Territories. Palestinians in their daily suffering leap off the page as fellow humans who often remind him of his grandmother.The author is appalled with the settlers “who will not allow themselves a split second of empathy. He is sickened by the exploitation of Palestinian workers.The Yellow Wind caused a sensation in Israel.

Twenty-four years later the chastened liberal Zionists are flagging racism as the grave threat to Israeli democracy. No less prophetic than Binur and Grossman is another brave Israeli, journalist Gideon Levy.

In an Haaretz article (Aug 24) the author wrote about “the difference between children”. It is a stunning piece in which Levy contrasts the coverage of the death of the four year old Israeli child Daniel Tragerman and the almost 500 children killed in Gaza. The death of the young Jewish child  was major news in Israel and as Levy says Whose heart would not be broken at the sight of the grieving family,who would not weep at how he was criminally killed…It is human understanadable and moving.”

Yet Levy probes depper.

“What is incomprehensible is the Israeli response to the killing of thir children”

In a world where there is some good, children would be left out of the cruel game called war. In a world where there is some good, it would be impossible to understand the total, almost monstrous unfeelingness in the face of the killing of hundreds of children – not ours, but by us. Imagine them standing in a row: 478 children, in a graduating class of death.

These are the Palestinian children killed in Gaza

An iron wall of denial and inhumanness protects the Israelis from the shameful work of their hands in Gaza. And indeed, these numbers are hard to digest

The radio yesterday already talked about “murder.” The prime minister already called the killing “terror,” while hundreds of Gaza’s children in their new graves are not victims of murder or terror. Israel had to kill them. And after all, who are Fadi and Ali and Islaam and Razek, Mahmoud, Ahmed and Hamoudi – in the face of our one and only Daniel.

We must admit the truth: Palestinian children in Israel are considered like insects.”

Zionism called into question

August 27, 2014

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Others have not been so specific in their dissent, but they share the sense that it will no longer do simply to trot out the familiar lines. Partly it’s because some of the consequences of the Israeli bombardment have been so hard to stomach: hospitals, schools, and homes battered by shells, with instantly lethal consequences. It requires a special steel, perhaps lacking in some liberal Zionists, to speak up for Israel when the country’s air force has just hit a home for the disabled.

Jonathan Freedland in the New York Review of Books July 26,2014

50 days of unrelenting pulverizing, hardly a war have come to an end with the usual results, massive Palestinian suffering including the deaths of 500 children, the needless deaths of 64 Israelis,(5 by friendly fire) mostly soldiers. The interesting thing is the lashing of Israeli PM Netanyahu whose poll numbers have plummeted. The damage done to Zionism is incalculable as many Jewish commentators have been writing. It is truly decision time for many Jews in the diaspora.

Beleaguered liberal Zionists  as we are seeing are having a massive crise de conscience—how to balance their dreams of Israel  as an oasis of universal human values, liberalism and human rights with the reality of Revisionist Zionism, a shocking betrayal of humanist values, best exemplified by the savage assaults on Gaza—3 in the last six years.

Before that there was another disproportionate attack on Lebanon in 2006. You recall that don’t you? In the last 72 hours of fighting, at a time when the United Nations Security Council had adopted Resolution 1701 calling for an immediate halt to hostilities, Israel dropped more than four million of these flesh ripping pieces of shrapnel over south Lebanon, a goodbye kiss if you will, another lovely reminder of “the most moral army in the world.” all paid for of course by the USA.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch slammed Israel for the use of these cluster bombs in civilian areas. In an article in Haaretz (Sept 12, 2006) an anonymous member of the IDF rocket’s unit spoke as a human being:“What we did was insane and monstrous; we covered entire towns in cluster bombs.”  Handicap International an NGO which monitors this type of warfare reported that since the cessation of hostilities five years later, 408 Lebanese civilians have been killed or injured by these, 115 of them under 18 years old. Unless properly disposed of, the weapons keep killing and maiming for decades. In 2007 alone, Lebanon lost an estimated $126.8 million in agricultural revenue because of cluster munitions.

This is the stuff of which never gets into our news cycles, never penetrates our minds and lives. Yet they are hell on earth for those who suffer. And the worst suffering is that the west cares very little about Arab suffering.

Well now the cumulative savagery is readily obvious to diaspora Jews who desperately wanted to believe in the cultural and religious Zionism they grew up with. These are people who  pay attention to what is really transpiring within Israel. Decent men like Lerman and several other Jewish American Zionist pundits along with a growing chorus of other dissenters are having the masks pulled from their eyes. And it must be said to the willfully blind in disaporic Jewry this has always been going on if you had been really paying attention.

As the author mentioned in his NYT Sunday article “ the self-appointed arbiters  of what’s Jewish in the Jewish state — the extreme religious Zionists and the strictly Orthodox, aided and abetted by Jewish racists  in the Knesset like Ayelet Shaked, a Jewish Home Party member who recently called for the mothers of Palestinian “snakes” to be killed — are trashing democracy more and more each day”. 

This public excoriation has scarcely been heard before in national American papers but a rubicon of blood has been crossed this time in Gaza and only deluded true believers can deny it. The public faces of liberal Zionism are no longer falling for the lying (”the familiar lines” as Jonathan Freedland said above) massive propaganda peddled by Israel and ignored by the craven Congress and Senate, Herein lies the great scandal of American democracy held hostage by the money and influence of the Israeli lobby. Not one president has dared buck this lobby since Harry Truman caved in 1947. Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton are both co-opted by this lobby.

Lerman concludes his article in this fashion:

Pushed to the political margins in Israel and increasingly irrelevant in the Diaspora,  liberal Zionism not only lacks agency; worse, it provides cover for the supremacist Zionism  dominant in Israel today. Liberal Zionists have become an obstacle to the emergence of a  Diaspora Jewish movement that could actually be an agent of change.

Conclusion tomorrow,

Endgame for liberal Zionism?

August 25, 2014

In Germany slow processes altered the perception of reality to the degree that insanity became the norm, and then we were exterminated. It happened in the land of the poets and philosophers. There it was possible, and here to in the land of the prophets. The establishment of a state run by rabbis and generals is not an impossible nightmare…open your ears and hearts.
Avraham Burg, former speaker of the Knesset

From the Six Day War to Lebanon, from Lebanon to the settlements, from the settlements to Gaza, Israel’s credibility has steadily fallen – even as the world’s distance from Auschwitz (the favorite excuse) has lengthened. So Israel is far more vulnerable today than it would have been twenty five years ago.
Tony Judt, late Jewish American historian

It took over 50 years for the veil to be pulled back in Israel but then a lie can’t live forever. The new Israeli historians with access to more material proved beyond a doubt that Palestinians were forcefully expelled from their homeland in the year of the Nakba, 1948. Morris, Shlaim, Pappe, Kimmerling et al revealed a brutal reign of terror as 750,000 innocent victims who had nothing to do with Hitler’s deadly assault on European Jewry paid the price of homelessness.

From the beginning, even from Herzl’s time despite assurances that Jews wished to live side by side with Palestinians, the indigenous people of the land, expansion and statehood was the hidden agenda. When Herzl began his Zionist movement only 3% of Palestine was Jewish and those in the Yishuv (the Jewish community) lived quietly among the natives.

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Through a reign of terror which the Israeli government screams now, three terrorists—Begin, Shamir and Sharon became Prime Ministers. With the election of the Likud in 1977 a new revisionist Zionism took hold and remains so today. Gobbling up the remaining Palestinian land at a furious pace and becoming crueler and crueler in the process, it stands as revealed as an ugly expansionist settler project. The biblical Isaianic dream of being lor goyim (a light unto the nations) has become a pathetic joke as Israel rapidly has become a pariah nation

It wasn’t supposed to end like this. The dream of the cultural Zionists was one of enlightened liberal values, human rights and the universal vision of Judaism.

Sadly the fundamentalists had their way and a bitter and hated enemy of the Palestinian people became the Prime Minister, a man obsessed with military power,Binyamin Netanyahu—the ‘destroyer of dreams” as historian Avi Shlaim calls him.

And now many Jews are heartsick that their zionism has been turned on its head. Anthony Lerman’s confession in yesterday’s New York Times says it all:”Everything liberal zionists stand for is now in doubt.”

More and more Jews have been sickened as Lerman says by “shock and awe militarism. The latest assault on Gaza, a disproportionate orgy of wanton murder, the third assault on defenceless Gazans in eight years has broken many. ”It cannot be reconciled with their humanism.”

Forget Hamas and their utterly futile “defence” of their people. Theirs is the cry of the proud madman who does not care anymore. He has been crazed by decades of humiliation, hopelesness and unremitting oppression. Now like The Mexican rebel Zapapta he would rather die on his feet than continue living on his knees.

Lerman will surely be on the receiving end of abuse from the true Israeli believers when he describes ’Modern israel. The attacks on freedom of speech and human rights organizations in Israel, the land-grabbing settler movement, a growing strain of anti-Arab racism, extremist politics and a powerful intolerant religious right, this mixture has pushed zionism to the brink.”

Lerman does not stop with the ugly politics in israel. He goes after the american apologists,AIPAC,the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League “as well as a raft of largely self-appointed community leaders who have swung to the right making unquestioning solidarity with israel the touchstone of their jewish identity—even though majority Jewish opinion is by no means hawkish.
By 2007 the author still thought Liberal Zionism had a role to play. This cri de coeur brings much pain to a non-Jewish readership. Here is an idealist, an Israeli citizen since 1970 who served the Jewish community in “research and philanthropic capacities” who still believed that liberal zionism could play a part by expressing reservations about Israeli policies toward the Palestinians.

 

Lerman’s heart is breaking as his dream has been trampled on by thugs like Sharon and Netanyahu but wait until 200t he dared to dream “of Israel as a moral and just cause.” It has turned to dust.
“The only Zionism of any consequence today is xenophobic and exclusionary, a Jewish ethno-nationalism inspired by religious messianism. It is carrying out an open-ended project of national self-realization to be achieved through colonization and purification of the tribe”.

This mind-set blocks any chance Israel might have to become a full-fledged liberal-democratic state, and offers the Palestinians no path to national self-determination, no justice for their expulsion in 1948, nor for the occupation and the denial of their rights. I came to see the notion that liberal Zionism might reverse, or even just restrain, this nationalist juggernaut as fanciful.

Well, brother Lerman was vilified then and I fear the true believers will once again descend on him like a ton of bricks. More tomorrow.

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