Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Hanukkah abused by Netanyahu

December 18, 2014

Wednesday morning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proudly sent around joyous picture of how he views Hanukkah. it was the first day of the Festival of Lights.This holiday ranks quite low  in the Jewish canon and  as such was hijacked by Zionism. Originally a time of contemplation and gratitude, with ideologues like Netanyahu it now serves as a model of Jewish nationalism. with Likudniks  it salutes the tough Jew, the new Hebrew rather than the traditional Torah Jew who championed interiority,humility and compassion.In capitalist America it gives Jews a chance to compete with Christians in the consumer orgy of “the holiday season.

Here’s the bellicose PM with guard dogs and 2 members of the IDF looking like members of the NRA.

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Such is the season of peace in Israel.

After lighting the first Hanukkah candle Netanyahu then launched into an absurd paean of praise for the IDF,”the most moral army in the world’. That is Netanyahu’s world.This is an army which regularly dehumanizes  and humiiiates Palestinians.

These sad leaders are locked into an out of date bellicose, macho worldview inimical to peace and understanding.They will even stoop to co-opt the sacred symbols of Judaism.Wait till you see what they do with passover and the liberation of the oppressed.

Happy Hanukkah, Mr Prime Minister!

In Nazareth the whole world was watching

December 16, 2014

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On July 17,1948 Ben Dunkelman a 35 year old Jew from Toronto was commanding the Israeli forces which the previous day had conquered the Galilean city of Nazareth. The World War ll vet, an expert on the use of mortars, brazenly refused the order from his superiors to expel the local population.

 
He later wrote that this was “one of the most sanctified shrines of the Christian world”(Jesus’ hometown)and was thus aware of the very bad optics and the “severe international repercussions” of such an action.”

 
Lest the halo shine too brightly on this fellow Canadian’s moral scruples, the Seventh Brigade according to historian Ilan Pappe was particularly known for their barbarous behaviour.

 
This was all part of Plan D, which had been agreed on in March.It simply meant “transfer” a nice euphemism for kicking out native Palestinians from the country they had been part of for eons. From the text of this plan—“In the event of resistance, the armed force must be wiped out and the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state”; and the razing of their villages: “Destruction of villages (setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris), especially those population centers which are difficult to control.

 
Previously the locals in Nazareth had agreed to surrender on one condition—they would be left alone and allowed to stay.The next day he received a direct order from General Moshe Karmil his superior to depopulate the city. Dunkelman refused on the grounds that he had pledged to leave the population alone. Karmil immediately asked his boss, the Defense Minister and Prime Minister Ben Gurion .The latter allowed the locals to stay. His cynical remark says it all:”Here the world is watching us.”

 
The decision ultimately gave Ben Gurion ulcers.750,000 Palestinians were expelled and a few towns and small cities were allowed to stay.Nazareth was one.

 
When he toured the Galilee in 1953 he was outraged at the presence of so many Arabs ”It is not enough to expel the foreign invader (Palestinians!), we have to replace with Hebrew settlers.”

 

 

Today Nazareth is still the only Arab city, in the whole state. Since it is in Israel proper and not the Occupied Territories many Jews now live there in the more commodious Upper Nazareth—but that’s a story for another time.

 

 

Now more than ever,”the whole world is watchng”.

Israelis are fed up with Netanyahu

December 14, 2014

ISRAELIS ARE fed up with Binyamin Netanyahu. They are fed up with the government. They are fed up with all political parties. They are fed up with themselves. They are fed up.
So begins 91 year old Uri Avnery’s latest column.

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Credentials impeccable: fought in the 1948 war which established the state of Israel, then sat in the Knesset.
Now like many Jews of conscience he watches as Israel rapidly implodes. all under the catastrophic misleadership of the territoirial expansionist and Arab hater, Bibi Netanyahu.

Uri refreshes our memory:.
In 2000, In the evening after the election, when it was announced that Netanyahu had been defeated, there was an explosion of enthusiasm. Tens of thousands of delirious citizens streamed spontaneously to Tel Aviv’s central Rabin Square and cheered the savior, Ehud Barak, the leader of the Labor Party. He announced the Dawn of Another Day.
Safdly the jubilation was premature!
Unfortunately, Barak turned out to be a sociopath and an egomaniac, if not a megalomaniac. He missed the chance of peace at the Camp David conference and in the process almost completely destroyed the Israeli peace movement. The Right, this time under Ariel Sharon, came back. Then under Ehud Olmert. Then under Netanyahu again. And Again.
And now again?
God forbid!

What does the future hold—new elections, maybe another Netanyahu government which woulod omly lead Israel deeper into the abyss.Uri 3 weeks ago wrote:

The Netanyahu government is leading the country towards disaster. It is systematically destroying all chances for peace, enlarging settlements in the West Bank and especially East Jerusalem, stoking the fires of a religious war on the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary, denouncing both Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas at the same time. All this after the superfluous Gaza War, which ended in a military draw and a human disaster that continues unabated to this day.

At the same time, the government is bombarding the Knesset with an endless stream of racist and anti-democratic bills, each worse than the last, culminating in the bill called “Israel: the Nation-State of the Jewish People”, which eliminates the term “Jewish and Democratic State” as well as the word “Equality”.

The worst of the above is the shockingmove toward citizenship is not based on basic democratic rights but the rights of an ethnocracy.Jews in, Arab citizens out. So much for the “only democracy in the Middle East” which utterly marginalizes 20% of the country’s citzizens.

Uri holds out hope–a coalition, a bloc of centrist and leftist parties
“The declared purpose should be to put an end to the catastrophic drift of the country towards the abyss and to oust not just Netanyahu, but the whole bunch of settlers, nationalist and racist demagogues, war-mongers and religious zealots. It should appeal to all sectors of Israeli society, women and men, Jews and Arabs, Orientals and Ashkenazis, secular and religious, Russian and Ethiopian immigrants. All those who fear for the future of Israel and are resolved to save it.”

 

Good luck,Uri, a consummation devoutly to be wished.

Where’s Woodrow Wilson now?

December 10, 2014

 

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In 1919 as the Ottoman Empire was dissolving and France and Britain were licking their imperialist chops over the Mandates they were about to govern,Woodrow Wilson the idealist president, the son of a Presbyterian minister created the Crane-King Commission to actually ask the Arabic peoples of the region what they thought. The president believed in the idea of self-determination.What did the natives think?

 

Two things, They were terrified of Zionism,the gradual takeover of Palestine and secondly, they all wanted the US to become their protector in that part of the world. Such was the reputation of Wilson’s America at that time. There was this Presbyterian sense of fairness and justice. Forget the fact that the Commission’s prophetic report was never acted on and train your eyes on the latest scandal of torture and lies which are degrading both the CIA and the clownish Bush who presided over the empire’s latest fall from grace.

 
This should not be news to the wide awake, those who read and pay attention.

 
By the time of the 30s the USA was well on its way to becoming an empire and when the supposedly idealist president FDR was asked about the US’s support of the dictadura(the harsh dictator) Somoza in Nicaragua, he replied,”He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” And so it has gone. There is no such thing as a benevolent empire.

 
So a year (1967) to the day that he was murdered Martin Luther King Jr. called out his own country “as the greatest purveyor of violence in the world”, People were shocked. King was dead on.The Vietnam war was in full flight, a catastrophe which saw a minimum of 1 million Vietnamese civilians killed…and this was followed by Chile ,El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia etc.
Nobody should be shocked at these revelations.
The United States along time ago ceased to be the”shining city on a hill” as Winthrtop called it in the 17th century.

Where’s Woodrow Wilson when you need him?

Netanyahu the Second Class Citizenship Man

December 5, 2014

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Facebook Postings: Second Class Citizenship

Palestinian legislators among others in the Israeli Parliament criticized a controversial new bill defining Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
The proposed legislation, which was approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on November 30 is expected to get its first reading in the parliament, or Knesset, next week.
It is designed to demote Arabic – spoken by the fifth of the population who belong to the country’s Palestinian minority – from its current status as an official language, and makes “Jewish tradition” and “the prophets of Israel” a primary source of legal and judicial authority.
More specifically, it formally defines Israel as belonging to Jews around the world rather than to its citizens, which includes 1.5 million Palestinians.
Bull-headed Netayahu a lifelong expansionist Israeli, the true son of his father an idolator of the Likud guru Zeev Jabotinsky, wants all of the West Bank for Israel.
Israel,the only true democracy in the west—sounds very hollow today.
Look how far Israel has come from simply wanting a “homeland” to live side by side with the Palestinian people to, all right we were lying, we always wanted a state.and then the Declaration of Independence in 1948 (to appease a slumbering world) it in Paragraph 13 assured complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; based on the prophetsof Israel…

Based on the prophets…as Jackie Gleason used to say, “Dat’s rich!”
Adalah the Haifa based centre for Palestinian Rights  stated that there are more than 55 laws that confer superior status on Jewish citizens.
That is the meaning of an ethnocracy,not a democracy.

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Next Year in Warsaw, not Jerusalem

December 1, 2014

When I was an honorary Jew after my book Shabbes Goy:A Catholic Boyhood came out in 2002 I was often invited to synagogues to speak.I was always at home there because I never felt the urge to condescend to the audience.

 

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Sadly many Catholics treat Jews as “rarae aves”, rare birds entirely different deserving of a special status because of the Holocaust. Luckily because of a historical accident,that of growing up with many Jews I never felt the need to descend to such depths.This always made my encounters rich, honest and often funny.
My remarks usually dealt with the world of the 40s and 50s which I cohabited with Jewish people. at that time the injustice to Palestinians never arose as it was not germane to my memoir.

 
However in question periods the audience often asked me about contemporary events.remember this was right after 9/11.My stock answer was this—and remember I was speaking in a synagogue where I deeply respected Torah Judaism: You are no longer a powerless minority. Many of you have achieved success and respect here in Canada.You should never allow any group (e.g. Muslims) to be treated like you were in the bad,old days. This will require some sensitivity because of the Middle East but this is a Toarh command to look after the sojourners among you.

 
I was never afraid to gently needle them with lines like, “You know this is the promised land,not Israel.All of you have decided not to make aliyah to the “Jewish State.”

 
Basically they really were not Zionists.They were the true descendants of the Haskala, the Jewish enlightenment of the 19th century.You chose assimilation in Western secular culture—and it worked! You have achieved great success and added immeasurably to the Canadian culture while remaining Jewish.

 
Now,of course, I knew all about the “guilt merchants” of Israel who came regularly to North America and tried, often quite successfully, to shame Jews here into ponying up money for Israel.This was largely an ugly Likud dirty trick and it made many Jews reluctant Zionists, supporting everything Israel did. Now of course that consensus has been broken.Young people nourished on liberal, democratic values based on human rights, have fled the synagogue and for good reasons are quite critical of modern day Israel.
That brilliant Jewish American writer Philip Roth has made a career of ridiculing the bourgeois Judaism of North America. In his hilarious novel, Operation Shylock, (1988) Roth writes about Jews of the haskala who decided to remain here and not go to Israel. Try not to laugh when reading this:

 
What does owning Jerusalem, of all places, have to do with being Jews in 1988? Jerusalem is by now the worst thing that could possibly have happened to us. Last year in Jerusalem! Next year in Warsaw! Next year in Bucharest! Next year in Vilna and Cracow! Look, I know people call Diasporism a revolutionary idea, but it’s not a revolution that I’m proposing, it’s a retroversion, a turning back, the very thing Zionism itself once was. You go back to the crossing point and cross back the other way. Zionism went back too far, that’s what went wrong with Zionism. Zionism went back to the crossing point of the dispersion—Diasporism goes back to the crossing point of Zionism.”

 

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John Tory should be ashamed

November 27, 2014

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John Tory put his worst foot forward last Sunday. The future mayor of Toronto foolishly appeared at the Negev Dinner, a huge fundraising affair for the Jewish National Fund (JNF). Tory was joined by another Canadian who should have known better, comic Martin Short.

 

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The JNF is complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land.And what is embarrassing for Canadian you get a nice fat tax break for supporting another country’s oppression. Yes,the Canadian Revenue Agency will give you a tax credit even though its contrary to the Canadian Human Rights Act.
The JNF as we know(should not the mayor of Toronto’s largest city be aware of this? ) is a quasi- governmental organization which practices racial discrimination in the buying and selling of land. Palestinians need not apply.Try that in Toronto and you’d be hauled into court.We used to have racist covenants like that but common sense, the rights of citizenship and plain old human dignity ushered such discrimination into the Canadian waste bin.
Alas the rabid pro-Israel Canadian government provides financial and political support to the JNF whose property will not be leased to non-Jews.
A 1998 United Nations Human Rights Council report found that the JNF systematically discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up about 20 percent of the country’s population.

 

Why then is the JNF a registered charity in this country?

 

Why is the “mayor of all the people” clowning around with Martin Short at a JNF dinner? Playing domestic politics at the expense of a long-suffering people is not only insulting and insensitive.In this case it should be illegal.

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Max Blumenthal muzzled; Angela Merkel living in past

November 26, 2014

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Max Blumenthal’s book Goliath is the best popular look at contemporary Israel. Blumenthal is always worth reading.Recently he toured Germany where some German politicians tried to marginalize him with the old hoary canard—antisemitic.
Now Max is an American Jew who is about as sharp as they come when it comes to reporting on Israel. When Gazawas attacked during the summer, German Chancellor Merkel promised to “stand by the side of Israel.” About as bad as Stephen Harper, I guess. the woman needs to read former speaker of the Knnesset Avaraham Burg’s the Holocaust is Over

 

What is interesting of course is that Merkel seems to be still quivering in the shadow of the Holocaust and Germany’s odious role.
Under Merkel’s leadership, the Berlin government has been equipping Israel with submarines that reportedly carry nuclear weapons.
In an interview Blumenthal described Germany’s post Holocaust attitude (guilt/) toward the Jewish state:

 
The negation of Palestinian lives has been German policy since the days of Konrad Adenauer [chancellor of West Germany from 1949 to 1963]. In those days Israel had no problem to negotiate on Holocaust reparations with the head of the chancellery, Hans Globke, who was a known Nazi in the Third Reich. This cash flow from Germany went directly to the Israeli occupation machine that has made the Palestinians indirect victims of the Holocaust. The current bloodshed is a result of this policy and every German should ask himself: how does this policy honor the Holocaust?

 

Blumenthal was responding to a Green party member Volker Beck who wanted Blumenthal and fellow journalist also Jewish,David Sheen silenced.

 

The reason for this is the fact that they do not want to know of another version of Judaism and they certainly do not want to hear about the facts on the ground. Their attitude actually promotes anti-Semitism. It is simply anti-Semitic to equate Zionism with Judaism and to limit Jewish identity to the narrow confines of Israeli nationalism. For a gentile politician to do it is beyond disgusting.

Why has Israel no constitution?

November 24, 2014

One of the reasons israel has no constitution is that it would have to honour the human rights of all its citizens. The 1948 Declaration of Independence states “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.”

20% of israeli citizens are Arabs.

Ask them about “the complete equality of social and political rights”.

Now the supreme Prevaricator in Chief PM Netanyahu is trying to square the circle again.He and his cabinet approved a bill yesterday enshrining Israel as ‘Jewish nation-state’. So you can have democracy and a state which privileges one group?

By, bye the dignity and the human rights of the Arab citizens. Their dignity as of today is about one fourth the dignity of a Jewish citizen when it comes to water, roads, garbage collection, employment in the civil service(I guess it should be 1 in 5), unemployment benefits and a radically underfunded Arab school system, one which allows the security force the Shin Bet to vet principals,teachers and caretakers.Gotta watch those subversive caretakers for sure.
The latter of course is laughable.the official lie for the separate system is to ensure the Arab citizens can preserve its culture, language and heritage.” As if the state gives a damn about these things. Always, always the language coming from the state is couched in the most liberal,democratic language.Its purpose of course is to hide the truth.

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In 2012 the brilliant academic thhe Israeli professor of education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Nurit Peled-Elhanan eviscerated the Israeli school system when it came its anti-Arab racism. Examining 17 israeli text books on history,geography and civics, she concluded,”“The books studied here harness the past to the benefit of the … Israeli policy of expansion, whether they were published during leftist or right-wing [education] ministries” (224).
And “through the use of exclusion and absence: “none of the textbooks studied here includes, whether verbally or visually, any positive cultural or social aspect of Palestinian life-world: neither literature nor poetry, neither history nor agriculture, neither art nor architecture, neither customs nor traditions are ever mentioned” (49)

And the hasbara coming from Israel and believed in Toronto:”Those Arabs are taught to hate.”

The Bedouin cleansing

November 22, 2014

Al Araqib is a small Bedouin village in the Negev desert which we entered in earlyNovember.What a shocking tale unfolded amid the legendary Palestinian hospitality and the beautiful warm embrace between another “Jew of conscience” Amos Gvirtz and the Bedouin villagers.

 

 

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Amos and Sheikh Saya Al-Turi

 

The Bedouin have been in the Negev since Jesus was a boy—and much earlier.They are legendary farmers and grazers.In the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine there were 60,000 to 110,000 who raised their sheep and goats,farmed barley,wheat and lived in tent villages.By 1960 the strategy of Israel which is still operative was to force these original inhabitants out.Only 11,000 remained.The rest were forced into towns with the age old Israeli lie that they would someday come back.It never happened and the Bedouin forced to live an urban life descended into dire poverty and its accompanying social disfunction.

 

 

The state simply wanted all of the land so that settlers could move in.In 1948 the Israelis owned 7-8% of the land now its 98% of the land and they want more.
Fadi Samara a young Bedouin social worker who is also the manger of the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages laid out the situation.

 

 

 

The Israelis  want the land of the “unrecognized villages”.That’s right, on Israel’s maps these villages which house the Bedouin demographic bomb of now more than 200,000 people there are no villages.  Since they are unrecognized there is no government connection to water, electricity, ,sewage, elephones and roads. In this area alone the government bulldozed 1000 homes, an incredible number and of course against international law which Israel never abides by. And by the way these poor people foot the bill for the house demolitions.

 

This patently war by another name. It is away from the urban front lines but it is insistent and unrelenting. Israel is convinced it can get away with such thuggish behaviour On March 10,2014 the classless member of Yoav the Israeli military police responsible for the house demolitions entered the cemetery in Al Araqib and desecrated tombstones openly telling villagers who tried to protest,”You do not have any sanctuaries here, since all this land is ours.”

 

When we got there we were told that that Al Araqib had been destroyed 77 times.

 

All this transference of land to the Jewish state is done in an antiseptic manner and couched in laws written in universal language. This borders on the demonic.This is happening to citizens of Israel.More tomorrow.

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