Archive for February 2016

“Jewish community needs to wake up”

February 29, 2016

Simone Zimmerman, a Brooklyn-based blogger who contributes to Haaretz has written an important article on the disaffection of young diaspora Jews over Israel. Haaretz daily runs critical articles never to appear in Canadian papers. She begins:

Sara
The anxiety in the American Jewish establishment over “what is happening to our young people” is reaching a fever pitch of absurdity, as communal leaders and spokespeople frantically try to remedy the symptoms while refusing to acknowledge the true root of the problem: We’re not disengaging from Israel, in fact we’re paying attention to what’s happening in Israel – and we are angry.  The latest edition in this ongoing category error is Ari Shavit’s epiphany (‘Only a ‘Jewish Peace Corps’ Can Save Zionism From Its Millennial Crisis’) that, to save the Jewish future and Israel’s public image, we need a “Jewish Peace Corps” which would be “a joint venture between Israel and the Diaspora,” that will engage young people in “universal do-gooding,” from Yerucham to Rahat to Ferguson. Shavit dreams for the day that Israel will be identified with human rights and “the effort to make the world a better place,” instead of with, “occupation, oppression, settlements, fanaticism and reactionary-ism.”  

Shavit is the darling today of liberal Zionists but to anybody who has read his book My Promised Land he badly misses the mark. He utterly fails Judaic values and replaces them with Zionism. He justifies the creation of Israel at the expense of ethnically cleansed Palestinians. This was Zionism’s“original sin” and intent from the beginning. This can not square with ethical demands of Judaism and the prophetic cry for justice.

NORM1
In a review of his dishonest book Norman Finkelstein asks the fundamental question: what indeed is Jewish about Israel? The Hebrew language. Not good enough. Jews speak many languages. Shavit admits that his Hebrew identity “detached Israelis from the Diaspora, it cut off their Jewish roots, and it left them with no tradition or cultural continuity…. Lost were the depths and riches of the Jewish soul.”
Finkelstein lampoons the secular “Jewish” culture Shavit prizes.
He devotes a cheesy chapter of Time Out-like prose to boasting of Israel’s torrid nightlife (“The word is out that Tel Aviv is hot. Very hot”) and no-holds-barred gay life (“the straights now envy the gays,” “it’s the gays who are leading now”), the anthem of which is, “Forget the Zionist crap. Forget the Jewish bullshit. It’s party time all the time.” His book’s only points of comparative reference and ranking are the fashionable districts of Western metropolises: “Tel Aviv is now no less exciting than New York.”

The sad conclusion for Shavit is distilled through the secular values he prizes, Israel is also just another narcissistic Western consumer society. Indeed, consider Shavit’s own description of the “typical Jewish Israeli city of the third millennium”:

[T]he real Israel is…a shopping mall: cheap, loud, intense and lively…. West Rishon is all about its malls. Consumption is its beating heart. I walk into Cinema City, a gaudy temple of twenty-six theater.

Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors and possibly the most prolific exposer of Israel’s crimes, a researcher non pareil ( coming to Toronto March 23) writes:

The fact is, there is no “ultimate argument” for Zionism, let alone one that justifies ethnic cleansing. Zionist ideology originally possessed a superficial plausibility. A century later, it lies in tatters, nowhere more so than in the pages of Shavit’s book.

And beautiful young Jews like Simone Zimmerman are calling out the hypocrisy and blindness of pseudo-heroes like Ari Shavit and the deaf mutes in the Jewish establishment in the diaspora.

Here is Simone Zimmerman’s challenge:

Shavit blames the Israeli government because it, “refuses to understand and internalize,” the crisis among Jewish millennials. Yet, it is Shavit himself, and every Jewish establishment leader peddling similar arguments, who refuse to understand and internalize this crisis.     My peers and I don’t need any more multi-million dollar ventures to save us. What we need is for the community to wake up.    What we need is for the community to stop willfully blinding itself to the disastrous reality of holding millions of Palestinians under military occupation. We need the community to stop justifying policies that deny Palestinians the ability to move freely, to sleep safely in their homes without the fear of a military raid, to access water and resources, to live without terror that their homes could be bombed to rubble, and to protest the unjust conditions of their lives nonviolently. None of these policies are moral, and none of these policies make Jews safer.   Moreover, we need the community to stop policing and demonizing those of us who say these truths in public and are fighting for change. We need the community to stop holing itself up behind walls and tanks and guns, as well as behind redlines and standards of partnership. 

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Free Trip to Israel!

February 28, 2016

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They tried “greenwashing” Didn’t work. One of the worst countries for ecological seriousness.

 

They tried “pink washing”.Forget the Occupation.Tel Aviv  loves the gay culture.

 

All diversions to the elephant in the room.It’s the Occupation stupid.It is the unrelenting oppression and humiliation of the Palestinian people.

 

Now, let’s get a piece of the celbrity culture. Hope that actors are deaf and dumb as to what is really going on in this country.Give them a freebie and hope they gush over Israel.

 

In the end you simply cannot separate the  beauty,the topography, geography and history of Israel from the morass  it has created for itself.

 

Tourism is down.People are leaving. 50,000 Israelis now live in Germany.

 

Do the right thing.Live up to the high ethical ideals of Judaism and all will be well. Stop the silly promotions. Only one thing counts.Chaim Weizmann said it.Einstein averred it.

 

Israel will be judged in the end by the way it treats its indigenous people.

 

Not so good.

 

 

 

 

 

Palestinians dehumanized

February 27, 2016

Hearts and Minds the academy award winning documentary for 1975 will ever stick in my mind not only for the chilling scene described below but for the audience’s response.

 

West

In the memorable scene scene we shows the funeral of an Vietcong soldier and his grieving family the mother weeping is restrained from climbing into the grave after the coffin] The funeral scene is juxtaposed with an interview with General William Westmoreland — commander of American military operations in the Vietnam War at its peak from 1964 to 1968 and United States Army Chief of Staff from 1968 to 1972 — telling the stunned director that “The Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful. Life is cheap in the Orient.”

At this moment in the New Yorker Theatre on Toronto’s Yonge street the whole audience rose and screamed at the screen—as if General Westmoreland was there in person. It was simple human outrage at the racist crap we had just heard—surely Vietnamese suffering doesn’t equal American pain

And in Israel you really can’t compare Jewish suffering with Palestinian.

The back story—Israel’s refusal to return the bodies of Palestinian fighters to their loved ones. Radio host Razi Barkai challenged Internal security Minister Gilad Erdan over this gross insensitivity saying “Imagine Israeli families … that are waiting desperately to receive the bodies of their loved ones.”

Gilad Erdan

Erdan

What comparing Jewish suffering (good) to Palestinian—no comparison.

Carolina Landsmann in Haaretz wrote:
Barkai’s words were interrupted by Erdan’s cries of shock. Barkai tried to explain – “in terms of the families’ feelings” – but it was evident that Erdan couldn’t believe his ears – in other words, not just that this was Barkai’s opinion, but that such an opinion is even possible. There is no question: Erdan’s insides are incapable of coping with a comparison between the feelings of bereaved Jewish mothers and those of bereaved Arab mothers. In that sense bibi Netanyahu’s assertion – that we are surrounded by “wild animals” – is an accurate formulation of the Israeli zeitgeist, the essence of the stirrings of the Jewish soul in its land.

Today it seems Israelis reject in advance the possibility that the Palestinians even have a perspective. Beneath the surface something very profound has changed in Israeli society. Israeli common sense has changed beyond recognition – most Israelis believe that the feelings of the enemy are different in nature from theirs; that the pain is not the same pain; that there is no minimal common denominator between Jews and Arabs, for example a human common denominator that could be the basis for the imagination of a better future. Only someone who acknowledges the humanity of his enemy can fight him when necessary, and make peace with him when possible. But the ugliness of Israel on the battlefield in Netanyahu’s era – disproportionate harm to civilians, firing at hospitals and schools, commerce in bodies – is the ugliness of Netanyahu at the negotiating table.
Dehumanization knows no bounds

Trump on Israel

February 24, 2016

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This is what passes for intelligence on Israel. Trump on right wing radio:
I have so many friends, Jewish friends, and they have supported Obama, and they are so disgusted. They can’t understand what happened; what went wrong. I think that President Obama has been the worst thing that has ever happened to Israel — the worst thing. I don’t understand it. And Netanyahu — a good guy…

I am a great friend of Israel. I was the Grand Marshal of the Israeli Day Parade… I have so many friends. In fact one of them, one of my great friends — where is Jared, my son-in-law? Where is he? My son-in-law is Jewish, and he’s fantastic — a very successful guy in the New York real estate…. So, there is nobody closer — and Bibi Netanyahu asked me to do a commercial for him, for his campaign. I did a commercial for him.

Impressive Jewish students

February 23, 2016

BDS

How impressive…the following from Jewish students at McGill University.This should be forwarded to all the timorous university presidents who cave to the reactionary pressure of right wing Canadian Jews. Israel has now poured $26 billion into fighting BDS—but they have lost the Jewish youth as have synagogues who blindly support the occupation.
What is so impressive is the journey away from the conflation of Zionism and Judaism. Many young Canadian Jews have made this necessary trek in their wish for an authentic prophetic Judaism,surely one of the greatest gifts to the human race.
Making space for Jewish resistance
Why we’re voting “yes” on the BDS motion

Coming to the realization that being Jewish does not require supporting Israel is cause for both internal and social conflict. At McGill in particular, it can be quite a marginalizing experience. Campus rhetoric consistently pairs anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, preventing Jewish students from speaking out comfortably against Israel’s state policies for fear of being labelled a “self-hating Jew.” On a campus where the heart of Jewish life is dominated by Hillel, an organization whose vision is one where “every student is inspired to make a commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel,” and by Chabad, which wants its members to “apply the timeless Jewish principle of Ahavat [the love of] Israel” – not to mention Israel on Campus – it is crucial for Jews to act to break down the hegemony of this discourse at our university.

The representation of Jewish interests on campus is incredibly important, particularly at a university that once used quotas to limit Jewish enrolment. But when the groups who provide resources, funding, and spaces used to support Kosher options on campus or organize celebrations of religious holidays are also those promoting unconditional support for the State of Israel, these groups are acting to silence and alienate Jewish voices who dare to dissent. Similarly, at last year’s Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) General Assemblies (GAs), voices claiming to be speaking for all Jews on campus trumped and erased our own, co-opting our identities in defence of the Jewish state.

The discourse on campus has conflated Jews of all backgrounds with a nationalistic, militaristic, and racist government agenda, and as Jewish students who believe in justice, we feel a particular responsibility to speak out in support of the Palestinian people. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has given us a way to mobilize from a distinctly Jewish perspective in a way that does not contradict our values. In doing so, we are also actively resisting the use of our Jewish identities as a justification for stripping millions of people of their basic rights.
Who are we to speak on the subject? We are Jews – French, Canadian, American, and Israeli; Ashkenazi and Sephardi; Orthodox, Reformist, and secular. We’ve been raised attending Jewish day schools and after-school programs, embracing our identities while coming to terms with the central role that one particular ideology played in our upbringing: Zionism, the support for the existence of a distinctly Jewish state. We aren’t strangers to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; in fact, many of us are directly affected by it. We have lived and travelled in Israel; we have families in Israel and friends in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It is exactly this proximity that makes the conflict all the more important to engage with. Over the past few years, we’ve been working to unpack the conflation of Judaism and Zionism, trying to figure out where in our upbringing Judaism ended and Zionism began. Recently, we started gathering as a group, grappling with our personal identities, learning and unlearning, questioning our roles within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and as Jewish anti-Zionists on this campus.

We define anti-Zionism as the opposition to the State of Israel as it exists today. We do not aim to speak for all Jews at McGill, nor for all Jewish anti-Zionists; the terms “Zionism” and “anti-Zionism” are both loaded and can be defined in many different ways, and our group members ascribe to various definitions within this range. Irrespective of these identifiers, however, we feel that we must begin to take up space in a campus discourse that has been polarized for too long. It is precisely because of our deep connection to Israel created by the consistent conflation of Judaism and Zionism that we can no longer merely question what we’ve been taught – we must take action.
BDS2
Fighting for justice is integral to Jewish identity, considering the centuries of persecution and exile that constitute our people’s history. We root our actions in traditions that stem from lineages of Jewish feminist thought – such as that of Judith Plaskow, a religious studies professor at Manhattan College, who writes in Standing Again At Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective that “the economic, social, and moral costs of military occupation make it incompatible with equity within one’s own boundaries. The rightful claim of Palestinians to a land of their own renders occupation profoundly unjust.” By reclaiming Jewish traditions of resistance, we hope to encourage others to make room for a critical Jewish perspective.

Recognizing these aspects of our identities, we also believe that fighting against ongoing instances of anti-Semitism is important; anti-Semitism is real, both here and abroad. However, resisting anti-Semitism does not contradict resisting the Israeli state. While instances of anti-Semitism within BDS efforts have occurred and must be acknowledged as such, they are not representative of the majority of BDS organizing. The Israeli occupation is justified through the claim that it is necessary to Jewish safety and representative of worldwide Jewry, particularly given the legacy of the Holocaust. These claims obscure and essentialize Judaism, while dispossessing Palestinians of their lands and rights. We reject this idea, and instead stand with those oppressed by the State of Israel.

The BDS movement is not one of our own design; rather, it is answering a direct call on the ground made in 2005 by over 171 Palestinian civil society organizations. BDS puts pressure on companies that profit from the creation of settlements illegal under international law and that design military equipment used in ongoing assaults on the West Bank and Gaza. BDS campaigns are targeted tactics, rather than permanent solutions. On their own, boycotts and divestment will not dismantle Israel’s multi-billion-dollar economy, but these tactics can be used as part of a strategy to pressure a nation to cease engaging in human rights violations, with the end of South African apartheid often being lauded as an example of their successful use. The idea is to urge Israel to lift its discriminatory policies, as well as to encourage the global community to follow suit in opposing state-led violence against an occupied people.

Jewish and Israeli support for BDS can be traced through civic and human rights organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Adalah, and Independent Jewish Voices. Student unions at various academic institutions, including Northwestern University and Stanford, have adopted resolutions to lobby the administrations for divestment. McGill University holds investments in four companies that profit from the occupation either through financing of military systems or the expansion of illegal settlements: these are L-3 Communications, Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank, Bank Leumi, and RE/MAX. Campaigning for McGill to divest its holdings from these sources – less that 0.3 per cent of its total investments – would bring international attention to McGill’s condemnation of human rights violations. Moreover, at the end of the day, it’s our tuition money being invested in these companies, and it is therefore our obligation to speak out.

We believe that it is crucial for Jews and non-Jews alike to be actively engaging with and supporting BDS. It promotes dialogue surrounding complicity in the occupation and allows for a diverse range of voices to participate. Passing a motion at the GA is not an end to involvement, but a strong first step. As such, we ask both Jews and non-Jews alike to come to the SSMU GA on February 22 at 3 p.m. to mandate SSMU to lobby McGill for divestment, in solidarity with the peoples of Palestine.

We are fighting back against the common conflation of Judaism and Zionism because we believe in more than Zionism, we believe in more than the occupation, and we need to break the silence that allows for oppression to be perpetrated. Reaching these conclusions has been a lengthy process for many of us, and many of us did not start out at McGill knowing histories of Israeli violence, but had questions and sought out this community to begin to answer them. If you are a Jew at McGill and you have questions, we invite you to contact us and join us for Shabbat dinner. In the meantime, we hope to see you at the GA.

A previous version of this article incorrectly listed Yesh Din as an Israeli organization that supports BDS. In fact, Yesh Din has no official stance with regard to BDS. The Daily regrets the error.

Nit In Aundzer Nomen (Yiddish for “not in our name”) is a group of Jewish students from McGill that gathers over Shabbat dinners to engage in collective reflection and re-learning. The group takes the form of an informal discussion space or reading circle. The group can be reached at nitinaundzernomen@gmail.com.

John Paul ll and Anna Theresa

February 22, 2016

De Rosa

Peter De Rosa was one of  Great Britain’s best Catholic theologians who broke with the institution after Humanae Vitae. He left the priesthood in 1970 and became a Staff Producer for the BBC in London. He then became a full-time writer in 1978., He wrote Bless Me, Father which became a TV sensation shown in thirty-five countries. Other publications include Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy; Rebels: The Irish Uprising of 1916 and Pope Patrick a hilarious send up of papal politics. He currently lives in Bournemouth. His short book is available on Amazon

POPE JOHN PAUL
&
ANNA-TERESA

SAINT OR HYPOCRITE?

PETER DE ROSA
When John Paul II was beatified and canonized there was no mention of a mystery woman who had dominated his life. He called her ‘My dear Teresa Anna’.
Now his letters to Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka over a span of 30 years have just been revealed. There are hundreds of them. They constitute an essential missing fragment of his autobiography.
He had appeared before millions of Catholics in country after country and gave no hint of what he was really like or what went on deep in his mind and heart.
Those were secret places that only one p

erson had access to: his Polish compatriot Anna-Teresa. To her he was utterly devoted.
The cache of letters took the Vatican by surprise. Officials laughed at the idea of a special relationship between the Pope and a married woman as ‘smoke without mirrors’. Was this wishful thinking or one big lie?
They surely saw that this is the most devastating exposé of a public figure in our time. It is likely to influence the Church’s approach to priestly celibacy for generations to come.
The letters reveal the identity of this woman who came out from under the Vatican radar. She was married with three children and a husband very much alive. For decades, she had been more intimate with John Paul than any woman has been with any pope in centuries.
She was no Mother Teresa, either, but as beautiful as he was handsome.
For many years, from his days as Cardinal of Krakow in Poland, they vacationed together. Coloured photographs have now come to light of them together in one beauty spot after another. On occasion, he was bare to the waist in a pair of shorts, looking happy and relaxed. This scarcely suggests that he was giving the lady spiritual direction.
In his letters, he speaks of her as his ‘vocation’, the one who gave meaning to his life, first as Cardinal and then as Pope.
He gave her his most precious possession, a scapular whose full significance I bring out in this book. John Paul had worn it for over 40 years. He wanted his Teresa Anna to wear it close to her skin for the rest of her life so he could feel her presence even when they were continents apart.
She even had a hitherto unknown behind-the-scenes role in getting John Paul elected as Pope. That, too, is an intriguing story.
When he became Supreme Pontiff, she alone had free access to his private papal apartment where they often took meals together. In summers, she would spend quality time with him in his glorious retreat in Castel Gandolfo among the Alban Hills.
After he was shot four times in St Peter’s Square by a would-be assassin, she flew in from America to be by his bedside, one of the very few visitors permitted to see him.
In his final years, John Paul wrote to her many times, telling her that the happiest days of his life were spent in her home in Vermont where they walked the hills and woods together.
The day before he died, his Teresa Anna was with him to bid him goodbye.
From then on, the Vatican treated her as a nobody. That was a major blunder. The letters prove that this Nobody was the uncrowned Queen of Pope John Paul’s heart.

Don’t Say We Didn’t Know

February 19, 2016

Ofra Yeshua-Lyth is an Israeli writer who recently reviewed Amos Gvirtz’s book Don’t Say We Didn’t Know.

DIDN%22T

Amos is a native Sabra who still lives in his kibbutz with his conscience in tact. He has spent the last number of years defending the Bedouins of the Negev who are constantly harassed by the Israeli government, always attempting to steal their ancient land. Now the Negev is out of the way and out of sight to most israelis—but not to Gvirtz.

Yeshua-Lyth writes:

Gvirtz is not naïve. He does not really believe that if he brings all the facts to the attention of the privileged Jewish-Israeli community, we might no longer think we only have a “hasbara” (propaganda) difficulty. A problem that a few hundred million dollars – some say a whole round billion that will line the pockets of our coherent spokespersons – and the enthused support of American billionaires will earn Israel back its standing as the public’s favorite. (The very same public that those very same spokespersons tag as “born anti-Semites and therefore incorrigible). Gvirtz knows very well that everyone knows: from their military service, even from the media which – in spite of its good will – cannot always censor everything that takes place right under our very noses. He is also very aware of the fact that our collective blind eye is no unique, local phenomenon.

Two points must be made here. Many Israelis are disgusted at the brutal racist policies of their government.
Gvirtz is heartsick about the betrayal of his left wing,socialist cultural Zionism which might actually become l’or goyim a light unto the nations. Instead it has become a global embarrassment. And Gvirtz is angry enough to challenge the willfully blind of his own country with the ironic trope—used by blind Germans—we didn’t know what was going on. Gvirtz says I am telling you, you live an hour’s drive from this barbaric inhumane treatment of human beings and you do not want to know. Israel is being dragged into the mud by your indifference.

Yeshua

The reviewer Yeshua-Lyth is a Jew of conscience, an Israeli who can hardly bear what has become official policy, a radical denial of both democracy and universal humanist values. She writes:

It is a project that does not really recognize the ‘green line’, the ‘purple line’, or the Separation Wall. The State of Israel’s violent, institutional brutality designates real and imaginary enemies possessing either a blue or orange ID according to their religious and ethnic affiliation. “As soon as Israel decided that regarding certain issues its army would not follow international war norms, it jeopardized it by turning it from a military force into a crime syndicate”, Gvirtz explains, and proceeds: a criminal organization is after all an organization that “violates the rules of morality on its way to achieve its goals”. When lands are routinely declared “firing zones”, “nature reserves”, or “archaeological sites”; when acre after acre are simply transferred from Palestinian hands to Jewish real estate mongers with the right connections; when the legal system and the parliament lend a hand to a “series of land laws that in fact mean land-grab”, as has been customary in Israel since the 1950s to our very day, clearly “laws serving racist-nationalist purposes…impact people whose only sin is being Palestinians under rule of the Jewish State”, as the writer simply puts it. The implementation of such legislation makes “the Israeli army commit war crimes as it enforces them in the Occupied Territories and Israeli police – likewise – when it enforces them inside the state.” Did anyone NOT know this?

Independent Jewish Voices add this:

IJV

Imagine being evicted from your home and having your lands expropriated from you. Imagine that the lands you were evicted from were given to another people, who declare they have exclusive rights to these lands, despite the fact that you still hold onto the deeds or have aerial photographs documenting your longstanding presence.
This is reality for thousands of Bedouin citizens of Israel. They were forcibly displaced by Israel in 1948, again in the 1950’s, and over the last several years have experienced either house demolitions, or the threat of demolition. Entire Bedouin villages have been literally wiped off the map by Israel, with the aid of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) (1).his is reality for thousands of Bedouin citizens of Israel. They were forcibly displaced by Israel in 1948, again in the 1950’s, and over the last several years have experienced either house demolitions, or the threat of demolition. Entire Bedouin villages have been literally wiped off the map by Israel, with the aid of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) (1).
Join me in calling on Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion to demand that Israel permit the residents of Atir, Umm al-Hiran and dozens of other “unrecognized” Bedouin villages to remain on their lands. Israel must treat Bedouin citizens equally with Jewish citizens.

stephane.dion@parl.gc.ca

In Israel, OK we knew. So

February 18, 2016

OCHA Flash Update Palestinian Bedouin community almost totally demolished

16 February 2016
On 15 February 2016, the Israeli army demolished almost all existing structures in the Palestinian Bedouin community of Ein Ar Rashash, in the Ramallah governorate, on grounds of lack of building permits. According to OCHA’s initial assessment, a total of 43 structures were targeted, including ten homes, 25 animal-related structures and eight external kitchens. Nearly 60 people, including 38 children, permanently residing in the community were displaced, and another 35 residing there seasonally or having their livestock structures on this site, were otherwise affected. Residents have remained in the community in precarious conditions.

Ein Ar Rashash is located in an area designated by the Israeli military as a “firing zone” and is one of the 46 Palestinian Bedouin communities at risk of forcible transfer in the context of an Israeli “relocation” plan.

Since the beginning of 2016, Israeli forces destroyed or dismantled 283 homes and other structures across the West Bank, the vast majority in Area C, displacing over 400 Palestinians, more than half of them children. More than 1,000 other people lost structures related to their source of income. More than a third of the structures targeted since the beginning of the year were provided as humanitarian assistance to families in need.

Amos
So writes the indefatigable Israeli prophet Amos Gvirtz, the great defender of the Bedouin. The contents of Amos’s emails are always brief and factual, without opinion or protest. Now many have been put into a book.I n a review on Mondoweiss by Israeli writer Ofra Yeshua-Lyth, formerly a correspondent for Maariv in Washington DC, writes:
Don’t Say We Didn’t Know”, asks Amos Gvirtz, and how naïve this request sounds at the time of the book’s publication, as the obedient flocks of Israel’s media workers and their politician-masters cry out on every newspaper sheet, internet and news release, like the robbed ruffian: “What have we done? Why is the whole world suddenly against us?”

Here is a thin, light-to-read book Gvirtz eschews the big news ” such as Operations Protective Edge, Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense [all Israeli assaults against the Gaza Strip in recent years]. He does not conduct a body count of hundreds and thousands of casualties, tens of thousands wounded, homeless, hungry and blockaded. He sends reminders of the little horrors, the nearly incidental deaths, demolished homes, arbitrary arrests, imprisoned children, trampled tents, destroyed crops, farmlands of Bedouins and falaheen that become Jewish real estate, stones hurled by Palestinians (for any stone thrown by a Palestinian at a Jew will make headlines in any case), mosques set aflame, little pogroms for which no one will be punished – reminders that there is no law, no justice that will protect you if you do not belong to the Chosen People. In most cases, if a complaint is lodged, it will end up with a counter-charge and possible punishment – of the victim.

Gvirtz is no naif. He understands the shocking denial in israeli society that this abuse of the most vulnerable, Israeli citizens in fact, who have been in the Negev since Jesus was a kid is a universal phenomenon. As Eliot said, humankind can not ear much reality.

More tomorrow

Gaza has disappeared

February 15, 2016

When Israel finally becomes one state and the talents of Israelis and Palestinians embrace and Israel or Israelstine finally joins the Middle East, people will look back and point to the breaking point and it will be Gaza, the horrific over the top bombardment of a penned up people.There will be hand wringing and diaspora rabbis will hang their heads in shame and Palestinians will try to comfort them.

Young Jews of course by this time will have abandoned the synagogues which had become Temples of Zion rather than outposts of prophetic Judiasm.When the Truth and Recociliation Commission does its work and a new start begins, people will point to Gaza as the moment that Israel lost the propaganda war. All will agree that the Internet and social media finally cut through all the lies that the propagandists (Sharon, Barak, Netanyahu mostly) had been telling and they will point to the cruel, inhumane slaughter in Gaza as the tipping point.

Now Miko Peled, the son of Matti Peled, the man Palestinians called Abu Salaam,the father of peace has channeled his father’s anger into a righteous cause. Matti Peled was an Israeli general who saw the folly of Occupation and turned to peace.”Jews,” he said,” cannot expect to live comfortable and pleasant lives in the midst of so much Palestinian suffering.Here is Miko’s latest

MIKO

Gaza has disappeared – Another magic trick by Israel

Has anyone seen Gaza lately? A Palestinian I met the other day told he was from Gaza, he told me about his eighty year old mother living in horrid conditions there, so I decided to look through the newspapers, surf the news online and run through TV channels, local, international and I even looked at news from the Middle East, but all was in vain. I can’t find Gaza, not a single word, not a bit of news anywhere. I know it was there at one time, so I desperately decided to look through old notes, vintage news clips old videos and clearly there are signs that it was there at one time, but now I can find no sign of its existence. Once again, in a magic trick of epic proportions Israel made Gaza disappear.
As I write these words, I sit in front of my computer screen scratching my head. How did it disappear? Where did Gaza go? Almost two million people vanished into thin air.  Now I suppose there is no need to worry about the tens of thousands of people injured in Israeli attacks and then forsaken with no care. We can all conveniently forget about the countless children traumatized by the constant humming of drones and the terror of missiles destroying homes and killing family members. We can stop worrying whether or not there are sufficient supplies of medicine reaching the besieged people or if there is any electricity to keep people warm and maintain hospitals. We can rest assured that there are no more babies born prematurely who are likely to die due to lack of proper postnatal care.

Gaza 23
When Gaza was there it was really quite terrible. There were people there with no access to clean water, there was food insecurity and thousands were homeless because Israel destroyed their homes. What made it even worse is that five minutes from where Gaza used to be, Israelis were living perfectly secure, with plenty of food and water, no shortage of electricity, warmth in the winter and cooling in the hot summers. Hospitals were functioning and medicine was available for anyone who required help. But the people in Gaza had no access to any of this because Israel did not allow them out of what used to be a huge concentration camp. With few exceptions, Israel also didn’t permit people who wanted to go to Gaza to help, to do so, Israel didn’t allow food, water or medicine in and when the people in Gaza dug tunnels in order to smuggle food and other necessities, these tunnels were destroyed by Israel’s great ally, President/Generalisimo Abdel Fatah Sisi of Egypt.
Before Gaza disappeared there would be occasional rocket fire from Gaza and attempts by Palestinians to fight off the Israeli military. The rockets were called “Qassam” rockets and the fighters were called terrorists. Even though there were cases in other parts of the world where people who fought for their freedom were called heroes, this never happened in Gaza. Young fighters in Gaza who sacrificed everything and died attempting to fight the Israeli war machine were never called heroes, because, and one can only guess because Gaza is no longer there to verify, but one assumes it is because in this world in which we live, Palestinians are not permitted to be heroes. No, Palestinians are only accepted as victims or as terrorists. Heroism is not permitted for the people who used to exist in what used to be Gaza.
The gentleman I met the other day who said he was from Gaza described a story that was heart wrenching, but since it cannot be verified I have to doubt its validity. It cannot be possible that such horror, such suffering exists only minutes from Israeli towns and cities, and barely an hour drive from Tel-Aviv and no one would report it, not a single news outlet would pick it up. It is inconceivable that almost two million people would be caged in like animals, living in conditions that can only be described as inhumane – and the world would be completely silent. After all the enlightened Western civilization, the developed world, the major countries of the world wouldn’t just sit there and say nothing, do nothing and allow this to continue. After all, we are not talking about some remote hilltop in Afghanistan or some unheard of village in Kurdistan or Iran we are talking about Israel. Yes, Israel, an ally of the US, a country hailed by the UK, France, Germany as the only democracy in the Middle East.

Had Gaza and the nearly two million people who used to live in it hadn’t mysteriously disappeared, someone would have demanded that Israel, the recipient of billions of dollars in foreign aid would use that money to provide relief to the people in Gaza. That it would use these billions of dollars to build homes for the homeless, provide food for the hungry, medicine and medical care for the sick and injured and provide comfort for the hundreds of thousands of traumatized children who have been emotionally scarred because of the brutality of Israeli terrorism. The world would demand that those within Israel who were responsible for the terrible crimes committed by the Israeli army in Gaza be brought to justice, pay for their crimes agains innocents.

Israel had used magic tricks to fool the world before, but this time it really outdid itself.  Does anyone remember the Iran smoke screen? The nuclear threat that never was? The existential threat that never existed? Yes, these were all quite amazing and very effective. They fooled millions of people the world over. But to make Gaza disappear is an even grater achievement. Its more complex than the “self-defense” trick where Israel bombed Gaza and murdered thousands of people who never hurt a soul, and then convinced the world that murdering people in Gaza was an act of self-defense.

I think of this gentleman from Gaza, Mohammad is his name, I’m amazed. He is a highly educated, successful man, he has seven children and he works hard to provide them with an education. One of his daughters is a heart surgeon.  He came up to me after a recent lecture in Huntsville, Alabama and I was moved by his story. He even bought a copy of my book, and as he leafed through it and saw the photo of the Palestinian hero Abu Ali Shahin he told me that Abu Ali was his uncle from his mother’s side. His mother’s family came from the village of Besshit, the same village, now destroyed by Israel, from where Abu Ali Shahin told me that he came. So I am puzzled. Mohammad told me a story that was real, painful. He told me he can’t visit his mother, nor can he send her the medicine she needs but cannot find in Gaza. So is it possible that Gaza didn’t disappear? Could it be that it is still there and no one talks about it?

Jews Say No—again

February 14, 2016

The NY Times, and mainstream media in general do not provide honest and fact-based coverage on Israel. Often what is missing is the whole context of almost 70 years of occupation
So last week, JVP-New York and Jews Say No! did something about it: we handed out 10,000 copies of a satirical “New York Times Special Insert” across the city.
Beth Miller of Jewish Voices for Peace reported

fake_ny_times
The response has been unbelievable. We earned coverage in dozens of news outlets around the world, including Salon, DemocracyNow!, The Independent, USA Today, The Village Voice, WBAI, The Forward, JTA, NY Jewish Week, Alternet, The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, Mondoweiss, FishbowlNY, and Haaretz. And on top of the 10,000 copies we handed out, thousands more people read it on social media and our microsite.
Our paper gave voice to stories and facts that are left out of The Times. Like our “Corrections” section, where we printed the names of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces over the last few months – names that had never appeared in the paper. As my friend was passing out papers in Times Square, a woman accepted a copy of the paper, then returned ten minutes later. “Thank you,” she whispered. “Thank you for including the names of our children.”
People are hungry for real news. We all understand that the current media climate doesn’t give us the information or analysis we need to know what’s going on in Palestine and Israel, or to understand the U.S.’s role maintaining this untenable status quo.
We also reflected a vision of the ways U.S. policy towards Israel might change if mainstream media reported fairly. If The Times reported the full extent of state and settler violence against Palestinians, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, anti-democratic legislation, and other human rights abuses, would it become impossible to deny the basic humanity of Palestinians? If so, what policies could we change?
The best spoof was that of Hilary Clifton—always in the pocket of Israel
According to Clifton, the testimonies of women in Palestine led her to conclude that the Israeli security regime has “taken a terrible toll” on women and girls in the occupied territories.  She added that the policies and practices of the Israeli Defense Forces, the Israeli border patrol police, and throughout the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem are in “flagrant contradiction” of the feminist principles she endorsed at the 1995 United Nations Women’s Conference in Beijing and on subsequent occasions. She emphasized that it is not just Palestinian women who suffer, but all women who are forced to live under oppressive regimes and militarized racism.

Transforming the media landscape in the U.S. is the epitome of a long-term project, but last week we saw that people want that change.