Archive for April 2017

Israeli novelist: truth to power

April 30, 2017

Phil Weiss and James North did a nice piece of reporting on Dorit Rabinyan’s publicity tour to the USA. The best-selling israeli writer stunned the israeli Foreign Ministers in Stephen Wise Free Synagogue with her blistering criticism of Israel.

Not reported in the USA or Canada.

Rabinyan’s third novel is a best seller in Israel and it’s a real scandal.


Imagine a love affair between a Israeli Jew and a Palestinian.It’s not possible. It simply can’t be.

Say it isn’r so Dorit! How could you?

Here in Toronto we can’t believe that this stuff is news but in the deeply racist Israel it is a shocker.

The novel was so controversial that the education ministry took it off the curriculum.the reason given in “the only democracy in the Middle East” is that “it would damage Jewish identity by promoting assimilation.”

For those who still romanticize Israel this disgusting racism is a pandemic in Israel and the cornerstone of state policy which is called hafrada or separation. Think the monstrous illegal wall as symptomatic of this racism. The state must keep the Palestinian incubus from infecting Israeli blood. The official policy knows as we in this multicultural city of Toronto know, that people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and religion can live in amity and love with one another simply because we’re human.But Israel like the US south of the 50’s wants segregation.

Living next to the USA and watching Jim Crow segregate African-Americans—and still ghettoize them in all major American cities—turns our stomachs. Watching our first nations shoved to reserves and treated as the Other continues to shame us.

Here’s what the brave Rabinyan said in NYC:

Rabinyan said the book’s message was that “the other” is equal to you, but that message was being fought by an Israeli government of “nationalists who have taken hostage of what we call Israel.”

I get furious when I am being reminded of all those accusations I had to suffer from the Minister of Education himself who had twisted fragments of my book on the 8 o clock news in front of the whole nation and blamed me as being the enemy of the nation, just by humanizing the other, just by redeeming the other from this suffocating sack of generalization that is being done by the government in the past two decades ever since the assassination of Rabin.

Israeli democracy is being shaped by this sorceress and his apprentices. Mr Netanyahu and all this Bennett, Regev, all these stupid apprentices, they follow him and his demagogue rhetoric. And you know, your president, I think he was an apprentice of his as well. Because he has internalized so many of his methods. They have the same sponsor, as you well know. The one responsible for brainwashing Israelis’ minds is an American billionaire. Sheldon Adelson. He is nurturing Bibi’s regime…adelson reportedly gave betwen $25 and $35 million to Trump’s campaign.

Rabinyan said that the education committee that had barred her book from the curriculum was acting at the behest of Bennett, for whom she had choice words:
It was a committee that was very much wanting to please their master. Their master is a religious rightwing propaganda demagogue. I stop here with the adjectives because I go rude.

The main fault of the book in the eyes of the government is that it might encourage identification with Palestinians. And we certainly don’t want that.

And Israel’s leadership knows that once ordinary Israelis who are kept apart from Palestinians actually meets “the other” they will realize what I came to know very early on the playgrounds of my city, there are only fellow human beings who desire the same things I want. But Israel persists in hafrada and that’s why Zionism is dying everywhere.
Rabinyan addressed Aviad Ivri, Israeli consul for cultural affairs in New York who was in the audience.

This government, and you can pass it on, our prime minister had radicalized empathy to that extent that even feeling for the other, even considering the other to be worth being sorry for is considered nowadays in Israel to be a radical action. It’s an unbearable thought. I can see your face! Empathy is our cure– this is the only way we can get free out of this conflict.

The prophetic lives and too often it appears as a New York Jew Paul Simon wrote 50 years ago:

The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls and whispered in the sounds of silence.

The prophetic today once again appeared in the voice of a israeli novelist on April 26 in a New York synagogue.

Art in Bethlehem

April 28, 2017

Art has been retired from teaching for a long time but a Vatican ll Catholic with a social justice orientation, he knows there is no retirement from a world in need of profound healing.

For many years he has chosen to give much of his time to the Christian Peacemaker teams, active around the world and especially in Israel and in particular the schizoid city called Hebron where 800 Israelis are surrounded by 140,000 Palestinians in this large West Bank city.


In Hebron, Christian Peacemaker Teams Palestine is a faith-based organization that supports Palestinian-led, non-violent, grassroots resistance to the Israeli occupation and the unjust structures that uphold it. By collaborating with local Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers and educating people in our home communities we strive to help create a space for justice and peace.

Here is Art’s recent email.
 My 15th tour with Christian Peacemaker Teams – 2017

Entry at the Ben-Gurion Airport.

This is somewhat nervous making since some members of our team have suffered between one and eight hours of interrogation, some have been put back on the plane and disallowed entry into Israel, but for the old fat white guy it is easy to move through customs.

After a shared taxi ride [ $20 US] I arrived at the dark Jerusalem Hotel, formerly a  lovely Ottoman mansion owned by a wealthy Palestinian family, I  rattled the gate  at 1 AM. As usual, Jacob the night manager answered promptly, carried my bag upstairs to a very large room with a vaulted ceiling and booked me in. Then, as is our custom, we both went to the large terrace, now empty but usually crowded where he treated me to a bowl of peanuts and a large glass of Taybeh draft beer, made by Palestinian Christians in a  a village somewhere north of Ramallah.

At noon I awoke after a solid eight hours of sleep, was served a nice breakfast on the terrace with a cappuccino, even though it was well past the breakfast hours. This is why I stayed there  even though it’s relatively expensive at $132.

However my entry was not yet complete. At bedtime, in Hebron I found a lock on my carry-on bag which I did not put there. Would crazy Israeli security have done this? I looked for our hacksaw , then a teammate asked are you sure this is your bag ? Sure enough this red bag identical to mine had a sticker with a different name. That enforced trip of eight hours through Jerusalem to the airport near Tel Aviv the next day and back. Included of course was another security interview at baggage claim. I’m not even sure that the clothing inside was worth the cost of the trip of  about $100.

The upside of this this eventually came a few days later. A former teammate with CPT was laughing when he came to visit from where he works with Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem. Apparently my entry story had gotten around and was the cause of much mirth among shopkeepers in the old city. I was happy to hear it because they suffer from the checkpoints surrounding the old city. They need more chances to laugh. Few tourists or even people from uptown come here because they can be arrested by the many soldiers and held without charge for three months which is renewable. Some Palestinians have been held for years in this administrative detention system.


According to B’Tselem the Israeli organization for human rights that tracks such things, there were 644 prisoners, including one woman and 10 minors in administrative detention at the end of August 2016. On Wednesday a couple of us went to a noisy demonstration uptown intended to encourage those prisoners who started a hunger strike to protest the harsh conditions of the Israeli prisons. They say that the Israeli prison service has refused to release this year’s numbers.

Unfortunately, many countries have such a system of unfair detention. when at home I often spend time taking my friend Mohammed Mahjoub to the office near Pearson of the  Canadian border services agency where he must swipe an ID card  in  their machine twice a month. Although Moe emigrated to Canada in 1999 he and his brothers were active in nonviolent opposition to the Egyptian dictator  Hosni  Mubarak. A few of those brothers were imprisoned  by the dictator and his corrupt secret police sent  information to the RCMP and Mohammed was arrested for suspicion of terrorism, one of the five Canadians subjected to this treatment. As happened with the others Mohammed was put in prison without charges or a chance to defend himself in court. The 8 Years in MetroWest detention center and four years of house arrest destroyed his  marriage to a Canadian woman and he has not seen his two boys for over a decade.

Only recently has Mohammed been allowed to use a computer to communicate with his family in the Nile Delta. Our government spent tens of millions to build a special security wing at Kingston penitentiary after 9/11 for all the suspected terrorists they thought they would arrest. But this building was never used for this purpose. Two of the five people arrested by the RCMP on the fake information have successfully sued the federal government and I think two of them have received millions of dollars in compensation for the injustice. So, we cannot be smug in our country. Even one of the interrogators from CSIS, our own secret police, told Mohammed that he did not know why he was there. He said we have no reliable evidence against you at all.

Meanwhile I am enjoying my day off sitting at a table on the corner of Manger Square having a couple of cold beers and catching up on my email. It is very pleasant, about 27° and sunny so I have nothing to complain about. Later I will write more about this situation.

Take care of yourself.

Art in Bethlehem . peace


Marc Ellis offers sight to the blind

April 27, 2017

30 years ago Jewish theologian Marc Ellis launched his first philippic at Israel’s blindness and inability to confront the “original sin” of dispossessing another people.In 1948 Israel ethnically cleansed 750,000 people and refused despite international law to allow these people back into their Palestinian homes.

What ellis did was very brave. Virtually alone among Jewish theologians he challenged Israel to own up to its radical biblical failure. Using the Exodus story of Pharaoh and the slaves, he wrote Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation.


The central problem facing us as Jews is justice for and reconciliation with the Palestinian people. “Without both we as Jews are nowhere, at least ethically speaking.”

He still asks the question today—still a pariah in almost every Jewish community. Ellis’ s steady drumbeat of books on this theme continues to send Zionist theologians into fury. Rabbis never invite him to their synagogues. As one rabbi told me, it was simple,”He’s not a Zionist.” In other words he refuses to buy into Jewish nationalism and holds up the age-old code of Jewish ethics, best expressed ion Deuteronomy: “tzedek,tzedek tirdof.” (Justice, justice you shall pursue.)

Biblical faith hears another story, has memories that others do not have, and as Hebrew scripture scholar Walter Brueggemann says, “one needs to nurture a historical imagination.” In this way of thinking, Pharaoh comes to be a symbolic reference to every form of oppression. Every liberation movement thus is a new dealing with Pharaoh. Zionism for Ellis is the negation of the biblical justice tradition of “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof,” Deut. 16:20. Zionism, because it acts like Pharaoh in oppressing and displacing another people, in stealing their land, has become the horrid example of a master/slave relationship.

In 2002 Jonathan Sacks the Orthodox Chief Rabbi of the UK stated the obvious:

You cannot ignore a command that is repeated 36 times in the Mosaic books: ‘You were exiled in order to know what it feels like to be an exile.’ I regard that as one of the core projects of a state that is true to Judaic principle. And therefore I regard the current situation as nothing less than tragic, because it is forcing Israel into postures that are incompatible in the long-run with our deepest ideals.”
For Marc Ellis  the situation is much graver.

As Jews, darkness surrounds us. We have entered an abyss. There is also hope. I have witnessed that too in struggles I have participated in and the struggles that Jews of the new generation are waging. Years ago a Palestinian told me that the Jewish prophetic would never die. He was – is – right. The prophetic is our indigenous. It is exploding right before our eyes.
The prophetic is also in exile. As old as our scriptures. Yet it is important to think through what both the prophetic and exile mean for Jews today. That is for Jews of Conscience who seek to practice Jewish in an age where Empire Judaism seems triumphant.”

When Mahmoud the sieve maker rose up against injustice in Persia in the 13th century he said his army was partly visible, consisting of men, and partly invisible, consisting of the heavenly hosts, which fly in the air, and of the tribe of the jinns, which walk on the earth.

This is till the case with Jews of Conscience called forth by the ruah, the Spirit (the invisible) of the liberating God who chafes at all injustice.


In this sense the prophetic never dies modern Jeremiahs male and female rise up today against the new Pharaoh, the state of Israel

Resistance and the prophetic

April 26, 2017

Ben Ehrenreich is proof-positive that the prophetic never dies. More on this later.


Ehrenreich is an American writer with a Jewish past who for 3 three years has been travelling in the West Bank staying with Palestinian families in both urban centres and small villages. his book The Way to the Spring will give you a taste of his work.

Here he tells stories which never make it into our papers but are grassroots snapshots of the ugly apartheid lives of ordinary Palestinians. These are the stories that Christian Zionists will never hear nor tribal Jews of the disapora who out of misguided loyalty defend everything that Israel does. Many of the latter have no truck with the majestic religion of Judaism but are cultural Jews seeking some kind of transcendent meaning so they reflexively support, many with huge bucks, the “Jewish” state. This type of support (of brutal occupation and pervasive cruelty) mocks the Covenant and betrays authentic universal values of Judaism.


Ehrenreich like many Jews of conscience actually does something about the situation.He lives with the oppressed and tells their stories to people for whatever reason, (largely ideological) who refuse to believe him.

Recently on his blog ( this was part of a longer tale:
The Persian historian Atâ-Malek Juvaini’s History of a World Conqueror.

Eight years after the sacking of Bukhara, writes Juvaini, “a sieve maker of Tārāb in the district of Bukhara rose up in rebellion in the dress of the people of rags, and the common people rallied to his standard.” Juvaini, who had ingratiated himself in the Mongol court, describes the rebel leader with undisguised contempt.

Still, we learn from him that the poor came to Mahmud the sieve maker of Tārāb as they once did to Jesus of Galilee: to heal the sick and the paralyzed, to restore sight to the blind. He was said to converse with jinns, or spirits, who, “informed him of what was hidden.” When Mahmud the sieve maker of Tārāb entered the city of Bukhara, the alleys of the market were so crowded with people eager for his blessing that “there was not even room for a cat to pass.”

He had in mind a more holistic sort of healing, and instructed the poor to arm themselves with whatever weapons they could find. “My army is partly visible, consisting of men,” he announced, “and partly invisible, consisting of the heavenly hosts, which fly in the air, and of the tribe of the jinns, which walk on the earth.” And so the poor of Bukhara soon took the town and plundered the houses of the wealthy.

I would imagine that his point was imply to say that people inherently will rise up and challenge oppression. They simply will not accept dehumanization. Jews did in so many ways and more actively in the Warsaw uprising. So Palestinians refuse to accept their simply awful , perduring humiliation. Their resistance is perfectly understandable and legal.


United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/33/24 of 29 November 1978:

Reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle;” (3)

This justification for legitimate armed resistance has been specifically applied to the Palestinian struggle repeatedly. To quote General Assembly Resolution A/RES/3246 (XXIX) of 29 November 1974:

Reaffirms the legitimacy of the peoples’ struggle for liberation form colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation by all available means, including armed struggle; …

7. Strongly condemns all Governments which do not recognize the right to self-determination and independence of peoples under colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation, notably the peoples of Africa and the Palestinian people; (4)

Whereas I do not accept some of the implied violence of Mahmoud I am fascinated by his  statement:

My army is partly visible, consisting of men,” he announced, “and partly invisible, consisting of the heavenly hosts, which fly in the air, and of the tribe of the jinns, which walk on the earth.

This hints of the prophetic, of unseen powers which I will address tomorrow,

Ella turns 100

April 25, 2017

Photo on 2017-04-25 at 11.12 AM

There are enough sultry saloon singers and balladeers in this world; we don’t need to cry all the time. We need singers like Fitzgerald to remind us that our great songwriters wrote music as well as words

So wrote jazz writer Will Friedwald in his book Jazz Singing

Then there was Ira Gershwin who said, “I never knew how good our songs were until I heard ELLA sing them.”

Today we celebrate the singer Duke Ellington said was “beyond category.” today is the 100th anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald’s birth

As Duke Ellington wrote about this woman singer of incandescent talent, “Ella was beyond category.”

When she died in June of 1996 and I passed on to my daughters the sad news of the lady whose music was the soundtrack of their young lives, their response was “whaaaaat?” They remembered that we had gone as a family to see her last performance in Toronto Ella it seems was forever. Such was the transcendence she had achieved in her 60 years on stages.

Here, it’s an all Ella day.

Bill O’Reilly and Cardinal Dolan

April 23, 2017

What a bracing combo, Rupert Murdoch and Bill O’Reilly.

Fox news (Faux News) the rightwing drum beat with angry white men contorting the truth on a regular basis, paid O’Reilly $29 mill a year to spew his venom and insult progressives of all stripes, berate them, interrupt them etc. O’Reilly even had the temerity to lecture the Pope on immigration.


There is something seriously wrong with a system which pays a blowhard like this so much money. Even with all this excessive lucre O’Reilly still wanted  to be seen with Pope Francis. And his wish was granted—the same day he was fired by Fox for his tom-catting.


Meanwhile back home female writers have had a field day at O’Reilly’s expense, ripping the reactionary bloviator a new one. One female columnist wrote, “I hope the Pope  washed his hands after shaking O’Reilly’s. Not bad.

Now one wonders why the pope would meet with a guy like O’Reilly whose social views mock Catholic social teaching.

Here’s the answer.

The weekly Papal audience is a large event open to the public, with tens of thousands of the faithful filling the square. The special section beside the stage holding the papal throne, where Mr. O’Reilly sat, is exclusive and can be entered only with special tickets.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, wrote to the Vatican several months ago requesting tickets for Mr. O’Reilly and his family, according to Joe Zwilling, a spokesman for Cardinal Dolan.

That’s just the episcopal leadership we’ve been subject to for far too long.

And you wonder why the church in the USA is in free fall

Capitalism and Catholicism, a toxic brew.

Who do you believe, me or your eyes?

April 21, 2017

“Humankind cannot bear very much reality”, so wrote T.S. Eliot in Burnt Norton part of the Four Quartets (1943).and when you have been fed propaganda all your life and cannot easily mine the truth, you cut bait rather than fish.

No matter where we live we are subject to massive doses of BS, nowhere more than in North America where the silent whirring of the capitalist dream merchants goes virtually undetected.Like philosopher Mike harris once said, it’s common sense.

Gerry Spence wrote:

In America, we have achieved the Orwellian prediction – enslaved, the people have been programmed to love their bondage and are left to clutch only mirage-like images of freedom, its fables and fictions.  The new slaves are linked together by vast electronic chains of television that imprison not their bodies but their minds.  Their desires are programmed, their tastes manipulated, their values set for them.
From Freedom to Slavery.

In general people have a vague notion that they are being seduced but it is a sweet seduction—creature comforts, prestige, fame, status etc which buys our silence .Don’t rock the boat cause I’m all right, Jack.


Neil Postman,in Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985) correctly, in my judgment, wrote that Huxley was closer to the truth than Orwell

Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egotism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.


Daniel Quinn wrote in Ishmael:
Once you learn to discern the voice of Mother Culture humming in the background, telling her story over and over again to the people of your culture, you’ll never stop being conscious of it. Wherever you go for the rest of your life, you’ll be tempted to say to the people around you, “how can you listen to this stuff and not recognize it for what it is?”

And if you do this, people will look at you oddly and wonder what the devil you’re talking  about…you’re going to find yourself alienated from the people around you-friends,family, past associates…

In Israel, where the number one paper Israel Hayom is a freebie paid for by US casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, your worldview is akin to the parallel universe of Fox News. Unfair and unbalanced.

40% of Israel, after Zionist brainwashing in the education system, after being segregated almost totally from Palestinians, after 3 more years in the army, are seemingly incapable of seeing another reality. 4 % of the populace read Haaretz a sterling newspaper. Israeli citizens regularly meet reporters who actually walk in the shoes of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. They report what they see. They, like American philosopher Groucho Marx’s question, Who do you believe me or your eyes.” Sadly, most Israelis wear blindfolds.


Many people can not bear this reality. Hence the apology from correspondent Gideon Levy written today

I apologize for the one-sidedness. How could I not maintain a balance between the murderer and the murdered; the thief and his victim; and the occupier and the occupied? Gideon Levy Apr 21, 2017

Dear Orna and Moshe Gan-Zvi,

I was saddened to read in Tuesday’s Hebrew edition of Haaretz that you’ve decided to cancel your subscription. I don’t know you, but I will miss you as readers. As someone who is partly responsible for your decision, as your article indicated, allow me to apologize.

To apologize for writing the truth all these years. I should have taken into account that this truth wasn’t palatable to you, and acted accordingly. It was not pleasant for you to read the theory put forward by me and my fellow Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass about the occupation. You, who are active in Rotary Israel, who come from the business world, who are so proud of your children and the fact that they live in the West Bank. Your son was educated at the Eli premilitary academy, and your granddaughters proudly carry the last name Sheetrit.


Amira Has

You, who are so pleased with yourselves and your values, with your children and your morals, don’t think you should be forced to read unpleasant truths. You simply don’t deserve it. Indeed, how could I have spent all these years publishing articles that even you, generously, admitted were touching, without ever, to my shame, checking how these Palestinian families ended up in their serious predicaments? Really, how did that happen? Of course it was their own fault, but I keep blaming the Israel Defense Forces – how could I?

And how could Amira Hass be so one-sided and lacking in perspective that would explain how a people could prefer the elimination of another people over a democratic society? Really, how could you, Amira? I assume, Moshe, that if they were to lock you in a cage for years, you would continue your Rotary membership and refuse to back a struggle against your incarceration. I assume, Orna, that if foreign soldiers were to burst into your home in the middle of the night and arrest your Moshe before your eyes, kick him, force him to his knees, blindfold him, handcuff him, and beat him in front of your children who study in Eli – and then snatch him from your home for months without trial – you would be looking for some “creative leadership” for your people.

I assume that you, who come from the business world, would lovingly accept those who confiscate your property and ban you from your own land. I’m sure it would never occur to you to struggle against those who have tortured you with such evil for so many years. What can we do? The Palestinians are different from you, dear Orna and Moshe. They were not born in such lofty heights as you. They are human animals, bloodthirsty, born to kill. Not all of them are as ethical as you and your children from the Eli academy. Yes, there are people who fight for their freedom. There are people who are forced to do so violently. In fact, there are almost no nations who haven’t acted this way, including the chosen people you’re proud to belong to.

Not only do you belong; you are the pillar of fire that leads the camp, you’re the best, the moral elite – you, the religious Zionists. I apologize for the one-sidedness. How could I not maintain a balance between the murderer and the murdered; the thief and his victim; the occupier and the occupied? Forgive me for daring to turn off your joy and pride in the land flowing with milk and Mobileye, and cherry tomatoes, too.

There are so many wonderful things in this country, and Haaretz – with its “moral deterioration,” as you call it – is ruining the party. How did I not see that you don’t like to read the truth, and didn’t take this into account when I’d return from the occupied territories every week to write about what I’d seen with my own eyes? But now it’s too late. The call to boycott chocolate spread was too much even for you, so you’ve decided to boycott Haaretz. From now on, the only paper on your coffee table will be the weekly, right-wing Makor Rishon. They won’t write about how IDF soldiers sprayed five Palestinian car passengers with bullets three weeks ago, and I’m sure your Shabbats will be a lot more pleasant from now on.

Levy 30

Gideon Levy Haaretz Correspondent

“50 years of bloodshed, abuse, disinheritance” Gideon Levy

April 19, 2017

Yesterday Jonathan Cook married to a Palestinian and living in nazareth,the largest Palestinian city in israel wrote about israel getting ready..mirabile dicta—to celebrate 50 years of occupation.


Today the conscience of Israel, a good Tel Aviv boy as he often decribes himself, Gideon Levy,haaretz correspondent,  writes as only he can about his country. Levy begins by acknowledge Israel’s many gifts

From a state that began as a brand plucked from a fire, modest, insecure, hesitant, chalking up amazing accomplishments that the whole world marveled at, to an arrogant, despised state, marveled at only by those that resemble it.

The remaining part of his article is abridged.

This is a jubilee year: 50 years after the greatest Jewish disaster since the Holocaust, 50 years after the greatest Palestinian disaster since the Nakba. It is the jubilee of their second Nakba and our first. A moment before the start of the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the “liberation” of the territories, we should remember that it was a disaster. A great disaster for the Palestinians, of course, but also a fateful disaster for the Jews here.


2017 ought to be a year of soul-searching in Israel, a year of unparalleled sadness. It is already clear that it will not be. Instead, the government plans to make it a year of celebration, celebrating the occupation. Ten million shekels ($2.74 million) have already been allocated to celebrate 50 years of suppression of another people, 50 years of rot and internal destruction.
A state that celebrates 50 years of occupation is a state whose sense of direction has been lost, its ability to distinguish good from evil impaired. A military victory may be celebrated, but to celebrate decades of brutal military conquest? What exactly is there to celebrate, Israelis?

Fifty years of bloodshed, abuse, disinheritance and sadism? Only societies that have no conscience celebrate such anniversaries. It is not only on account of the suffering it causes the Palestinians that Israel must refrain from celebrating the anniversary. It must cloak itself in sorrow also over what has happened to Israel since that terrible summer of 1967, the summer in which it won a war and lost nearly everything. A great disaster struck us. Like a kibbutz or moshav where farmland has been sold to private residential developers, ruining the community’s character, like gentrification that runs roughshod over the poor, like a once-healthy body now riddled with cancer, so Israel has grown since the summer of 1967, its DNA damaged.


It is enough to look at Jerusalem which went from being a charming university city with government institutions to a monster ruled by the Border Police. It began with the ultranationalist-religious orgy that swept over everyone but for a handful of prophets, and continues today, through the familiar mechanisms of brainwashing. Size matters, in Israel’s case: It has turned it into an evil, violent, ultranationalist, religious, racist state.

All this began in 1967. Not that 1948 was so pure, far from it, but 1967 accelerated, institutionalized and legitimized the decline. It gave birth to the ongoing contempt for the world, the bragging and bullying. In 1967 the occupation began. It metastasized wildly inward, from the roadblocks in the West Bank to the nightclubs in Tel Aviv, from the refugee camps to the roads and the supermarket lines. …

” Right after the hangover came the signs of cancer: The religious suddenly became messianic, the moderates ultranationalist, and it’s a short road from there. Nothing stood in the way of Israel becoming what it is, at home or abroad. It perpetuates the occupation, although it ostensibly didn’t want it from the outset, because it could. And it established an apartheid regime in the territories, because there is no other kind of occupation. Now it’s here. Strong, armed and rich as it never was in 1967. Corrupt and rotten as only an occupying country can be. That is what we are supposed to celebrate. And that is what we must weep over.

50 years of occupation. Hurray!

April 18, 2017

“It doesn’t matter what goyim think, it matters what Jews do.”


Yiddish sometimes has the appropriate word and chutzpah has wormed its delightful way into our common parlance.

It really means beyond the pale, utterly shameless, can you believe such gall? Well, Israel is at it again and the Nazareth blogger Jonathan Cook nails it in his much read blog,

Israel has made a habit of totally ignoring international law, treaties and it must be said, common decency.I mean is a 50 year occupation of another’s land something to crow about? Hardly.

You will notice the phrase “dunam after dunam, goat after goat” is a well known expression meaning,”don’t let the goyim (non-Jews) see what you are doing. Do it slowly so dumb and ill-informed North Americans do not see your gradual theft of Palestinian land.keep it under the radar.Dunam is an Ottoman measure of land, one quarter of an acre.

Once Yitzhak Rabin upbraided the settler movement for parading its brazen theft.To him they were too obvious in their kleptomania. If they grabbed too much land at once Americans, their great backer, would notice the chutzpah.

Cook writes (here abridged) and you can follow him at


Israel is to hold lavish celebrations over the coming weeks to mark the 50th anniversary of what it calls the “liberation of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights” – or what the rest of us describe as the birth of the occupation.

The centerpiece event will take place in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem. The West Bank settlement “bloc” enjoys wide support in Israel, not least because it was established long ago by the supposedly left-wing Labour party, now heading the opposition.

The jubilee is a potent reminder that for Israelis, most of whom have never known a time before the occupation, Israel’s rule over the Palestinians seems as irreversible as the laws of nature. But the extravagance of the festivities also underscores the growth over five decades of Israel’s self-assurance as an occupier.

Documents found this month in Israel’s archives reveal that, when Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967, its first concern was to hoodwink the international community.

The foreign ministry ordered Israel’s ambassadors to mischaracterise its illegal annexation of East Jerusalem as a simple “municipal fusion”. To avoid diplomatic reprisals, Israel claimed it was necessary to ease the provision of essential services to the occupied Palestinian population.

Interestingly, those drafting the order advised that the deception was unlikely to succeed. The United States had already insisted that Israel commit no unilateral moves.

But within months Israel had evicted thousands of Palestinians from the Old City and destroyed their homes. Washington and Europe have been turning a blind eye to such actions ever since.

One of the Zionist movement’s favourite early slogans was: “Dunam after dunam, goat after goat”. The seizure of small areas of territory measured in dunams, the demolition of the odd home, and the gradual destruction of herding animals would slowly drive the Palestinians off most of their land, “liberating” it for Jewish colonisation. If it was done piecemeal, the objections from overseas would remain muffled. It has proved a winning formula.

Cornel West on Israel’s failing democracy

April 14, 2017

“I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain – especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks, against which we have already had to fight strongly, even without a Jewish state.”

Albert Einstein, Our Debt to Zionism 1938

In early March in  Israel’s conscience newspaper Haaretz, theologian Cornel West voiced concern for the future of democracy in Israel. Earlier in the month the Knesset adopted a new law denying entry to foreigners who call for a boycott of Israel or the settlements The legislation, he suggests, is a betrayal of a tradition of Jewish philosophers committed to human rights, such as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish theologian who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma.


Dr.West’s comments were not reported in North America.

“lt’s a sign of panic, a sign of hysteria, a very sad response to an intense situation,” said West. “Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel would turn in his grave thinking about the spiritual blackout that is occurring in Israel. Einstein turns over in his grave, too.” Both Rabbi Heschel and Einstein, he says, “had deep commitment to Jewish self-determination, Jewish self-respect, but always had a universal vision, and embraced Arabs, Palestinians and others.


“With this particular act, Einstein could not go to Israel. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, if he were alive, and had a critique of the occupation, or said people have a right to boycott, he could not go. Does this mean that Israel actually is ready to turn its back on some of its prophetic figures, who themselves were Jewish?… it’s a sad moment when an Einstein would not be able to get into the country of his own people.”


West has publicly supported BDS for years, and as such, is one of the prominent public figures who could be denied entry under the new law. “BDS is not a homogenous movement,” he said. “There are a lot of different voices, but it is the only non-violent response I can see to the very ugly occupation, and I would do exactly the same if there was a Palestinian occupation of Jews. It’s a moral issue, a spiritual issue”.


Asked whether he would consider visiting Israel to speak about BDS and the occupation, in spite of his support for a boycott, West says he would have, before the ban. “I could not get in now. But I consider Israelis my brothers and sisters, whether they are Jewish or Arab, just as I consider Palestinians, who are wrestling with the Israeli occupation”. The law “shows that BDS is getting stronger but it also shows that any critique of the settlements, any critique of the ugly occupation is grounds for excluding people from the country,” he said.



Abraham Joshua Heschel

“What about the people inside the country?,” he asked. “Are you going to have internal aliens? Critics of the occupation, people who live right there, in Tel Aviv, are you going to say they don’t have the right to be inside their own country? That is what authoritarian regimes do. It’s just sad to see Israel move more and more in that authoritarian direction…Is the occupation now devouring the very democratic soul of Israel itself? That is the kind of question that Albert Einstein would raise, that Rabbi Heschel would raise, that Gertrude Stein would raise, that Susan Sontag would raise, these are questions inside the context of Jewish life.”