Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Bari Weiss, Bill Maher Israel apologists

May 19, 2018



“Oh no not Bari Weiss” I groaned when I turned on Bill Maher’s show last night.


Yes there she was again a brazen apologist for Israel, given prime time to spout her inane and uninformed opinions.


A decade ago while a sophomore at Columbia, Weiss was part of an attack on Joseph Massad a professor in the Middle Eastern studies department.she hid her rabid Zionism behind a faux group called Columbians for Academic Freedom better known as These Arabs Should Shut up.




She and her cohorts didn’t get far with this one.


On April 6, 2005 a committee at Columbia University formed to investigate complaints that pro-Israel Jewish students were harassed by pro-Palestinian professors found “no evidence of any statements made by the faculty that could reasonably be construed as anti-Semitic.”


Now Weiss is an op-ed columnist for the New York Times apparently hired to add diversity. The noted investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald in a piece on the The Intercept summed up her one note samba this way:




Bari Weiss is a caricature of all of the op-ed page’s longest-standing, worst attributes. Her relatively short career as a writer and activist has been overwhelmingly devoted to one issue: a defense of the Israeli government and a corresponding smear campaign against its critics.

Her targets have tended overwhelmingly to be Muslim and/or Arab, often in the context of campus politics. She has already used her NYT space to endorse the disgusting and false Haim Saban-created smear campaign against the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, writing: “Recall that only a few months ago, Keith Ellison, a man with a long history of defending and working with anti-Semites, was almost made leader of the Democratic National Committee.”

Greenwald went on:


Hiring her didn’t add an iota of viewpoint diversity…her devotion to Israel is the North Star of Weiss’s worldview and journalism was best demonstrated by Weiss’s own description of her career. At a 2012 Conference of the American Zionist Movement, Weiss She explained that she “got involved in journalism through activism” — specifically, activism against Arab and Muslim professors at Columbia whom she accused of bullying Jewish and Israeli students.


Well, she and Maher whose mother is Jewish and has shown again and again his ignorance about Israel/Palestine, did not disappoint. The Daily Beast summed up their shameless performance

Bill Maher and Bari Weiss Cruelly Blame Palestinians for Gaza Massacre




Weiss then came up with this ahistorical howler about the  the Gazan march of return


They intentionally moved up the day so that it would coincide with the day of the embassy move so that we would all be disgusted and heartbroken when we saw this horrible split-screen of Ivanka Trump, looking like she was at a country club, next to poor, desperate people dying in Gaza.”


No understanding of history at all.


What Gazans wanted to show to the world was: Look on May 15th, this is 70 years since we were dispossessed of our land. International law insists we have the right of return.


The world has slowly digested this fact but Maher and Weiss are still mired in ignorance.


In early January Maher was firmly put in his place when on his show Michelle Goldberg a new York Times columnist who actually took time to find out what the hell was happening in Palestine and then didtched her Zionism, told him he was full of crap in no unbcertain terms:


Come on. You should go and see what’s happening in the West Bank. If you look at the settlements, if you look at the facts on the ground. The fact that you have instead of a contiguous land mass you increasingly have these little cantons. And if you look at the way that Palestinians — most Palestinians alive today were not born during any of these wars and so the idea that their lives should be blighted because of them. Look at what Americans have to do when they go through a TSA checkpoint. They completely lose their shit. And if you imagine doing that for two hours every single day …”


Bari Weiss, always welcome…Glenn Greenwald and Michelle Goldberg, not so much.



Hard Labor and the Mad Russian

May 11, 2018



In the Moment
The whistle blows
and I am caught
between curbing my anger
or hitting the player
who just fouled me.
Oh, what the hell, I say.

or this one

If only I’d known
I didn’t have to throw that elbow
at LaRusso or stalk Chet Walker
to his locker room, spoiling for a
fight or take a swing at Wilt,
while my breathless teammates
feared for my life.
All I had to do was breathe
my way out of anger.
Lungs instead of fists.


Sam Smith’s Hard Labor is a great respite from the hard analyses and serious tomes which fill my life. We all need a breather from discerning the warp and woof of history and if you once were a basketball coach, this book is quite engaging, jam packed with the stuff of life.




At one level, the idea of even caring about privileged NBA players having hard labor is ridiculous. For example, Kyle Lowry of the Raptors makes $28 million per year. Grossly overpaid for sure. Lowry seems like a decent guy but his salary in a suffering world is an insult to creation, a good example of what’s wrong with capitalism. Half of humanity lives on a toonie a day so why should we give a damn about NBA players? Good question.


As Lewis Mumford wrote in 1934 “Sport is one of the least effective reactions against the machine. ”It is just part of the spectacle which diverts our attention from the serious matters at hand. Give it a glance and move on.




But the book Hard Labor is about a different time when mostly black players were treated like they were still on the plantation. In 1964 most had second jobs. Smith lays all of this out in compelling terms. Jim Crow was still alive when Oscar Robertson and friends challenged the owners to treat them as more than chattels.


This was the generation of players which paved the way for the mega salaries of today. As Robertson says in the book,”Most of today’s players don’t give a shit” about the trail blazers. Amnesia goes with capitalism.




One nugget among many in this book is the fact that Shaquille O’Neal paid for the funeral of George Mikan, the first great NBA big man.


I liked this book because, like the incomparable Dave Zirin who writes about the politics of sport for The Nation magazine, Smith places sport within the broader confines of society and politics. Few sports writers today are worth reading at all simply because they treat the topic as stand alone and worthy of our time. It isn’t. check out Zirin’s latest Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down (The New Press.)


Back to Hard Labor.


The most interesting story was about a journeyman player named Tom Meschery, the author of the poems above. Smith calls him the Mad Russian warrior poet, a good handle and a fascinating story.




Meschery was born in Manchuria as Tomislav Nicolaivich Mescherakov. His father, a Russian officer fought with the Bolsheviks in the revolution. His mother was related to Tolstoy’s second cousin the family finally got a visa to the US in 1938 the year Tom was born.They never got there and were interned in a Japanese internment camp where young Tommy learned English from missionaries.


After the war they landed in San Francisco and Tom had to fight his way to school and in the playground because his mother dressed him in knickers. He quickly learned two things—how to fight and sport was the great equalizer. Meschery went on to be a two-time All-American at St. Mary’s College, 20 miles east of Frisco where he was taught by the Christian Brothers and later incarnated the school’s motto ‘enter to learn, leave to serve.’ In 1961 he was drafted in the first round by the Philadelphia Warriors and enjoyed a 10 year career averaging 12,7 points and 8.6 rebounds.  He generally led the league in fouls and brawls hence his nickname the Mad Russian.The other side of this was he was loved by his teammates as a gentle warrior the lost and lonely.


I had a temper, I admit,” he says. “And I wasn’t about to back down. And maybe that was sort of the immigrant in me, come to think of it. You know, I had to put up my dukes a lot when I was young. So I think I had a little bit of a short fuse.”



When his time in the show was up, the insatiably curious multi-linguist met the American poet laureate of 1991 Mark Strand who suggested “he retreat to a life of poetry and contemplation full time.”


After running a bookstore into the ground he discovered teaching in Reno and Truckee ,Nevada. With his degree from the Iowa Writers Workshop he had found a new home, writing poetry and teaching and ranting on his blog about Donald Trump (http:/

Working Man

I admit sleeping in late at the Hilton,

ordering room service, handing out

big tips while your kind of men

were opening their lunch buckets.

You would have scolded me:

“Что это за работа для человека?”

“What kind of work is this for a man?”

Old immigrant, I admit all of this

too late. You died before I could explain

sportswriters call me a journeyman.

They write I roll up my sleeves

and go to work. They use words

like hammer and muscle to describe me.

For three straight years on the job

my nose collapsed. My knees ached

and I could never talk myself out of less

than two injuries at a time. Father,

you would have been proud of me:

I labored in the company of large men.


In the end Hard Labor is a serious attempt at contextualizing pro sport in our turbocapitalist world.


Hard Labor part 1

May 8, 2018


It’s true. I once was a basketball coach but never a fan of sportsworld that fantasyland which too often swallows people up. It has always amazed me the number of supposedly mature people who got caught up in this playground of life.


Guard 6
Cultural historian Lewis Mumford’s 1934 statement–and this was before mass culture engulfed us-still holds true:


Sport” he said “is one of the least effective reactions against the machine.”


The reason is simple – it siphons off our time and intellectual energy that should be at the service of the common good. Sport given over to hyper-competition rather than play demands much time, energy and concentration. The adults and schools engaged in it have little time left over for justice pursuits and active citizenship.




This is one of the reasons I took early retirement from coaching. However I never lost my own appreciation of sport as a locus of serious engagement with young people on the court and the diamond. Valuable lessons were learned; relationships were formed. All in all I thought something holy was shared. But in truth the coaching fraternity never inspired me and their narrowness allowed my early exit.


I have never watched a pro basketball game all the way through.Firstly, I  could not justify the time and secondly despite the pure grace and talent of some of the players, the game was boring, much too slow.


College ball was much more exciting—constant movement, full court presses etc. And I never watch the NCAA tourney the so-called March Madness. To me the only madness is the time wasted when you could be reading or doing something less passive.



Inevitably since sport has been part of my life I do pick up the odd book as relief from the serious history or theology I engage in. Sometimes a bio which I skim of sad sack Joe D or the self-destructive Mick or the one and only Babe and my favourite, the “Christian gentleman” Matty.



This brings me to the most interesting sports book I have read in years, Hard Labor by Sam Smith. The book was interesting because it dealt with the labour struggle and “the battles that birthed the “Billion dollar NBA.” In other words it placed pro basketball in the social context of America changing. It went beyond sportsworld, a separate country where the politically indifferent too often dwell.




The players were all familiar to me as was the context. Their personal stories were engrossing. Real heroes emerged in the fight for dignity in a racist time. Elgin Baylor and Oscar Robertson, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and Tom Heinsohn were also critical citizens who did not allow the ball to bounce them. At the forefront indeed was the brilliant Robertson who led the charge for economic freedom which paved the way for the mega contracts of today.



The sport was becoming black but racist rules still were in place. There was a quota on black players especially as teams were located south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Bob Cousy “the master passer of them all” (Red Auerbach) was the first great basketball star and a colour-blind New Yorker. In 1953 he embraced roomed with the first black player signed Chuck Cooper.In 1954 he started the first players’ union.


Cousy had graduated from the Jesuit Boston College in 1950 where his senior thesis was on the persecution of minority groups. Asked why he, one of the highest paid players joined Robertson’s group said, “I think it was my Jesuit education at Holy Cross. It was drilled into you to improve situations.If you saw something wrong it was your responsibility to help fix it. We believed you just simply were supoosed to help people who needed help.”


Later in life in 2013 as his wife of 63 years descended into the alzheimer black hole, Cousy became her sole care giver, the ex-Celtic put it all into context:


“I was busy playing a child’s game,’ Cousy said. ‘I thought putting a ball in a hole was important. Looking back, I should have participated more in the lives of my family. But my girls were in the best possible loving hands.’


Life in the Kingdom of the Occupation

May 3, 2018

She should know. As an israeli journalist she heeded the famous Jewish philosopher Groucho Marx


Amira Hass  is a real journalist not a propagandist



Haaretz readers are probably sure they know what’s happening in the kingdom of the occupation, because this newspaper is Israel’s only mainstream media outlet that consistently provides information from there. This of course is an illusion. All the reports, articles and editorials don’t cover a thousandth of what constitutes Palestinian daily life under Israeli control.


As a service to anyone who wants to know more and doesn’t speak Arabic, here’s a partial reading list that provides information shocking in its ordinariness.

The biweekly report on protecting civilians, published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which appears in English, Hebrew and Arabic. The latest (April 23) issue notes that over the previous two weeks the forces of the Civil Administration had demolished 16 Palestinian structures in Area C ( the section of the West Bank under exclusive Israeli control), citing the lack of a building permit. Some 360 people were affected by the demolitions. Over those two weeks, 19 demolition and stop-work orders were served for other Palestinian structures.


The news website Siha Mekomit, or its English equivalent, +972 Magazine. For example, last week Orly Noy visited the school in the Palestinian village Burin, a regular target of Israeli gangs who come down from the surrounding settlements and terrorize people under the protection of the Israeli army. To read her report is almost like to be there with her. The previous day, the site posted a B’Tselem video showing soldiers cheering after “identifying” their precise hit: a resident of the nearby village of Madama who was trying to remove an earthen barrier and was shot at.



The English website Mondoweiss describes itself as “an independent website devoted to informing readers about developments in Israel/Palestine and related U.S. foreign policy. We provide news and analysis unavailable through the mainstream media regarding the struggle for Palestinian human rights.” Its founders are American Jews.



One can’t help but envy the site for its network of writers and reporters from the field. Fadi Al-Naji, for example, wrote Friday from Gaza about what doesn’t appear in the standard Israeli media: The Palestinian March of Return isn’t only a protest, it’s a combination of cultural and heritage events such as children listening to adults tell stories of their lives in their villages and cities in Palestine before 1948. Or its reading groups learning about imperialism and colonialism. Sometimes, he writes, you can also encounter a wedding procession.



Don’t miss the human rights websites in Israel. B’Tselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Gisha and Adalah need no further words. In contrast, the Center for the Defense of the Individual hasn’t been good at promoting its treasures: praiseworthy legal work and the information that stems from it. A look at the site every two or three days is worth it. For example, on April 17, attorney Abir Joubran-Dakwar petitioned the High Court of Justice, based on the Freedom of Information Law, to order the army to answer questions about procedures for issuing permits to access land behind the separation barrier.



As the Center reminds us, “Ever since 2003, the Israeli military has been employing a draconian permit regime in the area of the West Bank located between the Green Line and the separation wall. Israel refers to this area, which it declared closed to Palestinians, as the ‘seam zone.’ Though it is an inseparable part of the West Bank, any Palestinian living in this area or wishing to enter it is required to obtain a military issued permit in order to do so. This permit regime applies only to Palestinians. Others, be they Israelis or tourists from anywhere in the world, do not require any permit to enter the ‘seam zone’ or remain in it.”


When the separation barrier was built deep in the West Bank, the authorities claimed that it wasn’t intended to steal Palestinian land; only security dictated its route. The years passed and the fears came true: Fewer and fewer Palestinians can reach their land on the other side of the wall. Their land became green parks and hiking sites of prestigious Israeli suburbs and settlements.


Some of the activities of the women’s group Machsom Watch also focus on maintaining contact with farmers whose right to work their land and make a living from it is thwarted by the separation wall/fence. “Every Israeli should know what is happening in the West Bank,” is the headline on its Hebrew homepage.


One group of women among them devotes long days in the military courts. Their reports on the site are chilling. By the way, in a chance conversation Friday, a founder of Machsom Watch clarified why this is a feminist movement, even though it doesn’t focus on the rights of women as such, and even though not all its members identify as feminists. It’s because “there’s no hierarchy in the group,” she said.


Information, as much information of this type, painful, and as close as possible to the real-time events, is conveyed out of respect for readers – a show of a deep, basic faith in their humanity, wisdom and sense of justice.




Readers don’t need the intervention of theoretical articles to conceptualize how abhorrent it is that a Jewish Israeli clerk prevents a woman with cancer from going for treatment, or to compare the whitening of South Africa to the destruction of the Bedouin community of Umm al-Hiran. Readers can conclude for themselves that as citizens of this state they’re partners in the terrible system of oppression and dispossession. If they don’t realize it today, they’ll realize it tomorrow.

The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago

April 25, 2018

PI=zion Einstein
RAMZY BAROUD offered this piece vuia Counterpunch today
Albert Einstein, along with other Jewish luminaries, including Hannah Arendt, published a letter in the New York Times on December 4, 1948. That was only a few months after Israel had declared its independence and as hundreds of Palestinian villages were being actively demolished after their inhabitants were expelled.


The letter denounced Israel’s newly-founded Herut party and its young leader, Menachem Begin.

Herut was carved out of the Irgun terrorist gang, famous for its many massacres against Palestinian Arab communities leading up to the Nakba, the catastrophic ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from their historic homeland in 1947-48.


In the letter, Einstein, and others, described Herut (Freedom) party as a “political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to Nazi and Fascist parties.”

For a letter of this nature to appear a mere few years after the end of World War II and the devastation of the Holocaust is a profound indication of the clear chasm that existed among Jewish intellectuals at the time: the Zionists who supported Israel and its violent birth, and those who took the high moral ground and objected to it.
Sadly, the latter group – although still in existence – had lost the battle.

Herut later merged with other groups to form the Likud Party. Begin received the Nobel Peace Prize and the Likud is now the leading party in Israel’s most right-wing government coalition. The ‘Nazi and Fascist’-like philosophy of Herut have prevailed, and it now engulfs and defines mainstream society in Israel.
This right-wing tendency is even more pronounced among young Israelis than previous generations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the leader of Begin’s party, the Likud. His current coalition includes Russian-born Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, founder of the ultra-nationalist party, Yisrael Beiteinu.
In response to ongoing popular protests by besieged Palestinians in Gaza, and in justification of the high number of deaths and injuries inflicted on the unarmed protesters by the Israeli army, Lieberman argued that “there are no innocent people in Gaza.”

When the Defense Minister of a country espouses this kind of belief, one can hardly be shocked that Israeli snipers are shooting Palestinian youngsters, while cheering on camera as they hit their target.
This kind of discourse – Fascist par excellence – is by no means a fringe narrative within Israeli society.

Netanyahu’s coalition is rife with such morally-objectional characters.
Israeli politician, Ayelet Shaked, has often called for the genocide against Palestinians.
Palestinians “are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads,” she wrote in a Facebook post in 2015. “Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs … They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”ayelet-shaked
A few months after the publication of the statement, Netanyahu, in December 2015, appointed her as the country’s Justice Minister.

Shaked belongs to the Jewish Home Party, headed by Naftali Bennett. The latter is Israel’s Minister of Education and known for similarly violent statements. He was one of the first politicians who came out in defense of Israeli soldiers accused of violating human rights at the Gaza border. Other top Israeli politicians followed suit.

On April 19, Israel celebrated its independence. “The Nazi and Fascist” mentality that defined Herut in 1948 now defines the most powerful ruling class in Israel. Israel’s leaders speak openly of genocide and murder, yet they celebrate and promote Israel as if an icon of civilization, democracy and human rights.

Even cultural Zionists of old would have been terribly horrified at the creature that their beloved Israeli has become, seven decades after its birth.

Certainly, the Palestinian people are still fighting for their land, identity, dignity and freedom. But the truth is that Israel’s biggest enemy is Israel itself. The country has failed to part ways with its violent politics and ideology of yesteryears. On the contrary, Israel’s ideological debate has been settled in favor of perpetual violence, racism and apartheid.


In the supposed ‘only democracy in the Middle East’, the margin of critique has grown very limited.

It is the likes of Netanyahu, Lieberman, Bennett and Shaked who now represent modern Israel and, behind them, a massive constituency of right-wing religious and ultra-nationalists, who have little regard for Palestinians, for human rights, international law and such seemingly frivolous values as peace and justice.

In 1938, Einstein had contended with the very idea behind the creation of Israel. It runs counter to “the essential nature of Judaism,” he said.
A few years later, in 1946, he argued before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on the Palestinian issue: “I cannot understand why it is (meaning Israel) is needed … I believe it is bad.”

Needless to say, if Einstein was alive today, he would have joined the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, which aims at holding Israel accountable for its violent and illegal practices against Palestinians.

Equally true, he would have surely been branded anti-Semitic or a ‘self-hating Jew’ by Israeli leaders and their supporters. Today’s Zionists are, indeed, unfazed.

But this painful paradigm must be overturned. Palestinian children are not terrorists and cannot be treated as such. They are not ‘little snakes’, either. Palestinian mothers should not be killed. The Palestinian people are not ‘enemy combatants’ to be eradicated. Genocide must not be normalized.

70 years after Israel’s independence and Einstein’s letter, the country’s legacy is still marred with blood and violence. Despite the ongoing party in Tel Aviv, there is no reason to celebrate and every reason to mourn.


Yet, hope is kept alive because the Palestinian people are still resisting; and they need the world to stand in solidarity with them. It is the only way for the ghost of Herut to quit haunting the Palestinians, and for the ‘Nazi and Fascist’ philosophies to be forever defeated.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is:

Why didn’t you care? Why did you remain silent? The witness of Amira Hass

April 15, 2018

Amira Hass, like her journalist cohort Gideon Levy has had it with israel’s parlous democracy, its crude racism and ita absolute inability to end the extraordinary 50 year occupation.




Most North Americans are utterlly clueless about the depth and depravity of this brutal and heartless incarceration..Many Jews sadly react to criticism of Israel as mere tribalists rather than inheritors of a humanistic, universal Judaism. Very few have tasted what exiled Israeli historian Ilan Pappé calls an “antinhumane and merciless reality.”

This brave scribe dedicates his latest book, The Biggest Prison on Earth in this fashion:


“This book is dedicated to those who relentlessly tried to alert decent uman beings to the importance of not standing by and watching while millions of of people were being treated in such an inhumane way.”


His book outlines “the bureaucracy of evil while not attempting to demonize Israelis in general.” Pappé saves his withering criticism for “the Israelis who worked out the fine detail of the system…who perfected its operation namely its power to humiliate and destroy.”


This brings us to the similarly brave Amira Hass whose mother a survivor of Bergen Belsen gifted her with the admonition to never allow this indifference to become you. Never again to anybody. Like her colleague at Haaretz Gideon Levy, Hass is one of the legion that Pappé refers to above, those Israelis who refused to go along with this truly horrendous brutalization of an innocent people.




In this article below, written in the wake of merely the latest state contempt for human life, Hass raises the neuralgic question of the post holocaust era: were you just following orders? Has the good German become the good Israeli? What about the nuremberg defense?



Like Levy’s earlier article this essay of Hass is searing in its prophetic intensity and brave in its call for a society to awake from its slumber


I Was Just Following Orders’: What Will You Tell Your Children? April 8, 2018

‘How did you destroy villages?’ one daughter will ask. ‘How did you agree to imprison two million people?‘ another will whisper. The answers will only make their weeping louder




Maybe the day will come and young Israelis – not one or two, but an entire generation – will ask their parents: How could you? If the question is asked, our situation will already be better because it will signal the post-herd stage of the Israeli existence.


The problem is we cannot know when this will happen. In another 70 years? In another 50? How low can we sink in our choosing to go along with the herd, wicked and enjoyable in its own right? What nadir must we reach before the young people are shocked about what their parents and grandparents did and stop imitating them, an emulation that is also an upgrade of sorts.

Let us allow ourselves a minute of optimism, and assume that the question will be asked before it is too late. With just a bit more optimism, let us say they will be the 4-year-olds of today, or those who are born in another few months. Congratulations.

The question “how could you?” will split into a few sub-questions. For example: Why did you consent? You really didn’t know? Don’t talk nonsense — after all, the information was published in real time, and in abundance. You didn’t need to wait for someone to be released from a forced labor camp in Siberia and appear at the door a few months later to tell the story.

Why didn’t you care? Why did you remain silent? How could you have gone out hiking on the weekends, watch television and movies, go shopping in the new mall and work on your master’s degree in history of the gulags or run a business from your home, choose concerts and plays in London and go to the soccer game every week – and also renovate the house as if everything was normal?




The parents may be embarrassed and say: “You have to understand, it wasn’t just us. Our neighbor Adina too, who was a famous professor of the history of anti-Semitism, lived normally – between her trips abroad, conversations in the supermarket and interviews on radio and television. She too remained silent on those matters, and loved to hear the later sonatas of Beethoven and Bartok.” And then the mother will correct the father: “What’s the matter with you? She wasn’t an expert in anti-Semitism, but on species of butterflies going extinct.” The argument between the two will spill over into other arguments, and that is how they will avoid answering their daughter’s question.]




Other parents may apologize. “You must understand,” they will say. “We were afraid of terrorism.” And the children will press on: How does the fight against terrorism turn into destroying water pipes and cisterns for collecting rainwater, and quotas for drinking water for specific groups of people at a time when we were enjoying an abundance of water? The father will twist and turn and say he “was not responsible for the quota. Ask the children of Mordechai and Ori about that, and nu, what was his name, the infrastructure minister?” The son – forgive him for his interruptions, he is a teenager – will yell: But you drove the bulldozers that destroyed the cisterns. Grandpa told me about it, proudly, before he died. The father will correct him: “An excavator, not a bulldozer — and I was among the soldiers who aimed their rifles at the little buggers who didn’t throw stones at the drivers.”


The certificates of distinction for senior commanders in the IDF’s Civil Administration will be hung in the living room until the girls come and tear them off the walls in anger. How did you destroy villages and expel their residents, one daughter will sob, and her crying will only increase when she hears the answer: “I carried out orders.”




How did you keep thousands of students who wanted to study in a better university from leaving, another daughter will scream and leave home slamming the door when she hears the same answer: “I was only following orders.” How could you agree to imprison two million people, the third daughter will whisper, and she will not believe her ears when she hears her father’s answer: “I got used to it.”


How did you ban construction for them and build a luxury neighborhood for others, a daughter will bitterly ask her mother the architect, the former head of the planning and construction department? And she will answer: “The elite always deserve more. That is the historical rule. The others simply do not need what we have. And this is also what caused many of them to leave, in the end, so you can live in a spacious house with a large garden.”


Another mother will stutter that she deserves thanks for pushing the button that released a missile from a drone, that’s how they called it at first. “I was young. They classified me as a combat soldier. And they were just shapes on a screen.” Another father will admit that on the stock of his sniper rifle he carved 17 X’s, until he ran out of room. “We were children,” he will explain. “We learned to shoot, and they ran around in front of us on the other side of the fence and I wanted to prove to myself and my commanders that I was good at it.”


Another father did not carve X’s because he did not count how many died from the bombs he dropped from his plane. Yet another father will say that this is nothing compared to the numbers of them we killed in the previous wars. “This is the only proven way to keep them under control,” he will say in his scientific tone. “And this is how we caused others to leave too, so they would open up a lot of land for your prestigious university.”



How did you allow all this, a brilliant student of law and philosophy will ask his mother, the retired former president of the Supreme Court? Now she can free up her time for her hobby of growing orchids. And she will answer him: “We didn’t approve everything.” The main things you did approve, he will persist. You decided in your rulings that we were the master race. And she will answer him, while she is busy spraying the plants with distilled water: “And after all, that’s the truth.”


“Son of a b…. What a video”

April 14, 2018

Levy 11


Yesterday, a Haaretz columnist Nehemiah Shtrasler wrote a thoughtful, slightly ironic column about the stunningly obtuse Israeli sniper who got his jollies off by shooting for sport an unarmed Palestinian protestor.innocent bystander.

Today, Gideon Levy goes full bore about the same incident.


Leonard Cohen sang, “You want it dark.” Levy gives it up. With 25 years of going into the West Bank and Gaza chronicling state cruelty,  he explodes with prophetic fury and unpacks what is really going on in today’s Israel. April 12, 2018


Son of a Bitch, What a Video 

We should thank the soldiers in that video for sharing their genuine emotions and rejoicing at the sight of an unarmed Arab flying in the air after being shot


A 28-year-old Palestinian said on Wednesday that he was the man whose shooting by an Israeli sniper was captured on video and later leaked, and he denied the army’s allegations that he had been organizing a violent demonstration at the Gaza border.

The 81-second video clip, taken by a soldier, surfaced on social media on April 9 and stirred debate and censure for showing the targeting of a Palestinian who appeared to be standing still, to the sound of approving shouts and profanity by at least one Israeli soldier.


Let’s say the soldiers in that video clip didn’t cheer and hoot, using foul language. Let’s say they recited Yehuda Amichai’s poem “God has pity on kindergarten children” before kneeling to take aim at demonstrators, and that after using live fire to shoot an unarmed protester they recited “El Malei Rachamim,” the Jewish prayer for the soul of the dead, assuming the protester had been killed like dozens of others. Let’s say the soldiers were shocked, meeting later for soul-baring talks into the night to discuss values.


Let’s imagine some of them required psychological aid for trauma or post-trauma, with a few joining Breaking the Silence, confessing their deeds and repenting. And then a leftist filmmaker would make a movie about them, showing how deep was their sacrifice, how agonizing their suffering, just like in “Waltz with Bashir” or “Foxtrot.” How beautiful we could be. And then came this video and ruined everything.


Let’s say the sharpshooters were value-driven soldiers, who had to carry out their duty while suffering wrenching pangs of guilt. Would that make them better human beings? More humane? More moral? They would tug at our heartstrings much more than those lowlifes in the video. No scandal would erupt and the beautiful soldiers would continue aiming at and shooting protesters.


Half the country was shocked for a moment by the video. This was after two Fridays in which army snipers had killed and wounded hundreds of unarmed people who endangered no one, with Israel remaining silent. The country lived in peace with the massacre, justifying it in unified chorus. Then came the video and halted the celebrations for a moment. Is that how one talks? Is that how one takes photos? Not nice, soldiers. Even the campaign’s commander Avigdor Lieberman said that the soldier who took the pictures should be demoted. A miniature scandal over etiquette. Soldiers are allowed to kill and wound civilians to their hearts’ content but one doesn’t talk like that and one doesn’t film it.




One should learn from the pilots. This wouldn’t have happened to them. When they dropped a one-ton bomb on a residential building in Gaza they didn’t cheer in the cockpit and they didn’t curse. Their language is as pure as the driven snow. You won’t hear them saying: “The son of a bitch. What a clip. Wow, we got someone in the head, he flew up with his leg in the air. Go, you sons of bitches.” That’s not their style. Some of them actually squirm during the debriefing session, even though they never the see the whites of their victims’ eyes, like their brothers-in-arms, the snipers, do. Maybe that’s why pilots are more value-driven.




We should thank the soldiers behind the video for the genuine emotions they expressed so precisely, and for deciding to share their feelings, putting an end to hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness. This was a genuine joy for them, seeing an Arab flying in the air with his leg like that. It was a cause for celebration, seeing an Arab hit in the head. What did we think, that a soldier aiming at civilians and hitting one wouldn’t be happy? That he’d see them as human beings? There is no way he’d fulfill his mission that way. He has to believe that facing him are a bunch of insects running around, which he has to exterminate, or possibly terrorists that have only one thing coming to them. Otherwise, who would shoot? That work can’t be left to nerds with pierced ears.

And when one succeeds in hitting a cockroach who is also dangerous, it’s obvious that joy erupts. After all, that’s why they were brought over to the sandy hills near the fence, in order to shoot, to kill and wound. If that wasn’t the case, one could have used non-lethal methods.
The soldiers in this video did not “shoot and cry” [as some soldiers in the 1967 war claimed]. What exactly should they cry about? Israel wants them to shoot innocent civilians, the defense minister gives them a citation for every fatality and injury, their commanders tell them to use live fire against demonstrators, and our correspondents and military commentators tell us how heroic they are. So what exactly did we want? All we wanted was for them to speak politely, to not disturb our peace with their foul slurs, with “son of a bitch.”

Shoot and laugh: A sad Israeli tale

April 13, 2018


Theoretically, Israel has a free press but in reality most papers are house organs and hardly reflective of a dynamic Fourth Estate sworn to hold a government accountable.. In particular Israel Hayom, the free propaganda sheet of choice, an anti-newspaper funded by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson who is a rabid Israel-firsters is the 40% paper of choice. A great newspaper Haaretz runs at 6% and is despised by most Israelis.


Haaretz tries to lift the veil of occupation, its daily humiliation of Palestinians. Its great reporters Gideon Levy and Amira Hass actually go and talk to the underside of Israeli society. Its bloggers, American, Israeli and Palestinian regularly blow the mist off the fog of a militant propaganda machine.




If you value honesty and integrity, contact haaretz and support their outstanding journalism.




Below is a good example from a man whom i know not, but one with a powerful Hebrew scripture name Nehemiah (Shtrasler). Mr.Shtrasler is a Tel Aviv writer reflective of the great, decent souls who live in Israel.




In this column our man goes to town on a shocking scandal an 81-second video clip, taken by a soldier, which surfaced on social media April 9 . Here an israeli sniper, a buffoon if there ever was one, was caught laughing after picking off a nonviolent Palestinian protestor 28 year old Tamer Abu Daqqa.





Over to you Mr. Shtrasler

Only an evil heart could fail to grasp that anyone who gives an order to fire live bullets at unarmed demonstrators is giving a patently illegal order


Okay, I get it. You can’t say “I’m ashamed to be Israeli.” After saying that, you have to apologize to avoid being fired.


If so, is it okay to say I was shocked? That I couldn’t believe what I was hearing? That I felt an overwhelming nausea rising deep in my gut at hearing the number of people killed and wounded in Palestinian demonstrations near the Israel-Gaza border?


It’s legitimate to order the army to keep the demonstrators from crossing into Israel from the Gaza Strip, but it must do so by nonlethal means: water cannons, tear gas grenades and sponge-tipped bullets aimed at demonstrators’ legs. Anything but live bullets, and certainly not live bullets aimed to kill.


Anyone who gives an order to fire live bullets at unarmed demonstrators who aren’t endangering soldiers’ lives is giving a patently illegal order, one over which a black flag flies. Only an evil heart could fail to grasp this.

This week, a shocking video was published. It showed a sniper shooting a Palestinian who didn’t endanger him at all. The Palestinian in the pink shirt was a substantial distance away from the border fence, so there was no reason in the world to shoot him.


In the clip, you can see him standing for a minute, and then you see him fall, shot in the leg. And then you hear the sounds of excitement and joy from our side: “Wow, what a fabulous video, son of a bitch, he’s flying with his leg in the air; get out of here, you sons of bitches.”


The young man in pink didn’t even know he was in the sniper’s sights. You can see him roaming about without fear. He didn’t know that Israel had declared a “kill zone” of 80 to 100 meters inside Gaza’s sovereign territory, and that anyone who enters it can be killed.




Commenting on this incident, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, “The sniper deserves a medal. … The IDF is the most moral army in the world.” A medal for what? For having a sophisticated rifle with telescopic sights and shooting unarmed people like sitting ducks while he himself is well concealed, at no risk at all? For an operation like this, the army deserves the accolade of the most moral army in the world? They should do a remake of “1984,” Lieberman-style.



The Gazans had several types of “weaponry.” They had slingshots, like David against Goliath. They had tires, which they burned. And they also had mirrors which they brought from home, which they used to try to blind the snipers, a tactic first used by Archimedes against the Romans 2,000 years ago. With this sophisticated weaponry from ancient times, the Gazans fought unsuccessfully against the snipers, who killed 32 of them, including photographer Yaser Murtaja, who was wearing a vest with “press” written on it in giant letters. They also wounded some 300 people with live bullets, 20 of them seriously, and another 1,000 or so with sponge-tipped bullets and tear gas.


These are numbers the mind can’t digest. We’ve apparently reached the point where human life isn’t worth a cent.


But that’s not quite true. It depends on the person.
In 2009, the book “The King’s Torah” was published. It discussed what Jewish law said about killing non-Jews. Basing itself on “proofs” from the Talmud, it claimed the Torah’s prohibition on murder applies only to Jews; killing non-Jews is permissible.


The book sparked a storm at the time and generated fierce opposition, but today it would apparently be received with complete understanding. The fact is that many politicians and pundits weren’t upset at all by either the live fire on demonstrators or the large number of people killed and wounded.


They said the Gazans “sent their children to commit acts of terror, so it’s good that we stopped them.” They said, “We left Gaza, so we aren’t to blame for anything.” They described the demonstrators as “a terrorist invasion whose goal was to destroy Israel,” adding, “Kudos to the IDF for blocking the invasion with no casualties on our side.”


And what about the unarmed civilian casualties on the other side? That’s okay. See “The King’s Torah.”

It’s a disgrace to be an Israeli these days. Disgrace accompanied by overwhelming nausea.


Israel at 70

April 5, 2018



There is an increasing awareness around the globe and within the Jewish community that Israel and Zionism are in a dark place.The latest massacre of nonviolent protesters on Good Friday is simply another reminder of how cheap and wothless Palestinian blood is.As gideon Levy writes in his latest column: This is what the nation wants and this is what it will get. Even if soldiers kill hundreds of demonstrators in Gaza, Israel will not bat an eyelid. The reason: evil and hatred of Arabs.




For generations the Israeli narrative, internalized by much of the world, is coming to an inglorious end. Christian guilt over the Nazi holocaust gave the state of Israel a virtual free pass.The fact that the new state was built on the backs of innocent indigenous Palestinians was never admitted. This is the original sin of Zionism. There has never been any acknowledgement of the horrific suffering occasioned by the Nakba, the catastrophic dispossession of Palestinian people from their homeland.


As the decades passed and as the exiled inhabitants lived in squalor, the best educated members of the Arab world, gradually found their voice, but an adamantine Israel continued to ignore the massive suffering of those Palestinians who still lived in Gaza, the West bank and east Jerusalem. History however has caught up with Israel. Jews of conscience, nourished by those traditional humanist values shared by all the Abrahamic faiths, could no longer turn away from the obvious discrimination and oppression visited upon the original inhabitants.


Pi=65 yrs


Zionism was always a bad idea. The transplanting of Russian and Polish Jews into a largely Musilim world was bound to come to no good. The great lie of simply wanting a homeland slowly became evident to the original inhabitants. Zionists wanted all of this historical land as a Jewish state. They succeeded but a terrible price—the massive injustice done to the indigenous people who were innocent of the holocaust crime.




The prophetic never dies. It always bubbles up from the depths of humanity and so it has today. Israel will never disappear. it is a fact of life with so many gifts to offer the world but occupation of another people is not one of those gifts.

Here is the first article, the slow tolling of a bell which is a wake up call to modern israel which it will ignore to its own peril. Bradley Burston is a respected Haaretz columnist as well Senior Editor of


This Is Zionism as Racism. This Is Israel at 70

It hurts me to write what I’m about to. But it also hurts me to live in this place today. To open my eyes and see what’s right here and right now.

Bradley Burston Apr 04, 2018




It hurts me to write what I’m about to. But it also hurts me to live in this place today. To open my eyes and see what’s right here, right now.This is Zionism as racism. This is Israel at 70.

This is a country which so demeans and dismisses and conflates Palestinian lives, that after a horrendous casualty rate in massive demonstrations at the Gaza border over the weekend, Eli Hazan, a spokesman for Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, referred to the men, women, children and elderly protesters camped hundreds of meters from the border fence, and told i24 News Monday without flinching:

“All 30,000 are legitimate targets.”


This is a country whose ruling officials go to great lengths to proudly trumpet their insensitivity and capacity to bully, steamroll, silence and marginalize those whose opinions or ethnicities or religious affiliations don’t dovetail with the government’s smug, narrow, boilerplate conception of what is acceptable as Israeli. …


In Israel at 70, Zionism means a government of the racist, by the racist, for the racist. As a public servant, as an Orthodox rabbi, as a settler, you’re free to say anything you want, as long as it’s anti-Arab, anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian, anti-immigrant, and, for good measure, anti-Ashkenazi, anti-North American Jew, anti-New Israel Fund and, in general, anti-leftist of all stripes.




The settler who tears out a Palestinian farmer’s olive trees by the roots is a Zionist all the way. So is the settler who sics his dogs on a Palestinian shepherd’s flock. So is the settler or the soldier who opens fire on an unarmed Palestinian and goes scot-free. So is the American ambassador who donates to the settler and who brands the majority of his fellow American Jews – the liberal ones – as Kapos.

So is the settler activist who calls Barack Obama “the kushi” (the darkie, or the n-word). So is the Likud activist who uses the same word to describe all African asylum seekers.


So is the rightist who – asked about the fact that two million Gazans live with next to no electricity, next to no drinking water, no sewage treatment, meager food, no opportunity to work, no opportunity to leave, no citizenship, no rights  – replies, “They have it coming to them.”

All of them.


For sheer, unadulterated, mega-manipulative, ostensibly Zionist bigotry and hatred, though, no one can touch Benjamin Netanyahu.


In recent years he’s hammered away with racist and mendacious incitement against Arab citizens of Israel and African asylum seekers as supposed security threats.
On Tuesday night he surpassed himself.


Taking a leaf from the coded Jew-hatred of European proto-fascists and the pro-Trump alt-right, going all-out to boost and leverage hate against blacks and leftists and American Jews and destroy the High Court of Justice and divert blame to get himself off the hook for incompetence, he dog-whistled the name of Holocaust survivor and left-leaning philanthropist George Soros in an unprecedented assault on the New Israel Fund.


“The overarching goal of the Fund is the obliteration of the Jewish character of Israel, and turning it into a state of all its citizens,” lied Netanyahu, adding that he planned to have his burly Knesset puppet David Amsalem open a Roy Cohn-esque probe of NIF, which he said “endangers Israel’s security and future.”


Don’t get me wrong. I understand where much of this comes from. Jews of all ethnicities bear the scars and the genetic memory of every manner of heinous racism, up to and including genocide.


It’s all too true, at the same time, that in a tragic given of human nature, the abused is at great risk of becoming an abuser.


In the case of Zionism, can the victims of anti-Semitism come to acknowledge their – our – own bigotry, our own ingrained prejudices, our own sense of superiority and entitlement, our own history of injustice to the minorities in their midst?


Until that happens, to paraphrase Ben-Gurion, it doesn’t matter what the non-Jews say, or what the UN General Assembly resolves on the question of whether Zionism is racism or not. It matters what the Jews do. And, in our heart of hearts, we all know what those who run Israel, and those who pressure them, are doing right now.


This is Israel at 70. This is Zionism as racism.


Who can you trust on Gaza?

April 2, 2018

The night of the Passover seder, which for years has been accompanied by a closure of the territories, was colored black. Israelis were reading in the Passover Haggadah how cruelly they were treated by the goyim thousands of years ago, while on the other side, the goyim were sitting and counting their dead – online – killed at the hands of the victims of the past.



So writes Odeh Bisharat a Palestinian oped columnist for Haaretz the newspaper which acknowledges the Palestinan citizens of Israel and gives them a voice. Most Israelis get theirt news fish-wrapped in Israel Hayom the free paper funded by the Israel idolator Sheldon Adelson the self-described, “richest Jew in the world.”


Bisharat deftly points out the schizophrenia at the heart of modern day Israel which describes itself as a Jewish democratic state. The massacre of undefended nonviolent Palestinians on Land Day empties the Passover seder of meaning, a classic example of splitting, claiming deep Jewish values of compassion and solidarity while doing the exact opposite.


Today, Easter Monday we have 18 dead and 1700 wounded, Gazans fed up with the blockade of Gaza and their miserable lives, victims of a brutal occupation, simply seeking dignity, not much here in this awful prison where you have electricity for 4 hours a day, little access to drinking water and living on a toonie a day


On the other side 100 snipers, “the most moral army in the world” picking off defenceless people while the Israeli spokesperson came up with the same booswa as it always does using those esxplosive words which are supposed to end conversation: “riots” and “Hamas.”there were no riots and Hamas had agreed to a nonviolent response which Israel is deathly afraid of.


Years ago I wrote about the struggle of my teenage years to find authentic soul music. We were hungry for Ray Charles and Clyde McPhatter and all we got was Patti Page and Perry Como.These were the days of laboriously cranking that station-finding dial to get to the motherlode of WKBW 1520 on the AM dial. And where was WKBW? Right at the far right end the margins where Afro-Americans were, the very ones who created the music,


Our kitchen dial was soldered at 1010, CFRB, the calcified heart of Belfast Toronto. Well, it’s the same today even though we have digital radio. Now working class, justice truth is found often at the left margin, 89.5 the U of T community radio which brings us inter aia the prophetic voice of Democracy Now, Beyond the Headlines and The Taylor Report, legit attempts to understand what’s really going on.Most people are unaware of the station and get their news from other sources, all timorous in putting forth the truth of Palestine.



And sure enough today there was at 10 AM with the intrepid Jewish Jew Amy Gooidman unpacking the horrific events.Where else would you hear Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations,


These peaceful demonstrations posed no threat whatsoever to Israel or its heavily armed soldiers. Yet its trigger-happy soldiers used live ammunition, tear gas and rubber bullets to shoot indiscriminately at those nonviolent protesters, who were demonstrating inside the Gaza Strip near their side of the well-fortified barrier that separates them from Israel. How could that be condoned?

Many have asked me about who to trust in the media. My answer springs from my faith, well expressed by the Lutheran martyr of the Nazis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer:




There remains an experience of incomparable value. We have for once learnt to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the maltreated, the powerless, the oppressed, the reviled – in short, from the perspective of those who suffer.


In the case of Israel/Palestine it is obvious where my fealty lies—with justice and with people who the mainstream journals never quote people like like attorney Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza, recipient Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 1991, twice named an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience.Here is a brother you can trust.



Gazans, after 11 years of criminal, illegal, inhuman siege, which suffocated Gaza socially and economically, and after three wars, where Israel was targeting, in the eye of the storm, the Palestinian civilians and civilian targets. And this time, where Israel didn’t allow rebuilding Gaza, and denied us from our basic rights, I mean, to that level we are not able to treat our water or our sewage. Gaza, after 11 years of siege, having 65 percent unpaid or unemployed, having 90 percent under poverty line, and 85 percent depends on UNRWA rations, so they shifted us to be a nation of beggars in a biggest man-made disaster.


Two million people are crippled, not because we are lazy. We have one of the highest percents of university graduates, and we have one of the most fantastic skilled workers, and we have no illiteracy. But with that, they didn’t allow us to function normally, and they decided to disconnect us from the West Bank and from the outside world, and invested all reasons to make Gaza, really, I mean, ISIS space, where people lose hope, no future and no opportunity for—at any level or by any chance.

So, people wanted, after all this conspiracy of silence, after all this pain and suffering, to demonstrate for their dignity, for their right of having an end for this criminal, illegal, inhuman siege, which all international human rights organizations, all U.N. bodies and all world civil society denied and denounced and condemned Israel of practicing it. They just wanted to have an outcry. We want to have an end. We want to be free. We want to have, you know, access to the outside world. We want to be normal. This is incredible, what’s going on. And people just decided to resort, in Land Day, to a peaceful means, peaceful demonstration.




Truth-telling like tghis you will never hear on mainline radio.