Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

The end of hasbara

July 13, 2018



The indefatigable Phil Weiss has written an excellent summary of Israeli propaganda and how (under the Hebrew name hasbara its has run its course.


Israel always knew the theft of Palestinian land and the ethnic cleansing of 750,00 indigenous people in over 500 villages was indefensible so it had to embark on a massive hasbara campaign with propagandists in the only country that mattered, the USA.




In the post 1948 world this was easy. The “Christian West” suffering under holocaust guilt gladly sacrificed Palestine. Granted the largely rural population had nothing to do with the Jewish tragedy but as Edward Said wrote presciently in Orientalism, Arabic people were deemed expendable in this regard, “This was made by a European power … about a non-European territory … in a flat disregard of both the presence and wishes of the native majority resident in that territory”. The Balfour Declaration of 1917

And how about Lord Balfour’s shocking arrogance:


The Four Great Powers are committed to Zionism. And Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land’.


President Wilson”s right of self-determination was ignored.


The Palestinians who comprised 96% of the country in 1900 had been devastated in their first intifada of 1936-1939. Their revolt was against Great Britain complicit in its imperial arrogance of handing over this area to the Zionists (largely Russian Jews) as part of the Empire’s military adventures.That this called for the annihilation of the Palestinian people was irrelevant.The promise of Balfour that nothing would be done that would prejudice the existing civil and religious rights of non-Jewish communities in Palestine, was totally ignored, Also ignored were the protestations of Palestinian leadership
In the Third Palestinian Congress in Haifa in 1920. It rejected the British government’s plans to support the Zionist project as a violation of international law and of the rights of the indigenous population. But who listened to Arabs at this time?


Then came the Nakba the catastrophe of 1948, the silence of the West. then 1967, the 6 Day War, more Palestinian land taken and now 500,000 illegal settlers living there. They can vote in Israeli elections but indigenous Palestinians, no vote.


Then the shock to Israel, the computer, the launch of omnipresent multimedia, the cell phone, You tube, all laying bare the lies of Israeli democracy, the brutal day to day life of Palestinians, the revolt of young Jews of conscience more attuned to to the universal values of Torah Judaism than their elders. A blogger below in response to Weiss frames this well:


After a while it gets harder for the hasbara to keep trying to defend the indefensible. How long can apologists in the US media, keep pretending what the world sees in live pictures, unarmed civilians being killed by precision bombs and snipers, is all the fault of the victims. The justifications for massacre after massacre, is sounding lamer, weaker, and it makes those carrying the water for Israel, look like they are full of BS.

Now if the Congress can find the courage to stop the aid, weapons, and unwavering support, going to the zionists, and stop enabling them, the end game will be swifter.


Tomorrow, Phil Weiss on hasbara is finished.

Tavares signs! Oh, joy!

July 2, 2018


Unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities. Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
Phillip K Dick


Today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups—and the electronic hardware exists by which to deliver these pseudo-worlds right into the heads of the reader, the viewer, the listener…. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind.

Kurt Andersen:Fantasyland



Tavares signs with Leafs!


Two talking heads on the Sportsnet channel tell us it’s a day we’ll all remember.

I’ve forgotten it already!

More spectacle and on the front page of the Globe! Israel is busy destroying Bedouin villages. The NYT wrote about it on the weekend but Tavares signs!
And the usual cliché ridden comments. NHL players are all schooled in media relations so we get the predictable  booswa from Tavares who like most Canadians is a nice politicized guy. He will never say anything critical about leaving NYC or anything about world politics.

Wouldn’t it be grand to hear him say.
I am finally leaving this nuthose who elected a bozo and am coming home to good old TO…oh yeah, they elected Ford. sorry.”


And then a two for one! how lucky can we get?


Lebron leaves Clevland and goes west.I can hardly sleep.But Argentine fans weep.Why?




What a Canada Day!





Jake returns to Israel

June 20, 2018

Jake Javenshir left Israel for Canada 48 years ago (1970), after serving in the army and working for a few years. Israel according to him had not yet developed the brutality it evidences today. Most thought that the Occupied Territories would be returned. Nobody saw the advent of radical settlers.



While living in Canada and reading in depth he realized he had been fed massive doses of Kool aid which Israelis still swallow.


He writes:
Instead of rational discussion, a few slogans are always thrown at any one who is not a supporter. Holocaust, anti- semitism, Jew haters,  self hating Jews etc. The most ironic one that often thrown at me and others is: You idiot, learn something before you open your mouth, you know nothing.

SELF hating

As an example of my family, almost all are Zionists with the exception of one brother. It’s due to propaganda, cover ups, not knowing much about the truth, being selfish as life is good for them, the ideology that it’s us against the world and it’s generally much easier to go along than against.


Jake references Ilan Pappé s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine as a key book in his understanding of what happened in Palestine in 1947 and 1948. Sadly Pappé left Israel due to threats to him and his family. He now teaches in Exeter University in UK.

In June of this year Jake returned to Israel for 10 days,
and this is his report:

My sister and two brothers kept asking for me. They with their children and grand children live in the central area of Israel, in a few thriving towns and cities, where 50 to a 100 years ago either were not there or were simple villages.


As one lands in the huge and modern airport and drives out, one can feel and see the riches overall—from roads, boulevards,  villas, high rise buildings, shops and malls, (including country clubs).Many villas and condos are priced over a million dollars.
An extreme example, units in a new high rise building in Tel-Aviv are priced for the equivalent of between seven to twenty million Canadian dollars. Of course this is not the same in all areas of the country, but it is reflective of the overall situation and how prosperous the country is.


Needless to say that this is not the same in the Israeli Palestinian towns, I visited Acre and the Palestinian part of Nazareth, where neglect is visible.


The general atmosphere among the Jewish Israelis, is one of living the high life. The dominant “occupation” is: which country next to travel to, which new foods and restaurants to eat and visit. These are talked and discussed among the people, in newspapers and T.V. more than any where else that I know. As far as I know, Israelis are the highest travelers per capita in the world.




All the above is the result of hundreds of billions of dollars given in time by the world, including  all the support of the economy in hundreds of ways. These in time resulted in building and development and establishing a robust economy, especially in High tech, agriculture and weapons manufacturing.


Not to forget that the occupation also adds billions to the general economy. This is done by exploiting the resources and agricultural products of the Golan Heights and the West Bank by supplying the Palestinians in West Bank most of their daily needs at inflated prices. also by developing new weapons and experimenting their effectiveness on the Palestinians and than selling to countries all over the world. (Something else to keep in mind that if Israel stopped the occupation and did peace with the Palestinians, most likely there will be a decrease in the billions which pour in, since “national security and imminent danger”, won’t be one the top fund raisers. A few reasons why Israel has no incentive to do peace).




In regard to West Bank and Gaza, (as the veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy says), Israelis do not know what’s going on and really don’t care. The atmosphere is one of living the high life, while by propaganda and brain washing, they feel being victimized. Basically what most Israelis know about the past and what’s happening, is very limited. The new generations know next to nothing about the past.


I noticed that much of what’s happening in the occupied territories is just not reported to the public and what is reported, in most cases is distorted or outright lies. One night on T.V. a reporter near Gaza was reporting on the situation. He repeatedly mentioned Hamas and said that thousands were damaging the fence and throwing bombs on Israel all the while the picture on the background showed Gazans in a field just standing around.


In discussion with my sister and brother I mentioned a few recent laws or atrocities or house demolitions, which they knew very little about. Another comment: Which army in the world is acting so humanly as the Israeli army.? This was in regard to Ahed Tamimi).


I noticed that coverage and explanations of the situation are totally distorted. Very noticeable is “Nationalism”, it is everywhere. Flags everywhere. Talks re pride is everywhere.


Groups of young Jews from around the world are everywhere. (coming for 2 weeks, all paid for. Part of brain washing).


Also religion is on the rise steadily, more seculars are being born again. Entitlement is rampant. Extremism is rampant. Nationalism is rampant.




Jake can often be seen in front of Chapters reminding passers by that the owners Schwartz and Reisman fund the Heseg program in israel. any foreigner who signs up with the Israeli Defense Force will be supported by the powrr couple.


NY TIMES paper of occupation

June 9, 2018


One wonders what it will take for people to get their heads around the brutal tragedy of Gaza and of Palestine in general.

Phil Weiss (Mondoweiss) details the hacks at the NY Times who lined up with he recent Gaza massacres. With exception of Michelle Goldberg, the only one who has really seen the rancid fruits of Zionism and wrote

Supporters of Israel hate it when people use the word “apartheid” to describe the country, but we don’t have another term for a political system in which one ethnic group rules over another, confining it to small islands of territory and denying it full political representation.


The famous paper of record is dominated by apologists for the Netanyahu government. Shmuel Rosner, Bret Stephens, the former editor of The Jerusalem Post, a noted Jewish conservative, the ever predictable Tom Friedman and the young Zionist opinion editor “It’s all Hamas’s fault” Bari Weiss—all seemingly devoid of humanity, absolutely unable to walk in another’s shoes.No wonder people are abandoning print.

Shame on the New York Times.


Ali Abunimah writes about the untold but documented suffering of the prison camp Gaza whose population is descended from those expelled in 1948


And so now there have been three major Gaza massacres (and many smaller ones) since the disengagement: 2008-2009’s “Operation Cast Lead,” the November 2012 massacre, and the ongoing horror that has claimed more than 825 lives in 18 days of relentless bombardment. And now gunning down over 117 nonviolent protesters with no crisis of conscience, shrug of the shoulder. Palestinian lives never count in israel.


70 years

Much of Israeli society has decided that this is a price worth paying to maintain a “Jewish state.” And the major US pro-Israel Jewish groups have made the same choice.


What is the price of a Jewish state? What is the price of the theft of a people’s land, of a sham democracy where one  people  are privileged over another?


Abunimah writes:

The massacre in Gaza is at the extreme end of the spectrum of abuses necessary to maintain Jewish sectarian rule in Palestine, but it is part of the same policy that requires employment and housing discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, and outright land theft and ethnic cleansing in the Naqab (Negev) and the occupied West Bank.

Massacres are inevitable when you ghettoize a people, never meet them as equals sharing the same land and in Gaza’s case shove them into a massive concentration camp and rob them of their humanity. They become “the other” whom you can dispatch with ease.




Israel’s policy of hafrada ( segregation) by building walls ultimately ends in racist bias. The Afrikaans word apartheid means the same thing.As one who grew up watching MLK, segregation is a very dirty word. And then the dirtiest word HAMAS. It’s all HAMAS–kites, burning tires, hand held raockets vs apache helicopters, guided missiles, F-16s, Merkava Tanks.  Who the hell are they kidding?



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.”