Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

All you need to know about Israeli justice

February 24, 2017

Who Needs The Hague When You Have Israeli Army Justice? writes (Feb.23) the resident Israeli  prophet Gideon Levy in Haaretz.  In a newspaper read by 4% of israelis, Levy is the quintessential Jew of Conscience.

Levy 30

There’s nothing more Israeli than this court that gives a soldier, who killed a Palestinian in cold blood, a sentence fit for a bicycle thief.

More national than Habima Theater, more popular than the popular theater of the late Avraham Deshe (Pashanel), more representative than the Knesset and more indicative than the polls — let’s welcome the Israel Defense Forces Theater, sitting as a military court. It’s the most authentic reflection of society, the country’s real High Court of Justice.

It’s an epic production with dozens of extras; the reviews are flattering, and the audience goes wild. The costumes (IDF uniforms) are nothing special, and neither are the scenery, lighting and makeup – “absentee” property in Jaffa or a barracks in the Kirya (army headquarters), neon lights and metal benches. But the play is excellent – current and relevant, representative and indicative – and the ending is always predictable.

elor

There’s nothing more Israeli than this court, and nothing more authentic than its sentence in the case of soldier Elor Azaria. Once again, we have the cloak of self-righteousness, once again the deceit, once again the façade of due process, with a defense, a prosecution and summations. Once again, it’s the best show in town, and once again, the crying injustice is present without our feeling it, just the way Israelis like it.

What Israelis like most is to eat their cake and have it, too, and who knows better than the military court how to supply the goods? A rousing verdict about “the value of the sanctity of life,” and a sentence fit for a bicycle thief.

We don’t need The Hague; we have the Kirya. The fact is that a soldier who killed – not to say murdered – an already dying Palestinian in cold blood, with malice aforethought, was put on trial, and even punished. Where else in the world can you find such things? In America? In Europe? The most moral army in the world, assuredly the most moral. Kudos to the IDF and its justice system.

This is how most Israelis would like to see their judges: talking loftily about justice and equality – on condition that they apply to Jews only. Talking about the sanctity of life – but calculating the value of a Palestinian’s life as less than that of an (Israeli) dog. That’s exactly what the Azaria verdict gave them.

Azaria left the court as a national hero, in a country where everyone who kills an Arab is considered a hero and there are almost no heroes who didn’t kill Arabs. The court once again told Israelis what they most wanted to hear: Palestinian lives are dirt cheap; they’re on end-of-season sale.

This is the same court that has judged hundreds of thousands of Palestinians with severity and cruelty over the decades of the occupation. With more and more judges (and prosecutors) being settlers, devotees of international law and equality before the law, this military court, which sits in the occupied territories, is Israel’s most refined perpetrator of apartheid. There, at the Ofer army base and the Etzion lockup, far from watching eyes, there’s one law for Jews and another for Arabs, with no hemming and hawing.

-4Latuff33.jpeg

In this, too, the court reflects society, far more than the Supreme Court in Jerusalem does. A Palestinian Azaria would of course have been sentenced to life in prison in a speedy trial, without “his family’s distress,” “an outstanding soldier,” “a clean record” and “special circumstances,” without asking what went through his mind or what had happened in his life. You killed a Jew? You tried to “spill Jewish blood”? There’s only one sentence.

This institution also knows how to richly reward and protect IDF soldiers and officers, just as the people want it to do and as their commanders expect it to do, and to turn its trials into perversions of justice. Only in this court could a senior officer like Ofek Buchris, who was charged with rape and sodomy, emerge with the draconian sentence of being demoted by one rank. That’s how cruelly the court treated him.

Just like the IDF Orchestra isn’t an orchestra and Army Radio isn’t a media outlet, this court is not a court. But it is even more corrupting than the first two examples: It sends its demobilized metastases into the civilian justice system.

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit came up through this rotten environment, and so did more than a few judges, including some on the Supreme Court, who are convinced that they were doing justice all those years. They carry with them the glorious legal traditions of the prefab buildings at Ofer, and those traditions remain etched in them forever.

Young Jews blow the shofar on Friedman

February 19, 2017

More Jews of Conscience stepped up to reject Triump hack, David Friedman as ambassador to Israel. Members of IFNot Now literally blew the shofar on this appalling nominee, an insult to international justice and progressive Judaism.Bravo and brava!

shofar
The following article from Haaretz shows the great gulf between young Jews and the worn out establishment

David Friedman’s nomination represents the moral failure of the Jewish communal establishment. Like Trump, Friedman traffics in hate. He has demeaned liberal Jews on multiple occasions. He denies the existence of the Palestinian people. He has funded the building of settlements on privately owned Palestinian land. His vision for the region is a single, undemocratic state that would make the occupation of the West Bank, a daily nightmare for those who live under it, permanent. And with both Trump and Netanyahu in office, Friedman’s dangerous vision, once a far-right fringe idea, could become a reality.

During their meeting on February 15, Trump and Netanyahu showed that they are two sides of the same coin. Both have ignored the fear that U.S. Jews feel in the face of rising anti-Semitism and bigotry at home, much of which comes from Trump’s own supporters. Both use racist, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim rhetoric, and encourage alliances with some of the most xenophobic and anti-democratic forces in their respective countries. Both have demonstrated that they intend to further entrench the occupation, which will only guarantee more violence and suffering for Israelis and Palestinians alike. The American Jewish establishment has met all of this with silence. AIPAC has neither denounced the hateful statements made by Trump and his surrogates, nor condemned Friedman’s undemocratic one-state solution. The major Jewish organizations have said nothing about the danger posed by the proposal to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. With Israeli and Palestinian lives at stake and racist violence on the rise in the U.S., Jewish communal leaders have demonstrated a striking absence of moral integrity.

friedman-ambassador-for-annexation

We blew the shofar to interrupt David Friedman’s hearing because we are in a moment of crisis. We were protesting with IfNotNow, a grassroots movement of young Jews calling for an end to our community’s support of Israel’s occupation. By interrupting Friedman’s hearing, we showed Trump, Netanyahu, and the Jewish establishment that we will take action and risk arrest if necessary to end our community’s support for the occupation and stand up against racism and bigotry in all of its forms. We will be the Jewish communal leaders that the established organizations have failed to be. IfNotNow Interrupts David Friedman’s Confirmation Hearing .We are helping to lead the #JewishResistance, standing up for ourselves and for others against the threats posed by the Trump and Netanyahu administrations. Our name is based on Rabbi Hillel’s three questions: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?” As, Jews, we have seen the normalization of racism and bigotry before.

We were taught by our community that our responsibility was to never again let state-sponsored hatred become policy. And yet in Israel and the U.S., violence against Arabs, immigrants, and other marginalized people is rapidly becoming the norm. So, next month, we will bring the #JewishResistance to the AIPAC Policy Conference. No organization, and no event, symbolizes the Jewish establishment’s abandonment of the values we hold dear – justice, peace, democracy, and equality – more than the Policy Conference. Last year, when Trump spoke there, AIPAC legitimized and applauded his hateful views. This year, when Trump speaks there as president, thousands of us will be there with IfNotNow to protest.

For American Jews, the sides have never been clearer. Will you stand on the side of Trump, Friedman, and AIPAC? Or will you stand with us?

Lila Weintraub is an organizer with IfNotNow D.C. She grew up in Maryland, where she was involved with the Jewish youth movement Habonim Dror from a young age. Lila attended McGill University from 2011-2015 and has recently returned and made her home in Washington D.C. Isaac Flegel-Mishlove is an organizer with IfNotNow D.C. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Isaac moved to Washington, D.C. in 2011 where he attended the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. Isaac is now deeply involved with Jewish social justice work in the area. Tom Corcoran is an organizer with IfNotNow N.Y.C. After growing up in Los Angeles, he moved to New York in 2010. Tom is deeply involved in anti-occupation and anti-racist activism, digital organizing and community work in New York.

Rabbis, cantors and survivors

February 15, 2017

A bankruptcy lawyer who supports illegal settlements as ambassador to Israel? Many in the Jewish community see the folly of such a stunningly, obtuse choice.

An open kletter from over 600.

friedman-ambassador-for-annexation

We are writing today as rabbis and cantors asking President Trump to withdrawthe nomination of David Friedman to be the United States Ambassador to the State of Israel.

Failing that, we implore the US Senate not to confirm him.In this letter, we will address concerns around his denigration of American Jews who believe differently from him and his policy positions that we believe run contrary to the interests of the United States and Israel.

The rabbis of the Talmud are adamant that we are to speak to and about other people — particularly those with whom we disagree — with love and respect. We are taught that shaming a person is tantamount to shedding their blood (BabaMetzia 58b). Yet Mr. Friedman seems to have no qualms about insulting people with whom he disagrees

Mr. Friedman has repeatedly compared members of the Jewish community whose views on Israel differ from his own to “kapos,” who were Jews who collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust. He called members of J Street,a pro-Israel organization that wants to see peace between Israelis andPalestinians, “worse than kapos.” He has even questioned whether its more than180,000 supporters are really Jews — as if he has the right to decide such a weighty matter.

This is the very antithesis of the diplomatic behavior Americans expect from their ambassadors.

An ambassador is charged with representing our entire nation. It is historicallyperverse and wildly insulting to characterize Jewish advocates for peace,including many of the signers of this letter, as no better than Nazi collaboratorsplotting to destroy the Jewish people.

If Mr. Friedman cannot responsibly understand history, he cannot responsiblyshape the future.The situation in and around Israel is volatile. Mr. Friedman’s inflammatorycomments about Jews, Palestinians and Muslims and the peace process itself areprecisely the type of comments that can ignite further conflict and drive deeper wedges between parties.

While we believe the above should be enough to disqualify Mr. Friedman, wehave grave policy concerns as well. Mr. Friedman vocally supports the expansionof Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which American presidents since Johnson have seen as an obstacle to peace

Moreover, Mr. Friedman opposes the two-state solution, which has been a policy cornerstone for Republican and Democratic administrations for the past quarter century. We are very concerned that rather than try to represent the US as an advocate for peace, Mr. Friedman will seek to mold American policy in line with his extreme ideology.

Israel Hayom–again

February 15, 2017

Jonathan Cook the intrepid blogger from Nazareth shone his light in his last column on the poor excuse for a newspaper Israel Hayom, a propaganda sheet for Netanyahu.

sheldon

Most Israeli politicians rely on overseas Jewish funders. Netanyahu won his Likud party’s primaries in 2014 exclusively with the help of foreign donors, all but one of them American.

Personifying this unhealthy external interference in Israeli politics is Sheldon Adelson, the U.S. casino magnate who is Netanyahu’s main patron. Adelson has done much more than channel donations to Netanyahu’s campaign coffers. He created a newspaper to get Netanyahu elected and keep him in office

The free daily Israel Hayom, founded 10 years ago, is now the biggest-circulation paper in Israel and is known locally as Bibi-ton, or Bibi’s newspaper, in reference to Netanyahu’s nickname. A recent investigation by Haaretz found that Adelson had sunk an astronomic sum into Israel Hayom – some $190 million in its first seven years alone – to keep it afloat.

At the same time, Adelson has been sponsoring Republican politicians, including the new occupant of the White House, Donald Trump, to ensure he has an outsize influence in the U.S. as well. Trump’s sudden conversion to Netanyahu’s pro-settlement agenda coincided with his need for Adelson’s support in the presidential campaign.

The American Cassandra

February 13, 2017

h

In many ways writer Chris Hedges up until now is the American Cassandra.
In Greek mythology Apollo gave Cassandra the power of prophecy—but when she refused him, Apollo made sure even though she spoke truth—nobody would believe her.

His latest article on Truthdig is worth a read.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/american_psychosis_20170129

The lies fly out of the White House like flocks of pigeons: Donald Trump’s election victory was a landslide. He had the largest inauguration crowds in American history. Three million to 5 million undocumented immigrants voted illegally. Climate change is a hoax. Vaccines cause autism. Immigrants are carriers of “[t]remendous infectious disease.” The election was rigged—until it wasn’t. We don’t know “who really knocked down” the World Trade Center. Torture works. Mexico will pay for the wall. Conspiracy theories are fact. Scientific facts are conspiracies. America will be great again.
Our new president, a 70-year-old with orange-tinted skin and hair that Penn Jillette has likened to “cotton candy made of piss,” is, as Trump often reminds us, “very good looking.” He has almost no intellectual accomplishments—he knows little of history, politics, law, philosophy, art or governance—but insists “[m]y IQ is one of the highest—and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.” And the mediocrities and half-wits he has installed in his Cabinet have “by far the highest IQ of any Cabinet ever assembled.”
It is an avalanche of absurdities.

This mendacity would be easier to repulse if the problem was solely embodied in Trump. But even in the face of a rising despotism, the Democratic Party refuses to denounce the corporate forces that eviscerated our democracy and impoverished the country. The neoliberal Trump demonizes Muslims, undocumented workers and the media. The neoliberal Democratic Party demonizes Vladimir Putin and FBI Director James Comey. No one speaks about the destructive force of corporate power. The warring elites pit alternative facts against alternative facts. All engage in demagoguery. We will, I expect, be condemned to despotism by the venality of Trump and the cowardice and dishonesty of the liberal class.

Trump and those around him have a deep hatred for what they cannot understand. They silence anyone who thinks independently. They elevate pseudo-intellectuals who adhere to their bizarre script. They cannot cope with complexity, nuance or the unpredictable. Individual initiative is a mortal threat. The order for some employees of several federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research service, the National Park Service and the Department of Health and Human Services, to restrict or cease communication with the press or members of Congress, along with the attempt to impose 10-year felony convictions on six reporters who covered the inauguration protests, signals the beginning of a campaign to marginalize reality and promote fantasy. Facts depend solely on those who have the power to create them. The goal of the Trump administration is to create an artificial consistency that conforms to its warped perception of the world.

Memoricie and genocide

February 10, 2017

Less Palestinians on our land is the aim of modern Zionism. Ilan Pappé uses words like “incremental genocide’ and “memoricide.”
Let’s deal with his term memoricide. This is the failed attempt to attempt to destroy any vestiges of a Palestinian past before Russian Jews(Zionists) came and took the land in the early 20th century.

First you get rid of Palestinians, 750,000 cleansed in 1948. You bulldoze the remains of village life, change the name of those same villages, plant forests over them as Israel has done  as in Canada Park. Next , get rid of indigenous plant life, native to Middle Eastern soil and plant pine trees etc. to make it seem that this part of the world is like the eastern Europe Zionists hailed from.

You rename the streets after Jewish heroes, then you Judaize your Russian names—ideally giving yourself names from the bible which suggests you were always in the land not recent occupiers who replaced Muslims. The latter had lived on the land named Palestine since the 8th century. Take Netanyahu a Jewish sounding name–real handle Milikovsky, father a Lithuanian Jew; Shamir, real name Yezimitsky, Sharon real name Scheinerman, Moshe Dayan real name Kitaygorodsky,Menachem (very biblical,(king of Israel 722 BCE) real name Mieczysław (very Polish) Biegun;

Orwell phrased this “memoricide” well  “Who controls the past, controls the future.” Memoricide attempted to change any memory that indigenous people lived here. Cide is a Latin -based root meaning to cut down or slaughter. It is a murder of a memory.

There is a brave Israeli project called Zochrot (remembering) which attempts to deal with this. They go around as Jews of Conscience to rename the 531 villages which were depopulated. a burr in the ass of Zionist leadership.

Now, genocide is a loaded word. Recently Ben Ehrenreich dealt with this. The latter is a writer who was sent by the NYT to document life in a Palestinian town.

ehr
The question about genocide– yes, it’s an incremental genocide. And I think that’s a word that gives a lot of people pause and it certainly should. We don’t see the absolutely mass slaughters, although in Gaza I think we’ve seen something very much like it that we usually associate with genocide. But– the attempts to erase a people, to just erase them, to erase their history, I think follow a logic that can only be called genocidal. I mean, every time someone says– and people say it all the time, I get it on twitter all the time– “There’s no such thing as a Palestinian,” or “There was nobody there when the Zionists arrived”– these are genocidal statements, these are attempts to erase a culture, erase a history, decimate a people and I think they should be recognized as that.

You should be and we all should be. It’s an especially painful thing to talk about, given the history of the Holocaust, and as someone with a Jewish background, it’s extremely painful for me to use that word. It’s more painful to see those realities, and those historical ironies are brutal. I mentioned the Balfour Declaration because I think this always has to be put into a colonialist context. Israel is a settler colonialist society, and the one things that settler colonialist societies have in common is that they follow a genocidal logic. The one we’re living in right now. Every single one of them– South Africa, Canada, the United States, Australia, and Israel: places where settlers came in and declared the land theirs and did everything they could to either remove the people who were already there or so erase their history that they could pretend that they weren’t there.

The end of two states

February 8, 2017

expel

Jonathan Cook the intrepig Nazareth blogger sums it all up

Land law is final nail in the two-state solution coffin

The Israeli parliament passed the legalisation law on Feb 6- a piece of legislation every bit as suspect as its title suggests. The law widens the powers of Israeli officials to seize the last fragments of Palestinian land in the West Bank that were supposed to be off-limits. 

Palestinian leaders warned that the law hammered the last nail in the coffin of a two-state solution. Government ministers gleefully agreed. For them, this is the extension of Israeli law into the West Bank and the first step towards its formal annexation.
BTselem

B’Tselem’s response to Regulation Bill: a semblance of legality to ongoing plunder

The law passed by the Knesset today proves yet again that Israel has no intention of ending its control over the Palestinians or its theft of their land. Lending a semblance of legality to this ongoing act of plunder is a disgrace for the state and its legislature. Passing the bill mere weeks after UN Security Council Resolution 2334 is a slap in the face of the international community. While enshrining the dispossession in law is a new development, in practice it is another facet of the massive land grab carried out openly for decades by declaring “state land”.

The legalisation law – also commonly translated from Hebrew as the regulation or validation law – was the right’s forceful response to the eviction last week of a few dozen families from a settlement “outpost” called Amona. It was a rare and brief setback for the settlers, provoked by a court ruling that took three years to enforce.
The evacuation of 40 families was transformed into an expensive piece of political theatre, costing $40 million. It was choreographed as a national trauma to ensure such an event is never repeated.

The uniforms worn by police at demolitions of Palestinian homes – guns, batons, black body armour and visors – were stored away. Instead officers, in friendly blue sweatshirts and baseball caps, handled the Jewish lawbreakers with kid gloves, even as they faced a hail of stones, bleach and bottles. By the end, dozens of officers needed hospital treatment.

pal3

As the clashes unfolded, Naftali Bennett, the education minister and leader of the settler party Jewish Home, called Amona’s families “heroes”. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu empathised: “We all understand the extent of their pain.”

The settlers have been promised an enlarged replacement settlement, and will be richly compensated. In a more general reparation, plans have been unveiled for thousands of extra settler homes in the West Bank.

But the main prize for Mr Bennett and the far right was the legalisation law itself. It reverses a restriction imposed in the 1970s – and later violated by dozens of “outposts” like Amona – designed to prevent a free-for-all by the settlers.

International law is clear that an occupying power can take land only for military needs. Israel committed a war crime in transferring more than 600,000 Jewish civilians into the occupied territories.

Successive governments ignored their legal obligations by pretending the territories were disputed, not occupied. But to end the Israeli courts’ discomfort, officials agreed to forbid settlers from building on land privately owned by Palestinians.

It was not much of a constraint. Under Ottoman, British and Jordanian rule, plenty of Palestinian land had never been formally registered. Ownership derived chiefly from usage. Much of the rest was common land.

Israel seized these vast tracts that lacked title deeds, declaring them “state land” – to be treated effectively as part of Israel and reserved exclusively for Jewish settlement. But even this giant land grab was not enough.

The settlers’ territorial hunger led to dozens of “outposts” being built across the West Bank, often on private Palestinian land. Despite the fact they violated Israeli law, the outposts immediately received state services, from electricity and water to buses and schools.

Very belatedly, the courts drew a line in Amona and demanded that the land be returned to its Palestinian owners. The legalisation law overrules the judges, allowing private lands stolen from Palestinians to be laundered as Israeli state property.

Israel’s attorney general has refused to defend the law. Will the supreme court accept it? Possibly. The aim of the “traumatic” scenes at Amona was to depict the court as the villain of this drama for ordering the evictions.

Nonetheless, there could be silver linings to the legalisation law.
In practice, there has never been a serious limit on theft of Palestinian land. But now Israeli government support for the plunder will be explicit in law. It will be impossible to blame the outposts on “rogue” settlers, or claim that Israel is trying to safeguard Palestinian property rights.

Dan Meridor, a former government minister from Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party, called the law “evil and dangerous”. Israel, he pointed out, can have jurisdiction over private Palestinian land only if Palestinians vote for Israel’s parliament – in short, this is annexation by other means. It shuts the door on any kind of Palestinian state.

Over time, he added, it will bring unintended consequences. Rather than make the outposts legal, it will highlight the criminal nature of all settlements, including those in East Jerusalem and the so-called “settlement blocs” – areas previous US administrations had hinted they might accept for annexation to Israel in a future peace deal.

The other major danger was noted by opposition leader Isaac Herzog. “The train departing from here has only one stop – at The Hague,” he said, in reference to the home of the International Criminal Court.

If ICC prosecutors take their duties seriously, the legalisation law significantly raises the pressure on them to put Israeli officials – even Mr Netanyahu – on trial for complicity in the war crime of establishing and nurturing the settlements.

State terror

February 1, 2017

Jonathan Ofir, an Israeli musician living in Denmark (why is he living there? Three guesses) is a shrewd observer of “the terror trope” almost always associated with Muslims and Islam. He points out that the Quebec murderer Bissonnette (a fan of Trump and Le Pen, member of a far right campus group, ergo probably a pathetic lone wolf, had copies of the Israeli far right rag Israel Hayom, a Fox news type paper, a freebie funded by the American casino magnet and idolator of Netanyahu Sheldon Adelson. This is where 40% of Israelis get their “news”. What does this mean? I don’t know but Ofir goes on.

state1
He points out the following:
Figures show that this assumption is unfounded in reason. Less than 2% of the terror attacks in Europe 2010-2015 were “religiously motivated”, thus, not ‘Islamic terrorism’. In USA, an FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. As New York Times also notes, “since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, anti-government fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.” –

Terror and Muslims appear to be a poor fit. But what about state terror as in Israel.

state-2
But is it possible that terrorists today can actually get their inspirations from the supposed ‘bastions of democracy and freedom’?

 

After all, Obama’s killer-drone campaign is regarded by Noam Chomsky (on CNN) as “the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times.” Chomsky characterized Obama’s policy as a “global assassination campaign targeting people suspected of perhaps intending to harm us some day, and any unfortunates who happen to be nearby.”
And what about Israel’s seasonal massacres in Gaza? Is that not a state-terrorist campaign? What about the siege of Gaza? Last week, the Council of Europe has condemned it as “collective punishment”. Is this not also a form of state terrorism?
We should not be surprised when terrorists who aim their attacks at Muslims or perceived Muslim supporters get inspiration from western state terrorism, and Israel in particular. Zionism, the ideology informing the Jewish State, is for all practical purposes a violent, anti-assimilationist, nationalist-exclusivist ideology that has ethnic cleansing at its very heart. It is not strange, that white-supremacist terrorists would draw their inspiration and awe from its means and methods.

Please boycott us!

January 30, 2017

Well here is a cry of conscience from a “Jewish Jew”who pleads for her fellow Israelis to wake from their slumber and join the community of nations. She knows there are worse examples of brutalization, but it’s her country she must take responsibility for.

This of course will be a hard sell in the”most brainwashed copuntry in the world” (Gideon Levy).

There are many Israelis of conscience who do have a wider perspective

Opinion Why I, as a Proud Israeli, Want the World to Boycott Us  wrote Ilana Hammerman on Haaaretz Jan 29,

boycott44

“Boycotts for political reasons are a legitimate tool that falls under the protection of freedom of political expression,” a Haaretz editorial declared recently (“Entry prohibited to critics,” January 17). This was written following the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee’s approval for the second and third readings of a bill that would prohibit the granting of entry visas or residency permits to foreign citizens who call for a boycott of Israel or the settlements. Therefore, I invoke the authoritative statement by Haaretz to call upon Israeli citizens who belong to the peace camp to appeal to the international community to impose a boycott on Israel.

I am not a foreign citizen, and it is not to foreigners I am appealing. I don’t know if I am breaking any of the nondemocratic, illegitimate laws that are being passed in Israel in order to deny me and those who share my opinions – all of us Israelis – our freedom of expression, and our human and political endeavor to act. However, I do know this: I am connected body and soul to this country, where I was born 72 years ago and to which I gave my best years in professional and public office, and I am still not willing to break free of it.

Honestly, I do not have any other country. As an Israeli citizen and a woman engaged in public life, I declare that the state does not respect my basic right to live according to my conscience. The Judaism it is forcing upon me is not my Judaism. Furthermore, the nationalist and racist fanaticism of the government (led by its interior, culture and education ministers) is becoming more and more extreme, and contrary to the values I hold most dear. These iniquities are an internal concern of Israeli society and I have the right – and for now, at least, also the possibility – to fight for their correction from within society.

Intervention required

However, the fact that Israel consistently violates the conventions of international humanitarian law also justifies intervention by the international community. These conventions did not come into being so that every individual country and its citizens could do with them as they saw fit. They were written in the wake of lessons learned from World War II, during the course of which millions of civilians were killed, arrested, expelled and displaced from their homes. They were intended to reduce harm, and to protect the civilian populations living in occupied lands. Israel is holding the territories of the West Bank and controlling the fate of the millions of its Arab residents through occupation and military government. By doing so, it is violating all the basic principles of these conventions. It is settling its own citizens in those territories; destroying the property of individuals and communities there; expropriating public and private land for its own needs and the needs of its citizens; and consistently and systematically imposing collective, punitive measures on the Palestinians. It is restricting their freedom of movement and civic activity, and incarcerating tens of thousands of them in prisons in its sovereign territory: some 1 million Palestinians have been arrested by Israeli security forces since 1967, via military law or with no trial at all. All these violations of human rights have been carried out not in times of war and not in the course of just a year or two, but rather during 50 of the near-69 years of Israel’s existence.

You don’t need to be a lawyer or military expert to understand that this systematic policy has no legal or security justification: open eyes and common sense are enough to comprehend that it is driven by ideological reasons – be they hidden and deceptive (like before), or explicit and callous as they are now. So, as an Israeli citizen and a woman who is engaged in public life here, I have long seen it as my right and duty to open my eyes and look – and also to document these illegal blows to people’s lives, property, dignity and freedom that my country and its soldiers, authorities and officials are delivering only a few kilometers from my home. And in recent years – in face of the indifference of most Israeli citizens – I have also seen it as my right and duty to issue a call to violate the orders and laws involved in delivering these blows.

I also disobey those orders and laws myself: For example, I visit Palestinians in the territories, despite the red signs prohibiting me from doing so; and occasionally I smuggle a Palestinian worker to his job, a woman and her children to the beach, or family members to a relative in an Israeli hospital. Yet while I do these things wholeheartedly and willingly – for political and moral reasons, and the desire to help persecuted people who are in distress – it is with a huge amount of emotional difficulty and pain that I make this call for Israelis to appeal to the international community to impose a boycott.

Furthermore, I am doing this only for political-pragmatic reasons. That’s because Israel is not the country that most deserves to be hit by a boycott. In the 20th and 21st centuries, there were and still are sinners a hundred times worse. Some of the greatest atrocities of the modern era were perpetrated by a number of European countries in acts of slaughter, oppression and occupation in their colonies in Asia and Africa. And within its borders, the Soviet Union wiped out millions of people through murder, hunger and torture. Other horrors were perpetrated by the United States, which dropped the atomic bomb on Japan and used chemical weapons in Vietnam. And today, if it were only possible to impose sanctions on China for its cruel violations of human rights, and on Russia for its barbaric involvement in Syria – that’s what should have been done. But it is not possible. These are global powers upon whom the world is dependent, not vice versa. Israel, however, is a country whose economy is dependent on the world and its conduct. An economic boycott – or at least sanctions like those imposed on Iran – would almost certainly influence its policy. It would even influence public opinion, with daily life disrupted so that the public would finally need to think about the reality in which it lives – if not about the actual injustices, then at least about the powder keg it’s living next door to, and into which it keeps sending sparks. And so the way would be paved for finding a peaceful solution.

Yet it is fitting that the boycott call should come from within Israel – from those many good citizens who live here and are fearful for their fate and the fate of their country. Yes, the fate of their country, not the fate of the Palestinians – both its physical and moral fate, which is now in the hands of political forces who are leading it to its doom. … Indeed, these citizens can clearly see such a disaster already looming over their heads. … So let’s take civic courage and come out with a quiet, sober call to the international community to impose a boycott on the State of Israel. …

 

Let’s do this with one single, simple desire: to ensure our existence in this place. Because this, basically, is what we are talking about – our existence, our lives. Otherwise, it will not be a life for us for very long – for us, the few million – in an environment of tens of millions, where our leaders have determined that we must forever live by the sword. If the cry to save Israel comes from our mouths, loud and clear and well-reasoned, there will be those who listen to it, even though we are a minority. No reasonable person could accuse us of anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel. After all, we are Jews and Israelis, and as Jews and Israelis we wish to remain here – to stay here in order to live, not to die.

The Second Coming

January 22, 2017

Yeats wrote his classic The Second Coming at the end of WW l

THE SECOND COMING

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

 

The Brilliant Brazilian Carlos Latuff adds his riff

 

latuff-trump