A letter from Gaza to Justin Trudeau

June 18, 2018

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Dear Mr Prime Minister, why do you support Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza?
by Basem Naim

Dear Prime Minister,

We hope this letter finds you and the Canadian people well.

We have watched with great interest your political career since you assumed office in 2015. We have witnessed how your commitment to freedom and diversity were reflected in the composition of your government. We have also followed with enthusiasm many of your activities, especially those that reflect your humanity, openness, support for civil rights and the struggle against racism.

 

We have seen you engage with different communities – with Arabs, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and others – during their holidays. We have also deeply appreciated Canada’s generous support for the Palestinian people, in particular, Palestinian refugees, through institutions such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

 

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However, it was with pain and sorrow that we found out that Canada voted against a resolution of the World Health Organization’s General Assembly seeking to send a team of investigators to Gaza and the West Bank to document the “health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory”.

 

Our disappointment grew even more when we saw several of your personal tweets, in which you lent support to Israel’s assaults on Gaza.

 

You are perhaps unaware of the tragic circumstances in which the people of Gaza have been trapped in. Already in 2003, distinguished Hebrew University professor Baruch Kimmerling described Gaza as “the largest concentration camp ever to exist”.

 

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In 2006, a brutal blockade was imposed on Gaza after the Palestinian people, in elections that former US president Jimmy Carter praised as “completely honest, completely fair,” elected Hamas into power.

 

The consensus among humanitarian and human rights organisations is that Israel’s blockade constitutes a form of collective punishment and therefore is a flagrant violation of international law.

 

I see this extraordinarily inhuman and unjust process of strangling gradually two million civilians in Gaza that really pose a threat to nobody,” UN humanitarian coordinator for Gaza, Robert Piper, observed last year. Echoing him, UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein recently deplored the fact that Gazans have been “caged in a toxic slum from birth to death.”

 

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Did you know, Mr Trudeau, that 95 percent of the water in Gaza is unfit for human consumption and 97 percent of the sea water is polluted? Did you know that Gazans get only four hours of electricity a day? Did you know that 50 percent of essential medicines are unavailable and most of our patients in need of urgent medical care are barred from travelling out of Gaza? Did you know that 70 percent of our population are refugees and half are children?

 

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On March 30, we started the Great March of Return as part of our peaceful struggle for freedom, a decent life and the right to have our land back. Israel has killed more than 120 Palestinians and injured more than 14,000 (many of them permanently) in what Amnesty International has called a “murderous assault”.

 

And this deadly and unwarranted violence was unleashed on us even though the protesters were overwhelmingly nonviolent and posed “no imminent threat” to Israeli snipers, as human rights organisations have observed.

 

The people of Gaza applaud your courageous statement, in which you declaredthat “Canada deplores and is gravely concerned by the violence in the Gaza strip that has led to a tragic loss of life and injured countless people. We are appalled that Dr Tarek Loubani, a Canadian citizen, is among the wounded – along with so many unarmed people, including civilians, members of the media, first responders, and children.”

 

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We Palestinians will never forget this Canadian physician, who risked his life to save Palestinian lives in Gaza.

 

We are a people, Mr Prime Minister, who love life, stability and prosperity. We do not desire death or foment war. We are not attacking anyone. We are not violating the borders of anyone. On the contrary, we are banging on the gates of a giant prison, demanding our freedom and a decent life.

 

Mr Prime Minister, we hope and trust that your love for freedom, justice, equality and decency will prompt you to reconsider some of your harsh statements and take a position that is consistent with the values you uphold.

 

On behalf of the two million Palestinians living in Gaza, I would like to invite you to visit us and to see with your own eyes the dire conditions we are living in after 12 years of Israeli siege. We are also confident that you will carry away with you warm memories of our kind and gentle people.

Best regards

Basem Naim
Basem Naim is head of the Council on International Relations in Gaza and former Palestinian minister of health.

Arnon Soffer, the Arab Counter

June 16, 2018

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Let us meet “the Arab Counter” the Haifa University demographer who became infamous in a Jerusalem Post article in 2004. Soffer had no patience with the idea that the policy of “hafrada”, that dirty word to democrats  of “segregation” would be enough to ensure Israel’s future.

 

Hafrada is what we see in American cities—the blacks generally shoved into a less developed part of the city. his would be “apartheid” the Afrikaans word or “separate.” Instead of calling them bantustans, we call them ghettoes. Those people are different, not like us.They can easily be demonized, almost like “the “untermenschen’ (subhuman) of of Nazi ideology.This a racist doctrine and it is virulent in Israel where Palestinians are really “the Other.”

 

More and more people can not get their heads around the recent callous massacre of nonviolent protesters the Palestinian Gazans called the Great March of Return…116 people shot dead,143,000 wounded, 332  with life threatening injuries. Just another day at the races for Israel.

 

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The message was simple: get it out of your head that you will ever get your stolen land back or that you will ever return. Every few years Israel “mows the lawn”,pulverizing innocent people in an orgy of mass murder.Ye t the Palestinians refuse to be cowed. They insist with international law on their side that they We have a right to go home.This is non-negotiable. Israel says, backed by the autistic USA, think again.

 

Enter the Arab counter, Mr Soffer.

 

In his 2006 book One Country Ali Abunimah  described Soffer’s vision

Then deputy prime minister Ehud] Olmert called the unilateral solution Israel’s “great hope,” but Arnon Soffer … offered a less optimistic prognosis. “Unilateral separation doesn’t guarantee ‘peace,’” he warned, “it guarantees a Jewish-Zionist state with an overwhelming majority of Jews.” What will be the price of this achievement? The “day after unilateral separation,” Soffer said, “the Palestinians will bombard us with artillery fire – and we will have to retaliate.
But at least the war will be at the fence – not in the kindergartens of Tel Aviv and Haifa.” Soffer was unambiguous about Israel’s response: “We will tell the Palestinians that if a single missile is fired over the fence, we will fire ten in response. And women and children will be killed and houses will be destroyed.” Further down the line, “when 2.5 million people live in a closed off Gaza,” Soffer predicted, “it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will be even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.”

 

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There you have it…the incremental genocide which Ilan Pappé insists is Israel’ plan

Don Francks Laneway: a Hidden Message

June 14, 2018

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June 13, 2018 Steve Hunter photo Toronto City Councillor Joe Mihevc  unveils  the tribute to the life of Don Francks.

Behind my alma mater St.Michael’s College, on a small street called Tichester the city named a laneway after the nature mystic Don Francks. What struck me in retrospect is that inside of those academic walls, nobody knew or cared about the bare-footed Buddha who daily walked bare footed past the school. Here was a man had so much to teach about the Great Spirit, the felt mastery which David Abrams tells us underlies all our doctrines.

 

This brought home to me the huge gap between the autism of church institutions and the lived experience of all pilgrims struggling with how we access the the Great Spirit which animates and sustains all of us. Not only that, but what should be our response to this ultimate mystery which Christians believed was embodied in the prophetic subversive life of the Palestinian Jew who was murdered attempting to lead us beyond domination, control, segregation  and patriarchy.

The following are my remarks just before City Councillor Mihevc  and Lili Francks unveiled the sign

 

The  naming of a lane way reminds fellow citizens that  a flesh and blood person  walked these streets and added a unique presence, something valuable, a gift to our community.Don Francks was such a person. Let me attempt a brief portrait of my friend whom I call an urban mystic

I take you back to George’s Spaghetti House January 30, 1980

 

Good evening ladies and gentlemen.Welcome to George’s Spaghetti House. I am here representing the birds, the fish, the winged one and the finned ones. They couldn’t be here but if they were, boy would they be pissed off.

 

Don Francks was way more.than a gifted singer, actor and raconteur, he was a nature mystic, light years ahead of all us in understanding that this extraordinary gift handed to us, creation, was being torn apart. Wonderworld was becoming waste world. He channeled the cry of the earth, simply described himself as an earthling who shared the cosmos with the winged ones and the finned ones.

 

I was astounded as a theology teacher that this troubadour was way ahead of the churches in naming the greatest moral crisis in history—we were burning the planet down. In 2015 Pope Francis told Catholics we needed an ecological conversion. I heard it from Don Francks in a jazz club in 1980. He was a man of the humus, the Latin word for earth, the root of the word humility. The brother had been grounded.

 

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Don the secular earthling had been baptized early by Mother Nature in the wild and beautiful hills above Burnaby, BC. He was confirmed by his  years on the Red Pheasant reserve  in Saskatchewan. Here he breathed in the long suppressed wisdom of the indigenous peoples of the world. There he felt the mystery that underlies all our doctrines. He never lost his connection with the ecological commonwealth. Don as you know often walked barefoot. The reason was simple. He was tethered to his Mother.He knew that when we lost this connection we would lose the Holy wisdom of the Great Spirit.

 

In 1979 Don was among the first to join Greenpeace in alerting the world to environmental degradation. His jazz singing and nightclub performances would never be the same. The dominant thread in our multi-talented troubadour was his radical concern for the planet. His vocation was to proclaim the oneness of creation as a fellow “earthling.” He had found his “faith.” His pulpit was the performing arts. It was his way to illuminate the questions of the late twentieth century. As a performer he simply refused to pursue a “career”while he perceived the planet was in jeopardy.. He become an eloquent pursuer of social justice. As a singer, jazz and commitment to the planet were fused.

 

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Notice the bare feet, at my retirement 1996

We were depressed by the nuclear sabre rattling of the Reagan 80s.I would bring Catholic teachers to Georges to hear brother Don preach in words and music

 

One night in 1982 as the Cruise Missile was being tested in Canada I approached him at George’s with some obscene statistics. His opening line to the assembled music fans was, “My friend Ted Schmidt just told me the US is now spending $1 million a minute on the arms race.” Don took a deep breath and said, “there’s only one thing to say about that and he paused and the F word came flying out.

 

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Then half way thru the set he aid, ”Please synchronize your watches. It is 9:42. At exactly 10 PM a cruise missile will be coming thru the front door. But don’t anybody get upset. It will leave by the back door.”

 

“All I have tried to do”, he told me in an interview for the Catholic New Times in 1991 “was to get to something beyond argument-a glass of water, a leaf growing in the wind. Get back to basics, universal truths. All of the world’s children should be able to meet and say: No pollution. Clean it up. Salvation for the animals and all living things. Have no more war—that’s another pollution. And no hunger.”

 

Outside of his brilliant pianist Steve Hunter  and wife Lili I guess i saw Donny perform more than anybody in these parts. He was always consistent, a holy wayfarer, gifted with radical amazement that he was here, sharing life with all of creation. He was pained at what we were doing with this planet and did his best in word, song and presence to alert us to the deep harm we were doing to the only home we have.

 

I never heard the voice of a celebrity, but of a gracious companion for the journey, a Dreamspeaker whose one song was : we belong intimately to the earth and there, not in some far off heaven, was our salvation.

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Don Francks Laneway is thus a fitting tribute to the man of many talents, the man the cree nation named Iron Buffalo, Don Francks

 

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Knesset Foils Efforts to End Israeli Apartheid

June 13, 2018

One of the most insightful commentators in Israel is Jonathan Cook, the voice from Nazareth, the very city that Jesus the man from Nazareth came from and whose promotion of the “malkuta” (Jesus spoke Aramaic) heralded the end of occupation and oppression.

This is as good an analysis that you will find…and never in our major dailies still fearful of Zionist backlash.

 

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For most of the seven decades after its establishment, Israel went to extraordinary lengths to craft an image of itself as a “light unto the nations”.

 

It claimed to have “made the desert bloom” by planting forests over the razed houses of 750,000 Palestinians it exiled in 1948. Soldiers in the “most moral army in the world” reputedly cried as they were compelled to shoot Palestinian “infiltrators” trying to return home. And all this occurred in what Israelis claimed was the Middle East’s “only democracy”.

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An industry known as hasbara – a euphemism for propaganda – recruited Jews in Israel and abroad to a campaign to persuade the world that the Palestinians’ dispossession was for the good of mankind. Israel’s achievements in science, agriculture and medicine were extolled.

 

But in a more interconnected world, that propaganda campaign is swiftly unravelling. Phone cameras now record “moral” soldiers executing unarmed Palestinians in Gaza or beating up children in Hebron.

 

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The backlash, including a growing international boycott movement, has driven Israel’s right wing into even greater defiance and self-righteousness. It no longer conceals its goal to aggressively realise a longed-for “Greater Israel”.

 
A parallel process is overtaking Israel’s traditional left but has been far less noticed. It too is stubbornly committed to its ideological legacy – the creation of a supposed “Jewish and democratic state” after 1948.

 

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Israel includes a large minority of 1.8 million Palestinian citizens, the remnants of those who survived the expulsions required for its creation. Although Palestinian citizens have the vote, it was an easy generosity after Israel gerrymandered the electoral constituency in 1948 to ensure Palestinians remained a permanent and decisive minority.

 

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In a system of residential apartheid, Palestinian citizens have been confined to ghettos on a tiny fraction of land while Israel has “nationalised” 93 per cent of its territory for Jews around the world.

 

But after decades of repression, including an initial 20 years living under military rule, the Palestinian minority has gradually grown more confident in highlighting Israel’s political deficiencies. In recent days, Palestinian legislators have submitted three legislative measures before parliament to explode the illusion that Israel is a western-style liberal democracy.

 

None stood the faintest chance of being passed in a system rigged to keep Palestinian lawmakers out of any of Israel’s complex but entirely Zionist coalition governments.

 

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The first measure sought to revoke the quasi-governmental status of major international Zionist organisations like the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the Jewish Agency.

 

Although they are treated like state bodies, these organisations are obligated through their charters to discriminate in allocating state resources and rights to Jews around the world rather than to Israelis. The aim is to exclude Palestinian citizens from major state benefits. The JNF bans access for non-Jews to most land in Israel and develops new communities exclusively for Jews, while the Jewish Agency restricts immigration and associated perks to Jews alone. The bill – designed to end decades of explicit discrimination against one fifth of Israel’s citizenry – was defeated when all the Jewish parties voted against it. ..

 

The third measure was a bill demanding that Israel be reformed from a Jewish state into a state of all its citizens, representing all equally. In a highly irregular move, a committee dominated by Jewish legislators voted to disqualify the bill last week from even being tabled, denying it any chance of a hearing on the parliament floor.

 

The parliament’s legal adviser, Eyal Yinon, warned that the measure would alter Israel’s character by giving Jewish and Palestinian citizens “equal status”. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein called the bill “preposterous”. “Any intelligent individual can see it must be blocked immediately,” he said.

 

Law professor Mordechai Kremnitzer, meanwhile, conceded that the bill exposed Israeli democracy as “fundamentally flawed”.

 

These three bills from Palestinian legislators might have redressed some of the inequities contained in nearly 70 Israeli laws that, according to Adalah, a legal rights group, explicitly discriminate based on ethnicity…

 

Today, Israelis are hunkering down. Boycott activists from abroad are denied entry. Unarmed Palestinian demonstrators have been gunned down in Gaza. And critics inside Israel are silenced or beaten up.

 
All these responses have the same end in mind: to block anything that might burst the bubble of illusions and threaten Israelis’ sense of moral superiority.

 

 

Israel’s new low

June 11, 2018

“Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.  When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

Mark 3:20 ff reading for Mass Sunday June 10, 2018

How low can you go? Gideon Levy first channels Al Jolson, “You aint seen nuttin yet” in Sunday’s column. Israel’s leadership approaches a new nadir as it now attacks a 21 year old Gazan medic gunned down by the IDF.

 

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Desperate to justify the unjustifiable, the brutal occupier unleashes in every Western country a phalanx of PR flacks whose sole job is to defend the indefensible. They even manage to traumatize politicians who quiver before their mendacious propaganda; media pundits hide behind “balance” as we watch horror unfold among a traumatized defenceless people.

 

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The computer era and social media have already torn to bits Israel’s narrative as the eternal victim and as the witty Jewish philosopher Groucho Marx, asked, who do you believe, me or your eyes.The rest of the world has suddenly changed. The computer,cell phones and social media has now brought things into clearer focus and laid bare such extraordinary barbarity.

 

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The saving grace, however, in all of this is that the prophetic, quite possibly the greatest gift of the Jews to the world, has arisen as it always does from beyond the corridors of power to the margins, those on the underside of history and those who are the interlocutors. Here the voice belongs to a secular Jew scorned in Israel and read by only 4% of his brainwashed country.

 

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Gideon Levy like Jesus in Sunday’s reading is considered beyond the pale, an irrelevant man. Like all of the prophets of Israel he is considered crazy as he challenges the received wisdom of the leaders: Israel is aggrieved, Israel is innocent. Levy now channels Jeremiah a man possessed, considered outrageous by today’s “teachers of the law.”

 

Today, most of Israel’s rabbinate are merely court prophets, “blind guides who have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.” Matt; 23:23. They violate the covenant by forgetting “tzedek,tzedek tirdof”—justice, justice you shall pursue. The prophetic however finds expression in the pages of Haaretz, Gideon Levy June 9,2018

Killing Razan al-Najjar, Israel Assassinates Her Character

When fairness is gone, all that is left is propaganda

 

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A few short words – “Razan al-Najjar isn’t an angel of mercy” – sum up the depths of Israeli propaganda. Avichay Edraee, the Israeli army’s Arabic-language spokesman, who also speaks in my name, is a representative of an army of mercy that has also now appointed itself the judge of the measure of mercy in a medic treating Palestinian wounded on Gaza’s border with Israel, and who Israeli army soldiers mercilessly killed. After killing her, it was also necessary to assassinate her character.

 

Propaganda is a tool that serves many countries. The less just their policies are, the more they expand their propaganda efforts. Sweden doesn’t need propaganda. North Korea does. In Israel, it’s called hasbara – public diplomacy –  because why would it need propaganda? Recently its propaganda has sunk to such despicable lows that nothing can better prove that its justifications have run out, its excuses gone, that truth is the enemy and that all that’s left are lies and slander.

 

It is directed mostly for domestic consumption. Around the world, few Gaza people would buy it in any event. But as part of the desperate effort to persist in the psychological repression and denial, in the failure to tell ourselves the truth and the evasion of any responsibility – everything is acceptable when it comes to these efforts.

 

A medic in a nursing uniform has been shot to death by Israeli army snipers – as have journalists with press vests and an amputee in a wheelchair. If we rely on Israeli army snipers to know what they are doing, counting on them to be the most accurate in the world, then these people have been shot deliberately. Surely if the army had believed in the justice of the military campaign that it is waging in Gaza, it would have taken responsibility for these killings, apologizing, expressing regret and offering compensation.

 

But when the earth is burning under our feet, when we know the truth and understand that shooting at demonstrators and killing more than 120 of them and rendering hundreds of others disabled is more akin to a massacre, one cannot apologize or express regret. And then the army spokesman’s aggressive, clumsy, embarrassing and shameful propaganda machine springs into action –  a thunderous voice from the Defense Ministry that only compounds what has been done.

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An Israeli army investigation, based only on the testimony of the soldiers of course, showed that she had not been deliberately shot. Clearly. The propaganda machine went further and hinted that she may have been killed by Palestinian weapons fire, which has rarely been used over the past two months.

 

 

Maybe she shot herself? Anything is possible. And do we remember any Israeli army investigation showing otherwise? Israel’s ambassador in London, Mark Regev, who is another top, polished propagandist, was quick to tweet about the “medical volunteer” in quotation marks, as if a Palestinian could be a medical volunteer. Instead, he wrote, her death is “yet another reminder of Hamas’ brutality.”

 

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The Israeli army kills a medic in a white uniform, in an outrageous violation of international law, which provides protection for medical personnel in combat zones. And that’s despite the fact that the Gaza border does not constitute a combat zone. But it’s Hamas that is the brutal one.

 

 

Kill me, Mr. Ambassador, but who could possibly follow this twisted, sick logic? And who would buy such cheap propaganda other than some of the members of the Board of Deputies of British Jews — the largest representative organization of U.K. Jewry – along with Merav Ben Ari, the Knesset member who was quick to take advantage of the opportunity and state: “It turns out that the medic, yes that one, wasn’t just a medic, as you see.” Yes, that one. As you see.

 

Israel should have been shocked by the killing of the medic. Najjar’s innocent face should have touched every Israeli’s heart. Medical organizations should have spoken out. Israelis should have hidden their faces in embarrassment. But that only could have happened if Israel had believed in the justice of its cause. When fairness is gone, all that is left is propaganda. And from that standpoint, maybe this new low is a herald of good news.

 

 

Bourdain On Henry Kissinger

June 10, 2018

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The late chef and television host Anthony Bourdain traveled extensively in Southeast Asia, including in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, where his shows repeatedly highlighted the legacy of the Vietnam War. In particular, Bourdain frequently trained his ire on former Secretary of State–Nobel Peace Prize winner–secret bombing of Cambodia facilitator–accused war criminal Henry Kissinger.

 

Bourdain had the following to say about Kissinger in his 2001 book, A Cook’s Tour:

 

“Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands. You will never again be able to open a newspaper and read about that treacherous, prevaricating, murderous scumbag sitting down for a nice chat with Charlie Rose or attending some black-tie affair for a new glossy magazine without choking. Witness what Henry did in Cambodia – the fruits of his genius for statesmanship – and you will never understand why he’s not sitting in the dock at The Hague next to Milošević.”

 

He stood by the passage in a tweet earlier this year, writing, “Frequently, I’ve come to regret things I’ve said. This, from 2001, is not one of those times.”

 

Then there were his comments to the New Yorker’s Patrick Radden Keefe in a profile last year:

 

He then launched into a tirade about how it sickens him, having travelled in Southeast Asia, to see Kissinger embraced by the power-lunch crowd. “Any journalist who has ever been polite to Henry Kissinger, you know, fuck that person,” he said, his indignation rising. “I’m a big believer in moral gray areas, but, when it comes to that guy, in my view he should not be able to eat at a restaurant in New York.”

I pointed out that Bourdain had made similarly categorical denunciations of many people, only to bury the hatchet and join them for dinner.

from Slate

 

NY TIMES paper of occupation

June 9, 2018

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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?

 

 

Archbishop Tutu: Israel apartheid

June 6, 2018

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16 years ago Desmond Tutu named it. Apartheid in the Holy Land

 

In our struggle against apartheid, the great supporters were Jewish people. They almost instinctively had to be on the side of the disenfranchised, of the voiceless ones, fighting injustice, oppression and evil. I have continued to feel strongly with the Jews. I am patron of a Holocaust centre in South Africa. I believe Israel has a right to secure borders.

 

What is not so understandable, not justified, is what it did to another people to guarantee its existence. I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.

 

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On one of my visits to the Holy Land I drove to a church with the Anglican bishop in Jerusalem. I could hear tears in his voice as he pointed to Jewish settlements. I thought of the desire of Israelis for security. But what of the Palestinians who have lost their land and homes?

 

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Naim Ateek

I have experienced Palestinians pointing to what were their homes, now occupied by Jewish Israelis. I was walking with Canon Naim Ateek (the head of the Sabeel Ecumenical Centre) in Jerusalem. He pointed and said: “Our home was over there. We were driven out of our home; it is now occupied by Israeli Jews.”

 

My heart aches. I say why are our memories so short. Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about the downtrodden?

 

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Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice. We condemn the violence of suicide bombers, and we condemn the corruption of young minds taught hatred; but we also condemn the violence of military incursions in the occupied lands, and the inhumanity that won’t let ambulances reach the injured.

 

The military action of recent days, I predict with certainty, will not provide the security and peace Israelis want; it will only intensify the hatred.

 

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Israel has three options: revert to the previous stalemated situation; exterminate all Palestinians; or – I hope – to strive for peace based on justice, based on withdrawal from all the occupied territories, and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state on those territories side by side with Israel, both with secure borders.

 

We in South Africa had a relatively peaceful transition. If our madness could end as it did, it must be possible to do the same everywhere else in the world. If peace could come to South Africa, surely it can come to the Holy Land?

 

My brother Naim Ateek has said what we used to say: “I am not pro- this people or that. I am pro-justice, pro-freedom. I am anti- injustice, anti-oppression.”

 

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But you know as well as I do that, somehow, the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal [in the US], and to criticise it is to be immediately dubbed anti-semitic, as if the Palestinians were not semitic. I am not even anti-white, despite the madness of that group. And how did it come about that Israel was collaborating with the apartheid government on security measures?

 

People are scared in this country [the US], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful. Well, so what? For goodness sake, this is God’s world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.

 

Injustice and oppression will never prevail. Those who are powerful have to remember the litmus test that God gives to the powerful: what is your treatment of the poor, the hungry, the voiceless? And on the basis of that, God passes judgment. I know firsthand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark indeed. 

 

Wrong

 

We should put out a clarion call to the government of the people of Israel, to the Palestinian people and say: peace is possible, peace based on justice is possible. We will do all we can to assist you to achieve this peace, because it is God’s dream, and you will be able to live amicably together as sisters and brothers.

 

Trudeau turtles on Gaza pt 1

June 5, 2018

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Dimitri Lascaris is a lawyer, journalist and activist and board member of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, and Vice-Chairman of the Board of the Unity Project for the Relief of Homelessness.

 
On May 18 , courtesy of Justin Trudeau, the world witnessed one of the swiftest and most cowardly flip-flops in Canadian political history. He recently wrote this on his blog

On May 16, 2018, Canada’s Prime Minister issued a statement calling for an “immediate independent investigation” into the “tragic” killing and wounding of “countless” protesters in Gaza. Trudeau professed in his statement to be “appalled that Dr. Tarek Loubani, a Canadian citizen, is among the wounded – along with so many unarmed people, including civilians, members of the media, first responders, and children.”

 
A mere two days later, in a debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Trudeau’s government opposed just such an investigation. Ultimately, the UNHRC voted by a margin of 29-2, with 14 abstentions, to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the Gaza massacres.

 

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Given Trudeau’s history of shameless pandering to the pro-occupation lobby, his May 16 statement inspired little confidence that he would in fact insist upon a truly independent investigation into the Gaza massacres and the IDF’s shooting of Dr. Loubani. That is why, on May 17, I tweeted:

 

The explanation given for Trudeau’s immediate and craven self-reversal, which you can watch and listen to here, is that the UNHRC resolution calling for the investigation “prejudges the outcome of such an investigation,” is “one-sided and does not advance the prospects for a peaceful, negotiated settlement” between Israelis and Palestinians, and “singles out Israel without reference to other actors.”
Let’s unpack that, shall we?

 

Claim #1: The UNHRC resolution “prejudges the outcome of such an investigation”
It is certainly true that the UNHRC’s resolution, which can be seen here, accuses Israel of violating international humanitarian law, but so too does Canada’s own government. Canada’s Global Affairs website states:

 

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Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967 (the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip). The Fourth  Geneva Convention applies in the occupied territories and establishes Israel’s obligations as an occupying power, in particular with respect to the humane treatment of the inhabitants of the occupied territories. As referred to in UN Security Council Resolutions 446 and 465, Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.

 

As far as the recent killings in Gaza are concerned, Trudeau himself stated on May 16 that he was “appalled” by the shooting of Dr. Loubani and of “so many unarmed people, including civilians, members of the media, first responder and children.”
The whole world knows that it is the Israeli military that is shooting those unarmed protesters, and is doing so deliberately. In a now-deleted tweet, the Israeli army itself declared on March 31, 2018, the day after it shot 773 Palestinians with live fire, that “we know where every bullet landed.”
Under the circumstances, the fact that the UNHRC resolution accuses Israel of violating international law is no justification for opposing the UNHRC investigation. On the contrary, the UNHRC has ample reason – as does Canada’s own government – to level such accusations. The UNHRC investigation will help to ascertain the extent and nature of those violations, and precisely which military and governmental officials are responsible for them.
The mandate of the UNHRC’s Commission of Inquiry is: to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on 30 March 2018, whether before, during or after, to establish the facts and circumstances, with assistance from relevant experts and special procedure mandate holders, of the alleged violations and abuses, including those that may amount to war crimes, to identify those responsible, to make recommendations, in particular on accountability measures, all with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring legal accountability, including individual criminal and command responsibility, for such violations, and on protecting civilians against any further assaults, and to present an oral update to the Council at its thirty-ninth session and a final, written report at its fortieth session.

 

END

 

It is simply unfathomable that any government truly committed to human rights would object to this mandate.

“An unbelievable siege” illegal as well

June 3, 2018

An unbelievable siege, 11 years without respite, which is the greatest war crime in this arena. No propaganda can conceal their identity – their past, their present and their future. Most of them live in the Gaza Strip because Israel made them refugees. Israel expelled their forefathers from their villages and their land. Others fled for fear of Israel, and afterwards were not allowed to return – a crime no less serous than the expulsion

Gideon Levy June 1, Haaretz

 

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he shameless HAMAS card, the last joker in the deck seemingly buffaloes decent people and amnesiacs of all stripes into giving Israel the right to slaughter a penned up people every few years—12 “wars” on a people whose land was stolen from them in 1948, on occupied Palestinian territory, a people who refuse to give up their rights enshrined in international law to resist this theft.

 

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Originally placing their trust in Fatah, the dominant party of the PLO, the Gazans came to see that Fatah had grown accustomed to occupation, commonly seen by many as little more than Israel’s subcontractor in incarceration. Meanwhile Israel supported HAMAS thinking that an Islamist party, apolitical in nature and focussed on the Koran, would sow seeds of discord in this coastal strip. Israel came to rue the decision as HAMAS was legally elected in 2006 and launched massive social programs while never ceding Palestinian historical rights. Israel and the US then armed Fatah. understanding that HAMAS would never surrender their just claim.

 

The “rocket” card

 

Israel then tightened the hold and engaged in another war crime, collective punishment. We see the result 3 “wars” and the latest massacre of people with no defense but those pathetic Qassam rockets the excuse Israel uses to rain death on innocent people.
Nobody should be traumatized by by rockets. Yet the use of “Siderot” and other nearby Israeli communities targeted by Hamas’s Qassam rockets as an excuse for turning Gaza into a killing field is outrageous.

 

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Norman Finkelstein, the indefatigable Jewish American researcher, pointed out that Hamas fired 13,000 home made rockets and mortar shells at Israel between 2001 and 2012, a total of 23 Israeli civilians were killed, or one civilian killed for every 500 projectiles fired.

 

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“Isn’t it also cause for wonder – and worthy of notice – that, even allowing that a certain percentage landed in open areas, the thousands upon thousands of Hamas rockets inflicted negligible damage? How could only one Israeli house have been destroyed and 11 others hit or damaged by a mega barrage of rockets? The obvious, and most plausible, answer is, most of these so-called rockets must have amounted to little more than enhanced fireworks.”

 

“Enhanced fireworks” or not, once again, no civilian population should be terrorized by rockets. Finkelstein points out that all these rockets were launched after deliberate Israeli provocations, too many to list here. But to compare these attacks to the disproportionate bombardment of Gaza is bizarre. As Gideon Levy stated (March 23, 2008): “The world sees images from Gaza; in comparison Siderot looks like a resort.”

 

You simply cannot compare these hopelessly unguided rockets to Israel’s guided missiles in a densely populated civilian area. Nor can you compare 3,700 Gazans killed since 2005 to 27 Israeli civilians. Yet each person is an ikon of the divine.

 

 

On the surface, Hamas’s use of rockets was insane. Closer to the truth was Hamas leader Khaled Mishal’s statement that “our simple, home-made rockets are our cry of protest to the world” makes infinite sense – a hopeless, yet understandable response to decades of humiliation, a defiant cry of an occupied penned-up people with no army, air force, tanks or high-precision missiles hemmed in on every side under a brutal siege. A cruel occupying army flagrantly violating Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law licks its chops and wreaks insane revenge on “the terrorists.” Israel, according to Netanyahu, is like Britain under the Nazi blitz. And less we forget that raggedy ass group Hamas is the equivalent of the Wehrmacht. NOT.

You don’t know whether to laugh or cry..We see a starving people with massive unemployment The Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) is the Israeli administrative entity controls the entry and exit of all goods and people  including the calculation of the calories required to avert mass starvation. This is death by bureaucracy.

 

Under international law, Israel has a responsibility to protect those civilians living under its occupation. All Israel provides is constant immiseration and gradually the world has come to see.
The Great March of Return was another heroic attempt to remind the world of the rights of refugees to return to places taken in war. Israel’s response with its constant hammering of a besieged people hopes to drive any idea other than permanent subservience out of Gazans.

 

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As Levy says, in the above article “In recent weeks they buried 118 people – which, relative to the size of the population, is like 500 dead for us, and they will never stop fighting. They’re right, too.”