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Thursday, December 30, 2004

ha'am im falastin

from the jewschool sto', via yoshie's critical montages blog.

"the nation is with palestine" Posted by Hello

this is, of course, a sendup on the familiar pro-settlement "the nation is with the golan" bumper sticker.


Wednesday, December 29, 2004


i'm off for about 1.5 weeks of vacation. i may or may not update this blog while i'm away. if you're gregorian, happy new year!


some notes on dershowitz, chapter 1

starting today, i will sporadically blog about alan dershowitz's (i will sometimes use "D" for short, and "dershy" or "dershy the clown" for derogation) book "the case for israel".

many zionists who i've debated with in the past year have used the book either to back up a particular point, or to recommend as the best pro-israel book to read in order to gain an understanding of the case for zionism.

well, i've read most of it, and i find it really unimpressive. the argumentation has many flaws: there is crucial reliance on very questionable "facts"; there is a lot of bad reasoning; there is a lot of wandering off topic, so that the claim that dershowitz pretends he is refuting is actually never addressed; there are cases where he concedes the point that he claims to be refuting; most of all, there is a high degree of selectivity in presenting his opponents' case against israel. dershowitz will generally not present arguments *for* the position that he sets himself up *against*, so from the perspective of someone who is familiar with the case against israel, D's argument is completely besides the point, and from the perspective of someone trying to gain an understanding of the conflict or to move the debate forward, the book is just dishonest.

the book apparently takes the form of a legal brief, a format i'm not familiar with, but seems to be an elaboration of the familiar "myths and facts" format. besides the introduction and the conclusion, the book contains thirty-two chapters. each chapter consists of:

- an "accusation", stated in D's words.

- a section called "the accusers", consisting of one to three quotes from individuals, which apparently are supposed to document the accusation.

- a brief presentation of what D considers "the reality".

- and "the proof" for the reality.

as set up, these parts are supposed to be tightly connected, so that he argument in "the proof" is supposed to be an argument against "the accusation". but as i've said, D often wanders off point or concedes the "accusation" and ends up giving a "proof" for something else entirely. i raise this point because the book is usually promoted as a refutation of 32 accusations, one per chapter, so it's important to note that it is not even an attempt to do so.

anyway, straight to chapter 1.

the accusation: "israel is a colonial, imperialist, settler state, comparable to apartheid south africa".

this chapter is a case of D's "proof" not arguing against "the accusation". the chapter discusses the history of the jewish presence in palestine and the nature of the first aliyah. the "accusation" that D seems to be refuting is something like "the jewish presence in israel dates back to the 1880s, when a group of jews, acting consciously in the service of the european powers, began to colonize palestine on behalf of those states".

D does a fine job of refuting this accusation, by delving into the long history of jews in palestine, including a steady presence since the days of the crusades, and by discussing the adverse circumstances in eastern europe that led many jews to flee their countries and escape to many places around the world, including palestine. all that's left unclear is the little matter of who makes this accusation - i've certainly never heard it.

what i have heard is a pretty solid analysis of israel as a colonial, imperialist settler state. those who are truly interested in this issue can examine the writings of edward said, especially his book the question of palestine, where he discusses zionism in the context of european colonial ideologies, and of noam chomsky, especially the fateful triangle, where he discusses the relationship between the state of israel and the world's leading imperialist power, the united states of america.

D doesn't mention either of these authors or books in this chapter, although he heaps scorn on them in other places in the book, like the introduction, where he calls them elitists for having criticisms of the two-state settlement. nor does he mention theodor herzl's book der judenstaat, uncontroversially the most important document of the zionist movement, which explicitly advocates colonialism and imperialism, not to mention genocide. and it pretty much ignores the entire history of zionism, from the early days of the jewish colonization society and appeals to the european powers, through the yishuv's dependence on the british government, to the present-day clienthood relationship between israel and the US. nowhere in chapter 1 does D even attempt to take this analysis on.

chapters 2 and 3 deal with related issues: the accusation that the early jewish immigrants forced palestinians off their land (which dershowitz concedes is true), and the accusation that the second wave of jewish immigration was part of a plot for jews to take over all of palestine (which he doesn't really argue against). i'll leave these for another time.


the israelite-philistine conflict

the struggle between the israelites and the philistines in ancient times, as described in the bible, has many similarities to today's israel-palestine conflict. there are many parallels between the ancient philistines and modern day israel, and between the old times israelites and today's palestinians. for example:

- israelis today largely came via the mediterranean sea to the coast, where they are largely settled (mizrahi immigrants came later, and played less of a role in developing settlement patterns). the philistines similarly arrived by boat and set up on the coast. the ancient israelites were more concentrated in the hilly area in the center of the country, where most palestinians live.

- the israelis, like the ancient philistines, were able to conquer parts of the palestinian/israelite center of the country, which they governed ruthlessly.

- suicide bombings: invented by samson the brave, popularized by hamas.


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

the naqba and the return (awda) - slideshow

the naqba is the disaster of 1947-49, in which 4/5 of the palestinian population of the lands seized by israel were forced out.

the awda is the return of refugees, a prerequisite for a just or reasonable settlement of the conflict.

the link is to a series of maps and charts illustrating the issues. it's not always obvious what's being suggested, but you should take a look anyway - the maps give some idea of the scale of the conquest, and suggest how the return might happen.


Sunday, December 26, 2004

I-P conflict 101

there's an excellent introduction to the israel-palestine conflict, in the form of a collection of brief quotes, here. hosted by cactus48.


another terrorist attack

israel has killed a leader of the al-awsa martyr brigades in jenin, by firing a missile into a residential building. the haaretz report doesn't mention whether there were other casualties.

assassinations of this sort are the ones that most reliably bring retaliatory strikes against israeli civilians, as israeli leaders must know. why is israel looking to provoke another palestinian bombing? i'll speculate that israel is looking for an excuse to disrupt the upcoming elections for president of the palestinian authority.


hamas makes major gains in local elections

not too surprising, since the fatah leadership is speaking openly about giving up the armed struggle, without really articulating an alternative liberation strategy.


cultural/academic boycott?

omar barghouti advocates cultural/academic boycotts of israel. samer elatrash responds.


Thursday, December 23, 2004

the jewish mentality

a libyan court was thrown into disarray this week after the state's expert witness on the jewish mentality, a professor of jewish studies at the university of tripoli, testified that the jewish mentality is made up of a sense of victimhood, pathological hatred of non-jews, and tendency to live in a world of illusions, pointing out for good measure that jews are dirty, and accusing them of being parasitic on the islamic state. the trial is of leaders of the libyan jewish community who are accused of transferring funds to organizations in israel, considered by qaddafi's government to be a terrorist state.

sound made up? this actually happened, except that it happened in israel, not libya, the remarks were about the arab mentality and delivered by a professor of middle eastern studies at the hebrew u, and the charge is of supporting hamas. also, libya has separation of church and state and separation of race and state, unlike israel on both counts.

read about it here.

no doubt MEMRI, b'nai brith and all the others that monitor the arab world for expressions of anti-zionist and anti-jewish sentiment will be devoting the same attention to this case as they do to such expressions in the arab world.

oh, wait - i forgot, those aren't anti-racist organizations, they're jewish supremacist organizations devoted to spreading zionist propaganda. my bad.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

is israel apartheid?

actually, the machover article i mention below is so interesting to me that i will reproduce it in its entirety. machover is a leading israeli socialist and anti-zionist.

Is it Apartheid?

by Moshe Machover

10 November 2004

In recent months there is a growing tendency among opponents of Israeli oppression and defenders of Palestinian rights to refer to Israeli policy towards the Palestinians as "apartheid".

The "separation wall" that Israel is constructing on Palestinian lands is often denounced as the "apartheid wall". An International conference on Palestine scheduled for 5 December 2004 at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London is entitled by its organizers as "Resisting Israeli Apartheid: Strategies and Principles".

I would like to warn against an unthinking use of this misleading analogy between Israeli policy and that of the defunct apartheid regime in South Africa. It is theoretically false and politically harmful.

To be sure, the two have many features in common. Both are perniciously racist; both impose a degree of separation between ethnic groups. And this is no accident: both are instances of the genus colonial settler state. Indeed, Israel and apartheid South Africa were, until the latter's demise, the last two surviving active instances of this genus.[1] Now Israel is the only remaining one.

But the point is that they belong to two distinct species of the genus. All colonial settlers' societies built themselves up on exploiting the resources of the country that they colonized: primarily its land, which they wrested from the indigenous people, who became dispossessed. The decisive difference between the two species was what was to become of the dispossessed natives.

In one model of colonization, their labor power became one of the indigenous resources - indeed, the main resource - to be exploited by the settlers. The ethnic conflict between the two groups thus assumed the nature of a kind of class struggle. This model is represented, in almost pure form, by apartheid South Africa.

In the other model, the native population was to be eliminated; exterminated or expelled rather than exploited. Israel is an active instance of this model. If you wish to find an instructive parallel, look not at South Africa. Rather, read Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West.

Apartheid was a device for keeping the exploited natives - the majority of the population - as part of the same economy, and therefore essentially also of the same society, as the settler exploiters; but without actually admitting it, and without giving the former rights of citizenship. Officially, the natives were citizens of fake states, the Bantustans. But the last thing the architects of the apartheid state wanted was a real departure of the black Africans, whose labor power was vital for its economy.

Zionism never intended to create a Palestinostan for the Palestinian Arabs. From the very start, it planned to get rid of them, to create a purely Jewish "Land of Israel". This premeditated policy - referred to in Zionist literature as 'transfer' - was largely implemented in the 1948 war. The Palestinian Arab minority whom - for lack of time or opportunity – the nascent Israeli state failed to expel from its territory did not seem to represent a major "demographic threat". To be sure, their lands were for the most part expropriated and given over to Jewish settlements, they were severely discriminated and for many years kept under military rule. But, crucially, they were not denied rudimentary citizenship rights. They are Israeli citizens, who can vote for the Knesset.

A new problem arose following the June 1967 war. Israel found itself controlling the whole of Palestine as well as a part of Syria. But, from the Zionists' viewpoint, this great territorial acquisition of their wet dreams came with an encumbrance: a large Arab population, many of them refugees of the 1948 ethnic cleansing and their descendants. This population, which "remained 'stuck' to their places," the Zionists realized, "may destroy the very foundation of our state."[2] Israel managed to ethnically cleanse some

of the newly occupied territories, such as the whole of the Golan Heights, the Latroun salient in the approaches to Jerusalem, and some refugee camps near Jericho. But the bulk of the population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip still "remained stuck to their places."

Zionists of all major parties - Labor and Likud alike - ardently wished to 'transfer' as many Palestinians as possible. The only difference was about what was considered possible. The more pragmatic or cautious among them thought that the 'world' (which for Israel meant primarily US politicians and opinion-manufacturers) would not allow a massive ethnic cleansing. On the other hand, it was becoming clear, especially during the first Intifada, that Israel could not afford to control the Palestinian population directly.

These more pragmatic Zionists looked for a Palestinian leadership to do the job for them: to control and repress the Palestinians, thus guaranteeing the security of Israel. This was the essence of the Oslo Accord, which Peres managed to sell to Rabin and, no less important, to Yasser Arafat.[3]

The Oslo plan, had it materialized, would indeed have led to something like a Palestinian Bantustan, resulting in a convergence of the Zionist settler state towards the apartheid model. But this was not to be. The plan was vigorously opposed by more optimistic or fundamentalist Zionists, such as Ehud Barak in the Labor Party and most of the leaders of Likud. Just in time, Rabin was assassinated. The Netanyahu government which followed stalled the implementation of Israel's side of the Oslo bargain, thus subverting it. The next Israeli prime minister, Labor's Ehud Barak, continued this policy at Camp David by a more subtle means: dictating to Arafat new conditions, falsely packaged as a 'generous offer', that even he could not accept.

The next prime minister, Ariel 'Bulldozer' Sharon, true to his legendary brutality and blood lust, has pursued yet another tactic: smashing the Palestinian Authority's resources and at the same time deliberately provoking Palestinian suicide bombings, so as to expose Arafat's inability to serve as Israel's security guard, and thus prove his uselessness and irrelevance from a Zionist viewpoint.

What Sharon & Co are planning is not really an apartheid regime. They are not interested in keeping the Palestinians permanently in place, as a subjugated population. They are planning to ethnically cleanse as many Palestinians as possible. Of course, this requires what in Zionist parlance is referred to as she'at kosher, an opportune moment. A general upheaval in the Middle East may present a suitable opportunity. If necessary, it could actually be provoked. Meantime, as a purely temporary measure, the Palestinian population is to be atomized and separated - not only from the Israeli Jews but also within their own community, village from village, neighborhood from neighborhood. And make no mistake: this is not going to be like a Bantustan, more like a series of Indian Reservations.

Conflating this with apartheid in fact misses the most essential point. Incidentally, it can also backfire: defenders of Zionism can easily show that the Palestinian citizens of Israel, while not enjoying equal rights, are nevertheless considerably better off than Black Africans used to be under apartheid.

But, much more importantly: talk of Israeli 'apartheid' serves to divert attention from much greater dangers. For, as far as most Palestinians are concerned, the Zionist policy is far worse than apartheid. Apartheid can be reversed. Ethnic cleansing is immeasurably harder to reverse; at least not in the short or medium term.

To be sure: there is one great difference between the Zionist colonization project and that of the United States. When the US achieved its 'manifest destiny' and reached from ocean to ocean, grinding to dust the indigenous people - that was that: no more 'Red Indians' to hunt and uproot. In the case of Zionist Israel, no matter how far it can expand - and surely it will need to expand further in order to protect and defend its former expansion - it will always be confronted and surrounded by Arabs. If the Arab world will one day unite, it can defeat and reverse Zionist expansionism.

But this will require a far-reaching transformation of the Arab World, defeat of its present ruling classes and unification of the Arab nation.


1. There are of course several other states that started off in this way; but they have ceased to be active in a sense similar to that in which an extinct volcano still exists as a mountain, but is no longer active as a volcano.

2. Joseph Weitz, 'A solution to the refugee problem: a State of Israel with a small Arab minority', Davar, 29 September 1967. Davar was the Histadrut daily, in effect organ of the Israeli Labor Party. Weitz was member of that party, an apparatchik who had played a central role in planning the transfer before 1948 and implementing it during 1948/49.

3. I have dealt elsewhere with the reasons for Arafat's acquiescence in accepting what amounted to little more than the job of Israel's proxy Palestinian Police Chief.


jerusalem post interviews hanan ashrawi

the link will take you to the jewish voice for peace website (check out the rest of their site too).

name notes: it's "ashrawi", not "ashwari". and it's "hanan", not "hannan".

while you're on the jewish voice for peace website, check out moshe machover's interesting article on using the term apartheid to describe israel.


the somerville divestment campaign

the campaign to get the city of somerville to divest from israel came close to succeeding, but was beaten back by a large coordinated campaign.

as tom wallace writes, it's bittersweet. bitter because it ultimately failed, sweet because the campaign shows that efforts to hold israel accountable are making gains.

this battle was lost because the zionists managed to persuade the aldermen that people in the US shouldn't adopt a one-sided approach to the conflict: instead, we should continue our even-handed approach of giving israel billions of dollars a year, investing our savings accounts in israel, and blocking united nations resolutions critical of israel, not to mention peace initiatives.


we can work together!

i get a lot of e-mails from relatives of recently deceased presidents, military strongmen and cabinet members of african and other third world countries. invariably they want to partner with me in some arrangement that carries little risk but great financial rewards. i dunno what it is about me that attracts relatives of powerful dead people - maybe i'm listed in some sort of directory. none of these opportunities has quite worked out for me yet, but i maintain high hopes. it just has to work once for me to be rich.

today, i received an e-mail from none other than el-abdull arafat, son of late palestinian president yasser arafat. he writes:

Dear Sir,

I write to crave your indulgence over the transfer and management of some funds deposited in a vault by my father Yasser Arafat, the late palestinian president.

I am compelled by the event of my father's death to seek a foreign contact as partner with me in repartriating this funds for safe investment abroad. Could you in earliest possible confirm your interest and readiness in this venture.

Thanks in anticipation of your prompt and positive reply.

El-Abdull Arafat.
strangely, mr. arafat seems to work at the times of india. well, whatever. i'm gonna get rich. see you suckers later.


happy yule!

and while i'm at it, happy christmas, happy kwanzaa, and happy jewsmas and nittel nacht.

war is over if you want it.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

safer with sharon?

right-wingers keep saying that israelis elected sharon to provide security, and that he's doing a good job of it. these people miss two points.

1. sharon was elected because the left became disgusted with barak's terrorism. with no reasonable candidate, many leftists stayed home, while others went as far as organizing a boycott of the election. this provided sharon's margin of victory.

2. a comparison of israeli civilian casualties under barak vs. under sharon gives us some idea of sharon's success in providing security for israelis. during barak's nearly two years as prime minister (may 1999 - march 2001), the number of israeli civilians killed (i.e. people killed while not on military duty, in israel proper) in palestinian terror attacks was approximately 5 or 6. sharon has been prime minister for about twice as long. on his watch, the number of israeli civilians killed in palestinian terror attacks has been approximately 424, about a 40-fold increase if you adjust for length for prime ministership. the year-by-year and month-by-month casualty tables that i used for calculating these figures are available from btselem.

of course, part of the difference is that the palestinians largely restrained themselves as barak pretended to negotiate, first with the syrians and then with them. palestinian violence against the occupation forces really started at the end of september, after barak made it clear that there's no chance the occupation will end through negotiations, after sharon defiled a holy site with his presence, accompanied by his legions of storm troopers, and after the occupation forces shot people dead in the al-aqsa mosque after prayers. israel responded to the legitimate resistance with large-scale terror, and the palestinians' retaliatory terror built slowly: two bombings in november, killing two people each. then a break until february, followed by a slow build-up culminating in the first large attack, the dolphinarium bombing, in june 2001, after sharon had taken over. so in part, barak was the beneficiary of the palestinians taking a while to retaliate.

but this is missing part of the point: barak was able to bring security to israelis by pretending to negotiate, during which palestinians held their fire. sharon has done nothing but provoke and aggravate in ways that seem calculated to increase the severity of the response: for example, assassinating leaders of resistance groups and absolutely refusing to negotiate. if israelis were sensible people making an electoral choice based on the security criterion, they would have handily rejected sharon, knowing very well what he stands for.


is israel going fascist?

from a poll reported in haaretz, via angry arab:

67 percent of these Israelis believe that strong leaders can be more beneficial to the country than laws and public debate. Fifty-one percent of the Jewish subjects said that Israeli Arabs should not be allowed to be elected to the Knesset; about 30 percent of the subjects approve of nonviolent forms of civil revolt like demonstrations without a permit and refusal to serve in the territories, actions that involve disobeying the law; 24 percent support violent revolt, as compared to 9 percent who approved of this in a study that was conducted a number of years ago.
this follows a report last week that 44% of americans polled favor restricting the rights of muslims in this country.

repeat after me:
israel is a democracy.
the united states is a democracy.
israel is a democracy.
the united states is a democracy.

israel is a democracy.
the united states is a democracy.


Friday, December 17, 2004

44% of americans favor limiting civil rights of muslims

i wonder what percent support limiting the rights of christians?


where's the incite?

another expert confirms what everyone who's not brainwashed by israeli and zionist propaganda has known for years: there's no hatred or incitement in palestinian textbooks. it's really time to move on to more interesting topics, like comparing racist stereotypes in israeli vs. palestinian children's literature.

when i lived in palestine, the "hasamba" series of books, in which a brave yet zany group of children takes on the arab legion, terrorist cells, the british army, etc., was huge among children my age, and the racist caricatures of arabs must have been an important part of how we formed our views. other series of books (ha-ma'apilim, danidin, the one about the soccer players, whose name i don't remember) were similarly racist. i wonder how the children's literature of the occupied compares. anybody know?

i remember once on those years reading a story with a plot involving an israeli boy and a palestinian boy, initially distrustful of each other, learning to get along and coming to be friends by sharing common adventures. this was so far out of my perception of a realistic event that i treated it as fantasy literature.


oh, those encroaching settlements

the morally pure residents of nirit, israel are being turned against their will into colonists, with the expansion of the adjacent colony of alfei menashe. boo hoo.


Thursday, December 16, 2004

tree destruction pictures

a few days ago, a group of west bank colonists entered the palestinian village of jayyous and destroyed 117 olive trees. it got a brief mention in haaretz, the palestine chronicle, and perhaps nowhere else. a group called ecumenical accompaniment programme in palestine and israel, however, has posted pictures on their website.

olive tree destruction is a particularly insidious form of economic terrorism. these trees are the only means of livelihood for many palestinian farmers, and they take years to mature to the point that they can produce fruit. a destroyed tree is a difficult thing to replace.

besides being insidious from this perspective, and besides being at the moral level of a kristallnacht window-smashing, it's also particularly insidious from the standpoint of jewish halakha. the destruction of fruit trees during sieges is proscribed outright in the torah. deuteronomy 20:19 states:

When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees of the field people, that you should besiege them?

the last line - in hebrew: ki ha'adam etz ha-sadeh - is well-known. the religious colonists of zufin who destroyed the trees certainly know the laws, as surely as they know that they can get away with these crimes.

when they showed up at 8 am, the villagers called for help, but you know how these things go. take it away, flava...

Now I dialed 911 a long time ago
Don't you see how late they're reactin'
They only come and they come when they wanna
So get the morgue embalm the goner...

You better wake up and smell the real flavor
Cause 911 is a fake life saver

So get up, get, get get down
911 is a joke in yo town
Get up, get, get, get down
Late 911 wears the late crown

the army showed up IN THE AFTERNOON!

how did the colonists manage to destroy 117 trees? they came WITH A BULLDOZER!

if palestinians try to get rifles to defend themselves, they're terrorists, and this justifies driving tanks through, and firing missiles at, residential neighborhoods. if illegal colonists wreak havoc with a bulldozer, they get half a day to play, then the army shows up to send them home. if the israeli government applied proportionately the standards to illegal settlers that it applies to the palestinians that it is required to protect, it would be dropping ten megaton bombs on the colonies.


the onion on the administration's exploitation of the armed forces

"Man, all the troops do these days is bitch, bitch, die unnecessarily, and bitch."


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

"worms" is a new one

via angry white kid: a likud leader has managed to come up with a new dehumanizing slur against arabs:

An Israeli Knesset member from Prime. Minister Ariel Sharon's ruling Likud party has described all Arabs as worms in a parliamentary debate.

Yehiel Hazan, parliamentary leader of the biggest lobby group for Jewish colonists illegally settling in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, said on Monday:

"The Arabs are worms. You find them everywhere like worms, underground as well as above."

"worms" joins "crocodiles", "drugged cockroaches", "snakes", "dogs", "grasshoppers", and "beasts walking on two legs" on the colorful list of dehumanizing zoological slurs applied by the nazi, er israeli, leadership to arabs and palestinians. note that these are not from street hooligans but from the people at the top: barak, begin, raful eitan, and so on.

one wonders whether a similar list could be compiled of zoological slurs against jews from hitler, himmler, and the like, or from arab leaders like arafat, nasser etc. if so, it would make a fun quiz where you have to guess who used the slur against whom.

speaking of quizzes, i once created a quiz called "spot the zionist" where i interspersed anti-jewish quotes from zionists like herzl and pat robertson with anti-jewish quotes from anti-zionists like zundel. i tested it mostly on educated jewish people familiar with the israel-palestine conflict, and they didn't do much better than chance on identifying the zionists. if i find it i'll post it.


prelude to an academic boycott of israel

from a forthcoming WRMEA article.
London Conference, a Prelude to Academic Boycott of Israel

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
Jan/Feb 2005
By Paul de Rooij

On Dec. 5, some 270 academics from around the world convened in London to discuss the implementation of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions and the severing of cultural links with Israel. The aim of the conference was to refine the arguments, clarify the rationale, and determine how to act next. Participants considered it an important step toward convincing large numbers of academics to heed a call for an academic boycott.

Support for the boycott is motivated by the terrible conditions created by the Israeli occupation and continued dispossession of the Palestinians. Furthermore, the failure of governments to effectively pressure Israel so that it will comply with international law means that it is up to civil society to act. As Lawrence Davidson, a professor of history in the U.S., stated: “Governments in the West, left to themselves, do not have the will to sanction Israel for its illegal occupation of the occupied territories and its violent destruction of Palestinian society. Therefore, an international grass roots movement must be organized to educate significant parts of the Western populations on the nature of Israeli behavior, and simultaneously build pressure on Israel to change its ways, and governments to act to encourage this change.” Boycotts, a quintessential nonviolent form of protest, are seen as a key tactic to force Israel to end the occupation and in general obtain a modicum of justice. Academics in particular see the boycott of Israeli academic institutions as a way they can contribute to this struggle.

Israeli professor of history Ilan Pappe called on his academic colleagues to “boycott us.” This may seem an odd recommendation coming from an Israeli scholar—indeed, someone likened Pappe’s call to a “turkey voting for Christmas”! Pappe explained his action, however, by arguing that change will not come from within, that external pressure is essential for Israel to change. Although Israeli academics may be more liberal than the population at large, Pappe didn’t believe that demand for change would come from this quarter. If Israeli academics actively were working for change, he explained, then the boycott might be seen as counterproductive. It was clear from several presentations, however, that Israeli academic institutions are part of the problem. Support for the boycott also came from a handful of academics in Israel, some Israeli academics working abroad, and a significant number of Jewish academics.


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

twenty questions with a "terrorist"

this interview comes via a friend doing international solidarity work in palestine during the olive harvest - jazzman

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB) is an armed Palestinian resistance movement on several lists of “terrorist” organizations. In 2002 Al-Aqsa was officially added to the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations. On Nov 29 2004 the author –while in the West Bank as a human rights activist- was granted an interview with a leader and spokesperson for the Brigade in the Nablus region, a centre of resistance to the Israeli occupation. The subject of the interview (referred to only as AA here) said that he was born in a local refugee camp, and, with his weapon at his side and a translator, agreed to answer any questions. What followed was a revealing discussion that may call a few stereotypes into question.

TF: How old are you?

AA: 28 years old

TF: How long have you been a resistance fighter?

AA: Four years with the AAMB.

TF: How did you become involved?

AA: Four years ago each of the resistance groups started new brigades. We demonstrated after Sharon entered the mosque. The Israelis tried to assassinate many brigade leaders and this is when the resistance grew. Each time there is an operation we try to stop them. Israelis call civilians “resistance fighters” and the media does not show any invasion or incursion unless Palestinians attack Israelis. We are a peaceful people. We don’t want Israel on our land. We want peace with all countries.

TF: What are your thoughts on President Bush’s election victory?

AA: There are no problems between the American and Palestinian people, but Bush’s decisions to support Israel gives Sharon a license and a green light to attack Palestinians. The problems are with the president and the government, not the American people.

TF: Have you had your picture taken for your martyr poster?

AA: Yes, in 2002 I had it done after an attempt on my life. We believe in God. God gives life and God takes it away. We have nothing to lose. I have brothers both martyred and in jail. Being a martyr for the cause of the Palestinian people is a good thing.

TF: Are you currently wanted by the Israeli army?

AA: Yes.

TF: How do you feel about international activists? Are they effective in supporting the Palestinian people?

AA: Internationals are welcome anytime. We love the people’s support. Even though you are not an army, you still help in your solidarity. Sometimes internationals are standing near the army jeeps so we don’t shoot. Internationals help protect the citizens, but the Israeli army doesn’t care…look what happened to Rachel Corrie.

TF: Many suicide bombers have come from this region. How do you feel about this?

AA: We have no other way to fight. It’s the only weapon we have.

TF: How is it decided who will become a suicide bomber?

AA: Those who do it believe and trust God. No one is told to do it. No one has told me to do it.

TF: In the last few years there have been several women taking up the cause as suicide bombers, one from a nearby refugee camp. How do you feel about this?

AA: I personally don’t agree with it, but a woman who chooses to be involved in an “operation” is showing that she is equal with the men in the struggle.

TF: Why is the Nablus area such a place of resistance to the occupation?

AA: There are four refugee camps full of people wanting to go back to their land. All the leaders of the brigades are from the camps. The Israeli army is killing children and women so we’ll fight until the end. (AA then spoke of the number of people killed during the intifada and the high percentage of these coming from the camps).

TF: What are your thoughts on the upcoming election for Palestinian leadership? Do you support a certain candidate?

AA: The AAMB have decided to support the candidate that the person on the street supports. Anyone who gets the vote of the people we will respect.

TF: What do you do to relax?

AA: I watch Al Jazeera, look at the internet, meet with friends, but I have no peace or safety until the occupation ends.

TF: If there were to be peace, an end to the occupation, what would you do then?

AA: I would join the police. I had a good job before the intifada. I have a wife, children, I want to live in peace.

TF: Do you worry about your personal safety and your family’s safety?

AA: Yes. I can only be in the camps and the Old City. Sometimes I sleep in other places. It (an attack) could happen to any family here, not only mine.

TF: Are you ever afraid?

AA: We are always looking to see if there are strange faces. If there are, we will check. My brother and friends help with this.

TF: Is there a message you would like to get out to North America?

AA: My message is…stand near us. We are not terrorists. We need a homeland, a government, safety. All our fighting is small operation compared to Israel. We have bullets, but Israel has tanks, Apache helicopters, chemical weapons, thousands of soldiers. Please support the Palestinian cause. Our situation is unfair. God will help you.

TF: Do you hate the Jewish people because of the occupation?

AA: We have nothing against the Jews. We don’t want Israel’s occupation. We want a homeland. This is not about race. We do not want to kill Jews, just an end to the occupation.

(The final 2 questions were asked lightheartedly, ending the interview)

TF: Why do you wear black? Don’t you think you’d look better in brighter colors?

AA: Laughter.

TF: What is your favorite food?

AA: Chicken. When you come back we will sit right here in my home and eat together. But if I don’t survive until then, please forgive me. I apologize.

Thomas Feakins is a Canadian social worker and activist recently returned from the West Bank.


Monday, December 13, 2004

the war prayer

thanks, lawrence of cyberia.

O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

- The War Prayer; Mark Twain


gaza explosion

from justin podur's blog.


Sunday, December 12, 2004

eqbal ahmad on the strategy for liberating palestine

in this passage, from the book "confronting empire: interviews with david barsamian" (2000, based on an interview conducted in 1996), eqbal describes a keynote address he gave at a conference organized by arab americans in 1968 on the topic of palestine liberation.

"eqbal: i argued that armed struggle was supremely unsuited to the palestinian condition, that it was a mistake to put so much emphasis on it. i argued that armed struggle is less about arms and more about organization, that a successful armed struggle proceeds to out-administer the adversary and not to out-fight him. and that the task of out-administration occurs when you identify the primary contradiction of your adversary and expose that contradiction not only to yourselves, which you don't need to do so much, but to the world at large, and more important, to the people of the adversarial country itself.

i argued that israel's fundamental contradiction was that it was founded as a symbol of the suffering of humanity... at the expense of another people who were innocent of guilt. it's this contradiction that you have to bring out. and you don't bring it out by armed struggle. in fact, you suppress this contradiction by armed struggle. the israeli zionist organizations continue to portray the jews as victims of arab violence.

barsamian: i'm interested that this was what you wanted to project in this conference, coming off your first-hand experience in algeria where one million algerians were killed in a revolutionary struggle.

eqbal: yes, but precisely because of that. if i hadn't gone through the algerian experience, i wouldn't have reached this conclusion. after seeing what i saw in algeria, i couldn't romanticize armed struggle. the costs to the people of algeria were very high. OK, they agreed to pay the cost, but it was high. also, i knew what many people would not recognize even today, which is that the algerians lost the war militarily, but won it politically. they were successful in isolating france morally. so the primary task of revolutionary struggle is to achieve the moral isolation of the adversary in its own eyes and in the eyes of the world...

for example, in 1968 i said, "this is a moment to fit ships in cyprus, fit boats in lebanon and say, 'we're not going to destroy israel. that is not our intent. we just want to go home.' reverse the symbols of the exodus. see if the israelis are in the mood to sink some ships. they probably will. let them do so. some of us will die. let us die."...

barsamian: to further pursue the argument that you were making at the 1968 conference to arab americans, liberation struggles need to morally isolate the adversary. i'll give you that, with a qualification: it has to be an adversary that subscribes, at least on a rhetorical level, to liberal democratic traditions.

eqbal: obviously, you couldn't morally isolate the regimes of hitler or stalin. a strategy of moral isolation assumes that the adversary has based its own legitimacy on moral grounds. gandhi understood this rather well with regard to british colonialism, which justified itself on liberal principles and was violating them. he stood british imperialism upside down on its head.

at the risk of offending some people, between 1967 and now, israeli society has in some way worsened. likud, a right-wing party that has fewer moral compunctions, has now become the major party and has organized a large right-wing constituency such as... the gush emunim and other settler movements. they are much less susceptible to moral arguments. centrist zionism's primary contradiction was its principles of legitimacy were moral and its practices were immoral. and it is that which had to be fully used. opportunities were lost in the 1970's, once the PLO had become a quasi-state in lebanon. an opportunity has returned now, but there are no takers... if yasir arafat would take on the role of a gandhi or a martin luther king and announce tomorrow, "i must stop these settlements. they violate the spirit of oslo. we are committed to peace. you are making war. we do not want to use violence against you. peacefully we will march against you. we will sit in. we will clog the roads, start a full-scale movement, and discipline the palestinians not even to throw stones, intifada-style, because israelis will use and justify bullets against stones. they will use soldiers against children. don't even give them that." israel will divide. it will divide as a society the way america divided. i would keep it divided until it makes peace.

my argument about what the palestinian struggle should be about has returned again. but if you don't have a leadership, then what do you do?"


the modern day maccabees

here's a thought that occurred to me a few years ago, and which i've never seen expressed in public.

take the maccabees. this time of year, jews celebrate their exploits. in some ways, they're considered the archetypal jewish warriors. they are lionized among the zionized. last time i was on an organized tour of israel, tales of the maccabees' military exploits were some of the biggest highlights of the trips. our tour guide would draw the connections between the battles of the maccabees and other historical battles in the land, from the days of joshua to the israeli occupation forces in modern times. the IOF are supposed to be the maccabees of today, combining bravery, fierce loyalty to the jewish people, and brilliant military tactics to secure smashing victories against the enemies.

but of course, the IOF are not the maccabees of today. the maccabees were not the army of a state, but an informal guerilla grouping of jews living under greek occupation, who succeeded in kicking the occupier out of their country. the IOF, of course, is a proper state army whose main function is to enforce an occupation. the two could hardly be more opposite.

the present-day analogue of the maccabees is hamas: an informal guerilla army, militant and strongly rooted in the community, bravely - and brutally - resisting an occupation by any and all means. like the maccabees, hamas is a religious fundamentalist organization seeking to impose religious rule once it gains power.

there are, of course, differences: the maccabees were overzealous in their battle against assimilation, often killing assimilated jews. hamas does nothing of the kind, and has a declared policy of tolerance towards all palestinians and a policy of cooperating with other militant palestinian organizations. similarly, hamas has shown itself willing to make pragmatic concessions short of its maximalist demand of an islamic palestine - in particular, it has indicated that it would support the two state solution that the whole world except israel and the US supports. one cannot imagine the maccabees making such compromises.

but still, hamas remains the closest analogue to the celebrated maccabees. i would be interested in seeing the reactions of people to this analysis. not just of the right wing zionists who lionize the maccabees while despising hamas, but of anyone who dismisses hamas as just an extremist terrorist organization, without recognizing its value.

and no, i'm not suggesting that we set up an eight day long holiday to celebrate hamas.


a response to dennis ross

i wrote the response below to an essay by dennis ross posted at

but first, a bit of explanation: usually when people talk about "israel's generous offer", they mean israel's position at the camp david negotiations of july 2000. anyone at a minimal level of literacy who has researched the question for five minutes knows that calling israel's ultimatum at camp david "generous" is bullshit. dennis ross is too sophisticated to use that line, but would still like to blame arafat for the failure of negotiations. his dilemma is that the vast majority of peace plans along the international consensus of the two-state solution were received well by the palestinians and either forcefully rejected or else ignored outright by israel (see chomsky's the fateful triangle). there are no cases that i know of in which the palestinians refused to consider a solution in accordance with security council resolution 242 and a palestinian state. so in order to blame the palestinians, ross relies on the clinton plan of late december 2000, after palestinian patience with israel's intransigence ended and they resumed armed resistance to the occupation, and israel responded with massive violence against civilians. that offer was not rejected by arafat but rather accepted as a basis for negotiations - negotiations that barak played along with but did not take seriously (see tanya reinhart's book), and eventually called off. the fact that arafat didn't accept the offer outright is viewed as evidence of his intransigence and duplicity, and is the key to blaming the palestinians for the lack of a diplomatic resolution to the conflict.

here's my response to the essay:

the fact that dennis ross, a former AIPACer, acknowledges that israel's "generous offer" at camp david is nonsense should settle the matter once and for all.

ross's entire case against arafat, judging by the essay above, reduces to this: arafat accepted the clinton plan as a basis for negotiations, rather than accepting it outright. this "rejection" is the reason there's no peace. not the dozen peace plans that the palestinians accepted and israel rejected, not barak's breaking off the taba negotiations over the clinton plan, not israel launching an all-out war on the palestinian population.

to the dennis rosses of the world, palestinians must accept every offer that they're given, without the opportunity to negotiate, and without any consideration of the context: decades of israeli rejection on the diplomatic front, and brutality and war crimes on the military front. could it be that palestinians were too upset at israel's unwillingness to live up to its obligations under oslo, too mad about the hundreds of palestinians murdered and thousands maimed between october and december 2000 to be willing to accept the generous concessions that the clinton plan expected them to make, including the surrender of individual and collective rights?

ross's essay is a contribution to the anti-palestinian propaganda that is used to secure acquiescence to israel's enormous crimes. it is not a contribution to peace-making.


poetry time

primo levi

You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:

Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes or a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter.

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,
Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.


Saturday, December 11, 2004

stealing from charity

a large US charity, the holy land foundation, is among four defendants in an antiterrorism case that were forced to pay over $150 million to the family of an american-israeli colonist who was killed by hamas in the occupied territories. the lawsuit is based on allegations, which HLF officials have denied, that the HLF has given money to hamas. similar allegations led the US government to freeze the HLF's assets in 2001, though no evidence of the HLF-hamas link was presented.

the jury bought the line that the HLF and other US organizations like the islamic association for palestine have supported hamas, apparently on the basis of claims made by steven emerson, a self-proclaimed expert on terrorism who is most famous for being spectacularly wrong about the oklahoma city bombing. this guy is often taken seriously by the selectively gullible corporate media, but intelligence officials with expertise in terrorism tend to dismiss him.

the suit was brought under the antiterrorism act of 1990. but don't fret, supporters of terrorism! your donations to the israeli army and israeli settlements are still tax-deductible.


democracy now interview with noam chomsky + one state blog

1. amy goodman of democracy now interviewed noam chomsky a few days ago. most of the interview is about zionism and israel in the early days.

2. thanks to marc from jews sans frontieres, i found this blog that's for the one state solution. haven't had the chance to do much reading, but anyone who's into natacha atlas and primo levi has got to be pretty cool.


let me make one thing perfectly clear

the following two people are not the same:

This is abbas, head of the PLO, posing next to a building that he wants to give to israel. Posted by Hello


this is abbath, a freak from the band immortal.



marwan's demands from fatah

marwan barghouti has offered to withdraw from the race for president of the palestinian authority if the fatah restores itself as an organization of resistance.

the following are the specific demands that barghouti reportedly made in a letter to mahmoud abbas, according to arabs48.
1. The Political Platform of Fateh must include a reference to "resistance to the occupation in accordance with international legality."
2. The future of the Palestinian people must not be confined to the results of the negotiations process, and that the Intifada must be considered as a national independence movement.
3. Abbas' political platform or statement must specifically include detailed references to the Palestinian Fundamentals, which must be named. The statement/platform must also specify explicitly that at the top of those Fundamentals is the Right of Return in accordance to international legality and must specify Jerusalem as the capital of the independent Palestinian state.
4. Abu Mazin and the PLO must reject any partial or intermediate agreements with the occupation and must reject the postponement of the national issues for later stages of negotiations (i.e. refugees' return and Jerusalem and the borders of the Palestinian state, the so called final-stage issues).
5. Specifying a detailed schedule for the release of all prisoners.
6. Israel must stop its policy of assassination and the targeting of "wanted" activists.
7. Israel must nullify its "wanted for security reasons" list, must stop pursuing them, and must permit the return of the fighters who were sent to exile as part of the 2002 Church of the Nativity deal .
8. The reorganizing of the PLO on sound bases, including a commitment to the program of resistance.
9. Rebuilding Fateh on the bases of continued resistance to occupation, the convening of Fateh's national congress, which must include Fateh's members both inside and outside Palestine, and clearly defining the duties and rights of Fateh's members.


massad on anti-semitism

joseph massad, who teaches middle eastern studies at columbia university, has written an excellent article about zionism, anti-semitism and holocaust denial in al-ahram weekly (probably the best weekly newspaper out of the arab world - the equivalent to le monde diplomatique).

massad is best known for being witch-hunted as part of efforts by campus watch and allied organizations to smear, intimidate and attack academics and programs that promote serious academic analysis of the middle east. if you want to know why massad is the chosen target, read the article: it's a sharp analysis which argues that anti-semitism is the wrong concept for understanding jew-hatred in the arab world, that it might be a useful concept for understanding arab- and muslim-hatred in the west, and that holocaust-denial in the arab world is a result of accepting the logic of zionism.


Wednesday, December 08, 2004

israel is interfering in palestinian elections

news stories and analysis related to the palestinian elections:

1. according to presidential candidate mustapha barghouti, israel is not allowing candidates freedom of movement. (and that includes those candidates who aren't being illegally held in israeli jails.)

2. from the electronic intifada: marwan barghouti's candidacy is good for democracy.


Monday, December 06, 2004

israel wants international funding for apartheid upgrade

from the guardian:

Israel has released plans for the upgrade of roads and construction of 16 tunnels which would create an 'apartheid' road network for Palestinians in the West Bank.


Eiland (israeli official - j.) asked for an estimated £110 million, which would come from taxpayers in Europe, the US and Japan. The international community unanimously rejected the request, stating they could not finance a project not supported by the Palestinian Authority.


Sunday, December 05, 2004

the real jazzman

for those of you who are unaware, i post anonymously, mostly out of respect for my parents, who are hardcore right-wingers. they know my politics, but they would be mortified if any of their friends saw my name attached to these posts.

i chose "jazzman" because jazz is an acronym for Jews Against Zionism and Zoophilia. (that's right - i'm against zoophilia too. deal with it.) i'm not a jazz artist or a fan - in fact, i like jazz much less than any respectable, social-climbing middle class graduate student ought to.

today, we feature a real jewish anti-zionist jazzman - gilad atzmon. a professional jazz musician, he's much more critical of israel than i am, to the point that israel bans his records. though he grew up in israel, he identifies as a "hebrew-speaking palestinian" rather than israeli.

something in the falafel?
an inside source tells me that atzmon went to the same little high school in jerusalem that produced several other well known critics of israel, like linguist danny fox and film theorist dorit naaman.


mustapha barghouti

among the candidates for leader of the palestinian authority is dr. mustapha barghouti. he isn't getting much press compared with the likes of abu mazen and mustapha's distant cousin marwan barghouti, but he has attracted attention from progressives. for example, he's been endorsed by najla said, daughter of the late edward said, who had worked together with barghouti to found the palestinian national initiative. najla, who by the way was smashing in reorientalism, writes:

as you all know, yasir arafat has died. and there will be elections in palestine to elect a successor to his presidential office. in the US media we hear only about abu mazen (mahmoud abbas--the guy arafat appointed) and marwan barghouti (the guy in jail), but there is another man running for president, and i and my family endorse his campaign 100%

his name is MUSTAPHA BARGHOUTI (not related to MARWAN--aforementioned guy in jail) and he represents al mubadara, the palestinian national intitiative, a DEMOCRATIC party in palestine whose advocates and members are intelligent, educated, equality-endorsing NON VIOLENT advocates of the rights of palestinians and ALL HUMAN BEINGS, who should, as we as americans know, be EQUAL under every law.

my father was one of the founders of this initiative with mustapha, as was haider abdel shafi. i will not say more but send you pleadingly to their website:

just read. and learn and spread the word. we need palestinians BEHIND THIS PARTY and we need everyone else to help spread the word about its existence.

i saw dr. barghouti give a talk a year ago, and was very impressed. without downplaying the bleakness of the current situation, he offered a vision of hope. the palestinian national initiative, like the alternative palestinian agenda, is the kind of movement - democratic, nonviolent and progressive - that critics of the palestinians say they would like to see and then ignore the existence of.


Thursday, December 02, 2004

sad anniversary

whenever i go off the topic of israel and palestine, i feel like starting off with an apology for digressing.

but you know what? i don't think i need to. let's take seriously martin luther king's principle:

an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

a corrollary of this principle is:

if we are concerned about injustice anywhere, we must be concerned about injustice everywhere.

it follows that if we are concerned about justice in palestine, then we must be concerned about justice in other places too. QED.

and besides, as the northland poster collective t-shirt for kids says: an owie to one is an owie to all.

today's sad anniversary: twenty years ago, on the night of december 2-3, 1984, was the union carbide chemical leak in bhopal, india. we all know about the chernobyl nuclear disaster that killed 30 people immediately, and up to 2500 eventually. fewer of us know about the bhopal tragedy, where negligence on the part of the american corporation union carbide, now owned by dow chemical, caused the immediate death of 7,000 people and the eventual death of more than 20,000. the survivors, victims and their families are still waiting for justice and looking for solidarity.


destroying jewish historical sites

zionist propagandists will assert israel's superiority over arabs based on treatment of holy sites: when jordan occupied the old city of jerusalem, they'll say, it kept it off limits to jews, while israel respects muslim and christian holy sites.

a thoughtful person would respond: "duh! the jews under consideration lived in israel, a country hostile to jordan, which attacked the jordanian forces in 1948, and which conducted terror raids in the occupied jordanian territories in the fifties and sixties. of course jordan would not unilaterally allow foreign citizens to enter the old city, holy sites or no holy sites."

an informed person would add: "israel's treatment of religious holy sites is possibly the worst in the world. it did to mosques and churches what it did to the villages containing them - razed them to the ground."

but today's topic is jewish historical sites, not muslim and christian holy sites.

crazy ol' rabbi arthur waskow of the shalom center points out that the palestinian town of anata is the biblical anatot, birthplace of the prophet jeremiah. you'll remember that jeremiah was the bible's fiercest critic of the wrongdoing and godlessness practiced by the ancient jews. the modern state of israel has being demolishing homes in jeremiah's birthplace.

and second, the city of falluja, which US forces have been committing war crimes in, turns out to be none other than the old jewish center of pumbedita. the place is mentioned often in the talmud, and was one of the great centers of jewish learning back in the day. talmudists from sura and naharda used to joke that the scholars from pumbedita would try, rhetoric-wise, to pass camels through the eyes of needles. of course, that's the pot calling the kettle black, the bush calling the bin laden a terrorist. let's remember the words of that old rabbinic scholar, jesus of nazareth, who said that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to pass through the gates of heaven, and assume that in its modern interpretation, it applies to warmongering heads of state.


jews for yesha; or: yesha li eretz acheret

and now for something completely different...

a festive rendition of the internationale, in japanese.
(thanks, yoshie!)

okay, so today's featured link is to mo'etzet yesha, the council for the jewish colonies in the occupied palestinian territories.

settlers/colonists don't refer to these territories as "the occupied territories", for obvious reasons. nor do we call them "the west bank and gaza strip". we call them "yesha", which is an acronym for yehuda, shomron and 'aza - judea, samaria and gaza: biblical names with ideological resonance.

"yesha" is also a play on the hebrew word for "salvation" - right wing israelis promote the line that the colonists are the salvation of israel. but it's also very close to "yeshu", which is "jesus" in hebrew, hence the pun in the first part of the title of this entry.

the second pun is much more complicated to explain to non-israelis. there's a famous israeli song called "eyn li eretz acheret", meaning "i have no other country". it's sung by corinne allal, a left-leaning tunisian-israeli lesbian, who happens to be my favorite israeli singer. the song's title is patriotic, and indeed the song starts off on a patriotic note, with the title line, and the line "here is my home". the brain-dead fascist crowd in israel therefore interprets the song as a jingoistic anthem, even singing it at their rallies. this is much the same way as ronald reagan thought that bruce springsteen's "born in the USA" reflected his brand of chauvinism. and the right-wing israelis are just as heads-up-their-asses wrong as reagan was: the song's style is just about the opposite of triumphant - it's slow, rueful, melodic, and has virtually no instrumentation. and after the beginning, the lyrics become extremely critical, and the singer pledges not to be silent until her country opens its eyes. powerful stuff.

anyway, replacing "eyn" with "yesh" would change the song title to mean "i have another country", and changing it to "yesha" keeps it suggestive by similarity of sound, but also changes the meaning to "judea, samaria and gaza are a different country for me".

if you read all that and get it, good for you.


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

why zionists love mahmoud abbas

last year, the US and israel forced yasser arafat to relinquish his presidency, and replaced him with mahmoud abbas, aka abu mazen, aka the palestinian william henry harrison.

at first look it might seem undemocratic for two occupying countries to demand the removal of a popularly elected president of the country they're occupying, in favor of a guy who's as popular in his country as alan keyes is in illinois. but you're forgetting that the united states is the beacon of democracy, and israel is by definition the only democracy in the middle east. therefore, even if palestinians democratically elect a leader, their choice can be overruled by a country that assigns citizenship and votes on the basis of race. that's just how democracy works.

anyway, what israel couldn't do through its "democratic practices" - an abbas presidency lasting more than a couple of heartbeats - it has done by assassinating arafat. abbas has won the support of the fatah leadership - an indication of just how far the once-militant organization has plummeted - and has become the leader of the PLO, which means he'll probably become the leader of palestine. the US and israel will love it - not because he's against violence, but because he possesses the demostrated willingness to sell his people out, as the article below discusses, and as tanya reinhart analyzes in her great little book "israel/palestine: how to end the war of 1948". personally, i'm rooting for a different candidate who's against violence, but is not a sellout: mustapha barghouti. more about him in a different entry.


Israel's goal is not to achieve calm for the purpose of negotiating a total, orderly withdrawal from the occupied territories in the context of a peace deal. Israel wants to end Palestinian resistance in order to remove any obstacle to implementing its expansionist programme in all of Palestine. This would certainly thrill Israel, but it will not lead to peace and security, nor will it gain the Palestinians anything.
read hasan abu nimah's full article here.


come and see the blood in the streets

i've been soooo busy, that i haven't had time to finish my response to mitchell bard's myth #1, which i promised yesterday. fortunately, i don't have many readers yet, so the cumulative heartbreak is, i presume, limited. in the meantime, here's a poem that i learned today.

I'm Explaining a Few Things
Pablo Neruda

You are going to ask: and where are the lilacs?
and the poppy-petalled metaphysics?
and the rain repeatedly spattering
its words and drilling them full
of apertures and birds?
I'll tell you all the news.

I lived in a suburb,
a suburb of Madrid, with bells,
and clocks, and trees.

From there you could look out
over Castille's dry face:
a leather ocean.
My house was called
the house of flowers, because in every cranny
geraniums burst: it was
a good-looking house
with its dogs and children.
Remember, Raul?
Eh, Rafel? Federico, do you remember
from under the ground
my balconies on which
the light of June drowned flowers in your mouth?
Brother, my brother!
loud with big voices, the salt of merchandises,
pile-ups of palpitating bread,
the stalls of my suburb of Arguelles with its statue
like a drained inkwell in a swirl of hake:
oil flowed into spoons,
a deep baying
of feet and hands swelled in the streets,
metres, litres, the sharp
measure of life,
stacked-up fish,
the texture of roofs with a cold sun in which
the weather vane falters,
the fine, frenzied ivory of potatoes,
wave on wave of tomatoes rolling down the sea.

And one morning all that was burning,
one morning the bonfires
leapt out of the earth
devouring human beings --
and from then on fire,
gunpowder from then on,
and from then on blood.
Bandits with planes and Moors,
bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
bandits with black friars spattering blessings
came through the sky to kill children
and the blood of children ran through the streets
without fuss, like children's blood.

Jackals that the jackals would despise,
stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,
vipers that the vipers would abominate!

Face to face with you I have seen the blood
of Spain tower like a tide
to drown you in one wave
of pride and knives!

see my dead house,
look at broken Spain :
from every house burning metal flows
instead of flowers,
from every socket of Spain
Spain emerges
and from every dead child a rifle with eyes,
and from every crime bullets are born
which will one day find
the bull's eye of your hearts.

And you'll ask: why doesn't his poetry
speak of dreams and leaves
and the great volcanoes of his native land?

Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
The blood in the streets.
Come and see the blood
In the streets!


Yesh Gvul
Courage To Refuse
Free The Five
New Profile
Refuser Solidarity Network