Saturday, November 28, 2009

Letter of Resignation from the Jewish People

By Bertell Ollman

"Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe".
Elie Wiesel
(Acceptance Speech, Nobel Prize for Peace, Dec. 10, 1986)

Did you ever wonder what your last thought would be just before you died or believed you might die? Well, I did, and a few years ago in the waning moments before going under the knife for a life threatening operation I got my answer. As the nurses wheeled me into the operating room, what burst upon my consciousness was not, as might be expected, the fear of dying but a terrible angst at the idea of dying a Jew. I was appalled to finish my life with my umbilical cord still tied to a people with whom I can no longer identify. That this should be my "last" thought greatly surprised me at the time, and it still does.

What did it mean... and why is it so hard to resign from a people? I was born in Milwaukee to Russian Jewish parents, who never went to synagogue or kept kosher, but often spoke Yiddish at home and considered themselves Jews. I went to Hebrew School for four years and had a Bar Mitzvah. With this background, I held some vaguely Jewish religious beliefs until my late teens when I became an atheist. I still identified myself as a Jew but in a sense that became increasingly hard to define. Some of my friends had become Zionists, and—though I briefly played basketball for a Zionist youth club—they made no headway in converting me to their cause, chiefly—I think—because its main plank seemed to call for moving to Israel. Yet, what I learned in these years about the Holocaust and the plight of Jews around the world was enough to make me sympathetic to the idea of a Jewish homeland, assuming—I always added—some kind of arrangement could be made with the Palestinians who already lived there.

It was in college—the University of Wisconsin in the mid-l950s—that I became a socialist and an internationalist. Milwaukee, at least my Milwaukee, had been very provincial, and I rejoiced in the opportunities Madison offered for meeting people from all over the world. I think I joined every foreign student organization in my first year there, and not a few of the progressive political clubs. It was also there that I heard a lot more about Israel/Palestine, except now I was learning about it not as a Jew from Milwaukee but as an internationalist, a member of the human community to which Jews and Arabs belonged as equals.

In the following years, as the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians deteriorated from bad to worse and then to much worse, two surprising developments—surprising at least to me—began to unfold. I found myself, despite my best efforts to be fair to both sides, becoming increasingly anti-Israel, while most American Jews, including some Jewish friends who never considered themselves Zionists, became enthusiastic supporters of the Israeli cause. Already in the 1980s, with the first intifada, Israel's oppression and humiliation of the Palestinians got so bad that I winced at the thought of belonging to the same people as those who could commit such crimes or, in the case of most American Jews, so easily rationalize them away. Now things have reached a point that I want out. The problem is how to do it. One can quit a club, a religion (one can convert), a country (one can take out another citizenship and go live elsewhere), and even a gender (given current medical science), but how do you resign from a people into which you were born? Repulsed by the actions of their Church, some French Catholics are said to have written a letter to the Pope asking for a de-baptismal certificate. A precedent? But who would I write to? And what would I ask for? Well, I have decided to write to Tikkun and to ask for nothing other than a hearing.

From what I've said so far, it would be easy for some to dismiss me as a self-hating Jew, but that would be a mistake. If anything, I am a self-loving Jew, but the Jew I love in me is the Diaspora Jew, the Jew that was blessed for 2,000 years by having no country to call his/her own. That this was accompanied by many cruel disadvantages is well known, but it had one crowning advantage that towered over all the rest. By being an outsider in every country and belonging to the family of outsiders throughout the world, Jews on the whole suffered less from the small-minded prejudices that disfigure all forms of nationalism. If you couldn't be a full and equal citizen of the country in which you lived, you could be a citizen of the world, or at least begin to think of yourself as such even before the concepts existed that would help to clarify what this meant. I'm not saying that this is how most Diaspora Jews actually thought, but some did—Spinoza, Marx, Freud, and Einstein being among the best known—and the opportunity as well as the inclination for others to do so came from the very rejection they all experienced in the countries in which they lived. Even the widespread treatment of Jews as somehow less than human provoked a universalist response. As children of the same God, Jews argued, when this was permitted or just quietly reflected when it wasn't, that they shared a common humanity with their oppressors and that this should take precedence over everything else. The anti-Semitic charge, then, that Jews have always and everywhere been cosmopolitan and insufficiently patriotic had at least this much truth to it.

Not many Jews today, of course, take this position. In a 1990 interview, Britain's most famous intellectual and Zionist, Isaiah Berlin, recounted a conversation he had with the French philosopher, Alexander Kojeve, who is reported as saying, "You're a Jew. The Jewish people probably have the most interesting history of any people that ever lived. And now you want to be Albania?" Berlin's reply was, "Yes, we do. For our purposes, for Jews, Albania is a step forward."1 This was a surprising answer from a culturally sophisticated liberal, an atheist, someone who claimed never to have experienced any anti-Semitism in England, and who wrote extensively about nationalism and its perils. What overrode all such considerations for Berlin was the human need to belong, which he understood as belonging not just to a group but to a particular place. Without their own country, Jews had suffered all manner of oppression as well as the pervasive longing that accompanies any extended exile. Berlin was fond of repeating that all he wanted for Jews is that they be allowed to be a "normal people"—with a homeland—just like the others. Yes, just like the Albanians.

The two questions that remain to be asked, however, are—l) whether the natural drive to belong to something, that served Berlin as his main premise, could be satisfied by something other than a national state, and 2) whether in becoming like Albania (even Greater Albania) Jews have been forced to give up something that was even more valuable in the Judaism of the diaspora. If it is true—and I am ready to admit it is—that our mental and emotional health requires a strong bond with other people, there is no reason to believe that only national groups which occupy their own land can satisfy this need. There are racial, religious, gender, cultural, political, and class groups without special ties to one country that might do as well. Blacks, Catholics, gays, Free Masons, and class conscious workers are but a few populations that have found ways to satisfy this need to belong without confining themselves to national borders. Membership in our common species offers still another path to this same goal. Given the range of possibilities, which group(s) we "join" or take as our primary identity will depend largely on what is available in the time and place in which we live, how such groups resolve (or promise to resolve) our most pressing problems, and on how we are socialized into viewing these different groups.

As for what was lost in acquiring a homeland, it is important to recognize that Zionism is a form of nationalism like any other, and nationalism—as even sympathetic observers like Albert Einstein were forced to recognize—always has its price. While every Jew knows that Einstein was offered the presidency of the newly independent Jewish state, few understand why he turned it down. In contrast to Berlin, who wanted Jews to become a "normal" people like the others, Einstein wrote, "My awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain—especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks, against which we have already had to fight strongly, even without a Jewish state."2 Who can doubt that Einstein was right to worry?

Like all nationalisms, Zionism is also based on an exaggerated sense of superiority as applied to members of the in-group and a feeling of indifference, bordering on contempt, for members of other groups. Jews entered world history with an extreme act of "chutzpah" (for which a new word had to be invented) in which they posed one just God who created everyone, and then, for reasons best known to him, "chose" the Jews to be his special people (why Christians and Moslems so happily accept their inferior status in this arrangement I'll never understand). But what the Zionists have done is carry this original act of "chutzpah" over to God's commandments. Where Jews once believed they were "chosen" to receive God's laws for all humanity, Zionists seem to believe that they were "chosen" to break them whenever they interfere with the national interest. What room does this leave for a belief in the inherent equality of all human beings?

Admittedly, the ancient Hebrews not only received the Laws from God but also, supposedly, the promise of a particular piece of land. The latter, however, was always linked to the Jews obedience to these laws, of which the most important—given the number of times God refers to it—is the prohibition against idolatry. While the Jews have not built any idols of Jahweh, their record on idolatry—perhaps in part the result of the restraint shown in representing God—has probably been worse than that of their neighbors. For well over 3,000 years, Judaism has fought a largely losing fight against idolatry with the temple in Jerusalem, the scrolls of the Torah and the land of Israel coming to embody and gradually to replace the relations with God and the corresponding ethical precepts that they were supposed to represent. But only in Zionism, the current version of this land idolatry, have these precepts been sacrificed altogether. This modern version of the Golden Calf has saved Moses the trouble of smashing the Ten Commandments by doing it for him. That many of today's Zionists don't believe in the God of their fathers simply makes it easier for them to turn Eretz Israel into a new God. The idolatry stands. Only now God's laws can be written by a committee without sullying their nationalist content with any universalist pretensions. If such extreme nationalism is normal—which makes Spinoza, Marx, Freud and Einstein thoroughly abnormal—then, I guess, Berlin finally got his normal people.

The organic tie that Zionism—as is typical with nationalist movements—takes for granted between its people and their territory is also bathed in the kind of mysticism that renders any rational discussion of their situation impossible. This is as true for religious Zionists who actually believe that God made a real estate deal with their ancestors as it is for secular Zionists who conveniently forget the 2,000 years of the Jewish diaspora in staking their "legal" claim to the land (only to recall the Jews' suffering in the diaspora when the discussion shifts to their moral claim to it). What room does this leave for dealing in a humane and rational way with the problems of life in the 21st century? With both morality and reason tailored to serve tribal needs first...and last, the chamber of horrors that Zionism has constructed for the Palestinian people was only a matter of time in coming. Could this be what the ancient Hebrew prophets had in mind when they predicted that the Jewish people would become "a light onto the nations"? Certainly not, nor was it something that Jews themselves could possibly have imagined during the period of the diaspora, when probably no people attached a greater value to human equality and human reason than the Jews. Einstein could even claim that the most important characteristic of Judaism was its commitment to "the democratic ideal of social justice, coupled with the ideal of mutual aid and tolerance among all men" without anyone laughing at him.3 Now, even God would have to laugh... or cry.

If the diaspora for all its material inadequacies left the Jews, morally speaking, on a kind of pedestal, why did they come down from it? They came down when the pedestal broke. The conditions that underlay Jewish life in the diaspora began to come apart with the progress of capitalism, democracy and the enlightenment long before the Holocaust, which only delivered the final blow. As odd as this may sound for something that lasted almost 2,000 years, Diaspora Judaism was and could only be a period of transition. Emerging out of Biblical Judaism, Diaspora Judaism was constructed from the start on a contradiction between nostalgia for the country that was lost and a forward looking, if often hesitant and partial, commitment to the people and places where Jews came to live. The one looked backward to the tribe and the land they once called their own, and the other looked out upon the whole species and the entire world into which the Jews, more than any other people, had spread. Except, for the longest time, the ties that bound different peoples and places to each other—culturally, religiously, commercially (much of that by Jews)—was loose at best, so that the possibility of taking their new situation to its logical conclusion and declaring themselves citizens of the world is something that most Jews could not even conceive. Still, their attitude toward the rest of humanity, if not yet their actions, made Jews increasingly suspect to the more rooted peoples among whom they lived, who never ceased to condemn Jews for their "cosmopolitanism" (a swear word it seems to virtually everybody but Jews). Then, with the multiple reconfigurations of the globe associated with capitalism, the enlightenment, democracy, and finally socialism, more Jews could recognize that they were indeed citizens of the world and became free to declare so publicly.

But the same social and economic turmoil, with its new opportunities for advancement and—also—frightening rise in anti-Semitism, that led many Jews to exchange their prime identity in the tribe for one in the human species led other Jews to reject their evolving cosmopolitanism in favor of a renewed nationalist project. It is no coincidence that so many Jews became either socialists or Zionists at the end of the l9th and in the early part of the 20th century. Where no change in the condition of the Jewish people had seemed possible earlier, now two alternatives emerged and vied with each other for popular support. The one sought to do away with the oppression of Jews by doing away with all oppressions, and the other sought the same end by removing the Jews to a supposedly safe haven in Palestine. The same processes that gave rise to these two alternatives brought the gradual and then rapid disintegration of Diaspora Judaism. Though most Jews today live outside Israel in what is still called the "diaspora", the great majority belong to either the socialist or, increasingly, Zionist camps (including the weak versions of each) and what remains will probably be drawn into one or the other of these two camps in the near future. Diaspora Judaism, as it existed for almost 2,000 years, has practically ceased to exist. It has divided along the lines of its major contradiction into a socialism that is concerned with the well being of humanity and a nationalism that is only interested in the well being of the Jewish people and their reconquest of Israel. Since Judaism has always tried to synthesize these irreconcilable projects, their definitive separation—forget the artfully packaged nostalgia that finds its way into the media—can be viewed as the end of Judaism itself. Perhaps all there is left are ex-Jews who call themselves socialists or communists and ex-Jews who call themselves Zionists (the secular/religious divide among the latter has little relevance for my purposes).

If neither socialists who reject the nationalist and religious aspects of Diaspora Judaism nor Zionists who reject its universal and humanist dimensions (and often its religious aspects as well) are Jews, then the real debate is over which tradition has retained the best of their common Jewish heritage. Despite their constant chatter about Jews, I would maintain that it is Zionism that has least in common with Judaism. It is not by breaking the limbs of Palestinian youth that the Jewish sages of the past predicted our people would "become a light onto the nations". In Israel today—where tsadik (righteous person) and mensch (decent one) apply only to a few who are spat on by the great majority of the population, and chutzpah has come to mean the defense of the indefensible, there is little to remind us of the moral core of a once noble tradition.

When I was growing up, my Yiddish speaking mother would often try to correct some aberrant behavior on my part by warning that it was a "shandeh fur die goyim" (that I would be shaming not only me and my family but all Jews in front of the gentiles). What I want to cry out loudest in front of all the crimes of Zionism, and all those who try to defend them, is that what they are doing is a shandeh fur die goyim. They themselves, the big cheeses and the small fry, are all a shandeh fur die goyim. (Ma, I remember). Socialist and ex-Jew that I am, I guess I still have too much respect and love for the Jewish tradition I left behind to want the world to view it in the same way as they rightly view and condemn what the ex-Jews who call themselves Zionists are doing in its name. And if changing my status from ex-Jew (current) to non-Jew (projected) stirs even ten good people (God's minyan) into action against the Zionist hijacking of the Jewish label, then this is a sacrifice I am ready to make.

To those who wonder why the resignation of an atheistic communist from the Jewish people might bother some Jews, I would just point out that the greatest sin a Jew can commit—I was taught this from all sides—is to take leave of his people (usually by converting to another faith). A family will often respond by "sitting shivah" over the offending member (treating him or her as dead). The deep shame and anger that many Jews feel when this happens is hard to explain, but it probably has something to do with the intense quality of the social bond that unites all Jews, the result originally, no doubt, of being God's chosen but also of sharing and surviving so many centuries of oppression. While a Christian relates to God as an individual, the Jew's relation to God has always passed through his connection to the chosen people, a people that God also holds collectively responsible for the failures of each of its members. Operating with such an incentive, Jews could never allow themselves the luxury of indifference when it came to the life choices of their co-religionists. With a little Jewish education, this inner connection becomes so ingrained that even some atheist and communist Jews may experience the defection of a Jew from the people as losing a limb from their own body. Certainly, my continuing identification as a Jew, as some kind of a Jew, while lacking any of the attributes of a believer, helps explain why I felt an overpowering need to resign when "Jew" came to mean something I could not accept (or ignore). And the same organic tie may help explain why some Jews, including those of whom I am most critical and who might be expected to rejoice at my resignation, may get so upset by the form that my criticism has taken.

Here I am almost at the end of my letter of resignation and I haven't discussed the Holocaust. For many Zionists that would be enough to reject what I have to say. In my defense, I would like to share a story that Joe Murphy, the former Vice Chancellor of the City University of New York, used to tell about his Jewish mother. "Joe", he has her saying, "there are two kinds of Jews. One kind has reacted to the unspeakable horror of the Holocaust by vowing that they will do anything to make sure it doesn't happen to our people again. While the other kind of Jews took as their lesson from the same terrible event that they must do whatever they can to make sure it doesn't happen again to any people anywhere. Joe", she went on, "I want you to promise me that you will always be the second kind of Jew". He did, and he was.

The first kind of Jew, most of whom are Zionists and therefore in my language really "ex-Jews", have gone so far as to unashamedly transform the Holocaust itself into a club with which to bash any critic who has the temerity to question what they are doing to the Palestinians, supposedly in self-defense. (See Norman Finkelstein's The Holocaust Industry) Any criticism of Zionism, no matter how mild and justified, is equated with anti-Semitism, where anti-Semitism has become a short-hand for people who bear some responsibility for the Holocaust and are really hoping for another one. This is a heavy charge, and it has proved very effective in silencing many potential critics. It is no coincidence, therefore, that the striking revival of media interest in the Holocaust comes at a time when Zionism is in greatest need of such a protective cloak (shroud?). In the process, the worst human rights violation in history is being cynically misused to rationalize one of the worst human rights violations of our time. Joe Murphy's mother would expect the second kind of Jews to be the first to point this out and condemn it.

That leaves the question of safety. Zionists insist that by creating their own state they have improved the safety of Jews not only in Israel but everywhere. Unfortunately, Israel's abominable treatment of the Palestinians together with its "Wieselian" hypocrisy and increasingly arrogant rebuffs to the world community have created more real anti-Semitism not only in the Arab countries but throughout the world than has probably ever existed. At the moment, Zionists feel secure against the inevitable repercussions of their policies by virtue of the shield thrown over them by their American "allies". To the amazement of the entire world, except—it appears—most Americans, Zionism's success in cornering American political support has been nothing less than extraordinary. As far as the conflict in the "Holy Land" is concerned, Americans could just as well dispense with choosing between Democrats and Republicans and vote directly for Sharon. Orthodox Jews, as we know, hire a non-Jew (or shabbes goy) to turn the lights on for them on the Sabbath. Israel, too, has many things that it cannot do for itself, and it has managed to acquire the United States' government as its shabbes goy, and this one even pays the electric bills. If this isn't a miracle right up there with God's parting of the Red Sea, then we need to learn how it happened, and we don't really know, not yet, not in any detail.

Any good explanation, of course, would have to trace the relations between the Israeli government, the Zionist lobby (in its various dimensions), Christian Fundamentalists (who believe that the second coming of Jesus won't take place until all Jews are gathered in Israel), both American political parties, Jewish voters, and the interests of the American capitalist class in political and economic expansion. For as influential as Israel has been in determining American foreign policy in the Middle East, it couldn't have succeeded so well unless its interests overlapped to a considerable degree with the imperial designs of our ruling class. As regards the Zionist component in this relation, the key step was probably taken by the Israeli government in 1977, when Begin and Likud came to power and decided to forge closer links to the Christian Fundamentalists in the U.S. (seventy million strong) in order to help them become a more effective political lobby and one for whom Zionist goals came first. Netanyahu, on the Israeli side, and Jerry Falwell (who received the prestigious Jabotinsky Prize and ... a private jet from Israel), on the American side, were particularly active in developing this alliance.4 The Bush II Administration offers but the most recent evidence of how well this strategy has worked. Should the Democrats oust the Republicans from office, our government's support for Israel would not diminish in the least, because the Zionist lobby—in this case, with the aid of the Jewish vote, most of which goes to the Democrats—is even more influential in Kerry's party.

This "special" relationship to Israel is unlikely to remain stable, however, since the foundations on which it stands are being rapidly eroded. To begin with, the majority of the American people, as shown by every poll, have never been as pro-Zionist as their government(s), and such positive feelings as do exist have been seriously strained by Israel's inhuman response to the intifada. If it was possible to view Israel in its wars with the Arab world as a little David standing up to a mighty Goliath, its army's brutal repression of a virtually unarmed Palestinian people has turned this analogy upside down, so that Israel now looks like the bullying Goliath. With new killings, new "woundings", new humiliations, more destruction of homes, more thefts of land and water, and now the building of an apartheid wall taking place every day (often on T.V.), Israel's policies also call into question the official story of Israel as victim of the same kind of terrorists who bombed New York (hence, deserving our sympathy and help) rather than as a major instigator of Moslem violence around the world. In addition, the growing unpopularity of the Iraq war (an unending war that should never have begun), for which Israel and its strongest supporters inside the U.S. government were—at a minimum—among the loudest cheerleaders, is also spilling over to American attitudes toward Israel. Finally, the increasing insecurity of Middle East oil supplies with its effects on prices and profits throughout the economy—due to the wars but also to Israel's escalating barbarity towards an Arab people (with which the U.S. is unavoidably identified)—has begun to drive a wedge between Israel and American capitalist interests. Before long—if it hasn't happened already—an important section of America's capitalist ruling class will start demanding that the U.S. government adopt a new approach toward Israel. And, when in the context of these developments the mass of the American public finally wake up to the enormous and still growing costs in blood and money of providing Israel with whatever it wants, of serving as its shabbes goy—coming as it does at a time of steep budget cuts for all kinds of popular government programs—the surge of anti-Semitism could be such as to threaten the security of Jews and all kinds of ex-Jews everywhere.

Anti-Semitism is often understood as an irrational hatred of Jews not for anything they believe or do, but just because of who they are. This is incorrect, because there are reasons. They just happen to be bad ones, either because they are false (like Jews using the blood of gentile children to make matzos for Passover), or exaggerated, or of ancient vintage, or irrelevant, or—if they apply at all (like Jews being rich, etc.)—they apply only to a few people. This is why hating all Jews is not only irrational but unjust, and, as we know, the results have often been murderous. With this history, every Jew but also every humane and fair-minded non-Jew must oppose the rise of anti-Semitism with all their might. That this history, as painful as it is, does not give Jews any right to commit their own crimes should be evident, and it is monstrous whenever Jewish criminals respond to their accusers with charges of "anti-Semitism", even if—as in the case of Zionists—they believe their crimes serve the interests of the Jewish people, and even if they have managed—another miracle?—to get the third edition of Webster's International Dictionary to define "anti-Zionism" as a form of "anti-Semitism".5 In claiming an equation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, of course, Zionists run the danger of having people accept the logic of their position but not the use to which they put it. According to this logic, one must be both anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic, or neither. The assumption is that faced with this choice, most of their honest critics will simply pack up their tents and go home. But given Zionism's worsening record in Palestine, the choice could go the other way. That is, some opponents of Zionism, who are convinced by the logic put forward here and nothing else, might now embrace anti-Semitism as well. Rather than making fewer anti-Zionists, this approach is probably making more anti-Semites. The conclusion can only be that as an insurance policy against future pogroms Israel is not only worthless but downright dangerous to the health of those who have put their faith and money into it.

At this point—if not earlier—many readers of this journal will fault me for appearing to treat Zionists as if they are all alike. I am aware, of course, of the many differences in the Zionist camp, and am full of admiration for the courageous efforts by more progressive and humane Zionists in Meretz, Peace Now and Tikkun, among other groups, to oppose the Israeli establishment. They cannot be exempted from my analysis, however—and it's not just because their reforms seemed doomed to failure—since they share at least some of the basic assumptions on which Zionism (in both its Likud and Labor Party versions) is based. Setting up a state in which only Jews were to be full citizens, setting it up in a land already inhabited by millions of non-Jews, seeking to respond to anti-Semitism in the world by a display of Jewish might, seeking to make Jews everywhere feel safer because they now had a country to run away to (should the need arise), and seeking to rationalize all this through a combination of religious myth and the experience of the Holocaust—all this lies at the heart of Zionism, but it is also the logic inherent in these views that have brought us to the present impasse. And I don't see how it could have been otherwise. The occasions where it appears the history of Israel might have taken another turn are but face saving chimeras. Further, it is only by rejecting these views root and branch that we can see Zionism and the situation it has brought about for what they really are, and begin to orient ourselves ideologically and politically accordingly.

For example, ideologically, there is no longer a need to accept that Israel presents us with a clash of two rights, as some moderate and even "socialist" Zionists have put it. There is one right, and the Zionists, who are the invaders and the oppressors, are in the wrong. Only the assumptions that underlie the Zionist project have kept some people from recognizing this. It also means that we cannot regard the violence perpetrated by the Zionist government against Arabs and by Arabs against Jews in Israel today in the same manner. Certainly, I can and do deeply regret all the killing and destruction that is taking place, and I sympathize and suffer more than I can say with the victims and their loved ones on both sides. Only Israel, however, its government and its supporters deserve to be condemned, and not just because they've made use of planes and tanks and have killed far more innocent people. Of greater relevance here is the fact that it is the Israeli government that has the monopoly of power in the country, and it is the government that has created the rules of this grisly game along with the horrid conditions in which the Palestinians are forced to participate in it. They, and only they, can change these rules and conditions at any time, and therefore must be held responsible for keeping them as they are. They are the real terrorists, and not the poor souls who have been driven so crazy by their escalating oppression and accompanying humiliation that they are willing to use their own bodies as weapons. State terror and not individual terror is the main problem everyone who would like to bring an end to this conflict must confront, and that needs to be reflected in our tactics. Sharon is right in at least one respect: Arafat is irrelevant. So too, perhaps unfortunately, are the rest of the Palestinians when it comes to arriving at a stable peace. Instead of charging the Palestinians with some responsibility for the conflict and diffusing whatever effect we might have, all attention should go to putting pressure, all forms of pressure, on Israel.

Politically, this means avoiding any association with this "rogue state" whatsoever (as we did with South Africa earlier), boycotting it economically and otherwise (keeping it out of the Olympics, for example), bringing pressure on our politicians to stop all U.S. aid (private as well as public) to Israel, supporting various sanctions (including trade sanctions) against it, calling for the strongest possible resolutions at the U.N. and in all other available forums denouncing Zionist human rights abuses, and, of course, confronting head-on the Zionist lobby that would oppose all this. Similar steps should be taken in Europe and elsewhere, but, given America's power in the world in general and in Israel in particular, it is in our country that the fate of the Palestinian people—and ultimately that of Judaism and what's left of the Jewish people—will be decided. While isolating Israel in the ways I have suggested would undoubtedly hurt those inside its borders who are working to change their government's policies, it would also help them by raising the costs of these policies to unacceptable levels. What is clear is that for Jews whose conscience does not stop at their bloodline, silence, moderation, balance are no longer options, if they ever were. Oppressive regimes, after all, have seldom needed more than passive and qualified support to carry out their "business". Along with the growing number of Jews who openly defend Israel's inhuman behavior, these often well meaning Jews also feed the anti-Semitic stereotype that all Jews are complicit in the crimes of Zionism, and so deserve the hatred that these crimes evoke. Isn't this what most Jews thought about the passivity of the so-called "good" Germans during the Nazi period? How much did their passivity—at a time when taking any action was far more dangerous than it is for us now—contribute to the hostility so many Jews felt toward all Germans? An all out struggle against Zionism by Jews, therefore, is also the most effective way to fight against real anti-Semitism.

Furthermore, if Zionism is indeed a particularly virulent form of nationalism and, increasingly, of racism and if Israel is acting toward its captive minority in ways that resemble more and more how the Nazis treated their Jews, then we must also say so. For obvious reasons, the Zionists are very sensitive about being compared to the Nazis (not so sensitive that it has restrained them in their actions but enough to bellow "unfair" and to charge "anti-Semitism" when it happens). Yet, the facts on the ground, when not obscured by one or another Zionist rationalization, show that the Zionists are the worst anti-Semites in the world today, oppressing a Semitic people as no nation has done since the Nazis. No, the Zionists are not yet quite as bad as the Nazis, not yet, but isn't the world witnessing a creeping ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians at this very moment? If Zionists (and their supporters) find this comparison unduly insulting and unjust, they have only to stop what they are doing (and supporting), but I fear that the logic of their position will only drive them to committing (and supporting) even greater atrocities in the future, including genocide—another Nazi specialty, than they have up to now. What, if anything, has such Zionism got to do with traditional Jewish values?

As far as I'm concerned, the comedian, Lenny Bruce, provided the only good answer to this question when he said, "Dig, I'm Jewish. Count Basie's Jewish. Ray Charles is Jewish. Eddie Cantor is goyish... Marine Corps—heavy goyish... If you live in New York or any other big city, you're Jewish. If you live in Butte, Montana, you're going to be goyish even if you're Jewish... Kool-Aid is goyish. Evaporated milk is goyish even if Jews invented it... Pumpernickel is Jewish and, as you know, white bread is very goyish.... Negroes are all Jews... Irishmen who have rejected their religion are Jewish... Baton twirling is very goyish".6

To this I would only add, "Noam Chomsky, Mordechai Vanunu and Edward Said are Jewish. Elie Wiesel is goyish. So, too, all 'Jewish' neo-cons. Socialism and communism are Jewish. Sharon and Zionism are very goyish". And, who knows, if this reading of Judaism were to take hold, I may one day apply for readmission to the Jewish people.

Rochelle Furstenberg, "Reflections of a Zionist Don", The Jerusalem Report (Oct., 1990), p.51.

Albert Einstein, "Our Debt to Zionism", Ideas and Opinions (Modern Library, N.Y., 1964), p.6. Ben Gurion's view of the offer of the presidency of Israel to Einstein is worth noting. To an associate he commented, "Tell me what to do if he says 'yes'. I've had to offer the post to him because it is impossible not to. But if he accepts, we are in for trouble". Fred Jerome, The Einstein File (St. Martin's Press, N.Y., 2002), p.111.

Einstein, Ideas and Opinions, p.212. How Einstein would have reacted to the current situation in Palestine is suggested by such comments as - "The most important aspect of our (Israel's) policy must be our ever-present, manifest desire to institute complete equality for the Arab citizens in our midst… The attitude we adopt toward the Arab minority will provide the real test of our moral standards as a people". (1952) Ibid., p.111; and, in a letter to Weisman (1923), he wrote, "If we do not succeed in finding a path of honest cooperation and coming to terms with the Arabs, we will not have learned anything from our over 2000 year-old ordeal and will deserve the fate which will beset us". Ibid., p.110.

Donald Wagner, "Evangelicals and Israel: Theological Roots of a Political Alliance", The Christian Century (Nov. 4, 1998), p.1023.

Quoted in Robert Fisk, "A Warning to Those Who Dare Criticize Israel in the Land of Free Speech", The Independent (London: Ap. 24, 2004), p.39.

Lenny Bruce, "Jewish and Goyish", Record Number 5 of Lenny Bruce: Let the Buyer Beware (Shout Factory, Sept. 14, 2004), number 6.

'Four injured' by Israeli air strike in Gaza

The Israeli military has carried out an air strike on the Gaza Strip, targeting what it said were Palestinian militants preparing to fire rockets into Israel.

Palestinian medical sources said four civilians were injured, one of them critically. Hamas officials said the attack had occurred near a cemetery.

But Israel said a member of a Salafist militant group, Jaljalat, was killed.

On Thursday, two Palestinians were injured in an air strike on smuggling tunnels near the border with Egypt.

The strike reportedly came in response to to rocket fire the previous day by Palestinian militants.

Incidents of rocket fire from Gaza have decreased since Israeli forces launched a large-scale offensive last December and January, but there have been sporadic attacks.

In a statement issued on Friday morning, the Israeli military said its air force had attacked a group of militants "on their way to fire rockets from the northern Gaza Strip".

"Accurate hits, including the rocket launching pad, were identified," it added.

But the Hamas movement, which controls Gaza, said civilians who had been on their way to visit the graves of relatives were hit.

According to reports from Gaza, a group called Jaish al-Umma (Army of the Nation), an Islamist militant group affiliated with al-Qaeda, has said it fired several mortars into Israel overnight.

However, the Israeli army has said it was only aware of two mortars fired on Thursday, and that they did not reach Israel.

Help save the Palestinian village of Lifta from total destruction

Lifta, a most picturesque Palestinian village, lies on the slopes of West Jerusalem below the highway linking it to Tel-Aviv. It has been abandoned since the invading Hagana underground forces backed by the Stern Gang drove the last of its Palestinian inhabitants in 1948 during the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

It was the one single event which changed the nature of the place and the whole region. Although dozens of houses were destroyed, many of them still remain poised on the landscape.

Lifta is considered by many as a rare and fine example of Palestinian rural architecture with narrow streets aligned with the slopes of the mountains around it. Its cubist forms are a wonderful manifestation of the mastery of the Palestinian stone masons who were the indigenous owners and builders of these houses.

Today Lifta is more or less a ghost town suspended in space and remains deserted despite the fact that most of its original Palestinian inhabitants live in the surrounding communities. The Israeli authorities refuse to allow them to return.

Now the Jerusalem Municipality has produced plans to turn Lifta into a luxurious and exclusive Jewish development – reinventing its history in the process.

The Plan, numbered 6036, was designed by two architectural offices: G. Kartas – S. Grueg and S. Ahronson, as part of the “local space planning of Jerusalem”. The plan was submitted on June 28, 2004, and according to its title refers to “The Spring of National”. The plan, submitted to the Jerusalem Municipality Planning Committee in 2004, was approved by a regional committee.

In 2005, objections to the Plan were raised by several groups, including Bimkom (alternative center for Israeli planning) and the representatives of the regional committee of the organization and construction for the Al Quds-Jerusalem area.

Main Issues:

• The original Palestinian inhabitants of Lifta, their memories of the village, their exile and longing to return to Lifta are not mentioned, or even considered by the Municipality Master Plan.

• Lifta captures the moment of destruction of Palestinian life in 1948. Its 3,000 original inhabitants fled – mostly to East Jerusalem and to the Ramallah area. However, unlike many of the 530 Palestinian villages and towns conquered and bulldozed during the war of 1947/48, a few of Lifta’s houses remain almost intact, yet deserted and declared ‘officially’ resettled.

• These set of circumstances have placed Lifta in a unique position: its original inhabitants are still around, living in the OPT and the Chicago area with a desire that the injustices done in 1948 be acknowledged and repaired.

• In Israel, renovation projects are frequently used to build a national narrative, ignoring the deep contradictions between planning and human rights that inevitably arise out of such initiatives.

• With Lifta, we have a place where a new national transformation results in the erasure of another’ people’s memory as evidenced in the new Masterplan.

• Lifta is a tangible embodiment of the larger context of events in the region during 1947/48. Lifta can be a vital place for contemplating and understanding the concept of historical continuity.

• Lifta’s heritage is a story of a multicultural society, embracing a strong sense of an ethnically and religiously diverse community of Muslims, Jews and Christians which encapsulated a healthy civil equality amongst its inhabitants and the neighbouring communities. If Lifta were to be rejuvenated with due care to preserving its memory, it could offer a unique opportunity for the start of a new dialogue towards a conciliatory outcome.

Petition’s Aim:

This petition aims to save Lifta through the World Monuments Fund , amongst others, and to draw attention to this site which has been threatened by neglect, vandalism and forced occupation by extremist settlers.
Sign the petition

Please also visit the sponsor:

Cartoon of the day

By Ted Rall

Eid al-Adha highlights a Gaza family's struggle to survive

Muslims around the world are about to celebrate Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), one of the most important dates in the calendar, marking the end of the annual pilgrimage season to Mecca. Traditionally, Muslims slaughter a lamb (or offer money for one to be slaughtered for a poorer family), as an act of faith, as the Prophet Abraham did. In many Muslim countries, it is also a festive time of year, marked by family visits, purchasing new clothing, presenting gifts and offering sweets and candy to guests.

Daoud Suleiman Ahmad, 48, an unemployed construction worker, has been unable to find work for almost three years due to the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Life for Ahmad and his family in the al-Maghazi refugee camp has been desperately difficult, something that is particularly on his mind during the Eid.

"Over the past three years, I have felt a great deal of bitterness inside me as I have been unable to follow the rituals of the Eid al-Adha, as well as [meet] other daily basic expenses of my family," Ahmad said at his home, surrounded by two of his children, daughter Rawan (11) and son Ahmad (9).

The house built by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, a few years ago, consists of three rooms: one for Ahmad and his wife, and the other two shared by all the children.

Before the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000, Ahmad was among thousands of laborers who used to cross into Israel. But Israel shut out workers from Gaza, and then imposed a siege that has made it all but impossible for Ahmad to earn a living. Hours before being interviewed, Ahmad said he had quarreled with one of his sons who studies nursing. "I couldn't afford to give him 10 shekels [three dollars] for his transportation, can you imagine?"

These daily hardships make it difficult to fulfill the social obligations of Eid. "I have two sisters who live 20 kilometers away in southern Gaza," Ahmad explained. "Even if I wanted to visit them for Eid, I couldn't because I cannot afford to bring with me some lamb meat or other gifts." Because he would not want to visit family members empty-handed, Ahmad did not visit his sisters on Eid in recent years and probably will not do so this year.

Ahmad's small home has become a sort of a prison; he prefers to stay inside rather than go outside and be confronted with the financial obligations of Eid. "If I go outside," he said, "I need to look for things for my family and my children, things that I cannot afford for the time being." Ahmad says his family depends mainly on food assistance provided by UNRWA.

Daoud Suleiman Ahmad
In a corner of the home, Nadia al-Ustaz, Ahmad's wife, prepared rice for the family's lunch using a small kerosene stove due to the lack of cooking gas in Gaza over the past three weeks due to Israeli closure.

"What shall we do, as you can see, we can only afford food for the children," al-Ustaz said, "and I thank God that we can provide them with it." Reflecting on the Eid, she said, "It is a special time of the year for us. I wish my husband could give me a gift, like many other women, but I would never burden him with that, for our life is hard enough and we cannot afford such things."

For the children, too, holiday time is one of anticipating new toys to play with. Rawan said she wished for a Barbie doll, but knew that her father couldn't afford it. Little Ahmad had been sorely disappointed at the last Eid that he wasn't able to have a football to play with his friends.

Ahmad estimates that new clothes for each of his children would cost over 200 shekels ($55), so buying new ones for Eid is out of the question. So his next destination was to take old clothes to a local tailor for repair and adjustment instead of buying new ones.

Ahmad handed a pair of his daughter Rawan's trousers over to Muhammad al-Rifai, who runs a small tailor shop in al-Maghazi refugee camp. "More than a hundred households have brought clothes for repair to my shop, just before Eid," al-Rifai said, "and of course mine is not the only shop in town." According to al-Rifai, who used to own a larger clothing factory before the Israeli siege, this number is sharply up from previous years.

All over the Gaza Strip, families like that of Daoud Suleiman Ahmad will be unable to mark Eid in the traditional way. According to local and international estimates, the poverty rate in the Gaza Strip has hit a high of more than 70 percent of the territory's 1.5 million residents, and the vast majority of households -- like Ahmad's -- receive UNRWA food aid.

"I saw in my dreams flowers, peace and safety." Those are the lyrics of a song that Rawan sang. Those wishes -- as well as dignity -- for hundreds of thousands of refugees in Gaza, are likely to remain dreams for some time to come.

A turning point for the US solidarity movement

At the eighth annual US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation national organizers' conference held in Chicago, delegates from the approximately 300 member groups that make up the US Campaign voted in favor of an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. The vote came on the heels of a presentation by Omar Barghouti and myself on behalf of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the US Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

The proposal that "the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation should endorse the principle of cultural and academic boycotts" passed by a landslide with one abstention and not a single objection. The quasi-unanimous vote, and the deep collective breath of relief that followed, will go down in history as the moment US-based Palestine solidarity activists overcame tactical differences that had long hindered us, to finally come together to confront Israeli apartheid.

The history of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, independence and human rights is sadly one of missed opportunities. Historically, Palestinian aspirations have not been achieved due to a corrupt and feckless leadership and petty internal divisions.

But we have also learned that change will not come from above. It will and must come from the grassroots, the people, those who have nothing to lose but their prison walls, the daily humiliation of life as a refugee, a second- or third-class citizen, or a non-citizen. Representing the broadest coalition of Palestinian society, from various parts of historic Palestine as well as the global Diaspora, these Palestinians are the ones who jointly issued the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), modeled off of the same call that helped bring apartheid in South Africa to an end, giving direction to a global movement in support of this boycott call.

Mirroring the limits of the Palestinian leadership, the history of solidarity activism is blemished by opportunities missed because of fragmentation and discord, where there should have been a shared vision for the good of the Palestinian people. However, as the participants of this weekend's conference voted in favor of heeding the Palestinian call to join the global BDS movement, they finally set this country on the path to justice. Citizens, organizations and even government officials the world over, from Bangladesh to South Africa to Norway, have already responded to this Palestinian-led movement.

After resistance to comprehensive BDS measures at previous meetings these organizers with the US Campaign have now responded with an overwhelming "yes," indicating that the tide has shifted in the US. This time around, these activists are not returning to their communities to tell them that the moment to heed the Palestinian boycott call is not yet right. The complicity of silence, of unwarranted self-censorship, has finally ended, and the US can join the global chorus clamoring: "no more!"

Indeed, it is past time for those in the US concerned with justice for Palestine to learn from history and acknowledge and challenge Israeli apartheid. Apartheid in South Africa was abolished through a successful global BDS campaign, and a successful BDS campaign can put an end to Israeli apartheid. Anyone who fears that ending apartheid in Israel would "destroy" that country probably believes, or logically should believe, that South Africa was "destroyed" in 1994.

This struggle will neither be quick nor easy. While the South African call for BDS was issued from a small basement apartment in London by a handful of Black South African students in 1959, apartheid wasn't officially abolished until 1994. As the title of Nelson Mandela's autobiography declared: a long walk to freedom. But history is on our side, as more and more activists are now responding to the Palestinian call.

The precedent is there, we are not reinventing the wheel, we are borrowing a model that led South Africa to freedom. Advisors from the South African BDS movement are working with the activists for Palestinian rights, because they see the similarities in the two struggles. Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Bill Fletcher Jr., to name but two prominent members of the South African BDS campaign, are also working with the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).

USACBI's wheels are in motion and there's no stopping us. We are on board the freedom train and we have endorsed the Palestinian call for BDS in all its forms. Last weekend, we bridged the gap in the US solidarity movement and I'm hopeful that the call will be propelled forward by the immense grassroots support the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has garnered over the years in this country.

Our coming together at the conference is galvanizing, as we can now respond in unison to the Palestinian call to end not just the occupation, but Israeli apartheid. It is not one moment too soon. We have nothing to lose but apartheid!

Nada Elia is an organizer with the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (, and a member of the INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence taskforce on militarism and occupation ( She and Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel led two discussion sessions on the academic and cultural boycott at the 2009 organizers' conference of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

Friday, November 27, 2009

‘Eid: beautiful, impossible

I wake in the early hours of the morning, as the rush of Eid begins: prayers call out from mosques around Gaza, Palestine.

In the living room of my friends’ home, the prayers surround me, like the carols and church bells did at Christmas as a child.

In fact, there are other parallels: the sound of children rising early, excited. Their squeals and the sounds of their play continues through the day, as it did with Christmases past. The same sense of reverence, anticipation, and for the children, glee.

Children get new clothes, and when adult relatives and friends see them, each child receives a shekel, which at the end of three days and visits from extended family adds up.

A friend explains, “some children save the shekels they are given, sometimes it can add up to 100 or 200 shekels, depending on how many relatives visit their home. They might buy something they need, like clothing or something they otherwise can’t get.

But many kids spend their money quickly, buy sweets from the shop, plastic guns, toy planes…Why? They from a young age know the different Israeli war planes, helicopters, tanks, gunfire; it’s their lives, their environment.”

Not all children enjoy ‘Eid these days, though. The overriding poverty in Gaza, thanks to the siege, the Israeli massacres, doesn’t allow many parents to treat their children to new clothes, shekels, sweets. For the vast majority, just providing adequate nutritious food is impossible.

“There was a small boy in Rafah crying, I don’t know why. We were going into my relative’s home, but I stopped and gave him a chocolate and he stopped crying, happy for the moment. ‘Eid is for children, they need to be happy.

It’s for young women too. They get money from their brothers, male relatives. Because our family is so large, we can’t each give them 50 shekels apiece, but my brothers and I pool together and give each 100 shekels.

‘Eid is beautiful, you know, but I don’t like it now, because I don’t have work, don’t have the money to give to my sisters, and I can’t bring gifts with me, though I’d like to. It’s too much pressure.

But aside from the money, it’s nice because we get to see our sisters and families that we don’t normally see, because we live further apart.”

The money pressures and the daily, ever-mounting stress of life in Gaza mean that many adults are relived when it’s over, some wish it didn’t come, despite their love of the religious side of ‘Eid.

But even aside from the money and general stress of living under siege and without basic freedoms for so long, other facts render ‘Eid joyless in Gaza: Gaza still hasn’t, and won’t in the near future, recovered nor rebuilt following the Israeli massacre; families long for their imprisoned sons and daughters, not seen for years; families are still living with very present reminders of invading Israeli soldiers’ graffiti, occupation of and damage to their houses, and of the brutal martyring of family members, by gunfire, phosphorous burns, crushing beneath destroyed houses, bleeding to death due to obstructed medical access…

And as my friend recaps what I’ve been thinking, “Adults, we’re not so happy. Children don’t have to think about the latest martyrs, or the siege, of the fact that there’s no money to give out to,” I get a phone call from Ahmed, a Red Crescent medic and civil defence worker.

“The Israelis shelled east of Beit Lahia this morning. I’ve been awake since 5:30. There are four wounded, two of them critically,” he says.

The news later spouts an Israeli spokeswoman saying the strike is a result of home-rockets being fired from the area hours earlier.

Ahmed says the men are civilians, were walking on friend’s land 1 km from the border when tanks along the border targeted them.

The Star of David Has Become the Swastika

The Nazi / Zionist bombings against Gaza and the Palestinian people are cold, premeditated murders without the least concern for the pain, suffering or the rights of the people. The Zionists of Palestine feel superior, anointed by God, and they retain control of a good part of the worldwide economy. They subjugate nations and governments and silence people.

What is happening in Gaza is an exercise in barbarism demonstrating all the practices of the Hitlerites. However, it seems that the lessons of the concentration camps have perfected the brutal character of Zionism. Weapons are used with tungsten and phosphorus that hit a person above the abdomen, giving them no chance of survival.

There are weapons there that are banned by international law. The terrorist organization of the White House used this pretext to invade Iraq. In fact, North American intelligence was ”wrong.” The weapons of mass destruction were not in Baghdad, but in Tel Aviv. And they are used against defenseless men, women and children in the most inhuman and cowardly manner possible, typical of the Nazi / Zionist.

The terrorist government of Israel has refused to negotiate what they want in terms of peace and Hamas and insists, with support from the rotten media, which does not show the images of barbarism, in "justice." The Palestinian party that governs Gaza was elected by direct vote in one of many peace agreements, with U.S. participation, who has never done anything else throughout history where they did not always defend the aggressor Nazi / Zionists. The media will not say that the Zionists are major creditors of their network.

Meanwhile, the corporate media would sell their mothers if necessary to support the power of lying. The end of the year holidays exchanged the horror of the Palestinian holocaust for shoppers in traffic jams. Happy people in long lines of cars, many made by General Motors, asking why is it necessary to watch a burning fire.

There is a simple movie called DOMINIUM whose story goes on in a country governed by a similar Nazi / Zionist entity, in which emotion is considered a disease. Love is a disease. Being jointly liable is a disease. It seems that wherever you look, there is a television program showing the virtues of coldness and the failure to notice. It is a drug that causes people to no longer feel. To feel emotions.

This role is fulfilled by the media today and the Nazi / Zionists know it. They are the big bankers, big business, and they are supported by the money of people who are dominated by tennis brand, sandwiches of this or that network, and probably are already buying in bulk perfume with the smell of hamburgers launched by one of these networks of capitalist terrorism.

In the movie, the factor of control and command of the Nazi / Zionist state is the clergy. They are no different from the Jewish fundamentalist who murdered Prime Minister Rabin for having accepted the peace agreement. The various religions have historically been serving as a pretext for wars and defense of economic interests. Pope Pius XII, more recently, was an ally of Hitler and John Paul II and Benedict XVI are instruments of neo liberal capitalism.

The Zionists themselves claim they have been persecuted throughout the history of humanity and therefore collect interest charges with blood and barbarity. As if they were the only ones who ever suffered.

They murder, rape and torture all in the name of the right to exist, removing (ethnically cleansing) others. They are bloodthirsty simpletons supported by the power of the largest military power of the world, the USA.

The North Americans and British (USA is their European colony) refused to vote on the proposal of the Arab countries for a ceasefire demanding instead that Hamas stop launching homemade rockets on Israel. Self-defense is only for the Zionist owners of the banks and of the great enterprises that finance political campaigns, inclusive of that of Barak Obama.

They call it civilization. They feel and proceed as though they are the "chosen people." There are those who are going to be pocketed in exchange for innocent chocolates in the society that has pictures mounted where the bathrooms have toilet soaps to remove "Palestinian bacteria," "Latin bacteria" and "African bacteria,” etc.

They are just murderers, genociders. They transform humans into inert bodies in New Years’ traffic jams who are horrified about lost puppies on the roads and the despair of the owners. The owner of that foot in the photo above is distant, so it does not matter. Don’t they realize that they act in all the corners of the world and extend their claws and their swastika-shaped Star of David to “cure” the evil inferiors from feeling emotions.

The address in order to have an idea of the extent of the horror of the swastika / Star of David is:, %202008.htm,%202008.htm

Поджигатель мусульманского центра в США получил 14 лет тюрьмы

Четырнадцать лет и три месяца тюрьмы получил в США молодой неонацист, участвовавший в прошлом году в поджоге мусульманского центра и мечети в городе Коламбия (штат Теннеси).

Федеральное бюро расследований утверждает, что 24-летний Майкл Кори Голден признал себя виновным. Следствием установлено, что в феврале 2008 года он с сообщниками совершил нападение на мусульманский центр, забросав здание бутылками с горючей смесью, а на стенах намалевав изображения свастики и надписи "власть белых". Двое других участников нападения также признали себя виновными и теперь ждут приговора, который должен быть им вынесен в декабре.

На фоне двух войн, которые Вашингтон ведет в мусульманских странах, отношение к США в исламском мире оставляет желать много лучшего. Это периодически проявляется в актах насилия, включая бойню, учиненную недавно американцем палестинского происхождения на армейской базе Форт-Худ в Техасе. В этих условиях ФБР с нескрываемым удовлетворением отрапортовало, что твердо стоит на страже прав и свобод всех американских граждан, включая мусульман, замечает ИТАР-ТАСС.

Eid Mubarak

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Book review: Post-September 11 "Homeland Insecurity"

Barbara Aswad, The Electronic Intifada, 26 November 2009

After the 11 September 2001 attacks there have been many books and articles regarding the misuse of justice and harsh treatment of Arab Americans and Muslims in the United States. Louise Cainkar's extensive research and excellent analysis is the most complete published so far. Homeland Insecurity is an ethnography which took three years to complete and benefits from more than a hundred interviews. Cainkar conducted 80 percent of the interviews personally and participated in local events in Chicago's Arab-American community. This rich source base allows her to examine the effects of national, global and local events on individuals and communities that are viewed as a potential threat to the security of the US.

Cainkar argues convincingly that the anti-Arab, and Anti-Muslim attitudes were not created solely by an 11 September backlash, but that instead the images of the Arabs and Muslims as an "other" were present much earlier. Although Orientalist tropes about Arabs and Muslims were present in the US prior to the Second World War, they were more common in Europe, which had a longer history of interaction with the "East." Thus the fear, xenophobia, nativism and suspicion in the wake of the attacks was accompanied and reinforced by government attempts to implement and enforce policies of racial and ethnic profiling, expulsion and arrest.

In Cainkar's review of the history of Arab immigration to and racial formation in the US, she finds that their social status changed by mid-century. In the early part of the 20th century, Arab immigrants were largely comprised of Christians from present-day Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and Egypt and were generally viewed as "marginal" whites which provided them with a degree of belonging to American society. Arab-American political organizations and associations were formed from 1915 to 1951. They opposed the partition of Syria into Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Jordan by Britain and France, the partition of Palestine and US support for the creation of Israel.

However, integrating into American society was not as easy for Muslims. The establishment of Israel in 1948 and the erasure of Palestine and the June 1967 Arab-Israeli War were major consciousness raisers for Arab-Americans, and significant Arab-American organizations were formed. The "brain drain" immigrants in the 1960s were active in these organizations. Meanwhile, Hollywood consistently portrayed Arabs and Muslims as villains. Thus began the social and political exclusion as their official classification as white was overridden by racial narrative of them being basically culturally different.

Cainkar reports that there has been a dramatic growth in Muslim American communities over the past half-century. By some estimates there were toughly two to three million Muslims residing in the US by 1987, the majority of whom were not members of a mosque. By 2005, this estimate is between six to seven million, although there are figures much lower and much higher. About a third are African-American, another third of South Asian descent, and a quarter of Arab descent. Cainkar discusses how this demographic growth was accompanied by an increase in Muslim organizations and schools. However, when the 11 September attacks occurred, Arabs and Muslims experienced increased marginalization, discrimination and hostility and Cainkar argues that it began to change to a characterization of "social pariah and political outcast" (p. 72).

Homeland Insecurity opens with five oral histories, and demonstrates the complexity of and differing affects of the 11 September attacks on members of Chicago's Arab-American community. This is an important introduction to the subject, since it provides context and demonstrates diversity in the treatment and fears experienced by members of the community. While there may be demographic variables in other US communities, Cainkar asserts that it is fair to say most Arab-Americans experienced similar anxieties. She states that substituting the words "Arab and Muslim men" for the word "terrorist" in a statement by former US Attorney General John Ashcroft provides a proximate rendering of the US government's anti-terrorism policies in the aftermath of the attacks and reflects the way those policies were perceived especially by Arab and Muslim men (p. 114). Ashcroft warned of using every available statute and prosecutorial advantage on terrorists, stating that "If you overstay your visa -- even by one day -- we will arrest you" (p. 114).

Cainkar extensively and clearly discusses the laws passed in the wake of 11 September and their consequences. Hate crimes and emotions of victims are discussed extensively, and provide an inventory of the damage done to individuals. She chronicles how the USA Patriot Act expanded the power of the federal government, including: the use surveillance and wiretapping without probable cause, permitted secret searches and access to private records, detention of immigrants on alleged suspicions and denial of admission to the US based on speech, FBI interviews, a special registration program for persons mainly from Muslim countries, and deportations. It also inspired the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002.

Cainkar calls this enhanced power "the security spotlight" and she contends that it greatly affected the conduct of everyday life. It helped to dehumanize individuals and groups, divesting them of human values and feelings shared by other groups. They are "not like us," do not enjoy weddings, holding children or show affection. Of those interviewed, 53 percent said they experienced discrimination, and the largest proportion spoke of workforce discrimination. Schools were also an area of confrontation and although her interviewees were more than 19 years of age, these scenes were recounted by parents. The fact that most Americans did not attack them did not reduce the effect of fear when other persons or mosques were attacked. They said they felt most safe in Arab communities or in the mosques. An additional result of these fears is that many innocent members of families left the US if they felt a member of their family had violated a visa requirement. Other families left because they feared discrimination and harassment for themselves and their children. However, a very important conclusion of Cainkar's study is found in her statement, "This study shows that when weighed against each other, the American people provoked much less fear among Arab and Muslim Americans than did the federal government -- the Bush administration" (p. 8).

One of the most interesting discussions is that of gendered nativism, whereby men are threatened the most by laws, but that women, especially those wearing the hijab (headscarf), are perceived as a cultural threat to everything "American." Cainkar argues that although no Arab or Muslim citizens of the US were implicated or convicted of supporting the 11 September attacks, the hijab was a convenient way of demonizing and further marginalizing the population.

In spite of the attempts at marginalization, Arab-American and Muslim-American communities mobilized to protect their rights as citizens. Cainkar details these efforts and demonstrates how the communities reached out to and formed alliances with other ethnic and religious minorities. Thus while the US has a history of ethnic and religious hate crimes, the realization and in many cases, new understanding by non-Arabs and non-Muslims can be seen as a benefit for this latest of groups to experience the American Insider/Outsider experience. If this new insight is found by Americans, we can thank Cainkar for this excellent publication's contribution to that insight.

Carefully researched and containing a vast amount of data as well as original analysis, Homeland Insecurity is especially useful for college classes on US society, ethnicity and racialization. It is also useful for the general public, which has little understanding of the increasingly important and targeted ethnic and religious individuals and communities.

Barbara Aswad, PhD is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Wayne State University.

Eid ul-Adha Mubarak

Asalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatu

Eid Mubarak , Taqabbal Allah minna wa jame'an

Sunnah of Eid :

-Wake up early.

-Prepare for personal cleanliness, take care of details of clothing, etc.

-Take a Ghusl (bath) after Fajr.

-Brush your teeth.

-Dress up, putting on best clothes available, whether new or cleaned old ones.

-Use perfume (men only).

-Have breakfast on Eid-al-Fitr before leaving for prayer ground. On Eid-al-Adha, eat breakfast after Salaat or after sacrifice if you are doing a sacrifice.

-Go to prayer ground early.

-Offer Salaat-al-Eid in congregation in an open place except when whether is not permitting like rain, snow, etc.

-Use two separate route to and from the prayer ground.

-Recite the following Takbir on the way to Salaat and until the beginning of Salaat-al-Eid.Takbir starts from Mughrib on the 9th Zdilhijjah and last until the Asr on the 12th :

Allaho-Akber, Allaho-Akber. La ila-ha ill-lal-lah. Allaho-Akber, Allaho-Akber. Wa-lilahill hamd.

(Allah is great, Allah is great. There is no god but Allah. Allah is great, Allah is great. And all praises are for Allah).

And don’t forget our Muslim brothers and sisters, mujahideen, their families, those in prisons, the sick, the poor, the destitute and the orphans in your Du'aa. May Allah liberate our lands from occupation and restore the rule of Islam across the lands that have been taken away.

Also please remember, that as Muslims we are like a body, if one part of the body is hurt, the whole body feels it.

Take care, love you all for the sake of Allah.

Asalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuhu.

Death Penalty: A State Of Assassins !!!

There’s a worldwide debate over the “legality” of Death Penalty, Execution or Capital Punishment as it is referred to in the different legal systems. There are people and organizations who support capital punishment and even with increasing its rates and the legislation that widens its range alleging that it deters and reduce capital crimes within the society. However, others, people and organizations are against it and fighting and campaigning to stop it as an inhuman way of punishing individuals for committing crimes and offenses that the whole society is responsible for.

You cant justify killing for killing, nor eye-for-eye policy, otherwise you would have a whole dead or blind society.

The US is probably the largest killer in the world [37 death penalty was executed only in 2008] in which a whole society is standing up to kill an individual for committing a crime that he is partially responsible for, while actually the whole society is the murderer !!! No one is born criminal or killer, but the social conditions are the main factor of criminality, and the social conditions are provided and shaped by the society and government !!

Israel is out of this debate, simply because it is so “democratic” and never committed such a punishment but once in 1962 against Eichmann, the Nazi. The human blood and life for Israel is so precious, specially the jewish one as it never executed anyone from the “chosen people”, the beloved sons of God !!! Can you believe this? I don’t, simply because I have witnessed the mass-killing Israel executing the whole people of Palestine. Inside “israel” the conditions are perfect for the jew “citizen” but in the occupied West Bank, it is hell for the occupied natives !!!

The israili systematic assassination policy is very well known. Israel has been using Death Penalty even before it was established and once it was terrorist groups of Lehi, Urgun, and Etzel, even a long time before they (the zionist terrorists) assassinated the Swedish noble and diplomat Bernadette…. It’s a Zionist systematic policy that was established on the assassination mentality, and the assassins mostly become the top leaders of Israel like Shamir, Sharon, Barak and the list is endless.
"Barak’s role in the assassination of Abu Jihad makes it clear that all wings of the Israeli Zionist establishment, the so-called doves as well as the open supporters of Israeli expansionism, are tied to the policies of state murder and mass terror. It substantiates the fact that the present recourse to political assassinations is part of a strategy to destroy the Palestinian national movement that has the support of the Labor Party leadership as well as Likhud."

A terrorist state (any terrorist state like israel) can allege that it doesn’t apply Death Penalty within its borders, and even that its “legal” system doesn’t have such a penalty, but on the ground they practice it openly and widely to annihilate the indigenous occupied people.

Since it was established, isreal has never committed Death penalty but once, however they (the Zionists) are applying a systematic and deliberate murder of a whole people. When its murderers reach to the top of the Government like Shamir and the current offense minister Barak (who slain three Palestinian leaders in Beirut with his bare hands), then the whole government is murderous!!

Hundreds of our leader, intellectuals, professors, students, prisoners, women, writers, thinkers, politicians, novelists, researchers, mayors, teachers, peace activists… have been deliberately assassinated by the terrorist state of israel. Over the past 100 years, the zionists have been targeting our elite to eliminate any possibility to have a healthy society and leadership, they are annihilating our people.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners were assassinated inside the prison after being caught and investigated like [Akkawi], others were released and shoot dead in the street a few days after being released. Hundreds of our leaders were assassinated in their offices, cars, homes or the street by the israeli assassination units that are ruling the Zionist state. Hundreds of writers, young peace activists, women were deliberately assassinated in their homes or in the street !!!

For the israeli terrorists, they are many different reasons to assassinate. Sometimes they murder a peace activist for his/her ability to convinces the Israelis and international peace activists to act, for his ability to cluster more peace activists [Abu-Rahmeh]. Sometimes when his impartial plan that is about to reach to a peaceful settlement [Bernadotte]. Sometimes students are killed because they are so popular in defending their cause specially those studying in the European Universities [al-Khederi]. Sometimes a leader is assassinated because he so influential in the International politics [Abu-Iyad]. Sometimes, a women is slain simply because her ability to organize and lead [Muna Dahi]. Sometimes a juvenile student is targeted for his a ability to move his fellow students to demonstrate [hundreds]. Sometimes a prisoner is assassinated for his ability to educated other prisoners [Ibrahim alraai]. Sometimes a writer is killed because he is internationally quoted for his authentic writings [Kanafani]. Sometimes a mayor is killed for being a leading national figure that unites Muslims and Christians together [Khalaf] the christian mayor of Ramalla. Sometime they assassinate Arab scientist for their abort their efforts [Almashad]. Sometimes they even slaughter European scientist who are about to reveal the zionist sabotage plots [Bonomo & Ferez]. Sometimes, simply because he doesn’t look good in the zionst eyes…. Shall we go on and name thousands of simple unknown martyrs who were targeted deliberately and shoot from “zero distance מדווח אפס”? if to use the zionist terminology after committing a successful assassination?

This policy has been followed all the time even by the zionist terrorists before establishing israel, and it was so clear when it was approved by the Knesset in 2000 during the second Intifada where hundreds were deliberately assassinated by the special israeli undercover units in a few months…. And still this systematic killing is going on !!!

So, israel never assassinated but Eichmann? I can believe this only if I am crazy or fool !!!

It is not necessary to have a “legal” system to legalize Death Penalty, but you can simply do it widely and systematically while alleging of being a so “Human” occupation and the “only democratic oasis” in the Middle East !!!

Israel Holds Over 370 Palestinian Children Captive

The media liaison at the Palestinian ministry in charge of prisoners' affairs says that Israel is currently holding captive more than 370 child detainees; all under the age of 18.

"Child detainees are sent to courts that prosecute cases of adult detainees. This is a flagrant violation of International Law. Dozens of detained Palestinian children undergo a series of harsh trials under a legal system that treats them the same as apprehended adults," Riyadh al-Ashqar told the official Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV network on Monday.

Al-Ashqar went on to note that the child detainees are not immune to 'egregious abuses', adding mistreatment and torture in Israeli detention facilities are not uncommon.

He also called on the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and humanitarian organizations across the globe to intervene, to stop Israeli brutalities against underage Palestinian prisoners.

Many of the Palestinian children in Israeli jails are arrested for nothing more than throwing rocks at heavily-armed Israeli troops and armored personnel carriers, the Palestinian Center for Defending Prisoners reported in early April.

The prison authorities place eight to ten children in a four meter square room, and routinely vilify them, put them under psychological pressure at every turn and even molest some of the children, the report added.

Source: PressTV

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


It’s not often that stories about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict make me laugh but one by Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East editor, did. Because he is the corporation’s correspondent supporters of Israel right or wrong most love to hate – from time to time they pressure the BBC to fire him – I imagine he enjoyed writing it.

In a vivid background report for From Our Own Correspondent, headlined Tough Lessons for Obama on Mid-East peace, Jeremy recalled some of the “false dawns” of previous presidential peace efforts.

One was a trip by President Clinton to Gaza in 1998 when Netanyahu was enjoying his first period as Israel’s prime minister. “Yes”, Jeremy added, “an American president in Gaza. It is not conceivable these days.”

After noting that Netanyahu drove Clinton mad, Jeremy went on:

After he (Netanyahu) had lectured the president about the Middle East, Mr. Clinton famously asked his aides: “Who the (bleep) does he think he is? Who’s the bleeping superpower here?” Only he did not say bleep.

What President Clinton actually said was, “Who the fuck does he think he is? Who’s the fucking superpower here?”

After recalling in his own way how President Obama has been humiliated to date by Netanyahu in his second period as prime minister, Jeremy commented that he, Obama, “might be using Bill Clintonesque language about Mr. Netanyahu.”

My own speculation is that Obama behind closed doors might even be outdoing Clinton in his use of expletives about Netanyahu.

But really there’s no cause for laughter. Tears of rage are more appropriate.

The documented truth, which flows through my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, is that every occupant of the Oval Office has at one point or another, and as President Ford once put it, been made “as mad as hell” by Israeli prime ministers. So the use of presidential expletives to describe them and Zionist lobby leaders at moments of great tension probably has a history going all the way back to Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence.

Even before that there were moments when President Truman could not contain his anger at the tactics Zionists were employing to bend him and the United Nations to their will. At one cabinet meeting Truman blurted out, “Jesus Christ couldn’t please them when he was here, so how could anyone expect that I would have any luck.”

In Memoirs, published long after the events, Truman was very frank about Zionist coercion in the countdown to the twice-postponed General Assembly vote on the partition plan resolution. He wrote:

The facts were that not only were there pressure movements around the United Nations unlike anything that had been seen there before, but the White House too was subjected to a constant barrage. I do not think I ever had as much pressure and propaganda aimed at the White House as I had in this instance. The persistence of a few of the extreme Zionist leaders – actuated by political motives and engaging in political threats – disturbed and annoyed me. Some were even suggesting that we pressure sovereign nations into favourable votes in the General Assembly. I have never approved of the strong imposing their will on the weak whether among men or nations.

As it happened, the campaign of threats to cause a number of sovereign nations to turn their intended “No” to partition votes into “Yes” votes or to abstain was executed by the Zionist lobby with the assistance of a hit-squad of 26 U.S. senators. The whole effort to bend the UN General Assembly to Zionism’s will was co-ordinated by Zionism’s eyes and ears in the White House, David K. Niles. (He once confessed that “had Roosevelt lived, Israel probably would not have become a state.” President Roosevelt was opposed to the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, and there is a good case for believing, I make it in my book, that if he had lived, he would have used the United Nations to say “No” to Zionism’s colonial enterprise).

When Truman subsequently learned how one sovereign nation in particular, Haiti, had been threatened in his name, he wrote in a memorandum not de-classified until 1971 that “pressure groups (he meant Zionist pressure groups) will succeed in putting the United Nations out of business if this sort of thing is continued.”

Events were to prove Truman more right than wrong on that account.

Eisenhower was the first and the last American President to contain Zionism (when he insisted in 1956/57 that Israel, after its collusion with Britain and France in war on Nasser’s Eygpt, should withdraw from occupied Arab territory without conditions).

There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that President Kennedy, if he had been allowed to live, was intending in a second term to continue Eisenhower’s containment of Zionism, and that as a result of doing so there would not have been a shift of U.S. policy in favor of Israel right or wrong. In that event, and in all probability, the 1967 war would not have happened – Greater Israel would not have been created; and the Zionist state would not have been allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

Though it contained no expletives, the most explicit statement of anger I am aware of was the one made by presidential candidate Kennedy after he had been taken to a meeting with Zionist funders in New York. After it, back in Washington, he went for a walk with an old and trusted friend, newspaper columnist Chares L. Bartlett. According to his account, Kennedy said:

As an American citizen I am outraged to have a Zionist group come to me and say – “We know your campaign is in trouble. We’re willing to pay your bills if you let us have control of your Middle East policy. They wanted control!”

In my view the question of who the bleep does Netanyahu think he is misses the point. It is that he knows who he is – another Israeli prime minister who, with the assistance of the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress, has got another American president by the testicles. At least for the time being.

Alan Hart.

Alan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent who covered wars and conflicts wherever they were taking place in the world and specialized in the Middle East. Author of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews: The False Messiah (Zionism, the Real Enemy of the Jews). He blogs on and tweets on

Скандал в Британии: опубликованы данные о войне в Ираке

Громкий скандал разгорается в Великобритании. В руки журналистов газеты Sunday Telegraph попали сотни страниц секретного доклада о грубых ошибках британских властей в Ираке.

Тогдашний премьер-министр Великобритании Тони Блэр заявлял, что цель операции – уничтожение оружия массового поражения. На деле уже тогда планировалось свержение президента Ирака Саддама Хусейна. Войска бросали в бой практически без оружия. Техника, не рассчитанная на высокие температуры, плавилась под солнцем. Британские генералы все время давали разные приказы, это привело к неразберихе и лишним жертвам. Кроме того, подчеркивает издание, у властей не было никаких планов по восстановлению Ирака после окончания войны.

Комиссия, которая занималась этим расследованием, готовится опубликовать полученные результаты. МИД Великобритании обещает внимательно изучить доклад и в случае необходимости принять меры, сообщают «Вести».

Военное вторжение в Ирак произошло 20 марта 2003 года. Формальным поводом к началу агрессии послужили заявления американского руководства о наличии у Ирака оружия массового уничтожения. Однако через год в Конгрессе США инспекторы представили доклад, в котором говорилось, что в Ираке не было запасов биологического и химического оружия. Инспекторы утверждали, что ядерная программа Ирака была свернута в 1991 году, а от программы по созданию биологического оружия было решено отказаться в 1995 году. Химическое оружие также было уничтожено в 1991 году.

Палестина. Сионистский террор. Где помощь исламского мира?

В Турции отказались исполнять "израильский" гимн...

Турция отказалась исполнить "израильский" гимн на официальном спортивном соревновании. Об этом пишут сегодня "израильские" СМИ под заголовком "Турция продолжает оскорблять "Израиль".
В эти дни в Турции проходит чемпионат мира по шахматам среди юниоров. В турнире для девочек до 14 лет победу одержала "израильтянка" Марсель Афроймски из незаконного еврейского поселения на Западном берегу. На торжественной церемонии награждения гимн "Израиля" не прозвучал, поскольку Западный берег - палестинская территория и, по логике организаторов, в таком случае должен звучать палестинский гимн. Однако, чтобы не накалять обстановку, они решили вообще обойтись без какого-либо гимна. Глава ассоциации "израильских" шахмат в связи с этим подал официальный протест в мировую ассоциацию шахмат.

Как подчеркивают интернет-издания, Турция, как и всё человечество, находящееся в поле международного права, отказывается признать Иерусалим "столицей" "Израиля", адресуя официальные депеши по адресу: Тель-Авив, "израильский" парламент. А турецкий премьер Реджеп Тайип Эрдоган не раз подчеркивал, что предпочитает встретиться с обвиняемым Западом в преступлениях против человечества президентом Судана, чем с сионистским главарём Натаняху. Отношения между Турцией и Тель-Авивом испортились после нападения "израильтян" на Сектор Газа в декабре прошлого года, когда погибли более 1500 палестинцев, в том числе дети и женщины.

Вчера вечером в Турцию прибыл сионистский министр Бен-Элиэзер с целью попробовать наладить отношения между странами. Его сопровождает большая делегация предпринимателей и промышленников. Надо сказать, что на руках у этого типа кровь египетских солдат. Несколько лет назад официальный Каир вновь обвинил его в том, что сионистская военная группировка, руководимая Элиезером, в 70-е годы уничтожила 200 безоружных египетских солдат.
Вряд ли Турция захочет вести переговоры с кровавым убийцей...
По материалам ИсламНьюс.ру