Monday, October 31, 2005
Recognise Israel (as a Jewish State) or else...
Aid for earthquake victims is conditional on Pakistan maintaining relations with the Zionist State to pave the way for recognising it.
Western Europe has ganged up with America on this issue. Heavy Anglo-American pressure forcing Musharraf to send Pakistan delegation to visit Israel.
After getting Pakistan's recognition, smaller, poorer Muslim states who are dependent on Western loans for their survival would be ordered to recognise the Zionists’ entity: Sheer blackmail and all in the name of “demo-crazy”!
JERUSALEM (AFP) - A 200-member delegation of Pakistani officials and businessmen is to visit Israel in early November, in a bid to bring closer the two countries which have no diplomatic relations, Israeli military radio said. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom are to receive the Pakistani delegation of retired generals, religious leaders, politicians and business people, radio said, though there was no official confirmation.
Relations between the second most populous Muslim country and the Jewish state were hostile for decades, but began to warm up after Israel offered aid to Pakistan following this month’s devastating earthquake. Prior to the earthquake, in a highly publicised sign of cordiality, President Pervez Musharraf and Sharon shook hands on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in mid-September. Two weeks earlier, the two countries’ foreign ministers met in Istanbul in the first-ever high level encounter.
Pakistan had “decided to engage with Israel,” its foreign minister said then, because Israel’s pullout of settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip constituted a turning point for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Israel currently has full diplomatic relations with only three Arab states - Mauritania, Egypt and Jordan - and a handful of Muslim majority states including Turkey.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Iranian comments on Israel in context
A brouhaha over nothing
By Hassan Hanizadeh
The remarks of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad at the recent “A World without Zionism” conference, in which he actually underlined the necessity of putting an end to all Zionist ways of thought, was met with hasty reactions by some pro-Israeli countries.
At the conference, President Ahmadinejad mentioned an old issue often brought up by the revolutionary forces in the early days after the victory of Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, which highlighted the need to annihilate Israel.
Although the Iranian nation has shouted slogans against the Zionist regime since 1979, these slogans have never meant a physical confrontation with the Israel but rather referred to the need to wipe out all Zionist ways of thought, which never recognize anyone else’s right to live freely.
A glance at the actions of Zionism over the course of the 20th century shows that it is one of the most dangerous and anti-human movements after Nazism.
The Zionist movement, with its “from the Nile to the Euphrates doctrine”, has always tried to expand its territory through massacring innocent Palestinians and expelling them from their homeland.
From the middle of World War I until the end of World War II, the leaders of the Zionist movement slaughtered thousands of innocent Palestinians while international organizations remained silent about all their horrific crimes.
The occupation of Palestine, the use of force and violence in dealing with the Palestinians, and the moves to deprive the Palestinian nation of their inalienable rights are all rooted in the ideology of the Zionist leaders, which has become a serious threat to humanity.
Therefore, when one talks about the annihilation of Israel, it does not mean the genocide of the Jewish people, but rather a non-violent confrontation with Zionist schools of thought, which are endangering the Middle East and the entire world.
Millions of Muslims all over the world are in consensus that Zionism is the enemy of humanity.
Israel is currently threatening world peace and security with its horrible nuclear arsenal. Therefore, international organizations and Western countries should seek a solution.
The fact that Israel possesses nine facilities for the production of fission nuclear weapons as well as hydrogen and neutron bombs is a real threat to the world and particularly the critical Middle East region.
At the same time, over the past two years, the Zionist regime has explicitly threatened the Islamic Republic because it possesses nuclear installations meant for peaceful purposes.
Israeli officials constantly threaten to attack Iran’s nuclear installations, goaded on by international organizations and Western countries.
Although the Islamic Republic is extremely reluctant to raise political tension in the pressure cooker of the Middle East, it feels duty-bound to warn the world of the existence of Israel’s nuclear arsenal.
These warnings should be seriously considered by the international community, and especially the West, because the continuation of the current situation, i.e. the mass production of prohibited weapons by the Zionist regime, will eventually trigger an arms race in the Middle East that will cause a global crisis.
Indeed, it is odd that the world has remained silent about Israel’s refusal to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but opposes Iran’s civilian nuclear activities.
Unfortunately, instead of changing their stances toward regional incidents and adopting a fair attitude toward developments in the Middle East, the United States and other Western countries are actually trying to raise a brouhaha over a single statement by an Iranian official so they can divert attention from the ever-increasing crimes the Zionists are committing against the innocent Palestinians.
Another article, again from Tehran Times is even clearer:
Tehran calls for justice-based solution to Palestine issue:
TEHRAN (IRNA) -- Majlis Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel said here Sunday Iran calls for a settlement of the Palestinian issue based on democracy and justice.
"Over the past 60 years the Zionist regime and the United States have been trying to wipe Palestine off the map in view of the silence of the United Nations and the support of superpowers," Haddad-Adel said while addressing the Majlis open session.
"The Qods Day rally showed the Iranian nation's political vigilance and great aspiration, and was held massively this year due to the sensitivity of the Palestinian issue under the current circumstances.
"The Iranian nation told the world that Muslims will not yield to conspiracies.
"The Zionists provoke a press uproar on the threshold of Qods Day each year to overshadow the event. This year, they used President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's remarks as a pretext to turn it into controversial news," he said. Addressing thousands of students at a conference dubbed "World Without Zionism" here Wednesday, President Ahmadinejad recalled a famous statement by the late Founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini about the Zionist regime, which said, "the Qods occupier regime should be eliminated from the surface of the earth."
The speaker pointed to the United Nations protest at Ahmadinejad's remarks saying, "We ask the United Nations if the Zionist regime has ever abided by the UN regulations? "The Zionist regime which has hundreds of nuclear warheads refuses to sign up to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Are the Palestinians' assassination, massacre of the defenseless nation and demolition of houses and farms in line with UN regulations?
"The Islamic Republic has no problem with Jews throughout the world. It is against cruelty and injustice," Haddad-Adel added.
"In fact they (the Zionist regime and the United States) intend to eliminate the Palestinian nation off the world map but the Iranian nation defends the rights of the oppressed Palestinians," he said.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Sharon’s Final Solution by Kristoffer Larsson
The author Alon Liel is a former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, so you can presume he knows what he’s talking about. Liel concludes that:
“The past five years, the years of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, have taught an important lesson about Israel's situation in the international arena: Israel has in effect become immune to international pressure. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Israeli-Arab conflict became more of a national problem of Israel and some of its neighbors and less of an international problem. […]
[P]eople who still believe that the Israeli-Arab conflict will in the end be solved only as the result of international pressure can forget about it.” 
The treatment of the Palestinians has created problems for Israel. Following the outbreak of the Intifada (Arab term for ‘uprising’), Israel’s relations with Muslim countries have become even worse. More importantly, Europe and the United States have become unhappy with the Israeli ravaging.
The Europeans have condemned the construction of the Wall and reiterated the need of establishing a Palestinian state in the occupied territories. The European standpoint on the conflict can, after all, be said to be clear. But has it forced Israel to impose a policy of appeasement, or any other concessions for that matter? Not really. The Europeans have no problems opening their mouths. They see what Israel is doing, but only use words to condemn it, no taking action is in sight.
Remarkably, the Israelis behave with such brutality that even the Americans have reacted. When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Israel prior to the evacuation of the Gaza pullout, she repeatedly declared that Israel must go forward with its outspoken intention of evacuating the 8,500 Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip. The U.S. support of Israel has been determined to be the single biggest factor behind the negative attitudes toward U.S. policies in the Arab world. The Americans are aware of this and thus have been after Israel to make withdrawals for a long time. It isn’t until now they’ve actually succeeded in doing so. But despite Israeli policies having a negative impact on U.S. interests in the region, it continues to remain Israel’s perpetual patron. Washington is still referred to by the American writer and Radio Host Jeff Blankfort as “Israel’s most important occupied territory.”
After the disaster in New Orleans, Zionists feared the high material costs might lead to cuts in the never-ending billions the American taxpayers are forced to assist Israel with year after year. Except for domestic catastrophes, no Israeli action seems to have an affect on the American support - Washington remains Zionist occupied territory.
Bush and Rice pressuring their Israeli counterparts would not be possible if Bush wasn't serving his second and last term as President, meaning he does not have to suck up to powerful lobby groups to stand a chance at the upcoming presidential election.
American author Gore Vidal revealed why the U.S. recognized Israel in the first place:
“Sometime in the late 1950s, that world-class gossip and occasional historian, John F. Kennedy, told me how, in 1948, Harry S. Truman had been pretty much abandoned by everyone when he came to run for president. Then an American Zionist brought him two million dollars in cash, in a suitcase, aboard his whistle-stop campaign train. 'That's why our recognition of Israel was rushed through so fast.' As neither Jack nor I was an antisemite (unlike his father and my grandfather) we took this to be just another funny story about Truman and the serene corruption of American politics. [...]
[No] other minority in American history has ever hijacked so much money from the American taxpayers in order to invest in a ‘homeland’. It is as if the American taxpayer had been obliged to support the Pope in his reconquest of the Papal States simply because one third of our people are Roman Catholic. Had this been attempted, there would have been a great uproar and Congress would have said no. But a religious minority of less than two per cent has bought or intimidated seventy senators (the necessary two thirds to overcome an unlikely presidential veto) while enjoying support of the media.” 
As noted earlier, Liel is straightforward in his analysis: “If Israel does not establish the Palestinian state, it will not arise.”
Annexing the Gaza Strip turned out to be an impossible task due to the demographic situation. Filling the Gaza Strip with enough Jews to colonize it, with a basis of 8,500 Jews and 1.3 million Palestinians, was an impossible task. Historian Benny Morris was perfectly right when he said that Ben-Gurion’s failure to expel all Palestinian in 1948 is something Israel will have to live with. Pursuing the plan is no longer possible. The Zionists can complete the ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem, but not in the West Bank and Gaza. This is an inevitable fact Sharon is aware of.
When realizing all of Palestine without Palestinians was out of reach, the Zionist movement was forced to reconsider and revise its dream. The new goal became: As much of Palestine as possible with as few Palestinians as possible.
The 78 per cent of the land, which Arafat decided to adjudge Israel in 1993, was not enough for the Zionists. They demanded more. There is only one slight problem: the Palestinians are not prepared to settle for less than their 22 per cent. And why should they?
Apart from a too low percentage of the arable soil, the Palestinians will never accept a deal that doesn’t give them East Jerusalem, the capitol and heart of the Palestinian state-to-be. Moreover, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon speaks for all Zionists when he time after time assures that the Israeli government ”will not negotiate Jerusalem” and describes the city as ”the Israeli capital, which is united and indivisible for eternity.”  Just by openly declaring Israel “will not negotiate” this issue, Sharon made it clear that all peace negotiations are more or less meaningless, since neither part is willing to make concessions.
However, as the considerably stronger part, Israel has an advantage. The Zionists are able to impose their ‘peace deal’ by force, independent of what the Palestinians think (or anyone else for that matter).
This plan was well formulated in words by Sharon: “There's no need to talk, we need to build, and we're building without talking (about it.).” 
This explains the construction of the Apartheid Wall that is wriggling itself through the West Bank. Following the route of the Wall, it is obvious that Sharon is trying to create a Greater Jerusalem. Saying Israel needs to move unilaterally due to Palestinian lack of compromising and unwillingness to deal with terrorism, while being hailed as a ‘man of peace’ for leaving Gaza, Sharon is setting new boundaries that leaves the Palestinians less than 15 per cent of the land.
While cutting the West Bank in half by the eight meters (25 feet) high and 650 kilometer (400 miles) long Wall , leaving close to half the West Bank on the Israeli side, the dream of a Jerusalem without Palestinians is about to be fulfilled. According to B’Tselem, after Annexing East Jerusalem in 1967,
“Israel conducted a census in these areas, and granted permanent residency status to residents in the annexed areas present at the time the census was taken. Persons not present in the city for whatever reason forever lost their right to reside in Jerusalem. Permanent residents were permitted, if they wished and met certain conditions, to receive Israeli citizenship. These conditions included swearing allegiance to the State, proving that they are not citizens of any other country, and showing some knowledge of Hebrew [while Israeli Jews are permitted to hold double or even three citizenships - without knowing a word of Hebrew /KL]. For political reasons, most of the residents did not request Israeli citizenship. […]
Unlike citizenship, permanent residency is only passed on to the holder's children where the holder meets certain conditions. A permanent resident with a non-resident spouse must submit, on behalf of the spouse, a request for family unification. Only citizens are granted the right to return to Israel at any time.” 
Today it is evident that not applying for citizenship was a big mistake. It is far from well-known that close to half the 450,000 Jewish settlers live in Eastern Jerusalem. Since taking control over it, Israel has constructed some 90,000 housing units for Jews only. Not only are Palestinians denied access to the Jewish settlements, they are also categorically denied building permits.
Moreover, though they are not Israeli citizens, East Jerusalem Palestinians pay taxes to the Israeli state as if they were “full-fledged” citizens. “The Jerusalem Municipality has about 40% of its income from Arabs, but spends about 5% on us,” East Jerusalem resident Hisham al-Bakri told Aljazeera. 
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) estimates that another 25,000 housing units would have to be built for Palestinians to meet the demand.  Considering about 225,000 Palestinians are living in the city, a shortage of 25,000 housing units is an enormous problem they can do nothing about. And if a Palestinian, who has a right to permanent residency status, decides to move out of Jerusalem, he risks losing his permanent residency and thus forever his right to reside in his home town. Since he lacks Israeli citizenship, he is not allowed to reside on the Israeli side of the Green line either. The remaining option is moving to the West Bank, Gaza or – as the Zionists are hoping for – leaving the country.
This Apartheid policy is nothing but ethnic cleansing. It is implemented to create a 75 per cent Jewish majority in East Jerusalem, making the entire city ‘Jewish’ for all of the future. If this is allowed to continue for another couple of years, Jews will outnumber non-Jews in the Eastern part of the Holy city (today, the Palestinians outnumber Jews by 45 to 55 %). In total, “the Arabs make up a third of the Jerusalem population, but only have access to 7% of the urban land,” writes ICAHD.
You can say whatever you want about Sharon, but he is not stupid. His critics on the Zionist right just haven’t understood his plan yet – that’s why they attack for the Gaza evacuation. But when they realize the Jewish state will end up with maybe as much as 90% of the land, they will have to praise him as the true Zionist who came up with the final solution to the Palestinian problem.
 Israel needs no one but itself, by Alon Liel, Haaretz online, September 24, 2005; http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/628502.html
 Foreword to Jewish history, Jewish religion, by Israel Shahak (Pluto Press).
 Sharon tells U.S. Jews: Israel will never negotiate over J'lem, by Aluf Benn, Haaretz online, May 24, 2005.
 Sharon: No more evacuations, by Attila Somfalvi, Ynetnews, September 6, 2005; http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3138118,00.html
 Israel targets Jerusalem's Palestinians, by Laila El-Haddad in Gaza, Aljazeera 29/12/03; http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/1B4E92BA-A61B-4C6B-B8A2-52627BFC3663.htm
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Israel Shamir interview - book your question
Instructions: Leave your name in the comments section of this post. If possible, include email address and I will tell you where to send the question. If you do not want to leave your email publicly, you must then send me an email to my hotmail account. The details of this will be made when the list of participants is assembled.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Paradise Mombassa -Translated and introduced by Gilad Atzmon
On 22 November 2002, Hotel Paradise Mombassa, an Israeli Hotel in Kenya, was attacked by a group of terrorists. The following Maariv piece isn’t concerned with Al Qa’eda, but rather with the devastation the Israelis left behind.
This is the story of a beautiful Israeli hotel on the African seashore. It is the story of an Israeli owned holiday resort in Mombassa, Kenya, designed and built solely for the Israeli tourist market. It is also the story of total abuse of the local impoverished population. It is a tale of humiliation, cruelty and continuous daily rape of struggling African women. It is the usual horrendous story of Israelis inflicting pain on others but at times it is very funny in spite of itself. For instance, once a week, when the Israeli groups were departing in busses on their way back to the Mombassa terminal, the local crew ordered the African staff to chase their departing busses with tears in their eyes and to scream ‘please don’t leave us, we love you, please come back’. This bizarre instruction was given to the local crew by the Israeli hotel management as part of the package deal, the last image to bring home of an unforgettable holiday. I allow myself to assume that the Israeli managers detected some clear yearning for love amongst their Israeli clients. One may ask what may stand in the core of such a longing for declarations of love. Considering the clear fact that those Israeli tourists were mainly engaged in turning Mombassa into Hell on earth, why do they really need to feel beloved after all that? I wonder why the Israeli offender insists upon being loved by his victim? Ordinary human beings do not expect to be loved by their hotel receptionists or room cleaners. But then, ordinary human beings do not tend to humiliate, abuse and rape hotel staff. They may spend some time in the hotel, they may enjoy its services and then they just pay and leave politely and quietly. For the Israeli tourists, as you will soon read, staying in the hotel is a clear ‘letting go’. It is the ideal environment to manifest one’s darkest libidinal impetus and practice total denial of any moral conduct. For the Israeli tourist, holiday is the materialisation and embodiment of their control zeal. For the Israelis, as you will read shortly, to go to for a holiday in Africa is to experience the varied possibilities of becoming a very wild animal.
The following journalistic piece is a glimpse into some Israeli pathological psychotic conditions. It is a bizarre story of an absurd criminal identity that demands affection from its victims. The story wasn’t written by myself, I just translated it into English. It originally appeared only in Hebrew in Maariv, Israel’s 2nd biggest daily paper. I spent time translating it because I do believe that is rather crucial to permit people outside of Israel a better understanding of the Israeli character and characteristics. Seemingly, some amongst us tend to believe that the Israeli approach towards the Palestinians is the outcome of specific colonial circumstances. Apparently, they are wrong. Israeliness is a radical form of blind cruelty and the Israelis have no problem taking it with them wherever they go. In Palestine it would be the Palestinians who suffer, in Goa it is the poor Indians. In the following story it is the deprived labour force of Mombassa, Kenya who confronts Israeli sadism. There is an old and famous saying, ‘you can take the man out of Israel but you can never take Israel out of the man’. You may want to take a nice deep breath before you read what the men of Israel are up to.
Fear and Contempt in Heaven
Omri Hasenheim, Kenya
In hotel Paradise Mombassa, crew members were humiliated by the Israeli tourists, it’s no surprise that even after the 2002 terror attack on the hotel, they refuse to forgive, not Al-Qa’eda but rather us (the Israelis).
It is standing on the white sand that is apparently more beautiful than ever. The luxury buildings invite you for a ‘dream of a break’, the rooms and the suites are loaded with exceptional handmade wooden furniture. In between the restored buildings you find a stream with golden fishes. At the bar you can hear the echo of some laidback African beat. All around the gigantic swimming pool you can see many monkeys jumping around. From the dining room windows you can see the magnificent sea-view. On your way to the dining room you may want to visit the alligator pool, clearly the alligator grew a bit since that horrible day of terror.
Welcome to Heaven, Hotel ‘Paradise Mombassa’
At just a kilometre from there, in a Msomrini village, two orphan girls are making dreadlocks for each other. Not far behind them, an isolated miserable mud shed is standing, all around poorly clothed toddlers are playing. They are dirty, their noses are dripping. A few broken stools are spread around. On one of them, Dama Safaria is sitting. Before Al Qa’eda blew up the very little she had, she used to work as a dancer at the hotel. For two years she danced traditional African folk dances, something that helped her to forget the misery she was born into. In Msomrini, everyone was happy to dance for just $2 a day. In the beginning Dama was rather happy, but then, as time went by, the Israeli employers realised that they could probably get away without paying. After the performances, her husband used to march from the village to the hotel to beg for her wages. “We loved to dance for the Israelis,” says Dama, “but then once the payment day arrived our smiles would fade away.”
On the morning of 22 November 2002, Al Qa’eda terrorists attacked at the hotel. Once the explosion went off, it didn’t take long before Dama realised that her husband was missing. She was horrified, a few minutes later she was told that he was killed. Since then, she is struggling on her own to maintain herself and her nine orphans. Her youngest son is just four years old. From the hotel management she heard nothing. No one came to visit or even just to offer condolences. Neither the Israeli Government nor Kenyan officials have shown any interest. “We, the dancing company, are still owed $120 for the last four performances in front of those Israeli tourists,” she claims in despair.
“After the terror attack my life became impossible. In the winter I beg for the farmers to cultivate our land for literally pennies,” in the summer she herself doesn’t realise how she makes it.
Two month ago ‘Paradise Mombassa’ was reopened under a new management comprised of one Israeli, one French and one American. They try to minimise their exposure, very much like the previous Israeli owner Yeuda Sulami who denies to this day his involvement with the previous management. The new management does its utmost to change the hotel’s image, they are trying to leave the Israeli market behind. Instead they aim to appeal to European and American markets.
But for many locals, this new business face lift won’t make a big difference, the memory of those very years of total abuse by Israeli tourists and management is not going to fade away. They won’t forget the Israeli guests that sexually assaulted them or were just rude and arrogant. They won’t forget the Israeli management who came along with some bizarre professional demands, failing to pay their monthly wages on time and eventually just stopped paying altogether. Now, maybe out of hope, or just the will to open their hearts, they are giving their personal account of ‘Paradise Mombassa’.
The idea to erect an Israeli hotel on Kenya’s seashore in the late 1990’s was proved to be ingenious. Until then, Kenya was famous for its wild Safari adventures. Yeuda Sulami and his business partner Itzik Mamman came up with the idea of using Kenya as an Israeli holiday resort. They founded a company and started to sell holiday packages including flights, accommodation and local tourist adventures. In the beginning, they were buying accommodation services from local companies. But the Israeli appetite knows no limit. ‘Why don’t we make the big money ourselves’ asked the two, ‘we shall build our hotel on the beach.’ Soon, they joined forces with local investors and founded a company based on ‘time sharing’ holiday rentals for Israelis. The Israeli client reacted enthusiastically, at the end of the day it was: a beautiful hotel offering sunny beaches at the time of the Israeli winter, complete with a flourishing cheap sex industry and just four and a half hours’ flight time from Tel Aviv.
The leitmotif that guided Sulami and Maman was that the Israeli guest who may come to Kenya once would return. Thus the promotion packages were sold ridiculously cheap. It all worked out perfectly well. Many Israelis returned and invested in holiday accommodation (one Israeli bought 52 holiday units for the sum of $1.5 million). Every week 250 Israelis landed at Mombassa airport, they found an Israeli hotel, it was fully Kosher and it even had a proper synagogue.
The hotel started to operate in the year 2000 and was officially launched a year later. Local crew was recruited from surrounding hotels. Most workers admit that in the beginning they were rather happy, but things deteriorated rapidly soon after the official opening. Rather soon it was clear that someone was about to pay for the Israeli extravaganza.
Man should never be Alone
Three years later, the humiliating practice is left like an open wound in the memory of the female hotel crew veterans. Once a week, just when the Israelis where checking out on their way back to the airport, a bell rang. ‘Get ready, the guest are leaving,’ announced the head of the entertaining team, frantically chasing the female crew. They were all ordered to gather near to the entrance gate and to chase the leaving busses while weeping desperately in front of the Israelis. Once they caught up with the busses they would bang on its metal frame with tears dropping from their eyes.
“It was a bizarre order,” giggled Saline Aching, the chief masseuse. “We were told to chase the bus, to sing and cry so the guests would know that we love them and want them to come back. I remember myself running like in a frenzied state, I would hit the bus with my fists shouting to the guests, ‘why do you leave us?’ ‘We miss you’, ‘We love you’. The Israelis would stare at us from the windows, some of them believed us to be genuine, others were shooting us with their video cameras. ”
Rahima Josef Katan: “If you were not crying you may find yourself in danger of losing your job. We were asked to think of something bad that happened to us, so we can cry for real. I didn’t cry.” “I didn’t cry,” Confesses Catherine Khaa, masseuse. “How could I, I didn’t love them at all. I fact I hated them.”
The weekly bus chasing was just one example of the way the staff were supposed to treat the Israeli guests. The principles were obvious: humiliation, stripped of dignity and hard labour. The guidelines were clear: The client is always right, the client must be happy, the client must return. The ones who carried most of the burden were the females amongst the entertainment team. Dorothy Maly recollects that once a week, on the arrival day, five of them would be taken to Mombassa airport. “We used sing to them Jambo Jambo (hello hello) and Evenu Shalom Aleichem. The local Kenyans were sure that we had had lost it but the Israelis were over the moon. They loved noise, once we arrived at the hotel, again we started singing loudly. In the night we were instructed by the manager to scream till the last Israeli leaves the dance floor. If a guest decides not to go to sleep, you were required to stay with him till he quits to his room. We were demanded to produce noise almost 24 hours a day. When we took a break, the manager would come and bark: ‘What’s the matter with you, do you fall asleep? I will cut your wage, move on…’.”
The agenda dictated from above was that a bored guest would never return. Rahima Raymond, masseuse: “We were doomed to sit with the guests till the small hours, to hang around with them. Sulami made it clear that we must keep the guests happy. We were dancing with the men in nightclubs just to make sure that they weren’t staying alone. In case we refused to do so, they would complain to the management: ‘Why don’t they come out with us?’ ‘We want to see the African night life’. They obviously didn’t care about our commitments and family life. Obviously, we didn’t get any ‘extra’ for those services. The day after, while they were still in bed we had to start again at eight in the morning. The slogan ‘the client is always right’ took over. Josef Katan: “they taught us a behavioural code, if a man is near to his wife we were supposed to hold his hand in a certain way, if his wife wasn’t around then we should behave rather differently.”
“There were religious Jews who couldn’t sign the room service notes on the Jewish Sabbath. We would then keep a note with their room number attached to their bill. Once Sabbath was over, some of them would just refuse to pay. They would argue that we invented it all, ‘you forged our signatures’, they would say. The management would always believe them and expect us to cover their bills. I just couldn’t believe that humans can behave as such.”
To se seen like an African
The ever-growing demand to entertain the Israeli guests enforced a maximised utilisation of the local workforce. The crew were mobilised from the many different departments to the entertainment team. “They could pool me out of the kitchen, telling me that the guests want to have a good time and I should go and hang out with them,” says Josef Katan. “ I would then ask, how can I bake cookies and dance simultaneously? The entire hotel was as an entertainment squad. The kitchen stuff were entertainers, the receptionists were entertainers, gardeners were entertainers.” Mali, a dancer: “Saline, the chief masseuse would give us a shout when too many Israelis wanted a massage at the same time. At the time I knew nothing about massage. There was a woman that was brought over by the hotel’s rabbi and she was supposed to teach us. After a short instruction of five minutes I was apparently ready to have a go.”
In order to maintain ‘authentic African spirit’ the staff was obliged to put on very minimal clothes. Unlike the other hotels in the vicinity, where men were serving in uniform, in Paradise Mombassa the male crew were walking around half naked and with bare feet. The females were allowed just a minimal fabric on their breasts and pubes. “Even when temperatures dropped we were not allowed to cover ourselves.” Marci Mawagambo Aching said: “Sulami wanted us to look ‘authentic’ so when you walk around, the guests can check you out for the night. You must be attractive so they re-book another holiday. It was horrible, but what can you do? I needed the money. One of the Israeli female managers told us that we better follow Sulami’s orders, if he wants us too look like Africans, we better look like ones.”
Even most basic conditions were lacking. ‘Paradise Mombassa’ is located 8 kilometres from the main road. The dirt track to the hotel passes through a wild savannah loaded with outlaws. But then a solution was found, a truck originally built to transport livestock was converted to transport forty humans. An Israeli employee says, “it was a truck with a sealed cargo wagon without benches. People were so squeezed in that we had to leave the back door open.” Josef Katan: “We felt like animals. Sometimes we were left with no oxygen, but we knew that if we complained we would then asked to stay in the hotel. That would obviously mean we would not be able to see our families. So we kept quiet.” Once a newly appointed manager asked how the Kenyans felt about the manner in which they were transported. The answer was rather clear, ‘for them it doesn’t matter, as long as they are delivered to their work they are happy.’
Even for meals during the working hours, local crew were left to fend for themselves. But then a creative solution was found. Aching: “there were times when Sulami was kind and let us eat the guests’ leftovers. We were lucky because the Israelis are greedy, they would go to the buffet and put on their plates far more than their bodies can take. They would take piles of salads, and massive chunks of meat, but then, they would barely touch it and leave most of it behind.” Mali: “If to tell the truth, we could see that the food was already on someone else’s plate, but some of us had to eat it, just because they couldn’t afford to buy somewhere else. They where hungry, what could they do?”
But it goes further. It didn’t take long before the local crew realised that they were not insured. It was clearly revealed after a security man was murdered and his colleague was wounded during a burglary, till this day, neither the grieving family nor the wounded man received any compensation. Work contracts were granted only to the very top managers. Lower hierarchy were provided with a meaningless paper stating an agreed figure. This document has never been respected by its initiators.
Good Machine, Good Machine
Saline Aching was curious to understand some Hebrew terms, it is her interest in the Hebrew language that helped her to grasp the meaning of Akol Kalul, all included. Not one hotel staff failed to understand the meaning of the Hebrew idiom that became the hotel business philosophy. All hotel services where included in the price of the holiday package purchased back in Israel. Soon the staff learned that this very idiom means a lot to Israelis.
“All day long I heard the guests shouting Akol Kalul,” says Josef Katan. “Some of them held me by my arm and shouted at me Akol Kalul. Even on the beach they would just shout to passing people Akol Kalul, Akol Kalul. I would then ask them what that ‘Akol Kalul’ means? They would answer, ‘everything, even you’. I used to tell them that I am not Sulami’s property. He owns the hotel but not me. I thought to myself, “God, do they behave as such in their own country?”
In the best case scenario, the Akol Kalul was practiced in the free buffet bar materialising into gigantic chunks of meat put on a single plate. In the worst case scenario, it found its way into the massage room. Needless to say, not even one guest evaded his right to be massaged. Aching says, “The first thing the male guests did upon arrival, even before they unloaded their suitcases in the rooms, they would sprint to the massage room. They would enter the hotel with their eyes wide open asking, ‘where is the massage room?’ I used to plan the daily schedule, there was a competition amongst them who is going to get there first.
Mali: “My role was to tell them: ‘I am Dorothy and I am a masseuse in the hotel’ as soon as I mentioned it they would scream ‘massage, massage’. Most of them couldn’t speak English. They would just say, ‘I come now.’ A tourist from another country would wait even two weeks but in Paradise they wanted it all right on the spot. Sometimes, even before breakfast. Someone would come and tell you, ‘I come for a massage akol kalul, if you don’t do akol kalul, I take another masseuse’.”
“They would say: “I want Harpaya, (ejaculation), I would then ask what this Harpaya means and they would answer, ‘not only harpaya but we want it ‘all inclusive’, full sex.’ I used to tell them that we don’t do it and he would reply, ‘Read my lips, ‘the women are all included’, the salesman in Tel Aviv promised us that it’s Akol Kalul!’ Sometimes one of the female managers would suggest for to us to follow the guests’ demands just as a guarantee that they would come back.”
Katherine Kaha, a masseuse, confesses that she had to follow the demands… “I would start doing a massage, and then the man would tell me, ‘do it all over, you must do it’. In case I wouldn’t they would complain to the management. I didn’t like it at all but I did it. They would give me $1 sometimes two, I felt horrible.”
A frequent Israeli guest to the hotel: “There was always this problem with the massage, the Israelis used to abuse the girls to the very limit. It was appalling and it gave Israel a bad name. There were some groups I was really embarrassed to stand near to. They were so bossy and arrogant, they did whatever they liked, and just had good time.”
“One of the Israelis told me,” says Rahima, “you know Rahima, last night they provided me with a little baby girl, only 13 years old, I fucked her and gave her $5 just because she was penniless.” I then asked him, “Wasn’t she the age of your granddaughter?” He didn’t answer. On the same night he might as well have come back to the hotel shouting, ‘African women are the best value for money.’ Let me tell you, here in Africa, it isn’t that common that once you sleep with a woman you go and inform the rest of the world about it. But the Israelis kept it all open, they used to say about us: Mechona Tova, Mechona Tova (Good machine, Good machine).”
The Power to Fuck
The passion for sex wasn’t only restricted to the massage rooms and wasn’t solely the business of the single male guests. It was rather prohibited to let local girls into the hotel. But a solution was found, just across the road, again in an Israeli partnership, a motel named Calypso was founded. This was where Israelis were hanging around in the nights. “Men used to come to our rooms asking us to go out with them,” tells Josef Katan, “but the worst happened in the morning when they shared the details of last night’s affairs with the entire dining room. They used to shout things like ‘ha, I went with her, I fucked and fucked and fucked her all night long and all for less than one dollar’. We understood exactly what they were talking about. When the first group arrived, I was telling myself that surely the second group would be better. But it was exactly the same. From tine to time they used to ask for room service, once the room service crew would enter their room, they would try to touch her. The waitresses were horrified, they never wanted to go with food to the rooms, but my personal case was different, they were afraid of me because I was rude to them. They used to call me ‘big ass’. This was Ok, it is better being ‘big ass’ rather than being their sex slave.”
“Even the married men used to find some ways to the girls’ rooms. For instance, one told his wife, ‘go to the dining room, I will be right there with you.’ Apparently he disappeared till the morning after. In the morning we were witnessing the woman screaming at her husband during breakfast. Once a man replied to his wife, ‘the women in Kenya are so great, they have a small hole, unlike you having such a silly big one’. All that at breakfast, in the dining room, in public. When the animosity went wild we always rushed to bring the hotel’s Rabbi in, he would do his best to make peace. Sometimes, the men used to sit in the dining room while the donkeys were having sex outside. As soon as the Israelis noticed the donkeys’ activity they would stand up and show their support: ‘good, good, good, forward, backward, good. good’.”
“Occasionally, one would come to me telling me in front of everyone else. ‘I will take Viagra and after that I will have the power to fuck. By the way, what’s your name?’ I would say Rahima. ‘Good, Rahima. I want to fuck you today!’” I asked myself what is going on. One guest asked me, ‘do you know Chartie? I went with her to the disco, I fucked her but she wasn’t good at all. Originally I planed to give her $10 but eventually I gave her $1 only. He was shouting like a madman and then Chartie arrived in the room. He then pointed at her with his finger and shouted ‘here she is, it was her’.”
Karen Tiglo, a room cleaner: “We couldn’t figure out whether the Israelis were wild animals or human beings. They would all the time offer me $10. I felt so humiliated. After a while they would know who amongst the female crew were desperate for money and would just go for them. Stela Matawa, a waitress: from time to time, a man would approach me abusively, in case I would refuse, the man would come to the dining room and shout, ‘leave out this girl she is crap, I took her to the room and she was useless’.”
Katherine Kaa experienced an especially traumatic event when a seventy-year-old man decided that he was in love with her. “I didn’t love him at all,” she says. “We went out to a discothèque, I was sure that I was just escorting him to assist him killing his boredom. On the way back, he and the taxi driver tricked me, rather than driving back to the hotel, we arrived at a place that hires rooms for the night. Violently, he tried to force me to sleep with him. But I couldn’t. When we went back to the hotel he told me that never wanted to see me again. And he would report to the management that I wasted his money without giving a thing back. After my refusal was reported, the hotel manager dismissed me for two weeks.”
According to a few of the crew members, not only did the Israeli management fail to denounce, some of the managers actually joined the party (their names are kept with the editors of the newspaper). Raymond, “At the time one of the managers learned to enjoy the massages. He started to demand: ‘do it here, here and there’ just like one of the guests. Another manager would pick girls from the entertainment team, he would say, ‘after all, I am a manager, no one would ask you where were you going.’ I had to accept it although it was rather horrible. The day after when he would pass by me, he would hardly acknowledge me. Every time, after our performances, one dancer would disappear into one of the manager s’ offices. The girls were afraid that this might be a professional issue to do with their performance but then, once in the manager’s office, they realised what it was all about.”
haloscan comments are back! and Announcement
There will also soon be a special announcement asking for participation in a group interview to a controversial person who has agreed to respond to questions submitted through this blog, so news of that will be up very shortly.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
The ACADEMY forces Italy to exclude PRIVATE
No Oscar for Saverio Costanzo's Film
ROME - The Film by Saverio Costanzo, "Private", will not be in the running for the Oscars. The film, in fact has been excluded by the Academy in the category of Best Foreign Film. Anica and Api (two production companies) have made public that "with great disappointment we have received a letter from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, dated 12 October, wherein the Academy itself declares that the film 'Private', although being of Italian production, and by Italian authors and director, does not have the requisites to participate in the category of Best Foreign Language Film, because it was not spoken even partially in the Italian language. The film by Saverio Costanzo - continues the letter from the Academy - can compete in the Oscars in all the other categories".
The Academy has asked the Selection Committee to propose another film that has the right requisites to compete in the category of Best Foreign Language Film, and the Committee must decide as soon as possible (La Bestia nel Cuore, by Comincini was selected... a drama about incest, was selected by the way) among the films that have already been in the running, as the substitute title. The second place film in the selection was "Manuale d'Amore" by Giovanni Veronesi. Veronesi's film is being projected in these days in Los Angeles, since this is one of the conditions that must be met in order to participate in the competition.
Now, I ask you, I ask myself... years ago, didn't Chariots of Fire win as a Foreign Language Film? So is it Foreign or Foreign Language? And where is it indicated that it must be done in the language of its director? That is insane!! Was Little Buddah by Bertolucci in Italian? Zabrieski Point? What is going on here???? Have all films that have been submitted been done in the language of the country of origin? I find this scandalous, and for me, there is a political reason behind it. I am not that well versed in cinema, so if anyone can help me with the research, I would be most grateful.
Why did they eliminate "Private"??? (UPDATED)
Saverio Costanzo's film PRIVATE, which was selected to represent Italy in the Academy Awards with a four-fifths majority by the panel of critics, film-makers and film producers, none of which had films in the running, was pulled from the competition. It won the prestigious Locarno Film Festival award for the Best Film. It is a film that has been considered extremely well made. Perhaps it never would have made the top five films to run for the Oscars, but the fact that it was selected with such a wide consensus does say something about it.
Well, today, they have decided that it can't run in the category "Best Foreign Language Film", because it is not in Italian! Amazing. An Italian director, an Italian producer, an Italian writer.... and it must be excluded because it takes place in Palestine!? I promise to get to the bottom of this and keep you informed. I will present this great film and hope that the jury reverses its decision, or at least we find out if there have ever been other Foreign Language films excluded because they were set in countries other than the country the film is from. How provincial... or is there something else underneath all of this??? I will keep you informed.
The official site http://www.privatethefilm.com/ still has it listed as the candidate. The producer of the second place film of the Committee had withdrawn his film in protest. (There are still some decent people in the world with a bit of morals, so hats off to Dino de Laurentiis and a big HISS to Cristina Comencini).
From the Chicago Palestine Film Festival blog:
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has notified Italy’s Oscar selection committee that their nomination of “Private” is ineligible to compete in the Best Foreign Film category in the Academy Awards of 2006 because of the film’s lack of an Italian language. Although “Private” was directed, produced and filmed partly in Italy, it cannot be considered an “Italian” foreign film because of its lack of an Italian language spoken by the main characters. According to Rule 14 governing the Special Rules for Best Foreign Language Film Award of the 78th Annual Academy Awards, “The recording of the original dialogue track as well as the completed film must be predominantly in an official language of the country submitting the film except when the story mandates that an additional non-English language be predominant. Films involving subcultures that speak a non-English, non-official language may qualify if their subject matter concerns life in the submitting country.”
(I repeat, Kapò was NOT originally recorded in Italian. My copy is dubbed into Italian. The Battle of Algiers was DEFINITELY not even dubbed into Italian, it is in French, Arabic and a few words of English... both films ended up in the top five Academy selections - thecutter)
“Private,” which chronicles the occupation of a Palestinian home by Israeli forces, is spoken in Arabic and Hebrew, disqualifying it from consideration. The Academy has given Italy’s selection committee, headed in part by Bernardo Bertolucci, fifteen more days to elect another film for consideration. Nominations for all categories will be announced on January 31, 2006.
SIMILARITIES TO DIVINE INTERVENTION: Palestine Film Fest
Saverio Costanzo's “Private,” shown in 2005 at CPFF, has been elected by Italy to represent the country in next years Academy Award for “Best Foreign Film” category. The film, hailed in Italy for its "optimistic" representation of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, stars Palestinian actor/director Mohammed Bakri and has been traveling the film festival circuit. “Private” won the top prize at Switzerland’s Locarno Film Festival and is slated to be released in the US on November 11, 2005.
The press is paying much attention to Italy’s choice for the Oscar, chosen by an Italian committee headed by Bernardo Bertolucci. The last time a Palestinian film was associated with the Academy in 2002, a dispute ensued. Elia Suleiman’s “Divine Intervention” raised controversy in the movie industry after Lorenza Muñoz’s December 14, 2002 article in the Los Angeles Times. According to Muñoz, the producer of “Divine Intervention,” Humbert Balsan, asked the American Motion Pictures of Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) executive director Bruce Davis whether the film was eligible for best foreign film. Davis responded that Palestine was not a country recognized by the Academy. Following such information, the film's distributor, Avatar Pictures, did not submit “Divine Intervention” for consideration.
When “The Village Voice” contacted AMPAS in 2003, they commented that the Academy had not made a decision whether Palestine should be considered a country or not because “Divine Intervention” was not submitted as a film. Despite the bureaucratic roller coaster “Divine Intervention” went through, many organizations called foul, including Arab anti-discrimination groups and Electronic Intifada. Director of “Gaza Strip” James Longley threatened to return his student Academy Award over the incident.
Although representations of Palestine and Palestinians have yet to surface in the Academy awards, perhaps Costanzo’s Italian production “Private” will change that. This year, the AMPAS will announce their nominations for the foreign film category on January 31, 2006 with the ceremony scheduled to take place on March 5.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Fantastic Kurt Vonnegut Interview
Here is a snippet, but the entire thing is well worth the read!!
DAVID BRANCACCIO: But you're saying you don't see senior political figures really, anybody representing the interests of people who are struggling?
KURT VONNEGUT: No, are not representing the American people. And, so there are people who made a hell of a lot of money one way or another. Making it during the war, incidentally. As you know, maybe the war is a bad idea. But some people are making a ton of money off of it. And they want to hang on to whatever they've got. And so they bank roll political campaigns for both Republicans and Democrats. Look, we're awful animals. We can start with that. You know, it's a whole human experiment, if that's what we are.
DAVID BRANCACCIO: That heart-- at heart, we're awful?
KURT VONNEGUT: Look, we after two World Wars and the holocaust and the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and after the Roman games and after the Spanish Inquisition and after burning witches, the public-- shouldn't we call it off? I mean, we are a disease and should be ashamed of ourselves.
And so, yeah, I think we ought to stop reproducing. But since we're not going to do that, I think the planet's immune system is trying to get rid of us.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Jews Against Zionism? More like Jews Against the Palestinian Street
This piece does not intend upon being in support of Hamas. This essay is absolutely not going to show support of any of the operations that bring about the killing of Israeli civilians, which are openly condemned even by some members of Hamas. Yet, it can not be denied that a great number of the Palestinian population itself and the Muslim world at large, supports Hamas and recognises it as a legitimate political party with a valid social and educational program. It competes in established municipal and administrative elections and gains many seats by democratic vote. Many of its leaders are in Israeli jails (when they and their families are not assassinated by order of the Israeli government), and it appears that Israel has an enormous need to destroy Hamas, literally and figuratively. Putting Hamas into an inferior category and attempting to create a negative aura around it, primarily for the fact that it is religiously based (Muslim) and thus to suggest even that those who may support it in some way are harbingers of a new dark age for the entire Middle East, is a common Zionist and Israeli activity. It has become a well-established campaign and often claims are made against Hamas that have no bearing in reality, and against the evidence that they have actively adhered to a truce on military operations, even when Israel did not. It must also be remembered, that criticism of Hamas as a religiously inspired movement is contradictory especially when the raison d'être of Israel is as a state with a Jewish majority and where there are religious laws that reflect the cultural tradition of this majority.
When the supporters and leaders of this group are dismissed for their intellectual capacities, it is a matter of disregard for the dignity of self-determination of a people and for the respect that is due to a human being who does not deserve to be insulted as intellectually inferior. This article takes to task the insulting of Hamas on an intellectual level.
There is a small group of politically active British Jews who operate and make their personal statements under the name of a group called Jews Against Zionism. Not to be confused with the Orthodox Jews, True Torah Jews Against Zionism Jews Against Zionism, many members of this group are proud to consider themselves secular, although by no means all of them are, and they are often occupied in labour union activities and Palestine solidarity campaign work. Their online coffeehouses are basically Mark Elf’s blog, Jews Sans Frontieres, Dead Men Left, and Lenin's Tomb, not to mention, most of their members are prominent contributors to a Yahoo Group list which represents a mainly British Palestine solidarity group called Just Peace UK and its similar group specifically for Jews, Jews for Justice for Palestinians. The Secretary of Jews Against Zionism, Tony Greenstein, had made a recent comment on Elf’s blog which is cause for wonder as to his opinion of the Palestinian street.
Elf’s other blog, Jews Against Zionism reprinted a complete version of Nick Cohen’s article on Anti-Semitism published in the New Statesman. If you aren’t familiar with this journal, their online blurb states: “The New Statesman was created in 1913 with the aim of permeating the educated and influential classes with socialist ideas.” Great! Sounds like a very noble aim. Sounds like it was created for the folks of Jews Against Zionism. In fact, education is so important, that illiteracy may be one claim that rather than have a compassionate tone for those who have not had much opportunity, can be hurled as a condemnation.
This, in fact, seems to be what Tony Greenstein is doing in a comment to Cohen’s essay. Greenstein writes:
“To suggest that Hamas is at the centre of a multiheaded, anti-Semitic hydra is political paranoia. Israeli soldiers and settlers, with fists, boots and bullets, bulldoze the houses and crops of poor peasants, steal their water and land, kill their children and humiliate their elders, all in the name of the Jews. It is, after all, a Jewish state."
So far, so good. Yet, Greenstein continues, "Nick Cohen wonders why the illiterates of Hamas echo the absurdities of European anti-Semites? He muddles cause and effect and persists in looking down the telescope the wrong way.”
Woah… what did Cohen claim about Hamas? That they were a bunch of illiterates? If one knows anything at all about Hamas, claiming that education and literacy are unimportant to them is quite the lie and smear. Almost all of the Hamas leaders and spokesmen not only are clerics and university educated, but most have an enviable articulacy that has won them influence not only in their natural constituency, but also abroad. One is not obligated to support Hamas, or even to like them, however, a recognition of their intellectual contribution to the Palestinian street is almost de rigueur.
On the BBC page which addresses the question, “Who are Hamas?” the first of two functions is stated as: “It is involved in building schools and hospitals in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and in helping the community in social and religious ways.”
Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi and Mamoud Zahar were Physicians, Khalad Mashaal a physics professor. Most of the spokesmen living abroad are university educated. It might be interesting to determine what educational background Greenstein, and Elf who support his words have, but it appears unlikely that they have undergone such advanced levels of higher education necessary to be involved in the professions of the Hamas leaders cited. To claim that those of Hamas are illiterates is basically just an insult, like calling people who don’t agree with you fascists.
MSN Encarta’s site says, “Many of Hamas’s leaders were educated in Cairo during the rule of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Present members include religious leaders, sheikhs (Arab chiefs), intellectuals, businessmen, young activists, and paramilitary fighters. Hamas provides social services to the needy in the 11 refugee camps in Gaza. Providing social welfare and education through clinics, kindergartens, summer camps, medical services, sports programs, and job programs ties the Hamas leadership to its supporters.” Doesn’t sound like a bunch of ignorant hoodlums who can barely write their names….
All right then, WHAT did Cohen actually say about Hamas to get this rise out of Greenstein? Here is what Cohen said about Hamas: ”Please don't tell me that it helps the Palestinians to give the far right the time of day, or pretend that Palestinian liberals, socialists, women, gays, freethinkers and Christians (let alone Israeli Jews) would prosper in a Palestine ruled by Hamas.”
And then he said this:
“While we're at it, don't excuse Hamas and Islamic Jihad and all the rest by saying the foundation of Israel and the defeat of all the Arab attempts to destroy it made them that way.”
Upon reading it ten times, no one can find a suggestion that Hamas is comprised a bunch of illiterates. In the article, they surely aren’t considered the good guys, but to berate them intellectually, and with that, to suggest that the people who might consider Hamas a valid representative for themselves, precisely because Hamas has social and educational matters as one of their primary goals for Palestinian society, is quite offensive to the Palestinian street, and this is precisely what Tony Greenstein is saying when he is criticising Nick Cohen for conflating “the absurdities of European anti-Semitism” with the “illiterates of Hamas”.
Do only a handful of fanatics support Hamas? According to the BBC site, “The grass-roots organisation - with a political and a military wing - has an unknown number of hard-core members but tens of thousands of supporters and sympathisers.”
Again, from MSN Encarta; “Hamas’s following is estimated to be in the tens of thousands, but until 2000, less than 18 percent of the population of the West Bank and Gaza supported its political views. By 2004 support for Hamas grew to a quarter of the approximately 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, with most of that support in the more impoverished region of Gaza.”
Hamas leaders are greatly revered by the populace. On August 22, 2003, nearly 100,000 Palestinians crowded the streets to mourn the death of Hamas leader Ismail Abu Shanab. That sure is a lot of people for a funeral…
Besides the educational and charitable work that Hamas objectively provides, "the extensive array of charitable and welfare services that stood in stark contrast to the inefficiency and collapse of the PA ministries” Merip,
it also has an organisational goal, and that is “to forge a "new national movement" out of the debris of the old. If there was a strategy, it seemed to be the "resistance only" path charted by Hizballah in south Lebanon. If there was a political objective, it appeared to be to effect a compelled, non-negotiated Israeli retreat from part or all of the Occupied Territories, again with south Lebanon as the model. "The intifada is about forcing Israel's withdrawal from the 1967 territories," said Abd al-Aziz Rantisi, then the Hamas political leader in Gaza, in October 2002. "But that doesn't mean the Arab-Israeli conflict will be over."” Merip
Basically, these are the things that Jews Against Zionism have often claimed to support, that the Intifada is legitimate, that Israel must retreat from the Occupied Territories, that the PA has not been providing services for the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories and the international community itself has washed its hands of responsibility for them. It would seem that Hamas is carrying some of the same political baggage.
So, the question begs, can Hamas in some way be considered as representative of Palestinian national political aspirations which are held by a great segment of the populace? Are they a radical faction that have no support in the Palestinian street? "In Palestinian local government elections in Gaza and the West Bank in December 2004, January and May, Hamas lists won an estimated 60 percent of all seats and clear majorities in 30 percent of all councils. The greatest prize was the West Bank town of Qalqilya, where Hamas' "Change and Reform" slate took all 15 positions, a victory seen as a protest not only against Fatah's history of mismanagement but also against Fatah's powerlessness to prevent the encirclement of the town on all sides by Israel's wall. Predictably, these successes have posed a "dilemma" for US and European diplomats, who champion "Arab democracy" on the one hand but are compelled to ostracize the main Palestinian beneficiary of democracy on the other." Merip.
Ostracising Hamas is the dilemma, and not a simple task either, because they are considered to have a legitimate political goal, to enjoy popular support by the Palestinian people who see this group as succeeding where the PA has failed, and who have democratically elected by a large majority with continual consensus not only in the Gaza Strip. To make blanket statements that are not factually established, but rather based on typically racist insults is something one would expect from those who really would like to undermine the legitimacy of the choices that the Palestinians make for themselves to bring about the end of their domination by the Zionists. Tony Greenstein who is known for blaming Israel Shamir, Paul Eisen and others for their alleged ties with right wing racists (often obfuscating the entire issue by declaring that those who can't be pinned down with any specific accusation, but who nevertheless are vocal critical voices to the Jewish lobby as being "third positionists") appears here to be himself a proper white supremacist ideologist.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Akiva Orr - Gaza Games: Sharon vs God 1-0
Ever since the invention of the steam engine a flood of scientific inventions and industrial products undermines every traditional culture on this planet. This process spreads by two means: travel and effects of new products.
For 150 years members of every culture on this planet can – and do – meet members of other cultures and use new products that undermine their traditional beliefs and customs. Air travel, antibiotics, birth control pills, cars, cameras, computers, curing infertility, DNA, electricity, electronic communications, films, genetic engineering, Internet, organ transplant, radio, space travel, TV, etc, undermine the credibility of every traditional belief and custom.
All cultures respond alike to this threat – they split into three fragments:
1. A minority loyal to traditional beliefs and customs, opposing modernization
2. A majority giving up traditional beliefs and customs, while assimilating
3. A middle-way tendency trying to modernize the traditional culture
In most cases this is a slowed down assimilation
In Europe this fragmentation began among Jews in the 19th century. In the year 1800 all Jews still obeyed the 613 religious rules for the conduct of daily life but by 1900 only 20% still obeyed those rules ("Mitzvot"). To be "A Jew" meant "to live according to the Mitzvot". This is why the Jewish Initiation ceremony is called – "Bar Mitzva". Ceasing to live by the Mitzvot initiates a "Jewish Identity" crisis. This crisis began in Europe around 1850 and continues to this day.
Secular Zionism is one product of this crisis. Religio-Zionism is another. Those who preserve the original Jewish culture are the Orthodox Religious. They still constitute some 15% of every Jewish community. The rest tried "to become a person like all other persons" i.e. to assimilate.
Napoleon's legal code granted Jews legal equality, but in 19th century Europe they encountered social discrimination. In 1893 one assimilationist Jewish journalist in Vienna suggested to overcome this discrimination by mass converting to Christianity of all Jews in Vienna. His name was Theodore Herzl.
In 1897 he was sent by his paper to report the Dreyfus trial in Paris. Dreyfus was a Jew who converted to Christianity to become an officer in the French Army. He was accused of spying and imprisoned in a court case that shook France as it was clear that he was framed due to his Jewish origin. Persecution of a Jew who converted to Christianity shattered Herzl's beliefs. It forced him rethink them. He concluded that Jews are discriminated as an ethnic – rather than religious – minority, and to overcome this they must have a State where they will be the majority. To promote this view he founded a political movement aiming to create such a State He called it "Zionism" after the Biblical name of a Jewish State in the past. Herzl suggested that instead of striving to become a person like all other persons Jews strive to become a nation like all other nations. Religious Jews immediately opposed this. For them Jews are "God's nation" chosen by Him to show the world how He wants people to live.
According to Chief Rabbi Kook the gap between the soul of a Jew and a non-Jew is greater than between that of a human being and an animal. Orthodox religious Jews believe Jews are "The chosen nation" and must not become "like all other nations". Any attempt to make them "like all other nation" is a sin. For them Zionism is a sin and the Holocaust is God's punishment for this sin.
Religious Jews believe all history is determined by God's will. They believe the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and exile of the Jews from Zion by the Romans in 70 A.D. is God's punishment for sinning, and this can be overcome only when all Jews repent by living according to the 613 religious rules. They oppose the idea of assimilation - of Herzl and his followers – and reject his "Jewish" State. A State of non-believers is not Jewish and must be opposed. In 1912 they formed "Agudat Israel" ("The Jewish Association") to fight Zionism.. Only few religious Jews joined Herzl's Zionist movement.
The conflict between Zionists and Orthodox Jews reached a peak in 1924 when the spokesman of Orthodox Jewry; Jacob De-Haan was assassinated in Jerusalem by a decision of a Zionist group. One member of this group was Itzhak Ben-Zvi, who later became Israel's second President. The Zionists feared De-Haan will convince the world that Zionism is a merely a trend within Judaism and does not represent all Jews. This challenged the Zionist pretension to represent all Jews.
Zionists fear Jews who challenge their claim to represent all Jews, especially when the Jewishness of such critics cannot be challenged.
In 1921 The British rulers of Palestine appointed Rabbi Abraham Kook as Chief Rabbi in Palestine. Judaism has no Pope but the British needed an address for dealing with Jewish religious matters and invented this post. Kook had a good reputation among religious Jews as a great religious scholar. He decided to bridge the gap between Zionism and Judaism.
To convince religious Jews he used the metaphor of the donkey carrying the savior. Religious Jews believe that when all Jews repent God will send a savior (the "Messiah") on a white donkey to lead them back to Zion with its capital Jerusalem, where God's Temple will be rebuilt. The donkey carrying the savior is oblivious of its role as a vehicle for redemption. Kook hinted that Herzl's secular Zionists are like the savior's donkey and religious Jews should not fear to ride it. This convinced some religious Jews to form the National-Religious Party and join Herzl's Zionists' efforts to create a State in Palestine. When Israel was established as an independent State in 1948 Ben-Gurion promised them that all marriage-divorce-burial procedures in Israel will be by religious law, without an option of civil law. This convinced them to join Ben-Gurion's coalition and he gave them the Ministry of the Interior, which enabled them to enforce their laws of marriage-divorce-burial according to the "Halakha" (Jewish religious law). This is the "Status-Quo" agreement (between Orthodox Jews and Secular Zionists). It curbed the hostility of Orthodox to the secular state claiming to be the "State of the Jews".
1967 and its aftermath
Israel's military victory in 1967 was a new watershed in the relations between secular and religious Jews. After this war all Palestine, including Jerusalem, came under Israeli rule. Religious Jews saw this as God's will, and inferred that by granting this victory to secular Zionism God indicated that redemption is at hand and religious Jews must do all they can to redeem the entire country and – eventually – rebuild the Temple. At the same time Labor Zionists who formed the backbone of Israel and of settlement in Palestine claiming this is not colonialism but a case of "A country without people to people without a country" could no longer uphold this lie as TV showed many Palestinian villages and cities.
The settlement zeal passed from Labor-Zionism to Religio- Zionism. And so did the ideological hegemony in Zionism. This was symbolized by the 1968 meeting between Rabbi Levinger and Ygal Alon. After the 1967 victory the Israeli Cabinet forbade settling in the newly occupied territories intending to bargain them for Peace with the Arab states (excluding Jerusalem which was officially annexed). Rabbi Levinger defied the government and entered Hebron in the occupied territory as a tourist but later declared he came to settle in Hebron. According to the Cabinet's decision the army had to evacuate him, but it didn't.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Ygal Alon, a dedicated atheist, rushed to Hebron to congratulate Levinger. This symbolized the ideological capitulation of secular Zionism to Religio-Zionism. The religio-Zionist Levinger created an accomplished fact defying the Labour government, yet the deputy Prime Minister rushes to congratulate Levinger. In the following decades, thousands of Religio-Zionist settlers set up dozens of new settlements and new towns in the territories occupied in 1967. They saw it as their religious duty. All Israeli governments encouraged them and provided them with infrastructure of roads, electrical grid, water pipelines, cheap mortgages, and constant Army protection. This was a heavy burden on the economy. A key figure in supporting the Religio-Zionist settlers was Ariel Sharon. He was the settler's darling and their man in the government. Sharon helped them more than anyone else.
The disengagement from Gaza
In September 2000 the Likud Party and Sharon were in the opposition and asked Labor Prime Minister Barak’s permission to visit the El-Aqsa mosque which stands where religious Jews want to build the Jewish Temple. Sharon wanted to boost his patriotic image for the coming election campaign. Barak allowed it and Sharon, with 200 Israeli policemen, appeared in El-Aqsa on a Friday, knowing this provokes Muslim worshippers. The worshippers clashed with the police who shot and killed ten. CNN and other TV channels filmed it all and viewers everywhere saw it. This produced angry demonstrations throughout the Muslim world. In Jakarta a million Muslims demonstrated against Israel. Similar demonstrations occurred in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Morocco.
In these countries the regimes oppose any demonstration and send the police and army to curb them. This created the impression that these regimes support Israel! When these regimes realized this they told the US that if Sharon continues his policy towards the Palestinians all pro-US regimes in the Arab world will be identified with Israel and toppled. To avoid this, Saudi-Arabia proposed a plan whereby Israel withdraws to the pre-1967 borders allowing the Palestinians to set up their State and in return all Arab States sign a Peace treaty with Israel, normalize their relations with it, and guarantee its security. Saudi Arabia brought this proposal to the Arab-League (The UN of the Arab world) and the majority accepted it. Only Syria, Libya, and Iraq opposed it. The US adopted this plan as its new policy for the Middle East calling it "The Road Map" and told Sharon.
He opposes this plan but cannot oppose the US. His way to deal with what he opposes is to say he accepts it and then act to undermine it in a way that will put the blame on others. He pretends to accept the "Road Map" but acts to provoke the Palestinians so they will be responsible for its failure. By evacuating all Jewish settlements from Gaza he relieved Israel of a heavy military and financial burden, improved Israel's – and his own – image abroad, and hopes to minimize concessions to the Palestinians on the West Bank and in Jerusalem.
In the past he used this technique to deceive Ben-Gurion, Dayan, Begin, Rabin, and the Likud party. Now he uses it to deceive Bush and Condoleezza Rice. Whether he succeeds remains to be seen. What can already be seen is the theological and ideological crisis of Religio-Zionism. The blogs in the Internet sites of Religio-Zionists (like Moriah, Kippah) are full of anguished questions and statements by Religio-Zionists. Their plight was exacerbated by declarations of Rabbis (like Rabbi Eliyahu) that "THERE WILL BE NO DISENGAGEMENT."
I shall quote only a few.
-"Why did Rabbi Eliyahu say: "There will be no disengagement but great miracles"? I also heard him say: " This is a prophecy and I am no fool"…
Why did this prophecy fail to materialize?
The Rabbi said the disengagement was not God's will but Sharon's will, I simply don't understand this, if it wasn't God's will then who runs the world? Sharon or God? Does the Rabbi mean that God did not want it to happen only Sharon did yet in the end Sharon won??? This contradicts everything we were taught. We were taught that no one on earth moves a finger unless God wants it and everyone is God's tool and what God does not want does not happen. Can anyone act against God's will? If the answer is YES then God is not almighty since God wants one thing yet some mortal wants something else, and whose will is implemented? What about all we were told about Divine Intervention?
What about all we were told that God alone, and only He, runs the world?
If - as the rabbi wrote - The disengagement was not God's will yet it happened.
Why did we pray to God? We should have prayed to Sharon to have mercy on us since he decides what will happen to us. Does this make sense to you??? -
- "Why did God choose such a devoted community, so God-fearing, so devout, and destroyed it? Were they sinners? Did they have a problem? Why didn't He destroy Tel-Aviv? Why them? Why at all? Why didn't He heed our prayers and requests? Now the whole world sees how Jews expel Jews. The whole world saw how we prayed and cried yet were expelled. The whole world now thinks God is no longer with us. The Christians who said Jews are no longer the chosen people will now be sure they are right. The Arabs – damn them – now think they can do to us whatever they like. WHY? Why did God let us down in front of the entire world?
I try to understand but fail. What will happen to us now? How can we recover? -
-"How can one continue to live after such a crisis? Is God testing our devotion?" -
("Ynet" 27.8.2005 )
-"Shalom, … On the day following the evacuation one gets up in the morning, and what? How can one go on living after such a crisis? Thousands of Jews are evacuated from their homes and lands, children will suffer enormous crises, one feels that the State falls apart, I feel this is linked to the era we live in, the destruction of the Temple due to fratricidal hate. I feel terrible. I feel people in this State hate me just because of my faith and views. Is God testing our devotion? "
"It didn't matter how hard we tried, people sold bracelets, went on demos, read Psalms, prayed at the Wailing Wall, did all they could to prevent the evacuation, and all this didn't help. It's unfair. I know it is wrong to ask, but why does God do this? ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? [all marks in the original A.O.]. Why did God want us to work so hard and then he evacuates as if we did nothing? I thought about it and said maybe it is a trial, to see how we respond. But I think it is simply unfair to do bad things just in order to test peoples' faith. I am very upset and will appreciate a reply". -
But not everyone's world has collapsed. The anti-Zionist Orthodox celebrated.
In "Ma'ariv" (2. 9. 2005) Avishai Ben-Haim reports that:
-"Even "Neturie-Karta" people had a mass-meeting following the disengagement. This event, at the centre of the Kasbah of "Meah-She'arim" (in Jerusalem. A.O.) celebrated the disengagement. At the "Shtibel" square, familiar with demonstrations, a few hundred "fanatics" representing the extreme anti-Zionist view, gathered on Sunday evening. They believe that creating a Jewish State before arrival of the Messiah is forbidden and so is any contact with it, even voting in elections or accepting welfare payments. The posters raised or stuck on the walls expressed great happiness on the expulsion of the settlers from "Gush Katif". Some stated: "We saw the beginning of the destruction of the Zionist State and pray to see its final destruction.". Others read : " Orthodox Jews demand the liberation of the entire Holy Land from the dirty hands of the Zionists" and "Not only Katif settlements must be abolished but the entire Zionist State".
The speakers, who spoke Yiddish (not Hebrew. A.O.) Ridiculed the Religio-Zionist belief about the "Beginning of redemption" and the orange banners worn by opponents of the disengagement from Gaza. . . . From their point of view the dismantling of the Gaza settlements was a double historical victory – over secular Zionism… and over Religio-Zionism .At the end of the meeting they marched shouting "Palestinian territory, Zionists out" and "Jews are not Zionists. Zionists are not Jews". -
"Ma'ariv" 2.9. 2005, page 15.
"Ma'ariv" showed a photo of a poster saying "Jews are not Zionists" in Hebrew, Arabic, English, and another saying: "Zionism is the disaster of the Jewish people".
It is true that today only a small minority of religious Jews adheres to such views but in matters of faith numbers don’t count. A belief held by a few often outlives beliefs held by many. In the 17th century a false Messiah called Shabtai Zvi had thousands of followers in Europe. Very few Rabbis dared to oppose him. By the end of that century the movement disappeared. Religio-Zionism will not disappear. Many of its adherents will find arguments to justify what happened in Gaza. But their belief will lack its earlier fervor. A shadow of doubt will hover from now on over all their beliefs. They can no longer be 100% sure of anything. The same applies to ALL Israelis: from now on they can no longer trust ANY Israeli government. If Sharon, who promised (as late as April 2003) never to evacuate the Gaza settlements broke his promise after two months, whom can they trust?
This is not the beginning of the end of Zionism but it is the end of the beginning.
There is still a long way to go before Zionist ideology falls apart, but a crack of doubt has shattered the naive trust that Zionism represents Judaism. A crack cannot be undone. It can only widen.
(thanks to Gilad for the forward.)
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Ramzy Baroud - Real Disengagement Plan Now at Work
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his right wing government could not have possibly envisioned a more gratifying scenario to the post-disengagement period than the one effectively advancing in the Gaza Strip.
Events on the ground point to the disquieting conclusion that internal Palestinian strife in Gaza is imminent and that Israel will continue to determine the future of the occupied territories, unabated and aided by the US government, along with the total marginalization of the rest of the international community. Moreover, Sharon has intensified his forceful rhetoric, warning that Israel will ruthlessly respond to any supposed Palestinian provocation after the pullout.
It is obvious that Israel's military strategists are very concerned that the Israeli move might be interpreted as an indication of military failure, following the same line of thinking that accompanied the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon in May 2000.
The Sharon government is determined to closely monitor and control the narrative surrounding its pullout from Gaza. On the one hand, it wants to convey to its right wing constituency that the move is merely tactical and aimed at strengthening Israel's control over the more strategic settlements of occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. On the other hand, it is promoting the pullout internationally as a painful concession for the sake of peace with its ever-ungrateful Palestinian neighbors.
TV images of weeping settlers being "uprooted" from their homes in the Gaza settlements evoked untold emotions, and yet they have failed to honestly address the unspeakable injustices done to the Palestinians through the illegal presence of those same settlers: the uncompensated financial loss, the virtual and perpetual imprisonment within Gaza, the daily murders committed in the name of protecting the settlements, and so forth. The Israeli narrative has successfully crossed out much of this relevant context under which the entire Palestinian population in the occupied territories continues to be subjugated.
Palestinians, who have ultimately conceded to the much-resisted unilateral Israeli action, have attempted to fathom, thus propagate, the Israeli move in a way that might prove politically and strategically beneficial. According to a media plan drafted by the PA's interior ministry, the withdrawal was "a political victory" for "the peace and moderation camp". The PA was obliged, understandably so, to construct its own reading of the Israeli move of which the PA was, in fact, the least relevant factor.
Hamas, on the other hand, joined to a lesser extent by other factions, has celebrated the withdrawal as a victory for armed resistance, one that was comparable in meaning and magnitude to that of Hizbollah in Lebanon. Among the poor and destitute refugees throughout the occupied territories and in diaspora, the Hamas narrative is the most prevailing.
Almost immediately after the Gaza pullout, a violent Israeli assault is evident. Frequent deadly raids and bombardments, joined with Israeli air force jets breaking sound barriers over the Gaza sky several times a day, triggering sonic booms, are meant as a cruel reminder of Israel's sheer military advantage over the incarcerated population of the Gaza Strip. Concurrently, Israel's illegal settlement project in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem has received an historic boost with the allocation of more funds towards settlement expansion, coupled with American assurances by outgoing US ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer that the "United States will support the retention by Israel of areas with a high concentration of Israelis".
Kurtzer, speaking to Israeli radio on Sept. 18 — less than a week following the pullout from Gaza — read a passage to listeners from a letter by the US president sent to Sharon in April 2004, where Bush declared that it was "unrealistic to expect that the outcome of the final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949", and where he also bluntly rejected the Palestinian refugees right to return in accordance with UN Resolution 194.
Former head of Israel's National Security Council Uzi Dayan (who, in 2002, recommended a one-sided withdrawal from Gaza) has offered further insight and a more candid translation of Kurtzer's comments. In a press conference in Tel Aviv on Sept. 20, Dayan proposed an Israeli withdrawal from minor settlements in the West Bank and the creation of a de-facto border that would claim vast Palestinian lands as Israeli territory. This new territory would envelope the lands hosting the illegal Jewish settlements of Ma'ale Adumim, Ariel, Kiryat Arba and Beit El, among others, and along with them nearly 200,000 Jewish settlers.
According to Dayan's computation, "28 Palestinian towns would be divorced from their Palestinian space to become part of ... Israel proper". Considering the atrocious effects created by the Israeli separation wall and the integrated land theft, Israel's future plans for the West Bank and Jerusalem constitute new and horrendous war crimes with painfully lasting consequences.
While Israel is actively and openly pursuing its designs, altering the geopolitical nature of its conflict with the Palestinians for years to come, there is no political process to speak of. President Mahmoud Abbas' announcement on Sept. 13, regarding his readiness to "immediately engage" in peace talks with Israel, were purposely undermined by Sharon's terror campaign in the occupied territories.
Israel's pre-determined role for the PA is no different from the one envisaged by past Israeli governments following the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993: that of prison guard, not peace partner. Little has changed despite five arduous years of Palestinian revolt.
The PA's adherence to its assigned role will once again determine the nature of the relationship between the Israeli government and the PA, and naturally thereafter, between the latter and the US administration. The Abbas government's failure to disarm Palestinian factions and to crack down on "this and that" will eventually be understood as a faltering on its commitment to Israel's security, which will invite more Israeli wrath, murder and mayhem, as we have already seen in past weeks. Marking its fifth anniversary on Sept. 29, the Palestinian struggle is certainly facing one of its most consequential challenges yet.
Israel's conduct following its pullout from Gaza confirms that its ultimate objective is to maintain an elevated level of chaos among Palestinians. Such insecurity will affirm the claim that Palestinians are innately lawless and irresponsible, rationalizing Israel's unwarranted attacks on Gaza and continued occupation elsewhere. The US mainstream media have already established that Gaza is a "test" for Palestinians and their ability to govern themselves, and while Israel continues its charge that Palestinian factions continue to threaten Israeli borders, Palestinians are evidently failing the test.
* The writer, veteran Arab American journalist, teaches mass communication at Australia's Curtin University of Technology, Malaysia Campus. His forthcoming book, "Writings on the Second Palestinian Uprising" is being published by Pluto Press in London.