Sunday, December 31, 2006
Gilad Atzmon - The Spectacle of the Noose
While Saddam is on the verge of becoming a martyr, his executors, Bush and Blair, have already secured their place in the premiere league of war criminals. It resembles very much the case of the Inquisition, it is once again the executer who is there to be stained in the eyes of future generations. Blair and Bush, the men who lied to their people, the men who started an illegal war, the men who are, according to the Geneva Conventions, liable for a genocide in Iraq on a grandiose scale, have eventually decided to bin the notion of justice as well. Considering their other crimes, taking into account: 650,000 dead Iraqis, the total support of Israeli destruction in Lebanon, assisting the Zionist crimes in Palestine, killing justice is indeed just another minor sin.
But Bush and Blair are not alone. Like the medieval crowd who assembled in town centres to stare at the angel of death, like the Jerusalemite who gathered along Via Dolorosa to spit on Jesus on his final march, we all gather together around our TV screens. We were sitting to watch how ‘liberated Iraq’ performs Anglo-American ‘justice’. Seemingly, when it comes to the issue of the human condition, two thousand years are no doubt a very short time. Humans are still rather enthusiastic about the consumption of bloody images of vengeance.
The question that is left open is, how did it happen to us? Not that long ago we all foolishly wanted to believe that humanity may have learned its lesson and was transformed into something else, that evil belongs to our past. How did we let these messengers of retribution take over?
Recently I have come across the words of Leo Strauss, the ideological founder of the Neoconservative school of thought. The intellectual mentor for those who claim to know what America’s new century should look like:
I was myself… a political Zionist in my youth, and was a member of a Zionist organisation. In this capacity, I occasionally met Jabotinsky, the leader of the revisionists. “He asked me what are you doing?” I said “Well, we read the Bible, we study Jewish history, Zionist theory, and, of course, we keep abreast of developments, and so on” He (Jabotinsky) replied “and Rifle practise?” and I had to say “No.” (Leo Strauss)
It didn’t take Strauss long to grow out of his relatively non-violent beliefs. It was the reading of Carl Schmitt, the post WWI right wing German political scientist who made Strauss into an overt opponent of liberal cosmopolitan ideology. For Schmitt, “the political meant, above all, that peoples are pitted against one another in a condition of war or readiness for a war “ Very much like Jabotinsky, Schmitt and Hitler, for Strauss the essence of political life comes into play within a conflict rather than within a liberal pacifist environment in which ‘art’ and ‘entertainment’ are flourishing.
While the academic debate of whether Jabotinsky’s ideology took ground in Israeli politics is still raging, it is rather apparent that Zionist right wing ultra militant philosophy that is not different from German romantic, anti-enlightenment confrontational worldview, has deeply taken root, not to say invaded, the current American administration and its surrounding lobbies.
While Strauss was merely an academic, though a proponent of some hardcore hawkish Zionist ideologies, his followers happen to be those who design American foreign policy. It is slightly embarrassing to admit that: ‘cultural clash’, the emerging hatred towards Islam and the Anglo-American current phase of expansionism are all ideologically rooted in German right wing nationalist ideology that was carried to America by the overt militant Zionist Leo Strauss.
Indeed, we live in a global village, in a sealed monolithic ghetto in which medieval pornographic images of barbarism travel around the world at the speed of light. The only way out of this vicious loop of zeal is to de-Zionise our universe, to disengage from global Zionism and we better do just that with no delay.
 Reading Leo Strauss, Steven B Smith, Chicago Pg, 61
Friday, December 29, 2006
Egypt Delivers Arms to Abbas Forces
By MARK LAVIE
Associated Press Writer
JERUSALEM (AP) - With Israel's blessing, Egypt has delivered a large arms shipment to forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, officials said Thursday - the latest Israeli attempt to boost the embattled leader in his bloody conflict with the militant Islamic Hamas.
Though there has been a week long hiatus in armed clashes, Palestinians fear the heavily armed security forces of Hamas, which runs the Palestinian government, and Fatah could erupt in violence at any time.
Israel has been trying to reinforce Abbas' standing among his people. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Abbas is a partner for negotiations - unlike Hamas, which rejects the existence of Israel and refuses to renounce violence.
Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli Defense Ministry official, told Israel Radio the military assistance was rendered to reinforce the "forces of peace'' against the "forces of darkness'' threatening the region, a reference to Islamic extremists.Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Abbas, issued a statement denying any arms deal. However, at midday Thursday, witnesses saw a truck belonging to the pro-Fatah National Security force carrying what appeared to be sealed boxes of weapons.
When the truck attempted to make a quick detour, one box fell onto the ground, scattering a pile of automatic guns on the road, the witnesses said. Security men in the truck quickly got out and collected the weapons.Israel approved the transfer of 2,000 automatic rifles, 20,000 ammunition clips and 2 million bullets on Wednesday, Israeli officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the shipment had not been officially confirmed by Israel, the Palestinians or Egypt.
Ahmed Youssef, a political adviser to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, said Egyptian officials had assured him no arms were sent. He accused Israel of spreading false rumors about an arms shipment in "an attempt to increase tensions among the Palestinians.''
Seventeen people have died in this month's Hamas-Fatah fighting, which included an assassination attempt on Haniyeh.
On Thursday, the prime minister left Gaza to resume a trip to Gulf states that had been cut short by the violence, which has since subsided. He was headed first to Saudi Arabia, then to Kuwait, Qatar and Jordan, where he and Abbas have been invited by King Abdullah II for talks.
Some 5,000 Hamas militiamen, some on foot, others in jeeps, lined the roads as Haniyeh traveled from his base in Gaza City to the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Haniyeh's convoy came under fire at Rafah on Dec. 14 when he came back from his suspended trip, and the heavy security was a clear indication that concerns about his safety remained high.
Meanwhile, one of the Palestinian militant groups holding a captured Israeli soldier said progress has been made toward a prisoner exchange.
Abu Mujahed, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, said Egyptian mediators are trying to finalize a deal. "We received positive signals from our Egyptian brothers, who are acting on this matter,'' he said. "Everything depends on the Israelis.''
He declined to say when a prisoner swap might take place. The soldier was captured by Hamas-linked militants in June. Israel has agreed in principle to free Palestinian prisoners, but there are disagreements over numbers and timing.
Also Thursday, Olmert slightly softened his tone concerning peace overtures from Syria, saying he is open to "any murmur of peace'' from Israel's enemies.
Olmert added: "If our enemies genuinely want peace, they will find in us a fair partner, determined to establish relations of peace, friendship and reciprocity.''
Olmert's spokeswoman, Miri Eisin, played down the comments. "He has constantly said that if we see anything different, a glimpse of change, then that would be interesting and could make a difference,'' she said, but Syria continues to shelter Palestinian extremist groups.
In Jerusalem, Sen. Arlen Specter, who came to Israel after talks in Syria with President Bashar Assad, said the Syrian leader asked him to deliver a message: "Syria is very interested in peace negotiations with Israel.'' But when pressed about whether there were preconditions, Specter told Channel 10 TV, "it got to be a little fuzzy.'' He said Israel would have to judge whether the offer was serious.
In an interview published Thursday in the Haaretz daily, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Syria wanted peace talks as a way of ending its international isolation. "We want peace. They want negotiations,'' she said. "Syria knows exactly what it has to do to become part of the international community, but it is doing exactly the opposite.''
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Azmi Bishara - The Holocaust must be contextualised, and its lessons learned
The Nazi Holocaust aimed to rid Europe of its "Jewish taint". By this was meant banking capital as opposed to industrial capital and the moral degeneracy, lack of patriotism, scorn for national values, heritage and other such ills caused by the "worm" that ate away at all that was noble and pure in the Germanic people. That worm was the racial strain that never belonged, that was intrinsically alien and that nevertheless insisted on remaining in order to wreak its pollution; it was European Jewry and its various manifestations including capitalism, communism and liberalism, and its mere presence, according to this diabolical system of thought, that were a scourge to racial purity.
Late capitalism, as forcefully imposed by the centralised bureaucratic state, converged with a fanatical and rabidly xenophobic and very ideological late nationalism of the "vesrspaeteten Nationen" with a history of religious anti-Semitism dating back to the Middle Ages and the crusader expeditions that attacked Jewish villages in central Europe en route to Palestine, a religious exclusionism that targeted both Muslims and Jews in Andalusian Spain and that shaped part of European identity in terms of both an external determinant -- the Muslims -- and an internal determinant -- the Jews.
But the Nazis' obsession with the annihilation of the Jews was also fired by an ideology that incorporated totalitarian social engineering, founded upon social Darwinism and assorted recent biological discoveries that were applied to human beings, together with a populist romantic socialism that was hostile to communism, democratic socialism and liberalism, all regarded as alien to the "Volksgeist", "the spirit of the people".
This form of pseudo-scientifically justified and coldly carried out mass extermination would not have been possible without a strong ability to compartmentalise between the bureaucratic functionary and the duty to obey orders, on the one hand, and the individual and his private moral sphere on the other, a phenomenon that is one of the characteristics of the modern state apparatus. Nor would it have been possible without all the business of documentation, recording and archiving, which is also a characteristic of the modern state.
The irony of all this pseudo-scientific human taxonomy and the obsessive documentation of the names, addresses, confiscated possessions and physical details of the people who were rounded up and freighted to the concentration camps and from there to the gas chambers is that this paperwork has become the most important primary historical source for the Holocaust and the most important instrument with which to refute the claims of those who deny it occurred or belittle its magnitude.
It is not so much the sheer numbers of victims that distinguishes the Holocaust. As unique as it was in the 20th century, millions of native inhabitants were exterminated en masse in the Americas over the course of previous centuries. Nor is it just a question of scale: many more millions died in the course of World War II, alone, than in the Nazi gas chambers and these included Russians, Germans, Poles, French, Italians and many other nationalities. The true horror of the Holocaust resides not only in the deliberate singling out of entire peoples -- Jews and Gypsies -- for extermination and in the scale of this crime, but also in the totality of the target and the "rational" way in which it was carried out.
Jews were snatched from their homes amid the general silence of their neighbours, a silence interspersed by hatemongering by anti-Semitic groups and by the active complicity of informers. Most of the Jews who died in the concentration camps were not Zionists; in fact, many may not have even heard of Zionism. Moreover, the role of the Zionist movement in saving Jews, or in conspiring with the Nazis, was very marginal, regardless of the number of studies that have been produced on both cases and regardless of the fact that most of their findings have been corroborated. Zionism did, indeed, have two faces; it was the perspectives and aims of the researchers that were and remain at odds.
The Zionist movement began, and had set its sights on Palestine, long before the Holocaust. Zionists only used the Holocaust to justify their national project in hindsight, even if that justification is what drove some Arabs to deny the existence of the Holocaust. Yet, while there are people who have felt that by minimising or even refuting the Holocaust they undermine Jewish claims to a state in Palestine, the majority of educated and informed Arab opinion has never denied the Holocaust or the existence of anti-Semitism in Europe. Rather, they have argued -- correctly -- that since this horror took place in Europe the Palestinians should not have to pay the price.
Although it vaguely existed as a blend between the residue of a religious culture and extremist nationalist ideas imported from Europe even in early stages, anti-Semitism in the sense of hostility towards the Jews only began to spread significantly in the Arab world in the form of cultural and intellectual output after 1967. Clearly, the rise of this phenomenon coincided with the rise of a metaphysical attitude that sought to explain the overwhelming Arab defeat of that year in terms of the confrontation with an absolute evil bent on a global conspiracy of the nature of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", which has been proven to be an invention of the Russian secret service at the end of the 19th century but which nevertheless found many gullible ears in the Arab world in the wake of the 1967 defeat. Holocaust denial similarly emerged during this period and in the same spirit of a fantastic conspiracy theory that ascribed to an international Jewish cabal the power to invent and dupe the entire world into believing a stupendous set of lies.
I would like to suggest that there are two types of Holocaust denial. One, espoused by elements of the European traditional right and neo-ultra right, is to deny it happened. This form has not acquired sufficient roots to become a determinant of the behaviour of nations and societies. The other form of denial is to ignore that the Holocaust occurred within a particular historic context and, hence, to deal with it as some fiendish aberration that somehow occurred outside the bounds of time and place. One major consequence of this approach is that it inhibits the study of the Holocaust as a historical phenomenon and as a sobering primer on the dangers of racism, extremist nationalist chauvinism and totalitarian social engineering in modern mass societies.
But Holocaust denial can assume another face, which is to reduce it to an instrument for realising political ends. The Zionist movement has excelled in this, its rituals and rhetoric in commemoration of Holocaust victims far outstripping its concern for the victims and its activities to combat the phenomenon when it occurred. In fact, the subject was not even on the agenda of the Jewish organised community, the "Yeshov", in mandate Palestine during the war years and many Zionists at the time found it embarrassing to hear of Jews being dragged off to be slaughtered without putting up a resistance; it conflicted with the nationalist fighting spirit and the image of the new man they were trying to inculcate. It was not until the Eichmann trial that the embarrassed silence was broken and emotions suddenly gushed out.
In the course of Zionism's attempts to portray the history of the entire Jewish people as one uninterrupted stream of oppression and persecution that culminated inevitably in the Holocaust, Holocaust history has been transformed into an exclusively Israeli property. Victims of the Nazi gas chambers have been nationalised and converted, in spite of themselves, either into an episode in the Zionist struggle to create a state or into an instrument for blackmailing others into supporting Zionist aims or for justifying the crimes the Zionist state perpetrates against others. It is as though the magnitude of the crime entitles Israel to play the victim par excellence or the victims' sole proxy, placing it beyond accusations of wrongdoing because it is the victim by definition.
The Zionist casting of all Jews as victims of Nazi atrocities has given rise to two curious phenomena. The first is that any Israeli can speak and act as the victim even if he has more in common ideologically and psychologically with the offender or the "Capo" -- the Jews who cooperated with the Nazis in the concentration camps. In other words, the mere fact of being born to a Jewish mother somehow gives licence to represent all victims, including in front of those who actually are more victims than he is and those who are more hostile to Nazism, racism and its offshoots. The second phenomenon is the monopoly claimed by the Israeli ruling establishment to speak on behalf of Jews and Jewish history in general, which largely translates into soliciting, and pressuring for, political and financial support for Israel.
In the first instance, the challenge of truly understanding and learning lessons from the Nazi phenomenon is reduced to something akin to a therapy session in which those in the role of victim help those in the role of perpetrator purge their guilt by satisfying the psychological and material demands of the former. There is something morally repugnant in this passing of the sins, or innocence, of the fathers to the sons, as opposed to engaging in an objective process of historical investigation with the aim of combating racism in all forms and in all societies. After all, the main victims of European racism today are not Jews, and in Palestine Zionism is not the victim but the perpetrator. Unfortunately, the Israeli- German therapy sessions ignore such stark realities and, in so doing, offer both the Israelis and the Germans carte blanche to vent their racism on others, as though the Holocaust were a purely German-Israeli concern and the greater phenomenon of racism something else entirely. It is as if through their mutual catharsis with regard to the former they exonerate themselves from responsibility for the latter.
Meanwhile, Zionism's unwarranted, illogical and historically unsubstantiated monopoly on the role of Holocaust victims' spokesperson sits well with Europe. Most of Zionism's aims and demands do not require Europe to engage in a serious process of introspection in order to uproot the deeper causes that gave rise to the Holocaust. Contrary to what one may logically expect, this suits Zionism's purposes because it keeps the monolithic discreteness of the Holocaust intact and diminishes, in comparison, the significance of Europe's other crimes. The upshot is to toss the entire Jewish question outside Europe and dump it in the Middle East. It may come as a relief to European officials to be able to exonerate themselves for the Holocaust by placating Israel with anti-Palestinian, anti- Arab and even anti-Muslim sympathies. If anything, however, this form of behaviour confirms the continuation of the underlying syndrome, a syndrome that is nevertheless glossed over with a fresh bill of moral health, authorised and stamped by Israel after every visit of atonement a European leader makes to the "Yad Vashem" Museum in Jerusalem.
It is for this reason that all victims of racism across the world should campaign to break the Zionist hold over the role of spokesman for victims of the Holocaust. Conversely, the Arabs and Palestinians who deny the Holocaust offer European and Zionist racism no greater gift than this denial of the occurrence of the Holocaust. What possible Arab or Islamic interest can it serve to even offer to exonerate Europe of one of the blackest pages in its history? To do so is not only to absolve Europe of a crime that was, in fact, committed, but also to earn its contempt and to wake up one day to find Europe and Israel joining forces against Arab or Muslim Holocaust deniers with such venom that one might imagine that the Holocaust had occurred in Egypt or Iran and that Holocaust denial is a far graver crime than the perpetration of the Holocaust itself. Holocaust denial is just plain stupid, also as a political argument. But Israel will be no less expedient in turning the provocation against its regional adversaries who had nothing to do with the Holocaust.
On the other hand, the Holocaust is a phenomenon that merits proper scholastic study, the purpose of which is to sort fact from fiction, and myth form reality. No incident in history lies beyond the realm of historical research. This said, Tehran can hardly be said to have a tradition of Holocaust studies; the subject does not rate very high in Iranian academic priorities. And a conference in Tehran that was proceeded by a political speech denying the Holocaust cannot be said to be an academic conference; it was a political demonstration, one that harms the Arabs and Muslims and serves only the ultra-right and neo-Nazi forces in Europe and the Zionist movement.
During World War II, when some Arabs and other Third World peoples were rooting for Germany because it was fighting the colonial powers France and Britain, the Arab and Third World left, which had allied with the Soviet Union, argued that it was wrong for the victims of racism to side with the racist Nazi regime. Their position was correct. Today, there is not even a pragmatic immoral justification whatsoever for siding with European racism. Holocaust denial does not undermine the moral justifications for the existence of the state of Israel, as some imagine. What it does, however, is hand the European right and Israel a convenient enemy upon which to unload their problems. This enemy comprises Palestinians and Arabs, specifically fundamentalist Muslims, those Bush is fond of calling "Islamic fascists".
The initial Arab reaction to the Holocaust was simple and straightforward and much more rational. The Holocaust occurred, but it was a tragedy for which the Europeans, not the Arabs, should assume responsibility. This is the opinion that prevailed throughout the 1940s and 1950s, the sense of normalcy that survived in all of us continues to hold it.
Monday, December 25, 2006
The meaning of Christmas
Sis Levin Interview which I recommend for everyone to see. When she says it, it all seems so simple!
Friday, December 22, 2006
YouTube Music and something else!
Rim Banna, Palestinian Ofra Haza.
Fairouz, a very popular Lebanese classical singer.
Nawal Zoghby, also a Lebanese singer
this one is by an Israeli singer Zehava Ben.
Amr Diab, Egyptian singer.
Liberating the American People, Gilad Atzmon Quartet
Listen to the entire An Other Cup, brilliant new album by Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens.
and now, the ones I am recommending!
TARKAN, Turkish singer I love. Wonderful voice, great composer and man, is he beautiful...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGd1xC-3Vuw (a disco remix of the biggest hits, actually very nice!)
Sezen Aksu (Turkish) composer, singer, symbol
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzTQLa8qRwE (an old one, but gorgeous)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ni9UXTbUPO8 (with Goran Bregovic)
and here is Goran doing it himself! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEqCSmXTX6o
Rachid Taha (of course!!)
With Faudel and Khaled... my fave concert, and my fave song from it
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Christmas Gift Suggestions from Peacepalestine
My two suggestions for your loved ones.
In my opinion, the two best books written on the argument in recent years.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Khalidi and Abunimah interviewed by Amy Goodman
Ali Abunimah discusses the potential for "One Country" in Palestine
Ali Abunimah, Democracy Now!, 28 November 2006
EI's Ali Abunimah appeared on Democracy Now!, interviewed by host Amy Goodman, on Tuesday, November 28, 2006. He was joined by Columbia University professor and author of the new book, "The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood," Rashid Khalidi. These two leading Palestinian-American intellectuals discuss the current situation in Palestine, the role of US policy, and former President Jimmy Carter's new book on Palestine. In addition, Abunimah and Khalidi discuss the history of colonialism and occupation, from the British to the present, in Palestine.
Two leading Palestinian-American intellectuals discuss their new books: Rashid Khalidi's "The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood" and Ali Abunimah's "One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse."
We turn now to the latest from Israel and the Occupied Territories. But first, an unusual moment last night on American television. Appearing on CNN's Larry King Live, former President Jimmy Carter fiercely critical of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He was talking about his new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" which is generating heavy controversy here in the United States.
PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: And the oppression of the Palestinians by Israeli forces in the Occupied Territories is horrendous. And it's not something that has been acknowledged or even discussed in this country. The basic problem--
LARRY KING: Why not?
JIMMY CARTER: I don't know why not. You never hear anything about what is happening to the Palestinians by the Israelis. As a matter of fact it's one of the worst cases of oppression that I know of now in the world. The Palestinian's land has been taken away from them. They now have a encapsulating or an imprisonment wall being built around what's left of the little tiny part of the holy land that is in the West Bank. In Gaza, from which Israel is now withdrawing. Gaza is surrounded by a high wall, there's only two openings in it, one into Israel, which is mostly closed, the other into Egypt, the people there are encapsulated. And the deprivation of basic human rights among the Palestinians is really horrendous. And this is a fact, it's known throughout the world. It is debated heavily, constantly in Israel. Every time I am there the debate is going on. It is not debated at all in this country.
Carter's comments come as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave a major speech Monday in which he said he was prepared to offer Palestinians concessions to make peace. Olmert said Israel would return parts of the West Bank towards the creation of the Palestinian state. He called on Palestinians to renounce violence, give up the right of the return, and accept a prisoner exchange for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Olmert's comments marked the first time he has endorsed the idea of a prisoner exchange since Israel launched its attack on Gaza in June.
Olmert did not give new ideas on some of the most contentious issues, including Israeli settlements and the status of Jerusalem. But he said peace would be based on the Bush administration's position that any new agreement would reflect the reality of Israel's annexation of large parts of the West Bank for its settlements.
Olmert's speech comes one day after Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip as part of a new ceasefire. Israel's five-month offensive in Gaza has killed more than 400 Palestinians including at least 74 Palestinians under the age of 18. Fighting continues in the West Bank where Israeli forces arrested thirteen Palestinians overnight.Well today, we spend the rest of the hour with two leading Palestinian-American voices.
Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies and the Director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University. His new book is called "The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood."
Ali Abunimah, creator and editor of The Electronic Intifada and more recently of Electronic Iraq. His new book is "One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse."
AMY GOODMAN:Today, we'll spend the rest of the program with two leading Palestinian-American voices. Both have new books on the Israel Palestine conflict. Joining me here in our firehouse studio, is Rashid Khalidi, He is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies and director of Middle East Studies Institute at the Columbia University. His new book is called The Iron Cage: the Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood. We welcome you to Democracy Now!.
RASHID KHALIDI:Thanks for having me, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN:It's good to have you with us. First your response to this former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his book.
RASHID KHALIDI:I certainly couldn't agree more with what he said on CNN last night. There's no question that there's been a blanket of silent for 39 and a half years and running in most of the mainstream media about what is happening daily in the Occupied Territories. The very fact that they are occupied territories, and that it's been 39 and a half years, is never, never mentioned in most news reports.
AMY GOODMAN: The fact that he's an American President talking about this, is this unusual?RASHID KHALIDI:Well, that's why he got on Larry King. It's very, very hard to get those kinds of words across something like CNN. It is important. I mean this is a man whose gone around the world and I think very ably represented this country in terms of, standing at elections, watching them, supervising them. And, I think he's a man who has enormous credibility, though it's amazing how the Democratic Party is twisting and turning on the issue of his book.
AMY GOODMAN: Why do you think that is, the Democratic Party?
RASHID KHALIDI:Well, the politicians who have disassociated themselves from President Carter, are all Democrats, interesting enough.
AMY GOODMAN: Who?
RASHID KHALIDI:I can't remember each specific Senator or Congressman, but there was a lemming-like rush way from the President on the part of a number of them. I think because anything that is said against Israel arouses enormous ferocious emotional response among some people, and politicians are afraid of that. The media are afraid of that. And so I don't think that we get anything like a balanced discussion of the issues. In fact, a discussion of the issues is what many people would like to avoid. I think that, that's what the President himself said. We don't have these things discussed in this country. They certainly are in Israel, as he said. They are discussed everywhere else, they're just not discussed here.
AMY GOODMAN: Why did you call your book The Iron Cage?
RASHID KHALIDI:I call it The Iron Cage cause that was the metaphor that occurred to me in trying to explain the kind of constraints the Palestinians operated under during the mandate period. And then I realized that's still true today, in a sense. They are within, bounded within, both physical and constitutional and legal constraints that make it, very, very hard for them to operate. The focus of the book is not on that. However, it's on what they have done or not done within those constraints.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about Ehud Olmert's speech, and what he is offering, in the context of, and I think as you say, without this discussion, people don't even understand the history.
AMY GOODMAN:And the context of history as you talk about the story of the Palestinian struggle for statehood.
RASHID KHALIDI:Well, there's deep history and there is current history. The current history is 39 and a half years of occupation. The deeper history, which I try and go into in this book, has to do with what happened before 1948, in 1948 and since. The problem doesn't just go back to 1967. So, what Olmert is--is talking about, is a rearrangement of the current status of the Occupied Territories, with Israel, as you said, keeping much of what it occupied in 1967. What President Bush in April, 2004 basically granted Israel, the so called settlement blocks, which are undefined areas which cut the West Bank into at least three pieces. But, which could expand--continue to expand as they have been over many, many years. So there's nothing new in the proposal as far as I can tell. And it essentially involves a rearrangement of the status quo, before 2000.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, go back. Go back in time, we have time for this. Talk about the deep history.
RASHID KHALIDI:Well, the deep history has to do with a country that had a majority that was Arab, in which the British helped the Zionist movement to establish, what was called in the Balfour Declaration, a National Home for the Jewish People. That was understood by the British and by the Zionists to mean a Jewish state in all of Palestine. And that was--that was the objective I think from the beginning.
What nobody really took very seriously into account was that Arab majority, the fact that it had a national consciousness, that it saw itself as having rights. And that, even by the documents that the British themselves had helped to produce, the Covenant of the League of Nations, that population did have rights, a right of national self-determination.
What I talk about in the book is how that right was never granted. How, the Palestinians were never able to achieve it, how obstacles were thrown in their path. And then 1948, involves the expulsion of a majority of the Palestinians from their homes. It involves the establishment obviously of Israel, but the non-establishment of an Arab state, which the United Nations had called for. And, I go into why that happened as well.
AMY GOODMAN: The difference between the British rule and Israeli rule?
RASHID KHALIDI:Well, there are some similarities, the emergency regulations that the British passed in 1945, are still applied, for things like administrative detention. An innovation which are law now, includes in the form of the Military Commission's Act, where you can just be just put in jail on the say so of some government official. So, there are obviously other differences. The British pretended that they were trying to fairly judge between the two sides, in fact they had a very deep commitment to Zionism. It was only tempered in 1939, when they came to realize how impossible it was to ram the Zionist project down the throats of the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world.
AMY GOODMAN:How did the Israelis expel the Palestinians?
RASHID KHALIDI:By force. By--by fear. In many cases people fled without actually having been attacked, out of terror, after hearing of massacres, or reports of massacres else where. It was absolutely necessary that 55% of a country that had a 65% Arab majority, which was to become a Jewish state under the Partition Plan of 1947, that 55% had almost parity between Arabs and Jews. You wouldn't have had a Jewish state in that 55%, unless that population or large part of it had been expelled. So, more over, most of the property in that--in that 55% was Arab owned. So, it was almost a necessary and inevitable prerequisite for the establishment of a Jewish state, in a country that had 65% Arab majority.
AMY GOODMAN:What about your family's own story?
RASHID KHALIDI:Well, I mean my family comes from Jerusalem, my father's family. Some of the members of my family were involved, deeply involved in politics. One of them was, I--I mentioned him and other in various of my writings, played a pretty important role in the '30's and '40's. I'm critical of that whole generation of leadership in the book, because I think they really failed to meet the challenge that they faced. But I, I--
AMY GOODMAN:What do you think they should have done?
RASHID KHALIDI:Well, there are many things that they should've done. One thing they should not have done, is to react the way they did to the British. The British came there and put into place a series of constraints that they should not, under any circumstances, have accepted. Many of them, not just the Mufti, not just my uncle, not just a number of other people accepted positions in a British mandatory administration, which was predicated on the denial of their national existence. That was a mistake obviously. They made many other mistakes. I mean, there was only a moment in which a compromise might have been possible, when the Zionist movement, when it was weak, late '20's early/ '30's. They didn't take that chance. There was only a moment when real resistance to the British might have changed things, as it did in Iraq, in Egypt, in Syria in the '20's. The Palestinians didn't revolt until the end of the '30's and it was a popular revolt--
RASHID KHALIDI:That's a hard question to answer. I mean I actually don't answer it in the book, because I'm not sure why. Everywhere else you had major armed national revolts against colonial imperial rule, not in Palestine until the very end of the '30's.
AMY GOODMAN:We're talking to Professor Rashid Khalidi, he's the Edward Said Professor of Arab studies at Columbia University. Author of a number of books, his latest is called The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood. Joining us in studio in Chicago, is Ali Abunimah. He is the creator and editor of the Electronic Intafada, and more recently of Electronic Iraq, his new book is called One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Ali Abunimah, thank you for joining us, layout that proposal, please.
ALI ABUNIMAH: Thank you, Amy. What I layout in the book is really an old idea, which I think needs to be revived and discussed most vigorously. And really it's the proposition in the title One Country, recognition that what we have in Palestine-Israel is one country. It is an Israeli ruled country in which half the population, 5 million Israeli Jews, has a monopoly on political, economic and military power. And the other half, Palestinians, are disenfranchised either partially or totally.
And what I'm arguing is that--that really the conventional wisdom, that partition is the solution is completely wrong. And in fact, partition is the problem. I think Rashid's book which is really an important and a major new light on some of this history, helps illuminate that partition has always been associated with ethnic cleansing, with the dispossession of the Palestinians really from when it was first suggested in 1937, when the British suggested the partition of Palestine. They said that you would have to forcibly transfer hundreds of thousands at that time, nearly the majority of the Palestinian population, in order to create a Jewish State. And as Rashid said, Israeli could only come out of the continued dispossession of the Palestinians.
What I'm saying is that we need to do the work of imagining a different kind of future. One in which, Israelis and Palestinians can start to see themselves together. That's very, very hard work in the current context. But, I think looking at other examples around the world, like South Africa, like Northern Ireland, even like Canada where they are still struggling with these issues as we see today. There is a different path that we have to see other than the Apartheid reality Israel is creating with the world's complicity.
AMY GOODMAN:Ali Abunimah, on the issue of a one-state solution, I wanted to go back for a moment to former President Jimmy Carter. During his appearance on CNN last night he was asked about this one state idea.
JIMMY CARTER: To incorporate the Occupied Territories into Israel and have just one state, I don't think that would work, and I'll tell you why. First of all, the Palestinians, if they were given a right to vote on an equal basis with all Israelis, they would play a major role in making decisions about the whole country. And with the rapid population growth of the Palestinians, which in Gaza is 4.7% a year, one of the highest of the world, and in the foreseeable future the Palestinians would actually have a majority in that nation. So I think the only real practical solution is to have two states, side by side, in their own territories living in harmony and peace. That's I think the best and most likely approach.
AMY GOODMAN:That was former President Jimmy Carter on CNN Larry King Live. But I also wanted to ask you about the charge that advocating a one-state solution, in fact helps the strongest opponents of Palestinian rights. The argument has been made by people like, well, MIT Professor Noam Chomsky, who says he favors the two-state solution, not because it's the most just, but because it's the most realistic. He writes, "in my opinion, it's improper to dangle hopes that will not be realized before the eyes of people suffering in misery and oppression. Rather constructive efforts should be pursued to mitigate their suffering and deal with their problems in the real world." Your response.
ALI ABUNIMAH: Well, I think those views are both reflections of a flawed conventional wisdom and I take that on directly in the book. Consider this reality, Amy. There is a multibillion dollar peace process industry that has been out there for decades saying the only solution is the two-state solution. And as we see there is no Palestinian state. It was promised, President Bush promised a Palestinian State in 2005, we're close to 2007.
It is the hope of a Palestinian state that has been dangled cynically in front of the Palestinians for decades. And what President Carter is saying, and I applaud, I am thrilled by his interventions, by his book, and by his interview on Larry King Live. But, I think on this particular issue he's reflecting a flawed conventional wisdom. Because what's he saying? He's saying that the reason to oppose a one-state solution is because it would be democracy. That Palestinians would have an equal rights, one person, one vote, and an equal share in deciding the future of the country.
What I argue in the book, of course this isn't about destroying Israel. It isn't about turning things over from one day to the next. Palestine-Israel is not the only country that faces this sort of power struggle along ethnic, religious, and other lines. We have to look for structures, and I talk about this in some detail in the book. How they did it in South Africa, where by the way, the same sorts of arguments were made against ending Apartheid and against one person, one vote. We have to look at countries like Belgium, we have to look at Northern Ireland.
There are many models out there for dealing with those sort of things. So that you have one person, one vote, full democracy, full equality, while at same time, ethnic communities, the Israeli-Jewish community, the Palestinian community, will have mechanisms for expressing their national identity, for decision making over issues that concern them. We have to stop thinking this very simplistic, binary way. And this is where I'm trying to take the discussion with this book.
AMY GOODMAN:Let me ask Professor Rashid Khalidi, your response. Which do you feel is the most viable solution today?
RASHID KHALIDI:Well, I would say two things, the first is that anybody who wants to talk about a two-state solution has to talk about how you would reverse the trends that have been ongoing for at least four decades. The annexation of Palestinian land, the usurpation of Palestinian property in order to create the settlements, the chopping up of the West Bank into cantons, the erection of a matrix of control, where by every important decision the Palestinians take is ultimately passed through an Israeli screen, and there are Israeli arbiters, Ministry of Interior, security services, military, control everything. I'm talking birth/death, entry/exit, export/import, everything, of importants.
You would have to reverse that whole process, before you could even talk about the 23% of Palestine, which is the West Bank and the Gaza Strip becoming a Palestinian State. And I see those processes as having been given enormous additional impetus by President Bush's saying that the settlement blocks are realities that have to be taken into account in any settlement. So, reverse US policy first. Reverse everything Israeli has done for almost 40 years in the Occupied Territories and then come and talk about a Palestinian state.
The second thing that has to be taken into consideration in my view is that both Palestinians and Israelis are very attached to the idea of having their own state. Now, these are not just ethnic communities, these are peoples that have developed powerful senses of national identities, in part in conflict with one another. And to talk about how you move them towards a future of peace, in which you have one state and are operating within a single political system, involves not just a whole process of education and structures, which Ali does talk about in his book, but overcoming what seems to be very strong majority views in both peoples about how they want to organize their national life.
There are people in Israeli and more in Palestine, but minorities in both cases, who want some kind of one state solution. They don't all want the same one by the way, but they are distinct minorities. So, I think you have to address both of those things, irrespective of which solution you want.
AMY GOODMAN:Ali Abunimah?
ALI ABUNIMAH: Well, I think Rashid is pointing out the key obstacles. People who say the two-state solution is realistic are ignoring the reality on the ground. That there is one state already, it is basically a greater Israel in which Palestinians are disenfranchised. These people are inseparable. And I think that for many people, the idea of two states acts as a sort of a placebo. It gets us off the hook from looking at the reality that these people are deeply intertwined. They are as inseparable as blacks and whites in South Africa, as inseparable as Nationalists and Unionists, Catholics and Protestants, in Northern Ireland. And like South Africans and like people in Ireland, they have to start dealing with that reality.
On the issues of what people on both sides think it's clear that the majority of Israelis are deeply attached to their own state, a state in which they are dominant, the dominant class, as whites were in South Africa. I think with Palestinians, it's much more mixed. When you look at the opinion poles within the West Bank and Gaza, it's remarkable how high support is for a single democratic multiethnic state, not an Islamic State in which there are no Jews, but a multiethnic democratic state, is remarkably high given that there are no Palestinian leaders out there openly advocating this.
And support for a two-state solution is remarkably tepid given the fact there is this multimillion dollar industry promoting it and all the parties say that they're for it. When you look at Palestinians, the rest of the Palestinian community, the more than a million Palestinians living as Israeli citizens, second class citizens have been struggling for decades for a state of all its citizens. So, I would see them as supporting the goal of the state of equal rights and for Palestinians in the Diaspora, the issue of a two state solution has always remained contentious. Because, the way Israel conceives of it, as Ehud Olmert put it just yesterday, it means that the vast majority of Palestinians would have to give up their rights. So, in the book, and I talk about these discussions both among Palestinians and Israelis moving towards this new sort of vision.
AMY GOODMAN:We just have about a minute and a half to go and I want to tie this into what's happening today in Iraq. How you see it related? Do you see solution to the Palestinian-Israel conflict essential to peace in Iraq as well?
RASHID KHALIDI:I think what's essential is that the mind set that has dominated American policy--policy making has to change fundamentally, whether in Iraq or Palestine, or Lebanon, or elsewhere. That we won't talk to you unless you do what we want syndrome, that this administration has perfected, is bankrupt and has lead us into the abyss. Much of what we think, the conventional wisdom about places like Palestine will have to be discarded. I would, I'd love to say I see a new horizon in Iraq and Palestine because of what Olmert has done, or because the Democrats have won the election, unfortunately, I don't. There's a huge body of conventional wisdom which is entirely wrong, and which has led us where we are. And more of it than we realize is marked bipartisan on the Middle East. All of that has to change unfortunately.
AMY GOODMAN:Ali Abunimah, solution right now, on Iraq?
ALI ABUNIMAH: Well, I agree absolutely with what Rashid has said. I think the most important thing we can do what Jimmy Carter said on Larry King, we have to start talking about this. Shattering the conventional wisdom, shattering the silence that has made free discussion of Palestine-Israel such a taboo in this country for so long.
AMY GOODMAN:Ali Abunimah and Professor Rashid Khalidi, I want to thank you both for being with us. Ali Abunimah's book is called One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israel Palestinian Impasse, and Professor's Khalidi's book, The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Elfen slurfest...Defaming Vanunu and Atzmon, take a look and see
A debate between Deborah Maccoby, a ‘Professional Goy Critic’ and Gilad Atzmon, a ‘Dangerous Self Hating, Hebrew Speaking Palestinian’
It didn’t take long before Tribal Jewish activist Mark Elf, the man behind Jews Sans Frontieres joined forces with someone who critiques Goys habitually, Deborah Maccoby, in a total dismissal of the entire Christian religious narrative. Seemingly, some ethnic Jewish campaigners indeed lack Frontiers, they even lack a minimal tolerance towards other people’s beliefs.
While a tolerant atheist would respect the fact that billions of people for almost two millenniums have held the belief that Christ is the ‘Son of God’, the tribal Jewish left activist Maccoby knows better. For her “Jesus was a human being and NOT the Son of God”. She, the Jewish ethnic campaigner knows better than generations of Christians. But she doesn’t stop there. According to Maccoby, Christian belief is a ‘reactionary’ adventure and to support the democratically elected Hamas is ‘regressive’.
One should expect more from a ‘progressive’ tolerant, universal humanist supporter of Palestine. Apparently solidarity with Palestine for the Jewish tribal activist is a bizarre amalgam of self-maintenance mixed with some hardcore Jewish supremacy. I honestly fail to understand how people who claim to be ‘tolerant’, ‘anti racist’ and ‘supportive of the Palestinian people’ manage to dismiss the entirety of Christian belief as well as the democratic choice of the Palestinian people. Deborah Maccoby’s and Mark Elf’s zeal are no doubt a crucial glimpse into the subject of current Jewish left political collectivism.
I do believe that the dismissal of Christianity by Elf, Maccoby and others must be exposed so that the Palestinian solidarity movement can move on and confront both Israeli racism as well as its crypto Zionist moral shield.
A few days ago, Elf and Maccoby published some isolated extracts of a private correspondence between Maccoby and myself (without my permission of course). This time they tried to prove that I am a ‘reactionary Christian anti-Semite’. It didn’t really take me by surprise. It was Maccoby who some time ago accused Mordechai Vanunu of being a ‘reactionary Christian anti-Semite’. Somehow, I happen to be in a good company. At least with one nuclear whistle blower on my side I don’t feel that lonely.
Apparently, I am now accused of being a reactionary Christian anti-Semite. This is not a joke and with Tribal campaigners around, life never gets boring. Maccoby, Elf and their ilk must believe this is so. One may ask, why exactly am I accused of being a ‘reactionary Christian anti-Semite’? It’s simple, because I refuse to accept the authority of a Jewish tribal activist who clearly dismisses the entire Christian religious narrative. I refuse to allow Maccoby and those like her to kill the Son of God twice. I expect them to respect other people’s religion. This is indeed unacceptable especially within the racially orientated Judeo cyberspace.
I have been learning recently that extremist settlers in the West Bank are now occasionally chanting a new song to the Palestinians whom they insist upon oppressing: “We Killed Jesus, We’ll Kill You Too”. I do not know who the ‘we’ they refer to is, but I have a feeling that the need to kill Jesus’s heritage didn’t bypass Deborah Maccoby or her supporter Mark Elf.
I may as well say it, a tolerant being may not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, but he would accept and RESPECT the belief of others. Respect for another’s belief is exactly what Maccoby and Elf lack.
Once again, Maccoby and Elf quoted me out of context. They left me with no choice but to publish the entire correspondence.
In order to maintain the flow of the text, I did some editorial changes and cut out some parts that were not relevant to the argument. The context remained untouched.
Professional Goy Critic Maccoby: Anti-Semitism is irrational.
Hebrew speaking Palestinian Atzmon: This is something you really have to prove beyond doubt, and let me tell you it isn't easy! You will have to define the notions of anti-Semitism as well as rationality. As you know, I argue that anti-Semitism is a myth. Moreover I assume that what you really refer to is Anti Jewish feelings rather than anti-Semitism. Surely you know that many of the so-called 'anti-Semites' love Arabs. It is Jewishness that they despise. Integrity is really crucial in case we want to get somewhere.
Professional Goy Critic Maccoby: It is just unbelievable that you can say that Shamir (Israel Shamir) is in "the great Jewish humanist tradition". Shamir is a Christian fundamentalist who is really not very different from Christian Zionists, except that, whereas the Christian Zionists think Islam is the Anti-Christ, he thinks the Anti-Christ is Israel and world Jewry.
Hebrew speaking Palestinian Atzmon: This is indeed true, yet the man is aiming to present a humanist argument and it is within his very argument where Jewishness stands for evil. Whether we agree with Shamir or not, is another question. I think that from time to time Shamir isn't careful enough in defining his terminology. Once he stops talking about the Jews (as an ethnic origin) and starts to talk solely about Jewishness (as an identity), his arguments will be very difficult to attack. The reason no one yet has managed to deconstruct my arguments is because I am very careful with my terminology. By the way, this isn't to say that my argument has a kernel of truth, they are just relatively solid.
Professional Goy Critic Maccoby: See his essay "The Second Coming". He (Shamir) represents a regressive, medieval Christianity which is the opposite of humanism.
Hebrew speaking Palestinian Atzmon: Sorry Deborah, for me medieval Christianity is where Scholastic philosophy was born. Indeed nothing (too clever) really came out of the Jews (along those centuries) except the racist Maimonides. Let me tell you, Christian scholarship of the middle ages is something I can never get enough of. Scholastics is the aim to ground religion on reason. You better do your homework.
Professional Goy Critic Maccoby: It is interesting too that you yourself show something of this regressive tendency in your enthusiasm for the Islamic fundamentalism of Hamas.
Hebrew speaking Palestinian Atzmon: Your Judeo-centric sense of 'progression' and 'regression' is something I do not want to engage with unless you clearly define what regression and progression stand for. Indeed I love Islam and I love Christianity. Both religions try to repair the non-humanistic message entangled with core Judaism. Surely you know that Judaism predates Christianity and Islam. So if to be honest, Christianity and Islam are both models of progressive and reformist thinking. I suggest that you think about it for a while….
Professional Goy Critic Maccoby: Re your comments about Jesus - I had actually always meant to write to you, ever since I read your piece The Protocols of the Elders of London, to point out that it is not at all a "historical narrative" that the Jews killed Jesus. All the historical evidence shows that it as the Romans and their quisling collaborators - the High Priest and his henchmen - who were responsible for Jesus's death and not the real Jewish religious authoriities, the Pharisees, or the main body of the Jewish people in Judea at that time.
Hebrew speaking Palestinian Atzmon: Ok, now we will challenge your intellectual integrity..... a few days ago you mentioned that you were outraged with the BOD acts against our beloved Mayor. As you know, the BOD presents itself as THE 'representative of British Jews'. Funny enough you claimed that your shtetle mates (the J-pukers) sent many letters in support of the Mayor because they probably believed that they represent another pan of Jewishness. Apparently you Jews like to think collectively. You all represent each other.
Probably something to do with the old Judaic saying 'Kol Bney Israel Arevim Ze Baze' (The entirety of Israel are accountable to each other).
Down to the point, the Big Cohen was the representative of the Jews at the time as much as the BOD represents UK Jews, as much as you and the JPukers (JPUK) represent another aspect of Jewishness. You all represent something unlike my very proud self hater friends who talk merely for themselves. This is what I love about Eisen, Shamir, Blankfort and many others, rather than talking in the name of the Jews they talk in the name of reason and ethics. They talk in the name of their naked self. This is why Paul (Eisen) is so hesitant always. Unlike you, Paul doesn't think that reason is his private Jewish property. Unlike you Paul doesn't take a pride of the achievements of other 'humanist Jews!
Again the question I would like to raise is how come a Jew like yourself is so concerned with the association with Christ killers. Why Italians aren't that concerned with very similar accusations? At the end of the day, it was their Roman ancestors who made the crime. The reason is simple. While Italians developed an ethical thinking, your resemblance to the murderous great priest is shockingly apparent. It is something you try to push under the carpet. You know so well that you are a modern day Christ killer. You (and your 3rd category ilk) insist upon acting as kosher commandants. You are there to decide who is dangerous, who is right and who is wrong. Who is good for the Palestinians, You are there to Crucify the enemies of the Jewish people. In your private list Paul Eisen is a shining yellow star. Shamir is the devil and slowly but surely you learn to recognise that I am the 'most dangerous' of them all. Let me tell you, somehow, you are not as talented as the great Cohen. You are not even as talented as myself. You have to practice a lot before the next lesson.
I do tend to believe that the emerging panic performed by Elf and Maccoby having to do with ‘Reactionary Christian anti-Semitism’ may have something to do with the Christmas Holiday season. Living in London surrounded by Christmas decorations and millions of Christmas shoppers must make some tribal secular Jewish activists feel alienated. While the religious Jews have Hanukah, a Jewish alternative holiday of lights, the Tribal secular Jew has no collective bond rather than anxiety. At Christmastime Elf and Maccoby are apparently threatened by Christ the ordinary human being (rather than a Son of God). I can't wait and see what kind of fears they may bring up at Easter.
 1.5.2005 Just Peace UK Yahoo Group
Have just looked at the Just Peace UK list and have read the interview with Vanunu that Mary has posted...this is I think very disturbing:
"Judaism is one of the faiths which believes, supports, and encourages racism, and is based on supremacy, creating an apartheid regime."
Suppose he had said this about Islam, just substituting Islam for Judaism - wouldn't we call it Islamophobic, because it left out all the positive and tolerant and moderate aspects of islam? So why can't we call this anti-Semitic? Notice too in the interview how he refuses to condemn the mad imams who launched the fatwa on Rushdie and instead condemns Rushdie....however appallingly Vanunu has been treated by Israel I still think his anti-Semitism should be pointed out and condemned.
Looking at the blog of Simon Jones, the interviewer, he seems to be another Jew who has converted to Christianity and is attacking Judaism not just Israel...just read the article We are All Jews Now....
On the other hand, I suppose Israel has asked for this and I hold Sharon ultimately responsible...nonetheless I think this revival of traditional Christian anti-Judaism ought to be opposed; it is not just Shamir/Eisen/Atzmon but is wider, and sadly Vanunu is involved in it too...
Saturday, December 16, 2006
this is the reader-participant post!
Since I appreciate that people come to read this blog, (and a bit stimulated by an idea by Gianluca), I want to make the comments segment of this post part of an interactive project. I am creating a "Conflict Terminology Dictionary", with one eye on Ambrose Bierce and the other on our own talents in looking at reality, current events, the mass media and ourselves.
Topics that are allowed:
* anything Peacepalestine has written on from its inception. This includes the comments section, so you can also enjoy yourselves by bringing the comments section into the fray.
* anything having to do with the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan, militarism, Zionism, activism, the NATO, the mass media and how it treats all of these issues
What is not allowed:
* defamation. Remember, defamation is illegal and unless you can substantiate insults and smears with accurate evidence, it is not permitted in this game and will be deleted from the comments block as soon as I see it.
What will happen with this?
The best will be edited into a small compendium, just for enjoyment purposes. They may be picked up by other media outlets, so if you want to sign it, you can do that.
ALSO!!!! In the next few days, I will be revising the blogroll and outgoing links section. I will be adding many new links and eliminating a few old ones. If there is a link you think should be here, please let me know! I have a list of about 30 that I've been meaning to add, and will get to it shortly!
Friday, December 15, 2006
Palestinians need support, not division (epilogue to a smeary gatekeeping campaign)
End of the year, it seems natural to try to sum up a few things, to try to draw up the balance sheet of what has been happening. Unfortunately, for Palestinian people and for the people of Lebanon, being on the wrong side of the Israeli stick has meant now (as much as ever) destruction, death, and suffering. Even as the world was witnessing the wanton demolition of civilian infrastructures, it seems as though Israel gets let off the hook again, as amazing as it seems to many of us. The propaganda is THAT intense that we turn a blind eye. It would have been an important opportunity for the people who consider the struggle for the extension of human rights to every person on our planet to not miss an opportunity to voice their horror for this outrageous and illegal violation of basic human rights, considering the situation that we are witnessing in Iraq; a total disaster. But, excepting isolated cases, that did not happen. There was little public outcry, and the echo of the dissent that was voiced has long since died out as Olmert gets embraced warmly by the political leaders of Europe and the Vatican.
Sometimes, we Internet warriors tend to forget that there are people in flesh and blood living in the Middle East who are in the real struggle. Despite immense pressure, despite the disaster that they are victims to, simply for living in a place that Israel thinks they shouldn’t be in for its own “security reasons”, they hold fast. They resist. To the brave men, women and children of Palestine and Lebanon, nothing but honour and esteem. Most of us should feel terribly sorry we haven’t been able to do enough for your just causes, for your defence against violence and aggression. But, we are so far behind, drowning in our self-righteous belief that we are the model that you should aspire to. This is a misconception. It is another of our colossal errors. Try to forgive us, and permit me to explain why I think things go wrong, using a few simple examples from the Internet battlefield.
I think there is a major problem here; it is inevitable that we are going to let you down because our means are very modest, and real service to Palestinians is deviated into side issues such as the virulent smear campaigns that wilfully mislead honest people. Since there are many more and better organised Zionist activists, they have specialised in attempting to pick off some of the most effective and popular Palestine activists. They hope that there will be capitulation to this kind of defamation, and they are glad that we lose time defending our good name and just cause. We are many voices, actually, but we are dispersed, totally disorganised and in conflict with one another. We are supposed to have a bottom line, the same one, and we can’t even agree to that. We are in a cyber world, it’s a different kind of war, and most of it is missing the target completely. Our major mistake is that it is all about Western Values, all about making the Middle East into something that suits our tastes to the greater part of activists in the West. It is about us, not about the cause we are supporting.
We live in societies where it is considered the maximum aspiration to encourage democracy through getting people to vote, (and in the case of the 25 January 2006 landslide victory of Hamas, only a small segment of Palestinians were permitted to vote, much to the general acceptance of most Western activists, some of whom called attempts by Italian activists to seek the registration of exiled Palestinian voters “naïve” and worse, which is sad, if the vote is supposed to mean so much to these cyber activists), and when the results are not what the “international community” wants, the democratic choice is undermined. “Progressive voices” call for the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority, others beg for a government of “National Unity”, others simply charge ahead and claim that now is the time to convince the public opinion that the foreseen (and ethical) One State Solution has got to be Secular, to avoid any (Muslim) religious party ever again making a landslide victory even among those who are not Muslim. Rather than look at the vote and accept this as the democratic choice of the people who were permitted to vote (and actually went out and did just that), the tempo picks up for the campaigns to push forward the philosophy of secularism for the Palestinian people. Do these people stop to think about the message they send forth concerning “Western democracy”? To me, the message sent borders on Fascism or comes close to the Neocon theories proposed by those who claim to be Conservatives or even Leftists, which express the thoughts that there is only one particular model of democracy, and it must be a reflection of the societies those in the West have. Nevermind that the popular vote doesn’t get respected much even in States like the USA. We have not supported the Palestinians in their choice the way we should have done. We have failed them and stand by and watch as they are being punished for exercising their rights.
Activists are letting Palestinian people down all the time because they don’t really consider the gravity of their situation. Let me make another example: Just one month ago, a small group of friends brainstormed and asked ourselves what (if anything) we might be able to do that could push forward the envelope of Palestinian concerns. We thought about what we had to say that was in common, that should be the bottom line for anyone who claims to be concerned about justice for Palestinians and the pre-eminence of their rights, as human beings. We wrote a petition that expressed in a few short sentences the basic issues: it touched on the Right of Return, the condemnation of Zionist aggression, and stressed the importance of not shifting focus away from the atrocities that Israel commits by presenting Israel as a victim. It is fundamental to recognise that anti-Semitism is not a Palestinian creation and that this issue should not be the focus of activists and they should not use that as an excuse to shift the discourse. Most importantly, we agreed that service to the Palestinians was the reason that we work together to bring the issues to the table for discussion and resolution.
It is important to mention that this petition, diffused here and there (not nearly as widely as we might have wished, but this is the risk of cyber activating) got so far, in its brief existence, over 1120 signatures. The bulk of them were from Arabs. Compare this to another petition that had been circulating for over a year and a half, which was once on Sue Blackwell’s absurd “Nazi Watch” page http://www.sue.be/pal/nazis.html, which is just an extensive smear page, but now can be found as a delightful 404 here: http://www.sd-il.com/politics/statements/signLetter.php. Needless to say, floating around in Internet 20 times longer, this petition managed to get 170-something signatures. This should come as no surprise, as it was designed solely to insult and throw dirt on some activists who are not promoting the idea that anti-Semitism is the real issue in Palestine activism. It served no purpose beyond gatekeeping and maintaining the dominance of the discourse in the hands of a few isolated individuals. Those who signed labelled those who critique the efficiency of Jewish and Israeli power as being instrumental in the oppression of Arabs as “anti-Semites”. It seems that this is one more of the taboo topics, one of the many. Silencing these voices is to interrupt any kind of mutual discourse, even if it is in disagreement, and it plays into the game of the Zionists. I think that most people are quite sick of this sort of behaviour. It is popular in “old boys’ clubs” and various Internet forums, where any voice that challenges the majority is silenced by expulsion. I know, I’ve been kicked out of a primarily Jewish group (Just Peace UK) for distributing a paper by Gilad Atzmon. It seems absurd, since his many papers are published in at least 50 magazines and left-leaning online journals in several languages regularly, not to mention blogs, newspapers and email groups publishing and commenting his work. For this group, it was determined that discussing the ideas of Atzmon was another taboo. My membership in a One State forum was challenged following the Palestinian vote because I stated that we had to perhaps revise our tactics and to look with a less prejudiced eye at what the Palestinians were communicating with the choice they made at the polls. It seems to be the case that you have to tow the moderate line, you have to put Palestinians SECOND if you want to talk to many other activists.
The last example is similar to the precedent one. It concerns the smear campaign we have all witnessed unfolding in the past two months against Gilad Atzmon, which has moved from beyond the progressive Internet activist sphere and crossed over to the Board of Deputies (British group that claims to represent Jewish interests in the UK) and the “democratic Zionists” (pardon the oxymoron) in the person of a blogger at the Guardian. Atzmon writes and speaks in public constantly, he elaborates his ideas and develops them, and luckily for us, shares his insights with us. I believe that there is only a very small number of people who detest him, but they are noisy, and they keep repeating this litany. The major reason they seek to marginalize him is that he is an independent voice that cannot be controlled by this or that group. This is what gatekeepers hate, he is not pushing their agenda forward. He continually stresses that he is seeking discussion and debate, and then (standard tactic) rather than debate his ideas, half sentences are taken out of context basically to mislead those who have not read the articles themselves, and more seriously, he himself becomes the issue, the target.
It is curious that Mark Elf (an anti-Zionist) doesn’t have a problem with David Hirsh, the Zionist, when Elf is used in attempts to sling mud at Atzmon. For some reason, they probably feel their issues are harmonious, which is indicative of the usefulness of Elf for any Palestinian campaigning. But, he is not a Palestinian campaigner. He does however, allow his other friends who call themselves anti-Zionist Jews to publish their paper on his blog. Tony Greenstein and Roland Rance are upset that Counterpunch didn’t pick up their piece, even though they publish Atzmon quite regularly. Well, they shouldn’t feel too bad, their paper is also up at Ziopedia, and maybe they passed it along to their internet forums, so it is being read. To these people, there is an avoidance of the ideological questions raised, the issue is still who is entitled to speak and act. They can’t see that everyone should be entitled. If their argument is worthwhile, people will gain from it. If it is a throwaway piece of junk simply designed to settle some resentments, it will be apparent as well. The choice is totally up to the authors. We have seen too much smearing. There is too much trash. It is time that these smear campaigners decide to do something decent. If they want to protect their private interests, they should keep on as they are doing. If they care about the Palestinian people, about peace between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East, about the end of Western imperialism all around the globe, the path they have to start walking down is clear. Maybe it’s not too late, New Year’s Resolutions are there to signal a new beginning.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
If Israel has Nuclear Weapons, then why is Vanunu still under "Administrative Detention"??
A few days ago, Vanunu wrote on his website:
'Soon Israel will declare its NWs'
Well it seems like new policy is coming from US.
Gates was going toward this policy since 1991, after Iraq war.
But he was removed by Clinton, and they gave 8 years to prepare the 9.11.attack, hoping to try to bring US here to stop Iran.
But no one can stop Iran, or more correctly no one can stop Israel.
So if this policy will continue, soon Israel will declare its NWs.
But that will be new future for the Middle East and all the world.
Me, I can go, end the spy game with my case.
So, new direction from US, ending the game that only Israel can have NWs. Now all the world are equals. The world will choose between future NWs wars, or a free world from all NWs, include Israel, and the US, and the father of all NWs policy, England.
The world is going to move forward. Soon.
Now that Olmert has declared what was taboo; that Israel has Nuclear Weapons, what possible reason does Israel have to punish Vanunu. It should now be as clear as water, He told the truth and Israel does not want the truth to be known, and if one does tell the truth, one deserves to be punished! It is time Mordachai Vanunu was rehabilitated by Israel. It is time that he is allowed to be a free man.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Gilad Atzmon - Think Tribal, Speak Universal (Don't let the smear campaigners set the agenda!)
(introduction by Peacepalestine) NEVER GIVE UP! That is what we can all say following the insuccess of the latest of a slew of Zionist smear campaigns directed against Gilad Atzmon. All of you who have been following this blog, and the very many other places where Gilad's work is published have witnessed many attempts to publicly defame him, to accuse him of being a racist and an anti-Semite. All of these campaigns ultimately fail, because when one looks at the actual material that is available, it is crystal clear that Atzmon is one of the strongest voices condemning racism! Every time these attacks start, they fall flat once one is given the opportunity to evaluate for themselves whether or not this strong anti-Zionism can be interpreted as being anti-Semitism, it is obvious that the attempts to silence him, to silence anyone who dares criticise Israel or Zionism, are exposed for the instrumental propaganda that they are.
The Guardian, paper that allowed an outrageous smear piece to be hosted on its blog, having later done the research on the actual accusations, decided, after many complaints from readers, to amend its policy, and give Gilad a space to comment the attack against him. It is the same piece that was printed here a few days ago, albeit edited. BUT THE FACT REMAINS - NEVER LET THE SMEAR CAMPAIGNERS SET THE AGENDA! Deception will never win in the end, no matter how arrogant it might seem. People can find out the truth easily enough, and keeping silent against lies is what they want. They want us to become tired and frustrated. We won't let that happen.
So, to celebrate this victory, I am proud to publish a brand new paper precisely about the mechanisms of the silencing of those who speak out.
Gilad, thanks for holding strong and not giving up!
GILAD ATZMON - THINK TRIBAL, SPEAK UNIVERSAL
I may as well be the King of The Jews. I have achieved the unachievable, accomplished the impossible. I have managed to unite them all: Right, Left and Centre. The entirety of the primarily-Jewish British political groups: the Zionists the anti-Zionists, Jewish Socialists, Tribal Marxists, The Board of Deputies, Jewish Trotskyites, Jews Sans Frontieres, Jews Avec Frontieres for the first time in history all speak in one single voice. They all repeat exactly the same misquotes. They all hate Gilad Atzmon.
“Pretty impressive,” I think to myself, “I must be doing something right.” Yet, I am slightly confused by my own achievement. When it comes down to it, I’m not the canonical enemy; I am a jazz musician and author. I am not a politician, nor am I a member of any party. I do not present or support any political agenda. I have never been involved in any act of violence (not even as an Israeli soldier) nor have I ever called for violence. I am what some may call an “independent critical thinker”. It is my personal understanding that I choose to share with my readers and listeners. I express my very own reading into events and some speculations regarding the notion of identity. I write about things that I find while looking into myself. This is indeed very dangerous for people who try to promote some collective dogmatic and ethnic tribalism. It is apparently the individual and critical thinker who endangers any form of ideological dogmatism (in general) and Jewish collectivism (in particular).
Surely, the most effective way to confront a thinker is through open intellectual debate. But somehow, this is precisely what those who oppose me refuse to do. Instead, they employ various tactics aimed at silencing me. They are filled with hate. Because, it seems, hate is the name of the game.
I recently came across an interesting insight into the subject of hate and anti-Semitism. It goes like this:
‘While in the past an 'anti-Semite' was someone who hates Jews, nowadays it is the other way around, an anti-Semite is someone the Jews hate.’
The politics of hate can be effective, as well as being vicious. And you’d think tribal Jewish activists would be the first to understand this. We all know that Jews have been suffering hatred and discrimination for centuries. Yet the Jewish ethnic activists seem to have learned hatred from their enemies so much that the secular Jewish political discourse has been totally shaped by it. Moreover, hate has become the main matrix of negation: The Israelis are set to hate the Arabs, the Zionists are there to hate the Goyim (in general), Jews against Zionism hate the Goyim as well as Israel as well as Atzmon (in particular).
But why do they hate so much? The answer is simple. Once Judaism is eliminated, what remains of Jewish identity is pretty threadbare. Once stripped of religious spirituality, all that is left of Jewishness is a template of negation fuelled by racial orientation and spiced up with some light cultural context. Sadly, I have to say that though very many emancipated and assimilated Jews have adopted universal humanist ideas, secular collective Jewish identity has never matured into adopting a universal humanist ideological standpoint or even a philosophical insight. The reasons are simple:
A. Racial or even ethnic orientation cannot form a basis for a universal ethical argument.
B. Chicken soup or Jewish humour (culture) does not make an ideological argument.
It was Moses Mendelssohn, an 18th century Jewish progressive scholar, who coined the famous Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) insight: “Be a Jew at Home and a (cosmopolitan) Man on the Street”. Mendelssohn’s revelation for the modern Jew doesn’t leave much room for doubt. Rather than encouraging the modern Jew to genuinely assimilate into a universal ethos of equality, the Haskalah Jew is destined to live in a dual mode if not practically a state of schizophrenia. He is split between the solitary pleasure of a cosy, homey Jewish identity and the public appearance of the ‘cosmopolitan man’. In fact, it is this duality of tribalism and universalism that is at the very heart of the collective secular Jewish identity.
This duality has never been properly resolved. A few attempts have been made to brush it off but they have all failed. Zionism for instance, offered to abolish the ‘abnormal’ condition of the ‘Jewish Diaspora’, in other words, it suggested that in a ‘Jewish State’ (intended as being for Jews Only) the differences between the ‘home’ and the ‘street’ would disappear. In fact, Zionism was all about the transforming the ‘street’ into the cosy Jewish ‘home’. Though it managed to do this, there is no trace of universalism in either the Zionist’s ‘street’ or in his ‘home’. The state of Beit Hanoun and the carnage Israel left behind in Lebanon last summer doesn’t leave much room for doubt - Israel doesn’t really offer us any lessons in universal cosmopolitanism. Marxism, on the other hand, attempted to make people equal. In other words, it promised to make all ‘homes’ look the same. This idea was very appealing to many European Jews. Marxism was certainly successful for a while but sadly enough, nowadays, it is only consumerism that makes us all look homogenous (iPod, coca-cola, jeans). Clearly, there is not much to celebrate there either.
It is within the failure of these two competing grand ideologies that the matrix of negation marched triumphantly back. Clearly, the search for a contemporary collective secular Jewish identity is a perplexing endeavour. Just as in Mendelssohn’s time, it aims at integrating the opposing categories of tribalism with universalism. But this can never be achieved, and this is exactly where hate politics starts to play its part. If you don’t know who you are, just find yourself an enemy. In other words, ‘tell me who you hate and I will tell you who you are.’
It occurred to me a while ago that if all tribal Jewish activists see me as a threat, surely they must perceive in me some kernel of truth. I realised that there must be something about my ideas that shakes everything they believe in. Indeed, it doesn’t take a genius to understand what that thing is. I have managed to expose the Mendelssohnian clash at the very heart of contemporary Jewish secular identity in general, and in tribal Jewish left activism in particular.
Mendelssohn must have understood the intrinsic clash between the ‘cosmopolitan man’ and the ‘Jewish home’. He must have realised that universalism and tribalism are opposing categories. Being trained as a rabbi, Mendelssohn offered a pragmatic and practical solution - but this solution led to false and deceptive behaviour. Either you pretend to be a cosmopolitan while in the ‘street’ or you lie to your God at ‘home’. This behavioural code, though being very pragmatic, happens to be non-ethical by definition. It is based on deception: both self-deception and deceiving the other. As we know, it was Mendelssohn’s insight that was the cause of many Germanic Jews eventually converting to Christianity or just departing from any connection with Jewish collectivism, Jewish life or culture. True humanists would be apt to disengage from a non-genuine lifestyle. Ethically, at least, Mendelssohn’s middle way between orthodoxy and modernity failed to provide an answer.
Surprisingly enough, the primarily-Jewish left activist falls straight into Mendelssohn’s trap. He tries desperately to bridge the gap between tribal commitment and the universal call and, like Mendelssohn, he is doomed to failure. Indeed, in the early days of the Palestinian solidarity movement the primarily-Jewish peace activism was of immense importance. It was actually Jewish humanists who were the first to speak out for the Palestinians when the world out there was still immersed in the Zionist narrative. But things have now changed. Once Hamas was democratically elected, it was the Jewish tribal peace activist who was the first to show dissatisfaction on many a progessive discussion group. Obviously Hamas doesn’t fit into the Jewish Socialist vision for the region. In other words, tribal Jewish humanists’ support for the Palestinians is tilted by self-centric concerns.
I do know what Judaism stands for. I can easily follow and support the Torah Jews’ argument against Zionism. Also, in my concerts and readings I meet very many Jews who put aside any tribal orientation to join the emerging Palestinian solidarity movement. I admire them and I respect their courage. Indeed, I fail to understand the Jewish tribal peace activism.
Monitoring tribal Jewish left activism for more than a few years, I have managed to expose some major categorical flaws. If the left is a ‘progressive’ endeavour aiming at a universal message that goes beyond race and ethnicity, then applying tribal and clannish banners is nothing but ‘reactionary’ attitude. The introduction of racial orientation into the Socialist discourse reduces Socialism into a light form of marginal politics and sometimes even, a bitter manifestation of national socialism. This complexity is far from being new. Lenin was already concerned with this issue in 1903.
However, I must admit that I am not concerned at all with the healthiness of the Socialist or Marxist discourse. I am engaged here solely in the deconstruction of a political standpoint and in scrutinising its rhetoric. Rather than saving the Marxist philosophy, I care for the people of Beit Hanoun, Jenin, Ramallah and Nablus. I devote my energy to support the Palestinian people who are bombed and starved by a State that happens to be ‘the Jewish State’. My message is clear. A crime of immense proportions is taking place in Palestine. As far as the humanist argument is concerned, Palestinians are the priority. If the crime against the Palestinians is a crime against humanity, we had better fight it collectively as human beings rather than as isolated formations of ethnically and racially segregated groups. The task ahead is complicated enough. Tribal Judeo-centric issues to do with anti-Semitism may be important to some. However, I maintain that they are secondary as far as Palestine solidarity is concerned. In other words, when you speak universal you may as well mean it for a change.