Rightist government in Israel


This video is about Israeli Teddy Katz of Gush Shalom – www.gush-shalom.org.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Sworn in Tuesday as prime minister in the most right-wing government in Israel‘s history, Benjamin Netanyahu threatened a military strike against Iran [see also here] and signaled a break with the so-called “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict backed by Washington.

3 April 2009 – The former chief prosecutor of two United Nations criminal tribunals, Richard J. Goldstone, will lead an investigation into violations of human rights and international law during the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip, the Human Rights Council announced today: here.

SINN Fein president Gerry Adams called on Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate an end to their decades-old conflict during a visit to Gaza on Wednesday: here.

A religious war in Israel’s army: here.

13 thoughts on “Rightist government in Israel

  1. Apr 3, 5:01 AM EDT

    Women in Israeli govt? Not if Photoshop can help

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Two women serve in Israel’s new Cabinet, but some Israelis would rather not see them.

    Newspapers aimed at ultra-Orthodox Jewish readers tampered with the inaugural photograph of the Cabinet, erasing ministers Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver.

    Ultra-Orthodox newspapers consider it immodest to print images of women.

    The daily Yated Neeman digitally changed the photo, moving two male ministers into the places formerly occupied by the women.

    The weekly Shaa Tova simply blacked the women out, in a photo reprinted Friday by the mainstream daily Maariv.

    No response was available from the two papers.

    During the election, campaign posters featuring female candidate Tzipi Livni were defaced near ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.

    © 2009 The Associated Press.

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  2. Ad in Haaretz, April 3, 2009

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    URI AVNERY

    ?Who?s The Boss
    ON THE first day of the new Israeli government, the fog cleared: it?s a Lieberman government

    Full text English in the end
    Avnery columns’ archive http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery

    ~~~~

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    ~~~
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    http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/he/channels/avnery/1238914887
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    http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/he/channels/avnery

    Uri Avnery
    04.04.09

    Who?s The Boss?
    ON THE first day of the new Israeli government, the fog cleared: it?s a Lieberman government.

    The day started with a celebration at the President?s office. All the members of this bloated government ? 30 ministers and 8 deputy ministers ? were dressed up in their best finery and posed for a group photo. Binyamin Netanyahu read an uninspired speech, which included the worn-out cliches that are necessary to set the world at ease: the government is committed to peace, it will negotiate with the Palestinian Authority, bla-bla-bla.

    Avigdor Lieberman hurried from there to the foreign Office, for the ceremonial change of ministers. He, too, made a speech ? but it was not a routine speech at all.

    ?Si vis pacem, para bellum ? if you want peace, prepare for war,? declared the new Foreign Minister. When a diplomat quotes this ancient Roman saying, the world pays no attention to the first part, but only to the second. Coming from the mouth of the already infamous Lieberman, it was a clear threat: the new government is entering upon a path of war, not of peace.

    With this sentence, Lieberman negated Netanyahu?s speech and made headlines around the world. He confirmed the worst apprehensions connected with the creation of this government.

    Not content with quoting the Romans, he explained specifically why he used this motto. Concessions, he said, do not bring peace, but quite the reverse. The world respected and admired Israel when it won the Six-day war.

    Two fallacies in one sentence. Returning occupied territory is not a ?concession?. When a thief is compelled to return stolen property, or when a squatter vacates an apartment that does not belong to him, that is not a ?concession?. And the admiration for Israel in 1967 came from a world that saw us as a little, valiant country that had stood up to mighty armies out to destroy us. But today?s Israel looks like a brutal Goliath, while the occupied Palestinians are now viewed as a David with his slingshot, fighting for his life.

    With this speech, Lieberman succeeded in stirring the world, but even more in humiliating Netanyahu. He exposed the peace declarations of the new Prime Minister as nothing but soap bubbles.

    However, the world (as I wrote last week) wants to be deceived. A White House spokesman announced that as far as the American administration is concerned, it is Netanyahu?s bla-bla-bla that counts, not Lieberman?s straight talking. And Hillary Clinton was not ashamed to call Lieberman and congratulate him on assuming office.

    THAT WAS the first test of strength inside the Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak triangle. Lieberman has demonstrated his contempt for both Netanyahu and Barak.

    His political base is secure, because he is the only person who can topple the government at any moment. After the Knesset debate on the new government, only 69 members voted for it. If one adds the five Labor members who ?were present but did not participate in the vote? (a voting device that is less negative than abstaining), the government has 74 votes. Meaning: without Lieberman?s 15 members, the government does not command a majority.

    His speech was intended to underline this political reality. He as much as told Netanyahu: If you intend to shut me up, forget it. In fact, he held a pistol to Netanyahu?s head ? in this case, it could be a German Luger Parabellum, a pistol whose name derives from the Roman saying.

    The full extent of Lieberman?s Chutzpah came to the fore only an hour later. From the Foreign Office ceremony he hurried to another ritual ministerial handover, this time at the Ministry for Internal Security (formerly called the Ministry of Police).

    What business did he have there? None. It is highly unusual for a minister to attend such a ceremony in another ministry. True, the new Internal Security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, belongs to Lieberman?s party, but that is not relevant. After all, he did not attend the similar ceremony at the Immigration Absorption ministry, where another member of his party was installed.

    The riddle was solved the next day, when the freshly installed Foreign Minister spent seven hours in a police interrogation room, answering questions about suspected bribery, money laundering and such, in connection with huge sums that were transferred from abroad to a company that belongs to his 23 year old daughter.

    That explains his presence at the police ministry ceremony. He was photographed standing next to the chiefs of the criminal investigation department. It would be hard to see his appearance there as anything other than a crude and shameless threat against those who were to interrogate him on the morrow.

    His presence at the ceremony declared: I am the man who appointed the minister who is now in charge of each of your careers, for promotion or termination. And the same message went out to the judges: I have appointed the new Justice Minister, and I shall decide upon the promotion of all of you.

    IT ALL reminds me of a diplomatic reception at the Egyptian embassy exactly 10 years ago. There I met most of the members of the new government which had just been formed by Ehud Barak. All of them were depressed.

    Barak had done something that bordered on sadism: he had appointed every minister to the post most unsuitable for them. The gentle and polite Professor Shlomo Ben-Ami was appointed Minister of Internal Security (where he failed miserably during the October 2000 disturbances, when he failed to prevent his police from killing a dozen Arab citizens.) Yossi Beilin, a diplomat with a very fertile mind, a natural candidate for the Foreign Office, was appointed Justice Minister. And so on. In private conversations, all of them vented their bitterness against Barak.

    Now Netanyahu has trumped Barak. The appointment of Lieberman as Foreign Minister borders on the insane. The appointment of Yuval Steinitz, a professor of philosophy and a personal friend of Netanyahu?s wife, Sarah, a man devoid of any economic experience whatsoever, as Minister of the Treasury, at the height of the world financial crises, crosses the border of the absurd. The appointment of the No. 2 Likud leader, Silvan Shalom, to two junior ministries has made him into a deadly enemy. The creation of a long list of new and hollow ministries, just to provide jobs to his cronies, has turned the government into a popular joke (?a Minister for Incoming Mail and a Minister for Outgoing Mail?).

    BUT A government is no joke. And Lieberman is no joke. Far from it.

    Already on his first day he made clear that he ? he and not Netanyahu or Barak ? will set the style of the new government, both because of his strong political position and his massive personal presence and provocative character.

    He will maintain this government as long as it suits him and overthrow it the moment he feels that new elections will give him supreme power.

    His rude and violent style is both natural and calculated. It is intended to threaten, to appeal to the most primitive types in society, to draw public attention and to assure media coverage. All these are reminiscent of other countries and other regimes. The first one to congratulate him was – not by chance ? the ex-fascist Foreign Minister of Italy.

    This week, earlier statements by Lieberman were quoted again and again. He once proposed bombing the huge Aswan dam, an act that would have caused a terrible Tsunami-like deluge and killed many millions of Egyptians. Another time he proposed delivering an ultimatum to the Palestinians: At 8 am we shall bomb your commercial centers, at noon your gas stations, at 2 pm your banks, and so on.

    He has proposed drowning thousands of Palestinian prisoners, offering to provide the necessary buses to take them to the coast. Another time he proposed deporting 90% of the 1.2 million Arab citizens of Israel. Recently he told the President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, one of the staunchest allies of the Israeli leadership, to ?go to hell?.

    In the recent election campaign his official program included the demand to annul the citizenship of any Arab who did not prove his loyalty to Israel. That was also his main slogan. This, too, is reminiscent of the programs of certain parties in history.

    This is coupled with an open hostility to the Israeli ?elites? and everything connected with the founders of the State of Israel.

    SOME PEOPLE believe that Lieberman is really not a new phenomenon at all and that he simply brings to the surface traits that were there all the time but were buried beneath a thick layer of sanctimonious hypocrisy.

    What is his solution to the historic Israeli-Arab conflict? In the past, he spoke about a regime of cantons for the Palestinians. They will live in several enclaves in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which will be disconnected from each other and dominated by Israel. No Palestinian State, of course, no Arab East Jerusalem. He even proposed adding to these cantons some areas of Israel inhabited by a dense Palestinian population, whose Israeli citizenship would be revoked.

    This is not so far from the ideas of Sharon, nor from those of Netanyahu, who declares that the Palestinians will ?govern themselves? ? of course without a state, without a currency, without control of the border crossings, without harbors and airports.

    At the Foreign Office ceremony, Lieberman declared that the Annapolis agreement, which was dictated by President Bush, is invalid, and that only the ?Road Map? counts. The Foreign Ministry spokesmen hurried to explain that the ?Road Map? also speaks about ?two states?. They forgot to remind the world that the Israeli government had ?accepted? the Road Map only with 14 provisos that rob it of any content. For example: that Palestinians must ?destroy the terrorist infrastructure? (What is that? Who decides?) before Israel shall make any move, including the freeze of the settlements.

    (That may remind one of the rich Jew in the Shtetl, who dictated his Last Will and Testament, dividing his wealth between his relatives and friends and adding: ?In case of my death, this Will shall be null and void.?)

    As far as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is concerned, the controversy between Olmert and Livni on the one side and Netanyahu and Lieberman on the other is about tactics rather than strategy. The strategy of all of them is to prevent the creation of a normal, free and viable Palestinian state. Tzipi Livni was for a tactic of endless negotiations, decorated with pronouncement about peace and ?two nation-states?. Not for nothing did Netanyahu mock her: You had several years to achieve agreement with the Palestinians. So why didn?t you?

    This debate is not about peace, but about a ?peace process?.

    But in the meantime Tzipi Livni settles into her new job as the Leader of the Opposition. Her first speeches were vigorous and hard-hitting. We shall soon know if she can fill this job with content. If having to speak about peace will convince her of its value and turn her into a real alternative to the government of Lieberman and Liebermania.

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  3. http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10451.shtml

    “Hebrew labor” lives on as Israel Railways fires Arab guards

    Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 6 April 2009

    A decision by Israel’s state-owned railway company to sack 150 Arab workers because they have not served in the army has been denounced as “unlawful” and “racist” this week by Arab legal and workers’ rights groups.

    The new policy, which applies to guards at train crossing points, is being implemented even though the country’s Arab citizens — numbering 1.2 million and nearly one-fifth of the total population — have been exempt from serving in the military since Israel’s establishment.

    Ahmed Tibi, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament, complained to Israel Railways and the attorney general last week, arguing that the move was meant “to cleanse the railways of Arab employees.”

    “It is an especially grave matter as this is a public company whose operations are meant to benefit all citizens,” he said.

    The Laborers’ Voice, a workers’ rights group based in Nazareth, said the new condition of employment was designed to reserve rail jobs for Jews, most of whom are conscripted for three years after finishing school.

    It added that Israel Railways was following dozens of other major Israeli firms and thousands of small businesses that keep jobs off limits to Arab workers by defining the roles as security related.

    Israel Railways announced last month that all crossing guards would be required to produce a discharge certificate from the army or face dismissal. The first 40 Arab workers received their notices last week, taking effect almost immediately.

    Taher Jayousi, 32, from the Arab village of Qalansuwa in central Israel, where 20 of the fired guards live, said they had been told their job would now require them to carry a gun and could therefore be performed only by former soldiers.

    One commentator in Haaretz, a liberal daily newspaper, ridiculed the attempt to characterize the guards’ role as security related. “A dreamed-up security demand is one of the oldest tricks to reject Arab candidates in job interviews,” wrote Avirama Golan.

    That assessment is shared by Adalah, an Arab legal group, which has threatened legal action against the transport ministry for violating the sacked workers’ constitutional rights.

    Adalah said it was relying on a ruling three years ago in which the courts rejected Haifa University’s decision to reserve student accommodation for those who had served in the army.

    The position of crossing guard was created in 2006 to increase rail safety after five people were killed and more than 80 injured when a train collided with a stranded car at a crossing point. Nearly two-thirds of the 260 guards are reported to be Arabs.

    Such other railway jobs as engineer and station staff are already reserved for Jewish workers, said Wahbe Badarne, director of the Laborers’ Voice.

    Assad Salami, 35, another of the sacked guards from Qalansuwa, said: “Until now, the company could find few Jews who wanted to do guard work for the low wages we’re paid.

    “But with an economic crisis looming it has the chance to get rid of us and offer our jobs to Jews.”

    In a statement defending the new policy, Israel Railways said it was intended to provide job opportunities for army veterans, a social benefit the company described as “significant.”

    Another of the former guards, Ibrahim Nasrallah, 25, said: “What does that say to us if the company is only concerned about reducing the unemployment rate among the Jewish public?”

    He said the use of security as a pretext to avoid hiring Arab workers was one he and his family were familiar with.

    “My brother is a chef and has been unemployed for the past eight months. Every time he goes to a restaurant and they see he’s an Arab they tell him they are only hiring workers who have served in the army. It’s crazy — you need to be a former soldier to cook food in Israel!”

    Badarne of the Laborers’ Voice said he has heard similar stories from other Arab workers.

    “Laws against discrimination exist in Israel. The problem is that there appears to be no interest in enforcing them.

    “If I go to the shopping mall, even the notices in the windows asking for sales assistants require army service from applicants.

    “At least in these cases we can prove that it is racism we are dealing with.

    “More sinister, however, is the more recent practice of employers telling Arab applicants that a position is already filled to avoid the threat of legal action. There the racism is veiled.”

    Large sections of the economy are officially off limits to Arab workers because they fall within what Israel defines as its security industries, especially weapons manufacturers, the airports and national airline, ports and refineries, and the various security agencies.

    But he said many large state-owned corporations that are not involved in security fields were also reluctant to employ Arabs, sending a message to smaller firms that discrimination was legitimate.

    According to figures provided in 2004 by Nachman Tal, a former deputy head of the Shin Bet, the domestic security service, only six of the 13,000 employees of the Israeli Electricity Corp were Arabs.

    Ehud Olmert, Israel’s former prime minister, admitted racial discrimination was rife in a speech to the parliament in December. “It is terrible that there is not even one Arab employee [out of 900] at the Bank of Israel.”

    Of the civil service, he added: “There is no arguing that some government ministries did not hire Arabs for years.”

    Government statistics show that 12.5 percent of all Arab college graduates are unemployed, nearly four times the figure for Jewish graduates.

    Even those who do work are often forced into low-paying and menial jobs, Badarne said.

    Salami, who trained as a schoolteacher, said that, among the 20 guards from his village, four were lawyers.

    Badarne pointed out that the long-standing Zionist principle of “Hebrew labor,” or Jews employing only other Jews, still had great influence in Israeli society.

    He was especially critical of the country’s trade union federation, the Histadrut, which has traditionally also been one of the country’s largest employers.

    It did not allow any admission of Arab workers until a decade after Israel’s creation and even then it set up a separate, and marginal, Arab section within the organization, he said.

    “Unusually for a trade union, poor workers, and that means, overwhelmingly, Arab workers, are simply not on the Histadrut’s agenda. It is there to protect the jobs and good salaries of workers in the large state corporations and government offices.”

    He added that his organization, which offers Arab workers support services and legal advice, was currently seeking redress for many Arab workers who had been sacked after attending demonstrations in January against the Israeli army’s attack on Palestinians in Gaza.

    Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jkcook.net.

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  4. URI AVNERY

    ?Rest has Come to the Weary??
    Full text in the end
    Avnery columns’ archive http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery

    ~~~~

    Uri Avnery
    11.04.09

    ?Rest has Come to the Weary??

    PASSOVER Week is a time for outings. News programs on radio and television start with words like: ?The masses of the House of Israel spent the day in the national parks??

    It is also a feast of homeland songs. On television one sees groups of white-haired oldsters surrounded by their children and grandchildren fervently singing the songs of their youth, the words of which they know by heart.

    ?Rest has come to the weary / And repose to the toiler / A pale night spreads / Over the fields of the Valley of Jezreel / Dew below and the moon above / From Beit-Alfa to Nahalal?? The camera focuses on the furrowed face of a grandmother with wet eyes, and it is not hard to imagine her as the beautiful girl she once was. It is easy to see her in a Jezreel kibbutz, with short pants and a long braid swinging behind her, smiling, bowed over tomato plants in the communal vegetable garden.

    Nostalgia is having a field-day.

    I ADMIT that I am not free from this nostalgia. Something happens to me, too, when I hear the songs, and I join in them involuntarily.

    Like many others, I am suffering from ?cognitive dissonance?. The heart and the head are not coordinated. They operate on different wavelengths. In other words: my head knows that the Zionist enterprise has imposed a historic injustice on the people who lived in this land. But my heart remembers what we felt in those days.

    At the age of 10, a few weeks after our flight from Nazi Germany and arrival in this country, my parents sent me to Nahalal, the first Moshav (communal village). I lived with a family of ?peasants? ? there were not yet known as ?agriculturists? ? in order to get ?acclimatized? and learn Hebrew.

    What was Nahalal like in those days? 75 families, their small white houses arranged in a perfect circle, who worked from sunrise to sunset. In the winter, the village became a sea of mud, which stuck to your rubber boots and felt as heavy as lead. In summer, the temperature was often around blood heat. We, the children, went out to work with the adults, and sometimes it was almost unbearable.

    Everyone lived in indescribable poverty. A small glass of home-made wine on Friday night was the height of luxury. Money was measured in piasters (dimes). When the mother of the family, at long last, got a Singer sewing machine and could make the family new clothes, it was a cause for celebration.

    When the poet Nathan Alterman wrote about the ?rest for the weary?, it was not a poetic phrase. He was talking about real people.

    These people were the sons and daughters of the St. Petersburg and Kiev bourgeoisie, spoilt children of well-to-do parents, who came here to ?build the country?, walking with open eyes into a life of abject poverty and back-breaking work, learning a foreign language and giving up their mother tongue forever. During the first years they worked hard to drain the swamp on their land. I can?t imagine that after a day?s work any of them had the energy left to read Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky.

    They knew, of course, that there were Arabs around. On the road from Nahalal to Haifa they went past Arab villages. They saw fellaheen working in the fields. But they were from another world. That year ? 1934 ? was still tranquil, the quiet before the storm of the 1936 ?disturbances?. They had no contact with Arabs, did not understand their language, had no idea at all about what went on in their heads when they saw the Jews tending their fields.

    What they knew was that the fields of the Jezreel Valley, many of which had been swamps, had been bought with good money from an Arab landowner. Nobody thought about the peasants who had lived on this land and derived from it their daily bread for generations, and who were evicted when the rich absentee landowner sold it to the Jewish National Fund.

    NOSTALGIA IS a human emotion. In every generation, old people remember their youth, and mostly it appears to them as an age of purity and happiness.

    This natural, personal nostalgia is joined in our case by another feeling, which causes the old songs to flood us with longing for the innocence of those days, the virtue, the belief in ?the rightness of the way?, when everything looked so simple.

    We felt then that we were taking part in an unprecedented heroic undertaking, creating a new world, a new society, a new human being, a new culture, a new language. We remembered where we came from ? from a Europe that was turning into a hell for the Jews. We knew that it was our duty to build a safe haven for millions of Jews who were living in growing danger (even though nobody could yet imagine the Holocaust) and who had nowhere to escape to.

    There was a spirit of togetherness, of belonging, of idealism. The new songs expressed it. We all sang them in the youth movements, at Kibbutz evenings, during trips around the country, even in the diverse underground organizations, and of course at school.

    When the ?disturbances? started in April 1936, we did not see them as an ?Arab Revolt?. Like the ?pogrom? of 1921 and the ?massacre? of 1929, they looked to us like a British plot to incite the ignorant Arabs against us in order to continue to rule the country. The ?incited? Arab crowds attacked us because they did not understand how good we were for them. They did not grasp that we were bringing to the country progress, modern agriculture, health care, socialism, workers? solidarity. Their leaders, the rich ?Effendis? (Turkish for noblemen) were inciting them because they were afraid that they would learn from us to demand higher wages. And there were, of course, those who believed that the Arabs were murdering for the sake of murdering, that murder was their nature and the essence of Islam.

    These were not cynical excuses. Zionism was not cynical. The entire Yishuv (the new Hebrew society) believed in this doctrine. In retrospect one can say: this belief was necessary in order to keep up the idealist spirit while ignoring the other side of the coin.

    Vladimir Ze?ev Jabotinsky, who lived abroad and had no part in the pioneer endeavor of (the socialist) ?Working Eretz Israel?, looked at things from afar and saw them as they were: already in the 1920s he stated that the Palestinian Arabs were behaving as any people would if they saw strangers coming to their country with the intent of turning it into their own homeland. But only a few listened to him.

    On the Zionist Left there were always some groups and individuals who tried to find a compromise between Zionism and the people of the land, which would not hinder the Zionists from settling all over the country. It was 1946 before there came into being the first group (of which I was one of the founders) which recognized the Palestinian ? and the general Arab – National Movement and proposed striking an alliance with it.

    IN 1948, the songs of the War of Independence joined the pioneer songs. Regarding them, too, not a few among us suffer from cognitive dissonance. On the one side ? what we felt then. On the other ? the truth as we know it now.

    For the fighters ? as for the entire Yishuv ? it was, quite simply, an existential war. The slogan was ?There is No Alternative?, and all of us believed in it completely. We were fighting with our backs to the wall, the lives of our families hanging in the balance. The enemy was all around us. We believed that we, the few, the very few, almost without arms, were standing up against a sea of Arabs. In the first half of the war, the Arab fighters (known to us as ?the gangs?) indeed dominated all the roads, and in the second half, the regular Arab armies approached the centers of the Hebrew population, surrounding Hebrew Jerusalem and coming close to Tel-Aviv. The Yishuv lost 6000 young people out of a population of some 635 thousand. Whole year-groups were decimated. Innumerable heroic acts were performed.

    The idealism of the fighters found its expression in the songs. Most of them are imbued with faith in victory, and, of course, total conviction of the justness of our cause. We did not leave Arabs behind our lines, nor did the Arabs leave any Jews behind theirs. It looked in those circumstances like a simple military necessity. The fighters did not think then about ?ethnic cleansing? ? a term not yet invented.

    We had no understanding about the real balance of power between us and the other side. The Arabs looked to us like a huge force. We did not know that the Palestinians were quarreling with each other, unable to unite and to create a country-wide defense force, that they had a severe shortage of modern arms. Later, when the Arab armies joined the fray, we did not know that they were unable to cooperate with each other, that it was more important for them to compete with each other than to defeat us.

    Today, a growing number of Israelis have started to understand the full significance of the ?Nakba?, the great tragedy of the Palestinian people and all the individuals who lost their homes and most of their homeland. But the songs come and remind us of what we felt at the time, when the things happened. An abyss yawns between the emotional reality of those days and the historical truth as we know it now.

    Some see the entire 1948 war as a conspiracy of the Zionist leadership which intended right from the beginning to expel the Palestinians from the country in order to turn it into a Jewish State. According to this view, the soldiers of 1948 were war criminals who implemented a vicious policy, much as the pioneers of the preceding generation were land robbers, knights of ethnic cleansing by expulsion and expropriation.

    They are strengthened in this view by today?s settlers, who are driving the Palestinians from what remains of their land. By their actions they blacken the pioneer past. Religious fanatics and fascist hooligans, who claim to be the heirs of the pioneers, obliterate the real intentions of that generation

    HOW CAN one overcome the contradiction between the intentions and emotions of the actors and their many magnificent achievements in building a new nation, and the dark side of their actions and the consequences?

    How to sing about the hopes and dreams of our youth and at the same time admit to the terrible injustice of many of our actions? Sing with full heart the pioneer songs and the 1948 war songs (one of which I wrote, of which I am far from proud), without denying the terrible tragedy we imposed on the Palestinian people?

    Barack Obama told the Turkish people this week that they must come to grips with the massacre of the Armenians committed by their fathers, while at the same time reminding the Americans that they must confront the genocide of the Native Americans and the black slavery exploited by their own forefathers.

    I believe we can do this regarding the catastrophe that we have caused the Palestinians. I am convinced that this is important, indeed essential, for our own national mental health, as well as a first step toward eventual reconciliation. We must acknowledge and recognize the consequences of our deeds and repair what can be repaired ? without rejecting our past and the songs that express the innocence of our youth.

    We must live with this contradiction, because it is the truth of our lives.

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  5. Are you bored by life in general and by the countless insipid and inane blogs you encounter while trying to find something amusing, stimulating and interesting? Do you yearn for intelligent and thought provoking chit-chat instead of the mindless, dull and semi-coherent drivel spewed out by the countless feeble minds that infest the blogosphere? Are you tired of communicating only with people who talk the way you do and think the way you do? Do you crave an adventure of the mind and are not afraid to brave the unknown landscape at the border of lunacy to find it? Well then, pack up your intellectual gear and start out bravely for I am waiting for YOU at http://theyeshivabucher.blogspot.com

    Shalom and zei gezunt until then!

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  6. http://www.laborers-voice.org/article_details.aspx?TopID=964&catid=46

    International Appeal in Solidarity with Arab Railway Workers in Israel

    The Appeal
    Support Arab railway workers in Israel in their struggle to keep their jobs!
    Call on Israel Railways to revise its new policy requiring army service as an employment condition!

    This policy is clearly discriminatory:

    it disqualifies Arab workers because Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel are exempt from service in the Israeli army.

    The appeal was developed in cooperation with Arab railway workers who have been sacked as a result of this policy.

    ENDORSE THE APPEAL

    وقّعوا على العريضة

    חתמו על העצומה

    Background

    In March 2009, Israel Railways, a state-owned company, launched a new policy denying employment to railroad crossing guards who have no permit to carry weapons – that is: who have not served in the Israeli army. This policy will lead to the lay-off of the app. 150 Arab railway workers who monitor and maintain Israel’s level crossings. Israel Railways explicitly stated that the new employment policy is designed to give priority to young army veterans.

    Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel have always been extremely underrepresented in Israel’s public sector (including state-owned companies), and despite existing anti-discrimination laws only about 5% of civil servants are Arabs, while they make up almost 20% of the overall population. Exclusion of Arabs from the public sector is mainly a result of Israel’s state security policies, which deny Arabs who have not served in the Israeli army and do thus not have a permit to carry weapons access to employment in public administration and services (such as: communication, water, electricity, public transport and port authorities, fire brigades etc.). This strong focus on state security is also reflected in the biographies of executive officers in Israeli government-owned companies. Yitzhak ‘Haki’ Harel, general manager of Israel Railways, for instance, is a Major General in the Israeli army (IDF). He retired from the army in August 2006, shortly after the July War on Lebanon, and has headed the company since 2007.

    Israel Railways’ new policy is an instructive example of the way Arab workers are systematically excluded from the Israeli labour market: firstly, it shows that state security takes absolute preference over personal safety and security in Israel’s employment policy; secondly, it reveals that these security concerns are used to camouflage double standards in favour of Jewish Israeli workers because a) the job of crossing guard has so far not required bearing arms, b) other railway workers, such as train drivers, are not addressed by the new policy, and c) some positions are reserved for “minorities who did not serve in the army”. This allows the conclusion that army service is in fact an irrelevant employment condition. At this point, it should be noted that the new policy also excludes recent immigrants, ultra-orthodox Jews, disabled persons and conscientious objectors.

    On April 7, 2009, the Tel Aviv Labour Court suspended the dismissal of the railway workers until the next court hearing on April 19, 2009. However, workers told Sawt el-Amel that Israel Railways has already started recruiting new crossing guards. On April 8, 2009, Israel Railways responded to Sawt el-Amel’s enquiry about the new employment policy, reaffirming that the policy decision is based on ‘practical and security considerations’ and does not aim to ‘discriminate against minorities’.

    On the whole, Israel Railways’ new employment policy should be seen both as a continuation of Israel’s long-standing strategy to exclude Arab workers from the labour market and as an assault on all economically and socially marginalised groups in times of growing economic crisis.

    What you can do:

    1) Endorse the appeal
    Fill in the ‘Endorse the Appeal’ form below and send it to: laborers@laborers-voice.org

    2) Forward the appeal to your colleagues and friends

    3) Encourage your organisation/branch to endorse the appeal
    Fill in the ‘Endorse the Appeal’ form below and send it to: laborers@laborers-voice.org
    Attach your organisation’s logo to the email

    4) Write a protest letter to Israel Railways

    Copy-paste the sample letter below or write your own message to:

    Yitzhak Harel, CEO
    Israel Railways
    Fax: +972 (0)3 6937480
    Email: pniyot@rail.co.il

    CC your email/fax to Sawt el-Amel:
    Sawt el-Amel
    Email: laborers@laborers-voice.org
    Fax: +972 (0)4 6080917

    Sample letter to Israel Railways:

    Dear Mr. Yitzhak Harel,

    I am concerned about Israel Railways’ new policy requiring army service and weapons training as an employment condition for guards at level crossings. Since Arab citizens of Israel are exempt from obligatory army service, it can be assumed that all or most Arab crossing guards will be laid off as a consequence of this policy decision.

    This contradicts the fundamental right of workers to equality and non-discrimination in employment, and consequently, the policy should be revised.

    I would much appreciate to hear your position on this issue.

    Sincerely,

    Signatories:

    TaherJayousi, railway worker
    Assad Salami, railway worker
    Ibrahim Nasrallah, railway worker
    Luqman Salami, railway worker
    Mustapha Matani, railway worker
    Karim Qadi, railway worker
    Ali Rabus, railway worker
    Yussef Nasrallah railway worker
    Amir Hamoudi, railway worker
    Ahmad Hamoudi, railway worker
    Sawt el-Amel/The Laborer’s Voice
    Jibran Naddaf, Chairperson Sawt el-Amel
    Wehbe Badarne, Director Sawt el-Amel
    Marie Badarne, Int’l Relations Sawt el-Amel
    Fakher Badarne, Young Workers Sawt el-Amel
    Auni Banna, Attorney, Board member Sawt el-Amel
    Haifa Shehadi, Board member Sawt el-Amel
    Maha Krayyem, Women’s Platform Sawt el-Amel
    Tawfeiq Tibi, Advocate, Insaf Centre for Human Rights and Social Change
    Intal, Belgium
    Ramzi Suleiman, University of Haifa
    Barend Claessens, ACV-CSC, Belgium

    Endorse the appeal:

    Type of endorsement: Individual/Organisation

    Name/Contact person

    Organisation

    City/State

    Email*

    Date

    * Your email address will not be published.

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  7. Uri Avnery
    18.04.09

    A Little Red Light

    PERHAPS Avigdor Lieberman is only a passing episode in the annals of the State of Israel. Perhaps the fire he is trying to ignite will flicker briefly and go out by itself. Or perhaps the police investigations into the grave corruption affair of which he is suspected will lead to his removal from the public sphere.

    But the opposite is also possible. Last week he promised his acolytes that the next elections would bring him to power.

    Perhaps Lieberman will prove to be an “Israbluff”? (a term he himself likes to use), and be revealed, behind the frightful façade, as nothing more than a run of the mill impostor.

    Perhaps this Lieberman will indeed disappear, to be replaced by another, even worse Lieberman.

    Either way, we should candidly confront the phenomenon he represents. If one believes that his utterances sound fascist, one has to ask oneself: is there a possibility that a fascist regime might come to power in Israel?

    THE INITITIAL gut-feeling is a resounding NO. In Israel? In the Jewish State? After the Holocaust which Nazi fascism brought upon us? Can one even imagine that Israelis would become something like the Nazis?

    When Yeshayahu Leibowitz coined, many years ago, the term “Judeo-Nazis”, the entire country blew up. Even many of his admirers thought that this time the turbulent professor had gone too far.

    But Lieberman?s slogans do justify him in retrospect.

    Some would dismiss Lieberman?s achievement in the recent elections. After all, his “Israel is Our Home” party is not the first one to appear from nowhere and win an impressive 15 seats. Exactly the same number that was won by the Dash party of General Yigael Yadin in 1977 and the Shinui party of Tommy Lapid in 2003 ? and both disappeared soon after without leaving a trace.

    But Lieberman?s voters are not like those of Yadin and Lapid, who were ordinary citizens fed up with some particular aspects of Israeli life. Many of his voters are immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who look upon their “Ivett”, an immigrant from the ex-Soviet land of Moldova, as a representative of their “sector”. Although many of them brought with them from their former homeland a right-wing, anti-democratic and even racist world view, they do not pose by themselves a danger to Israeli democracy.

    But the additional power that turned Lieberman?s party into the third-largest faction in the new Knesset came from another sort of voter: Israeli-born youngsters, many of whom had recently taken part in the Gaza War. They voted for him because they believed that he would kick the Arab citizens out of Israel, and the Palestinians out of the entire historical country.

    These are not marginal people, fanatical or underprivileged, but normal youngsters who finished high-school and served in the army, who dance in the discotheques and intend to found families. If such people are voting en masse for a declared racist with a pungent fascist odor, the phenomenon cannot be ignored.

    FIFTY YEARS ago I wrote a book called “The Swastika”, in which I described how the Nazis took over Germany. I was helped by my childhood memories. I was 9 years old when the Nazis came to power. I witnessed the agonies of German democracy and the first steps of the new regime before my parents, in their infinite wisdom, decided to escape and settle in Palestine.

    I wrote the book on the eve of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, after realizing that the young generation in Israel knew a lot about the Holocaust but next to nothing about the people who brought it about. What occupied me more than anything else was the question: how could such a monstrous party succeed in coming to power democratically in one of the most civilized countries in the world?

    The last chapter of my book was called “It Can Happen Here”. That was a paraphrase of the title of a book by the American writer Sinclair Lewis, “It Can?t Happen Here”, in which he described precisely how it could happen in the United States.

    I argued in the book that Nazism was not a specifically German disease, that in certain circumstances any country in the world could be infected by this virus ? including our own state. In order to avoid this danger, one had to understand the underlying causes for the development of the disease.

    To the assertion that I am “obsessed” by this matter, that I see this danger lurking in every corner, I answer: not true. For years I have avoided dealing with this subject. But it is true that I carry in my head a little red light that comes on when I sense the danger.

    This light is now blinking.

    WHAT CAUSED the Nazi disease to break out in the past? Why did it break out at a certain time and not at another? Why in Germany and not in another country suffering from similar problems?

    The answer is that fascism is a special phenomenon, unlike any other. It is not an “extreme Right”, an extension of “nationalist” or “conservative” attitudes. Fascism is the opposite of conservatism in many ways, even though it may appear in a conservative disguise. Also, it is not a radicalization of ordinary, normal nationalism, which exists in every nation.

    Fascism is a unique phenomenon and has unique traits: the notion of being a “superior nation”, the denial of the humanity of other nations and national minorities, a cult of the leader, a cult of violence, disdain for democracy, an adoration of war, contempt for accepted morality. All these attributes together create the phenomenon, which has no agreed scientific definition.

    How did this happen?

    Hundreds of books have been written about it, dozens of theories have been put forward, and none of them is satisfying. In all humility I propose a theory of my own, without claiming more validity than any of the others.

    According to my perception, a fascist revolution breaks out when a very special personality meets with a very special national situation.

    ON THE personality of Adolf Hitler, too, innumerable books have been written. Every phase in his life has been examined under the microscope, each of his actions has been debated relentlessly. There are no secrets about Hitler, yet Hitler has remained an enigma.

    One of his most obvious traits was his pathological anti-Semitism, which went far beyond any logic. It remained with him to the very last hour of his life, when he dictated his testament and committed suicide. At the most desperate moments of his war, when his soldiers at the front were crying out for reinforcements and supplies, precious trains were diverted to transport Jews to the death camps. When the Wehrmacht was suffering from a grievous lack of practically everything, Jewish workers were taken from essential factories to be sent to their death.

    Many explanations for this pathological anti-Semitism have been suggested, and all of them have been debunked. Did Hitler want to take revenge on a Jew who was suspected of being his real grandfather? Did he hate the Jewish doctor who treated his beloved mother before she died? Was it a punishment for the Jewish director of the Art school who failed to recognize his genius? Did he hate the poor Jews he came across when he was homeless in Vienna? All of this has been examined and found lacking. The enigma remains.

    The same is true for his other personal views and attributes. How did he attain the power to hypnotize the masses? What did he have that made so many people, from all walks of life, identify with him? Whence sprang his unbridled lust for power?

    We don?t know. There is no full and satisfying explanation. We only know that from among the millions of Germans and Austrians who were living at that time, and the thousands who grew up in similar circumstances, there was (as far as we know) only one Hitler, a unique person. To borrow a term from biology: he was a one-time mutation.

    But the unique Hitler would not have become a historic personality if he had not met with Germany in unique circumstances.

    GERMANY AT the end of the Weimar republic has also been the subject of many books. What made the German people adopt Nazism? Historical causes, rooted in the terrible catastrophe of the Thirty-year War or even earlier events? The sense of humiliation after the defeat in World War I? The anger at the victors, who ground Germany into the dust and imposed huge indemnities? The terrible inflation of 1923, which wiped out the savings of entire classes? The Great Depression of 1929, which threw millions of decent and diligent Germans into the street?

    This question, too, has found no satisfying answer. Other people have also been humiliated. Other people have lost wars. The Great Depression hit dozens of countries. In the US and the UK, too, millions were laid off. Why did fascism not seize power in those countries (except in Italy, of course)?

    In my opinion, the fatal spark was ignited at a fateful moment when a people ready for fascism met the man with the attributes of a fascist leader.

    What would have happened if Adolf Hitler had been killed in a road accident in the autumn of 1932? Perhaps another Nazi leader would have come to power ? but the Holocaust would not have happened, and neither, probably, World War II. His likely replacements ? Gregor Strasser, who was No. 2, or Hermann Goering, the flying ace with a morphine addiction ? were indeed Nazis, but neither of them was a second Hitler. They lacked his demonic personality.

    And what would have happened if Germany had not fallen into the depth of despair? The Western powers could have sensed the danger in time and helped in the reconstruction of the German economy and the reduction of unemployment. They could have abrogated the infamous Versailles Treaty, imposed by the victors after World War I, and allowed Germans to regain their self-respect. The German republic could have been saved, the moral leaders, of which Germany had aplenty, could have regained their leadership role.

    What would have happened then? Adolf Hitler, whom the widely adored President of the Reich, a Field Marshall, had contemptuously called “the Bohemian lance-corporal”, would have remained a little demagogue on the lunatic fringe. The 20th century would have looked quite different. Tens of millions of casualties of war and six million Jews would have remained alive, without ever knowing what could have happened.

    But Hitler did not die early and the German people were not saved from their fate. At the crucial moment they met, and a spark was struck, lighting the fuse that led to the historic explosion.

    SUCH A fateful meeting is not, of course, limited to fascism. It has occurred in history in other circumstances and to other persons.

    Winston Churchill, for example. His statues dot the British landscape, and he is considered one of the greatest British leaders of all times.

    Yet until the late 1930s, Churchill was a political failure. Few admired him, and even fewer liked him. Many of his colleagues detested him with all their hearts. He was considered an egomaniac, an arrogant demagogue, an erratic drunk. But in a moment of existential danger, Britons found in him their mouthpiece and the leader who took their destiny in his hands. It seemed as if during all the first 65 years of his life, Churchill had been preparing for this one moment, and as if Britain had been waiting for precisely this one man.

    Would history have looked different if Churchill had died the previous year of coronary thrombosis, lung cancer or cirrhosis of the liver, and Neville Chamberlain had remained in power? We now know that he and his colleagues, including the influential foreign minister, Lord Halifax, seriously considered accepting Hitler?s 1940 peace offer, based on the partition of the world between the German and the British empires.

    Or Lenin. If the imperial German general staff had not provided the famous sealed train to take him from Zurich to Sweden, from where he proceeded St. Petersburg, would the Bolshevik revolution, which changed the face of the 20th century, have taken place at all? True, Trotsky was in town before him, and so was Stalin. But neither of the two was a Lenin, and without Lenin it would quite possibly not have happened, and certainly not the way it did.

    Perhaps one could add to this list Barack Obama. A very special person, of unique origin and character, who had a fateful meeting with the American people at an important moment of their destiny, when they were suffering from two crises at once ? the economic and the political one ? which cast their shadow on the entire world.

    BACK TO US. Is the State of Israel approaching an existential crisis ? moral, political, economic ? that could leave it an endangered nation? Can Lieberman, or someone who could take his place, turn out to be a demonic personality like Hitler, or at least Mussolini?

    In our present situation there are some dangerous indications. The last war showed a further decline in our moral standards. The hatred towards Israel?s Arab minority is on the rise, and so is the hatred towards the occupied Palestinian people who are suffering a slow strangulation. In some circles, the cult of brute force is gaining strength. The democratic regime is in a never-ending crisis. The economic situation may descend into chaos, so that the masses will long for a “strongman”. And the belief that we are a “chosen people” is already deeply rooted.

    These indications may not necessarily lead to disaster. Absolutely not. History is full of nations in crisis that recovered and returned to normalcy. Besides the real Hitler, who rose to historic heights, there were probably hundreds of other Hitlers, no less crazy and no less talented, who ended their life as bank tellers or frustrated writers, because they did not meet a historic opportunity.

    I have a strong faith in the resilience of Israeli society and Israeli democracy. I believe that we have hidden strengths that will come to the fore in an hour of need.

    Nothing “must” happen. But anything “can” happen. And the little red light won?t stop blinking.

    permlink: http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1240086714

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  8. About aquifiers, the danger of paint and Netanyahu’s predicament

    Here follow the April 21, 2009 press picks on Occupation Magazine. Today TOI-staff posted new articles. OM is updated each day of the week by different editors. For earlier articles use the powerfull search function & view the sections.

    But first three action alerts:

    Yesh Gvul’s alternative Independence Day invitations:
    April 28: alternative beacon lighting ceremony, Jerusalem
    April 29 musical “LONG LIVE THE WARS TO COME” at the Arab-Hebrew Theatre in Jaffa http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=33046

    Fourth Bil`in conference on grassroots popular resistance on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of April
    http://www.bilin-village.org/english/conferences/conference2009/Fourth-Bilin-conference-on-grassroots-popular-resistance-in-April

    A protest in support of Conscientious Objector Netta Mishly
    On Thursday April 23th, at 6 PM, we will meet at the corner of Ben Zion St. and King Gorge St. TA
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=33031

    Articles:

    World Bank: Israel drawing more than its share from Green Line aquifers
    Dan Izenberg – Jerusalem Post — Under the 1995 Oslo II Accords, Israel was given rights to 75 to 80% of the water supply from the Western, North-eastern and Eastern Aquifers that straddle the Green Line. At the time, the estimated potential of the aquifers was 679 million cubic meters per year. Israel was supposed to take about 540 million cu.m. but in fact has been extracting 871 million.
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=33042

    Seven families ordered out of their homes – demolition within 48 hours`
    Ma`an News Agency – The Israeli military ordered seven Palestinian families to evacuate their homes and farm buildings within 48 hours. All of the structures, near the Israeli settlement of Mekhora southeast of Nablus, are slated for demolition.
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=33048

    An Israeli achievement
    Amira Hass – bitterlemons.org – One day, when the archives are opened, we`ll know just how calculated and planned the process [leading to the present Palestinian division] was.
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=33049

    Al-Sharq al-Awsat editor: Ahmadinejad only helps Israel
    Roee Nahmias – Ynet – “How will the Iranian president`s speech contribute to the Palestinian issue or the good of the occupied Arab lands?” wondered Tariq Alhomayed, Editor-in-Chief of Al-sharq al-Awsat Arabic newspaper in an opinion article published on Tuesday.
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=33040

    Palestinian campaigners criticize Iran for doing business with settlement-linked companies
    Ma`am New Agency – Following Iranian President Ahmadinejad`s controversial Geneva speech in which he called Israel “the most cruel and racist of regimes”, Palestinian civil society groups are less than enthusiastic that Tehran`s municipality is engaging Veolia and Alstom for its transportation system – the same French companies involved in building the “Jerusalem Light Rail” – connecting the “Jewish neighborhoods” in unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem.
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=33044

    Human Rights Watch calls on governments to stay in conference and rebut Ahmadinejad speech
    Human Rights Watch – “The best response to Ahmadinejad`s inflammatory rhetoric is to stay in Geneva and rebut it” said Juliette de Rivero, Geneva advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. The draft document due to be adopted contains no reference to Israel or the Middle East, while reaffirming the tragedy of the Holocaust and condemning anti-Semitism. However, one-sided reports in the Israeli media give the impression of a conference of anti-semites and Holocaust deniers.
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=33045

    Thousands of children gather in East Jerusalem, Israeli forces prevent introduction of paints
    Maisa Abu Ghazaleh – Palestine News Network – But the children anyway drew pictures of the mosque surrounded by Israeli jeeps.
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=33047

    Two States – there is no way out for Netanyahu
    Ben Kaspit – Ma`ariv – In the end, Binyamin Netanyahu will have no choice but to recognize the principle of two states for two peoples. And recognizing the priciple in theory without acting on it would also not be enough. Obama is forming a coalition against Iran. He has international backing, including the Arab countries, but he needs goods which only Israel can deliver.
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=33041

    Netanyahu`s new-old methods of stalling peace talks
    Akiva Eldar – Haaretz – You say that a new government needs a few weeks, perhaps months, to study the situation and to formulate its own peace policy. After all, the conflict with the Arabs is something completely new.
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1079901.html

    MI Chief Yadlin sees Obama policy as threat to Israel
    Barak Ravid – Haaretz – “Obama wants to advance the peace process in the direction of realistic discussions with extremist elements,” Yadlin told ministers at a special cabinet meeting.
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1079826.html

    Recommended recent articles of earlier days

    Roger Cohen: Israel, Iran and Fear
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=33033

    Naomi Klein: A Lexicon of Disappointment
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=33032

    Gideon Levy: Gaza, remember?
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1079219.html

    Uri Avnery: A little red light
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=33019

    Gideon Spiro: Red Rag weekly column
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=33017

    Daily headlines & action alerts in English http://www.kibush.co.il and Hebrew http://www.kibush.co.il/index_h.asp

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  9. Uri Avnery
    25.04.09

    Can Two Walk Together?

    I AM not saying that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an agent of the Mossad.

    Absolutely not. I don?t want to be sued for libel.

    I am only saying that were he an agent of the Mossad, he would not behave any differently.

    And also: If he did not exist, the Mossad would have had to invent him.

    Either way, the assistance he is giving to the government of Israel is invaluable.

    LET?S LOOK at last week?s scandal.

    Years ago, a conference against racism was convened by the UN in Durban, South Africa. It was natural that such a forum would denounce, among others, the Israeli government for its policy towards the Palestinians ? the occupation, the settlements, the wall.

    But the conference was not content with this. It turned into a platform for wild incitement against the State of Israel ? and only against it. No other state in the world was denounced for violating human rights ? and among the denouncers were some of the most obnoxious tyrants in the world.

    When preparations were made for a second “Durban Conference”, this time in Geneva, the Israeli government did everything in its power to convince at least the countries of North America and Europe to boycott it. That was not so easy. Well before the start of the conference, the US succeeded in eliminating the reference to Israel in the draft of its final document (leaving only a reference to the resolutions of the first conference), and in the end it decided to boycott the conference anyway. But the European countries agreed to attend.

    The Israeli government was anticipating the conference with great apprehension. The atrocities of the Gaza War have turned public opinion in many countries against Israel. The conference could become an outlet for these emotions. The brightest minds in Jerusalem were trying to find ways to prevent this.

    And then along came Ahmadinejad. Since he was the only head of state to attend, the organizers could not prevent him from speaking first. He delivered a provocative speech ? not being satisfied with criticizing Israel, his words dripped with unbridled hatred. That was a welcome pretext for the European representatives to get up and walk out in an impressive pro-Israeli demonstration. The conference became ridiculous.

    If the “Elders of Zion” had planned the conference, it could not have ended better as far as the Israeli government is concerned.

    ALL THIS happened on Holocaust Day, when Jews in Israel and all over the world commemorate the millions of victims of the genocide.

    The memory of the Holocaust unites all the Jews in the world. Every Jew knows that if the Nazis had reached him, he, too, would have gone to the death camps. We, who were then living in Palestine, knew that if the German general Erwin Rommel had broken through the British lines at El Alamein, our fate would have been that of the Warsaw Ghetto.

    All Jews feel that it is their moral duty to keep the memory of the victims alive. To this profound feeling there is added a political consideration: the memory of the Holocaust causes most Jews everywhere to support the State of Israel, which defines itself as the “State of the Shoa Survivors”.

    But time passes and memories fade. There is a recurrent need for a present, actual enemy, a “Second Hitler”, who arouses all the latent fears lurking in the Jewish soul. Once it was Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, the “Egyptian Tyrant”. Then Yasser Arafat played this role. Nowadays there is Hamas, but that is hardly sufficient. No way to convince anyone that Hamas could possibly annihilate Israel.

    Ahmadinejad is the ideal candidate. He is a consistent Holocaust denier. He declares that the “Zionist entity” must disappear from the map. He is working on the production of a nuclear bomb. This is serious ? a few nuclear bombs on Israeli population centers can indeed wipe out Israel.

    So we have a “Second Hitler”, who is planning a “Second Holocaust”. Against him, all the Jews of the world can unite. What would we do without him?

    THE PUTATIVE Iranian nuclear bomb fulfills another very important role. It is serving now as an instrument for the obliteration of the Palestinian problem.

    Next month Netanyahu will present himself at the White House. That might turn out to be a fateful meeting. President Barack Obama may demand a clear commitment to start a peace process that will lead towards the creation of the Palestinian state. Netanyahu will make a desperate effort to avoid this, since peace would mean the evacuation of the settlements. If he agreed to this, his coalition would fall apart.

    What to do? Thank God for the Iranian bomb! It constitutes an existential threat against Israel. It is self-evident that the Israeli Prime Minister should not be bothered with bagatelles like peace with the Palestinians when the Iranian nuclear sword is dangling above his head!

    Netanyahu?s predecessors also used this ploy. Whenever somebody raises the matter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and demands that our government start real negotiations, freeze the settlements, dismantle the outposts, release prisoners, end the blockade on the population of the Gaza Strip, remove the roadblocks ? the Iranian bomb appears ex machina. No time to think about anything else. The bomb heads our agenda. The bomb is our agenda.

    There is a lot of irony in this. Iran has never been the least bit interested in the plight of the Palestinians. Ahmadinejad, too, doesn?t give a damn. Like all other Middle East governments he uses the Palestinian cause to further his own interests. Now he wants to penetrate the Sunni Arab world in order to turn Iran into the dominant regional power. For this purpose, he raises the banner of the Palestinian resistance. But for the time being, he has only succeeded in pushing the Sunni Arab regimes into the arms of Israel.

    AHMADINEJAD?S MOST enthusiastic fans sit in the Ministry of Defense in Tel-Aviv. What would they do without him?

    Every year, the struggle over the defense budget breaks out anew. This year, with the economic crisis, the debate will be even more acrimonious. Little Israel maintains one of the largest and most expensive military establishments in the world. Relative to the GNP (gross national product), we easily trump the United States, not to mention Europe.

    Must one ask why? Israel is surrounded by enemies who are plotting to destroy us! True, Egypt is now the most loyal collaborator of Israel, Iraq has quit the game for the time being, Syria has long since ceased to be a threat. Jordan is humble, the Palestinian Authority dances to our tune. It is hard to justify a giant defense budget for fighting little Hizbullah and tiny Hamas.

    But there is Iran, thank God. And there is the fearsome Iranian bomb. Here you have an honest to God existential danger. Our Air Force declares that it is ready to take off any day ? no, any minute – and eradicate all the many Iranian nuclear installations.

    For that they need money, lots of money. They need the most advanced airplanes in the world, each of which costs many, many millions. They need suitable equipment for reaching the targets and fulfilling the task. That is more important than education, health or welfare. After all, the Iranian bomb will kill all of us ? including the children, the sick and the underprivileged. (The tycoons may perhaps succeed in getting out in time.)

    The budget will be approved, but the flyers will not fly. It is not clear whether such an attack is at all feasible. Neither is it clear if it would significantly postpone the production of the bomb. But it is clear that such an attack is not possible politically: it cannot be executed without the express confirmation of the US, and there is no chance that this will be forthcoming. The attack would almost automatically cause the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, through which all the Gulf oil is shipped. That would be catastrophic, especially during a world-wide economic crisis, when a huge rise in the price of oil can cripple the already weakened economies. No, our valiant pilots will have to content themselves with bombing residential neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip.

    IT COULD be argued: if Ahmadinejad behaves like a Mossad agent, Avigdor Lieberman behaves like an agent of Iranian intelligence.

    I don?t say so, God forbid. I really don?t want to be sued for libel.

    But Lieberman?s behavior is indeed ? how to put it ? slightly bizarre.

    True, for a moment he looked like a winner. After he sent Hosny Mubarak to hell, the Israeli media reported that the most important Egyptian minister had met with him, shaken his hand and invited him to Egypt. Perhaps he wanted to show him around the Aswan dam, which Lieberman once wanted to bomb. But the next day a furious Mubarak reacted by denying the story and declaring that Lieberman will not be allowed to set foot on Egyptian soil.

    In the meantime, an important newspaper in Russia published an interview with Lieberman, in which he asserted that “the US will accept all our decisions.” Meaning: we rule America, Obama will do as we tell him.

    Such talk will not increase Israel?s popularity in the White House, to say the least. Especially just now, after it was disclosed that the Israeli Lobby, AIPAC, has asked a congresswoman to intervene in favor of two American Jews indicted for spying for Israel. In return, AIPAC promised to get the Congresswoman appointed as chairwoman of a very important committee. How? Simple: AIPAC will tell the majority leader of the House that if she does not comply. a Jewish billionaire will stop contributing to her election fund. Not a very savory disclosure.

    In brief, the Iranian Ahmadinejad and the Israeli Lieberman are Siamese twins. The one needs the other. Lieberman rides on the Iranian bomb, Ahmadinejad rides on Israeli threats.

    “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” asked the prophet Amos (3:3). The answer is: Yes, indeed. These two can very well walk hand in hand without agreeing on anything.

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  10. http://www.advocate.com/letters_detail_ektid80712.asp

    James Kirchick’s “Queers for Palestine?”

    “Kirchick, and anyone else, is free to blindly support Israeli repression of Palestinians, but we would like to suggest that he not do it by recycling unsubstantiated stories and false assumptions about queer Palestinians, whose suffering, like that of most Palestinians, stems more from Israeli policies than it does from “Palestinian homophobia.”

    On January 28, little more than a week after Israel concluded its brutal military campaign against the Gaza Strip, James Kirchick published the latest installment (www.advocate.com/exclusive_detail_ektid71844.asp) in his growing corpus of articles about tolerant, gay-friendly Israel and homophobic, “Islamofascist” Palestine. Although Kirchick has published essentially the same article under different titles — “Palestine and Gay Rights” (www.advocate.com/exclusive_detail_ektid33587.asp) and “Palestinian Anti-Gay Atrocities Need Attention” (www.innewsweekly.com/innews/?class_code=Op&article_code=783) — and although he regurgitates the same flimsy, unsupported arguments in all of these articles, we do not write to question his intellectual prowess or journalistic qualifications. In fact, Kirchick’s diatribe against Palestinians and the “radical” gay activists who support them would not warrant a response if it did not, in our view, represent something much bigger and more dangerous.

    We are two people who come from very different places with very different histories: one of us, Haneen Maikey, is a Palestinian citizen of Israel and the director of Al-Qaws (“the rainbow” in Arabic) for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society (www.alqaws.org), and the other, Jason Ritchie, is an American anthropologist whose research focuses on sexuality and nationalism in Israel-Palestine. Despite our differences, however, we share an interest in what is said about lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer Palestinians, and we are equally disturbed each time we read another article by another American, European, or Israeli writer who pretends to offer “the truth” about gay Palestinians by telling simplistic, one-dimensional stories that are based more on racist stereotypes about Palestinians than the reality of life in Israel-Palestine.

    We would like to start, then, by clearing up a few misconceptions about Israel, Palestine, and queers. As in most societies, homophobia is a problem in Palestinian society, but there is not some organized, widespread campaign of violence against gay and lesbian Palestinians. Of course, there are occasional acts of violence, much like there are occasional acts of violence against queers in Western societies; and the social norms and mores about gender and sexuality that give rise to such violence create a climate in which many queer Palestinians cannot live their lives openly and honestly. At the same time, however, there are many openly gay and lesbian Palestinians, and they are not, as James Kirchick implies, an insignificant group of a “few lucky Palestinians” who are seeking asylum in Israel: they are actively engaged in changing the status quo in Palestinian society by promoting respect for sexual and gender diversity.

    Those of us who know a thing or two about Israel know that seeking asylum in Israel is not an option anyway for Palestinians, who are specifically ineligible for asylum under Israeli law. It may be true, as Kirchick proudly states, that Israel “legally enshrines the rights of gay people,” but it enshrines only some rights for some gay people. Restricted freedom of movement, routine human rights abuses, detentions, checkpoints, and bombing campaigns are among the legally enshrined “rights” of Palestinians, whatever their sexual orientation, in the West Bank and Gaza. And while Palestinians in Israel and Jerusalem are granted some legal rights and their living conditions are significantly better than in the Palestinian Territories, Palestinian citizens of Israel, whatever their sexual orientation, are second-class citizens, who face legally sanctioned and everyday discrimination and racism in all areas of life, from courtrooms and boardrooms to hospitals and universities, from the streets of small villages to the streets of Jerusalem, from the floor of the Knesset to the floors of Tel Aviv’s hippest, gayest clubs.

    Israel is not, in other words, “an oasis of liberal tolerance,” and Palestine is not “a reactionary religious backwater.” Kirchick’s article is built on the weak foundation of these two myths, and we could excuse such shortcomings as poor journalism — it’s based, after all, not on research or conversations with actual gay Palestinians, but the author’s assumptions and a seven-year-old article (www.glapn.org/sodomylaws/world/palestine/psnews008.htm) written by another journalist — if it did not entail such serious dangers.

    In the first place, if we are to believe Kirchick, there are no queer Palestinians: they’ve all been murdered by Palestinian “Islamofascists,” and the “lucky few” who survived have fled to gay-friendly Israel. In fact, there is a vibrant, organized community of queer Palestinians who are working hard to create a just, democratic Palestinian society that respects the dignity of every person. Perhaps Kirchick would prefer to pretend that they don’t exist because, in his view, they might as well not exist. According to Kirchick, “Palestinian oppression of homosexuality isn’t merely a matter of state policy, it’s one firmly rooted in Palestinian society, where hatred of gays surpasses even that of Jews.” If it were true — and we know it not to be true — that all Palestinians hate gays (and Jews), and their hatred has nothing to do with laws or stereotypes or other things in the world that can be changed, then there would be no point fighting for change. The truth is that homophobia is a problem among Palestinians, but racist arguments like Kirchick’s that explain it as a sort of sickness that’s “firmly rooted” in Palestinian society do nothing to help those who are trying hard to change it.

    Fortunately, though, the important work of queer Palestinian activists will continue, regardless of what James Kirchick does or does not write about them. What we find more problematic is that he fabricates a story of oppressed gay Palestinians, about whom he actually knows very little, to make an argument in support of a brutal military campaign that claimed the lives of more than 1,200 Palestinians, most of them innocent civilians. Kirchick, and anyone else, is free to blindly support Israeli repression of Palestinians, but we would like to suggest that he not do it by recycling unsubstantiated stories and false assumptions about queer Palestinians, whose suffering, like that of most Palestinians, stems more from Israeli policies than it does from “Palestinian homophobia.”

    In the end, Kirchick’s real point of contention seems to be with those gay and lesbian activists in the West who were brave enough to oppose the Israeli war on Gaza. Their opposition, he argues, was akin to “stand[ing] alongside the enthusiasts of religious fascism.” Although many of us have begun the slow process of recovering from eight years of George Bush and his “us versus them” mentality, Kirchick apparently did not get the memo. He views the world — and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular — in simplistic, black-and-white terms: good Israelis/Americans/Europeans versus bad Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims. But gays will never, to borrow Kirchick’s own words, get anywhere as long as they view the world in this constrictive and counterproductive way.

    Where exactly “they” want to go is an open question, and Kirchick proves his own point that not all gays will care about the rights and dignity of other people. But to those of us who do care, we would like to issue a call for a kind of queer solidarity based not on racist assumptions about “others” who look different, speak different languages, or live in different places but on a willingness to listen to each other and stand together against violence and repression, even when some among us try to justify it in our name. That, we think, is what’s truly “obscene,” and the only just antidote to it is a queer movement made up — not, as Kirchick argues, of “oppressed” victims who identify with each other’s suffering — but of courageous queer activists, thinkers, artists, writers, and everyday people who identify with the common dream of a better world for us all.

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  11. Pingback: War criminal Blair candidate for EU president | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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