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Monday, April 23, 2012

Netanyahu on TIME's list of influential people

Several things are pretty funny about this...

Netanyahu being called influential, rather than a criminal.

The title of the mini-article is "Israel's loyal servant"... written by Eric Cantor, a US Congressman and another of Israel's loyal servants.

Netanyahu's and other Israeli leaders' "oversized challenges" were mentioned without elaborating. Could he by chance be talking about maintaining a Jewish majority in a majority Arab area by any and all means necessary, even ethnic cleansing and getting people to criticize the people being "cleansed"??

On the not so funny side, Cantor used half the article as a petition to gain support for attacking Iran and support for Israel. Both things Americans need to seriously call into question and analyze with a clear head and knowledge of what has happened-- not since the last Israeli tragedy, but since 1948 and before.

Maybe someone could have convinced me Netanyahu deserved to be on this list if they had spoken honestly about his crimes and shortcomings, as we do when discussing the leadership skills of other evil dictators and people of that ilk, but I remain unconvinced by this obsequious, half blind representation.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Married to Another Man

by Ghada Karmi

I did actually read this just after Pappe's The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. They are very similar, but from slightly different perspectives. Pappe gives a lot of background on the Israeli failings and Karmi gives more background on Palestinians that is typically known or acknowledged.

Karmi discusses Arab peace overtures that are often overlooked or totally dismissed. She also touches on the issue of connection or association (or lack thereof) between Israelites of the Bible and Jews of today. A very interesting part of the book was the discussion of the various peace efforts- we rarely heard what Arabs offered or thought, so it was fascinating to read something other than the US/Israel filtered news. Finally, the thing that drew me in was the promised discussion of a one state solution.


One thing that I vaguely remember and couldn't find when I went back to look for it in the book was that Soviet Christians were let into Israel as Jews. That would be interesting to find more about. I knew about them going to remote areas in Peru and things and converting people to bring into the country to "combat the demographic threat".

The vicious cycle was alluded to- The US calls Israel a strategic interest in the region, but if Israel weren't there or tried to integrate, those problems the US deals with wouldn't be there.

We are conditioned to assume that Palestinians won't stop terror, won't come the the peace table, and Israel has no partner for peace and that's why negotiations stall and the conflict isn't solved. This book can help you understand the whole picture and why things tend to stall.

At the beginning of chapter 7, she lays out all the advantages of two states versus two that I have listed in the past about settlers not having to go anywhere and refugees and Jewish immigrants being able to all be citizens, everyone has access to holy sites, everyone has freedom of movement, etc. I really hadn't thought much about the type to state, but she really goes into detail on different one state models, which was very interesting.

A binational state would imply some degree of separation. This would apparently be more palatable, but she also suggests it could be a phase on the road to a secular democracy (one person-one vote). I know very little of the Belgian, Czech and Swiss models, but it is interesting how they blend these on state models to fit the needs of their population.

Palestinians have advocated for one state before the renewed push of the 90s or 2000s. At that time, Israel accused them of trying to commit genocide or the equivalent when Palestinians should have been commended (by the international community) for wanting to share versus desiring a fair solution where the invaders/colonizers were sent packing. I myself have said something like this. I like this Karmi :)

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe

See also:
Bab al Shams Elias Khoury- epic novel about Nakba
Possibly called Gate of the Sun?

This is a fascinating, but not necessarily easy read. Everything Israel has said Palestinians have done or wanted that is evil and immoral, Israel has actually done to the Palestinians. It's kind of an eye opener. I have always heard the counter claims to the Israeli myths or standard line, but I honestly didn't know what was true or not, so I took it with a grain of salt... but this book makes one take a hard look at what many people consider to be Palestinian propaganda--you'd be surprised how much of it is in fact true.

Americans maybe won't believe Pappe, or will call him a self hating Jew or a traitor, but he dispels Israel's founding myths (of victimhood especially) and leaves no doubt that Israel was and is engaged in ethnic cleansing and has even succeeded in cleansing history. The proof of the latter you sill find in talking to Israelis and Americans about the likelihood that ethnic cleansing or war crimes were committed by Israel in it's founding or currently. The proof of the former is apparently readily available in diaries and other historical records, yet everyone seems to ignore these. With operations named Broom and Scissors and your ethnic cleansing operations are referred to like tihur (cleansing), biur (as in get rid of the leavening agents for Passover) and nikkuy (and cleaning), the intent is obvious. Co-existence and peace were never really in the plan.

The first similarity that struck me between Israel's past and present crimes was how the leaders told one story of a second Holocaust and existential threats to the public and another story, one of knowledge of a superior military might and confidence was written in diaries, correspondence between leaders and private meetings. It essentially does the same today with complete success with the "Palestinians want to push Israel into the sea" myth and reference to it's offensive moves as retaliation.

There is apparently a pervasive Israeli history myth that April 1948 was a turning point in the so called "war" where Israeli troops switched from defense to offense after a near annihilation. In reality, Dec 1947- end of March 1948 saw the completion of the first stage of Plan Dalet and the attacks on Palestinians were more widespread than before.

It is commonly said that the Hagana was the regular army and wasn't privy to any ethnic cleansing- that was the splinter groups of the Irgun and Stern Gang who differed with the Hagana. This is to enforce the myth of "most moral army in the world". That's only part true- in the beginning. At the start, the Irgun would go off and do more than requested (attack rather than retaliate for a small offense or get additional villages not on the list) and maybe there would be an apology, but later it would be included in the Hagana's list of victories, so there was approval after the fact. The more extreme methods were even adopted by the Hagana and ethnic cleansing was spoken of openly as they encountered less resistance and the British left and Jordanians neutralized.

The methods haven't changed over the years either. Recently, settlers have been caught poisoning the water supply and there are known issues with the supposedly shared water supply getting mostly diverted to Israel and the settlements. In Acre and Gaza in 1948, they began that method. (p100)

Israel commonly contends that Palestinians left their land on their own. Pappe notes that the Hagana and other groups would blare such things from loudspeakers as "surrender or commit suicide" and "we will destroy you to the last man". With this and rumors of massacres, summary executions and waves of refugees/witnesses passing through various towns, I don't know how one could really call this a voluntary move. One of so many lies.

Another common Israeli myth is that is that Palestinians want to (or can) push Jews into the sea. What is tragic is that Israelis stole this, too. You see, in an effort to escape the massacres and "clearing" operations of the time, Palestinians were actually pushed into the sea and drowned by Hagana and other forces who would close in on 3 flanks and leave only one way open (when they chose to let people live). The population of 50,000 (plus refugees from other cleansed areas) tried to escape by the only route left open under heavy fire in small fishing boats.

One of many reasons Israel charged ahead with ethnic cleansing unchecked was that it decided to subdivide the Palestinian portion of the "spoils" and "share" with Jordan. That reminded me of the peace treaties Israel has made with Jordan and Egypt more recently than 1948. On both occasions they took out the main military force that could possibly match Israel. Then as now they felt free to broadcast inflammatory rhetoric, discuss transfer of Palestinians openly and threaten countries with military action with no adverse consequences whatsoever.

p111
Nasr-al-Din massacre near Tiberias
Tirat Haifa near Haifa
Ayn al-Zaytoun near Safad

p136
Tantura massacre- large city, 230 dead. They simply rounded up Palestinians and shot them dead because a soldier said lost a brother, cousin, etc. That is what we would call terrorism today. That's justice Israeli style- do unto others as is your whim today and others must abide by laws and international standards. The same double standard exists today.

p156
Count Folk Bernadotte stands out as one UN emmisary who stood up for justice. He insisted on the Palestinians right to return under international law and for Palestine to be re-divided more fairly. Israel initially agreed to let him mediate because he helped many Jews under the Nazis; when he tried to do the same for Palestinians, Israel assassinated him. Justice, Israeli style.

p162 Another bit of sad irony is that the peace camp took care of some old Arab houses surviving from ethnically cleansed villages, but instead of allowing Palestinians back or advocating for justice, they made an artists' colony out of them.

p196 Dawaymeh massacre was worse than the famous Deir Yassin and worst one until 1956 Kfar Qassim. Tantura, Safsaf, Sa'sa also had large numbers of atrocities. One observation I had here was that Jordan often gave Palestinians' land to Israel for peace and Israel kept cleansing it of Palestinians. A common Israeli refrain has been that land for peace doesn't work. I wonder if this is how it knows?

p202 The two realities- the same then and now. This really stuck with me:
Yisca Shadin's situation was given as a case in point for two reasons because people indicted for crimes against Palestinians aren't brought to justice and remain in power to afflict them. (Example: In 2000, Israeli police killed 13 Palestinians.)

p221 Several myths were created as Israeli towns were built on freshly removed rubble of Arab homes. This rubble, by the way was cleared by Arabs in labor camps. I was surprised to learn Jews employed this tactic. Again I am reminded that "never again" must not be inclusive... The myth of Israeli concern for the environment was spawned while planting on top of Arab villages and gardens. The popular "making the desert bloom" myth was also born while building on top of destroyed mosques, demolished architectural sites.

Near the end, Pappe tells how peace depends on recognition of 1948 and Israel's block of this and peace. He also offers insight into so-called peace negotiations like Oslo and the infamous Gaza pullout, how these are a way to sidestep the refugee issue, while continuing ethnic cleansing.

The last chapters offered some hope and said what many know, that the problem isn't Judaism, it is Zionism.




Monday, April 9, 2012

Guenter Grass, Israel and freedom of speech

April 9, 2012


Someone is Israel has said Guenter Grass is "fanning the flames of hatred" with his political poem. I say Israel- with its policies that if not are by definition ethnic cleansing or apartheid, closely resemble them- fans the flames of hatred quite effectively. The hatred is about policies, not anti-Jewish sentiments. It is a reflex to call someone anti-Semitic when they disagree with Israeli policies against Palestinians.

An Israeli on the PRI program I caught on the radio today said there is no silence, that people in Israel are talking about this and about not wanting to invade Iran. Maybe. I think it depends on how you look at it. I'm sure Israelis have many points of view. But, there is a sort of effort coming from somewhere- Zionists, American Jews, the hardline right, some combination- that seeks to paint anyone who disagrees with Israeli policies or who wants to tell the Palestinian point of view as anti-Semitic (banning people from Israel, getting American profs fired for saying Palestinians deserve rights, too, etc). And let's talk about America. You can't talk about the Palestinian point of view or say Israel might be wrong in its approach to Palestinians and Arab countries without a high probability of people thinking you are anti-Semitic or crazy. If you write to Congress to oppose specific illegal or unfair actions Israel is taking against Palestinians, they will write you a letter about how great Israel is. On the floor of Congress, Senators and Representatives preface any remarks that could be construed as trying to get Israel to respect settlement freezes, for example, with how great a friend their state is to Israel and how awesome it is. In these types of actions and bias, there is a kind of silencing going on. So, while I get that Israelis discuss things and this is great and free, there is still a kind of silence surrounding these things that prevents anyone from being able to make progress on pressuring Israel to comply with UN resolutions and other standards everyone else has to comply with.

The part about Israel wanting to annihilate Iran is being debated as well. Many Israelis don't want to, if the much publicized messages of love to Iran are any indication. But the government is terrorizing Palestinians, preventing their return and normal life, and advocating attacking it's neighbors on a regular basis. It goaded the US into attacking Iraq. It's trying to do the same (and would succeed under and Republican administration) with Iran currently. 

Some say the Iran comparison is unfair. I'd say not entirely. Obviously, one is democratically elected and the other not so much. That is a difference. But I think the point is that Israel with its policies to deny Palestinians rights is less democratic than one would think. Also, the rhetoric coming from each of these entities is, at times, equally bellicose and divorced from reality.

This article from above also says some are angry about the moral equivalence shown between Iran and Israel, but if Israel would let refugees come back and adopt a one state strategy in which all had equal rights and freedom of movement, I bet Iran would change its tune or set the Arab world against it. If Israel started following the law, no one would have any reason to have anything against it. They want to talk the talk, but not walk the walk.

I think the only debate is whether one can call it poetry. Maybe the German translation would qualify, I have no idea, but I'd guess it's more of an editorial.



Thursday, April 5, 2012

The etch-a-sketch man calling out Obama??


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/05/us/politics/romney-says-obama-is-hiding-his-true-policy-aims.html

Romney says Obama hides his agenda. 

Hmm. Two things come to mind, the first being Obama foreign policy successes and contrast with the dismal republican foreign policy we recently experienced.

He's going to question (I don't have a problem with questioning, but rather going on and on when you don't really have a firm basis in fact...) Obama on his foreign policy? Really? After he's done quite a bit to restore our image abroad after Bush dragged us through the mud?

These two pieces on Obama I quite enjoyed:
http://www.fareedzakaria.com/home/Articles/Entries/2012/1/19_The_Strategist.html

http://swampland.time.com/2012/01/19/inside-obamas-world-the-president-talks-to-time-about-the-changing-nature-of-american-power/


The second issue I have with Romney's calling out of Obama is-- isn't this a prime example of the pot calling the kettle black? 

Romney or his aide or whomever said:

"You hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again."


 And Romney's positions on guns, abortion, taxes, gay rights and healthcare have undergone quite the 180 over the years.


So...who's hiding what? Well, I guess we know Romney's going to erase everything and start over, but who knows what his positions will be. That's comforting...to both sides!  ??

And this is equally entertaining, but not new, from John McCain (on Romney)...

He says the etch-a-sketch comment was blown out of proportion, much like his "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" during the campaign in which the bottom dropped out.

That might be a point to argue, except he's ready to jump on Obama for something that's well known in politics- you can't take risks, even to achieve something positive, right before the election. (Obama was "caught" on mic saying his position would be more flexible toward Russia after the election. Never mind that he was referring to having talks ahead of both leaders' campaigns- if one started now, and either leader loses, you'll have to start over. So why start now?) It isn't done. I wish it was done- both sides are to blame. A republican wouldn't do it. And, more troubling, I guess we know the republican position toward "those foreigners"- they have to do what we want or we'll invade or freeze them out- bellicose threats, 48 hour ultimatums, diplomacy's for sissies, bring 'em on. 

I'll take Obama's statement of the obvious over that any day, please!