Posts Tagged Zionism
Israeli occupier describes how he had dug a hole in the wall of a Mosque, where more than 150 Palestinians had taken shelter, and shot an anti-tank shell through it. Asked what had happened to the Palestinians, he said they were all crushed against the walls by the pressure from the blast.
The Nakba, Then and NowBy RAJA SHEHADEH http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/16/the-nakba-then-and-now/
LYDDA, Israel — Last Friday, some 40 Israeli Jews and Arabs gathered in Lydda, a small mixed Arab-Israeli city less than 10 miles southeast of Tel Aviv, for “a study tour” featuring “Zionist testimonies from 1948.” It was part of the project Towards a Common Archive, sponsored by Zochrot (Hebrew for remembering), an Israeli organization that hopes to bring “awareness and recognition of the Nakba” to Jewish Israelis so that they can take “responsibility for this tragedy.”
The Nakba refers to the expulsion of the Palestinians from the newly minted state of Israel. On no issue do Israelis and Palestinians differ more. Israelis celebrate May 15, 1948, as their day of independence; for Palestinians, it marks the “catastrophe.” That an Israeli group like Zochrot should organize a trip to a city where some of the Nakba’s worst atrocities occurred is an important and necessary attempt to bridge this nagging gap in perceptions.
During three and a half hours we got a description — in both Arabic and Hebrew — of the Arab city as it existed before 1948. We visited the old town, the church and the mosque where some Arab inhabitants hid in July 1948 to avoid expulsion. We also visited the site of the ghetto where 5,000 of the town’s 50,000 residents (including refugees from neighboring villages) were confined for one year after the Nakba, surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by Israeli soldiers. (They eventually became Israeli citizens and were allowed to stay in Israel.)
The group listened in respectful silence as the Palestinian guide, Ziad Abu Hamad, a descendant of Lydda’s few remaining original residents, described what his parents had told him about their hardships. A woman in her late 60s and other Arab residents approached us, pointing to the buildings that had been their family homes and which they have had to rent or buy back from those who took them away.
Wherever we stopped, members of Zochrot put up commemorative signs describing in Arabic and Hebrew what had happened at the sites. When I asked how long the posts would remain, I was told: until nightfall at best, or until some Israeli right-winger destroys them.
Present-day Lydda (which Israelis call Lod) is known for being one of the most violent cities in Israel and a center of drug addiction, and I expected our group to be stopped or heckled. But we made it through the dark history of the city in the clear midday sun without a hitch.
At the end we wound up in the hall of an old stone building where we were shown videos of two Israeli fighters from the elite Jewish force, the Palmach, testifying about their role in the Nakba.
Musings of a self-hating Jew
By Saul Landau
Sixty-three years ago most Jews rejoiced over the birth of Israel. Some thought it would become the place where a new vision of socialism with justice and equality would arise. Clearly, not all Jews believed that – or in those values.
Six plus decades later, the idea that Palestinians also deserve their own nation with UN recognized boundaries has caused a panic reaction from the Israeli government and its supporters throughout the world – including the President of the United States as he opposed the idea at the UN last month.
Why the panic? Look at comparative maps of Palestinian territory as outlined by the UN in 1948, with what’s left of that land today. The maps show Israel has stolen most of it – to build settlements for Jews only.
Jews, like my friends and I throughout the western world, do not want to migrate to the Promised Land (Zion now equals much of Palestinian territory). We don’t want to live amidst Israeli settlers, many of them self-righteous and very superior (chosen by God?) and oblivious to or even proud of what they’ve done to Palestinians.
Decades of Israeli sponsored ethnic cleansing – forcing Palestinians from their homes, villages and land – opened the way to the vast Jewish-only housing developments on Palestinian land. Those who denounce those illegal land grabs get denounced as “anti-Semites.”
Israel, once a land of egalitarian Kibbutzes, has turned into an aggressive and right wing nation run by religious Orthodoxy and desires for ever more territory. Look at the map.
Friends abroad wonder how a right wing Israeli government and its U.S. fan club (the Israeli lobby, American Israel Political Action Committee and its offshoots) has converted the U.S. Congress into blind supporters and the President into an obedient servant.
President Obama disgraced himself and his office when he bowed to the patrons of Israel by threatening a veto of Palestinian statehood in the UN Security Council. His world status shrank. The Arab world especially witnessed the once all-powerful United States following Israeli demands – a far cry from impartial leadership in a no-fabled peace process.
How can Obama expect anyone to believe he will promote a peace plan? Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to use those words as he expands settlements into Palestinian territory. Obama’s plan seems akin to continuing his obedience to the demands of a widely condemned (by the UN) nation.
Indeed, in September Washington sent bunker-busting bombs to Israel. Washington continues to insist on curbing Iran’s non-existent nuclear threat while ignoring Israel’s real potential to do immeasurable damage to the region and the world.
After decades of Palestinian struggle, Obama has implied those people are not yet ready for, or do not merit, their own state. Is he implying they are inferior to Jews? Does it mean Washington recognizes the stolen (occupied) territory as officially Israeli property? Does he justify the second-class status of Palestinian citizens of Israel and the colonial condition of those in the occupied territories? The implication is clearly yes.
Thanks to his servility to Israel, combined with events in the Arab world, Obama has presided over the end of U.S. dominance of that region. The kiss-ass Arabs (Mubarak and Ali of Tunisia) have gone into the garbage pile of history. The King of Jordan and the oily Saudis and Kuwaitis can no longer obey Washington’s dictates and hope to retain the tiniest modicum of respect from their people.
Phrases etched into journalese like “peace process,” “Camp David” and “Oslo Accords” will become forgotten or turned into sick jokes.
What Israel and apparently Washington fear is a state that looks like Swiss cheese, pieces of land cut off by large Israeli settlements, patrolled by Israeli soldiers and without independent access to its own water, military establishment or even airports.
Does Israel have a right to exist? It exists. It has 200 nuclear weapons. The question is: can the majority of people and nations force Israel (and the U.S.) to allow for the existence of Palestine.
To such a question the Israeli government and its fan club scream “anti Semitism” a response to all criticism of Israel. This has earned me, and thousands of others, the title of “self hating Jew.” On the list you’ll fnd Noam Chomsky and Woody Allen. (http://www.masada2000.org/list-L.html)
One trait that helped Jews survive so many centuries of persecution was their ability to laugh at themselves. Israeli expansionists of course can still make sick jokes about occupying Palestinian territories.
Saul Landau’s new film WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP
Saul Landau is an internationally known scholar, author, commentator, and filmmaker on foreign and domestic policy issues. He has been a fellow at IPS since 1972 and at the Transnational Institute since 1974. He has written 13 books, thousands of newspaper and magazine articles and reviews, and made more than 40 films and TV programs on social, political, economic and historical issues.
Israeli Criticism of Zionism and of Israel’s Treatment of the Palestinians:
There are many Israeli critics of Zionism and anti-Zionist Jews in Israel where the conflict with the Palestinians is most apparent. In 1975 journalist Charles Glass estimated that 58 percent of Israel’s Jewish population fell into the antiZionist category. Most of this opposition was of a “leftist” variety. However, Glass also stated that “they represent 50 percent of the only significant debate in the country.”
Yeshayahu Leibowitz, the renowned scholar of Judaism and philosophy and the editor of several volumes of the Encyclopedia Hebraica had the following to say about Zionism and Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians:
The big crisis of the Jewish people is that the overwhelming majority of the Jews genuinely desire to be Jewish but they have no content for their Judaism other than a piece of colored rag attached to the end of a pole and a military uniform. The consciousness and the desire to be Jewish did not vanish, rather they are transformed today into a JudeoNazi mentality.
Gideon Levy, the highly regarded columnist from the Israeli daily Haaretz, has also made a comparison between Germany in the 1930′s and Israel today.
Thus comparing Germany of the 1920s and early ’30s to Israel at the start of the third millennium is not only permissible but imperative for gaining an insight into how barbarous regimes develop, grasping the differences (and there are many profound ones), and discerning the similarities, which ought to worry us.
Another Israeli intellectual Yitzhak Laor in an article, “The soft underbelly and the victim,” published in Haaretz also makes an interesting allusion to the past.
The name of this Israeli ethos is “who are you to tell us?” We are destroying Arab East Jerusalem? Who are you to tell us that it is wrong? We killed masses of Palestinians in Gaza? Who are you to tell us anything? We have maintained a brutal dictatorship in the territories for 42 years longer than any other military occupation of the postWorld War II era? Who are you to tell us? We’re allowed. We’re your victims. The past belongs to us. We will do as we please with it.
Here is what Gideon Levy writes on the prevalence of racism in Israeli society:
Now that we can use the term “racism,” the time has come to admit our society is absolutely racist, that all its components are racist. The legal system, for example, is no less tainted than Petah Tikva’s Morasha school. In many cases there is one law for a Jew and another for an Arab. The Bank of Israel, a state institution no less than the Morasha school, with 900 employees, has always been “clean” of Arab employees except sometimes one or two. Some 70,000 Israeli citizens, all Arab of course, are living in unrecognized villages, without electricity or running water, without an access road and sometimes without a school. Why? Because they are Arabs. Every week at soccer matches we hear racist epithets and chants, the kind teams in Europe are severely penalized for. Here, the referees do not even bother reporting them….
And we have said nothing yet about the attitude toward foreign workers, the occupation (the greatest racist curse) nor about the attitude toward Mizrahim since the founding of the state. The list is long and shameful.
Here are the words of Yael Lotan, another Israeli author and journalist, on the subject of racism and criticism of Israel.
It should be perfectly legitimate to criticize Israel. Giving it uncritical, unqualified support in all its actions, its violations of dozens of UN Security Council resolutions, its policy of assassination and destruction that is a racist position, a position that says “Arabs don’t count, Arabs have no rights, Arabs are vermin and whatever is done to them in Palestine, Syria, Iraq or Lebanon is legitimate. And Islam is the same as Fascism.”
Now that is real antiSemitism.
There was an interesting book review published in Haaretz, on February 29, 2008, written by Tom Segev. It was a review of a book titled, When and How Was the Jewish People Invented? (published by Resling in Hebrew). It is authored by Israeli historian Shlomo Zand (also spelled Sand). Prof. Zand teaches history at Tel Aviv University. The book became a best seller in Israel. Segev writes:
…in one of the most fascinating and challenging books published here in a long time. There never was a Jewish people, only a Jewish religion, and the exile also never happened hence there was no return. Zand rejects most of the stories of nationalidentity formation in the Bible, including the exodus from Egypt and, most satisfactorily, the horrors of the conquest under Joshua. It’s all fiction and myth that served as an excuse for the establishment of the State of Israel, he asserts.
This information and arguments have been around for a long time but it is interesting to see them published in one of Israel’s leading daily newspapers and presented in a best seller written by an Israeli historian. Segev summarizes the arguments in Zand’s book as referencing many existing studies on groups that converted to Judaism, “some of which were written in Israel but shunted out of the central discourse.” According to Segev the book describes the Jewish kingdom of Himyar in the southern Arabian Peninsula, the Jewish Berbers in North Africa, Jews in Spain that arose from the Arab conquest, and Europeanborn individuals who had also become Jews. Zand also discusses the large Jewish Khazar Kingdom in the Caucasus. Segev writes,
We find, then, that the members of a variety of peoples and races, blond and black, brown and yellow, became Jews in large numbers. According to Zand, the Zionist need to devise for them a shared ethnicity and historical continuity produced a long series of inventions and fictions, along with an invocation of racist theses. Some were concocted in the minds of those who conceived the Zionist movement, while others were offered as the findings of genetic studies conducted in Israel.
It is somewhat ironic that issues and subjects that relate to the Palestinians and Zionism that are virtually taboo in North America are openly discussed in Israel. These same subjects are much more openly discussed in Europe and in the rest of the World.
The journalist Gideon Levy wrote the following commentary on Zionism and the Israeli Left in the Israeli daily Haaretz. Can you ever imagine seeing a similar opinion piece in the mainstream North American media? Levy wrote:
And what is Zionism nowadays? An archaic and outdated concept born in a different reality, a vague and delusive concept marking the difference between the permitted and the proscribed. Does Zionism mean settlement in the territories? Occupation? The legitimization of every act of violence and injustice? The left stammered. Any statement critical of Zionism, even the Zionism of the occupation, was considered a taboo that the left did not dare break. The right grabbed a monopoly on Zionism, leaving the left with its selfrighteousness.
A Jewish and democratic state? The Zionist left said yes automatically, fudging the difference between the two and not daring to give either priority. Legitimization for every war? The Zionist left stammered again yes to the beginning and no to the continuation, or something like that. Solving the refugee problem and the right of return? Acknowledgment of the wrongdoing of 1948? Unmentionable. This left has now, rightly, reached the end of its road.
One of the most prominent Israeli critics is Avi Shlaim. He is professor of international relations at Oxford University. Shlaim is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and the author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World and many other books. Shlaim has commented on the character of the debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in North America,
On the other side of the Atlantic, on the other hand, the public debate on the subject of Israel is much more fierce and partisan, leaving relatively little space for the dignity of difference. The passion with which many prominent American Jews defend Israel betrays an atavistic attitude of “my country, right or wrong.”
In an article published in the International Herald Tribune the Oxford professor addressed the question, “Is Zionism today the real enemy of the Jews?” His answer was Yes:
Sharon’s government is waging a savage war against the Palestinian people. Its policies include the confiscation of land; the demolition of houses; the uprooting of trees; curfews, roadblocks and 736 checkpoints that inflict horrendous hardships; the systematic abuse of Palestinian human rights; and the building of the illegal wall on the West Bank, a wall that is as much about landgrabbing as it is about security.
It is this brand of cruel Zionism that is the real enemy of what remains of liberal Israel and of the Jews outside Israel. It is the enemy because it fuels the flames of virulent and sometimes violent antiSemitism. Israel’s policies are the cause; hatred of Israel and antiSemitism are the consequences . . .
Israel’s image today is negative not because it is a Jewish state but because it habitually transgresses the norms of acceptable international behavior. Indeed, Israel is increasingly perceived as a rogue state, as an international pariah, and as a threat to world peace.
This perception of Israel is a major factor in the recent resurgence of antiSemitism in Europe and in the rest of the world. In this sense, Zionism today is the real enemy of the Jews. It is a tragedy that a state that was built as a haven for the Jewish people after the Holocaust is now one of the least safe places on earth for Jews to live in. Israel ought to withdraw from the occupied territories not as a favor to the Palestinians but as a favor to itself and to world Jewry for, as Karl Marx noted, “a people that oppresses another cannot itself remain free.”
After Israel launched its attack on Gaza on December 27, 2009 Shlaim published the following statement criticizing Israel’s actions.
The only way to make sense of Israel’s senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel’s vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration’s complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.. . .
This brief review of Israel’s record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it. Israel’s real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours but military domination. It keeps compounding the mistakes of the past with new and more disastrous ones. Politicians, like everyone else, are of course free to repeat the lies and mistakes of the past. But it is not mandatory to do so.
Many other Israelis also protested the Israeli assault on Gaza. For example there is a letter from 22 prominent Israelis who published an appeal in The Guardian. They wrote:
We, as Israeli citizens, raise our voices to call on EU leaders: use sanctions against Israel’s brutal policies and join the active protests of Bolivia and Venezuela. We appeal to the citizens of Europe: please attend to the Palestinian Human Rights Organisation’s call, supported by more than 540 Israeli citizens (http://www.freegaza.org/en/home/): boycott Israeli goods and Israeli institutions; follow resolutions such as those made by the cities of Athens, Birmingham and Cambridge (US). This is the only road left. Help us all, please!”
Judge Richard Goldstone’s UN Commission of Inquiry which investigated the December 27, 2008 Israeli attack on Gaza and the Palestinian response made a number of findings that were critical of both Israel and Hamas. As reported in the New York Times, when, “Asked about accusations that he was antiIsrael,” Judge Goldstone acknowledged he was Jewish and said, “It is grossly wrong to label a mission or to label a report critical of Israel as being antiIsrael.” While the UN Commission of Inquiry was widely attacked in Israel there were a number of Israelis who supported its critical findings.
One of the most outspoken and courageous Israeli journalists is Amira Hass. Since 2000, Amira Hass has been the only Jewish Israeli reporter living in Occupied Palestine – formerly in Gaza City, and now based out of Ramallah. She is a correspondent for the Israeli daily Haaretz.[i]
There are many Israeli academics and intellectuals who are extremely critical of Zionism and of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. To quote a study published by a group affiliated with the Israel Academia Monitor:
…The opinions and claims of Israel academics against Jews, Zionism and Israel are discussed and analyzed in this study. It is estimated that some 20 to 25% of people who teach the Humanities and Social Sciences in Israel’s universities and colleges have expressed extreme antiZionist positions, largely, though not exclusively, in regard to Israel’s policies and actions visàvis the Arab Palestinians . . . 
The fact is that many Israelis academics and activists have voiced strong criticism of Zionism and Israeli state policy toward the Palestinians.
Occupation Magazine which is published by a group of anti-Occupation Israelis has an archive of over 36,000 articles, many written by anti-occupation Israelis and Jews from around the world. It also provides links to dozens of Israeli human rights organizations, many not listed in this article. These Israeli human rights organizations include B’Tselem, Machsom Watch, Rabbis for Human Rights, and The Israeli Public Committee Against Torture, Yesh Gvul, the movement for soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories and Refusniks, young Israelis who refuse to serve in the Israeli military. For a collection of Israeli opposition to Zionism and opposition to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians one can review The Other Israel: Voices of Refusal and Dissent, edited by Roane Carey and Jonathan Shainin. It contains articles very critical of Israel’s policies, written by 27 prominent Israelis. The Forward was written by a prominent Israeli author and journalist Tom Segev.
The list of writers in The Other Israel include Ami Ayalon, former head of Israel’s General Security Service or Shin Bet; Yigal Bonner professor at Tel Aviv University; author David Grossman; Aviv Lavie Haaretz media reporter; attorney Shamai Leibowitz; Ishai Menuchin, a major in the Israeli Defense Forces Reserves and head of Yesh Gvul (the Israelis organization of selective refusal); Dr. Yigal Shocat former Surgeon General for the Israeli Airforce; Gila Svirsky chair of B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories; and Sergio Yahni co-director of the Alternative Information Centre, among others already cited in this article.
There is a growing concern amongst some Israelis that there is a growing rift between diaspora Jews and Israeli Jews. Professor Yehezkel Dror, the founding president of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (JPPPI), “offered a somber take on relations between Israel and Diaspora Jewry” and pointed “the finger of blame at Israel’s leadership for the growing rift between the two.” Professor Dror stated that, “There is no ignoring the fact . . . that at the heart of the rift between Israel and Jewish communities abroad lies the notion that Diaspora youth have a negative views of Israel politically, nationally and socially.” 
Gideon Levy in an interview with Mario Vargas Llosa, the prizewinning Peruvian writer and a laureate of the prestigious Jerusalem Prize, published in Haaretz quoted the distinguished author saying that “only the dissidents will save the State of Israel.”
Other critical voices from Israel’s academia and activists circles include the late Professor Israel Shahak former Chair of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights; the late Baruch Kimmerling, Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Hebrew University of Jerusalem; retired Anthropology professor Jeff Halper now head of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions; Tel Aviv University professor Gary Sussman; Felica Langer, a well known human rights lawyer who left Israel and now resides in Germany; Michael Warschawski, co-founder of the Alternative Information Center; Eitan Bronstein Chair of Zochrot, which means “Remember,” and works to remind Israelis about the Nakba or Palestinian catastrophe; the late linguist and journalist Tanya Reinhart, Professor of theoretical linguistics and Media and Cultural Studies at Tel Aviv University and at the University of Utrecht; the late Victoria Buch professor at Hebrew University; Avi Kleinberg, professor of History at Tel Aviv University; Dr. Yossi Dahan, Chair of the Adva Centre, manager of the Human Rights Division at the Academic College of Law in Ramat Gan, and an editor of Ha’Oketz; author Gershom Gorenberg; Sammy Smooha a sociologist who served as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Haifa; Yossi Swartz professor at the Tel Aviv University Law School; Allegra Pacheco, an Israeli human rights attorney, noted for prosecuting the first Israeli torture trial; Rabbi Arik Ascherman, head of Rabbis for Human Rights;  Hannah Mermelstein, cofounder and codirector of Birthright Unplugged; Carlo Strenger, professor of psychology at Tel Aviv University; Oren Yiftachel, Geography professor Ben-Gurion University; New Israeli Historian Ilan Pappe, presently the Chair of the History Department at the University of Essex in England, and formerly of history department of the University of Haifa in Israel; world renown author Jacobo Timerman; Neve Gordon Chair of the Political Science Department at Ben-Gurion University; Avraham Oz, associate professor of theater at the University of Haifa; Dror Etkes, who headed Peace Now’s Settlements Watch Project for five years and now heads the Land Advocacy Project of Yesh Din, a group working against violation of Palestinians’ rights by settlers; Erik Schechter, the former military correspondent for The Jerusalem Post; Yosefa Loshitzky, Professor of Film, Media and Cultural Studies at the University of East London; Yacov Ben Efrat of Challenge Magazine; Amos Oz, who Steven Plaut describes as “arguably Israel’s bestknown writer;” and another famous Israeli writer with an international reputation, A.B. Yehoshua; Tikva Honig-Parnass, editor of Between the Lines; author and journalist Amnon Kapeliouk; Oren Ben-Dor, professor of Legal and Political Philosophy at the School of Law, University of Southampton, UK; Gilad Atzmon, author of two books and numerous articles, and also one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists in Europe; prolific writer Israel Shamir; Amia Lieblich, professor of Psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and author of numerous books on the psychology of Israeli society including Tin Soldiers on Jerusalem Beach; Haaretz columnist Nehema Shtrasler; IsraeliAmerican human rights lawyer Sari Bashi; Adam Atsan an IsraeliAmerican who is involved in Kesher Enoshi: Progressives For Activism in Israel; author Akiva Orr; David Newman, professor of political geography at BenGurion University and editor of the International journal, Geopolitics; author Susan Nathan; author and journalist Yael Lotan; Israeli Television correspondent Yigal Laviv; professor of political science at Tel Aviv university Ze’ev Maoz; Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken; Haaretz editor Danny Rubinstein; and Yitzhak Laor, one of Israel’s most distinguished poets, novelists and a longtime editor and writer for the daily newspaper Haaretz, who also edits an independent journal of literature and political thought, Mita’am; Adi Opir professor of philosophy at the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University and also a fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute; Akiva Eldar, Israeli journalist and author, currently chief political columnist and editorial writer for Haaretz; journalist Meron Rapoport; an orthodox Jewish studies professor who writes under the nom de plume of Jeremiah (Jerry) Haber and runs the Magnes Zionist blog; B. Michael one of Israel’s most respected journalists who until recently with writing for Yedioth Aharonoth; Ran HaCohen professor at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Comparative Literature and a literary critic for the Israeli daily Yedioth Achronoth; journalist Shraga Elam; Hillel Cohen Research Fellow at the Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Haaretz journalist and editorial Board member Avirama Golan; Shai Lahav Editor of the art and culture supplement to Ma’ariv, the country’s most rightwing newspaper; journalist and former IDF conscript Seth Freeman; Yehouda Shenhav professor at Tel Aviv University and the editor of Theory Criticism, an Israeli journal in the area of critical theory and cultural studies; Eyal Sivan, one of Israel’s leading film makers; Elana Maryles Sztokman, author, educator, writer, researcher and regular contributor to The Jerusalem Post; Adam Keller journalist and a founder of The Other Israel; and Gideon Spiro, a former Israeli Sergeant and journalist; Israeli Professor Ada Yonath 2009 Nobel Prize winner for chemistry; to name only a few of the many Israelis who are anti-Zionist, non-Zionist or extremely critical of Zionism and Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians.
- Published 02:27 18.08.11 HAARETZ
Israel’s swinish Zionism ought to be stopped
Israel tycoons have woken up to the new reality; they’re beginning to pay the price for their behavior – their capitalism has been defined as swinish.
There’s a remarkable resemblance in Israel between Zionism and wealth: Both have not known when to stop. These days we’re talking about “swinish capitalism,” a term coined by President Shimon Peres back when he was an MK; he was referring in particular to Benjamin Netanyahu, who was finance minister at the time and is now prime minister. It’s worth remembering that there is also swinish Zionism.
Swine are insatiable, it is thought. They eat everything that comes their way and gorge themselves until they die. So do capitalism and Zionism. A broad (and encouraging ) public now agrees about the swinishness of Israeli capitalism; the perception of Zionism as swinish is still the province of a tiny minority in Israel, though not around the world. Zionism and capitalism started differently.
Zionism began as a national movement that aspired to establish a national home for the Jews. Although along the way it caused grave injustice to the previous inhabitants of the land, it had internal justice. It began modestly: stockade and tower, dunam after dunam – some of them legally purchased – forms of agricultural settlement that became an international model, and a relatively egalitarian society. This movement established an inspiring and nearly wonderful state, whose amazing achievements in many areas are unparalleled in modern history.
Until 1967 it seemed this movement was satisfied. But with the eating (the victory in the Six-Day War ) came the appetite, and since then the movement has developed characteristics that can only be defined as swinish. The settlement project in the territories was impelled from its inception by unbridled territorial lust, the occupation regime became cruel and totalitarian, and Israel’s security policy became immoral. Had Zionism known when to stop, had it reined in its lust and greed, atoned for the original injustices in 1948 and changed direction, it would have become an admired movement. But it did not stop in time, it did not rein in its greed and now Israel is only begining to pay the price.
A great many of this country’s wealthy people also started out well. One family established a salt industry, another a modest dairy, this one founded a shipping company, that one started out as a building contractor and a third began as an importer of mobile telephones. They helped develop the economy, building the land and its prosperity.
But here too with the eating came the insatiable appetite, and some of them did not know when to stop their greed. They shower huge salaries on their executives, celebrate their family events lavishly, lead an ostentatious life and treat the public’s money as if it were their own, leveraging money that does not belong to them.
Now the time of reckoning has come. The public is calling them to account. The word “tycoon” has become a curse and “wealthy” has nearly become despicable. Had our wealthy people stopped their greed in time, they would have continued to celebrate on top of the world, or on top of this country at least, if also with relative modesty.
The public’s attitude to these two kinds of swinishness is remarkably similar. At first society bowed down to its wealthy, in the same way it bowed down to its settlers in the territories, its “new pioneers.” It looked away and hid its face both from the way the tycoons were making their money and the way the settlers were putting down their stakes. The state treated them that way too; it encouraged both groups. To the wealthy and the settlers it offered everything good – incentives and protection, grants and loans. It sold natural resources and companies to the tycoons at bargain prices and gave the lands of the occupation to the settlers for free.
The state was protective of both these groups. It still is, with a committee for the tycoons and the continuation of its pro-settler policies.
The tycoons have woken up to the new reality. In the summer of 2011 it’s not so pleasant to be Yitzhak Tshuva, Nochi Dankner, Ilan Ben-Dov or Idan Ofer. They’re beginning to pay the price for their behavior – their capitalism has been defined as swinish. This isn’t the case regarding the new Zionism, the Zionism of occupation and settlement in the territories. To call it swinish is still considered heretical. But when the time for the reckoning comes we’ll ask: Why didn’t we stop this swinishness in time?
What ‘Israel’s right to exist’ means to Palestinians
By John V. Whitbeck / February 2, 2007
JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA
Since the Palestinian elections in 2006, Israel and much of the West have asserted that the principal obstacle to any progress toward Israeli-Palestinian peace is the refusal of Hamas to “recognize Israel,” or to “recognize Israel’s existence,” or to “recognize Israel’s right to exist.”
These three verbal formulations have been used by Israel, the United States, and the European Union as a rationale for collective punishment of the Palestinian people. The phrases are also used by the media, politicians, and even diplomats interchangeably, as though they mean the same thing. They do not.
“Recognizing Israel” or any other state is a formal legal and diplomatic act by one state with respect to another state. It is inappropriate – indeed, nonsensical – to talk about a political party or movement extending diplomatic recognition to a state. To talk of Hamas “recognizing Israel” is simply to use sloppy, confusing, and deceptive shorthand for the real demand being made of the Palestinians.
“Recognizing Israel’s existence” appears on first impression to involve a relatively straightforward acknowledgment of a fact of life. Yet there are serious practical problems with this language. What Israel, within what borders, is involved? Is it the 55 percent of historical Palestine recommended for a Jewish state by the UN General Assembly in 1947? The 78 percent of historical Palestine occupied by the Zionist movement in 1948 and now viewed by most of the world as “Israel” or “Israel proper”? The 100 percent of historical Palestine occupied by Israel since June 1967 and shown as “Israel” (without any “Green Line”) on maps in Israeli schoolbooks?
Israel has never defined its own borders, since doing so would necessarily place limits on them. Still, if this were all that was being demanded of Hamas, it might be possible for the ruling political party to acknowledge, as a fact of life, that a state of Israel exists today within some specified borders. Indeed, Hamas leadership has effectively done so in recent weeks.
“Recognizing Israel’s right to exist,” the actual demand being made of Hamas and Palestinians, is in an entirely different league. This formulation does not address diplomatic formalities or a simple acceptance of present realities. It calls for a moral judgment.
There is an enormous difference between “recognizing Israel’s existence” and “recognizing Israel’s right to exist.” From a Palestinian perspective, the difference is in the same league as the difference between asking a Jew to acknowledge that the Holocaust happened and asking him to concede that the Holocaust was morally justified. For Palestinians to acknowledge the occurrence of the Nakba – the expulsion of the great majority of Palestinians from their homeland between 1947 and 1949 – is one thing. For them to publicly concede that it was “right” for the Nakba to have happened would be something else entirely. For the Jewish and Palestinian peoples, the Holocaust and the Nakba, respectively, represent catastrophes and injustices on an unimaginable scale that can neither be forgotten nor forgiven.
To demand that Palestinians recognize “Israel’s right to exist” is to demand that a people who have been treated as subhumans unworthy of basic human rights publicly proclaim that they are subhumans. It would imply Palestinians’ acceptance that they deserve what has been done and continues to be done to them. Even 19th-century US governments did not require the surviving native Americans to publicly proclaim the “rightness” of their ethnic cleansing by European colonists as a condition precedent to even discussing what sort of land reservation they might receive. Nor did native Americans have to live under economic blockade and threat of starvation until they shed whatever pride they had left and conceded the point.
Some believe that Yasser Arafat did concede the point in order to buy his ticket out of the wilderness of demonization and earn the right to be lectured directly by the Americans. But in fact, in his famous 1988 statement in Stockholm, he accepted “Israel’s right to exist in peace and security.” This language, significantly, addresses the conditions of existence of a state which, as a matter of fact, exists. It does not address the existential question of the “rightness” of the dispossession and dispersal of the Palestinian people from their homeland to make way for another people coming from abroad.
The original conception of the phrase “Israel’s right to exist” and of its use as an excuse for not talking with any Palestinian leaders who still stood up for the rights of their people are attributed to former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. It is highly likely that those countries that still employ this phrase do so in full awareness of what it entails, morally and psychologically, for the Palestinian people.
However, many people of goodwill and decent values may well be taken in by the surface simplicity of the words, “Israel’s right to exist,” and believe that they constitute a reasonable demand. And if the “right to exist” is reasonable, then refusing to accept it must represent perversity, rather than Palestinians’ deeply felt need to cling to their self-respect and dignity as full-fledged human beings. That this need is deeply felt is evidenced by polls showing that the percentage of the Palestinian population that approves of Hamas’s refusal to bow to this demand substantially exceeds the percentage that voted for Hamas in January 2006.
Those who recognize the critical importance of Israeli-Palestinian peace and truly seek a decent future for both peoples must recognize that the demand that Hamas recognize “Israel’s right to exist” is unreasonable, immoral, and impossible to meet. Then, they must insist that this roadblock to peace be removed, the economic siege of the Palestinian territories be lifted, and the pursuit of peace with some measure of justice be resumed with the urgency it deserves.
• John V. Whitbeck, an international lawyer, is the author of, “The World According to Whitbeck.” He has advised Palestinian officials in negotiations with Israel.
Israel used the war in Gaza in 2008 as a training opportunity for its armed forces to test new weapons, designate Israeli military chief of staff has revealed.
In a speech at the Begin-Sadat Center of Strategic Affairs at Bar-Ilan University, Major General Yoav Galant said that Gaza was an “ideal training zone” as it lacks a strong enemy that could inflict serious casualties upon Israel.
Galant was the operation commander of Israel’s Cast Lead Operation on Gaza between December 2008 and January 2009 in which more than 1600 Palestinians were killed. Most of the fatalities were among women and children.
Under his command, the Israeli armed forces openly used white phosphorus shells fired from 155mm artillery guns in the crowded Gaza Strip which were .
“Although Israel’s military capability is much stronger than [that of] Hamas, we consider them as our fiercest enemy,” he said.
Galant added that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip had improved their rocket firing capabilities, asserting that firing rockets “isn’t only an act of terror, it is a challenge to Israel’s very existence.”
With regards to the wave of Arab uprisings, Galant expressed his view that that none of the ongoing revolutions in the Middle East have any positive short or long-term potential for the future of Israel’s security.
Galant expects that the region will represent a major instability threat as in his opinion it will be ruled by radical “Islamic extremists.”
Wiesel is simply “a terrible fraud.”
– Noam Chomsky
Every now and then Israel’s enablers in the US embark on a public campaign to apply as much political pressure on US policymakers as they can possibly get away with. Elie Wiesel , a Holocaust survivor and 1986 Nobel laureate, is one of those apologists that Israel employs when it is in trouble.
Wiesel ’s disgraceful history of dismissing the suffering of some in favor of others is well documented. The late historian Howard Zinn called Wiesel’s refusal to include the suffering of non-Jews at the hands of the Nazis at the Holocaust Museum, along with exhibits documenting Jewish suffering, one of the most “shameful moments” in recent memory. In that episode, Wiesel described the inclusion of the terrible affliction of non-Jews by the Nazis in the Museum as an attempt to “falsify reality” and that such calls were tantamount to “stealing the Holocaust from us.”
Two months ago, Wiesel’s name was on a full-page ad in the New York Times, urging atrocious and lethal actions against Iran because of its nuclear energy program. On April 18, a Wiesel-endorsed ad ran in several prominent U.S. dailies, including the NYT and the Washington Post, tackling the issue of Jerusalem because of the public spat between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government.
Since one can hardly think that Wiesel is ignorant of the facts, the number of deliberate lies and misleading information included in the ad was astounding. He asserted that Jerusalem “belongs to the Jewish people,” while dismissing its Islamic and Christian dimensions. His rationale was that Jerusalem was mentioned in the Torah “more than six hundred times,” while “not a single time in the Qur’an.” Such an ignorant statement demonstrates not only a total lack of knowledge regarding Islamic scriptures but also a distortion of history.
Even so, resorting to citing the sheer volume of scriptural references reveals the hollowness of Wiesel ‘s argument. Is it pertinent to the place of Mecca in the Islamic conscience that the holiest city in Islam is mentioned by name only once in the Qur’an? Moreover, the historical figures of the Bible such as Moses, Aaron, Mary and Jesus are mentioned in the Qur’an 136, 20, 34, and 25 times respectively, while Muhammad is only mentioned five times by name. What does that prove? Yet, Wiesel conveniently ignores the significance in Islamic doctrine of the Muslim prophet’s seminal journey to Jerusalem, in which he prayed in the Aqsa mosque, an event that is not only mentioned vividly in the Islamic scripture, but has been celebrated every year by Muslims around the world for over 1400 years.
Not only does Wiesel ignore history and disregard international law, but he also perpetuates the lie that Israel was attacked in 1967 to justify its occupation of Jerusalem and other Arab lands. Describing Israel’s aggression in June 1967, UN Security Council resolution 242 declared the “inadmissibility of acquisition of land by force,” calling for the total withdrawal by Israel from its recent occupation of Arab lands. In May 1968, the UN Security Council passed resolution 252 that “deplore[d] the failure of Israel to comply” with international law, and “considered[d] that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, including the expropriation of land and properties, which tend to change the legal status of Jerusalem are invalid and cannot change that status.”
Oblivious to reality, Wiesel falsely asserted that “for the first time in history, Jews, Christian and Muslims may freely worship at their shrines.” But the reality of Palestinian daily life is that Israel does not allow any man under 50 years old to pray at al-Aqsa mosque or at the Dome of the Rock. This discriminatory policy has been in force for years, facilitated by over 500 Israeli military check points, planted across the West Bank, in an apartheid-like control of all aspects of Palestinian civil life. Recently, the historian, Professor Walid Khalidi, presented a remarkable speech about Jerusalem’s history before the United Nations, chronicling its long-established Islamic and Christian roots and exposing the brutal Zionist policies of discrimination and exclusion.
In his address Khalidi stated that, “Israeli colonization in and around east Jerusalem aims at geostrategic control, demographic domination, psychological browbeating, economic and social disruption, doctrinal affirmation, religious fulfillment, and territorial expansion.” Hence, the real objective of Wiesel’s ad was to alleviate the pressure by the Obama administration and the international community over Israel allowing it the time needed to complete its colonization plans.
Israel’s continued attempts to create facts on the ground in Jerusalem by depopulating its Arab residents (both Muslim and Christian) in favor of Jewish settlers and colonialists are well documented. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem reports that the Israeli government’s primary goal in Jerusalem has been to “create a demographic and geographic situation that will thwart any future attempt to challenge Israeli sovereignty over the city.” It lists the various methods utilized to achieve this goal, including policies of institutionalized discrimination, expropriation and harassment. Rabbi Brant Rosen of Evanston, IL, also presents a compelling Israeli-produced video that documents the systematic discriminatory and brutal policies of the Israeli government. So much for Wiesel ’s false declaration of Palestinians’ ability “to build their homes anywhere in the city.”
Furthermore, according to Ziad Hammouri, the director of the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights, more than 30,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem lost their residency rights in the past twenty years. In addition, around 165,000 people are living east of the separation wall that separates Jerusalem from the West Bank. In early April of this year, the Israeli military authority in the West Bank announced that in the near future it will deport over 70,000 Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank and Jerusalem because “they have no residency rights.”
Wiesel’s history of justifying Israel’s aggressive policies is long and extensive. From as far back as 1947-1949, Wiesel worked as a journalist for the Zionist terrorist group (as designated by the British), the Irgun. He knows the details of the infamous 1948 Deir Yasin massacre of innocent Palestinians (as well as others) perpetrated by his organization, which at the time was led by Menahem Begin and Yitzak Shamir.
Yet, he still argues that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians left their homes in 1948 voluntarily, ignoring the overwhelming evidence that exists, not only in dozens of UN- sponsored reports and live testimonials of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, but also in evidence unearthed by Israeli “new historians” such as Ilan Pappe and Benny Morris. Wiesel persists in demanding public apologies for crimes committed against Jews but never expresses any sympathy or a whimper for atrocities committed against the Palestinians. Wiesel once publicly stated, “I support Israel—period. I identify with Israel—period. I never attack, I never criticize Israel.”
The hypocrisy abounds. Wiesel stood before the world during his Nobel peace prize address in 1986 and said, “The world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides.”
He certainly took sides, choosing to praise the oppressor and condemn the victim, not even remaining silent, but enabling brutality, and justifying exclusion despite daily Palestinian suffering and humiliation.