Gaza Freedom March: Why I went to Cairo

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Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb at a demonstration outside the French Embassy in Cairo. (Photo: Anne Paxton)

Operation Cast Lead was a massacre filled with thousands of heart breaking stories. Each of the 1400 persons killed represents an entire world. Yes, it is also a war crime to fire kassam rockets into Israel with the intention to kill civilians. Over 2,000 rockets and 1,600 mortar shells were fired into Israel in 2008 alone. Some among the Palestinian population use armed force to resist Israeli’s military occupation and blockade of Gaza and the West Bank. According to international law, armed resistance against illegal occupation can be considered a just cause, as long as the rules of war are observed. However, as a person committed to nonviolence, I view the use of militarism by states or non-state actors to ensure security or resist occupation as a self-defeating strategy that promotes more violence and suffering and does not, in the end, result in well-being or peace for beleaguered populations. However, for those who believe in the use of military force as a viable option, Israel’s response to kassam attacks went far beyond legal and ethical boundaries. The much maligned Goldstone report proved beyond reasonable doubt that Israel intentionally targeted civilians and civilian institutions with deadly weapons. This is nothing new.

Operation Cast Lead made clear that the sixty year Israeli military siege of the people of Palestine has increased in brutality and ferocity. Sixty years of evidence that includes eye-witness reports, analysis of video, satellite and photographic images, medical reports, forensic analysis of weapons and ammunition remnants, and the written observations and testimony of thousands of witnesses from Palestine, Israel and the international community reveal a continual pattern of continuous assault that has very little to do with Israel’s claim of ‘security’. Rather, the end game is creating ‘facts on the ground’ that establish a Jewish state from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean sea which limits Palestinians to 20% of the national population. Israel employs forced displacement, blockade, air strike, land mines, rubber bullets, white phosphorous, dime bombs, torture, beating and sexual humiliation, arbitrary arrest and administrative detention of minors and adults, water and land theft, Jewish only roads, hundreds of military checkpoints, security fences, nightly incursions, human shields, collaborators, deportation, permit systems, denial of access to economic opportunity, health care, culture and education, targeting of sewage and electricity plants and water installations, uprooting of thousands of trees and the destruction of thousands of homes to force the remaining Palestinian population into small enclosed areas that can only be described as open air prisons. Ariel Sharon described these enclaves designated as the future Palestinian State as ‘bantustans’. In short, all these tactics amount to what is considered the crime of apartheid for the sake of creating a state that awards national and civil privileges based on Jewish identity while confining the excess non-Jewish population to their own ‘homeland’. This is the ugly truth that is so hard for Jewish people and millions of so-called Christian Zionists to face. Anyone who spends a day in Palestinian territories sees this truth immediately. The so-called two state solution which is based on this vision of reality is hardly viable or legal. People will not and cannot endure oppression forever. Our own history should teach us this lesson. The question is, how does an oppressed people change the situation on the ground and open history to new possibilities.

Those who both decry Palestinian armed resistance and the option of boycott, divestment and sanctions can’t have it both ways. Once you accept the fact that Israel’s behavior toward Palestinians falls into the category of the crime of apartheid, BDS is the logical and ethical nonviolent response. If any other state were engaged in similar behavior, BDS would be an acceptable form of resistance, as it was in the case of South Africa. Forty years of dialogue and negotiation with Israelis and Jews clearly has not worked to advance the cause of self-determination for Palestinians. The situation on the ground is far worse than ever before. The two state solution and all the peace plans and road maps have been undermined by the systematic effort to enclose Palestinians in bantustans and deny them civil and national rights. In this context, further efforts at dialogue only benefit those with privilege, unless they are accompanied by strategies of resistance to the systematic inequality Palestinians face on a daily basis.

While J Street and associated partners are a much appreciated alternative voice within the Jewish community to the AIPAC machine, they have thus far failed to address the concerns nor partner with Palestinians in their own struggle for human and equal rights. As Jews, we have to recognize that we are not going to be the ones who determine the direction of the Palestinian nonviolent struggle for freedom. What we can and should do, is find ways of acting in solidarity with that struggle by joining the Palestinian initiated international effort to use boycott, divestment and sanctions to force Israel to comply with international law and end the siege of Gaza and the illegal occupation of Palestine. We can also support those within Israel who are resisting the oppressive actions of their own state. We cannot truly work on this issue without understanding the meaning of resistance in our lives. For Jews, I believe resistance requires serious study and practice of the Torah of Nonviolence. Nonviolence is the only way forward. Accepting the violence perpetrated against Palestinians will destroy our beautiful tradition. By struggling in solidarity with those who oppose militarism and support boycott, divestment and sanctions we are also renewing the most sacred elements of our tradition that require us to protest in the street, pursue justice and peace and avoid violence. It is not an easy road.

Boycott is a strategy capable of being used for good and for bad. In this case, I believe that BDS is the only viable nonviolent method that can impact ‘facts on the ground’. All of us who love freedom, justice and peace, all of us who love the people of Israel and the people of Palestine have a profound responsibility to act in alignment with the people who are the actual victims in this situation. They are calling for BDS. That is why I went to Cairo and created the Interfaith Gaza Satyagraha as an affinity group within the Gaza Freedom March, to join my voice with theirs.

As the only rabbi present in Cairo for the entire GFM experience, I was honored to stand with hundreds of other activists from over forty nations, many of whom spoke to me of their commitment to oppose antisemitism wherever it emerged. I spent ten days planning actions, protesting in the streets, talking about next steps, networking and envisioning. At one point, American Jews organized a protest in front of the Israeli Embassy which is fifteen stories above the street and visible only by the familiar blue and white flag. I was asked to lead a Sabbath service. Jews, Muslims, Christians, Egyptians and internationals of all persuasions stood round a simple kiddish cup, Egyptian flat bread and candles. I invited participants to envision a world where everyone could find a seat at the table and eat, unafraid. We sang and prayed in Hebrew in public and I saw tears flow. Standing among the crowd was a man with a Palestinian father and a Sephardic Israeli mother. He wept in joy because, for one instant, the worlds of conflict stretching across the borders of his soul could dissolve in a single vision of unification and peace. So may it be for all of us, Palestinian and Jew, living together on the same land in recognition of our common love for place and each other. Palestinians have the right to return to their own land, or receive just compensation.

Only a ‘solution’ which ensures ‘the right to exist’ and universal human rights of all people living on the historic land of Israel/Palestine will suffice. The children of the future will see the world very differently than those of us living now. They will face new challenges and inherit a new sense of globalism which hopefully strengthens the religious, cultural and national heritage of both Palestinians and Israelis in a renewed culture of peace. It is up to us to prepare the way.

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, cofounder of Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence and The Community of Living Traditions at Stony Point Center, NY

About Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb is leader of Fellowship of Reconciliation Peacewalks and Director of Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence [email protected]; [email protected]

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24 Responses

  1. MRW
    January 11, 2010, 12:13 pm

    The Rabbi is writing to Witty: Those who both decry Palestinian armed resistance and the option of boycott, divestment and sanctions can’t have it both ways. Once you accept the fact that Israel’s behavior toward Palestinians falls into the category of the crime of apartheid, BDS is the logical and ethical nonviolent response.

  2. MRW
    January 11, 2010, 12:18 pm

    Rabbi, if you’re reading the comments, nice piece. I appreciated it, and agree with you. And no truer words than these, BTW: “The children of the future will see the world very differently than those of us living now.”

  3. Cliff
    January 11, 2010, 12:33 pm

    Great piece. Thank you Rabbi.

  4. Les
    January 11, 2010, 12:36 pm

    I have posted, “If occupation and ethnic cleansing, were bad for Judaism, the rabbis would say so.”

    Thanks for being a too rare exception to the rule.

  5. Citizen
    January 11, 2010, 1:35 pm

    I hope this rabbi is reading this comment section on Mondoweiss. I’m a crusty old man, been around the world and back again, so to speak, have been totally on my own since I turned eighteen. Rabbi Gottlieb’s article brought tears to my eyes. The guy is a gem, and his reasoned vision is top-notch.

    And here’s a report from a young women from Chicago about the recent event Phil was at:
    Unbreakable in Cairo
    Dana Elborno writing from Cairo, Live from Palestine, 4 January 2010

    International activists hold a Palestinian flag at the pyramids in Cairo. (Dana Elborno)

    Though I have lived most of my life in and around Chicago, it has never been my complete home. My sisters and I were born as first-generation Palestinian-Americans coming from Kuwait and for this reason our lives in Chicago always felt temporary — we were only supposed to stay until the Gulf War was over, we finished school, the occupation ended, the siege was broken, etc. The only accepted rhetoric about our presence in America was and continues to be, “This is not our home, we are from Gaza.” The semantics of a Gazan home are lovely, but the only sense of Gaza I have is as fleeting as gusts of dust that blow off of old pictures. These faded images of a time and place that no longer exist leave us with nostalgia for memories we never even lived. It is the most porous of identities and I feel the gaps palpably.

    For this reason — and maybe more so, for our political agenda — my older sister and I signed up for the Gaza Freedom March. Aside from the family history that draws us to Gaza, we are unwavering in our belief that the siege must end and the humanity of Palestinians in Gaza has been grossly disregarded throughout this whole catastrophe that began more than 60 years ago, and especially during Israel’s assault on Gaza last winter. The Gaza Freedom March gave us an outlet to voice these beliefs and mobilize with a global community of like-minded activists — almost 1,400 of them from over 40 countries.

    When we made our way to Cairo, the march that was planned to take place side by side with Palestinians in Gaza quickly turned into a round of protests against the Egyptian government after they canceled our permits to travel to and enter the besieged territory. Our personal narrative quickly became overpowered by the political situation between Egypt, Israel, the Arab World and the “West.” We protested for four days straight. In contexts like these, all of us fighting for the freeing of Palestine are Palestinians. There was a beautiful strength in our numbers and diversity. We were empowered and united, fighting to go to Gaza together.

    Then Suzanne Mubarak, wife of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, so “graciously” offered to send only 100 of us to Gaza to deliver our small amounts of humanitarian aid. The GFM organizers only had a couple of hours to respond and eventually agreed under these pressing conditions. That night, we stayed up late in the Lotus Hotel with organizers, passionately debating whether the decision made was the right one, and if we were to accept it, who should go. By the time we left the Lotus, the GFM steering committee in Gaza wanted 100 to come and join their march. They believed international presence was crucial to keeping the march an effort of civil society and ultimately protecting the 50,000 Gazans who had mobilized to fill the streets and march towards the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing. So, in spite of all the controversy, a list of 100 persons was made to fill the seats on the two buses and priority was given to internationals of Palestinian descent who have never seen Gaza, people just like me and my sister.

    Six hours later, it was Thursday morning and we showed up to the bus loading zone in downtown Cairo. The GFM’s steering committee in Cairo announced that organizers in Gaza reversed their decision late in the night; they no longer supported the deal reached with the Egyptian government. Hedy Epstein, a Holocaust survivor on hunger strike to protest the Egyptian government’s refusal to let us travel to Gaza, chose not to board the bus and gave a beautiful, emotional and painful speech explaining her decision. Not even the organizers in Cairo endorsed these buses anymore, but they left it up to us to decide whether or not we would board them. Immediately, internal tensions escalated and there seemed to be no right decision; we found ourselves in the belly of a directionless beast and our personal momentum to go home for the first time was directly conflicting with the political priorities for Gaza.

    Accepting these buses and boarding them was in effect changing our political goal to a weak humanitarian goal. The Gaza Freedom March was supposed to stand as a testament of a global voice yelling, “Enough is enough, break the siege.” These buses turned us into a small delegation of people carrying humanitarian aid into a land under siege. That is simply not who we are. Or even worse, these buses had turned us into a disconnected group of people with individual reasons for going to Gaza. Again, this is not at all who we were. Of course I am not saying that I was not ambivalent about wanting to go as an individual; all I have ever wanted to do is go to Gaza and walk into the pictures of our home that hang on walls and sit on mantles in our house in Chicago. But as a part of a political group, neither my sister nor I could board that bus with a clear conscience.

    It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, but in the end I was sure: it was either all of us go or none of us. If only 100 went, the news story would have changed from 1,400 protest against the siege in Gaza to Egypt allows 100 activists into Gaza. I did not want to be used as a pawn by the Egyptian government to save their face in the Arab world, nor did I want to weaken the political message of the Gaza Freedom March. The work we were doing in Cairo had been effective and I wanted to continue being a part of it. Our protests were on the front page of every Egyptian newspaper and our efforts were actively discussed on late-night talk shows in the Middle East. Suddenly everyone had something to say about these foreigners in Egypt protesting for Gaza. Political pundits were asking all over Egypt’s airwaves, “Why do foreigners care more about the plight of Palestinians than the Arab World?” and “Why isn’t Egypt opening the borders?”

    The next day I woke up in Cairo, feeling even more empowered. All of the confusion had really put us in a position to define who we were, what our goals were, what we wanted and the risks we were willing to take to get it. We pulled up to the next protest in front of the Egyptian National Museum at 10am, entrenched in this renewed clarity, and uniquely hopeful. As I crossed the street to get to the mass of protesters and police, I saw the police building their barricade around protesters who were trying to stage a symbolic march to Gaza. A woman about 60 years old was resisting the police who were forcibly trying to barricade her. I saw Egyptian police forces drag and beat her in the street and at the time, my reflex was to photograph the abuse. While pressing up against the commotion and shooting countless pictures, I made eye contact with one of the officers. Immediately, four men jumped on me and held me down. One of the officers covered my eyes with his hands, while other officers beat me and and pried my camera out of the cage I was creating around it with my body. They told me they were going to shatter my camera in the street and I started a desperate plea with the officers to return it to me and let me leave. As I tried to get up, my hair was pulled and I was back on the ground. The officers eventually returned my camera after taking my memory card and threw me on to a pile of protesters inside the barricades.

    That was the worst of it. Soon things calmed down and everyone was sitting. We fell back into our default chants, “Free Gaza! Free Gaza!”

    Though chanting, I felt broken — we didn’t get to Gaza, the siege continues and we had been publicly abused. Furthermore, the media focused on the 85 persons who went to Gaza, though they had disassociated themselves from Gaza Freedom March, and our efforts in Cairo became old news. I couldn’t help but wonder, “What’s it all worth?” Ultimately though, I realize that this is exactly how politics of activism can break a political activist and I won’t let that happen. On a personal level, I fervently hope that someday the strangers on the streets of Gaza City will look familiar and my relatives in Gaza will no longer appear only in photographs — but that isn’t the priority. My priorities are political. The humanity of Palestinians in Gaza must be validated and this will never happen while Gaza is under siege. At this point, my sisters and I are in the third generation of activists to march, stand, sit and protest for Palestine. The persistence of Palestine as a humanitarian crisis can be wildly disheartening, but the persistence of the resistance movement is equally — if not more so — heartening. That’s what it’s all worth. The spirit of the resistance movement has not yet been broken, despite everything that has let us down or disappointed us. We are a people united for Palestine and we embrace this struggle. It is at times emotionally exhausting, but we aren’t broken and we will break the siege of Gaza.

    Dana Elborno is a 20-year-old journalism student in Chicago.

    • Citizen
      January 11, 2010, 1:41 pm

      Let’s all wake up the quiet American:
      link to

      • MHughes976
        January 11, 2010, 1:56 pm

        The original QA, as I remember, got all his knowledge from blandly imperialist books, produced by what Greene considered to be the corrupt American university system. The QA believed his books rather than the evidence of his eyes. These days I suppose he draws his near- incorrigible beliefs from television and newspapers. But the universities are doing a much better job, I think.

  6. MHughes976
    January 11, 2010, 1:50 pm

    I would be interested to see Rabbi Lynn’s analysis of Torah, non-violence etc.. If she is right then her religion has been grievously betrayed.
    I must congratulate Dana Elborno (thanks Citizen) for being capable of such rigorous political analysis, in spite of emotional involvement, at such a young age. Of course articulate Palestinian voices are what we really need in the benighted West.

  7. Richard Witty
    January 11, 2010, 2:39 pm

    The ritual is moving, and the intent of brotherhood/sisterhood is also moving.

    I sincerely wish that Rabbi Gottlieb undertakes at some point a march to the Hamas government in Gaza, to similarly protest the use of missiles attacking civilians only.

    Otherwise, her defense of resistance makes her a human shield more than a non-violent civil resister.

    As I’ve stated in other posts, civil disobedience is most effective when undertaken for a very specific goal, with realistic proposal of options (so as not to just add heat to a pressure cooker), and with organized and undeniable self-discipline to the non-violent approach (not just as a tactic).

    Otherwise, as occurred in this case, the non-violent advocates mixed in voluntarily and were associated in the public’s mind (the press and Egyptian government) with direct action oriented approaches which are not non-violent, except very very temporarily for tactical purposes. And, hence dismissed. Most of Gandhi’s and Martin Luther King’s non-violent actions were dismissed, but as they kept their discipline and commitment as leadership (multiple layers deep) to non-violence, ultimately they were not dismissed nor rejected. Those that dealt personally with Martin Luther King and with Gandhi, and Mandela, consistently regarded them and their leadership as individuals of principle, respectable.

    That is NOT the case with the Egyptian government’s, Israeli government’s, nor world press’s interpretation of the tenor of the Gaza march.

    BDS is similar.

    I’m surprised that Rabbi Gottlieb does not recognize that BDS, especially very very vaguely focused BDS, as a violence, a harming. There are conditions in which a gentle harm is necessary to accomplish a greater good, and this may be one of those cases.

    In any case, my understanding of a spiritual approach to activism considers multiple scales of action. When BDS is attempted to address the state level scale of Israeli suppression of Gazans, the harms that it inflicts are at a different scale of action. The harms are on Israeli and other businesses, in which non-involved people work.

    It is sadly parallel to the harms inflicted on Gazan civilians in efforts to stop shelling of Israeli civilians militarily.

    I also wish that Rabbi Gottlieb would consider that of the 2000 missiles that she quotes as being fired from Gaza in 2008, close to one half of them occurred in a two-week period, and represented an escalation from shelling desert (a warning), to shelling Sderot, to shelling Ashkelon, to shelling Ashdod, to shelling Beersheba, before Israeli military response.

    It is not then resistance, but something else, and it was not something that Israel can tolerate being inflicted on civilians.

    And, its significance is not of “an additional” note, “yes, Hamas also committed warcrimes”, but of initiation of war (a war crime). The reality is that Hamas committed war crimes, and Israel also committed war crimes.

    How do you stop a mutual war? By healing through some mediative process, as frustrating as it is, not ultimately by radical advocacy.

    I relate to Rabbi Gottlieb’s story as similar to the movie “The Mission”, in which the two of three priests sent to mission to South American Indians that were being herded into slavery by Spanish and Portuguese slave traders, joined the Indians’ resistance, abandoning their non-violent commitment.

    Not that Rabbi Gottlieb has done that, I don’t know. But, the language of resistance strikes me as partisan.

    • Donald
      January 11, 2010, 8:33 pm

      “And, its significance is not of “an additional” note, “yes, Hamas also committed warcrimes”, but of initiation of war (a war crime). The reality is that Hamas committed war crimes, and Israel also committed war crimes.”

      Another lie. You defend the Gaza blockade as an act of war (it’s also collective punishment and a war crime), so Hamas didn’t initiate it even if you ignore (as you do) the acts of violence Israel committed.

      But anyway, that’s a typical Wittyism–pro-peace, just so long as everyone accepts the world according to Witty.

      • Richard Witty
        January 11, 2010, 11:18 pm

        Its a critique of her “non-violence”.

        I’ve been friends with a few war tax resisters over an extended time.

        In the early nineties there was a conspicuous case near my home where a couple lost their house in a tax auction after they refused to pay their federal taxes. The couple accepted the verdict very reluctantly.

        The case became confused because the house was on land that was owned by a land trust and the IRS conveyed rights that they did not legally have the rights to. The land trust was started by like-minded individuals and did not approve of the new house owners. (They had attempted a somewhat coercive “non-violent” boycott of the IRS auction, but two couples got past the picket line and bid.)

        The couple that bought the house were pregnant, not hip, not peaceniks, more almost like rednecks.

        A vigil formed around the house of the solidarity for the war tax resisters, literally harrassing the neighbors, but from a legal distance. The harrassment included Japanese monks chanting at all hours outside the family’s door. At one point, the vigilers broke into the house in question when the new owners were out, and occupied the house for a few weeks.

        I visited the vigil periodically. They held many meetings on other topics that I was interested in there, and they had established themselves as “THE” progressive voice in the area.

        It hurt me so much to see so much abuse of a family conducted by people that I knew well in the name of civil disobedience.

        Finally, the couple that had lost their homes originally, told the vigilers that they felt the vigil had extended beyond non-violent civil disobedience, and asked them to stop.

        The land trust later worked out a deal to get the family that had moved in another house in the neighborhood, to restore the status of the land trust residence permission process that included environmental land use concerns and other legitimate and legal criteria for association.

        The experience upset me deeply. I haven’t heard many of the vigilers apologize either to the couple or to the public at large for their actions.

        It soured me to the degree of rationalization that too many individuals indulged in with the cover of “non-violent civil disobedience”.

        Lynn Gottlieb’s comments about resistance sound similar to me to comments that I’ve heard from leading peace organizations, that I otherwise admire.

      • Donald
        January 12, 2010, 12:32 am

        Ah, Witty, what a wonderful illustration of how supposed peace advocates could inflict harm on people with such feelings of self-righteousness. Sorta like how, for example, a peace advocate could support the blockade on Gaza, only lifting it on the condition that no weapons be allowed into Gaza but defending the collective punishment of 1.5 million people until that condition is met. You’re such a sensitive fellow, so tenderhearted and so eager to let everyone know this.

        We’re all jerks, Witty. I’m a jerk. You’re a jerk. Those war resisters were jerks. We can reach a meeting of the minds here–I know you agree that the war resisters and I are jerks. Jerks can be insensitive–they can favor harsh policies out of a sense of self-righteousness. Or they can think much too highly of themselves, never noticing just how hypocritical they really are. Isn’t it amazing how everyone except you falls short in this way?

        I’m not wedded to BDS–it’s just a tool. I’m waiting to hear your alternative, but you’ve not given one, except to go along with Israeli brutality and hope that Palestinians will cave in to the conditions you’d suggest. Sounds like a really harsh version of BDS, except that in your view it’s not the same, because it’s your side that’s doing the sanctioning. I think you were hoping your hero Obama would impose a two state solution, no doubt one where the Palestinians would be forced to make concessions or be denounced as happened in 2000. Failing that, if there is suffering to be done you want it to be done by Palestinians, i.e., the lesser people.

        I think some forms of BDS are a moral necessity–why should Israelis have caterpillars they can use to demolish Palestinian homes (and sometimes Palestinians inside the homes)? Why should we continue to give weapons and financial support to a country which practices a form of apartheid? We don’t owe the Israelis weapons they can use to kill innocent people and we don’t owe them bulldozers. And it would let them know we’ve broken free of this sick idolatrous relationship we have, where we continue to enable their worst behavior while pretending to disapprove. We could discuss whether any other form of BDS is legitimate. I don’t think I’d discuss it with you, though, because with your stance on Gaza you remind me too much of those war resisters you tell me about.

      • Cliff
        January 12, 2010, 8:44 am

        Witty has no alternative. That’s because his intention is not of peace, but of continued subjugation of the Palestinian population so that facts on the ground can continue to build.

        BDS should be and is anyways (imo) framed within the sense of urgency – a response to both the apathy and racism of Israeli society (and American Jewry) and the collusion of criminality between the world superpowers and the Zionist State. How else should ordinary people pressure Israel to stop it’s colonization (not simply occupation) of Palestinian society, land, resources, etc.?

        It’s like the Rabbi said, you can’t have it both ways. And Witty has been trolling this blog and others with his inane equivocations for a long time. He knows what’s happening. The guy is willfully ignorant (didn’t read Goldstone, yet criticized it). He doesn’t want peace – he wants to maintain the status quo and the ethno-religious (racist) character of the Jewish State.

      • Citizen
        January 12, 2010, 9:57 am

        Witty: “The couple that bought the house were pregnant, not hip, not peaceniks, more almost like rednecks.”

        What is a “redneck?”
        Who are they?
        Is Jerry Springer a redneck?
        How about Ben Stein?
        Bill and Hillary Clinton?

        It appears from your context a redneck is a member of some sort of definable
        sub-culture, yes? And/or a member of some certain socio-economic, or economic class? Is a redneck a member of any particular religion? A geographic group? Any particular ethnicity, or all inclusive? Could you clarify your use of this term for us here?

        And another question, what is a bigot?

    • Eva Smagacz
      January 12, 2010, 8:32 am


      You wrote:
      “I also wish that Rabbi Gottlieb would consider that of the 2000 missiles that she quotes as being fired from Gaza in 2008, close to one half of them occurred in a two-week period, and represented an escalation from shelling desert (a warning), to shelling Sderot, to shelling Ashkelon, to shelling Ashdod, to shelling Beersheba, before Israeli military response”

      Could you give me the source of this information?
      And do you have information about Israeli military shelling Gaza?
      This puts the information in context, and I know how important context is for you.

      I have info for previous two years:
      “Between 2005 and 2007, Palestinian groups in Gaza fired about 2,700 locally-made Qassam rockets into Israel, killing four Israeli civilians and injuring 75 others. During the same period, Israel fired more than 14,600 155mm artillery shells into the Gaza Strip, killing 59 Palestinians and injuring 270. The Palestinian fatalities were, according to Human Rights Watch, “primarily if not exclusively civilians.”

      • Cliff
        January 12, 2010, 8:40 am

        Important post, Eva.

        Propagandists and pathological liars like Richard Witty regularly repeat the number of rockets fired into Southern Israel to compensate for the lack of Israeli civilian deaths.

        So they refer to the sheer number of rockets to give the impression that the violence from the Palestinian side is tremendous or at least (tactically advantageous) ‘equal’ to Israeli violence.

        Hey Dick Witty, did you hear that? 14,600 155mm artillery shells. 59 deaths, 270 casualties. In the span of 2 years.

        Oh and who is occupying who again? Who is stealing who’s land? Human rights violated daily? Subjected to discriminatory laws? Second-class citizenship?

        What about the regular kidnapping of Palestinian activists? Of just ordinary civilians?

        In every facet, Witty, you are proven by the numbers, to be a fucking liar.

      • Richard Witty
        January 12, 2010, 8:49 am

        link to

        The numbers don’t indicate one-half during the period, but do indicate a radical escalation. I was surprised to see that the number of rockets fired in April was higher than in December.

        My point, aside from the numbers, was the intention of Hamas to re-initiate, or even just confirm, a status of hostility rather than of improving calm.

        The rockets are fired ONLY at civilians.

        The accurate description is of a cycle of violence that includes both participants, not Israel solely, and not Hamas solely, but Hamas is the only party that ONLY attacks civilians.

      • Richard Witty
        January 12, 2010, 8:50 am

        We’re asking different questions Cliff.

        Israel is insisting that the unilateral rocket-firing on civilians stop.

      • Cliff
        January 12, 2010, 9:48 am

        Not really.

        You’re referring to the sheer number of rockets fired to give the impression that they are a bigger threat than they are, because they are highly ineffective.

        In any case, the rockets aren’t an excuse for the siege or the massacre. It’s no excuse for the continued land grab and continued discrimination/violation of human rights.

        Whatever the Palestinian militancy is doing, it pales in comparison to the daily abuses Israel inflicts on all Palestinians.

        This is not a war, it’s enslavement. It’s what happens when one side is colonizing the other – a vastly weaker, ‘other’.

        I would denounce the Native Americans for scalping as well. I wouldn’t lose moral clarity though. It’s the Palestinians who are being occupied and colonized – not Israelis.

        The responsibility is with the aggressor (Israel).

      • edwin
        January 12, 2010, 10:01 am

        Israel is insisting that the unilateral rocket-firing on civilians stop.

        Well if this is what Israel wants, then I would suggest that one way to make sure it does not happen is to imprison and destroy any semblance of government that exists. At which point, the resistance will be decentralized and without control.

        Tried pissing into the wind lately?

      • potsherd
        January 12, 2010, 10:13 am

        Isreal is not willing to stop the unilateral killing of Gazans, but demands that Gazans not retaliate.

      • potsherd
        January 12, 2010, 11:18 am

        Lies, damn lies, and Richard Witty. Another demonstrable falsehood.

        The fact is, that Hamas attacks Israel. They fire weapons into Israeli territory and don’t particularly care who they hit, or if they hit anyone at all. The point is to demonstrate defiance, that they have not been defeated.

        But it is a flat-out lie to state that Hamas “ONLY” attacks civilians. Hamas has attacked military targets, killed Israeli soldiers.

        GAZA, Jan 27 (Reuters) – An Israeli soldier was reported killed close to the border with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in what Palestinians said appeared to have been an attack by militants in breach of ceasefire declarations made over a week ago.

        In the same area, a Palestinian was later killed by Israeli fire, local medics said. They said the man was a farmer. (that is, a civilian – P)

        There are some people who simply disregard the truth in the course of their agendas. They tell lies. To say that Hamas ONLY attacks civilians is a lie.

  8. Les
    January 11, 2010, 4:55 pm

    Is no one holding the Christian clergy accountable? Christian Zionists used to be called white racists when they rejected school desegregation and set up whites only “Christian” academies. Christian Zionists are happy to see fellow Christians, who are Palestinian, slaughtered by Israel. Is their opinion also that of the super silent Christian establishment clergy?

  9. Einstein says
    January 12, 2010, 9:00 am

    a regular Ellen Mordecai, this Rabbi Gottlieb is…

    so sad, so misguided…

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