San Francisco bus ads condemn Israeli apartheid: backlash begins

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 40 Comments
Screen shot 2013 05 10 at 3 48 48 PM

(Crossposted at Jewish Voice for Peace blog  Muzzlewatch)

American Muslims for Palestine launched an ad campaign this week on San Francisco buses condemning Israeli apartheid. Predictably, local branches of the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, as well as the Jewish Community Relations Council, immediately issued a statement in effect calling the ad hate speech for using the word ‘apartheid’. They have called on “all civic, ethnic and religious leaders who oppose bigoted lies and demonization to exercise their constitutional rights by condemning these inflammatory advertisements.”

Below is a line by line reading of their media statement.

First, it’s hard to know if the people who wrote this press release actually believe what they wrote. The points they make against the ad are so off the mark, and often offensive, it’s hard to believe anyone could write them sincerely. (I’m deleting the names on the release because I don’t think it’s fair to blame them. I think people at the top should be held accountable for such nonsense.)

The release header:

For Immediate Release: May 9, 2013

Contact: XX Communications Manager, Jewish Community Relations Council

XX Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League

Bay Area Jewish Community Condemns Deceptive Apartheid Ads

Saying something over and over again doesn’t make it true. The Bay Area JCRC, and local offices of the ADL and the AJC, are not synonymous with the “Bay Area Jewish Community.” In fact, while the Jewish Community Relations Council claims to represent Bay Area Jews, they won’t release the number or names of groups they represent. That certainly makes one wonder if the number is embarrassingly small. And it’s likely shrinking. There is no shortage of Jews around here, from a wide political spectrum, who would be appalled to be associated with an attack on a Muslim group for using a word that Israeli officials use regularly. (More on that later.)

Back to the press release:

San Francisco – Today, another misleading advertisement appeared in San Francisco targeting one segment of our community in an attempt to sow division in our city.  The Bay Area’s organized Jewish community strongly condemns the ad’s deceitful claim that Israel is an apartheid state. Placed by American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the ad is morally reprehensible as it employs inflammatory rhetoric designed to delegitimize Israel’s very existence.

First we see the predictable talking point about initiatives that seek to pressure Israel to abide by international law seeking to “divide the community.” The irony of course, is that actually the community is pretty united, certainly increasingly so. On campuses, for example, over and over again you have a veritable rainbow of organizations backing these initiatives –including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, secular, Southeast Asian, Latino, African American and so forth, all united-increasingly opposed to “coalitions” of a handful of similar and non-diverse groups. (Kind of like those UN votes for Palestinian rights where nearly every country in the world stands on one side, and Israel, the US, Palau and Micronesia stand on the other.)

This is the gist—the JCRC and ADL claim the ad is essentially a hate crime designed to delegitimze Israel’s existence. This is the de facto talking point these days; it is intimidating language, used for lack of a good argument. It goes like this:

Q “Isn’t the occupation wrong?”-
A “You want to destroy Israel!”
Q “Doesn’t it seem unfair that 93% of the land in Israel is reserved for Jews only-what about the 25% of non-Jews?”
A “You want to destroy Israel!”

It doesn’t really matter what you say or do, the answer always is, “you REALLY want to destroy Israel” (or delegitimize it, which is supposed to be a roundabout way to destroy Israel). Dig a little deeper, and according to the 6 million dollar Israel Action Network, which openly spies on groups like Jewish Voice for Peace* and provides talking points and strategyto defenders of Israeli government policy, the aim of delegitimization is to “isolate Israel as a pariah state and reject the notion of a two-state solution.” If that were at all true, you’d think they’d go after the original two-state solution killers– the settlers, the Israeli government and Bibi Netanyahu whose party openly opposes a two-state solution. But nary a peep. Their harsh condemnations are reserved only for those trying to end Israel’s ongoing violations of international law.

Back to the next paragraph of the press release:

The ad’s false claims diminish the suffering of the millions of people who were truly subjected to apartheid. The term “apartheid” describes the systematic oppression of the racial majority population by South Africa’s minority through comprehensive racial discrimination.  In sharp contrast to Apartheid South Africa, Israel is a diverse democratic country that affords equal political and civil rights to all its citizens.

Israeli human rights groups have much to say about the very unequal apportioning of rights to Israel’s non-Jewish citizens, but why bother to argue the obvious? Instead, let’s just take one of the organizations behind this press release that defines apartheid for South Africans (because really, how dare Archbishop Tutu do so). Michelle Goldberg wrote in The Daily Beast about the ADL’s moral standing on defining South Africa, describing the NYT’s Sasha Polakow Suransky’s (no relation) writing on the issue:

In the 1980s, at a time when Israel maintained close ties with South Africa, the ADL went on the attack against Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress. As Sasha Polakow-Suransky reported in his recent book The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa, ADL National Director Nathan Perlmutter co-authored an article implying that the ANC was “totalitarian, anti-humane, anti-democratic, anti-Israel and anti-American.” The ADL sent spies into the American anti-apartheid movement, as well as other movements critical of right-wing American foreign policy. Eventually, the organization was surveilling much of the American left. In 1993, a California police raid on the offices of the ADL and one of its investigators yielded files on Greenpeace, the NAACP, Act Up, New Jewish Agenda, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and several Democratic politicians, among hundreds of others. The ADL eventually settled a class-action lawsuit brought by several of its targets.

The ADL apparently had no problem with Apartheid South Africa when it existed, but now they claim authority to dispute the many South Africans, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who decry the many similarities between that regime and Israel’s occupation.

The release, again:

We hope for a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians and an end to the suffering on both sides. In stark contrast, AMP’s apartheid rhetoric is profoundly misleading, and harms good faith efforts toward a peaceful resolution based on two states for two people. Locally, the campaign promotes polarization and division among San Franciscans, who pride themselves on fostering strong inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations.  (For a detailed report outlining AMP’s established record of using false, biased and offensively anti-Israel materials please visithttp://www.adl.org/israel-international/anti-israel-activity/profile-american-muslims-for.html)

The Jewish Community has long stated our concern that the repeated appearance of offensive anti-Israel and anti-Muslim ads is making our public transit system a battleground for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While protected by the First Amendment, extremist language directed at any group has no place in our city.  We call upon all civic, ethnic and religious leaders who oppose bigoted lies and demonization to exercise their constitutional rights by condemning these inflammatory advertisements.

Finally, and here’s the heart of the matter: if calling AMP’s use of the term “apartheid” is, as the release describes it, “misleading, inflammatory, divisive, offensive and bigoted,” where is the AJC’s, ADL’s and JCRC’s outrage about these Israelis who have used the same term to describe the occupation? Surely they didn’t miss these statements, as attuned as they are to the “A” word. But once again—it’s perfectly alright for high ranking Israelis to regularly use the word apartheid, but it’s not OK for Muslims to do so? What kind of message about bigotry does that send?

Former Israeli Foreign Ministry director-general ambassador to South Africa Alon Liel: “If you, President Obama, intend to come here for a courtesy visit – don’t come. Don’t come! We don’t need you here for a courtesy visit. You cannot come to an area that exhibits signs of apartheid and ignore them. That would simply be an unethical visit. You yourself know full well that Israel is standing at the apartheid cliff. If you don’t deal with this topic during your visit, the responsibility will at the end of the process also lie with you.” (2013)

Israeli Defense Minister (and former Prime Minister) Ehud Barak: “As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic. If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.” (2010)

Former Israeli Minister of Education Yossi Sarid: “What acts like apartheid, is run like apartheid and harasses like apartheid, is not a duck – it is apartheid… What should frighten us, however, is not the description of reality, but reality itself… The Palestinians are unfortunate because they have not produced a Nelson Mandela; the Israelis are unfortunate because they have not produced an F.W. de Klerk. “(2008)

Former Israeli Minister of Education Shulamit Aloni: “Jewish self-righteousness is taken for granted among ourselves to such an extent that we fail to see what’s right in front of our eyes. It’s simply inconceivable that the ultimate victims, the Jews, can carry out evil deeds. Nevertheless, the state of Israel practices its own, quite violent, form of Apartheid with the native Palestinian population.” (2007)

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.” (2007)

Israeli newspaper Haaretz editorial: “The de facto separation is today more similar to political apartheid than an occupation regime because of its constancy. One side – determined by national, not geographic association – includes people who have the right to choose and the freedom to move, and a growing economy. On the other side are people closed behind the walls surrounding their community, who have no right to vote, lack freedom of movement, and have no chance to plan their future. ” (2007)

Former Israeli attorney general Michael Ben-Yair: “[In 1967] We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. Passionately desiring to keep the occupied territories, we developed two judicial systems: one – progressive, liberal – in Israel; and the other – cruel, injurious – in the occupied territories. In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture. That oppressive regime exists to this day.” (2002)

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem: “Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality. This regime … is reminiscent of distasteful regimes from the past such as the Apartheid regime in South Africa.” (2002)

Former Israeli admiral and Knesset member Ami Ayalon: “Israel must decide quickly what sort of environment it wants to live in because the current model, which has some apartheid characteristics, is not compatible with Jewish principles.” (2000)

David Ben-Gurion, first Prime Minister of Israel, (cited): “Israel, he said, better rid itself of the territories and their Arab population as soon as possible. If it did not Israel would soon become an Apartheid State.” (1967 – cited in Hirsh Goodman, 2005)

* When my organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, recently launched a pro-divestment website,rabbisletter.org, as part of high profile Methodist and Presbyterian church divestment votes, we were stunned when just 24 hours later, the Israel Action Network launched rabbis-letter.org, an anti-divestment website. We looked into it further and they had registered their site name just 45 minutes after we registered rabbisletter.org. The group, a project of the Jewish Federations of North America and the jewish Council of Public Affairs,  which my family and many others have given much money to in the past, had gone to the effort of using (perfectly legal) means of spying on our activities.

40 Responses

  1. W.Jones
    May 11, 2013, 1:20 pm

    I have a sense the IP conflict/struggle for rights and the political implications and resulting socio-religious analysis and reflections are going to be longstanding issues….

    • seafoid
      May 12, 2013, 11:34 am

      Israel decided to end the peace process. It pulled the ground from under itself in doing so because the meme that it was waiting for the Palestinians to come to the table was fatally undermined. A lot of the Euro BDS reaction stems from this change. Israel bad faith is obvious and there is no price to sanctions . It’s not as if Israel is interested in peace. Zurich train station has a big BDS ad poster up this weekend . Whatever reason held people back in the past no longer does now.

      I think Israel now post peace process is like Angelo Castro deciding it was time to marry one of his captives and present it to the world as a fait accompli.

      • miriam6
        May 14, 2013, 2:46 pm

        “I think Israel now post peace process is like Angelo Castro deciding it was time to marry one of his captives and present it to the world as a fait accompli.”

        Yuck.

        What a disgusting and entirely exploitative and inappropriate analogy.

        You are really scrapping the bottom of the barrel now seafoid.

        The I/P is a POLITICAL conflict.

        It is not as SIMPLE

        as one evil person’s attack on an innocent person.

        For god’s sake Castro’s victims now surely DESERVE respect and privacy from public scrutiny and abuse and further exploitation.

  2. ritzl
    May 11, 2013, 1:52 pm

    Isn’t the word “Apartheid” by definition a political or legal term? So wouldn’t use of the word be by definition political or legal speech.

    And this (correctly observed):

    This is the gist—the JCRC and ADL claim the ad is essentially a hate crime designed to delegitimze Israel’s existence.

    is a laughable contention. How can something be a hate crime that is “designed to delegitimize” (whatever that means) a country? I get that the contention is that Israel is the Jews, but, well, it isn’t so this isn’t anti-semitism. It’s bare-knuckle geopolitics.

    Glad more billboards like this are popping up. I hope you all and the growing and increasingly informed grassroots keep supporting them.

    • Hostage
      May 11, 2013, 8:20 pm

      Isn’t the word “Apartheid” by definition a political or legal term? So wouldn’t use of the word be by definition political or legal speech.

      To be perfectly honest, apartheid is a well-defined international crime that’s set-out in the terms of the relevant international suppression and penal conventions.

      I’ve pointed out on several occasions that it’s actually a hate crime in the EU to publicly deny, condone, or trivialize crimes, like apartheid, that are contained in Articles 6, 7, and 8 of the Rome Statute or Article 6 of the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal. The ADL is certainly aware of that fact, since it uses the rulings of a French Criminal Court against Twitter in that connection as part of its own public propaganda campaigns. See
      * ADL Reacts to French Court Decision on Anti-Semitic Messages on Twitter link to adl.org
      * The EU Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia link to europa.eu

      The ADL needs to explain how Israeli municipal law can dictate the forced displacement and transfer of thousands of Bedouin communities to new reserved areas? See Ethnocracy on display: Cabinet ministers approve Israeli plan to forcibly displace Bedouin citizens link to mondoweiss.net

      The panel of UN legal experts tasked with defining apartheid agreed that a “Bantustan policy” consisting of the creation of reserved areas for certain groups is prima facie evidence sufficient to prove a case of apartheid.
      — See the Human Rights Commission, Study Concerning the Question of Apartheid from the Point of View of International Penal Law, E/CN.4/1075, 15 February 1972, pp. 51 – 52.

      The Goldstone report noted that the application of Israeli laws to the West Bank and Gaza had automatically resulted in racial discrimination by treating the non-Jewish indigenous population as foreigners or infiltrators in their own country:

      Despite prohibitions under international humanitarian law (IHL), Israel has applied its domestic laws throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967. . . . .[T]he application of Israeli domestic laws has resulted in institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to the benefit of Jewish settlers, both Israeli citizens and others. Exclusive benefits reserved for Jews derive from the two-tiered civil status under Israel’s domestic legal regime based on a “Jewish nationality,” which entitles “persons of Jewish race or descendency” to superior rights and privileges, particularly in land use, housing, development, immigration and access to natural resources, as affirmed in key legislation. Administrative procedures qualify indigenous inhabitants of the Occupied Palestinian Territory as “alien persons” and, thus, prohibited from building on, or renting, large portions of land designated by the Government of Israel as “State land” (para 206)

      From the facts available to it, the Mission believes that in the movement and access policy there has been a violation of the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of race or national origin. . . . The Mission is also concerned that the increasingly entrenched array of movement and access restrictions, both physical and non-physical, amount to a deliberate policy of closely controlling a population in order to make use of areas of its land.

      The Mission further considers that the series of acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of subsistence, employment, housing and water, that deny their freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country, that limit their rights to access a court of law and an effective remedy, could lead a competent court to find that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, has been committed.

      The ICJ advisory opinion also noted that the Israeli administrative regime had illegally created separate ethnic enclaves and deprived the non-Jewish inhabitants of a number of inalienable human rights. See paragraphs 132-134 on pdf file pages 111-115: link to icj-cij.org

      If anything here is an example of hate speech, it’s the Zionist reaction and the relentless campaign of disinformation and denial.

      • ritzl
        May 11, 2013, 11:32 pm

        Thanks Hostage, as always. It was a rhetorical question, and I added the “or legal” specifically to acknowledge your posts on the subject.

        WRT:

        If anything here is an example of hate speech, it’s the Zionist reaction and the relentless campaign of disinformation and denial.

        I hope that any/the Palestinian lawfare effort here in the US can use and build upon your observation. It always makes me cringe that the assumption [of this ADL-type pushback, and broader acceptance of same] is that the proverbial discomfort some Jews may [perhaps even legitimately] have to endure as a result of direct, public challenges to Israeli policy and practice seems to be the singular actionable starting point for any discussion on this facet of the I/P issue. It’s just not the case.

  3. Citizen
    May 11, 2013, 2:05 pm

    The billboard ads have to be updated to reflect Obama just pledged $40 B per year for Israel covering the next decade after Bush Jr’s $30 B per year runs out. Get this info out to Dick and Jane who are suffering mightily from sequestration cuts.

    • Denis
      May 12, 2013, 10:47 am

      Uh . . . Citizen, you are missing a couple of decimal points in those figures. $40B per year????

      • Citizen
        May 14, 2013, 6:01 am

        @ Denis
        Sorry, I meant $4 B per year for the next decade following Bush Jr’s $3 B per year decade.

    • justicewillprevail
      May 12, 2013, 2:08 pm

      Just have a look at this attempt to estimate the cost of Israel to the US, from the aptly named If Americans Knew. If they did, there would be outrage. It is absolutely colossal. Many Israelis live in luxury, compared the US taxpayer who is supporting them. A small snippet: “On average, Israelis receive 7,000 times more US foreign aid per capita than other people throughout the world, despite the fact that Israel is one of the world’s more affluent nations.”

      link to ifamericansknew.org

  4. rws450
    May 11, 2013, 2:38 pm

    Excellent post. Good work Cecilie.

    • Annie Robbins
      May 11, 2013, 2:50 pm

      fantastic, cecilie is magnificent the way she takes them to task, and especially about the way they continually portray themselves as representing “Bay Area Jewish Community.”:

      The Bay Area JCRC, and local offices of the ADL and the AJC, are not synonymous with the “Bay Area Jewish Community.” In fact, while the Jewish Community Relations Council claims to represent Bay Area Jews, they won’t release the number or names of groups they represent. That certainly makes one wonder if the number is embarrassingly small. And it’s likely shrinking. There is no shortage of Jews around here, from a wide political spectrum, who would be appalled to be associated with an attack on a Muslim group for using a word that Israeli officials use regularly.

  5. CloakAndDagger
    May 11, 2013, 2:50 pm

    Stop US aid to *all* countries – Israel and all arab countries.

    Keep my tax money at home to feed our homeless and poor. If we cut off the flow of our cash to the ME, matters will sort themselves out. For good measure, no more vetos in the UNSC on behalf of any country. We should not be thwarting the course of International condemnation.

    Russia and China will rush in, you say? I don’t think they will be supporting Israel. They have much more to gain by supporting the Arabs and Iran. So do we, as a matter of fact.

    Enough. More than enough.

  6. Blownaway
    May 11, 2013, 3:05 pm

    Its important for people of conscience to learn these counter arguments and to be able to comment when these groups use these tired talking points to try and debunk the facts. The average person is used to believing everything they hear from mainstream Jewish community. A few facts can demolish them and I find leave them stuttering with silly little things like “you want to destroy Israel” Does Ehud barak want to destroy Israel? Sunshine (fact) are the best disinfectant

  7. DICKERSON3870
    May 11, 2013, 3:29 pm

    RE: “First, it’s hard to know if the people who wrote this press release actually believe what they wrote. The points they make against the ad are so off the mark, and often offensive, it’s hard to believe anyone could write them sincerely.” ~ Cecilie Surasky

    SEE: “Targeting Stephen Hawking and Dustin Hoffman: Right-wing ‘pro-Israel’ advocacy as hate speech”, by Bradley Burston, Haaretz, May 9 2013

    [EXCERPTS] Professor Steven Plaut teaches business finance and economics at the University of Haifa. He also writes articles, pamphlets and blog posts intended to defend Israel. This is what he offered in defense of Israel this week, in response to physicist Stephen Hawking’s decision to boycott next month’s Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians:
    I have a suggestion. I suggest that the people of Israel send Hawking for a free trip on the Achille Lauro!!

    Plaut’s argument, that the proper punishment for boycotting Israel should be execution, was only slightly more obscene than that of attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center Organization, a right-wing pro-Israel not-for-profit whose stated primary goals include “defending human rights” and conducting a “civil war” in court against global terror. In a statement, Darshan-Leitner alluded to the fact that Hawking is almost entirely paralyzed and communicates through a speech generating device:

    His whole computer-based communication system runs on a chip designed by Israel’s Intel team. I suggest that if he truly wants to pull out of Israel he should also pull out his Intel Core i7 from his tablet.

    . . . Increasingly, the rabid “Pro-Israel” far-right has taken on as principal targets Jews whose most cherished wish is to see Israel become a stronger, more democratic, more livable society. Pamela Geller, whose bread and butter “pro-Israel” tack is hatred of Muslims, has branched out to target writer and editor Peter Beinart as a vomit-inducing kapo. Geller, at times borrowing her writing style from Stormfront, has also called Beinart “the pet Jew turncoat” of Newsweek/Daily Beast Editor Tina Brown. . .
    . . . It has to stop. It has to stop here and now. When self-styled pro-Israel advocates on the far-right practice incitement and repulsive bullying to further their cause, when hate speech becomes the go-to tool in their belt, it is time for people who care about Israel’s future to take a stand, call them out, shut them down, fight their smirking, obscene, proudly bigoted pronouncements. . .
    . . . It has to stop. We have to stop meekly putting up with it. Otherwise, as we’ve seen a number of times recently, if smartly dressed thugs of the right can disrupt a serious debate on Israel’s future by booing and delegitimizing a two-state solution as being anti-Israel, the way forward is clear. If the bigots, the fanatics, the Apartheid apologists, the velveteen fascists of the pro-Israel far-right are freely granted platforms as respected “experts” on Israel, no one who hates Israel as bigoted, fanatic, Apartheid-ruled and fascistic, no one who wants to see Israel ostracized to death,- will ever need to say another word. The Plauts, the Gellers, and a host of others will have already done their work for them.

    SOURCE – link to niqnaq.wordpress.com

  8. DICKERSON3870
    May 11, 2013, 3:44 pm

    RE: [A]ccording to the 6 million dollar Israel Action Network, . . . the aim of delegitimization is to “isolate Israel as a pariah state and reject the notion of a two-state solution.” If that were at all true, you’d think they’d go after the original two-state solution killers– the settlers, the Israeli government and Bibi Netanyahu whose party openly opposes a two-state solution. But nary a peep. ~ Cecilie Surasky

    MY COMMENT: There is nary a peep from the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Anti-Defamation League about the original two-state solution killers (i.e., the settlers, the Israeli government and Bibi Netanyahu whose party openly opposes a two-state solution) because the JCRC and the ADL are what Robert Naiman refers to as “two state fakers”*! ! !

    * REGARDING “TWO STATE FAKERS”, SEE: “Flotilla 3.0: Redeeming Obama’s Palestine Speech with Gaza’s Ark”, By Robert Naiman, truth-out.org, 3/25/13

    [EXCERPT] . . . Bibi doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state; Bibi’s government doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state; AIPAC doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state; and Congress – which defers to AIPAC – doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state. Of course, many of them mouth the words – not Bibi’s government, they don’t even do that – but those who mouth the words oppose any practical measure that would help bring an independent Palestinian state into existence. They’re “two state fakers.” Settlement freeze? Impossible. UN membership for Palestine? Can’t be done. No, according to the two state fakers, the only option on the menu in the restaurant for the Palestinians is to return to negotiations without a settlement freeze, negotiations that for 20 years have brought more land confiscation, more settlements, more restrictions on Palestinian movement and commerce, more oppression. And so, Obama was saying, my hands are tied. Don’t look at me. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to truth-out.org

  9. German Lefty
    May 11, 2013, 3:48 pm

    Off topic: In case anyone is interested, this will be the Israeli entry for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest:
    “Rak Bishvilo” by Moran Mazor
    link to youtube.com
    link to eurovision.tv
    The contest will take place on 14th, 16th and 18th May.

    • Dutch
      May 11, 2013, 6:44 pm

      Dear neighbour,

      I often wonder: are they in Europe or are we in the Middle East? Or ‘are we all Israeli’s?’

      Next month our countries will play each other at the European Soccer Championship for youth teams. The tournament will be held in Israel. Palestine is not competing. Israel is.

      • German Lefty
        May 12, 2013, 3:45 pm

        Wow! A German being called “dear neighbour” by someone from the Netherlands – that’s very … unusual!
        By the way, I watched the coronation ceremony and have always had monarchy envy. Also, as you’ve sent us Sylvie van der Vaart to bring us joy with her beauty and lovely Dutch accent, can you tell me if she’s Jewish? I read somewhere that she is, but I wasn’t able to verify that information.

        Are they in Europe or are we in the Middle East?
        But don’t you know that Europe begins in Israel? Bibi said it. Therefore, it must be true!
        link to bild.de

        Next month our countries will play each other at the European Soccer Championship for youth teams. The tournament will be held in Israel.
        I didn’t know about this. The tournament should be boycotted.
        I just read on Wikipedia that Israel was formerly a member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and joined UEFA in 1994 due to the fact that several AFC teams refused to play against Israel.

        It doesn’t bother me that Israel takes part in the Eurovision Song Contest, because it’s not an exclusively European event anyway. Wikipedia tells me that the Palestinian Authority is an “approved participant” in the European Broadcasting Union. As such, Palestine would be allowed to take part in the song contest. I have already fantasised about Palestine’s first participation and how all the European countries would then give their 12 points to Palestine as an act of solidarity. That would be a huge “Fuck you!” to Israel.
        link to en.wikipedia.org

      • Citizen
        May 14, 2013, 6:11 am

        @ German Lefty

        According to Wikipedia Sylvie is “of partly Indo-European descent, her father being Indo, her mother being Dutch.”

        Apparently, the Indo-European tribes migrated from their origin near the caucasus mountains. Yet Wiki says “the Indo people, short for Indo-European people, are a Eurasian people of mixed European and indigenous Indonesian ancestry originating from the Southeast Asian region that became the Dutch East Indies (now: Indonesia), and their descendants.”

        I also read The Dutch call them “Dutch Indonesians”

  10. seafoid
    May 11, 2013, 4:17 pm

    “Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, as well as the Jewish Community Relations Council”

    Maybe someone over the far side of the pond can name a major Jewish org that hasn’t been 100% infiltrated by bots who toe the YESHA line.
    When Israel goes down most of the MJOs are going to down with it.

  11. American
    May 11, 2013, 4:20 pm

    The ads on the US taxpayer $$$$ going to Israel will get the most attention from the average public.

    That’s an issue that can’t be reduced and bogged down in a he said and she said back and forth.

    • Ellen
      May 12, 2013, 5:57 am

      Well said, American. And a peaceful settlement will only be reached when the conflict becomes too great a financial liability for too many.

      Meanwhile we can talk on about justice and human values. But as long as powerful interests benefit from the Zionist enterprise and the conflict, (sucking resources from the rest) it will continue.

  12. DICKERSON3870
    May 11, 2013, 4:32 pm

    RE: “In sharp contrast to Apartheid South Africa, Israel is a diverse democratic country that affords equal political and civil rights to all its citizens.” ~ press relase by the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee & the Jewish Community Relations Council

    AN ACTUAL ISRAELI ‘BEGS TO DIFFER’: “Israel’s Basic Contradiction”, by Uri Avnery, Counterpunch.org, 2/18/13

    [EXCEPT] . . . Israel is officially defined as a “Jewish and democratic state”. Some consider this an oxymoron – if it’s Jewish, it cannot be democratic, if it’s democratic, it cannot be Jewish. Official doctrine has it that the state is Jewish in its character, but that all citizens enjoy (or should enjoy) equal rights.

    As a matter of fact, Israel has never really come to grips with this basic contradiction: what is the status of a national minority in a state that is totally identified with the national majority? To wit, how can Arab citizens really be equal in a state that claims to be “the nation-state of the Jewish people”?

    From the Law of Return, which applies only to Jews and their descendents, through the Law of Citizenship, which makes a sharp distinction between Jews and non-Jews, to dozens of minor laws which bestow privileges on people who are defined as “individuals to whom the Law of Return might apply” – there is no real equality. In practice, discrimination, open or hidden, permeates society. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to counterpunch.org

  13. Shmuel
    May 11, 2013, 5:27 pm

    Apartheid defined under international law.
    Apartheid is defined as an institutionalized form of racism in which states enact laws which function as the apparatus to commit inhuman acts for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them. The practice of apartheid is a crime under international law.

    Racism or racial group is any distinction, exclusion or preference based on race, color, religion, descent, national origin, ethnic origin or other criteria which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the rights of one group.

    Apartheid Regimes Rely on Three “Pillars of Apartheid” to Maintain Their Domination

    Pillar 1: The state codifies into law a preferred identity. It then establishes adjunct laws that grant preferential legal status and material privileges to the preferred group on the basis of their identity while discriminating against the non-preferred group on the basis of the inferior status afforded them.

    Pillar 2: The state segregates the population into geographic areas based on identity. The state establishes security laws and policies designed to suppress any opposition to the regime. The favored identity receives preferential access to land, water, other resources and to government benefits and services while the non-preferred group is confined to ever- shrinking, non-contiguous, besieged territorial enclaves.

    Pillar 3: The system of domination is reinforced through assassinations; administrative detention; torture; cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment; and arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of the non-preferred group.

    Using these criteria, the May 2009 South African study finds that “Israel, since 1967, is the belligerent Occupying Power in occupied Palestinian territory, and that its occupation of these territories has become a colonial enterprise which implements a system of apartheid.”

    The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-USA has summarized the findings of this study to help people understand that talk of apartheid is more than just rhetoric and to provide a tool which concerned citizens can use to help bring an end to Israel’s apartheid regime.

    Source: link to icahdusa.org

    The full South African Human Sciences Research Council study can be found at:
    link to electronicintifada.net

  14. Citizen
    May 11, 2013, 5:40 pm

    The lyrics seen innocuous.

    • CloakAndDagger
      May 12, 2013, 7:34 pm

      I think her point is that Israel is in the Eurovision song contest while not being in Europe. Cognitive dissonance.

  15. Light
    May 11, 2013, 7:38 pm

    A recent Haaretz poll reported that nearly 60% of Jewish Israelis believe that a system of apartheid is already in place in Israel.

    see

    link to salon.com

  16. NoMoreIsrael
    May 11, 2013, 11:48 pm

    We should be clear: Equal rights for all MEANS Israel is destroyed. The “destruction of Israel” as defined by Israelis and zionist dead-enders is now a moral imperative. It’s certainly not something that we should shrink from–just the opposite. When people ask me if I want to see Israel destroyed, I answer “Naturally. What sane person wouldn’t?”

    • yrn
      May 13, 2013, 1:28 pm

      I am completely with you

    • Ellen
      May 14, 2013, 10:24 am

      NMI, Equal rights for all MEANS Israel is destroyed. Huh???? Au contraire .

      It means the survival of the state of Israel. South Africa figured it out. Hopefully Israel will as well.

      Israel exists and can survive without the primitive ideas behind 19th century Zionism.

  17. NoMoreIsrael
    May 11, 2013, 11:55 pm

    ..further, Pam Geller and those like her are really a red herring. She differs from absolutely mainstream Israeli discourse only in the sheer vulgarity of her delivery, the generally low mental level of her audience. It’s like comparing Glen Beck to George Will. In terms of their politics and world view, they are essentially interchangeable. So we should discontinue phrases like “Israeli far right,” which are redundant and imply the existence of an Israeli non-far-right (which is non-existent).

  18. Cliff
    May 12, 2013, 12:54 am

    This article is fantastic. Thank you Cecile.

    Hasbarists will have a hard time spinning this. I’ve seen the trolls spin the ADL as ‘simply’ a anti-discrimination group.

    Willful ignorance is a Zionist’s forte. Shoving that ignorance down non-Jews throats is their agenda.

  19. Talkback
    May 12, 2013, 5:15 am

    A very useful article.

  20. Kathleen
    May 12, 2013, 10:31 am

    A good ten years ago Micheal Ledeen was on a panel focused on the middle east at the Baker Peace Conference at Ohio University. Leon Fuerth, Prof Mearsheimer and weapons inspector David Kelly were the other panelist. I asked several questions one about the invasion of Iraq and IAEA inspections, one about Israel’s continued unwillingness to sign the IAEA’s Non Proliferation Treaty and illegal settlements.
    The response from Micheal Ledeen went very much like the general response posted above

    Q “Isn’t the occupation wrong?”-
    A “You want to destroy Israel!”
    Q “Doesn’t it seem unfair that 93% of the land in Israel is reserved for Jews only-what about the 25% of non-Jews?”
    A “You want to destroy Israel!”

    Ledeen responded to my question about Israel’s decades long refusal to sign the NPT and open up to international inspections like their neighbors.

    Ledeen “you don’t like Israel do you”
    my response “don’t put words in my mouth and please answer my specific question”
    Ledeen did not
    Fuerth picked it up and said “well the holocaust”
    I said “what does the holocaust have to do with international inspections and being willing to play by the same rules that you want your neighbors to abide by

    Later after the panel broke up had quite the conversation with Prof Mearsheimer about his soon to be released paper and new book about the I lobby.

    People are more ready for these knee jerk and automatic responses about Israel and the effort to shut down the conversation based on facts.

  21. Kathleen
    May 12, 2013, 10:33 am

    “The group, a project of the Jewish Federations of North America and the jewish Council of Public Affairs, which my family and many others have given much money to in the past, had gone to the effort of using (perfectly legal) means of spying on our activities.”

    Do you know what those “perfectly legal means” were?

  22. pabelmont
    May 12, 2013, 11:16 am

    “The points they make against the ad are so off the mark, and often offensive, it’s hard to believe anyone could write them sincerely. (I’m deleting the names on the release because I don’t think it’s fair to blame them. I think people at the top should be held accountable for such nonsense.)”

    Well, if the purpose of the counter-offensive were TRUTH-TELLING, they would be insincere. But the purpose of the counter-offensive is POLITICAL CONTROL, to force people to take sides — on THEIR side. to frighten the fence-sitters. There are also a lot of people who (somehow!) know nothing about Palestine or the occupation or the settlements and DO KNOW about antisemitism. They want to round up THESE people. This is BIG-LIE stuff. And Zionists learned the BIG-LIE from the Nazis, and gladly and ruthlesssly use what they learned.

  23. MRW
    May 12, 2013, 4:35 pm

    Cecilie, you write:

    The points they make against the ad are so off the mark, and often offensive, it’s hard to believe anyone could write them sincerely. (I’m deleting the names on the release because I don’t think it’s fair to blame them. I think people at the top should be held accountable for such nonsense.)

    It is absolutely fair to blame them, and disingenuous not to name them. They wrote it and even though there was undoubtedly an internal approval process, the press release circulated over PR Wire and other distribution channels with their names and phone numbers. The press release is here:
    link to jcrc.org

    Contact: Elka Looks, Communications Manager, Jewish Community Relations Council − 415.957.1551
    Seth Brysk, Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League – 415.981.3500

    The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) describes itself (in this job call for Elka Looks position last January) as the central public affairs arm of the organized Bay Area Jewish community. It represents Bay Area synagogues and Jewish organizations on issues impacting the rights and protection of Jews as individuals and as a community.
    link to comnetwork.org
    It is clear from the job description what Ms. Looks’ responsibilities were to be.

    For all you know, this was a collusion between Ms. Looks and Mr. Brysk that the rest of their respective organizations went along with. She is, after all, the Communications Manager of JCRC, and he is the Regional, not the local, Director of the ADL. Protecting them takes a face and name away from their actions; hence, responsibility and accountability.

  24. MRW
    May 12, 2013, 5:01 pm

    Since this is America, and the writers invoke our constitutional language to make one of their arguments, this needs correcting:

    While protected by the First Amendment, extremist language directed at any group has no place in our city.

    (1) The language they object to is, by their admission, protected by the First Amendment.
    (2) The word ‘apartheid’ is descriptive of a physical state or national policy.
    (3) The JCRC and ADL are not San Francisco’s cruise directors or editors. The JCRC and ADL do not get to determine which part of the First Amendment the citizens of San Francisco are entitled to have.

  25. Annie Robbins
    May 13, 2013, 4:04 am

    Cecilie Surasky is the gift that keeps on giving.

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