Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 42 (since 2009-08-09 18:44:49)

Helena Cobban

Helena Cobban is the owner of Just World Books. She’s been blogging since 2003 at JustWorldNews.org. Her 1984 book The Palestinian Liberation Organisation: People, Power, and Politics, was published by Cambridge University Press and is still in print. Her early-1990 study “The PLO and the Intifada” was published in The Middle East Journal (Spring 1990).

Website: justworldnews.org

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  • Giving up on political propaganda, Israeli consulate turns to Ted-style inspirational conference
    • Re this Bar person:

      Him speaking of "how he was stationed in a watchtower in the no man’s land of the Golan Heights and came to an epiphany while watching refugee children playing and laughing about the tendency to dehumanize the Other... " doesn't make sense.

      There are no Palestinian refugees anywhere in or near the occupied Golan. If he was in the no-man's-land area, that means he was in a forward observation position looking deep into Syria... No Palestinian refugee camps (such as would house "refugee children") anywhere near. It is *possible* he might have watched some children from Syrian families displaced from Golan by the war of 1967, though by and large they didn't stay close to the occupied area but were dispersed far and wide throughout Syria. But they wouldn't have been refugees-- they were internally displaced from one part of their own country (Golan, which is part of Syria) to another.

      Also, what's with this desire/tendency to infantilize the "Other"?

      Finally, how disturbing is it that someone who runs a networking resource as crucial to the US do-gooding movement as Idealist is apparently of a strongly Zionist enough persuasion that he performs in this conference? Is everyone who uses Idealist to post jobs, find jobs, or do other networking things in the do-gooding world happy that their whole databases may be shared with various Zionist organizations? Just asking.

  • Two more young Palestinians are shot dead -- this time after one allegedly throws a knife
    • I strongly challenge your decision to claim in the headline that the Palestinian woman *did* throw a knife. You present (and I have seen) no independent corroboration of that claim made by the Israeli police spox.

  • Goldberg on Obama's Syria credibility 'crisis'
    • Annie, thanks so *much* for this great piece of research and analysis. I hadn't seen the video. At 0:22 it stopped me in my tracks: "When Bashar Al-Asad actually *used* chemical weapons, he [Obama] realized that... " So Jeffrey Goldberg, former Israeli prison guard, is now definitively telling us what no intel organization in the world has been able to, that he *knows who it was* who used those chemical weapons in August 2013. Gimme a break. Even in his written article, he reports (quite accurately) that the US intelligence community was saying that the claims that it had been Pres. Asad who used the weapons were "no slam dunk". But now, in the video, Cpl. Goldberg tells us he knows. Why does anyone give this cheap pro-war propagandist any credibility? (A question that I would extend to Pres. Obama, as well... )

  • Public Theater made a 'firm commitment' to Palestinian play-- I wouldn't have contributed otherwise
    • Ah, they all look so smug and happy standing in their too-preppy-for-words outfits in front of the repeated "Bank of America" logos. Is the Public Theater an institution that once had a social change agenda?

  • Maya Angelou stood with Palestinians, but Israeli military uses her for Black History Month hasbara
  • Two establishment Jews (Harvard and Microsoft) endorse boycott of Israel and 'single state' in Washington Post
    • Phil, this was all great till you got to: "Terry Gross needs to interview these guys on NPR." come on, Phil, surely you know what a super-ardent Zionist gatekeeper Ms Gross is! Hell will freeze over beford she lets onto her show anyone who challenges the AIPAC orthodoxy.

      Also, by saying, "Terry Gross needs to interview these guys on NPR" you invest her with way too my authority/credibility. To heck with the small-minded, provincially bounded Terry Gross. There are plenty of other people in the MSM more significant than her. It is *they* who should be, and may well be about to be, interviewing these guys. Don't give TG any more credit or credibility than the very small amount she deserves.

  • How NPR talks about Israel/Palestine
    • It is highly relevant to note that NPR nationally-- and also many of its affiliate stations in crucial media markets-- has been subjected for many years to intensive, Zionist discourse-policing by the brownshirts of organizations like the Orwellianly-misnamed, Boston-based CAMERA (Committee for "Accuracy" in Middle East Reporting in America.) Back in the aughts, Camera and its allies organized numerous "donor boycotts" of NPR affiliate stations that it wanted to discipline for NPR being, to their mind, too "even-handed" re the Palestine Question... and those boycotts were stunningly effective, leaving NPR-central essentially emasculated re doing any serious, hard-hitting, objective coverage of Palestinian-Israeli issues.

      CAMERA and its allies realized that the vulnerable underbelly of NPR was the reliance of so many of its affiliate radio stations on (mainly local) fundraising. And given the prevalance of PEP (Progressive "Except for" Palestine) donors among the general donating-to-NPR crowd, they were stunningly successful.

      Now, however, it strikes me that PEP is an anachronism; and we need to think of organizing a bit of PIP (Progressive Including on Palestine) pressure on NPR affiliates. That is, all those people who regularly donate time or money to their local NPR station should consider explicitly raising the issue of the nature of NPR-national's sadly lacking-in-objectivity coverage of Palestine/Israel with the stations when donation time comes around. Of course, it is not the individual, $50 donors who are really effective in swaying the stations (and thereby, NPR-national), but rather the much larger donors, megadollar "Family Foundations", and such. So our campaign should be very broad, and seek to include as many people as possible from such larger donating entities.

      Who says boycott campaigns-- or even threat-of-boycott campaigns-- don't work? Not CAMERA, that's for sure.

      And here, for extra credit, is a little taste of how closely CAMERA bird-dogs, polices, and eventually organizes its brownshirt supporters to discipline NPR: link to camera.org. (Explore their website. It is truly fascinating.)

  • Israeli embassy's attack on Rosengarten just made her stronger
    • Just fyi everyone, Lillian herself is very careful *not* to describe herself as "a Holocaust survivor", but as "a refugee from Nazi Germany".

      Also, NYC people, yes please do come to the book launch next Monday when Phil Weiss and Lillian will be exploring these issues in person with the audience.

      I wish Phil had put the notice about the event at the top of the article, not the bottom. But that's just Phil, being self-effacing.

      Really, people, come out and show your support for Lillian and her right to tell her story! (Pre-registration at that Eventbrite page is required.)

      Thanks!

    • It is *not* available at that "nwiddepok" site, which is a phishing platform used to hoodwink people to gain your credit-card and other personal details. Buyer beware! It *is* available via this page on the Just World Books website-- with free shipping for orders placed before the October 5 publication date.

  • Iran Deal's liberation: Judaism is not Zionism
    • There is a long and distinguished history of non-Zionism and anti-Zionism in the American Jewish community that needs to be resurrected and highlighted. For example, most supporters of the Jewish Bund (socialist labor organization) in the US were non- or anti-Zionist. There was Nahum Goldman. There was the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which well into the 1970s had almost physical tussles with the Zionist emissaries at the Vienna train station at which Jews emigrating from the Soviet Union would arrive. (Hias wanted the arrivals to be given free choice of where they would head, and offered aid if they should choose to come to the US. The Zionists absolutely did not want free choice, but wanted to corral them all onto the next plane for Tel Aviv.)

      It wasn't till quite a time after 1967 that the pro-Zionists started to dominate all the US Jewish organizations, federations, etc. Their campaign of constant conflation of Judaism and Zionism has become stronger and stronger in recent years. Thank G-d that a combination of JVP's stellar organizing and Netanyahu's arrrogant over-reach has now forced a major crack in that conflation!

  • The day after 9/11, Kagan father-son duo said 'take the war' to Palestine
  • The global arms race between the US and China is devastating Africa and the Middle East
    • Setting this up as some kind of trade/moral equivalence between US arms exports and Chinese arms exports, as both Lowenstein and your headline writer do, is highly problematic. The major international database on international arms transfers is run by the Swedish organization SIPRI. Their most recent report on the matter (through the end of 2014) is here (PDF). In it, you can learn that in the 5-year period 2010-2014, the US originated 31% of global arms transfers-- and China, a "whopping" 5%.

      I'm sure if you dig deeper into the SIPRI database than I have time to here, you could find the figures for arms transfers to Africa and the ME.

      But get real, people! This is not any kind of an "equivalent" situation-- and even further from being an "arms race" as the headline writer described it. It is more like an arms-selling free-for-all in which each big (government-backed) US company is trying to outsell both its US and its non-US competitors; and I imagine it's the same on the Chinese side, though they have nothing like the market share that the US has. (Lowenstein might also have noted that Russia far outflanks China in this arms-selling business, with 27% of the market share, worldwide.) In several cases, China and the US were probably supplying the same side in a conflict-- and I certainly know that in several conflicts, e.g. in Iraq, megalethal US arms have been exported to both sides.

      So enough with the talk of a "US-China arms race". It may fit handily into the "fear of rising China" theme that arises frequently in the US MSM, but we shouldn't have to deal with it here on Mondo... Since the vast majority of Mondo readers are US citizens, surely our major task is to rein in the bellophilic and arms-addicted behavior of our own government, and urge non-military approaches to international problems wherever and whenever we can-- rather than play into fears of some almost wholly imagined international "arms race"?

  • Press can't justify red carpet for Oren tract and blackout for Blumenthal's 'definitive account' of Gaza
    • I agree with WH. While I am 100% confident that Max's book is excellent, to have one white guy whom I really like (Asa) describe the book of another ditto (Max), and then have that picked up by a third ditto (Phil) does kind of ignore the excellent literary production on the war, in English, of actual Gaza Palestinians. Mohammed Omer's Shellshocked is indeed amazing. As is Atef Abu Saif's The Drone Eats with Me. And to present a more multi-dimensional and female-including collection of writings that foregrounds the voices of Gaza Palestinians, my company published Gaza Unsilenced, co-edited by Gaza Palestinians Laila El-Haddad and Refaat Alareer. So while, yes, it is notable that Max's book hasn't gotten any MSM reviews, I think the lack of MSM attention given to these other three books is equally notable and-- in the context of the long history of the marginalizing and silencing of Palestinian voices here in the USA-- even more egregious. (Shellshocked did get one well-deserved mention in, I think, the NYRB.) I wish that Phil would extend his campaign to these other books, too!

  • Retired Jordanian intel chief reveals 'crazy proposal' to expel fleeing Syrian refugees to Saudi Arabia
    • Actually, since 1948, "Jordan" (a creation of the British) has functioned very effectively as Israel's main Bantustan-- that is, a repository for the people Israel has expelled and doesn't want, in which they are given the semblance of "civic and political rights" but always under the control of the master-state. (With the identity of the main master-state in question shifting over time from Britain to the US to Israel.) And amazingly, unlike Apartheid South Africa's Bantustans, "Jordan" has been accepted as a so-called independent state all along-- though everyone understands that really it is just a modern-day form of a satrapy (i.e., a highly dependent political entity.)

  • Irish activists hit hard against 1st Irish dance competition in Israel
    • I dunno. Dabke looks a lot more fun than this. Maybe they could learn something if they skipped Israel altogether and insisted on going straight to do some collaborative dancing in Gaza?

  • The living martyr, a visit to the Bakr family in Gaza
  • 'NYT's public editor slams anti-Irish bigotry in news story on Berkeley balcony deaths
    • I'm not sure that Ms. Sullivan writing "as a mother"-- or James and Phil also claiming to write "as a mother"-- is actually helpful. First, it essentializes the role of a mother ("embodiment of empathy!") Second, it's sexist. Third, it essentializes the role of a parent. How about just "as a human being"? A person doesn't have to be a parent of either gender to be fully human.

      It's okay, Phil and James, you don't have to do the full Caitlyn and bear children too, in order to prove that you're capable of human empathy.

  • Israeli leader turns on US Jewish journalists Friedman, Wieseltier, Remnick and Silvers for disloyalty and anti-semitism!
    • Gore Vidal (RIP) once remarked that Weiseltier "has important hair." I see it has now become more important than ever. What a self-important narcissist.

  • What I Was Told: Arabs hate Jews
    • Having quite a few, totally non-hating Jewish people in my family, I've wondered about how some of this fear/hate gets perpetuated. I do notice that a lot of Jewish communal/religious observances are based on celebrating the "escape" of earlier Jewish communities from the heavy hand of oppression at the hands of neighboring communities who are very easily conflated with Israel's current neighbors. E.g., the whole Exodus story about escape from enslavement by "Egypt", or the Hannukkah story which is told as a story of surviving oppression by "Syria". But where are the stories of celebrating relations with non-Jewish neighbors? I'm sure there must be some... (One is almost tempted to ask, "Why do 'they' teach their children to hate?")

  • Turning Lebanon into Gaza -- Israel's hole card against Iran deal?
    • I think it's great that Huffpo published Paul and Trita's important piece. The only issue I had with what they wrote is the uncritical way they used the term "preventive war". Basically, a "preventive war", as opposed to a "preemptive war" is one that is quite optional for the state that wages it and the best casus belli the war initiator can come up with is that the war is to "prevent" some fairly distant and unquantified threat. It is thus very different from a pre-emptive war, which "pre-empts" a very clear and imminent danger and for that reason is sometimes allowable in the classic understandings of the laws of war. A "preventive war" is very different. I know that Paul and Trita know this, but I'm not sure how many readers of Huffpo necessarily do. Someone reading the term who's not familiar with it may understand it to refer to a war that *actually* prevents something bad.

      Also, fwiw, the whole Dahiyeh Doctrine (using total destruction as a crushing means of collective punishment intended to force total submission) was *invented* by current Defense Minister Ya'alon against Lebanon in 2006.

  • 'New York Times' tour of conflict is led by Israeli who works for AIPAC, Birthright, and Israeli army and prisons
  • Shit Israeli soldiers did in Gaza
    • Same when they occupied West Beirut right after Bashir Gemayyel's killing in 1982. Probably the same in 1967, 1956, 1948. Worse than animals.

  • French philosopher who shut down Paris BDS event as 'anti-Semitic' and one-sided will lecture in NY on 'Free Speech'
    • Oh for goodness' sake Phil, since when did linking to the boudoir picture that this kookie French "intellectuelle" posted do anything to denote a "sense of style" or indeed have any relevance to anything... It's a real pity that so many French women all feel they need to present themselves in public as looking like Catherine Deneuve. I don't think you, as a male, should encourage them.

  • On 'Birthright,' a checkpoint is called a tollbooth, and Jews have E-ZPass
    • Great piece by Julia and Chase! I'd never seen this thing about them reframing checkpoints as "tollbooths" before... And Jewish privilege as the ultimate "EZ Pass"-- Yes, indeed!

  • From Brooklyn to Palestine: A thank you note to Palestinian and Middle Eastern sisters who re-educated me on my world view
    • There is clearly an important *book* to be written about the relationship between African-American struggles/movement and the Palestinian ditto. Back in the late 1970s, when I was in Beirut covering the PLO there (among other things), they were super-energized to have visits from Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Joseph Lowery of the SCLC... But then, clearly, something got lost. Why?

      In part, I think, it was because the PLO leadership as such became pumped with the idea of dealing with those in *power* inside the US, thinking they could move and jive with the best (or worst) of them as equals, and therefore, with their simplistic-- and as it happens completely erroneous-- way of thinking came, in effect, to disdain those still struggling for equality and rights within the US system. (There was also Arafat's terrible Nahnu la al-hunud al-humr-- "We are not Red Indians!-- statement of disdain for Native Americans... ) But also, the various Zionist organizations in the USA redoubled their efforts to try to regain/retain an alliance with African-American leaders-- and in far too many cases, they succeeded...

      Who wants to write this book, I wonder?

  • Book Review: In Our Power - U.S. Students Organize for Justice in Palestine
    • Walid, a couple more points, in addition to Annie's:

      (1) It is absolutely *not* only Palestinians who are part of the movement. Working with Melanie on the cover design, it was my impression that the guy front right is intended to "look like" a younger punkish guy of unspecified ethnicity and the unveiled woman could be Hispanic or Italian-American or Palestinian or anything. When, as I hope, you buy and read the book you'll find that many of the students featured in it are Palestinian-Americans and many others are not.

      (2) I'm amazed that you don't know any Palestinians who "look like that". There are plenty of dark- or darkish-complected Palestinians inside and outside of Palestine! Actually, I'm kind of sorry for you if you've never met any of them...

      Blaine Coleman, your amazing set of claims re there *not existing* in the U.S. a student movement for justice in Palestine-- what crass and silly hasbara. Your "research" method of looking in Google news for those terms-- in early January, during winter break at every single U.S. college, was completely laughable... Do you even expect anyone who reads such silly comments to take you or your "conclusions" seriously?

  • Collective punishment of 1.8 million human shields in a prison -- Newsweek dares publish the truth of Gaza
  • Israel's proposed Jewish nationality law is a flop on Broadway
    • In this case, the role of liberal Zionists is thrown into sharp relief. This is kind of a perennial political version of what many Israelis have liked to describe as "shooting and crying".

      In the military field, this is shorthand for Israelis saying something like, "We have been forced to fight against our Arab neighbors (and by the way, has anyone noticed that we're really very good at it?) But don't imagine for a moment that we enjoy doing it. Indeed, we are so terribly sensitive that even as we shoot, we are crying." (Of course, a natural extension of this was Golda Meir's dreadful dictum-- or was it Peres?-- that "What we really resent the Arabs for is not so much that they kill us but that they force us to kill them." Excuse me while I barf here... )

      The political version of "shooting while crying" is exactly what the liberal Zionists engage in-- but, instead of shooting, what they're talking about is cementing the ethnic-cleansing, colonialist expropriations the Zionists took in 1948 (along with a good few of those they took in 1967, especially in E. Jerusalem.) And the "crying" is all their handwringing over how "undemocratic" certain current actions of the Israeli government make the whole Israeli-Zionist project look.

      So they are busy doing all this "crying" in an attempt precisely to preserve all those earlier colonial takings. And indeed, until now, all their public handwringings over the "state of Israel's soul", etc, have helped preserve the idea in the West that Israel is indeed, at root, a very ethical place in which all these oh-so-sensitive people can thrive, flourish, express themselves, and make a huge contribution to Western and global culture... Yes, Amos Oz, David Grossman, etc, I am looking at you.

      At some level though, if these people have an ounce of empathy or morals, they must surely see that they are either the useful idiots of their hardline Zionist compatriots or, actually, their witting colluders. Of course, that would require that they can start to see the whole edifice of Jewish privilege in Israel, their role in it, and the huge degree to which they have benefitted from it. (So I'm not holding my breath.)

      But really, for the rest of us, I think we should understand the role that the "cryers" on these issues have played-- for many decades now-- precisely in enabling the continuing project of the "shooters" (colonizers.) Frankly, regarding any of these public handwringers, Bernard Avishai and such, I don't really care how woefully, or how artfully, they wring their hands. What is more important is that they be called on to start using their privilege to uphold and start recovering the humanity, the dignity, and above all the rights of the long-dispossessed/oppressed.

  • 'Zionism' is now a dirty word for American opinion elite, Frank Luntz concedes
    • You have to admit the video is very weird. It's a huge gathering of members of the Jewish AEP fraternity from around the US and Canada. Gathered in some lovely, up-market hotel...

      The kids are identified in the video only by their first names, as though it's an AA meeting or something. Or, in some kind of suggestive way (to go along with the deliberately scaremongering demo scenes in the intercuts) to suggest that these nice fraternity brothers might be scared of fully identifying themselves in public... But if the latter, shouldn't they have done some face- and voice-masking? Certainly, anyone who's in their home colleges could easily recognize their faces.

      So it might be better to think of this as *potentially* an AA-type gathering for recovering Zionists?

      Was that really Luntz skipping around in the middle? Also bizarre...

  • A conversation with Abu Yazan, one of the founders of Gaza Youth Breaks Out
    • "If he had his way, what would he do in Gaza?" ~ and in his answer he says not one word about ending the occupation, ending Israel's iron fist of control over Gaza, winning the self-determination of Palestinians in Gaza or elsewhere... Nothing!

      As though any of those things he does mention, like the economy, etc, could "somehow" be fixed without ending Israel's control?

      Either this guy is extremely naive, or he is extremely disingenuous...

  • University of Exeter students vote to boycott Israeli settlement products in a landslide
    • Those Contras sound like the tired old Apartheid apologists who argued against the S. African boycott on the grounds that it would "hurt the Black South Africans." The Black South Africans told them what they could do with *that* argument.... And the Palestinians at Exeter clearly have been doing the same to their Contras.

  • The Titanic of the occupation -- SodaStream (Update)
    • Thanks for pulling this all together, Annie!

      I noted especially, in that last quote you used, how matter-of-factly the business reporter for the UK's Independent referred to the place where SodaStream is made as being "an illegal Israeli settlement." May that usage spread much broadly through the MSM-- especially in the US!

  • Food writer Melissa Clark on being Jewish
    • But anyway, why didn't she give a shoutout to The Gaza Kitchen????

    • Probably worth pointing out to the many Mondo readers who are *not* familiar with NY-Jewish history that "settlement" in this context means something completely different from what we talk about today.... That is, those "settlements" were (as I understand it) do-gooding efforts by richer New Yorkers at the end of the 19th century to improve housing and social conditions for low-income New Yorkers (especially in the Lower East Side??)-- with many of the latter group being recent Jewish immigrants...

  • Gaza and the American awakening
    • New Yorkers should know that Alice will be reading from her great new book On the Brink: Israel and Palestine on the Eve of the Gaza Invasion</a on Tuesday night (9/23), 7 pm, at Revolution Books, 146 W. 26th St, NYC--at 7th Ave.

      Come if you can-- and tell all your friends!

      If you can't make it, you can watch the event by Livestream, at this link. If you don't already have an account with Livestream.com, you'll just need to set one up as you sign on. It is easy and free and takes 20 seconds.

      Plus, of course, we're hoping that everyone loves the book as much as Phil Weiss and its other early readers do! You can see their fab reactions to the book, here. Tell all your friends about this wonderful new resource! And if you'd like to invite Alice to come and talk about it for your community group, congregation, or college class, give us a holler!!

  • Dutch activists disrupt Israeli apartheid whitewashing event in Amsterdam
  • Elie Wiesel plays the Holocaust trump card in Gaza
  • Joan Rivers slams CNN and BBC coverage of Gaza -- 'you're all insane'
  • 'Washington Post' exhibits naked double standard in Israeli, Palestinian deaths (and injuries)
  • On the defensive, Barney Frank accuses Clemons and Kornacki of ganging up on him, and Israel
  • The heart of the problem with Israel: The mass expulsion of the Palestinian people
    • 1967 was 47 years ago. 1948 was 66 years ago. Not so much difference in length of time from today's POV as there was in, say, 1974, when it was more plausible to talk about "rectifying the wrongs of 1967" without even addressing 1948.

      I have *always* understood Gaza to be the crucible of Palestinian nationalism. (Check my 1984 book on the PLO for details of this.) It is a crucible today in more ways than one. Very importantly, Gaza's population is around 80% refugees. It is impossible to think of Gaza's situation being "resolved" in any way that does not at least address the issues of 1948.

      I want to write an article sometime titled "What we're not talking about when we're not talking about 1948"... For a huge long time there it was considered "impolite" to raise the issues of the refugees and what happened in 1948 in "polite" society in Washington DC... Even at last week's event at New America, that I blogged about here, the moderator got very flustered when Noura Erakat and Samer Badawi started talking about "ethnic cleansing" and started saying "You can't talk about that!"

      Kudos to Donna for writing this!

  • Israel is in a pickle

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