Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 549 (since 2010-03-18 18:04:29)

Henry Norr

Showing comments 549 - 501

  • In effort to thwart BDS, some Israel supporters urge partial settlement freeze
    • >>a 48-year project of colonization

      Huh? How about a 133-year (since 1882) project of colonization?

  • In letter to John Kerry, 19 reps stand up for Palestinian children behind bars
    • After calling Barbara Lee's office yesterday, this morning I called Rep. Betty McCollum's DC office to thank her for her leadership on this letter - and, again, to urge her to work to end US financial and diplomatic support for the Israeli government. The staffer I spoke to seemed quite pleased that I'd called, even though I made clear that I was not from McCollum's district.

      Again, I urge everyone here to take a minute to make such a call - people who know about how congresscritters think always say phone calls make some difference. The number for McCollum's DC office is (202) 225-6631.

    • Many thanks to Kate and everyone else involved in this initiative.

      I called the local office of my Rep., Barbara Lee, today to thank her for signing this letter - and to urge her to work to end US aid and diplomatic cover for Israel. (Barbara Lee earned a reputation for political courage for being the only member of the House to oppose the open-ended authorization for the use of military force in 2001, but when it comes to Israel/Palestine, she's generally been pretty timid, so it was a very welcome surprise to see her name on this.)

      I strongly urge MW readers who live in the districts of other signers to make similar calls to their representatives - to thank them for doing the right thing this time, but also to urge them to go further. You can bet the JCRCs, liberal Jewish donors, and other Zionists are going to be on their cases about this,. Encouraging calls from voters might help buck them up.

  • Netanyahu cancels controversial 'apartheid' buses plan, but there have been segregated West Bank buses for years
    • I'm being picky here, but for the record it's not quite true that "Israelis and Palestinians live in different communities...; there are no mixed localities in the West Bank." The exception (the only one I know of, if you don't count the Old City of Jerusalem as part of the West Bank) is Hebron. The biggest Jewish settlement there, Kiryat Arba, is a more or less separate suburb, but the other four settlements are essentially just apartment buildings in the middle of the Palestinian population.

  • Bibi talk: 'New York Review of Books' trivializes Israeli fascism
    • Shulman's 2007 book Dark Hope doesn't seem to get much attention in Palestine-solidarity circles, but I found it among the most moving of the scores (or maybe hundreds) I've read about Israel and Palestine.

  • 12 pretty good signs you're vacationing in an apartheid country
    • pabelmont: Do a Google image search for "'West Bank' red warning sign" or some such and you can see scores of examples. There are are several variant texts, though all are red and have a similar style, The most common says "This road leads to Area 'A' Under the Palestinian Authority. The entrance for Israeli citizens is forbidden, dangerous to your lives and is against the Israeli law," but I remember seeing one near Bethlehem where the somewhat awkward English wording was just "This Road Leads To Palestinian Village. The Entrance For Israeli Citizens Is Dangerous." And there's a slightly different text on the signs around "military zones," and also, I think, for the ones right along the "separation barrier," though I can't remember the text on that kind or find any of my pix of it.

      A couple of years ago 972mag had a piece about some progressive Israeli women who covered over a bunch of these signs with an alternative text:
      link to

  • Tipping point?
  • Why did Herzog run scared? He fears the Israeli people
    • re Herzog and the "Zionist Camp": Phil and anyone else interested really should read Ben White's piece "The Zionist Union's plan for a Palestinian Bantustan" at

      link to

      which quotes from and analyzes their official electoral platform. Some key bits:

      A "final status agreement", the Zionist Union states, "will be based on the following principles":

      Demilitarizing the Palestinian state, keeping the settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] under Israeli sovereignty; strengthening Jerusalem and its status as the eternal capital of the State of Israel and ensuring religious freedom and access to the holy sites to all religions, along with maintaining Israeli sovereignty; resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem through the establishment of a Palestinian state and not within Israel.

      What does this indicate about the borders of a future Palestinian state? Jerusalem – including the illegally annexed, occupied east – will be "the eternal capital of the State of Israel" with "holy sites" under "Israeli sovereignty." Meanwhile, "the settlement blocs" in the West Bank will also remain "under Israeli sovereignty."
      "In the ideal world", Herzog replied, "I would like to keep it all." But ultimately, he added, he would keep the Gush Etzion, Ma'ale Adumim and Ariel settlement blocs, and the Jordan River would be his so-called security border.
      Thus the final map of the Palestinian 'state' in the vision of the Zionist Union is similar to the kind of Bantustan proposed by another former Labour man, Ehud Barak, with borders now shaped by the Apartheid Wall and further Israeli colonisation of the Jordan Valley. (See 'guide' map illustration)

      Herzog-Livni's platform also makes clear that there will be no respite for the battered Gaza Strip.....

      In other words, it's the same bantustan vision the Labor party has been pushing since Rabin. Problem is, the Palestinians won't settle for that, for good reaso, and more and more of the Zionists want it all. I think that's why Herzog didn't talk about this plan.

  • Senator who spearheaded letter to Iran got $1 million from Kristol's 'Emergency C'tee for Israel'
  • 'NYT''s Bruni pulls more punches than he delivers in Netanyahu column
    • Point 2 could be made much more strongly: there seem to be widespread stirrings of change among evangelicals about Palestine, going way beyond longtime progressives like Jim Wallis. See "Are Evangelicals Abandoning Israel?" by prominent theologian Gary M. Burge in the October, 2014 issue of Washington Report on the Middle East. An excerpt:

      There is a shift at work and it has a number of dimensions. Evangelical publishing (in text and film) tells the story. Since about 1985 evangelical scholars and pastors have critiqued unequivocal support for Israel and worked toward a more balanced view. These are political analyses, theological studies and personal testimonies. And the list of titles is long. These opinion-shapers are generally younger, well educated and ethnically diverse. And they come from the evangelical mainstream.

      But also it takes little effort to listen to younger evangelicals such as those on college campuses and hear this change. I have been doing this for 25 years and two things are clear. First, young women are in the forefront, with an ethical passion we’ve never seen before. The older cohort of stereotypically white, middle-class males from conservative churches doesn’t even know this wave is on the horizon. Second, this younger generation is more troubled by injustice than they are inspired by prophecy. They want to devote their lives to the common good, and this includes direct participation in ethically troubling contexts such as Israel/Palestine. Their parents were shaped in the 1970s and 1980s by an evangelicalism that was tone-deaf to cries of injustice. The apartheid struggles in South Africa or the civil rights movement in the U.S. are textbook examples. This new generation finds such ethical disengagement incomprehensible.

      As with the encouraging changes in public opinion about Israel and Palestine in other sectors of the population, the problem is that the Zionist grip on the US government doesn't depend primarily on the opinions of any part of the public, but on the wealth and power of the Zionist mafia and the influence of their supporters (explicit or just tacit) in the media, the thinktanks, etc. Changes in opinion about the situation are a very welcome first step, and heaven knows the Zionists are fighting hard to reverse them, but to actually change policy, people are going to have to take the next step and confront the power of the lobby.

  • It was a bad week for the Israel lobby
    • The appointment of Rob Malley undoubtedly reflects the changing line toward Israel at the White House. I'm not so sure, though, that it's any kind of victory for the cause of justice.

      First of all, while Malley appears to be a little more honest than most others of his ilk, is just another of the cast of peace processors who have rotating in and out of prominent positions in the US government for more than 20 years. Is there any evidence that he has broken with the policies that have served only to strengthen Israel and weaken the Palestinian position over that time span?

      Second, the guy he's replacing, Philip Gordon, delivered a speech last July that was astonishingly lacking in the usual fawning toward Israel - to the point that Phil Weiss posted it in full here, with this introduction: "The press is expressing marvel/shock at a speech by Philip Gordon, a White House adviser, saying that Israel’s ongoing “occupations” and settlements are driving its international isolation and the boycott movement.."

      I remember thinking at the time that Gordon wouldn't last six months in his job. I was wrong, but not by much - eight months later. he's off to "spend some well-deserved time with his family and pursue other professional endeavors," according to the spokesperson for the National Security Council.

  • Palestinian resolution fails at the Security Council, U.S. votes against 'staged confrontation' at the UN
    • I hate to say it, but J.J. Goldberg in the Forward has a much sharper analysis than Mondoweiss, in a piece entitled "Palestinian U.N. Bid Fails by 1 Vote. Was That the Plan?":

      The Palestinian tactics mystified Israeli and American diplomats and prompted speculation that the Palestinians were intending to lose the vote. It was thought that they wanted to put on a show of toughness to counter rising anger on the Palestinian street and increasing pressure from Hamas, but they didn’t want to anger Washington by forcing it to cast a veto at a time when it needs Arab support against ISIS.

      link to

      Ramzi Jaber has it right, below: "a shameful charade"!

    • >>That was a serious tactical error pushing for the vote today,
      >>rather than waiting a little longer to have a number of the
      >>temporary members replaced by more supportive ones.

      I don't think it was an error at all, from Abbas' point of view - I think he knew damn well they didn't have the votes, and that's exactly why they scrambled so frantically to get the vote taken this week. This way he can pretend to be standing up to the Americans and the Israelis, but avoid serious offense to his American paymasters by forcing them into the embarrassment of a veto. Why else force the vote this week? Every observer of the UN knew they'd be in a stronger position next week, with Venezuela and Malaysia, among others, coming in and Australia, South Korea, and Rwanda leaving.

      I'm sorry to see Allison swallowing the PA spin without question.

  • 'New York Times' normalizes the blockade of Gaza
    • The Electronic Intifada's story on this has some interesting details, particularly about the previous political activities of Yoel Marshak, the self-styled "leftist" who organized this stunt - including his role in campaigns to prevent family visits to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and to encourage Israeli soldiers to move to settlements int he Jordan Valley when they get out of the IDF.

      link to

  • Report from Bethlehem: An American moment
    • Much as I appreciate the main points of this post, I have to challenge one assertion:

      Mark Braverman wrote: "As I listened to Khoury, I agreed that what were we seeing in the release of this report was the worst of America but also the best of our country in our willingness to call ourselves to account."

      In fact, the Senate report is a classic case of a "modified limited hang-out," in the immortal words of Nixon aide John Ehrlichman. Clearly, the CIA at some point crossed Feinstein and its other friends in the Senate, and they decided to get back at the agency by releasing some info the essence of which they had and could and should have made public more than a decade ago. But we're getting only a highly redacted version of the executive summary of the report, by no means the whole story. And note that even the report deals only with the CIA's interrogation program, not at all with the US military's torture programs, nor with the "extraordinary rendition" program that sent hundreds of people to other countries' torture chambers around the world.

      And, of course, Obama and friends want to "look forward, not backward," so no matter what atrocities were committed, there are no consequences for any of the perpetrators. (Here in California, we taxpayers paid torture lawyer John Yoo a salary of $381,000 in 2013 to poison the minds of law students - and that was before his promotion to an endowed chair earlier this year.)

      In short, our "willingness to call ourselves to account" is extremely limited, so I don't think we should be congratulating ourselves about it, even in passing.

  • You're on a roll, Mr. President, so abstain from vetoing the Palestinian bid to the UN Security Council
    • Matthew wrote: "In an ideal world… [Obama] would also cut off all $6 billion of military aid to Israel contingent on Israel radically shifting from an apartheid society to an equal-rights society….”

      In an ideal world, he would cut off all military aid to Israel, period, not contingent on anything. Even if they suddenly got to be good guys, why should they get any US taxpayer dollars for weapons (or, for that mtter, for anything else)?

  • In sensitivity to Palestinian students, Harvard is moving away from SodaStream
    • Thanks for that important perspective, Walid. Couple of points:

      1) For whatever it was or wasn't worth, we can no longer classify this episode as a "BDS victory." If you read Charlotte's piece, you'll see that Harvard's provost (second highest official) pretty definitively overturned the dining service's decision to cancel the order from SodaStream: “Harvard University’s procurement decisions should not and will not be driven by individuals’ views of highly contested matters of political controversy.”

      2) As for the larger picture, I agree with you that the issues the BDS movement has focused on in the US are of little economic significance in the context of the overall Israeli economy. So even when, occasionally, we win, and some BDS proponents claim we've done real damage to Israel's economy, that's really not even close to true, IMO. (Sodastream may be a partial exception - the boycott and negative press almost certainly made some contribution to the recent sharp decline in their sales, and though soda machines are hardly a strategic sector, that has certainly hurt their investors. Things are also a little different in Europe, where reducing Israel's ability to sell agricultural exports would have a real impact on some sectors - not the most powerful, but substantial - of the Israeli economy.)

      But from my perspective (definitely not shared by all BDS activists) pointing out the economic insignificance of the BDS issues is beside the point, because at this stage these battles are really political - some might say symbolic - even though they take an economic form. In other words, organizing even around pretty trivial economic interests (Sodastream, Sabra hummus, etc.) is a vehicle for educating more Americans about the realities of Israel and its abuse of the Palestinians. (This is one reason I find Chomsky's critique so absurd: he says we have to educate the public before BDS activism can be meaningful, but he refuses to see that BDS work is precisely a mechanism for educating people.)

      Some day, if we can continue to educate and organize people around this issue, we can hope to get into a position to impose some more substantial economic costs on Israel. For now, though, that's only a dream. For the sake of the Palestinians I sure we wish could mount more effective economic pressure now, but we have to face the realities and work through the process. If you look at the history of the anti-South African apartheid struggle in the US, it followed a similar trajectory: it wasn't until the last years of the old regime that the anti-apartheid movement was powerful enough to inflict serious economic damage on the South African ruling class (when IBM, Chase Manhattan, and so on were finally forced to pull out), But that never would have happened if (among other factors) activists hadn't been working for decades to build a movement by fighting around issues that were more symbolic. (And, of course, if the South African masses hadn't continued to wage their heroic struggle, and if the Cuban army hadn't defeated the South African "Defence" Forces at Cuito Cuanavale in Angola, and so on - I find it pretty disgusting when BDS proponents talk as if Western activism was the sole or most important factor in ending South African apartheid.)

      With respect to the BDS movement needing to "re-orient its overall direction," could you elaborate on what that would look like? It sounds like you're suggesting that we should focus on issues like Jordan's gas deal and the UAE's purchase of Israeli security equipment. But how could activists in this country get any kind of leverage on issues like that, if US companies are not directly involved?

    • Harvard higher-ups have now over-ruled this decision. From Charlotte Silver in the Electronic Intifada:

      Top Harvard University officials have stepped in after campus food services administrators agreed to remove the SodaStream label from equipment in their dining halls and not to make any new purchases from the company.

      The decision to boycott SodaStream came after a series of meetings with faculty and concerned students to discuss the implications of using a product manufactured in an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

      But now Harvard University Dining Services is reconsidering its decision on the grounds that it should not have taken “political” factors into account. This flatly contradicts a decision in another recent case — that administrators did not contest — to boycott a company whose chair made anti-gay comments.

      Read the rest at link to

  • Bay Area activists shut down federal building to protest Rasmea Odeh conviction
    • I was one of the folks who had the honor of getting arrested for blocking the doors of the federal court house in Oakland yesterday. We didn't have just lockboxes - two of us did, but two people used u-locks, and we were all chained to each other and the doors with a nice collection of heavy chains. It's a bit of an exaggeration, though, to say we "shut down the federal building" - the court is part of a fairly large complex, with multiple entrances, and while we blocked the doors going directly to the court, people were able to use other doors to get into the building, then go where they wanted. Still, it felt very worthwhile to do something to call attention to the horrible injustice being done to Rasmea Odeh.

  • The hidden documents that reveal the true borders of Israel and Palestine (Updated)
    • Thank you, Dr. Fincham - fascinating stuff!

      Was there any discussion of Israel's borders at the UN Security Council or General Assembly when Israel's admission to the UN was under discussion? Or at the "Ad Hoc Political Committee" that apparently considered Israel's request first?

      I note that there's nothing about borders in the actual GA resolution that admitted Israel (General Assembly Resolution 273-III of May 11, 1949), just a clause in the preamble "Noting furthermore the declaration by the State of Israel that it "unreservedly accepts the obligations of the United Nations Charter and undertakes to honour them from the day when it becomes a Member of the United Nations."

  • California leads the way in the 'Block the Boat' movement
    • No matter how long you live, Horizontal, I'm afraid you're not going to see Feinstein or Boxer supporting actions like Blockthe Boat - they don't just aid and abet Zionist goons, they, especially Boxer, are Zionist goons!

      One omission from Ben's good report: another Zim ship, the Zim Shanghai, was forced to leave the Port of Oakland, without being worked at all, on Sept. 27. That action was organized not by the Block the Boat coalition that started the August action, but by a separate, smaller, overlapping group called the Stop Zim Action Committtee. link to
      (I myself work with both coalitions.) In response to the picket line we put up starting at 5 a.m. that morning, the union (ILWU Local 10) decided not to dispatch longshoremen to the Zim ship at all for the day time ship. For the evening shift the union did assign longshoremen, but we maintained out picket line, and the workers decided, after much discussion, not to cross. We planned to be back there bright and early Sunday morning, but the ship sailed out at midnight to LA.

      That action didn't get as much publicity (nothing here at MW, for instance), but it was covered (with a few inaccuracies) in the Guardian ("Pro-Palestine protesters again thwart Israeli cargo ship in Oakland" ) and in the Jerusalem Post, among others
      - link to
      link to

      Couple of quibbles:

      If the LA comrades really said, as Ben quotes them, that their principal goal is to stop ships “from unloading cargo made in Israel," then there's some misunderstanding going on. The blockades are intended to stop all work on the Zim ships, regardless of where their cargoes come from. In fact, they carry little if any freight that's made in Israel. See, for example, the manifest of the Zim Piraeus, the ship blocked in August, which I included in my report here on that action link to

      Finally, the last photo embedded in Ben's report, though it's captioned "Block the Boat for Gaza, in Oakland" and has been used in many other reports on the recent actions, is actually from the 2010 action at the Port of Oakland after the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The picket lines this year have not been nearly as dense as shown there. Besides, I'm in the picture, wearing a sweatshirt I had then but have since lost.

  • New site catalogs documentary films about Palestine
    • Thanks, Alan, for linking to the Palestine Film Foundation. I hadn't known of it before, but I'm glad to now. I don't know whether or not the women behind were aware of it. One answer to your question, though, is that the PFF database seems to provide no information, at least in most cases, about how to find the films it lists - in my quick survey of about a dozen films, none had links to the film's own site or other info pages, nor to ways to watch, rent, or buy the film online. (One of the dozen films did have a Vimeo-hosted trailer embedded on its page.) For PalestineDocs, on the other hand, “Access is this site’s primary intention,” as I quoted in the piece from the Welcome page - the main point of collecting the listings is to help interested folks see and show the films.

      Of course, after finding a film in PFF, one could always start googling to find out how to get it. But (speaking from a lot of experience) that's not always easy, especially for the older films, films made in Palestine, etc. In most cases, I'm sure, someone really dedicated could eventually find out where to watch or how to obtain the film. But PalestineDocs' mission is to make it _easy_.

      One interesting question is whether it would have been easier to add access info to the Palestine Film Foundation database (assuming the people who run it would have been willing) than to create a whole new site. Can't answer that one....

  • The elephant in the room, in Marin County
    • Since you mention "actions going on at a local level all across the country," Annie, I can report on another one in Oakland: our rep in Congress, Barbara Lee, held a fundraiser, with Rep. Keith Ellison as a guest attraction, at a restaurant on the Oakland waterfront on Sept. 4. Lee, as some folks will recall, was the only person in either house of Congress to vote against the resolution authorizing GW Bush to use military force in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and she styles herself a "renegade for peace and justice." Some of us have been after her for years to speak out on Palestine, but with only very meager results: she has, quietly, joined Ellison in saying the siege of Gaza should be lifted, but beyond that she just calls for a resumption of negotiations on a two-state solution, and in the meantime she keeps voting for military aid to Israel.

      So an ad hoc coalition involving folks active in NorCal Friends of Sabeel, Jewish Voice for Peace, and other groups decided to show up at her Oakland event. About 40 people turned out, and we were able to position ourselves right outside the restaurant, so the arriving guests and Ms. Lee herself had to go right through us and our signs denouncing Israeli war crimes and calling for an end to US aid to Israel to get to their party. Best of all, once they were in the restaurant, we discovered that we could move to the dock right outside the venue, so whenever they looked through the huge glass window that was supposed to offer scenic views of the harbor and Alameda Island, what they actually saw was us and our signs!

      After all these years I don't have much hope Lee will ever stand up to the lobby - she's not really vulnerable to a primary challenge, but apparently, according to people who know her or her staff, she's scared that if she steps out of line on this issue, Obama, Pelosi et al. will punish her by cutting her Congressional perks, limiting her access to pork for pet projects, and generally isolating her in the same way they did to her former friend Cynthia McKinney. Still, no harm in nagging her - at the very least, I think we've started to make it harder for her to claim her constituents all support Israel.

  • Freed by Gaza, Spiegelman calls Israel out as a batterer
    • Note that the Roger Cohen piece did not appear in the US print edition of the NY Times, just the international edition and the web sites. They don't want NY Jews to be bothered seeing even a liberal critique of Israel.

  • Yale Protestant chaplain says Americans must curb Israel so as to curb anti-Semitism
    • This is an interesting story, and it's encouraging that someone like Shipman feels he can express what he did very openly. But I don't think we can treat him as representative of mainstream American Christian opinion. I say that because I followed Phil's link about him "clarifying" his original statement (in comments to the Yale Daily News), and I looked at the comments below that story, where I found a link to an op-ed Shipman wrote a couple of weeks back for The Day, apparently a newspaper or news site focused on southeastern Connecticut. There he explains that as a boy he lived in a suburb of Cairo, where many Palestinian refugees from 1948 also lived, and that Joyce Said, a sister of Edward, was a classmate, and that he recently took a walk through the remains of the Sabra and Shatila camps in Beirut.

      In other words, he had way more background about Israel and Palestine than most Americans, and, though he doesn't say so explicitly, it sounds as though he was very critical of Israel long before this last onslaught or even before the siege of Gaza began in 2006 or so. He sounds like he comes out of the old tradition of elite Protestant Arabism.

  • A glimpse of hope amidst utter destruction 
    • >>hope and determination perceived as the ultimate enemy by the Israeli settler state
      >>as the recent offensive on Gaza, and its intended “goals”, clearly show.

      Indeed. It's precisely because the people of Gaza will neither flee nor settle for any of the forms of subordination Israel might offer that it drives the Israelis crazy (or more precisely _crazier_).

      This is a very moving statement, Basil AbdulRazeq Farraj - truly an inspiration. More than just about anything I've read from or about Palestine, it captures the spirit I encountered on my first trip to Gaza, in 2002, and especially in Nov.-Dec. 2012, right after the eight-day Israeli bombing campaign.

      I hope your father will be out of administrative detention soon, and that all of you are able to live lives of real freedom before long. As you say, "No chains will last."

  • Israeli ship heads out of Oakland - again - after five days of extraordinary protest
    • Pixel wrote: "After Day 1, there was only a rag-tag group of people hanging on by their passion, dedication, wits and fingertips."

      Not to get into too-fine academic distinctions, I'd say that's a fair characterization of the situation on Days 3, 4, and 5, but not quite for Day 2 (Sunday), the first day the ship was in port, picket lines went up (after 6 p.m. or so), and the longshore workers didn't go in. That evening we didn't have the thousands who were there on Saturday for what was supposed to be a blockade but turned out to be just a march, but we did have several hundred people on the lines. Starting Monday, I don't think there were ever more than 100 people out there at any one time, and often considerably fewer.

      The difference is partly that Day 2 was still the weekend and 2, 3, and 4 were work days. But it was also because the Block the Boat coalition, led by AROC, endorsed the Sunday picketing and, most important, used the impressive communications apparatus they'd put together over the previous couple of weeks of preparation (their own text-blast system, FaceBook pages, Twitter hashtag, and e-mail list, plus contact through all those sponsoring organizations) to call people out for it, whereas they did neither of those things for the counted picketing on Mon., Tues., and Wednesday. To my way of thinking, they had some sound political reasons to declare victory and back off, formally at least, after Sunday: I can't speak for them, but I gather they wanted to go out with a clean if temporary victory for mass action. It seemed likely that the boat would get worked sooner or later, and better to avoid a situation of dwindling pickets, the workers crossing the line, and the Zionists and their friends in the mainstream media crowing about the failure of the whole campaign. (Of course, they're doing that now, but with the five-day delay and all the to-ing and fro-ing, I don't think it's all that effective.) Plus it would have been hard to sustain all the infrastructure they'd put together for Saturday: security teams, legal observers, medical people, water-bottle distribution, etc., etc.

      As I say, all that makes sense to me. I do wish, though, that they hadn't completely shut down the communications network. I think they could have sent out something saying, in effect, "Some people are continuing to picket at the port. The coalition has not endorsed this action, but if you're interested, get on down to Berth 57 at 6 a..m. [or whatever]." If they'd done that, I'm sure we would have had more people on the lines, and it's at least conceivable that the ship never would have been worked at all.

      But who knows what effect that really would have had. Overall, I give AROC et al. an enormous amount of credit for what they did do.

      One other point: I seriously doubt the "rag-tag group of people hanging on by their passion, dedication, wits and fingertips" could have done what we did Mon.-Wed. without the Internet and specifically without Twitter. Social networking affects political organizing in many ways, and not all are positive in my opinion, but this week showed some of the ways these technologies can be a huge help.

    • re the absence of a source on the pretend departure to LA: I tried to link to the story at, an SF Chronicle site, which included a quote from the Israeli consul, but by then they had already removed the story. This is from the replacement story:

      Demonstrators scrambled to shore up their forces at the Port of Oakland Tuesday night after a cargo ship they had blocked from unloading as a protest against Israel's military actions in Gaza set sail for Los Angeles then abruptly made a U-turn and headed back to Oakland.

      Despite the protesters' efforts, longshore workers began unloading the vessel late Tuesday.

      Pro-Palestinian activists who had protested the presence of the ship Piraeus since Saturday put out urgent mobilization calls for demonstrators to head to the waterfront. Those calls came after online tracking databases showed the vessel heading under the Bay Bridge and back toward Oakland shortly after 6 p.m.

      Just three hours earlier, the Piraeus had left port with a reported destination of Los Angeles. It sailed through the Golden Gate and into the Pacific, then turned around and headed back to a new berth in Oakland.

      Protesters, some of whom never believed that the ship would head south, scrambled to meet the ship. About 30 marched slowly in a circle off Maritime Street, blocking the entrance to the port as longshore workers looked on from across the street.

      Chants of "Free, free Palestine" rang out as Alameda County sheriff's deputies, who clearly outnumbered protesters, watched from a distance.....

      If you search Google News carefully enough, you might be able to find a story published between the first departure and the u-turn, but, as they say, that's all water under the bridge now . :-)

    • One more point, ckg: when we're talking about the ILWU, it's important to distinguish between the union officialdom on the one hand and the rank and file on the other. The officials publicly defended the workers who refused to cross the line on Sunday, on the ostensible but also real grounds that getting in the middle of a confrontation between the OPD and protesters could be a threat to their health and safety - remember that some workers were actually injured by "less lethal" weaponry the OPD used against our anti-war march in April 2003). The officials certainly never endorsed the refusal to work the ship, and according to some credible reports, some of them collaborated with the companies in getting workers there on Tuesday night. It was the rank and file - not all of them, but enough of them to create real problems in getting the ship worked - who boycotted the job and thus made the action the overall success it was.

    • Another awesome video, this one apparently from the Block the Boat coalition itself (and therefore focused on the weekend actions, not on the follow-up picketing):

    • @ckg: There are many conflicting stories about how much of the cargo was offloaded. Some certainly was, but contrary to the statement of the ILWU spokesman, some of the longshore workers on the job insist that only a fraction of the containers originally scheduled to be unloaded had been taken off when the ship took off the second time. And definitely no new containers were loaded onto the ship - apparently there's a stack of them still sitting at Berth 57, where the ship originally docked. Presumably some other ship will have to pick them up.

    • Perhaps you could tell us, Gene Shae, what you have been doing over the last week to bring justice for the Palestinians. We're always open to suggestions for more effective tactics....

    • I just came across a fabulous quote from a Port of Oakland spokesman, in a Tuesday local TV story about what happened Monday night:

      "Despite tremendous effort by our law enforcement partners... operations at the terminal were still not able to proceed last night due to insufficient labor reporting for duty," [port spokesman Robert ] Bernardo said.

  • UPDATED: Bay Area demonstrators succeed for **fourth** day in 'Blocking the Boat for Gaza'
    • OMG! The boat has turned around and appears to be headed back into the bay! I'm signing off and headed to the port. Wish us luck...

    • Statement just posted by Lara Kiswani, leader of the Block the Boat campaign:

      August 19, 2014
      For four days straight the San Francisco Bay Area community blocked the Israeli ZIM ship from unloading at the Port of Oakland. And today, we salute the rank and file of ILWU for standing with us against Israeli Apartheid by honoring our pickets and letting the ship go from the SSA terminal this afternoon!

      Saturday we mobilized thousands of our community to show the world that Oakland does not welcome racism, apartheid or Zionism, from Ferguson to Palestine. We flooded the streets and marched towards the Port only to discover that the ZIM ship decided to stay at Bay rather than dock and be confronted by the power of our numbers. The ship attempted to dock and unload on Sunday, but within a half hour’s time hundreds of us organized community pickets requesting that ILWU to stand with us on the side of justice and not unload the Apartheid ship. And as ILWU always has, and as they did during South African Apartheid, they demonstrated their solidarity with the global fight against oppression and honored our picket. Once again on Monday, and then on Tuesday morning, community pickets coupled with worker solidarity stopped the ZIM ship from unloading.

      Today we declare a historic victory for Palestine as Oakland held down the longest ever blockade of an Israeli ship. Not only did we block the boat, but we also showed the world that racist exclusionary state of Apartheid Israel has no place on our port, and will soon find that it has no place on any port on the West Coast.

      Oakland feels firsthand the brutality of Israeli war-making. And Palestine knows too well the role the US plays in facilitating the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian people. From the policing and militarization of our local communities perfected with Israeli tactics of repression to the billions that the US provides Apartheid Israel, the connections are clear and are made for us. And over the last four days we showed the world that we stand shoulder to shoulder from Palestine to Oakland to Ferguson as we struggle bring down every wall, every apartheid system and every racist state.

      Palestine will be free.

    • As of two minutes ago, it has passed under the Golden Gate Bridge. Good riddance, Zim Piraeus!

      re Alcatraz: in fact there are probably few if any Israelis aboard, and while I wish no one would work for Israeli businesses, I don't actually think ordinary sailors should be locked up because they get hired on to a Zim ship.

    • 4:12 p.m.: It now appears that the Israeli ship really is leaving Oakland, unless they're pulling a seriously elaborate ruse. The four tugs that were with it have left it, and it's headed west out of Oakland harbor. In fact, shows it just passed under the Bay Bridge.

      Now passing Alcatraz - they could just lock themselves up there....

    • Whoa, latest rumor is that the "destination LA" business may have been a trick and the ship is really just moving to a different berth in Oakland, at a location much harder for community members to get to. We'll see - stay tuned....

      One way or another, they're on the run....

    • Good video about Monday's picketing:

    • Yes!!! The Zim Piraeus is leaving Oakland, having been unable over four days to get its cargo unloaded here! According to link to
      it just turned around in Oakland Harbor and is now "underway using engine," destination Los Angeles.

      Let's hope it gets a corresponding reception there!

      Viva Palestina!

    • Latest: picketers again went to the Port of Oakland early this morning, and no workers were called to load or unload the Israeli ship. In short, it's now been sitting idle for more than four days. We're planning to go back this afternoon, but the latest word (still unconfirmed, to my knowledge) is that the ship is leaving town this afternoon to try its luck elsewhere - it can't unload its cargo in Oakland!

      In the video below, Lara Kiswani, head of the Area Resource and Organizing Center in San Francisco and leader of the Block the Boat campaign, stands with an ILWU worker and announces this morning's victory.

      link to

      Long Live Palestine!

    • @Kris: thanks for posting that report and links - saved me the trouble. On correction: "A small group of about 15 people" is vicious Zionist slander. I'm sure there were at least 25 of us out there :-)

      I didn't go back tonight, but a few folks did, and apparently the workers again declined to cross. Clearly that would not have happened without the mass action on Saturday, and it's arguable that the Sunday picket lines were big enough to be effective. But by this morning, and I gather tonight, there aren't even any real picket lines, just a handful of folks making a symbolic presence (plus scores of cops), so when the workers refuse to work the ship, it's they who deserve all the credit for making that choice - nobody is stopping them, effectively, from going in.

      It's partly solidarity with Palestine, for sure, but in general it comes out of Local 10's strong tradition of not crossing community picket lines (they've respected actions about Oscar Grant, Mumia Abu Jamal, the 2010 Gaza flotilla attack, and other issues - though there were problems last year with a truckers' demo), and partly, I think, a reluctance to go work with the police escorting them, considering the OPD's history. In addition, the ILWU is currently in contract negotiations - their old contract expired July 1 - and I've heard from friends with good contacts within the union that at least some of the leadership and rank and file have decided that this situation is actually a good opportunity to remind the bosses that nothing moves if the longshore-people don't work....

      As for an unknown person (or persons) spreading misinformation, it's certainly possible that someone(s) did so in a deliberate attempt at subversion, but it could have been honest confusion - there are all kinds of conflicting rumors, tweets, etc. flying around, particularly because the official Block the Boat coalition is not using its impressive communications network (a text-blasting system, Facebook, Twitter, and even that old carryover from the 20th century, e-mail) to spread the word about today's "unofficial" actions. Under those circumstances, plus the fact that it was Monday morning and a lot of folks had to work, go to school, etc., the action this morning would surely have been small even if no one had claimed it was called off.

  • How to respond to thoughtful people who can't help saying 'but Hamas'
    • Yeah, though I'm sure you agree that the right way to deal with the tunnels is certainly not the Egyptian approach, but to make them unnecessary by opening the borders for starters, then building a port, rebuilding the airport, and all the rest.

    • On conversing with Jewish Zionists, don't miss this spectacular video:

      (I thought this had already been posted at MW, but I can't find it at the moment so I'm putting it here. If I missed it, forgive the duplication.)

  • Where you can donate to help Gaza -- Updated
    • Anyone know anything about ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid), a U.S.-based 501(c)3 that says it has a staff of 16 in Gaza? According to their detailed "Crisis in Gaza 2014 - ANERA Response Log," they've been able to import and distribute water, food, medications, etc., in Gaza throughout the current crisis.

      link to

  • Portrait of a Zionist
  • 'Children killed in their sleep': Israeli artillery fire hits UN school, killing at least 20
    • I clicked the link in Alex's post to Jesse Rosenfeld's article in the Daily Beast about last week's Israeli bombing of an UNRWA school/shelter, the one in Beit Hanoun. One of the people Rosenfeld interviews is a guy named Attaf Rafik Hammud, who had his leg shredded in that attack. The article concludes:

      As for Hammud, when his shrapnel-filled leg mends enough for him to leave the hospital, he will not have a home to return to. He doesn’t think it will be safe to return to Beit Hanoun and despite the attacks that UNRWA facilities have been facing, he likely will end up in another one.
      “I will go to stay in a school in the Jaballiya refugee camp,” he said. “God willing, I’ll be safe there.”

      Unfortunately, God wasn't willing. I wonder whether Hammud survived.

    • Page: 5
  • The threat of sanctions worked against Israel in 1956 -- and it can work again
  • Photos: Even with ceasefire, Gaza protests continue across US (Updated)
    • @Walid: All I can say about the keffiyehs is that in the Bay Area a lot of people wearing one bought it from the Northern California support group of the International Solidarity Movement, which gets them from the Hirbawi factory in al-Khalil (Hebron), reportedly the last company in Palestine that still makes them.

      Here's the description from the NorCal ISM site:

      The kufiyya is part of an ancient tradition of Middle Eastern textile weaving. Its pattern was first used in ancient Mesopotamia. Since the 1930s it has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance. It is traditionally worn like a scarf, as protection from the elements, but there is no wrong way to wear it. The last remaining kufiyya producer in Palestine is the Hirbawi factory, located in Al-Khalil (Hebron). Fourteen of its sixteen looms sit idle, due to cheap imports and hundreds of barriers erected by Israel to destroy the Palestinian economy.

      Proceeds from the sale of these kufiyyas, benefit the Palestinian producers and the International Solidarity Movement, which sends volunteers to Palestine for nonviolent resistance against Israeli land confiscation and military occupation.

      If, by the way, any MW readers want to buy a genuine Palestinian kufiyya (ISM spelling) - $20 each, lots of choices re color - you can order them from NorCal ISM at
      link to

  • (Updated) In Photos: Worldwide protest against Israeli attack on Gaza
    • A video that gives a good sense of the size and flavor of the march in San Francisco yesterday:

    • re "the Arab non-showing in all these demonstrations":

      I think you're talking about the "Arab world," not the Arab diaspora, but perhaps it will make you feel a tiny bit better to know that the demonstration in support of Palestine in San Francisco yesterday was initiated, organized, and led by the Arab Youth Organization, an offshoot of the Arab Resource & Organizing Center in SF, and that there was a large turn-out of Palestinian-Americans and other Arab-Americans, as well as Muslim Americans of other backgrounds. In general, it was probably the largest Palestine-related demonstration ever in the Bay Area - certainly the biggest in my memory, even compared to several substantial marches during Operation Cast Lead - but I was especially struck and heartened by the increase in the number of apparent Arabs participating, including lots of families with kids of all ages, even babies in strollers.

  • Finally, Israel is alienating the US mainstream media
    • More plain speaking by Anne Barnard in Tuesday's NY Times: a moving account of a strike that killed 25 members of four households, including 19 children, as they sat down to break the Ramadan fast together.

      link to

  • Heathcote Williams: 'An Old Man and a Young Man in Gaza'
  • Gaza, a poem
    • Another poem - not exactly poetic, to my ear, but a powerful summary of what's going on - by well-known British poet Heathcote Williams is at:

      link to

      Dore Stein, courageous host of the music show Tangents on San Francisco public radio station KALW, read it on the air last night!

  • Israel is in a pickle
    • Thanks, MDM, for the pointer to Al Jazeera post containing Hamas' conditions. I agree that they're eminently reasonable - in fact, it's hard to see how any reasonable person could say they're not. Just to save folks the trouble of clicking on your link:

      Qatari newspaper al-Arabi al-Jadeed revealed the proposed Qatar,Turkey-backed truce deal

      Hamas' terms

      1. An immediate ceasefire of both sides.

      2. The halt to military and security attacks of all kinds from both sides.

      3. Israel will commit itself to completely lift the land and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip:
      Israel will open all border crossing, as well as the Gaza Port, in order to allow the entrance of all goods, electricity, gas and any other Palestinian necessities.

      12 miles will be added to the Gaza fishing zone.
      Palestinians will be allowed to move freely in the Gaza border area and there will be no buffer zone.

      4. A plan to rehabilitate Gaza will be put into motion.

      5. Undoing Operation Brother's Keeper:
      Israel will complete its obligations from the Shalit deal, including the release of Palestinian prisoners who were freed as a part of the deal and re-arrested during the West Bank operation.
      Israel will end all collective punishments and actions against the Palestinians in the West Bank that were put in place since the kidnapping and murder of the three Israel teenagers.
      Israel will release all of the suspects arrested during the operation, among them the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council Aziz Duwaik.
      Israel will allow Hamas institutes in the West Bank that were shut down during the operation to reopen.
      Israel will return all public property it confiscated during the operation.

      6. Israel will stop its administrative detentions policy and end punishments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

      The ceasefire will be put into effect in the following manner:

      A time will be set for the understandings to come into effect.

      The United States will act as guarantor to ensure the agreement is implemented according to a defined timetable, to safeguard the truce and to ensure there are no failures in the implementation of the agreement. If either side has reservations, it will turn to the United States.

      Both sides will halt fire within six hours from the time the agreement is accepted.

      Here is a link to the paper's website in Arabic link to

    • Tony Blair (or more likely someone who works for him) may have written the text of the ridiculous "Egyptian" ceasefire proposal, but I'll bet the idea came straight from Tel Aviv.

  • Gaza is a concentration camp, and it's an American delusion not to recognize that -- Weschler
    • Too bad Weschler no longer works at the New Yorker - this piece would carry much more weight if published there than at (with all due respect) truth Of course, if he were still at the New Yorker, they wouldn't publish it anyway...

      I was a fan of his work on Poland in the 1980s, so I'm glad to see him speaking out about Palestine - for the first time I know of. And most of what he writes is much sharper than the usual liberal BS. But in addition to the point Phil raises about him dodging the role of the Jewish establishment, I also object to his final paragraph, which says the conflict is part of a "primordial, atavistic blood feud." He's trying to sound progressive by saying you can't apply that kind of framework just to other far-away conflicts (Shia/Sunni, Serb/Bosnian, Tutsi/Hutu), but I don't think it's a useful framework for understanding any of those issues - in all cases, it's a way of avoiding the concrete analysis of concrete conditions.

  • Israeli strike kills four Palestinian children playing soccer on Gaza beach
    • These murders are evidently too much even for Human Rights Watch, with its revolving door for US government types looking for a bit of r'n'r.

      "Israel/Palestine: Unlawful Israeli Airstrikes Kill Civilians -
      Bombings of Civilian Structures Suggest Illegal Policy"

      link to

  • Protest the Israeli onslaught: Demonstrations planned worldwide against Israeli attack on Gaza
    • If anyone still wants to get Adalah-NY's file with names of Gaza dead formatted for prin6as stickers or simple posters, you can now download it from
      link to

    • Many thanks, Adele - that looks like a very useful as well as impressive list. I just sent a note to Adam calling his attention to it. I hope he'll find a way to give it some more prominence tonight or tomorrow.

    • I should have added that the data for the stickers Hannah Mermelstein of Adalah-NY put together came from Michael Omer-Man's "Nobody Should Be a Number" post at 972 Magazine:
      link to

      (Adam, if you can stick this into the post, that'd be great.)

  • 10 Years after the Advisory Opinion on the Wall in Occupied Palestine: Time for Concrete Action
    • Off topic, but also on the legal front, and potentially more consequential than this letter - if it's true: The Times of Israel reported today that "PA President Mahmoud Abbas called a crisis meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the afternoon with the intention of signing paperwork to apply to join the ICC in The Hague and other international organizations."
      link to

      But that was posted about 12 hours ago, and neither I nor Google News has been able to find any follow-up, except another Times of Israel piece quoting Michael Oren saying “We have an Iron Dome to protect against rockets, but we have no Iron Dome for this. The danger of sanctions and embargoes is a real one.”
      link to

      I've been tied up all day since I first read the report about them signing the ICC paperwork. I logged in just now expecting to see MW full of discussion about this - I'm amazed to see nothing. Did the PA chicken out again?

  • After brutal police beating, Palestinian-American Tarek Abu Khdeir, 15, sentenced to home arrest without charge
    • FWIW, the story of Tarek Abu Khdeir , reported briefly but without any particular Zionist spin, was the lead item in the NPR hourly headlines all morning today. Same on Saturday evening, except then they sometimes put it second after the news that his cousin was burned alive.

      Terrible as all this is for the Abu Khdeir family, it can't be good for the Zionists.

  • Liberal Zionists' denial of Israeli racism heightens danger to 'everyone living in this land' -- Blumenthal
    • I actually think a lot of Israelis would welcome a regional war, not just because they're so into blowing sh*t up and killing Arabs, but more specifically because it would give them an opportunity to "finish '48" - i.e., ethnically cleanse if not all of the West Bank, then at least Area C, plus conceivably the "Little Triangle," Jaffa, and other parts of Israel "proper."

      Would the Americans or anyone else stop them under those circumstances? I doubt it, assuming the Israelis are clever enough to provoke the war in such a way that it can all be blamed on "terrorists" or Iran or something.

      Even in that scenario, I can't imagine any way they could cleanse Gaza, though.

    • I just heard a report on BBC that the movement of Israeli troops to the Gaza border was "a defensive maneuver." I guess they're worried that Hamas is going to unleash its state-of-the-art tank battalions and invade Israel...

    • Hi, Danaa. Good to see you, so to speak, and thanks for the RT tip. I just looked the interview up and am playing it right now. For the benefit of anyone else who may be interested, the show is at
      link to
      and the segment with Max begins at 13:55.

    • Follow-up: KPFA claims it was just slip-up. Sonali Kolhatkar apparently sent two re-runs, Max for today and Ayers for tomorrow, but someone accidentally played the wrong one today. The interview with Max is now supposed to air tomorrow.

      Anyone know of any new interviews with Max this week? He'd obviously have a lot to say about the latest developments.

    • A related note that might be of interest to folks in the Bay Area: KPFA, our local Pacifica outlet, was scheduled to air a re-run of an old interview with Max this morning at 8 a.m. They even promo'd the interview on the air earlier this morning.

      But when 8 o'clock rolled around, no Max - instead, they played a re-run of an old interview with Bill Ayers.

      The program in question is Uprising, an LA-based interview show hosted by Sonali Kolhatkar, which KPFA management recently decided to pipe in in place of a diverse, community-based show called the Morning Mix. Sonali's website,, says today's installment is the interview with Max, and KPFK, the LA Pacifica station where the show originates, in fact aired it - I listened to it on the stream from

      The interview itself is from Max's book tour last year, and to those of us who've read Goliath and/or heard other interviews with Max, it was all pretty familiar. But at least it was important background for understanding the current anti-Palestinian pogroms in Jerusalem and elsewhere. Yet somebody at KPFA made a last-minute decision to dump it in favor of the Ayers interview, which had no direct connection at all to anything to today's news.

      KPFA also declined to sponsor a talk by Max during his book tour last year, even though they sponsor events with all kinds of authors every year. When I complained that they weren't having Max, the guy in charge of the events series told me they were "too busy."

      KPFA does do some good coverage of the Palestine issue, particularly on shows called Flashpoints and Voices of the Middle East and North Africa. Yesterday they had Rashid Khalidi and Shlomi Eldar on another morning show. But the last-minute blocking of the interview with Max is pretty fishy...

  • Missing Israeli teens found dead near Hebron; Netanyahu: 'Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay'
    • I trust the Hamas leaders are not staying at home tonight or in the near future...

      BTW, not to be picky but just for accuracy's sake, even though I just heard BBC join MW in calling Halhul a village, it's actually a substantial town or small city. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, it had a population of 22,108 in 2007, but that's not counting another 10,000 or so in the Arub refugee camp up the road.

  • What Comes Next: Five Palestine futures
    • Parity, your proposal sounds similar to "parallel states" plan that Mark LeVine (professor of Middle East history at the University of California, Irvine) and Matthias Mossberg (a retired Swedish diplomat) have been promoting for some years. One of the many places they've written about it is in this Al Jazeera op-ed:
      link to

      Their vision is also elaborated in a recently published anthology they edited, entitled "One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States."
      link to

      I've read a bunch of the book, as well as many of the editors' op-eds. I find their ideas somewhat intriguing in the abstract, but for the plan to work, both sides would have to buy in. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem much more likely to me that the Israelis would accept such a plan than that they'd go for a single democratic state, and for now there's no one with the will or the power to push them into any such arrangement.

  • 75% of visitors to Israel's Canada Park believe it is located inside the Green Line (it's not)
  • A trip to Battir
    • If anyone is interested in reading more about Hassan Mustafa and Battir's resistance in the 1940, I just discovered that the paper Aisha Mansour cites in this post, "Civil Resistance in Palestine: The village of Battir in 1948," a Master's thesis by Jawad Botmeh, is available in full online, in the form of a 47-page PDF, at the following location:

      link to

  • From Mississippi to Gaza -- Dorothy Zellner reflects on 50 years of struggle
    • Wow, Ned, that's the first time I've been called "an empire denier"! Of course, there's a US empire, run by a ruling class composed of various elements, of which the Zionist elite is only one, and of course it routinely uses its power to pursue its imperial interests all over the world, including in the Middle East.

      But tell me what components of the US elite, aside from the Zionist elite (a.k.a. the Lobby), have any stake in Israeli control of the tiny little areas, with virtually no critical natural resources, that make up the Palestinian territories? Does Lockheed-Martin care about East Jerusalem? Does Exxon Mobile have plans to steal the cosmetic mud from the Dead Sea? Does Intel need the south Hebron hills to produce its processors? Would Google suffer if Jews didn't control Ariel or Gush Etzion? Does the American military require bases in the Jordan Valley to defend the empire? What possible objection could any of these forces have to either a democratic secular state in all of historic Palestine or a two-state solution in line with the much-touted "international consensus"?

      In fact, the empire would have a much easier time pursuing its other interests in the Middle East and elsewhere if the issue were resolved one way or another with a modicum of justice for the Palestinians. (That was the argument of the State Department et al. in the 1940s - it was true thane and it's true now.)

      When you get to the wider Middle East and beyond, things get more complex - other components of the US imperial coalition have other interests, and hence the Zionists don't always get everything what they want. I think of Zionist power over US policy in terms of concentric circles: within, say, 50 miles of Tel Aviv, the Zionists have in effect complete control. When you get out 100 or 200 miles, so you're dealing with Lebanon and Syria and Jordan and Egypt, the Zionists still have enormous influence, but other interests are also at play. Further out, when the issues involve Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, other corporate elites have much more to say. (On these issues, I think some others who focus on the power of the Lobby sometimes get a little simplistic, but anyone who thinks the Israelis and the Lobby aren't a major factor are even more deluded.)

      But the issue Ms. Zellner was talking about in this interview, when she says "we're winning," is the plight of the Palestinians, not those wider questions. As I said in my previous message, I agree with her that there have been some quite remarkable changes in public opinion, but
      a) even in that respect, we still have a very long way to go, and the Zionists still have plentyof arrows in their quiver (control of the media and the pols, Holocaust guilt, the accompanying ability to manipulate cultural imagery e.g., to foment Islamophobia, and so on); and
      b) my original point: changes in public opinion don't necessarily lead to changes in US policy, given the enormous power of the Zionist elite to keep policy makers in line regardless of divisions among the public.

    • Very nice interview. I too am a confirmed pessimist, and yet I share Ms. Zellner's optimism about the trend in public opinion.

      On the other hand, with respect to us "winning," I think we need to remember that the Zionist grip on the US government and media is not primarily a function of public opinion. That would be true in a genuine democracy, but the US surely ain't one. In real life, it's the wealth and organizational muscle of a fairly small Jewish elite - rich, racist and reactionary - combined with the influence of intellectuals who have sold themselves to that elite, that forces the pols, the media, the universities, the religious institutions (including the Jewish community "leadership"), etc., to toe the Zionist line. Like the mafia, this elite doesn't owe its power to public support, but to its ruthless use of force (usually political and economic, but sometimes physical) against anyone who crosses them, so changes in public opinion, welcome as they are, don't by themselves do much to weaken that elite's power.

      Look at Western Europe - there public opinion is, on the whole, much more clear-eyed about Israel/Palestine, but Zionist elites, even though smaller and less powerful than in the US, are nevertheless able to prevent their governments, despite occasional rhetorical gestures, from actually challenging the the Israelis in any effective way.

      So beyond doing what we can to educate the American public, Jewish and non-Jewish, about what really goes on over there, if we're serious about "winning" we have to call out and eventually break the power of the Zionist mafia. This site works on both fronts, but IMO we need much more work on that second front. Unfortunately, even among the increasing numbers of people willing to criticize Israel, even to acknowledge its crimes, all too few have the guts to venture anywhere near an analysis of the power of the Zionist elite - even many progressives consider raising those issues to be "anti-Semitic."

      (Just doing my part to uphold the banner of pessimism, in the spirit of Gramsic's slogan: "Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.")

  • In life and death, some are more equal than others at the 'NYT'
    • Excellent. For additional smart discussion of NY Times' coverage of the disappearance of the three settlers and its aftermath, see also two pieces by Barbara Erickson at the consistently insightful
      "The NY Times and the Kidnapped Teens: What Else is Missing Here?"
      link to

      "In The NY Times (and Israel) Abbas Gets a New Role"
      link to

      On similar problems with coverage on BBC and other international media, see also Amena Saleem's "International media ignore Israel’s abduction of Palestinian teens" on the ElectronicIntifada
      link to

      In the first ten days of June, seventeen teenage boys were abducted in the occupied West Bank. The youngest was thirteen, the oldest seventeen.

      Some were dragged at gunpoint from their homes and family in the middle of the night; others were seized from the streets in broad daylight.

      All of the abductions were documented by the Palestinian Monitoring Group. None were reported by the international media. No Western politicians called for the release of the boys.

      On 12 June, three more teenage boys went missing in the West Bank. Their disappearance sparked worldwide media coverage, cries of terrorism and demands for their release by the US Secretary of State and the UK Foreign Secretary.

      Those three are Israeli. The seventeen others are Palestinian.

  • UNESCO group votes to protect ancient Palestinian terraces from Israel's wall
    • The name Kerry Kennedy jumped out at me from the list of signers to the appeal to the UNESCO committee. She's a daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, former wife of Andrew Cuomo, and founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights. According to various online reports, she has once led a delegation to Gaza, but as far as I know, she hasn't been very public on the Palestine issue. (No mention of Palestine or Israel on her official bio). So it's a small positive step that she lent her name to this letter.

  • Media postings twist 3-fingered sign of support for Mohammed Assaf into celebration of reported teen kidnapping (Updated)
    • I'm no fan of Sheera Frenkel, to say the least, but it's only fair to note that after linking to that "Israellycool" site, she followed with an article entitled "Palestinian Wakes Up To Find His Innocent Facebook Photo Used As Symbol Of Anti-Israel Hate Campaign," exposing the misuse of the year-old photo of Mohammed AlQadi.
      link to

      Someone tweeted that Frenkel was just following Annie's piece, but Frenkel claims she reported it first. Her article is timestamped 8:56 a.m. on June 18 (yesterday).

  • Human rights activists are 'out front' of others and 'thank goodness they are' --Hillary Clinton
    • >>I often criticize Gross here for her old-school Middle East opinions. But
      >>this interview shows her brilliance– patient, penetrating, precise, courageous.

      You are, IMO, way too kind here to Terry Gross, Phil. She obviously wanted to pick a little polite fight with Hillary Clinton, to liven up the show and score a few points with the right-wing Clinton haters. It's probably a good thing she didn't bring up Israel/Palestine - then we would would have been treated to the spectacle of the two of them competing about who loves Israel the most. But leaving that aside, there are hundreds of important issues she could have pressed Clinton about - after all, she just finished a term as one of the top agents and spokespersons of the US empire, and she's clearly aiming to be its CEO come 2016. But instead of challenging her about, say, Guantanamo or drone killings or "free trade" or the abject betrayal of the Bahreini people or the idiotic embargo on Cuba or her support for Kagame, Museveni, and other brutal dictators in Africa, or, or, or, .... Gross chose to make a fuss over the question of why Clinton changed her line on same-sex marriage. However you assess the importance of same-sex marriage, the question of why Clinton changed her line on it is surely not a critical one.

      (Besides, isn't it obvious that the answer must have been some combination of personal moral "evolution" on the one hand and political opportunism on the other?)

  • Hamas-Fatah reconciliation: Palestinian unity on Israel’s terms won’t help
    • Great line from political analyst Samah Sabawi: “What we need more than ministries and authorities is resistance and liberation.”

  • Chris Matthews and David Corn defend Israel against 'slander' of apartheid
    • I chose last night to flag that comment , checking "inflammatory" and "personal attack." It seems to have been removed now, as best I can tell.

      Probably I should have let it be, for just the reason you cite, David Samel. But I imagine I'm not the only person who flagged it.

  • Boston subway ads are shocking-- 'and so is the reality on the ground'
    • Terrific ads. Kudos to Chadi Salamoun, Richard Colbath-Hess, and everyone else involved - and to Annie for bringing them to our attention.

      My only complaint is that "Does Israel want peace ... or land?" line. Obviously they want peace ... and land. The Israelis, like everyone else, want peace, as long as it's on their own terms. What they don't want is anything resembling justice.

  • Houston stadium security detains soccer fan for waving Palestinian flag as 'racial slur'
    • But you also did a fabulous job pulling it all together, Annie. I only occasionally share MW posts on Facebook, because I don't want to bore my friends who aren't as obsessed with this issue as I am, but I was delighted to share this one!

  • Check out the new Rolling Stones logo
  • SodaStream stock loses fizz amid 'boycott fears'
    • Annie, I'm not at all taking the position that "the work and actions of activists in the BDS movement means nothing and has no impact." As I said in my previous comment, I've been part of the boycott-SodaStream movement for a long time, and I'm delighted that it's attracted so much attention in recent months, thanks in considerable part to your efforts.

      I also don't doubt that Starbucks, if they were or are considering an investment in SS, read your piece and take it into account.

      What I question is the idea that the BDS campaign has had much to do with the decline in the price of SodaStream's stock. To me the evidence is overwhelming that that was a response to their disappointing (to investors) financial results for 2013.

      Yes, that happened four months ago. Why is the stock up only 70 cents or whatever since then? Because the 2013 results, confirmed by this month's report on Q1 2014, showed that Wall Street's previous expectations, based on the assumption that SS sales would continue to accelerate at a rapid rate, were illusory. The stock-market analysts then revised their models and predictions to reflect the new data, and the investors are now making their decisions on the basis of those reduced estimates. Like every other stock, it bounces up and down in response to the news and rumors of the day, the moods on Wall Street, etc., but it's now fluctuating around the new baseline the market set on Jan. 13, when the 2013 warning came out.

    • With all due respect to Annie and commenters congratulating the BDS movement for the slide in SodaStream stock, I don't buy it.

      The entire drop in the price of the shares this year occurred on one day, Jan. 13, when it fell 25 percent, from a close of $49.89 on the previous trading day all the way down to $36.94. That had little or nothing to do with BDS - it isn't as if the movement had gone on some special offensive that weekend. The sharp decline was clearly a response to the company's public announcement that day of preliminary results for fiscal 2013 that were dramatically below both its own previous predictions ("guidance") and Wall Street analysts' estimates. Specifically, the company said net income would be approximately $52.5 million versus a previous estimate of $63 million.

      That's a classic case of what's known in the business world as an "earnings miss," something I used to have to write about regularly when I was a business reporter. As such developments always do, it not only triggered the immediate sell-off, but also forced all the analysts, investment advisors, etc., to re-do their models and downgrade their predictions for the future.

      It's true that SodaStream announced a few days earlier that they were hiring Scarlett Johansson (probably in part an attempt to blunt the bad news they knew was coming), and Annie's first post here about her (the one entitled "Scarlett Johansson for SodaStream: ‘Set the bubbles free’ but keep the Palestinians bottled in Area A") appeared on Sunday, Jan. 12, the day before the sell-off. I guess I can't prove it wasn't that post, rather than the Monday announcement of financial results, that sent the investors running for the hills - if you want to believe that, be my guest. But it's certainly a fact that the ScarJo/Oxfam flap didn't boil up into the mass media until later that month, so you'd have to believe that the major investors were glued to MW over the weekend and made the decision to bail out of the company as soon as they read Annie's piece.

      Notice that since Jan. 13, through all the media attention the ScarJo issue brought, SodaStream stock has yo-yo'd up and down several times - the six-month chart is here - mainly in response to rumors that Coke or Starbucks was about to buy a big chunk of the company, and to whatever else drives the market. Overall, however, it hasn't gone down at all since the Jan. 13 sell-off - in fact, its close this past Friday, even after the Barclays downgrade, was still above where it wound up that day five and a half months ago.

      I'm certainly not trying to pooh-pooh BDS in general or the SodaStream campaign in particular - I've been participating in it for years, and I do believe it can be a very powerful vehicle for educating people about the occupation. But to suppose that we're powerful enough to drive major changes in the valuation of a publicly traded corporation with one post on this site strikes me as a dangerous delusion.

  • Why doesn't 'NYT' pay more attention to B'Tselem, the leading Israeli human rights org?
    • Good point, James. B'Tselem does extraordinarily good work, and it's a disgrace tot he Times that they don't report more of its findings.

      On the other hand, let's not forget that the organization is also part of the Zionist settler-colonial enterprise, and that puts some limits on their outlook. The clearest example I know of is their response to the Goldstone report. While they of course welcomed much of the original report, called on the Israeli government to undertake criminal investigations of the facts it detailed, and so on, they also objected to the report's framing of Cast Lead as part of "an overall policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population for its resilience" - an analysis that struck me me, then and now, as obviously correct and, in fact, more important than any of the findings about specific atrocities. And when Goldstone backed down on that particular point, they welcomed his capitulation.

      link to

      link to

  • Another prominent liberal Jew runs away from the Zionist label
    • Emily Hauser has a good response to Friedlander, entitled "Zionism Wasn't Kidnapped. It Was Handed Over," at the Forward site. link to

      I guess she's some species of liberal Zionist - she used to write for Beinart's Open Zion site - and she certainly doesn't get into questions about 1948, etc., but at least she acknowledges that the crimes of recent decades have been committed by or with the complicity of the Jewish mainstream - at least implicitly, US as well as Israeli Jews. As she puts it, "Zionism wasn’t kidnapped, or even merely 'taken,' by the far right. It was handed over, with barely a peep, by the vast middle."

      A couple of excerpts:

      Wars, incursions, bombings – all are sad, indeed, particularly when innocent Israelis are hurt or killed, but human rights abuses by the military? The IDF is the most moral army in the world, and anyone who says different is probably an anti-Semite. Or, if the source is a Jew, a self-hater. Or, if the source is an Israeli combat soldier, a self-hater and an embarrassment to the nation. Demagogues climbed to the top of Israel’s political ladder, gained government ministries, passed anti-democratic laws, and structured budgets to make Israel’s occupation permanent – and the vast middle has watched, and sighed. And written checks, and sent their kids on Birthright, and floated in the Dead Sea.

      Because it’s easier. It’s easier to believe that ethnic anxiety is the only true form of Judaism. It’s easier to believe that boys who look like your boys must be nice boys. It’s easier to believe that the bad guys are always bad, that Israeli hi-tech is more important than Israeli soldiers invading people’s homes, and that everything will be…okay.
      Wars, incursions, bombings – all are sad, indeed, particularly when innocent Israelis are hurt or killed, but human rights abuses by the military? The IDF is the most moral army in the world, and anyone who says different is probably an anti-Semite. Or, if the source is a Jew, a self-hater. Or, if the source is an Israeli combat soldier, a self-hater and an embarrassment to the nation. Demagogues climbed to the top of Israel’s political ladder, gained government ministries, passed anti-democratic laws, and structured budgets to make Israel’s occupation permanent – and the vast middle has watched, and sighed. And written checks, and sent their kids on Birthright, and floated in the Dead Sea.

      Because it’s easier. It’s easier to believe that ethnic anxiety is the only true form of Judaism. It’s easier to believe that boys who look like your boys must be nice boys. It’s easier to believe that the bad guys are always bad, that Israeli hi-tech is more important than Israeli soldiers invading people’s homes, and that everything will be…okay."


      Rather than use our vaunted Jewish intelligence to question the very idea that any occupation could ever be enlightened; rather than mine the free press that flourishes in our democracies to seek the truth; rather than look the Palestinian people in the eye and see their pain – we have chosen to listen to those who make us feel good about ourselves. We turn the page when Hass or Beinart appear. We close our minds and our social halls to Breaking the Silence and J Street. We march in Israel Day parades and send emails about BDS [HN: I assume she means attacking or fretting about BDS] and sing Hatikva.

      And today Israel and the Zionist dream of a democratic, Jewish homeland hang by a thread. We are inches from a one-state “solution” predicated on the permanent, illegal, unjust and immoral subjugation of millions of people, one that will be soaked in blood (who knows better than Jews that the subjugated tend to rise up?), and leave in tatters the Jewish values we claim to hold so dear.

      It’s profoundly easy, and deeply comforting, to think that Israeli politicians like Uri Ariel and Ayelet Shaked and American leaders like Sheldon Adelson and Mort Klein are the problem. That they have taken our dreams and roughed them up, and oy, what can we do?

      But the simple truth is that these people – just like the settlers who set mosques alight and the soldiers who kick little boys – are doing what we have let them do.

  • The NYT and the NSA: Abramson and Baquet have different journalistic values
    • >>the editor of the American Guardian, Janine Gibson. Gibson’s sense
      >>of the public importance of secret surveillance, to judge by the
      >>evidence thus far, is of a different order from Baquet’s.

      Possibly, but let's not forget that Janine Gibson was also the editor who tried to hire the loathsome Joshua Treviño, a former Bush II speechwriter who wrote that the 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla was “not morally different from a Nazi convoy” and that it would be “cool” with him if the Israelis shot all of us who were taking part in it.

      link to

  • 'San Jose Mercury News' runs many pictures of Israeli children caressing guns
    • @amigo, just click the "numbers 1-8" link in the second paragraph of the post. Or click the following:
      link to

    • Did these pictures run in the printed paper? If not, how about correcting this post to say ran the pictures? To me that's a very different thing from having them in the paper: putting them in print would be much more of a statement on the part of the editors and would be much more noticeable to readers than just including them in the photo gallery section of their web site, which on the same day also featured pix of "'Dog-In' at Oakland City Hall," "125th Anniversary of Eiffel Tower opening at Paris Exposition," "V-E Day 69 years ago, allies celebrate surrender of Germany," and so on.

  • Circular logic: Israel agrees not to discriminate against Palestinian-American travelers -- not that it ever did
    • Allison and others: does anyone know of any data about how many Americans who are not of Palestinian or other Arab descent have been denied entry into Israel or into the occupied Palestinian territories through Israeli border controls? I'm thinking about people denied either because they're known critics of Israel (such as Chomsky) or simply because they admitted planning to go to the OPT (like the flytilla people)?

  • Using Schwerner and Goodman and the Nazis to deny the Jewish moment (privilege)
    • >>the large number of Jews in sports ownership, including Donald Sterling....
      >>Donald Sterling is not the only arrogant powerful prick in our number.

      Let's not forget Dan Snyder, who owns the Washington, DC, professional football franchise and has for years now adamantly refused to change the team's racist name "Redskins."

      The Wikipedia page about him makes interesting reading, especially in the context of this post: virtually everyone who played a role in his rise - from Mortimer Zuckerman, Barry Diller, and Democratic Party honcho Robert Strauss, who were among the early investors in his companies, to Lanny Davis, the Beltway lawyer who now helps him resist the pressure to drop the Redskins name - is Jewish.
      link to

  • Now that Israel has killed the two-state solution, will liberal Zionists support equality or ethnocracy?
    • Rebecca Steinfeld's post and Matthew's framing of it are eloquent and moving, but with all due respect, I have to say I think it's all horsepucky. We can hope that some of the liberal Zionists will "go left," as she puts it, but if umpteen previous failed negotiations, plus the ever-clearer facts on the ground, haven't shaken their faith, what reason is there to believe this latest fiasco will? After all, liberal Zionism, no matter how far removed from the realities of actually existing Zionism, continues to serve all the ideological purposes Steinfeld acutely dissects - basically, it lets people who don't want to admit that they've abandoned liberal values for (perceived) tribal interests avoid facing the contradictions.

      Here's an alternative scenario for the next few years: the Israeli and U.S. governments will continue to rattle on about their desire to resume negotiations (as soon as we have a "partner for peace," the Israelis will say), about how two states are the only solution, and so on and so on, and as long as that continues, the Goldbergs and Friedmans of the world - I actually have a bit more hope about Beinart, since he's shown more capacity to evolve - will continue to make nice livings peddling punditry to the same effect.

      Rebecca and Matthew's belief that they can no longer continue to espouse the same drivel they always have evidently rests on the assumption that it's no longer possible to maintain any hope for a two-state solution. But that's true only of a particular kind of two-state solution. Forgive me for quoting myself at great length, but as I wrote on this site back in 2012:

      the kind of two-state solution liberal Americans, Israeli left Zionists, and Palestinian Authority loyalists have long imagined (and right-wing Zionists have feared) – that is, a state with at least many of the attributes of sovereignty along something close to the 1967 borders – is dead. But that’s nothing new: the whole idea was probably stillborn at Oslo, but if there was ever a possibility it would come to life, that chance ended years ago....

      But to acknowledge that one idealized version of the two-state solution is dead doesn’t necessarily mean that other versions of it aren’t possible.
      What seems much more likely is that the Israelis will seek to preserve the status quo as long as possible, while they keep expanding the settlements and quietly driving out as many Palestinians as they can (mainly by making their lives miserable and hopeless) – all the while blathering about the need for negotiations. Is there any reason to think that Washington and the Europeans wouldn’t let them get away with this little game, just as they have for so many decades?

      And if at some point, from somewhere, there did arise real pressure to resolve the issue – or if the Israelis succeed in so demoralizing the Palestinian population and corrupting its leadership that they can impose the terms they want – I’m convinced they’ll actually implement a two-state “solution.”

      It just won’t look anything like what the peace processors have pretended to discuss for the last 20 years. Forget the 1967 borders – Israel will annex the majority of the West Bank. What they’ll leave for the new state is an archipelago of minuscule fragments, including the main Palestinian population centers, all cut off from one another and surrounded by what will become officially Israeli territory.

      Specifically, in terms of the supposedly short-term administrative divisions originally laid out in the “Oslo II Agreement” between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1995, count on Israel to formalize its currently de facto but complete control of Area C, which represents 62 percent of the West Bank’s land area. It includes all the settlements, the buffer zones around them, the Israeli highways, the IDF bases and “firing zones,” and the entire Jordan Valley except the city of Jericho.
      In fact, Bibi Netanyahu and his cronies have long hinted at such a “solution.” In 1996, when he was first elected prime minister, he promised to implement the Oslo agreement, but compared the kind of entity he had in mind for the Palestinians to either a territory with the right to hold a referendum on sovereignty, like Puerto Rico, or a demilitarized state like Andorra. 

When David Bar-Illan, then director of communications and policy planning in Netanyahu’s office, was asked about statehood, he answered “Semantics don’t matter. If Palestinian sovereignty is limited enough so that we feel safe, call it fried chicken.” And just last year, when Moshe Ya’alon, Netanyahu’s deputy prime minister and minister of strategic affairs, was asked to explain his thinking about a Palestinian state, he put it even more clearly: “Our intention is to leave the situation as it is: autonomous management of civil affairs, and if they want to call it a state, let them call it that. If they want to call it an empire, by all means. We intend to keep what exists now and let them call it whatever they want.”
      Consider this scenario: suppose Netanyahu (or a successor) goes to the UN ... and boldly declares that it’s time to end a stalemate that has gone on long enough. Since the Palestinians can’t get themselves together and won’t negotiate, he’ll announce, Israel is going to settle the conflict once and for all by recognizing a Palestinian state. That state will encompass, basically, Areas A and B; simultaneously, Israel will set setting borders for itself that include Area C.

      Instead of recognizing this maneuver as the grotesque landgrab it really would be, Washington (whoever’s in charge) and most of the media would undoubtedly hail him for his “boldness,” “courage,” “vision,” and “fairness.” They’ll declare his plan a “magnanimous compromise,” “the fulfillment of the long-held dream of a two states living side-by-side in peace and prosperity,” blah blah blah.

      If or when something like that scenario comes to pass, many of the liberal Zionists would surely join the celebrations; those whose liberalism is more sincere might acknowledge that the Palestinians were getting the short end of the stick and lament that it had "proved impossible" to negotiate something a little nicer, but does anyone really think they'd renounce their commitment to Zionism and the 2SS because the terms were so one-sided?

  • Obama outmaneuvers Netanyahu, at last
    • Nice piece, Matthew. I certainly agree that the interview is a surprising and welcome development. Your piece, though, seems to suggest that it represents a total turn-around in the situation, and I don't share your optimism about that. For one thing, as you acknowledge, the US media has ignored it so far, and if they do pic it up in coming days, they'll probably distort it beyond all recognition. But beyond the media and PR aspects of the situation, everything depends on what the Palestinians do next, and as long as Abbas remains in office in the PA, and de facto on the US/Israeli payroll, I don't have any confidence that they'll pursue an aggressive strategy at the ICC, UN, etc.

      I'm also still wrestling with a big question about the interview: why did the interviewee(s) present themselves as so unbelievably uninformed, naive, and just plan stupid? It can't really be true that they are as ignorant whole history of the "peace process," Netanyahu's character and ideology, etc. as they sounded in that discussion. So they must have deliberately chosen to adopt that pose, but I can't figure out what the angle is that they're trying to play by doing that.

  • In historic interviews, US officials blame end of talks on Israeli land theft
    • from Barak Ravid in Haaretz:

      U.S. envoy Indyk likely to resign amid talks blowup

      The U.S. special envoy for peace talks, Martin Indyk, is considering resigning following the blowup of talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and in light of President Barack Obama’s intention to suspend American mediation, according to Israeli officials in Jerusalem who are close to the matter. The officials asked to remain anonymous due to the issue’s sensitivity.

      The officials said Indyk had already informed the Brookings Institute – where he is vice president and director for foreign policy – that he might soon be returning to his post, from which he took a leave of absence nine months ago. Two senior officials at Brookings approached by Haaretz with questions on the matter each responded, “No comment.”

      In Jerusalem, it is believed that Indyk is the senior American official – anonymously quoted in a report published Friday in the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth – mainly blaming Israel for the failure of the talks. According to the report, the senior official claimed that “the main damage to the peace talks comes from the settlements,” and that, during the talks, “Netanyahu did not move more than an inch.”

      The senior Israeli officials said these harsh statements are an indication that Indyk is laying the groundwork for a resignation. ....

    • I think there's a significant mistranslation in Ynet's English-language version of the interview. It says "The Oslo Accords were Netanyahu's creation." That makes zero sense, no matter how you try to twist it. In Larry Derfner's piece at 972, apparently based on his own translation from the Hebrew, he renders the same sentence "The Oslo Accords were [Abu Mazen’s] handiwork," which makes some sense in context (though I think it's a bit of an exaggeration - nothing I've read about Oslo indicates that Abbas was personally responsible).

  • Fiddler on the Nakba
    • More Ismail Shammout: Eitan Meir, the guy who (as I noted yesterday) has made YouTube videos out of some Nabil Anani paintings, also has at least one with images by Shammout, plus Amal Murkus singing the Darwish poem "On This Earth."

    • Just one more response to Zach S's claim that "No one is stopping" the Palestinians from presenting cultural expressions of their experience to Americans: Let's not forget the case of the exhibit of children's art from Gaza that was scheduled to be shown at the Museum of Children's Art in Oakland in 2011 - until Jewish community organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area and wealthy Jewish donors mounted a concerted campaign to pressure the museum to cancel the show, and the museum's craven leadership caved in.

      link to

      The ADL gloated about its contribution to that "victory"
      link to

      and the Jewish Federation of the East Bay sent out the following tweet: "Great news! The ‘Child’s View From Gaza’ exhibit at MOCHA has been canceled thanks to some great East Bay Jewish community organizing.”
      link to

    • Apologies if I'm getting carried away by my enthusiasm for Nabil Anani's paintings, but I just discovered that there are more, including lovely and very Chagall-esque new ones that are not yet (as far as I can tell) posted on his website, at his Facebook page:
      link to

    • BTW, there's a nice slide show of Anani's paintings of Palestine, set to piano music by someone named Eitan Meir Altman (likely an Israeli Jew, I'd guess by the name), at
      link to

      I see Altman has also made YouTube clips that combine readings of poems by Mahmoud Darwish with music and paintings by Anani and other Palestinian artists - for instance, at link to

      Not quite Fiddler on the Roof, but very nice, IMO.

    • Thanks, Walid. I have to say his stuff doesn't catch my fancy quite the way Nabil Anani's does, but I'm glad to know about him.

      (I also like his name. Four decades and many careers ago, and 3,000 miles away, I worked as a machinist at a GE plant in Providence, Rhode Island, and one of my workmates was a nice guy named Paul Giragosian - he was a victim of thalidomide or some such, which left him with very limited arms and hands, but still managed to be a top-notch precision machinist.)

    • "a Palestinian Chagall"? Check out the work of Nabil Anani!

      (Just bio and photo of the artist on that page, but click the "New Collection" and "View Art" links to see the paintings.)

      If anyone knows of any way to purchase reproductions of his work from the USA, please post!

  • Debbie Almontaser salutes Donna Nevel
    • Among Donna's many other accomplishments, note that she and Elly Bulkin just produced the important book "Islamophobia & Israel," described by Alex Kane right here:
      link to

      and available, among other places, here:
      link to

      (E-book versions apparently coming soon.)

  • It is 'full-fledged apartheid' now but Americans can use a familiar term, 'segregation' -- Mustafa Barghouthi
    • I googled “I am the Holocaust, the best thing that ever happened to you!” and got this working link to the Jerusalem Post article:

      link to

    • >>it reminds me of a kindergarten classroom where the students get a huge lecture because someone used the F word.

      It's worse than that! Whatever you think about kids using the F word, we all know that in this culture it's seen as an obscenity that shouldn't be used in polite company. But "apartheid," though it's a moral obscenity, is not a "dirty word" - in South Africa it was the official name for a set of public policies, it was debated all over the world, and the word was eventually enshrined in international law to describe a particular kind of crime.

      In terms of your analogy, it's as if the kids were subjected to that intimidating lecture not because one of them dropped an F bomb, but because one of them made a serious allegation of rape (or actually didn't even make an allegation, but simply suggested that some behavior might in the future be defined as rape).

    • @ckg: I don't think the column you quote from is really by Greg Sargent. It's in "The Plum Line," which he writes most of, and the heading on the the pages there includes "Greg Sargent's take from a liberal perspective," but that particular post - "Kerry “apartheid” controversy shows limits on debate over Israel" - says it's by Paul Waldman.

      I don't know anything about either Sargent or Waldman, so I don't know what if any difference it makes which of them wrote it, but just for the sake of accuracy...

    • Good to see you quoting a legal definition of apartheid, Phil, because I think we all need to emphasize the point that calling Israel an apartheid state doesn't mean it's just like South Africa, but rather that its actions meet the legal definition. But there are actually two (at least) definitions of apartheid in international law. Yours is from the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, but I think the other - from the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court - is more useful, not just because it's more recent, but because it more clearly abstracts the crime from the South African example. I posted relevant excerpts from it in a comment on yesterday's apartheid thread:

      According to Article 7, Paragraph 2, Part (h) of the Rome Statute,

      "The crime of apartheid" means inhumane acts of a character similar to those referred to in paragraph 1, committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.

      The acts listed in Paragraph 1 of that article include murder, “deportation or forcible transfer of population,” “imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law,” torture, and especially “persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law….

      Of particular note: none of the definitions in any way require that the victims be a majority within a given political entity and the oppressors a minority for apartheid to exist. A majority can clearly practice apartheid toward a minority.

  • Kerry's cowardly apology on 'apartheid' is giant blunder for Israel's propagandists
    • Years ago I used to question the applicability of the concept of apartheid, on the grounds that the specifics of the situation in Palestine were so different from those of old South Africa. (I argued that the treatment of native Americans made a better analogy.) But then I read the law - specifically, the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

      According to Article 7, Paragraph 2, Part (h) of the latter,

      "The crime of apartheid" means inhumane acts of a character similar to those referred to in paragraph 1, committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.

      The acts listed in Paragraph 1 of that article include murder, “deportation or forcible transfer of population,” “imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law,” torture, and especially “persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law….”

      It’s barrels of fun to watch Zionists try to weasel out from under that definition. Wish I could pose that problem to Barbara Boxer...


      To the list of deniers you can add Chemi Shalev, “liberal” columnist at Haaretz, but he at least acknowledges in today’s column that “the apartheid label hangs over Israel’s head like Damocles sword, a threat that grows with every day that the occupation perseveres. “ And he notes that “Even if one rejects the comparisons, there is biblical justice in Israel paying for its sinful support for the South African apartheid regime.”

  • Kerry says that Israel could wind up being 'an apartheid state'
    • Phil wrote: "there have been two sets of laws for different ethnicities under Israeli sovereignty for 47 years of the occupation..."

      With all due respect, Phil, I don't think that's the heart of the problem. The real issue is not that the laws are different, but that the Palestinians (in the West Bank - Gaza is different at this point) have no legal protection from the arbitrary power of the settlers and Israeli authorities.

      In principle, of course, that power is regulated by all kinds of laws - Israeli civilian law and military decrees, supplemented by Ottoman, Jordanian, and British law. In practice, that wide range lets the Israelis apply whatever laws provide the best cover for their objectives - or no law at all if they can't find a convenient one.

      This may seem like a quibble, but I think it has some importance in making the case against Israel: saying there are different laws for different groups is a pretty abstract way to describe the situation, and while it may sound problematic to anyone with genuine democratic sensibilities, it's not half as problematic as the brutal and essentially lawless realities of the occupation.

  • 'NYT' abided by Israeli gag order even as 'EI' scooped it repeatedly
    • I agree with cog: Richard Silverstein deserves a lot of credit in this case, along with Ali Abunimah of course. Silverstein, for his part, credited Jamil Dakwar of the ACLU for first alerting him to the case, via a tweet citing a Facebook post in Arabic and Hebrew by Adalah, "The Legal Center For Arab Minority Rights In Israel."

      Richard's latest post on the case is an treating critique of the way Israeli liberal journalists, including at 972 Magazine, have now written about the case.

      In addition, he has created a Facebook group in support of Majd Kayyal:
      link to

  • Haaretz joins Rush Limbaugh and company in trying to link Max Blumenthal to KC shooter suspect
    • Hey, thetruthhurts, the leader of Team B was Richard Pipes. The Pipes cited in this piece is Daniel, who is Richard's son. Both vicious right-wingers, but while the elder Pipes's focus was on the Soviet Union, Daniel concentrates on attacking Arabs, Muslims, and other critics of Israel via his McCarthyite Campus Watch project and similar efforts.

  • Updated: Remote-control gun installed atop wall near Bethlehem -- Ma'an
    • From "Remote-control machine gun repairs just got quicker"
      Jerusalem Post

      link to

      What does the IDF do when its remote-control machine guns break down? The Samson Remote Controlled Weapon Station, the Katlanit, produced by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, is increasingly appearing on a range of IDF Ground Forces platforms, such as the Namer armored personnel carrier.

      It can be fitted with a variety of powerful and accurate machine guns, allowing soldiers to control the guns through a remote control panel, and fire on enemy targets without exposing themselves to the return fire.

      But when the weapons station broke down, an army technician may have to spend dangerous time in the field figuring out what went wrong, before making the repair. Now, thanks to an innovation by Maj. Roe Avrahami, commander of the Maintenance Unit at IDF Southern Command, that has changed.

      “What we’ve developed is a system that analyzes and informs the technician where the error is in a short amount of time. We’re protecting lives by decreasing the risk. It now takes 75 percent less time to repair,” Avrahami told The Jerusalem Post this week.

    • Whatever that device is, there's no question that Israel makes remote-controlled guns, uses them against he Palestinians, and sells them to repressive regimes around the world. Way back in 2002, the first time I went to Gaza, I saw a primitive version hanging from something that looked like a construction crane overlooking the "Austrian Houses" development in Khan Younis.

      Jonathan Cook wrote a good piece called "The Spot-and-Shoot Game: Israeli female soldiers kill by remote control," with a picture of young female soldiers sitting in front of a TV monitor and using PlayStation-style joysticks to control the guns,.in 2010. Some excerpts:

      The female soldiers, located far away in an operations room, are responsible for aiming and firing remote-controlled machine-guns mounted on watch-towers every few hundred metres along an electronic fence that surrounds Gaza.

      The system is one of the latest “remote killing” devices developed by Israel’s Rafael armaments company, the former weapons research division of the Israeli army and now a separate governmental firm.

      According to Giora Katz, Rafael’s vice president, remote-controlled military hardware such as Spot and Shoot is the face of the future. He expects that within a decade at least a third of the machines used by the Israeli army to control land, air and sea will be unmanned.
      Remotely controlled weapons systems are in high demand from repressive regimes and the burgeoning homeland security industries around the globe.

  • 'Secret' London conference seeks to link BDS to... terrorism
    • The Jewish Chronicle was obviously trying to attract attention by using the word "secret," but this conference was anything but secret. Haaretz had the story last week, the World Jewish Conference put out a press release about Lauder's speech, and Google finds a slew of other reports about it.

  • Apathy in Ramallah as negotiations with Israel dive
    • Yeah, I've read the Maan report, among others, about the "big screaming fight." And yes, the new list of not-new Palestinian "demands" apparently came out of that meeting. But at least the Haaretz report about the demands implies that they were turned into some kind of documents - by "Fatah officials," according to Erekat - rather than just being things "bandied about" during the meeting. Either the way, the problem is, or one problem is, that the people doing the negotiating for the PA make it very clear that they have no intention of fighting for the demands on that list.

    • Annie et al., note that the official PA negotiator immediately backed away from the relatively strong list of "conditions" (pre-67 borders, East Jerusaem as capital, release of Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Sa'adat, etc.). Here's a some of a followup from Haaretz:

      Erekat: Leaked list doesn't represent our official stand
      Palestinian negotiator says reported list of six demands came from Fatah officials, not him, and is not Palestinians' official position.

      By Jack Khoury | Apr. 3, 2014 | 11:37 PM |

      Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat denied on Thursday that his team presented a list of demands to Israel that included the release of 1,200 prisoners, recognition of the 1967 borders and of East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, as was reported in several Palestinian media.

      Erekat told associates that this list came from Fatah officials, not from him or his staff, and did not represent the official Palestinian negotiating position. He said that while he did tell U.S. envoy Martin Indyk and Israeli negotiators on Wednesday night that the Palestinians wanted to discuss the dispute's core issues, he did not go into detail nor make the demands reported.

      Mohammed Shtayyeh, a senior Fatah official and formerly co-negotiator with Erekat, agreed that the list of demands did not represent the official Palestinian position. He told Haaretz that the key issue the Palestinians wanted to negotiate was borders.

      He said that from the start of negotiations last July, the Palestinians and Americans both sought to make borders the first issue on the table. "If we had the settled the issue of borders, we would have wrapped up several major sticking points, mainly settlements … and security arrangements. Each side would have known where his border lay, and we would have gone on to negotiate about Jerusalem and water, but Netanyahu and his government began raising difficulties and obstacles. What's important to Netanyahu is to preserve his coalition and not to reach an agreement," Shtayyeh said.

      He went on to say that the Palestinians' opening negotiating position today is based on two goals: First, the fulfillment of the fourth release of prisoners and their return home, and second the setting out of a framework for continuing the talks on the basis of the 1967 borders.

      Whether the release of the stronger conditions, followed by a quick retreat, represents differences within the PA or some kind of diplomatic/PR ploy, I obviously don't know. I give Abbas some credit for standing up to Kerry in this last round, but surely it would be a bad mistake to think that he and Erekat and the gang have suddenly become firm and principled advocates for Palestinian rights (not that you're saying they have).

  • 'NYT' stamps Jimmy Carter 'radioactive' and not 'a force for good'
    • Krauss wrote: "I’ve long complained that there is no authorative book on the subject of the New York Times and Israel/Palestine."

      I don't know what you consider "authoritative," but have you read "Israel-Palestine on Record: How the New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East" by Howard Friel and Richard Falk? (Yes, it's that Richard Falk, the former Princeton professor of international law who is just winding up a distinguished term as UN rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories.)

      >>I guess I should stop complaining since the recent output of work by Phil and company on the subject is soon no longer just a few mentions, but a regular topic of discussion.

      In addition to MW, anyone interested in this topic should be following TimesWarp (motto: "What The New York Times doesn't tell you about Palestine and Israel"), a blog with excellent (IMO) regular critiques of the Times' coverage by my friend and Friends of Sabeel leader Barbara Erickson.

  • Liberal schizophrenia and moral myopia: On Ari Shavit's 'My Promised Land'
    • Terrific review, Alex - says clearly and concisely most of what Norman Finkelstein takes 83 pages to say in "Old Wine, Broken Bottle," his new booklet devoted entirely to dissecting Shavit's contradictions. (Not that that's not also worth reading, for those who have the time.)

      As for the honesty about Lydda, I see it as a fallback position for the Zionists - they know the old BS about the Palestinians leaving at the behest of Arab radio will no longer fly, so they concede a bit of reality, then try to defend its necessity. Note, though, that he kind of makes Lydda sound like a one-off atrocity - they're not yet prepared to recognize that things like that happened all over the place, much less that , as you say, the nakba continues.

  • The crisis that Israel adroitly manufactured
    • Have you read it, Retorix?

    • For folks in the Bay Area: as it happens, Gareth Porter is here this week. Here's his speaking schedule:

      • Tonight at 7 pm: San Francisco (World Affairs Council of Northern California, 312 Sutter St., Suite 200 - RSVP at link to

      • Thursday at 7:30 pm: San Rafael (Wesley Hall: 199 Greenfield Ave, - across from First United Methodist Church - info 459-7210) [Presumably that number is in the 415 area code.]

      • Friday at **6** pm: Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, Cedar and Bonita, Berkeley.

      His new book, Manufactured Crisis, is written in a very sober, academic tone, but the content and implications are devastating. Naturally, the mainstream media is ignoring it.

  • Wait, did a 'Washington Post' columnist just call Netanyahu a bad guy?
    • "Jackson Diehl, the deputy editorial page editor at the Washington Post who also writes a weekly foreign affairs column, generally stands at the intersection of neo-conservatism and liberal interventionism and, in my view, holds a lot of the responsibility for the paper’s neo-conservative editorial drift over the past decade."
      Jim Lobe, "Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl Taken Down," no date but apparently from early April 2013
      link to

      Lobe's piece includes links to two critiques of Diehl's vigorous advocacy of war on Syria, both written by former CIA analysts and both published by very mainstream Establishment outlets:
      Paul Pillar, “Unlearned Lessons and the Syrian Civil War"
      link to

      Nada Bako, "Humility Now! The Miseducation of Jackson Diehl”
      link to

      Diehl was once the Post's bureau chief in Jerusalem. According to various Internet sites that may or may not be accurate, both he and Hiatt are Jewish. Wikipedia says "Hiatt is married to Washington Post editor and writer Margaret "Pooh" Shapiro."

  • Ululating at Vassar: the Israel/Palestine conflict comes to America
    • Jerry Brown calls himself a fiscal conservative, and he's right. Check out his his website link to - the headline is "Stand with Jerry for a fiscally responsible California." Or look at his "Accomplishments" page: the two he boasts of for 2013 are "Passed [sic - it's actually the legislature that passes things]a fiscally responsible budget"and "Improving Califorrnia's credit rating."

      It's true that they balanced the budget in part by promoting a ballot measure that included a small increase in taxes on the rich, but a) it also included a regressive sales tax increase; b) he designed it to head off a much more progressive "millionaire's tax" proposition promoted by the teachers' union among others; and c) the main thing the governor and legislature (dominated by Dems) did to balance the budget was to push through devastating cuts in the state's "social safety net."

      Meanwhile, Brown keeps fighting federal court mandates to reduce overcrowding and improve healthcare in the state's prisons. And his big "visionary" proposal is a wacko scheme to spend something like $60 billion building gigantic tunnels to take water out of northern California rivers and deliver it to his agribusiness supporters in the southern Central Valley.

      Enough? I'm not saying you should denounce him on this site, but just please stop calling him a progressive...

    • Interesting piece, Phil, but why in god's name do you keep calling Jerry Brown a "progressive"? I know that's not the main issue here, but it's annoying to me and, I'm sure, many of your other readers here in California. Maybe you've been smoking something left over from the 1970s or 1980a? There's nothing in Brown's record in the 21st century that qualifies him as a progressive!

  • Peace Now board member jokes about owning a SodaStream
    • Oops, should have know better than to post a comment from a phone with hyperactive auto-correct. My message of March 17 at 3:24 pm should have read:

      According to the text, Harvona’s only contribution was to point out, after the king turned against Haman, that the gallows that Haman had had built for Mordecai was available. It was the king who then ordered that Haman be hanged on it. But nothing in the text suggests that either Harvona or Ahashueros had any direct role – except by giving the Jews carte blanche (or should we say carte rouge?) – in the later hanging of Haman’s sons or in the rest of the bloodshed.

    • Naftush, I suppose it's conceivable, if we accept the framework of a story that's probably fiction, that Haman's ten sons and the 500 other people the Jews slaughtered in Shushan on the first day of killing and the 300 more they killed the next day were all "genocidal enemies" of the Jews. But do you really expect us to accept that the 75,000 people they killed in the provinces were all part of some giant anti-Semitic conspiracy extending, as you say, from India to Ethiopia?

    • According to the text, Harmon A's only contribution was to point out, after the king turned against Haman, that the gallows that Haman had had built for More chain was available. It was the king who then ordered that Haman be hanged on it. But nothing in the text suggests that either Harmon a or Ahashueros had any direct role - except by giving the Jews carte blanche (or should we say carte rouge?) - in the later hanging of Haman's sons or in the rest of the bloodshed.

    • When Sara Ehrmann wrote "The rightwing hawks in the Jewish community insisted that he be hanged along with his 10 sons," she forgot to mention the rest of their response to Haman's supposed plot: killing 500 other Persians, then sending Esther back to the king to ask for permission to go at it another day, during which they slaughtered 75,000 more people!

      When you're 95, you're entitled to a lot of slack for forgetting things, but somehow I suspect that's not the real reason the letter doesn't include that part of the Purim story. See my post here from three years ago, "We planned the Purim party, then my partner actually read the Book of Esther…."

  • United Methodist General Board of Church & Society issues call to boycott SodaStream
    • >>There is a site somewhere that tells how to read barcodes on everything
      >>from tomatoes to T-shirts to see if it was imported from Israel.

      The number 729 at the beginning of a barcode indicates that the product is from Israel. Not all Israeli products are so marked, however - in many cases middlemen in other countries apply codes beginning with their own country's code number. (I'm not sure what the laws say about this practice - probably it varies by country - but if it's legal, the prohibition is often not enforced.)

      One source on this:
      link to

  • Dateline, Ukraine: How the State Department 'midwives' democracy
  • Pelosi calls Israel's creation 'the most spectacular political achievement of the 20th century'
    • Bay Area folks: come out Wednesday morning to give Netanyahu a different kind of welcome to California. We'll be outside the site of his meeting with Jerry Brown - the Computer History Museum, 1401 N. Shoreline Boulevard, in Mountain View - all morning, starting at 7 a.m. Bring appropriate signs!

      Here's the press release some folks in the South Bay have put out:

      Silicon Valley: Don't support Israeli Occupation of Palestine
      Gov. Brown: Don't Partner With Israeli Occupation of Palestine

      Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will be touring Silicon Valley on Wednesday, March 5. He will be meeting with CA Governor Brown to sign a historic agreement that expands Califorina's partnership with Israel on economic development, research, and trade. The emphasis will be on water conservation, alternative energy, cyber security, health and biotechnology, education, and agriculture technology.

      The agreement will also enable Israeli companies to access California's Innovation HUB (iHUB), an innovation network that includes 16 clusters of research parks, technology incubators, universities and federal laboratories, together with economic development organizations, business groups, and venture capitalist funds.

      As we know, many American high tech firms are already strengthening the Occupation of Palestine through this partnership and cooperation. Join us as we tell Governor Brown and Silicon Valley, NOT to partner with Israeli occupation. Don't use Silicon Valley worker's brain power and technical skills to strengthen the oppression of the Palestinian people. Join us!

      Protest Israeli Prime Minister's visit to Silicon Valley
      WHEN: Wednesday, March 5
      WHERE: Computer History Museum, 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mt. View
      TIME: starting at 7:00am, continuing until noon-ish
      (Media has been instructed to RSVP in advance to be credentialed, and to arrive no later than 7:30am)

      Directions: From any freeway, head to Hwy 101 toward Mt. View. Take the N. Shoreline Blvd. exit, North. Computer History Museum (CHM) will be immediately on the Right. To park, take the first Left onto "Movies" Rd. Take the first Left into the Gold's Gym parking lot facing Shoreline Blvd. (across the street from the CHM). Parking also available in the Cinema 16 parking lot next to Gold's Gym parking.

      Messaging: We will be drawing attention to Gov. Brown and Silicon Valley High Tech firms who are aiding Israel in the Occupation of Palestine and oppression of the Palestinian people. Bring signs that will draw attention to this:
      "Silicon Valley: Don't Support Israeli Occupation of Palestine"
      "Gov. Brown: Don't Partner with Israeli Occupation of Palestine"

  • The NY Times' unbalanced coverage of the BDS movement (Updated)
    • Kudos to Patrick Connors for producing this analysis - careful, diplomatically phrased, yet devastating in its content. I'm sure that's why it got such an ostensibly receptive response from Ms. Sullivan. I can't say I have any confidence that it will have much effect on the Times' coverage, or even that Ms. Sullivan will write anything about this issue in her column - after all, we all know that Zionism is by now very deeply entrenched at the Times - but at least you've exposed their slant with exceptional clarity.

  • Gov. Jerry Brown brags on signing historic agreement with Netanyahu in Silicon Valley
    • I think you're right, kma: It's just Jerry Brown pandering to the lobby, Jewish donors, and Jewish voters, and for Netanyahu it's just another chance to promote Israel's efforts to brand itself as a center of science and innovation. I suppose it's possible that Brown will set up some office (and pay a fat salary, probably to some dual citizen) to facilitate cooperation between California and Israeli companies, universities, etc. But as you say, it's easy enough already for them to set up whatever kinds of cooperation they want, so probably this "agreement" will have no practical meaning whatsoever.

    • "Governor Jerry Brown, a progressive"?!? You've got to be kidding, right? That characterization of his politics may have had some truth the first time he was governor (1975-1983) and when he was running for president. But since then, you'd have to dig deep to find anything progressive in his record. As Mayor of Oakland his main program was deliberate gentrification, by promoting construction of upscale condos for 10,000 yuppies. As governor again since 2011, he's mainly devoted himself to

      * "fiscal conservatism" - i.e., balancing the budget largely by shredding what's left of the state's "social safety net"
      * fighting federal court orders to reduce overcrowding and bring medical care in our enormous prison system up to a minimal constitutional standard
      * promoting a crazy scheme to spend tens of billions digging gigantic tunnels to take fresh water essential to the health of SF Bay Delta and move it hundreds of miles to Central Valley agribusiness so they can keep making a fortune by growing water-hungry crops in the middle of what's by rights a near-desert
      * vetoing most bills passed by the legislature to extend some legal rights to undocumented immigrants (he has signed a few, typically after insisting they be watered down)

      and so on.

      Given de Blasio's progressive rhetoric, it was reasonable to hope for better - at least a little dignity - than his groveling before AIPAC. In the case of Jerry Brown in the 21st century, though, it's hardly surprising he's cozying up to Netanyahu.

  • 'NYT' says East Jerusalem isn't occupied, and Israel lobby takes credit
    • LeaNder (and others), another site that's recently started monitoring the NY Times' treatment of Israel/Palestine is TimesWarp.

      It's done by a friend who's very active in Northern California Friends of Sabeel. From the About page:

      The seed that grew into TimesWarp was planted the day I read the New York Times coverage of the Israeli assault on Gaza on Nov. 14, 2012. There was a story behind this assault, but the Times didn’t tell it. It told the Israeli excuse for the assault instead, and the entire mainstream media in the United States went along with it.

    • On Sept. 18, 2012, the "Pictures of the Day" page on the Times website carried a photo from Shuafat, a Palestinian village and refugee camp that's within East Jerusalem as Israel defines it. The caption said something about Shuafat being in Israel. I posted a comment saying that Shuafat isn't in Israel. Someone from the Times replied promptly that I was right and they'd fix it. I think they never posted my comment - at least it's not there now - but indeed they changed the caption, to say just "in Jerusalem" instead of "in Israel." I just looked up the page and discovered for the first time that three days later they added the following "correction":

      The headline and text for an earlier version of this post referred imprecisely to the location of the first picture showing Palestinians protesting in the Shuafat refugee camp. While the camp is in an area under Israeli control, the issue of whether it is part of Israel remains a much-disputed point.

  • Cut off arms to Israel, Amnesty Int'l says, citing 22 civilians killed at protests last year
    • now has a story, by Isabel Kershner, that talks about the AI report, but it's under the headline "Palestinian Man Found Dead After Standoff With Israeli Forces" - the first three paragraphs are about a Palestinian found dead in his Bir Zeit home "after a standoff with Israeli forces who had come to arrest him, according to the Israeli military." You get to the AI report only if you make it to the fourth paragraph; the rest of the story (11 paragraphs in all) is all about the report.

      Frankly, I wonder how many Times readers will bother with a story that appears to be about an incident that is, sadly, pretty routine. No doubt that's why the Times handled the story that way. The only good thing about it is that the story includes a link to the AI press release.

      in the fourth paragraph of under the headline

  • Harvard students collect testimonies of apartheid from Palestine to US
    • Much as I admire the motivations of these Harvard kids, I have to say I think the approach they've taken here - defining apartheid to include any form of discrimination, marginalization, even just a feeling of alienation - is intellectually vacuous and politically counterproductive.

      Of course it's important to say that a situation doesn't have to be just like South Africa under the Nationalists to qualify as apartheid, but they've extended the concept so far as to make it trivial. Much better, IMO, to stick to the legal definition as laid out in the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid or in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

      Article 7, Paragraph 1 of the latter, for example, defines various actions "committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population" - including murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law, torture, and "persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law" - as crimes against humanity.

      Article 7, Paragraph 2, Section (h) of the Rome Statute goes on to say that "'The crime of apartheid' means inhumane acts of a character similar to those referred to in paragraph 1, committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime."

      If the situation in Palestine doesn't fall under those definitions, it's hard to imagine what would, beyond South Africa. (Apparently some Zionists offer the opportunistic defense that Jews and/or Palestinians are not a "racial group," so these statutes don't apply, but I don't think that will get them far.)

      Anyway, I think the students' case would be much more effective if they'd stick to some relatively precise, international recognized definition of the term.

  • Palestinians in Hebron demand Israel 'Open Shuhada Street' and protest twentieth anniversary of Ibrahimi mosque massacre
    • >>In 2012 there were 353 incidents against Palestinians,
      >>compared to 49 against Israelis in the West Bank.

      I'm not sure how the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (the source of those numbers, according to the PDF) defines "incident," but to get a number as low as 353 for "incidents against Palestinians," they must be talking about fairly serious ones. That total certainly can't include much of what goes on in Hebron, things like settler kids stoning Palestinian students and teachers on the way to school, or spitting on Palestinians on the street, or trying to grab shopping bags or tear off the hijab of Palestinian women, and so on. During my time in Hebron, I saw things like that happening several times a day, every day, and that was just in one part of H-2 (Tel Rumeida), and even there I obviously couldn't see every incident.

      Whatever definition OCHA is using, there's no way they would even know about most such incidents, because they were so routine, no one bothered to report them to any authority, since the only result would be increased harassment by the Israeli police and soldiers.

  • Meet the Jewish students who are taking on the Jewish establishment
    • FWIW, here's the official JVP statement about the ASA resolution:

      [December 16, 2013, New York] The passage of a resolution stating that the American Studies Association (ASA) will not enter into formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions until Israel ends it human rights violations represents a significant milestone in the growth of the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement in the United States. At a time when the world is remembering the legacy of Nelson Mandela, this membership vote reminds us that peoples’ movements can have a decisive role to play in working towards justice and peace.

      With its endorsement, the members of the ASA have voted to hold Israeli institutions accountable for their participation in human rights violations, bringing into sharp focus Israeli policies that severely limit the academic freedom of Palestinians within the occupied Palestinian territory and inside Israel. The resolution specifies that it does not prohibit collaboration on research and publications between individual scholars, nor does it prohibit Israeli scholars from attending international conferences.

      Additionally, the resolution helpfully responds to efforts to chill and stifle debate about Israel and Palestine on campus. "The ASA supports the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to engage in research and public speaking about Israel ­Palestine and in support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.” JVP appreciates the ASA’s position that these issues should be considered openly, and stands with the ASA against all attempts to shut down debate on campus. The open discussions that preceded the ASA vote and the ones it will generate are a welcome trend in academic discourse in this country.

      While Jewish Voice for Peace takes no position on academic boycotts, we do not believe that boycotts to pressure Israel to abide by international law are inherently anti-Semitic. Like the grape boycott by the United Farmworkers Union and the Nestle boycott, such boycotts employ nonviolent tactics in the service of liberation. They are among the tools that Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress employed to topple Apartheid in South Africa. In particular, the ASA resolution was clearly a sensitively written and thoughtfully argued effort that targets Israel’s policies, not Jewish people.

      So (unfortunately from my point of view) they don't endorse the resolution, but that's a pretty sympathetic statement. My guess (only that - I have no inside info) is that most of the individuals in the JVP leadership would endorse the resolution outright if speaking only for themselves, but that a substantial part of the membership isn't ready for that and the leadership can't get too far ahead of them.

  • Scarlett Johansson's 'scholarship' and 'intelligence' cited by Mike Huckabee
    • related: the Jerusalem Post reports that Shurat HaDin, an Israeli government-backed "NGO" infamous for waging "lawfare" against critics of Israel, is now threatening to sue Oxfam in multiple countries. A letter they sent to Oxfam HQ and affiliates says Oxfam

      provides financial aid and additional forms of material support to the Union of Health Workers Committees (UHWC) and the Union of Agricultural Workers Committees (“UAWC”), instrumentalities of the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (“PFLP”) in the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority.

      The claim of a link between these groups and the PFLP is apparently based on research by some "terror expert" who found that several people who work for the UHWC and UAWC were once in the PFLP.

  • Effort to remove Jews from West Bank is akin to Nazi slaughter -- settler spokesman
    • >>Maybe if I were younger and writing a PhD on group psychosis I’d spend some time in Hevron. In Hebron the Palestinians seem to have all of the dignity.

      Absolutely right, Seafoid. Back in 2006 spent two months in Tel Rumeida, the part of Hebron next to the old city, home of the Tel Rumeida settlement [where the infamous Baruch Marzel lives, along with many other Kach types], where students and teachers going to the Qurtuba school are routinely attacked by Mr. Wilder's friends, etc. I'd previously spent time in Gaza and in various parts of the West Bank, but nothing else felt as crazy as that place.

      We spent all day, every day, out on the street, with the idea our prince and our cameras and cellphones might deter some of the settler attacks. I'm not sure we deterred them at all, but to some extent we distracted them - some of the time they attacked us instead of the locals, so to that extent we made life a tiny bit less miserable for the Palestinians.

      It wasn't just the viciousness of the settlers and the complicity of the Israeli soldiers on every corner that was crazy-making - it was also that the whole world was in some sense watching, but not doing anything effective to stop it. The place was swarming with layer upon layer of international observers - not just our group (the now-defunct Tel Rumeida Project, which worked in collaboration with ISM) and the Christian Peacemaker Teams, but also religious people from the World Council of Church's Ecumenical Accompaniment Project (EAPPI), retired Northern European cops and civil servants earnestly taking notes for TIPH (Temporary International Presence in Hebron - a special international monitoring force created after the Baruch Goldstein massacre), people from several UN agencies, and so on.

      That summer TIPH was paying to put in a small retaining wall and paving stones on the path the Qurtuba students and teachers had to take across a hillside to get to the back door of the school (because to get to the main door they would have had to walk in front of the Beit Hadassah settlement, and that was prohibited). The settlers would regularly stone and threaten the Palestinian workmen, so we got into the habit of sitting out there all day, in shifts. In that case, we had some effect - they only attacked a couple of times while we were there. But at night, when we and the workers had gone home, the settlers would come out and rip out the paving stones and mess up the concrete installed the day before.

  • Stirring debate on BDS, 'NYT' allows readers to speak out about inequality
    • Re the puff piece about Israeli hi tech in the Christian Science Monitor: I hold no brief for the CSM, but it's worth noting that more recently - Feb. 16 - the same reporter plus a colleague published a long and remarkably good article under the headline "European boycotts begin to bite, catching Israel's attention" and deck "For years, boycott efforts in Europe seemed to be only symbolic gestures. But several major efforts announced in the past year, including one by the EU, are raising alarm."

      One interesting bit:

      Discontent on the rise

      According to a 2013 BBC poll, public opinion of Israel is worsening. Favorability ratings dropped 8 percent in both Spain and Germany, to the single digits. Even in Britain, the first European country to formally support the establishment of a Jewish state, only 14 percent of citizens have a positive view of Israel today.

      EU citizens and lawmakers alike have long opposed Israeli policies, but popular discontent – cultivated by the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement since 2005 – is increasingly pressuring businesses and governments to take more concrete action.

      The contrast between that article and the bilge that the NY Times keeps publishing is quite striking. I'm not sure who reads the Monitor these days, but it used to be highly respected and purportedly influential among segments of the U.S. elite.

    • How many, if any, of these letters appear in the paper New York Times in NYC or nationally? How about in the paper International NY Times?

      There's a note at the bottom of the web page, below one of the anti-A.S.A. letters, suggesting that "this letter" (singular) appeared in the International NY Times. I'm guessing that means none of them appeared in the paper paper in the US and only one in the paper international edition, but I'm hoping I'm wrong.

  • 'NY Times' and 'LA Times' run op-eds by an AIPAC board member without telling readers
    • In addition to the Palestinian perspectives on the water problem that Annie and other have cited, the best single resource I know of on the issue is "Water for One People Only: Discriminatory Access and 'Water Apartheid' in the OPT," a long (100 pages), very thoroughly documented report put out last April by the Palestinian organization Al-Haq. Among other things, it has great charts, including one on p. 52 that directly addresses the question Schulz raised in his Knesset speech.

      link to

      (I mentioned this in a comment on the original MW article on the Schulz brouhaha, and so did at least one other commenter. Sorry for the repetition, but this report still doesn't seem to be getting the attention it deserves.)

  • 10,000 Israeli teens follow mother-hen of extremist settler movement in anti-Kerry protest
    • Great report, Allison. I haven't seen anything about this demo anywhere else.

      Incidentally, Daniella Weiss is one of the stars of the amazing "Stone Cold Justice" show recently aired on Australian TV.
      link to
      Starting at around 7:50, right after Obama tells the Israeli kids to try looking at the world through Palestinian eyes, she says: "We came to a land where there were other people living, but this land was promised to the Jewish nation by God. All the other people who live here will accept Jewish sovereignty in the Promised Land. This is the only way I see. So those who accept it, live nicely; those who don't accept it, encounters, confrontations." In other words, we'll harass, beat, jail, or kill anyone who doesn't surrender.

      Crystal clear - what more is there to say?

      She appears again later in the show, just after 39:50, explaining how she worked with Ariel Sharon to plan settlements in such a way that "there will be no option for a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria."

  • EU Prez Martin Schulz wreaks havoc during speech at Knesset
    • There's a nice poster called "Thirst: Distribution of Water Resources" in the Visualizing Palestine series - link to

      I thought it was new, but it's actually from 2012. There's no reason to think things have changed much since then, though.

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