Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 439 (since 2010-03-18 18:04:29)

Henry Norr

Showing comments 439 - 401

  • '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.

    • Did Martin Schulz pose his point in the form of a question in some strange (and vain) attempt to soften the blow in Israeli ears, or can it really be true that he hasn't checked the data? In any case, someone should refer him to “Water For One People Only: Discriminatory Access and ‘Water-Apartheid’ in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” a comprehensive and very thoroughly documented report published last April by the Palestinian human-rights organization Al Haq.

      It's not clear what time period the Palestinian youth who supposedly posed the water question had in mind - the specific quantities he mentioned, 70 liters for Israelis and 17 liters for Palestinians, are both well below average daily consumption. But the important question is about the relative allocations of water, and the Al Haq report makes it clear that the young man was basically right about the proportions, except that the reality is even worse than his numbers suggested. From p. 51 of the Al-Haq report:

      While the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a minimum domestic consumption of 100 llcd, water consumption by Palestinians in the West Bank is an average of 73 llcd [liters per ,capita per day] compared to about 300 llcd for Israelis in Israel proper and 369 lpcd for Israeli settlers residing in colonies in the OPT. Therefore, the per capita consumption of water for domestic use by those residing in Israel proper is four to five times higher than the Palestinian population’s per capita domestic consumption in the OPT. More than 500,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank consume approximately six times the amount of water used by a Palestinian population of almost 2.6 million.

      (I took out the footnotes that follow each assertion in the above, but they're mostly to UN reports, plus a couple of academic journals.)

      On the next page, p. 52, these numbers are presented in the form a nice clear, simple bar chart, but I don't know how to put a graphic in a comment.

  • New York Times assault on the BDS movement reinforces Israeli fears
    • My take on the Rudoren, Cohen, and Friedman pieces about BDS this week: the Times' bosses are probably taking flak from the Israelis and the lobby - and feeling guilty - for running the Barghouti op-ed, so they sent out a hasty alert to the crew to crank out whatever they could to placate the critics.

    • Page: 4
  • 'NYT' says Israel doesn't 'split' Palestinian families, 'Haaretz' says it does. Who is right?
    • I too found the Illouz piece very interesting, especially her discussion of Zionist "morality" vs. the rest of the world's. But I do have to point out that it also includes a truly choice example of judeocentrism (and academocentrism, to coin a word):

      The initiators and leaders of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement are such respected academics as Judith Butler, Jacqueline Rose, Noam Chomsky, Hilary Rose and Larry Gross, all Jews.

  • Outsource Thomas Friedman's column to India
    • By the way, people not familiar with Matt Taibbi's commentaries on Friedman should definitely check them out. The first (2005) and greatest one - which Salon once said "remains the all-time Supreme Gold Standard for eviscerating not only Tom Friedman, but anyone” - seems not to be available anymore at its original site, NYPress, but you can find it at at link to

      Another classic one from 2009 remains on the NYPress site:
      link to
      though unfortunately none of my browsers will display that page’s copy of the fantastic graphs in the original piece.

      Critiques of Friedman are by now a whole literary genre. “The Definitive Collection of Thomas Friedman Takedowns” is at link to . Another guide is at link to

    • Heck, why bother paying Indians? The Times could save even more money for the shareholders, and bolster their high-tech creed at the same time, by just using the automatic "Thomas Friedman Op/Ed Generator" - one click and you've got a column.

      link to

  • Influential Jewish group pushes New York bill aimed at Israel boycott
    • >>The JCRC is a key umbrella organization that acts as a central coordination body
      >>for the organized Jewish community in New York.

      Just by way of clarification, that's a description of the JCRC of New York. There are other JCRCs in other states and metro areas - 125 of them in all, according to the Bay Area one, and that means basically everywhere. I suppose they do a variety of things, but, as in this case, one routine function is to act in the name of the "Jewish community" as the Zionist thought police. The JCRC of San Francisco, for example, wrote guidelines that bar Jewish organizations from sponsoring events or funding projects that don't toe the line on Israel. (See, for instance, the Muzzlewatch post "Jewish Community Relations Council of SF to young Jews: You can’t speak here." I first learned about them in 2002, when they initiated the (eventually successful) effort to get me fired from the San Francisco Chronicle, after I wrote a column they didn't like (to put it mildly!).

  • Goldberg and Cohen stoke fears of BDS
    • Put it this way: BDS (the kind advocated by the BNC) is not just about 1967, but also about 1948. That's why the liberal Zionists, who want a partial rollback of 67 but won't question 48, are so freaked by it. Goldberg, Cohen, et al. are afraid - for good reason, from their point of view - that BDS is attracting liberal kids (and others) as a weapon against the occupation, but actually enlisting them in a cause that goes much farther.

      (None of this is to say these liberal pundits would support BDS if it were only about 67. For the most part, with the partial exception of Beinart, they're too timid and conflicted, if not downright lying, in their opposition to 67.)

    • I agree that it's a gross distortion (undoubtedly deliberate) to say "most boycotters are not opposed to Israel’s occupation of the WB." What's true in it, though, is that supporters of the Palestinian Boycott National Committee are not opposed only to Israel's occupation of the WB. Goldberg, Cohen, et al. are now trying to pretend that what they're against is the BDS movement's challenge to the idea of a Jewish state. In fact, of course, they haven't supported even BDS directed solely against he settlements.

    • Fair enough, marc b. - I agree. I see now that PABelmont also made a comment along similar lines above. My bad.

    • With all due appreciation for Annie and commenters who have commended this piece, it strikes me as a little disingenuous to carry on this discussion without any reference to the right of return, a phrase that does not appear in the post or, as of now, in any of the 43 comments.

      Some people in the US (and elsewhere) use the term BDS in a generic sense - basically, to mean economic pressure tactics - and these people may be primarily focused on the occupation of the territories Israel conquered in 1967 and may have a variety of positions on the right of return.

      But insofar as we're talking about the official Palestinian-led BDS movement, coordinated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), then we need to be honest about its objectives. As explained at link to
      the movement

      urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law by:

      1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
      2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
      3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

      Now, I support all that - to me it's beyond dispute that international law and basic human decency require as much. But we can't deny that if #3 is ever achieved, Israel - whatever its borders - will cease to have a Jewish majority, and if #2 is also achieved, it will quickly cease to be a "Jewish state" - a non-Jewish majority isn't likely to keep electing Jewish-only or even Jewish-dominated governments, and I'm sure a representative government would get rid of the Jewish-star flag and other symbols of Jewish dominance.

      So in that sense Goldberg, Cohen, et al. have a point - the BDS movement is absolutely a threat to the Jewish state. So be it.

  • Coke Super Bowl commercial featured a Palestinian but don't fall for the sugary sweetness
    • I see your point, Ritzl. You shouldn't, or don't, stand corrected. The back-and-forth just clarified things.

    • >>SS could have licensed known, small-brand flavors

      Not to defend SS (G-d forbid!), but isn't that exactly what they did? Their roster of licensed flavors includes Kool-Aid, Country Time, Crystal Light, and Ocean Spray, among others.

      What they haven't done is a deal for any of the well known bottled soda brands, most of which are owned by Coke and Pepsi. For all I know they might have tried - I imagine Coke and Pepsi would be pretty hesitant to undermine the huge profits they make by selling bottles of sugar water with a few drops of artificial flavoring and coloring at ridiculous prices. What probably attracted PepsiCo to Green Mountain is that Keurig's single-serve ("K-Cup") model holds out the promise of profits almost as enormous as what they make off the bottled drinks - or maybe even larger.

    • Only a bit off-topic: Coke yesterday bought a 10-percent stake in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, not because they want to be in the coffee biz, but because Green Mountain owns the Keurig brand (single-serve home coffee makers) and is developing a model called Keurig Cold, which will make among other things sodas. The deal give Coke an inside track to sell its flavors for the Keurig Cold, thought the deal is non-exclusive.

      The Keurig Cold won't be out until the fall or next year, but it looks to be a major threat to SodaStream's business. Yet SodaStream shares soared this morning currently they're up 8.47 percent for the day. How to explain the seeming paradox? Analysts are speculating that Coke's move will push Pepsi, which last year considered buying SS, to do so now, lest they get iced out of the Keurig Cold.

      If that happens, Pepsi will make an interesting target. I bet they'll shut down the Mishor Adumim plant, though probably not immediately.

  • Kerry's wingmen Friedman and Beinart praise boycott, to pressure Netanyahu
    • Meanwhile, it turns out that Jews invented the BDS movement! A piece by Eva Illouz in tomorrow's Haaretz includes this gem: "The initiators and leaders of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement are such respected academics as Judith Butler, Jacqueline Rose, Noam Chomsky, Hilary Rose and Larry Gross, all Jews."

      Imagine that - all this time I'd been under the illusion that it was initiated by the 170 Palestinian civil-society organizations who released the BDS call in 2005 and that it's led today by the (Palestinian) Boycott National Committee!

      Otherwise, the column, though excruciatingly long and in places tediously academic, is moderately progressive and somewhat interesting. Haaretz calls it 47 years a slave: A new perspective on the occupation" and gives it the following deck:

      Very few struggles in history have centered on how a nation should treat a third group of people, but there are strong parallels between black slavery and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

      One excerpt:

      Without ever intending to, Israelis have become the Lords and Masters of a people, and the only interesting question about this is not how we got there (domination has its own internal incremental and implacable dynamic), but why so many Jews outside and inside of Israel are not more disturbed by this.

      The reason for this is that Israel has its own proslavery lobby, which is now in the corridors of power, shapes Israel’s policy and has successfully managed to make the occupation appear to be a containable casualty of war and nation-building. The settlers’ discourse – which only 20 years ago was marginal in Israeli society –has become mainstream, and one can only be struck by its resemblance to the 19th-century American proslavery ideology.

      And this bit could have come straight out of Max Blumenthal's Goliath:

      The idea that Jews are inherently superior to Arabs is so widespread, deep and unquestioned, that it is hardly worth my time dwelling on it here. The idea of Jewish superiority exists everywhere in Israel, but is most blatant in the territories. Like the whites in the American South, Jews view themselves as obviously more moral, superior, civilized, technologically and economically far more accomplished than the inferior Arabs...

  • SodaStream stock sinks, and Bloomberg cites 'sanctions over Jewish settlements'
    • At the close of trading Thursday, SodaStream shares were up $2.56 (7.15%) to $38.35. The cause of the pop, according to the business press, is the Coke-Green Mountain deal Gingershot posted about this morning. Initially, that news pushed SodaStream down sharply, because Green Mountain is developing a device called Keurig Cold, which should be serious competition for SodaStream, especially because the new deal means it will be marketed with the Coke-family flavors (including Sprite, Fanta, Minute Maid, etc.) But then some analysts and investors evidently decided that this development will force SodaStream and PepsiCo into each other's arms - i.e., Pepsi might buy SS out.

    • The Motley Fool has a lame story (they recommend and own SodaSteam shares) but a nice headline: "SodaStream Is More Bronco Than Seahawk."

  • Scarlett Johansson's new image (grossout alert)
    • Phil: "Had she dumped SS rather than Oxfam, she would have looked so much better, been excused by everyone but the far right, and the liberal Zionists would have applauded her without saying they were for boycott.”

      You don’t live in the same world she does, Phil - to say the least. In her world, I think the following rewrite of your speculation would be much closer to the mark: "Had she dumped SS rather than Oxfam, she would have looked so much worse, been condemned by everyone but the far left, and even among the most liberal Zionists, all but a handful would have dumped all over her.”

      Consider the circles in which she travels: Hollywood, the mainstream media, Madison Ave., probably the super-rich (except when she was out on the road for Oxfam). Your “everyone” encompasses hardly anyone in those world.

      I have no idea about the terms of her contract, but I really doubt it was what made her do what she did.

    • Meanwhile, speaking of grossouts, SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum is now accusing Oxfam of funding the BDS movement! From Haaretz:

      SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum on Sunday accused Oxfam of providing funding to the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign against Israel and said that an invitation he recently issued to the president of the organization to visit the company’s West Bank factory had been “ignored.”

      “Unsurprisingly, Oxfam has joined the BDS in this movement [to close down the West Bank factory],” said Birnbaum. “I’m saying unsurprisingly because we found out that some of the Oxfam branches have been donating funds to the BDS, and this money is used to demonize and attack Israel.” Birnbaum was speaking on a conference call organized by The Israel Project, a U.S.-based pro-Israel advocacy group.

      Oxfam's replies are pretty good. In my book they're redeeming themselves after their wishy-washy initial responses:

      Asked to respond to the accusation, a regional spokesman for Oxfam, the international anti-poverty organization, told Haaretz: “No, we don't provide financial support to the BDS campaign or fund activities that call for a boycott of Israel. Oxfam is not opposed to trade with Israel, and we don't support a boycott of Israel or any other country. However, we do oppose trade with Israeli settlements in the West Bank.”
      In response to this charge, the Oxfam spokesman said: “Oxfam wants to see a just and lasting agreement that allows Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security. We support a two-state solution, and we believe that settlements in the West Bank are an obstacle to achieving that peace. Any company located in the settlements contributes to their viability and legitimizes them. This is not about labor practices or Sodastream in particular, but the bigger issue of settlements, which continue to take land and resources from Palestinian communities that we work with. Some Palestinians in the West Bank do find work in Israeli settlements, but this is often because they are restricted from pursuing other livelihoods and have little other choice. For example, Oxfam works in Palestinian farming communities – they have lost much of their land to settlements and they are rarely allowed to build new wells or get enough water. Unable to make a living, their only option is often found in settlement factories and farms, which receive government tax breaks, support, and don’t face any of the restrictions on building and development that Palestinian communities nearby do.”

      Other tidbits about the SS business:

      Asked whether the recent publicity about its West Bank operations could affect sales and earnings, Birnbaum responded: “We believe at SodaStream that we have never lost a single customer to the boycott, and we’ve been dealing with the boycott for five years or more. Whenever there was an issue in any country where a retailer wanted clarification about the legitimacy of what’s going on at the factory, we invited that retailer to come to see for herself or himself. And every single time, we converted the retailer who started as an adversary – we converted them into an ambassador. I’m convinced that any well-intending individual who truly cares about peace and humanity, who sees the work that’s going on in this factory, will become a partner, will join what we’re doing and embrace the idea of cooperation, and stop this obsession about occupation.”

      Asked about recent layoffs of Palestinians at the West Bank factory, Birnbaum said they were connected to a seasonal downturn in orders. “It wasn’t only Palestinians who were laid off,” he said. “We have a seasonal business. This is a low time for our production, and hopefully, we’ll be able to re-employ them in the next few months. But it has nothing to do with calls for a boycott or anything like that.”

  • The Process
  • 'NYT' fails to disclose that Op-Ed author arguing Israel's case against BDS is husband of 'NYT' reporter in Israel/Palestine
    • In the very small, light-grey notes just under the Barghouti and Goodman op-eds, it says they appear in the National edition of the Times. Under most NYT stories - not just local NY news, but also basic national and international news, the official editorials, the regular columnists, etc. - the note says "appears in the New York edition." I'm not sure what to make of the distinction, but could it mean that they are not printing this debate in the print paper distributed in the NY metro area? If any of you who live in NYC have already received the Sunday Times, can you confirm whether or not these pieces - Barghouti's in particular - were actually printed?

  • 'Big Brother mixed with Shakespeare' -- NPR reports on Palestinian youth's cruel imprisonment
    • The text of the second installment (not the transcript of what's actually said on the air, but the text the broadcast will be based on) is now available at

      link to

      and it's actually not bad at all, even though the character it focuses on is despicable in my book.

  • Pete Seeger on Palestine (in 1967)
    • Fabulous. Many thanks for that, David.

      I hesitate to promote Amazon, but the truth is I just found that recording listed there, in both CD and MP3 format. I bought the MP3s - $3.96 total for the two records!

      link to

  • Vote at the Guardian: Should Oxfam sever ties with Scarlett Johansson?
    • You seem to be arguing, Ecru, that it's not a victory for Oxfam. I agree with you on that. But the very fact that her gig with SodaStream generated a very public controversy, and that Oxfam said clearly that the settlements are illegal and that it didn't approve of trade with them, and that at least significant forces within the organization apparently weren't willing to buy the stupid BS she put out the other day, makes the episode a victory for the Palestinians and the BDS movement, IMO.

    • Victory!!! She quit the Oxfam gig:

      Scarlett Johansson stepping down as Oxfam ambassador over SodaStream deal

      Derrik J. Lang, The Associated Press and Derrik Lang, The Associated Press
      Jan 29, 2014 10:59:29 PM

      LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Scarlett Johansson is ending her relationship with a humanitarian group after being criticized over her support for an Israeli company that operates in the West Bank.

      A statement released by Johansson’s spokesman Wednesday said the 29-year-old actress has “a fundamental difference of opinion” with Oxfam International because the humanitarian group opposes all trade from Israeli settlements, saying they are illegal and deny Palestinian rights.

      “Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years,” the statement said. “She and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. She is very proud of her accomplishments and fundraising efforts during her tenure with Oxfam.”

      Earlier this month, “The Avengers” and “Her” actress signed on as the first global brand ambassador of SodaStream International Ltd., and she’s set to appear in an ad for the at-home soda maker during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.

      SodaStream has come under fire from pro-Palestinian activists for maintaining a large factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, a territory captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians.

      In response to the criticism, Johansson said last week she was a “supporter of economic co-operation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine.”

      Oxfam took issue with Johansson, noting it was “considering the implications of her new statement and what it means for Ms. Johansson’s role as an Oxfam global ambassador.”

      Johansson had served as a global ambassador for Oxfam since 2007, raising funds and promoting awareness about global poverty. In her role as an Oxfam ambassador, she travelled to India, Sri Lanka and Kenya to highlight the impact of traumatic disasters and chronic poverty.

      Oxfam representatives did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

      Based on the trends in the Guardian voting, it looked like the Zionists would have won. But now that this has happened, who cares?

  • Why Palestinians don't want settlers in their midst
  • In 2012 Oxfam Italy cut ties with celebrity spokesperson over SodaStream connection
    • From the Forward:

      MISHOR ADUMIM, WEST BANK — If he could turn back the clock, SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum would “never” have established a production plant on an Israeli Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. In fact, he said, its location has turned out to be “a pain in the ass.”

      “We’re here because we’re here — for historical reasons,” Birnbaum told the Forward in an exclusive interview Tuesday, when asked about the public row that has erupted over the controversial location of his company’s main facility.

      More (mostly liberal BS) at link to

    • Ali Abunimah has a source inside Oxfam, who told him there's an "internal revolt" within the organization over the Johansson issue.

      The dispute within the global charity is largely along transatlantic lines, with Oxfam America stamping on anything seen to be critical of Israel.
      Unlike other national affiliates, “Oxfam America doesn’t invest one cent in the Palestinian territories, or even Israel. They don’t have any programs in the West Bank or Gaza,” the insider explained.

      “Yet they [Oxfam America] always claim that anything Oxfam says on Palestine or Israel affects their fundraising. They almost have veto power on what Oxfam does on Palestine,” the insider added.

      While these tensions have been present for some time, the Johansson episode has brought the “anger” to the surface within the organization, the insider said.

      Interesting stuff - check it out.
      link to

  • Oxfam expresses 'concerns' over Scarlett Johansson's support for settlement product
    • Ali Abunimah has a good post on the KQED situation, including the following update:

      KQED’s publicist Evren Odcikin sent this statement to The Electronic Intifada on Friday afternoon:

      After careful consideration, KQED is pulling SodaStream from its pledge thank you gift offer. The decision to provide SodaStream to our members was based on the product’s positive impact on the environment, an issue near and dear to the hearts of our members and part of KQED’s commitment to sustainability. However, the controversy surrounding SodaStream would undermine the spirit of our impartiality and unbiased mission, therefore the product will no longer be offered as a thank you gift to our members.

    • A modest but very sweet victory in the Bay Area: this morning KQED, the largest public radio and TV station in northern California (and one of the biggest in the country), began offering a SodaStream device as a premium for its fund drive. Word quickly spread among supporters of Palestinian rights, and a slew of us called to object to them promoting a product built on stolen land.

      The rep I talked to knew nothing about SodaStream and not a lot about Palestine, but she was reasonably open-minded, and by the end of our conversation she seemed to agree that the station had no business offering such a product. Other callers I know had a similar response. As of early afternoon, they have removed the SodaStream from their premium page and the reps are telling people they are no longer offering it as a gift!

  • Eric Alterman declines request to debate Max Blumenthal at Brooklyn College
    • TTCNWS ??? Even Google doesn't know what that means: the closest it finds is TTCNews, which is apparently the Twitter handle of a publication the full name of which is Travel Trade Caribbean. Somehow I don't think that's what you mean, PAB?

  • Israel has isolated itself by its own actions, Robert Gates says
    • Israel didn’t oppose a $60 billion U.S. arms sale to Saudi Arabia [in 2010], in part because the Pentagon agreed to sell the Israelis at least 20 new Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) F-35 jets, according to the new book by Robert Gates…

      Now that we know about Stuxnet, the NSA's hacking, and so on, what do you bet that the electronics on the planes (and other weapons) the U.S. sells to Saudi Arabia include backdoors that allow the CIA and the Israelis to crash or divert them?

  • PLO official: Kerry threatened to stop funds if Palestinians do not agree to his framework
    • According to the Jerusalem Post,

      "The company behind the PPGC facility belongs to a variety of shareholders, with the main investor being the Palestine Electric Company (PEC) – a publicly owned firm traded on the Palestinian Securities Exchange since 2004. The company’s ownership is made up of 33% public shareholders and 67% private shareholders, according to the firm."

      PPGC's home page says

      "PPGC’s shareholders consist of leading business organizations in Palestine across various sectors including Power, Investments, Developers, Banking, Insurance, and Construction. The lead shareholders consist of Palestine Electric Company (PEC) which is the first IPP in Palestine, and Palestine Development & Investment Company (PADICO) which is the first and largest investment holding company established in Palestine."

      And the Founding Shareholders page specifies:

      As affirmed by PPGC’s board of directors, as of end-2010, all shareholders have paid their share of the capital requirements in full.

      Palestine Electric Company (PEC)
      Palestine’s first power generating company

      Palestine Development and Investment Company (PADICO)
      The leading investment and holding company

      Palestine Investment Fund (PIF)
      Independent national investment company

      Palestine Private Power (PPP)
      An investment consortium that has an interest in PEC

      Arab Palestinian Investment Company (APIC)
      A regional leader in distribution, manufacturing and services

      Bank of Palestine (BoP)
      The first and largest national bank in Palestine

      Gulf Steel Industries Company (GSIC)
      A leading regional construction company

      Palestine Pension Fund Authority (PPA)
      Manages the civil service sector’s pension fund

      Cairo Amman Bank (CAB)
      A leading Jordanian retail bank

      Jerusalem Real Estate and Investment Company (JREI)
      Owns and manages real estate and property projects

      Nassar Odeh
      A prominent Palestinian businessman

      National Insurance Company (NIC)
      A public insurance and re-insurance company

      Palestine Insurance Company (PICO)
      A public insurance and re-insurance company

      Palestine Real Estate Investment Company (PRICO)
      A real estate, housing and development company

  • Tens of thousands of refugees march in Jerusalem, demand asylum status
    • In this context, just want to recommend a 2003 movie I recently watched called "James' Journey to Jerusalem," made by Ra'anan Alexandrowicz, the Israeli director who also made "The Law in These Parts."

      It's the story of a young African man - country of origin not specified, but he speaks Zulu - who travels to Israel not in a quest for asylum but to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, at the behest of his Christian church. The Israelis promptly toss him in jail - there's a great scene where he tries to explain himself to the border police or some such - but he gets out because an Israeli who has connections with the police needs another immigrant worker for his cleaning business. James is taken to a rundown Tel Aviv apartment packed with other immigrant (mostly African) workers and forced to work - they get paid a bit, but also hit with all kinds of petty charges, and since the businessman has their passports, they are nearly slaves. James closely observes Israeli ways, eventually starts his own little business behind the back of his boss, and makes a bunch of money, but in the end Israeli racism does him in.

      Doesn't even mention the Palestinians, but otherwise a sharp portrayal of Israeli culture, and very relevant to the current situation, even though it's more than a decade old and the details are different. Amazingly, it gets ratings of 90 from both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes.

      I stumbled across it while googling for info about Jesus's brother James (don't ask why...), then found the DVD on Netflix. I don't see it available for streaming anywhere, but used copies of the DVD are on sale cheap on Amazon.

  • 'NYT' casts Israelis as victims of Palestinians who complain bitterly about oppression
    • Donald Johnson notes that Rudoren's latest piece "links to an earlier NYT article by Isabel Kershner" about an earlier "Israeli study on incitement," which cited the Israeli textbook referring to a demolished Palestinian village as a "nest of murderers" and the Palestinian textbook quoting prisoners who nicknamed the interrogation center where they were held "the slaughterhouse."

      I certainly agree with Donald that equating these two examples is ridiculous. But
      a) it's not entirely accurate to describe the study Kershner wrote about in that piece (published Feb. 3, 2013) as "Israeli." Here's some of what she said about it"

      The report was commissioned by the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, a group of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders who advocate for mutual respect and understanding. It was financed by a grant from the United States State Department.

      The research was led by two prominent academics with long experience in textbook studies, Daniel Bar-Tal, an Israeli professor of research in child development and education at Tel Aviv University, and Sami Adwan, a Palestinian associate professor of education at Bethlehem University.

      The project was originated by Dr. Bruce E. Wexler, professor emeritus of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, who co-founded an organization to promote Israeli-Palestinian cooperation.

      I went to the website of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, which says that the group's establishment "followed on from the historic first ever meeting of religious leaders from the Holy Land that took place in Alexandria, Egypt, in 2002, initiated by the then Archbishop of Canterbury and hosted by the Grand Imam of Al Azhar."

      In short, doesn't sound like it makes sense to call that study (which I haven't read) "Israeli," whatever else one might want to say about it.

      b) Donald's excerpt and comments don't convey what to my mind was most interesting about Kershner's February article: despite the false equivalences, the study it reported actually contradicted the usual Zionist line, the one Rudoren is pushing today. The headline sums it up: "Academic Study Weakens Israeli Claim That Palestinian School Texts Teach Hate," and Kershner's lede reinforced the point, concluding "it undermines recent assertions by the Israeli government that Palestinian children are educated “to hate.”"

      For that very reason, the story reported,

      Israel’s Ministry of Education issued a statement in late January [i.e., the previous week, just ahead of the study's release] dismissing the new research as “biased, unprofessional and significantly lacking in objectivity.” Referring to “bodies that wish to slander the Israeli education system and the state of Israel,” it said the findings were “predetermined” and did not “reliably reflect reality.”

      Awful as Kershner's reporting usually is, and wishy-washy as that report may be, I'll bet the Israelis were't happy to see the way the Times reported it.

      In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Rudoren's story today and the Times' posting of the government's slides is at least in part an attempt on the paper's part to make it up to the Israelis and the lobby for that earlier piece. Now that Netanyahu is choosing to make "incitement" a big (pseudo-)issue, they probably didn't want that Kershner story to remain the most recent major piece on the subject in the archives of the "paper of record."

  • Israeli champion of 'tolerance and multiculturalism' suggests medal of honor for army torturer
    • Thank you, Richard, for your work on this case and everything else.

      Of course, it's not just Haaretz that fails to give you credit - same goes, as far as I can see, for the JPost, Ynet, etc. Did anyone give you credit?

      MW readers who are interested in the Capt. George/Zahavi saga should definitely check out Richard's several posts about it over the last several years. In addition to the one I linked to above, see in particular Captain George (aka Doron Zahavi) Rides Again from Dec. 18, 2011 and IDF Torturer Doron Zahavi Wants to Sodomize Arabs and Get Medal for It from Feb. 5, 2012. (Maybe the latter is where Raichel got the idea of giving him a medal!)

      Nokdim is part of the Gush Etzion bloc, isn't it? I believe it was Raichel's performance there, as part of a 40th-anniversary celebration for the Gush Etzion settlements, that inspired the Gush Shalom call for boycotting him.

    • I definitely didn’t mean to diminish Richard Silverstein in any way, Dickerson - I completely share your assessment of his work. Not all bloggers are journalists, in my book, but to me “blogger” doesn’t say one way or another whether one is or isn't a journalist, just that his/her outlet is a blog. In that sense it’s kind of a parallel to the old word “newspaperman” or “newspaperwoman.”

    • Thanks for bringing up Facility 1391, Walid. I intended to add a mention of it when I was revising my first draft of thrice, but somehow it slipped my mind. I hadn’t seen the Haaretz piece - thanks for that link - but first learned about Facility 1391 from an article Chris McGreal did in the Guardian in November 2003. Obviously it wasn’t the scoop I had thought it was, but it’s still very good, IMO: link to

  • Happy new year from Mondoweiss
    • I'm not sure this is the right place for this question, but I can't think of a better one, so here goes: why does MW have a picture of Kerry, Abbas, and (if I'm remembering correctly) Netanyahu on the pop-up screen that solicits donations for the site? Is it supposed to be some kind of joke? I have to say I don't get it.

      In any case, best wishes to all - or anyway most - for a better year in 2014!

  • Palestinians agree: somebody has to mow the grass in Gaza
    • Slightly off-topic, but not much: the Israelis have once again cut off fuel shipments into Gaza, forcing a shut-down of the power plant and reduction of electrical service from the 12 hours per day they've had for the last couple of weeks (thanks to a shipment of fuel oil from Qatar) back down to six hours a day.

      link to

  • Palestine is no longer a word hesitantly murmured at George Mason U
    • Wow, Tareq, your post is the most hopeful thing I've read in years! From my point of view it even tops news of the ASA vote, because you reached a much broader audience. As someone who got pushed out of my own graduation by club-wielding cops and Secret Service (and probably SAVAK) agents almost half a century ago, because six or eight of us dared to stand up in protest of a speech by and honorary degree to the Shah of Iran, I am in awe of the effectiveness of your protest. FWIW, you and your comrades have my heartfelt admiration. Keep up the great work.

  • Help send Netanyahu to the Mandela memorial!
    • Here's the official excuse, according to Haaretz:

      The decision was made in light of the high transportation costs resulting from the short notice of the trip and the security required for the prime minister in Johannesburg. The Prime Minister’s Office found that the trip would have cost roughly 7 million shekels ($1.9 million) – of which 2.8 million shekels (about $800,000) for chartering a private El Al plane and another 3.2 million shekels (about $910,000) for transporting security equipment and personnel on an Israeli Air Force plane, in addition to other costs.

      Haaretz liberal-Zionist columnist Bradley Burston has a nice riff on this episode:

      In his eleventh-hour decision against attending the funeral of Nelson Mandela, Benjamin Netanyahu proved that he is not the smug, petty, vindictive, waffling, in-your-face insulting man he seems. He's something worse.
      My Israel, which so craves and demands legitimacy and recognition as a full partner in the community of nations, does not consider a man like Nelson Mandela, or a nation like South Africa, or the sentiment of an entire world, worth the price of a plane flight.
      My Israel, which spends untold tens of millions on such matters as bolstering and protecting settlement construction during peace negotiations with the Palestinians, or erecting detention facilities for African asylum seekers rather than formulating coherent and just refugee policies, has nothing left over for this man Mandela.

      But that's only the beginning. With a wink and a nod to the settler right, the academic rabid right, and the KKK-esque far right, Netanyahu is sending an even stronger message:

      This is where I stand on this Palestinian-lover, Mandela. And this is where I stand on his Palestinian-lover heirs.

  • The unspoken alliance: Israel’s secret relationship with apartheid South Africa
    • Thanks for posting a working link to the Pappe piece, MRW.

      Funny how people say "downloaded" when they clearly mean "uploaded" - not just you, but the proprietors of, who of all people should know the difference!

    • Annie, footnote #2 in Pappe's "Revisiting 1967" paper reads:

      The Shaham plan was first and only reported by one of the participants in a scholarly article. Zvi Inbar, ‘The Military Attorney General and the Occupied Territories’, The Law and the Army 16, no. 1 (2002): 147–9 (Hebrew).

    • Polakow-Suransky has performed an important service by spotlighting Israel's alliance with apartheid South Africa - even if, as Walid suggests above, he was just elaborating on an article Chris McGreal published in the Guardian years earlier. But when the excerpt above deals with 1967, he's just repeating Israeli mythology. Specifically, he says

      Conquest and expansion had not been part of the IDF’s (the Israel Defense Forces) strategic planning for a war that it perceived as a defensive struggle for survival. ... Yet, as Arab negotiating positions hardened and religious Zionists and socialist idealists alike sought to redeem and settle the land, the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and the Sinai Peninsula slowly transformed Israel into an unwitting outpost of colonialism.

      If there was ever any doubt, official Israeli documents declassified a couple of years ago prove conclusively that that's nonsense. Using these documents, Ilan Pappe has described detailed Israeli military planning beginning in 1963 (if not before) for the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza:

      The plan was code-named ‘The Shaham Plan’ and it divided the West Bank to eight districts for the purpose of facilitating the imposition of an organized military rule. Michael (Michel) Shaham was the general military governor of the Palestinian territories inside Israel and the official name of the programme was ‘the organization of the Military Rule in Occupied Territories’.... The Shaham plan also suggested names of people who should be appointed to the high posts in the future occupation. ...

      By May 1967, the plan became operative and the actual appointment of military governors and military judges to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip moved to a more detailed stage...Each governor in May received a box (Argaz). Each box included instructions of how to govern an occupied Arab area; the Geneva and the Hague conventions; the Arabic translation of the emergency regulations; the book, The Occupation of Enemy Territory: A Commentary on the Law and Practice of Belligerent Occupation....

      Although, in hindsight one can say that despite the elaborate preparations in practice an easier way was chosen: transferring the mode of rule according to the emergency regulations that were imposed on the Palestinians inside Israel between 1948 and 1966 and transplant them into the reality of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli interpretation of these regulations – in 1948 as well as in 1967 – gave unlimited control for a military governor over every aspect of life of the people in his area.

      In sum, the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, far from being the sort of unexpected development Polakow-Suransky (and, to be fair, most other historians) describes, was meticulously planned well in advance of the Six-Day War.

      I had to go through quite a few contortions to get to this Pappe article, which was published under the title "Revisiting 1967: the false paradigm of peace, partition and parity" in a journal called Settler Colonial Studies. If you're interested but the link above doesn't work for you, he has delivered versions of the paper in several talks that are posted on YouTube, such this one.

  • 'NYT' article on Palestinian refugees manages to quote Israeli govt spox but no Palestinians
  • In Avnery's 'Battle of the Titans,' will anyone bet that the dog wags the tail?
    • I agree with you, Dan, about the determinants of US policy in the wider Middle East and beyond. But with respect to Israel/Palestine itself, do you really think "Imperial Interests, American Exceptionalism, hardened cold war viewpoints" require the denial of basic rights to the Palestinians? Do JP Morgan, Lockheed-Martin, or even Exxon have any real reason to oppose a two-state settlement or even a single democratic state? Do their interests or ideology really require that the Jews control all of Jerusalem and the West Bank?

      Or, to put it another way, wouldn't a settlement that ensured peace and a modicum of justice make it much easier for US imperialism to pursue its interests in the wider Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world? Who or what but the lobby has compelled the US to support Israel in maintaining the occupation and preventing a diplomatic settlement all these decades?

  • 'NYT''s Dershowitz reviewer lately participated in 'celebrate' Israel mission
    • Even for those who already think they (we) have no illusions about how the New York Times practices "objective journalism" in its coverage of Israel/Palestine, the Yousef Munayyer exposé Phil links to in passing in the last paragraph is well worth a read - especially, IMO, the second half, where he dissects Isabel Kershner's report on the recent killing of an Israeli soldier.

      link to

      Phil, since you're apparently in contact with Rudoren, why don't you send it to her and ask for her reaction? (No point in sending it to Kershner, I'm sure.)

  • Ben White brings 'apartheid' talk to Brooklyn College dep't (which hasn't hosted Dershowitz in 39 years)
  • Will new cable thriller focused on Jerusalem archeology whitewash the settlers?
  • 'Bloomberg marched with a fascist'
  • Max Blumenthal responds to latest critique of his book, in the 'Forward'
    • I tried to post a version of this comment earlier, but it appears to have disappeared into the bit bucket, so I'll try again.

      First off, huge props to Max for his book, which describes the Israel I've experienced better than anything else I've read, and for all his other work, including his firm, dignified, and effective responses to Alterman and J.J. Goldberg.

      That said, I don't understand why he finds anything strange about Goldberg's observation that “America’s billion-dollar-plus annual aid package to Egypt does not exist for Egypt’s benefit, but for Israel’s.” To me that seems absolutely on the money. Ever since the late 1970s, when the U.S. started it, our "aid" to Egypt has been nothing but a bribe to their military. Originally, it had two purposes: to pull the generals away from their previous alignment with the Soviet Union and into the U.S. camp, and to get them to agree not to mess with Israel. After the demise of the Soviet Union, the only reason for continuing such massive aid was to persuade them to keep adhering to the deal with Israel, despite popular support for the Palestinians. In effect, it's hush money.

      Some people dispute this analysis by pointing out that all that money really goes to U.S. arms manufacturers. That's certainly true - apparently it goes from the U.S. Treasury to a Wall Street bank and thence to Lockheed-Martin et al., without ever even passing through Egypt - but the generals end up with the toys.

  • Israeli gov't upholds denying entry to American teacher in Ramallah
    • >>In yesterday’s New York Times, Yousef Munayyer slammed the bills
      >>in Congress to grant Israeli citizens visa waivers when they visit the U.S.

      Did Munayyer's piece actually appear in the paper NYT? It's posted at, but the fine print at the bottom there mentions only the International New York Times (formerly the International Herald Tribune). Generally speaking, the Times lets more criticism of Israel appear on the website and in the international paper than in the U.S. print editions.

  • Avigdor Lieberman used the Jerusalem mayoral election to attempt a right-wing takeover of Likud (and almost got away with it)
    • The right wing "almost got away with" a takeover of Likud? Geez, this makes it sound as if the Likud weren't already controlled by right-wing, pro-settler, ultra-nationalist forces! Clearly Lieberman, Leon, Shas, et al., want to push it even further to the right, and it's noteworthy that they failed in this particular instance, but let's not forget that Jabotinsky disciple Menachem Begin created the Likud in the first place to be a coalition of the Israeli right, led by his own Herut party, which originated among the Irgun terrorists in 1948. In recent years it's been moving steadily further right, as witnessed in last year's party elections (see, for instance, "Likud primary results show dramatic rightward shift in party hierarchy." Their only problem is that they're having trouble competing with the rapid growth of even-further-right forces.

  • 'Occupied Palestine' doc'y finds new life 30 years after a bombthreat killed its release
    • David Koff was kind enough to pass along a better account, from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, of the controversy around the showing of his film on PBS in 1986:

      link to

    • I followed up on David Koff's mention of New York Times review of his movie by searching the Times' archive. Turns out there's a somewhat interesting story there, detailed in both a news story and a column by the Times' TV critic at the time, John Corry, in April 1986. (The comparison to Nazi films, as well as other nastiness, came from Corry's column.)

      Since both pieces are, I believe, behind the Times' paywall, I'll summarize:

      In 1985 KQED, a public-broadcast outlet in San Francisco, launched a series called "Flashpoint," which was intended, according to the Times, to provide a sort of "video op-ed page" presenting contrasting, openly partisan points of view on controversial issues. (For those of us who know KQED today, it's hard to imagine that they were ever so daring - nowadays its programming is totally "safe" for mainstream audiences.) The series was distributed through PBS, but from the start it was too controversial for some PBS stations - WNET in NYC was among several stations that refused to air the first episode, which was about abortion.

      When "Flashpoint" decided to do a show on Israel and the Palestinians, they picked a one-hour version of Koff's film and two half-hour pro-Israel films by Israeli filmmakers, plus a half-hour discussion among some "experts." When the program was announced, the lobby sprung into action: "David Gordis, the executive vice president of the American Jewish Committee, said his group had urged its local chapters to persuade their public-television stations not to run 'Flashpoint,' or, failing that, to replace 'Occupied Palestine,'" the Times reported. This campaign evidently wasn't all that effective: a PBS spokesman told the Times that "Of the 165 licensees in the PBS system, only 6 stations are refusing to carry the program for content reasons." But those six included not only WNET in NYC, but also WETA in Washington. (The Howard University station did show it in DC.)

      All in all, the story made me realize that the lobby has, unfortunately, made a lot of progress in its thought-control efforts over the last quarter century, even as a growing minority of the public has begun to see the light about Israel. It's scarcely imaginable today that KQED would distribute anything like Koff's film, or, if they did, that the vast majority of other PBS stations would agree to run it.

  • The Rabin assassination-- and the immunity of rightwing Jewish terrorists
    • Just for the record: I looked back at Shahak's "Jesish Fundamentalism in Israel," and I now have the answer to the question I posed in the first paragraph of my previous comment: the reason that Gurvitz (and Phil) didn't mention that book as a source on the Rabin assassination is that, contrary to what I thought I remembered, that book doesn't actually say much about the conspiracy. Sorry I didn't check before posting that! It does have some chilling stuff, though, about assassination in Jewish history and about the rabbis who did so much to create the climate in which the Rabin murder plot was hatched.

    • >>Max Blumenthal tells some of this story in Goliath.

      Max's book is terrific - it's the first book I've read that really gives some sense of the depth and breadth of Israeli Jewish racism - but as far as I can see, it has almost nothing about the Rabin assassination. I wonder why Gurvitz (or Phil?) doesn't mention Israel Shahak's "Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel," which, if I'm remembering it correctly, focuses heavily on the assassination and the context that produced it.

      There's also an interesting 2009 book called Jewish Terrorism in Israel, by Avi Pedahzur (now a professor at UT Austin) and Arie Perliger (who teaches at West Point!). They're both Israelis - liberal Zionists, at best, I'd guess - and the book tends to focus on small groups and conspiracies, without paying much attention to the broader political culture in which they develop. It also has a certain amount of social-sciency BS I didn't pay too much attention to. Still, for anyone interested in this topic, it's got some choice info, not only about the Rabin assassination, but also about Kahane and the Kach movement, the "Beit Ayin group," and other elements of the ultra-right racist underground.

      When I googled that book, I discovered that Pedahzur has written a couple of other books that might also be interesting: one called "The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism" (a revealing title - in my book the Israeli secret services are themselves terrorists!) and one from last year called "The triumph of Israel's Radical Right." The Amazon blurb for the latter suggests that the guy might be sharper than I've been giving him credit for:

      After analyzing what, exactly they [the Israeli right] believe in, he explains how mainstream Israeli policies like "the law of return" have nurtued their nativism and authoritarian tendencies. He then traces the right's steady expansion and mutation, from the early days of the state to these days. Throughout, he focuses on the radical right's institutional networks and how the movement has been able to expand its influence over policy making process. His closing chapter is grim yet realistic: he contends that a two state solution is no longer viable and that the vision of the radical rabbi Meir Kahane, who was a fringe figure while alive, has triumphed.

  • Fida Qishta's Gaza documentary hit screens in northern California
    • Just to follow up on JohnAdamTurnbull's post, for the benefit of readers in California, “Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine” will be shown several times at two film festivals coming up this month:

      Mill Valley Film Festival

      Saturday October 12, 3:00pm
      Smith Rafael Film Center
      San Rafael, California

      Sunday October 13, 2:15pm
      CinéArts Sequoia
      Mill Valley, California

      Filmmaker Connie Field, whose previous credits include the classics "Freedom on My Mind" (about the 1960s civil rights struggle in Mississippi) and "Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter" and "Have You Heard from Johannesburg" (the extraordinary, Emmy Award-winning seven-part documentary on the global struggle against South African apartheid) is supposed to be on hand for both of those showings.

      Arab Film Festival

      Oct. 20, 2013 4:30 pm
      Harmony Gold, Los Angeles

      Oct. 27, 2013 9:00 pm
      Shattuck Cinema, Berkeley

      BTW, anyone interested in BDS and how such a movement can grow from beginnings among a handful of activists into a huge global surge should be sure to see "Have You Seen from Johannesburg," especially the episodes "Fair Play" (about the international sports boycott), "From Selma To Soweto" (about the grassroots anti-apartheid movement here in the U.S.), and above all "The Bottom Line" (about economic boycotts and sanctions). Unfortunately, they're not on Netflix, but you can stream those three episodes for a modest price from
      or buy any or all of the seven episodes on DVD from link to

      Finally, just for the record, Annie wrote "Finally. the Gaza documentary, Where Should the Birds Fly, along with its creator, Fida Qishta, are coming to California," but the upcoming showing are not actually the first in California: Fida presented it in Oakland, at least, last March. It's great!

  • In battle for American hearts and minds, Iran says Obama did 'macho... flipflop' for Israel
    • The NY Times editorial board wrote:

      Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Rouhani have hard-line domestic audiences and allies that they will need to consider and cajole .... For Mr. Obama, that means working closely with Israel and helping Mr. Netanyahu see that sabotaging diplomacy, especially before Iran is tested, only makes having to use force more likely.

      Th trouble with that prescription is that Netanyahu (and a large proportion of the Israeli population) clearly don't consider the use of force "the worst result of all," but the best result under the circumstance. So if Obama makes the argument the Times suggests, it will actually incentivize Netanyahu to pull out all the stops in his campaign to sabotage diplomacy (not that he needed any encouragement to do that).

  • Hillel director slams Birthright for refusing students' requests to meet Palestinians and see checkpoints
    • If Birthright were to heed Ms. Leshaw's advice, it would only make the program more effective at strengthening the kids' commitment to Zionism. They would obviously find (or create) a nicely landscaped piece of the Wall and a modern, smoothly functioning (at least for that moment) checkpoint, then take them to a slick coffee shop or nightclub in Ramallah and introduce them to some thoroughly "domesticated," carefully vetted Palestinian(s) - probably some high-tech startup types - preaching peace and love and commitment to the "peace process."

      I just hope the Birthright honchos remain too blinded by their own fanaticism and racism to see how much they'd have to gain by listening to this rabbi.

  • Seymour Hersh says official story of bin Laden killing is 'one big lie, not one word is true'
    • I seem to be in the mood for nominating favorites. Here's my candidate for best line from the Guardian piece about Hersh: "We are not doing so well in the 80 wars we are in right now, what the hell does he [Obama] want to go into another one for."

    • My nomination for best song of the century: "Lies" by the Wiafs

      (Hey mama hey mama hey ma they lie) x 3

      You read the paper, watch the news
      and you think you're well informed
      Well I got some news for you my friend

      That headline that you read
      the story that broke
      it was a scandal - yeah a scam
      political masterstroke
      Tell you what they you want you to hear
      close your eyes and open your ears

      (It's easy), yes it's easier that way
      (cause you don't) cause you don't have to think for yourself
      You said hey I tell no lies, I tell no lies
      Because I read it all in black and white
      It was on my TV yeah they were telling me just what to believe
      Yeah I tell no lies, I tell no lies
      And all the while they're tellin' you lies
      (hey mama hey, mey ma they lie) x 10

      Everyday you and me, we see what we are shown
      yes it can be hard to scratch below
      there are people at the top, they are hidden far from view
      they're not gonna show their faces to the likes of me and you
      you never see them on the street,
      but you'll always see the things that they do.

      (yes they know) yes they can get away
      (no price) no price is too high for them to pay

      Yeah I tell no lies, I tell no lies it's very simple, yeah it's in black and white and it's on your TV oh we got everything you need to believe
      Hey I tell no lies, I tell no lies, I know why they're telling lies
      why they're telling you lies
      And all the while they're tellin' you lies

      Oh Lies lies lies (lies lies lies) x3
      (Hey mama hey mama hey ma they lie) x 8
      And all the while they're tellin' you lies.

      Listen to a great live performance at link to

  • Nairobi mall massacre makes NPR do a 180 on Israel-style racial profiling
    • With respect to the Israelis assisting the Kenyan military, it's interesting to note that, according to the Kenyan paper the Daily Nation, the military were not the first responders - the police were there first and secured most of the mall, pinning down the attackers at one end of the building, shortly after the incident began. But then the army (perhaps the Israeli-trained commandos??) showed up and fatally shot the police commander, ostensibly in a case of "friendly fire." That led the police to pull back, and

      "The pullout left a vacuum that apparently allowed the terrorists to regroup and move through the mall slaughtering many captives. It also allowed the terrorists to deploy heavy-calibre machine guns that they had not used in the earlier shootout."

      link to

  • Obama's greatest achievement-- blinking on Syria
    • I'd like to think that an attack on Syria is now off the agenda, that AIPAC and the neocons have been defeated, etc., but like David Samel, I don't think this episode is over. Kerry for one seems determined to push Assad into a corner, where he might balk, and the war party will seize on that to renew the push for an attack. Besides, the whole situation is clearly fraught with opportunities for provocations and false-flag operations by those who want a wider war - perhaps the Mossad, perhaps the Saudis via Prince Bandar, perhaps even elements of the CIA.

      One other observation: though I obviously have no information about deliberations within the administration, I suspect that Gen. Martin Dempsey and his allies among the military brass deserve a lot of the credit. His public statements earlier in the year, plus his terseness and body language at the recent Congressional hearings, made it very clear that he (and presumably a substantial faction, at least, among the military chiefs) continued to think attacking Syria is a ridiculous idea, even as they prepared for it and nominally supported it as long as it was Obama's policy. Without their opposition, I doubt Obama would have dared to stand up to the warmongers.

      Along the same lines, I wonder about Hagel's role. His nomination as Secretary of Defense was an earlier indication of Obama's reluctance to start another war, and his confirmation was this year's first major defeat for the Israel lobby and the neocons. If we've in fact avoided war on Syria, it's got to be in part a fruit of that battle. (None of which is to say that Hagel or Dempsey are good guys in general, just that they appear to be willing to stand up to the war party.)

  • Major 'NYT' piece calls two-state negotiations 'phony'--and catastrophic
    • @miriam6, I strongly suggest that you stop rattling on about Ali Abunimah's views until you read his book. I'm sure you could get through it in less time than you've spent commenting on just this thread.

      In addition to what Shmuel blockquoted for you, here are some excerpts from a section of one of the chapters Amigo cited where Abunimah proposes "eight principles for the one-state solution" (pp. 110-111):

      1. The power of the government shall be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions and shall be founded on the principles of full respect for and equality of civil, political, social, and cultural rights, and of freedom from discrimination for all citizens, women and men, and of parity of esteem and of just equal treatment for the identity, ethos, and aspirations of all communities.

      2. The constitution recognizes that the state is formed by the free and consenting union of two principal national communities, Israeli Jews and Palestinians, which each have multiple subcultures, shared histories, and sometimes irreconcilable narratives binding them to the country. ... It is possible to be a full citizen of the state without belong to either of these communities.

      3. The state, recognizing the distinctive identities of the national communities who live in it, supports their linguistic and cultural traditions and production, all of which are part of the cultural wealth of the country. The state has mechanisms for national communities to exercise autonomy in decision-making related to language, education,, culture, and other matters, but which do not foster interethnic competition, discrimination, or separates.

      4. The state guarantees the freedom of religion and worship of every citizen and does not interfere in the affairs of relgious communities.. The state is neutral among religious groups and any state funding for religious school or other institutions is distributed in a nondiscriminatory, transparent, and equitable manner.

      6. The state recognizes that Israeli Jews have a special relationship with Jewish communities outside the country, and that Palestinians and Israeli Jews of Arab origin are connected to the broader Arab world and to Arab diaspora communities, and that all are free to maintain and develop these vital relationships.

  • Rep. Alan Grayson: '[AIPAC] falls to the wayside when the public weighs in'
    • Grayson is certainly playing a positive role in the current situation, and I commend him for his clarity and courage. But as Max Blumenthal wrote here in 2009, "Gutsy progressive congressman Alan Grayson leads a double life." Some excerpts from that piece,

      when it comes to the Israel-Palestine conflict, Grayson is fully programmed by AIPAC and the pro-war, pro-settlements wing of the Israel Lobby.

      In an interview in March with the Philadelphia Jewish Voice, Grayson revealed two meetings he held the previous week with AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr. In the interview, Grayson explained how Kohr helped to "educate" him about Israel-related issues, then misquoted the Abba Eban line, "The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."
      Grayson’s January 8th statement explaining his vote in favor of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip read like a mimeograph of those released by other AIPAC-friendly members of Congress.
      Grayson lately voted to condemn the Goldstone Report

      I suppose it's possible that he's changed for the better since then, or that his agreement with AIPAC and the Israelis about Syria will now induce him to rethink his position on Israel and Palestine, but somehow I doubt it.

  • Mainstream press openly addresses Israel lobby's role in US policy re Syria
    • >>...Wolf Blitzer, who was also once a strong supporter of Israel...

      Huh?? "once"??? Is there any evidence that he's changed in that respect? He may no longer be the paid agent he used to be (or maybe he still is), but as far as I know, he's still a vehement Israel-firster.

  • Stopping Sara from falling in love with Sammy in Qalandia
    • If anyone is interested in that "Sleeping with the Enemy" video I mentioned a moment ago, Richard Silverstein posted it at
      link to
      Right now the video is not working for me, but you can see translations of parts of it there.

      Jonathan Cook did a column on this topic, also called "Sleeping with the Enemy," in 2009. It's at
      link to

    • Back in 2007, the local authorities in Kiryat Gat - the site of Intel Israel's giant chip-fabricating facility - convened an "emergency" conference to address the problem of Jewish girls taking up with Bedouin boys, which they labeled a "disaster." The upshot: a program run by the municipal welfare department, with support from the police, that sends speakers into public school classrooms to warn girls about the dangers they face from Arab boys. The curriculum even includes a 10-minute video entitled "Sleeping with the Enemy."

      link to

  • Terry Gross doesn't care about Edward Snowden
    • Terry Gross was the focus of Curtis White's classic 2002 essay "The Middle Mind" and his follow-up book of the same title. The essay is now behind the Harper's paywall, but it was nicely summarized just this past May in an essay by Andrew Hartman called "The Middling Mind of Terry Gross." Here some excerpts from White's essay quoted by Hartman:

      The Middle Mind attempts to find a middle way between the ideological hacks of the Right and the theorized Left. Unlike Middlebrow, the Middle Mind does not locate itself between high and low culture. Rather, it asserts its right to speak for high culture indifferent to both the traditionalist Right and the academic Left.

      The Middle Mind is pragmatic, plainspoken, populist, contemptuous of the Right’s narrowness, and incredulous before the Left’s convolutions. It is adventuresome, eclectic, spiritual, and in general agreement with liberal political assumptions about race, gender and class. The Middle Mind really rather liked Bill Clinton, thoroughly supported his policies, but wished that the children didn’t have to know so much about his personal life. The Middle Mind is liberal. It wants to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and has even bought an SUV with the intent of visiting it. It even understands in some indistinct way that that very SUV spells the Arctic’s doom. Most importantly, the Middle Mind imagines that it honors the highest culture, and that it lives through the arts. From the perspective of the theorized Left academy (of which I confess myself an ineluctable member—with reservations), the Middle Mind’s take on culture is both well intended and deeply deluded.
      Fresh Air is not merely a promotional vehicle for the Middle Mind, it is itself a prime example of the Middle Mind in all its charm and banality.
      Here is an interview program that claims quite earnestly to be for intelligence, for the fresh and new, for something other than regular stale network culture, for the arts and for artists. But anyone who much listens to the show knows (I certainly hope that I’m not the only one who has noticed) that: 1) Terry rarely interviews an artist or intellectual that real-deal artists and intellectuals would recognize. 2) She has no capacity for even the grossest distinctions between artists and utter poseurs. Many of the “writers” she has interviewed recently have been writers for TV series and movies. People who can with a straight face say, “Seinfeld is a great show because of the brilliant script writing” love Fresh Air. Now, Seinfeld may be a cut above the average sit-com, but it’s a sit-com! 3) The show is a pornographic farce.

      From my perspective White's critique reflects a lot of elitism, and as best I recall the essay (I haven't read the book), it was focused mainly on Gross's treatment of the arts doesn't go into much depth about her politics. I don't remember it even mentioning the show's pronounced Judeo-centrism, nor certainly its barely concealed Islamophobia. Nevertheless, it's a classic take-down, up there with Matt Taibbi on Tom Friedman.

  • Jodi Rudoren intentionally obscured reality in her recent piece on Beit Ommar
    • Can anyone translate or summarize the exchanges between the Palestinians and the soldiers recorded in the video?

      Thanks to Bekah Wolfe for highlighting some of the omissions and distortions in Rudoren's reporting from Beit Ommar. To me, though, there's a larger and deeper problem Wolfe doesn't mention here: Rudoren's grotesque failure to explain the real reasons the people of Beit Ommar and other Palestinians young and old are so determined to stand up against the occupation. In the NYT article focused on the young people's stone throwing, you'll recall, the only explanation she offers for it is this:

      The youths, and their parents, say they are provoked by the situation: soldiers stationed at the village entrance, settlers tending trees beyond. They throw because there is little else to do in Beit Ommar — no pool or cinema, no music lessons after school, no part-time jobs other than peddling produce along the road. They do it because their brothers and fathers did.

      All that is true, I believe, as far as it goes. What Rudoren doesn't mention:

      • the land on which those settlers are "tending trees" is land stolen from Beit Ommar;

      • the settlers regularly attack the villagers, burning their vehicles, spray-painting racist slogans on their homes, and destroying their crops. (As of June 6, the settlers had attacked one 75-year-old farmer's land seven times since the beginning of the year. In the last attack, they cut down more than 20 olive trees, removed them in trucks, and flooded his crops with sewage water, leaving them unharvestable.) In 2011 attacking settlers shot and killed a 17-year-old resident of Beit Ommar as he stood among grapes vines he had planted on his family’s land.

      • the Israelis are about to steal another large chunk of village land for a new highway connecting two major settlements (Efrat and Kiryat Arba) - and to bar Palestinians from living, building, or farming on any land within 70 meters on either side of the road.

      • the problem with the Israeli soldiers is not just that they hang out at the village entrance and occasionally come after alleged stone throwers. They routinely (most recently this past Wednesday, on the occasion of pre-Eid festivities) stage mass incursions, firing tear gas, sound grenades, rubber bullets, and sometimes live ammunition. Worst of all, it's their presence that makes possible the settler attacks, the land theft, and all the other abuses that make up the occupation.

      Even among Americans who are somewhat critical of Israel, most (at least in my experience) seem to think the problem is simply that the Palestinians don't have a state or equal rights or the right to vote. They don't have much sense of the much more concrete abuses Palestinians face every day at the hands of the settlers and soldiers. In my view, the failure to communicate what occupation really means is the biggest crime of the American press.

  • There will be no refugees in Israel: Asylum seekers to be deported to unnamed African country
    • Meanwhile, "The World," the daily radio news show produced jointly by Public Radio International, WGBH in Boston, and the BBC World Service, today responded all this with a five-minute fluff piece about Ethiopian-Israeli singer whose parents were rescued from a "dangerous" refugee camp in Sudan by "Operation Moses," the Israeli government's airlift for Ethiopian Jews. The subject, Esther Rada, grew up in Kiryat Arba, which the reporter, one Mirissa Neff, describes as "a volatile Jewish settlement on the outskirts of Hebron in the West Bank."

      I tried to post a comment on the show's website, but seven hours later, it's still not visible, so I suspect the moderators killed it. Here it is:

      In all seriousness, did the Israeli Foreign Ministry pay Ms.Neff and/or The World to do this story? It sure is suspicious that you run a nice sympathetic profile of an African woman refugee who has found fame and fortune thanks to Israel's generosity precisely at a time when hundreds of contemporary African refugees in Israel are on hunger strike because Israel is keeping them in prison without trial. (See, among many other sources, "Eritrean asylum seekers on hunger strike to protest detention without trial" 
published on June 27 at link to . While you produce this fluff about Ms. Rada, two Israeli NGOs, the Hotline for Migrant Workers and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, recently denounced the brutal conditions under which Israel holds African migrants. (“They are being held without treatment, without appropriate services and while ignoring studies showing that lengthy incarceration can have a particularly destructive effect on survivors of slavery and torture,” according to the report - link to ). Even the US State Department has criticized Israel's treatment of African asylum seekers - see, for instance, the report by BBC, supposedly a partner in your show, at link to . 

      And all you have to offer is this fluff about Ms. Rada.

      By the way, it's also not good enough to call Kiryat Arba, the Jewish settlement on the West Bank, "volatile." Why don't you also say it, like all the Jewish settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, is illegal, according to the Geneva Conventions, Securiity COuncil resolutions, and a 14-1 ruling of the International Court of Justice?

      Check out the <audio archive and/or the transcript, then consider submitting a comment of your own.

  • A true story of bovine resistance
    • I don't mean to impugn the non-violence of the first intifada and my friends in Beit Sahour, but the very mention of "bovine resistance" reminds me of Dana Lyons' classic song and animations, "Cows With Guns."

      An excerpt from the lyrics:

      He mooed we must fight, escape or we’ll die
      Cows gathered around, cause the steaks were so high
      Bad cow pun

      But then he was captured, stuffed into a crate
      Loaded onto a truck, where he rode to his fate
      Cows are bummed

      He was a scrawny calf, who looked rather woozy
      No one suspected he was packing an uzi
      Cows with guns

      Check out the complete lyrics at link to
      and the animations at
      link to

  • State officials in California sign letter denouncing BDS movement on college campuses
    • Anyone know where I can find a printed, rather than hand-written, list of the signers? I've tried a bunch of the links in this post but haven't found it. Many of us in California would like to know which of our legislators signed this latest piece of BS, but the handwritten signatures on the Scribd version are hard to make out.

  • 'I wanted to make a film [on] the conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians': David Koff on his groundbreaking 1981 film 'Occupied Palestine' (Updated)
    • In case anyone is still reading comments on this day-old post: David Koff, the guy who made this film more than 30 years ago, is now preparing to put it out on DVD to sell for home viewing. If you're interested, fill out the form at his site (scroll down to the bottom of the page)
      link to
      and he promises to let you know when it's ready. I filled it out and got a nice note from him in response.

      Aside from the merits of the film, he deserves our support, IMO, for his clarity and courage at a time when so many of us were still asleep on this issue.

  • Meet the Israeli-linked firm that sold Big Brother machines to Mubarak, Qaddafi – and Washington
    • One minor correction/update to Max's story: Sunstein no longer heads Obama's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs - he resigned last August. He's currently a professor at Harvard Law School.

      link to

  • An American teenager is shot execution style by foreign forces-- how long can Obama ignore quest for justice for Furkan Dogan?
    • I defer to your knowledge of international law, Hostage, but the current cases against the Israelis are in Turkish courts, and it's those the Israelis want to get rid of by paying some money to the families who filed them.

      What do you think the odds are of the ICC Prosecutor actually bringing a case?

    • >Haaretz recently reported that the compensation talks had
      >hit a snag over the amount Turkey wants Israel to pay.

      Now that Netanyahu has (sort of) apologized, the Israelis want to pretend that the only remaining issue is the amount of compensation to the families of the victims, and it may be that the Turkish government has accepted this framework. To their enormous credit, though, the families are having none of it: at least so far, they continue to insist that there can be no settlement until the Israelis also lift the siege of Gaza, which was also one of the Turkish government's original demands. The following is from a N.Y. Times report on April 20:

      ...relatives of the nine people killed said Saturday that they would reject the compensation promised by Israel until it fully removes restrictions on the movement of goods and people in Gaza.

      The relatives also said that they would not drop their lawsuits against Israelis involved in the 2010 raid, potentially complicating the Washington-brokered reconciliation between the two governments that began last month when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to apologize.

      “Compensation and apology had always been government demands, not ours,” said Nimet Akyuz, whose husband, Cengiz Akyuz, was among those killed. “At this stage, we are going to see how sensitive and sincere the government really is about Gaza, the Palestinian situation.”

      Added Cigdem Topcuoglu, who was on board the flotilla’s lead ship, the Comoros-flagged Mavi Marmara, and whose husband was also killed, “We consider claims that we would give up our criminal cases against Israeli commanders and other legal cases in return for an apology and compensation as an insult.”

      The families’ position could create problems for the Turkish government, which had demanded an apology from Israel, compensation to the families and lifting the Gaza blockade as a condition for restoring relations.

      A more recent report from the Turkish press cites a clause in the Turkish constitution about international agreements taking precedence over domestic law (like the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution) and quotes a deputy prime minister saying "If we come up with a bilateral agreement [with Israel], they [the families] will be required to waive their lawsuits." Needless to say, I'm no expert in Turkish law, but it seems pretty clear that the government can and will dismiss the criminal charges the families filed against a slew of Israeli soldiers and commanders. But the families say they will continue the struggle unless the siege is lifted:

      The criminal charges against the Israeli soldiers are within the scope of public prosecution, so they would only be dropped by a decision of the prosecutors, and any international agreement that would be made with Israel would not have an effect on them.

      If the trials are dropped in Turkey, the families and their lawyers said that they would continue their struggle in international judicial institutions such as the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), on the grounds that the Turkish judiciary did not properly perform its duties.

      “The lawsuits filed against Israeli soldiers are human rights cases and no international agreement would supersede them. This is what we think, and this is what the ECthR would think as well,” stated Cihat Gökdemir, a lawyer in the Mavi Marmara trial.

  • At pricey Chicago fundraiser, Obama calls three leaders of J Street his 'cabal'
    • Peter Beinart's book "The Crisis of Zionism" also has a chapter called "The Jewish President" with lot of info about the Saltzman and the rest of the rich liberal Chicago Jews who adopted and promoted Obama. Most interesting part of the book, IMO.

  • Barbara Boxer's visa bill for Israel comes under concerted attack
    • I'm glad to see that the letter from the U.S. Campaign and the other groups notes that Israel systematically discriminates not only against "Palestinian-Americans, Arab-Americans, Muslim-Americans" but also against "other U.S. citizens from all ethnic and faith backgrounds who support Palestinian human and national rights." I'm sad to see, though, that Alex's intro and conclusion again (as in the last post on this issue here) frame the problem as one affecting only Palestinian- and other Arab-Americans.

      No question, the Israelis treat the latter groups the worst, by far, but it's also outrageous that they often exclude and routinely hassle U.S. citizens who aren't of those backgrounds, notably people of color, Muslims, activists for Palestinian rights, or just critics of Israeli policy. In addition to Richard Falk, I believe the Israelis have barred Chomsky and Finkelstein, and I know they've excluded lots of people who've worked with the International Solidarity Movement.

      Even when some critics are ultimately allowed in, they're subjected to all kinds of delays and indignities. Take little old me: so far, I haven't been excluded (though I'm not sure that will hold if I go back, since I got arrested in Hebron last time I was there). But every time I've gone there (via the Allenby Bridge from Jordan, since a very unpleasant experience at Ben Gurion Airport on my first visit), as soon as the young women scan my passport, they call the security people, who take me away some back room, question me, move me to another room, strip-search me, move me to another room, turn my suitcase upside down and dump everything out, and so on and so on - for three, four, or five hours. This has happened so often that the guy in charge there and I have come to recognize each other - he fancies himself an intellectual and always makes comments about the books I bring. Last time, when he was throwing the contents of my suitcase around, I asked him why. He smirked and said "Security - you might be carrying explosives!" I pointed out that if I did want to bring in explosives, I certainly wouldn't put them in my suitcase, after all my experience with his searches. Even he chuckled at that. But that's all he'd need to say to satisfy the terms of Boxer's bill - no matter how ludicrous the idea that a 67-year-old retired journalist is a threat to Israel's security!

      These hassles are minor, of course, compared to what many other s face. But politically, in trying to mobilize people against the AIPAC/Boxer bill, I do think it's important to always make clear that the issue is not only for Palestinian- and other Arab-Americans. Don't you agree, Alex?

  • 'AP' says Barbara Boxer is favoring Israeli travelers over American ones
    • Bob Egelko definitely did a great job with that story, but I'm afraid Phil's comments require a couple of clarifications. Bob works not for the Associated Press, but for the San Francisco Chronicle, which ran the story yesterday. The Sydney Morning Herald, to its credit, picked up the piece, at least online, and their site credits AP, so maybe the AP had something to do with distributing it, but it doesn't appear that it went out over the regular AP wire. I just searched for "Sandra Tamari" and, separately, for "Bob Egelko," and neither search produced any hits. And when I searched on Google News for "Sandra Tamari," the only instance of this story that came up was the Sydney paper.

      In other words, this story is not getting the wide distribution it deserves. While there has clearly been some progress in the mainstream media, let's not get carried away - we still have a very long way to go.

  • Uncompromising hope inspired by Ghassan Kanafani
  • Dershowitz should stop lying about Tutu's record
  • 'Newseum' folds under pressure, will not include Gaza cameramen in program honoring fallen journalists
  • Another landmark: 'Boston Globe' honors Hawking's boycott as nonviolent effort to pressure Israel
    • @richb: the "smoking gun" video you link to is about the first chip that Intel marketed as the Core i7, which was codenamed (and known in the industry as) Nehalem. There's absolutely no doubt it was designed in Hillsboro, Oregon - your video is only one of dozens of authoritative sources attesting to that.

      The problem is that "Core i7" is actually just a marketing term - it's the brand Intel has since 2008 slapped on its most powerful PC processor at any given point in time, even though the design changes every couple of years. There have now been three generations of chips branded as i7, and while the first was designed in Oregon, the second i7 ("Sandy Bridge) and the third and current version ("Ivy Bridge") were designed in Israel - specifically, at Intel's Haifa Design Center. Sandy Bridge was originally codenamed Gesher, after a small, now-defunct party that split off from the Likud.

      A fourth-generation i7, code-named Haswell, is due out next month, and the lead designers of that one apparently were in Oregon, though Intel is said to be moving to a model that moves more collaboration in new designs among its various design centers, and I'm sure the Israelis helped with Haswell.

      So if Hawking has the latest i7 that's on the open market today, the fact is that it was designed in Israel. But since Intel apparently supplies him with equipment (to make sure he doesn't adopt something with AMD processors, as he did once before), it's quite possible that he already has a pre-release "Haswell" i7; if not, he's likely to get one soon. When he does, he'll no longer have a chip designed primarily in Israel - until/unless Intel comes out with another one for which Haifa took the lead.

      Politically, all this is meaningless, IMO. It's indisputable that Intel's facilities in Israel have made important contributions to the company's fortunes, especially over the last decade. So what? It's no excuse for apartheid.

      See my comment at link to
      for more on the history of the i7 line, including links to Intel sources.

  • Say 'thanks' to Stephen Hawking
    • I don't know the details, so correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that charges organizations for petitions but lets individuals post them for free. This one seems to have been started by an individual.

  • Senator Boxer’s far-fetched defense of the visa waiver exemption for Israel
    • Mike Coogan concluded: "If Senator Boxer really wants leverage to assist U.S. travelers, she should propose an amendment specifying that unless and until Israel ends its practice of systemic discrimination based on race, religion and ethnicity, it will not be granted entry into the visa waiver program."

      Good idea, but make it "unless and until Israel ends its practice of systemic discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, and political opinion." Why give them a pass for hassling and excluding non-Arab, non-Muslim Americans (including Jews as well as non-Jews) simply for being critical of Israel?

      Otherwise, excellent work on this, Mike Coogan.

  • Israeli right-wing flys off the deep end following Hawking boycott
    • That's fascinating - thanks Tree and especially HarryLaw for posting.

      With regard to the design of the Core i7, though, the picture is actually a little complicated. It's true that the original Core i7, codenamed Nehalem, was designed by the Hillsboro, Oregon, group. (Among many other sources, see the Intel-produced video "Making of Intel Core i7.") But:

      a) the Nehalem microarchitecture, though it had some real advances, was a step on an evolutionary line that runs back through the earlier Core designs back to the Pentium M, a.k.a. Centrino, which was developed at Intel's Haifa design center (and was codenamed Banias, a spring and archaeological site in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights). That chip actually saved Intel's bacon, so to speak - their previous flagship product, the Pentium 4, turned out to be a bust.

      b) Since the original, Hillsboro-designed i7, there have been two subsequent generations bearing the same marketing name, codenamed Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge, and those were designed and managed out of Haifa. In fact, Sandy Bridge originally had a Hebrew codename, as explained in this choice tidbit from an Intel website:

      Originally the project was called “Gesher,” which in Hebrew means “bridge,” explained project manager Shlomit Weiss from Intel’s Israel Development Center in Haifa where the new chip architecture was designed. “During a meeting with analysts, Sean Maloney was asked, ‘How come you have a project named Gesher? Do you want it to be unsuccessful like the former Gesher [political] party in Israel?’”

      Shortly after the meeting, Maloney, Intel executive vice president, asked the legal department to change the project name, wanting nothing to do with a failed breakaway political party that eventually dissolved. And so was born, in short order, the codename “Sandy Bridge.”

      Intel is introducing a fourth generation of the i7 (and i5) next month, and it's my understanding that Hillsboro was the lead for that design, although I'm sure Haifa played some role and some of the manufacturing will be done in Intel's Fab 28 in Kiryat Gat, Israel (which was, incidentally, the subject of the column that led to the end of my career in tech journalism).

      Overall, there's no denying that Israelis have played a key role in Intel's fortunes, especially over the last decade. In fact, the former head of the Haifa design center, David Perlmutter (who goes by "Dadi") has been promoted all the way to "Executive Vice President; General Manager, Intel Architecture Group; Chief Product Officer." Recently he was supposedly a contender for the CEO job, but he didn't get it.

      Needless to say, none of this excuses Shurat HaDin's sick comments about Stephen Hawking - nor, above all, 65 years of ethnic cleansing!

    • Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston also has a piece about the rabid reactions of the Israeli right. Another example he gives: Steven Plaut, a professor of business finance and economics at the University of Haifa, wrote "I suggest that the people of Israel send Hawking for a free trip on the Achille Lauro!!" - a reference to the 1985 incident in which Palestinian fighters commandeered an Italian cruise ship, apparently murdered a disabled American Jewish passenger, and threw his body overboard:

  • 'This American Life' shines some light on that Palestinian life
    • I'm mostly with you, kma. In fact, in the first draft of my piece I also objected to Glass's intro - that whole bit about people interpreting things differently, the whole "two narratives" thing, always serves liberals as a convenient excuse for not confronting the plain facts of the situation. Your message makes me regret cutting that part out.

      It's also absolutely true that the piece would have been stronger if she'd given more time to the people of Nabi Saleh themselves, in particular to explain why they protest in the first place.

      I think I disagree with you, though, about what Updike is trying to communicate about "mapping." To say such tactics may be effective to some degree in intimidating people, and therefore may have contributed to the relative calm Jewish Israelis have enjoyed over the last years, is not necessarily to approve of them. In fact, my guess is that these tactics do sound "sick and twisted," as you put it, to her - I think she was just trying to head off a justification the Zionists might offer. But maybe I'm giving her too much credit...

    • >are you saying that Ira Glass did not produce this or consent to its
      >being produced and reported on his show?

      No, Tokyobk, I'm not saying that at all - I'm quite sure it wouldn't have aired without his approval.

      I'm just suggesting that Glass has a kind of personal stature and authority with much of his audience that no one else on the show does - not even Updike, who's been there from the start, has occasionally filled in as host, and has won a slew of prizes in her own right. So if Ira Glass himself were to do a piece in one way or another exposing the horrors of the occupation, that would have more impact on public opinion, at least in certain strata, than anything Updike or anyone else on his staff could do.

  • Facing int'l pressure, global security firm G4S dumps Israeli contract for checkpoints and Ofer prison
    • I agree that G4S's recent statements were stronger than the 2011 statement. Let's hope that this time they really do what they say and, further, get out of Israel altogether. But in view of their weaselly behavior after the 2011 statement and even more clearly after the predecessor company announced in 2002 that it was leaving the West Bank but never did, I think a good bit of caution is in order.

      As to the history, while most of us here may not have had any awareness of G4S until recently, folks in Europe have been on the case much longer. The predecessor company's short-lived withdrawal from the West Bank in 2002 was, according to Nieuwhof, a response to criticism from the then Foreign Minister of Denmark. The 2011 statement was a response to an exposé and public campaign launched in November 2010 by DanWatch, a Danish activist organization; a presentation by people from that same month at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in London (included in the book Corporate Complicity in Israel's Occupation; and then a detailed report from WhoProfits in early 2011.

      In other words, while this recent announcement is a response to public pressure, so too were the previous announcements that turned out to be pretty much meaningless. As I said, I agree that this one represents more of a commitment (at least compared to the 2011 one), and the BDS movement is bigger, but weasels are weasels....

    • I too was excited about this when I read the Financial Times report the other day, but then I read Adri Nieuwhof's report in the Electronic Intifada, which points out that G4S made similar announcements way back in 2002, then again in 2011. On both occasions they were responding to public pressure, but both times they quickly backtracked.

      The lesson: unless people stay on their case, they'll again reverse themselves, and they won't give up the contracts in Israel.

  • Kerry likens Boston victims to 'Mavi Marmara' victims
    • Interesting that the UN HRC report says Furkan had dual citizenship.

      On the other hand, his father, Professor Ahmet Dogan, has said in several interviews that Furkan did not have Turkish citizenship. Here's one of them: "Furkan was a U.S. citizen. He did not have Turkish citizenship. He could have taken Turkish citizenship at any time after he turned 18 but he had not done so."

    • > One of those Turkish citizens was also an American, young Furkan Dogan.

      Actually, Furman Dog an was not a Turkish citizen - he was born in the USA, and according to his dad, this is the only country he was a citizen of.

      (Posted from a sitting in SF against the Keystone XL pipeline.)

  • Reflecting on bombings in Boston and Iraq
  • In bill discriminating against Arab- and Muslim-Americans, Boxer and 17 other senators serve Israeli gov't over their own -- Greenwald
    • All the press accounts of this issue that I've seen, including Mike Coogan's and Glenn Geenwald's, highlight the issue of Israeli discrimination against Palestinian-, Muslim-, and Arab-Americans. Same goes for the State Department travel advisory. But there's another element to the picture: Israel has also on many occasions barred entry to U.S. citizens who are not of Palestinian, Muslim, or Arab origin, but are simply known or suspected activists in support of justice for Palestine.

      Since Israel considers any such activism a "security threat," Boxer's bill would do nothing to deter the Israelis from this kind of discrimination, too.

  • Anthony Lewis's death unleashes an 'outpouring of vitriol' about his views critical of Israel
    • This is a couple of days old, evidently, but I just noticed it and don't see it mentioned here: the International Herald Tribune website has a nice remembrance of Anthony Lewis by Raja Shehadeh, the writer and lawyer from Ramallah:

      link to

  • NPR can't stop talking about Jews
    • Today's Morning Edition (4/1/13) has a feature, reported by Ina Jaffe, about a 31-year-old blogger and photographer named Ari Seth Cohen, whose "idea of heaven is to wait in the freezing cold on a street corner in the middle of Manhattan hoping a fabulous-looking older woman passes by," then shoots her picture. Assuming, of course, that he has succeeded in convincing the subject that "he's not a weirdo"...

      I wonder whether this is an April Fool's joke, or just another illustration of NPR's idea of "human interest"?

      link to

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