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Total number of comments: 501 (since 2010-03-18 18:04:29)

Henry Norr

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  • Israeli sniper films shooting of unarmed Palestinian -- and celebrates
    • According to the Times of Israel, the IDF has now concluded its investigation of this incident. The verdict: the soldier who did the shooting "acted appropriately," but the one who took the video will be disciplined - soldiers have to learn to keep these things out of the media!

      Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman also expressed his support for the sniper, while criticizing the soldier who filmed the event.

      “The sniper deserves an honor and the cameraman a demerit,” he said at an event in northern Israel.
      Though he criticized the video, Liberman also appeared to defend the cheering heard in it, saying it was inappropriate but somewhat understandable for soldiers in stressful situations.

      “The IDF is the most moral army in the world, but when you are on the front lines and tense sometimes you let out some tension, so you can understand this,” he added, calling IDF troops “the best of the Israeli people.”

    • Page: 5
  • AIPAC conference will feature lots of liberal Democratic speakers
    • >>AIPAC couldn’t get a single one of the presumed Dem 2020 presidential candidates to speak at its conference.

      Who are the presumed Democrat presidential candidates who supposedly declined AIPAC's invite?

  • Top Israeli official admits that boycotting just the settlements is meaningless
    • Jonathan Ofir writes of this Ron Brummer: "He’s a professional propagandist. He wouldn’t want to strengthen the BDS. But his point is, no doubt inadvertently, making a strong point for it..."

      His comments are certainly welcome, in that they confirm the obvious truth about the Israeli economy and should serve to undermine the vacuous arguments for a "selective boycott" of just the settlements. But this assessment of his motives seems to me to leave out an important dimension: in addition to being a propagandist, he is also a fundraiser, and as such he has an interest in exaggerating the efficacy of BDS, on the assumption that the more he can frighten his audience of wealthy Zionists, the more bucks they'll kick in.

      In fact, that's something both sides have in common: the Israelis and their American supporters, on the one hand, and proponents of BDS (among whom I include myself) on the other, have a stake in portraying it as a mighty movement on the brink of destroying the Jewish state. Would it were so....

  • The Balfour centenary is also the centenary of the Zionist lobby
    • Excellent post! I'm surprised, though, that among all the books Phil cites, there's no mention of Alison Weir's "Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel," which covers the same territory (and related issues) and reaches similar conclusions. It's concise, clear, and thoroughly documented. To anyone interested in this history (which, IMO, we should all be), I recommend that you disregard any calumnies you might have heard about Ms. Weir and check out her excellent book.

  • Critics slam ADL for training U.S. police in Israel-- and when Reddit AMA goes off script
    • Allison wrote: "Despite the ADL’s counter-terrorism seminars, the group is best known as a civil rights organization that has combated hatred and intolerance directed at the Jewish community for nearly a century. "

      No doubt that's how the ADL is widely seen among American liberals, Jewish and otherwise, but that's a strikingly uninformed perspective on the role the group has played for many decades now. Here's bit from an excellent report by American Muslims for Palestine, entitled "The Anti-Defamation League: Protector of civil rights or silencer of free speech?":

      What most people don’t know, however, is that the ADL has a long history of domestic espionage, spying on members of the Communist party, members of black, Latino and Asian organizations as well as labor unions and liberal Jewish groups.

      The ADL is also a lobby organization and spends a good portion of its budget on lawmakers, in uending decisions on many topics, from Supreme Court appointments to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. It has also, especially through its long-standing director Abraham Foxman [and his successor, Jonathan Greenblatt], gone to great lengths to quash any viable discussion on the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Tactics have included censorship, intimidation, and smearing and labeling people it does not agree with as anti-Semites or anti-Americans.

      The AMP report draws in part on a piece the incomparable Jeff Blankfort posted right here on Mondoweiss back in 2010: "The back-of-the-envelope history of the Anti-Defamation League."

  • The 'vertical apartheid' of the Israeli occupation
    • re "Eyal Weizman’s Hollow Land, published by Verso last month to mark the 50th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza" : not to be pedantic, but the book was originally published in 2007 (perhaps to mark the 40th anniversary of the occupation?). Besides the new introduction reproduced here, does anyone know whether this year's edition is brought up to date in other ways? I checked the Verso site , Amazon, and Google Books, but I can't tell. It's a great book, and I might buy the new edition if there's more that's new, but I don't want to if this is the only new material.

  • Bay Area stands with Reem's Bakery in face of pro-Israel attacks
    • Great report, but for people living in or visiting the Bay Area who don't know where Fruitvale Plaza is, it might be worth explaining that it's in East Oakland, right outside the Fruitvale BART Station. Right now Reem's is open only for breakfast and lunch, but sometime soon it will be opening for dinner, too.

      My kids and grandkids live nearby, so I go by Reem's frequently. The good news is that it almost always seems pretty busy - even when the Zionist creeps are protesting outside.

      It might be worth adding that the proprietor, Reem Assil, is not just a determined entrepreneur - she's also a longtime leader and organizer in a variety of progressive causes. And, it turns out, she's a great cook.

  • Dershowitz and Chomsky agree on one thing
    • I don't know how many Jews were on the faculty of Harvard Law School in 1964, but if Dershowitz was talking about Harvard in general in that year when he said "There were roughly a handful of Jews on the faculty," he was mistaken or lying, as usual. 1964 happens to be the year I got there, and I can testify that there were numerous Jews on the faculty - not as many as now, but I'll bet the proportion was already larger than the in the US population as a whole.

  • Palestinian journalist Shamsiyya is arrested after filming harassment at a checkpoint in occupied Hebron
    • The arrest of Imad Abu Shamsiyya for filming harassment of Palestinians in Hebron is of course an outrage, but it's standard operating procedure for the Israelis, especially in that god-forsaken city. I myself was arrested there back in 2006 for taking pictures of settler leader Anat Cohen directing settler children to throw rocks at Palestinian school kids - when she saw what I was doing, she turned to the police and told them I had assaulted her (a story made up out of whole cloth) and they pretended to believe her. I don't mean in any way to equate myself with the heroic Imad Abu Shamsiyya: my Jewish-white-American privilege got me out of jail, unharmed, just a few hours later. I only hope Human Rights Defenders' ability to get his story out to the international media provides him some protection.

  • Novelist Houellebecq was wrong about rise of Muslim Brotherhood in France
    • You write, Phil, that the French left "got only 7 percent of the vote in April. " That's wildly wrong. It's true that Benoît Hamon, the candidate of the Socialist Party (from its left wing, for what that's worth) got only 6.36 percent of the vote in the April 23 first round. But Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the new La France Insoumise party, a genuine leftist, got 19.58 percent, far more than almost anyone had expected at the start of the campaign., and only 1.72 percent behind Marine Le Pen of the National Front. And candidates from smaller left parties got almost 2 percent.

      In all, it's fair to say that the French left has not recovered from the demise of the old Communist Party and the move of the Socialist Party leadership (notably former President François Hollande) into the neoliberal camp. But Hamon's victory in the Socialist primary and Mélenchon's remarkable performance in the campaign and the first round of the presidential vote are real signs of hope. Ignoring them in assessing the state of French politics is like talking about UK and US politics without mentioning the successes of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders.

  • At NY premiere, David Grossman will join Netanyahu minister who boycotts Darwish
    • >>When are liberal Zionists going to tell the settler movement to f— itself?

      As if the settler movement were the whole problem! It's the whole Israeli mainstream - the Israeli consensus, so to speak - that denies justice to the Palestinians.

  • Leonard Cohen song is anthem of Jewish exclusivists
    • The Forward has an interesting response to this post, entitled "Was Leonard Cohen a Zionist?," at

      Author Matthew Gindin doesn't question that the Zionists have made "Hallelujah" one of their anthems but he says it's "rubbish" to claim that Cohen would have approved. While acknowledging that Cohen had "a strong emotional connection to his Jewish heritage" and "expressed his fundamental solidarity with the Jewish people numerous times," Gindin contends that "that solidarity cannot be translated into a simplistic Zionism without doing violence to Cohen’s character."

      Among other bits of historical evidence, he notes that in 1974 Cohen explained that his song "Lover, Lover, Lover" was “written in the Sinai desert for soldiers of both sides.” Likewise, he billed a 2009 performance in Israel as "a “Concert for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace”, and not a “Concert for the Eternal Homeland of the Jewish People,"" and "donated all of the proceeds to Israeli and Palestinian organizations working for peace." When criticized by the BDS proponents, "Cohen responded by adding a second night in Ramallah, on the West Bank. Amnesty International and the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club pulled out, however, and Cohen created a charitable fund to distribute the two million dollars in concert revenue to groups working for peace in the region."

      Most compelling to me are passages Gindin quotes from a poem included in Cohen's 1984 collection "Book of Mercy":

      Israel, and you who call yourself Israel, the Church that calls itself Israel, and the revolt that calls itself Israel, and every nation chosen to be a nation — none of these lands is yours, all of you are thieves of holiness, all of you at war with Mercy.
      The Covenant is broken, the condition is dishonored, have you not noticed that the world has been taken away? You have no place, you will wander through yourselves from generation to generation without a thread. Therefore you rule over chaos, you hoist your flags with no authority, and the heart that is still alive hates you, and the remnant of Mercy is ashamed to look at you. You decompose behind your flimsy army, your stench alarms you, your panic strikes at love. The land is not yours, the land has been taken back, your shrines fall through open air, your tablets are quickly revised, you bow down in hell beside your hired torturers, and still count your battalions and crank out your marching songs. Your righteous enemy is listening. He hears your anthems full of blood and vanity, and your children singing to themselves. He has overturned the vehicle of nationhood, he has spilled the precious cargo, and every nation he has taken back."

      (That's most of the poem - really a meditation, I'd say - but if you want to read the whole thing, it's at )

      Nothing in Gindin's piece suggests that the answer to the question in his title was "No," but he makes a persuasive case that Cohen didn't fully share the militant Jewish tribalism on display in the streets of Jerusalem this month.

  • Israeli Jews maintain the occupation because it is in their interest -- Noam Sheizaf
    • Sheizaf's analysis is smart and useful, IMO, but I have one quibble: at least in the excerpts quoted here, he seems to be arguing that the "rational" reason Israelis want to perpetuate the status quo is that there are risks, from their point of view, associated with either a single state (one in which Palestinians have rights, that is) or a two-state solution. That's true enough, but it leaves out the immediate material advantages to Israeli Jews of the status quo: water and any other resources they want from the West Bank; free or subsidized land and housing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; cheap Palestinian labor whenever they want it (legally or illegally); and so on.

  • Desperate Netanyahu lectures Obama about US responsibility to veto UN resolution
  • Aleppo chef recreates his restaurant in Gaza after fleeing Syria
    • Amazing story. Out of the fire, into the frying pan. How did he get in to Gaza - did the Egyptians let him through the Rafah gate?

  • Donald Trump is ready to bring Islamophobia into the White House
    • Many thanks to Alex Kane for making this important point - I was going to try to write about it myself, but haven't had time. The media - even including Pacifica, I'm sorry to say - initially followed the ADL et al. in making anti-semitism the focus of the controversy around Bannon. As far as I can tell, however, Breitbart's anti-semitism is mainly a matter of a handful of casual comments, like one Jew (David Horowitz) calling another (Bill Kristol) a "renegade Jew," whereas the site's Islamophobia is a major, sustained editorial campaign, clearly the result of an editorial policy decision. See "Trump’s new anti-Muslim chief strategist in 14 Breitbart headlines," a very useful compilation of links to anti-Islamic articles on Breitbart at

      To document the media's obseesion with anti-semitism and neglect of Islamophobia, I did a little research a couple of days ago on Google News. (By now the numbers have certainly changed.) Searching for "Bannon Breitbart Trump strategist antisemitic" produced about 32,100 hits, while a search for "Bannon Breitbart Trump strategist Islamophobic" yielded about 2,600 hits - less than 10 percent as many. Nice job, ADL!

      James North's otherwise very good article about Bannon here the other day missed this whole angle, but it's great that you've filled out the picture, Alex.

      Now someone needs to do the same with Breitbart's misogyny - that's gotten some mention in the media coverage of the Bannon appointment but hardly what it deserves.

  • New statement calls on the movement to focus on Palestine, not divisive internal conflicts
    • Wow, Annie, I don't mean to make light of your objections - after all, it's not often that something I post is called "very misleading," "underhanded," "not smart," and "disappointing" - but I have to admit that I got a hearty chuckle out of your comment. That's because the post as I submitted it included the full text - i.e., not only what appears above, but also the bulleted list of examples that, as you note, are not included here. I won't name names, but let's just say it was an MW editorial decision to cut out the examples. (If you have access to submissions to MW, check my draft if you don't believe me.)

      That said, I don't really believe anyone was misled. In order to sign, one has to go to the open letter site and scroll through the whole text, including the example section at the end, before you get to the "Add Your Name to the Letter" form. It's hard for me to imagine anyone could miss the example section before adding their name.

      Beyond that, there's certainly lots one could discuss about the UK Labour Party, Max Blumenthal, and Syria, but I can't buy your apparent feeling that it was somehow irresponsible not to include all of those issues in this particular document. It addresses one dynamic within the solidarity movement that the folks who wrote the letter and presumably the others who have signed it believe is having destructive effects. If we had tried to address all the issues you list, I'm not at all sure all the drafters could have come to any agreement, and in the best of cases the document would have been extremely ungainly, and lots of people considering reading it would have found themselves in the position of agreeing on some issues and not others and therefore having a hard time deciding whether to sign. Because it focuses instead on one problem, the letter conveys a coherent message, IMO, and I think most people who read it agree or disagree with all of it.)

      Last point: yes, the examples section mentions JVP a bunch, because JVP has been involved with a number of the incidents described. But neither the problem nor the document is limited to JVP - a number of the examples involve other organizations, including SJP chapters or other student organizations. Unfortunately, I think the dynamic in question - the effort to impose limits on what others can say, based on a particular political perspective - is increasingly visible in many if not all sectors of the movement.

      How about you writing something - or, better, some things - about the Labour Party, Max B., and the divisions about Syria?

  • Occupied Palestinian village coveted by Jewish settlers is dubbed 'miserable' in Washington Post
    • There's another major problem with the WaPo story, beyond those Phil mentions: Booth manages to omit the key fact in the modern history of Susya, which is that the hamlet he describes was created only after the Israelis expelled the Palestinian population from the original village of Susya. In 1986 the so-called Civil Administration, which is actually part of the Israeli military, declared the village an archaeological site, because they supposedly found ruins of an ancient temple there (as well as an ancient mosque) and kicked out the inhabitants, who apparently lived in regular houses there even though they were Beduin, who are often nomadic. There's now an "unauthorized" Jewish settler outpost at this site - so much for the idea that it had to be cleared for archaeological work! - in addition to the nearby "authorized" Jewish settlement that's also called Susya.

      So if the current Palestinian Susya has the "feeling of a protest camp," as Booth puts it, that's largely because that's how it began. Since then (as he does note toward the end of his piece) the Israelis have repeatedly bulldozed the place, and they consider anything Palestinians build there illegal and subject to demolition. Meanwhile, they've stolen more and more of the surrounding land to be incorporated into the Jewish Susya.

      Could this history have anything to do with why the place looks "ramshackle"?

      By the way, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Occupied Palestinian Territory (OCHA-OPT) put out a useful factsheet and map about Susya last year:

  • Chosen indeed: all 7 letters run by 'NYT' on Mideast article are by Jews
    • What makes you think that the "ethnocentric ideas about Jewish intelligence and our natural place in the social order" reflected in the Times are "unconscious"? If that's true, the Times' Jews are different from just about any I've ever met in my seven decades!

  • Google blames bug for removing 'West Bank' and 'Gaza' from Israel/Palestine map
    • Searching for "Palestine" in Google Maps brings up not only the map with no labels on the West Bank, Gaza, or the Golan Heights, but also a sidebar that says:, quoting Wikipedia

      The State of Palestine, also known simply as Palestine, is a de jure sovereign state in the Middle East that is recognized by 136 UN members and since 2012 has a status of a non-member observer state

      The Zionists can't be happy about that! Now that Google's handling of "Palestine" is getting so much attention, what do you bet the Zionists will force Google to change that text?

  • Libertarian candidates say US policy has only made Middle East more dangerous
    • It's odd that Wilson Dizard makes no mention of Jill Stein and the Green Party in this post. It may well be true, as he writes, that the Libertarians Party "is the most open to new ideas, for better or worse, of all the parties running this year," but are new ideas really what we need with respect to Israel and Palestine? Me, I'll stick with some old ones, like respect for international law and human rights and equality for all people. Neither Dems, Republicans, nor Libertarians stand for those principles - only the Greens do. Some excerpts from Jill Stein's platform:

      Stop U.S. financial and military support to human rights abusers. Barring substantial changes in their policies, this would include Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt.
      US policy regarding Israel and Palestine must be revised to prioritize international law, peace and human rights for all people, no matter their religion or nationality. End US policies that have supported the worst tendencies of the Israeli government in its treatment of the people of Palestine.

      Personally, I don't see why the US should ever provide financial and military support to Saudi Arabia or Israel no matter what changes they might make in their policies, but otherwise I'd say that platform is a lot more deserving of support from Mondoweiss readers than the vague and apparently unprincipled and uninformed platitudes Mr. Merced and his party offer.

  • Democrats and GOP are in a race to the bottom on Israel
    • What’s wrong with Jill Stein of the Green Party?

      Here’s her "Statement on US Foreign Policy, Palestine-Israel, and BDS“:

      The Jill Stein campaign calls for ending support for governments committing war crimes and massive human rights violations, including Israel and Saudi Arabia.

      It supports the BDS movement as a peaceful, nonviolent set of actions organized by civil society across the world aimed to end Israeli apartheid, occupation, war crimes, and systematic human rights abuses.

      US foreign policy requires an emergency overhaul, from a program of total global military and economic domination, to a policy promoting international law, human rights and diplomacy. We must cease and desist from being, in the words of Martin Luther King, the greatest purveyor of violence world over. Our foreign policy currently serves war profiteers and fossil fuel companies, but not the American people or the cause of global justice, peace and security. Our failed wars of the past 14 years have cost us 5 trillion dollars, left over a million people dead in Iraq alone, and killed or maimed tens of thousands of US service men and women. Yet we – and the Middle East – are far less secure, not more secure.

      In addition to ending our catastrophic and immoral wars for oil and markets, we must stop aiding and abetting the human rights violations and war crimes of our allies who are also massively defying international law. This includes the Israeli government and the rulers of Saudi Arabia.

      With regard to Israel, the United States has encouraged the worst tendencies of the Israeli government as it pursues policies of occupation, apartheid, assassination, illegal settlements, demolitions, blockades, building of nuclear bombs, indefinite detention, collective punishment, and defiance of international law. Instead of allying with the courageous proponents of peace and human rights within Palestine and Israel, our government has rewarded consistent abusers of human rights.

      Therefore, the Stein campaign calls for ending military and economic support for the Israeli government while it is committing war crimes and defying international law.

      In addition, the Stein campaign supports actions of nonviolent resistance to the policies of the occupation and of the Israeli apartheid regime, including those of the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign, which was endorsed by the Green Party of the United States in 2005 and is supported by thousands of civil society peace activists and organizations.

      Consistency in U.S. policy regarding human rights and international law will begin, but not end, with Palestine and Israel. I will apply this same approach to other nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt, among others.

      Finally, we call for establishment of a Palestine and Israel Truth and Reconciliation Commission as the vehicle for shifting from an era of US support of human rights and international law violations to one based on justice and truth bringing all parties together as equals to seek workable solutions. A dedicated commitment to justice will further the security of all parties, Palestinians, Israelis, and all people in the region, much better than the current policies of politically, economically and militarily supporting the systemic and institutionalized abuse of one side against the other.

      We can build a better future together.

  • As Dems vote against Palestine, Cornel West warns it is the 'Vietnam War' of our time
    • @hophmi: Fringe element? Remember, as I noted in the op-ed, Bernie Sanders outpolled Hillary Clinton, in Barbara Lee's district, and I'm sure virtually all of those voters were aware of his comments on Israel and Palestine, since they were so heavily publicized. I'll admit that only a relatively small (though growing) number of people, even in the East Bay, share anything like my own views of the situation in Israel/Palestine. But my views were not what was up for discussion in the Democratic platform committee, or in my op-ed. The contents of the amendment Lee voted against are anything but fringe politics. In fact, if you've watched the video Phil posted in this piece, you'll see that even Ms. Clinton has repeatedly used the same terms the proposed amendment did. The Dems just didn't dare include them in the platform for fear of offending the real fringe element - Haim Saban and the other rich ultra-Zionists who are providing most of the money for Clinton's super PAC.

    • I wrote an op-ed for the East Bay Times (the successor to the late, unlamented Oakland Tribune and several other local papers) calling out our Congressional Rep, Barbara Lee, for voting with the Clinton gang against the Sanders appointees on Palsestine and on TPP at the meeting last month of the 15-member committee that worked on the draft. I made it excruciatingly respectful of Ms. Lee, first of all in hopes of getting it into a mainstream pub, and because I hoped to reach some of the many local progressives who think she’s god.

      I hope other people will find ways to protest these votes to anyone from their area who voted against the amendment about the occupation and settlements, as well (at least to my mind) anyone who voted against the rejection of TPP and against Bill McKibben’s proposals for a fracking moratorium and a ban on leasing of federal lands for fossil fuel extraction. In most cases - at least in the previous meeting, and I’ll bet in this weekend’s also - it was the same people voting against all the Sanders amendments. In a way, that’s to our advantage, as it gives us more chances (as the Sanders campaign in general has) to cement the connection between the cause of Palestine and other progressive causes.

  • Remembering Elie Wiesel, who inspired me to write about Palestine
    • >>[Wiesel] must have influenced the Washington Museum not simply to exclude the others.

      I'm not sure you're right about that, MHughes. In Max Blumenthal's terrific commentary on Wiesel, he writes:

      While Wiesel leveraged his literary talents to win sympathy for Jewish victims of genocide, he sought to limit the narratives of other groups subjected to industrial-level extermination. As a member of the advisory council of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1992, he lobbied against recognizing LGBTQ and Roma victims of the Holocaust.

      Phil also quoted Isabel Fonseca to the same effect

      Here is an important fact from Isabel Fonseca’s book Bury Me Standing on gypsies and their journey. It refers to the council, or board of trustees for the US Holocaust Memorial:

      It was only after the 1986 resignation of President Elie Wiesel, the survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, who had opposed Gypsy representation, that one Gypsy was invited onto the council.

      As I said earlier, I am not very familiar with Wiesel's thinking, but just about every quote from him I see talks about the Holocaust in terms of "the six million," which would seem to imply that he's talking only about the Jews.

    • In her Lesson 1 Ms. Rubaii says she did not know that "Elie Wiesel was responsible for codifying the one-to-one association of the word “holocaust” with the massacre of 11 million European “others,” 6 million of whom were Jews." I won't claim to be very familiar with Wiesel 's work, but I had the impression that he always fought hard to limit the meaning of the word "holocaust," or at least "The Holocaust," to the murder of the six million Jews, excluding the Roma, Poles, gay people, Communists, and the others who made up the remainder of the 11 million victims of the Nazi. Was I wrong about that?

  • Video: All hell breaks loose in Knesset as Zoabi demands apology following Israel-Turkey agreement
    • It is disappointing to see MW repeating the untruth that "Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish citizens." In fact, Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish citizen and one American citizen. Furkan Dogan, the 19-year-old victim, was born in Troy, NY, and thus an American. Though he was living in Turkey before the flotilla, he never became a Turkish citizen.

      This point is not merely academic. As we see in this week's coverage of the killing of the 13-year-old settler girl in Kiryat Arba, Americans regard the death of American citizens as something extra special, way more troubling than anyone else's. Except in the case of Furkan Dogan, whose US citizenship is hardly ever mentioned in the corporate media and even, sad to say, most of the progressive media. Please get it right!

      While I'm being picky, why does Allison persist in using phrases like "aid convoy" and "aid vessels," when the organizers and participants always describe the 2010 flotilla, and all the others, as "freedom flotillas," not "aid flotillas." Yes, some the ships have carried small quantities of medical supplies, toys, and such, but that was never the main purpose. The clearly stated goal was always to break the siege. Please use language that reflects that.

  • Are comparisons of South African apartheid and Israel useful?
    • Good article, IMO - I just ordered their book. Among other things, I think this point is quite true, in my experience, and important:

      There is, for example, a tendency to exaggerate the impact of North American cultural and academic boycott. On occasion, US activists go so far as to suggest that the boycott movement itself brought about the end of apartheid—a position that comes dangerously close to white saviorism.

      On the other hand, I have to point out that (t least in this piece) the authors seem to share another blindspot of the US solidarity movement: overlooking the importance of the Cuban military intervention, specifically the defeat the Cubans inflicted on the South African "Defense" Force and its CIA-funded African allies at the battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola in 1987. That led not only to the withdrawal of the South African military from Angola, but also to also to the opening of the negotiations, under US auspices, that led to the fall of apartheid. As Nelson Mandela told the Cuban people when he traveled their in 1991,

      The decisive defeat of the aggressive apartheid forces destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor. The defeat of the apartheid army served as an inspiration to the struggling people of South Africa. Without the defeat of Cuito Cuanavale our organizations would not have been legalized. The defeat of the racist army in Cuito Cuanavale made it possible for me to be here with you today. Cuito Cuanavale marks the divide in the struggle for the liberation of southern Africa. Cuito Cuanavale marksd an important step in the struggle to free the continent and our country of the scourge of apartheid.

      So maybe we could convince Raul Castro to send his military to the Middle East? Just kidding, of course, but we shouldn't forget the role of military force in the outcome...

  • Sanders appoints Palestine advocates to committee drafting Democrat's 2016 platform
    • Curious historical note: the "somebody from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal workers" among the Clinton picks for the platform committee is Paul Booth, who was national secretary of SDS in the mid-1960s and presided over the first national demo against the war in Vietnam in April, 1965. In those days, of course, Palestine wasn't at all an issue for SDS, as far as I can remember, and he's spent the last half century in the labor movement, and now he's apparently with Clinton, so I don't have very high hopes.
      for him.

      And then among the Wasserman Schultz picks there's Rep. Barbara Lee, the self-styled "renegade for peace and justice" who's never dared offend the Zionists, despite the best efforts of many of her constituents over many years to get her to face the truth about Israel.

      At a minimum, the platform-drafting could be interesting! I'm sure it will actually be hashed out behind closed doors, but does anyone know whether this committee will hold open sessions, before or during the convention?

  • 'New York Times' finally tells its readers: Netanyahu is 'dangerous'
    • James North is absolutely right. We can give the Times credit for running a good op-ed, but that's all it is - it's not as if the Times 's own reporters were finally telling it like it is. Even though the article is based entirely on easily documented facts, and Bergman is obviously not just some casual commentator, putting this piece on the op-ed page makes it all too easy for readers still inclined to give Israel the benefit of the doubt to dismiss it as "just one guy's opinion."

      Note that in the print edition Bergman's piece appeared on page SR-10, a page that readers who like punditry go to, but casual readers are a lot less like to go to. Meanwhile, trash like that recent piece about Gazans blaming Hamas for everything and not even mentioning the siege, etc. get front-page placement!

  • Norman Finkelstein on Sanders, the first intifada, BDS, and ten years of unemployment
    • >>Noam Chomsky has said that of course he’ll vote for Clinton if she’s the Democratic nominee.

      That's seriously misleading. In fact, it's wrong. What Chomsky said, at least in all the interviews with him that I've seen, is that he'd vote for Clintion if he lived in a swing state. Since he doesn't live in a swing state - Massachusetts is overwhelmingly Democratic in presidential elections - I think it's fair to infer that he's probably not going to vote for her. I'm actually hoping that if Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, he'll urge people in non-swing state to vote for Jill Stein

      Whatever one thinks of the suggestion that people in swing states should vote for Clinton, you have to admit that that's quite a different position from saying everyone should vote for her.

      It's surprising to me that Finkelstein got such an important point wrong, since he's always said to be very tight with Chomsky.

  • 'Forward' columnist and Emily's List leader relate 'gigantic,' 'shocking' role of Jewish Democratic donors
    • W/r/t "the general Western “frame of reference”" about the Middle East, just last night I happened to watch the first half of "The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel's Public Relations War in the United States," the new documentary film I learned about right here at Mondoweiss, and I recommend it highly. It focuses not on centuries-old anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism (though I don't think it denies their existence and importance), but rather on the very conscious, deliberate hasbara programs the Israeli government initiated after it found itself subjected to a lot of shockingly negative attention in the American media during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. I don't think I was aware of any of that - I didn't even have a TV at the time - but the clips of John Chancellor and other mainstream reporters and anchors talking about how Israel had become a regional bully, etc., are quite stunning. It also has an amazing section talking about a study the Israel Project hired Frank Luntz to do a report about how they should and shouldn't talk about the situation, then showing how the pols and the media adopted the terminology Luntz recommended virtually word for word.

      At least in the first half, the film doesn't focus much on the role of the Israel lobby here at home, and definitely not on the question of Jewish power within the media. And it should be noted that some, at least, of the talking heads, who are interviewed still seem to put their faith in the two-state solution.

      Besides the MW post mentioned above, you can get more info about the film, order the DVD, or stream the movie (pay-what-you-can pricing) at

      Don't miss it!

  • 'NY Times' publishes op-ed writer's blatant falsehood about Palestinians without blinking an eye
    • More than likely, Ossinev, the original name of Benjamin Gladstone's family was Goldstein - as was the case with Brooke Gladstone of NPR. (He's apparently not her son, though - Wikipedia says she and husband Fred Kaplan have aduit twin daughters.)

    • Very good post, Among other things, I really appreciate the anecdote about what Sarah Schulman had to go through to get her piece about pinkwashing published, because it clearly disproves the argument that the Times doesn't subject op-eds by non-staffers to editorial scrutiny.

      I found one sentence puzzling, though: "His real debating opponents are those who believe in equality for all as a non-viable principle." Can David or anyone else help me understand what that means? Perhaps "inviolable" was the intended concept, rather than "non-viable"?

  • Sanders walks free of the shadows of anti-Communism, Zionism and materialism
    • A belated comment: to my mind Jessica Benjamin's whole analysis is flawed because it rests on a misleading premise right at the beginning: in her second sentence she contends that Bernie Sanders comes out of "a cultural movement whose roots lay in the Communist party and its sympathizers in the 1930’s." The reality as I see it is that the environment Sanders comes out of is much older and broader: a tradition of progressive organizing around class issues that goes back at least to the struggles of New York's garment workers in the first decade of the twentieth century. Yes, the Communist Party and its sympathizers were one strain in this tradition, perhaps the dominant one in the 1930s and 40s, but they were never the only one: before, during, and after the heyday of the CP, there were also a variety of ideologies and movements that, like Sanders, called themselves democratic socialists.

      And like the CP, these movements, especially in New York, were largely led by Jewish immigrants. One small detail: In a 1909 episode that became known as "the Uprising of the 20,000," some 20,000 mostly female workers walked out of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and struck for 14 weeks - after swearing an oath in Yiddish. (That was two years before the murderous fire that made the factory famous.)

      I don't know enough about the specific milieu Sanders grew up in to know whether or to what extent he was directly influenced by the Communist Party or by non-Communist democratic socialists, but his politics are clearly much closer to the latter. That's why it's puzzling that Benjamin focuses exclusively on the former. In addition to being misleading, that approach concedes too much to the right-wing critics who are certain to try to brand Bernie as a Communist should he gain the Democratic nomination.

  • Hebron settlers file complaint against Palestinian who filmed execution
  • What if Bernie Sanders had delivered his speech at AIPAC!?
    • Don't miss Rania Khalek's "Video: AIPAC attendees slam Netanyahu’s racism when they think it’s Trump’s"

      from Corey Robin on Facebook:

      Rania Khalek talks to people at AIPAC: 'Most people I spoke with energetically condemned racist statements attributed to Trump. However, when I revealed the statements had actually been made by Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, respondents immediately excused, justified or supported the rhetoric they had just condemned. One young woman said of Trump, “He’s terrible. He incites racist attitudes.” When asked, “What do you think about Trump’s comments comparing migrants to cancer?” she responded with disgust, “He’s awful. I hate Trump.” But it was Israeli culture minister Miri Regev, not Trump, who compared African refugees to “a cancer,” a statement that 52 percent of Israeli Jews agreed with in one survey. Regev later apologized, not to Africans but to cancer survivors for likening them to Black people.'

  • Zionism is finally in the news, as officials seek to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism
    • UC regents committee OKs ‘anti-Zionism’ as discrimination

      By Nanette Asimov Published 11:42 am, Wednesday, March 23, 2016

      With the deft addition of three small words, University of California Regent Norm Pattiz defused rising tensions Wednesday over whether UC would declare “anti-Zionism” —opposition to the state of Israel — an official form of discrimination at the famously free-thinking school.

      Instead, a regents committee accepted Pattiz’ amendment saying that “anti-Semitic forms of” anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at UC.
      The language is part of a tolerance and free-speech statement adopted Wednesday by a committee of the Board of Regents. The statement was intended to calm tensions over anti-Semitism across UC campuses but inflamed divisions that pit pro-Israel students and faculty against their anti-Israel counterparts.

      The full Board of Regents is expected Thursday to adopt the document that condemns anti-Semitism at all UC campuses and endorses free speech.

  • Austrian Parliament cancels International Women's Day event following attacks on Hedy Epstein
  • Having a settler for neighbor in Hebron
    • Another new report on conditions in Hebron, by women from JVP and OdePink, is at

    • Many thanks to Ms. Tucci for her report and for her courage in being in Hebron. For two months in 2006 I lived in H2 as part of a now defunct program called the Tel Rumeida Project, which brought internationals to Tel Rumeida, an ancient Palestinian neighborhood adjacent to the Old City, in an effort to deter or, failing that, to document attacks against the Palestinians.

      I'd visited there before that, and I'd spent months in various other parts of the West Bank and Gaza, so I thought I knew what I was getting into. But in the event I found it totally crazy-making. The place was swarming with international observers - our group, Ms. Tucci's (EAPPI), slews of retired EU civil servants working for an official Oslo-era mechanism called TIPH - Temporary International Presence in Hebron, visiting observers from OCHA and other UN entities, and more. And yet for all our efforts the people in our neighborhood were under constant attack: on the street settlers would routinely throw things at them, spit on them, assault them, grab the shopping bags of women, steal from their yards, occasionally invade their homes, and so on. The IDF soldiers stationed every few hundred feet would just look on, frankly admitting, when asked, that they were there to protect the settlers and no one else.

      All this is easily documented, and in fact has been over and over. And yet it goes on decade after decade. I left asking myself the same question Ms. Tucci's source Ayat did: "“Why nobody does anything to help here?" But I'm afraid we all know the answer....

  • Activists deliver petition demanding Securities and Exchange Commission enforce disclosure laws regarding Israel bonds
  • Facebook censors cartoon critical of Israel
    • Maybe it wouldn't have been "professional," even for a blog post, to say you LOVE LOVE LOVE it, but there wouldn't have been anything wrong, by any standard I know of, in mentioning the new cartoon and highlighting (for those who might not know what he looks like) that that's Zuckerberg.

      BTW, when you note, correctly, that the message of the 2009 cartoon is "not a far flung radical concept," I trust you didn't mean to suggest that it's OK for Facebook to delete posts that _are_ far-flung radical concepts....

  • Palestinian citizens of Israel hold the key -- Zellner
    • Dorothy Zellner said: "Palestinian citizens of Israel hold the key and this is going to be interesting to watch what happens there. That’s where the analogy is to the U.S. Because black people in the U.S. from year one were never more than 12 percent."

      I think that analogy is of pretty limited usefulness. The civil rights movement in the US succeeded to the extent it did - achieving formal but not actual equality - because it was able to take advantage of the fact that US constitutional law and popular ideology were based on the idea of legal equality, so the legal restrictions on their rights were an obvious contradiction. In Israel, by contrast, both the law and the dominant ideology are rooted in the notion of Jewish supremacy. From that perspective, discrimination of various sorts against Palestinian Israelis presents no contradiction. The Zionist response has always been and is likely to remain: "Tough luck - this is a Jewish state. If you don't like it, leave."

  • Protesters stage citizen's arrest of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely at West Coast Ha'aretz conference
    • @Boo: We should be so lucky! Most of those highly educated, ultra-"refined" Silicon Valley Jews were applauding Hotovely.

    • Just trying to uphold the honor of our generation, amongst a lot of wonderful young people,

    • For me the whole thing was quite surreal - all these highly educated, "refined," ostensibly "liberal" (culturally if not polically) Palo Alto Jews greeting a violent, racist scumbag like Hotovely with respect if not in every case outright enthusiasm! It certainly felt good to confront her and them with a little bit of truth. I only wish we could have done so more forcefully. Next time...

      Before we did the action I sat in on part of a panel on BDS, which was quite interesting: while of course dissing the movement, all the panelists were fretting about how they're losing the "legitimation" struggle, especially on the campuses. Peter Beinart was very forceful in arguing that they're losing because they're refusing to talk to Palestinians, to look at the situation from a Palestinian perspective, etc. - as if somehow they could do that and still be on Israel's side, as he is. It's no wonder they hate him even as he does best to help them, in his strange, contradictory way.

  • Netanyahu's fancy watch
  • The titter-tape charade
    • Why does anyone call the Center for American Progress "progressive"? Yes, there seem to be some genuinely progressive people among the staff, but overall, it's been a vehicle for the Clintons and their "centrist" warmongering ever since they created it!

  • The US spends $35 billion on foreign aid . . . but where does the money really go?
    • By the way, if anyone wants to look at the numbers underlying this graphic, a friend tells me it's based on Table 3b of the US State Department report at

    • Another thing to keep in mind when you look at this graphic: the reason Egypt and Jordan get such large amounts of US "aid" - right behind Israel - is not just because their governments are pro-Western, but specifically because they've made their peace with Israel. Historically, they started getting large amounts from the US only after they signed their "peace" deals - essentially, it's a big bribe, and in that sense indirect aid to Israel.

    • "Israel is asking the United States for $5 billion in annual defense aid for a decade, beginning in 2017, US congressional sources told Reuters on Wednesday.
      Israel was said earlier this week to have finalized its “shopping list” of desired US military material as part of a new long-term agreement for US defense assistance to Israel to maintain its qualitative edge in the region.

      On the list, and reportedly approved in principle by the US, is an Israeli request for V-22 Ospreys, planes which are believed capable of reaching Iran and which Israel reportedly sought from the US in 2012 — but later decided not to purchase due to budgetary restraints — when contemplating a strike on Iran’s Fordo enrichment facility."

  • Salaita, Khalidi, Bayoumi appearances make this a landmark week in NY
    • W. Jones: I'm at first name at last name dot com.

    • Those who have followed l'affaire Weir may be interested in the following email reports I received from a couple of acquaintances who attended Salaita's appearance at NYU last night:

      a woman (neither of us knew her) asked about the "witch-hunt" against Alison Weir and asked if JVP had been infiltrated by Zionists.

      I was honestly expecting Steve to give the standard "anti-Semitism is bad and so is Alison" answer. He didn't exactly deliver an explicit defense, but what he said was to the effect of that he hadn't been following the details closely but he was sick of caring whether any given Palestine solidarity activist was in fact anti-Semitic because it showed an obsession with Jews, and asked why nobody reacts the same way with anti-Arab racism. Everyone clapped.

      As far as I was concerned it was effectively a defense of Alison whether or not that was his intent. I don't think anyone who was following the split could have perceived it as anything but a defense.

      Joseph Massad's answer was less than thrilling but he did not condemn Alison either.


      It was more than a defense of Alison, it was the first shot in the war on the effectiveness of the "anti-Semitic" label. I think from now on this should always be the answer.

      BTW, it was the only response to a question that people clapped for.

  • Bernie Sanders is 'radical' on economic policy but a pussycat for Israel
    • >>How do you explain the decision by the Berkeley Human Welfare and Community Action Commission to fire a commissioner who has called for divestment from Israel?

      You don't - the Commission made no such decision! The commissioner who introduced the divestment resolution, Cheryl Davila, was fired by the City Council member who appointed her, Darryl Moore, not by her fellow commissioners. Most of them turned out to be pretty wishy-washy on the resolution, but they can't be blamed for firing Ms. Davila - in fact, it seemed pretty clear to me, at the commission meeting, that they too were shocked and no doubt intimidated by Moore's action.

      I've lived in Berkeley for 20 years. People need to understand that while a majority of the city's residents are in some sense liberal, the place is in no sense a "People's Republic." In fact, the city government has been run for generations by a political machine, currently headed by Mayor Tom Bates and his wife, state Senator Loni Hancock. (He used to be the senator and she the mayor, but when the state's term limits forced him out, they traded jobs.) The machine is only modestly liberal, it's deeply beholden to the big real-estate developers (Bates once was one), and it has always fought grassroots efforts to make any kind of gesture that's critical of Israel. Their machine, by the way, was closely linked to former US Rep. Ron Dellums and now to his successor, Rep. Barbara Lee, both of whom have also consistently refused to do much of anything that would offend their liberal Zionist supporters.

  • J'lem mayor warns Palestinians in holy site clashes: 'if they use violence we will hunt them'
    • >>While Sharon did not pray at the site, he arrived with a team of Israeli police. The following day clashes broke out .... thus initiating the Palestinian uprising[in 2000]

      I'm not sure "team" is quite the word: As the NYT put it at the time, . "Sharon entered as a police helicopter clattered overheard and a thousand armed policemen were positioned in and around the Temple Mount, including antiterror squads and ranks of riot officers carrying clubs, helmets and plastic shields. "

  • Settler group publishes anti-Palestinian children's book titled 'Occupation Shmuccupation'
    • Good report, but I have one quibble: the first sentence describes the Yesha Council as "a right-wing Israeli settler organization." That makes it sound like some kind of unofficial, voluntary organization representing only those settlers who choose to join it (as if it might even be in competition with "left-wing" or "centrist" settler organizations!!).

      In fact, the Yesha Council is, as the About page on its website explains, "the umbrella governing organization" of the West Bank settlements:

      The Council consists of the elected Mayors of the four cities (Ariel, Beitar Illit, Ma'ale Adumim and Modiin Illit), six counties (Binyamin, Gush Etzion, Hebron Mountains, Jordan Valley, Megilot and Samaria) and 13 smaller municipalities encompassing more than 150 individual communities and 383,000 residents in Judea & Samaria.

      The Council addresses regional concerns such as roads, safety, security, and development. In addition, the Council acts as the political representative of the settlers both within Israel and internationally.

      So it's not as if this is just some addition to the "free marketplace of ideas," something that volunteer zealots will go around trying to persuade kids to read - it will be in all the schools and everywhere else in the settlements, as a statement from their "democratically elected" governing authorities.

  • Roundtable on the Palestinian solidarity movement and Alison Weir
    • W. Jones: w/r/t the US Campaign's refusal to let If Americans Knew table at their convention, Alison explains "We reserved and paid for a table back in July. The same day they received our reservation and tabling money they sent us their interrogation. "

      They held on to the money she had sent until early September, when they returned it, and they didn't actually tell her she couldn't table until a couple of weeks ago, with no explanation.

    • W. Jones asked for specifics about the US Campaign's refusal to allow Alison Weir to have a table for her literature at their convention. Here's what Alison wrote about that in her recent comprehensive rebuttal to the US Campaign's dossier of charges against her:

      Before the Campaign suddenly began its inquisition against us, we had already sent in our money to the Campaign to have a table at the upcoming convention in Atlanta, where we were going to offer the book at a special discount to attendees. Now, we can no longer even post messages to Campaign listserves. There are messages on these email lists concerning us, but we can neither see them nor respond to them.

      She doesn't fully spell it out there, but I know for a fact that after the attacks began, they informed her that she would not be allowed to have a table at the convention.

    • One interesting thing about Alison's book, and one reason her critics are unable to identify the "lies" they keep talking about, is that virtually every paragraph, if not every sentenced, is footnoted (more precisely, endnoted) - the notes take up more pages than the text. And most of the authors she cites are mainstream, in no sense radical historians - the majority of them Jewish, in fact. The great value of the book is in rescuing this information from academic obscurity and pulling it together to show a pattern.

      Alison readily acknowledges that there's only one story in the book that hasn't been written about by other authors: the bizarre tale of a 1947 plot, organized by Rabbi Baruch Korff, then a Zionist operative in Paris, to bomb the British Foreign Office in London from the air. After the plot was foiled as the plane was about to take off, it was widely reported in the newspapers, but then it was pretty much forgotten. (Korff, she tells us, went on to serve for 21 years as a chaplain for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health - and to become buddies with Richard Nixon, who publicly called him "my rabbi.")

    • So, a4tech, do you still think, as you wrote just yesterday, that "yes, appearing in the “right-wing” radio show panders to racists for support" and "If you have to resort to pandering to racists for support, what sort of goal are you trying to achieve?? "

    • I can't resist posting one more little tidbit illustrating the hypocrisy behind the JVP and US Campaign attacks on Alison Weir: One of the main counts against her in both the JVP letters and the USCEIO dossier is that she gave interviews to a website called "American Free Press," which "the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as a hate group," according to the JVP letters, and which the USCEIO characterizes as a "white supremacist publication."

      Turns out that Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of JVP, also gave an interview to the very same "hate group"/ "white supremacist publication"!

      Seems like a clear violation of the same "anti-racist principles" they used to smear Alison. I'm waiting with bated breath for someone to file a complaint and have her brought before the same kind of kangaroo court USCEIO used to expel Alison.

    • You can find a nicely formatted version of the new letter, with lots of supporting links, at

    • The following letter went out last night to people attending this weekend's conference of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation:

      Today, the movement for solidarity with Palestine remains deeply divided due to a series of unfortunate attacks on one of the most effective Palestine solidarity organizations in the movement.

      Despite nearly two-thousand signatures, including Palestinian grassroots resistance leader Iyad Burnat; Palestinian grassroots resistance leader Bassem Tamimi; UN special rapporteur on Occupied Palestine Richard Falk; Al-Awda Steering Committee member Abbas Hamideh; professor and activist Mazin Qumsiyeh; Holocaust survivor and peace activist Hedy Epstein; Palestine-based activist leader George Rishmawi; peace activists Cindy Sheehan and Arun Gandhi; American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee founder James Abourezk; authors Joel Kovel and Sunaina Maira; former US government officials-turned-peace-activists Ray McGovern, Edward Peck, Philip Giraldi, and Ann Wright; nearly 200 members of Jewish Voice for Peace; and at least 15 Gaza Flotilla activists,

      the US Campaign and Jewish Voice for Peace’s national leadership have ignored our beliefs that it is unacceptable to fabricate accusations of anti-Semitism -- especially when failing to take principled stances on matters like Zionism.

      This website details all of the information regarding our open letter to stop the attacks on If Americans Knew and Alison Weir, and provides in-depth analysis on some of the issues that this debacle has touched upon: the failure of the movement to put the Palestinian cause first, stigmatizing those who discuss and criticize Zionism, and engaging in witch-hunts for anti-Semitism.

      Racist rhetoric at the Campaign? The US Campaign has sent around new “common principles,” up for a vote at the organization’s conference. The Campaign again refuses to consider Zionism a form of racism, while condemning “anti-Semitism” and “Islamophobia”. How an organization ostensibly dedicated to Palestinian rights can actively ignore that Zionism is a form of racism, while witch-hunting for anti-Semitism, is beyond many of us. The common principles also limit the Campaign’s opposition to Israel’s “apartheid policies” -- not the Israeli government itself.

      Likewise, as events have shown, the Campaign’s commitment to “reject the charge of anti-Semitism when used spuriously to silence legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies and practices” are false.

      Ironically, while the US Campaign has sought to make in-roads among genuine mass movements like the Black Lives Matter movement, the Campaign’s claims of rejecting racism in all forms closely resemble the rhetoric of anti-black activists. While ostensibly claiming to reject racism generally, US Campaign singles out intolerance against the ethnic group Israel claims to represent, while refusing to condemn Zionism as a form of racism against Palestinians. This is the kind of problematic rhetoric that Black Lives Matter has repeatedly rejected.

      The Campaign has also exhibited an appalling double standard to diverse Middle Eastern communities. When another member organization took a public stand that was widely condemned by many of its own members and hundreds of others as genocide denial – and was even openly rebuked by a Campaign leader – the Campaign did not expel the offending organization. Perhaps this was because the Campaign, appropriately, stayed focused on the issue of Palestine. In fact, the Campaign has given the organization, American Muslims for Palestine, a workshop slot at the upcoming conference.

      Yet the US Campaign expelled If Americans Knew over tenuous accusations of anti-Semitism that outside observers consider unfounded and has barred the organization from even tabling at the conference. This despite that numerous activists consider IAK's materials some of the most useful on Palestine and its workshops among the most valuable. Such hypocrisy is not acceptable.

      You are not alone. Many of us no longer feel that the US Campaign is a safe space for us to put forward more principled resistance to Israel, Zionism, the pro-Israel Lobby, and racism more generally. More organizations have resigned from the US Campaign for the same reasons, including the Berkeley-based Free Palestine Movement and the Louisville Committee for Peace in the Middle East. Others have publicly condemned US Campaign’s behavior, including Al-Awda, the Chico Palestine Action Group, and the Ann Arbor Quakers in the Palestine-Israel Action Group. Others are in the process of reconsidering their membership.

      We want to let those of you who have expressed feelings of disillusionment know that you are not alone. We believe that our Open Letter has spurred much needed internal discussion and hope that it urges those of us who are in the movement for justice in Palestine to behave as allies should.

      (The actual letter has links to supporting information, but they didn't come through when I pasted it into the MW comment box. I'll try to find a URL and post it here so people can read a fully formatted version complete with the links.)

    • For anyone still following this thread and interested in reading more about the issues it raises, Alison Weir last night posted a comprehensive, and therefore lengthy, rebuttal to the US Campaign's dossier of allegations against her. In my opinion she did a masterful job. It's at

      From Alison Weir's comment about it on If Americans Knew's Facebook page:

      We apologize that we didn't do this sooner, but we prioritized our many projects to bring justice and peace to Palestine by giving the facts to the American public over the Campaign's accusations.

      We hope that anyone who is as tired of the subject as we are will feel free to skip this statement and continue on with the urgent work before us.

    • Annie, what's the record for most comments ever on an MW post?

      As others have said, thanks for your heroic management of the (first) 600 on this one....

    • J. Hitchcock: "Weir’s attempts to validate medieval blood libel charges"

      Good grief, Jennifer, I'm trying my best to see how you got that out of Alison's CounterPunch article, but I really can't.

      First of all, as W. Jones, tree, and others here have pointed out, the article in question was not something Alison came up with out of the blue, to make Jews look like ogres - it was a real-time report on a huge controversy that was swirling through the Israeli media the very week she posted the article.

      Second, it wasn't Alison who introduced the "blood libel" concept into the discussion about organ trafficking - that came from a whole slew of Israeli pols and pundits. Alison's article includes a direct quote from the Israeli foreign minister using the phrase.

      As many others here have already noted, in the article Alison explicitly explained that the "blood libel" refers to "widely refuted stories that Jews killed people to use their blood in religious rituals." Should she have gone into a discussion of the meanings of "refuted" for fear that a student of "discourse studies" coming along six years in the future might not understand her meaning?

      Again as W. Jones has noted here, if you read what Alison actually wrote, she introduced Toaff's book into the piece not to say the proven Israeli involvement in organ trafficking was just another instance of a pattern going back a thousand years, but to compare the all-out Israeli assault on Swedish reporter Donald Bostrom that was going on as she wrote to the similar attacks on Toaff that had swept through the Israeli media just two years previous, in 2007: in both cases, investigators had brought up some facts that were uncomfortable for Israeli Jews, and instead of trying to disprove those facts, the Israeli mainstream responded with a hysterical campaign to crucify the authors in question.

      Do you know, by the way - and if not, you should before you write anything else about this topic - that Toaff was not some kook from the anti-Semitic fringes, but a professor of medieval and renaissance history at Bar Ilan University in Israel,, widely considered one of the leading academic authorities on medieval Jewry? And that he was (and is) also a rabbi and the son of a hugely popular former chief rabbi of Rome? Yes, the vicious assault mounted against him in the the Israeli media and political when he published the book on the blood libel succeeded in breaking him, and he finally "retracted" the book. All of that is all the more reason it was appropriate for Alison to cite his treatment in reporting what the Israelis were doing that very week to Bostrom.

      (By the way, an English translation of Toaff's book is available, free, in PDF format at
      I have not read it. h/t my friend Alice.)

      Another couple of comments on the organ trafficking: at the time Alison wrote her article, there was no solid definitive evidence that organs were being taken from Palestinians as well as Jewish Israelis. That's why Bostrom's article contained only - as Alison noted in the very first sentence of her article - only "testimony and circumstantial evidence" about that phenomenon. But a few months later in 2009 an Israeli TV network ran a documentary including an interview with chief Isreli pathologist Dr. Yehuda Hiss in which he explicitly acknowledged that some of the organs he'd been trafficking came from Palestinians.

      Note that that link is to the UK Guardian, not to CounterPunch or some other outlet you'd consider "questionable." Note also that the person who conducted that interview with Hiss and released it to Israeli TV in response to the uproar around the Bostrom article was Nancy Scheper-Hughes, who was and is Professor of Medical Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley; co-founder and Director of a medical human rights project called Organs Watch; an advisor to the World Health Organization on issues related to global transplantation; co-editor of the book "Commodifying Bodies" - altogether, she's widely considered the world's leading authority on organ trafficking. Is she too a "questionable" source in your book?

      That brings up one more issue. In your original post you wrote that "Weir clearly makes a point to selectively paint this as an Israeli and Jewish problem, ignoring the fact that organ harvesting is a widespread problem around the world, not just in Israel or Jewish communities.” In fact, Alison's article, starting with the title ("Israeli Organ Harvesting") is specifically about organ trafficking by Israelis, not other Jews - the only trafficker the article cites who was not Israeli is Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, who immigrated to New Jersey from Israel and whose business involved selling Americans kidneys obtained from poor Israelis. (For details, see Scheper-Hughes' article "The Rosenbaum Kidney Trafficking Gang" in, yes, the dreaded CounterPunch:

      Tree and other commenters here have already responded to your claim that Alison focused unfairly on Israel, by noting that she was reporting on a controversy that was occurring at the time in Israel, not some other country. More generally, though, you should know, as you apparently haven't until now, that Israel is not just one among the many countries in which organ trafficking is a problem. In the words of Professor Scheper-Hughes, the world's leading authority on the subject, when it comes to organ trafficking, “Israel is at the top. It has tentacles reaching out worldwide. ,,,, [Israeli organ traffickers] have a pyramid system at work that’s awesome...they have brokers everywhere, bank accounts everywhere; they’ve got recruiters, they’ve got translators, they’ve got travel agents who set up the visas.”


    • I just discovered that the website for "Dreams Deferred," a documentary film made by Ms. Hitchcock and her husband, is called . I wonder what exactly they mean by the "supportisrael' part. Has anyone here watched the film?

      JVP's platform says it supports "the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination," but even they, as far as I know,, don't say they "support Israel."

    • If there's anyone who has plowed through the 425 previous comments but wants to spend another 20 minutes on this controversy, I was interviewed about it on the KPFA radio show "Voices of the Middle East and North Africa" last week. The archive is at

      To play it, just click the "Listen" link. The first two thirds of the show are devoted to a long but fascinating discussion of Kurdish politics. If you want to jump right to me, scroll over to about 38:40.

      The host, Khalil Bendib, and I both wanted a debate, and we spent two weeks - even delaying the segment a week - trying to get someone from JVP (national or Bay Area) or the US Campaign to come on and represent their side. They all declined.

    • Note that Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of JVP, recently had a column on the op-ed page of the Washington Post, and she didn't challenge the Post's political line - she stuck to her message. I think she was right to take advantage of the opportunity to get her piece Posted, and not to waste that limited opportunity on a scattershot critique of everything wrong with the paper's editorial line. But it's just another instance of the double standard JVP and friends are trying to apply to Alison.

      And ask yourself which does more harm to the people of the world, Clay Douglas's podcasts or the WaPo editorial page!

    • I'm actually I'm actually trying to reply not to myself but to Annie Robbins' reply to me, and for some reason there's no "Reply" link below her message. In any case, just to clarify, you did ask me about reviewing the book, and I said yes, but also that I wouldn't be able to get to it for a while. When I finally did, Phil said no (and also said some things about the book that he said he'd' "heard" were flat-out wrong, totally).

      In hindsight, of course, I'm kicking myself that I didn't make the time to do the review while I might have been able to get it posted here. In that sense I take part of the responsibility for its never having been discussed here.

      But I don't think you can fairly put it all on me. Try this simple exercise: use the search field on this site to search for "John Judis" and "Genesis" (the name of his book about Truman, the lobby, and Israel), and you'll get a whole page of hits, including at least 10 with Judis' name in the title of the post. Now search for "Alison Weir" and "Against Our Better Judgement," and how many hits do you get? Zero!

    • A third important commentary I should have included in my previous comment: an article called "The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook," by Jack Dresser, Ph.D., national vice-chair, Veterans for Peace working group on Palestine and the Middle East, and Co-Director of Al-Nakba Awareness Project in Eugene, Oregon , posted last week on Counterpunch

      (Hitchcock calls Counterpunch "a questionable publication." To me that's stunning: While there are certainly posts on that site I don't agree with, it's an invaluable forum for critical political commentary. Besides, what kind of mindset want publications not to be "questionable"? )

      Finally (for now), get yourself a copy of the book Alison published last year, "Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel"
      - a book this site has determinedly neglected, even while devoting more than half a dozen posts to John Judis' "Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict," which was published at about the same time.

      I challenge anyone to point to a single sentence in Alison's book or in her extensive footnotes that is anti-Semitic or otherwise racist.

    • As someone who has worked with Alison Weir from time to time over more than a decade, has recently been actively involved in defending her, and who is also a member of Jewish Voice for Peace, I have a lot of comments on these posts. For the moment, just two suggestions about other very pertinent materials:

      1) In addition to these posts, people who want to understand this issue owe it to themselves and to the movement to read Alison's direct responses to the allegations against her, which are posted at
      (Jennifer Hitchcock's piece includes a couple of links to that page, but doesn't explicitly identify it as including Alison's responses.)

      2) By the same token, I'd strongly urge everyone to take a look at the open letter defending Alison, which has now been signed by more than 1,800 activists, journalists, and scholars - including many Palestinians - at
      Among the signers:

      Richard Falk, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University, and former Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine, UN Human Rights Council.

      Samia Khoury, founding member of the board of Trustees of Birzeit University and Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre

      Ann Wright, retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat turned peace activist; passenger on 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla; co-organizer and passenger on Gaza Freedom Flotillas 2011 & 2015; co-organizer of 2009 Gaza Freedom March.

      Bassem Tamimi, Palestinian Popular Resistance Movement, Nabi Saleh

      Iyad Burnat, Palestinian grassroots activist, Bil'in Popular Committee

      Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, Professor, Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities, Co-Founder Al-Awda-Palestine Right to Return Coalition.

      Hedy Epstein, Holocaust survivor; St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee; Jewish Voice for Peace - St. Louis** , Free Gaza Movement

      Paul Findley, former US Congressman, Illinois, author of "They Dare to Speak Out," the first book on the modern Israel lobby

      James Abourezk, former Senator, South Dakota, founder of American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)

      Arun Gandhi, Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute

      Ray McGovern, Retired CIA officer turned peace activist. Co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

  • Susiya gets backup from 'NYT', EU, and State Dep't -- will Israel dare to demolish the village?
    • For a different take on the NY Times piece, don't miss Barbara Erickson's "New York Times: Outcry Over Susiya Nothing but Clever PR" at

      The Times story suggests that Susiya has received this backing because of its skill in winning attention, and by imposing this angle on the story, the newspaper is attempting to divert readers from the real issues at play: the fact that Israel’s treatment of the villagers is blatantly racist and defies the norms of international and humanitarian law.

      Also missing is the context of occupation and dispossession that is crushing Susiya and other villages. Hadid fails to give any sense of this. She writes only that activists have used the village as a symbol of how Israel “has sought to maintain control over large parts of the occupied West Bank.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 'New York Times' normalizes the blockade of Gaza
  • Report from Bethlehem: An American moment
    • Much as I appreciate the main points of this post, I have to challenge one assertion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Read the rest at

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Couple of quibbles:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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