Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 226 (since 2010-03-18 18:04:29)

Henry Norr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      link to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Those three are Israeli. The seventeen others are Palestinian.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      link to

      link to

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

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

      A couple of excerpts:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

      link to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      link to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      and available, among other places, here:
      link to

      (E-book versions apparently coming soon.)

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

      link to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      link to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      One source on this:
      link to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      and so on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      in the fourth paragraph of under the headline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      One interesting bit:

      Discontent on the rise

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

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

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

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

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

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

      link to

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

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

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

      Crystal clear - what more is there to say?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      link to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      One excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Other tidbits about the SS business:

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

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

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

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