Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 17 (since 2010-04-22 16:11:18)

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  • Australia opposed Palestinian UN bid because foreign policy was 'subcontracted to Jewish donors' -- report
    • Hi Phil,
      Bob Carr is actually the ex-Foreign Minister for Australia under the Gillard government (so not an ex-Foreign Minister for Britain/UK). He is a member of the Labor Right faction of the Australian Labor Party, the same party as former Australian Prime Ministers, Gillard and Rudd (Gillard is supposedly a member of the Left faction and Rudd was not in either faction, one of the things that contributed to his political demise).

      Prior to becoming Australian Foreign Minister, Carr had been the New South Wales (NSW) State Premier for 10 years from 1995 until 2005.

      The 7.30 program on the ABC (Australian Broadcast Corporation) -one of Australia's public broadcaster did an interview with him where he discuss in detail his criticism of the Israel lobby (see link below)

      The ABC had also run a online report on their website of his criticisms last night (Australian time) which carried the headline: Bob Carr lashes out at Melbourne 'pro-Israel lobby'. However, the headline has now changed and the online report now covers a range of issues, not just his criticism of the Melbourne Israel lobby. It also has an embedded video with the 7.30 Report interview.

      The current version of the article on the ABC website now gives much more space and weight to the response from the Israel lobby, than the original version did (unfortunately, I can't find a cache copy of the original article).

      As a result, it is better to watch/listen to the video embedded in the page as it contains his full comments on the issue of the Israel lobby, which had originally been given more prominence in the first version of the report.

      link to

  • Using secret travel ban, Israel prepares to deport activist Adam Shapiro preventing him from being at the birth of his first child
    • A similar thing happened with a German activist friend of mine. One of my friend's parents was born in Israel but immigrated to Germany. My friend only had German citizenship and passport. Israel had on several occasions attempted to deport my friend due to pro-Palestine solidarity activism. But because Israel has registered my friend technically as an Israeli citizen as a result of the parent's citizenship, they have at the last minute had to stop the deportations. When they tried to also prevent my friend entering Israel, they eventually had to allow entry for the same reason.

  • Brooklyn College president: 'There is no academic obligation to present' a pro-Israel perspective at boycott event
    • I have to agree. While it is terrific Gould has stood strong on the free speech/academic freedom issue over the SJP BDS forum, but she has also included a paragraph in her new statement fawning over Israel, defending the school (and her) engagement with Israeli apartheid and declaring how she and the school don't support BDS. That in my opinion is "F'd" as you note. Its not covering all bases it is capitulation to the Zionists - basically she has actually undermined her stance on academic freedom for the school by declaring allegiance to Israel as a way to try defend their co-sponsoring of the SJP event. Basically, it is implying that in order for schools to be able to able to have nominal "free speech"/ "academic freedom", they must also declare publicly their allegiance to Israel in order to stop interference from politicians and Zionists etc.

  • A bad day in Nabi Saleh
    • People can also keep up to date with what is happening in Nabi Saleh and support the village's struggle by joining the Nabi Saleh Solidarity Facebook page link to
      and/or by visiting the Nabi Saleh Solidarity website/web blog link to

    • Thanks Phil for the article. I just wanted to offer one small correct regarding the opening line of your article re the two girls who were photographed in August trying to stop the arrest of Nariman, only one of the two girls was her daughter (A'hd). The two girls are actually cousins. The second girl is the daughter of Naji Tamimi who like Bassem Tamimi also spent a year in prison for the "crime" of organising non-violent demonstrations in Nabi Saleh against the occupation.

  • Norr responds to Ash: Who is trying to get the solidarity movement back on track and who is merely fanning the flames of division?
    • @Cliff - seriously WTF are you talking about? Your whole post made absolutely no sense!

    • American: I never mentioned the FG movement or its management. I was refering to the broader Palestine solidarity movement and pointing out that Greta Berlin's post brought to the surface issues that have been ignored by some for to long in the Palestine solidarity movement.

      As with most social justice movements, the Palestine solidarity movement is a decentralised one and people come it with different levels of political consciousness and understanding. This is perfectly fine, as there should be inclusive and there should be room in the movement for a diversity ideas. However, if you are serious about building a SOLIDARITY movement with AN OPPRESSED PEOPLE (ie. the Palestinians in this case), then the absolute first rule should be DO NO HARM to their cause. Normalising the inclusion of ideas which reek of bigotry, racism, prejudice and conspiracy theories does nothing to aid the Palestinian cause, instead it harms it immensely.

      Everyone makes mistakes and many people, including myself would have been perfectly happy to accept Greta's explanation if she had not changed her story about what happened at least 8 times and if she had actually posted screen shots relating to the mistaken post. If she wanted to protect people's privacy, she could have easily have redacted the names of the people in the group. However, it now has become clear that within these groups, which Greta has played an active role, there has been a systematic refusal to address posts, comments and material that promote not only anti-Jewish bigotry, but also racism and anti-Semitism.

      As Bekah Wolf demonstrates in her article posted here on Mondoweiss, the "Our Land" Facebook group is rife with this sort of crap and Greta along with the other moderators failed to nip it in the bud link to ). Instead, Greta and the other moderators allowed such comments to be normalised as acceptable.

      This is the real issue here - the normalisation and acceptance within in some sectors of the movement of this sort of bigotry. And it is an issue that Gabriel Ash spells out quite clearly and which Henry Norr completely ignores in his response to him.

      Now that this sort of bigotry and condoning of it has been widely exposed and people are demanding that Greta and others who have condoned this sort of behaviour be accountable for their behaviour, Greta and her supporters including Norr, you and many others are blaming those who have taken a principled stand against bigotry in the movement.

      This has become "so big" an issue precisely because it is a very real issue which needs to be dealt with. And as painful as all of this has been for the entire movement, it is far better that it has finally all come out in the open and clarity can be achieved about what sort of movement we are building and what sort of politicals and principles should guide the Palestine solidarity movement.

      As far as I am concerned, we need to take a very clear and absolutely strong stance against the normalisation of bigotry in the movement, as Ali Abunimah and more than 100 Palestinians have noted in their statement.

      Perhaps if Greta, Henry Norr and others put their egos in check, they may actually recognise they are in fact underming the Palestine solidarity movement. However, instead it appears fairly clear that they would rather allow their egos to run rampant and make it all about themselves and not the movement or the Palestinian struggle.

    • Today Mondoweiss has published an article by Bekah Wolf, one of the founders of the Palestine Solidarity Project based in Beit Ommar in Occupied Hebron. The article is called "If only it was just one tweet: One activist’s experience in the ‘Our Land’ Facebook group" - I suggest Norr and those supporting him and Greta Berlin go and read it. link to

      As Bekah notes: "While I am personally disappointed in Greta the stakes here are much higher than one person's lack of judgement. This moment is a challenge to the Palestine solidarity movement and for us to define the movement we want to be, and the rhetoric and ideas we are willing to embrace".

      AND she then goes on to explain in length:

      "Several people, particularly Palestinians in Palestine, have criticized the amount of attention Greta and her tweet have gotten. Some have criticized her for making this about her and drawing attention away from the people who are actually suffering. Others have criticized those in the movement who have tried to hold Greta accountable. What people seem to be missing, however, are two key reasons why we cannot tolerate this rhetoric in our movement.

      First, as a movement based on universal principles of human rights, freedom, and dignity, we should not allow any bigotry, racism, Islamophobia or anti-Semitism in our midst. This was a point eloquently made in recent days in a statement signed by more than 100 Palestinian activists, academics and cultural workers.

      Secondly, there are some utilitarian reasons why we should avoid this kind of rhetoric. Every time a Palestine solidarity activist takes on the issue of Holocaust and its connections to Zionism, every time they conflate Judaism with Zionism, they are making an inherently Zionist argument. The horrific historical reality of the Holocaust does not, and never can, trivialize or justify the dispossession and suffering of the Palestinian people. But Greta and others, by insisting on making such topics a primary concern are tacitly conceding a key Zionist claim that the legitimacy of Zionism and its past and present deeds in Palestine stems from the Holocaust.

      As an anti-Zionist Jew who has been active in Palestine for 10 years, Greta Berlin's statements and the content of “Our Land” not only offend me, but they have damaged my ability to combat Zionist rhetoric by claiming that I cannot be both religiously Jewish and anti-Zionist. Zionists routinely argue that to be Jewish is to be Zionist and the kind of rhetoric displayed on “Our Land” concedes this important point and supports this fundamental Zionist claim. In addition, this episode regarding Berlin’s tweet has damaged our movement as a whole and has shown deep short-sightedness by opening us up to attack and dismissal by Zionists who are desperately trying to paint us as a movement as anti-Semitic. Palestinians have not asked the solidarity movement to concern itself with notions of Jewish identity, authenticity, and the Holocaust, but to offer active and effective solidarity in restoring their rights in their country"

    • What Henry Norr and far to many commentators om Mondoweiss seemed to have missed either by accident or deliberately is the fact that within the movement there are some real issues at stake which Greta Berlin's tweet has brought to the surface.

      Unfortunately, as Gabriel Ash notes there are among some in the movement (albeit a minority) who promote the mistaken idea that in the name of “inclusion” and “diversity” we need to accommodate dodgy ideas, bigotry (including anti-Jewish chauvanism, which may not necessarily be anti-semitism but does come very close to it) and frankly nutcase conspiracy theories. Such ideas, however, do harm to our movement and the Palestinian cause.

      However, in his response to Gabriel Ash, Henry Norr completely ignores this issue.

      Instead, there is a refusal by some to recognise that this is an issue within the movement (and I would place Henry Norr and his supporters in this category, along with Greta Berlin and her supporters) and that it is one that needs to be dealt with. Instead, people want to bury their head in the sand and pretend it nots a problem and that to allow it to continue causes harm to the movement and the Palestinian cause.

      Yes, there is a power struggle going on in the movement at the moment - a struggle to determine what politics the movement should promote and support.

      Do we allow the movement to normalise ideas which reek of conspiracy theories, bigotry, chauvinism and yes, even racism or do we support and build a movement which unequivocally opposes such things and build a movement based on the principles of decolonisation, anti-racism and an opposition to all forms of bigotry.

      Unfortunately, Greta Berlin and those supporters (including Henry Norr) have failed to step back, clear their heads and put their egos in check. They have lost sight of the fact that this movement is NOT ABOUT THEM, that it is about the Palestinians people and THEIR struggle.

      They seem to have forgotten that the first 'rule' of this movement should always be to DO NO HARM to the Palestinian struggle.

      Its time for Greta and co. to put their egos in check and recognise that it is them who are harming the movement and the Palestinian cause, not people such as Gabriel Ash and Ali Abunimah who have consistently taken a principled and correct political stand on these issues.

  • No room for racism in a movement working for equality and freedom
    • What a load of baloney, Keith. It has nothing to do with a 'turf war'. It has to have the guts and the principles to oppose all forms of bigotry and racism, regardless of who pushing them. Atzmon is a racist, a bigot and an out and out anti-semite. Gabriel Ash and others like him should be applauded for standing up and being counted and opposing Atzmon's crap. Atzmon is NOT a friend of the Palestinian solidarity movement or the Palestinian struggle and he should be opposed at every single turn.

    • Colin, what hypocritical and not a little ridiculous is your claim that the comments here are somehow a true reflection of how everyone within the broader movement feels about this issue. I work with many Palestinians and non-Palestinians who are very active in the Palestine solidarity movement and they, like me, all support the same sort of position taken by Phil, Adam and Mondoweiss. The only difference is that they clearly don't have the time to sit on the internet for hours to make repeated comments defending the indefensible. And if you think 18 posts in any way represents a scientifica analysis of the real feeling about this issue in the broader movement then you clearly have no idea of how legitimate scientific assessments and surveys are conducted.

  • Norman Finkelstein slams the BDS movement calling it 'a cult'
    • Opps, I should have said, while I am in agreement with the majority of Maath's article, I do disagree with the last paragraph, where Maath argues that BDS is not a Palestinian organisation. I think Maath makes two mistakes here - firstly BDS is not an organisation, its a specific tactic use by people involved in a specific campaign. Secondly, while it is true the movement is premised predominately on international solidarity, it does not mean it is not Palestinian led.

    • Maath Musleh from Palestine Youth Voice in Ramallah have posted the following response to the Finkelstein interview. I think they make a lot of valid points.

      In Response to Norman Finkelstein Interview
      February 15, 2012
      link to

      Imperial College London conducted an interview with Norman Finkelstein on the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. I used to listen to Mr. Finkelstein in admiration. It could be because he had a pro-Palestinian stands. But I think most importantly is because he gave facts as is, straight forward. Nonetheless, I believe he tripped when he started advocating for a certain political solution.

      In a lecture in University of London last year, he gave a lecture advocating for a 2-states solution, claiming it has a Palestinian consensus. I have no clue how did he decide that. Nonetheless, in the Q & A I asked him a clear question: since there is no consensus on a 2-state solution or a 1 state solution, isn’t it just fair to advocate for what holds a consensus; namely, the right of return? He didn’t answer my question, and went on talking about a 1state and 2states solutions. He has marginalized the right of return in his lecture.

      In his interview in February 9, Mr. Finkelstein have continued marginalizing the right of return. He said: “If you are serious about building a mass movement, you cannot go beyond what the public is ready to accept.” Which public does he mean? The Palestinian public? Well we are not ready to accept a solution that undermines our rights. The international community? well they accepted the massacre in Gaza, on flotilla, hundreds of thousands of arrests, oppression, dozens of massacres in the past 64 years. Not doing anything about it is accepting it. Also, they are not part of the conflict. They do not get a vote in this. It does not affect every aspect of their lives. It’s our dreams, hopes, lives on stake here. Or is it the Israeli public? The Israeli public that accepted Gaza massacre, dozens of massacre in the past years, displacement of Palestinians, building of settlements, and many more oppression.

      Mr. Finkelstein criticized BDS movement of being picky about the law. He says that the law is clear. “It is also correct that Israel is a state,” he said. “If you want to use the law as a weapon to reach the public opinion you cannot be selective about the law.” UN Resolution 273 (III) admission of Israel to membership in the United Nations recalls “its resolutions of 29 November 1947 and 11 December 1948” as the basis of accepting Israel as a state. The membership of the State of Israel in the UN is dependent on their respect to resolution 194 and the right of return. UN Resolution 194 (III) article 11 states that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes…should be permitted to do so”. This is also part of the law that you wish to be selective about. He criticizes the BDS movement of being selective about the law for calling for the implementation of a UN resolution! Unfortunately, he joined the new trend of using the expression of “a just resolution for the refugee question based on resolution 194″. This is a deceiving expression. The just resolution is to implement resolution 194. There is already an international consensus, expressed in resolution 194, on how should the refugee question be solved.

      Norman says: “There is nothing anywhere in the international consensus for resolving the conflict that says anything about the minority inside Israel, the Palestinian Arab minority.” This statement is completely false. More than 18 percent of the Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are refugees. Thus, they are encompassed in UN resolution 194. Also, the United Nations recognised the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the representative of the Palestinian people and granted it an observer membership in resolutions 3236 and 3237. The PLO recognises the Palestinians holding Israeli citizenship as Palestinians. Thus, they are part of every resolution or agreement that the PLO signs or accepts. Nonetheless, if Mahmoud Abbas manages to replace the PLO’s representation by the suggested State of Palestine in his UNBid, then those Palestinians will be excluded. But not yet!

      Norman Finkelstein argues if it is reasonable to implement the right of return on the basis of what is more convenient for the Zionist movement, not on the basis of implementing the law. It is okay to talk about laws that does not threat the existence of the state of Israel. I have not heard a bigger fuss on the existence of a political system or state as there is on the existence of the State of Israel. The Soviet Union disappeared and it is alright. Yugoslavia was dismantled and life is seen much better. The state of East Germany and West Germany merged into a one country. Mainly, the communist state of East Germany does not exist any more, so this makes life perfect! When a political system becomes more important than a human right, then our humanity is doomed.

      On a last note, I must agree with Norman that if the BDS should focus on mobilising their people if they are a Palestinian organisation. Nonetheless, it is just the fact that BDS is not really a Palestinian organisation. It is mainly led by international activists. And we still need a pure Palestinian movement to mobilise the Palestinian public. Norman is right, Palestinians should not be telling the International community what to do to support us. But we would appreciate it if no one tell us what solution should we accept. We want our full rights. That is not a crime, that is not being illogical. It is simply being determined.

    • This is video is unsurprising – a split with Finkelstein has always been on the cards because his still retains a liberal Zionist position. It has been clear for the last two/three years that the split was becoming more imminent - particularly since the March for Gaza in Cairo in 2009 when a number of Palestinian civil society leaders challenged sent a letter to the campaign and Finkelstein was not happy about what they had to say and pulled out. It was clear when Finkelstein withdraw from the march, he became very disaffected by the leadership of BDS campaign – which is why I would argue he is using the terms “cult” and disparaging the movement leaders, solidarity activists who are involved in the campaign and achievements.

      Interestingly enough Finkelstein claims later in the video (around 19 mins in) that he actually supports BDS – but it is clearly he doesn’t. Not only does he state specifically at around 30 mins that he thinks its a waste of time and refuses to be part of it, he also makes it clear he doesn’t support the campaign calling the campaign a cult and disparaging not only the leaders of the movement but all the thousands upon thousands of activists around the world who support it.

      What is interesting is that he claims that he will not be “anyone’s fool” but he clearly thinks that the thousands and thousands of activists around the world who support BDS are indeed dupes and fools. His comments make it clear that while supports some of the tactics but he doesn’t support the campaign politically.

      Finkelstein’s political criticisms (as opposed to his pejorative and ad hominem attack) in this video basically mirror exactly the arguments put forward by both Leftwing and Rightwing Zionists. For example, he repeats the Zionist hasbara argument that BDS singles out Israel and ignores other human rights abuses. As Ben White noted in his excellent article he wrote recently which explains BDS: “Well, yes, it does: the Palestinians have not been dispossessed or occupied by Guatemala. Those making the point would not dream of accusing Tibetan activists of ‘singling out’ China, or tell campaigners against child slavery to go focus on something else. In fact, this objection implies that Palestinians as a people are uniquely prohibited from resisting their oppression and seeking allies in their struggle”.

      What Finkelstein doesn’t get about BDS is that it is not only a tactical campaign but it is also a symbolic and educative campaign. Ben White, notes this also in his article, saying that there are four main reasons why BDS is necessary: (1) the reality of Israel’s ongoing occupation and apartheid policies; (2) Israeli impunity and the failure of the international community to hold Israel accountable for its violation of international law; (3) its educative component, which raise awareness about facts on the ground; and (4) it empowers people to take action.

      The problem with Finkelstein’s analysis is that it lacks a dialectical understanding of how to build a social movement – Finkelstein completely ignores the fact that things can change and develop, instead he thinks things are set in stone from 20 years ago which is not the case.

      In relation to his final comments about how the solidarity movement should operate he is correct to say that the solidarity movement in each country needs to make its own judgement on how to conduct the solidarity struggle. However, it needs to be pointed out that the BDS campaign doesn't tell anyone in the solidarity movement how they should act. BDS is just one tactic among many available to the solidarity movement, it has specific goals and tactics. People can choose to join it or not.

      If folks in the solidarity movement don’t want to support the BDS campaign they don’t have too and they can continue to carry out Palestine solidarity work as they see fit - no one is stopping them.

      However, many of us decided to join the BDS campaign because we actually think it is the best tactic and it can make a difference. It is a campaign we have freely chosen to join, which already has established tactics so I think its perfectly reasonable that say that when one joins an established campaign with established tactics, then we should be expect to be asked to abide political parameters that have been set out for the campaign. It doesn't mean we can't contribute and come up with different ideas and ways of carrying out those tactics.

  • Mustafa Tamimi has died
    • How about the 1400 Palestinians killed in Gaza in 2008/2009, the majority of whom were civilians, including 350 children. Oh yeah, thats right you Zionists don't like to talk about these murders or the fact that these murders were not an isolated case by Israel or that Israel has repeatedly carried out mass murders of Palestinians for decades.

  • Che's definition of activism
    • Sorry Sin Nombre but Che's story shows precisely the importance of ideology and politics - it is what liberated millions of Cubans from a brutal US backed dictator, who murdered tens of thousands of Cubans, who turned Cuba into a playground for the rich at the expense of the ordinary people.

      Che's ideology and politics, along with those of Fidel's and the rest of the July 26 Movement, is why Cuba now has a free health care system, one which deploys more doctors around the world than the World Health Organisation, one which has given hundreds of scholarships to not only poor Black American students to become doctors but to thousands of poor students from through out Latin America (and if it wasn't for the Cuban medical system one of my friends would not be alive today).

      Che's ideology and politics is why Cuba has a free education system and a higher literacy rate than the USA.

      None of this, along with many other things, would have occurred if it wasn't for the ideology and politics that Che fought for, along with the rest of the July 26 movement.

    • Hi Dan, I would dispute your assertion that the concept of a "vanguard" means that being "beholden to one sort of supreme leader". Lenin's concept of the "vanguard", in its simplest terms, simply referred to the most ideologically advanced class conscious elements of the working class. He believed that it was necessary to build a party which included the most advanced elements of the working class (ie. the vanguard) in order to advance the struggle for socialism. Lenin argued that it was necessary to build "combat party" made up of the most advance elements of the working class, which could actively combat ideologically and organisationally the bourgeois who already had many parties of their own who advanced their class interests. If you are interested in understanding Lenin's ideas around this better, the best book on this subject in my opinion is Paul Le Blanc's book, "Lenin and the Revolutionary Party".

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