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A random photograph

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The other night I went to a movie in downtown New York, and afterward a large group including filmmakers and friends went to a bar. In the garden out back, I met Badia Dwaik, of the Hebron group Youth Against Settlements.

Well, I was preparing a post about Hebron, and I got out my computer to show Dwaik a video I’d taken there in February so he could interpret it for me.

But when my video library came up, he pointed at another video I’d taken– with the still image above.

“That’s Issa Amro, of Youth Against Settlements,” he said– the man speaking.

“Yes, I know Issa.”

“Issa was arrested the other day. He was in jail for three days. The Israelis didn’t want him going to Italy to talk about our work. And that guy on the left is in jail too right now.”

“The journalist with the taperecorder?”

“Yes. His name is Mosaab. And you see that guy on the right?”

“The blond?”

“Yes. He’s Danish. He was attacked on a bicycle trip in the West Bank.”

“Wait; he was the Danish cyclist clubbed by that Israeli officer?!


The famous case, in April, captured on film, two months after my picture above.

I happened to photograph these three men at the opening of a wonderful exhibit of photographs by Palestinian newspeople.  The exhibit was at a Hebron elementary school. Several European governments helped sponsor the exhibit. A Spanish consular official was at the opening, just to the left of the three men. 

I offer this photograph today, a random image from my travels in the region, as evidence of the iron fist of occupation. If you are there, you are vulnerable. Everyone is affected.

(P.S. I had another beer and then caught the train home to my place in the Hudson Valley, reflecting how lucky we are to live in this country. But Issa Amro and Badia Dwaik were born into an occupation our government supports and have had no choice but to struggle. Can we sacrifice some small measure of our own comfort to try to bring freedom to that land?)

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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15 Responses

  1. seafoid on June 29, 2012, 12:22 pm

    Philip Stephens in the FT
    With some substitutions – Israel for Eurozone and Zionism for the EU

    “Unlike the Soviet Union, Israel is not predestined to collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. Zionist leaders, however, need to recognise that there is nothing immutable about Israel nor, for that matter, about Zionism . These institutions are the product of historical circumstance and political vision. Today’s world is not the one imagined by the founding fathers of Zionism nor by the architects of occupation.

  2. Susie Kneedler on June 29, 2012, 12:33 pm

    “Can we sacrifice some small measure of our own comfort to try to bring freedom to that land?”
    Yes. Thanks, Phil, for such a moving reminder.

  3. Citizen on June 29, 2012, 12:42 pm

    And this is the country, Phil, we live in with so much freedom and opportunity–nothing immutable about America either:

    Washington Is Worth a War: Obama, Iran, and the Israel Lobby
    By Stephen J. Sniegoski

    When, in 1593, Henry of Navarre converted from Protestantism to
    Catholicism in order to become king of a united France, he is reputed to
    have said: “Paris is worth a mass.” For President Obama, as Robert Wright
    points out in his article, “Obama’s Drift Toward War With Iran” in “The
    Atlantic” magazine (June 14), his re-election to the presidency would seem
    to be worth a war. Wright, a senior editor of “The Atlantic,” writes: “The
    most undercovered story in Washington is how President Obama, under the
    influence of election-year politics, is letting America drift toward war
    with Iran.” Wright notes that “There are things Obama could do to greatly
    increase the chances of a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear
    problem, but he seems to have decided that doing them would bring political
    blowback that would reduce his chances of re-election.” And the blowback
    Obama fears is “largely from Bibi Netanyahu, AIPAC, and other ‘pro-Israel’
    voices.” In short, Obama fears the Israel Lobby more than he opposes a war
    that would be unnecessary and also of unknown, but possibly immense,

    It is apparent that Obama does not want war with Iran, and he is certainly
    being pilloried by neocons and other members of the Israel Lobby along with
    Republican hawks for his alleged appeasement of that country, but although
    he may eschew outright war measures, the fear of the Israel Lobby causes
    his administration to pursue an inflexible, pro-Israel hard-line diplomacy
    toward Iran on the nuclear issue that does not include any real quid pro
    quo; the diplomatic process has been simply geared to demanding that Iran
    make concessions, with no reciprocation being offered by the United States
    and its allies.

    The United States is unwilling to offer Iran any significant relief from
    the draconian sanctions imposed on it “even in exchange for Iranian
    concessions that would have moved the world further away from war,” in
    Wright’s words. Most significantly, “Those concessions would have included
    Iran’s ceasing production of uranium enriched to 20-percent levels.”
    Weapons grade uranium is 90 percent enriched, but Western officials have
    been expressed the dire concern that the 20 percent enrichment version,
    which is used for medical research purposes, could quickly be converted
    into nuclear weapons-grade material. (Much lower enrichment levels are used
    for peaceful nuclear power.) Such an Iranian concession would thus be in
    line with America’s near-term goal of preventing the 20 percent enrichment
    and would reduce the chances of war. Even if Romney should be elected
    president, it would be politically more difficult for him to launch an
    attack, if he so desired; and, if should he think otherwise, it would
    provide him with more justification not to do it.

    Wright’s reasoning appears to be perfectly sound. President Obama
    definitely would seem to have the power to greatly reduce the chances of
    war with Iran, if he so desired. And Wright also is on the mark when he
    labels Obama’s willingness to improve his election chances by “imperiling
    peace and America’s security” as a “little scandalous, ” and that it is
    even “more scandalous” that people in the “Washington establishment” do not
    complain about it. But Wright also adds the highly questionable claim that
    the blowback Obama fears “is probably less forbidding than he assumes. And
    the political upside of successful statesmanship may be greater than he

    However, though the Israel Lobby is not all-powerful, its staunch
    opposition would be sufficient to tip the scales against Obama in a close
    election. It should be pointed out that the only two recent US presidents
    who lost re-election bids-Jimmy Carter (1980) and George H.W. Bush
    (1992)-had taken positions antithetical to those of the Israel Lobby and
    drew its full ire. In short, in political terms Obama’s fear of the Israel
    Lobby is perfectly reasonable for a politician concerned about winning
    elections, which would seem to be the case for most politicians. And it is
    obvious that almost all elected politicians act in this manner toward the
    Israel Lobby-as clearly indicated by the votes in Congress and the extreme
    pro-Israel rhetoric of most of the Republican presidential candidates this

    And to make the political power of Israel crystal clear to Obama,
    multi-billionaire Zionist Sheldon Adelson, who during the Republican
    primaries had single-handedly kept Newt Gingrich in the race, has pledged to
    spend $100 million or more to defeat President Obama. Adelson is an
    ultra-hard-line Likudnik hawk, but Obama must realize that there are many
    more less-ardent pro-Israel magnates who would come out openly against his
    re-election if he should dare to make an open effort to establish peace
    with Iran, currently Israel’s foremost enemy.

    Moreover, a contingency which Wright neglects to consider is that if it
    appears that Obama is falling behind Romney in the polls, which is
    completely possible given the state of the economy (and some current polls
    actually show Romney slightly ahead in the nation-wide popular vote),
    involvement in a war with Iran could likely enable him to snatch victory
    from the jaws of defeat-the American people patriotically uniting behind the
    President in wartime.

    Phil Weiss, a very courageous American Jew who dares to openly oppose the
    Israel Lobby, looks at Wright’s article in a very different light. He
    finds the very fact that a mainstream individual in a mainstream publication
    would dare to make mention of the Israel Lobby to be an issue of utmost
    significance. He writes: “I believe this is a new consensus: outspoken
    Americans are actually building a new understanding in the global discourse,
    that the United States is hamstrung by the special relationship with

    If there were such a consensus, Obama and other politicians would begin to
    stand up against the policies advocated by the Israel Lobby. But the fact
    is that nothing approaching a “consensus” of “outspoken Americans”
    opposing the Israel Lobby has emerged, as Wright appropriately notes when
    he refers to the issue of Iran and the Israel Lobby as the “most
    undercovered story in Washington.”

    So it would appear that President Obama will continue his policy of “drift
    toward war with Iran,” at least until after the November election. Should
    he be re-elected, perhaps he would change in his second term, but he still
    must consider the effect such a move would have on the political success of
    his second term, his legacy, and, as a relatively young man, his career
    after the presidency, all of which could be seriously jeopardized by his
    taking positions that run afoul of the Israel Lobby.

    Stephen Sniegoski

    Our votes in the Fall won’t matter at all.

    • Keith on June 29, 2012, 7:27 pm

      CITIZEN- You quoted Stephen Sniegoski as saying that “It is apparent that Obama does not want war with Iran….” Apparent to who? Actions speak louder than words, and the facts on the ground tell me that Obama is perhaps the greatest war monger of all. Jeez, how many wars and covert ops are we in now? How many regime changes? All the while his supporters and apologists keep insisting that he is a man of peace held hostage in the oval office, forced to put together kill lists. This is self-deception raised to an art form. Here is what Ron Jacobs wrote in 2005:

      “Let’s take a look at just a couple of recent statements by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. On Oct. 19, 2005, Rice told a Senate committee that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were part of a plan to “redesign” the Middle East. She also added that U.S. troops could be in Iraq for 10 or more years. The reactions to these statements from the senators present varied, although none seemed to oppose the overall strategy presented by Ms. Rice. One GOP senator, George V. Voinovich of Ohio, noted: “We have to level with the American people,” he said. “This is another world war.” Voinovich, who opposed the appointment of John Bolton to the United Nations because Bolton alienated potential U.S. allies in its war for millennial world hegemony, was not so much asking for a change in policy as he was asking for the White House to stop misrepresenting its intentions.

      The senator’s concern was seconded from the other side of the aisle by Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Now, to some folks opposed to the war, Obama is a potential ally. However, like Voinovich, it appears that he is not opposed to the project to remake the world (especially those parts where there is oil) in Washington’s image; he is opposed to the current administration’s unilateralism. “This broadening of the mission is disturbing and difficult for us in the Senate to deal with as it requires a leap of faith on our part that a mission of that breadth can be accomplished in a reasonable time frame,” Mr. Obama said. Notice that his concern is with the time frame involved in dominating the world, not with the underlying philosophy that says such a project is the right thing to do. In summation, Washington does intend to change the governments in the Middle East that it opposes. Syria and Iran are the next two countries on the list, and any excuse to change their governments will be utilized, no matter how contrived or flimsy.”

      • ColinWright on June 30, 2012, 3:24 am

        …Obama’s statement sounds like a fine, moderate attempt to put a brake on the rather sweeping ambitions of the Bush administration. I certainly don’t read any evidence that Obama was a war-monger into it.

        I have few concerns about Obama’s preferences when it comes to the Middle East. It’s just that he’s so easily bullied that what he would prefer to do is irrelevant. He winds up doing exactly what the hawks would do themselves. They just make him do it. Witness our caving on settlements, our increasingly bellicose sabre-rattling, our bonus packages for Israel, our…

        I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Obama himself order a strike on Iran. And it only makes it worse that he will be doing it out of cowardice rather than conviction. At least with Bush one had the meager compensation he actually wanted to do what he did. That’s not much, but…

        It all just goes to show that in terms of the results, weakness and evil can be indistinguishable. Obama isn’t a hawk — but he might as well be. He’s too gutless and politically inept to be anything else.

      • Keith on June 30, 2012, 12:27 pm

        COLLIN WRIGHT- “…Obama’s statement sounds like a fine, moderate attempt to put a brake on the rather sweeping ambitions of the Bush administration. I certainly don’t read any evidence that Obama was a war-monger into it.”

        I am referring to Obama as a war-monger based upon his actions as President, which I briefly allude to. “Jeez, how many wars and covert ops are we in now? How many regime changes?” I don’t recall a period of US history when Uncle Sam was as engaged in war-mongering as we are now. As for “a fine, moderate attempt to put a brake on the rather sweeping ambitions of the Bush administration,” as President, Obama has pursued the “sweeping ambitions of the Bush administration” and then some. The quote was simply to supply a little background to show that Obama has always been a loyal supporter of empire, not some do-gooder forced to do this against his will, a ludicrous assessment in my view.

        “He winds up doing exactly what the hawks would do themselves. They just make him do it.”

        This, Collin, is exactly the type of thinking that I am referring to. What evidence do you have that Obama is not exactly what he appears to be based upon an honest evaluation of his actions and the implications? How long are you going to drink the Kool Aid? Obama is a slick lawyer who uses ambiguous phraseology to allow his followers to project their hopes onto him. Forget what he says, it’s all bullshit designed to elicit a favorable reaction from the target audience. Keep your eyes focused on the facts on the ground. If you do that, you will realize that Obama is Wall Street’s greatest asset, and the 99% worst nightmare come true.

      • ColinWright on June 30, 2012, 1:31 pm

        “This, Collin, is exactly the type of thinking that I am referring to. What evidence do you have that Obama is not exactly what he appears to be based upon an honest evaluation of his actions and the implications? How long are you going to drink the Kool Aid?”

        It’s hardly ‘drinking the kool-aid.’ My contempt for Obama is more profound than for any US president we’ve had. Even Andrew Johnson was at least reasonably brave, if incredibly foolish.

        Anyway, of course Obama could have been faking it all ever since his days at the Alakhiwuii School for the Nice Children of the Comfortably Rich. Philip Weiss could be a Mossad Mole.

        However, I don’t think so. In fact, I’m certain Obama is sincerely liberal. He’s just easily frightened and utterly out of his depth. I have not logically proved that, nor do I feel inclined to try to do so, but I am sure of it. Call it faith.

  4. annie on June 29, 2012, 12:58 pm

    phil, MW posted about Isso’s arrest, from contributors Popular Struggle Coordination Committee “Issa Amro, coordinator of Youth Against Settlements, arrested at border on way to speaking tour”

  5. ColinWright on June 30, 2012, 3:14 am

    Travels in the region…

    This raises a point. If one attempts to enter Israel, and they decide not to let you in, where do they send you back to?

    It matters, because if they just send you back to wherever you came from, then the logical precaution to take would be to first go to Cyprus or someplace you wouldn’t mind visiting anyway — but if they’re just going to pack me on a plane back to the US regardless, then I might as well fly direct from here.

    Then on the same subject, what can one risk taking? Obviously not anything you’ll be broken-hearted to see maliciously destroyed — but for example…

    There’s a book called Guide to Palestine or something to that effect that I’d love to take — but the title seems like a good way to draw unwelcome attention from the good folks at Ben Gurion.

    It may not be entirely irrelevant that I’m gentile rather than Jewish.

    • homingpigeon on June 30, 2012, 10:18 am

      I can give a small detail of info in international air transport law. If you are already checked into a country past immigration and then deported, then you can be made to pay for your ticket. However if you are stopped and turned back before your passport is stamped by immigration, the airline is responsible for taking you back to where they brought you from. The airline has the right to try to recover the funds from you, but from the point of view of the rejecting country, the airline is responsible for getting you out of there on the next flight in any case. This is why visas are checked at airline counters and European airlines are also getting into the business of bumping passengers who they suspect might be deported.

      • ColinWright on June 30, 2012, 1:44 pm

        Thanks. So if I fly in from Larnaca or whatever Cyprus’ main airport is, and Israel turns me back at immigration, I only go back to Larnaca? If I manage to displease the authorities once within the Zionist entity, then I go back to the US — potentially on my own dime?

  6. Ismail on June 30, 2012, 5:46 pm

    Colin, Keith –

    Who cares about Obama’s psychology? Who cares if he’s “truly a liberal”? His actions are all that should matter. If he is frustrated progressive just aching to let his inner Dr. Jekyll free, or a standard-issue amoral corporatist flunky, his political behavior is all that need concern us.

    Even discussing this unknowable question – “what’s in his heart?” – is a useless distraction, an example of the sort of naive psychologism that passes for political analysis in many quarters.

    That said, I’ll put my money on “ideology-free opportunist”.

    • ColinWright on July 1, 2012, 3:45 am

      As you say, it doesn’t matter what’s in Obama’s heart. Much — occasionally he manages to find some avenue where no one is intimidating him, and then manages to do something utterly idiotic.

      Unfortunately, his opponent is an even more dire threat. Romney has made it pretty clear he fully intends to refer all questions regarding the Middle East to Israel — which actually manages to beat Bush II, let alone Obama. Even aside from the morality of the policy we’re going to follow as a result, we’re going to get objectively screwed. We’ll wind up mired in Iran or Syria or Egypt or all three on Israel’s behalf.

      So it’s a tough call — but I’m going to have to stifle the gag reflex and mark down ‘Obama’ in four months. I don’t think I can manage a bumper sticker, though. This really is the worst electoral choice I can recall. There have never been two such thoroughly nauseating candidates in the ring at the same time.

      • Citizen on July 1, 2012, 4:32 pm

        Obama’s like a pimple on Truman’s heart, and Truman himself is a pimple; nothing has changed regarding US domestic cum foreign politics since 1947.

    • Keith on July 1, 2012, 7:26 pm

      ISMAIL- “Who cares about Obama’s psychology?”

      Obama supporters who keep making excuses for his behavior saying that he is being ‘forced’ to engage in various misdeeds because of overwhelming pressure from external forces. The implication being that if by some miracle these forces could be neutralized, the ‘real’ Obama would be unleashed to perform progressive miracles. I brought this up because I see no evidence that the inner Obama is significantly different than what his actions suggest. As I indicated, actions speak louder than words.

      So no, I’m not interested in Obama’s psychology. I am, however, interested in the psychology of the citizenry in general, and Obama supporters in particular as it relates to prospects for change. How is it possible for people to continue to vote for someone who continues to stab them in the back? Why do people refuse to consider to vote Third Party, preferring to vote for a candidate who represents Wall Street and the rest of corporate America? It goes deeper than saying that the Third Party candidate has no chance and is a wasted vote. Voting for real change is never a wasted vote. Protesting at the polls seems more honorable than voting for someone who is screwing you. Revolution? Shit, you can’t get people to vote their own best interests if it involves going up against the dominant elites. Better to piss and moan about a lack of choice. Jeez, why don’t the fat-cats support a man/woman of the people who will tax the rich and corporations, reduce the military, etc.? Go figure. Until that happens, there must be a thousand reasons to vote for either one of the corporate candidates thereby providing electoral legitimacy to business as usual.

      Folks, don’t mind me. I always get cranky around election time as I survey the prospects for change.

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