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An all-consuming occupation

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On June 6, 2012, the Jerusalem Development Authority launched its fourth annual Jerusalem Festival of Light in the Old City. The previous year’s show had been a resounding success, according to sponsors quoted in the Jerusalem Post, with over 250,000 visitors enjoying “art installations bursting with light and 3-D movies splayed across the city’s ancient walls and buildings.” In 2011, the Muslim Quarter of the Old City was included within the festival’s purview for the first time, with Damascus Gate retooled as the backdrop for a massive video projection. For Israeli Jews, who represented the vast majority of attendees, the event was an opportunity to visit Old City sites which many of them deem dangerous and out of bounds, even in daylight hours: “The festival will awaken tourism inside of Jerusalem and encourage people to come to places they wouldn’t normally go to, like east Jerusalem, where there are beautiful places,” the chairman of the Jerusalem Development Authority, Moshe Leon, told the Post. He hastened to add that “the Authority had the full cooperation of the Arab merchants…who were enthusiastic about the influx of tourists.” [1] Despite such assurances, most Palestinian shopkeepers in the Old City elected to close down for the duration of the 2012 nighttime event. Shutters were locked and streets largely unpopulated by locals as Israeli art mavens took the prompt from the festival brochure to “wander among the picturesque alleyways, among spectacular works from Israel and abroad.”

Missing from the official literature was any mention of the week’s historic anniversary — June 2012 marking the passage of 45 years since the onset of the Israeli military occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967. (“No connection,” I was told by visitors.) As such, the festival participated in a greater Israeli silence, as noted by left-wing Israeli writer Noam Sheizaf: “Last weekend, Israeli newspapers devoted most of their pages to the [thirtieth anniversary of the] Lebanon war. Yet its obvious lesson — that the Palestinian issue cannot be resolved by force, nor can it be made to disappear — was hardly discussed. Nor was any reference made to the Six-Day War’s anniversary. Israelis have all but forgotten the Palestinians. The longest military occupation in the world is entering its forty-sixth year amidst a deafening silence.” [2]

This silence notwithstanding, the tourist festival was arguably a fitting tribute to the 1967 anniversary. For in fact, the occupation was a tourist event of sorts. Or rather, it was experienced as such by many Israeli Jews — an experience that can be traced to the very first days after the Israeli conquest on June 10, 1967. Indeed, any Jew or Palestinian who lived through the war, particularly a resident of Jerusalem, can recall the massive flow of Israelis into the newly occupied Palestinian territories in the war’s immediate aftermath. The Israeli press of this period described surging Israeli tourist crowds in Jerusalem’s Old City, the rush to buy souvenirs in Bethlehem and inexpensive appliances in Gaza City, and the collective wonder at access to places that had been off limits to Israeli passport holders for nearly two decades. Tourism was a crucial avenue by which Israeli civilians experienced their newfound status as occupiers.

The Camera and the Gun

Israeli tourism in sizable numbers began immediately after the cessation of violence. Crowds streamed into the Old City with “curio shops doing a roaring trade” and soldiers “wander[ing] around with a gun in one hand and a camera in the other.” Over the course of subsequent days, newspapers would describe “hastily written notices, announcing organized tours of old Jerusalem in the near future” and announce the impending availability of luxury hotels in Palestinian resort towns. [3] On June 17, it was reported that some 350,000 persons had already “walked to the [Western] wall,” the edifice holy to Jews as the last remnant of the Second Temple, including “old people, and the lame, mothers with infants in carriages and a multitude of children.”[4] By the end of June, private tourist companies were operating in “liberated Jerusalem” and advertising their tours with the promise that “owners of accordions who are prepared to play Hebrew songs will travel for free.” [5] Israeli newspapers were flush with descriptions and photographs of the enthusiastic throngs: “Everyone who can has taken a holiday and come to Jerusalem, and spends it packed in a solid…mass of people who cannot see anything except the upper parts of the houses. Soldiers on leave carry their Uzis over their heads so that nobody will set them off by accident.” [6]

Officially, Israeli civilians were banned from the remainder of the West Bank in the first week after the armistice. Yet the tourist crowds were not deterred. The state sought to quell their numbers, fearful of the deleterious economic and social effects that a massive visitor influx might generate. State officials also tried to dissuade with accounts of the territories’ poor infrastructure, warning that water was not potable and the roads unsuited for mass transportation. Yet despite such admonitions and the continued travel ban, Israeli tourists swelled the pedestrian ranks in the streets of numerous West Bank locales. The ban was lifted gradually, and on June 25 the Jerusalem-Bethlehem-Gush Etzion corridor was officially opened to much national fanfare: “The Israelis are coming!” one headline, in the Hebrew daily Ma‘ariv, proclaimed — the arrival of tourists to Gush Etzion, the cornerstone of the “Greater Israel” settlement project, preceding that of Jewish settlers by several months.

The Israeli Ministry of Tourism was quick to respond. In the first week of the occupation, it began a “refresher course” for licensed tour guides in the “new territory” and announced plans to update its promotional material. Hebrew-language guides for the Palestinian territories had not yet been published, so the Hebrew press assumed the role, outlining the proper etiquette for visiting Arabs in their homes, what to wear on such visits (avoid mini-skirts, for example), how to consume the honorific coffee (“one should drink drop by drop…one doesn’t thank for coffee”) and how to greet one’s host in appropriate Arabic. [7] That Israeli tourists might not be welcomed into private Palestinian interiors was not addressed by the Israeli media, the trope of hospitality displacing that of occupation. [8]

A “Shopping Shabbat” in Gaza

While Israeli itineraries and agendas were varied (some flocked to biblical sites, while others focused on hiking and natural landscapes), nearly everyone, it seems, was eager to buy. The Israeli press of this period is filled with accounts of pent-up demand that was only partly frustrated by restrictions on Israeli purchases of West Bank goods: “In the bazaars behind the Damascus Gate,” the Jerusalem Post related on June 26, 1967, “through which thousands of tourists wound their way to reach the Church of the Holy Sepulcher — the local populations scrupulously refused to trade against Israeli or foreign hard currency. The Jerusalem Post was the only item that could be bought with Israeli money. The magnificent figs and great variety of spices were ‘out of bounds’ for Israelis and tourists. Mayor Kollek promised that this tourist problem, too, would be shortly overcome.”

But the press had already reported shelves stripped clean of souvenirs and “cola and chocolate sold in large quantities.” [9] Indeed, as the Jerusalem Post reported on June 26 from the southern West Bank: “Most of the tourists went shopping with a vengeance in spite of the official ban, buying up fruit, vegetables, glassware, jars, chewing gum and pencils with Israeli currency.” Jerusalem’s Old City was the initial locus of the shopping frenzy. Mass consumption gradually spread to other West Bank locales, as Israeli visitors “descended” on “statues, soap and the rest,” [10] in what one press photo caption referred to as a “shopping invasion.” Food critics in the Hebrew-language press documented the best place to drink European-style coffee in the Old City, suggested where to buy “Indian dates” and Italian shoes, and recommended the best restaurants in Hebron and Bethlehem, most of which were already mobbed with Israelis. “When we got to Bethlehem,” one reporter noted on June 22, “we saw all of Dizengoff [Street in Tel Aviv] eating hummus and pickles.”[11] Israeli commentators were already bemoaning the lack of “authentic” Arab goods in Palestinian markets, lamenting that most had been imported from China.

Israeli consumer desires fluctuated. In the early days of the tourist craze, the Israeli demand for souvenirs, culinary delights and luxury goods was high. This period was followed by a run on household goods and appliances, which could be purchased at a fraction of their Israeli prices. “First we bought transistors, cosmetics, straw baskets and men’s shirts,” wrote one journalist a month after the armistice, “and even English salt at a pharmacy. Today, the prices have already gone up a little, but you still won’t find your friends at Israeli stores. They [West Bank stores] are still tens of percentages away from the Israeli prices.” [12] In mid-July, this reporter estimated, the “scope of Israeli shopping in the West Bank” was valued at 25 million liras per month. When Gaza City opened to Israeli visitors on July 21 (the remainder of the Strip would be opened at a later date), a headline announced that “Thirty-Five Thousand Israelis Spent a ‘Shopping Shabbat’ in Gaza.” The article was vivid in its description: “The Israelis fell on the shops…and bought everything, almost without comprehension. The stream of buying mounted quickly to the extent that, on the outskirts of town, one saw porters bearing goods from the warehouses and apartments of the merchants.” [13]

For some press commentators, this consumptive outburst was a source of national shame. “What kind of spiritual drive has pushed these men and women…to buy, buy, buy?” they mused. “I have no objection,” another noted, “to a population denied the right to visit certain places for 20 years. But must we descend on every shop to buy things, whether we need them or not, as if we’re a country in need or in hunger?” [14]In other accounts, the Israeli consumer appetite told a political story, evidencing Israel’s benign intentions as occupier. “For three weeks,” wrote the Jerusalem Post on June 30, “they [the Palestinians] looked on as Israelis in increasing numbers flocked to [the Old City], and found them lacking the arrogance of conquerors, a nation of curious sightseers and seekers of modest bargains.” In this account, Israeli consumer desires were thought to belie Palestinian fears of a repressive occupation.

Arcade Revelry

Jerusalem’s 2012 Festival of Light made no mention of this tourist history — a history of Israeli itineraries which lasted well into the 1980s, although with much lesser intensity, to be interrupted by the first Palestinian intifada and then to return, in fits and starts, after the Oslo accords of 1993. The outbreak of the second intifada in 2000, coupled with the rightward political shift in the Israeli population, would interrupt such itineraries again — with tourism only resuming slowly, and in limited numbers, enabled by the sense of security that the separation barrier gradually instilled in many Israelis (fulfilling Ehud Barak’s promise of “us here, them there”). Today, those Israeli tourists who return to the Old City’s restaurants and souvenir shops on occasional Saturdays do so with a sense of the diminished presence and proximity of Palestinians under occupation (a rubric which, in the imagination of almost all Israeli Jews, precludes Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents).

Instead of reflecting on the past, or on the political realities that frame their visit, 2012 festival organizers and participants revel in the touristic present — in the municipality’s ability to remake a Jerusalem cartography that most Israeli Jews still associate chiefly with political violence. One Israeli blogger paid tribute to the festival this way: “While recently the Damascus Gate has been in the news as a site of protest, tonight it was lit up like a giant pinball machine.” He meant the expression literally — “Damascus Pinball” was the video image selected for projection upon the giant passageway for the 2012 festival, the flippers controlled by festival-goers. [15]The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz described the scene this way: “Techno music, punctuated by old-fashioned ‘pings’ every time a point is scored in the game being projected on the ancient stones, pierces the midnight air — adding, as if it were needed, an additional touch of surrealism to the scene.” [16] And so the occupation enters its forty-sixth year.

For more news and analysis on the Middle East visit MERIP’s Middle East Report Online here.


[1] Jerusalem Post, May 26, 2011.
[2] Noam Sheizaf, “No End in Sight,” +972, June 5, 2012.
[3] Jerusalem Post, June 11, 1967.
[4] Jerusalem Post, June 18, 1967.
[5] Ma‘ariv, June 25, 1967. [Hebrew]
[6] Jerusalem Post, July 3, 1967.
[7] Ma‘ariv, June 25, 1967. [Hebrew]
[8] Neither this instructional idiom, nor Israeli tourist desire for intimacy with Palestinian locales, was historically unprecedented. Rather, it can be traced to the early decades of the twentieth century. In the 1920s Hebrew-language travel diaries of David Benvenisti, a celebrated Zionist geographer and natural historian, the author instructs his readers (themselves members of Palestine’s Jewish community) on the proper way of entering a Bedouin tent and greeting the sheikh, how and when to drink the ceremonial coffee, and what to discuss in fireside conversations. See Rebecca L. Stein, “Traveling Zion: Hiking and Settler-Nationalism in Pre-1948 Palestine,”Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 11/3 (Fall 2009).
[9] Jerusalem Post, June 11, 1967.
[10] Yediot Aharonot, June 21, 1967. [Hebrew]
[11] Yediot Aharonot, June 21, 1967. [Hebrew]
[12] Yediot Aharonot, July 14, 1967. [Hebrew]
[13] Yediot Aharonot, July 14, 1967. [Hebrew]
[14] Yediot Aharonot, July 7, 1967.
[15] A picture of the illuminated Damascus Gate is halfway down this web page:
[16] Ha’aretz, June 12, 2012.

Rebecca L. Stein

Rebecca L. Stein is Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University and the author of (most recently) 'Digital Militarism: Israel’s Occupation in the Social Media Age' (Stanford University Press, 2015) with Adi Kuntsman.

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51 Responses

  1. Shmuel on June 27, 2012, 1:12 pm

    Great article. I think tourism also plays a central role in Israeli perceptions of peace: visiting the pyramids or Petra, and the idea of being able to travel to Europe over land. Most of the complaints about the “cold peace” with Egypt focused on the lack of Egyptian tourism to Israel.

  2. seafoid on June 27, 2012, 1:15 pm

    “Israelis have all but forgotten the Palestinians.”

    I think they try to forget about them but that they appear to Israelis just before the dawn and and at all times to insomniacs.
    any conscious Israeli should recognise the Palestinians every time he or she clocks a soldier or watches the news . The Palestinians are invisible but they are everywhere the Military Industrial complex is present
    the funny thing with the occupation is that although Jerusalem is supposed to be one city united under Zionism most West Jerusalem Jews don’t ever go to East Jerusalem. The only Jews who venture East are the settlers. And they are nuts.

  3. chet on June 27, 2012, 3:55 pm

    Off-topic but how come no mention at this site is made of the article in The Independent concerning the damning UK report regarding the imprisonment of Palestinian children. The headline:

    UK ready to take on Israel over fate of children clapped in irons

    Report funded by Foreign Office details claims of routine abuse for Palestinian youths

    • Hostage on June 27, 2012, 5:16 pm

      Report funded by Foreign Office details claims of routine abuse for Palestinian youths

      Thanks, I had not seen it. I think this is the page where you can download the full report:

      • American on June 27, 2012, 6:38 pm

        @ Hostage

        I’d like to know if there is in fact anything the UK can do about it….in the UK papers it said they would double their “Lobbying’ efforts with Israel on this. We know how much effect lobbying Israel would have so what do you figure the UK might/could do above lobbying?

      • Hostage on June 27, 2012, 11:32 pm

        @ Hostage . . . . I’d like to know if there is in fact anything the UK can do about it

        The Foreign and Colonial Office could simply stop offering visiting Israelis special mission immunity and start arresting the individuals who are ultimately responsible for these criminal policies and practices

        The UK government has already done a little something just by putting this information in the public domain under its own imprimatur. The pressure on the new ICC Prosecutor to honor Palestine’s declaration and to take action on the situation is growing steadily. Even if the UK decides not to make a formal referral, the Prosecutor still could initiate an investigation proprio motu on the basis of any information in the public domain about crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.

        The UK government has suspended the application of its new statutory procedures by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) , and simply granted visiting Israelis “special mission immunity” for the duration of their trips to the UK. So the new statute hasn’t actually been applied. If it had, it might have resulted in some rather embarrassing arrests. It’s difficult to see how the DPP can avoid taking legal action when the Foreign and Colonial Office is publicly sponsoring studies, conducted by acknowledged experts, which contain prima facie evidence of serious war crimes and crimes against humanity. See for example Changes to UK law didn’t protect Tzipi Livni

      • ColinWright on June 28, 2012, 3:26 am

        “so what do you figure the UK might/could do above lobbying?”

        Sever relations, withdraw recognition of the Israeli state, and seize all Israeli assets on behalf of Palestine. Declare anyone occupying any Israeli government post persona non grata in the United Kingdom. Introduce measures into the UN General Assembly proposing the admission of Palestine and the expulsion of Israel. Recognize Palestine. Impose a trade embargo. Announce that the Israeli Olympic team will not be permitted to enter Britain for this year’s Olympic Games. Equip all of Israel’s neighbors with state-of-the-art air defense systems operated by British personnel.

        …since you asked.

    • annie on June 27, 2012, 5:41 pm

      thanks chet and seafoid. we should do a followup on this. earlier in this guardian report from january

      Several British parliamentary delegations have witnessed child hearings at Ofer over the past year

      wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the same people.

    • Sumud on June 27, 2012, 8:48 pm

      It’s being reported in Fairfax press in Australia:

      The Age: British lawyers condemn Israeli injustice on Palestinian minors

      Unambiguously critical and while evil ziobot Mark Regev is given a paragraph, Israel’s mealy-mouthed excuses are dismissed.

      • ColinWright on June 28, 2012, 4:20 am

        “…evil ziobot Mark Regev…”

        Some of these guys really are enough to make you ardently hope for an afterlife. Either (a) you’ll get to go the happy place, or (b) at least you’ll get to watch them getting their just desserts.

        Edit: I suppose hell would be watching them not get it. I can see it now. An eternity of having to listen to Mark Regev say ‘and I’m sure I speak for Colin here…’ whilst I am gagged, tied, and speechless beside him on the stage.

    • chet on June 28, 2012, 2:10 pm

      From DCI – Palestine:

      “Detention – During the reporting period [the past ten years], an estimated 7,000 children, some as young as 12, have been prosecuted in Israeli military courts and held in military detention. The report highlights credible and persistent allegations of treatment that violates the absolute prohibition against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The report also documents the continued practice of imprisoning Palestinian children in detention facilities inside Israel, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

      The inhabitants of this odious country have abandoned all sense of decency and morality.

  4. seafoid on June 27, 2012, 5:31 pm

    The Ottomans left behind the old city walls . The Arabs left the Dome of the Rock. the Byzantines left the church of the holy sepulchre. The Zionists will leave behind the shopping centres.

    • giladg on June 27, 2012, 6:56 pm

      On their first round in Jerusalem, the Jews left behind remnents from Herods Temple commonly called the Second Temple. A shopping center has been left behind. It’s called the Cardo, from the Second Temple period. So the correct response to seafoid is, been there, done that. And by the way, the Ten Commandments, the tablets themselves, may have been left behind as well. Now we talking seafoid.

      • Hostage on June 28, 2012, 6:13 am

        On their first round in Jerusalem, the Jews left behind remnents from Herods Temple commonly called the Second Temple.

        How can the “Jews” have left behind anything of Herod’s? Many of the ancient sources describe him as an “Edomite” or an “uncircumcised Arab”? See for example the discussion on that subject by the members of the Sanhedrin in Nodet, Etienne, Jewish features in the “Slavonic” ’War’ of Josephus, Internationales Josephus-Kolloquium, Amsterdam 2000 (2001) 105-131

    • Sumud on June 27, 2012, 8:54 pm

      The Zionists will leave behind the shopping centres.

      On their first round in Jerusalem, the Jews left behind remnents from Herods Temple commonly called the Second Temple.

      Seafoid mentions the contribution of zionists, not jews.

      And seafood: it’s much worse than shopping centres. It’s the apartheid wall that scars the landscape and the ugly settlements defacing the hilltops of Palestine; little robot houses for little robot zionists, coveting a land that belongs to someone else.

      • ColinWright on June 28, 2012, 3:34 am

        That wall is going to puzzle archeologists ten thousand years from now. I wonder what they’ll speculate it was for? I mean, look at it on a map. It’s nonsensical from any point of view. Doesn’t delineate anything resembling a natural border. Doesn’t serve any apparent agricultural purpose. Makes no sense from a military point of view. What could it be for?

        I suppose some bright young spark will notice the different pattern of the ruins on one side of the wall and carbon-date them all to a period of forty years or so around the beginning of the Second Millenium C.E. (not that they’ll be using that dating system). Then they’ll be starting to guess right.

        They might even hit upon the connection between these ruins and the nuclear holocaust that destroyed so many of the records for that era. Probably not, though.

      • seafoid on June 28, 2012, 4:53 am

        Anthropologists will link it to the time the Jewish religion dropped “next year in Jerusalem” as the key to their belief system and adopted more local values.

      • seafoid on June 28, 2012, 4:54 am


        The houses will be available for Palestinian refugees.
        But they are hideous. Florida suburbia in the Holy land

      • Rizla on June 29, 2012, 6:03 am

        Seafoid: “McMansions” for “Settlements” is what we’re talking about, right? A stucco USA American dream, sort of? Please fill me in. A strange lack of aesthetics for buildings for the Settlers in the Chosen Land. One can google earth these places and they really do look “hideous”. Florida/Suburban US is the model, sadly… Colin, above post is too hilarious as usual for this time of night and much appreciated.

      • seafoid on June 29, 2012, 10:34 am

        The whole subject of how architecture was brought into the YESHA project is fascinating. All that ugliness and brutality was designed. The power of Zionism to control the landscape. It is in fact the rape of the land.

        This book is a great primer

        They are doing their best to control the mental landscape with hasbara but it won’t work and will ultimately bring down their whole YESHA project or otherwise the Jewish state itself.

      • Taxi on June 29, 2012, 10:56 am

        Israel has really lame and unoriginal architecture. The worst architecture is in the settlements. It would be cool if it were just Floridian architecture – at least in Fla. they have the fauna and flora to go with it. Israeli settlement housing looks like aggressive lines of tanks made of bricks and mortar, standing tightly shoulder to shoulder, as if ready to attack. I hope, come the day, that the Palestinians blow the bazookaz outta them and dance on their rubble. To live in such as structure is to willingly choose to absorb all that hostility and aggression that these structures were designed for and intended to be.

    • Taxi on June 28, 2012, 12:52 am

      “The Zionists will leave behind the shopping centres.”

      You mean cemeteries.

      • ColinWright on June 28, 2012, 4:21 am

        Probably shopping centers built on cemetaries.

  5. jackkessler on June 27, 2012, 6:41 pm

    I wonder why Mondoweiss and its contributors are so indifferent to the fact that 32 million Kurds live under occupation in the Middle East, as opposed to 2.2 million Palestinians. Fifteen times as many Kurds as Palestinians live under occupation.

    Most of the Kurds living under occupation are ruled by Turkey, a US ally and member of NATO. Many other Kurds live under occupation by Iraq, a government the US literally created. The remainder live under Iranian and Syrian occupation and the US has made no effort to liberate them.

    Yet Mondoweiss never mentions Kurdistan at all. Not word one. Is Mondoweiss against occupation, or isn’t it? Are you just consumed with driving the Jews into the sea because you don’t like Jews, or are you actually against occupation?

    When will Western governments stop pandering to Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria? When will self-proclaimed Western “progressives” like Mondoweiss stop looking the other way while 32 million Kurds live under occupation? Until you show as much interest in the rights of 32 million Kurds as you show about 2.2 million Palestinians your indignation about occupation is empty hypocrisy. Until you stand up for the Kurds as much as for the Palestinians your “progressivism” is radical chic posturing. Until you spend as much energy and money fighting the occupations of Kurdistan you are not serious people.

    • Sumud on June 27, 2012, 8:59 pm

      Jackkessler this is a very standard and very boring hasbara 101 argument. Heard it all before.

      Nobody needs to make excuses or justify why Palestine is personally important to them. I’m not gong to lose sleep if you don’t think I [we] qualify as “serious people”.

    • Sumud on June 27, 2012, 9:07 pm

      Are you just consumed with driving the Jews into the sea because you don’t like Jews, or are you actually against occupation?

      Also hasbara 101.

      The only people that have been driven into the sea in Palestine, is Palestinians – by Israelis in 1948 during Al Nakba. Literally.

      Scroll down to the bottom of the page for photos of Palestinians being driven into the sea by Israelis:

      Those People in Gaza: Where Do They Come From, And Why Are They So Mad?

      In time you may come to recognise, jackkessler, that the worst hasbara accusations are almost always something Israel has already done. Something to do with guilty consciences I believe…

      • ColinWright on June 28, 2012, 4:02 am

        “In time you may come to recognise, jackkessler, that the worst hasbara accusations are almost always something Israel has already done.”

        Israel’s all about doing something that’s already been done. I really think that like an abused child, she seeks to replicate what was done to her — only this time with Jews as perpetrators rather than victims. Is it entirely a response to circumstances that she so assiduously seeks to separate Palestinians from Jews, to effectively strip Palestinians of any legal rights, and to herd them into ghettos? It really is obsessional — much of the behavior is far beyond anything any rational motive could explain.

        It’s like Vlad the Impaler. He was sodomized when he’d been held as a hostage as a child in the Ottoman court. Guess what he did when he grew up?

        Nice site, by the way.

      • Rizla on June 29, 2012, 4:10 am

        “Obsessional”, right on. These are the kind of words that change the focus of the debate. I don’t think the hasbarists like words like that. Bull’s eye.

        I have a bizarre book on “vampires” that mentions a lot of pseudo-history about Vlad the Impaler, but I’ve never heard that story. I suppose I should thank you. Cheers.

    • mudder on June 27, 2012, 9:08 pm

      Almost all of us here are ardent supporters of human rights NGOs in the Middle East. We expect them to pursue human rights violations and political rights failures everywhere in the Middle East, including the human rights failures of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The rights of Kurds are as important to us as the rights of Palestinians, and also Turks and Israelis. But we are not Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch. We pursue Israel’s failures because we bemoan our own Judaism’s and Evangelical Christianity’s embracing of oppression. And we bemoan our own Democratic Party’s embracing of oppression. It’s a personal thing.

      • ColinWright on June 28, 2012, 4:09 am

        As an American, Israel is the only country whose outrages I am forced to vigorously support, and hence far and away my primary concern.

        If a teenage boy somewhere rapes a teenage girl, that’s regrettable. If the teenage boy happens to be my son, it’s a horrifying event of overwhelming importance.

        So Israel’s what I care about. I’ll work out what to do about everything and everybody else when that’s squared away. I see no reason to apologize for, qualify, or alter this. Support for Israel is the one inarguably evil policy this country consistently pursues. Plenty of others are variously hypocritical, misconceived, futile, or just stupid — but this is our greatest crime. I want it to stop.

    • eljay on June 27, 2012, 9:46 pm

      >> Until you show as much interest in the rights of 32 million Kurds as you show about 2.2 million Palestinians your indignation about occupation is empty hypocrisy.

      Gotta love how Zio-supremacists use injustice and immorality elsewhere in the world to justify their own – and their Glorious Jewish State’s – injustice and immorality.

      “Israel: We may not be as good as the best but, hey, at least we’re not as bad as the worst!” (TM)

      Words to live by…if you’re a hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist.

    • ritzl on June 28, 2012, 12:12 am

      • When Palestinians can vote in Israeli elections like the Kurds do in three of the four examples you cited, Palestine is the most egregious example of occupation and takes point.

      • Building on your contorted assumption that the two occupations are even remotely comparable and/or linked, one would have to note that the Palestinian situation being the smallest and therefore easiest to resolve, should be solved first. Solve that occupation and it creates precedent to solve the Kurdish situation that seems to be important to you.

      • Also assuming your linkage assertion, we should give the same amount in aid to all those bad occupying countries. i.e. Zero. Where are you on that? (Somehow I get the feeling that in a fit of tautological splendor, your answer would be, “But Israel is Different!”, but it might not.)

      • 4.2M Palestinians, not 2.2M (see welshingaza’s article about naval occupation of Gaza). Where does 2.2M come from anyway. 1.6 (Gaza) and 2.6 (WB) per the CIA. Where did that other 400K go?

      • Hasbara can’t see itself in the mirror turnabout: If you’re concerned about occupations, generically, what are you doing to solve this one? Beside calling people trying hard to find a way to solve it un-serious, that is?

      • Given all the above, define “serious.”

      As Sumud says, 101. Boilerplate 101.

    • Dutch on June 28, 2012, 12:31 am

      Jack, if I were you I would try AIPAC.

    • MLE on June 28, 2012, 12:48 am

      Yes, Israel is the number one friend of the Kurds, this is why they lobbied the Turks so hard on the issue the entire time Turkey and Israel shared a close relationship. The Palestine stuff is just a facade, the real issue behind strained Turkey/Israeli relations is because the Turks are mad about how adamant Israel is about supporting Kurdish groups. Its also why Iran hates Israel so much, Israel focuses far too heavily on Kurdish rights. Also, there is an active Turkish lobby in the US, surely you’ve seen how all our leaders pack the house at ATPAC conventions, and each political leader promises more and more unconditional support to Turkey, and Turkish-American billionaire tycoons donate millions of dollars to campaigns to candidates who make statements whether there are even Kurdish nationality at all! All those Kurds are really from Iran and Iraq, and they all settled in Turkey so they could steal that land from the Turks, who rightfully own it, according to a book some people consider holy.

      Im going to go find websites that talk about Kurdish rights, and demand they focus on the Palestinians, or Copts, or Berbers, or homosexuals, or Syrian groups, or Armenians- how can possibly forget the Armenians? (Except you can’t call it a Holocaust- because that’s our word… Armenians are just a genocide).

      Also, we can complain bitterly about the UN, even though it played a key role Israel’s history of becoming a recognized state and not a bunch of Jewish militants trying to achieve Manifest Destiny. Its almost like, since they played a role in establishing Israel as a state, they want to like, keep tabs on them. Unacceptable!

      Can someone make a parody video of that “Leave Britney alone” video to “Leave Israel alone!”

      • ColinWright on June 28, 2012, 4:26 am

        “…Armenians- how can possibly forget the Armenians? (Except you can’t call it a Holocaust- because that’s our word… Armenians are just a genocide)…”

        What I’ve been dreading — and fortunately it hasn’t really happened yet — is some ghastly love-fest between the Armenians and Israel.

        I’m not sure exactly why not. I’d guess the Zionists have been nudging the Armenians. ‘ Come on, guys — we’ll validate your genocide if you kiss us…’

        Maybe the Armenians don’t want a dirty girl. After all, they saw Israel happily getting into bed with Turkey.

    • ColinWright on June 28, 2012, 3:50 am

      Mondoweiss doesn’t focus on this issue for the same reason that they haven’t discussed the recent change from catch and release to a two trout over sixteen inches limit in the Upper Sacramento River.

      It’s not the purpose of the site.

      Anyway, wake me up when you discover the US is funneling three billion a year in aid to any of the powers concerned, strenuously defending them against international sanctions, and uncritically supporting them no matter what.

      As a matter of fact, the US is rather pro-Kurdish. I don’t see why our attitude is necessarily incorrect on this score.

      I’m also strongly inclined to doubt you actually care about the Kurds in the least. My guess is the list of facts you could supply us with about the Kurds in history would actually turn out to be rather short. I’ll even go further and suggest that your actual motive is to distract attention from the abomination that is Israel. The Kurds could have two heads apiece and be channeling alien thought waves to humanity as far as you’re concerned. They’re just a stick to stir around in the pot so we’ll quit seeing the moral sludge that is Israel at the bottom.

      “When will Western governments stop pandering to Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria? “

      Do you realize how silly that sentence is? Of the four countries you mention, we’ve just finished our invasion of one, are openly threatening and conducting an energetic campaign of sabotage against another, and may well take action against a third.

      Hopefully, no one’s going to ‘pander’ to me in such ways. Ironically, the one state we definitely do pander to is Israel — and that takes us back to what this site is actually about. Would you like to discuss how the US panders to Israel?

      • Rizla on June 29, 2012, 4:12 am

        Whole post appreciated with a ton of laughter.

    • Hostage on June 28, 2012, 7:27 am

      I wonder why Mondoweiss and its contributors are so indifferent to the fact that 32 million Kurds live under occupation in the Middle East, as opposed to 2.2 million Palestinians.

      Who said that we’re indifferent? I supported Kosovo’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence in international law forums all over the internet on the grounds of self-determination of peoples and the need to provide consistent support for efforts by national liberation movements, like those of the Kurds and Palestinians, to achieve statehood. I haven’t altered my opinion.

      I’ve complained here at MW about the ethnic Kurds that were killed on the Mavi Marmara. I approve of the work done by Kurdish solidarity organizations, like the Kurdish Human Rights Project with the UN treaty monitoring bodies, like the CERD, in support of Kurds living in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, & etc. I also support US taxpayer contributions to the humanitarian agencies, like UNHRC that assist displaced Kurds too.

      FYI, I think its a damn shame that the Kurds were promised a new state in Article 62 of the Treaty of Sevres (1920) and didn’t get one, while a bunch of strangers and hangers-on from Europe – who weren’t even Ottoman subjects – literally stole the entire state that was promised to the Palestinian “communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire”. See Article 22(4) and of the Treaty of Versailles (the Covenant of the League of Nations) on recognition of the new nations; Article 434 of the Treaty of Versailles on recognition and boundaries of the new states; and Article 30 of the Treaty of Lausanne on nationality of the Ottoman residents of the new states.

    • Shingo on June 28, 2012, 10:07 am

      I wonder why Mondoweiss and its contributors are so indifferent to the fact that 32 million Kurds live under occupation in the Middle East, as opposed to 2.2 million Palestinians. Fifteen times as many Kurds as Palestinians live under occupation.

      Probably because those Kurds, like Tibetans, all have citizenship of one country or another.

    • American on June 28, 2012, 11:20 am


      We are consumed by the Palestine plight more so than others because bottom line it’s “our” fault as much as Israel’s.
      It’s American government and politics that supports it and let it continue.
      It’s the one occupation that the US could end tomorrow without firing a shot and save ourselves billions of dollars and assert some shred of American recognition of international law at the same time.

      • Rizla on June 29, 2012, 4:17 am

        Simple, spot on, and unarguable. More and more of us like the simplicity of this argument every day. No anti-semitism discussion required (I am convinced that anti-semitism is a tiny minority viewpoint in the USA, compared to a few decades ago). What can the Zionists say to this? Nothing. They spay octopus ink.

      • annie on June 29, 2012, 7:51 am

        It’s the one occupation that the US could end tomorrow without firing a shot and save ourselves billions of dollars and assert some shred of American recognition of international law at the same time.

        i agree. it’s very doable. we need to get the show on the road instead of all the faking it, lying and denying that’s been sustaining this nightmare. nobody believes the myths anymore. it’s a charade.

    • Donald on June 28, 2012, 12:01 pm

      Jack, I trust you show up at pro-Israel blogs telling them that nobody should ever say one word in criticism of Hamas or Islamic Jihad until they’ve condemned a very long list of other groups (including Israel). I don’t believe that, but clearly you have to, unless you’re not serious about your own (silly) principles. Israel’s enemies are pretty small-scale when it comes to the terrorism business, compared with, hell, some of the people Israel itself has supported (like the Guatemalan regime back in the early 80’s when they were committing genocide).

      Others have pointed out in detail what’s wrong with your post. Incidentally, when Turkey’s actions against its own Kurds were at their worst Israel was an ally and the US supplied them with weapons. I read about the plight of the Kurds in Turkey from reading Noam Chomsky and Jonathan Randal (a Washington Post reporter who was also very critical of Israel). But we hear more about Turkey’s sins from Israel defenders now that Turkey and Israel are no longer such good pals.

      • MHughes976 on June 28, 2012, 4:54 pm

        There are many injustices in the world but none ceases to be unjust simply because the others exist. If you couldn’t mention anything without mentioning everything similar you couldn’t mention anything at all. Still, if someone points out to me that I invoke some principles which mean that something is wrong, but that there is something else of the same kind, I do have to agree that the other thing is wrong too.

      • Sibiriak on July 9, 2012, 1:00 pm

        Well stated!

    • Rizla on June 29, 2012, 3:43 am

      Whenever I hear phrases like “driving the Jews into the sea”, I stop listening, sorry. I’m a goy raised in the USA and we had helpful (sic) Israeli visitors to our high schools using the same lines twenty years ago. Your jargon is no longer effective. The other responses to this strange and off-topic post have said it all. Mondoweiss is raising the level of debate and I learn more here on I/P than anywhere else. ‘Nuff said. Great article Ms. Stein, what a bizarre “festival”, I don’t really know what to say about that video. The word “denial” comes to mind.

  6. Kathleen on June 28, 2012, 9:10 am

    the music, the images in this video are surreal….going down the alleys of purgatory

    • Rizla on June 29, 2012, 5:46 am

      Indeed. What a display of… something. Not my kind of party.

  7. Shingo on June 28, 2012, 10:09 am

    While I was watching the part where they showed the Armenian quarter I was reminded of this gem

    Jerusalem’s Armenians outraged as city approves Jews-only parking lot in Old City

  8. American on June 28, 2012, 6:02 pm

    “Jews-only parking lot in Old City”

    Are you kidding me? Jews only roads and now Jews only “parking lots’?
    Every day bring a new example of the pure “pettiness” of these goons.
    Pettiness + hubris.
    And they have to ask why no one likes them?

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