United Nations school in Gaza (UNRWA)
Palestinians around the world on Saturday commemorated the sixth anniversary of the beginning of Israel’s 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2008-9 that left more than 1,400 dead.
This year’s commemorations take place in the shadow of another Israeli offensive over summer — the third major assault in six years — that left nearly 2,200 Palestinians dead and 110,000 homeless.
Until this year, the 2008-9 assault was the bloodiest sustained Israeli assault on Palestinians since 1967, with more than 80 percent of victims thought to have been civilians.
The offensive, known by its Israeli moniker “Cast Lead,” began on Dec. 27, 2008 around 11:30 a.m., when Israeli warplanes launched more than 100 airstrikes on Gaza simultaneously.
For the last five months Abbas did nothing to bring matters forward. (Photo: UN)
By Stuart Littlewood
Yesterday (April) the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting in London issued the following statement on the British government’s website:
Middle East Peace Process
“G8 Foreign Ministers confirmed their commitment to a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. They agreed on the urgent need to make progress on the Middle East Peace Process towards this goal and underscored the need for a major international effort, involving all relevant parties, including the Quartet, to drive the peace process forward.
“The Ministers welcomed President Obama’s visit to the region and his statement that peace between Israelis and Palestinians is necessary, just and possible. They urged both sides to show the bold political leadership needed to achieve peace, to take the necessary steps to build trust and to work towards the resumption of negotiations without preconditions.
“The Ministers stressed that a long term solution to this conflict can be achieved only through direct negotiations [my emphasis], taking note of the 23 September 2011 statement of the Middle East Quartet. Ministers called on parties to refrain from unilateral actions and to create an atmosphere conducive to peace. They strongly reaffirmed that unilateral actions by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations.
Israel Defense Forces claimed woman wounded by rock thrown by protesters in village of Nabi Saleh, while Palestinian sources said she was hit by grenade; IDF says incident now under "investigation."
By Gili Cohen and Nir Hasson Tags: West Bank IDF
Protesters from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh released video footage on Saturday showing that the French woman wounded during the weekly protest on Friday was hit by an Israel Defense Forces gas grenade
Palestinian sources reported on Friday that the French citizen was seriously wounded on Friday after being hit by a gas grenade. According to the reports, the grenade was fired at a demonstration by IDF forces. The French woman was taken to the hospital.
Nabi Saleh - AP - December 2, 2011, An Israeli border policeman fires tear gas at Palestinian protesters during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah, Friday.
The IDF spokesperson published a statement on Friday, however, saying that the woman was wounded by rocks that were thrown by other protesters.
“A border police officer and a French citizen were lightly wounded by rocks that were thrown at them during a disturbance of the peace,” the statement said.
Media speak of right, left, center .. (Creative Commons)
By Ramzy Baroud
Regardless of who may rule Israel, little change ever occurs in the country's foreign policy. Winning parties remain obsessed with demographics and retaining absolute military dominance. They also remain unfailingly focused on their quest to initiate racist laws against non-Jewish residents of the state, and continue to hone the art of speaking of peace, while actually maintaining a permanent state of war.
Every few years the media become captivated by Israeli democracy. Commentators speak of right, left, center, and anything in between. Despite Israeli elections still being a year and a half away, media pundits are already discussing possible outcomes of the vote against the peace process, economic reforms, social equality, and so on.
In a recent article, Israeli columnist Uri Avnery decried the fact that the main opposition to the right-wing parties — “the Likud, the Lieberman party and various ultra-nationalist, pro-settlement and religious factions” — is no other than the center-left Kadima. The party, led by the “incompetent” Tzipi Livni, is allegedly in “shambles.” Moreover, left parties, such as Labor and Meretz, are not expected to pose a real threat to the right party conglomerate, despite their temporary rise in the polls.
Another child detained. (Tamar Fleishman)
By Tamar Fleishman – The West Bank
'This place is the carbuncle on the ass of the occupation,' said Dalit Baum as the gates of Ofer prison closed behind us.
The Palestinian residents of the West Bank, who had been living under occupation for over forty years and are deprived of their basic rights, are brought to justice in military courts. This entire legal system- investigators, prosecutors and judges- is comprised of men and women, in uniform, who are subordinated to and serve, not the principles of justice and law, but the mechanism of the occupation.
Ofer prison/detention center/court sits on Palestinian lands that had been confiscated from their owners.
For some months I sat in court and documented what was taking place there. I had witnessed the attempts of the system to create an illusion of a court house that concurs to the articles of the treaties and the international law, while in reality it was nothing more than a cynical farce.
The slow economic collapse being witnessed across the occupied territories, while worsening now, is inevitable so long as Palestinians languish under occupation, writes Khaled Amayreh in Hebron
Protesting against the construction of Israel's apartheid wall in the West Bank village of Qalandia (photo: AP)
With high consumer prices, static or dwindling salaries, rising unemployment and over-taxation, many ordinary Palestinians are no longer able to make ends meet.
The situation has been described as both explosive as well as potentially destabilising as the Palestinian Authority (PA) stands virtually powerless to overcome or even mitigate the harshest economic crisis hitting the occupied territories since the PA's founding in 1994.
Some families have been forced to take their children out of college because they can no longer afford to pay tuition fees amounting to a thousand dollars per semester.
The Republican Party's presidential hopefuls are stumbling over themselves to insult Palestinians and Arabs and laud Israel, writes James Zogby
On 7 December 2012, six Republican candidates for president (Ron Paul was not invited) appeared before the Republican Jewish Coalition (NRC) to campaign for Christian votes. There are Jewish Republicans, to be sure, but not enough to make a difference in this primary contest. No, the real prize that drew the candidates to the NRC event were the 40 per cent of Republican primary voters who are declared "born-again" Christians who fervently believe that Israel can do no wrong and that it is their religious duty to support any and all Israeli policies as a prerequisite to hasten the "Day of Judgement".
Similarities exist in the political landscapes' of both the US and Israel, which left unaltered, could be of grave harm.
Holding hands on the way down; both the US and Israel are being led to the precipice by the increasingly right-wing policies [EPA]
By Mark LeVine
"I'm not a witch... I'm you."
With these words, Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell attempted to convince voters that despite admitting to have dabbled in witchcraft and holding many extreme views, her values and views are closer to those of her state's voters than those of the "Washington elite," represented by her opponent, Chris Coons.
We can pass this comment off as just political sloganeering, but in fact it well summarises the sad state of affairs in the "Thelma and Louise" of global politics, the United States and Israel.
Like the angry, self-loathing drunk unable to recognise himself in the The Who's seminal anthem "Who Are You," Americans and Israelis are reaching such depths of distrust and despair that the coarsest appeals to right wing identity politics - represented by the rise of the Tea Party and the current Netanyahu government - will ensure the perpetuation of policies that will doom both countries to an even darker future.
In so doing they are moving so far from their founding ideals that it's becoming impossible to recognise them anymore.
P U L S E
Excerpted from: Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabiolizing Logic of Zionism (paperback)
By M. Shahid Alam
“My God! Is this the end? Is this the goal for which our fathers
have striven and for whose sake all generations have suffered? Is this the dream of a return to Zion which our people have dreamt for centuries: that we now come to Zion to stain its soil with innocent blood?”
Ahad Ha’am, 1921
This study has employed a dialectical framework for analyzing the destabilizing logic of Zionism. We have examined this logic as it has unfolded through time, driven by the vision of an exclusionary colonialism, drawing into its circuit – aligned with it and against it – nations, peoples, forces, and civilizations whose actions and interactions impinge on the trajectory of Zionism, and, in turn, who are changed by this trajectory.
It would be a bit simplistic to examine the field of interactions among the different actors in this historic drama on the essentialist assumption that these actors and their interests are unchanging. Instead, we need to explore the complex ways in which the Zionists have worked – and, often have succeeded – to alter the behavior of the other political actors in this drama: and, how, in turn, the Zionists respond to these changes. Most importantly, we need to explore all the ways in which the Zionists have succeeded in mobilizing the resources of the United States and other Western powers to serve their specific objectives.
Consider a list of the political actors who have had more than a passing connection to the Zionist project and, who, at one time or another, have affected or have been affected by this project. First, there are the different Zionist factions, the Jewish diaspora and, later, the state of Israel. These entities are overlapping, with the degrees of overlap between any two of them changing over time. The second set of actors consists of Western powers – especially, the United States, Britain, and France – the Christian Zionists especially in the United States, the Soviet Union and its allies in Eastern Europe. Finally, there are actors who are the direct and indirect victims of the Zionist project, those who have paid the costs of Zionist success. They form four concentric circles around Israel, including the Palestinians, the Arabs, the Middle East, and the Islamicate. These three sets of actors make up the dramatis personae in the unfolding tragedy of the Zionist project.
There is something deeper than politics with its machinations and duplicities.
By William A. Cook
[NOTE: On the 21st of June Haaretz published an article, 'Lebanon allows Gaza-bound ship to sail to Cyprus.' Two ships may be involved, one with a contingent of Americans, approximately 10, another with a group of women including Nuns, the Miriam. This new effort at breaking the Israeli siege of Gaza follows the attack on the boats that sailed from Turkey where 9 people were killed by Israeli naval forces. The exact date for the sailing has not been announced but expectations were high for this Saturday. The Council for National Interest in Washington, D.C. has been a major organizer for this venture. Dr. Cook joined the CNI contingent and is now in Lebanon. The timing of this event coincides with the publication of his The Plight of the Palestinians and the publication in Arabic of his The Chronicles of Nefaria printed in Amman, Jordan.]
Not five days ago I sat entranced as the LA Opera transformed the Chandler Center into a rapturous world of metaphor with its rendering of Wagner’s Das Rheingold, the first of the four operas of the Ring Cycle. On Sunday the 20th my wife and I fell further under the bewitching wonder of the metaphors that give substance to this world of unreality that probes the reality of ours. Today, the 22nd, I fled the imaginative brilliance of Wagner’s genius to immerse myself in the unimaginative brutality of this barbaric 21st century as the artist’s themes find fulfillment in this most advanced civilized world where our western world began, the geographic womb of Abraham’s unmerciful and malicious g-d who sought the destruction of his own creatures at the hands of His chosen few.
The brilliance of Wagner’s Das Rheingold rests in the absoluteness of its central theme: attainment of ultimate power and wealth requires abandonment of human love. Paradoxically, the truth of this theme abides in the nature of humans alone, humans who exist by virtue of fraternal and sisterly love, a love that rents asunder the laws of the state.
Sigmund and Sigelinda, offspring of Wotan, the all powerful god, and a mortal woman, give birth to the human race through their incestuous love. This union is the seed of human bondage, the lifeblood that binds all into a human family sustained by heartfelt compassion and love. It is this essential force that binds all that must be abandoned to attain power, to live without human sympathy, the natural element that makes all of us one family. Yet so powerful is the impulse to greed, so natural in the human beast, legends have evolved to describe it: the myth of the Flying Dutchman, the Wandering Jew, the Heart of Darkness to mention a few.
M. Shahid Alam, Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism. New York: Palgrave, c. 2009.
By Elaine C. Hagopian
For those unfamiliar with the extraordinary evolution of Israeli exceptionalism emanating from its Zionist narrative and assuring Israel’s incredible success as a colonial settler state, M. Shahid Alam’s book is the one to read. He has recorded a compelling, uniquely comprehensive and enlightening historical analysis of the inherently destabilizing dynamic of Zionism. Of particular note are his detailed Chapters Nine and Thirteen.
In Chapter Nine, he documents the constellation of Jewish factors that came together in the 19th century which assured Zionist success: the spread of Jewish intellectuals and professionals across major cities in Europe; Jewish population growth to 16.7 million in 1939 which could root a nationalist movement; business acumen and ownership of major banks and a strong media presence; growth of interchange with other Jewish leaders contributing to a sense of community – important considering that Jews had not previously formed a sense of nation according to Alam; and as European nationalism grew, Jews were affected by the idea though they had no majority presence in any one state which could be claimed by them. Historical anti-Semitism prodded the Jewish elites toward formulation of the Zionist project even as Jews were moving out of the ghettos of a liberalized Europe. Given their distribution throughout Europe and without a territorial base of their own, the Zionist sought and captured the needed “mother” country to implement their colonial settler state in Palestine. This they found in the U.K initially and then in the U.S. with periodic support by other countries such as France.
New York Review of Books / June 10, 2010
Benjamin Netanyahu; drawing by John Springs
By Peter Beinart
In 2003, several prominent Jewish philanthropists hired Republican pollster Frank Luntz to explain why American Jewish college students were not more vigorously rebutting campus criticism of Israel. In response, he unwittingly produced the most damning indictment of the organized American Jewish community that I have ever seen.
The philanthropists wanted to know what Jewish students thought about Israel. Luntz found that they mostly didn’t. “Six times we have brought Jewish youth together as a group to talk about their Jewishness and connection to Israel,” he reported. “Six times the topic of Israel did not come up until it was prompted. Six times these Jewish youth used the word ‘they‘ rather than ‘us‘ to describe the situation.”
That Luntz encountered indifference was not surprising. In recent years, several studies have revealed, in the words of Steven Cohen of Hebrew Union College and Ari Kelman of the University of California at Davis, that “non-Orthodox younger Jews, on the whole, feel much less attached to Israel than their elders,” with many professing “a near-total absence of positive feelings.” In 2008, the student senate at Brandeis, the only nonsectarian Jewish-sponsored university in America, rejected a resolution commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the Jewish state.
Mubarak government advised Israel to spurn Qatari proposal to restore ties in return for Gaza reconstruction role.
By Zvi Bar'el
Israel rejected a Qatari proposal by the Persian Gulf emirate to carry out rehabilitation work in the Gaza Strip in exchange for renewing diplomatic relations with Israel after Egypt made it clear that it would find such a deal "difficult to digest".
According to Egyptian sources, Israel provided Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak with an outline of Qatar's proposal, which would allow it to bring construction materials and other goods into the Strip.
The Qataris would have undertaken reconstruction of infrastructure and earned an Israeli declaration recognizing Qatar's important status in the Middle East. In exchange, the Israeli diplomatic mission the Qataris closed during Operation Cast Lead would reopen.
Israel's rejection of the plan, it seems, resulted largely from Egyptian opposition.
By M. Idrees
Hollywood — like the Democratic Party or the New York Times — is alleged to be liberal. When it comes to questions such as gay marriage or abortion, this is indeed the case. When it comes to the American relationship with the rest of the world it is about as liberal as the Democratic Party or the New York Times. That is to say, it subscribes to the notion of American Exceptionalism, and accepts prima facie a messianic view of the US role in the world. It is jingoistic, militaristic, and frequently racist.
This failure to see the contradiction between its domestic liberalism and its aggresssive and patronizing attitude toward the rest of the world has been a staple of its politics since the days when the legendary Hollywood director, producer, novelist, and Academy Award-winning screenwriter, Ben Hecht was able to combine his advocacy for progressive causes in the United States with his outspoken support for Zionist terrorism in Palestine (Indeed, he wrote an open letter praising the ‘terrorists of Palestine’, the Irgun Zvei Leumi).
Likewise, Marlon Brando could combine his support for American Indian rights with his vocal defense of Zionist crimes (although toward the end of his life he decried the ‘Jewish Hollywood’s’ inability to show to other ethnicities the same sensitivity that it demanded for itself).
A few months ago, as I was flipping through the many channels late one night, a show entitled “On the Wings Of Eagles” caught my attention. This show, which was really nothing more than a “paid advertisement” from a coalition of Born Again Christian and Jewish Zionists, was being shown over and over again on many different channels. They tried to present this as a “sort of documentary” of a mission of mercy.
As I watched this show, it began to sink in what their mission was. They were collecting money ($250 to bring ONE Jew from the former USSR to Israel) to help “airlift Jews” from the former USSR “home” to Israel. They kept showing footage of new Russian immigrants landing at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and being greeted as “New Israeli Citizens” coming home. The narrator of the program made it seem that these “Jews” (I use this term with a great amount of reservation since it is widely known that more than 50% of these so-called Jews are not Jews at all) were being delivered from Pharaohs grip all over again!
As I watched I was bombarded by calls to call the 800 number and make a donation of $250 for every Jew that I want to bring “home” to Israel and fulfill God’s will. The narrator kept on emphasizing that this is one way of pleasing God and that he would bestow MANY blessing on those that helped with this worthy cause…After about 30 minutes, I decided to call the 800 number and have some “fun" . . .
By KATHLEEN CHRISTISON
The essential point of M. Shahid Alam’s book, Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism, comes clear upon opening the book to the inscription in the frontispiece. From the Persian poet and philosopher Rumi, the quote reads, “You have the light, but you have no humanity. Seek humanity, for that is the goal.”
Alam, professor of economics at Northeastern University in Boston and a CounterPunch contributor, follows this with an explicit statement of his aims in the first paragraph of the preface. Asking and answering the obvious question, “Why is an economist writing a book on the geopolitics of Zionism?” he says that he “could have written a book about the economics of Zionism, the Israeli economy, or the economy of the West Bank and Gaza, but how would any of that have helped me to understand the cold logic and the deep passions that have driven Zionism?”
Until recent years, the notion that Zionism was a benign, indeed a humanitarian, political movement designed for the noble purpose of creating a homeland and refuge for the world’s stateless, persecuted Jews was a virtually universal assumption. In the last few years, particularly since the start of the al-Aqsa intifada in 2000, as Israel’s harsh oppression of the Palestinians has become more widely known, a great many Israelis and friends of Israel have begun to distance themselves from and criticize Israel’s occupation policies, but they remain strong Zionists and have been at pains to propound the view that Zionism began well and has only lately been corrupted by the occupation. Alam demonstrates clearly, through voluminous evidence and a carefully argued analysis, that Zionism was never benign, never good—that from the very beginning, it operated according to a “cold logic” and, per Rumi, had “no humanity.” Except perhaps for Jews, which is where Israel’s and Zionism’s exceptionalism comes in.