The JTA staff has published “In the spirit of the holiday season, … its annual ode to the non-Jews who helped write the Jewish story this past year.”1
I’m quite uncertain about the practice of 0.65 percent of the world’s population2 determining who outside of them is to be singled out as a “Gentile” of the year.
I never call myself a Gentile, and I’d prefer if other people not refer to me in a way I do not wish to be identified. Human is sufficient for me. I am a human just like every other member of Homo sapiens. I see no need to separate myself out. Admittedly, this poses a bit of a logical conundrum because my inclusive preference has already, in essence, separated me from those who wish to separate themselves from others. Other physical and behavioral traits will also allow others to categorize me relative to other humans. This is true. Despite all this, I remain human and so does every other person: Muslim, Jew, Hindi, Arab, European, Chinese, White, Black, Green, Blue, gay, old, young, female, male, etc.
Eleven individuals were selected by the JTA staff on the basis of what they are not: they are not Jews. They were also selected on the basis of how they served Jewish interests.
To become a “Gentile of the year” all French-born choreographer Benjamin Millepied had to do was marry one of Hollywood’s most fetching actresses — Natalie Portman. Obviously the bar is quite low for Gentiles to ingratiate themselves with JTA staff.
Actress Claire Danes just had to do her job, acting in the Showtime series Homeland, “an adaptation of an Israeli TV show,” part of which was filmed in Israel.
The deputy speaker of Hungary’s parliament, Istvan Ujhelyi, took a stand that was rightful and public. He showed solidarity with the country’s Jewish community against extremist right-wingers. One wonders, however, about the plight of the comparatively more downtrodden Roma in Hungary. Which politician will take a stand for them?
“NBC sportscaster Bob Costas took it upon himself to remember the slain athletes and coaches,” writes JTA. What kind of person only shows concern about certain slain people? Has Costas ever publicly held a moment of silence for the dispossessed Palestinians? Did he hold a moment of silence for the victims of Zionist Israel’s massacre of Gazans? Does Costas’s public silence to the murders of Palestinians (fellow humans) make him worthy of being singled out as a Gentile of the year?
Newt Gingrich, who calls Palestinians an “invented people,” was also singled out since he “stood his ground, however, saying he supported a negotiated peace but that the onus was on the Palestinians.” What kind of topsy-turvy world is it in which the dispossessed, the occupied, the oppressed have the onus for peace placed upon them by the dispossessors, occupiers, oppressors?
Singer Chaka Khan is a Gentile of the year for “raising $14 million to support the well-being of Israeli soldiers.” These soldiers are the lethal force of the dispossession, occupation, and oppression. Singer Stevie Wonder saw fit to back out of the concert benefiting occupation forces; Chaka Khan decided otherwise. For this she is singled out by JTA.
British tabloid reporters Brian Flynn and Ryan Parry proved “it’s never too late for justice.” They helped nab a suspected war criminal Ladislaus Csizsik-Csatary, 97, implicated in Jewish deaths during World War II. I share no sympathy for war criminals, and there is no statute of limitations on war crimes. That is something Israeli war criminals ought to bear in mind.
JTA considers Mohamed Morsi worthy of singling out for the importance he has and will have for Israel. Barack Obama is an important figure for Israel as well. Strangely enough, arch-Zionist collaborator Mahmoud Abbas was not “honored” as a Gentile of the year.
Special praise, however, was bestowed upon Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper:
an unabashed Israel supporter is an understatement. In the last few months, Harper has shuttered Canada’s embassy in Tehran, listed Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, personally pressured Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (unsuccessfully) to drop the Palestinians’ bid for statehood at the United Nations and signed a series of defense pacts with Israel. Israeli President Shimon Peres has called him “an extraordinary friend.”
Yet Harper is extraordinarily biased against Palestinians. That is not surprising, as Harper also takes a strongly colonialist line against First Nations in Canada.
Couldn’t JTA come up with a worthier list from 99.35 percent of the planet’s population?
I am not much for lists of personalities. However, if I were to draw up a list of people, I would refrain from singling out a specific segment of humanity. First, I would attempt to determine what special traits should make people worthy for singling out on a list. I submit that those who dedicate themselves or sacrifice themselves for the good of the greater humanity are worthy of recognition.
- I propose the following list of humans to recognize. No particular ranking is meant to be imparted, and the list is not to be considered exhaustive:
- • peace activists
• anti-poverty activists
• supporters of the dignity of labor
• environmental activists
• resistance movements
• Indigenous rights activists
• supporters of LGBTQ rights
• justice/prison rights activists
• women’s rights supporters
There are many people toiling on behalf of others less fortunate in the world. It, therefore, seems remiss to focus on any one or a few persons. Ultimately, it is the mass of humanity that determines what kind of world we all live in. Apathy, inactivity, and insouciance are enemies of a Brave New World for which there are repercussions. Such surrender is very much partially to blame for why the world is beset by war, killing, massive inequality in income and wealth, resource exploitation for private profit with nary a regard for the wider public’s use and enjoyment of the environment, oppression, as well as other social injustices. Consequently, it is a must for a society inclined toward progressivism to cultivate the desired traits among the people that lead to the desired world.
- JTA Staff, “Gentiles of the Year 2012,” JTA, 28 December 2012.
- Aaron Kalman, “Global Jewish population grows by 88,000 over past year,” Times of Israel, 9 September 2012.
Kim Petersen can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a potentially precedent-setting decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a Guild lawyer’s challenge to military spying on peace activists can proceed. The ruling marks the first time a court has affirmed people’s ability to sue the military for violating their First and Fourth Amendment rights.
“This has never been done before,” said NLG member attorney Larry Hildes, who is handling the case. “The U.S. government has spied on political dissidents throughout history and this particular plot lasted through two presidencies, but never before has a court said that we can challenge it the way we have.”
The ruling is the latest development in the lawsuit, Panagacos v. Towery, first brought by Hildes in 2009 on behalf of a group of Washington state antiwar activists who found themselves infiltrated by John Towery, an employee at a fusion center inside a local Army base. Fusion centers are multi-jurisdictional intelligence facilities which house federal and local law enforcement agencies alongside military units and private security companies. Their operations are largely secret and unregulated. There are currently 77 fusion centers in the United States.
The lawsuit names Towery as well as the Army, Navy, Air Force, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, and other law enforcement agencies. For at least two years, Towery posed as an activist with the antiwar group Port Militarization Resistance (PMR), a group that sought to oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through civil disobedience. The infiltration came to light when public records requests filed with the City of Olympia unearthed documents detailing an expansive surveillance operation. In addition to PMR, Towery targeted Students for a Democratic Society, the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, the Industrial Workers of the World, Iraq Veterans Against the War, an anarchist bookstore in Tacoma, and other activist groups.
The latest ruling denies the government’s appeal on the basis that the allegations of First and Fourth Amendment violations carried out by Towery are “plausible.” His lawyers have until December 31 to appeal the decision. If they do not appeal, the case will return to district court and the discovery phase will begin.
The National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has members in every state.
Chile’s Court of Appeal on Friday arrested seven retired servicemen over their suspected involvement in the 1973 killing of folk singer Victor Jara, one of the highest-profile victims of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, Latin American media reported on Friday.
On September 12, 1973, after the military coup which overthrew the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende, Jara, was arrested and then held prisoner at the Estadio Chile along with thousands of Chileans. The 40-year-old singer was tortured for four days in the stadium that now bears his name. On September 15 he was machine-gunned, with 34 bullet wounds later found on his body.
To date, Ret. Col. Mario Manríquez Bravo, the former chief of the Estadio Chile internment camp, is the only person convicted for the killing.
Jara’s relatives earlier called for the masterminds and immediate perpetrators of the killing to be held to account.
- His Hands Were Gentle: Selected Lyrics of Victor Jara (irishleftreview.org)
Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Hamdy says his country plans to forge “tight” relations with the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah.
“You cannot discuss politics in Lebanon without having a relationship with Hezbollah,” Hamdy said in an interview with the Lebanese newspaper Daily Star published on Saturday.
In a clear policy shift from Egypt’s Mubarak-era policy, the envoy described the resistance movement as “real force on the ground” with “big political and military influence.”
Hamdy said that the government of President Mohamed Morsi would pursue a policy to stretch “[its] hand out in the proper, balanced way to all regional powers” including Hezbollah, in order to forge “tight” contacts with Lebanon’s rulers.
Hamdy also said that he had met with Hezbollah’s political bureau members in efforts “to understand each other better.”
“Resistance in the sense of defending Lebanese territory … That’s their primary role. We … think that as a resistance movement they have done a good job to keep on defending Lebanese territory and trying to regain land occupied by Israel is legal and legitimate,” he said.
The relations between Egypt and Hezbollah reached rock bottom in 2008 during the previous Gaza war, when Hezbollah Chief Seyyed Hasan Nasrallah criticized Cairo for failing to support Palestinians. The ties generally were strained under former President Hosni Mubarak, in large part due to Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.
Egyptians launched a revolution against Mubarak’s regime in January 2011, which brought an end to over three decades of dictatorship by him in February 2011.
- New Egypt warms up to Hezbollah: ambassador (dailystar.com.lb)
- Egypt to strengthen ties with Hezbollah (rt.com)
- US pressures Europe to label Hezbollah a “terrorist group” (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Israeli soldiers tried to evict an illegal settlement outpost, erected by extremist Israeli settlers near the Bet EI illegal settlement, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah; the settlers attacked the soldiers who left the scene without evicting the structures.
Israeli sources reported that five Israeli policemen were injured during the clashes with the settlers, and were treated by field medics.
Political sources in Tel Aviv claimed that the army decided to stop the eviction and leave the area due to pressures practiced by a number of government officials.
It is worth mentioning that the government of Benjamin Netanyahu has several coalition members who are settlers, including Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, head of the extreme right-wing “Israel Our Home” party.
Israeli Yedioth Aharonoth reported that hundreds of settlers clashed with the army and the police, and hurled stones at them after the army ordered them to disperse.
The army later apprehended several settlers but left the scene without evicting the illegal outpost.