The Permanent Representative of Syria to the United Nations Bashar Al-Jaafari says the recent developments in the Middle East, particularly the unrest in Syria and Iraq are part of a project to divide the Middle East.
We are getting reports out of the University of Illinois that Chancellor Wise is going to forward the Salaita appointment to the Board of Trustees for a vote on September 11. A group of Gender and Women’s Studies students reports the following:
From GWS Undergraduate Stephanie Skora’s report back on meeting with Chancellor Wise on Monday, September 1, 2014:
The meeting with Chancellor Wise was a success, and we have gained some valuable information and commitments from the Chancellor!
We have discovered that the Chancellor HAS FORWARDED Professor Salaita’s appointment to the Board of Trustees, and they will be voting on his appointment during the Board of Trustees Meeting on September 11th, on the UIUC campus! Our immediate future organizational efforts will focus around speaking at, and appearing at, this Board of Trustees meeting. We will be attempting to appear during the public comment section of the Board of Trustees meeting, as well as secure a longer presentation to educate them on the issues about which Professor Salaita tweeted. Additionally, we are going to attempt to ensure that the Board of Trustees consults with a cultural expert on Palestine, who can explain and educate them about the issues and the context surrounding Professor Salaita’s tweets. It has been made clear to us that the politics of the Board of Trustees is being allowed to dictate the course of the University, and that the misinformation and personal views of the members of the Board are being allowed to tell the students who is allowed to teach us, regardless of who we say that we want as our educators. We will not let this go unchallenged.
Additionally, Chancellor Wise has agreed to several parts of our demands, and has agreed upon a timeline under which she will take steps to address them. The ball is currently in her court, but we take her agreements as a gesture of good faith and of an attempt to rebuild trust between the University administration and the student body. She has not agreed unilaterally to our demands, and but we have made an important first step in our commitment to reinstating Professor Salaita. In terms of his actual reinstatement, the power to make that decision is not hers. This is why we have shifted the target of our efforts to the Board of Trustees, because they alone have the power to reinstate and approve Professor Salaita’s appointment at the University. In regards to the rest of our demands, which we have updated to reflect the town hall meeting, we have made progress on all of those, but continue to emphasize that it is unacceptable to meet any of our demands without first reinstating Professor Salaita.
We have made progress, but we all have a LOT of work left to do. We must organize, write to the Board of Trustees, and make our voices and our presences known. We will not be silent on September 11th, and we will not stop in our efforts to reinstate Professor Salaita, regardless of what the Board of Trustees decides.
Please keep organizing, please keep making your voices heard, and please#supportSalaita!
Also, feel free to message or comment with any questions, comments, or concerns.
Assuming the report is accurate, I can think of two interpretations of what it means.
If the UIUC is thinking politically, it would be an absolute disaster for them to open this can of worms, to act as if Salaita’s appointment is now a real possibility, to raise expectations for two weeks or so, to encourage all the organizing this will encourage (I can imagine the phone calls and emails that will now start pouring into the Board of Trustees), only to have the Board vote Salaita down. From a political perspective, this would be a disaster for the university. The strongest weapon the UIUC has always had is the sense that this is a done deal, that they will not budge, that we can raise all the ruckus we want, but they simply don’t care. Opening the decision up again calls that into question. Where does this line of reasoning lead us? To the possibility that the UIUC Trustees will vote to appoint Salaita on September 11, throw Chancellor Wise under the bus (remember, the Executive Committee that upheld her decision is only comprised of three Trustees, not the full Board)*, and say it was all a misunderstanding wrought by an incompetent chancellor. Who’ll then be pushed out within a year. The advantage of this approach is that it will effectively bring this story to a close. There will be angry donors, but everything I’ve ever read and experienced about that crew suggests that their bark is often worse than their bite. The ongoing atmosphere of crisis and ungovernability on campus is not something any university leader can bear for too long, and this threatens to go on for a very long time.
The other possibility is that the UIUC is thinking legally. One of the many weak links in their legal case was that Wise never forwarded Salaita’s appointment to the Board of Trustees for a vote. She basically did a pocket veto. Salaita’s offer letter stated that his appointment was subject to approval by the Board of Trustees, but Wise effectively never allowed the Board to approve or disapprove. So the UIUC’s lawyers could have decided that the better thing to do would be simply to carry out the full deed.
Many questions remain. Stay tuned. Regardless of which interpretation is correct, we have to operate on the assumption that the first is a very real possibility and that we have a lot of work to do in the next ten days.
*John Wilson reminds me in this post that all the members of the Board did sign a letter supporting Wise’s position, which I had forgotten about.
Update (11:15 pm)
Just to clarify my blog post: Like all of us, I have no idea what Wise and the Board are thinking (though we can assume that they are making this decision together). But while I think we have to be as strategic and smart about this as possible (fyi: John Wilson thinks I’m wrong; he may have a point), and gather as much information as we can, there’s always a tendency in these situations to play armchair strategist, to try and read the tea leaves, to figure out the pattern of power, as if we didn’t have hand or a role in shaping that pattern of power. Particularly when questions of law get involved (in a country of lawyers, Louis Hartz reminded us, every philosophical question is turned into a legal claim.) We have to resist that tendency. We have to treat this announcement, assuming it’s true, as a golden opportunity. To use the next 10 days as a chance to shift the balance of power on the ground. Remember the Board will be meeting and voting on campus. There are students, faculty, and activists on and around that campus. That’s an opportunity. Remember these trustees are individuals who can be called and emailed round the clock. That’s an opportunity. Between now and 9/11 (they really chose that date), let’s be mindful of the constraints, but also be thinking, always, in terms of opportunities.
There’s something profoundly depressing about the start of this little video clip filmed, by the sound of it, by two young boys, possibly from their bedroom window. As they chatter away, on the other side of an East Jerusalem valley an Israeli “skunk” truck fires high-powered jets of intensely foul-smelling liquid at older youths protesting Israel’s mass arrests policy, carried out under cover of its attack on Gaza.
The truck indiscriminately sprays a wide arc of liquid at homes and cars, a kind of petty collective punishment meant to pollute the Palestinian neighbourhood with the disgusting odour for days.
All of this is just another day in these boys’ experience of occupation. They film the truck like other children might video a cat chasing a ball of wool. Interesting to them, but nothing out of the ordinary.
And then, suddenly, something exceptional happens. The truck falls off the edge of the road, into a ravine. The screams of delight from the boys, and the whoops that seem to echo from the other side of the valley, they are so loud, register a small triumph – a momentary loss of control from the seemingly all-powerful machine that is the occupation.
It is easy, when the headlines have been filled with death and destruction in Gaza, to forget that the occupation is far more relentless and insidious than such spasms of Israeli death-wreaking. It is the monotonous drone of a mechanical, faceless monster seeking to sap all hope from young minds. In that brief interruption, before normal service was resumed, another world was revealed to these boys.
JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not plan to send a delegation for negotiations in Cairo as stipulated by the ceasefire agreement that ended seven weeks of fighting in Gaza, Israeli media reported Monday.
Channel 10 said in a TV report that Netanyahu told his cabinet in a closed session that he would not send as agreed a delegation to Egypt for further talks regarding a seaport and airport in Gaza, the release of Palestinian prisoners, the demilitarization of Gaza factions, and the delivery of bodies of Israeli soldiers presumed held by Hamas, among other unresolved issues.
Netanyahu spoke proudly to his cabinet about the Gaza offensive, saying Hamas had not achieved any of its demands, according to the report.
Qais Abd al-Karim, member of the Palestinian negotiation team to be sent to Cairo, told Ma’an that any Israeli step that shows a lack of commitment to the ceasefire’s terms would render the ceasefire null and void.
Abd al-Karim said the Palestinian delegation is awaiting the Egyptian invitation for negotiations and that it is committed to the terms of the ceasefire agreement.
Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip ended over seven weeks of fighting last Tuesday with a long-term ceasefire agreement in which Israel agreed to ease its siege on the coastal enclave and expand the fishing zone off its coast. Further negotiations regarding many other key unresolved issues were to take place in Egypt a month later.
The Israeli assault on Gaza left over 2,100 Palestinians dead and some 11,000 injured, the vast majority of them civilians. Some 71 Israelis also died in the fighting, 66 of them soldiers.
More than one hundred university professors in New York City have signed an open letter, which was published on Monday, to administrators throughout the City University of New York (CUNY) system regarding the “principles of freedom of speech and assembly, and how such freedoms apply to students involved in organising with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at several of the CUNY colleges”.
In the letter, the professors explain that: “We have viewed with great concern instances of unequal and unfair treatment of SJP by members of the CUNY administration over the past few years. These have been well documented by legal rights groups such as the Centre for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, and Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, as well as by students involved in SJP at CUNY and their faculty advisers. These include arbitrary changes in policies regarding student groups, aimed specifically at curtailing SJP activities; the over-policing of SJP events and activities, including simple actions like handing out fliers, in a way that has caused intimidation to students; and making unfounded accusations that lead to ‘investigations’ into widely publicised events. All of these actions have a chilling effect on free exchange and open dialogue.”
The letter calls “upon members of the administration throughout the CUNY system to treat SJP as they would any other student organisation, respecting their right to organise events and activities within the existing rules and practices governing such organisations and refraining from setting up unfair barriers or subjecting SJP to standards different from those applied to other student groups. These students are acting within the traditions of intellectual inquiry and public responsibility that have guided CUNY since its inception.”
The CUNY professors urge the administrators at their university to “show courage in upholding the principles of freedom of speech and assembly”. They point out that while not all faculty members who have signed the letter always agree with the views expressed at SJP events, they support “unconditionally” the students’ “right to express these views without fear of reprisals or unfair treatment by this university.”
Amongst the many dozens of esteemed faculty in the CUNY system who signed the letter are: David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and History; Talal Asad, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology; Linda Martín Alcoff, Director, Women’s Studies Certificate Program and Centre for the Study of Women and Society; Moustafa Bayoumi, Professor of English; Corey Robin, Professor of Political Science; Susan Buck-Morss, Distinguished Professor of Political Science; Stanley Aronowitz, Distinguished Professor of Sociology; Ervand Abrahamian, Distinguished Professor of History; and Sarah Schulman, Distinguished Professor of the Humanities.
To view the full letter and its list of signatories, please visit here.
HEBRON – Israeli bulldozers demolished a dairy factory in Hebron and Bedouin homes east of Jerusalem early Tuesday, witnesses told Ma’an.
Locals said Israeli troops escorted two bulldozers and two excavators to the al-Rama neighborhood in northern Hebron and began demolishing the factory, which is owned by Hebron’s Islamic Charitable Society.
Journalists and bystanders were not allowed to approach the area which the Israeli army declared a closed military zone during the demolition, witnesses said.
Hatim al-Bakri, who chairs the board of directors of the Islamic Charitable Society, said the damages inflicted a loss of “about 2 million US dollars.”
“Services the Charitable Society offers to orphans in the Hebron district will be badly affected,” al-Bakri said.
He said Israeli forces had confiscated the factory’s belongings during the month of Ramadan.
Israel accuses the organization of being tied to Hamas, he added.
Separately, a Ma’an reporter said Israeli forces demolished Bedouin homes and structures near Jabaa village east of Jerusalem.
A spokeswoman for Israel’s civil administration told Ma’an via email that Israeli forces on Tuesday “carried out the demolition of an illegal building which was built without the necessary permits in the Hebron area.”
“The building was demolished after the appropriate enforcement procedure was completed and a demolition order was delivered.”
The spokeswoman also confirmed the demolitions in Jabaa. She said five buildings were destroyed by Israeli bulldozers.
“The buildings were demolished after 45 days were given to the residents to apply for a building permit. After this wasn’t completed, it was decided to enforce the existing demolition orders on these buildings.”
Israel rarely grants construction permits to Palestinians in the West Bank, and regularly demolishes structures built without permits.
In May, the EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah urged Israel to halt home demolitions in Area C of the West Bank, describing such actions as “forced transfer of population and demolitions of Palestinian housing and infrastructure.”
Israel has demolished 359 Palestinian structures in the West Bank so far in 2014, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
Some 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures have been demolished by Israel since it occupied the West Bank in 1967.
A few days ago I noticed the appearance of a truly remarkable full-page ad in the Hollywood Reporter. The ad, which I initially saw as a piece of poorly conceived propaganda, was concocted by the Anti-Defamation League, and called upon world leaders and ‘decent people everywhere’ to make sure that ‘Hamas terrorists’ cannot be rearmed so the ‘people of Gaza and Israel can move toward a more peaceful future.’
My immediate impression was that the ad failed on two levels. The first is the quote from the truly hideous Golda Meir: “We can forgive [them] for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with [them] when they love their children more than they hate us.”
Presented in bold, the quote reeks of an ADL desperate to counter the images of slaughtered children that continue to fill our television screens. A couple of important textual and contextual changes have been made to the quote — note the substitution of “the Arabs” from the original quote with the less pejorative “them.” But even more significantly, the original quote was referring to the deaths of sons and daughters on either side — soldiers rather than infants. The ADL has simply adapted the quote contextually in order to fit the current Israeli policy of mass child murder.
Even examining it in its new context, the central message being conveyed is that Israel is being forced to kill Palestinian children, and further, that Israel is distraught at being made to do this. Such a claim is ridiculous given world has seen images of Israelis making the bombing of Gaza’s schools and hospitals into a social occasion complete with snacks, drinks and selfies.
On top of this there is the sinister implication, alluded to by playwright Wallace Shawn, that “Golda Meir can be interpreted as saying here that she plans to kill the children of Arabs up until the moment when, in her sole judgment, the Arabs stop feeling ‘hate’ and become sufficiently unprovoking and pacified.” As far as warm and fuzzy ‘feel-good’ quotes go, this one left a lot to be desired.
The second ‘fail’ in the ad is the ludicrous marching out of Hollywood Jewry against ‘Hamas terrorists.’ So much for the ‘grain of truth’ lie — that there is a mere ‘grain of truth’ to the idea that Jews control Hollywood. It was quite easy for tje ADL to bring out almost every single major Hollywood executive, and every one of them a strongly identified Jew. Among those signing the letter were MGM chairman and South African Jew Gary Barber, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer, Relativity Media CEO Ryan Kavanaugh (his original family name was Konitz), Nu Image/Millennium Films co-chairman Avi Lerner, Quentin Tarantino’s personal Jewish mogul Lawrence Bender, Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal, Saban Capital Group chairman and CEO Haim Saban, and President of the CORE media group Marc Graboff.
The question begged: what do these figures know about the history of the conflict in Palestine? And so I was almost ready to dismiss it out of hand as another shoddy and pointless ADL production.
However, looked at more closely, and with some consideration for context, it quickly became apparent to me that such a question was irrelevant to the true aim of the ad: what was being presented here was not so much a claim for moral legitimacy as a Jewish ‘show of strength.’ Kevin MacDonald has pointed out that the recent slaughter in Gaza has presented “another situation where the public pronouncements of people who matter have to be squelched.” Indeed, the number of celebrities who dared to express sympathy with innocent Palestinians, even fleetingly, was remarkable. Some, such as Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, even went so far as to sign an open letter condemning “Israeli genocide” of the Gazans.
The response of organized Jewry to this mass expression of free-thinking was hurried and harsh. Nervous celebrities then clamoured to ‘clarify’ their initial statements of solidarity with the Palestinians, instead now uttering mealy-mouthed ‘hopes’ for peace and panicked refutations of anti-Semitism. Take, for example, Bardem’s effort:
This week, along with a number of artists in my home country of Spain, I spoke out about the conflict in Gaza urging all governments to intervene in this escalating crisis. My signature was solely meant as a plea for peace. Destruction and hatred only generate more hatred and destruction. While I was critical of the Israeli military response, I have great respect for the people of Israel and deep compassion for their losses. I am now being labelled by some as anti-Semitic, as is my wife — which is the antithesis of who we are as human beings. We detest anti-Semitism as much as we detest the horrible and painful consequences of war.
Time will tell whether Bardem’s grovelling will be sufficient to stop his career going down the toilet — a consequence that Jackie Mason would like to see for any uppity goy actor who doesn’t know his place. MacDonald also noted that Mason has been quite clear that these people should suffer professional consequences—that the Jews who run Hollywood should punish celebrities who offend the pro-Israel crowd.
They come from these kinds of anti-Semitic, low-class backgrounds where a Jew is the most disgusting thing in the world to them,” Mason answers, according to audio obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “The ironic thing is that it’s Jewish people who own these Hollywood studios … And they all hire these people and they depend on them for a living. Every penny they made is made from Jews and they hate every Jew just by nature.
These celebrities are justifiably afraid that Hollywood Jews will act as Jews in exerting pressure on them to conform, because the idea that Hollywood executives are ‘just’ Americans who ‘happen’ to be Jewish ‘by faith’ is nonsense. In my analysis of Jewish self-deception regarding participation in the media, I pointed out that
Although not religious, moguls like Carl Laemmle, Louis Mayer, Harry Cohn, Irving Thalberg, and the Warner brothers moved in an almost exclusively Jewish social milieu. On a larger scale, ethnic “connections and sympathies opened the flourishing Hollywood commerce to thousands of transplanted New Yorkers, in turn offering possible escape routes to Jewish filmmakers in Europe.” There were so many Jews working for Mayer’s MGM that the company was known in Jewish circles as “Mayer’s Ganze Mishpokhe” (“Mayer’s entire family). RCA founder David Sarnoff struggled “to maintain Jewish cultural identity.” Almost all of the moguls maintained links with Jewish organized crime, particularly with Chicago’s Jewish mobster and former pimp, Willie Bioff. Although outwardly, and perhaps even inwardly, maintaining the pretence of an assimilated citizen of the world, Mayer himself was notorious for interfering on the set of the Andy Hardy series by issuing pronouncements on “how the Gentiles behave.” Despite these realities, there appears to have been a great deal of self-deception and hypocrisy at work in the group. Buhle notes that, despite the fact that these moguls operated in an almost exclusively Jewish world, they were at pains to present the image of “the benevolent melting pot, usually exaggerating its virtues on the screen.”
Little has changed. In fact, Jews might have more of a monopoly on the entertainment industry now than at any time in their history. However, self-deception regarding Jewish participation in the media today can only be said to be very weak at best. For a start, I think today’s moguls are more openly and unapologetically Jewish than before. Take Ryan Kavanaugh. Before signing his name to the ADL ad, Kavanaugh, described by The Hollywood Reporter as “an outspoken supporter of Israel” and a past recipient of the ADL’s Entertainment Industry Award, claimed in an open letter to renegade celebrities that “Israel is perhaps the closest free-thinking place to Hollywood.” After a rambling, and very clumsy defense of Israeli actions, Kavanaugh then brings out a classic Jewish argument-ender:
My grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, used to say, “Remember Ryan … remember this happened. Remember that the U.S. stood by and allowed Hitler to take over Poland and so many other countries, and slaughter 6 million Jews.” It took five years before the U.S. did anything, and one-third of the Jewish population was captured and killed. Remember the very streets in London with rallies chanting “Free Palestine” are the same streets where some British citizens rallied and chanted in favor of the Nazis. And remember our government did nothing.
Yes, that’s right, Kavanaugh is actually drawing a parallel between people protesting against the killing of Palestinian children and support for Nazi Germany. As an exercise in logic, it’s little more than an ADL special served up with a side of irony. It means nothing beyond the emotive response the trigger words ‘Holocaust’ and ‘Nazis’ might elicit from the indoctrinated, the uninformed, and the unsuspecting. But it says a lot about the mentality of your typical Jewish media mogul. Note the resented and ‘not forgotten’ failure of the United States to intervene in World War II at a speed sufficiently pleasing to the Jews. This is the classic, and often stereotyped, Jewish sense of entitlement together with that notorious sense of historical grievance.
Kavanaugh was also among the first to bring Bardem and Cruz under fire, at one point stating that he didn’t want to work with them again. Kavanaugh told the Holywood Reporter that their expression of sympathy with Gaza “makes my blood boil… As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, anyone calling it Israeli ‘genocide’ vs. protecting themselves are either the most ignorant people about the situation and shouldn’t be commenting, or are truly anti-Semitic.”
Never a guy to miss an opportunity to dwell on the past, Kavanaugh went on to say that the lack of support for Israel “is akin to the silence when concentration camps started during World War II.” Kavanaugh, who has produced such cultural treasures as Fast & Furious 6, 21 Jump Street and The Social Network, has spent a great deal of time in Israel, and works to strengthen American Jewish identity by arranging trips for business leaders, politicians and fellow industryites to tour the region. His statement: “As a Jew, I’m shocked that other Jews in America and our industry aren’t being more proactive,” stands in marked contrast to the denials of moguls in my essay on self-deception, particularly that of producer David Selznick who was always eager to superficially maintain “I am an American, not a Jew.”
The ‘media Jew’ has evolved, and he is certainly now more assertive and aggressive in protecting Jewish interests. Gary Barber, (Chairman and CEO, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures), Jon Feltheimer (CEO, Lionsgate Entertainment),Jeffrey Katzenberg (CEO, DreamWorks Animation), and Avi Lerner (Chairman and Founder, Nu Image/Millennium Films) have all had open associations with the ADL in the past.
The reason for this disparity is that we live in a different age. In the postscript to my exploration of the manufactured rise of Spinoza in academia I commented that
It appears that Jews are becoming more and more flamboyant and confident (or aggressive) in asserting their dominance. While the ADL would like us not to think of Jewish power and influence at all, there are recurrent examples where Jews unabashedly assert their influence. … Jews see their future in a world where their claims of Jewish superiority are met with mere acceptance or apathy from the White population. This is neatly summed up in the 1979 ADL-sponsored book Anti-Semitism in America (by Harold Quinley and Charles Glock; New York: The Free Press). The authors state (p. 2) in relation to accusations that Jews are a moneyed elite that “a majority of Jews are in fact moneyed in the sense of having above-average incomes.” The writer added (p. 2) that 97% of American respondents to a survey on this fact said they weren’t bothered by it because they attributed it to individual merit, rather than seeing Jews as a group. This is precisely the goal sought by organizations like the ADL. The ADL’s enmity is aroused when, as Quinley and Glock put it (p. 3), discussion of such facts goes “beyond a simple recognition.”
So the ADL will be quite happy to place its name beside a list comprising the big-hitters of Hollywood Jewry — especially if it includes such loyal and hardworking members of the Tribe as the pathological Ryan Kavanaugh.
Just don’t question the deeper significance of that list, or Jewish control of Hollywood. Because that, dear friends, would be anti-Semitic.
Jewish assertiveness in Hollywood has also now culminated in a mirror image of the Gaza effort, with a pro-Israel open letter now claiming the signatures of 190 Hollywood celebrities. It’s clear even from a quick glance that around 95% of individuals on the list are Jewish. The vast majority of the signatories are actors like Roseanne Barr, Seth Rogen, and Aaron Sorkin. Some of the non-Jewish conformists included Minnie Driver, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone who apparently has some Jewish ancestry. As a publicity exercise this particular effort struck me as empty and derivative, even a little immature. But again, this isn’t about scoring moral points with the masses — this is about putting non-Jewish Hollywood in its place.
When it comes to putting the uppity goy actors in their place there has been no hesitation at all on the part of Jews like Mason, Kavanaugh, or the ADL to making very explicit the scale of Jewish power and influence in Hollywood, and the kind of consequences a renegade can expect. Organized Jewry and its muzzling arm, the ADL, are fully aware of the power they wield in Hollywood. The ADL stalks its prey with the term ‘anti-Semite’ as a safari hunter would a trophy with a high-powered rifle. One shot, one kill.
In the world of entertainment, there are few recoveries. In terms of raw power, the eighteen names on the ADL ad are more than match for the hundreds of celebrities who have signed open letters or penned offending tweets. The message might be lost on the public at large, but to those entertainers it is crystal clear — “We own you.”
After lunch, which is usually at around 4pm, we decided to go to Wadi Fukin to visit family. I’ve written before about the village which sits directly east of the 1949 armistice line, more commonly referred to as the Green Line. Each time we visit, I am always shocked. This time was worse than I expected. The lush, fertile valley is being closed in by colonies, which will result in Wadi Fukin being surrounded.
Beitar Illit is an illegal colony inhabited by particularly aggressive right-wing nationalist Jews. The colony was first established as an outpost in 1984 on land belonging to the neighbouring village of Husan. Today it is home to around 50,000 colonists. I’ve witnessed its expansion over more than a decade, and it never fails to make me so angry when I am confronted with it. The housing units were first built along the ridge of the hill. Then construction crept down the side of the hill at one end, into the valley of Wadi Fukin (wadi is Arabic for valley).
Today the side of the hill is almost entirely populated by the colonists. Because they are ultra religious, they believe the water source within Wadi Fukin is holy water, and the whole area is a special place for them alone, given by God. Armed colonists often invade the valley to come and swim in the irrigation pools that have been there for generations, the land tended by Palestinians for hundreds of years. Other intimidation of the Palestinians of the valley includes setting fire to trees and poisoning the water wells.
Perversely, Beitar Illit has been awarded the Israel Ministry of Interior’s gold prize, recognizing “responsible management and sustainable urban planning”. It has also received the same ministry’s prize for water conservation in public gardens, urban public institutions, and urban water administration in 2002. Daily life here is Kafkaesque in the extreme.
But there was worse. On the other hill, Tsur Hadasa, which is technically in Israel, ie, on the other side of the armistice line, is now encroaching into Wadi Fukin from the west. The cranes loom menacingly and piles of earth punctuate the ridge as construction continues. I wanted to take some photos so one of my nieces took me up the hill.
The land here is very rocky, with prickly gorse and olive trees planted on terraces. It was quite a climb but within minutes I could see the absolute destruction and disregard for the land of Wadi Fukin. Trees had been uprooted, stones gauged out. It was a mess. Farther in the distance, in what is Israel, the hill remains untouched and flora and fauna is flourishing. I’m not entirely sure where the armistice line is, but the new construction is clearly a very deliberate action to take land within the West Bank at some point to expand the colony. After all, they could easily have built to the west, well within Israel.
Wadi Fukin is entirely Area C, as denoted by the Oslo Accords, the appalling agreement that has given Palestinians the Palestinian Authority and Israel carte blanche to do as it pleases. This means that the homes in Wadi Fukin are under constant threat. I asked my brother in law if the homes closest to the newly built units of Beitar Illit are at risk of being issued demolition orders. He said no, those homes were built quite a few years ago. But the owners have recently planted the land around the building and he is sure that at some point the Israelis will demand the trees are removed.
Back to the western hill, the villagers have rescued what they can and the uprooted trees will be used for fire wood. The construction on both sides of the valley, with colonies and colonists encroaching ever deeper into Wadi Fukin, means that the space for the village and its inhabitants is getting smaller and smaller. Natural growth means that the population is increasing. So while Palestinian land is taken to increase the colonies, the Palestinians are being hemmed in. It’s a recipe for disaster.
Just like another Israel,
by enemies surrounded, lost in the veld,
but for another Canaan elected,
led forward by God’s plan.
- Reverend J.D. du Toit, Potgieter’s Trek (1909)
This past May, in a relatively banal column touting the necessity of an impossible “two-state solution” in the context of what he deemed to be U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s “specious comparison” of a potential Israeli future to South African apartheid, former Ha’aretz editor-in-chief David Landau wrote:
This resort to apartheid infuriates the majority of Israelis and Israel-lovers, including those in the peace camp, and one can readily understand why. Apartheid was based on racism; Israeli Jews are not racist. They may occupy, persecute and discriminate Palestinians, but they act out of misguided patriotism and a hundred years of bloody conflict. Not out of racism.
It would be a gross understatement to say that Landau’s formulation was fundamentally flawed.
First and foremost, there is a vast amount of evidence proving that Jewish Israeli society – built wholly upon the 19th century premise (and promise) of ethnic and religious superiority, exclusivity, and privilege enforced through ethnic cleansing, forced expulsion, displacement and dispossession, segregation, colonization and occupation – is somehow becoming even more openly racist. Poll after poll reveals increasingly bigoted trends.
The work of reporters like David Sheen and Max Blumenthal, for instance, routinely demonstrates a viciously militarized and unjust society masquerading as an embattled liberal democracy, acting with aggression and impunity. More recently, pogroms targeting migrants and refugees from Africa, incitement against Palestinians inside Israel, and explicit anti-miscegenation campaigns are becoming more frequent and more dangerous.
A country for “the white man”
In a mid-2012 interview, Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai said that Africans, “along with the Palestinians, will bring a quick end to the Zionist dream,” since “[m]ost of those people arriving here are Muslims who think the country doesn’t belong to us, the white man.” Referring to refugees from Sudan and Eritrea as an “infiltrator threat,” he told the press he was eager to deport all African immigrants for, in his words, “the benefit of the Zionist dream.”
A chapter in a forthcoming book, detailing a three-year, anthropological study of the attitudes of typical, secular Israeli high school students conducted by Dr. Idan Yaron, is stark in its assessment of the cultural racism and hatred present in Israeli society. Reporter Ori Kashti notes that, based upon Yaron’s observations, “such hatred is a basic everyday element among youth, and a key component of their identity. Yaron portrays the hatred without rose-colored glasses or any attempt to present it as a sign of social ‘unity.’ What he observed is unfiltered hatred.”
Landau’s desperate defense against the apartheid label perfectly demonstrates the Liberal Zionist need to insist that Israel and its founding ideology are not inherently racist, a position less and less palatable to people who are actually paying attention.
His claim that because “Israeli Jews are not racist,” and therefore Israel can’t possibly be deemed a “apartheid” state, not only misunderstands the actual definition of apartheid, which isn’t merely race-based discrimination and oppression. It also mirrors precisely the arguments made by defenders of South African apartheid in opposition to calls for equal human and civil rights.
Zionism’s defenders mirror apartheid’s apologists
Beyond the shared “promised land” and “chosen people” rhetoric that has inspired both the Afrikaner and Zionist ideologies of racial, religious, and ethnic supremacy, so has that of land redemption through settler-colonialism and transplanting indigenous populations. As historian Donald Akenson has written, “The very spine of Afrikaner history (no less than the historical sense of the Hebrew scriptures upon which it is based) involves the winning of ‘the Land’ from alien, and indeed, evil forces.”
This past June, settler leader Dani Dayan argued in the New York Times that, as summarized by David Samel, “Israel retain control of ‘Judea and Samaria,’ that it continue to exercise military rule over millions of stateless Palestinians, but that it loosen its stranglehold by making concerted efforts to make Palestinians happier despite the permanent loss of freedom, equality in the land of their birth, and justice under international law.”
Dayan’s essay calls for what is essentially, in Samel’s words, “window dressing of reduced restrictions on Palestinians” in order to “keep the natives happy.” Just like his more “liberal” counterparts like David Landau on the west side of the Green Line, Dayan insists, “we settlers were never driven — except for fringe elements — by bigotry, hate or racism.”
This argument effectively relies on the disingenuous presumption that the actual victims of an exclusivist, 19th century European ideology – the colonized indigenous population – are merely incidental to the ideology itself. That is, as Landau wrote, “misguided patriotism and a hundred years of bloody conflict” are really to blame for the oppression, discrimination and violence against Palestinians, not the racist obligations of Zionism.
In October 1964, Foreign Affairs published the lengthy essay, “In Defense of Apartheid,” by Charles A. W. Manning. Not only did Manning accuse outside meddlers and finger-waggers of refusing to acknowledge South Africa’s right to exist as an apartheid state, he also justified its racist policies as “a heritage from a complicated past.”
Quoting approvingly from the 1954 Tomlinson Commission, Manning wrote that while “a continuation of the policy of integration would intensify racial friction and animosity… the only alternative is to promote the establishment of separate communities in their own separate territories where each will have the fullest opportunity for self-expression and development.”
Two states for two peoples.
In the face of international opprobrium, apartheid is “the philosophy of patriots,” Manning explained, “a remedial treatment for a state of things deriving from the past.” He added that apartheid is a matter of “nationalism, rather than racialism.”
It is easy for the foreigner to deride a nationalism which he does not share; but nowhere in human history has nationalism ever been destroyed by foreign scorn. Admittedly, Afrikaner nationalism is a form of collective selfishness; but to say this is simply to say that it is an authentic case of nationalism. For what is nationalism anywhere if not collective self-love? What underlies apartheid is at bottom an attitude not toward the black man, but toward the forefathers-and the future-of the Afrikaner people.
Deplore the white man’s collective self-concern, and you may equally well damn every other example of nationalism, white or black. It is absurd to assume that nationalism is nice, or nasty, according to its color.
Manning bemoaned that, as a result of misunderstanding the necessity and, yes, benevolence of apartheid, even South Africa’s best friends were beginning to abandon it. “Israel finds it necessary to ignore the analogy between South Africa’s predicament and her own,” he lamented.
In 2012, Israel’s High Court upheld the state’s explicitly discriminatory “Citizenship and Entry” law, which, as Ben White has explained, “places severe restrictions on the ability of Palestinian citizens of Israel to live with spouses from the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as well as from so-called ‘enemy states’ (defined as Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq).” The ruling stated that “Palestinians who gain Israeli citizenship through marriage pose a security threat.”
Writing in Al Jazeera, following the decision, White elaborated:
In the majority opinion, Justice Asher Grunis wrote that “human rights are not a prescription for national suicide”, a term often invoked by those worrying about what realising Palestinian rights would mean for Israel’s Jewish majority. This same phrase was invoked by the Interior Minister Eli Yishai, while coalition chair and Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin applauded the High Court judges for understanding, as he put it, that “human rights cannot jeopardize the State”.
A particularly instructive reaction came from Kadima MK Otniel Schneller, who said that the decision “articulates the rationale of separation between the (two) peoples and the need to maintain a Jewish majority and the (Jewish) character of the state”.
The notion that advocating and legislating in favor of “human rights” and equality would be the death knell of the Israeli state – “national suicide” – perfectly articulates that inherent injustice of Zionism; indeed, it is a self-indicting statement.
And, as has already been noted here and elsewhere, is yet one more example of how Israel’s apologists employ precisely the same logic, arguments and excuses – often literally the same words, verbatim – as the staunch defenders of the apartheid system in South Africa.
In April 1953, on the eve of assembly elections in South Africa, Prime Minister D.F. Malan warned that outside forces – including “the United Nations, Communist Russia… as well as a hostile press” – were “trying to force upon us equality, which must inevitably mean to white South Africa nothing less than national suicide.”
Malan added, “I consider the approaching election South Africa’s last chance to remain a white man’s country.”
Just months after Malan and his National Party won the election and consolidated power, South Africa’s London-based High Commissioner A.L. Geyer delivered a speech on August 19, 1953 entitled, “The Case for Apartheid,” before the city’s Rotary Club. He argued against the indigenous claims of the native black population (“South Africa is no more the original home of its black Africans, the Bantu, than it is of its white Africans”); that the apartheid state is the only “homeland” known to white South Africans (“the only independent white nation in all Africa… a nation which has created a highly developed modern state”); and that “South Africa is the only independent country in the world in which white people are outnumbered by black people.”
These claims echo common hasbara tropes: that Palestinians are an “invented people” and that the Arab majority in Palestine was due to immigration into Palestine rather than an ancient indigenous population with roots in that land for centuries, if not millennia; that Israel is the “only democracy in the Middle East,” a bright bastion of technology and Western modernism amidst a sea of darker-skinned barbarians.
In his speech, Geyer – who was national chairman of the South African Bureau of Racial Affairs, known, ironically, by the acronym “SABRA” – turns to the question of what the future South Africa will look like and sees “two possible lines of development: Apartheid or Partnership.” He explains:
Partnership means Cooperation of the individual citizens within a single community, irrespective of race… [It] demands that there shall be no discrimination whatsoever in trade and industry, in the professions and the Public Service. Therefore, whether a man is black or a white African, must according to this policy be as irrelevant as whether in London a man is a Scotsman or an Englishman. I take it: that Partnership must also aim at the eventual disappearance of all social segregation based on race.
Geyer, speaking on behalf of those intent on maintaining a stratified and discriminatory society, was obviously not a fan of this prospective outcome. Just as those who still push for an illusory “two-state solution” insist that a Jewish majority must be artificially engineered to exclude as many non-Jews as possible within the area controlled by Israel for a “Jewish and democratic” state to continue existing, Geyer too bristled at the idea of true self-determination wherein the result wasn’t already predetermined through gerrymandered demographics.
If the black population were to be given full voting rights, for instance, whites would no longer hold a monopoly on political power in the country. The inevitable result, Geyer warned, would be “black domination, in the sense that power must pass to the immense African majority.”
This sentiment was similarly articulated by Ehud Olmert, then the Israeli Prime Minister, in a 2007 interview with Ha’aretz. “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories),” he said “then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.”
Here’s how Geyer, in 1953, articulated his argument against such a horrifying future of democracy, equality, and justice:
Need I say more to show that this policy of Partnership could, in South Africa, only mean the eventual disappearance of the white South African nation? And will you be greatly surprised if I tell you that this white nation is not prepared to commit national suicide, not even by slow poisoning? The only alternative is a policy of apartheid, the policy of separate development.
Indeed, as Israeli Justice Grunis reminded us, “human rights are not a prescription for national suicide.” Geyer couldn’t have agreed more. Denying basic and fundamental rights, while promoting and implementing a policy of demographic segregation and geographic separation, was a matter of survival, Geyer argued – just like his Zionist successors do now.
“Apartheid is a policy of self-preservation,” Geyer said. “We make no apology for possessing that very natural urge. But it is more than that. It is an attempt at self-preservation in a manner that will enable the Bantu to develop fully as a separate people.” As the native black Africa population in South Africa was, Geyer noted, “still very immature,” efforts must be made “to develop the Bantu areas both agriculturally and industrially, with the object of making these areas in every sense the national home of the Bantu.”
Thirty years later, very little had actually changed.
In his infamous “Rubicon” speech, delivered in Durban on August 15, 1985, South African president P.W. Botha declared that “most leaders in their own right in South Africa and reasonable South Africans will not accept the principle of one-man-one-vote in a unitary system. That would lead to domination of one over the other and it would lead to chaos. Consequently, I reject it as a solution.”
Botha added, “I am not prepared to lead White South Africans and other minority groups on a road to abdication and suicide. Destroy White South Africa and our influence, and this country will drift into faction strife, chaos and poverty.”
In response, ANC president Oliver Tambo condemned Botha’s disingenuous statements about his apartheid regime’s commitment to “the protection of minorities” and “the just and equal treatment of all parts of South Africa.” Botha, he said, had instead committed to the continued “oppression of the overwhelming majority of our people” and “promised our people more brutal repression.”
Calling for increased resistance, through both armed struggle and the imposition of international sanctions, Tambo declared that all victims of apartheid were “ready to make any and all sacrifices to achieve justice and democracy based on the principle of one man, one vote in a unitary South Africa.”
That very same year, Raphael Israeli, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and future client of the neoconservative PR firm Benador Associates, published an essay promoting increased Zionist colonization of the West Bank and Gaza and then subsequent partition of what he called “Greater Palestine” (which includes Jordan) as part of a potential solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israeli argued that “the seemingly reasonable claim that the ‘state belongs to all its inhabitants'” anticipates the “nightmare of a bi-national state” in which “Israel is no longer a state of the Jews or a Jewish state.”
The essay, entitled “One Palestinian People and One Palestine,” was eventually included in a collection edited by Israeli himself entitled, “Dangers of a Palestinian State.”
In laying out his vision for a bizarre tripartite entity within “Greater Palestine,” with redefined parameters of sovereignty and self-determination in which a “Palestinian government” is established in Amman, Jordan, alongside the Hashemite monarchy, and Israeli military control over the West Bank continues until a final settlement on borders is agreed upon.
Israeli stresses that Jewish citizens of the Zionist state reject the implementation of a “one person, one vote” system throughout Israel and the territories it occupies because they would be “faced with an intractable dilemma: either a democratic and egalitarian Israel with rights for all, with the corollaries of a bi-national state immediately and an Arab-majority state in the future; or Jewish Israel where the Jews would maintain rights and rule and the Arabs would be devoid of both.”
“No Israeli government,” the renowned academic wrote, “could face that dilemma and resolve it in any acceptable way.”
For Zionism, as it was for apartheid, equality and human rights are non-starters. The fear that a “one person, one vote” system and of a “state for all its citizens” instills in Zionists is no different from that expressed by defenders of South African apartheid.
Defended by de Klerk
Following John Kerry’s “apartheid” comment earlier this year, F.W. de Klerk, the former South Africa prime minister who presided over the dismantling of the apartheid regime, came to Israel’s defense. “I think it’s unfair to call Israel an apartheid state,” he said.
This is the same de Klerk, however, who two years earlier reflected that, while “[i]n as much as it trampled human rights, [apartheid] was and remains morally indefensible,” he still defended what he said was the system’s “original concept of seeking to bring justice to all South Africans through the concept of nation states.”
De Klerk explained that the Bantustanization of South Africa was conceived as a way to “bring justice for black South Africans in a way which would not – that’s what I believed then – destroy the justice to which my people were entitled.” He added that it was “not repugnant” to believe that “ethnic entities with one culture, with one language, can be happy and can fulfill their democratic aspirations in [their] own state,” separate from one another.
After his comments sparked negative reactions, de Klerk’s spokesman walked back his comments. When “an artificial creation” like apartheid fell, the spokesman said, “you can go two ways – either by going your separate ways like in the Soviet Union or in what is being suggested for Israel and Palestine, or by trying to build a multicultural society.”
When “the first option” failed in South Africa, apartheid leaders “changed course,” he said, continuing, “It is not immoral for the Afrikaners to want to rule themselves any more than it is for the Israelis or the Scots to wish for the same things.”
Israel and its defenders go to great lengths to insist the “Jewish state” is not an apartheid one. Curious, then, that the only arguments they can muster in their favor are precisely those that were used to apologize for South Africa’s decades of indefensible discrimination and violence.
Below are five points that campaigning organisations and individuals should be using in all discussions and correspondence with their political representatives. This is UK-specific as DFID wants to play the leading role in co-ordinating the reconstruction of Gaza. The five point action plan relies on international law and the UK’s responsibility as a signatory of the IV Geneva Convention.
Next month there is a donors’ conference in Cairo and it is vital that British voters start pressuring their MPs as soon as possible. An online petition issued by a coalition of civil society organisations (such as Oxfam, War on Want, PSC, JFJFP, etc) which individuals can sign is also a powerful tool to exert political pressure.
I would like to ask all civil society organisations and individuals in the UK to read this, share it and help implement it as a campaign. There is a general election in the UK next year, let’s work now to make Palestine a key issue for MPs, especially the issue of the Blockade.
- UK taxpayers should not subsidise Israel’s destruction of Gaza. Taxpayers financially support the work of DFID in assisting in the rebuilding efforts, but Israel should reimburse all of DFID’s costs. DFID should send an itemised assessment, or the UK government should send a similar bill, to the Israeli government. The bill should clearly state that the UK government is issuing it as part of third-state responsibility to ensure accountability and prevent impunity for international law violations. The UK is obligated as a third state party, party to IV Geneva Convention, to demand from the violator to make reparations, compensation.
- Taxpayers should demand that the UK government makes public the complete list of all UK-funded projects destroyed and/or damaged and/or setback and/or delayed by Israel’s war on Gaza. This should also apply to the West Bank and East Jerusalem demolitions. This includes DFID funding of INGO’s who partner with local NGO’s, not just direct DFID funding.
- Should Israel refuse to pay for the damages or for DFID’s reconstruction projects, then the UK and EU should impose a Gaza reconstruction tax on all Israeli imports. The fees collected will go towards a Gaza Reconstruction Fund.
- DFID projects must be aimed at empowering the local Palestinian economy (local means all of Palestine). Israel should not profit from its violations, ie, its markets should be excluded from or be of last resort for providing materials for reconstruction projects.
- Reconstruction should not be done by accommodating the Blockade or any other illegal action. (That means continuing to use Israeli controlled crossings at the restricted rates of the Blockade which simply perpetuates the Blockade.) Ending the blockade means ending Israeli control of all imports. The current paradigm needs to be changed through international political action: Gaza needs an autonomous crossing not controlled by Israel, for example, an international seaport. The EU proposal for a Cyprus corridor is a good first start and should be supported by the UK and EU.
The words of Jim Page’s song “I’d rather be dancing” are based on the letters Rachel Corrie wrote home to her parents before the Israeli army crushed her to death in Gaza on 16 March 2003. She was murdered, crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer, when attempting to prevent the demolition of a house in Rafah, Gaza, owned by a Palestinian doctor and his family. Rachel was 23-years-old. See rachelcorriefoundation.org
you know I was always the one
I could never stand idly by
and watch while the bullies beat up on the weaker ones
I had to do something to try
and I never gave up on people
that we could be better somehow
morality’s compass, you gave it to me
I still follow it now
well, I couldn’t stop thinking about it
I couldn’t get it out of my mind
the pictures, the stories, the plight of the people
in occupied Palestine
how my government makes me complicit
with the political aid that they send
so I packed up my bags and I headed to Rafa
to work with the ISM
and I’d rather be dancing, dancing and falling in love
but if I just can just watch from a distance then what am I made of
mama these people are so good to me
they treat me like one of their own
they feed me and see to my needs
and let me sleep in their home
papa their lives are so hard
the gun shots night
the road blocks, the strip searches, the humiliations
papa it just isn’t right
I can feel my privilege around me
it’s there in my American face
I could wave my passport around like a flag
and I would be safe in this place
for these child soldiers of Israel
they look like the boys back home
and if it wasn’t for American money
they’d have to leave these people alone
and I’d rather be dancing, dancing to Pat Benatar
but somebody has to do somethin’ about it and here we are
the tractors are coming today
they’re like tanks with bulldozer blades
the name on the side says Caterpillar
that means they’re American made
well, I am American too
and I’ll be where everybody can see
so if they want to run over these houses today
they’re gonna have to run over me
it’s dangerous takin’ a stand
but it’s dangerous running away
sometimes you have to face up to the danger
there is just no other way
for there are such beautiful dreams
I have seen the eyes of a child
and if I can just make one little difference
then I think my life is worth while
and I’d rather be dancing, but instead I’m saying goodbye
but we’ll meet again when it’s over, don’t cry
and I’d rather be dancing, and surely we’d all rather be
and one day we’ll dance in a world that’s peaceful and free
Ecuador will continue supporting Palestine despite U.S. pressure to restore diplomatic relations with Israel.
The successful campaign “Ecuador with Palestine” organized by civil society and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs resulted in 20 tons of medical supplies and other crucial donations that will be delivered to Gaza next week.
The end of the campaign on August 25 coincided with a letter sent by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, Bob Menendez, Mark Kirk and James Risch, urging the governments of Ecuador, Brazil, El Salvador, Peru and Chile to restore diplomatic relations with Israel.
The letter read, “Your actions send a troubling message to the United States about your government’s commitment to long-lasting peace between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.”
In early August President Rafael Correa canceled a trip to Israel scheduled for the second half of this year. This decision was made in the midst of the “Operation Protective Edge,” which saw a ceasefire begin Tuesday after leaving more than 2,200 Palestinians dead.
The government of Ecuador recalled its ambassador in Tel Aviv and has opened an embassy in Ramallah.
Reacting to the letter sent by the senators, Foreign Minister Ricard Patiño said, “These men should give advice in their own house, they are not going to give the Ecuadorian government advice, worse is this type of advice of a political nature.”
“We are going to keep developing other agreements to enter in strong bilateral relations,” said Palestinian Ambassador in Ecuador Hani Remawi, “We have a lot to give Ecuador, and Ecuador also has more, much, much more to offer Palestine.” … Full article