By Mantiq al-Tayr, June 27, 2009
It must be nice to be a member of a religion that allows, nay encourages, you to steal others people’s land and resources and feel good about it. Then, if anyone objects to your obnoxious disgusting behavior you get to label them as bigots. What a great deal. Want to be an asshole – well here comes your role model.
Aron Raskas is a Baltimore lawyer and Israeli firster who believes that since he is a Jew he gets to live on land stolen from Palestinians and he thinks this is a “morally sound” thing to do. I guess he must be fleeing all the anti-Semitism that is rampant in Baltimore. It’s so bad in Baltimore that Zionist slumlord Sam Zell had to buy the local newspaper – no not the Baltimore Jewish Times – but rather the Baltimore Sun – otherwise the Jews would have been driven out from their over forty synagogues there. Others would have had to seek refugee at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall or hide out under their desks at the Baltimore Hebrew University. Of course, due to the rampant anti-Semitism in Baltimore, BHU has had to merge with Towson. This will no doubt cause a flood in refugees from Baltimore into the West Bank. But I digress.
No doubt some others would have had to hide in the basement of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Other hiding places have been fortified by 900 hundred thousand dollars in grants from the federal goverment to protect Jewish places from terrorism. Noted Islamofascist Senator Barbara Mikulski very proudly announced this grant in October of 2007. No doubt her colleague, also an Islamofascist, Senator Benjamin Cardin, approved. Yup, Maryland is a tough place for a Jew to live. So it’s off to the West Bank.
That rascal Raskas had to flee to the “settlement” of Rimonim which he informs us is in the “heart of the West Bank.” (Please note, that means he is living on land acquired by Israel in the 1967 war that Israel started. Therefore he is in violation of the Geneva Conventions. )
Now, Raskas knows that he is doing something illegal and immoral. It pervades the piece he wrote for that great anti-Semitic newspaper known as the Baltimore Sun. So he has to justify it by telling us that there just aren’t any Palestinians there. Obviously, you can’t steal land from people who do not exist – right?
As one looks out from Rimonim, the most telling fact is what one does not see. Over the miles of rolling hills that unfold across the landscape, there is not a village, building, home or even a herd of sheep to be seen. The scene is the same at other Jewish settlements as well.
It would be sort of like going into Jewish parts of Germany or Poland after WWII and taking over empty Jewish houses because you just couldn’t find any Jews anywhere. But again, I digress.
Okay, so he tells us, it’s fine for him to live in Rimonim because the Palestinians do not live there. Nor do they live anywhere else, apparently.
He knows this is a lie, of course. So he has to back it up with – and I am not making this up – with a quote from Mark Twain. Here goes:
When Mark Twain walked this land in 1867, he described in his book, Innocents Abroad, this very same “deserted” and “desolate country” with its “rocky and bare” landscape. Today, despite Palestinian efforts to portray it differently, not all that much has changed outside the few towns and villages that dot the land.
Villages like Hebron with about 170 thousand people (this would make it the second biggest city in Maryland – the land of anti-Semitism) or Nablus with 135 thousand. Damn, I’m digressing again.
Again, Raskas knows he is deliberately misleading his readers. Any idiot, except members of Congress, can tell you that world population figures today are quite different than they were in 1867. Egypt, for example, has about 80 million people today. In 1882, it’s populaton was 8 million.
So, lie upon lie, he were go:
Even the pro-Palestinian group Peace Now concedes that Israeli settlements – mostly bedroom communities of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv – occupy less than 3 percent of the West Bank.
His nose is growing bigger and bigger and he knows this. So we then are told that those nice Jews fleeing persecution in Baltimore – I guess – are really nice urban professionals who would not harm a flea.
Moreover, Israeli professionals living a suburban life with their children in the vast expanse of these territories do not threaten or harm Palestinians.
Good grief. He knows that anyone who has ever been in the West Bank knows that the settlers hate the Arabs and make life hell for them whenever they can. Furthermore, those same people know what happens at the endless check points that only Palestinian Muslims and Christians must endure, but not Jews and certainly not upwardly mobile Jews fleeing anti-Semitism from Baltimore. Therefore, Raskas blames the Palestinains for the check points:
Israeli checkpoints and security measures have been implemented because Palestinians have seemed more interested in destroying Israel and killing Jews than establishing an independent Palestinian state.
This guy hasn’t even peeked yet. Again, he knows that even the simplest research will show that he is completely and obviously deliberately misrepresenting the truth. So he has to go existential on us. But first, let’s summarize the argument so far.
1. He can’t see any Palestinians from his house, therefore it is okay that he went there and lives in violation of the Geneva conventions.
2. Mark Twain was in Palestine in 1867 and he didn’t see many people. Since Palestinians are too stupid to know how to have sex, there aren’t any Palestinians today either.
3. Israeli settlements don’t take up much space anyway. Although about 5 per cent of the Israeli Jewish population lives in them, these lovely bedroom communities are just tiny little things and only vicious anti-Semitic murderous crazed Palestinians plus Mark Glenn and Michael Collins Piper could ever have an objection to these bedrooms.
4. The Jews who live in the settlements are professionals and it would never occur to any of them ever to do anything to harm those goddamn Palestinians.
5. Palestinians are hell-bent on violence for no reason whatsoever. They have no grievances at all, therefore the Israelis have built hundreds of check points and the ungrateful Palestinians don’t even have the courtesy to say thank you.
Got all this? Now since he knows his arguments are just Hasbarah, which is the Hebrew word for “Pure, 100 percent unadulterated bullshit”, we now get yet another justification.
“Nor are Jewish settlements the result of Israeli colonial aspirations. Most represent the return of the Jewish people to the cities of their ancestors.”
So if you take land for the hell of it, that’s being colonial. But if people who might have been related to your 2000 years ago lived there then its okay? Of course it is. Even Mark Twain – yes he is basing this part of his argument on Mark Twain too – would agree.
As Twain painstakingly reported, Jews have lived here since time immemorial, and a drive through these territories highlights the Jewish history – cities, tombs and other landmarks – rooted in this land.
Therefore, Jews today can go to Israel and do whatever the hell they want, which is exactly what they do.
“Yet it is not just ancient history that speaks to the great Jewish legacy. The Jewish presence has been a constant right up to modern times. While many bristle at the terms “Judea” and “Samaria,” dismissing them as propaganda invented by extremist “settlers” for political ends, maps, photographs, travel guides and other books have throughout history described these territories by those time-honored names. Even United Nations resolutions – including, notably, the 1947 Partition resolution – used those terms.”
Let’s see, the UN partition resolution uses the names Judea and Samaria, therefore the Jews have a right to Palestine. Of course Judea and Samaria were supposed to be part of the Arab state according to that partition plan,but damn, I’m digressing again. Oh and that Plan was never adopted by the UN Security Council either.
So the logical conclusion that anyone would draw from this is:
Given this history, the rights of the Jewish people in these lands are rich, historic and firmly enshrined. While negotiations about sharing this land may be necessary for the sake of peace, they cannot proceed from a premise that these are “Palestinian lands” or occupied “Palestinian territory.” They are, at most, “disputed territories.”
It is easy to see why so many people hate lawyers.
About 380 thousand Jews live on land confiscated from Palestinians. Over 120 Jewish-only settlements have been build on Palestinian land and over 100 other settlements called “outposts” have also been built. No Arab settlements have been built on Jewish land and the Arabs have not confiscated any Jewish land, whatever that is, to build Arab-only settlements. Israel’s population is about 7.5 million. About 5.5 million are Jews.
All of the settlements, all of them, are illegal.
International humanitarian law prohibits [an] occupying power [from transferring] citizens from its own territory to the occupied territory (Fourth Geneva Convention, article 49).
The Palestinians have lost control of 50 per cent of the West Bank land due to the settlements.
Israel has used a complex legal and bureaucratic mechanism to take control of more than fifty percent of the land in the West Bank. This land has been used mainly to establish settlements and create reserves of land for the future expansion of the settlements.
Israel uses the seized lands to benefit the settlements, while prohibiting the Palestinian public from using them in any way. This use is forbidden and illegal in itself.
How lovely. And Raskas feels good about it.
Maybe busing is what they need in the West Bank.
The Israeli administration has applied most aspects of Israeli law to the settlers and the settlements, thus effectively annexing them to the State of Israel…. This annexation has resulted in a regime of legalized separation and discrimination.
Under this regime, Israel has stolen hundreds of thousands of dunams of land from the Palestinians. Israel has used this land to establish dozens of settlements in the West Bank and to populate them with hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens. Israel prohibits the Palestinians as a group from entering and using these lands, and uses the settlements to justify numerous violations of the Palestinians’ human rights, such as the right to housing, to earn a livelihood, and the right to freedom of movement. The drastic change that Israel has made in the map of the West Bank prevents any real possibility for the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state as part of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.
Literally hundreds of Israeli checkpoints have been built throughout the West Bank. These checkpoints cause great harm to the Palestinians making even the simplest of trips an absolute nightmare.
Many checkpoints are manned by heavily-armed Israeli soldiers and sometimes guarded with tanks. Others are made up of gates, which are locked when soldiers are not on duty. In addition there are hundreds of dirt or concrete roadblocks, which prevent the passage of all vehicles – family cars and ambulances alike.
Due in large part to the checkpoints and roadblocks, Palestinian movement is severely restricted. Journeys of short distances can stretch into hours when Palestinians are detained at checkpoints or forced to circumnavigate roadblocks or closed checkpoints.
The Palestinians have not built any checkpoints to stop Jews.
A Loyalist from Northern Ireland becomes Jewish, he plans to move to Israel and settle and start a new life. He exclaims that Palestine was a “political invention” and tells Palestinians who have lived there their whole life “you have had a nice holiday, time to go home”. This is an extremely valid argument as this man has never set foot on the Land of Israel or Palestine. This Snippet was taken from the BBC documentary called Shalom Belfast.
Gilad Atzmon comments:
We are not dealing here with Jewish race or gene. Taking on the Jewish religion in this case introduces a set of supremacist non ethical beliefs. This is what Jewishness is all about.
In a recent interview with the Jewish Journal, unfunny comedian Bill Maher has once again praised Israel for its restraint in only committing rampant war crimes in Gaza rather than a full-scale nuclear genocide of a civilian population.
Two-and-a-half years ago, I wrote a lengthy post about Maher’s appalling anti-Islam bigotry and staggering ignorance regarding the factual history of his favorite colonial-settler ethnocracy, Israel. While Maher’s vitriolic attacks on Muslims, grotesque caricature of Palestinians in particular and unconditional fealty to Zionist propaganda has continued unabated in the intervening years, comments made in his Jewish Journal interview – conducted just days after the Israeli military concluded its latest criminal bombardment of besieged Gaza that succeeded in murdering over 160 people, including 42 children – concisely illustrate his warped understanding of reality.
Condemning religious people for ignorance of their own doctrinal scripture, Maher says, “I think if they read the bible, especially the Old Testament, I think they would be appalled,” adding that if biblical stories were de-contextualized and read only as a vengeful deity “wiping these people out and ethnically cleaning [sic] them for no apparent reason, how he does things on a whim and how he’s jealous; They’d go, ‘This is terrible.'”
While Maher may be correct on this point, he then claims that Judaism is “certainly not as dangerous as Islam and Christianity. Those are warlike religions.” One is left to wonder if Maher knows what the Old Testament actually is.
Maher finds elements of Judaism “insane” and “funny” and, in his world, the religion seems to boil down to kooky inventions like the Shabbos Elevator which “doesn’t really threaten anybody’s life.”
For Maher, who seems to be channeling the myopia of Jon Stewart here, every Muslim is a brainwashed terrorist, while every Jew is just a hapless nebbish – one part Catskills-era Jackie Mason, one part whining Yiddish Bubbe. Muslims are violent fanatics who blow things up, whereas Jews are more concerned with hikes in bus fares and guilt-tripping their children. Never in Maher’s mind could Jewish people be seen as racists, occupiers, ethnic cleansers, and colonists. Never could they level neighborhoods, attack civilian populations with the most high-tech killing machines and chemical weapons, or discriminate against communities based solely on their religion or ethnicity. They are victims – always – never aggressors.
It is therefore unsurprising that Maher stated, “Y’know, maybe Arabs and Jews are both crazy, but Jews save a tiny piece of their mind for science, math, and writing sitcoms. Arabs, on the other severed hand, seem to spend all their time handing down grudges from one generation to the next.”
Maher has apparently never stopped to wonder what the world would be like without coffee, carpets, windmills, parachutes, soap, fountain pens, romantic poetry, algorithms, trigonometry, rose windows, pointed arches, scalpels, forceps, dissolving stitches, anesthesia, cataract surgery, cameras and the science of optics – to name just a few – all products of Arab and Muslim minds. And where would we all be without Khalil Gibran, Steve Jobs, and 1980’s pop sensation Tiffany, whose last name is Darwish?
Because he is generally seen as “liberal” in mainstream discourse, the inconsistencies and ignorance in Maher’s conception of world religions and his passionate attachment to Israel are cause for concern.
To his credit, Maher is honest about his proclivities. “I’ve never hid the fact that I don’t think it’s a conflict where both sides are equally guilty,” he told Danielle Berrin, who writes the “Hollywood Jew” column for the Jewish Journal. “I’m more on the side of the Israelis; that’s why Benjamin Netanyahu did my show a few years ago, before he was Prime Minister.”
Is Maher saying here that Netanyahu will only do interviews with Zionists? Maher also neglects to mention that his interview with Netanyahu was in 2006, soon after Israel had decimated southern Lebanon for a month, killing 1,180 people (about a third of whom were children), wounding over 4,050, and displacing about 970,000 others as direct result of the more than 7,000 air attacks by the Israeli Air Force and an additional 2,500 bombardments by the Israeli Navy that deliberately contravened international law and targeted civilian infrastructure.
Maher repeatedly praised the assault in which Lebanese men, women and children were being blown to pieces, claiming that condemning Israeli war crimes (which he benignly referred to as Israel being “forced to kill people in its own defense”) was the same thing as anti-Semitism. Maher seemed blissfully oblivious to the facts, including evidence that Israel had actually instigated the conflict and willfully continued the “widespread destruction of apartments, houses, electricity and water services, roads, bridges, factories and ports… even when it became clear that the victims of the bombardment were predominantly civilians, which was the case from the first days of the conflict.”
At the end of his fawning interview with the once-and-future Prime Minister, Maher quotes a Jerusalem Post article: “The Foreign Ministry would do well to watch Bill Maher to learn how to sell Israel’s case to a TV audience… ,” then asks Netanyahu, “What do you think? I could roll that way!”
Netanyahu’s response? “Hey Bill, watch it, if I’m Prime Minister, you’ll get the job.”
Clearly, they both got their wish.
Maher’s original admission that he is “more on the side of the Israelis” acknowledges that he finds Palestinians – an indigenous population that was dispossessed, displaced and all but destroyed by militarily superior Zionist forces and which has lived as refugees under perpetual occupation, deliberately denied sovereignty, self-determination and self-defense for over six decades; a people demonized, dehumanized and traumatized who are routinely condemned in their desperate resistance to subjugation, colonization and collective punishment for not taking enough care to protect the lives and collective identity of its oppressors and occupiers – far more culpable for the persistence of a century-old “conflict” than the Israelis – a nuclear-armed, superpower-backed, settler society that institutionally discriminates against the non-Jewish communities whose lives it controls.
And this guy is called “liberal”?
Maher’s take on Israel/Palestine boils down to this: “It’s not that complicated: Stop firing rockets into Israel and perhaps they won’t annihilate you,” he told Berrin. Perhaps. Annihilate. That Israel might cease its occupation, blockade, night raids, airstrikes and land theft is obviously not the problem here. No, it’s the futile and frustrated reaction to such trifles that is beyond Maher’s pale. Again, one hundred years of history is erased and replaced by an invented narrative of violent Arabs endlessly attacking innocent Israeli Jews. Maher is obviously unaware that, according to a 2009 study, “it is overwhelmingly Israel, not Palestine, that kills first” following a ceasefire, thus instigating retaliatory rocket fire from Gaza. “Indeed,” the study concluded, “it is virtually always Israel that kills first after a lull lasting more than a week.” The recent Israeli bombing campaign against Gaza is no exception.
Moreover, Maher seems to be unaware that four years have passed since Israel’s massacre in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009, claiming that Palestinians “lost over 1,000 people” in the recent Israeli offensive. Keeping abreast of facts, of course, isn’t Maher’s concern when describing a week of devastation wrought upon a caged population of 1.7 million with nowhere to run and no viable means to protect itself as Gaza gets, in Maher’s words, its “ass kicked.” One can assume that, in his childhood, Maher spent many an hour kicking the asses of ants with a magnifying glass.
But all this is merely prologue to where both Maher and his interlocutor Berrin were about to go. Berrin posed a leading question to Maher about proportionality and the vast discrepancy between Israeli and Palestinian death tolls and got the answer she was hoping for:
Its obvious that Israelis, in all of their battles with the Palestinians, show restraint. Because they have nuclear weapons. And if the situation was reversed, I don’t doubt for a second that Palestinians would fire them immediately. They’d use the maximum of what they have available and the Israelis don’t.
Ok, ignore the hypothetical nature of role-reversal (how would an indigenous population occupy and colonize parts of its own land?) and leave aside the sheer stupidity of assuming Palestinians in Gaza would launch nuclear weapons at a state in which 20% of the population are themselves Palestinian or that Tel Aviv is roughly 50 miles away from Gaza meaning that Palestinians would essentially be dropping a nuke on themselves. Or the weirdness of suggesting that the Palestinian goal of self-determination, statehood and equal rights in their historic homeland could be achieved by physically obliterating that very homeland and making it literally uninhabitable. And forget that the “restraint” Maher lauds in Israel’s recent round of murder is a casualty ratio of 33-1.
Maher actually contends here that Israel shows “restraint” merely by not engaging in the complete nuclear holocaust of Palestinians, a desperate refugee population Israel itself created through ethnic cleansing and continued occupation. The fact that Israel’s conventional military might and capacity for lethal destruction far surpasses that of most countries on the planet is obviously irrelevant, as is the tragedy that such “restraint” in late November included the murder of ten members of the al-Dalou family, including four children, crushed to death when Israel bombed their three-story home in Gaza. Such is the Israeli conception of “restraint” and Maher’s explicit endorsement of excessive Israeli force against a civilian Palestinian population.
Maher has said similar things before. A few years ago he suggested that, if rockets were fired into the United States from Canada, “we would have nuked them a hundred times by now,” despite the fact that the analogy literally makes no sense. In fact, Maher’s penchant for recycling material is nothing new. On November 21, when a ceasefire was announced, Maher tweeted:
Glad Hillary was able to get a cease-fire in Gaza. Otherwise known as Stopping to Reload.
Obviously, for Maher, those “reloading” are the Palestinians and not the Israelis, who are annually gifted with $3 billion in military aid from the United States, have their own booming arms industry, and have some of the planet’s most sophisticated and deadly weaponry in its own perennially loaded arsenal. Maher used the same line on March 18, 2011 during an obsequious Real Time interview with Israeli ambassador Michael Oren because, hey, when it’s disingenuous and not funny the first time, why not roll it out a year-and-a-half later?
Before wrapping up the Jewish Journal interview, Maher resorted to tossing out some hackneyed hasbara talking points. While it should be remembered that “the Palestinians do have gripes,” he said (yes, gripes), the real threat to Israel is “becoming a minority Jewish state within their own country.” Whose country? Oh, and, yeah, calling for demographic engineering isn’t particularly progressive, Bill. It’s just racist.
Maher of course can’t let the interview end without interjecting the mother of all hasbara canards: that Israeli actions against the Palestinians in Gaza (aka war crimes) are motivated primarily by “self-defense.” As always, the occupied indigenous refugees with homemade rockets and smuggled AK-47s are transformed into eliminationist aggressors while the colonizing occupiers armed with drones, Apache helicopters, F-16 jets, tanks, warships, white phosphorous and nuclear bombs are the innocent victims of senseless anti-Semitic violence. It goes without saying that, for Maher, Palestinians are never entitled to defend themselves.
But remember, as Maher told the Jewish Journal, Judaism simply isn’t a “warlike religion” like the others – despite the fact that a self-proclaimed “Jewish State” was established atop Palestine, its native inhabitants massacred or driven from the land by Zionist militias, its towns, villages, groves and orchards razed and reduced to rubble by Israeli bombs, tank treads and bulldozers.
Never mind that, during the 2008-9 massacre of Gaza known in Israel as Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli military rabbinate actively called upon Jewish soldiers not to “show mercy” towards its “enemy,” comparing Palestinians to ancient Philistines, ripe for righteous slaughter. It disseminated material declaring “a biblical ban on surrendering a single millimeter of it [the Land of Israel] to gentiles, though all sorts of impure distortions and foolishness of autonomy, enclaves and other national weaknesses,” and insisting, “We will not abandon it to the hands of another nation, not a finger, not a nail of it.”
Never mind that chief army rabbi, Brigadier General Avichai Rontzki, made it perfectly clear that the rabbinate’s goal in relation to Israeli soldiers was “to fill them with yiddishkeit and a fighting spirit.” In that campaign, the Israeli military killed over 1,400 Palestinians, the majority of whom were non-combatant men, women and children, and wounding thousands upon thousands more in just over three weeks. Despite the worldwide condemnation of Israeli war crimes in Gaza, Rontzki remained convinced that “[i]n Israel’s wars, warriors are God-fearing people, righteous people, people who don’t have sins on their hands.”
Never mind that, in November 2009, rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, an Israeli settler who lives in the illegal West Bank colony of Yitzhar near Nablus, published The King’s Torah, which “describes how it is possible to kill non-Jews according to halakha (Jewish religious law).” According to the Israeli press, “the book contains no fewer than 230 pages on the laws concerning the killing of non-Jews, a kind of guide for anyone who ponders the question of if and when it is permissible to take the life of a non-Jew” and states that, as non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature,” even children are legitimate targets for murder. “One must consider killing even babies,” the book says, “because of the future danger that will be caused if they are allowed to grow up to be as wicked as their parents.”
Never mind that during the most recent Israeli attacks, with the Biblical moniker Operation Pillar of Cloud, Gilad Sharon, son of former Prime Minister/comatose war criminal Ariel Sharon, declared in The Jerusalem Post that – because Hamas won a majority in Parliamentary elections in January 2006 – “the residents of Gaza are not innocent,” urging the Israeli military to “flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza,” just like the United States decimated the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. “There is no middle path here,” Sharon concluded, “either the Gazans and their infrastructure are made to pay the price, or we reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip.”
Never mind that Knesset minister Michael Ben-Ari echoed Sharon’s sentiments, saying, “There are no innocents in Gaza,” imploring the Israeli military to “mow them!” Referring to Gaza as the Biblical Sodom, Ben-Ari addressed soldiers directly, asserting that “there are no righteous men, turn it into rubble. Paint it red! We are worried about you and rely on you. We all do, all of the Nation of Israel,” an unmistakable reference to all Jewish people worldwide, not merely citizens of the State of Israel.
Never mind that, on November 21, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon declared that “most of the people” in Gaza killed by Israel “deserved it,” falsely claiming that those killed and wounded “were just armed terrorists,” when in fact the vast majority were unarmed civilians, including dozens of women, children and babies.
Never mind that more than 90% of Jewish Israelis supported Israel’s November 2012 bombardment of Gaza. Never mind that roughly 94% supported Cast Lead. Never mind that, according to a recent study, Israel remains the single most militarized nation in the world, a distinction it has held for nearly 20 straight years.
Back in September 2010, Maher told Larry King that, along with Saudi Salafis and the Afghan Taliban, he thought “Hamas is crazy.” When King asked how “a civilized world” should “deal with crazies,” Maher replied, “I would say, first thing is don’t use the Army.” Considering his obvious affinity for and justification of Israeli violence against Palestinians in Gaza, either Maher somehow exempts the Israeli military from such a prescription or, more appropriately, he doesn’t find Israel to be part of the “civilized world.” It is doubtful Maher would pick the latter option.
To make the point that Maher is uninformed on the topic of Israel and Palestine is obvious. That his enthusiastic promotion of Zionist propaganda and apologia seems not to affect his reputation as a mainstream liberal mouthpiece is considerably more alarming.
- Oh Bill Maher, There You Go Again… (randomrationality.com)