Antisemitism is the Answer

May 03, 2019  /  Gilad Atzmon

By Gilad Atzmon

In an interview with Israel Unwired, Rabbi Professor Jeffrey Woolf of Bar Ilan University practically admits that antisemitism has a positive impact on Jewish Life.

The Jewish outlet writes

“Just as anti-Semitism existed for thousands of years, it will not be going away today either. Wishing it away, posting on facebook about ‘stopping the hatred’ and even talking about how to stop the hatred won’t help. It just won’t. It is, and always has been, a reality that Jews had to live with both in Christian Europe and in the Muslim Middle East.”

But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing according to Rabbi Woolf. In the interview Woolf refers to his teacher who proclaimed that

“the period between 1933-38 was the height of German Jewry…people turned, looked inward and they began to develop themselves as Jews.”

Antisemitism happens to unite the Jews, it brings them closer to themselves. The meaning of this is disturbing yet hardly new. As I argue in The Wandering Who, since Jewishness is defined by negation, the experience of being negated or even rejected is essential to Jewish existence. It is hardly a secret that it was the Holocaust that made the phantasmic promise of a ‘Jewish State’ into a troubling reality. It is the ludicrous fear of Corbyn that unites British Jewry and refines their identity crisis. In fact, the fear of the Goy is as old as the Jews. It is an ongoing saga that stretches from the Pharaoh, to Amalek and the book of Ester to White Nationalism, Bannon and Iran.

Israel Unwired produces the Jewish logos: “Now is the time for each and every Jew to learn, read, and better understand what it means to be a Jew. If all these people hate us, we must strengthen our understanding of our own history and identity.”

The above obviously entails a serious problem. Since being hated is essential for Jewish self-understanding or even existence, the so called ‘Jew-hater’ is reduced into a service provider. It is the so called ‘hater’ who induces Jewish self-realisation and collective consciousness.

This points at a very abusive dynamic between the Jew and the rest of humanity. However, it explains why Israel was so quick as well as effective in making itself hated by its neighbours. For Israel to understand itself as ‘the Jewish state,’ it must be hated. Once it is hated it is ‘entitled to defend itself’ killing civilians with impunity, something which induces more hatred. We are witnessing a snowball of vengeance that produces more hate and carnage with no scope of a better future or any harmony to come. This troubling dynamic explains why Jewish organisations are polling anti-Semitic sentiments 24/7. Rather than making Jews loved and accepted, they relentlessly insist on proving how Jews are actually hated.

I guess that Jesus dissected it all a while back.  Love your neighbour, turn your other cheek and search for grace were his remedies to tribal gravity. Jesus tried to save his brethren by enlightening their life by means of light. Jesus failed in his mission, but he managed to save humanity instead.

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Palestine Potpourri: The Holocaust

Palestine Potpourri: The Holocaust

April 30, 2019

by Lynda Burstein Brayer for The Saker Blog

The Holocaust

In this edition of Palestine Potpourri I have decided to concentrate on one of the special features of Jewish life in Palestine, and modern Jewish life in particular. It is the Jewish fascination with death, and the centrality of death within their self-understanding. It seems to be rather unique as a cultural phenomenon gluing the community together, but one must also remember that it has given rise to the thriving business of the Holocaust.

Holocaust Day will be “celebrated” in Israel on May 1, 2019, six days before the Memorial day for fallen soldiers and a week before Independence Day on May 8, which is always calculated according to the Jewish calendar.

This is the national program which will be shown on television.

HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY EVENTS 2019

THE EVE OF HOLOCAUST AND HEROISM REMEMBRANCE DAY

Wednesday, May 1, 2018 – 26th of Nissan 5779

THE STATE OPENING CEREMONY AT YAD VASHEM

In the presence of the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Knesset and the President of the Supreme Court—Warsaw Ghetto Square. Admission to the State Opening Ceremony is by invitation only.

The ceremony will be broadcast live on television, radio and the Yad Vashem website.

8:00 pm, Warsaw Ghetto Square, Yad Vashem, Mount Herzl

THE HOLOCAUST AND HEROISM REMEMBRANCE DAY

Thursday, May 2, 2019 – 27th Of Nissan 5779

HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY EVENTS AT YAD VASHEM

10:00 am – Siren

10:02 am – Wreath-laying ceremony at the Ghetto Heroes Monument.

11:00-12:45 am – “Unto Every Person There Is A Name” – Public recitation of Holocaust victims’ names at the Hall of Remembrance in Yad Vashem.

11:00-14:30 pm – “Behind the Scenes” – Activities for the general public on the Yad Vashem campus. A series of gatherings with Yad Vashem experts will be on offer to the public, at which participants will have access to documents and artifacts that are not on display year-round. Further details are available on the Yad Vashem website.

1:00 pm – Main memorial ceremony at the Hall of Remembrance in Yad Vashem.

17:30 pm – Ceremony for Youth Movements at the Valley of the Communities. Admission to the ceremony is by invitation only.

On Wednesday, 11 April 2018, Yad Vashem will be open to the public until 12:00 only.

On Thursday, 12 April 2018, Yad Vashem will be open to the public until 20:00 (entrance to the Holocaust History Museum until 19:00). The Holocaust History Museum will open at 9:00. The Visual Center and Children’s Memorial will open at 11:00.

HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY EVENTS AT SAFRA SQUARE

The Jerusalem Municipality will hold a memorial ceremony at Safra Square, May 2, 2019 which will be led by 12th graders sharing their experiences from their journey to Poland in the presence of Holocaust survivors living in Jerusalem.

08:15 am, Safra Square, Jerusalem

———————————————————————————————————————

It is clear from the program that Holocaust Day is a serious and important event in the Israeli Jewish calendar. Here a somewhat “out of line” approach , but only in the Israeli context, voiced in an article published in the Israeli liberal newspaper “Haaretz” on April 28, 2019. I have provided the absent “punch line” explaining how radical it is in the Jewish-Israeli context.

From “Eva’s history” to a selfie at Auschwitz

A hand breaks through the wire fence, holding a smart phone. If Instagram had a child in the Holocaust, how many followers would it have had? It is impossible to cross the Ayalon highway snaking through Tel-Aviv without confronting the yellow-flagged street signs (as per lemon-yellow or banana-yellow), announcing the new special for the coming Holocaust Day. “Eva’s History” seeks to bring to the attention of the younger generation the story of Eva Heiman, a 13 year old girl from Hungary, who wrote a diary during the Nazi occupation and was sent to the death camp in Auschwitz, where she was murdered.[sic-LBB]

A reprint of her diary, published in Israel for the first time in 1964, and advertisements in the newspapers do not help give momentum to this story. The youth do not read newspapers, and they read even less books. A stage adaptation starring Noa Kirel, an 18 year old Israeli singer, actress and TV host, is always an option, but the young star is apparently very busy now having issued a single inspired by the story of a Jewish boy taken from the Lodz ghetto. “There is no business like Shoah business” so we have no choice. We must give little Eva an account on Instush (an Israeli twitter) together with life-like stories with German actors and period costumes accompanied by the TV hosts Agam Rodberg and Guy Pines, who will produce something really big, really showy, something to be spoken about!

The rationale is simple. If the mountain does not come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain. Young men and women do not want to hear about the girl Eva? Wait till you see what we’ve prepared for you. We will bring to life the Holocaust of European Jewry in a way that you never dreamt of! We will drench you with it so that you cannot escape from it. This is the name of the game. Make it accessible and mollycoddling at one and the same time!!!

But I’m sorry to spoil the party!! Accessibility should not have been expected to succeed: it was doomed to failure from the start. Why? Because all of it is tainted with condescension and contempt for the youth treating them as if they were two-legged animals, as if all their desires begin and end with their whatsapp groups. The person who conceived this project does not know teenagers. Perhaps he has heard stories or read eulogies, but if he had bothered to meet them, to talk to them, he would have learned that they can smell that shtick or idiocy from miles away, and would not be tempted to follow its superficiality.

True, we parents have the responsibility to teach our children the lessons of the Holocaust. This responsibility carries a great challenge. What again? We have to teach about the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto? Operation Barbarossa? The magnificent [sic] kidnapping of Eichmann by the Mossad? Or the letters and testimonies which we stuff down their throats of Holocaust victims from first grade until their pilgrimage to Auschwitz?

We must break through the veil of banality of the rituals with the black Bristol and glittering memorials, and use creative and critical tools that will encourage discourse and thought. As a teacher I come across it again every year. Holocaust Day is approaching, and the e-mail box is sent out of a few lesson plans on the subject, which she collected for us, hard as an ant, responsible for pedagogy at school.

Their stimulus threshold is high, and in order to cross it, new roads must be carved in the rock. But the fictitious Instagram account of a girl who was murdered in the Holocaust will not be and cannot be a legitimate way. First, it is a show of bad taste, marketed aggressively, and second, much more serious, it will have consequences. The road from “Eva’s Story” to the “selfie” at the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau is short and steep, and at the end all the naysayers will cluck their tongues and nod their heads, and in turn tell us about the lost and detached youth, devoid of values ​​and shamelessness.

Last year, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, we learned about German resistance to Nazism and talked about Sophie Scholl and the “White Rose” group. Sophie was only a few years older than my students when she joined her brother Hans and scattered protest posters at the university in Munich that cost her life. I called on my students to distribute their flyers for their own ends, whatever they were. For dessert we watched Tom Cruise try to assassinate Hitler and failed. To teach them that Tom Cruise is just a human being.

At the end of the lesson, one of the students approached me. She noticed that on my desk was a book on the subject, which I used to prepare for the class, and asked to ask him. She looks to her on the cake, Sophie Scholl. A week later came back with new insights. Would you believe it? A girl sat at her house, opened a book, and read it.

Y. Mendelssohn is a musician and a teacher of citizenship

This article is very interesting from the point of view that the author, a musician and teacher of citizenship, bewails the “lachrymose” method of Jewish history. This phrase was introduced by the famous Jewish historian, Salo Baron, who decried this “victimhood” version of Jewish history. In iddish, this is the nebich approach. “Oh the poor Jews!!! Oh what they have suffered! Oh! Oh! Oh!” This has now been standard since WWII and the Holocaust myth is not merely integral to this approach, but is the very heart and core of the modern Jewish understanding, if not actual experience. Jews talk about second and third generation Holocaust “survivors” [sic]. Here, the writer is “tired” of this same old, same old, cry-baby stories of people who lost their lives in the “Holocaust” whether told through letters or through testimonies collected after the war.   He also decries the “theatrical” promotion of another nebich story – the Eva story!! More horrors, more crying, more death etc!!

Instead he suggests a new approach and believe me, it is totally radical in the Jewish Israeli setting. He suggests approaching the Holocaust from a non-Jewish perspective! His approach is radical because he is ignoring the central characteristic Jewish “holocaust” narrators have promoted since 1967 – the “uniqueness” of the Jewish experience. He has the gall to mention a goy, Sophie Scholl, in positive terms!!! Literally unheard of!!!! I did not bring any of the comments which followed the article but many were in this vein condemning the writer’s approach!

I do not want to make too fine a point of it but many have come to the conclusion that the deliberate extermination of six million Jews belongs in the realm of the mythical rather in factual history. So one may ask what is the lesson of the so-called Holocaust? There is no dissension concerning the fact that Hitler wanted to expel the Jews from Germany and that they were not transported by luxury wagons-lit to the east. But given that all the local populations suffered atrociously during WWII, what should we learn from this brutality?

I think it is not apposite to remind the readers that these lines follow on the Passover festival just celebrated by the Jews, the festival of both the Renewal of life and Freedom! The name derives from the “passing over” of the angel of death of the homes of the Children of Israel dwelling in the land of Goshen in Egypt under an oppressive Pharoah! This is the biblical story in which the Egyptian children were smote while the children of the Children of Israel were saved by God’s hand, an “event” celebrated yearly at the Seder table in Jewish homes, where the story is repeated with the killing of the first-born of the Egyptians stressed with glee!

And here, in the reality of Israel today, April 30, was a report of a young Palestinian living under the military occupation of the West Bank of Palestine,aged 20 years old, who was shot by Israeli soldiers because he “threatened” them – a term used repeatedly without any accompanying evidence or explanation. He was taken to a Jewish hospital in Israel where he was strapped down in the bed and held by hand-cuffs while the doctors tried to treat him but it was obvious he was about to die. His family tried to get permission to visit him before he passed away but not one Israeli authority would do anything: not the army, not the legal advisor to the army, not the department of Justice of Israel and not the court! He died alone and abandoned. This is an example of the “compassionate compassion of Jews” which comes from the Hebrew – rahmanim bnei rahmabim used without any tongue in cheek!

Which brings me to another example of Israeli/Jewish autism. Zionist leaders have always touted Israel/the Jews as a “light to the nations”. Day in and day out Palestinians are routed from their beds at 2 am, children are woken up, thrown out of their beds, parents are shooed to the wall, the beds are overturned, the cupboards emptied and the people cower in fear of whatever brutality they cannot think of but which will be invented by the most “moral army in the world” the Israeli Defence [sic] Forces – who, in a myriad of self-same instances- defend themselves from sleeping attackers. One could say that this is hardly worth mentioning except for the fact that it indicates that there is not one facet, and even the smallest one, in which Palestinians have the safety of privacy.

There is a group of Israeli women who have voluntarily taken upon themselves to watch the border crossings between Israel and the Occupied West Bank of Palestine. They are called “Machsom Watch” and they issue daily reports. In one poignant incident, an observer wrote the following:

“A man K’ approached us who lives in Yabed, a village near a northern border crossing. He asked our help in providing him with books teaching Hebrew to Arabic speakers – a suggestion which we accepted with pleasure. He told us that the soldiers broke into his home, that they were looking for his brother, broke many things sins the house but did not find him. He said that he was interested in learning Hebrew so that he could talk [sic] to the soldiers”.

If there is one thing a Palestinian cannot do successfully, it is “talk” to the soldiers, explain to the soldiers. I would like to write another essay on this subject another time, but basically Palestinians are not counted within the species” homo sapiens” for the Israeli authorities. Israelis do not listen to Palestinians talking!

The author is an Israeli lawyer who has represented Palestinians in the Israeli courts. She has lived in Israel/Palestine for over fifty years and considers herself political dissident and lives in an Arab township. She writes out of her own experiences.

Netanyahu is not the Disease, he is a Symptom

March 25, 2019  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Gilad Atzmon

In a recent thought-provoking article Gideon Levy, probably one of the last genuine Israeli voices for peace, claims that “It is not Netanyahu who is responsible for Israeli ‘racism, extreme nationalism, divisiveness, incitement, hatred, anxiety and corruption.’” Behind Netanyahu, Levy says, there’s a nation of voters and other elected officials that aren’t very different from their leader.

“Simply put, the people are the problem… There are those who have hated Arabs long before Netanyahu. There are those who despise blacks, detest foreigners, exploit the weak and look down their noses at the whole world – and not because of Netanyahu. There are those who believe they are the chosen people and therefore deserve everything.”

Levy reaffirms the observation that I have been pushing for two decades. The problem with Israel is not of a political kind. The conflict with the Palestinians or the Arabs is not of a political nature as some delusional characters within the Palestinian solidarity movement have been proclaiming for years. Israel defines itself as the Jewish state. In order to grasp Israel, its politics, its policies and the intrusive nature of its lobby, we must understand the nature of Jewishness. We must learn to define the differences between Jews (the people), Judaism (the religion) and Jewishness (the ideology). We have to understand how those terms are related to each other and how they influence Israeli and Jewish politics globally.

Levy writes that “there are those who think that after the Holocaust, they are permitted to do anything. There are those who believe that Israel is tops in the world in every field, that international law doesn’t apply to it, and that no one can tell it what to do. There are those who think Israelis are victims – always victims, the only victims – and that the whole world is against us. There are those who are convinced that Israel is allowed to do anything, simply because it can.”

In order to understand what Levy is referring to we must dig into the core of Jewish identification and once and for all grasp the notion of Jewish choseness. Levy contends that “racism and xenophobia are deeply entrenched here, far more deeply than any Netanyahu…The apartheid did not start with him and will not end with his departure; it probably won’t even be dented. One of the most racist nations in the world cannot complain about its prime minister’s racism.” Netanyahu as such, is not the disease. He is a mere symptom.

The devastating news is that neither the Israeli ‘Left’ nor the Jewish so-called ‘anti’ Zionist league are any less racist than their Zionist foes. The Israeli Left pushes for a ‘two state solution.’ It crudely ignores the Palestinian cause i.e. the Right of Return. The Israeli Left advocates segregation and ghettoization; not exactly the universal message of harmony one would expect from ‘leftists.’ Disturbingly, the Diaspora Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist Left is even more racially exclusive than the Israeli Right. As I have explored many times in the past, Corbyn’s ‘favourite Jewish political group namely, Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL)  is a racially exclusive political cell. It wouldn’t allow gentiles into its Jews-only club. Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is no better. It will happily take donations from Goyim but will never allow those Goyim to become its board members.

Levy proclaims that “Netanyahu is the best thing to ever happen to Israeli politics – you can dump everything on him.” But in his most astute observation, which has been explored before by Uri Avnery (may he rest in peace) and yours truly, Levy continues, “It would be great if some local Nelson Mandela would arise, a brave leader with vision who would change the country’s basic values and lead a revolution. But no such person has been born here, and it’s doubtful he ever will be.”

Levy points at the core of the Zionist failure. If early Zionism was a promise to civilise the diaspora Jew by means of ‘homecoming,’ Israel happened to do the complete opposite. Not much is left out of the Zionist promise to make the Jews ‘people like all other people’: as Israel is about to perpetrate another colossal war crime in Gaza, we have to admit that we are dealing with an institutionally racist and dangerous identity like no other.

Israel Migrates to the Right

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Israel’s Tragic But Predictable “Migration” to the Right—An Analysis (22 March 2019) by Lawrence Davidson

 

Part I—Israel’s Movement Right

An article published in the Israeli news blog +972 on 19 November 2018posed the question: Why does the right keep winning elections in Israel? The answer offered was “because Israelis are right wing.” Simple enough, and apparently, quite true. The article estimates that over half of Israeli Jews think of themselves as “right wing.” Self-defined centrists are about 25 percent, and those Israeli Jews who still cling to “leftist” ideals are now only about 15 percent of the population. The remainder are non-committal.

This movement to the right is often blamed on the Palestinians, but that is largely an evasion. As the story goes, it was the Second Intifada (occurring from late 2000 to early 2005) that so scared a majority of Israeli Jews that it “led to a migration of left-wingers to the … political center… [and] centrists [to the] right, causing the percentage of Jewish right-wingers to drift upward over the decade.” While the “migration to the right” has certainly taken place, it is better understood as follows: under Palestinian pressure for democratic reforms and justice, along with corresponding resistance to oppression, Israeli Jews who could not face the prospect of real democracy had nowhere politically to go than to the right—what should properly be described as the racist right. And, so they went. From this point on there was no more obfuscation—Israeli “security” is now clearly a stand-in phrase for the maintenance of Israeli Jewish domination over non-Jews.

Part II—Enter the Fascists

The present shifting about on Israel’s political landscape prior to its April 2019 elections confirms this basically rightwing racist scene. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed that Israel is “the national state, not of all its citizens, but only of the Jewish people.” A minority of Israeli Jews might denounce such racism, but Israel’s recently adopted nationality law states that the right of national self-determination in Israel is “unique to the Jewish people.” And

whether the “left” acknowledges the fact or not, this law is in perfect sync with Zionist ideology.

It should be noted that the prime minister’s personal preference is not for “the Jewish people” as a whole. Indeed, in his eyes, if you are an anti-Zionist Jew you are an anti-Semitic Jew—whatever that might mean. The prime minister is more comfortable with Jews of the fascist, racist right, with whom he has so much in common. This is the kind of Jew he has politically allied with. What in the world is a fascist Jew? Well, in this case, it is someone who uses violent methods to  realize the logical consequences of Zionism—if Israel is a “Jewish state,” then non-Jews must go. How they ultimately go has been left an open-ended question, though Israel is engaged in a continuous effort to destroy Palestinian infrastructure. Fascist Jews advocate expulsion of all Palestinians and sometimes engage in direct violence—akin to classic pogroms—in an effort to fulfill this goal.

You might shake your head in wonderment at the notion of Jewish fascists, but they have always been an important element in Zionist history. You can trace their activity from Vladimir Jabotinsky and his notion of an “iron wall” (1923) that would force the Palestinians to acquiesce in Zionist domination, right up to Meir Kahane, an advocate of expulsion, and his Kach Party (1971-1990). It is Kahane’s followers who now are political partners of Netanyahu. The “migration” of Israeli Jews to the right has narrowed the gap between the majority of “ordinary” citizens and the fascists. So, back into favor come the Kahanists.

Part III—What Is an Israeli Centrist?

Nor should we look for anti-racist activism among the 25 percent who see themselves as centrists. Presently, those who seek to capture the centrist vote are Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid. Gantz is former chief-of-staff and a man who is being sued for war crimes. He is leader of the Israeli Resilience Party (Hosen Israel). That party has allied with Yair Lapid, a former TV celebrity, and his There is a future Party (Yesh Atid).

Both of these politicians call themselves “new centrists” and concentrate their platforms on “socio-economic issues such as the cost of living.” However, when it comes to the Palestinians, neither of them are interested in a democratic Israel that would afford non-Jews equal rights—nothing particularly “new” here for “centrists.” Gantz is the classic military maven so prevalent in Israeli politics. Here is his view of where “resilience” should take Israel relative to the Palestinians: “The Jordan Valley will remain our eastern security border,” Gantz declared. “We will maintain security in the entire Land of Israel … we will not allow the millions of Palestinians living beyond the separation fence to endanger our security and our identity as a Jewish state.” For someone who is campaigning on the theme that, under its present government, “Israel has lost its way,” Gantz’s intentions in this regard are remarkably similar to those of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Yair Lapid’s position on the Palestinians is little different from that of Gantz. He says that “we need to separate from the Palestinians,” as if Israeli Jews haven’t been doing just that for the past 71 years. He goes on to demand that all issues of security have to “stay in Israel’s hands,” there is no such thing as a “right of return,” and Jerusalem will not be divided into two capitals.

On the Palestinian issue—the one that now divides Israel from increasing numbers of citizens in the democratic world—there is little difference between the Israeli rightists and the centrists except that the latter do not publicly talk about the forceful expulsion.

Part IV—Conclusion

That approximately 85 percent of Israeli Jews should end up unwilling to grant equal rights to the 20 percent of Palestinians who are their segregated neighbors; that they should support, or at best not act against the relentless, vicious process of illegal settlement in the Occupied Territories; and finally that they should react to Palestinian resistance to Zionist oppression by “migrating” to the right, is both tragic and predictable.

It must be realized that any country that allows racism to rule its public sphere cannot pass itself off as a democracy. It is simply a contradiction. The Zionist experiment looking toward a democratic Jewish state might have gone differently if it had been tried somewhere devoid of a non-Jewish population (like the moon), but then, in the end, the Zionists became obsessed with Palestine, fell in with the colonial mentality still prevalent during the first half of the twentieth  century, and have never progressed beyond it.

To this point, I beg the reader’s patience as I repeat an argument I have made more than once in past analyses: It is impossible to create a state exclusively for one people (call them people A) in a territory already populated by another people (call them people B) without the eventual adoption of racist policies by A and eventual resistance on the part of B. Under such circumstances, for A, there can be no real security, nor can there be anything like a healthy national culture.

Indeed, unless a majority of Israeli Jews are willing to go the route of South Africa and renounce their program of discriminatory dominion over millions of non-Jews, they have nowhere else to go but head-first into the hell that is the racist right. With 85 percent sharing, or at least acquiescing, in the views of Netanyahu, Gantz, and Lapid, the chances for redemption do not look good. In fact, it is probably the case that the “light unto the nations” has long since gone out.

About Lawrence DavidsonImage result for Lawrence Davidson

Lawrence Davidson is professor of history emeritus at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He has been publishing his analyses of topics in U.S. domestic and foreign policy, international and humanitarian law and Israel/Zionist practices and policies since 2010.

The End of the Observer Mission in Hebron

Source

It acted as a restraint on the settlers’ worst excesses, writes Jonathan Cook.

By Jonathan Cook
Jonathan-Cook.net

You might imagine that a report by a multinational observer force documenting a 20-year reign of terror by Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers against Palestinians, in a city under occupation, would provoke condemnation from European and U.S. politicians.

But you would be wrong. The leaking in December of the report on conditions in the city of Hebron, home to 200,000 Palestinians, barely caused a ripple.

About 40,000 separate cases of abuse had been quietly recorded since 1997 by dozens of monitors from Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Italy and Turkey. Some incidents constituted war crimes.

Exposure of the confidential report has now provided the pretext for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to expel the international observers. He shuttered their mission in Hebron this month, in apparent violation of Israel’s obligations under the 25-year-old Oslo peace accords.

Israel hopes once again to draw a veil over its violent colonization of the heart of the West Bank’s largest Palestinian city. The process of clearing tens of thousands of inhabitants from central Hebron is already well advanced.

Any chance of rousing the international community into even minimal protest was stamped out by the U.S. last week. It blocked a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council expressing “regret” at Israel’s decision, and on Friday added that ending the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was an “internal matter” for Israel.

Hebron. (Marcin Monko via Flickr)

Hebron. (Marcin Monko via Flickr)

The TIPH was established in 1997 after a diplomatic protocol split the city into two zones, controlled separately by Israel and a Palestinian Authority created by the Oslo accords.

The “temporary” in its name was a reference to the expected five-year duration of the Oslo process. The need for TIPH, most assumed, would vanish when Israel ended the occupation and a Palestinian state was built in its place.

Israel Granted Free Hand in Hebron

While Oslo put the Palestinian Authority formally in charge of densely populated regions of the occupied territories, Israel was effectively given a free hand in Hebron to entrench its belligerent hold on Palestinian life.

Several hundred extremist Jewish settlers have gradually expanded their illegal enclave in the city center, backed by more than 1,000 Israeli soldiers. Many Palestinian residents have been forced out while the rest are all but imprisoned in their homes.

TIPH faced an impossible task from the outset: to “maintain normal life” for Hebron’s Palestinians in the face of Israel’s structural violence.

Until the report was leaked, its documentation of Israel’s takeover of Hebron and the settlers’ violent attacks had remained private, shared only among the states participating in the task force.

However, the presence of observers did curb the settlers’ worst excesses, helping Palestinian children get to school unharmed and allowing their parents to venture out to work and shop. That assistance is now at an end.

Burial Plot of Abraham

Hebron has been a magnet for extremist settlers because it includes a site revered in Judaism: the reputed burial plot of Abraham, father to the three main monotheistic religions.

But that same place in Hebron became central to Muslim worship centuries ago, with the Ibrahimi mosque established at the site.

Israel’s policy has been gradually to prise away the Palestinians’ hold on the mosque, as well the urban space around it. Half of the building has been restricted to Jewish prayer, but in practice the entire site is under Israeli military control.

As the TIPH report notes, Palestinian Muslims must now pass through several checkpoints to reach the mosque and are subjected to invasive body searches. The muezzin’s call to prayer is regularly silenced to avoid disturbing Jews.

Faced with these pressures, according to TIPH, the number of Palestinians praying there has dropped by half over the past 15 years.

In Hebron, as at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, a Muslim holy site is treated solely as an obstacle – one that must be removed so that Israel can assert exclusive sovereignty over all of the Palestinians’ former homeland.

 The Ibrahimi Mosque. (PalFest via Flickr)

The Ibrahimi Mosque. (PalFest via Flickr)

The Massacre of 1994

A forerunner of TIPH was set up in 1994, shortly after Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli army doctor, entered the Ibrahimi mosque and shot more than 150 Muslims at prayer, killing 29. Israeli soldiers aided Goldstein, inadvertently or otherwise, by barring the worshippers’ escape while they were being sprayed with bullets.

The massacre should have provided the opportunity for Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s prime minister of the time, to banish Hebron’s settlers and ensure the Oslo process remained on track. Instead he put the Palestinian population under prolonged curfew.

That curfew never really ended. It became the basis of an apartheid policy that has endlessly indulged Jewish settlers as they harass and abuse their Palestinian neighbors.

Israel’s hope is that most will get the message and leave.

With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in power for a decade, more settlers are moving in, driving out Palestinians. Today Hebron’s old market, once the commercial hub of the southern West Bank, is a ghost town, and Palestinians are too terrified to enter large sections of their own city.

TIPH’s report concluded that, far from guaranteeing “normal life,” Israel had made Hebron more divided and dangerous for Palestinians than ever before.

In 2016 another army medic, Elor Azaria, used his rifle to shoot in the head a prone and badly wounded Palestinian youth. Unlike Goldstein’s massacre, the incident was caught on video.

Israelis barely cared until Azaria was arrested. Then large sections of the public, joined by politicians, rallied to his cause, hailing him a hero.

Despite doing very little publicly, TIPH’s presence in Hebron had served as some kind of restraint on the settlers and soldiers. Now the fear is that there will be more Azarias.

Palestinians rightly suspect that the expulsion of the observer force is the latest move in efforts by Israel and the U.S. to weaken mechanisms for protecting Palestinian human rights.

Netanyahu has incited against local and international human rights organizations constantly, accusing them of being foreign agents and making it ever harder for them to operate effectively.

And last year U.S. President Donald Trump cut all aid to UNRWA, the United Nations’ refugee agency, which plays a vital role in caring for Palestinians and upholding their right to return to their former lands.

Not only are the institutions Palestinians rely on for support being dismembered but so now are the organizations that record the crimes Israel has been committing.

That, Israel hopes, will ensure that an international observer post which has long had no teeth will soon will soon lose its sight too as Israel begins a process of annexing the most prized areas of the West Bank – with Hebron top of the list.

Jonathan Cook is a freelance journalist based in Nazareth. He blogs at https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/.

Fed up with myths, these American Jews are challenging their israel (apartheid state) education

Fed up with myths, these American Jews are challenging their Israel education

They grew up on the myths of a heroic Jewish state, joined Zionist organizations, and learned the talking points. But something along the way made them question everything.

By Tom Pessah

Members of Jewish-American anti-occupation group IfNotNow protest Trump's decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Washington D.C., May 14, 2018. (Gili Getz)

Members of Jewish-American anti-occupation group IfNotNow protest Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Washington D.C., May 14, 2018. (Gili Getz)

Some of the strangest encounters I had in the years I spent living and studying in the United States were with American Jews. I often felt like I had been dropped into a musical, with people expecting me to fit the mythical image of how an Israeli was supposed to behave. The only problem: I had no idea what my lines were supposed to be.

I was asked about my time in the Israeli army or about the ins and outs of Jewish religious practice. Pro-Israel students assumed I would be there to validate their advocacy.

Many of them were visibly disappointed when I didn’t play the part. Only gradually did I begin to understand how central Israel education had been in their lives, and just how big of a stumbling block it truly was.

To understand this process better, I spoke with four Jewish American activists, all of them in their late 20s and products of mainstream American Jewish education. Over the last few years they have all joined non-Zionist and anti-occupation groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow. Michal, Susannah, Malkah, and Aaron told me how their Israel education shaped their worldview, and what led them to challenge what they had learned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

An editor’s note: Susannah and Malkah asked to use only their first names; the other two interviewees asked to use aliases, citing fears that using their real names could threaten their status in their communities and future job prospects.

Whether Modern Orthodox, Reform, or Conservative, all of the four interviewees said that Israel was an integral part of their experience in the Jewish community from a young age. None of them could remember a time when it wasn’t a part of their Jewish communal experience.

Illustrative photo of American Jews taking part in New York City's annual 'Celebrate Israel Parade.' (GIli Getz)

Illustrative photo of American Jews taking part in New York City’s annual ‘Celebrate Israel Parade.’ (Gili Getz)

“When I was younger I went to synagogue every week. Israel would inevitably be part of divrei tora (the Rabbi’s talk on topics relating to the weekly Torah portion – T.P.),” says Michal, a former Hasbara Fellow who would eventually be banned from entering Israel because she volunteered with Palestinian organizations in the West Bank.

“On Yom Kippur there was always a plug for Israel. During ne’ila (Yom Kippur’s concluding service – T.P.), in the midst of talking about our sins, being humble, and reflecting on what we’ve done wrong, there is this tonal shift: ‘Look at what we’ve done to create the State of Israel! and here – we’re going to pass around some pledges to give to Israel bonds.’ This is a deeply reflective and somber ritual, and you’re doing a complete 180 to advocate for Israel. This was every Yom Kippur and Shabbat — all the time. We would finish Adon Olam on Saturday morning and the senior rabbi would say from the stage: ‘we’re bringing in an AIPAC delegation and you can sign up.’”

For Susannah, who began in the Reform Movement and would eventually work for Jewish Voice for Peace, Zionism was also part and parcel of her Jewish upbringing. “You don’t really think about Israel and Zionism when you’re a practicing Jew in the Reform Movement. It’s just there.” It was at a summer camp organized by Young Judea, an American Zionist youth movement, where that conflation was most apparent. “It was straight up ‘America and Israel Forever.’ One of the most painful experiences to look back on now is that every morning we would wake up and go to the flagpole. You sing Hatikva and the Star-Spangled Banner. You stand there at attention in front of both flags along with the Israeli scouts who were there. I loved it, because it was just about singing and being with your friends. It felt like a source of pride.”

Illustrative photo of American Jews participating in the annual AIPAC conference in Washington DC. (Gili Getz)

Illustrative photo of American Jews participating in the annual AIPAC conference in Washington DC. (Gili Getz)

Into their teenage years, the aim of building an emotional connection to Israel was replaced by more straightforward advocacy.

“In high school we were encouraged to take part in programs to advocate for Israel,” Malkah explained. The David Project, one of the most well-known American pro-Israel organizations, sent her to a three-day training in Massachusetts, where she says she was exposed to a heavily anti-Muslim agenda. “One video was called Obsession, and it seemed like the main message was about Muslims wanting to violently take control of the world and how we would have to fight back against that.”

“I don’t remember any dissent or discussion,” she continued. “We were all just shocked by the horrible things we were seeing. You see a lot of really scary images in that movie. We didn’t have a lot of time to socialize, there were mainly these sessions and I took a lot of notes. They probably intentionally didn’t give us time to process – you’re being bombarded with someone else’s opinions.”

Malkah recalled coming home from the training and experiencing pushback from her family members who felt that the right-wing views she had been taught were bad for peace. “I’d come back and say everything is justified for national security reasons. My views shifted to the right of center after having had that experience.”

 

Yet taking part in more explicit

Hundreds fill New York City's Washington Square Park to protest President Trump's decision to ban Muslim refugees from entering the U.S., January 26, 2017. (Gili Getz)

Hundreds fill New York City’s Washington Square Park to protest President Trump’s decision to ban Muslim refugees from entering the U.S., January 26, 2017. (Gili Getz)

Israel advocacy also began to sow doubts about their ability to defend the cause.

It was expected in my high school that all the high-achieving students would be going on extra-curricular Israel advocacy programs,” said Aaron, who would later become heavily involved with JVP and now devotes his time to the International Socialist Organization. “All the training sessions were at the local Jewish Community Center. We were told it looked good for college admissions. The manhigim (Hebrew for “leaders” – T.P.) program was focused on preparing us to be advocates for Israel on campuses, which were presented to us as hotbeds of anti-Semitism. The program was mostly a rehearsal of talking points from a liberal Zionist perspective (Israel as a liberal democracy, etc.). I didn’t reject any of that, but I distinctly remember thinking ‘Wow, if we’re the people who will be advocating for Israel, then Israel is screwed.’”

“There was one session we were doing which was a mock debate with a supposed member of Students for Justice in Palestine,” he continues, “I got cast in the role of the anti-Israel debater. I pulled out the ‘key of my grandmother’s house in Yaffa,” he said, referring to Palestinian refugees, many of whom keep the keys to the homes they lost in the Nakba. “At that point the entire room just screeched to a halt and didn’t know how to respond at all. I was still a Zionist, and I was very disappointed that they had no real response to my challenge.”

“Later, a delegation from my high school was sent to an AIPAC conference in Washington, DC. While lining up to enter the conference, I saw the counter-protest and was expecting it to be vitriolic and anti-Semitic. Instead I saw casually dressed people and some Neturei Karta folks waving signs that said “Don’t Bomb Iran!” I remember thinking: “am I on the wrong side of this protest?” I’m here in a suit with a bunch of old men while across the street are some people dressed like I normally do waving signs I don’t really disagree with.”

For Michal, a pro-Israel program in Israel was the tipping point, and the first time she considered that not everything she had been taught about Israel was true. “Aish HaTorah, [the organization] that runs Hasbara Fellowships, were teaching us talking points: here is a template for advocating for Israel on campus, here are the points your opponents will use, and here is how you turn it around on them and humiliate people in the process. Then they would have us practice — one person would play the aggressive pro-Palestine advocate and we would have to use the arguments they gave us. I remember being so embarrassed because I just couldn’t do it. I’m a really bad bullshitter. They’re using the word ‘apartheid,’ and I’m supposed to say ‘there are Israeli Arabs in the cabinet.’ I couldn’t memorize all those steps and then spit them back out like I was supposed to do.”

“What tipped me off was when they took us to Hebron. You walk there and it’s a ghost town with [Palestinian] shops boarded up. There is a barrier in the main street that separates Palestinians from Israelis. And you have menacing settlers. Something felt off: it was the first inkling I had of ‘is this really necessary in order to have this miraculous Israel?’ I didn’t have the words then — it was just a feeling. I didn’t have enough information to understand where this feeling was coming from.”

“I studied Middle East studies in part to be a better Israel advocate,” Michal continued. “But after Hebron I started to think that maybe I shouldn’t be out to get my professors. Maybe I should listen to them. That started the process of actually learning about the occupation and Palestinian experiences and taking them seriously. I studied abroad in Jordan, and after graduating I spent a couple of weeks in the West Bank helping local Palestinian organizations. As a result I was banned from Israel.”

For Susannah and Malkah, one of the factors that turned these doubts into full-blown opposition to Israeli policies was the personal relationships they formed with Palestinians.

Police arrest a young American Jew during a sit-in organized by IfNotNow at the offices of the Anti-Defamation League in New York City to protest the institution’s support for Israel’s occupation policies. (photo: Gili Getz)

Police arrest a young American Jew during a sit-in organized by IfNotNow at the offices of the Anti-Defamation League in New York City to protest the institution’s support for Israel’s occupation policies. (photo: Gili Getz)

When Susannah’s university program required her to do a field study abroad, she chose to go to Israel. Not knowing a lot about local civil society groups, she decided to join the only group that responded to her inquiries — a commune where Jews and Arabs worked and lived together. There she met Ibrahim, a Palestinian from Jaffa who had a cousin in Gaza. Ibrahim witnessed the moment his cousin was killed, as Israel shelled Gaza University during Operation Cast Lead, which Susannah said “shook him to his core.” She would eventually fall in love with him. “That’s how you learn – you fall in love with a Palestinian.”

But personal relationships don’t have to be romantic. Deep friendships also have their effect.

“By 2014 there was a pretty strong push for divestment in my school,” said Malkah. “There were a lot of people in my undergraduate program who were Arab, and some of them were Palestinians. They had family immediately affected by Israel’s policies as well as family histories of expulsion. I remember sitting with them in the school lounge watching folks speak at the divestment hearings for hours, usually until two in the morning. I just sat there and watched people talking so passionately about the subject, and felt that the students who opposed divestment didn’t have compelling arguments. Having been in my high school and in the David Project made divestment a dirty word. But just being in that environment, listening to people talk and having relationships with people affected by these policies — that made a huge difference for me.”

How many more ways can israel (apartheid state) sentence Palestinians to death?

How many more ways can Israel sentence Palestinians to death?

Israel is now considering to bring back capital punishment to crush those resisting its illegal occupation.

A Palestinian protester seen during a protest calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails near at Ofer Prison, Ramallah, West Bank August 31,2009 [File:Fadi Arouri/Reuters]

A Palestinian protester seen during a protest calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails near at Ofer Prison, Ramallah, West Bank August 31,2009 [File:Fadi Arouri/Reuters]

Fifty-seven years ago, Adolf Eichmann, the infamous Nazi SS leader and the “architect” of the Holocaust was sentenced to death by the Jerusalem District Court. He was convicted on 15 counts of crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes against the Jewish people. Some six months later, on June 1, 1962, he was hanged after exhausting all avenues for appeal.

Although the Israeli state inherited the British Mandate penal code, which included the death penalty for several offences; in 1954, the Knesset voted to abolish it in all cases except for war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against the Jewish people. As result of this decision, to this day, Israel’s civilian courts reserve the use of the death penalty for Nazis and Nazi collaborators convicted of committing murder during the Holocaust, while military courts hand out the sentence only if a panel of three judges unanimously agrees to issue the punishment. Eichmann has thus been the only person to have been sentenced to death in Israel – a punishment that was widely supported because of the SS leader’s heinous role in the Holocaust. Indeed, writer and philosopher Hannah Arendt, who attended the trial, described Eichmann as the embodiment of the “banality of evil“.

For a long time in Israel, the current arrangement, which allowed the death penalty to be invoked only in extreme circumstances and with the unanimous approval of a three-judge panel, was accepted by most. Yet more recently, a pro-capital punishment camp has emerged, calling for its use against Palestinian prisoners.

The political might behind this pro-death penalty movement is former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman‘s Yisrael Beitenu, a small but influential right-wing outfit which brought Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s fragile coalition government to the brink of collapse after pulling its support over the recent Gaza ceasefire. They have put forward a bill that would make the death penalty a common punishment for what they call “Palestinian terrorists”. Earlier this year, Netanyahu stated that he would be supporting the bill, saying that “there are extreme cases of people who carry out horrifying crimes, who do not deserve to live. They should feel the full brunt of the law.”

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Israel’s new death penalty bill ‘targets Palestinians’

The bill, an amendment to the existing legislation, passed its first hearing earlier this year in January. It is currently under judicial review in the Knesset, and will then have to go through a second and third hearing before it will be passed into law. While Yisrael Beitenu’s decision to leave the ruling coalition in November appears to have slowed down the bill’s progression, with support from Prime Minister Netanyahu himself, the bill still has a good chance of passing.

If the bill becomes law, it would allow the Israeli military court in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem) to sentence those convicted of terrorism charges to death, only with the approval of a simple majority from the panel of judges. In other words, this amendment will not only give a green light to the military prosecution to demand the use of the death penalty, it will also normalise its use outside of exceptional circumstances.

Liberman and other proponents of the bill describe it as a deterrent against those wanting to commit “terrorist” attacks. Yet in reality, this bill is an attack on Palestinian political prisoners and an attempt to crush those resisting occupation.

What is particularly disturbing is that it is essentially comparing the crimes of the Nazi with Palestinians who have been arrested and accused of terrorism in the illegal Israeli military court system. This is an illegal court system which should not be operating in West Bank at all according to international law. Director of the Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (Addameer) Sahar Francis explains, the occupying power is not supposed to interfere in legal issues within occupied territory and the Knesset is certainly not allowed to issue new laws in occupied territory. In addition to being illegal, the military court system is often cited as a kangaroo court that does not allow for due legal process with a 99.9 percent conviction rate. It also frequently tries and sentences children – at least 8000 since the year 2000.

In this context, it is alarming that Israel is now discussing to give its military courts the power to sentence Palestinian prisoners to death, but it is not surprising. The Israeli colonial regime is making use of the global rise of right-wing politics and fascism, where such draconian policies are justified and encouraged.

Indeed, Israel has sentenced Palestinians to death in multiple ways prior to this, from extrajudicial executions, siege, starvation and bombing campaigns. This is simply one more effort, an effort which should be rejected by all who adhere to basic principles of human rights.

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