Stephen Pollard and Freedom of Speech

February 04, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

Maybe in Pollard’s universe, freedom of speech is an exclusive realm. 

Maybe in Pollard’s universe, freedom of speech is an exclusive realm.


February 04, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

Maybe in Pollard’s universe, freedom of speech is an exclusive realm.

By Gilad Atzmon

Stephen Pollard, the caricature of an editor for the rabid Zionist Jewish Chronicle, an outlet that operates as an Israeli mouthpiece and has openly waged intense campaigns against freedom of speech, has once again expressed his support for elementary rights including the right to offend. In today’s Daily Mail Pollard writes: “Snowflakes? They’re today’s fascists!” Pollard often champions ‘freedom of speech.’ This time he probably tries to gain credit with the PM office following the attack on Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg as he attempted to give a talk to students at Bristol University.  I need not mention that I didn’t see Pollard or the JC denouncing Zionist hooligans who interfered with my right to play Jazz. Nor did I see the JC or Pollard fight for Alison Chabloz‘s right to perform her cabaret. Maybe in Pollard’s universe, freedom of speech is an exclusive realm.

And when Pollard writes “through editing the newspaper (JC), I am confronted daily with the legacy of that unique evil, including the suppression of debate, the distortion of truth and even the burning of books at the heart of that terrible chapter in our history,” it is hard to figure out whether he describes the “Third Reich’s totalitarian impulse” as he calls it, or his own editorial decisions. After all, before my literature event at Reading International Festival two months ago, Pollard’s Jewish Chronicle published the following headline: “ ‘Horror’ over appearance of Gilad Atzmon at Reading International Festival”

Pollard’s JC  wrote,  “Berkshire Jews  are ‘horrified’ over the scheduled appearance of an antisemitic author at the Reading International Festival.”  Is this how Pollard defines ‘welcoming debate’? In my universe the above line fits nicely within ‘suppression of debate’ and is an extreme form of book burning! I can see a clear contradiction between Stephen Pollard ‘the advocate of freedom of speech’ and the outlet which he edits that employs every trick in the Hasbara book to close debate on Israel, Zionism, Jewish ID politics, Jewish lobbying and the Holocaust.

Pollard, writing today in the Daily Mail, makes a surprising pivot and repeats the arguments I raised in my recent book Being in Time.  “We are now witnessing our own version of Newspeak, in which a form of cultural fascism masquerades as caring concern.” In November Pollard’s paper campaigned to suppress a proposed debate on my book and now he repeats the message of that book almost word for word. But, in my opinion, Pollard makes an error in his use of terminology. It is not ‘cultural fascism’ that introduced the current tyranny of correctness. It was cultural Marxism, a bunch of post Marxist tribal ideologists who thought and still think that it is down to them and only to them to decide who deserves a platform and what are the boundaries of freedom

Listen to Stephen Pollard in advocacy of ‘freedom of speech.’ His point seems to be; ‘You can say whatever you see the need to say as long as I can denounce you as an anti-Semite, a racist and a bigot.’



Video: Pence Smirks as Palestinian MKs are Removed During His Knesset Speach

While you watch the video above pay particular attention as the camera zooms back into Mike Pence’s face following the altercation. The crucial segment you want to scrutinize starts at about 50 seconds in. Notice what appears to be the faint trace of a smile on the vice president’s face. I don’t think I’m exaggerating by describing it as a “smirk.”

What you’re looking at is a portion of Pence’s speech before the Israeli Knesset on Monday, January 22. As the US vice president begins his remarks, Palestinian members of the Knesset attempt to protest, but are forcibly removed from the chamber. According to a report at Al Jazeera, they were shouting “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine” and attempting to hold up pictures of Al Aqsa Mosque.

“We oppose the policies of Mr Trump. He is not only the enemy of Palestinians, he is the enemy of peace,” said Jamal Zahalka, one of the protesting MKs.

Just like the Jewish Knesset members clapping their hands, Pence seems to have been very happy to see the Palestinians thrown out.

Some of Pence’s remarks before the Knesset are quoted in a Jerusalem Post report here. They make for a study in Orwellian doublethink.

“We stand with Israel, because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny,” he said.

The vice president is in essence saying that Palestinians are evil, while Israel is the embodiment of all that is good in the world. There are not many other ways you can interpret this. After all, we’re talking about a conflict between two people that has been going on for most of the past century. The side that has launched missiles into hospitals and schools is the “good” side. The side that has resisted the theft of its land is “evil.” Or at least this is the way Pence sees it. The side that locks people up indefinitely in administrative detention and operates the world’s largest open-air prison represents “liberty,” while the side that has protested encirclement by an apartheid wall is viewed by the vice president as “tyrannical.”

No wonder people have little respect for America when we have leaders who utter such nonsense.

During his speech, Pence of course also talked about moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, saying he anticipated the move will be completed sometime in 2019.

The speech naturally was lauded by Israeli leaders.

“Pence will head back to America on Tuesday having gotten at least one thing he came for: affirmation that the Israeli government is delighted with the Trump administration,” reports The Atlantic.

Of course, one way of evaluating a nation’s propensity for good or evil is by examining how it treats children.

Pence doesn’t strike me as particularly bright or informed, but I’m reasonably certain that he must have heard something, somewhere, regarding Israel’s treatment of Palestinian child prisoners, for the issue has gotten a huge amount of attention, and has even been criticized by the UN among others.

Last year, a member of the British Parliament got a sobering, eye-opening epiphany on this issue during a trip to the West Bank. Sarah Champion is a member of the British Labour Party who spent a day observing proceedings in an Israeli military court as Palestinian child detainees were brought in one-by-one before a judge. Her account of the experience was published by the Huffington Post, and reading it today adds something of a new light to the words of our smirking vice president. Here in part is what she writes:

In the cramped confines, I almost didn’t notice the two little boys, little in age and in stature. At first sight I thought they were disabled as they both appeared to have a similar facial palsy and were sitting in an awkward manner. A side door was thrown open and a man in jeans and a sweatshirt entered, which seemed odd as everyone else I had seen was in uniform. As he strode in, to shake hands with the judge and slap the clerks on the back, the two little boys instinctively flinched away from him. As they cowered, they turned in my direction and I got a proper look at their faces; they didn’t have a palsy, they had been beaten.

“That man is the interrogator” whispered my chaperone as the judge fixed his gaze on us, got up and then left the room.

A charming, uniformed woman walked over to us.

“The judge has decided that we will try this case tomorrow” she said.

As the children were led out, I just sat there, staring ahead, simply trying to process what I had seen.

What on earth is going on in this country, and how is the world just letting it happen?

The answer to that should be abundantly clear to anyone that can ascertain the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, and liberty and tyranny…but of course a sizeable number of humans lack that capability. And as is the case in other areas, Jews seem to be disproportionately represented in this category as well.

In the Occupied Territory, Two Kinds of Justice

Originally published in CounterPunch Magazine December 25, 2017

In the Occupied Territory, Two Kinds of Justice

Many take their liberty for granted even as they have endless time to rail on and on about how “they” are coming for us. Be it the “coup”, apparently now underway, or the spread of domestic McCarthyism that seeks to cower us into silence, or the baffling, sudden, corrupt reach of the Department of Justice, for most white men here we enjoy a privilege that says not us. Typically, it works.

A world away, liberty is less a race-based edge than it is the benefits you gain by the day of the week you celebrate your faith. For those who get directions from god on Saturdays, there appear to be no limits to the dispensation to which you are entitled; be it the execution of an unconscious prisoner, the mass arrest of a family with the temerity to fight for their land or a Prime Minister protected by legislative fiat empowered well beyond the reach of mere mortal law.

Israel has long preached justice and equality to the world. How often have we heard its mantra about democratic ideals and traditions as so much a unique historical tenet of its travel… a journey for the chosen that get to choose who the beneficiaries are… and are not.

For those of us in the US, either schooled in the classic process of the law or victimized by its aim, we’ve grown spoiled by its safeguards even though they remain but abstract and elusive for those many in the prisoner dock of  “wrong” color, with but coins in their pocket or militant politics in their gait.

Yet, despite the betrayal of equal hope for all, the march from investigation to arrest to trial and result knows no formal de jure distinction along the way. Of course, one would be so much a fool to argue that justice is blind, or little more than a commodity for purchase, or the skill of one’s advocate, or the luck of one’s judicial draw. Yet these damning imperfections leave hope along the way that justice may, on occasion, just slip and fall into ones lap despite a long and tarred drop.

That is not the case in Israel. Israel has two systems of justice… one for Jews and the other for Palestinians be they Muslim, Christian or atheist. Nowhere is that more apparent or destructive than it is in the Occupied Territory.

The Detention of Children

Several days ago, 16 year old Ahed Tamimi was arrested, by heavily armed Israeli soldiers, during a violent pre-dawn raid on her home. It followed a video, since gone viral, of her slapping a soldier on the face and arm and pushing another soldier, standing nearby, who she was ushering away from the family home… this, after her 14-year-old cousin, Mohammed,  had been shot by an Israeli rubber coated bullet that entered through his mouth and lodged in his brain.

For Ahed, it was not the first time that her challenge to the occupation received international attention and acclaim.  As an 11 year old, she was video recorded confronting soldiers with clenched fist. She did not back down.  At 13, she helped to wrestle her 11 year old brother, his arm in a cast, from the clutches of an Israeli soldier who was physically assaulting him during a standoff near her family home. For that, she was the recipient of the Handala Courage award in Turkey.

Not long after Ahed’s current arrest, Nariman Tamimi was seized when she went to the local police station to check on her daughter. After attending his daughter’s initial military court appearance, Bassem Tamimi, a prominent land defender and non-violent organizer in the village of Nabi Saleh, was also taken into custody. He has been arrested numerous times by Israeli forces. In 2012, he was termed a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International during one of his several detentions in an Israeli prison.

Later that night, soldiers seized a family cousin, Nour Tamimi, a 21 year old journalism student, from her own family home.

Mother, father, daughter, and cousin arrested after another cousin shot… all within a matter of a few days.  Welcome to Palestine. Welcome to the Occupation.

Liberty means more than the freedom to walk in and out of your home with the approval of those who occupy the streets that lead to it. 

Though the arrest of Ahed has captured the attention of many, it is as much the force of her charisma as it is the call of justice that has produced it. Since 2000, over 8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested and prosecuted in an Israeli military system devoid of any meaningful protection for the most vulnerable and traumatized among those that have known nothing but the bark of occupation their entire lives.  It is a military justice process notorious for the systematic ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children.

The majority of these children have been seized in middle of the night raids by heavily armed Israeli soldiers. By now, military kidnappings have become so much the expected norm that Palestinian teens sleep with their clothes on to maintain their modesty when the doors to their bedroom are kicked in with the shouts of “get up get up” by heavily armed soldiers.

Dragged out the door to the screams of their powerless parents, for most, it will be the last they will hear from them without the watch and eavesdrop of prison guards for the many months of detention to follow.

Several hours after their arrest, children arrive at an interrogation and detention center alone, tired, and frightened.

All Interrogations, by their very nature, are inherently coercive no matter the age or experience of its target.  None are more so than for an often bruised and scared child forced to go through the process without the benefit of counsel or the presence of parents who are never permitted to participate.

Israeli law provides that all military interrogations must be undertaken in a prisoner’s native language and that any statement made by them must be reduced to writing in that language. Despite this prohibition, detainees are typically coerced into signing statements, through verbal abuse, threats, and physical violence, that are written by police in Hebrew… which most cannot understand. These statements usually provide the main evidence against these children in Israeli military courts.

By virtue of the military court process, as of the end of this past summer there were 331 Palestinian minors held in Israeli prisons as security detainees and prisoners, including 2 administrative detainees.

The Military Court Process

The military courts, themselves, are held inside military bases and closed to the public… and usually family members of the accused.  Within these courts, military orders supersede clear Israeli and international law.  The court proceedings reduce the prospect of any justice to little more than a military dress parade where soldiers exhibit their uniform without any independence or skill attached to it whatsoever.

In military courts, all parties to the proceeding… the judge, prosecutor and translators… are members of the Israeli armed forces. The judges are military officers with minimal judicial training and, by-in- large, served as military prosecutors before assuming the bench

The prosecutors are Israeli soldiers appointed to the position by the Area Commander.  Some of them are not yet certified as attorneys under the Israeli Bar Association.

Under the rules of occupation, all defendants in military courts are Palestinian… with the jurisdiction of the Israeli military court never extended to some eight hundred thousand Jewish settlers living in the West Bank.  They are accorded the full benefit and safeguard of Israeli civil law.

Under Israeli military orders, a Palestinian can be held without charge, for the purpose of interrogation, for a total period of 90 days during which he or she is denied the benefit of counsel. These detention periods can be extended without limit and require but an ex parte request of military prosecutors.  By comparison, an Israeli citizen accused of a security offense, within the Occupied Territory, can be held without indictment within the civil process for a period of 64 days during which time counsel is available at all times.

Though Palestinian detainees are entitled to trials in military proceedings which must be completed within eighteen months, if the trials have not concluded within that time frame, a judge from the Military Court of Appeals can extend the detention of a Palestinian by multiple six-month increments… indefinitely. It is this process which has left thousands of Palestinian political detainees imprisoned for years on end without the benefit of counsel, formal charges, or trial. The comparable time limit for detainees before Israeli civilian courts is nine months.

While criminal liability begins at age 12 for Palestinians and Israelis alike, under the military system Palestinians can be tried as adults at age 16. For Israelis, the age of majority for trial as an adult in a civilian court is 18.  This two year difference, without physical distinction of consequence, can mean the difference of many years in sentence should a conviction ensue.  In some cases, it can literally mean a variance between a few years in prison versus decades upon conviction.

For those Palestinian detainees who have been accorded a military trial in the Occupied Territory, the conviction rate is but a bit short of 100%. All military trials are undertaken by a judge and not a jury.

Although the United Nations has repeatedly held that the military justice system in the Occupied Territory violates international law, it has done nothing to ensure equal protection to hundreds of thousands denied justice by virtue of being Palestinian and nothing else.

Detention as a Political Weapon

For fifty years, the justice system in the Occupied Territory has been the exclusive domain of the Israeli army… completely removed from any oversight by civilian laws, courts, and safeguards. It’s been estimated that, during this time, several hundred thousand Palestinians have been sentenced for a wide range of “security violations” as defined by arbitrary military fiat on a case by case basis. It has been reported that 20% of the Palestinian population have been swept up and detained by the military during this time.

While Israel has tried to portray its exercise of judicial authority in the Occupied Territory as one largely concerned with traditional criminal offenses or serious acts of “violence”, in point of fact, most of those seized have been detained for little more than non-violent political activity.

Designated as “Hostile Terrorist Activity,” these offenses often target speech, association, cultural expression, “unauthorized” assembly and movement, non-violent protest, and political activity carried out by elected representatives of local Palestinian government entities.

Others have been detained for “incitement” or membership in “illegal associations” as determined by the local Israeli military commander… or for “leaving the area without permission.”

Journalists have been arrested because of their critical coverage of the military at demonstrations or for reporting about the occupation in general. One was arrested for making a Facebook comment on another arrested Palestinian’s mugshot: “your smile will end the occupation.”

Troops have raided and shut down several broadcast outlets for six months on the grounds of incitement including the Manbar al-Hurriya radio station and eight local outlets operated by PalMedia, Ram Sat and Trans Media.

Documentation of almost two dozen Palestinians, in the West Bank, detained by the Israeli military for nothing more than Facebook posts or exchanges is claimed by 7amleh, the Arab Centre for Social Media Advancement. Additionally, Israel’s security system handed over a list of 400 other Palestinians, having posted to Facebook, to the security of the Palestinian Authority, who arrested them.

Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) have been arrested and detained for carrying out a population census in occupied East Jerusalem which the military deemed as “illegal work” with the Palestinian Authority.

Although International law prohibits interference with the free exercise of one’s political opinions, the Israeli military has sought to suppress the Palestinian political process, as a whole, for decades. Palestinian political leaders and activists are routinely arrested and detained.

In July of 2014, a high of 38 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council were detained for political activity. As of November 2017, the current number is 11 members.    Others have been prevented from travelling outside the Occupied Territories.  A number of Legislative Council members had their residencies in Jerusalem revoked and were forcibly deported to other parts of the Occupied West Bank.

70 lawmakers from the Palestinian Legislative Council have been arrested since 2002 for political activity and little else, including a number that have been detained on multiple occasions.

Among the current members of the PLC in Israeli detention is 55-year-old Khalida Jarrar, a female legislator and senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Head of the Prisoners’ Commission of the PLC and vice-chairperson of the board of directors of Palestinian Prisoners’ Rights Group, Jarrar, who was last released from Israeli detention a year ago, was accused of “promoting terror activities”.

For seventy years, Israel has held itself out as a nation under siege.  It has used this talisman to evade and avoid the clear mandate of international law. Nowhere is that more readily apparent and painful than in the Occupied Territory which, with the passage of time, has become illegally annexed and policed by military force of law.

Jails do not break the back of resistance. They firm it with the price expected for the cost of freedom. In Palestine, it is a price willingly embraced by both the young and those who have aged with the slam of the prison gate.

Perhaps one day, Israel will awaken to the truth that the siege it fights is the very one it promotes. Until then, neither the military nor its sham courts will quell the taste of freedom or the natural beckon for it.

Two Twats: Trump and Netanyahu Made A Complete Fool of Themselves in Front of World Leaders

Trump and Netanyahu Made A Complete Fool of Themselves in Front of World Leaders

Netanyahu Trump 2413c

Donald Trump’s speech to the UN General Assembly of September 19th 2017 will surely go down in history as marking the final collapse of a terminally corrupt regime, where any pretence of cooperative co-existence with the world has given way to the logic of the battlefield.

And while it is too soon to decide if the Western World will follow America into this dark space, the early signs are not good. Some US allies have already given their support to Trump’s psychopathic threat to “totally destroy North Korea”, simply by supporting the corollaries to this threat and by failing to condemn it.

 But this is only to be expected, particularly from countries already up to the neck in America’s crimes around the world, like the UK and Australia.

More worrying is the response from Western media commentators, who have already sent the wrong signals to the US regime on what behaviour is acceptable and good. Most notably of course Trump’s violent missile attack on Syria following the Al Qaeda-mediated “Sarin attack” on Khan Shaikoun drew their praise instead of condemnation, and now acts as a stepping stone to further delusionary cheer-leading.

Like a dog that has just killed a sheep, yet seeks only to please its owner, this new dog in the White House needed to be sent a strong and unambiguous message so it wouldn’t kill again. Not much chance of that, when that owner – the neo-con friendly media – couldn’t conceal its appetite for roast lamb.

Amongst the world leaders supporting and even praising Trump for “saying it like it is” (though it isn’t actually..) there was one who has slaughtered a few sheep in his time, and who delivered an address to the UN almost exceeding Donald Trump’s in its mendacity and malignancy. Netanyahu has a reputation for such performances however, so making conciliatory speeches about former targets isn’t his style; each one has to be a bit worse than the last.

Echoing Trump, who had already delivered his tirade including some outlandish and ridiculous claims about Iran, most of Netanyahu’s speech described the threat “to the whole world” from a “Nuclear-armed Iran”, and how the Iran deal agreed to by Obama must be rescinded. Failure to act would see an “Iranian-Islamist curtain stretching from Tehran to Tartus” that could target anywhere in the world with its “massive nuclear arsenal”.

While Donald Trump undoubtedly believed the aggressive and abusive nonsense he talked about Iran, he clearly doesn’t know much about the country or its nuclear program. Perhaps the US intelligence services don’t like to tell him Iran gave up its plans for a nuclear weapon back in 2003, because he would ask them, Trump-like, “well why the hell are we spending all that money on missile defence systems against Iran?”

Too hard to explain that Obama’s THAAD systems were actually never against Iran, and hope he doesn’t ask why we still installed them after the Iran deal was signed. The Dog in the White House seems to have quite a nose for odd stuff like that, and he might even start to wonder if South Korea also needs so many THAAD missiles against the DPRK. Could it really be such a great threat, with its handful of unproven nuclear weapons and a few dodgy missiles?

We can’t quite forgive Trump for talking such incoherent and dangerous rubbish, making a complete fool of himself in front of rational and sensible world leaders. (notably including France’s Emmanuel Macron, who was scathing in his criticism). He is the “Leader of the Free World” after all, which carries some responsibilities. But neither can we honestly call him liar, as to lie you need to know you lie. Unlike his new best friend Bibi Netanyahu.

For Israel’s leader, lying has become a creed; his vision is built on it. As Mossad’s motto reads: “by way of deception though shall wage war”. Illustrating this in a sickening paean to Israel in his speech was the boast that Israel had given hospital treatment to Syrian ‘refugees’ in the Golan Heights. It’s true of course – partly – treating Al Qaeda ‘refugees’ from the Syrian Army was part of Israel’s covert war on Syria.  But nowhere is this deception so clear as in the issue of nuclear weapons, and Israel’s massive but covert arsenal of them.

Back in 1986, a worker in Israel’s nuclear weapons research program in the Negev desert, Mordechai Vanunu, revealed some of its secrets to the UK’s Sunday Times, including the likely possession of at least 100 nuclear warheads. It is witness to Israel’s stranglehold over information and influence in the West that this strategic arsenal remains both unacknowledged and free from international oversight. As both its certain existence and Israel’s willingness to use it in “aggressive self-defence” are known to Israel’s enemies, this significant strategic advantage is gained at the expense of Israel’s legitimacy.

That Israel’s leader should parade himself at the UN as a “peacemaker”, cautioning the world on the nuclear threat from Iran or the DPRK is an obscene spectacle. In both countries the possession of a nuclear deterrent could be seen as necessary defence against brutal imperial aggressors like Israel and the US. In the case of Iran, which never even had a nuclear bomb, these countries and their slavish allies should be now making amends for years of punitive sanctions based on fabrications and false claims. How could we forget the abuse suffered by Iran’s President Ahmedinejad speaking at the UNGA, and endless accusations that Iran sought to “wipe Israel off the map”? Oh the irony!

And in the case of North Korea, which makes no bones about its desire and perceived need for a nuclear-based defence against attack by the US and its local allies, we are being brought to the brink of a nuclear conflict entirely because America will not abandon its demands for “full spectrum dominance”, and is prepared to destroy anything or anyone that stands in its way. Whether we can be reassured by the slightly more rational statements coming from US defence chiefs is a moot question. This recent discussion on the possible use of “tactical” nuclear weapons sounds reasonable until you realise that much of America’s strategic nuclear arsenal is now carried in submarines, whose location and intent is even more obscure than that of Israel’s

Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate

JUNE 27, 2017

Several articles have been published about the “legal limbo” in which Palestinian Jerusalemites exist and proposals as to what Israel ought to do about this 50-year old travesty, among them being righting “the wrong” of denying Palestinian Arabs in East Jerusalem Israeli citizenship.

In my view, such articles both define the injustice done to Palestinians deceptively and are meant simply to normalize the idea of Palestinian Jerusalemites becoming Israeli citizens, in the same way I might normalize the poll that American Jews are increasingly losing their connection to Israel by writing about it, especially if I were to headline my article “Breaking Taboo”, as Maayan Lubell does, or make the title echo a classified ad for the lovelorn, or question “Jewish identity” by “layering it with complexity” – i.e., by tying it to Israel.

Lubell’s article (Haaretz, Aug 5, 2015) is titled “Breaking Taboo, East Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship: In East Jerusalem, which Israel captured during the 1967 war, issues of Palestinian identity are layered with complexity.” It begins with this:

“I declare I will be a loyal citizen of the state of Israel,” reads the oath that must be sworn by all naturalized Israeli citizens. Increasingly, they are words being uttered by Palestinians. In East Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan during the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed, a move not recognized internationally, issues of Palestinian identity are layered with complexity.

While Israel regards the east of the city as part of Israel, the estimated 300,000 Palestinians that live there do not. They are not Israeli citizens, instead holding Israeli-issued blue IDs that grant them permanent resident status. While they can seek citizenship if they wish, the vast majority reject it, not wanting to renounce their own history or be seen to buy into Israel’s 48-year occupation. And yet over the past decade, an increasing number of East Jerusalem Palestinians have gone through the lengthy process of becoming Israeli citizens, researchers and lawyers say.

So what is the reader to conclude from the “and yet” at the end of the quotation above? One way of looking at it is to see “the increasing number” of Palestinian Jerusalemites seeking Israeli citizenship as finally surrendering to the imperative of power and brutal facts on the ground, impelled by an otherwise unlivable life.

Another is to regard these Palestinians as traitors to the Palestinian cause, normalizing and legitimizing their enemy’s power, as there is often the implication in references to Palestinians seeking Israeli citizenship that Jerusalemites, through their applications for such citizenship, are signaling approval for the Israeli state, when in fact they seem to be doing it for practical reasons- so they can acquire some basic rights that Israel otherwise denies them.

A third is to see it from the point of view of Palestinian cartographer Khalil Tafakji – as yet another defeat for the Palestinian Authority in the context of Oslo’s so-called “peace process”.

Tafakji is quoted in this Haaretz report as saying,

“If this continues, what will the Palestinians negotiate about? They want to negotiate on the land – they have already lost the land. They want to negotiate for the population and the population is being lost.”

In other words the Palestinian view that Tafakji expresses is a lose/lose situation, not the win/win one espoused by another Haaretz article on the subject like the following.

Nir Hasson’s article (Haaretz, June 20, 2017) also has clues as to the function of such articles in the Israeli “liberal” media and co-dependent publications like the New York Times. These are often embedded right in the title or subheading – in this case:

“50 Years After Six-Day War, East Jerusalem’s Palestinians Remain Prisoners in Their City: Study shows how ambivalent Israeli policies and denial of the problem have created a status that doesn’t exist anywhere else on earth: Native-born residents who are not citizens of the state in whose capital they live.”

One glance at the word “capital” in the subheading frames it all for us, hasbara style. What may lull the suspicions of the unwary reader is that the piece does, in fact, highlight the severe problems created for Palestinians by Israeli policies of judaization in the expanded municipality of Jerusalem. But in the end, this kind of article is Israeli “self-criticism” of the worst kind, meant to play games with one’s head.

The subtext you may miss is that, similar to the past and ongoing judaization of Israel proper, the goal behind Israel’s policies in Jerusalem is to create, expand and preserve the Zionist Jewish state.
Hasson describes Israeli policy in 1967 in East Jerusalem, when the population was 60,000, as follows:

The [Israeli] ministers assumed that, as in 1948, when a large number of Arabs likewise didn’t get automatic citizenship, over time the East Jerusalemites would request citizenship – an option granted only to them and not to other West Bank residents – and integrate into Israeli society. The ministers did not take into account the strong ties these Arabs had to the West Bank and Jordan, and the unwillingness of Israeli society to absorb a large Palestinian population …. After the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel recognized the ties East Jerusalemites had to the West Bank and allowed them to vote for the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah. This made their legal status even more complicated: permanent residents of the State of Israel with Jordanian travel papers and the right to vote in Palestinian Authority elections.

Notice the telling phrase in the above that is the blind spot of Zionism: “The ministers did not take into account the strong ties these Arabs had to the West Bank and Jordan.” It totally disregards the strong ties of Palestinian Arabs to an Arab Jerusalem, to an Arab Palestine, ties Israel has not succeeded in breaking seventy years after its establishment on a territory of Palestine as a settler-colonial Zionist Jewish state against the wishes of its native inhabitants.

Hasson goes on to say:

Another expression of the relatively enlightened policy of the early years was a law, finally passed in 1973, that enabled East Jerusalemites to be compensated for property they abandoned in western Jerusalem during the 1948 War of Independence, similar to the rights of Jews to get back the property they had to abandon in East Jerusalem during that same war. In the end, the compensation offered was paltry and very few Palestinians tried to claim it. But the debates on the law at least demonstrated an effort to right the wrong…. In recent years there has been considerable talk about the “Israelization” of East Jerusalemites, as reflected in the labor market, the desire to study the Israeli curriculum, and the increased number of requests to get full Israeli citizenship.

Again, notice the Israeli-centric formulation and framing. Palestinians are described as having “abandoned” their property in West Jerusalem, when, in fact, they were denied their right of return to their property by Israel.
Palestinians “abandoned” their property; but the reference to Jews is a reference to their “rights.”

Palestinians turned down “compensation” for no other reason than its paltry size, when, in fact, the Palestinian view on this issue is as Canadian professor Michael Lynk describes it in The Right to Compensation in International Law and the Displaced Palestinians”

“Palestinians advance the compensation issue as a right recognized in international law that would obligate Israel to return, or pay for, the refugee properties expropriated or destroyed in 1948 and afterwards. As well, they argue that Israel must pay damages for pain and suffering, and for its use of Palestinian properties over the past five decades

The dominance of Jewish companies in the labor market in East Jerusalem where many Palestinians are employed (See The Palestinian Economy in East Jerusalem: Enduring annexation, isolation and disintegration), the agonizing choice some Palestinians make in accepting a school curriculum for their children that denies Palestinian heritage and identity but allows them to get ahead at Israeli universities, and the application for Israeli citizenship (mostly denied by Israel) of a minority of Palestinians are all deceptively framed as “a desire” for “Izraelization” and a path to “correcting the injustice”.

Quoting Amnon Ramon of the Jerusalem Institute for Israeli [not for Palestinian] Studies, Hasson’s article also details the problems that Israel faces as a result of the “limbo” residency arrangement imposed on Palestinian Arabs by the Israeli Government – a “hollow sovereignty”, contributing to “instability and violent outbursts, as well as the international community’s refusal to recognize Israel’s legitimacy in Jerusalem.”

But ostensibly, the article is concerned with Israel “righting a wrong” by removing the “legal limbo” under which Palestinian Jerusalemites live, claiming that such a path, will not only relieve Israel’s problems, but is also a path to “justice” – justice as defined by Israel, the oppressor, not by the Palestinians themselves, Israel’s victims.

This brings us to the immediate present. On June 25, 2017, the New York Times published a piece by Isabel Kershner titled “50 Years After War, East Jerusalem Palestinians Confront a Life Divided.”

Again, we have to ask: What is Kershner’s point in this one? Is it really a concern for Palestinians whose lives have been “divided” by Israel or is it another deflection from the illegitimate existence of Israel as a Zionist Jewish entity in Palestine?

Even as Israelis mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem in the June 1967 war, the Palestinians and most of the world consider the eastern half under occupation, and the city remains deeply divided. But after five decades, dealing with Israel has become unavoidable for residents of East Jerusalem.

The deflection in the quotation above is blatant. Dealing with Israel did not “become unavoidable after five decades.” For Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem and all other Palestinian Arabs who want to visit or do business there and for Palestinian Arabs denied return to their property there, or those whose property was seized and/or demolished, dealing with Israel became unavoidable the minute Israel occupied and annexed East Jerusalem.

It is true Palestinian culture and day-to-day life has been under severe assault by Israel for a long time – since 1948 to be exact. The 50-year anniversary of Israel’s brutal occupation and annexation of East Jerusalem (see Living Under Israeli Policies of Colonization in Jerusalem) is an occasion to extol and marvel at Palestinian resilience and sumoud (an Arabic word meaning “steadfastness” that has entered the English language, just as the word “intifada” has). It is not an occasion to normalize and indirectly extol “the reunification of Jerusalem,” whose Palestinian Arab population now accounts for 18% of the Palestinian Arab population of Israel.

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Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.

Tulsi Gabbard and the Litmus Test

By Richard Edmondson

Tulsi Gabbard, the US congresswoman from Hawaii who introduced the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” earlier this year, has been winning a lot of accolades (including on this blog) for her opposition to the war in Syria and US efforts to overthrow the country’s president, Bashar Assad. But of course in America, the real measuring stick of any politician, the litmus test if you will, is where they stand on Israel.

Last month I put up a post entitled Blessed Are the Peacemakers that included a video of a Gabbard town hall meeting in her home state as well as a commentary on the situation in Syria. The writer of the commentary, Yvonne Lorenzo, praised Gabbard for publicly condemning Trump’s April 6 missile attack on Syria, an attack which killed at least 14 people. But in response to the article, one of our readers, Robert Stiver, posted a comment about Gabbard’s position, or perhaps more precisely lack of a position, on the ongoing crimes being committed by Israel against the Palestinian people.

Robert lives in Hawaii and says he has contacted Gabbard’s office on a number of occasions–partly to express his support for the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, but also to discuss the Palestine-Israel conflict. With regard to his concerns over the latter, however, the congresswoman has failed to respond in any kind of meaningful manner, he says.

His comment led me to consider reaching out to Gabbard myself. And so I did. Here is the email I sent. You can click on the image to expand it.

I sent the above email to Gabbard on April 20–just over a month ago. I have yet to receive a response.

Ending US aid to Israel might not completely solve the problem in Occupied Palestine, but it would go a long way. There are presently more than 120 Israeli settlements (and countless other “outposts”) on occupied Palestinian land. No logical justification can be mounted for maintaining a program of sending billions of US tax dollars a year to support the Zionist state while these settlements continue to exist. They are all illegal. They have actually been formally declared illegal by the UN Security Council–in a resolution that was adopted in December of last year and that was not vetoed by the Obama administration.

So the justification for ending US aid is there–morally and now, with the passage of the Security Council resolution, even legally–and Gabbard should grab it. But she isn’t. In fact, she is doing almost exactly the opposite.

Not long after Robert posted his comment, another one of our readers, Rene, also posted a comment on Gabbard. In Rene’s view, the House member from Hawaii is not a “peacemaker,” but rather “just another ‘controlled opposition’ member” whose job is to confuse an already confused public. To support this thesis, Rene included a number of links, including to the video below in which Gabbard can be seen speaking at a 2016 event sponsored by the World Values Network. The mission of the World Values Network, according to its website, is “to disseminate universal Jewish values in politics, culture, and media, making the Jewish people a light unto the nations.”

In her comments, Gabbard talks about wanting to “stand strong with our ally and partner, Israel,” and then in the same sentence goes on to say she opposes “oppression, persecution, and genocide.” Voicing support for Israel while claiming to have humanitarian concerns of this nature is a shameful and disgraceful display of hypocrisy. As I have pointed out in previous posts, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians probably meets the legal definition of genocide.

On January 5 of this year, the US House of Representatives, by way of response to the Security Council’s declaration of the settlements as illegal, passed House Res. 11 condemning the vote and accusing the UN of being “one-sided and anti-Israel.” Gabbard voted against that measure. However, she has supported an alternate bill, House Res. 23, and even signed on to it as a co-sponsor.

H.R. 23–you can go here to read the text of it–lauds the US-Israel “special relationship” and asserts that the US “remains unwavering” in its commitment to stand by the Zionist state as it meets its “myriad challenges.” These include terrorism as well as “civil conflict in neighboring states and the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.” The measure also talks about “shared values of democracy and the rule of law” that supposedly are enjoyed by peoples of the two countries forming the “special relationship,” which leads us to ask: what exactly are these Washington politicians talking about? What commitment to “democracy and the rule of law” can Israel be said to be pursuing when it imposes a blockade/occupation upon some 4.5 million people–people who have no right to vote in Israeli elections? The blockade of Gaza has been going on for 10 years and the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem enters its 50th year this year. With no end in sight. And this is what they refer to as “democracy and the rule of law”?

When Gabbard and the other Congress members who support H.R. 23 talk about “shared values,” are they trying to imply that Americans support apartheid? That we condone bulldozing people’s homes as a form of punishment? H.R. 23 also criticizes the “delegitimization” of Israel. Are these people living on another planet? The answer to that in a way may be yes. For that in a sense is what life in Israeli-occupied Washington is: it’s like living on another planet–in which all the lies of the mainstream media are believed, those who try to tell the truth are labeled as purveyors of fake news, and where boycotting Israel is “anti-Semitic.” Whenever you set foot on this planet you mind becomes automatically enslaved. Gabbard doesn’t seem to be immune from this process.

You can also go here to read about Gabbard’s alleged ties to Bharatiya Janata, or the BJP, the Hindu nationalist party of India. I don’t know enough about the politics of the BJP to comment one way or the other on it, but the article is at least worth reading, and it does discuss Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a BJP member, who has long been said to be intent on forging a closer bond with Israel (maybe he’s jealous of the “special relationship”). The writer also discusses the Hawaii congresswoman’s reputed ties to casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson–something that is also mentioned as well in a second article here. About all I can say to any of this is to repeat what my mother told me when I was growing up: you are known by the company you keep.

A bit more about the World Values Network (WVN) in closing. Each year the group sponsors a “Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala.” The video above shows Gabbard speaking at last year’s event. An article about that event can be found here. The article is written by Shmuley Boteach, the so-called “America’s rabbi” who has authored numerous books and is a familiar face on American television. Boteach seems to be affiliated with the WVN in some manner, at least he is featured prominently on the group’s website. At any rate, his article is devoted to giving a full report on last year’s awards gala, offering a summation of remarks made by the different speakers, including Gabbard’s. The congresswoman is spoken of highly, including her service in the US military. Interestingly, it seems Sheldon Adelson was also present at the event. Boteach refers to it overall as an “unforgettable evening” attended by “a who’s who of Jewish philanthropists and defenders of Israel.”

That was last year–the “4th Annual Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala.” This year’s event–the 5th Annual Gala–is scheduled to take place tonight, May 21, in New York. I could not ascertain whether Gabbard is returning as a speaker this year, but perhaps not surprisingly Boteach has a new article up. The piece, posted Friday at The Hill, seems to have a two-fold purpose: plugging the event and demonizing Syrian President Bashar Assad at the same time (perhaps the author is hoping to achieve a synergistic effect). At any rate, Boteach seems fixated upon the latest propaganda stew over a “crematorium” supposedly being operated by the Syrian government.

“If the phrase ‘Never again’ is to have any meaning, the United States, Israel, or some other power that stands for morality and against the evils of genocide, must immediately bomb the Syrian crematoria,” he writes.

This is quite ironic given that it seems to be at cross purposes with everything Gabbard was trying to accomplish with her “Stop Arming Terrorists” bill.  Which kind of brings us in a roundabout way back to the subject of the litmus test. How is the congresswoman stacking up? The answer seems to be not too well.

Barcelona Votes to End «Israeli» Occupation & Illegal Settlements

Local Editor

Barcelona City Council passed a historic declaration on Wednesday upholding the right to boycott the “Israeli” entity over its violations of Palestinian rights.

Boycott "Israeli" apartheid protest in Spain

The motion condemns the apartheid entity’s occupation of Palestinian land, calls for the immediate end to the decade-long Gaza blockade and ensures that the city’s public procurement policies exclude companies that profit from “Israel’s” human rights abuses.

It also admonishes the “Israeli” entity for its intransigence in the face of repeated warnings from the international community to stop its illegal colonization of Palestinian land, according to the Catalan daily Ara.

The council recognizes “nonviolent campaigns promoted by Palestinian and international civil society for defending international and human rights law in Palestine” – a clear nod to the BDS movement.

The city joins dozens of Spanish municipalities which have declared themselves “free of ‘Israeli’ apartheid.”

A coalition of Spanish and Catalan boycott, divestment and sanctions [BDS] groups welcomed the vote.

“We celebrate this victory because we believe it to be a great step forward in raising the awareness of the role of local government in the defense of human rights and in breaking the complicity that inherently bolsters apartheid and the occupation of Palestine,” the groups state.

“This resolution is an institutional recognition of civil society demands for an end to complicity in violations of international law through nonviolent struggle, as practiced by the BDS movement,” the groups add.

The city’s recognition of the right to engage in “Israel” boycott activism, at a time when more European governments move to protect such activism, “is a triumph for free speech and democratic rights in Europe,” said Rafeef Ziadah of the Palestinian BDS National Committee.

“It gives further recognition to BDS as an inclusive, inspiring, anti-racist movement rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that upholds the basic principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity,” Ziadah added.

For years, Spanish and Catalan activists had engaged in direct action against academic and cultural partnerships with “Israeli”-backed institutions.

In 2014, dozens of activists occupied the offices of Catalan government representatives to protest a wave of newly signed academic collaboration deals between the autonomous region and the “Israeli” entity.

The action forced the representatives to agree to examine proposals aimed at ensuring the new deals do not benefit institutions and companies that participate in the entity’s occupation.

More than 350 Catalan academics and university staff backed the action, calling for the boycott of “Israeli” academic institutions.

The “Israeli” regime, meanwhile, has expressed worry over the growing popularity of BDS activism in Spain, especially as larger cities such as Barcelona, led by left-wing mayor Ada Colau, vote to support Palestinian rights.

A 2016 cable from the “Israeli” embassy in Spain described “the phenomenon of anti-‘Israeli’ activity in Spain” as “bothersome and worrisome, but in the past was centered in small cities.”

But the cable warned that Barcelona city council members were considering canceling a sister-city agreement with Tel Aviv, according to The Jerusalem Post.

After Wednesday’s city Council Vote, David Bondia Garcia, a professor of international law and president of the Institut de Drets Humans de Catalunya, a human rights organization, asserted in the newspaper el Periódico that a break in the twinning agreement with Tel Aviv would be the next logical step.

The Barcelona motion comes just two months after pro-“Israel” groups in Spain filed charges against Palestine solidarity activists for calling on a music festival two years ago to cancel a performer who had used his celebrity to fundraise for the “Israeli” army and to support anti-Palestinian causes.

Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian human rights activist and co-founder of the BDS movement, called the charges “legal intimidation.”

israel | barcelona | bds | spain | israeli apartheid

Source: EI, Edited by website team

21-04-2017 | 13:02

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