Vegan Washing: How Israel Uses Veganism to Gloss Over Palestinian Oppression

By Alan Macleod

Source

Most of us are now aware that we constantly receive micro-targeted advertisements in our social media feeds based on our interests, location or habits. Those in the vegan community are no exception.

However, an increasing number of  promoted posts targeted at vegans on apps like Facebook or Twitter are clearly Israeli Defense Force (IDF) propaganda. Most of these are videos discussing, in English, how accommodating to the plant-based lifestyle the IDF is and how easy it is to be a vegan soldier.

Israel, its government tells us, is a vegan paradise of tolerance and open-mindedness, where its soldiers can serve their country according to their ethical principles, eating vegan food and wearing clothes free from leather, wool, or other animal products. There are now around 10,000 vegan soldiers in the IDF, and that figure is quickly rising. Meanwhile, Tel Aviv markets itself to foreigners as the “vegan capital of the world”.

Israel Defense Forces

@IDF

The perfect place to be vegan doesn’t exi-

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Apartheid Isn’t Vegan

There is a fundamental contradiction between veganism and apartheid. Veganism at its core is an ideology of radical compassion for and non-violence towards all sentient beings. As vegan website Live Kindly explains, it means “to live in a way which shows appreciation to our humanity, our home and those who share it with us.” It should go without saying that this is completely incompatible with successive Israeli governments going back to 1948 and Israel’s commitment to being a Jewish supremacist state. Thus, in Israel, a country that cares about animals more than its indigenous human population, you can be vegan, but you can’t support Palestinian rights.

Nevertheless, Israel continues to use the fact that thousands of its soldiers abscond from animal products as proof that it is a forward-thinking, progressive nation. Mainstream and corporate media have, unsurprisingly, parroted this assertion. The BBC, for instance, tells the story of an IDF soldier, Daniella Yoeli, so moral that “had the army not been able to provide conditions that had harmed no living creatures, she might not have enlisted in a combat unit where she would not have been able to provide her own food.” Unexplored in the article was whether or not Palestinian humans qualified as human beings to her.

More alarming, however, is how many vegetarian and vegan outlets have swallowed the bait as well. Veg News reports how Israeli soldiers march to war in leather-free boots and have plentiful plant-based ration optionsLive Kindly noted how the IDF’s deputy chief of staff is a vegetarian and how it recently appointed its first vegan officer. Meanwhile, PETA went so far as to advise the Swiss Army to “take a leaf out of the Israel Defense Forces’ book”. But especially troubling is that none of the articles even mentioned any criticism of the IDF, the government, or their actions, effectively amplifying Israeli propaganda worldwide.

Israel Vegans

With a host of celebrity advocates, including Tobey Maguire, Emily Deschanel and Zac Efron, veganism is growing exponentially across the West. Noting that a quarter of 25-34 year old Americans are vegetarian or stricter, The Economist labeled 2019 the “year of the vegan.” Yet uncritical regurgitation of IDF press releases subtly presents the Middle East region as liberal, forward-thinking Israelis vs. backward, close-minded Arab Muslims.

This framing is particularly misleading for a number of reasons. Firstly, much of the most commonly celebrated Israeli vegan food (falafel, hummus, baba ghanoush, stuffed vine leaves) is simply the appropriated cuisine of the local peoples Israel displaced during its creation. Secondly, the great irony is that the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development statistics show that Israelis actually consume the most poultry per capita in the world, with 80% of the population eating it every day. As a whole, Israelis eat over 200 pounds of meat every year, more than even the famously carnivorous Americans.

Furthermore, as the Palestinian Animal League notes, while 3% of Israeli Jews are vegan, the number of their Palestinian Israeli counterparts is twice as high. Therefore, the narrative begins to disintegrate upon even modest inspection.

From Vegan Washing to Pink Washing

In a similar fashion, Israel presents itself as a haven of acceptance for the LGBT community in a region of intolerance. After winning the event in 2018, the country received the right to host the Eurovision Song Contest, a continent-wide celebration of flamboyantly gay music and culture (despite not being a European nation).

The Israeli government saw the country’s victory as a huge diplomatic triumph, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declaring winning performer Netta Barzilai as its “best ambassador.” Barzilai flew back home to perform at a government-sponsored victory celebration. The same day the IDF slaughtered at least 58 Palestinians. There was a considerable amount of pushback to the idea of Israel hosting the competition this year, with some acts refusing to perform. Nevertheless, the show went ahead as planned in Tel Aviv, another coup for the government.

While Israel is indeed a land that is both comparatively tolerant of LGBT people and accommodating to vegans, the general progressiveness that implies does not extend to the realm of politics, where the country continues to lurch ever more rightward to the point where even its former Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, has warned that the country is “infected” with fascism and the government must be stopped. Thus, in the Jewish-only state, female bulldozer drivers can destroy Palestinian villages, vegan tank commanders can run over wheelchair-bound children, and transgender pilots can bomb wedding receptions. The trick the IDF is trying to play is to get as much of the world to concentrate on its (limited) liberal inclusivity and ignore its near-genocidal military policy. And it appears to be working.

Protesting Israel Is a “Hate Crime” in U.S. Universities

By Philip Giraldi

Source

US Universities Bow to Pressure bf0cb

The Israel lobby in the United States and its counterparts in Europe have been paying particular attention to curtailing the activities of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS). This is because BDS, which is non-violent and based on established human rights principles, is extremely appealing to college students, who will be tomorrow’s leaders. Israel, which promotes its own largely fictional narrative about itself, is reluctant to allow any competing stories about its foundation and current activities, so it has worked hard to exclude any and all criticism of its practices on college campuses and even among students in public high schools.

Unfortunately, many colleges and universities are all too ready to compromise their principles, such as they are, whenever a representative of Israel or of Jewish groups comes calling. A popular line that has proven to be particularly effective is that Jews on campus feel threatened whenever anyone advocates for the Palestinians or Iranians, intended to convey that their civil rights are being violated.

Even if that type of allegation is actually relevant to whether or not one allows free speech and association, one wonders how violated the Palestinians and Iranians must feel when confronted by the endless stream of hostility emanating from the U.S. media and Hollywood as well as from select politicians representing both parties and the White House.

In the most recent manifestation of suppression of views critical of Israel, the federal government’s Department of Education has ordered Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to reorganize the Consortium for Middle East Studies program run jointly by the two colleges based on their failure to include enough “positive” content relating to Christianity and Judaism. The demand came with a threat to suspend federal funding of Title VI Higher Education Act international studies and foreign language grants to the two schools if the curriculum is not changed.

Of course, the demands have nothing to do with Christian groups demanding inclusion and everything to do with organized Jewish pressure to present Israel in a positive light while also casting aspersions on the Jewish state’s perceived enemies in the region and also on university campuses. Anyone who has even cursory knowledge about the Middle East knows that Christians and Jews constitute only a tiny minority in the region, so the emphasis on teaching about Islam, the Arabs, and the Persians makes sense if the instruction is to have any actual relevance.

One particular event that apparently led to an earlier investigation in June launched by the Education Department consisted of a conference in March called “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities.” A Republican congressman was outraged by the development and asked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to investigate because the gathering was full of “radical anti-Israel bias.”

Even The New York Times acknowledged in their coverage of the story that “Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, has become increasingly aggressive in going after perceived anti-Israel bias in higher education.” Her deputy—who has served as a focal point for the effort to root out anti-Israel sentiment—is Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights Kenneth L. Marcus, who might reasonably be described as “a career pro-Israel advocate.”

Marcus is the founder and president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a foundation that he has used to exclusively defend the rights of Jewish groups and individuals against BDS and other manifestations of Palestinian pushback against the Israeli occupation of their country. He has not hesitated to call opponents anti- Semites and has worked with Jewish students to file civil rights complaints against college administrations, including schools in Wisconsin and California. In an op-ed that appeared, not surprisingly, in The Jerusalem Post, he observed that even when student complaints were rejected, they created major problems for the institutions involved. “If a university shows a failure to treat initial complaints seriously, it hurts them with donors, faculty, political leaders, and prospective students.”

Last year Marcus reopened an investigation into alleged anti-Jewish bias at Rutgers University that the Obama administration had closed after finding that the charges were baseless. Marcus indicated that the re-examination was called for, as his office in the Education Department would henceforth be using the State Department definition of anti-Semitism that includes “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” making much criticism of Israel a hate crime.

In the current North Carolina-Duke case, DeVos and Marcus expressed concern over course content that had “a considerable emphasis placed on understanding the positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism, or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East.” The complaint called for balancing content relating to “the historic discrimination faced by, and current circumstances of, religious minorities in the Middle East, including Christians, Jews, Baha’is, Yazidis, Kurds, Druze, and others.”

Zoha Khalili, a staff lawyer at Palestine Legal, explained how the message coming from Washington is actually quite simple and has nothing to do with balance: “They really want to send the message that if you want to criticize Israel, then the federal government is going to look very closely at your entire program and micromanage it to death. . . . [It] sends a message to Middle Eastern studies programs that their continued existence depends on their willingness to toe the government line on Israel.”

The possible consequences are very clear. If you are an educational institution that criticizes Israel in any way, shape or form, you will lose any funding you receive from the federal government. The move has nothing to do with budgetary demands or the national security of the United States or even with the efficacy of the programs that are being funded. It has everything to do with promoting Israeli interests. That a demonstrated and outspoken Israeli advocate like Marcus should be placed in a key position to decide who gets what based on his own biases is a travesty, but it is something that we should all be accustomed to by now, as there is apparently no limit to what the Trump administration is willing to do for Israel and for that monstrous country’s powerful, wealthy, and incessantly vocal supporters in the United States.

Haaretz Criticizes Russia, Supports US/Israeli Aggression

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Among major powers, Russia is the leading proponent of peace and stability worldwide — its geopolitical agenda polar opposite how the US, NATO, Israel, and their imperial partners operate, an unprecedented global menace Haaretz and Western media support. 

According to the Israeli broadsheet, Dems have little appetite for “Middle East entanglements and many of them have little love for Israel.”

Fact: On issues of war and peace, corporate empowerment, serving privileged interests exclusively, neoliberal harshness for ordinary Americans, and cracking down hard on resisters, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between both right wings of the US war party.

Fact: As for virtually anything involving Israel, nearly the entire Congress and executive branch support the Jewish state one-sidedly, uncaring about Palestinian rights. Rare exceptions prove the rule.

Haaretz: “The days of unconditional US defense aid may be numbered. In the future Israel will have to give something back.”

Haaretz has things backwards for the near and longer-term. The power of the Jewish lobby in the US and West assures continued support for the worst of Israeli high crimes. The Jewish state partners with the US and NATO in waging them. 

Haaretz claiming “Putin is the new king of the Middle East” greatly exaggerates Russia’s regional influence, gaining on the West, way short of surpassing it so far.

Saying he has “economic goals” is true of all nations. Russia pursues its geopolitical aims without attacking or exploiting other nations and their people — seeking peace, stability, mutual cooperation with other countries, and multi-world polarity.

Washington’s agenda is polar opposite, the same true for NATO and Israel — at war with other nations while exploiting their own ordinary people for maximum wealth and power.

Haaretz repeated the Big Lie that won’t die about Russian US election meddling no credible evidence proved happened because none exists, adding:

“Moscow operates hacker teams specializing in political interference in ways that leave no trace of official involvement.”

Like Western media, accusations against Russia by Haaretz include no evidence proving them, showing they’re groundless.

The broadsheet quoted an unnamed Israeli official claiming with no corroborating evidence that Russia “engage(s) in political subversion all over the world. They see it as legitimate and Israel is no exception,” adding:

“Like the Chinese, the Russians want to show that the democratic system doesn’t work anywhere. They prefer to deal with leaders and hierarchical systems without institutions that balance and restrain power.” 

“So they challenge democratic structures everywhere, interfere in elections and create economic pressure via investments by oligarchs that serve the Kremlin.”

Fact: Russian democracy is real, polar opposite US-led Western and Israeli fantasy versions.

Fact: Israel spies on allies and adversaries alike, notably the US.  Washington’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) earlier accused Israel of “conduct(ing) the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any US ally.”

The Pentagon accused Israel of “actively engag(ing) in military and industrial espionage in the United States.”

An unnamed US official once said “(i)t is one thing for the US and Israel to spy on each other.”

“It is another thing for Israel to steal (its) secrets and play them back to (congressional) legislators to undermine US diplomacy.”

I’ve stressed that the nuclear armed and dangerous Jewish state is run by fascist extremists, Zionist ideologues, and religious fundamentalists — representing an unprecedented regional menace along with Washington’s pernicious presence.

No “challenge from Russia” to Israel exists, no “Russian sheriff in town,” no Kremlin threat to any countries.

Polar opposite is true. Moscow seeks cooperative relations with other nations, not confrontation or exploitive designs.

Haaretz a broadsheet producing credible reports at times on some issues, usually domestic ones — spoiled by the above rubbish appearing much too often.

As for all things geopolitical, the broadsheet supports US, NATO, and Israeli aggression. 

It pretends the Jewish state faces cross-border threats — despite none since the October 1973 Yom Kippur war.

It’s militantly hostile to Iran, Syria, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Hamas, and other Palestinian liberation organizations — nonbelligerent states and groups threatening no one.

Except at times by noteworthy columnists, it hasn’t come to terms with Israeli apartheid ruthlessness, its fantasy democracy, fascist rule, neoliberal harshness, and imperial aims.

All of the above pose a regional and global menace — second only to US-dominated NATO.

How Israel Uses Bollywood to Whitewash the Occupation — Astute News

Between Tuesday and Thursday this week, Bollywood actors are travelling to Israel for the Indo Fest TLV, a “cultural showcase” touted as the biggest event in the history of India-Israel cultural relations. The festival – featuring Anil Kapoor, Amisha Patel and at least eight other stars of Indian cinema – promises to be a cultural extravaganza designed to […]

via How Israel Uses Bollywood to Whitewash the Occupation — Astute News

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