‘Most-read’ article at Washington Post calls Israel ‘savage, unrepairable society’

Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, October 25, 2015

Assaf Gavron

The leftwing movement of criticism of Israel is getting more and more mainstream by the second. Everyone is walking the path; they’re just getting there a little later. The Washington Post, a hotbed of neoconservative ideas for the last 15 years, has another article harshly critical of Israel today, written by an Israeli. And guess what: that article along with yesterday’s article by the two prestige Jewish academics calling for boycott of Israel are the two “most-read” articles on the Post list this morning!

This one tops the list: novelist Assaf Gavron’s article titled, “Confessions of an Israeli Traitor.” It turns out that Max Blumenthal’s portrait of a rightwing Israel was an accurate one:

The internal discussion in Israel is more militant, threatening and intolerant than it has ever been. Talk has trended toward fundamentalism ever since the Israeli operation in Gaza in late 2008, but it has recently gone from bad to worse. There seems to be only one acceptable voice, orchestrated by the government and its spokespeople, and beamed to all corners of the country by a clan of loyal media outlets drowning out all the others. Those few dissenters who attempt to contradict it — to ask questions, to protest, to represent a different color from this artificial consensus — are ridiculed and patronized at best, threatened, vilified and physically attacked at worst. Israelis not “supporting our troops” are seen as traitors, and newspapers asking questions about the government’s policies and actions are seen as demoralizing…

Facebook pages calling for violence against left-wingers and Arabs appear frequently, and even when they’re taken down, they pop up again in one guise or another. Any sentiment not aligned with the supposed consensus is met with a barrage of racist vitriol. One Facebook group calling itself the Shadow Lions discussed how to disrupt a wedding between an Arab and a Jew, posting the groom’s phone number and urging people to call and harass him. On Twitter and Instagram, hashtags like #leftiesout and #traitorlefties abound. Film director Shira Geffen, who asked her movie audiences for a moment of silence to respect Palestinian children killed in an Israeli offensive, was flayed across Israeli social networks. “Shame,” a new and brilliant play by actress Einat Weitzman, brings to the stage a selection of the hateful comments she received after wearing a T-shirt bearing the Palestinian flag. One example from the play: “If the baby that was murdered was yours I wonder which flag you would put on yourself. Now step on it and get your ugly head back to your tiny apartment and bury yourself from the shame until you die there alone and maybe in your funeral we will ask the Jihad to read verses from the Koran.”

Gavron is in Omaha this year. He denounces Netanyahu’s Holocaust revisionism and the extrajudicial executions by Israeli law enforcement:

what I hear and read from Israel leaves me appalled. Again led by politicians from the right (with the perplexing support of members of the supposed opposition, such as Yair Lapid), then circulated by the sensationalist mainstream media, there has been a unified demonization of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. One recent poll by the newspaper Maariv found that only 19 percent of Israeli Jews think most Arabs oppose the attacks. This past week, the trend reached its absurd peak, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ridiculous claim that Hitler decided to annihilate the Jews only after being advised to do so by Jerusalem Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, the leader of Palestinian Arabs at the time. ..

There have been calls to kill attackers in every situation, in defiance of the law or any accepted rules of engagement for the military. Lapid, for example, said in an interview, “Don’t hesitate. Even at the start of an attack, shooting to kill is correct. If someone is brandishing a knife, shoot him.” Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan also gave his blessing to that notion. And the head of the Jerusalem police department, Moshe Edri, announced, “Anyone who stabs Jews or hurts innocent people is due to be killed.” Knesset member Yinon Magal tweeted that authorities should “make an effort” to kill terrorists who carry out attacks.

Such sentiment has led to incidents like the death in East Jerusalem of Fadi Alloun, suspected of a knife attack but shot by police as they had him surrounded. Sometimes, it backfires: This month, a Jewish vigilante near Haifa stabbed a fellow Israeli Jew who he thought was an Arab. Late Wednesday, soldiers killed an Israeli Jew whom they mistook for a Palestinian attacker.

The low point (so far) was last Sunday night’s lynching of 29-year-old Eritrean asylum seeker Haftom Zarhum…

These events are symptoms of Israel’s soul sickness:

The cumulative effect of this recent mindless violence is hugely disturbing. We seem to be in a fast and alarming downward swirl into a savage, unrepairable society. There is only one way to respond to what’s happening in Israel today: We must stop the occupation.

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Two establishment Jews endorse boycott of Israel and “single state”

Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, October 24, 2015

Glen Weyl

We’ve long predicted that liberal Zionists will start coming out for boycott because there’s no other peaceful way to end the conflict; and they will even abandon Zionism in the name of a peaceful transition to democracy. This has now happened in the Washington Post: the week after Lawrence Summers tried to hold the line in the Jewish community with an ill-informed speech against boycott in New York, and after J.K. Rowling sought to hold off boycott in England, two young Jewish academics of some standing, Steven Levitsky and Glen Weyl, say they are for boycott because they want to save Israel from itself. And that new Israel could be a “single state” with full democratic citizenship for Palestinians.

The piece is titled, “We are lifelong Zionists. Here’s why we’ve chosen to boycott Israel.” Note that Weyl and Levitsky endorse boycott because they “love” Israel and they do not mention the vanguard Palestinian-led movement, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, nor the Right of Return, a critical component of the BDS movement. I don’t believe that Palestinian solidarity activists will embrace this move, because it largely ignores their struggle; but for anyone who wants to transform the U.S. discourse and liberate the Jewish community from blindness, it’s welcome.

Open the floodgates. These men have prestige. Levitsky is a 47-year-old Harvard professor and Weyl is a 30-year-old Senior Researcher at Microsoft, though he does not give that i.d. for the piece, just that he is an assistant professor of economics at University of Chicago. Puts Microsoft in a tender position!

The two intellectuals do not deny the rightward trend in Israeli society or the unending occupation. They address it forthrightly. The occupation is now permanent. Boycotting settlements is not enough. Excerpts:

As happened in the cases of Rhodesia and South Africa, Israel’s permanent subjugation of Palestinians will inevitably isolate it from Western democracies….

We are at a critical juncture. Settlement growth and demographic trends will soon overwhelm Israel’s ability to change course. For years, we have supported Israeli governments — even those we strongly disagreed with — in the belief that a secure Israel would act to defend its own long-term interests. That strategy has failed. Israel’s supporters have, tragically, become its enablers. Today, there is no realistic prospect of Israel making the hard choices necessary to ensure its survival as a democratic state in the absence of outside pressure.

For supporters of Israel like us, all viable forms of pressure are painful. The only tools that could plausibly shape Israeli strategic calculations are a withdrawal of U.S. aid and diplomatic support, and boycotts of and divestitures from the Israeli economy. Boycotting only goods produced in settlements would not have sufficient impact to induce Israelis to rethink the status quo.

It is thus, reluctantly but resolutely, that we are refusing to travel to Israel, boycotting products produced there and calling on our universities to divest and our elected representatives to withdraw aid to Israel. Until Israel seriously engages with a peace process that either establishes a sovereign Palestinian state or grants full democratic citizenship to Palestinians living in a single state, we cannot continue to subsidize governments whose actions threaten Israel’s long-term survival.

Israel, of course, is hardly the world’s worst human rights violator. Doesn’t boycotting Israel but not other rights-violating states constitute a double standard? It does. We love Israel, and we are deeply concerned for its survival. We do not feel equally invested in the fate of other states.

Unlike internationally isolated states such as North Korea and Syria, Israel could be significantly affected by a boycott. The Israeli government could not sustain its foolish course without massive U.S. aid, investment, commerce, and moral and diplomatic support.

We recognize that some boycott advocates are driven by opposition to (and even hatred of) Israel. Our motivation is precisely the opposite: love for Israel and a desire to save it.

Repulsed by the Afrikaners’ ethno-religious fanaticism in South Africa, Zionism founder Theodore Herzl wrote, “We don’t want a Boer state, but a Venice.” American Zionists must act to pressure Israel to preserve Herzl’s vision — and to save itself.

I assume the authors’ professions of love for Zionism/Israel are purely tactical, I can’t imagine it ever crossed these guys’ minds that they needed a Jewish state when things got too hot in the U.S. Weyl is the opposite of tribal.

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November 1, 2015
Room No. 4 Photos and Speaker

room no. 4 handcuffed

Sunday, November 1, 2015
First Unitarian Society
900 University Bay Drive, Madison
1:00 – 2:30 pm

“They left me in the room for 5 hours with my hands tied behind my back and my legs tied to each other. When I refused to confess, they slapped me and tightened the hand ties more and more.” 15-year-old boy

Room No. 4 is a photographic campaign prepared by the Madaa Silwan Center and War Child Holland to illustrate the violations of Palestinian children’s rights in East Jerusalem. The 12 staged photos are accompanied by written testimonies from the children themselves. Room No. 4 is the name of the Israeli interrogation room at the Russian Compound Detention Center in Jerusalem. An additional 10 documentary photos of life in occupied East Jerusalem taken by Majd Ghaith will further demonstrate the violations of children’s rights from home demolitions to settler violence.

Come hear from Sahar Abbasi Baidon – Direct from Palestine! Sahar is a mother of four and the deputy director of MECA’s partner, Madaa Silwan Creative Center, in East Jerusalem. Born and raised in Silwan, Sahar and has worked at Madaa focusing on projects to improve life for children and women. She works directly with children who are arrested, and her interviews and research (“The Impact of Child Arrest”, a study published by Sahar and Dr. Kasahun) are the basis for the Room Number 4 photo exhibit.

Free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted to benefit the Madaa Silwan Creative Center in hiring a psychologist to help these children.

Sponsored by Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, and Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison. For more information visit MECA or contact rafahsistercity (at) yahoo.com.

Wisconsin Book Festival’s Leila Abdelrazaq And “Baddawi” on WORT 89.9FM

October 23, 2015 by

Today Esty Dinur talks to Leila Abdelrazaq, author of the newly released “Baddawi.” Her new book tells the story of a young boy raised in a refugee camp, trying to find his way in the world after fleeing his homeland after the war in 1948 established the state of Israel.

Leila Abdelrazaq is a Palestinian author, artist, and organizer. She graduated from DePaul University in 2015 with a BFA in Theatre Arts and a BA in Arabic Studies. She has been involved in both national and local community organizing around the issue of Palestine since 2011. Leila was a participant in the 2015 Palestine Festival of Literature and is a contributor to The Electronic Intifada.

Fact Check: MSNBC’s Palestinian loss of land map

, Mondoweiss, October 22, 2015

(Screenshot: MSNBC)(Screenshot: MSNBC)

Last week, MSNBC aired a map (above) showing the loss of Palestinian land to Zionist settlers and then to Israel from 1946 to the present. Following criticism from Israelis and their supporters, MSNBC apologized and stated that the map was incorrect. But was it? The following is a fact check of MSNBC’s map and the criticisms of it.

Does the map accurately show the loss of Palestinian land since 1946?

Yes. The map accurately depicts the land that has been forcibly taken from Palestinians since 1946, two years before Israel was established and the accompanying expulsion of between 750,000 and a million Palestinians to make way for a Jewish state.

During and immediately following the state’s creation in 1948, Israel expropriated approximately 4,244,776 acres of Palestinian land. In the process, more than 400 Palestinian cities and towns were systematically destroyed by Israeli forces or repopulated with Jews. Most Palestinian population centers, including homes, businesses, houses of worship, and vibrant urban centers, were demolished to prevent the return of their owners, now refugees outside of Israel’s pre-1967 borders or internally displaced within them. (See here for interactive map of Palestinian population centers destroyed during Israel’s creation.)

Israel’s systematic dispossession of Palestinians is ongoing today, both in the occupied territories and inside Israel’s internationally recognized pre-1967 borders, where Palestinian citizens of the state and those living under occupation continue to be pushed out of their homes and off their lands – including entire towns – to make way for Jewish citizens and settlers. Today, there are approximately 650,000 Jewish settlers living illegally on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Israel’s settlement enterprise covers approximately 42% of the West Bank.

Did the map specify that Palestine was an independent state prior to 1948?

No. Critics have focused on the fact that Palestine was not a sovereign and independent state prior to 1948, however the map did not claim that it was. The map purported to show “Palestinian Loss of Land 1946-present,” and it did precisely that, accurately. While it was not a recognized independent state under British rule in 1946, Palestine as a political entity existed prior to the formation of the state of Israel in 1948, going back to ancient times when it was a province of the Roman empire until more recently when it was British Mandatory Palestine, immediately preceding Israel’s creation.​​

Were there real factual errors in the map?

Yes. There were two factual errors in the map:

  • ​It showed the Syrian Golan Heights, which have been under Israeli military occupation since the 1967 War, as part of Israel, although the international community, including the United States, does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the area.
  • The map also shows “Israel” existing in 1946. While British Mandatory Palestine did exist in 1946, there was no political entity called “Israel” until 1948.

WORT 89.9FM: “Uncivil Rites” With Steven Salaita

Pledge Edition: Karma Chavez talks with Steven Salaita about his new book, “Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom.” His new book addresses his controversial termination from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and important issues that affect both higher education and social justice activism.