Friday, December 24, 2010

Letters to the Editor - December 23, 2010

Another bad deal for Americans. A three billion dollar offer to Israel for a three month respite from the latterís illegal colonization of the West Bank. Thatís $500 million a week to bribe Israel not to commit war crimes. And the money wasnít even enough to get Israel to stop the settlements.

How many American teachers, social workers, and state employees would this have been? We face massive layoffs in our society because we are broke. Our corrupt politicians canít wait to break into the Social Security trust fund to bleed it dry for future workers. We are in crisis, but payments to Israel always come first.

Is our government, in fact, unduly influenced by Israel? Has the Israeli lobby in the U.S. learned to buy politicians as effectively as our major corporations? Have our disastrous wars in the Middle East been planned by Israel?

Obama, the consummate appeaser, is much more intent on pleasing the Israeli lobby than the American people. Congress grovels just as pathetically to Zionist influences and money. What politician would dare suggest that the Israeli invasion of Gaza was a killing spree, a blood bath? What politician beside former president Jimmy Carter would even whisper the word ìapartheid.î

Our countryís leaders have abandoned their obligation to the American people in their consistent support and funding of right wing Israelís war and occupation agenda. In another era, that would be seen as simply treason, the betrayal of our countryís citizens in exchange for bribes from a foreign government. May our leaders one day face a jury of their peers: we the people.

Fred Nagel


There is a major disconnect in this country in relation to veterans. We are honored by everyone, all the time, until we speak out against the status quo of ongoing wars. Doing that is not acceptable to the Establishment. We had assembled peacefully and while were speaking out, 131 of us were arrested and taken to jail for standing next to the fence around the White House, the former ëpeoplesí house. This happened this past Thursday, the 16th of December. Veteransí For Peace from all over the country led a civil resistance there. We were joined by hundreds of other citizens demanding the end ≠ not tomorrow or next year but now ≠ of the never-to-end wars our country is maintaining, at the cost of innocent lives, at the cost of the degradation of our infrastructure, at the cost of making new enemies for us around the world, at the cost of this countryís soul. We were endorsed by every Peace oriented organization that heard of our plan, we were joined in being arrested by many luminaries like the war correspondent and author Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon papers renown, retired CIA agent Ray McGovern and many more courageous and moral citizens.

The weather was freezing cold, it snowed, and after a brief rally in Lafayette park where every one of us made a non-violent pledge, we proceeded solemnly around the park to the barricades in front of that wrought iron fence, accompanied by the sound of a single drum and ëTaps,í played beautifully on a harmonica. After mounting the concrete base of the fence, we stood in the snow for several hours, singing Peace songs, and delivered thousands of cards through the fence addressed to the President, with a Peace message on one side. On the other was a color photograph of a terrified child, covered in blood, standing next to the soldiers who had just killed her parents, with the statement ìthis what your wars do in our name.î

After being arrested, we were taken to the National Park Police station on the Anacostia Flats, across the river from DC. What goes around comes around, History repeats itself. This location is where the 43,000 Bonus Marchers of 1932 camped when they came to Washington to demand early payment of their promised War Service bonus. It would not have been paid until 1945, but the Depression then was murderous and the bonus money was desperately needed. People today have no real idea of its depth. President Hoover ordered Gen. MacArthur to remove them from government property when they came to the steps of Congress to wait for the Congress to vote on their demands; ìRemove them but donít pursue them.î MacArthur convinced himself those WW1 vets were Communists, and along with Majors Eisenhower and Patton, did pursue them across the river with tanks, fixed bayonets, Adamsite gas, and burned their camp to the ground. Four vets and one baby died in that 1932 action. Today, in this economic and moral recession brought on by the greed of the fat cats, we veterans are demanding our Bonus ≠ peace now!

As a combat Infantry veteran, as a person with a conscience, being there with my brothers and sisters was gratifying and inspiring. We are keeping the spirit of Resistance alive. I am ashamed of what my country has been doing to itself and to others with lies and terror. We will resist until the ëleadersí of this nation and the ëleadersí of the corporations that thrive on the suffering of human beings stop their hideous activities. We will continue to resist evil, our numbers will grow, our influence will expand as other people with a conscience realize that keeping silent ties them to the ìgood Germansî of WW2. We will win, maybe not tomorrow, but we are committed and we will win. Truth will overcome looking the other way.

Jay Wenk


As war and climate disasters cause more pain and death around the world, we try at this time of year to look for ways to give a little something to alleviate the suffering that our taxes and carbon consumption have caused. I have grown cynical about the big ìNGOî charities that suck money into their own bloated bureaucracies. The Woodstock community is lucky to have several activists who work tirelessly all through the year to make the earth a better place, whose organizations are exemplary of that adage ìsmall is beautiful.î If you are writing year-end checks, think local:

ïThe Haitian Peopleís Support Project goes directly to amazing work that Terry and Pierre Leroy do in that tormented country: HPSP, PO. Box 476, Woodstock NY 12498

ï Woodstock International, a small collective that puts out one of the very best newspapers in the country with international information from a local perspective. Woodstock International, PO Box 1362 Woodstock, 12498

ï Mary Frankís tireless dedication to solar cooking has introduced many of us to the wonderful work of Solar Cookers International, c/o Mary Frank, PO Box 695 Bearsville, NY 12409.

Give the gift of solidarity with the global community this year!

DeeDee Halleck


I was in Bethlehem two years ago at Christmas when the gates to the city were opened for the arrival of the Jerusalem Patriarch. Families lined the streets to the Nativity Church, chanting carols and singing Jingle Bells, as they viewed joyous parades of bands and scouts. After the two-week holiday (when West Bank Palestinians fortunate enough to receive permits from the Israeli authority could cross into Jerusalem), the gates were closed and the 25-foot high Separation Wall surrounding Bethlehem assumed once more its massive and crushing reality.

Last spring, on returning to Bethlehem, I saw an animated film Warda (Flower), that Palestinian children had created based on Little Red Riding Hood. Every day Warda brings her grandmother a basket of home-made goodies. One day, Warda finds a huge Wall obstructing her path. She sits by its side and cries. An artist arrives and gives Warda a pencil and she draws a bird on the Wall. The bird comes alive and Warda hops on its back and flies over the Wall. Every day from then on, Warda reaches her grandmother by flying on the birdís back. A caption reads: ìBuilding of the dividing wall began June 2002. It encloses much Palestinian land and separates many people from their villages and families.î

The children of Bethlehem and their families are experiencing terrible segregation built into Israelís Wall: confiscation of land and water; settlement building (There are now 27 settlements surrounding Bethlehem); devastation of forests and orchards; demolition of homes by US Caterpillar tractors swathing paths for the Wall, the settlements, by-pass roads that cross their land.

Uprooted in 1948, many Christians from Ein Karem (where the Holocaust Museum was later built), fled to become refugees in Bethlehem. Since 1967, along with Muslim families, they have struggled under Israeli military occupation. More than six million Palestinian Christians and Muslims have emigrated and only two percent of the Christian community remains.

Uri Avnery, famed Israeli peace activist, spoke two years ago at a conference in Bethlehem: ìI apologize for the terrible things done in the name of Israel to the Palestinian people. Iím ashamed for the killing. Iím ashamed for the settlements that are being enlarged while our government speaks about peace...î

The carols we sing today ìOh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie...î belie a sacred space that exists no more. Bethlehem ≠ like the other villages and cities in the West Bank and Gaza ≠ has been made into a ghetto that confines its Palestinian Christians and Muslims and excludes them, burying their reality from the Zionist state.

Let us confront this Wall, the damages wrought by the politics of exclusion ≠ within and outside ourselves ≠ and work towards the creation of one state/one world where all people can experience equality and justice. Let us bring Bethlehem alive again with the promise that birth holds.

Jane Toby


Thursday, November 11, 2010

My meeting with Henry Waxman (thanks, Eldad)

Disclaimer: I wrote the following a couple of hours after my encounter with Congressman Henry Waxman today. This is not verbatim, it is not a transcript, but it is my recollection of the conversation. I've kept in everything from our discussion as I remembered it - including the things I said that could have been much better.

It's not every day you see a Representative of the House outside of the coffee shop you're about to enter. Well, at least not one as recognizable as the liberal titan Henry Waxman. But there he was: talking on his phone on the street corner, only ten feet away from me.

Dear lord, I thought to myself. Should I say something to him? Should I say something about ending military aid to Israel, ending the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan? Oh god, I should, but I hate confrontations.

The congressman continued to walk around on his phone, talking to someone who was probably Very Important about a Seriously Important Subject. Should I say something?

Waxman went into a next door restaurant and sat down to eat with another man, someone I didn't recognize. Oh damn, there went my opportunity, I thought. I don't want to interrupt his lunch – that would be rude.

And I almost walked away. But then I thought: Our two wars and occupations are rude - they don't give a damn if they interrupt anyone's lunch. I'm never going to get this opportunity again. So I quickly contacted some friends and asked – what should I say to Henry Waxman? Several people told me: just tell him you're young, you're Jewish, and you're disappointed in the way congress has dealt with Israel and Palestine. Let the conversation go from there.

I waited around for a few minutes outside, deliberating with myself if I should spark what was sure to be a tense conversation in a crowded place. And just as I was about to chicken out – this was a Congressman, after all – I saw Mr. Waxman and his companion exit the restaurant, walking directly towards the car I was standing next to.

Excuse me, I said as Waxman approached, before I really realized what I was doing, are you Henry Waxman?

Yes I am, he replied, strolling up to me, ready to talk with this random citizen on the street. This was actually a pleasant surprise – I was expecting him to shake my hand and then quickly rush off to whatever Important Meeting he had next.

It wasn't to remain pleasant for very long.

My name's Brian Van Slyke, and I'm a young Jewish American, I said.

Okay, nice to meet you, he said as he stuck out his hand for me to shake.

I took his hand and shook , and the words just spilled out: I just want to say that I'm really disappointed in the way your Democrat-led congress has dealt with the Palestine/Israel issue.

Well, there was no going back now.

He nodded his head slowly, as if he already knew where this were going.

I can't believe that Congress continues to provide Israel with 3 billion dollars in military aid every year, I continued. To me, this is in direct opposition to the promotion of freedom, democracy, and human rights you liberal Democrats claim to promote.

He stood up a little straighter and his eyes widened – this certainly wasn't what we was expecting to hear.

That money is supporting an apartheid wall, it is being employed to expand Israel's illegal colonies, it is maintaining a deadly and unjust occupation, it -

Wait a minute, he said, waving his hand. Let me stop you right there before you take your rhetoric too far.

Okay, I had had my say – I was ready to hear his response.

There are nations in the Middle East that want nothing more than to wipe Israel off the map, and that money we give is to protect them from that threat. The Separation Wall was installed to stop terrorist attacks. It was put up and it has stopped Palestinians from blowing themselves up and killing innocent Israelis.

I could almost see him mentally going down the AIPAC checklist of responses.

You can't - I began to interject.

Wait a minute, he insisted, waving his hand again. Let me say what I have to say. You said your part, let me say mine. That was fair, I thought. I don't like when people interrupt me, so I was willing to respect that for him as well – even though he had certainly cut me off only moments ago.

He went on: And the settlements, he seemingly emphasized his watered-down choice of the words - settlements – to contrast my far more accurate term (colonies), well they are another story. If you are talking about the settlements in Jerusalem, that's one thing. If you're talking about the settlements in the West Bank, that's another. The settlements in East Jerusalem are a difficult matter, as they are in the capital of that state [Israel]; but if you're going to have a Palestinian state, they are going to want East Jerusalem for their capital. The settlements in the West Bank, well I certainly agree that those have to stop in order to bring about a two-state solution. But the Separation Wall, that has saved innocent people's lives.

This was just too much – I had so many rebuttals boiling inside of me that I nearly blurted them all out at once. But I took a deep breath and decided to take him point-by-point: I think you're completely wrong there. That Wall, which is enforcing apartheid rule, is not maintaining peace but fostering misery. It makes life unbearable for many Palestinians – it has stolen countless Palestinian land; it has cut families and towns off from each other; trips to work or school that were once normal now take hours or are just impossible to make at all. Its destroying lives, towns, and economies while stealing land. You can't say that's saving innocent lives because -

He cut me off: Look, before terrorists were killing Israelis in buses and now they're not.

I'm sorry, I said, slightly indignant, I let you finish, so will you let me finish what I was saying?

No, you said your thing, then I said my thing, and now I have to go. We don't have time to talk about this whole issue in this small discussion. By the way, I think you're understating some of your case and overstating other parts. He, along with the man he had been dining with, started to make towards the car next to me. But I wasn't ready to let him get off that easily.

The military aid to Israel which you and the rest of congress provide is the thing that is killing innocent people. That money goes to build weapons that kill Palestinians, bulldoze homes, and maintain Gaza as the world's largest open air prison camp! It -

There are Arab nations in the Middle East that want to destroy Israel! He stammered, still heading towards the car. Some of those include Palestinians!

Now, that just made no sense. He was obviously frustrated.

First of all, I began (okay, I was losing my cool too – my voice was on the rise), that just has no basis in reality! Palestinians don't have a nation. You can't just make things-

They were supposed to! Israel withdrew from Gaza and said have this country, we will help you build an economy - but their will was to elect Hamas! He was reaching for the car door, opening it, but still facing me and arguing.

There were so many absurd statements in that single sentence that I was simply flabbergasted. Honestly, my next reply should have been more thoughtful, but I was just at a loss for words. I had no idea how to reply to a man that was so detached from reality.

You honestly don't understand the situation, do you? You don't seem to know the issue at all, it's as though-

I know what apartheid is! He insisted as he climbed into the passenger seat and his companion entered the driver's side. I know what apartheid looks like. That is not apartheid.

He closed the door without another word.

I bent down and looked into the window, but he refused to make eye contact with me and stared straight ahead as his companion put the keys into the ignition.

No, I raised my voice loud enough so that the car window wouldn't be a barrier. You know who knows what apartheid looks like? That would be Desmond Tutu! I'm pretty sure Desmond Tutu is more familiar with apartheid than yourself. And he says that there is apartheid in Israel and Palestine!

The congressman just shook his head and did not respond. The engine had started and his companion, who hadn't said one word the whole time, shifted the car into drive.

By the way, that's Archbishop Desmond Tutu, I continued, perhaps louder than I should have, Nobel peace prize winner, who lived under and struggled against apartheid in South Africa. Are you really going to disagree with Desmond Tutu on what apartheid looks like?

The car drove off without another response.

I looked around and saw that there were people looking at me oddly – but I didn't feel ashamed, I just became aware that my heart was pounding from nervousness and adrenaline. I was glad that I had overcome my initial trepidation.

I finally went and got that coffee I was initially after.

I don't think our little argument will change Congressman Waxman's mind in anyway, nor do I suspect that he will he wake up tomorrow suddenly aware of the errors of his way. Yet, I do think our encounter shook him up. I'm fairly positive that the last person he would've expected to challenge him on military aid to Israel would be a young Jewish kid on the street. But alongside my Jewish peers that openly challenged Prime Minister Netanyahu just yesterday, I think we're beginning to show the old guard that we do not share the loyal-to-Israel-no-matter-what mentality. Instead, that identity is rapidly fading for many Jews who are instead reclaiming their long legacy of standing for social justice.

So, I hope Mr. Waxman tells his colleagues – Democrats and Republicans alike – of this unfortunate, annoying, and surely frustrating occurrence. And this is the message I hope he carries: whether you are the Prime Minister of Israel speaking to a massive gathering of Jews, or you are a Congressperson outside of a coffee shop who happens to meet a young Jew, it is no longer safe to assume that we all abide by the blind allegiance to a state that falsely claims to speak for everyone of us. Rather, our allegiance is to our fellow human beings, and especially to those that are oppressed - and that means challenging the apartheid and colonialist policies of Israel wherever we find them.

I hope they are beginning to understand that we are everywhere.

Brian Van Slyke is an activist as well as an educator. He has facilitated workshops and classes on everything from organizing protests to the history of colonialism and slavery. He was raised by a Jewish mother who taught him solid non/anti-Zionist principles.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Boston Celebrates Its 4th Palestine Film Festival

Boston Celebrates Its 4th Palestine Film Festival

by Lisa Mullenneaux

Boston Celebrates Its 4th Palestine Film Festival by Lisa Mullenneaux Stormy weather didn’t dampen the spirits of a capacity crowd gathered Oct. 1 to kick off Boston’s annual tribute to Palestinian cinema. Michel Khleifi’s Zindeeq (2009) was featured, and the director present to answer audience questions. Zindeeq tells the story of M, a filmmaker born in Nazareth but living in exile in a European country (Khleifi lives and teaches in Belgium). M is played by the popular Palestinian actor Mohammad Bakri, Racha, his pretty young colleague, by the actress Mira Awad. M’s on location in Ramallah filming eyewitness accounts of the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe) when he gets a crisis call from his sister. His nephew has killed a man in a fight, and every male in the family is now subject to vendetta. Instead of fleeing to save himself, M stays in Nazareth, but no hotel will accept him.

The acknowledged “father of Palestinian film,” Khleifi participated in a panel discussion following screening of his 1990 film Canticle of the Stones. “Zionists would have us believe that we (Arabs) are outside history. I believe it is Zionists who are outside history.” Nazareth-born Khleifi defined his people as “victims of the ultimate victims,” ie. victims of the Nazi holocaust. “Palestine is an open wound,” he explained, “yet I try to be inclusive. I am not just the inheritor of the Palestinian past, but the Jewish past as well.”

Khleifi was joined by Mahasen Nasser-Eldin, who represents a new generation of Palestinian activist-artists. Her film From Palestine with Love (2010) was presented in a program of women’s films. “We are very conscious of how Palestinians are represented on the screen. It’s not enough to show them as victims; they are agents of change as well.”

Mohammed Alatar has campaigned for human rights and in 2002 was nominated for the Martin Luther King, Jr., Award for Humanity. Asked how important his heritage is, he responded: “Being Palestinian guides my work. Our films need to tell our story, and our story is conflict.” Later he was asked about the dangers of trying to make a film in Palestine: “We used two crews: one to film and the other to get arrested. You know the risks, you expect abuse.” Alatar’s 2008 documentary Jerusalem: The East Side Story depicts that ongoing struggle.

Nadia Yaqub, associate professor of Arabic Culture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, also participated in the panel. She authored the book Pens, Swords, and the Springs of Art and many articles on Arabic literature and Palestinian cinema. Dr. Thomas Abowd of U. Mass-Amherst and Tufts, author of the upcoming Colonial Jerusalem, moderated.

Like Zindeeq, the shorts, documentaries, and features on view this year explore how Palestinians—under occupation or in exile—deal with their collective trauma. In Fragments of a Lost Palestine (2010) Norma Marcos battles with French and Israeli authorities for permission to visit family and, once with family, to nurture hope their lives will improve. Taha Awadallah’s The Thyme Seller (2009) portrays his stoical mother’s daily struggle to eke out a living selling her home-grown herb. As she goes door to door, finding few customers, we hear her labored breathing. 

Catherine Deneuve, on location in Beirut, wants to see the aftermath of 2006 Israeli bombings in Je Veux Voir (2008). Her guide, local actor Rabih Mrouh, becomes lost and confused more than once. Of his childhood neighborhood, he admits “I can’t recognize anything.” Later they see bulldozers dumping truckloads of debris in the sea. The experience seals a bond between the survivor and the celebrated actress. To himself Mrouh promises: “We will rebuild. We will live again. But, Catherine, will you come back?”

Till Roeskens’ simple but powerful documentary Video Mappings (2009) allows children to draw mental “maps” of their experiences in Aida Camp (Bethlehem). Children of Aida Camp also produced Digital Poetry (2009), shown with an award-winning tribute to Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, Nasri Hajjaj’s As the Poet Said (2009).

Provocative documentaries by Israeli filmmaker Rachel Leah Jones included her 2007 Ashkenaz that follows European Jews from the Rhineland to the holyland, Dunam on the Moon (2002) about the destroyed Arab village of Ayn Hawd, and Targeted Citizen (2010) about discrimination against Israel’s Palestinian citizens. Eyal Sivan’s prize-winning Jaffa, The Orange’s Clockwork (2009) uses archival footage and experts’ commentary to show how the iconic orange became a tool of colonization. Gaza was the focus of five films and an eye-witness account by Col. Ann Wright of the 2010 Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara.

The Boston Palestine Film festival has enjoyed increased attendance in its four years, 42% in 2009, and increased recognition. Citing Palestinians’ invisibility, organizer Kate Rouhana says one of the festival’s goals is to “empower and inspire Palestinians to tell their stories through the medium of cinema.” “In our own small local way,” she adds, “we are providing one such forum, a model for other Palestine film festivals to follow.” And follow it they are, says co-curator Katherine Hanna. “When we started four years ago, there were just two other Palestine film festivals (London and Chicago). 

Now there are events like this one in Houston, Toronto, Ann Arbor, and more starting that we’ve helped organize.” Growing popularity may raise Americans’ awareness of Palestinian rights and the horrors of life under Occupation. At least co-curator Salma Abu Ayyash hopes so. “The more people attend our festival,” she says, “the closer we are to presenting the Palestinian narrative in a way that will give people a clearer understanding of the Palestinian struggle and bring us closer to achieving true peace in the region.”

Sunday, September 26, 2010

To the Editor: (Woodstock Times)

Admirably, Rabbi Kligler advocates ambivalence, being able to see both sides of a question. Sounds good, high minded, logical, and fair. Often works well when both sides are of equal power. Unfortunately, in Palestine/Israel there are huge discrepancies in military, economic, and political power. The Palestinians are virtually powerless and have been subjected to ongoing brutality, humiliation, and domination by Israel (with the support of US tax dollars) for years.

In some cases the imbalance of power can be so great that it renders the concept of ìambivalenceî absurd and useless. Did the Indians need to see the side of the conquistadors or of the US Cavalry as they were slaughtered mercilessly? Did terrified, kidnapped, enslaved Africans need to see the side of their masters as they were beaten and brutalized? Do tortured prisoners need to see the side of their torturers as they gag and drown strapped to waterboards?  Should the Jews have practiced ìambivalenceî regarding Nazi atrocities ?

Abused and oppressed people (and animals) may strike back at their abusers in desperate, violent, and often senseless acts. The Palestinians, the Indians, the slaves, the prisoners, and the Jews all committed understandable acts of retaliation. Had there been no oppressor there would have been no need to retaliate.

Rabbi Kligler mentions the Jewish Peopleís just claim on their ìhistorical homeland.î I truly hope that should the Indian People ever have the power and political clout to reclaim their historical homeland that they treat us better than the Zionists treated the Palestinians.

Eli Kassirer New Paltz, NY

On The Uses Of Ambivalence

Rabbi Jonathan Kleiglerís use of the term ìambivalenceî as the need to be able to see more than one side of the question in resolving conflicts is exactly correct in the most general of all senses. It feels right, itís easy to understand, and it appears to stand on the moral high ground. However, when applied to the Palestine-Israeli conflict, it fails to measure up to the basic requirements of fairness and justice; it does not address the facts on the ground.

What we find are two wholly unequal actors. One who holds all the power and uses it to completely control the other in totally unacceptable ways (siege of Gaza, apartheid-like restrictions, etc), and the other who lives in poverty, has no power, and occasionally strikes out in completely unacceptable ways (suicide bombings, rockets, etc). This is not particularly different than a domestic violence situation, one of batterer and victim. We donít ask the victim to compromise with the batterer in order to find a just peace. We insist on the cessation of the battering and put the batterer in jail. We are not interested in whether the batterer thinks that he has justification for his brutality, nor do we ask the victim to relinquish any of her rights.

Yes, we understand that the batterer often was battered himself and is usually in the need of help, but that is offered only after the cessation of the battering. We donít, nor should we, allow the battererís history to have any impact on the fair resolution of the conflict. Justice is justice, and there is no peace without it, certainly not through the use of ambivalence.

Nicholas Abramson

Monday, September 13, 2010

Letter to the Editor, Woodstock Times:

Rabbi Jonathan Kliger, of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation, in his September 9 column, “The Virtues of Ambivalence,” calls for a sustained debate on Israel. An excellent idea. But as the title suggests, he wants to take the side of ambivalence in this debate, going so far as “Thank God for ambivalence.” And that’s a terrible idea.

Kligler would have us believe that “ambivalence” is a gift of God to the Jewish people, and their “difficult, unsatisfying, risky and ennobling Jewish discourse.” But I would say that this is to insult the Jewish people by denying them moral and intellectual clarity; indeed, Kligler denies Jews their own tradition.

Give me the Prophet Amos any day over a hundred comfortable Rabbis uneasy about the gathering storm of criticism of the Jewish State. Amos wrote in the 8th Century BCE, a time of territorial expansion and military power for an early version of Israel. Most Jews thought this was pretty neat, but not Amos. He wrote:
I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.

Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,

I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals

I will not look upon.

Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps,

But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

(Amos: 5: 21-24)

Justice is the touchstone that gives meaning to history. Its eternally running waters can never be comprehended by a term like ambivalence, or any kind of flimflam. Kligler treats justice like an annoyance. “Where is the balance of justice?” intones the Rabbi, meaning, let’s figure out a way to dispose of it while preserving the precious reputation of Jews for moral elevation. His discourse is what a later and considerably more famous Jewish Prophet had in mind when he denounced the “scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.” (Matt. 23: 23). These are they who “love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi.” (23: 6-7).

Israel is seen as a refuge for an abused people scattered over the nations and held together only by a common religion. To put justice in the foreground instead of ambivalence means to cast a cold eye over its history. Coveting another’s lands, Zionist Jews embarked on a path of settler-colonialism. They needed a strong state for the purpose, and critically, an imperial patron who would help this state do the dirty work. In the process, the worst aspects of the religion came to the forefront. The legacy has been war, ethnic cleansing, racism of every stripe, the rise of vile fundamentalism, nuclear terror, and ceaseless criminality, including 450,000 illegal settlers and the wanton destruction of 24,000 Palestinian houses since 1967, using US-donated bulldozers, part of the phenomenal degeneration of our own society thanks to the Zionist power configuration.

If you want peace, build justice. Return to people what you have robbed them of, and undo the hellish life you have imposed upon them.

By the way, the Jews did not heed Amos’ warning. This led to the destruction of the First Temple, and the Babylonian captivity.

Joel Kovel


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dark days for the “sovereign Jewish entity”

Joel Kovel

Tony Judt had barely left this world when the Jerusalem Post lashed out at him with a nasty editorial on August 8. Clearly, Judt has never been forgiven for writing in 2003 in the New York Review that Israel lacked legitimacy because of its structural Jewishness and deserved to be replaced with a “a single, integrated, bi-national state.” Heresy is unforgivable; and to call for the downfall of the Jewish State is heretical, because the ostensibly secular state of Israel has to see itself as the guarantor of Jewish survival, spiritual and physical alike. Anytime a Jew with an audience, i.e., an intellectual, critically examines this relationship, the alarm bells go off. Another existential threat! So Tony Judt was a dangerous man when he was alive and will be so as long as the memory of his deed remains.

I am happy to say that I am in his good company. According to the Post, Judt’s “categorical rejection of Zionism put him in a class with other contemporary Jewish intellectuals of the Diaspora such as Jacqueline Rose, Michael Neumann and Joel Kovel, who have chosen to single out Israel for opprobrium that is rarely, if ever, directed at other countries that choose to adopt unique religious or cultural-based nationalities.” Accordingly, our views constitute “a recipe for national suicide for the sovereign Jewish entity.” [italics added] In other words, we, too, pose existential threats to the Jewish State.

I feel obliged to reply, not to speak in Judt’s place, nor in the expectation that he would have agreed with what I am about to write. We never met nor were we political comrades, Tony being a self-declared social democrat and I, well, several degrees to the left of that. Nor have I met Jacqueline Rose and Michael Neumann. But categorical rejection of Zionism is a common ground I am pleased to share. So here is a brief account of what I take to be the reason for giving a lot of attention to Israel vis a vis the other awful countries, and why I want to bring down the Jewish state itself rather than settling for eliminating one or more of its human rights abuses.

The Jewish Question

The Post’s editorial person starts from the premise that people like Judt, Rose, Neumann and I are doing something that, as Jews, we should be ashamed of: singling out Israel and calling for the end of the Jewish state. (I’ll return below to the rather heated way this latter allegation is framed.) The assumption here is that Israel is for all the Jews and all the Jews should stand behind Israel, because it is self-evidently good to have an organic-national relation to Judaism.

I see things oppositely. I was born into a Jewish family and through this, share in a colorful history that has produced a lot of contributors to civilization, played an ambivalent yet fascinating role in the development of Western society, and suffered a good deal over the centuries for its “otherness.” All of this I keep in mind and have no disposition to deny. So I am a Jew. That’s nice, and that’s all it is. But as for the extension of this identity fragment, whose only common ground across history is a religion, into an organic nationalism which needs a state to set itself on the ground, this is another thing entirely. If you will forgive me a little Biblicism, it is an abomination and a desecration. I share this view with many fellow Jews, including the Neturai karta, whom I have joined at many a demonstration, and whose resoluteness and integrity I admire. I don’t care for their religion, however, or any variant of the Jewish faith. I think that Judaism got trapped in the first century CE by rejection of its prophet Jesus’s call to make the religion universal rather than tribal. As a result—a result made far worse by Christian persecution—the Jewish faith has never really been able to transcend an inward focus on the community of Jews, that is, the Jewish “People.” The jokingly offered and endlessly repeated query as to whether something is “good for the Jews” is, to my view, the sign of a profound and spiritually damaging ethnocentricity. Thus when the possibility opened up to make this People into a nation, a power-grabbing nation in league with imperialism and given a militarized state by its imperial patrons, many Jews fell into line (including most of my family), and especially insofar as they had been handed the all-purpose justifier provided by the history of anti-Semitism and its culmination in the monstrosity of the Shoah.

For me, however, Jewish nation-building proved a time to part ways—an extended time, I might add, and no epiphany. As the Jewish state has continued to tear its brutal path through the history of our time, and chiefly, through the lives of its indigenous victims, I simply see no other place to stand than in utter opposition to the endless chain of its crimes and lies—and with this, to the very construction of “Jewishness” that has enabled this and become canonical for so many, and in the United States especially, essential for the sustenance of the Israeli abomination. So to follow along with the above-mentioned identity construction, I am still a Jew and neither can nor wish to erase the fact, but no longer consider myself Jewish. Thus, following the great Isaac Deutscher, a “non-Jewish Jew.” I think a lot of Jews are these days wrestling with the same dilemma. Needless to add, there are other ways of addressing it besides mine. In any event, I wish them good cheer: life is a lot better once that dreary burden is laid down.

So to the editorial person of the Jerusalem Post, I would say, paraphrasing a certain President: Ask not what Israel can do for the Jews, because all answers to this question have become corrupted by the militarized and racist state Israel has become. Ask rather what Jews can do to earn forgiveness for the wrong turn taken in their history and for all the suffering their precious state has imposed. And lay off criticizing Jews who are stepping forth to “single out Israel.” There are going to be lots more of them. Remember, each person only has one identity and has to live with it.

But there is much more . . .

Though every theocracy and/or ethnocracy is appalling and should be opposed by all folk of good will, the peculiar case of Israel has a far wider radiation and so deserves “singling out,” as the Post puts it, irrespective of the religious/ethnic issue. This has to do, of course, with the nightmarish relation between Israel and the United States, and the shadow it casts over the present world. By the time I first became aware, during the Vietnam era, of US imperialism as a malignant force, Zionists had been insinuating themselves into the American political process for twenty years, since Harry Truman’s political orphanhood gave them the opening. But there was nothing “special” about this, except that the Jewish state depended for its existence upon its great benefactor. It took a while for the creature spawned by this embrace to mature, chiefly through the growth of AIPAC and the entry of ultra-Zionist neoconservatives into state and civil society. With this, however, it must also be said that the beast had mutated; hence one can no longer talk about the United States and Israel as separate political entities. Now we have a second Zionist occupation, of our civil society and state alongside the occupation of Palestine, and necessary for the occupation of Palestine to continue. For reasons of space we need to set aside the intricate matter of who wags whom, or the astounding degree to which the normalization of Zionism has blunted outrage, even among leftists of great repute. Consider only some of the fruits of this creature:
• the degree to which US foreign policy is configured to give Israel its impunity, one small instance being Obama’s recent threat to Turkey that he would cut off military contracts unless it lays off Israel for the Mavi Marmara incident; meanwhile the US reinforces Israeli military superiority with the latest in free ultra technology for its F-16 fighter fleet;

• the shameless debasement of our Congress, with hundreds of elected officials doing the bidding of a foreign power, again to whitewash the Mavi Marmara murders, thereby granting impunity once again;

• the plague of Islamophobia now raging, inflamed by fury over the “Ground-zero Mosque,” and more generally, over the terrors stirred up by 9-11. But who pauses to reflect upon that awful day and the fact that it provided the one incontrovertible instance of highly suspicious involvement by a foreign state in the havoc, namely, the most odd finding of five “moving men,” who turned out to be Mossad agents filming from New Jersey the collapse of the towers while jubilantly giving each other high fives, who were released back to their home country after 71 quiet days in FBI custody, and whose “employer” moved very hastily back to Israel, after stripping his office of all evidence? How did they know to be there, cameras primed, at that time? Why were they so happy? No point in asking. The propaganda machine has constructed mass consciousness so as to obscure any thinking about the matter, which no longer exists so far as official political culture goes. Such questions are highly impertinent. After all, one does not want to “single” Israel out. That would be anti-Semitic, wouldn’t it? This Reichstag Fire leads in another direction, that of the Islamic Threat.

• and then, mere war, as in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and now the latest looming danger, the Persian menace. That this mainly exists in the mind of the Zionist Power Structure, here and in Israel, is anything but reassuring, given the authority of that mind. Suppose, then, that the exquisitely positioned pundits and opinion-makers get their wish of precipitating us into a bombing war with Iran, Israel’s #1 existential threat, and Iran bombs back. This could be a new Board Game: there goes the global economy; and there looms, as ever, our friend and ally’s “Samson Option” using its nuclear arsenal that nobody is to know about, but that has, in the meantime, totally wrecked any efforts to bring nuclear proliferation under control thanks to universal knowledge of the bad faith of the United States for its complicity over the years under the influence of a certain “lobby” . . .

In sum, if you care about the baleful influence of the United States in the world you cannot set Israel aside as an isolated issue. This is the precise opposite of “singling Israel out.” It is, rather, a demand to integrate Israel within the manifold of imperial/economic/military power, and taking the steps necessary to bring this power under rational control.

Signing off to the editor of the Post, who is unquestionably unimpressed with these arguments.

What are trivialities like ethnocide, racism and war weighed against the sovereignty of the Jews? For Jews were once merely a “People,” but now, having achieved the greatness of nation-statehood, have become, hurrah!, a “sovereign Jewish entity,” doubtlessly pleasing Yahweh no end. And it is this triumph that Tony Judt and people like myself would spoil with our “recipe for national suicide.”

I’ve got to hand it to the Jerusalem Post for forcing me out of my self-imposed exile from psychoanalysis (well, it is the Jewish Profession) with this frankly hysterical statement, which is bundled, typically, with a manipulative, guilt-tripping threat: if you people don’t stop doing that, we’re going to kill ourselves! Freud pointed out that every delusion contains the germ of a historical fact. In this instance it is the legendary event of 73 CE, when the Sicarii, a Jewish sect active in the wake of the Roman destruction of the Second Temple, hurled themselves from the cliffs of Masada mountain to avoid capture by the Legion. An archeological museum now occupies the site, which has become deeply inscribed as a symbol of Zionist resolve and desperation.

I hope the Israelis don’t follow this example. Maybe they should keep in mind that the Sicarii were more extreme than even the Zealots, and by some accounts were common bandits, as much opposed to other Jews as they were to Rome. Nonetheless, the imminence of mass catastrophe, however induced, remains active in the Zionist imaginary, where it is stoked by propagandists of the Shoah, so that 1938 is made to eternally return.

There is another, much more deeply rational approach to history,  which is to understand it in depth, encounter it, learn its lesson, actively transform it, and, by so doing, let it go. For Israel—and Jews everywhere, and indeed, everyone affected by the conquest of Palestine—the lesson is not really that complicated. It is to face the truth that the Zionist epoch has been a dreadful mistake, for the Jews as well as Zionism’s victims, and that they will have to do what grown-up people do who realize they have been wrong, if they want to have a decent life and rejoin the human race.

Woodstock Green

Barbara Mullen questions our right to demonstrate on the Woodstock Green without a permit, citing that the town center is church property. The privatization of public space is an epidemic in this country now, with the "charterization" of public schools and the wholesale giveaway of public forestland resources. †However our green is "defacto" public space and the selective enforcement of rules is illegal, no matter how "ugly" the demonstration is. †How much of Woodstock taxes have been spent designing, building and maintaining the community space there?†

How ironic that there is an attempt to silence demonstrations seeking to bring attention to the need for peace in the very shadow of the town "peace pole".

DeeDee Halleck, Willow, NY

Thursday, July 1, 2010

John Mearsheimer: Sinking Ship

By John J. Mearsheimer, The American Conservative – 1 August 2010 issue

The attack on the Gaza relief flotilla jeopardizes Israel itself

Israel’s botched raid against the Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla on May 31 is the latest sign that Israel is on a disastrous course that it seems incapable of reversing. The attack also highlights the extent to which Israel has become a strategic liability for the United States. This situation is likely to get worse over time, which will cause major problems for Americans who have a deep attachment to the Jewish state.

The bungled assault on the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship in the flotilla, shows once again that Israel is addicted to using military force yet unable to do so effectively. One would think that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) would improve over time from all the practice. Instead, it has become the gang that cannot shoot straight.

The IDF last scored a clear-cut victory in the Six Day War in 1967; the record since then is a litany of unsuccessful campaigns. The War of Attrition (1969-70) was at best a draw, and Israel fell victim to one of the great surprise attacks in military history in the October War of 1973. In 1982, the IDF invaded Lebanon and ended up in a protracted and bloody fight with Hezbollah. Eighteen years later, Israel conceded defeat and pulled out of the Lebanese quagmire. Israel tried to quell the First Intifada by force in the late 1980s, with Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin telling his troops to break the bones of the Palestinian demonstrators. But that strategy failed and Israel was forced to join the Oslo Peace Process instead, which was another failed endeavor.

The IDF has not become more competent in recent years. By almost all accounts—including the Israeli government’s own commission of inquiry—it performed abysmally in the 2006 Lebanon war. The IDF then launched a new campaign against the people of Gaza in December 2008, in part to “restore Israel’s deterrence” but also to weaken or topple Hamas. Although the mighty IDF was free to pummel Gaza at will, Hamas survived and Israel was widely condemned for the destruction and killing it wrought on Gaza’s civilian population. Indeed, the Goldstone Report, written under UN auspices, accused Israel of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. Earlier this year, the Mossad murdered a Hamas leader in Dubai, but the assassins were seen on multiple security cameras and were found to have used forged passports from Australia and a handful of European countries. The result was an embarrassing diplomatic row, with Australia, Ireland, and Britain each expelling an Israeli diplomat.

Given this history, it is not surprising that the IDF mishandled the operation against the Gaza flotilla, despite having weeks to plan it. The assault forces that landed on the Mavi Marmara were unprepared for serious resistance and responded by shooting nine activists, some at point-blank range. None of the activists had their own guns. The bloody operation was condemned around the world—except in the United States, of course. Even within Israel, the IDF was roundly criticized for this latest failure.

These ill-conceived operations have harmful consequences for Israel. Failures leave adversaries intact and make Israeli leaders worry that their deterrent reputation is being undermined. To rectify that, the IDF is turned loose again, but the result is usually another misadventure, which gives Israel new incentives to do it again, and so on. This spiral logic, coupled with Israel’s intoxication with military force, helps explain why the Israeli press routinely carries articles predicting where Israel’s next war will be.

Israel’s recent debacles have also damaged its international reputation. Respondents to a 2010 worldwide opinion poll done for the BBC said that Israel, Iran, and Pakistan had the most negative influence in the world; even North Korea ranked better. More worrying for Israel is that its once close strategic relationship with Turkey has been badly damaged by the 2008-09 Gaza war and especially by the assault on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship filled with Turkish nationals. But surely the most troubling development for Israel is the growing chorus of voices in the United States who say that Israel’s behavior is threatening American interests around the world, to include endangering its soldiers. If that sentiment grows, it could seriously harm Israel’s relationship with the United States.

Life as an Apartheid State

The flotilla tragedy highlights another way in which Israel is in deep trouble. Israel’s response makes it obvious that its leaders are not interested in allowing the Palestinians to have a viable state in Gaza and the West Bank, but instead are bent on creating a “Greater Israel” in which the Palestinians are confined to a handful of impoverished enclaves.

Israel insists that its blockade is solely intended to keep weapons out of Gaza. Hardly anyone would criticize Israel if this were true, but it is not. The real aim of the blockade is to punish the people of Gaza for supporting Hamas and resisting Israel’s efforts to maintain Gaza as a giant open-air prison. Of course, there was much evidence that this was the case before the debacle on the Mavi Marmara. When the blockade began in 2006, Dov Weisglass, a close aide to Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, said, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” And the Gaza onslaught 18 months ago was designed to punish the Gazans, not enforce a weapons embargo. The ships in the flotilla were transporting humanitarian aid, not weapons for Hamas, and Israel’s willingness to use deadly force to prevent a humanitarian aid convoy from reaching Gaza makes it abundantly clear that Israel wants to humiliate and subdue the Palestinians, not live side-by-side with them in separate states.

Collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza is unlikely to end anytime soon. Israel’s leaders have shown little interest in lifting the blockade or negotiating sincerely. The sad truth is that Israel has been brutalizing the Palestinians for so long that it is almost impossible to break the habit. It is hardly surprising that Jimmy Carter said last year, “the citizens of Palestine are treated more like animals than human beings.” They are, and they will be for the foreseeable future.

Consequently, there is not going to be a two-state solution. Instead, Gaza and the West Bank will become part of a Greater Israel, which will be an apartheid state bearing a marked resemblance to white-ruled South Africa. Israelis and their American supporters invariably bristle at this comparison, but that is their future if they create a Greater Israel while denying full political rights to an Arab population that will soon outnumber the Jewish population in the entirety of the land. In fact, two former Israeli prime ministers—Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak—have made this very point. Olmert went so far as to argue, “as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.”

He’s right, because Israel will not be able to maintain itself as an apartheid state. Like racist South Africa, it will eventually evolve into a democratic bi-national state whose politics will be dominated by the more numerous Palestinians. But that process will take many years, and during that time, Israel will continue to oppress the Palestinians. Its actions will be seen and condemned by growing numbers of people and more and more governments around the world. Israel is unwittingly destroying its own future as a Jewish state, and doing so with tacit U.S. support.

America’s Albatross

The combination of Israel’s strategic incompetence and its gradual transformation into an apartheid state creates significant problems for the United States. There is growing recognition in both countries that their interests are diverging; indeed this perspective is even garnering attention inside the American Jewish community. Jewish Week, for example, recently published an article entitled “The Gaza Blockade: What Do You Do When U.S. and Israeli Interests Aren’t in Synch?” Leaders in both countries are now saying that Israeli policy toward the Palestinians is undermining U.S. security. Vice President Biden and Gen. David Petraeus, the head of Central Command, both made this point recently, and the head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan, told the Knesset in June, “Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden.”

It is easy to see why. Because the United States gives Israel so much support and U.S. politicians routinely laud the “special relationship” in the most lavish terms, people around the globe naturally associate the United States with Israel’s actions. Unfortunately, this makes huge numbers of people in the Arab and Islamic world furious with the United States for supporting Israel’s cruel treatment of the Palestinians. That anger in turn helps fuel terrorism against America. Remember that the 9/11 Commission Report, which describes Khalid Sheik Muhammad as the “principal architect of the 9/11 attacks,” concludes that his “animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.” Osama bin Laden’s hostility toward the United States was fuelled in part by this same concern.

Popular anger toward the United States also threatens the rulers of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, key U.S. allies who are frequently seen as America’s lackeys. The collapse of any of these regimes would be a big blow to the U.S. position in the region; however, Washington’s unyielding support for Israel makes these governments weaker, not stronger. More importantly, the rupture in Israel’s relationship with Turkey will surely damage America’s otherwise close relationship with Turkey, a NATO member and a key U.S. ally in Europe and the Middle East.

Finally, there is the danger that Israel might attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, which could have terrible consequences for the United States. The last thing America needs is another war with an Islamic country, especially one that could easily interfere in its ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is why the Pentagon opposes striking Iran, whether with Israeli or U.S. forces. But Netanyahu might do it anyway if he thinks it would be good for Israel, even if it were bad for the United States.

Dark Days Ahead for the Lobby

Israel’s troubled trajectory is also causing major headaches for its American supporters. First, there is the matter of choosing between Israel and the United States. This is sometimes referred to as the issue of dual loyalty, but that term is a misnomer. Americans are allowed to have dual citizenship—and in effect, dual loyalty—and this is no problem as long as the interests of the other country are in synch with America’s interests. For decades, Israel’s supporters have striven to shape public discourse in the United States so that most Americans believe the two countries’ interests are identical. That situation is changing, however. Not only is there now open talk about clashing interests, but knowledgeable people are openly asking whether Israel’s actions are detrimental to U.S. security.

The lobby has been scrambling to discredit this new discourse, either by reasserting the standard argument that Israel’s interests are synonymous with America’s or by claiming that Israel—to quote a recent statement by Mortimer Zuckerman, a key figure in the lobby—“has been an ally that has paid dividends exceeding its costs.” A more sophisticated approach, which is reflected in an AIPAC-sponsored letter that 337 congresspersons sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in March, acknowledges that there will be differences between the two countries, but argues that “such differences are best resolved quietly, in trust and confidence.” In other words, keep the differences behind closed doors and away from the American public. It is too late, however, to quell the public debate about whether Israel’s actions are damaging U.S. interests. In fact, it is likely to grow louder and more contentious with time.

This changing discourse creates a daunting problem for Israel’s supporters, because they will have to side either with Israel or the United States when the two countries’ interests clash. Thus far, most of the key individuals and institutions in the lobby have sided with Israel when there was a dispute. For example, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have had two big public fights over settlements. Both times the lobby sided with Netanyahu and helped him thwart Obama. It seems clear that individuals like Abraham Foxman, who heads the Anti-Defamation League, and organizations like AIPAC are primarily concerned about Israel’s interests, not America’s.

This situation is very dangerous for the lobby. The real problem is not dual loyalty but choosing between the two loyalties and ultimately putting the interests of Israel ahead of those of America. The lobby’s unstinting commitment to defending Israel, which sometimes means shortchanging U.S. interests, is likely to become more apparent to more Americans in the future, and that could lead to a wicked backlash against Israel’s supporters as well as Israel.

The lobby faces yet another challenge: defending an apartheid state in the liberal West is not going to be easy. Once it is widely recognized that the two-state solution is dead and Israel has become like white-ruled South Africa—and that day is not far off—support for Israel inside the American Jewish community is likely to diminish significantly. The main reason is that apartheid is a despicable political system that is fundamentally at odds with basic American values as well as core Jewish values. For sure there will be some Jews who will defend Israel no matter what kind of political system it has. But their numbers will shrink over time, in large part because survey data shows that younger American Jews feel less attachment to Israel than their elders, which makes them less inclined to defend Israel blindly.

The bottom line is that Israel will not be able to maintain itself as an apartheid state over the long term because it will not be able to depend on the American Jewish community to defend such a reprehensible political order.

Assisted Suicide

Israel is facing a bleak future, yet there is no reason to think that it will change course anytime soon. The political center of gravity in Israel has shifted sharply to the right and there is no sizable pro-peace political party or movement. Moreover, it remains firmly committed to the belief that what cannot be solved by force can be solved with greater force, and many Israelis view the Palestinians with contempt if not hatred. Neither the Palestinians nor any of Israel’s immediate neighbors are powerful enough to deter it, and the lobby will remain influential enough over the next decade to protect Israel from meaningful U.S. pressure.

Remarkably, the lobby is helping Israel commit national suicide while also doing serious damage to American security interests. Voices challenging this tragic situation have grown slightly more numerous in recent years, but the majority of political commentators and virtually all U.S. politicians seem blissfully ignorant of where this is headed, or unwilling to risk their careers by speaking out.

John J. Mearsheimer is a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and coauthor of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.

The complete IOA coverage of the Gaza Flotilla

Read the IOA Fair Use Notice

Monday, June 14, 2010

Unconscionable. Offensive. Hurtful. Bigoted. Terrible. Hateful.,0,3488415.story?track=rss

Unconscionable. Offensive. Hurtful. Bigoted. Terrible. Hateful.

These are the words being used to describe Helen Thomas' recent comment about Israel and Palestine. Editorialists across the country have condemned her statement that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go back" to Europe.

Let's agree that she should not have said those things, and that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East fundamentally requires reconciliation between Palestinians and Israeli Jews. We need also to agree on a formula that allows them both to be at home in the same land (I have long advocated the idea of a single democratic and secular state for both peoples; a state that treats all citizens as equals). Insisting that either people does not belong is not merely counterproductive; it lies at the very root of the conflict.

If, however, it is unacceptable to say that Israeli Jews don't belong in Palestine, it is also unacceptable to say that the Palestinians don't belong on their own land.

Yet that is said all the time in the United States, without sparking the kind of moral outrage generated by Thomas' remark. And while the nation's editorialists worry about the offense she may have caused to Jews, no one seems particularly bothered by the offense felt every day by Palestinians when people — including those with far more power than Thomas — dismiss their rights, degrade their humanity and reject their claims to the most elementary forms of decency.

Are we seriously to accept the idea that some people have more rights than others? Or that some people's sensibilities should be respected while others' are trampled with total indifference, if not outright contempt?

One does not have to agree with Thomas to note that her remark spoke to the ugly history of colonialism, racism, usurpation and denial that are at the heart of the question of Palestine. Part of that history involves vicious European anti-Semitism and the monumental crime of the Holocaust. But the other part is that Palestinians were forcibly removed from their homeland in 1948 to clear space for the creation of a state with a Jewish identity.

Europeans and Americans were, at the time, willing to ignore or simply dismiss the injustice inflicted on the Palestinians, who, by being forced from their land, were made to pay the price for a crime they did not commit.

But this callous carelessness, this dismissal of — and refusal even to acknowledge in human terms — the calamity that befell the Palestinians, and of course the attendant refusal to acknowledge their fundamental rights, did not end in the 1940s. It continues to this very day.

Mainstream politicians, civic leaders, university presidents and others in this country routinely express their support for Israel as a Jewish state, despite the fact that such a state only could have been created in a multicultural land by ethnically cleansing it of as many non-Jews as possible. Today, Israel is only able to maintain its Jewish identity because it has established an apartheid regime, both in the occupied territories and within its own borders, and because it continues to reject the Palestinian right of return.

Where is the outrage about that?

Where was the outrage in 1983 when Israeli Gen. Rafael Eitan looked forward to the day that Jews had fully settled the land, because then "all the Arabs will be able to do about it is scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle"? Or when Alan Dershowitz suggested in 2002 that Israel summarily empty and then bulldoze an entire Palestinian village as a punitive measure each time it was attacked? Or when New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman claimed in 2006 to have discovered a "pathology" that caused some Arabs to "hate others more than they love their own kids"? Or when Avigdor Lieberman (who now serves as Israel's foreign minister) said in 2004 that Palestinian citizens of Israel should "take their bundles and get lost"? Or when Israeli professor Arnon Sofer, one of the country's leading demographic alarmists, said that to preserve the Jewish state, Israel should pull out of Gaza, though that would require Israel to remain at the border and "kill, and kill, and kill, all day, every day"?

An endless deluge of statements of support for the actual, calculated, methodical dehumanization of Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular goes without comment; whereas a single offhand comment by an 89-year-old journalist, whose long and distinguished record of principled commitment and challenges to state power entitles her to respect — and the benefit of the doubt — causes her to be publicly pilloried.

To accept this appalling hypocrisy is to be complicit in the racism of our age.

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA. He is the author of, among other books, "Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A nightmarish experiment,2.225,2.227

A nightmarish experiment

By Sefi Rachlevsky

Israel gave itself a nice present to celebrate the 43rd anniversary of losing its borders. The raid on the Gaza flotilla in international waters is like the first Lebanon War - as if in a nightmarish experiment, we seem to be examining the question: What happens when a country has no borders?

Israel's maritime attack did not happen by chance. A border is one of the fundamental factors that defines a country. Decades without one have distorted Israel's thinking.

It is self-evident that, just as a person cannot build in an area that he does not own, a country cannot build settlements outside of its borders. And yet Israel has settled hundreds of thousands of its citizens in areas that, according to its laws, are not part of the State of Israel.

It is self-evident that any couple can marry "without regard to religion, race or gender." And yet in Israel a Jewish man and a non-Jewish woman cannot legally marry. It's self-evident that there is no arbitrary discrimination, and yet it's enough to use the magic words "I'm a religious woman" or "I'm an ultra-Orthodox man" and the obligation to serve in the military evaporates.

It's self-evident that the education provided to children be based on democracy and equality. And yet in Israel, 52 percent of first-graders defined as Jews study in various religious school systems that teach students things like "You are considered a human being and the other nations of the world are not considered human beings."

They are taught that a non-Jew is not a human being, and that anyone who kills a non-Jew is not supposed to be killed by human hands; that women are inferior, and it is an obligation that males and females be separated; and that secular people, or anyone with secular family members, cannot enter these schools.

It is self-evident that racist education cannot be funded by the government and is illegal. And yet most of the country's first-graders receive such "compulsory education" from their government.

The results of this nightmarish experiment are self-evident. In the most recent elections, 35 percent of voters defined as Jews cast their ballots for avowedly racist parties - Yisrael Beitenu, Shas, National Union and their friends.

Critics in the Israeli media wake up only when mistakes are made. That is why - after initially cheering the declaration that "the flotilla will not pass" - they changed their tune following the imbroglio, turning into advocates of the twisted logic "be smart, not right." But what justice is there in an attack on civilians by soldiers on the open seas?

Like the territories, international waters are not Israel; they are outside its borders. A Turkish ship on the open sea is, in effect, a floating Turkish island. An Israeli attack on such an island is not all that different from sending the Israel Defense Forces to take on demonstrators at the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. There, too, unpleasant people who are not friends of Israel can sometimes be found.

Turkey, which is a member of NATO, was not in a state of war with Israel before the attack. Attacking its citizens on territory that is by definition Turkish is another expression of the Israeli lunacy that lacks any kind of boundaries.

An attack beyond the border must be reserved for extreme cases involving a military target that represents an entity fighting against the country and when citizens are in danger. But civilian ships, that are not carrying weapons, but are bringing civilian aid to a population that is denied chocolate, toys and notebooks, are not nuclear reactors in Iraq, Syria or Iran.

A person who grows up without external borders tends to create distorted internal borders. That is the reason for the attack on Arab MK Hanin Zuabi and her colleagues. While there were certain Arab public figures who went too far in their statements, joining a civilian aid flotilla is one of those legitimate acts which are supposed to be self-evident.

And yet, what was self-evident became betrayal. And citizenship, one of the unconditional foundations of existence, has turned into something that can be revoked - in this case on the basis of ethnicity, a tactic used in fascist regimes. The street has returned to the atmosphere that prevailed under "responsible" opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and led to the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin - and the next murder is in the air.

The Israeli deed at sea is liable to reach The Hague. The problem is that Israel has genuine enemies who want to destroy it. A country that does not do everything in its power to accumulate legitimacy, along with turning Iran into an entity that is losing legitimacy and can therefore become a target of activities to undermine it, is a country losing its basic survival instinct. Without borders, it turns out, you lose even that.

Young Israelis who have grown up without borders are now dancing and singing "In blood and fire we will expel Turkey" and "Mohammed is dead." If this keeps up, Israel will not make it to The Hague. The entity gradually replacing the State of Israel is liable not to exist long enough to get there.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Remarks at Woodstock, NY, Memorial Day parade

Remarks at Woodstock, NY, Memorial Day parade, May 31, 2010
A reconstruction from memory, somewhat updated
by Joel Kovel 

As a member of Veterans for Peace, I've addressed this event perhaps a dozen times over the years. But never has my heart been so heavy as today, when I have to speak of the terrible news we received less than 24 hours ago, that Israeli Commandos had boarded the Freedom Flotilla bearing humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza and killed some 10 ñ 20 activists, wounding perhaps 50 others in the course of preventing the aid from reaching its destination. Although it may not seem so at first glance, I think you will agree when I am finished that what happened off the coast of Gaza yesterday very much needs to be talked about at a Memorial Day parade. 

For those of you who may not know, Gaza is a region within Palestine, seized by Israel in 1967 and since administered under military occupation. Currently its 1.5 million people live in confinement, making Gaza the largest prison in the history of the world. To be more exact, they do not fully live, but merely survive under conditions of great privation. Fully ten percent of the population, needless to say mainly small children, are malnourished to the point of having their growth stunted. A few years ago, an Israeli official was quoted as saying that the people of Gaza are ìgoing to be on a diet.î This gives a sense of the cruelty of the occupation, as does the fact that more than a year after Israel pulverized large portions of Gaza in a deadly attack, virtually no construction materials, neither cement, nails, nor bricks, have been let into the country. Hence it continues as a gigantic ruin and a zone of desperation.

All this has precipitated great consternation among people of good will across the world and spurred efforts to bring aid to the Gazans with the larger goal of bringing Israelís blockade and, indeed, occupation, to an end. The Freedom Flotilla is not the first maritime mission to Gaza, but it was by far the largest, with six ships, 700 activists, and ten thousand tons of material aid for the prisoners of Gaza. Here in Woodstock we are proud of our solidarity group, MidEast Crisis Response, from which eight citizens went last December to Egypt as part of a large delegation to bring aid to Gaza. Five of our members are even now in New York City doing what can be done to demonstrate against this awful crime; we send them all our best wishes and hopes.

We are making progress in bringing Israel to justice, but the road is long and the way is hard. If this were a halfway just world, Israelís wanton attack in international waters would be immediately recognized as sheer, murderous piracy. But the problem runs much deeper than that. For whether Israel attacked on the high seas or elsewhere, its aggression would still be illegal. A fully just world would recognize that Israel would has no right to attack the flotilla in any case, for the simple reason that it has no right to be in Gaza, as occupation is itself a crime under international law. Israelís flouting of innumerable resolutions asserting this does not weaken the truth, but rather, has removed every shred of legitimacy from its behavior. An occupier, the world should remember, has no rights.

But the world is not at all a just place and doesnít remember this truth or even understand it. Instead, we face a situation where Israel repeatedly gets away with murder and every other human rights violation. And it is perfectly understandable why this is so. It is because Israel enjoys a de facto authority that overrides mere international law and human right, so that it can do what it pleases, and the consequences be damned. This de facto authority has two components and one enabling cause. The components are:

ï a world-class military machine, so that Israel enjoys the advantage of brute force in its escapades; and

ï a permanent and renewable ìGet-out-of-jail-freeî card, to be played whenever a crime is committed.

Nothing can be done to bring Israel to justice unless this authority is brought down, for the purpose of which it is necessary to face up to its enabling cause. And this, to get right down to the point, is our own United States, with some help from its Western allies and Arab client states. It is the United States that has financed Israel and built it into a military behemoth. And it is from the United States that the commands are issued that exonerate Israel in advance from the consequences of its criminality. This combination of stupendous power and impunity feeds on itself and breeds the monstrosity that is Israel today. Without it, the terrible killings aboard the Freedom Flotilla would not have happenedóindeed, the flotilla would not have been needed because Gaza would have been free.

It would take time we do not have today to dissect this relationship, taking into account the illegal (because it represents a foreign power without registering as such) Israel Lobby that controls United States foreign policy in the Middle East. I want to bring to your attention instead one elementary principle that would enable us to make a difference. It is to find a location in the here and now where the Israeli killing machine is built up by the United States; and to intervene so that the cycle of impunity can start to be interrupted. It happens that there is one such place right here in Woodstock, as there are in many other locales in the United States. 

For we have a firm in town, Rotron by name, that enjoys great prestige in Woodstock and the surrounding region. Rotron is the biggest employer in Woodstock, and has made its esteemed product, fans, for over half a century. And yet, how many people in Woodstock knowóor care when they do know--that the fans Rotron makes are for weapon systems ranging from simple rocket launchers all the way up to the world-destroying Minuteman missile with its H-bomb warhead? And how many know that among the contracts that have brought some wealth to the area is one from last October made with, yes, the State of Israel, to produce and deliver directly to the Israeli Air Force some 50 fans for its aircraft, the cost, a mere $27,712.50, with payment to be made directly by the Pentagon?

In other words, the possibility is quite real that the helicopters carrying the Israeli Commandos to their rendezvous with murder off the coast of Gaza were being cooled by fans made in Woodstock.

I am not here to hand out any instant remedy for this situation. All I can say that is relevant to a national holiday as solemn as Memorial Day is this: that unless we come to grips with truths such as these, we have no right associating Woodstock with its self-anointed identity as the town of Peace and Love. Thereís a fine looking Peace Monument right behind me as I speak, with inscriptions on many languages. But it is not worth the wood and metal it is made of unless we face up to our complicity in the war-making system, that machine that ties together the United States and Israel as the destroyers of peace around the world. The shock of Israelís attack on the Freedom Flotilla may finally begin to break up its shield of impunity. This will happen if we join together in sustained and principled agitation. But we must never forget that we will never have a just world unless we also work to bring down the military machine itself.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Zionism Laid Bare (from CounterPunch)

A Review of Shahid Alam's "Israeli Exceptionalism"

Zionism Laid Bare

The essential point of M. Shahid Alam’s book, Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism, comes clear upon opening the book to the inscription in the frontispiece.  From the Persian poet and philosopher Rumi, the quote reads, “You have the light, but you have no humanity.  Seek humanity, for that is the goal.”  Alam, professor of economics at Northeastern University in Boston and a CounterPunch contributor, follows this with an explicit statement of his aims in the first paragraph of the preface.  Asking and answering the obvious question, “Why is an economist writing a book on the geopolitics of Zionism?” he says that he “could have written a book about the economics of Zionism, the Israeli economy, or the economy of the West Bank and Gaza, but how would any of that have helped me to understand the cold logic and the deep passions that have driven Zionism?”

Until recent years, the notion that Zionism was a benign, indeed a humanitarian, political movement designed for the noble purpose of creating a homeland and refuge for the world’s stateless, persecuted Jews was a virtually universal assumption.  In the last few years, particularly since the start of the al-Aqsa intifada in 2000, as Israel’s harsh oppression of the Palestinians has become more widely known, a great many Israelis and friends of Israel have begun to distance themselves from and criticize Israel’s occupation policies, but they remain strong Zionists and have been at pains to propound the view that Zionism began well and has only lately been corrupted by the occupation.  Alam demonstrates clearly, through voluminous evidence and a carefully argued analysis, that Zionism was never benign, never good—that from the very beginning, it operated according to a “cold logic” and, per Rumi, had “no humanity.”  Except perhaps for Jews, which is where Israel’s and Zionism’s exceptionalism comes in.

Alam argues convincingly that Zionism was a coldly cynical movement from its beginnings in the nineteenth century.  Not only did the founders of Zionism know that the land on which they set their sights was not an empty land, but they set out specifically to establish an “exclusionary colonialism” that had no room for the Palestinians who lived there or for any non-Jews, and they did this in ways that justified, and induced the West to accept, the displacement of the Palestinian population that stood in their way.  With a simple wisdom that still escapes most analysts of Israel and Zionism, Alam writes that a “homeless nationalism,” as Zionism was for more than half a century until the state of Israel was established in 1948, “of necessity is a charter for conquest and—if it is exclusionary—for ethnic cleansing.”
How has Zionism been able to put itself forward as exceptional and get away with it, winning Western support for the establishment of an exclusionary state and in the process for the deliberate dispossession of the native population?  Alam lays out three principal ways by which Zionism has framed its claims of exceptionalism in order to justify itself and gain world, particularly Western, support.  First, the Jewish assumption of chosenness rests on the notion that Jews have a divine right to the land, a mandate granted by God to the Jewish people and only to them.  This divine election gives the homeless, long-persecuted Jews the historical and legal basis by which to nullify the rights of Palestinians not so divinely mandated and ultimately to expel them from the land.  Second, Israel’s often remarkable achievements in state-building have won Western support and provided a further justification for the displacement of “inferior” Palestinians by “superior” Jews.  Finally, Zionism has put Jews forward as having a uniquely tragic history and as a uniquely vulnerable country, giving Israel a special rationale for protecting itself against supposedly unique threats to its existence and in consequence for ignoring the dictates of international law.  Against the Jews’ tragedy, whatever pain Palestinians may feel at being displaced appears minor.

The ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians that came as the result of Zionism’s need for an exclusivist homeland was no unfortunate consequence, and indeed had long been foreseen by Zionist thinkers and the Western leaders who supported them.  Alam quotes early Zionists, including Theodore Herzl, who talked repeatedly of persuading the Palestinians “to trek,” or “fold their tents,” or “silently steal away.”  In later years, the Zionists spoke of forcible “transfer” of the Palestinians.  In the 1930s, David Ben-Gurion expressed his strong support for compulsory transfer, crowing that “Jewish power” was growing to the point that the Jewish community in Palestine would soon be strong enough to carry out ethnic cleansing on a large scale (as it ultimately did).  In fact, the Zionists knew from the start that there would be no persuading the Palestinians simply to leave voluntarily and that violent conquest would be necessary to implant the Zionist state.

The British knew this as well.  Zionist supporter Winston Churchill wrote as early as 1919 that the Zionists “take it for granted that the local population will be cleared out to suit their convenience.”  In a blunt affirmation of the calculated nature of Zionist plans and Western support for them, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, like Churchill another early supporter and also author of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which promised British support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, wrote that Zionism “is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.”  It would be hard to find a more blatant one-sided falsity.

Alam traces in detail the progression of Zionist planning, beginning with the deliberate creation in the nineteenth century of an ethnic identity for Jews who shared only a religion and had none of the attributes of nationhood—neither a land, nor a common language or culture, nor arguably a common gene pool.  Here Alam covers briefly the ground trod in detail by Israeli historian Shlomo Sand, whose book The Invention of the Jewish People, appearing in English just months before Alam’s book, shattered the myths surrounding Zionism’s claim to nationhood and to an exclusive right to Palestine.  But Alam goes further, describing the Zionist campaign to create a surrogate “mother country” that, in the absence of a Jewish nation, would sponsor the Zionists’ colonization of Palestine and support its national project.  Having gained British support for its enterprise, Zionism then set about building a rationale for displacing the Palestinian Arabs who were native to Palestine (who, incidentally, did indeed possess the attributes of a nation but lay in the path of a growing Jewish, Western-supported military machine).  Zionist propaganda then and later deliberately spread the notion that Palestinians were not “a people,” had no attachment to the land and no national aspirations, and in the face of the Jews’ supposedly divine mandate, of Israel’s “miraculous” accomplishments, and of the Jews’ monumental suffering in the Holocaust, the dispossession of the Palestinians was made to appear to a disinterested West as nothing more than a minor misfortune.

Addressing what he calls the “destabilizing logic” of Zionism, Alam builds the argument that Zionism thrives on, and indeed can survive only in the midst of, conflict.  In the first instance, Alam shows, Zionism actually embraced the European anti-Semitic charge that Jews were an alien people.  This was the natural result of promoting the idea that Jews actually belonged in Palestine in a nation of their own, and in addition, spreading fear of anti-Semitism proved to be an effective way to attract Jews not swayed by the arguments of Zionism (who made up the majority of Jews in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) to the Zionist cause.  Early Zionist leaders talked frankly of anti-Semitism as a means of teaching many educated and assimilated Jews “the way back to their people” and of forcing an allegiance to Zionism.  Anti-Semitism remains in many ways the cement that holds Zionism together, keeping both Israeli Jews and diaspora Jews in thrall to Israel as their supposedly only salvation from another Holocaust.

In the same vein, Alam contends, Zionists realized that in order to succeed in their colonial enterprise and maintain the support of the West, they would have to create an adversary common to both the West and the Jews.  Only a Jewish state waging wars in the Middle East could “energize the West’s crusader mentality, its evangelical zeal, its dreams of end times, its imperial ambitions.”  Arabs were the initial and enduring enemy, and Zionists and Israel have continued to provoke Arab antagonism and direct it toward radicalism, to steer Arab anger against the United States, to provoke the Arabs into wars against Israel, and to manufacture stories of virulent Arab anti-Semitism—all specifically in order to sustain Jewish and Western solidarity with Israel.  More recently, Islam itself has become the common enemy, an adversary fashioned so that what Alam calls the “Jewish-Gentile partnership” can be justified and intensified.  Focusing on Arab and Muslim hostility, always portrayed as motivated by irrational hatred rather than by opposition to Israeli and U.S. policies, allows Zionists to divert attention from their own expropriation of Palestinian land and dispossession of Palestinians and allows them to characterize Israeli actions as self-defense against anti-Semitic Arab and Muslim resistance.

Alam treats the Zionist/Israel lobby as a vital cog in the machine that built and sustains the Jewish state.  Indeed, Theodore Herzl was the original Zionist lobbyist.  During the eight years between the launch of the Zionist movement at Basel in 1897 and his death, Herzl had meetings with a remarkable array of power brokers in Europe and the Middle East, including the Ottoman sultan, Kaiser Wilhelm II, King Victor Emanuel III of Italy, Pope Pius X, the noted British imperialist Lord Cromer and the British colonial secretary of the day, and the Russian ministers of interior and finance, as well as a long list of dukes, ambassadors, and lesser ministers.  One historian used the term “miraculous” to describe Herzl’s ability to secure audiences with the powerful who could help Zionism.

Zionist lobbyists continued to work as assiduously, with results as “miraculous,” throughout the twentieth century, gaining influence over civil society and ultimately over policymakers and, most importantly, shaping the public discourse that determines all thinking about Israel and its neighbors.  As Alam notes, “since their earliest days, the Zionists have created the organizations, allies, networks, and ideas that would translate into media, congressional, and presidential support for the Zionist project.”  An increasing proportion of the activists who lead major elements of civil society, such as the labor and civil rights movements, are Jews, and these movements have as a natural consequence come to embrace Zionist aims.  Christian fundamentalists, who in the last few decades have provided massive support to Israel and its expansionist policies, grew in the first instance because they were “energized by every Zionist success on the ground” and have continued to expand with a considerable lobbying push from the Zionists.

Alam’s conclusion—a direct argument against those who contend that the lobby has only limited influence: “It makes little sense,” in view of the pervasiveness of Zionist influence over civil society and political discourse, “to maintain that the pro-Israeli positions of mainstream American organizations . . . emerged independently of the activism of the American Jewish community.”  In its early days, Zionism grew only because Herzl and his colleagues employed heavy lobbying in the European centers of power; Jewish dispersion across the Western world—and Jewish influence in the economies, the film industries, the media, and academia in key Western countries—are what enabled the Zionist movement to survive and thrive in the dark years of the early twentieth century; and Zionist lobbying and molding of public discourse are what has maintained Israel’s favored place in the hearts and minds of Americans and the policy councils of America’s politicians.

This is a critically important book.  It enhances and expands on the groundbreaking message of Shlomo Sand’s work.  If Sand shows that Jews were not “a people” until Zionism created them as such, Alam shows this also and goes well beyond to show how Zionism and its manufactured “nation” went about dispossessing and replacing the Palestinians and winning all-important Western support for Israel and its now 60-year-old “exclusionary colonialism.”

Kathleen Christison is the author of Perceptions of Palestine and theWound of 
Dispossession and co-author, with Bill Christison, of Palestine in Pieces: Graphic Perspectives on the Israeli Occupation, published last summer by Pluto Press.  She can be reached