Saturday, October 24, 2015

I hate: the Occupation. I hate racism. I hate hypocrisy.

Last night, October 19,  in Greenburgh Town Hall, at a Jewish Voice for Peace/ WESPAC event when Suhail Khalilieh, Palestinian policy analyst, and a young Palestinian girl from Bethlehem who teaches violin in Aida Refugee Camp, and Gideon Levy, Haaretz  journalist spoke, they were continually and furiously harassed and assaulted with violent ugly words shouted and spit out at them from a group of people mainly at the back of the room and in particular one woman who held up a sign “Gideon Levy = Hate.”  

Gideon Levy began in his steadfast strong measured voice: “Yes, the sign does represent me. I hate: the Occupation. I hate racism. I hate hypocrisy. I hate ignorance. I hate brainwashing…” The audience applauded his words. 

The audience was filled with a diversity of people, many of whom I recognized as Jewish friends, people who cared deeply about what has been happening to the Palestinians -  Christians and Muslims – as well as the Jewish people - since 1948 at the founding of Zionist Israel. I have been wondering why there is always such a brutal attempt to silence people who speak out against “Settler Israel,” regime after regime that has promoted an apartheid system in Israel and a brutal military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza; people who have erased the memory of Palestine as a country that once harbored Jews, Christians and Muslims.  

This Saturday night, October 24, 7 p.m. at the Inquiring Mind, Saugerties, Noga Kadman - whose Jewish forefathers on her mother’s side arrived in Palestine from Eastern Europe in 1860’s and on her father’s side, in the 1930’s -  born in  Jerusalem, now residing in Tel Aviv, will be presenting her book Erased from Space and Consciousness: Israel and the Depopulated Palestinian Villages of 1948. I hope people of all faiths and beliefs attend, and are able to take in and listen to -- without trying to snuff out -- what Noga has to say.  

Jane Toby

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Intent to destroy… a national, ethnical, racial or religious group

Subject: Re: Letter to the Editor

To: Saugerties Times

Countering the opinions of Susan Puretz in her Oct 8 letter, I will refer to Jewish Israeli writers, researchers, journalists, and organizations.

Puretz writes: “Arab citizens, a minority in the State of Israel, just like their majority Jewish counterparts, enjoy full and complete citizenship rights.”

Nurit Peled-Elhanan, Faculty of Education, Hebrew University Jerusalem and member of Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Parents for Peace, writes in Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education that in spite of Israel’s success advertising its regime as a Democracy, researchers define it as an ‘Ethnocracy’ or ‘ethnic Democracy’ because ethnicity and not citizenship is the main determinant in Israel for the allocation of rights, power and resources.  Jews who are citizens of other nations and Jewish settlers outside state borders have full citizenship rights while Arab citizens inside state borders don’t and Palestinians from the occupied West Bank are ‘state-less.’

Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston writes (Aug 15, 2015) “It’s time to admit it, Israeli policy is: Apartheid.” “… I used to be one of those people who took issue with the label of apartheid as applied to Israel… I’m not any more … Not after terrorists firebombed a West Bank Palestinian home, annihilating a family…—only to have Israel’s government rule the family ineligible for financial support and compensation granted Israeli victims of terrorism, settlers included… Not after Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, declaring stone-throwing terrorism, passed a bill holding stone-throwers liable to up to 20 years imprisonment… one week later, pro-settlement Jews hurled rocks, furniture, bottles… at Israeli soldiers and police at a West Bank settlement; in response Netanyahu rewarded the Jewish stone-throwers with a pledge to build hundreds of new settlement houses... This is what has become of the rule of law. Two sets of books. One for us, one for them. Apartheid… We are what we turn a blind eye to.”

Regarding the Occupation: Read reporters of Israel’s oldest daily newspaper, Haaretz,:  Gideon Levy, Amira Hass.  Hass reports from Ramallah, West Bank: “Palestinians Are Fighting for Their Lives; Israel Is Fighting for the Occupation—That we notice there’s a war on only when Jews are murdered does not cancel out the fact that Palestinians are being killed all the time.” Look up Jeff Halpern’s work with ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, “a human rights/peace organization dedicated to ending the prolonged Israeli occupation over the Palestinians.”

The international legal definition of “genocide” is not as simplistic as Puretz poses. This definition includes “intent to destroy… a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” and “killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to group members; inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction …” Here, I recommend Israeli historian Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

For statistics -- on Fatalities, Detainees and prisoners, Destruction of property, Demolition of houses, East Jerusalem, the Separation Barrier, Settlements, Residence (Deportation,) Restrictions on movement (Checkpoints and roadblocks, unemployment and poverty, Death following restrictions on movement) and water crisis data -- check out B’tselem - The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

Jane Toby

Attempts to silence free speech

After the Gideon Levy talk in Greenburgh I asked the police chief why the disrupters were not removed after repeated and extensive disruptions.  We all know that when we disrupt we are promptly removed by the police.  In any case,  he felt that they were simply exercising their right to free speech.  Yesterday I sent the following letter to three Greenburgh newspapers.  It was good to see all the mecr friends at the talk. (I would have included the names of the other speakers, but I don't remember them. Sorry)

To the Editor:
Israeli journalist Gideon Levy recently spoke at the Greenburgh Town Hall regarding the sad and disturbing truth about Israel's brutal and oppressive forty year military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. The truth about Israels' criminal behavior and human rights violations are coming to light despite mighty efforts to repress these truths. American taxpayers pay over $3 Billion a year to support Israels' occupation and grinding dehumanization of the Palestinian people.

The local (and loco) loudmouths who shouted and screamed at Mr. Levy were not exercising free speech. The local Greenburgh police need to recognize that these screaming opponents of the non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS)  movement, which is trying to non-violently end Israels'  military occupation, were not exercising free speech. They were, in fact,  attempting to intimidate, inhibit, and silence free speech. Thank you to WESPAC for inviting Mr. Levy to speak.  Hopefullly, the Greenburgh police will learn to recognize the difference between exercising free speech and actions which attempt to silence free speech.

Eli Kassirer

Susan Peretz defends extremist theocracy

Susan Peretz is determined to keep Israel's image pristine by smearing anyone who would call attention to facts like the recent slaughter of 547 Palestinian children in Gaza, or the nearly 65 years of illegal Israeli occupation. 

These aren't actions of a principled regime, but of an extremist theocracy determined to ethnically cleanse all Palestinians from land it claims God has given it two thousand years ago.

Fortunately, there are many Israelis who value international law and human rights over religious dogma. One such Israeli will be in Saugerties (Inquiring Mind Bookstore) on Saturday, Oct 24, starting at 7 pm. Author Noga Kadman will talk about her new book, “Erased from Space and Consciousness: Israel and the Depopulated Palestinian Villages of 1948."

Israel doesn't have to be an apartheid nation, an outcast in the world community. But things won't change until the US decides it doesn't need a military colony in the Middle East. Not only is this colony incredibly expensive for America to maintain, but it destroys our image of a country committed to justice and human rights for all peoples of the world. Apartheid South Africa remade itself; so can Israel.

Fred Nagel