More signs of Zionism’s desperate attempts to forestall criticism of Israel. Trudeau now has his team in place to turn history backward. Cotler’s wife worked for Menachem Begin, his daughter is in the Knesset, Bob Rae is a longtime Zionist who will act as Israel’s goaltender at the UN. Such brave champions of “the rule of law, human rights and international laws.” Israel the great democracy must always be shielded from breaking the agreed-upon rules of international behaviour. And don’t expect anything from this guy
Justin Trudeau taps top Israel lobbyist to police speech in Canada
Nora Barrows-Friedman Lobby Watch
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday named prominent Israel lobby figure Irwin Cotler as Canada’s “special envoy” for combatting anti-Semitism.In that role, Cotler will lead the country’s implementation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) “working definition” of anti-Semitism.
The definition conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish bigotry.
Independent Jewish Voices Canada, a group that opposes imposition of the IHRA definition, said it was “deeply troubled” by the appointmen
The group noted that Cotler “is one of the leading proponents of the ‘new anti-Semitism’ movement, which seeks to label criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.”
Trudeau’s announcement sends a clear message to civil society in Canada: Criticism of Israel will not be tolerated, and Israel’s lobby can set the terms of the debate.
This comes just weeks after Ontario’s premier Doug Ford forced through a measure to adopt the IHRA definition without allowing the public to voice concerns or lawmakers to cast a vote. . Trudeau said last year that Canada would use the IHRA definition as part of its strategy to “combat racism and discrimination.” Cotler, Trudeau said on Wednesday, “will support advocacy and outreach efforts with Canadians, civil society and academia to advance the implementation of this definition across the country and its adoption internationally.”
Israel and its lobby have been pushing for the IHRA definition to be codified into law in the US, Canada and European countries in order to shield Israel from criticism over its human rights violations.
In the past, Trudeau has acknowledged Cotler’s influence on the Canadian government’s extreme pro-Israel policies, including its smear campaign against the nonviolent boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.
Cotler’s role “will be to stifle dissent in civil society about Israeli human rights violations,” Michael Bueckert, vice president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, said. they are trying to ban Palestine activism, They just don’t want you to talk about it,” Bueckert tweeted.
Make no mistake: the #IHRA definition of antisemitism is a racist endeavour, designed to deem Palestinian narratives as antisemitic and eliminate speech and protest of Israel. Cotler’s role as Envoy will be to stifle dissent in civil society about Israeli human rights violations.
This is only the latest effort to try to block organizing for Palestinian rights by smearing human rights defenders as anti-Semites.
Many had prepared testimonies opposing its adoption into Ontario law.
The testimonies were to be presented before the legislature’s Standing Committee on Justice Policy in a public hearing. “It was anti-democratic to just shut down the hearings,” Corey Balsam, national director of Independent Jewish Voices Canada, told The Electronic Intifada.
“We were really gaining momentum. When the committee was announced, people started showing up and organizations were taking an interest,” he added.
Adoption of the IHRA definition has been opposed by hundreds of Canadian scholars who warn of its chilling effects on academic freedom and free speech.
There have been dozens of examples around the world where the IHRA definition has been used to smear Palestinians and advocates of Palestinian rights, Independent Jewish Voices Canada notes, including at least three incidents in Canada. Moreover, adopting the IHRA definition conflicts with the beliefs of most Canadians.
Just last month, a national survey found that the majority of Canadians don’t believe that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, despite well-financed efforts by Israel lobby groups.
Three major Canadian cities – Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver – have rejected or declined to adopt the definition.
Since the Ontario government left it unclear whether the IHRA definition’s “illustrative examples” – most of which focus on Israel – are included in the executive order, “we can expect to see powerful actors interpreting the definition as they see fit,” Hammam Farah, a Toronto activist and board member of the Palestinian Canadian Community Centre – Palestine House, told The Electronic Intifada.
Farah expects more cases of institutions denying jobs to scholars or refusing to give organizations funding and access to resources in fear of violating the vague IHRA guidelines.
Palestine House and allied groups have condemned the order, saying that “the Israeli government knows that it lost the public debate and that it must resort to cowering behind anti-democratic laws to protect its colonial endeavor against the Palestinian people.”
Farah explained that ever since Israel’s “long-term campaign against BDS reached the Canadian government, we’ve found ourselves on the defensive, having to scramble to declare our opposition against government attacks on our freedom of speech.” Human rights and civil society organizations say that while they consider legal options to challenge Ford’s order, they will continue to expose Israel’s apartheid system and resist censorship efforts. “We want to encourage other people to not be silent either,” Balsam told The Electronic Intifada.
“The fear is the institutionalization of that chill.”
Corey Balsam IJV hopes that solidarity groups will continue to “open up doors to talk about racism in Israel, Zionism’s relationship to racism and the impact that this definition has on Palestinians and on people of color.”
“We can’t let them dictate the terms of the debate,” he said.
One huge benefit of the recent US election is watching appalling Trumpers leave public disservice for ever. Start with the destroyer of public education Betsy Devos, then the bankruptcy lawyer of the settlements David Friedman and finally “the worst secretary of state in American history,” Mike Pompeio Here’s P.eter Beinart’s salute ======================================================================================
Imagine you’re in a kid in school. You have a history of being bullied, which makes you anxious about your safety. But, recently, your fortunes have improved. And now you watch with amazement as the school’s newest tough guys not only befriend you but cater to your every desire. To prove their devotion, they turn mercilessly on someone with whom you’ve had a dispute, someone even weaker than you. “We won’t let anyone threaten you,” they cry, as they beat him to a pulp
It’s an imperfect analogy. But it captures some of how I felt watching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit last week to the West Bank. Given Jewish history, I understand why some Jews feel comforted, even exhilarated, when the Christians who run the world’s most powerful country shower the Jewish state with affection. I just wish the affection were not laced with sadism and lies.
Settlements like Psagot, where Pompeo sipped wine named in his honor, don’t just appear. They are generally the product of land theft. It works like this. The Israeli government employs Ottoman, Jordanian, British mandatory and Israeli military law (pretty much whatever it can find) to declare chunks of the West Bank “state land.” In other words, ownerless. Then it parcels that land out for Jewish settlement. The dispossessed Palestinians can lodge legal challenges, but as non-citizens, they almost always lose. The Israeli government is accountable to Jewish settlers, not to them.
By any reasonable definition, this is institutionalized bigotry. In a single territory, two ethno-religious groups live under a different law. Jews enjoy citizenship, due process, free movement and the right to vote for the government that controls their lives. Palestinians enjoy none of these rights.
But, in an Orwellian irony, mainstream American political discourse describes as bigoted not Israel’s dual legal system in the West Bank—but opposition to it. This irony falls particularly cruelly on Black politicians, who are particularly quick to notice the parallels with American segregation. (When former Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards visited Hebron in 2012, she said “it looked like the stories that my mother and my grandmother told me about living in the [Jim Crow] South.”) Thus, Raphael Warnock, the pastor of Martin Luther King’s old church, who is now seeking a senate seat in Georgia, is under attack for alleged anti-Semitism. The reason: Last year he travelled to the West Bank with a group of Black American and South African ministers. He and his colleagues witnessed “The laws of segregation that allow one thing for the Jewish people and another for the Palestinians” and felt compelled to demand “justice, equality and human rights.” For this, Warnock now stands accused of anti-Semitism by conservative American Christians and Jews whose own trips to Israel generally shield them from the brutal realities that stirred his conscience. The whole dynamic is deeply depressing.
After his trip to Psagot, Pompeo issued a statement declaring that “anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism” and the “Global BDS Campaign” is “a manifestation of anti-Semitism.” But if you were a Palestinian who had her land stolen, wouldn’t you support boycotting the government that took it from you? And if you were a Palestinian, wouldn’t you oppose Zionism, a movement designed to create a state that privileges Jews over you?
Last year I wrote an essay trying to dissect the arguments equating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. One point I made was that the equation doesn’t only render Palestinians anti-Semites simply for seeking equality with Jews, it turns a lot of Jews into anti-Semites too. For most of Jewish history, most Jews have interpreted the Talmud (the key text is Ketubot 111a, for all you Talmud nerds) as prohibiting Jews from trying to reestablish a Jewish state in the land of Israel before the coming of the Messiah. The Zionist movement, and the creation of the state of Israel, have led many Jews to abandon that view. But not all. There remain large ultra-Orthodox communities that still consider Jewish statehood a violation of Jewish law.
Monsey, New York is one of those communities. Last year, a deranged man attacked a Hanukah party there. An ultra-Orthodox man, Joseph Gluck, chased the assailant outside and wrote down the license plate of his car, thus saving many lives. Wanting to honor this Jewish hero, the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish Federation of Rockland County tried to give Gluck an award. But he refused. The reason: He won’t accept money from Zionist groups.
So, according to Mike Pompeo, Joseph Gluck is an anti-Semite. In the name of full disclosure, I should acknowledge that, according to the Anti-Defamation League, I’m kind of an anti-Semite too. This summer, after I wrote a column arguing for equality between Palestinians and Jews, the ADL’s deputy national director wrote a letter to The New York Times claiming that “such calls are themselves anti-Semitic.”
I keep waiting for my kids to use this information against me. I can just hear their argument now: “Who the heck is an anti-Semite to tell me I can’t use my phone on Shabbat?”
The Cohens(Cohanim) were the priestly caste in biblical Israel.Here, Stanley Cohen has the nerve to “priest” the new Catholic American president Joe Biden. He challenges him to live out his faith when it comes to Palestine where brother Joe has been silent and cowardly for his whole career, sadly identifying himself as a Zionist. A long one but emblematic of simply another Jew of Conscience.
Joe Biden takes pride in his Irish roots, as well he should. He finds comfortable repose in the romantic words of Irish tradition. He speaks of Irish bonds… words of warmth and love and hope. Irish is all that … but it is so much more. It is a journey of 800 years of occupation, of resistance at its finest, resistance at its purest, resistance at its deadliest. It is a chronicle Joe Biden has never lived nor learned.
Education is, for some, a privilege, for others a right, for more than a few a selective tailored read. Joe Biden is one such browser; a head-note sort of guy. Like his ignore of the necessarily militant, fierce chronicle of the Irish journey, Joe Biden prefers the packaged, heavily redacted narrative of another occupied people… Palestinians.
To Joe Biden, Palestinians are essentially little more than gate-keepers; visitors tasked by some biblical assign to safeguard the land awaiting the rightful return of relics from an Old Testament psalm long rewritten to serve the geopolitical needs of a Euro/Western colonial project. Of course, when it comes to Palestinians, like so many other political theists across the aisle, Joe Biden typically says all the right things: “except for Hamas terrorists, Palestinians are decent people… good people… honest people who must be treated with dignity and respect.” As for Israeli Jews, Biden’s cerebral tattoo is an echo of the crude international talisman that they are “entitled to live in peace and security.” How profound and deflective. And on those all too familiar occasions when the perpetual victim becomes the ever-lurking victimizer… by burning to death a Palestinian family, or running over a Palestinian toddler, or attacking farmers, damaging chicken coops and killing over 300 chickens or through “settler’ pogroms that ravage entire Palestinian communities… Joe Biden is among the first to denounce the deadly targeted assaults with the all too convenient preach “there are very fine people on both sides.”
It’s not difficult to discern Joe Biden’s myopic cheer for Israel over the course of almost half a century of his legislative applause. Anything but nuanced, or disguised, time and time again he voted aye for all pro-Israeli resolutions and nay for any that might begin to temper the systemic corrupt imbalance between the occupier and the occupied. To Biden and his generation of legislative pander, votes which might suggest, let alone facilitate, any modicum of equity or justice between Palestine and Israel were viewed as political surrender… if not suicide.
Here, eight years as vice president speaks volumes of Joe Biden’s heretofore zeal to protect Israel at all cost and to deny Palestine any safeguard of consequence whatsoever.
In the often uncomfortable world of reality, executive political power must be measured not by the echo of appealing words but, rather, the pound of deeds. Who better to measure the reach of Joe Biden when he reigned as the second most powerful man in the United States than Barack Obama. According to Obama, for eight years Biden was the last to leave the room of tough decisions and among the most active in shaping what they were to be and just where they were to go. And what were those decisions regarding Palestine?
With, by then, settled norm, Obama/Biden refused to accept the Israeli drive to annex land seized from the West Bank of Palestine. Likewise, the Zionist remake of al Quds into the recognized capital of a European implant went no further than their long standing holiday wish list… as did the transplant of the US Embassy to there from Tel Aviv. There was nothing remarkable about this political “intransigence,” nor did it slow the rapacious Zionist appetite to steal more and more occupied land in rank violation of settled international law. Indeed, in the half century since the on-set of Israel’s second wave of land snatch begun in 1967, American presidents have followed a fairly rote policy of “freeze” and wait while Israel, imbued with blanket U.S. legislative cover and a limitless checkbook, found little reason to pause in increasing its “settler’’ population in the occupied territories from the 10,000 of 1967 to more than 600,000 by 2016.
What, then, deciphers the political rhetoric of Obama/Biden to display the true nature of their largely unbounded support of a European colonial project committed to the eradication of an age-old indigenous population… whether by siege, violence, or categorical expulsion? During the eight years of Obama/Biden, that translate was not at all hard to find. There was, after-all, nothing subtle about Israel’s drive to punish Palestinians, for little more than their mere existence, during the time that Joe Biden readied himself to move from front row seat to oval office desk. Just several weeks before taking power in 2008, the future President got a primer on Israeli brutality through the lens of “Operation Cast Lead.”
With an opening salvo of war crimes on December 27, 2008, the first day of the operation, Israel bombed the main police headquarters in Gaza City, killing 42 police cadets standing in formation without weapons. Later that day, it bombed some 18 other police stations throughout the Gaza Strip. In total, 248 police officers were killed that day having not fired a single round at Israeli forces. Over the twenty one days of the Israeli onslaught that followed, it deliberately targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure and made widespread use of prohibited weapons, such a white phosphorous, in highly populated areas in clear violation of international law.
During the attack Israeli fire targeted 23 U.N. buildings and/or compounds killing numerous civilians who had taken shelter there. In the most deadly case, 43 Palestinian civilians were killed by an Israeli shelling in one such compound.
Palestinian schools were also targeted. On January 5, an aerial strike killed three men who had sought shelter at the Asma Elementary Co-Ed A School. On January 17, a military ordinance struck the Beit Lahia Elementary School while it was being used as an emergency shelter… killing two young boys and injuring 13 others. Human Rights Watch documented at least seven instances where Israeli soldiers shot and killed civilians… including five women and four children who were in groups waving white flags to convey their civilian status. In one such incident, Israeli soldiers shot and killed several members of the al-Najar family in Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis. Following orders from soldiers to leave their neighborhood, and while waving white flags, Rawiya al-Najjar and her family were gunned down.
When the carnage ended, some 1440 Palestinians were killed and more than 5,000 injured… most of them civilians. According to the Israeli Human Right s group B’Tselem, 252 minors under age 16 (boys and girls) who did not take part in any fighting were killed along with 111 women and girls over 16. Nine Israeli soldiers were killed and 340 wounded.
Five years later, in the summer of 2014, Joe Biden got another stark, deadly reminder of just what it is to be a Palestinian in the cross hairs of a colonial fiend hell bent on relegating them en masse to the history of the disappeared. During Israel’s unhinged six week rampage on Gaza it dropped 40,000 tons of explosives on more than 5200 “targets”. At its end, some 2200 were slaughtered, including 550 children, and some 10,000 injured. Almost all the victims were civilians. More than 1900 children were orphaned, hundreds of thousands of civilians internally displaced with 20,000 homes, 26 NGO service providers, a half-dozen UNRWA facilities, 23 hospitals and health-care facilities, 133 schools, 360 factories, 50,000 acres of crop lands and half of Gaza’s poultry stock targeted and destroyed or damaged by Israel.
In the years since “Operation Protective Edge”, as so much a brazen dare to the rest of the world, Israel’s assault upon Palestinians has been as public as it has been relentless and diverse. In its 21 month-long attacks on tens of thousands of Palestinians during the Great March of Return, it met peaceful demonstrators in Gaza with tear gas canisters, some of them dropped from drones, or rubber bullets and live ammunition, mostly fired by positioned, hilltop snipers. The Israeli carnage resulted in the murder of 217 civilian protestors, including 48 children, 2 women and 9 persons with disabilities. Another 36,100 demonstrators were injured… including 8800 children. Of the 7,000 injured by live fire, 207 became permanently disabled with 156 requiring amputations. Among those killed and wounded were dozens of prominently identified journalists and medical staff.
Throughout Gaza, soon entering its fifteenth year of a choking siege, life remains a daily suffer for those living in one of the most densely populated areas of the world …all the while denied the minimal, essential guideposts of a healthy society. With large swaths of its infrastructure still in ruins and Israeli air attacks very much the norm, its two million residents live lives of isolated deprivation and despair subject to Israeli and Egyptian embargos of food stuffs, clean water, electricity and crucial medical supplies. For many in need of sophisticated medical treatment or equipment, the wait to exit the shuttered civilian prison becomes too little too late as they pass awaiting their turn. Others, including children, take their final breath alone in Israeli hospitals with families but 50 miles away denied passage with their loved ones not knowing if they will again see them alive.
In the West Bank armed “settlers” rampage daily attacking the young, the elderly, the frail, or those who dare to go for a walk or a drive. Not a day goes by without a report of another farm or grove attacked with century old olive trees destroyed for no reason but to tatter local economies and to devastate often elderly tree tenders, tasked with the protection of an age old tradition. According to the United Nations, 11,000 olive trees have been damaged or destroyed in a calculated settler strategy for dispossessing Palestinians of their land.
On November 3, 2020, the Israeli Civil Administration arrived suddenly at the Khirbet Humsah community, in the Northern Jordan Valley, with a military escort and two bulldozers and diggers. With but a few moments notice, they destroyed dozens of tents, sheds and livestock pens, water containers, solar panels, feeding troughs and tractors, and 30 tons of livestock fodder. By the time they moved on to the next village, they had smashed a community that was home to 74 people including 41 minors and numerous sheep and newborn lambs. Its destruction was ordered as one of 38 such villages that sit on land the Israeli military wants for training… training to destroy countless other villages, homes, lives with greater speed and proficiency.
Several day before Israel destroyed a water supply line in Masafer Yatta, South Hebron Hills, which provided water supply to the communities of Maghayir al-‘Abid and Khirbet al-Majaz. In late September of this year, Israeli bulldozers descended upon the community of She’b al-Batem, in the Masafer area of the South Hebron Hills. Before they left, they destroyed the home of two families… leaving 14 people homeless, including 10 children… one of them with a physical disability. Later that day, they proceeded to the community of Khirbet a-Rakeez where they demolished the homes of four families, leaving 17 people, including 10 minors and a woman with special needs, without any shelter. The week before, Israeli Civil Administration arrived at the community of Khalet Taha, in the Hebron District, accompanied by a military escort and Border Police. When they left, the homes of three families had been destroyed along with a large water reservoir, a well under construction, a power grid that stretched over 600 meters and razed land intended for building another water reservoir and a cattle pen.
These demolitions are by no means an anomaly. They occur daily throughout Palestinian Bedouin districts leaving countless families homeless, modern infrastructure destroyed, international development and improvement grants wasted and a tradition of the millennium struggling to see but another tomorrow. Yet they are not limited to distant desert outposts.
Very much the quiet, public face of an unbroken tear of ethnic cleansing, civil Israeli society aspires to undertake, in relative silence, what its military has long accomplished by unleashed bomb and bullet. Indeed, in its rush to erase generations of cultural and religious diversity, over the last few years Israeli demolitions in the greater East Jerusalem area have caused the destruction of several hundred residential and commercial structures… leaving hundreds of Palestinians homeless and dozens of businesses in ruins. This drive to turn Jerusalem into one huge Euro/American synagogue is but a continuum of the last fifteen years during which more than one thousand- five hundred residential and commercial units have been demolished by Israel… leaving more than three-thousand Palestinians homeless… including some one thousand- five hundred minors. But, then again, with history, at times, a precursor of what is yet to come and almost 10,000 Palestinian children detained… largely uncharged, unprosecuted and unrepresented over the last two decades… Zionists might argue, with straight face and determined purge, in Palestine there’s really no need for permanent housing.
Joe Biden has spent 50 years fleeing necessary friction; slapping backs trying in the name of some useless call for collegiality, to be all things to all people… that is, to those like him who find comfort in the myth of labor but, in reality, the privilege of birth. And now, Joe Biden, it is your time. What will you do? You are 77 years old, surely but a one term president who owes nothing to anyone or anything but to history. But for you that is a debt long overdue and riddled with the liberty and life of others. To get a flavor of your crossing, it would be easy to walk down the lane of history and stop at the headstones of your Criminal Justice Act of 1996, your pillage of Anita Hill, your support of an Iraqi sanction that starved the final breath from half a million children. These were your personal gold stars to own… ones that forged a political pathway which took a true believer to the apex of power… and, now, you are there.
To millions of Palestinians, their nightmare is a parallel travel in time to that of yours. Though you have felt the unfortunate sting of personal pain and suffer, imagine that of a stateless people, long abandoned, left to fend for themselves against an unbroken volley of Israeli violence and world indifference. You have played a role in that tragedy. Your votes have enabled and your silence empowered unspeakable and undeniable crimes. It is not enough to say “no” to Israeli plans to annex lands that are not theirs… and never have been. Money, once again, for UNRWA will be but crumbs on a table long smashed by an occupation now in its seventh decade. To reopen the shuttered Palestinian consulate in Washington D.C. will surely help thousands of Palestinians to navigate a world of documents yet do nothing to unfold a state that is no less legitimate, than the one you are about to lead.
Be daring, be bold, be decent, be humane. Israel must understand that until the siege on Gaza ends, the theft of Palestinian lands done, and political prisons shuttered, the US checkbook remains closed.
You speak often of your faith… one that welcomes all; a community of love, compassion and embrace. Words can become reality if only you dare.
In moving closer to the sage in action, as well toward a personal end of days, keep an eye and mind on Ecclesiastes for guidance.
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute,” (Psalm 82:3). “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and please the widow’s cause,” (Isaiah 1:17).
Stanley L. Cohen is lawyer and activist in New York City.This appeared on Counterpunch
Who thinks children should be tortured or prosecuted systematically in a military court? Who believes children should be shoved into crowded jail cells during the coronavirus pandemic and denied family visits? Me neither. Yet Israel, that supposed solitary beacon of democracy in the Middle East, does exactly that to Palestinian children, and more.
Much of this has been reported on by the UN and human rights groups for some time, but it is brought into sharp focus following a report from Save the Children (SCF), published last week, titled:
‘The impact of the Israeli military detention system on Palestinian children.’ It is a searing indictment of the Israeli authorities, and a worthy addition to the voluminous but damning high-quality research into this issue.
“SCF surveyed more than 470 Palestinian children across the West Bank. They were 12-21 years old at the time, and had all been arrested or detained as children, between the ages of 10 and 17 years.
“’A majority reported they had endured a distressing or violent arrest or detention, in most cases at night; a coercive interrogation environment; physical and emotional abuse in detention; and a denial of essential services including an adequate education — all of which constitute a breach of their rights enshrined in international law,’ SCF said.
“The report somewhat surprisingly backs off when using the term coercive interrogation. It is torture, plain and simple. SCF is not the first to make this charge, but Palestinians wonder why American and European ministers, among others, say nothing?
“The report states that the occupation has ‘impacted every aspect of their lives, from their safety and development to their psychosocial wellbeing and mental health.’ Even going to school, past settlements and military checkpoints, can be traumatic. Over 10,000 Palestinian children have gone through Israeli detention in the last 20 years.
“The impact is huge, with the children suffering from “anxiety, depression, behavioral changes, eating and sleeping disorders, and physical symptoms including chest pains, exhaustion, and numbness,” SCF said.
According to international law, detaining children should be an option of last resort. What is seen consistently with the Israeli occupation is that this is systematic, used not just as a means of controlling a subject population, but dominating and intimidating it.
One of the reasons the Israeli military does not require a huge presence in the West Bank to control 2.7 million people is the way in which the courts and detention process break the will and spirit of the occupied population, starting from childhood.
Arrests of children are frequent. Around half of Palestinian children detained are arrested at night. Often a child will wake up to find fully armed Israeli soldiers in their bedroom. That is frightening enough, but then typically they are taken from their homes with no adult and stuffed in the back of a military jeep. They get taken to a settlement usually, to await interrogation.
Most children report that they were not allowed any sleep prior to interrogation, with 89 percent reporting being blindfolded or hooded during detention. Nearly all the children get strip-searched.
One boy, Issa, was shot at a checkpoint. He was interrogated before being taken to hospital. A gun was placed on the table in front of him when he was questioned. No child reported having a lawyer present during interrogation. Typically, the children sign confessions in Hebrew, which they cannot understand.
The majority of children are arrested for stone throwing. This typically happens close to Israeli settlements or checkpoints, which are hard to distance oneself from in today’s West Bank. These are friction points. According to Military Court Watch, the Palestinian children who were detained in 2019 lived on average within 900 meters of a West Bank settlement.
If an Israeli settler child throws a stone, it is dealt with through the Israeli civilian legal process, with all the proper safeguards one should expect. Two peoples, two different legal systems exist in one territory.
In many cases, the local Israeli commander picks up Palestinian children almost at random every time there is a stone-throwing incident. They need to do this to maintain the climate of deterrence, or there will be riots every day. Not once in numerous visits to Israeli military courts have I seen evidence being presented to demonstrate that a particular child was the one guilty of throwing a stone.
Israel is the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes children through military courts. It would seem that these are mightily successful. Ofer military court, one of two in the West Bank, boasts a 99.74 percent conviction rate based on its own figures. The period of detention is shattering for the children. About 60 percent are imprisoned in Israel, a violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Conditions are poor in overcrowded cells, but children are also placed in solitary confinement.
Detention has become normalized for Palestinian children. It is a painful rite of passage from childhood to adulthood. What has also become normalized is the international reaction. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is far from being resolved, but surely the minimum one should expect is clear, principled opposition to the abuse of children.
Chris Doyle is director of the London-based Council for Arab-British Understanding.
Once again Gideon Levy enunciates a plain truth about the shocking blind spot of American politics, the support of a policy which both contradicts the essence of both democracy and Judaism, rank injustice.
Money buys political favours in the wealthiest country in the world and much of the money comes from billionaire Jews who long ago lost any connection to authentic Judaic values. Their creed is Zionism, an ersatz religion which has played havoc not only with the universal biblical ethics of prophetic Judaism but also with too many Reform rabbis, putative leaders of Torah communities. Caught up with a false messianism after the Six Day War they somehow convinced believers that a land in the Middle East, stolen from its indigenous inhabitants was more central to their faith life than the deep spiritual values of a humane Judaism. What was was meant to be a light unto the nations, models of ethical behaviour, was suborned by Zionism. Occupation, humiliation and violence, the daily bitter fare of Palestinians are inimical to the universal values of Judaism. Neither Trump nor Biden have any clue on this subject. Biden in particular should be ashamed to proclaim that he is a Zionist. His supposed Catholic values are out of synch with with ethnocentric tribal Zionism and Palestinian suffering
The pious Jews of Palestine in the early twentieth century viewed the marauding Zionists from Russia with a simple descriptive: “They do not walk in the paths of the Torah and the fear of God.” This was a foreign invasion as Zionism is to Judaism.
Israel in its present iteration fails the 1937 Columbus Platform of Reform Jewry
“The love of God is incomplete without the love of one’s fellow men. Judaism emphasizes…justice for all….it aims at the elimination of man- made misery and suffering…of tyranny and slavery, of social inequality and prejudice, of ill-will and strife….It regards justice as the foundation of the well-being of nations and the condition of enduring peace.”
Neither Biden nor Trump Will Make Israel End the Occupation
Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is indifferent to whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden winds up U.S. president; it makes no difference. The occupation chalked up another big win Tuesday, long before the polling stations closed.
Israel’s It’s extraordinary – two totally different people such as Trump and Biden share an indisputable consensus: American support for the occupation. There doesn’t seem to be an issue on which the two agree more, so the identity of the winner is irrelevant to the occupation.
Trump is a friend of the settlers and has recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel, but Biden too will do nothing to lead to a pullout or even freeze the settlement enterprise. And Trump derides the weak, including those at the very bottom of the heap, the Palestinians. Human rights is the last issue that interests him, international law has never appeared on his desk, and he has probably never heard about the suffering of the Palestinians, making him the opposite of his rival.
Biden knows a thing or two about human rights, about the weak, dispossessed and oppressed. Slavery resonates with him, and the woes of the Palestinians may touch his heart, under the influence of Barack Obama, who compared these sufferings to the past sufferings of Black people in America.
With Biden, we won’t see the likes of settler-friendly U.S. Ambassador David Friedman or Jared Kushner. They’ll be replaced by more serious and moderate Friedmans, but Biden will do nothing to bring justice and redemption to the Palestinians, enforce international law and stick his hand into the fire, other than lip service. After all, this is what the great Obama did.
Biden will provide a different environment, less humiliating for the Palestinians, more aware of their existence. When he launches his peace plan – perhaps the American’s hundredth unfulfilled peace plan – not only Orthodox rabbis and evangelical pastors will attend, as in Trump’s “deal of the century.”The Palestinians will also be there.
But the sequel will be no different – a photo-op, a special envoy, on a good day even a peace conference, all to no avail. The Palestinians will continue to bleed by the wayside, with Israel’s jackboot stomping on them and handcuffs tying their wrists, while Oman is added to the so-called peace process.
Of all issues, one ostensibly enjoys wide international consensus, from bloc to bloc and continent to continent. No issue unifies countries more than opposition to the occupation and the withholding of recognition of it. This is the one issue where there is no difference among U.S. presidents; not one president has considered putting a stop to it. Maybe one who hasn’t been born yet.
None of the reasonable explanations for this will do. All the charts mapping out different interests, American or international, aren’t convincing enough to explain how, in a matter that’s so clear-cut and obvious – the illegality and injustice of the occupation, the rush toward establishing an apartheid state and the suffering of the Palestinian people, millions of whom are the only people who are citizens of no state – there’s no difference between U.S. administrations. Ten presidents, 53 years: The occupation is at the height of its power and the chances of ending it are slimmer than ever, be it with Biden or Trump.
The superpower that’s financing, equipping, supporting and protecting the apple of its eye, Israel, is covering up all its crimes, not intending to use its power to influence Israel to end the occupation. It never intended to. America isn’t obligated to. Israel bears the brunt of the blame and responsibility.
But when a superpower continues to automatically and unconditionally support the country responsible for all this, administration after administration, with not one president pausing to ask why and until when, it too is tainted and guilty. The Israeli right can stop worrying. One fateful issue won’t land on the Oval Office desk, no matter who’s sitting behind it.
To the everlasting shame of Canada, two Zionists, blind to Palestinian suffering and Israeli injustice, Justin Trudeau and UN rep Bob Rae continue to shield Israel from its betrayal of internal law and human rights violations.
Now longtime PEP, Progressive except for Palestine, Irwin Cotler has come up for unmasking.The former justice ministeri of Paul Martin’s Liberals has a long and undistinguished record on Zionist and Israeli blindness. it turns out it’s all in the family.
Cotler’s wife Ariela Zeevi was an advisor to Menachem Begin and Gideon Levy in a recent Haaretz column analyses the regrettable blindness of Cotler fils et fille..
What a Surprise – Even a Proud Liberal Zionist Scion Can Be a Racist
Unlike most Israelis or perhaps all Israelis, I, to my great shame, had never heard of lawmaker Michal Cotler-Wunsh. I learned that she is an expert on international law and was a research fellow at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism, a board member of national reconciliation organization Tzav Pius, active in the Manhigut Acheret NGO, ran for Knesset on the Kahol Lavan ticket, switched from Telem to the Israel Resilience Party – which is apparently the southern branch of Kahol Lavan or the political arm of Derech Eretz, it’s hard to tell.
Her stepfather is Prof. Irwin Cotler, the renowned former justice minister of Canada and liberal jurist, who is considered a great advocate of human rights despite his strong support for Zionism. Professor Cotler is an activist against racism and against war crimes but never saw any connection between this and his support for Israel. Neither father nor daughter apparently see any contradiction between human rights and occupation, or between racism and Zionism, between apartheid and Israel.
Irwin Cotler and Ariela Zeevi
There is a subset of liberal Jews, mainly in the United States and Canada, intellectuals who see themselves as enlightened and progressive, who fight injustices all over the world, until it comes to Israel, which in their eyes is above all suspicion. This is where they close their eyes and their consciences fall silent. They see nothing.
Last week the promising new Knesset member happened upon an opportunity to make herself known – Saeb Erekat became critically ill with COVID-19. Cotler-Wunsh seized the moment. The member of the legal team aiding the Goldin family in its efforts to have their son’s remains returned hastened to post a tweet about Erekat possibly being transferred to Hadassah Hospital for life-saving treatment: “The foundational principle of reciprocity demands: humanitarian [gesture] for humanitarian [gesture]! Medical aid must be reciprocated with return of 4 Israelis held in Gaza for 6+ years, in violation of international law.”
Where to begin? With the stupidity? The ignorance? The evil? The lack of humanity? Her parliamentary colleague from the Joint List Ahmad Tibi aptly responded on Twitter: “I strongly object to making Knesset members take an IQ test, but this view carries severe implications and collateral effects.”
A parliamentarian representing the Israeli center, the epitome of the Israeli center, who lives in the central Israeli city of Ra’anana and is a member of Tzav Piyus, who was a research fellow in a Hebrew University doctoral program entitled Human Rights Under Pressure (!), proposes conditioning saving one person’s life on lowly blackmail. Cotler-Wunsh (wunsh in German is wish) essentially made a death wish for Erekat. If her counsel would have been heeded, it would have been an immediate death sentence for him.
The expert on human rights and terrorism surely knows a thing or two about the sanctity of human life, but Erekat is not human in her eyes. Perhaps no Palestinian is human in her eyes, for the Palestinians surely haven’t had many leaders more moderate than Erekat. But that’s beside the point. One hopes that she knows demanding that Hamas release the soldiers’ remains and the Israeli civilians in return for medical treatment for Erekat, who is detested by Hamas, is quite ludicrous. Even Cotler-Wunsh has more influence in Gaza than Erekat does.
Cotler-Wunsh is not an important figure, as yet, but her voice is important because it reflects the view of many. She is not the racist right, she represents a supposedly moderate, centrist party convinced that it supports universal values, maybe even believes in the two-state solution, and certainly in the existence of a Jewish and democratic state. But what do you know – even this liberal breeding ground can produce racist Zionism and cruelty towards a dying man just because he’s a Palestinian, or maybe just because he’s not a Jew. Turns out that one can be an expert on human rights, an enlightened intellectual raised in an environment of Jewish liberalism, but at the moment of truth, their face is revealed, and it is nationalist, racist, cruel and incredibly ugly.
Justice Spiro’s interference, and his association with CIJA, highlights the ways outside individuals and lobby groups aim to shape academic instruction to shield Israel from criticism and accountability.
CIJA, in particular, has been instrumental in pushing for Canada to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s so-called “working definition of anti-Semitism,” which seeks to conflate criticism of Israel’s human rights record with anti-Jewish bigotry.
What Do We Mean When We Talk About Free Speech?
By ZACK BABINS
Picture a large Canadian university with a law school. The school is set to offer a directorship to an academic with a long history of pro-Israel scholarship and activism in Zionist causes.
At the last moment, a Canadian Muslim – a federal judge who, along with his family, have been massive donors to this school, likely in the millions – calls the school’s fundraising team. From that point on, negotiations with the Zionist academic are cancelled and the position is somehow “no longer available.”
What would we as a community do?
Certainly, this school would be labeled antisemitic. It would make the Top 10 list of every “antisemitic school where Jewish students aren’t safe.” We would lament the decline of academia and people would warn their children to stay away from that “Jew-hating school.”
The influencers and organizations that make a living defending Israel would see a spike in donations.
Eventually, the right-wing pundits, Jewish and Gentile, would cry that free speech is about listening to arguments and ideas that you don’t like, and would wonder whether today’s students are so soft (and antisemitic) that they could not tolerate a Zionist Jewish teacher.
This isn’t a hypothetical. We just changed some parts of speech.
Explosive recent media reports alleged that Justice David Spiro, a Tax Court of Canada judge, megadonor to the University of Toronto, and former board member of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, had improperly interfered in the hiring of Prof. Valentina Azarova.
Azarova, who is not Palestinian but sympathetic to Palestinians, and more than occasionally focuses her academic work on the Palestinian cause, was reportedly quite close to landing a position as director of U of T’s International Human Rights Program. According to the school, the program isn’t hiring a director at all.
Law professor Audrey Macklin, who chaired the faculty advisory committee, and was part of the selection panel that unanimously found Azarova the best candidate for the job, resigned from the board in protest.
The Canadian Judicial Council is now considering multiple complaints about Spiro’s conduct. And over 1,000 lawyers, academics, and activists have signed a petition asking U of T’s law school to apologize and reinstate the job.
And in an open letter to University of Toronto President Meric Gertler, a slew of international law and human rights practitioners and law school faculty and staff said they are “deeply concerned” that U of T’s law school dean responded to “external pressure, following the objection of a law school donor to Dr. Azarova’s work on international law and human rights in the Israel-Palestine context.”
One would think that the champions of free speech would be all over this one. But the brave “marketplace of ideas” folks, who have no qualms defending transphobes, homophobes, racists and white nationalists under the banner of free speech, are nowhere to be found. Similarly, those who argue that “sunlight is the best disinfectant” just can’t be bothered to defend an academic who, by their standards, has had her right to free speech violated.
One op-ed submitted by a Jewish organization claimed that “a long history of one-sided critiques of Israel” justified these events. What if the shoe was on the other foot? If a long history of “one-sided activism” surrounding Israel can disqualify you from a job, well, I’ve got some bad news for a lot of my friends who went to Jewish day school, summer camp or synagogue.
I haven’t even mentioned yet how damaging this move – which any PR consultant could tell you would not remain private for longer than a week – may be to Jewish students who are actually on campus, who will now face slurs and tropes about Jewish power and influence.
Frankly, I’ve never been a free speech evangelist. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing but it must be restrained by reasonable limits to protect marginalized communities from hatred and violence. History bears out that hate speech almost never remains “just words.”
We either care about free speech or we don’t. We either care about academic freedom or we don’t. We either care about outside political interference in our universities – including the “outside agitators” that Hasbara organizations love to remind you are sent to campuses to scuttle BDS motions and anti-Israel campaigns – or we don’t.
To paraphrase the great “Rabbi” Jon Stewart, if you don’t stick to your values when they’re used by your opponents, you don’t have values. You have hobbies.
We have to make a decision – a microcosm of the same decision Israel has to make when it attempts to administer a democratic state that prioritizes one religion that’s necessary to the idea of a Jewish democracy.
Does Zionism – specifically, right-wing, tribal, expansionist, Revisionist Zionism that leaves no room for the humanity of Palestinians – supersede liberal democratic values like free speech? Are you prepared to defend Israel, no matter the cost?
In other words, we must decide whether we are prepared to sacrifice our souls. I’m not prepared to do that, and I’m not alone.
Zack Babins is a professional Jew and Recovering Jewish Professional™, a political communicator and activist, and amateur challah baker. All opinions are his own. You can find him on Twitter @zackbabins.
Follow the money–Trudeau and Liberal bagman Stephen Bronfman, Bob Rae, Israel defender
Montreal professor Dyalah Hamzah strips Trudeau bare. Edited for space.
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark’: an open letter to Justin Trudeau regarding Palestine
How can Justin Trudeau recognize the “devastating legacy” of the colonization of Canada andcontinue to be a Zionist?
Whether it is your bias in favor of Israel that recently cost you your seat on the UN Security Council, it is a fact that in the space of five years you have voted “no” 50 times to UN resolutions in favor of Palestine. Of the 166 “no” votes by Canada since 2000 this represents an embarrassing average. Neither the protests of Marc-André Blanchard, nor the denials of Bob Rae, your successive ambassadors to the UN, have been able to diminish the echo of your campaign slogan, as reckless as it is boastful: “Canada is back.”
No, Canada is not back, nor can it be, as long as you sacrifice the rule-of-law, in its various applications, on the altar of the United States. Canada is not, and will not be, back as long as you evade a critical examination of your authoritarian allegiance to Zionism – an allegiance that admits of no opposition from your own government. Far from the clamor of Zionist pressure groups and the blinders of Israeli propaganda, please do see and hear what otherwise looks you in the eye and bursts your eardrums.
Zionism in Canada is a cult: a religious one, for those who conflate Judaism and nationalism; a political one, for those who are illiberal, who well know that violent and eradicative ideologies need an array of anti-democratic laws to shield them. Consider the historical Zionism of the pioneers – Herzl’s foundational Zionism; “transfer-Zionism”, that imagined by the Zangwill, Syrkin, Motzkin and Aaronsohn; or Jabotinsky’s revisionist Zionism. Consider, too, Netanyahu’s Zionism today and some of its laws – to mention but the most recent one, the “Israel Nation-State of the Jewish People” Law.
Zionism in Canada is a bipartisan dogma, which Conservatives and Liberals alike firmly uphold. In Canada today the rules of blasphemy apply to Zionism. Anyone who questions it or criticizes it is first publicly shamed, then quasi-criminalized. With the help of motions and resolutions, definitions, declarations, and tweets, we have built in the space of a few years, in Canada, an impressive gagging arsenal. Here are its pillars:
– BDS. Ever since you assumed power, whether in a private or official capacity, you have not ceased to condemn, vilify and slander the peaceful resistance movement, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, launched 15 years ago by Palestinian civil society. In 2015, you meddled in McGill University’s passage of a pro-BDS motion, declaring that the movement “has no business being on Canadian campuses”; in 2016, your party supported an anti-BDS parliamentary resolution, in the name of friendship and economic and diplomatic relations between Canada and Israel; in 2018, in apologizing for Canada’s rejection of Jewish refugees during WWII, you chanted this worn-out Zionist catchphrase, associating criticism of Israeli ultraviolence with anti-Semitism; in 2019, at a town hall at Brock University, you explained that you uphold your condemnation of BDS, not for foreign policy reasons, but “because of Canadian values”: what values Mr. Trudeau? The colonial ones that you share with Israel?
– IHRA. To give legal legitimacy to your witch hunt, your government announced, in June 2019, that it would formally adopt a controversial and dangerous definition of anti-Semitism, that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, by including it in its antiracism strategy. A definition that allows “friends of Israel” to achieve exactly their goal: to conflate opposition to Zionism and anti-Semitism. A definition above all which now legitimizes the physical and moral harassment practiced by the subsidiaries of Zionist violence in North America against whole sections of the population: namely, those Canadians of Palestinian descent and all those who support them.
That energy that you deploy in support of the unsupportable, would be better channeled in supporting international law. Recently, calls for a change of course in Canadian foreign policy have become deafening. Almost as much as your silence on the annexation scheme for Palestine, fomented by Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu last January. At the time, you failed to consider international sanctions against Israel, which is required by your formal adherence to the “two-state solution”, as well as by the inadmissibility of territorial acquisition by war and its illegal settlement by settlers. It is also required by the absurd impunity of that state, which violates day and night its occupied populations, evading the 4th Geneva Convention, which Canada has, however, ratified. By now, you probably feel exempted from responding to Trump’s annexationist plan, since the United Arab Emirates, and now Bahrain, have just announced a normalization of their relations with Israel. But you are well aware that Netanyahu was quick to apprise us that the said annexation has only been postponed.
Finally, allow us to submit to you some very general recommendations that could serve as a framework for the overhaul of Canadian foreign policy:
1. Conduct the latter without demagogy or avoidance: 2. Make a conscious commitment: remember that if Lester Pearson and Ivan Rand succeeded, in 1947, in becoming the double lever of partition in Canada, one as the Secretary of State, the other at the United Nations, it is because an alternative diplomacy, just and prescient, that of Elizabeth MacCallum, had been stifled. Remember that she had advocated against voting for partition. Remember how she had foreseen the wars to come. When it comes to the Middle East, it seems that Canada has long favored ideologues over experts. Will you break the spell, Mr. Trudeau? Will you clean up around you?
3. Finally, address our foreign policy without denial, without duplicity: Make an effort: when you go before the UN to recognize the “devastating legacy” of the colonization of Canada by the white man, which took place without the consent and participation of indigenous peoples, how can you continue to be a Zionist? One can only assume two things: either you are openly hypocritical, or you are fundamentally ignorant: for Palestine 1920-2020 is one hundred years of servitude. From the British Mandate up to the American Plan.
The stunning silence of the Catholic church continues. Why?
Kairso once again asks for solidarity
A CALL TO DECISIVE ACTION
WE CANNOT SERVE GOD AND THE OPPRESSION OF THE PALESTINIANS
We, Kairos Palestine and Global Kairos for Justice, a worldwide coalition born in response to the Kairos Palestine “Moment of Truth: a word of faith, hope, and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering,” issue this urgent call to Christians, churches and ecumenical institutions. We do this together with committed Christians in Palestine and around the world. This is a call for decisive action on a matter that we believe relates to the integrity of our Christian faith.
We have arrived at a critical point in the struggle to end the oppression of the Palestinian people. The State of Israel’s adoption of the Nation State Law in 2018 legalized institutional discrimination in Israel and the Palestinian territories, officially depriving Palestinians of their rights to life, livelihood, and a future in their homeland. Recent acts of the U.S. administration have supported Israel’s ongoing project of land taking and attaining control over the entire territory of Palestine. These include the 2018 move of its embassy to Jerusalem, its announcement in 2019 that the U.S. government no longer deems West Bank settlements to be “inconsistent with international law,” and the 2020 “Peace to Prosperity” plan.
Fueled by U.S. support and emboldened by the ineffectual response of the international community, Israel’s newly-formed coalition government has cleared the way for outright annexation of around one third of the occupied West Bank, including the Jordan Valley. These developments make it all the more clear that we have come to the end of the illusion that Israel and the world powers intend to honor and defend the rights of the Palestinian people to dignity, self-determination, and the fundamental human rights guaranteed under international law, including the right of return for Palestinian refugees. It is time for the international community, in light of these events, to recognize Israel as an apartheid state in terms of international law.
In affirming this reality, we realize that it is incumbent upon us as followers of Jesus to take decisive action. The very being of the church, the integrity of the Christian faith, and the credibility of the Gospel is at stake. We declare that support for the oppression of the Palestinian people, whether passive or active, through silence, word or deed, is a sin. We assert that Christian support for Zionism as a theology and an ideology that legitimize the right of one people to deny the human rights of another is incompatible with the Christian faith and a grave misuse of the Bible.
We call upon all Christians and on churches at congregational, denominational, national, and global ecumenical levels to engage in a process of study, reflection and confession concerning the historic and systemic deprivation of the rights of the Palestinian people, and the use of the Bible by many to justify and support this oppression. We call on churches to reflect on how their own traditions can express the sacred duty to uphold the integrity of the church and the Christian faith concerning this issue. We cannot serve God while remaining silent about the oppression of the Palestinians.
As we face this kairos, we are mindful of the legacy of faith and action of those who have come before us and have faced circumstances of urgency and crisis. In 1933 German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer declared that the Nazi regime’s denial of the rights of Jews and the interference of the state into matters of religion placed the church in status confessionis. The Barmen Declaration of 1934 reinforced the church’s obligation to stand up to injustice and to unequivocally oppose ideologies of tyranny.
In 1964 the first General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Willem Visser ‘t Hooft, stated that racism, like apartheid, constitutes a status confessionis for the churches. The WCC followed this word with action in 1969 in implementing its courageous and far-reaching Program to Combat Racism. In 1977 the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) declared that “apartheid created a status confessionis for the church” and in 1984 suspended the white Lutheran Churches in Southern Africa who practiced apartheid. In 1982 the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) declared apartheid incompatible with Christian belief, and suspended the member churches practicing racial separation.
The present times call for actions as bold, as faithful, and as resolute. The time for decision has arrived. “We call out as Christians and as Palestinians to our Christian brothers and sisters in the churches around the world” reads the 2009 Kairos Palestine document. Eight years later, in 2017, in the Open Letter to the World Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement, the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine wrote: “Things are beyond urgent. We are on the verge of a catastrophic collapse. This is no time for shallow diplomacy, Christians!” Now, three years later, this is a cry for hope to our brothers and sisters throughout the world. We invite our fellow Christians, their local congregations, churches and international ecumenical organizations, to receive and respond to our common witness, to join the process of confessing, and to initiate processes to formally reject the oppression of the Palestinian people and any use of the Bible to justify this injustice by committing to the following actions:
Initiate processes at local, denominational and ecumenical levels that recognize the present kairos and the urgent requirement for decisive action regarding the denial of Palestinian rights and the misuse of the Bible.
Engage in study and discernment with respect to theologies and understandings of the Bible that have been used to justify the oppression of the Palestinian people.• Affirm the Palestinians’ right to resist the occupation, dispossession, and abrogation of their fundamental rights, and join the Palestinians in their creative and nonviolent resistance. The 2005 Palestinian call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) provides a framework for economic, cultural, and academic measures and for direct political advocacy as nonviolent means to end occupation and oppression. The purpose of BDS is not to punish or isolate Israel. It is rather to exert pressure on Israel to comply with international law, and to call upon its government and its people, in the spirit of the Word of God, to enter into the ways of justice and peace, thereby affirming its own rights as well as the rights of the Palestinian people.
• Come and see the reality in the Holy Land with compassionate eyes for the suffering of Palestinians, and stand in solidarity with grassroots initiatives on the part of all faiths and secular groups who challenge the occupation and who work for a just peace.
We make this call out of concern for the future of both peoples. In the words of Kairos Palestine, our call is rooted in the logic of love that seeks to liberate both the oppressor and oppressed in order to create a new society for all the people of the land. As followers of Jesus, our response to ideologies of exclusivity and apartheid is to uphold a vision of inclusivity and equality for all peoples of the land and to persistently struggle to bring this about.
Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them?
David Ben Gurion
When I read Ofer Aderet’s excellent summary of Israeli historian Adam Raz’s new book I wondered how this escaped the censors. It’s not that Israeli historians like Morris, Segev and Pappé and a host of others have not written books which are highly embarrassing to the state mythology but there are mountains still hidden that pull the curtain back on the core of the Zionist movement as “an enterprise of conquest” as Israel’s main ideologue Beryl Katznelson called it. Ethnic cleansing and the theft of Palestinian land and the disappearance of Palestinians was absolutely central to its inner dynamic
Recently Netanyahu and Zionist apparatchiks, especially the IDF are scrambling to hide even more shocking revelations which Levy writes about below. In January 2018, Israel’s chief archivist actually admitted as such saying that “ choices of what to declassify sometimes involve an attempt to conceal part of the historical truth in order to build a more convenient narrative.” In the last few years formerly open files have been jammed shut and a massive stifling operation is taking place as the true nature of Zionism continues to be revealed as a settler colonial project.
The quote in the headline wasn’t uttered by an antisemitic leader, a Jew hater or a neo-Nazi. The words are those of the founder of the State of Israel, two months after it was founded. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion was furious, or at least pretended to be, at a meeting of his political party Mapai, in light of the wave of looting of Arab property by the new Israelis throughout the nascent state.
The concept of a state born in sin had never been so concrete: “Like locusts, the residents of Tiberias swarmed into the houses…”; “total and complete robbery…not a thread was left in [any house]”; and “soldiers wrapped in Persian rugs in the streets,” are a few of the descriptions of what happened in front of everyone, and was never told as it really was.
The authorities turned a blind eye and thus encouraged the looting, despite all the denunciations, the pretense and a few ridiculous trials. The looting served a national purpose: to quickly complete the ethnic cleansing of most of the country of its Arabs, and to see to it that 700,000 refugees would never even imagine returning to their homes.
Even before Israel managed to destroy most of the houses, and wipe from the face of the earth more than 400 villages, came this mass looting to empty them out, so that the refugees would have no reason to return.
The looters therefore were motivated not only by ugly greed to possess stolen property right after the war was over, property belonging in some cases to people who were their neighbors just the day before, and not only by the desire to get rich quick by looting household items and ornaments, some of them very costly. The looters also served, consciously or unconsciously, the ethnic purification project that Israel has tried in vain to deny all through the years. The looters were a cog in the large machine of the expulsion of the Arabs.
This looting, in which almost everyone took part, was the small looting, the one that proved if only for a moment that “most of the Jews are thieves,” as the founding father said. But that was mini-looting compared to the institutionalized looting of property, houses, villages and cities – the looting of the land.And so, the intentions of the heads of the Jewish community who allowed the looting are more infuriating than the individual descriptions of it. It is amazing that it was never talked about, another one of the apparatuses of denial and repression by Israel society.
Thirst for revenge and drunkenness with victory after the difficult war might perhaps explain, even partially, the participation of so many. War is an ugly thing, and so is the day after. But when the looting reflects not only momentary human weakness but is intended to serve a clear strategic goal – purifying the country of its inhabitants – words fail.
Anyone who believes that a solution will ever be found to the conflict without proper atonement and compensation for these acts, is living in an illusion. Now think about the feelings of the descendants, the Arabs of Israel and the Palestinian refugees, who are living with us and alongside us. They see the pictures and read these things – what crosses their minds?
Perhaps a few of them once came across a Persian rug that belonged to their parents, or a glass display case that was their grandmother’s, a memory from their childhood, resting in the home of a Jew whose house they cleaned. Perhaps they see their grandmother’s coffeepot or their grandfather’s ancient sword on display in some Jewish home they were renovating.
They will never be able to see the villages of their ancestors: Israel demolished most of them, to leave not a shred. But one small stolen souvenir from the home that was lost might cause a tear to fall. Just ask the Jews enraged over any stolen Jewish property.