Monthly Archives: May 2009

Palestinian and Israeli Women Redefine the Clash of Civilizations

This seemed appropriate after the prior post about Durban. From KABOBfest:

From The Guardian, a short essay by photographer Ryuichi Hirokawa on this photo. It is part of an exhibit for London’s Palestine Film Festival:

I took this in 2002, at Al-Ram checkpoint on the West Bank. All the checkpoints had been closed by Israeli troops and these women were demonstrating to have them opened, so that food and medical supplies could come through. An hour before, a group of men had been demonstrating, but the soldiers pulled out their batons so the women – who were both Palestinian and Israeli – moved to the front.

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Durban Review Conference, Racism, And the Clash of Civilizations

If Durban I was a watershed moment for the Palestinian justice movement, bringing together for the first time thousands of activists from around the world (yes, including a handful of anti-Semites), all united in shining a light on Israel’s growing litany of human rights violations, it’s no wonder the right-wing Israel Lobby reacted with total panic regarding the Durban Review Conference. (One person in Geneva was overhead saying, “We reacted with a fire hose when all we needed was a lawn sprinkler.”)

They succeeded in getting the United States and European countries-all part of the colonial project and in the case of the US, the world’s only remaining empire- to reject any attempts to shine a light on Israeli institutional racism. Hmm.

As European Jews for a just Peace chair Dror Feiler asks, “Is it really such a scandal to describe Israel as a racist country?”

Because, what else can we call a nation whose policies make crucial differences between people, based on religion and ethnicity? What should we call a state under whose laws everyone is not equal? What should we call the practice of granting exclusive land-purchasing {Editor’s correction: it’s land-leasing} rights to Jewish citizens (approximately 90 percent of the country’s land is not available for purchase {lease} to the country’s non-Jewish citizens, solely because they are not Jewish? What should we call laws that allow Jewish citizens to marry foreign nationals and live together in Israel while that same thing is forbidden for Israel’s Palestinian citizens, solely based on their ethnicity?

Sid Shniad, co-chair of Canada’s Independent Jewish Voices, has a great write-up of the conference. Of particular interest- he gives a rundown of Israeli Michel Warschawski’s analysis of what happened in the context of colonial politics. It’s absolutely true that the right wing Israel groups in the US have long pushed a Clash of Civilizations framework, which suggests Jews/Christians and Muslims are essential enemies. (And which the vital partnerships of Muslims and Jews in the peace movement shows to be completely absurd.) Of course, the heightened Nazification of Muslims/Arabs, adds on a whole new, disturbing layer. Demonization of a group is a linguistic precursor to annihilation. It makes bombing Iranians, for example, OK.

Michel Warschawski of the Alternate Information Center in Israel provided a particularly powerful analysis of the significance of the original Durban conference and the events that have transpired since. According to Warschawski, the Durban conference marked a major success in the struggle against colonialism – so successful that it became a catalyst for an alliance of Zionist and neoconservative elements determined to mount a global counter-offensive and roll back the progress that the forces opposed to colonialism made there.

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ADL completely disappears 25% of Israel’s population- joining efforts with Avigdor Lieberman?

This is stunning. In their press release titled “New BESA Center/ADL Poll: Attitudes of Israelis [Muzzlewatch emphasis] Toward the U.S. Remain Strongly Positive”, Abe Foxman’s Anti-Defamation League writes:

The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA Center) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today released results of a comprehensive poll (.pdf) of Israeli opinions on a number of issues involving U.S.-Israel and Israel-Diaspora relations.

The poll is a follow up to the 2007 BESA Center-ADL survey on these issues.

Nowhere in their lengthy release does it mention what you can only find by reading the actual report, under Methodology, where it says:

The poll was conducted as a telephone survey…constituting a representative sample of the adult Jewish population (aged 18 and higher) in Israel.

So in the eyes of the ADL, if you are not Jewish, you are not Israeli. Some 25% of Israelis are not Jews- they include Muslims, Druze, Christians and the nearly 5% who identify as “other”. So while Jews comprise just about 75% of Israel’s population, the ADL feels that theirs are the only voices that matter. Actually, Jews are Israelis, non-Jews are other. They are not citizens. (Imagine, if you will, a survey of “American attitudes” that in the fine print mentions that it only includes Christians, also some 75% of the US population.)

Sounds just like “anti-Arab demagogue” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who thinks of non-Jewish Israeli Arabs, whose families lived in Jaffa and Hebron long before most Jewish Israelis made Aliyah, as a fifth column. Some choose to think Lieberman’s open racism is an exception, but it’s not. The kind of thinking which only recognizes Jews as citizens and denies full rights to others has long pervaded Israel and the Jewish Diaspora here.

What’s remarkable about this is that a Jewish anti-bigotry group, which knows all too well the price we Jews paid for not being considered citizens of our home countries, is committing the exact same sin. There is simply no excuse: this is precisely how groups and individuals are complicit in building support for the terrible kind of ethnic cleansing supported by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The two work hand in hand. Shame on the ADL.

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I can call someone Hitler or a Nazi, but you can’t.

Fresh from witnessing a neoconservative Hudson Institute-sponsored Alan Dershowitz/Jon Voight et al tirade smearing everyone from Hamas and Hezbollah to Ahmadinejad and, well, most Palestinians, as Nazis and Hitlers, it should come as no surprise that a {Jewish] professor is now actually being investigated by the Anti-Defamation League and his employers for suggesting a comparison between Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto. With breath-taking hypocrisy, the Hudson Institute’s Ron Radosh even goes for the jugular, because, well, it’s not OK when the other side does it.

I can’t even keep track anymore of the number of people- Netanyahu, Hageee, Horowitz, who else?- who have compared Ahmadinejad to Hitler. Signs at pro-Israeli rallies regularly invoke Nazis (one sign in Geneva= UNazi). Glenn Greenwald wrote at length about the frequent, and un-challenged use of Nazi epithets against liberals on right-wing Fox TV. But if someone critical of Israel dares to invoke Nazis or Hitler, the thought police arrive in seconds. It’s an appalling double-standard, illustrating how selective outrage about the Holocaust is used for purely cynical purposes. This is a phenomenon that all of us, especially Jews, should oppose vehemently. If it were up to me, Holocaust comparisons would not be declared off limits, nor would they be used so casually.

According to Simon Wiesenthal Center’s video called “Jewish Students [are] Under Siege from Professor at UC Santa Barbara.” [Editor's Note: likely in response to complaints, they just changed the title to "Jewish Students Shocked by UCSB Professor's Demonizing Email"]

Yes, Sociology professor William I. Robinson, who is Jewish, is apparently the new front line for the all out attack on Jewish students on campuses.

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