Monthly Archives: September 2009

UN Report on Cast Lead, Jewish Self-Hatred and Spin

The recent release of the UN study headed by the South African jurist Richard Goldstone is a watershed of sorts in the diplomatic history of Israel. An ardent supporter/friend of Israel with family living in Israel, Goldstone’s report is sober yet scathing regarding Israel’s actions in Gaza. The report details not just the slaughter of civilians but the seemingly planned destruction of civilian infrastructure that could, in no way, be considered militarily related (unless the futile goal was to make the bombed civilians turn against Hamas). The report also unequivocally condemns Hamas for the war crime of firing on civilian populations in Israel, and likely for that reason, both Israel and Hamas were finally able to agree on one thing, their condemnation of the report.

Further, the report goes on to describe Israeli governmental censorship efforts as well as government efforts to suppress dissent within Palestinian Israeli populations (obvious Muzzlewatch concerns) . Perhaps most importantly, the report goes into detail describing the effects of the occupation in the West Bank as well as the siege of Gaza. This contextualization is particularly damning and frequently completely missing from mainstream analysis. The fact that such a high profile report seamlessly includes this context is refreshing from the point of view of those working to stop the occupation, and conversely, quite galling for those who seek to keep the status quo.

The war crimes committed by Hamas, are deplorable and also described in the report, but they are also placed within the context of a people trying to fight occupation. Israel’s actions are allowed no such context. Israeli maximalist existentialist fears, whether heartfelt delusion or cold eyed cynicism, are simply not treated. Thus most of the responsibility, as it should be, is placed on the shoulders of Israel, whose firepower, and the resulting death toll, utterly dwarfed that of Hamas. (One is left to conclude, logically, that a government seeking to protect the citizens of Sderot and Ashkelon, as it should, would do so by ending the illegal siege of Gaza, not by making life even more intolerable for people who would, like Jews or anyone else in the same situation, fight back.)

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A rabbi throwing stones

Two weeks ago, R. Peretz Wolf-Prusan published an op-ed in San Francisco’s J Weekly decrying the verbal stone throwing that takes place inside our Jewish communities when the issue of Israel and Palestine is brought up.

He encouraged free dialog,

We must freely express our deeply felt concerns about Israel. We must debate vigorously and energetically engage in the marketplace of ideas.

But urged respect and civility,

I am distressed by how we speak to each other. Even as you read this, someone is picking up a stone.

One of these stones was published in the Jerusalem Post and later on reproduced in — yeah, you guessed it right — the J itself!

What a difference two weeks make for the J.

In a remarkable opinion peace, R. David Forman does not mince any words in his attack of the monthly Jewish fast for Gaza. The fast, initiated by over sixty American rabbis, “is an initiative that seeks to end the Jewish community’s silence over Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza.”
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Prof. Carmi’s personal opinion in the LA Times

As I thought, Ben Gurion University cannot legally fire Dr. Neve Gordon. So the campaign to fire him, without firing him continues, this time in the pages of the LA Times.

Ben Gurion University President Rivka Carmi published her own op-ed there, in order to explain why she is so upset at Dr. Neve Gordon’s op-ed in the same paper calling for international pressure to end the Israeli occupation–including boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

Oh, she’s not only upset. She also explains why he should leave BGU, of course.

She starts, as you would expect, establishing her credentials as a defender of academic freedom,

As president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, I have always remained open and impartial to the wide diversity of opinions within our academic faculty and their right to free speech, no matter how controversial their views or writings may be.

But things go downhill from then on.
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