Category Archives: Gaza

More controversy about Rachel Corrie’s mother at San Francisco’s Jewish Film Fest

There’s something so deeply, deeply depressing about the attack against Cindy Corrie by J Weekly, the Bay Area’s Jewish newspaper. True, it’s just one of countless examples of the moral malaise that plagues the institutional Jewish world when it comes to Palestinians, but on this day, this day when I am fresh back from Gaza, from Hebron, from Silwan, it has gotten to me.

I’m not sure which is worse- the possibility that the J’s editorial writer actually believes the morally groundless drivel he or she is writing? Or the possibility that they know full well that the moral outrage that is the Israeli treatment of Gazans is an affront to all Jews and feeling people, but that they care more about keeping advertisers happy.

While acknowledging the right of the SF Jewish Film Festival to air the film Rachel, a documentary made by Jewish-Israeli filmaker Simone Bitto , the Bay Area’s Jewish magazine has condemned in an editorial the decision to invite Cindy Corrie. Cindy is the mother of  the subject of the film, Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Israeli Defense Forces bulldozer while protesting home demolitions in Gaza.

As a grieving mother, Cindy Corrie has our sympathies. No parent should ever have to bury a child. But as an echo chamber of her daughter’s repulsive opinions, this woman has no business attending and speaking at a Jewish event like the film festival.

We are all for free speech. We are all for scheduling controversial films. But Cindy Corrie’s appearance crosses a line. The Jewish Film Festival is under no obligation to offer a microphone to Israel-bashers.

Israel-bashers? Repulsive opinions? For free speech? Oh to have just one hour to take the J editors to Gaza to see for themselves that which the Corries have so rightfully denounced. I just returned from there, and yet again, I have never been so confronted with the fact of meaningless, cruel and vindictive suffering. This has nothing to do with Israel-bashing. In fact, if you care about Israel, and only Israel, you still will come down on the side of the Corries, for it’s nearly impossible to see a decent future for Israelis if the country continues to harm and radicalize Gazans through illegal blockades and incursions and war.

Rabbi Brian Walt has clearly been to Gaza. He knows Cindy Corrie (As do I, and I agree with every single word he says about her). He gets it:

In my position as Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America,  I have worked with Cindy and Craig, Rachel Corrie’s parents.  They are extraordinary human beings who generously support the work of Rabbis for Human Rights and other Israeli human rights and peace groups. They have visited with Rabbi Arik Ascherman, the Executive Director of RHR in Israel, and others in the RHR office in Jerusalem and have consistently supported our work.  I have been moved in my conversations with them, by their integrity and their deep commitment to a just peace.  If I were in their situation,  I would imagine that the temptation to hate  those who killed my daughter would be hard to resist.  (Forman points out that the details of Rashel’s death are disputed.  He doesn’t mention that it was Israel’s refusal to agree to an impartial investigation that prevented us from knowing the truth.  In a very similar action,  Israel recently refused to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission into the Gaza war, even though Judge Goldstone is a committed Jew and made it clear that he would be investigating violations by both sides.)  Despite their daughter’s tragic death, the Corries have never spoken in a hateful  way towards Israel or Jews.  On the contrary, they are deeply committed to peace and to the security of all people in the conflict, Israelis and Palestinians.

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Dissent, Suppression and Violence in Gaza and Egypt

Though the recent war on Gaza prompted us to go beyond our typical focus on the US to cover extensive efforts to silence anti-war dissent in “the Middle East’s only democracy,” the fact is that the suppression of dissent is a well documented phenomenon throughout the Middle East. There is clearly a great deal of media control, intimidation and violence in the region that may or may not be associated with the US supported Israeli occupation of Palestine, and resistance to that occupation. What is clear is that the recent Israeli attack against Gaza has served to highlight the forces and tensions working within Palestinian, Israeli and US populations to support and justify their respective actions.

On top the frank destruction visited upon Gaza by Israel (with full US support), Gaza residents also have to contend with another terrible burden of occupation – internecine warfare resulting from divide and conquer policies. Hamas both during and after the Israeli attack has been threatening, kidnapping, torturing and killing those it considers collaborators and/or supporters of Fatah as well as those who might, in any way dissent from/protest Hamas actions and policies. This has been documented in numerous places and shouldn’t come as a surprise. Individuals have been shot in the legs, multiple members of families have been shot in front of other family members, others have been tortured and then killed. There has been no obvious evidence of trials, reminiscent of Israeli summary executions of Palestinians (both Hamas and non-Hamas) in Gaza (using information supplied by Palestinian collaborators).

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Gaza and the media, perhaps a silver lining

No matter the claims of the Israeli government, who, as you would expect, have trumpeted an overwhelming victory in Gaza, something else is perceived by the rest of the world. Even in the US, things are starting to break against the finely tuned Israeli propaganda machine. Perhaps the most startling media example of this was a recent press conference in Washington where Foreign Minister Livni was essentially confronted as a terrorist. Given her recent fatuous claims that there was no humanitarian disaster in Gaza and that Israel, alone and in disregard of UN resolutions will decide when the Gaza campaign is finished,  it seems as if there is some little ray of hope that Israel will start to feel the real effects of its frank crimes against humanity in Gaza. This will hopefully be leveraged by media outrage of the banning of reporters during the 3 week offensive, where even the NY Times expressed concern The Times also reported fairly accurately on the recent attacks against obvious UN buildings and they also prominently reported the awful story of the pacifist Palestinian doctor (devoted to reconciliation) who called Israeli TV to describe the death of his three daughters by IDF shelling. A threshold has been crossed where even the notoriously obtuse NY Times has found a “gagging point” in which it could not take it anymore. As the press, en mass, is finally let into Gaza we can only imagine, based on the reporting that did manage to occur, what will confront international reporters. Hopefully this massive war crime will spur all parties concerned to make a more concerted effort to develop a just peace for all peoples in the region. The following is the Haaretz article on the Livni press conference.

Journalist calls Livni ‘terrorist’ during press conference on Gaza operation By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent and The Associated Press Tags: Gaza Strip, Israel News
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had a testy press conference Friday in Washington, D.C., moments after she signed an agreement with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meant to combat arms smuggling to Gaza.

From the starting moments of the press conference, Livni was beset by a less-than friendly barrage of questions, with a number of journalists asserting that Israel’s military operations in Gaza will only make Middle East peace more distant.

Some journalists went so far as to compare the Israeli government to that of dictat Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, due to Israel’s decision to bar journalists from Gaza. One of the more tense moments came when one journalist began to quote at length a Human Rights report on the situation in Gaza, before asking Livni to comment on “the murder of innocent civilians in the Strip.”

When the man was asked to finish his question, he yelled out that Livni had been speaking for an hour and that the journalists weren’t being allowed to ask questions. He then asked since when the U.S. has been hosting “terrorists”.

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Jon Stewart on Gaza, “The Mobius Strip of Issues”

“There’s only one side.”

Remarkable stuff from Jon Stewart and The Daily Show.

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