Tag Archives: Israel

What the Reut Institute really wants: NOT one person-one vote

A week after his visit to AIPAC, I am left wondering if it is possible for anyone other than Bibi Netanyahu to so beautifully embody the notion of “strutting victimization”. And yet, it’s not just Bibi who can taunt Israel’s primary sponsor, the United States, with plans for endless settlement expansion while simultaneously playing the powerless victim. (I’m sure my Israeli friends have much to say on this phenomenon.) The people at Israel’s Reut Institute have also mastered this unpleasant juxtaposition of aggression and powerlessness.

As Carol Sanders put it so beautifully in The Only Democracy?:

Reut Institute, a leading Israeli national security and socioeconomic policy think tank, has released its preliminary report on “The Delegitimization Challenge:  Creating a Political Firewall” In an extraordinary exercise in doublethink, Reut scratches its head over Israel’s declining diplomatic status in the aftermath of its assault on Gaza and the Goldstone Report,  and concludes that,  yet again, it is the victim.

Among its key victimizers, and therefore targets? Human rights and peace organizations.

One of the Reut Institute report co-authors, a man named Eran Shayshon, probably had his dream come true when he picked a fight with journalist and activist Naomi Klein which we covered here on Muzzlewatch. Shayshon demonstrated one of the paper’s recommended attack techniques by going on Canada’s top radio show to make claims about what he’s certain Klein wants, in spite of her actual record of statements. But she fought back.

Now he’s taking it to the pages of Ha’aretz. It’s hard to know if Shayshon believes what he says, or if his lines are being fed to him by a Hasbara-Message-Scrambler which randomly spits out favorite Hasbara attack cliches. Keep in mind these fun tidbits about the report itself before we get into Shayshon’s attempt to regain his dignity by first dismissing Klein but then going on to write about her in-depth, and even attempting to introduce a new word into the lexicon, “Kleinism.” The Reut Report:

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Think tank tells Israeli government to declare war on peace groups

They’re baaaaack – Israel’s “most influential” think tank tells Israeli government to “attack” and “sabotage” global peace and human rights groups (as opposed to domestic groups which are already under attack.)

I wrote last month about the Reut (pronounced Ray-OOT) Institute’s report on what they see as the new existential threat to Israel. No longer military, the report said, the primary threat to Israel is political. Israel must fight a “delegitimization network” of peace and human rights groups based largely in four international “hubs”: Toronto, Madrid, London and the San Francisco Bay Area (where Jewish Voice for Peace is located.)

(Now, more of the report is available on-line, including a cool animated PowerPoint! Read terrific in-depth pieces on the new material by Ali Abunimah and Richard Silverstein.)

There are many astonishing elements of the report. One is the blame it places on others including the global left for the increasing political viability of a one-state solution. In fact it is Israel’s never-ending expansion of settlements that has made a two-state solution seem more and more unlikely by the day, not the global human rights movement. What groups like Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) seek to delegitimize is the occupation and massive inequality and human rights violations committed against Palestinians, not Israel itself. Even most Palestinians, polls show, want their own viable state over a one-state solution. (JVP is neutral on the issue of one state or two or three for that matter, supporting any resolution consistent with international law which is largely supported by both parties.)

If the Israelis really wanted the Palestinians to have a state of their own, they could have made it happen years ago and the entire world would have cheered, and since 2002, they would have had full relations with all their Arab neighbors. But instead, the Israeli government has used endless peace negotiations as a way to expand settlements while keeping the international community at bay.  If the one-state solution marks the greatest existential threat to Israel, as the Reut report suggests, the Israeli government has no one to blame
but itself. The global peace and justice movement is the symptom, not the cause.

Secondly, the report actually dares to suggest “sabotage” of groups like Jewish Voice for Peace who are part of an international peace and justice  human rights network and who actively support Israeli and Palestinian activists on the ground (our sites include: www.December18th.org, www.FreeEzra.org, www.TheOnlyDemocracy.org etc..). We take this very seriously. Perhaps this is the way NGOs are
increasingly handled in Israel, especially under Netanyahu. But it’s certainly not how the government, and especially a foreign government, is expected to respond to law- abiding NGOs here in the United States (Ahem, Cointelpro and other efforts notwithstanding). And frankly, we won’t stand for it.

Plus it’s just a stupid idea.

How a report that says in one breath that Israel’s future lies in branding itself as a high-tech, eco-conscious and cultured democracy while simultaneously suggesting “sabotage” and “attacks” on law-abiding peace groups is stunning.  Instead of driving a wedge between “soft” and “hard” critics of Israel, as the report suggests, promoting these kinds of war-like responses against human rights groups will backfire and turn the most casual critics of Israeli policies into supporters of much harsher measures. This, after all, is
the primary legacy of Cast Lead, Israel’s massive attack on Gaza’s entrapped population.

If the Reut Institute really wanted to offer some helpful advice on how Israel might stop the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, they might start by advising the Israeli government to end the
occupation.

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Anne Bayefsky is an anti-Semite and a hypocrite, attacks on Goldstone cross the line

In the embedded video (after 25 second ad, go to 6:10), The Hudson Institute’s wacky Anne Bayefsky couldn’t be clearer. She spells out her strategy of turning Israel into a perpetual victim to divert world attention from the serious charges in the Goldstone report, the UN’s human rights investigation of Gaza:

I think that the world of human rights has developed a weapon, I call it the ‘human rights weapon’. It’s one which inverts victim and perpetrator. It’s one which is designed to deflect attention from the human rights abuses by those who violate human rights. It is intended to circle the wagons, to invoke mass hysteria which suggest to people that they are under threat, which is in fact, imaginary. And to develop excuses for hatred and for terrorism. It’s a tried and trued formula after all isn’t it? To create imaginary enemies, to exaggerate what is a kernel of truth and to divert attention from the real violations in our midst.

Oops, she’s actually referring here to what she calls “the phenomenon that surrounds the rise of allegations of Islamophobia,” not, amazingly to the rise in allegations of anti-Semitism against all critics of Israel.

She and her friends at the American Jewish Committee’s UN Watch and NGO Monitor are some of the world’s top practitioners of this technique. They do everything they can to weaken and destroy the international human rights infrastructure so that Israel is never held accountable for its illegal occupation, siege of Gaza and more. And, just as she describes above, they do it through elevating the anti-Semitism threat level to HYSTERICAL RED! everywhere, all the time.

(Let’s be clear: The UN Human Rights Council unfairly targets Israel for opprobrium- that’s simply a fact. But the mission of these groups isn’t to restore balance; it’s to make sure Israel is never held accountable for its ongoing illegal behavior, which, it should be obvious to anyone, makes them the worst kinds of “friends” Israel could have. And their preferred method of achieving this goal is to use charges of anti-Semitism to vilify good human rights workers and institutions, peace activists, and from what I’ve seen with my own eyes, Islam and nearly all of its adherents.)

But back to Bayefsky’s talk from the video. “Imaginary enemy” #1 of the Jewish people? According to Bayefsky, in “UN report a 21st century blood libel, scholar says in Geneva,” it is none other than world-respected-jurist, friend-of-Israel, Hebrew University-board-of-governors-member Richard Goldstone.

South African jurist Richard Goldstone exploited his Judaism to endanger the State of Israel, the Hudson Institute’s Anne Bayefsky charged on Tuesday, slamming the chief author of the controversial UN report on the IDF incursion into Gaza in January.

“Richard, how does it feel to have used your Jewishness to jeopardize the safety and security of the people of Israel and to find yourself in the company of human rights abusers everywhere?” Bayefsky asked.

She was one of the few pro-Israel speakers to address the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, which spent the entire day debating the report commissioned by the council, a draft copy of which was released two weeks ago.

Bayefsky compared the Goldstone Report to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

“The Goldstone mission will go down in history as the 21st century’s equivalent,” said Bayefsky, a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute in New York and an outspoken critic of the UN’s stance on Israel.

“At its core, the Goldstone Report repeats the ancient blood libel against the Jewish people – the allegation of bloodthirsty Jews intent on butchering the innocent,” she said.

With this report, the UN has rendered the right of the Jewish people to self-defense a “crime against humanity,” she continued.

Someone has to finally call this kind of viciousness what it is and stop putting up with it- she’s an anti-Semite. The peculiarly epic charges she wields against Goldstone are clearly reserved for that most evil entity, in Bayefsky’s eyes, another Jew willing to take a clear-eyed look at Israel’s undeniable human rights violations. That level of demonization, in the context of a continued rise in violent religious zealotry, means she is literally willing to sacrifice him.

But he’s also a proxy. She hates Jews like Goldstone, but also Jews like Philip Weiss, Jews like Naomi Klein, Jews like Sara Roy, Jews like Norman Finkelstein.

She makes my family less safe because she cheapens the charges of anti-Semitism, which in itself is a form of Jewish hatred and contempt. And she makes my Muslim and Palestinian friends less safe because the only way she can make her case it to demonize them.

I first encountered Bayefsky at the UN’s Durban Review Conference in Geneva, where she put together a panel of all-stars like Elie Wiesel, Alan Dershowitz (who actually called Goldstone “some Jew” while on the panel) and (a clearly not entirely there) Jon Voight, only too willing to serve their purpose of demonizing and dehumanizing Palestinians, and all other Muslims for good measure. One Palestinian friend who was also there called it, “the worst two hours” of his life.  I could barely believe that people displaying this kind of outrageous racism- at an anti-racism conference no less-could be taken seriously.

No one should take her seriously now, except as a dangerous bigot, willing to sacrifice not just Palestinians and Muslims, but now at least one Jew named Goldstone, by all accounts a good and decent man, to achieve her objectives of making sure that Israel remains above the law.

It’s entirely likely that Goldstone, who cares deeply about Israel, and who also condemned Hamas for their well-documented war crimes, understands the danger (to Israel) of wanting it to be above the law. If only Bayefsky and her friends did.

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Jewish world to queer Jews: gay is great! Caring about Palestinians is forbidden!

Earlier this summer, Israel launched what can best be described as a queer-washing campaign to promote its more tolerant approach to gay rights over the anti-gay, mean, evil, Iranians and Palestinians. Israel’s right-wing supporters may hate Palestinians but this summer, they just LOVE THE GAYS! It’s one of the more cynical uses of liberal and progressive issues as both distraction and wedge.

Whether the organizers were aware of being used or not, it’s likely that the push for a strong Jewish LGBT presence at this year’s San Francisco Gay Pride parade was part of this initiative. Hence the multitude of Israeli flags in the contingent – the Israeli Consulate was all over it.

A group of queer Jews, most of whom work or worship inside the Jewish community, decided to join the contingent but with their own signs which read “Pride in Israel when Palestine is Free ” and “Feygele for Free Palestine.” They had a rude awakening after the parade, learning that while gay may be great in the mainstream Jewish world,  Jews-who-acknowledge-Palestinians-as-humans are expected to stay in the closet.

They write in JVoices:

We, Queer members of the Bay Area Jewish Community and our allies, are deeply saddened by events surrounding the “Jews March for Pride” contingent in this year’s San Francisco Pride Parade.

We wanted to march with “Jews March for Pride” because we are proud to be Queer Jews and allies. We felt excited and privileged to have a place in the San Francisco Pride Parade to celebrate our whole selves as Jews and Queers.

However, our sense of pride in the contingent was shattered when we learned that not only would the Israeli Consulate be marching with Israeli flags, but also that “inclusion monitors” would censor anything that deviated from the narrow message of “Jews support LGBT equality.” We see this as a contradiction. Support for the Israeli government is a political position that is not synonymous with support for LGBT equality, and is not synonymous with Judaism. Because these strong Israeli symbols would be dominating the contingent, we felt we could not in good conscious march without publically repudiating those messages. And although the planners reached out to include us, we felt excluded when any disagreement we voiced was declared “off message” and inappropriate.”

Not surprising. However, they were allowed to march in the parade (Yay!) Here’s the boo part:

“But the real consequences of our action have occurred in the days and weeks following the parade. Many of us have faced social sanctions in our personal and professional lives. Those of us who work in Jewish organizations have been harshly shamed in our workplaces and our political views have become a topic of discussion amongst our peers and supervisors. We feel vulnerable in the very community that had supposedly organized to support us as Queer Jews.”

I know at least one of these stories and it’s a real whopper. If and as soon as they decide to make it public, we’ll let you know. Suffice it to say, the battle within the Jewish institutional world over the ability to simply think for oneself in terms of Israel and Palestinians is at times medieval. Join their Facebook group here http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=115825379792 .

- Cecilie Surasky

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Billboards demanding end to aid to Israel taken down

Mondoweiss reports:

A few week ago we posted about ten billboards going up around Albuquerque, NM calling for congress to cut off aid to Israel. They were put up by The Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel, a multi-ethnic, multi-religious coalition working to “end to the ten year commitment of $30 billion in U.S. taxpayer-funded military aid pledged to Israel in 2007 by the Bush administration.” Today, the coalition sent out a press release saying that although Lamar Outdoor Advertising had signed a contract to run the billboards for eight weeks, they care coming down after three. From the press release:

On April 8th, the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel erected the billboards throughout the  Albuquerque area in order to inform the public about the misuse of their tax dollars, denominated in human lives. The group was motivated by concern for the Palestinian people who had recently been subjected to a massive invasion of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military. Over 1,400 Palestinians – mostly civilian, including three hundred children – were killed and over 5,000 were injured. In 2007 the Bush administration signed a Memorandum of Understanding that provides $30 billion of U.S. taxpayer dollars to Israel over a ten year period beginning in 2008. The majority of these dollars will be used to purchase American-made weapons.

The design of the billboard had been approved by Lamar and the billboards’ wording and final image were suggested by Lamar’s graphics designer.

According to information from Lamar, it appears groups claiming to be pro-Israel have conducted a campaign to pressure Lamar to remove the billboards. The Coalition believes this is a deliberate attempt to silence its right to free speech because the humanitarian message of the billboards supports equal rights for the Palestinian people, thereby necessitating criticism of Israel.

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Countering Palestinian/Nazi analogy and Never again, for all

A must-read for fighting back- Moshe Yaroni watched Alan Dershowitz’s shameful association of Palestinians with Nazis and deconstructs the arguments:

Let’s be clear about Hajj Amin: he was a venomous anti-Semite, and his hatred eclipsed the bounds of the Palestinian national struggle. There is no disputing that he worked with the Nazis and that he espoused murderous hatred of Jews, not just Zionism. But such diverse scholars as Zvi Elpeleg, Idith Zertal and Peter Novick have all concluded that his actual role in Nazi plans was insiginificant and that, as Zertal put it, “…in more correct proportions, [he should be pictured] as a fanatic nationalist-religious Palestinian leader.”

Meanwhile, Sol Salbe’s Middle East News Service has translated from its original Hebrew this article about Jewish suffering and the Holocaust. Salbe writes as a preface:

Yediot Acharonot columnist Ariana Melamed’s comments are not particularly original. Others have observed the Israeli attitude to other peoples’ suffering summed up in the saying “after what they have done to us…”. But not only does Melamed puts it better than anyone else that I have read, she does bring it up to date. As the UN Conference on Racism is about to wind down, it is important to remember that the “never again” lesson need to be applied universally and that the ethos of victimhood exempts no one from doing the right thing.

Hebrew original: http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3703925,00.html

As victims, we’re allowed

Ariana Melamed

Mistakenly, we continue to believe that being historical victims completely frees us of the need to develop solidarity with humanity and of the duty to consecrate the living, not only the dead.

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Durban Conference ends with a bang

This is from the final press statement of Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who announced the likely adoption of the final report and then launched into it:

It was very difficult. I had to face a widespread, and highly organized campaign of disinformation. Many people, including Ministers with whom I spoke, told me that the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, which as you know was agreed by 189 states at the original World Conference Against Racism in 2001 was anti-Semitic, and it was clear that either they had not bothered to read what it actually said, or they were putting a cast on it that was, to say the least, decidely exaggerated.

Many others have labelled the entire Durban process as a “hate fest.” We have had some rough moments in the process, but a “hate fest?” I’m sorry, this is hyperbole. It is a gross exaggeration. But it is everywhere on the Internet. And I’m sorry to say many mainline newspapers who incidentally declined many op-eds that I sent up to them. Because I kept urging States to take part, one of the most vociferous opponents of the conference called me the “dangerous High Commissioner for Human Rights.” So if you see a special look about me, that’s the danger. Another called me the “ludicrous High Commissioner for Human Rights.” That look I have dropped since. I expect these types of personal attacks to continue for the rest of my tenure. But I can live with them because I see this conference as a success and I know that you will judge this process in a valid and fair way.
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Indigenous peoples and Israel-Palestine

Harley Eagle works with First Nations peoples with the Mennonite Central Committee in Canada. I was stunned to learn that he has been approached on multiple occasions by Canadian Jewish groups who identify as aboriginal. “They come to us and tell us ‘our paths are similar. We have gotten our land back. We hope the same for you. We are cut of the same cloth.’” (I wrote about former Canadian AG Irwin Cotler’s Jews-are-aboriginal formulation here.)

Harley says they tend to target Christian aboriginal people as well as inter-tribal political groups to form a larger political body.  They invite people on trips to Israel.

But Harley’s group had already been doing an exchange program with Palestinians. “For we younger First Nations people who haven’t experienced colonialism and being put on reservations directly, the Palestinian program helps us remember what our people went through. It’s very powerful, but for the Palestinians, visiting Native American reservations is shocking because they see the future of their own people.”

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Jewish groups and 1 Iranian group yanked from conference

{update: 1 member from B’nai Brith was also kicked out} Thursday, the Associated Press writes:

UN kicks Jews, Iranians out of racism meeting

GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations expelled three groups from its conference on global racism Thursday for unacceptable behavior related to the opening speech that Iran’s president gave denouncing Israel.

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UN Side-Events: The silencing of Palestinian NGOs

Badil[Pictured from left: Ingrid Jaradat Gassner of Badil, Maysa Zorob of Al Haq, and Harley Eagle of the Mennonite Central Committee] According to the United Nations website:

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has organized a series of events and cultural activities during the Durban Review Conference to highlight the issues being discussed at the conference.

Under themes such as the rights of indigenous peoples, the link between racism and poverty, and policing in diverse societies, the side events organized by OHCHR have enabled a large number of stakeholders to exchange views and share good practices on the issues at the heart of the Durban review process.

Non-governmental organizations and other civil society actors, such as victims’ groups and academics, are essential in combating all forms of racism and OHCHR has encouraged their participation in the review process.

To help showcase the activities of civil society actors, OHCHR also made several meeting rooms available for the organization of further side events for organizations accredited to take part in the Conference.

Yesterday afternoon I spoke with Ingrid Jaradat Gassner, the head of Palestinian residency and refugee rights group Badil. She told me they were called into the UN office a few weeks before the conference started and told that they could not hold side-events that were region-specific.

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