Tag Archives: New Profile

UC Santa Cruz cancels Israeli speakers. Israeli Consulate Outraged-not!

Here’s the short version. An April 20 talk by Palestinian and Jewish Israeli citizens on the cost of war and Israeli militarism is canceled at the last minute by UC Santa Cruz administration after some 90 Jewish students protest and 2 faculty write hard-hitting letter comparing proposed talk to hanging a noose to intimidate African American students. Talk organizer finds alternative venue anyway, but Israeli peace group co-sponsoring talk gets really ticked off and writes even harder-hitting letter to faculty and students. Anti-Defamation League, Israeli Consul General say nothing about Israeli citizens being banned from a University of California (UC) campus.

UCSC cedes point, that criticism of Israel is attack on Jewish American students- while Israeli-Jews say to American Jews, “get your own Jewish identity without sacrificing our children for your fantasy.”

Here’s a response from Israeli feminist anti-militarist  group New Profile to the suggestion by UCSC faculty and a student that the speaking tour, which includes a New Profile member, threatens the student’s Jewish identity. (Below this quote, should you hunger to read the whole megillah, you’ll find the original statement from organizer Scott Kennedy, the complaint letter from the Benjamins, and the New profile response.)

Furthermore, while we can sympathize with the student, Jenna Miller, that Israel is central to her identity,” she lives in America (as do both of you, apparently), whereas the speakers live in Israel, as do we.

We therefore pose this question to you, since you appear to condone Israel’s colonization of Palestine: Just how many more generations of our children, grand children, and great grand children, and our neighbors’ children and their children, et al. do you wish to fight and die so that you, Jenna, and others like you can feel that this place somewhere out there that is called Israel is central to your identity, disregarding the price we in Israel pay, namely that of burying our young. Till today Israel has seen 12 wars and military campaigns—-yes 12! In less than 62 years, with the next war always just around the corner!!! ….

How many more Israeli parents and families must become bereaved and grieve while you ply your pen to keep students and faculty from hearing truths—perhaps the saddest truth of all being that excepting war zones as Afghanistan, Israel is the least safe place in the world for Jews. Nowhere else have so many Jews been killed since WWII. No where else is every Jewish child obliged to conscript at the age of 18. No where else is there so much post-traumatic distress symptoms among Jewish youth. Please convey this to Jenna Miller.

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Israeli Education Minister bars feminist anti-militarism group from high schools

The Israel Project (IMAGE: screenshot from The Israel Project website.) The important Israeli group New Profile, which makes clear the terrible impact militarism has on Israeli society, has this December 13 press release. As part of the ongoing assault on Israeli human rights groups, New Profile’s computers were seized by the government back in the spring. Now, dissenters are being banned from student debates. So much for free speech in a “true democracy.”

New Profile response to the Minister of Education’s directive

banning New Profile speakers from high school debates on civil rights

NEW PROFILE WRITES THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION:

THE EDUCATION SYSTEM PROMOTES VENERATION OF THE USE OF FORCE, RAMPANT FEAR AND DREAD OF A NEW HOLOCAUST

“The Minister’s decision unveils the truth behind the government’s claim to defend the values of democracy and behind the claim of the Ministry of Education to educate for tolerance.”

New Profile, the feminist movement to civil-ize Israeli society, wrote Minister of Education, Gideon Saar, this morning, strongly condemning his recent instructions to prohibit its members’ participation in high school debates convened by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) on questions of human rights and freedom of expression.

New Profile wrote the minister that his act had exposed the government’s true stand on civil rights and freedom of expression, also belying the Education Ministry’s professed respect for tolerance. “The minister’s step was taken in tandem with the decision he took to send yet more military personnel into schools—a move designed to increase enthusiasm for fighting,” New Profile advised in its letter. “For over a decade now, our movement has been cautioning of the danger of ignoring the wishes of students, parents, and teachers to freely and openly discuss these subjects prior to the students’ induction into the military at age 18.  The Minister’s present steps increase the repression of voices seeking to frame and examine social responsibility in non-militarized terms.”

New Profile’s letter explained that, “The perceptions transmitted by the present educational system generate an acceptance of warfare as a sound national strategy. They encourage veneration for the use of force and aggrandize Jewish nationalism, while devaluing the lives of Palestinians. At the same time, they sow rampant fear and dread of a new Holocaust.  Ongoing endorsement of the use of force in combination with the consistent enhancement of nationalism and constantly fanned fears, maintain a state of war and, also, of severe social stratification and inequality. The military has long since become a normalized, daily aspect of Israeli education and upholds war as the apparent, sole solution to Israel ’s political problems. The continuous state of warfare serves as a pretext for prolonging the military occupation and seemingly excuses the state of Israel from its accountability to the Palestinian people but also, no less, its accountability to the young Israelis that it deploys to perform the occupying, policing, destruction, and terrorization.” New Profile sharply criticized the abuse of authority evident in the minister’s ban, adding that his decision silences not only New Profile but also the voice of every individual striving for a free and open civil society discourse on relations of military and society.

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Goldstone, Human Rights Watch, New Profile et al. The Israeli govt. assault on human rights.

The proxy war between Israel and its critics is growing more intense, more desperate, more anti-democratic, more comically absurd.

Just a few weeks ago, and with a straight face, professional defender-of-Israeli-human-rights-violations Hillel Neuer of UN Watch happily compared Naomi Klein to Goebbels and said she was “today’s leading opponent of Israel in the Western world.”

The Goldstone Report goes further than Ahmadinejad and the Holocaust deniers by stripping the Jews not only of the ability and the need but of the right to defend themselves. If a country can be pummeled by thousands of rockets and still not be justified in protecting its inhabitants, then at issue is not the methods by which that country survives but whether it can survive at all. But more insidiously, the report does not only hamstring Israel; it portrays the Jews as the deliberate murderers of innocents–as Nazis. And a Nazi state not only lacks the need and right to defend itself; it must rather be destroyed.

Yglesias points out, “the Goldstone Report just doesn’t say anything remotely like this.”

But these uncommonly vicious, nasty and unintentionally campy attacks are no coincidence.

In The Nation, Adam Horowitz and Philip Weiss have a very important article detailing the range of human rights groups that are being targeted by Netanyahu’s right-wing government.

“For the first time the Israeli government is taking an active role in the smearing of human rights groups,” says Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch workers had long been a target of Gerald Steinberg’s NGO Monitor, which seeks to gut the international law enforcement infrastructure because they believe it is a threat to the Israeli status quo- which of course it is. (They call journalists, diplomats and human rights workers part of the ‘axis of evil.’)  Steinberg has been busily scanning the internet to build extensive dossiers on anyone who has worked in the Middle East division at HRW, and is also part of the campaign to defund human rights groups in Israel that get EU funds. But there’s more:

The Israeli government has also sought to quash domestic dissent. In April it targeted the anti-militarism organization New Profile, seizing computers and detaining activists. In July, when a group of Israeli veterans called Breaking the Silence released dozens of anonymous soldiers’ testimonies from the Gaza assault describing indifference to civilian targets, the Israeli government went, well, ballistic. It threatened to cut off the financial support the group receives from the Dutch, Spanish and British governments and warned those governments that their support was illegal. Israel indicated that it would look into foreign support that Israeli human rights groups B’Tselem and Machsom Watch receive as well.

Ron Dermer, a Netanyahu adviser who was raised in Florida, struck a fearsome tone: “We are going to dedicate time and manpower to combating these groups. We are not going to be sitting ducks in a pond for the human rights groups to shoot at us with impunity.”

Meanwhile, Isi Leibler, writing in the Jerusalem Post, ominously wants to “exorcise the [Jewish] renegades from our midst,” through some form of excommunication.

In Toronto, Jews were at the forefront of a campaign to boycott Israeli films at a film festival because the anniversary of Tel Aviv – ‘built on the destroyed villages of Palestinians’ – was being celebrated; two Israeli women who evaded national service are conducting a North American campus tour under the auspices of ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ to persuade students to intensify their role in the “resistance movement”; in San Francisco the local Jewish Federation is providing funds for a film festival which promotes the vilest anti-Israel films; radical Rabbi Michael Lerner invited a woman who justifies suicide bombings to address his synagogue on Yom Kippur; and so on.

IM EIN ani li mi li? If we are not for ourselves, who will be? We are engaged in a battle against fiendish enemies committed to our destruction. The Israeli government must now take steps to neutralize the impact of renegade Jews who present themselves as legitimate alternative Jewish viewpoints. Such an initiative by a country which provides genuine democratic rights to all its citizens, including Arabs, could hardly be categorized as eradicating freedom of expression. It would rather represent a highly overdue effort to exorcise such odious groups from the mainstream and expose them as unrepresentative fringe groups with no standing.

The heightened discourse of nastiness is matched on the ground by what many observers believe is an  intentional effort by Netanyahu to trigger a third intifada.

Cecilie Surasky

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