Israel


"Casting cheap slurs of anti-Semitism... does not change the fact that Israel, in the way it fights, is not taking all feasible precautions to protect civilians as required by international humanitarian law...

"One of the problems with the slur of anti-Semitism is that it ignores the vast gulf between those who raise legitimate moral objections to Israeli actions and actual anti-Semites" (Matthew Rothschild. "Cheap Slurs." The Progressive, Oct., 2006: 4).


"How, they ask, can human rights violations in Kosovo justify the bombing of civilian targets while the trampling of those same rights in China, Russia or Palestine is deemed unworthy even of trade sanctions? It's a good question" (Paul Hockenos. "German Greens and Pax Europa." The Nation, July 19, 2004: 26).


"...lengthy court-martial of five young men who refuse to enlist in Israel's army so long as it is, in their words, "occupying the land of another people and committing immoral acts"...

"In the past three years alone, more than 1,000 Israelis have refused to serve... twenty-seven pilots announced their own refusal to carry out attacks on civilian areas at the end of September, the first such protest to come from the elite ranks of the Air Force...

""..the repressive measures in the territories only generate hatred that will explode in our face"... four former directors of the Shin Bet, Israel's feared security service, had gathered to denounce the government...

"And now thirteen more reservists, ultra-elite fighters from the famed Sayeret Matkal... have seconded the pilots' refusal...

"Avraham Burg... a Labor Knesset Member who served as Speaker from 1999 to 2003, wrote a surprisingly vehement condemnation of Israeli actions in a widely translated September op-ed:.. "Israel," Burg wrote, "having ceased to care about the children of the Palestinians, should not be surprised when they come washed in hatred and blow themselves up in centers of Israeli escapism"" (Jonathan Shainin. "Letter From Israel." The Nation, Jan. 12, 2004: 25-27).


"For the last three and a half years the Israeli army has deployed American-supplied F-16 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, armored Caterpillar bulldozers and Merkava tanks powered by engines made in the USA in an unsuccessful effort to suppress the second Palestinian uprising...

"Palestinian civilians and the infrastructure of Palestinian society have been its principal victims... 2,886 Palestinian fatalities since September 2000 have been civilians [plus] 230 extrajudicial assassinations... In the same period there have been 950 Israeli fatalities, 672 of them civilians...

"The conduct of the Israeli army in the second intifada, in sharp contrast to its prevailing image, has been singularly unheroic. Its tactics have been condemned by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and even the State Department's annual report on human rights..." (Joel Beinin. "The Good War." The Nation, May 31, 2004: 23-27).


"George W. Bush, in an agreement with Ariel Sharon, accpeted Jewish settlements as permanent and renounced Palestinian refugees' right to return, Kerry immediately endoresed it...

"...the hawkish American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)... and the Conference of Presidents, along with their powerful fellow travelers, Christian Zionists, have forged a bipartisan consensus in Washington that Middle East policy must privilege the "special relationship" between the United States and Israel. In practice, this solid consensus means putting Israeli security before peace; supporting even such extreme Israeli measures as the separation wall and assassinations... ever since the 1993 Oslo Accord proved that negotiations were possible, survey have consistenty found that 50 to 60 percent of American Jews favor ending the occupation and dismantling settlements in return for peace...

The joke used to be two rabbis, three congregations; over the past two or three years it's become 6 million American Jews, one official opinion...

""Since the intifada began, the mantra in the American Jewish community was that Israel's existence was being threatened and we had to stand by the government of Israel no matter what it did. This idea, brilliantly manipulated by the Israeli government, became sacrosanct," says Marcia Freedman... "There just happens to be a very right-wing government in Israel that does not support a two-state solution, so this lockstep solidarity gave that government carte blanche support"...

"In March one older peace group, Rabbis for Human Rights of North America, sent an open letter to Sharon protesting Israel's house-demolition policy, which was signed by 400 rabbis, including leaders of some of the largest congregations in the country; in April Brit Tzedek organized 10,000 US Jews to sign another open letter, this one calling on Israel and the United States to fund the relocation of Jewish settlers from the occupied territories to Israel.

"Over the past three years, these organizations have lobbied Congress, picketed Israeli consulates, initiated campus divestment campaigns, set up informational listservs and held hundreds of vigils and teach-ins... When former Israeli and Palestinian officials crafted the Geneva Accord last year as a model peace agreement, an APN survey found that five times more American Jews supported the plan than opposed it... far from being more unified than ever in support of Israeli policies, American Jews are as polarized on Israel as Americans as a whole are polarized about George W. Bush...

"...AIPAC, the ADL and the Conference of Presidents see Palestinian suicide bombs as part of a global attack on Jews... The peace groups believe that Israel, with one of the world's most powerful militaries, can't claim its existence is at risk, and they see in Israel's occupation, separation wall and collective punishment a moral challenge to the Jewish soul. News and commentary circulated by the two camps, even regarding the same events, bear almost no relation to each other...

"...this phenomenon "the Israeli disease," in which a handful of far-right ideaologues dictate policy for the moderate masses; he warns that it has now taken root in American Jewish politics. Palestinian suicide bombers and the war on terror, he argues, have increased the right's leverage. "You get this sense in the Jewish community that we're under seige and anyone who challenges the consensus is a traitor who has to be purged," Bormburg says. "The right has the capacity to instantly inflate any expression of civil discourse, doubt or questioning into an act of disloyalty"...

""There is a silencing going on at the local level by American Jewish institutions that is very unhealthy," says Brit Tzedek's Freedman...

"...Redford's experience follows a familiar pattern. Liz Harr, an activist with Jewish Students for Palestinian Rights at the University of Texas, was denied space at her campus Hillel in spring 2002 when she sought to organize a study group on the history of the conflict. Hillel program directors at UC Santa Cruz and Ithaca College resigned in frustration after being reprimanded for publishing articles supporting Israeli and Palestinian activism against the occupation...

"But such tentative efforts to pry open space for Jewish debate is unlikely to tear down the artificial AIPAC consensus anytime soon. When the Tikkun Community brought some 350 activists to Capital Hill in April to lobby members of Congress to support a return to negotiations, recalls co-chair Michael Lerner, "there was an astonishing openness--behind closed doors." Bus most members said AIPAC's presence, both on the Hill and in their home districts, was overwhelming, especially in tandem with Israel hawks on the Christian right. "One member of Congress said it even feels dangerous to meet with us, because they have such good radar screens that they find out almost immediately," Lerner says.

"His finger to the wind, John Kerry has uncritically endorsed Bush's enthusiasm for Sharon; while he once spoke somewhat critically of the wall Sharon is erecting deep inside the West Bank, Kerry now wholeheartedly endorses it as a necessary security measure" (Esther Kaplan. "The Jewish Divide on Israel." The Nation, July 12, 2004: 20-24).


"Did Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel, run a covert program with operatives in high-level US government positions to influence the Bush Administration's decision to go to war in Iraq? The FBI wants to know... That's the story behind the latest Washington spy scandal...

"It's an explosive inquiry... it involves the possibility that US officials are working on Sharon's behalf... the core of the Office of Special Plans (OSP)...

"...the OSP manufactured exaggerated intelligence reports on the threat from Iraq, but less reported is the fact that the OSP also carried out unauthorized operations... took part in a rogue Pentagon initiative, beginning in 2001 with unsavory wheeler-dealers in Rome and Paris, to discuss regime change beyond Iraq, in Iran and Syria...

"...the FBI's investigation is looking back as far as 1996... incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling for confrontation with Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the PLO.

"Since the investigation came to light, Sharon's closest allies have led an effort to derail it...

"Perle is demanding that the White House clamp down on the investigators... unfortunately the Administration doesn't seem to have it under control... the White House is pressuring the FBI and the Justice Department not to issue indictments in the case" (Robert Dreyfuss. "Agents of Influence." The Nation, Oct. 4, 2004: 20-22).


"...the catastrophes of Jewish history have been transformed into nationalist fables of heroism, victory and redemption... Jewish history was distorted to serve the needs of the Zionist movement... an obsession with death and martyrdom has vitally shaped the way Israelis understand themselves and their state...

1934... marked the beginning of a cult of eath among Israeli Jews. The "new Jewish man," in this ideology, was ready to make the ultimate sacrifice, to die defending his land and people, in stark contrast with Diaspora Jews, who would later be depicted as weaker souls who went "like lambs to the slaughter" in the Holocaust... It is deeply ironic that the very same society now claims to be shocked by the "martyrdom culture" in the occupied territories...

"Israeli leaders have often invoked the Holocaust as the ultimate justification for the Jewish state (and, more cynically, for Israel's counterinsurgency tactics in the occupied territories)... the state's treatment of survivors has sometimes been strikingly manipulative...

"...the struggle between the survivors of the Holocaust and the various Zionist agencies and emissaries who pressured them to immigrate to Palestine, regardless of the survivors' own wishes, through superior organizational skills and connections with the US military and civilian authorities... especially since the immigration gates of the United States were all but closed...

"David Ben-Gurion, the leader of the Zionist movement and Israel's first prime minister, viewed the future Jewish homeland as the one and only destination for the survivors... the odyssey of the 4,500 survivors from German camps who set sail in July 1947 as "illegal immigrants" on a ship later named Exodus. The real story of the ship was far less glorious than the one told in Leon Uris's 1958 best-seller... Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann persuaded the French Prime Minister, Leon Blum, to host the refugees. Ben-Gurion rejected this solution out of hand, and the poor survivors remained on board for seven months.

"Ben-Gurion's insensitivity was rooted in his "Palenstine-centric" attitude...

"Few observers at the time knew that many of the refugees from the Exodus had applied for immigration visas to the United States, and were hardly anxious to settle in Israel... Israel established a claim to represent all of world Jewry, and on this basis successfully claimed reparations from the Federal Republic of Germany...

"The majority of survivors were in no mood to take up arms... the low number of volunteers led... to "compulsory conscription"... through a variety of means, among them firing employees from their jobs; evicting tenants from their houses; denying food supplies; arrests and beatings; and the threat of ostracism from the community...

"...More common and far more dangerous, however, has been the abuse of the Holocaust by the Israeli right wing... every Israeli politician who has tried to make peace with the Arabs has been likened to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who tried to avoid the Second World War by appeasing Hitler, or as a "Nazi" whose secret desire is nothing less than the annihilation of the Jewish people...

""Never forget" has been the mantra of Jewish and Israeli politics for three decades... The obsessive commemoration of the Holocaust and of Jewish victimhood has blinded much of the Jewish community to Israel's real position in the world and to the humanity of the Palestinian people" (Baruch Kimmerling. "Israel's Culture of Martyrdom." The Nation, Jan. 10/17, 2005: 29-40).


"... many American commentators conclude.. that there is no longer any difference between being "against" Israel and "against" Jews: I.E., that in Europe anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism have become synonymous. But that is palpably false. Some of the highest levels of pro-Palestinian sympathy in Europe today are recorded in Denmark, a country that also registers as one of the least anti-Semitic by the ADL's own criteria... Another country with a high level of support for the Arabs of Palestine is the Netherland; yet according to the ADL the Dutch have the lowest anti-Semitic quotient in Europe...

"...there is good evidence that Europeans have considerably more balanced views than Americans on the Israel-Palestine conflict in general...

"The source of American anxiety and confusion is the unstinting support given by the United States to Israel ($3 billion per annum and uncritical backing for all its actions), and the ensuing sentiment among many American that since criticism of Israel is close to impermissible, anti-Zionist opinions must be anti-Semitic in origin...

"It is the policies of Israeli governments, especially in the past two decades, that have provoked widespread anti-Jewish feelings in Europe and elsewhere... Zionists have always insited that there is no distinction between the Jewish people and the Jewish state... Its leaders purport to speak for Jews everywhere. They can hardly be surprised when their own behavior provokes a backlash against.. Jews.

Thus Israel itself has made a significant contribution to the resurgence of the anti-Semitism...

"... non-Jews... are always vulnerable to moral blackmail by Zionists, especially in countries with anti-Semitic pasts...

"The Shoah is frequently exploited in America and Israel to deflect and forbid any criticism of Israel. Indeed, the Holocaust of Europe's Jews is nowadays exploited thrice over: It gives American Jews in particular a unique, retrospective "victim identity": it allows Israel to trump any other nation's sufferings (and justify its own excesses)...; and... it is adduced as an all-purpose metaphor for evil... and taught to schoolchildren all over America and Europe without any reference to context or cause" (Tony Judt. "Goodbye to All That?" The Nation, Jan. 3, 2005: 15-18).


"U.S. aid to Israel over the course of its 54 years of nationhood has fueled the illegal occupation of Palestinian land.." (Phillips, Peter, and Project Censored. Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Stories. NY: Seven Stories Press, 2003: 110).

See..

Gush Shalom
Sustain Campaign stop U.S. aid to Israel
International Solidarity Movement


"Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is buying Miami-based Ivax Corp for $7.4bn to create the world's largest generic drug company" ("News in Brief." Guardian Weekly, Aug.4, 2005: 25).


"Israel's invasion of Gaza and Lebanon illustrates the futility of war. It is a blunt instrument that exacts an unbearable price on civilians, and it aggravates prolems rather than resolving them" (Matthew Rothschild. "The Israeli-American Invasion." The Progressive, Sep. 2006: 8-10).


"For this was not just an Israeli invasion of Lebanon, it was an Israeli-American invasion.

"Israel is the largest recipient of US aid, and has been so for decades. From 2001 to 2005, "Israel received $10.5 billion in Foreign Military Financing--the Pentagon's biggest military aid program--and $6.3 billion in US arms deliveries," Frida Berrigan and William Hartung of the World Policy Institute wrote. "The bulk of Israel's current arsenal is composed of equipment supplied under US military aid programs."

"Beyond supplying Israel, the United States put itself foursquare behind the invasions of Gaza and Lebanon. "Let the Palestinians sweat a little," one senior Administration official said after Israel went back into Gaza. The assault on Hezbollah has been a longtime objective of the Bush Administration" (Matthew Rothschild. "The Israeli-American Invasion." The Progressive, Sep. 2006: 8-10).


Colby Glass, MLIS