No justification for war or sanctions on Iran
The hysteria over Iran’s nuclear capabilities having reached such a stage as to call for immediate bombing of its nuclear facilities – this hysteria is a red herring, a smokescreen deliberately and insidiously being whipped up by Israel to turn away the world’s gaze from its vicious ethnic cleansing and land grabbing activates in Palestine, especially in the Jerusalem region, and to find an excuse for attacking Iran, for which it has been itching ever since Iraq was neutered, leaving Iran the only country in the region that can be expected to stand up to Israel.
The extent of its success can be gauged from the fact that, according to a recent Pew poll, 58% of Americans favor preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons even if it means taking military action.
More important is the success Benjamin Netanyahu scored when he met Obama at the Whitehouse. One would have thought that the most burning question requiring urgent attention in the region, namely restoring peace between Israelis and Palestinians and the creation of a Palestinian state, would have been the central topic. But it was not. There was hardly any mention of the issue! Netanyahu managed to shut it out completely and devote the entire discussion to dealing with Iran!
Obama’s performance at the meeting was pathetic. Not only did he not bring up the issue of Palestine, but, even on Iran, enabled Netanyahu to say, “…Above and beyond that there are two principles you reiterated yesterday that Israel must have the ability always to defend itself, by itself against any threat and that, when it comes to Israel’s security, Israel has a right, a sovereign right, to make its own decisions…. Israel must reserve the right to defend itself…..my supreme responsibility as Prime Minister of Israel is to ensure that Israel remains the master of its fate.”
True Obama could not possibly have denied that. But he could and should have reminded Netanyahu that Israel, in exercising that right, must always remember that Israel, as any other nation, has a duty not to take any action that can result in grave harm to the world as a whole, especially if that action is unwarranted and unnecessary and is being maliciously or mistakenly being taken under cover of “defending Israel”, and that if, in spite of being advised against it, Israel goes ahead and takes such action, Israel cannot expect and will not get any support from the US. In fact, if Israel is preparing to take any such action, other countries that will be adversely affected have a right to take any action that may be required to prevent such an action.
By remaining silent at Netanyahu’s enunciation of Israel’s right, Obama missed the opportunity to make the US position forcefully clear to Israel and to Americans.
A brief look at relevant facts will show that there is no call for bombing Iran because of its progress on its nuclear energy program.
Iran has repeated again and again that it has no intention of acquiring a nuclear arsenal and that it nuclear program is meant only for civil not military purposes.
The New York Times, no friend of Iran, reported on February 24 that though Iran had accelerated its uranium enrichment program, “American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb. Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies”. (emphasis added)
According to a report by Time’s journalists James Risen and Mark Mazetti, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper In his January 31 Senate testimony stated explicitly that American officials believe that Iran is preserving its options for a nuclear weapon, but said there was no evidence that it had made a decision on making a concerted push to build a weapon.
Other top Obama administration officials, including CIA Director David Petraeus, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey share Clapper’s assessment.
Even if it is assumed that Iran was bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, the question arises whether bombing its nuclear facilities is the only way to stop it and if so, is it necessary to take that action right away? The answer to that question hinges on how close is Iran to having a nuclear weapon.
Estimates on this have differed wildly in the past and continue to do so even now.
According to US Secretary of Defense, Iran is a year away from a nuclear bomb. In 1984 Senator Alan Cranston said Iran was seven years away. In 1992 Benjamin Netanyahu, who was then a member of Israeli parliament, said 3 to 5 years. That same year then Israeli Defense Minister (now Israeli President) Shimon Peres said Iran would have nukes by 1999. In 1995 “senior U.S. and Israeli officials” speculated Iran would have nuclear weapons in five years
Meir Dagan, who recently retired as Israel’s Mossad spy agency, has said that Iran would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon until 2015 and that Israel should not hasten to attack Iran but should do so “only when the sword is upon the neck” He later added that (Israel’s) attacking Iran would be a “stupid idea”
President Obama, who has access to intelligence reports, has stated that ‘’There is a window of opportunity’’ to try and solve the issue through diplomacy, indicating that in his opinion Iran is nowhere close to acquiring a nuclear bomb.
Besides, as late as January 2012, Gill Tudor, spokewoman for the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that “The IAEA can confirm that All nuclear material in the facility remains under the Agency’s containment and surveillance”.
Early in January of this year Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said: “Are they [Iranians] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that’s what concerns us.”
Iran has agreed to open up for inspection by IAEA, Parchin, the military facility southeast of Tehran where the U.N. nuclear watchdog suspected that development work relevant to nuclear weapons may have taken place.
Iran offered to return to talks on resolving the dispute over its uranium enriching program and, according to the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain had accepted the offer and had voiced backing for efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the long-running row.
So, there is no evidence that Iran is preparing to acquire nuclear weapons. All that exists is a suspicion that Iran so intends, and, because of this suspicion, we are trying to compel Iran to abandon efforts to advance its nuclear program meant for civil and peaceful purposes, specially to meet its energy needs so that its industry can grow. Even though Iran does not violate any international requirement by continuing to advance its nuclear capability.
In view of all the above, clearly not only is there no justification for going to war now with Iran on the question of its nuclear program but there is no justification even for continuing any sanctions on it on that account, much less imposing new “crippling” sanctions.
So, what exactly is Israel trying to hide by diverting the world’s attention away from Palestine and focusing it on a non-issue? That is another story in itself!
LIVE SIMPLY SO THAT OTHERS MAY SIMPLY LIVE
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”
…Martin Luther King
“Every gun that is fired, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed”…..Dwight Eisenhower
In line with these principles, we wish to openly state that Ken O’Keefe is not welcome to speak on our campus. We urge Middlesex University Free Palestine Society to distance themselves from his comments, and condemn them as anti-semitic.
We invite our fellow student Palestine activists to add their societies names to this statement.’
My response is as follows.
Given that my wife and children are Semitic, it seems the critical thinking abilities of the above thought police are a bit stunted, to say the least. So let me help you out a bit by providing the actual meaning of the word Semitic;
relating to or denoting a family of languages that includes Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic and certain ancient languages such as Phoenician and Akkadian, constituting the main subgroup of the Afro-Asiatic family.
of or relating to the peoples who speak these languages, esp. Hebrew and Arabic.
Your lack of linguistic knowledge or more likely participation in the abuse of language with regard to this word is not surprising, especially as it becomes more obvious that the so-called ‘Palestinian Solidarity’ movement is rife with infiltrators and subversives posing as friends and allies of Palestine. As the saying goes, ‘with friends like these, who needs enemies’.
The truth is that my actions, and my words are those of a person unafraid of the political correctness traps to which you seem to have submitted yourself. You might well call me an “anti-American hate monger” and imply that I paint all Americans with the same brush when I have repeatedly called the United States the “greatest terrorist of the 20th and now 21st centuries.” But I have never seen anybody suggest I be banned from speaking for having stated these words.
But alas, speak the words deemed taboo by the thought police and one becomes unworthy of speaking at all. Think of how incredibly holier than thou and up your own arse it makes you sound when many if not all of you, do not have a Palestinian wife/husband, or Palestinian children, who have likely never been to Palestine, certainly have not risked nearly as much as I have in defending Palestine, you say that I am unworthy of speaking about Palestine or any other issue in universities where I can assure you, many people would be happy for me to speak. The arrogance and hypocrisy is quite simply over the top. And if there are Palestinians among this cadre of thought police who genuinely think that I am a liability rather than an asset to the Palestinian cause, then stand up and say so. I certainly will respect you for having the balls (in a figurative sense) to say so.
To put things in perspective, just over a year ago I was presented the Key to the City of Gaza by the last elected Prime Minister of Palestine, I guess I will have to settle for that instead of your approval.
Also noted is how you have provided a link to my speech, one that purposely edits out the context of what I said. This is either a massive mistake on your part or a deliberate act that exposes your transparent agenda in attempting to marginalise a genuine ally of the people of Palestine. Just in case you have made a mistake, here is a link to my entire speech;
As if my words in the above speech were not clear, let me repeat, I seek the destruction of every government and institution that is actively participating in the destruction of our world. Some being so corrupt and vile that there seems little to no chance in them being reformed, I include the US, British and Israeli governments in this category, along with the United Nations. All of these entities are vile and disgusting and are taking us straight to hell on Earth via World War III.
Let me be clear however, I do not give a free pass to the crimes of all the other corrupt, racist and violent entities and governments out there. I simply recognize the obvious, in terms of total destruction and suffering, the entities I reserve my greatest scorn for, specifically the so-called ‘western civilisation’ I come from, represents the gravest threats we face in this tragic world of ours… we are in truth, barbarians.
As much as you seek to censor me or ban me, all you have really done is expose yourselves and a significant problem facing the Palestinians and everyone else genuinely involved in the struggle for justice. That problem is the false allies of truth and justice, the subversives posing as friends and the dupes too blind to know how much these characters are manipulating them. The direct enemy is plain to see, a more honest enemy, and in this regard I respect this enemy more than the western “liberal” dupe who is either so full of himself, or so corrupt, that he is blind to the traitor to humanity role he plays.
I am a disciple of Malcolm X’s way of thinking, on more than one level. With regard to friends and foes he was astute, he was right. He had no illusions regarding the illusory differences between the Democrats (friends to the black man) and Republicans (racist enemies). “One is the wolf, the other is a fox. No matter what, they’ll both eat you.”
In the 1964 presidential elections, when the US presidential candidates were Lyndon B. Johnson (the “peace” candidate) vs. Barry Goldwater (the “war” candidate), Malcolm X exposed the deceit of this phony distinction.
“The shrewd capitalists, the shrewd imperialists,” he said, “knew that the only way people would run towards the fox (Johnson) would be if you showed them the wolf (Goldwater). So they created a ghastly alternative . . . And at the moment he (Johnson) had troops invading the Congo and
This is my perspective, you, the thought police and false allies of Palestine, which can even include people with Palestinian blood, are the ones attempting to provide cover for the tyrants by prohibiting meaningful deliberation into matters that are of the most critical importance to our world. A stark example of this is the Jewish supremacism that is of dire consequence to our world. This is the taboo subject you are charged with enforcing, and in doing so you take sides with the same racist, supremacist ideologies you claim to oppose. I am proud to be opposed by you, I shall wear your Scarlet Letter as a badge of honour.
I depart by saying that any group of people, whether it is the disciples of Hitler, the Christian Zionists of America or the Jewish supporters of Israel, or the brainwashed false Muslims, I say loud and clear, any group that believes they are “chosen” by God and thus superior to anyone else, is an enemy of all humanity. Combine this sort of supremacist ideology with the power of America and Israel and we have a recipe for the end of the world. The stakes could not be any higher, and you, my poor, poor minions, are on the wrong side of history. You are not the friends of Palestine or justice, you are the guardians of tyranny whether you know it or not.
Thus far the following thought police entities have saw fit to stand by an anti-Ken O’Keefe agenda;
Glasgow Caledonian University Palestine Society
Leeds University Palestine Society
Dundee University Action Palestine
Edinburgh University Students for Justice in Palestine
Glasgow University Palestine Society
Liverpool University Friends of Palestine
It would seem that Scotland has a segment of the population feeling inclined to ban me from Scottish Universities, I invite the people of Scotland to express whether this is representative of their national perspective. If you wish to speak on or against my behalf, please go to the following link and say what you have to say, in fact I encourage all of you to do this. Perhaps the thought police are right, perhaps I should not be allowed to speak at any university in the so-called ‘western civilisation’.
Palestinian Folkloric Fairy Tales Hit Asia and Europe Art Scene
“Someone once described my work as emotive and powerful without the need for jargon yet criticized that my politics use art as its tool; to which I simply replied: ‘Politics are the opinions or sympathies of a person, the total complex of relations between people living in society’ (Merriam Webster). Be it governmental, emotional or spiritual, it comes down to every single form of art being a political dogma” Bissan Rafe.
Often times the concept of the Palestinian cause is associated with suffering, pain, occupation and martyrdom; thus it is always refreshing when an occasional positive, more pure association breaks such stereotypes.
Bissan Rafe, a fast emerging Palestinian-American artist evokes a breath of fresh air with her latest project breaking away from such stereotypes. A multimedia artist and writer based in Texas (USA), whose work personifies an old Mejana song, a story echoing the plight of the Palestinian Diaspora. She established her official Art Studio (Nohra-Studio) back in 2007 and is currently the Director of International Relations and a member of the directive council at the International Artist Collective, Ali Ribelli based in Italy.
Fairy tales, her new project, is a collection of both individual and collaborative work linking Eastern and Western Asian folkloric cultures through imagination. The new series include 6 projects of which two are already in production. Each project is a full-coloured Text-Illustrated book conveying an original fairy tale. The series as whole will also be collected in an anthology encompassing the 6-fairytale books in addition to a documentary outlining all of the residencies, and countries visited during the creation period.
This spotlight focuses on the most recent projects of the series Fairy tales: Shamms Islet, and The Child Far Away.
Shamms Islet is a fairy tale based loosely on Bissan’s Novelette released earlier in 2012 by the same name under Nohra-Studio/Arabesque Ink literary division. The story revolves around the journey of a westerner wolf to the summit of a high mountain where he meets and befriends a girl imprisoned on an islet there with only a giant shadow for a companion.
As a major in Biological and Physical Science, Bissan draws heavily from her scientific background to establish the meat of the story, which revolves around the physiological traumas induced by isolation, altruistic behaviour, and social Darwinism.
Shamms Islet ties inspirations from three regions: Beisan (Palestine), Big Bend (TX, USA), and Yamanashi/ Fukuoka (Japan). The creation process involved several art-residencies and travels to the mentioned locations with the final production-taking place in an upcoming three-months residency scheduled for Japan in 2013.
How is the project is conducted is one of the most attractive aspect about Bissan’s work. Naturopathic medicine, art and folklore were masterfully woven into the fabric of the story combining elements from the various involved regions. For example, the fashion the characters wear is based on Palestinian traditional dresses observed by the artist during her last trip to the Occupied Palestinian Territories back in 2011. The backgrounds of the illustrations and settings are linked to locations in Yamanashi, Big Bend and Beisan. The techniques used to produce the illustrations are inspired by the Japanese art of Emakimono (Storytelling), not to mention the remedies outlined in the story are linked to Arabic and Japanese traditional medicine.
The 2013 Japan residency will feature Shamms Islet the exhibition along side several workshops and talks conducted to promote the story in the East Asian culture thus bringing a wistful taste of Palestine to the Japanese art network. The story has been translated English, Arabic and Italian with future plans for a Japanese translation as well.
The Child Far Away is an illustrated fairy tale; collaboration between Italian-American writer, Jason R. Forbus and Miss Bissan Rafe, revolving around the refugee child and dreams based on the setting of the Island of Ventotene. The construction and presentation took place in Italy, Portugal and Palestine with revenues generated to support the book’s donations to third world country and refugee camp schools. The illustrations are heavily influenced by Bissan’s Palestinian background and Forbus’ Italian heritage.
Thus far, the story has been translated into 15 languages by professional contributors, which include English, Italian, Arabic, Spanish, German, Mandarin, and French published by Ali Ribelli.
The Arabic version of the book includes documentation of Bissan’s visit to Palestinian refugee camps and UWARA elementary schools back in 2011 featuring student artwork rendition of the fairy tales.
The Child Far Away is currently undergoing musical production do to premier on the Italian Stage sometimes in November 2012 with an original orchestral music score by Italian composer Cristian Maddalena and an exhibition installation by Bissan and Jason Forbus.
Bissan, the artist originally from Beisan is but one example of the refreshing art one feels resonating from young Palestinians with yet another innovative approach redefining the Palestinian cause and image. Her new series, fairy tales, is a beautiful rendition of the Palestinian history and reality through vibrant breath-taking illustrations and gripping style of storytelling.
Federico Cao is an Architect and art appreciator based in New York (USA) and Turino (Italy). He can be reached at email@example.com
All illustrations and pictures are copyright of the artist, Bissan Rafe.
- Palestinian Women, LLC Book Groups. LLC books. 2010. ISBN 978-1157389750.
- The Palestine Chronicle (2010). Palestinian Art “Gallery”. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- Sharon Herdian (2006). Anti Thesis Art Magazine “Autumn Issue”. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- Palestinian Visual Arts: News and Reviews at IMEU.net “Art of Palestine”. Review. IMEU. 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- Jason Forbus (2011). “Art of the Palestinian diaspora”. Review. Maan News Agency. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- Il Blu Silente, Jason R. Forbus. Lulu. 2011. ISBN 978-1446149508.
- Art Of The Palestinian Diaspora: The Voice Of A Generation, Jason R. Forbus. Lulu. 2011. ISBN 1447872746.
- The Child Far Away, Jason R. Forbus. Ali Ribelli. 2012. ISBN 18902590.
- Nohra-Studio: Artist Bissan Rafe Official Website. http://www.nohra-studio.com
- Ali Ribelli: International Artist Collective: http://www.aliribelli.com
- Wikipedia Pages: Bissan Rafe. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bissan_Rafe
Newt Gingrich’s recent comments that the Palestinians are an “invented people”, while technically correct, is nothing new to the Israel Palestine discourse. The argument has a long history of usage amongst those who seek to distort the history of mass ethnic cleansing and human rights abuse against Palestinians by Israeli Zionist forces. However, the argument made by Gingrich is part of a series of broader pro Zionist collectivist interpretations of the history of the region. This article seeks to show the basis and use of such arguments for political gain.
Collectivism, the analysis of society based on groups as opposed individuals, is ingrained within modern political and historical dialogue. We have come to view classes, nations, and religions as real, living, breathing entities separate and distinct from those individuals whom constitute their membership. These subjective entities have come to dominate political and social discourse. This tendency is particularly acute in historical analysis, for example, it is common to hear in casual, as well as in academic conversation, such collectivist accounts of history as “the Germans killed the Jews in WW2”, the “British colonised the Irish for 800 years” or “the Arabs attacked the Jews in 1948”.
Since the rise of nationalism and the nation state, nations have become the primary means of categorising individuals. Our national identity is often how we define ourselves and how we are defined by others, and can be a source of shame or pride in differing contexts. This was not always the case but has become so as the nation state has become the building block for the international state system. Governments must now claim to be the representative of a coherent distinct national entity to have legitimacy as a state. The challenge of creating coherent unified national entities, often out of thin air, is the main problem facing state elites in newly created nation states. This project often involves creating a common historical narrative, language and culture, often with the aid of mass media and compulsory public schooling.
The Central Role of Nation in Zionism
This challenge is especially apparent in the state of Israel, who has aimed to create national ties and a common historical narrative between individual Jews from highly diverse cultures and backgrounds, few of them with roots in the area currently occupied by the state of Israel.
Israel is highly unusual in the world of nation states in that it doesn’t recognise any such distinct entity as an “Israeli nation”. Instead, the Israeli state recognises only the “Jewish nation” of which is made of up of subgroups of Jewish peoples such as European “Ashkenazy” Jews, North African and Mediterranean “Sephardic” Jews and Middle Eastern “Mizrahi” Jews, amongst over one hundred others.
Uniquely among the international state system, those who hold Israeli citizenship, including around one and half million Palestinians, are not automatically entitled to nationality. As such, Palestinians and their descendants who remained in Israel after the mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Mandate Palestine by Zionist forces in 1948 and afterwards, are not entitled to nationality and the many state benefits that are given to Israeli nationals.
Framing the Debate
What is the reason for this? Well, one crucial aspect of creating the “self” is to create the “other”; there can be no “in” group unless there is an “out” group. In Israeli historical and political discourse the “other” is “the Arabs”. Who are “the Arabs”? Well they are certainly not the one million or so Arabic speaking Jews from Arab countries that came to Israel between 1948 and the early 1970’s. Nor are they the Jews who lived in relative peace with their Muslim and Christian brothers for centuries in Historic Palestine. Jews are Jews and cannot therefore, according to Zionist thought, also be Arabs. The Arabs include all non Jewish people of Arab background and, most importantly for Israeli purposes, include the Palestinians.
Now those that have travelled to Palestine as well as the broader Middle East will know that, while Palestinians indeed view themselves as Arabs, they have their own very distinct culture and political outlook, one that has been historically liberal and fiercely democratically minded. The lazy reference to Palestinians as simply “Arabs” is an Orientalist view of the Middle East as being a homogenous mono cultural megalith with little in the way of local tradition or diversity. But classifying Palestinians as such also serves a practical purpose.
It is no accident that the huge cultural and political differences between Palestinians and other Arab countries are ironed over by Israeli historians, educators and media. It is not some simple exercise in taxonomy but serves certain political propaganda functions. The aim in doing so is to frame the debate to one which Zionist thinkers feel they are better equipped to win. If Palestinians can be forced, like a square into a round hole, into a simplified and often ill fitting political entity, they easily slot into the Zionist narrative of Israel’s foundation and raison d’être; which claims that “the Arabs” attacked Israel in 1948, “the Arabs” did not accept the partition and “the Arabs” are barbarous and backward people who have no concept of democracy or human rights.
You will often hear, for example, Israeli commentators claim that “the Palestinian Israeli conflict is a front for the Arab Israeli conflict”. This is because the reality of the foundation of the state of Israel is far more nuanced then the “Israel versus the Arab world” account which Israel likes to present. Individual actor’s roles ranged from hostility to the foundation of Israel, as in the case of Syria, to outright collaboration in the case of Jordan.
Looked at individually, however, the position of Palestinians in the 1948 and 1967 conflicts was clearly that of victim. Relative to the size of the population, the ethnic cleansing of Mandate Palestine during the Nakba is one the worst cases of mass disposition in recent history. To this day the relationship of Palestinians to the state of Israel is entirely asymmetrical: one of colonised and coloniser, oppressor and oppressed. To speak of any meaningful “conflict” in Israel and Palestinian is to mistakenly suggest there are two combatants of relatively equal strength, when there is, in fact, only one. Instead of having to face these realities, Israeli apologists have sought to frame the Israel Palestine conflict in a way more amiable to the David and Goliath story of Israel versus the Arab world.
Collective Responsibility and Punishment
One important aspect of framing the debate in such a way is to put collective responsibility on Palestinian individuals for the perceived misconduct of other Arab leaders. Unfortunately, however, collective entities do not have bank accounts to pay fines or bodies to imprison; they are nonexistent as responsible cognisant actors. As such, the buck for collective responsibility, as conceived by whomever it is that’s passing the buck, is individuals within that collective, however it is envisioned. Whole nations of individuals, under such collectivist logic, can be held responsible for the crimes of “their” nation or group, irrespective of their personal involvement. By identifying Palestinians as simply “Arabs” they become more open to be held responsible for the perceived misconduct against Israel of the broader Arab world.
To give some examples, bellow are the three most common Zionist arguments using the above logic of collectivist responsibility and my attempt to debunk them;
“The Arabs rejected the 1948 partition plan for Palestine and attacked the newly created Israeli state. Why should Palestinians be given rights of national self determination when they rejected Israeli determination in 1948?”
If we accept this argument it would imply that a Palestinian child born this very day is responsible for the decision made by individuals hundreds of miles away, of no relation, from different backgrounds over 60 years ago. This responsibility would not be passed down on the basis of blood ties but on the basis of some loose collective affiliation with a broader entity, not as understood by him or her, but as understood by a hostile state, Israel.
“The Arabs already have several states, why should they be given another one?”
However, for Palestinians the fact that there are several other Arab nation states is irrelevant to the fact there is no Palestinian one. Palestinian refugees in neighbouring Arab states face significant discrimination and are often considered alien both socially and legally, as in the case of Lebanon. That Egyptians or Jordanians or Syrians have a state is no comfort to Palestinians who lack self determination in their places of origin.
“The Arab states exiled Jews after the creation of Israel in 1948 and do not recognise their right to return, therefore the Arabs should not be allowed return to their homes of origin in what is now Israel”
The right of return for Palestinian refugee’s is an individual right held by every displaced Palestinian person and is recognised as such under international law. Such a right is inalienable and is not dependent on the actions of others.
But what about the holocaust?
The argument here almost suggests that Jewish people as a collective have gained up human rights abuse “credits” from the horrors of the Holocaust that can be spent as needed: in this case on the Palestinians. The reality is that the attempt to dichotomise as antagonistic the Jewish experience of the holocaust with the ongoing Palestinian Nakba is crass and illogical. Both the Nakba and the Holocaust stand together as immense injustices; one could not logically be used to justify the other.
Of course Israel uses collective punishment on a smaller scale as it sees fit. Whole neighbourhoods have been flattened by Israeli bulldozers as punishment for the actions of individual Palestinian fighters and activists and commonly the family home of activists were regularly targeted for demolition during the second intifada, leaving whole families destitute.
Categorising whole groups of people is often a useful and necessary activity to better understand history and society. Since we cannot understand history, society or politics without analysing broader groups and group ties, we must be certain to be as exact as possible in identifying relevant actors and what their relationship is with each other and the rest of society. It will always be, however, an inexact science that simplifies individual experiences and relationships to certain events. Israel’s war has been largely against Palestinians: the Israel state and the Palestinian people are the two principle groups in the Middle East conflict and it is on that basis we should discuss both the conflict and the responsibility. Newt Gingrich’s comments are far from a search for historical truth but an attempt to rig collective arguments in Israel’s favour.
Several articles on deliberation.info have described the power of Zionism in corrupting progressive groups in Britain, e.g. Laura Stuart’s A Victory for Bullies Everywhere(2012). It’s the same in the USA.
In the summer of 2009, just as the west coast co-operative movement was gearing up to adopt a resolution boycotting Israeli goods, there was a sudden outburst of accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’. One individual in particular, a long-established co-op organizer in Portland, Oregon, and a defender of Palestinian rights, was accused of ‘Holocaust denial’ and ‘anti-Jewish organizing’. Let’s call him X. The ostensible basis for this allegation was that he invited a white nationalist to speak. Let’s call him Y.
I reject most of Y’s views, as does X, in particular, his Islamophobia. However, Y made some useful criticisms of American ‘anti-racist theory’, and helped us understand the reasons for the anti-racist obsession with ‘white supremacy’.
Y, who is Lithuanian, reminded me of something I’d discovered on visits to Eastern Europe. Many people in this area think Soviet dictator Uncle Joe Stalin was worse than Adolf Hitler. In the West, we all know the former was a bad guy, but are taught that the latter was the Devil.
Y refers to the German invasion as ‘the liberation’. This is shocking – we tend to think the American invasion of Nazi-occupied France in 1944 was liberation, and grudgingly give credit to America’s ally, the Soviet Union, but cannot imagine how anyone could use the same word about the expansion of the Third Reich. Of course, Hitler’s SS murdered many Lithuanians, especially Jewish ones. But Stalin’s NKVD also murdered many Lithuanians, and Jews were overrepresented in the top ranks of that brutal secret police force. It was, in part, a continuation of an ancient ethnic conflict, in which neither side emerges with much credit. A lot of effort has gone into persuading us that it’s not like that, that ‘we’, and our allies, were the good guys. But the USA won’t collapse if its inhabitants adopt a rigorously neutral view of World War II. Israel is another matter.
Some of X’s comrades, undeterred by Anti-Racist Action’s threats of ‘assaulting attendees’, decided to see David Irving, the alleged ‘holocaust denier’, speak in Portland. His talk wasn’t about the holocaust, but about code-breaking. Nevertheless, there was a contingent of Zionists and anti-fascists outside the hotel where the meeting took place, and some of them took our pictures, publicized details about us, tried to get us fired, posted threatening messages online, sent a death-threat, and wrote the graffito ‘X is a Nazi’ on X’s workplace.
X works in a co-op. Whereas the rest of us are merely oppressed by capitalists, he feels the pressure from the p.c. left. So he apologized for inviting Y. His apology included
“I don’t deny the horrors of WWII including the Holocaust and the many forgotten details of that time.”
An anti-fascist – let’s call him Z – responded this is “a classic Holocaust-denial strategy”. How can saying the holocaust happened be a way of denying it? Z explained that, if you mention the holocaust in the same breath as other crimes of World War II, such as the incineration of Tokyo, or the rampage of the Red Army, you ‘eviscerate’ the holocaust’s ‘historical meaning and importance’. The holocaust was special: it was a crime against special people.
As Laura Stuart wrote of the British Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s recent expulsions of ‘holocaust deniers’: “like all acts of appeasement, it didn’t satisfy the Zionists one bit”.
The p.c. brigade demanded that X
- cease involvement with groups that promote anti-Semitism and other oppressions;
- agree to learn about anti-Semitism and other oppressions, especially in radical circles;
- publicly apologize for promoting anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry;
- resign from the Co-op Board in order to focus on unlearning oppression.
But by then, having learned that appeasement is futile, X had acquired a pair of balls, and he didn’t sign up for re-education.
In the process of trying to get X sacked, his opponents bombarded co-op members up and down the west coast with criticisms of his activity, including the following:
“And because local Palestine solidarity organizing is overrun with members of anti-Semitic groups like the 9-11 Truth Alliance and the Pacifica Forum, many anti-racists and radical Jews have been driven away from these movements.”
In other words, if only the Palestine solidarity movement would make itself more acceptable to Jews, they would join it. Can you imagine an anti-fascist group asking its black members (both of them) to tone down their anger a bit because it might deter white people from joining?
But when Jews claim they don’t support Palestinians because some of their supporters are allegedly anti-Semitic, they are taken seriously. This discrimination shows a pro-Jewish bias in the left. Palestine solidarity means trying to reduce that bias.
Not all is doom and gloom here in the UK. The North Norfolk Railway (Poppy Line) put on its Spring Steam Gala last weekend and a good time was had by young and old.
Their cute little J15 was celebrating her 100th birthday, dwarfed by wildlife artist David Shepherd’s mighty ‘Black Prince’. The B12, which had been undergoing a major overhaul, emerged into the sunlight looking as brand spanking new as she did the day she was built in 1928. And two visitors joined the proceedings – the Great Western ‘Kinlet Hall’, 83 years old but absolutely immaculate, and a Black Five – to round off this steam spectacular.
As I snapped these snorting, chuffing, hissing beauties and basked in waves of nostalgia I couldn’t help wondering what happened to Palestine’s steam railways. In the days of the British Mandate there was an extensive rail network in the Holy Land with Lydda the hub.
When Britain quit Palestine in 1948 it left behind a considerable steam rail legacy. Does anyone have memories? But Lydda was renamed Lod after the Israelis attacked and annexed it. The same fate befell other Palestinian towns. Did anything survive? What happened to the trackbeds, locomotives and rolling stock? Are some hidden away in old sheds or did the Israelis steal everything that was moveable and destroy everything they could carry away?
In Britain the government discarded our fine steam locomotives in its unseemly rush for diesel in the 1960s. It was nothing short of criminal to treat our priceless heritage so carelessly. Enthusiasts scraped some money together and rescued what they could, and today there are well over 100 resurrected railways and tramways with more than 500 miles of track and some 400 stations. They carry about 7 million passengers a year and play a valuable role in tourism.
It is believed that nearly 3000 locomotives have been preserved or are restoration projects. The 120-ton ‘Black Prince’ is a class 9F heavy freight locomotive and one of the last to be build in the UK for main line use. David Shepherd paid just £3000 to save it from the scrap yard in 1967. “She was eight years old, she’d just had an overhaul and they were going to just chuck her away and cut her up,” he said. “I managed to save her and thank God I did.
You can have all sorts of emotional feelings on an engine when it’s in steam! I just love this engine for the pleasure it gives.”
In Palestine, as a consequence of the UN’s daft Partition plan, key bridges and other rail infrastructure were destroyed in the 1948 war. Had the Palestinians been left in peace their steam railways would no doubt have played a major role in building the nation’s economy and bringing prosperity.
By now they’d probably have a number of steam preservation lines in their coastal resorts and population centres like Jerusalem and Ramallah to excite the children, charm their parents and celebrate the romance of the steam age.
What a different world it could have been.
Introduction by Gilad Atzmon: The following is a deconstruction by Kevin Barrett. Barrett takes the time and the effort and dismantles each of the arguments against myself and my work. Barrett exposes the intellectual lameness at the core of my detractor’s argument . Once again, it seems as if my critics actually project their own symptoms onto me. I would like to thank Kevin for his time and effort.
Kevin Barrett – Why Hate Gilad Atzmon Pt. 2
Last Thursday’s essay “Why Hate Gilad Atzmon?” has been bouncing around the internet. (The title currently gets 780,000 Google hits).
In that piece I suggested that the anti-Atzmon brigade is defending sacred boundaries against Atzmon’s fearless questioning. The two taboo questions are: Is the whole notion of a Jewish state in Palestine (i.e., Zionism) legitimate and/or feasible? (The obvious answer, of course, is NO.) Second question: To what extent has Jewish identity politics contributed to the disaster of Zionism? (The obvious answer, of course, is “to a considerable extent.”)
“Don’t even go there!” they scream. Atzmon goes there. So they lynch him.
The truth hurts.
That’s my take, anyway. But not everyone agrees with me. I have received quite a few anti-Atzmon emails. They all make the same argument: Atzmon is wrong about X, Y, or Z, and therefore he is dangerous, a racist, a dangerous racist, and so on.
First, I would like to point out to these people that Atzmon has a right to be wrong. Since nobody is arguing that Atzmon is offering wrong facts – just wrong opinions, interpretations and orientations on very complex issues – his critics ought to be working harder to explain why he is wrong, rather than calling him names and organizing boycotts and smear campaigns on the basis of perfectly innocent quotes violently and misleadingly ripped from their contexts.
Second, it isn’t at all clear that Atzmon is wrong. What IS clear is that many of his opponents are.
Take the charge that Atzmon is an “essentialist.”
To call someone an “essentialist” (in the bad sense) is to argue that they prematurely end a discussion by fallaciously citing the “essence” of something.
For example, if someone argued that the reason African-American communities often have high crime rates is that “black people tend to be criminals, that’s just their nature” that person would be making a fallacious argument by falsely impugning an unchangeable “essence” to black people. And that person could plausibly be charged with bigotry. The logical fallacy involved is called “circular reasoning”: Black neighborhoods have higher crime rate, therefore black people are more likely to be criminals, because they’re the ones in the black neighborhoods, where crime rates are higher, ad infinitum. The problem with this argument is that it prematurely ends an inquiry into the real reason why crime rates are what they are; it short-circuits a more thoughtful investigation of the historical and cultural factors that have produced the phenomenon under investigation.
Now if Atzmon were to say “It is just the essence of Jewish nature to be greedy and violent, and that explains the rape of Palestine – end of story, and don’t bore me with historical and cultural explanations,” he would be an essentialist in the bad sense.
But that is not what he says. On the contrary, it is Atzmon who is opening a thoughtful discussion of the historical and cultural factors behind Zionism. And it is his opponents who want to prematurely shut down the inquiry by ruling that discussion off-limits. As Gilad puts it, the two-staters will only go back as far as 1967. One-staters go back to 1948, or maybe the Balfour declaration of 1917. Gilad wants to keep going, right back through the 19th century and beyond.
It is actually his opponents who are the essentialists. They believe that the essence of Jewishness is always either positive or neutral. Any discussion of Jewish culture or identity that brings up anything that is negatively-valued violates their sacred notion of the essence of Jewishness as innocence and victimization. Atzmon wants to talk about empirical historical reality, which bears little resemblance to the essentialist construct. So they shout him down, desperate to end the discussion before it starts. You’d almost think they have something to hide.
Ironically, most of those wailing that Atzmon is slandering the Jews are themselves slandering Atzmon. They call him a racist, with no evidence to back up that charge. (Atzmon’s critique of Jewish identity-politics and Jewish culture in general has absolutely nothing whatsoever do do with race, as he himself always makes abundantly clear, in part by pointing out that Jews are not a race.)
Let’s look at some of the charges against Gilad that have appeared in my in-box. They usually involve taking a quote and lying about it – I mean, misconstruing it.
Atzmon quote: “The remarkable fact is they [ all Jews--not Zionists] don’t understand why the world is beginning to stand against them in the same way they didn’t understand why the Europeans stood against them in the 1930s. Instead of asking why we are hated they continue to toss accusations on others.”
The writer claims that Atzmon is “blaming the Jews for the Holocaust.” That’s just not true. The quote, in its context, doesn’t say that. It addresses an empirical historical reality (Europe in the 1930s, the world today) that is much larger than “the Holocaust.” And once again, Gilad is the honest thinker while his opponents are the essentialists. For the essentialists, the essence of Jewishness is 100% pure victimhood, end of discussion: Not a single Jew on earth – including, for example, the Rothschilds and their big bankster friends who screwed Germany in World War I in exchange for Palestine – bears one iota of responsibility for the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany! (Just like the top neocons, of whom around 90% are Jewish and fanatical Zionists, bear not one iota of responsibility for the 9/11 wars against Israel’s enemies.)
If you are an honest historian and cultural analyst, whenever there is a conflict between two groups, you look at it from the point of view of various parties in both groups, and emerge with a more or less nuanced, multi-viewpoint, holistic picture. Gilad compares this to analyzing the problems that arise in the life of a couple. Should we take the word of one or the other party that he or she is 100% right, and the other 100% wrong? Or should we talk to both parties and try to take both perspectives into consideration?
If you an essentialist/mythologist, nourished on Old Testament exceptionalism and chosen-ness (like Americans in general, not just Jews) you may instead imagine that it is the essence of the good guys in your historical narrative to be good, and the essence of the bad guys to be bad. Jews good, Germans bad; ergo, US and Allies good, Axis bad. End of sacred story.
This is the essentialist myth that Americans and Westerners have accepted in place of real history. And it is this myth, more than any other, that is responsible for what William Blum calls “the American holocaust”: The massacre of uncounted millions, and the ruined lives of uncounted tens of millions more, by the CIA, the US military, and their allies since World War II. Taken together with Zionist atrocities against Palestine and their spill-over into widespread Middle East violence, and the WWII atrocities of the Allies against people in the Axis countries, and it should be clear to any sane and moderately well-informed person that the “good guys” who won World War II have committed vastly more mass-murder, vastly more atrocities, vastly greater crimes against the human body and spirit than the Nazis ever did. In short, as Philip K. Dick suggested in The Man in the High Castle, it was the real “Nazis” who WON World War II. We have met the enemy, and he is us.
But – as is commonly said in reference to the “good Germans” under Hitler – it is so much easier to just pretend it isn’t happening, and go along with the essentialist, exceptionalist assumption that your people are the good guys. And when someone like Niemoller or Atzmon comes along to challenge you, shout him down without giving him a fair hearing.
The confused individual who falsely charges Atzmon with blaming Jews for the Holocaust also calls Atzmon a racist:
“This is the essence of racism. Not that Jews like many before them have become corrupted by power. But that there is something pathological about Jewish culture–it must be their culture since he repudiates genetic explanations–that led them to become Zionists.”
Sorry, that is NOT “the essence of racism.” Racism offers biological explanations. Cultural explanations are THE OPPOSITE of racism!
Calling Atzmon “a racist” when you don’t even know what racism is…well, to say that this is inviting a defamation lawsuit is putting it mildly.
This person is trying to rule out any kind of investigation of cultural factors that led Jews to become Zionists. This is idiotic on its face. So in an attempt to prevent anyone, himself included, from actually thinking, he starts in with the mendacious insults: “Racist! Anti-Semite!”
Let’s get this straight: Nobody in his or her right mind has ever tried to prevent any discussion or investigation of cultural factors in history. Was there something in Protestant culture that led to the Industrial Revolution? Max Weber says yes – and he doesn’t give a good goddamn whether you feel he’s insulting Protestants (or Catholics) by investigating their respective cultures. Is there something in the culture of Muslim Saudi elites that is contributing to religious tensions in the region? Hell, yes – their hypocritical tolerance of wildly un-Islamic behavior for themselves, while imposing harsh restrictions on others. Is there something in Muslim culture that has slowed “economic progress” in Islamic countries? Sure, there are plenty of things, ranging from stopping to pray five times a day, to prohibitions against any kind of dealing involving interest, to culturally-accepted nepotism, to cultural preferences for working as an independent operator rather than a member of a corporate team.
Atzmon’s critics are wildly irrational in calling him a racist, and claiming that nobody should ever investigate cultural forces in history (the bread and butter of cultural historians). The dozens of people signing a statement to this effect - a statement containing blatantly false and defamatory assertions about Atzmon – might as well be signing a statement reading “I am an ignorant idiot.”
What these folks should be doing is reading Atzmon’s work carefully and holistically, and then, if they find that Atzmon is mistaken in his analysis of the way Jewish identity politics is a factor in Zionism, they should correct him. For once we’ve admitted that cultural critique is perfectly legitimate, we must add that not all cultural critiques are equal: It can be done badly, or well. Sure, some of Gilad’s statements about Jewish identity politics are tendentious or overly broad. And since his main focus is explaining the horrors of Zionism, he naturally talks more about negative cultural tropes than positive ones. (Personally I think that the positives in Jewish culture outweigh the negatives; but the positives, such as humor, education, bagels with lox and cream cheese and a thin slice of onion, etc. don’t explain what’s been done to Palestine.)
The irrational Atzmon critic continues:
As long as Zionism is conveyed as a colonial project, Jews, as a people, should be seen as ordinary people. They are no different from the French and the English, they just happen to run their deadly colonial project in a different time.”
Obviously this cannot be taken at face value. The French and the English are not identical, nor were their colonial projects. One thing I learned from postgraduate work in African Studies is that the French and English colonial projects differed wildly in accordance with the very different cultural peculiarities of the two nations. For example: The French, holding a monolithically statist and egalitarian ideology in keeping with their culture, did their best to grant the natives the status of honorary Frenchmen; and being slightly less racist than the British, they were more likely to intermarry with the colonized peoples.
So what is this dramatic, doth-protest-too-much insistence that “the Jews are ordinary people, just like the French and British” trying to hide?
The answer comes in the same sentence: The “deadly colonial project” of the Jews is happening at a “different time” from that of the French and English.
Let’s be specific: All other colonial projects – especially settler-colonial projects – are dead. They have passed on, ceased to be, expired and gone to meet their Maker; stiff, bereft of life, they rest in peace. If the Israelis hadn’t nailed Occupied Palestine to its perch, they would all be pushing up daisies.
The age of colonialism ended in about 1960; the process mostly happened within a few years, and was essentially complete within three decades. South Africa, the second-to-last settler colony, officially decolonized itself around 1990.
So what is it about Israel that allows it to persist as a fanatical, murderous settler-colony, vastly nastier than apartheid South Africa or French Algeria, in a post-colonial world?
Gilad Atzmon says that to answer that question, we need to take a very close, critical look at Jewish culture in general and Jewish identity politics in particular.
If there is a reasonable argument to the contrary, I would like to hear it.
But I don’t think there is.
I think it will be people following the trail Gilad blazed – people who discover that the persistence of a very peculiar and very nasty settler-colony in Palestine is largely due to the peculiarities of Jewish identity politics – who will, by ripping the mask off Zionism to show what it really is, shame the world in general and the Jewish community in particular into shutting down their settler colony in Occupied Palestine.
Currently, the sacred taboos and one-sided myths that surround this issue are protecting Zionism. Blast those taboos to smithereens, and the Wall will come down.
Like Joshua at the battle of Jerico, Gilad is heroically blasting the Wall – the wall that stops us from thinking as well as the Apartheid Wall in Occupied Palestine – with his saxophone as well as his pen.
One day the Wall will crumble.
And Gilad will be playing at the celebration.
Hope to see you there.
This should be shown to all those Christian Zionists who send so much money to Israel to support the illegal land theft and occupation by the Jews that they claim to love.
This video clip is offensive not only to Christians but to Muslims for whom Jesus a.s. is one of the major prophets.
Mary has a very special status in Islam as one of only four women mentioned in the Quran who are guaranteed paradise (heaven) and she is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran (Maryam) with a whole chapter about her and the birth of Jesus a.s.
Surat al Maryam 19-33
And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive.”
More than 25 people including children have been murdered in Gaza in the last four days. Today is the 5th day since the start of this new massacre, a new ceasefire has been announced between resistance groups in Gaza and the Israeli Occupation Forces.
What have our Muslim leaders and Mosque leaders been doing to express our outrage at these murders?
You can read here on the Muslim Association of Britain and find NOTHING!
You can read here on M.I.N.A.B. the Mosque and Imam’s advisory board and find NOTHING!
You can read here on M.C.B. the Muslim Council of Britain and find NOTHING!
The people of Palestine have only Allah s.w.t. as the Ummah (worldwide community of Muslims) and the Governments of the world stay silent and therefore complicit in the injustice against them.
الَّذِينَ قَالَ لَهُمُ النَّاسُ إِنَّ النَّاسَ قَدْ جَمَعُوا لَكُمْ فَاخْشَوْهُمْ فَزَادَهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَقَالُوا حَسْبُنَا اللَّهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيل
Those to whom hypocrites said, “Indeed, the people have gathered against you, so fear them.” But it [merely] increased them in faith, and they said, “Sufficient for us is Allah , and [He is] the best Disposer of affairs.”