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Anti-Israel Christmas Carols prove effective in Provoking Israeli Arseholes

Posted by NT Wrong on December 11, 2008

The Christmas Carols have been updated to reflect the current political situation in ‘the Holy Land’.

dreidelOnce in Royal David’s City

Once in Royal David’s City,
Stood a big apartheid wall,
People entering and leaving,
Had to pass a checkpoint hall,
Bethlehem was strangulated,
And her children segregated.

Though this city is a symbol
To the world of peace and love,
Concrete walls have closed around her,
Settlements expand above.
And apartheid Israel stands
All around on stolen lands.

David’s people once instructed
All the world in righteousness;
Prophets spoke of truth and justice;
Israel’s leaders now oppress.
All who look at Bethlehem
Must speak out the truth to them.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve assassinations,
Eleven homes demolished,
Ten wells obstructed,
Nine sniper towers,
Eight gunships firing,
Seven checkpoints blocking,
Six tanks a-rolling,
Five settlement rings,
Four falling bombs,
Three trench guns,
Two trampled doves,
And an uprooted olive tree.

The carols were performed at the Wren church of St. James in Central London, at an event called Bethlehem Now: Nine Alternative Lessons And Carols For Palestine. The event was organised by Jews For Boycotting Israeli Goods, a group of secular British Jews opposed to Israeli policies, and the Palestinian group Open Bethlehem.

Without a trace of self-conscious irony, Israeli ambassador Ron Proser blamed the Church of England for allowing its nice and lovely Christmas traditions to be “hijacked by hatred”. Then, losing all sense of the very meaning of ‘irony’, Proser claimed that the pro-peace activists “gave the stage to incitement of the kind of hatred we hoped had passed from this world, instead of encouraging understanding and interfaith tolerance.”

Although none of the News sources recorded it, the Israeli ambassador is understood to have later condemned the Wise Men as “insurgents” for declaring Jesus to be the anointed King — praising King Herod for taking measures to maintain the Rule of Law, after Herod contained a potential terrorist uprising by an organization of under-three-year-olds calling themselves “The Innocents”. Proser later pointed out that the Wise Men were from “The East”, an area renowned for its links with Al Qaeda.

Naturally, the Church of England’s openness to the Jewish group has been condemned as supporting “anti-Semitism” by any number of bandwagon-riding half-arses: Lord Carey of Clifton, the former archtwatbishop of Canterbury, and Dr Rowan Williams, the current Archbishop of Canterbury. And David Gifford of the Council of Christians and Jews complained that Christmas had suddenly been ‘politicized’, from what he must have understood to be a politically neutral celebration of Western commercialism.

But hooray for Bruce Kent, a former Roman Catholic priest and prominent peace campaigner, who cut through the Zionist bullshit by replying in this manner to the ‘tolerant’, ‘we mustn’t offend anybody, especially military governments’ crowd of insipid Anglican half-arses:

‘I think it is perfectly reasonable for carols to be rewritten in this way. I am fed up with sugary religion – the baby Jesus sitting in his stable and all that stuff… The carols pointed out exactly what is going on in occupied Palestine today. I am delighted they have had the publicity that this has generated. Anyone who speaks against Zionist policies is labelled anti-Semitic.’

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Posted in Justice, Modern Israel, Violence, War | 2 Comments »

Israel: ‘Profundity’ of Ideas as Justification for Colonialism; Bodily Desire as Justification for Dispossession

Posted by NT Wrong on November 24, 2008

“For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country… the four great powers are committed to Zionism. And Zionism… is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import tha[n] the desires and prejudices of 700 000 Arabs who now inhabit the land.”
– Arthur James Balfour, memorandum sent to Lord Curzon in 1919

Posted in Colonialism, Modern Israel, Racism, Violence | 2 Comments »

Israeli David and Arab Goliath

Posted by NT Wrong on August 13, 2008

It’s not only sticks and stones that hurt our bones. The ‘David and Goliath’ metaphor has provided a powerful lens through which to view the Israeli-Arab conflict. Moreover, the metaphor has helped determine the way in which the Israeli-Arab conflict has developed in the real world.

“Israel’s partisans have worked hard to present the country as a tiny David facing a Goliath Arab military machine. In fact, however, virtually all experts—including the U.S. Department of Defence—believe the Israel Defense Forces have always been more than a match for their Arab neighbors.”
– Yahya M. Sadowski, Scuds or butter? : The political economy of arms control in the Middle East. Brookings Institution Press, 1993: 104.

“the Zionist Emergency Council and local Zionist groups provided the basic financial support for this Christian front, which soon, through local chapters and a budget of $150,000, was “crystallizing and properly channeling the sympathy of Christian America.” An effective speakers’ bureau dispatching lecturers across the country, supported by a monthly publication and other propaganda material, helped implant in Christian minds a picture of Israel as a “democratic little David taking on an evil Egyptian David.””
– Alfred M. Lilienthal, The Other Side of the Coin: An American Perspective of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. New York: Devin-Adair. 1965: 7.

“No simile better fits the war … than the legend of David and Goliath. David, of course, is little Israel, numbering less than 2.5 million souls. Goliath, of course, is the Arab world … a population of 20 to 40 million. … The Arabs and Communist representatives accused Israel of firing the first shots. [But] obviously, a nation that knows that it is in danger of stragulation will use its fists.”
– Reinhold Niebuhr, “David and Goliath” (Editorial). Christianity and Crisis 27.11 (26 June 1967): 141-142.

Political Stereotypes Israelis (Jews): Modern; western; having democratic orientations; good fighters; underdog; Israel as David facing an inept Goliath; trusted ally, and a true friend of the United States; a threatened party seeking and deserving peace and security in the midst of implacable enemies, etc.”
– media portrayal of Jews and Arabs, in Mohammed E. Ahrari, Ethnic Groups and U.S. Foreign Policy. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1987: 9.

“In the official Zionist rendition of the 1948 war the events are presented as a battle between a Jewish David and an Arabic Goliath. Central to key narratives in Israeli culture is the myth which depicts the Israel-Palestine conflict as ‘a war of the few against the many’. Since the early twentieth century Zionist historiography has based this narrative of the ‘few against the many’ on the biblical account of Joshua’s conquest of ancient Palestine, while mainstream Israeli historians continue to portray the 1948 war as an unequal struggle between a Jewish David and an Arab Goliath, and as a desperate, heroic, and ultimately successful Jewish struggle against overwhelming odds.”
– Nur Masalha, The Bible and Zionism: Invented Traditions, Archaeology and Post-Colonialism in Palestine-Israel. Zed Books, 2007: 56.

“The story of David and Goliath provided a reassuring myth of survival, not only because it told of the victory of the weak against the strong but also because the youthful victor of the battle against Goliath eventually emerged as the great ruler of ancient Israel, King David. By identifying with David, the Jews of both the pre-State and State periods could allow themselves to believe that they too would eventually achieve a high degree of political sovereignty, analogous to that of David in ancient times.”
– David C. Jacobson , Does David Still Play Before You?: Israeli Poetry and the Bible. Wayne State University Press, 1997: 84.

“the claim of “defenseless Israel facing the destruction of the Arab Goliath” does not correspond to historical facts. [Flapan] argues that Israel, on the eve of the “Arab invasion” had between 25,000 and 65,000 (low and high estimates) standing soldiers, while all the “Arab Goliath” had was 20, 269 to 23,500. By June of 1948, the Israeli fighting forces reached 41,000, and by December of the same year 96,441 ([Simha] Flapan[, The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities. Pantheon,] 1987: 194-199). Concealing this fact came to valorize the “national spirit” and show its “superior and just cause” compared to the “evil, unjust, and destructive Arabs.” Then, in this discourse, the powerful is presented as “defenseless” and the “defenseless” is presented as the “destructive Goliath.”
– Riad M. Nasser, Palestinian Identity in Jordan and Israel. Routledge, 2005: 51.

“The international phase of the 1948 war has been filtered through the David and Goliath iconography with regard to the size of opposing forces and belief that Israel was on the defensive – the war taken to be an unalloyed military necessity rather than an outgrowth of expansionist goals. Concerning the relative size of military forces, Ben-Gurion claimed that 700,000 Jews are pitted against 27 million Arabs – one against forty.” The Arab countries equally indulged in wild propaganda about the magnitude of their threat to Israel. For example, the secretary general of the Arab League declared: “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre that will be spoken of like the Mongol invasions and the Crusades.” This hyperbole about Arab strength, coming from both Jews and Arabs, could not alter the fact that the Arab Goliath was suffering from extreme poverty, domestic discord and internal rivalries. Nearly all the Arab countries were in imminent danger of internal collapse.”
– Thomas A. Baylis, How Israel was Won: A Concise History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Lexington Books, 1999: 80-81.

“Arab intransigence. On one side, a few million Israelis. On the other side, twenty Arab countries with a population of 100 million. Through ingenuity, resourcefulness, and courage, the beleaguered Jewish settlement in Palestine was able to forestall the attack of five Arab armies. David versus Goliath.”
– Summarising a media perception: William A. Gamson, Talking Politics. Cambridge University Press, 1992: 244.

“”The Auschwitz theme is back again,” says Marc H. Tanenbaum, director of the Interreligious Affairs Department of the American Jewish Committee. “The issue of Jewish survival is again at stake. You can’t have Judaism without Jews. The war assumes a metaphysical importance beyond the importance of individual Jewish lives.” Clifford A. Straus, who is organizing bond rallies in Miami, made the same point: “We’re scared as a people. How many times can David beat Goliath?” … The Chicago Civic Center was jammed with 5,000 people who applauded an enraged Mayor Richard Daley: “Go ahead, Israelites. Be sure to remove every Arab from the soil of Israel.””
– “A Unique Burst of Giving.” TIME Magazine, October 29, 1973.

“The relative sizes of Arab and Jewish populations have always been a serious concern, first to the early Zionists who sought in vain through Jewish immigration to build up a Jewish majority in Palestine, and later to Israel which has sought a larger population base to meet the threat implicit in the disproportionately Goliath-like Arab populations that surround it. But since 1967, the greatly disproportionate sizes of Israeli and Arab populations are only one part of the population problem. The new factor is the higher growth rate of the Arab population within Israel itself. For deriving from the conquests from the Six-Day War, the proportion of Palestinian Arabs to Jews within Israel’s new boundaries rose to a level that, if their higher growth rate continues, Palestinian Arabs will outnumber Jews in Israel itself within a few decades, all other factors remaining constant.”
– Willard A. Beling, The Middle East: Quest for an American Policy. SUNY Press, 1976: 49.

“To the Arabs and the supporters of their cause, Israel is the Goliath, gigantic with American arms and money …”
– Ronald Segal, Whose Jerusalem?: The Conflicts of Israel. Cape, 1973: 11.

“In Washington, Ronald Reagan, by instinct a warm supporter of Israel, reflected that in the public perception, Israel had been transformed from the “David” to the “Goliath” of the Middle East.”
– William E. Smith, “Crisis of Conscience.” TIME Magazine, October 4, 1982.

Posted in Historical Books, Modern Israel, Reception | Comments Off on Israeli David and Arab Goliath

History of Christian-American Zionism

Posted by NT Wrong on June 21, 2008

Foreign Affairs ( July/August 2008 ) has a good article outlining the history of Christian American support for Zionism.

Many of the reasons for the support are religious, of course. One of the religious reasons stems from the “mythic understanding of the United States’ nature and destiny”:

“As the ancient Hebrews did, many Americans today believe that they bear a revelation that is ultimately not just for them but also for the whole world; they have often considered themselves God’s new Israel. One of the many consequences of this presumed kinship is that many Americans think it is both right and proper for one chosen people to support another. They are not disturbed when the United States’ support of Israel, a people and a state often isolated and ostracized, makes the United States unpopular or creates other problems. The United States’ adoption of the role of protector of Israel and friend of the Jews is a way of legitimizing its own status as a country called to a unique destiny by God.”

There are plenty of other explanations given in this well-balanced article, but I found that one interesting, and compelling – amongst others.

I spotted this on John Hobbins’ Ancient Hebrew Poetry.

Posted in Fundamentalism, Modern Israel, Religion & Society | 1 Comment »

Militant Christian Extremist Cleric John Hagee on Israel

Posted by NT Wrong on June 3, 2008

“Support the Jewish people and the State of Israel today, tomorrow and forever, until the Messiah comes.”
– John Hagee

“Our support of Israel has nothing to do with end-times prophecy.”
– John Hagee

Max Blumenthal’s short documentary, “Rapture Ready: The Christians United for Israel Tour” (9:57) is available on YouTube. They’re scary folk.

“During a press conference at the 2007 Christians United for Israel Washington-Israel Summit, I asked CUFI Executive Director Pastor John Hagee about passages in his book “Jerusalem Countdown” in which he appeared to blame Jews for their own persecution. Hagee was visibly piqued by my question, insisting that his statements were directly inspired by the Book of Deuteronomy. When I attempted to ask Hagee a follow-up question, a former intern for AIPAC, Kara Silverman, the former assistant communications director for AIPAC, cut me off. Moments later, a team of off-duty DC police officers hired by CUFI surrounded my co-producer and I and demanded that we immediately leave the conference, threatening us with arrest if refused to comply. You can view my exchange with Hagee and the ensuing fracas at 7:45 of my video report on CUFI’s summit, “Rapture Ready:”

For nearly two years, a handful of independent journalists and I have raised the alarm about Hagee’s long record of anti-Semitic statements. Until now, our reporting has been largely ignored by the mainstream press and the politicians who have clamored for Hagee’s support. The supposedly “pro-Israel” groups that have joined with Hagee in support of Israeli military aggression, providing him with much-needed moral cover in the process, have also turned a blind eye to the pastor’s Judeophobic tendencies.”
Max Blumenthal

Posted in Eschatology, Fundamentalism, Modern Israel, Video | 4 Comments »

Academic Norman Finkelstein Detained and Interrogated by Israel Security Forces

Posted by NT Wrong on June 1, 2008

Rebecca Lesses has been right to call for the continued freedom of expression and operation of the Israeli Academy. Her call is in opposition to the recent totalitarian action of the University and College Union’s Congress, which recently passed the motion to boycott Israeli academics. Such a boycott is a stupid and misguided confusion of the people who live in this part of the Levant (and are furthering academic knowledge) with the political hegemony of the modern nationalist State. While I am not so naive as to imagine the Academy is fully independent of the State, I am also firmly against such a blunt instrument as the boycott which has naively equated the two. In a terrible and totalising irony, the University and College Union’s Congress has simply accepted the hegemony of the modern nation-state, rather than recognising the forces which always challenge that hegemony (including, especially, voices within the Academy itself). As such, the actions of the University and College Union’s Congress is nothing less than the method of terrorism and totalitarianism.

For the same reasons, Norman Finkelstein’s detainment, interrogation, and 10-year banning from Palestine (not only Israel) should be loudly opposed. It is another act of totalitarianism by a country which–and it bears repeating–should know better. There is no justification to silence the voices of dissent, whether one agrees with them or not.

US academic Norman Finkelstein denied entry to Israel
By Jean Shaoul
31 May 2008

Professor Norman Finkelstein, an American Jewish scholar known for his trenchant criticism of Israeli policy, was detained and interrogated by Israel’s security forces, Shin Bet, for 24 hours at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport on May 23, denied entry into Israel and deported back to Amsterdam where he had been lecturing.

Finkelstein had been en route to visit a friend in Hebron in the occupied West Bank. His deportation, and a 10-year ban on entering Israel for “security reasons,” is a major attack on the freedom of expression, the right of Israeli citizens to hear alternative viewpoints, and an attempt to intimidate and silence international opposition to Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians.

It also exposes the fraud of any putative Palestinian state where Israel controls the Palestinian borders and thus who may or may not enter.

Finkelstein, a son of Holocaust survivors, is one of a growing number of Jewish scholars who have made valuable contributions to the study of Israeli history and have become known as the “new” or “revisionist” historians. He has consequently been the focus of constant opposition from right-wing professors and the pro-Israeli media for years. He has been targeted in particular for his opposition to the charge of anti-Semitism being employed as a means of suppressing criticism of Israel’s violations of human rights and international law.

The 55-year-old political science professor is best known for his 2000 book, The Holocaust Industry, which argues that the Holocaust has been exploited for ends—support for Israel and calls for reparations—that have nothing to do with historical truth or the victims of the Nazi genocide. Finkelstein has also written critical studies of Daniel Goldhagen’s book, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, which argues that the cause of the Holocaust can be located in the inherent anti-Semitism of the German people as a whole.

His most recent book, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, continues on these themes, as well as documenting in detail the human rights violations of the state of Israel. Among the targets of the book, published by the University of California Press, are Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz and others who have used the charge of anti-Semitism to suppress criticism of Israeli policies.

Last year, Finkelstein was denied tenure at Chicago’s DePaul University where he had been lecturing for six years, despite support from his department, his students, and the faculty of the university, following pressure from opponents of his views, including Dershowitz. His classes for his final year in 2007-08 were cancelled and he was denied access to his office, leading him to resign under duress.

After landing in Tel Aviv last Friday, Shin Bet held Finkelstein in an airport cell and interrogated him about contacts with Hezbollah—against whom Israel fought a massive 33-day aerial bombardment in 2006—whether Hezbollah had sent him to Israel, any contacts he had with Al Qaeda and how he intended to finance his stay in Israel.

Earlier this year, Finkelstein had visited Lebanon, where he had been invited to speak at a conference at the American University in Beirut. He also undertook a tour in order to promote his book, accompanied by his Arab publisher and representatives of Hezbollah in the south of Lebanon. He has subsequently published articles about his trip.

Finkelstein’s web site posts excerpts from an interview he gave in January to Lebanese TV, in which he said he was “happy to meet the Hizbollah people because it is a point of view rarely heard in the US.”

Shin Bet’s line of questioning insinuates that Finkelstein is a supporter of Hezbollah, if not in their employ. Moreover to imply he is also connected to Al Qaeda is yet more absurd, particularly since Hezbollah is a a Shiite party while Al-Qaeda is a Sunni Muslim grouping.

The Shin Bet said Finkelstein “is not permitted to enter Israel because of suspicions involving hostile elements in Lebanon” and because he “did not give a full accounting to interrogators with regard to these suspicions.”

Finkelstein denied this in an emailed statement to Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper from Amsterdam. He wrote, “I did my best to provide absolutely candid and comprehensive answers to all the questions put to me. I am confident that I have nothing to hide. Apart from my political views, and the supporting scholarship, there isn’t much more to say for myself: alas, no suicide missions or secret rendezvous with terrorist organizations.” He added, “I support the two-state solution based on the ’67 borders and I told my interrogators I’m not an enemy of Israel.”

He explained that he was “en route to Palestine to see one of my oldest and dearest friends, Musa Abu-Hashhash.”

Finkelstein said he had visited Israel every year for the last 15 years. He added that he was held in a cell and encountered “several unpleasant moments with the guards.” Eventually he used a mobile phone belonging to another detainee and called another friend he had arranged to meet in Israel, the journalist Allan Nairn, who called a lawyer, Michael Sfard. Sfard met with Finkelstein and told him he could appeal the ban. He said that banning Finkelstein from entering the country “recalls the behaviour of the Soviet bloc countries.”

However, Finkelstein said that it was not “his inclination to pursue the matter,” although lawyers in Israel were encouraging him to do so on political grounds.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Finkelstein said he is not “dogmatic or fanatic” and while he believes every country has the right to restrict entry, he does not agree with the criteria. “Just as I would oppose the US not allowing people to enter due to ideological beliefs, I would consistently oppose them in Israel,” he said.

He also denied that he poses any threat to Israel. “I couldn’t be [a risk] because of any security threat I pose,” said Finkelstein. “The US has as stringent anti-terrorism laws in the books as Israel, and Hamas and Hezbollah are on their terrorist list. If I posed a security threat I should be talking to you from jail. Because no authorities have contacted me there are no grounds for it.”

Finkelstein did not intend to visit Israel, but had to pass through Israeli customs “by force of circumstance,” to visit a friend in Hebron. “Israel has the right to restrict who enters its country, but the West Bank is not its country,” said Finkelstein. “One day the Palestinian Authority may restrict my rights, but that’s an issue for the Palestinian Authority,” he continued.

Israel’s Association for Civil Rights called the deportation of Finkelstein an assault on free speech. “The decision to prevent someone from voicing their opinions by arresting and deporting them is typical of a totalitarian regime. A democratic state, where freedom of expression is the highest principle, does not shut out criticism or ideas just because they are uncomfortable for its authorities to hear. It confronts those ideas in public debate,” said the association’s lawyer, Oded Peler.

The decision to deport Finkelstein stands in marked contrast to Israel’s willingness to permit the entry of right-wing fascistic and religious zealots from the US and Russia who have been involved in all manner of provocative, criminal and murderous attacks on Palestinians—into both Israel and the West Bank.

The refusal to allow Finkelstein to enter Israel is particularly telling since Israel legally permits every Jew to exercise his or her right to live in Israel as a citizen of the country, in contrast to the Palestinians who fled their homes in 1948 and 1967 who are refused entry or the right of return, in accordance with the Law of Return that is fundamental to the Zionist state. It demonstrates that the security force reserves to itself the right to interpret the law as it sees fit. Israel is a home to diaspora Jews only providing that they do not criticise its military expansionism and oppression of the Palestinian people.

The ban on an academic critical of Israeli policy is all the more noteworthy because Israel likes to portray itself as a beacon of democracy in the region. In reality Finkelstein is not the first to be barred from entering the country: Israel regularly stops pro-Palestinian academics and peace activists from entering Israel who go to show support for Palestinian activists.

It also demonstrates the degree to which Shin Bet’s operations and decisions are not subject to judicial oversight. Israeli lawyers say that the chances of overturning Shin Bet’s ban on Finkelstein are slim. According to Ha’aretz, the courts do not intervene when Shin Bet decides that someone constitutes a security risk. Immigration authorities can prevent tourists entering the country, without even having to provide an explanation.

A Ha’aretz editorial opined, “Considering his unusual and extremely critical views, one cannot avoid the suspicion that refusing to allow him to enter Israel was a punishment rather than a precaution.”

“The Shin Bet argues that Finkelstein constitutes a security risk. But it is more reasonable to assume that Finkelstein is persona non grata and that the Shin Bet, whose influence has increased to frightening proportions, latched onto his meetings with Hezbollah operatives in order to punish him,” the editorial continued (emphasis added).

The attack on a liberal critic of Israel reflects a degree of desperation on the part of Israel. Faced with international opprobrium and internal dissent due to its brutal treatment of the Palestinians and bellicosity towards Iran, Israel is using its security forces to stifle opposition and to maintain the political hegemony of the financial and corporate elite in Tel Aviv and Washington.

If Israel’s liberal press was moved to express concern about the decision to deport Finkelstein, then that is more than can be said for the press in the West. His treatment went almost unreported in the United States. In particular the New York Times did not mention the exclusion of one of New York’s most well known residents.

In Britain, the Guardian reported it, but without an editorial or op-ed comment. It later published two letters. The first was from Dershowitz, which devoted more space to justifying the decision to deny tenure to Finkelstein because of his lack of scholarship and professionalism than to opposing Israel’s decision to ban him. The second was from the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, which claimed that Israel’s decision was entirely legitimate.

The silence of the liberal press speaks volumes about their attitude to basic democratic rights and the freedom of expression. Silence denotes consent. They do not criticise Israel’s actions because they agree with them.

Posted in Academia, Justice, Modern Israel, Politics | Comments Off on Academic Norman Finkelstein Detained and Interrogated by Israel Security Forces