Posts Tagged ‘BT’selem’

Israeli Headmaster Objects to Use of Holocaust to Spread Fear and Xenophobia in the Young

May 17, 2017

Yesterday Counterpunch published a piece by Jonathan Cook attacking the Israeli government’s exploitation of the Holocaust and promotional days for the police and army to spread extreme nationalism and hatred of other, gentile nations, amongst its schoolchildren.

Cook describes how a video appeared last week, showing Israeli policemen acting out the killing of a ‘terrorist’ to a group of 10 year old schoolchildren. Meanwhile, on the country’s Independence Day last month, the army was also on parade, letting children play with guns, tanks and grenades. In one West Bank settlement, the children were painted with fake blood and equipped with fake amputated limbs as part of the fun.

Cook points out that the killing of the ‘terrorist’ in the police video, as he lay wounded on the floor, mirrored the real life murder of a wounded terrorist by an Israeli soldier. He also describes the killing of another ‘terrorist’, that has been denounced by the human rights group, B’Tselem. This was a 16 year old Palestinian schoolgirl, Fatima Hjejji, who had frozen after pulling out a knife a little distance away from an Israeli checkpoint. The soldiers then gunned her down. B’Tselem concluded that the girl was no threat, and did not deserve to die.

Cook states that the goal of the public relations exercises is to create a generation of traumatised children, intensely fearful of non-Jews. And the Holocaust is a part of this process indoctrination. He writes that a visit to Auschwitz is now a rite of passage for many Israeli schoolchildren. As for Holocaust Memorial Day, he writes

Holocaust Memorial Day, marked in Israeli schools last month, largely avoids universal messages, such as that we must recognise the humanity of others and stand up for the oppressed. Instead, pupils as young as three are told the Holocaust serves as a warning to be eternally vigilant – that Israel and its strong army are the only things preventing another genocide by non-Jews.

The result of this is that Israeli young people are now more extremely nationalist and ethnically and politically intolerant than their elders.

Four-fifths of Israeli schoolchildren do not believe there is any hope of peace with the Palestinians. Half of Jewish Israeli schoolchildren believe that Palestinians should not be allowed to vote. These attitudes are shared by the Israeli Defence Minister, Avigdor Liberman, who called Palestinian members of the Knesset, or those representing the Palestinians, ‘Nazis’ and said they should be treated as such.

And Israel’s declaration that it is the homeland of Jews all over the world turns the Palestinians into resident aliens in their own country.

Cook also describes the actions of some Israeli educators to criticise and act against all this. Zeev Degani, the headmaster of one of the country’s most prestigious schools, managed to cause outrage last year when he stopped the children at his school from going on the annual trip to Auschwitz. He stated that it was ‘pathological’ and intended to generate fear and hatred in order to inculcate extreme nationalism.

Degani and a few principals with similar liberal views have also invited the group, Breaking the Silence, into their schools. This is a group of former soldiers, who describe their participation in war crimes by the country’s military.

This naturally sent Naftali Bennett, a member of the Settler’s Party and the current education minister, into a fearful bate. Bennett then barred Breaking the Silence and other dissident groups, as well as books and theatre groups that threaten stability and order by encouraging Israeli schoolchildren to see the Palestinians as people worthy of compassion and sympathy.

Cook concludes

Degani and others are losing the battle to educate for peace and reconciliation. If a society’s future lies with its children, the outlook for Israelis and Palestinians is bleak indeed.

See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/16/israel-tutors-children-in-fear-and-loathing/

It’s a troubling, disturbing article, as clearly the goal of the Likudniks and their allies is to spread fear and distrust of foreign countries and non-Jews. Principal Degani and Breaking the Silence are to be applauded for standing up to the government’s demands to indoctrinate schoolchildren. As for Breaking the Silence, by recounting their part in atrocities committed by the military in order to spread a greater awareness of them, they are also doing what many servicemen in other countries have done. For example, when I was doing voluntary work some years ago in a private museum in Bristol, one of the books the museum received was a memoir by a former British soldier in Palestine of a war crime in which he had participated against the indigenous Arabs as a British squaddie. This man, like many others, who have been in similar situations, felt compelled to write his account in order to correct history and shine a light on the officers, who were really responsible for these atrocities.

I mention this as some of the attempts to defend Israel and its barbarous treatment of the Palestinians seem to suggest that Israel is unfairly being held to a different standard than other nations, or victimised because it is the Jewish state. This is not so. It is being criticised because it acts like other, non-Jewish, colonialist and Fascist settler states. And those former servicemen and women, who courageously speak out against the war crimes in which they have been involved, are doing exactly the same as other service personnel in other nations around the world, whose consciences similarly demand the public recognition of the injustices to which they, and their countries, are complicit.

As for the abuse of Holocaust Memorial Day to spread both fear of gentiles and the exclusion of any universal message against the persecution of other peoples and ethnic groups, this is one of the reasons why Jackie Walker, a Jewish woman of colour and supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, was libelled as an anti-Semite in a workshop on how the day should be commemorated last year. Walker, the daughter of a Black American mother and Russian Jewish father, who met during Civil Rights demonstrations in America, had objected to the exclusive concentration on Jewish genocide, and the way other groups were being ignored. Like the 12 million or so Africans, who were ripped from their homes in Africa during the centuries of the slave trade. The slavers killed the same number of people or more that they enslaved during their raids. Anti-Slavery campaigners in the 19th century claimed that whole regions of Africa had been left ravaged and depopulated through such attacks in search of men and women to sell overseas. And Black civil rights campaigners, such as W.E.B. DuBois in the last century have described this as a ‘Holocaust’.

But asking for such other Holocausts be commemorated on Holocaust Memorial Day, at least if it is run by the group behind the event Walker attended, will get you libelled as an anti-Semite. Even if, like her, you’re Jewish, have a Jewish partner, and your child goes to a Jewish school.

I’ve also seen the scribbling on the net of right-wing Canadian groups connected to the Tory and Republican parties, who want to spread the same attitude over there. One such website, run by Kathy Shaidle, called ‘Five Feet of Fury’, regularly used to attack the ‘official Jews’ – the website’s term – of Canada’s main Jewish organisation, and its liberal leader, Bernie Farber. Farber and his fellows annoyed the rightists because they saw the Jewish Holocaust in universal terms, as one of the various genocides that have been perpetrated against different peoples, groups and ethnicities down the centuries. Thus, when the Janjaweed militias were enslaving and massacring the people of Darfur at the beginning of this century, Farber organised a ‘Shabbat for Darfur’. It was to be a solemn Jewish fast, to mark the solidarity of a people, who had suffered genocide, with the victims of another. And it sent Shaidle into further rage.

She and Ezra Levant, another right-wing journalist and broadcaster, also wanted there to be less concentration on White nationalists and Fascists, and more on Muslims. They argued that most non-Muslim Canadians were thoroughly decent people – which I’ve no doubt whatsoever is true – and that the Nazis in Canada had always been a tiny handful. The real threat, they said, came from militant Islam.

It’s very similar to the attitude taken by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. Unlike Shaidle and her fellows, this outfit differs in that it massively plays up and exaggerates the amount of anti-Semitism in Britain, in order to scare Jews into emigrating to Israel. But it similarly has little or nothing to say about fighting the genuine Nazi fringe, and prefers to concentrate on painting Muslims in Britain as particularly anti-Semitic.

And you can see the same attitude in the American Zionist organisations. Jacques Torczyner, the head of the American chapter of the World Zionist Organisation, said that Jews should ally with the reactionaries, as this would result in greater numbers moving to Israel. You can also see it in Netanyahu’s own response to Donald Trump’s administration. Trump’s another quasi-Fascist, who’s appointed Richard Spencer, an anti-Semite and White supremacist, to his cabinet. Last night, The Young Turks reported that Trump had also ordered the anti-terrorism department of the American security services not to investigate White nationalist and supremacist organisations. Instead, they were to concentrate on Islamic terrorism, despite the fact that White Fascists commit the greatest number of terrorist offences in America.

But Netanyahu isn’t worried, because Trump also supports Israel, and has sent a particularly hardline Zionist to Jerusalem as America’s new representative.

Right across the world, in Britain, Canada and America, Zionist organisations like the scandalously misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism are ignoring real Fascists and White supremacists, and promoting Islamophobia and a conscious retreat from a wider awareness of the persistence of genocide across societies and nations, in order foster an aggressive nationalism and exclusive sense of victimhood in Israelis and Jewish young people in order to encourage further emigration and solidarity with Israel.

And when they object, decent, anti-racist people, gentiles and Jews, who may themselves have suffered abuse and victimisation because of their ethnicity or friendship and solidarity with Jews, are smeared as anti-Semites.

Israel’s Ethnic Cleansing of the Palestinians was Planned from the Start

October 6, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has posted up an excellent article critiquing and rebutting a piece by Mark Regev, the Israeli ambassador in the Groaniad. Regev uses the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street, where Communists, Jews and other Leftists saw off Oswald Mosley and his thugs in the BUF, to try to drum up support for Israel. Mike comments on the way Regev deliberately tries to confuse Jewishness, with Israel and Zionism, and his explicit claim that opposition to Israel is a form of anti-Semitism. As Mike, many of his commenters, and numerous critics of Israel, both gentile and Jewish have pointed out time and again, this is not the case. Both Mike and I have put up a number of posts reporting and commenting on opposition to Zionism and the Israel lobby from decent people, who are not anti-Semites, but simply opposed to Israel’s dispossession and persecution of the Palestinians. This includes many courageous, principled Jews and Israelis, who have been reviled and actively persecuted because of their stance. They include the academics Dr Norman Finkelstein and Ilan Pappe, an Israeli, who now teaches at the University of Exeter, I believe. Dr Pappe was forced out of the country of his birth through a campaign of official persecution and intimidation.

Mike makes the point that the Zionism of the late 19th and early 20th century is not the same as that today. Then the movement was, as Regev himself argues, a movement for Jewish self-determination. Today it is simply a movement for the militaristic expansion of Israel, and the ethnic cleansing of its indigenous peoples. Mike makes the point that Israel’s borders are not the same as today, despite the impression Regev’s words give, and that the hostility against Israel is due to the military expansion of its frontiers. He also makes the point that Israel’s policy aggression is not rooted in Judaism as a religion. He has a point. Zionism started as a secular movement. It remained a secular movement until Rabbi Kook made a series of prophecies in the 1960s which seeming legitimised Israel from a Jewish religious perspective. But as Sam Seder, the host of the radical news show, The Majority Report, has pointed out, Judaism has no overall religious figure determining dogma and belief like the papacy in Roman Catholicism. The traditional attitude was that it is a sin to attempt to restore the Jewish state before the coming of the Messiah, and there are plenty of texts which support that view. As the graffiti on the walls in Jerusalem says ‘Zionism and Judaism are diametrically opposed’. Religious opposition to Zionism amongst Jews is also expressed in the Neturei Karta, a group of Orthodox Jews, who are still opposed to Israel on religious grounds, and who held a mass demonstration against it New York several years ago. The anti-Zionist movement also includes other Jews from more liberal traditions. Many of them are opposed to it, because it’s persecution of the Palestinians is similar to the persecution the Jewish people have also suffered in their history, and they see their Judaism as being in solidarity with other movements for the emancipation of the whole of humanity.

MIke’s article concludes

No, he wants you to believe Israel – and the Zionists – are victims of anti-Semitism, even while they steal land that legitimately belongs to others and suppress those who would try to resist, and even though many Jews have declared their opposition to these activities.

Understand this, and it becomes clear that his claim that anti-Zionists see “the Jewish state” in the terms he describes is nonsense.

Zionism is not Judaism. Israel is not Judaism. Mark Regev is a propagandist trying to exploit and pervert the memory of a proud collaboration between Jews, the Irish, and many British groups.

Don’t let him get away with it.

Mike’s article is at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/10/06/do-not-let-mark-regev-use-the-anniversary-of-cable-street-to-lie-about-modern-zionism/ Go and read it. And read the comments many of Mike’s readers have left supporting his previous articles on this issue. Many of them come from Jewish critics of Israel, who are definitely not self-hating, or any other kind of vile slur the Israel lobby and its lackeys throw at them.

I differ from Mike in that I believe that there was always an element within Zionism from the very start that contemplated and planned the dispossession of the Palestinians. In the piece ‘Same Old Same Old’ in Robin Ramsay’s ‘View from the Bridge’ column in Lobster 58, Ramsay notes how one of his readers spotted a paragraph claiming precisely this in a review of ‘Four Books About Islamist Terrorism’ in the Sunday Telegraph for 18th June 2009. This states

Meanwhile, the founder of modern political Zionism, the Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl, had earmarked a site for the Jewish state. In June 1895, he wrote in his diary: “We must expropriate gently the private property” and “spirit the penniless population across the border”.

Ramsay lays bare what this means

Ethnic cleansing, in other words. Which is what the Israeli state has been doing since it was founded; but doing it piecemeal, slowly enough to avoid making too many waves in America.

See: http://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lobster58/lobster58.pdf and scroll down until you get to the relevant section.

Now the quote from Herzl makes clear that he did not want it done violently. But as Ilan Pappe has documented in his books and lectures, it was done with considerable violence. Massacres and forced expropriation were committed from the very foundation of Israel in the 1940s. And quite often the worst perpetrator of these crimes were Labour governments under leaders like Golda Meir.

This does not mean that all Israelis support this programme of ethnic cleansing. Indeed, as I’ve said, there are many Israelis and human rights organisations in Israel, that are deeply opposed to it. These include B’Tselem, the human rights agency. There is a political party standing up for the Palestinians, which includes both Israelis and Palestinians. Israelis have protested against the house demolitions, where rabbis have also led down in front of bulldozers to protect Palestinian homes. Members of the Israeli armed forces have also protested against their country’s oppression of the Palestinians. And a few years ago a Jewish peace organisation occupied the New York headquarters of the Friends of the IDF.

And many modern anti-Zionists aren’t opposed to the state of Israel. Most of them, including Dr. Finkelstein, want a two-state solution, in which Israel withdraws to its pre-1967 borders. But Regev in his article lies and says Israel’s opponents want the complete destruction of the country. The Israeli government, however, firmly refuses to pull back from the Occupied Territories on the grounds that this would leave the country militarily vulnerable. And so they continue to justify their dispossession and persecution of the Palestinians.

Mohandeer on Liberal Jewish and Israeli Organisations for Palestinian Rights

October 1, 2016

I’ve had a couple of very fascinating comments to my posts attacking the anti-Semitism smears, whose latest victim is yet against Jackie Walker. One of the pieces I put up about this issue earlier today was from a commenter, NoToLikudExtremism, who argued that the problem isn’t Zionism per se, but Likud and its coalition partners in the Israeli extreme right. They pointed out that Jeremy Corbyn also believes in a two-state solution, and recommends targeting Likud and the racist right for specific attack on this issue, as this would not alienate liberal Israelis and the many Jews, who also support Israel, but not its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

Mohandeer has posted a similar comment on my piece announcing the launch of Mike’s book against the anti-Semitism smears. She writes

If you really want to know what’s going on in Israel and how decent Jews there feel about the right wing apartheid parties who promote the apartheid movement visit BT’selem or Mondoweiss and have them subscribe to them and have their publications in your daily In box “Newsfeed”. Jewishness cannot be defined by identifying with Israel only, it is a faith like any other which has it’s traditional basis in the Talmud or Torah and inherited status from ancestral tradition. Jewish Voices for Peace or JVP and J Street discuss the views of US Jews and PSC (Palestinian Solidarity Campaign also has many Jewish representatives as does Ray Hanania of the Arab Daily news (a Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem). The Jewish Forward has come under criticism sometimes but overall it is a decent read because it offers an insight into the daily struggle Jews have in deciding which side of the line they want to come down on, though with a tendancy towards identifying with Israel it is not exclusively pro Israeli at all.
This accusation some of the Zionist wing of JLM are promoting is nothing to do with being Jewish but anti Corbyn and must be recognized as being distinct from being Jewish and being political. The fact that they are using anti Semitism as a basis for their attacks is nothing to do with being Jewish and everything to do with opposition to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and his left wing leaning and those arguments they use to attack Momentum must be seen in the light of what they really are, politically motivated and demeaning Jewishness as a tool in the process. They should be ashamed, but politics is a powerful motivator.

Many of these groups are new to me. I have heard Dr Norman Finkelstein criticise J Street as not being really interested in protecting the Palestinians, but it is a liberal Jewish organisation and clearly, not everyone involved in the issue shares Dr Finkelstein’s opinion of it.

I agree absolutely with Mohandeer’s statement that these accusations against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and the Labour Left, including his supporters in Moment are politically motivated, and demean Jewish identity.

I have heard of BT’selem. They are an Israeli human rights organisation. One of their leaders recently gave an internet talk on the occupation of the Palestinian territories to a left-wing internet group concerned with the revival of British democracy. Their work in documenting and tackling human rights violations in Israel has been cited by Counterpunch, amongst doubtless other left-wing organisations.

The people in these organisations are immensely courageous, as Likud and their fellow apartheid supporters are trying to marginalise and silence these people as being self-hating, and not real Jews. That’s why I put up the piece from the Majority Report yesterday, in which Sam Seder expertly takes apart that claim by an American Conservative rabbi. A poll carried out in the 1990s in Israel found that a majority of Israelis believed that those Israelis, who supported the Palestinians, should be stripped of their civil rights. I’ve put up several pieces before commenting on the Israelis, including rabbis, who’ve protested and put their lives on the line to prevent the house demolitions in Israel. And in the first years of this century there was a ‘Tea and Cake’ demonstration, jointly held by Israelis and Palestinians, protesting against the inability of their countries’ leaders to find a just and peaceful solution to the conflict.

I am thus very happy to put up here Mohandeer’s very informative comment, and to give these organisations a little bit more publicity in their campaign for peace and justice against Netanyahu and his thugs.