Posts Tagged ‘House Demolitions’

Reader’s Comment: Likud the Real Issue, Not Zionism

October 1, 2016

On Thursday I put up a piece commenting on the political motivations behind yet another smear by the Israel lobby against Jackie Walker, the vice-chair of Momentum, at a study day on Holocaust Memorial Day. Mrs Walker was accused of anti-Semitism and insensitivity yet again for challenging the definition of anti-Semitism used by the Jewish Labour Movement, suggesting that the Memorial Day should be open to all the peoples, who have suffered genocide, and questioning the need for high security around Jewish organisations, including schools. In fairness, Holocaust Memorial Day does commemorate the victims of other genocides, but does not do so for events before 1945. This was of concern to Mrs Walker, who, like many Black activists, considers the slave trade and slavery a Holocaust against Black Africans. She rejected the organiser’s definition of Zionism, because it equates Judaism with Zionism, which as I’ve pointed out, is highly questionable. She was previously accused of anti-Semitism several months ago because of a post she put up during a conversation of Facebook criticising Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

I’ve made it very clear that these accusations are cynical, politically-motivated smears. Mrs Walker is the daughter of Black mother, who was a civil rights activist, and a Russian Jewish father. She has dedicated her life to tackling racism and anti-Semitism. It is grotesque that she, and the other victims of the smears, have had their character so slandered and defamed.

I received this interesting comment from NoToLikudExtremism, who argues that a distinction should be made between attacking Zionism and Israel, and the Likud party. They make the point that many Israelis and Jews elsewhere in the world despise Likud, while supporting Israel’s right to exist. He writes

Considering that Corbyn is a declared (two-state) zionist, and that there are many reasonable left zionists around, and that zionism is partially confused (sometimes wilfully) with jewishness and even judaism, attacking zionism is not a wonderful strategy.

The real problem is the far-right extremism of Likud, of people like Netanyahu (and Liebermann). And Likud offends many israelis and jews around the world by trying to identify zionism and even jewishness in general with itself, and therefore that criticizing “Israel” or “zionism” is anti-semitic, that has purchase even if it is a notion rejected by so many israelis and jews around the world.

Attacking the far-right extremism of Likud-style politics means rising above the issues about the connections between zionism and jewishness, any ethnic or religious issues, playing into the hands of the likudniks who have infiltrated even many jewish organizations outside Israel, turning them into party-propaganda platforms.

Attacking Likud-style far-right extremism as Corbyn does is a pure political struggle that can be supported by more than half of israeli and probably a large majority of jews around the world. That should be the priority. Likud is the bigger problem.

NoToLikudExtremism is right in that many Jews and Israelis have taken a stand against Likud and the Israeli extreme right. Rabbis have led protests and laid down in front of the bulldozers against the house demolitions, and the persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. About ten years ago there was a movement amongst young people in Israel against the failure of their country’s leaders to find a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Arabs. They held a ‘Tea and Cake Party’ with their Palestinians friends, to demand symbolically the return of the British to take over the country’s government. Of course, they really wanted no such thing. And much of the problems and conflict in the Middle East today can be traced back to the annexation of the area by the great powers following the First World War, and the way they divided the region for their own imperial benefit, rather than those of its indigenous peoples. They just want to make the point that, however, grotty, squalid and incompetent the British Mandate was, the incompetence and bigotry of the present leaders of Israel and Palestine is worse.

Israel also has two political parties to defend the rights of the Arab minority. One is a purely Arab organisation. The other is open to both Jews and Arabs. There are also Israeli human rights organisations – in particular Beth Tselem, that have criticised the occupation of the West Bank. These Israelis are very courageous, as Likud and its coalition partners have also targeted them for hatred as subversive and anti-Israel. In one opinion poll taken in the 1990s, a significant number of Israelis responded ‘Yes’, to a question asking them if they agreed that their pro-Palestinian fellow countrymen should be deprived of their civil rights.

I think it’s entirely fair to criticise Israel for its historic crimes against the Palestinians, just as it is to criticise other countries, like Britain, for their past atrocities, and make the point that Judaism and Zionism are not synonymous. Though I also recognise that another poll of British Jews found that 75 per cent of them felt that Israel was an important part of their identity. I also understand that according to polls, most American Jews also want there to be a two-state solution to the Palestinian issue. I therefore take this commenter’s point about attacking Netanyahu and Likud, and recognising the opposition to his dreadful administration by many patriotic Israelis, who wish Israelis and Palestinians to co-exist in friendship and peace.

Palestinian Leader Haidar Abdul Shafi on his People’s Plight

August 9, 2016

I found this speech by Haidar Abdul Shafi in the Penguin Book of Twentieth Century Protest, edited by Brian MacArthur (London: Penguin 1998). Mr Shafi was the leader of the Palestinian delegation to the 1991 peace conference in Madrid. Although it’s a quarter of a century old, it’s still very relevant as the Israeli state, under Netanyahu, is still going ahead with its decades-long policy of oppression, deportation and the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians. This is despite the protests and campaigns by human rights activists across the world, including many Jews, including Israelis. I’m putting it up here, as this is the real reason behind the allegations of anti-Semitism directed against members of the Labour party, and the continuing libel that Labour has a problem with Jew hatred. The people libelled as anti-Semites aren’t. They even include Jews and people, with a long history of anti-Fascist, anti-racist campaigning and activism. They are being denounced as anti-Semites as a shameful attempt to discredit them and so rule criticism of Israel off-limits.

Here’s the speech.

We, the people of Palestine, stand before you in the fullness of our pain, our pride, and our anticipation, for we long harboured a yearning for peace and a dream of justice and freedom. For too long, the Palestinian people have gone unheeded, silenced and denied. Our identity negated by political expediency; our right for struggle against injustice maligned; and our present existence subdued by the past tragedy of another people. For the greater part of this century we have been victimised by the myth of a land without a people and described with impunity as the invisible Palestinians. Before such wilful blindness, we refused to disappear or to accept a distorted identity. Our intifada is a testimony to our perseverance and resilience waged in a just struggle to regain our rights. It is time for us to narrate our own story, to stand witness as advocates of truth which has long lain buried in the consciousness and conscience of the world. We do not stand before you as supplicants, but rather as the torch-bearers who know that, in our world of today, ignorance can never be an excuse. We seek neither an admission of guilt after the fact, nor vengeance for past inequities, but rather an act of will that would make a just peace a reality.

We speak out, ladies and gentlemen, from the full conviction of the rightness of our cause, the verity of our history, and the depth of our commitment. Therein lies the strength of the Palestinian people today, for we have scaled walls of fear and reticence, and we wish to speak out with the courage and integrity that our narrative and history deserve. But even in the invitation to this peace conference, our narrative was distorted and our truth only partially acknowledged.

The Palestinian people are one, fused by centuries of history in Palestine, bound together by a collective memory of shared sorrows and joys, and sharing a unity of purpose and vision. Our songs and ballads, full of tales and children’s stories, the dialect of our jokes, the image of our poems, that hint of the melancholy which colours even our happiest moments, are as important to us as the blood ties which link our families and clans. Yet, an invitation to discuss peace, the peace we all desire and need, comes to only a portion of our people. It ignores our national, historical and organic unity. We come here wrenched from our sisters and brothers in exile to stand before you as the Palestinian under occupation, although we maintain that each of us represents the rights and interest of the whole.

We have been denied the right to publicly acknowledge our loyalty to our leadership and system of government. But allegiance and loyalty cannot be censored or severed. Our acknowledged leadership is more than [the] justly democratically chosen leadership of all the Palestinian people. it is the symbol of our national unity and identity, the guardian of our past, the protector of our present, and the hope of our future. Our people have chosen to entrust it with their history and the preservation of our precious legacy. This leadership has been clearly and unequivocally recognised by the community of nations, with only a few exceptions who had chosen for so many years shadow over substance. Regardless of the nature and conditions of our oppression, whether the disposition and dispersion of exile or the brutality and repression of the occupation, the Palestinian people cannot be torn asunder. They remain united – a nation wherever they are, or are forced to be.

And Jerusalem, ladies and gentlemen, that city which is not only the soul of Palestine, but the cradle of three world religions, is tangible even in its claimed absence from our midst at this stage. It is apparent, through artificial exclusion from this conference, that this is a denial of its right to seek peace and redemption. For it, too, has suffered from war and occupation. Jerusalem, the city of peace, has been barred from a peace conference and deprived of its calling. Palestinian Jerusalem, the capital of our homeland and future state, defines Palestinian existence, past, present and future, but itself has ben denied a voice and an identity. Jerusalem defies exclusive possessiveness or bondage. Israel’s annexation of Arab Jerusalem remains both clearly illegal in the eyes of the world community, and an affront to the peace that this city deserves.

We come to you from a tortured land and a proud, though captive people, having been asked to negotiate with our occupiers, but leaving behind the children of the Intifada, and a people under occupation and under curfew who enjoined us not to surrender or forget. As we speak, thousands of our brothers and sisters are languishing in Israeli prisons and detention camps, most detained without evidence, charge or trial, many cruelly mistreated and tortured in interrogation, guilty only of seeking freedom or daring to defy the occupation. We speak in their name and we say: Set them free. As we speak, the tens of thousands who have been wounded or permanently disabled are in pain. Let peace heal their wounds. As we speak, the eyes of thousands of Palestinian refugees, deportees and displaced persons since 1967 are haunting us, for exile is a cruel fate. Bring them home. They have the right to return. As we speak, the silence of the demolished homes echoes through the halls and in our minds. We must rebuild our homes in our free state. (pp. 427-9).

Secular Talk: Arab Village Bulldozed by Israelis, Illegal Settlers Given Tax Breaks

August 9, 2016

Earlier today I posted up a piece about an article Michelle had sent me a link to an article by Tony Greenstein. Mr Greenstein’s another Jewish member of the Labour party, who had been suspended as an anti-Semite because he had criticised Israel. As have so many others. And Mr Greenstein, like so many of them, was most certainly not. He was a member of the Jewish Socialist group in the Labour party, and like the others has fought against racism and Fascism. The root of these allegations is the desire of the Israel lobby in Britain, the US and elsewhere, to demonise any criticism of Israel and its 70 year old policy of ethnically cleansing the indigenous Palestinians.

This piece from Secular Talk shows what Mr Greenstein and his fellow critics are protesting against. It was posted up on the 6th August 2016, and is about the Israelis bulldozing an illegal Bedouin village. This resulted in a confrontation, in which three cops and a civilian were injured. However, the Israeli state’s own double standards are shown by the fact that at the same time they were razing this village, they were giving tax breaks to illegal Israeli settlers in the occupied territories of the West Bank.

Secular Talk’s host, Kyle Kulinski, is not an outright opponent of Israel, who wants to see the state erased. He states he is talking as a friend, and that Israeli has a right to exist as it has done since 1945. But he warns that there is no way that treating the Arabs like this will not cause more violence. He describes how the Palestinians approached the Israelis through Jordan in the UN, and said that they would recognise Israel if the pre 1967 borders were adopted. Both Israel and Palestine would share Jerusalem. Israel flatly turned the proposed peace deal down. The Palestinians then respond with violence. The Israelis meet this by saying that they won’t deal with terrorists. But when the Palestinians approach them peacefully and try to negotiate a deal that will give them their own state, Netanyahu flatly refuses. And so the cycle of violence begins again. Kulinski states that there is are alternatives to violence, such as the BDS movement – Boycott, Divest and Sanction, which campaigns to boycott all Israeli products and firms in the occupied territories. He’s not totally in favour of everything BDS does, because he says they’re against the existence of the Israeli state. But they’re an alternative to the violence that will erupt if Israel carries on treating the Palestinians as it does.

This is the reality of life for the Palestinians in their own land under Israeli occupation. And the people who are campaigning against this are not anti-Semites, but include many Jews. There are rabbis in Israel, who have laid down in front of the bulldozers coming to raze Palestinian homes. There are Jewish organisations in America against the Israeli persecution of the Palestinians. The ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians has been documented by the Jewish historians Norman Finkelstein and Ilan Pappe. The latter is an Israeli, who has been forced out of his homeland because of his forthright condemnation of this. The BDS campaign includes many Jews, and one of its vocal supporters was a young American Jewish woman, who debated the issue with Norman Finkelstein in a video I posted up a few weeks ago here. One of the critics of Israeli maltreatment of the Palestinians is our very own Miriam Margolies, who condemned the Israeli bombardment of Gaza ‘as a proud Jew, and an ashamed Jew’.

This is what the people making these spurious accusations are afraid of: not that the critics of Israel are anti-Semites, but the fact that in so very many cases they are the exact opposite. They are severely normal people, including Jews, who campaign against all forms of racism and Fascism, and who have dared to object to Israeli racism as part of their campaigning.

Ken Livingstone and Isaac Herzog’s Letter to Jeremy Corbyn

May 29, 2016

Earlier today Mike put up a piece about a report in the Groaniad that the leader of the Israeli Labour Party, Isaac Herzog, had written a letter to Jeremy Corbyn expressing concern about the anti-Semitism allegations. He was particularly concerned about Leninspart’s comments that Hitler initially supported Jewish emigration to Israel. Herzog has invited Corbyn to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, to see where the Jews were transported during their last journey. Mike makes the case that this looks like a trap of the same kind as ‘Do you still beat your wife?’ Corbyn has no reason to answer Herzog’s letter, as Leninspart and the others are under investigation. They have not been proven guilty. Nor did Red Ken refer to their final deportation. He was simply talking about a period when Hitler initially wanted some removed to Palestine. This is historical fact.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/29/israeli-labour-leaders-letter-provokes-more-inaccuracy-on-anti-semitism-from-the-guardian/

Now I’ve said before that the claim that Livingstone is an anti-Semite is farcical. He has repeatedly condemned anti-Semitism, as well as other forms of racism. I have put up several posts about the work of leading western Jewish activists supporting the Palestinians, that these allegations aren’t about real anti-Semitism. They are about trying to deflect criticism away from Israel and its ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Arab population. The first governments of independent Israel were Labour, and Norman Finkelstein states clearly that the new Jewish homeland cloaked its deliberate policy of massacre and deportation under a veneer of Socialism. Ilan Pappe, who is like Finkelstein an historian and determined critic of this ethnic cleansing, makes it plain that Israelis are fundamentally decent people. In his experience of touring to speak on the subject, he found that people will listen. Indeed. There are two Israeli parties supporting the Palestinians. One is simply for Palestinians, the other has a mixed membership of Israelis and Arabs. I have the most profound admiration for the Israelis, who have joined the party, and vote for it at elections. They are seen by the Right as traitors to their country. Albert Hourani in the chapter on Israel in The Modern Middle East states that an opinion poll carried out showed that a majority of Israelis felt that Jews, who supported the Arabs, should be stripped of their civil rights and liberties.

This is a Fascistic attitude. It’s exactly the same as the Nazi policy which punished gentile Germans for aiding Jews.

As for the Israeli Labour party, it was its prime minister, Golda Meir, who put forward the lie that there were no Arabs in Palestine until the Jews arrived, bringing jobs and businesses. In the video with Ilan Pappe, Pappe’s own comments are interspersed with some horrifically chilling quotes from Meir, David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dyan about killing the Palestinians and destroying their homes, towns and villages.

So let’s turn this accusation around. Let’s ask Mr Herzog the question about what his party is doing to defend a persecuted minority, under attack and state directed terrorism in its traditional homeland. There have been rabbis, as well as ordinary Israeli and foreign citizens, who have led down in front of bulldozers. Has he done the same? What complaints, what concerns did he raise in the Knesset about the deliberate bombing of civilians during the assault on Gaza? What has he and his party done to stop Israel’s drift to the extreme right under Benjamin Netanyahu? Herzog needs to answer these questions before he assumes the right to judge Livingstone or any of the accused members of the British Labour Party. Otherwise he’s just another bigot participating in another crime against humanity.

The Break-Up of American Zionism and the Anti-Semitism Allegations

May 28, 2016

I’m aware that I’m in serious risk of doing this subject to death, but this needs to be said. I’ve put up several blogs featuring the videos of talks and interviews given by Israeli and American Jewish activists and historians – Ilan Pappe, Elizabeth Baltzer and Norman Finkelstein, laying bare the terrible history of Israel’s persecution and systematic ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population. As I’ve repeatedly said, this is because of the smears against leading figures in the Labour party that they are anti-Semites, when they are nothing of the sort, and demonstrably nothing of the sort. Ken Leninspart, when he was leader of the GLC, was notorious and reviled for his anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-homophobia stance. And if you want to read what he has to say about anti-Semitism, it’s written down in his book, Livingstone’s Labour. He decries it as one of the worst forms of reaction, along with all other forms of racism, whether it be against Blacks, Jews and Irish. Naz Shah has the backing of her local synagogue. And Jackie Walker is the daughter of a Russian Jew and Black civil rights activist, deported from America as one of the ‘Reds under the Bed’ McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover were so scared of. Her other half is also Jewish. It’s truly grotesque that she should be slandered as an anti-Semite when it is clearly not the case.

Jimmy Carter

These slanders have not been confined to Britain. They were made against the Jewish Outreach Officer of one of the Democratic presidential candidates. The lady was forced to resign, despite the fact that she was not only Jewish, but a very active member of her community dedicated to their welfare. They even tried it on with Jimmy Carter, who was just about called everything bar a card-carrying member of the American Nazi party and supporter of Stormfront. Again, dead wrong. I can remember way back in the 1970s when old peanut teeth hosted the Camp David peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt. In his own state, he was instrumental in removing the colour bar and segregation laws against people of colour. He is not, and never has been an anti-Semite or a Nazi, whatever his failings as president were. And he certainly doesn’t have the sheer amount of blood on his hands that his successor, Reagan, had through his sponsorship of real Fascists in South and Central America.

And Carter showed that he wasn’t afraid to prove he was innocent of all charges, guv. He went in front of the students at Brandeis University, the biggest secular Jewish university in the US to debate one of the author of the smears, Alan Dershowitz. He got three or four standing ovations simply for appearing on stage. And when it came to Dershowitz’s time to speak, 2/3 of the audience walked out even before the old Neo-Con warmonger had opened his mouth.

Jewish Americans Liberal

American Jews are overwhelmingly liberal. Most of them want a two-state solution – for the Palestinians to have their own state. By and large they despise George Dubya Bush and 70 per cent of them are opposed to the war in Iraq. And despite the move of the majority of Israeli voters to the right, Ilan Pappe stated in his video that Israelis were decent people. He stated that going around, talking to people, especially small businessmen and farmers, who knew what it was like to have to struggle to make something for yourself, won people over to the Palestinian cause.

Livingstone, Shah and Walker Historically Correct

Nothing Leninspart, Shah or Walker said should be remotely interpreted as racist. Red Ken was factually correct: Hitler did briefly support Zionism and the emigration or deportation of the Jews to Israel. Walker was smeared because she compared the treatment of Black Africans under slavery to the Holocaust, and the persecution of the Palestinians in Israel. Now, I can understand historians picking at this to see if they really are equivalent. Africans were captured and worked to death simply as instruments of labour, rather than because there was a conscious desire to exterminate Black Africans, as in the Holocaust. Though against that was the gradual erection of the whole intellectual edifice trying to justify their enslavement as racially inferior, just as the Nazis used twisted biological theory to justify their extermination of the Jews. It’s reasonable for historians and political scholars to debate the similarities and dissimilarities between them. But I don’t think many genuine scholars, certainly not of the slave trade or the Holocaust, would dispute that these are terrible crimes against humanity. And the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians should be no different. There is a real debate on the legal definitions of genocide, because there are so many of them. So many, in fact, that I’ve heard an academic of the subject state that these definitions should be dropped simply in favour of ordinary, common sense. When states, or their majority populations start persecuting an ethnic group or trying to suppress their identity through force, then it’s genocide.

What also comes out is that the views of Livingstone et al by and large are supported by historical scholarship, including those of mainstream historians. Finkelstein states that there’s little difference between Israeli school textbooks and dissident, left-wing scholars on the origins of Israel. It is known that Israel had a programme of ethnic cleansing from the very first. It is incontrovertible that Israel is engaged in mass torture and human rights violations. And Finkelstein himself states that it is the Israelis, not the Palestinians, who consistently failed to ‘give piece a chance’ in the words of Lennon and Ono.

Denial of Palestinian’s History ‘Historicide’

As for the view produced by the historian, Peters, that there were no Arabs until the Jews settled in Israel, bringing development and jobs, this has been comprehensively disproven. Finkelstein or Pappe, I can’t remember which, describe it as ‘historicide’, the deliberate destruction of a people’s historical reality.

Jewish and Israeli Opposition to Persecution of Palestinians

There is absolutely no question that the facts are on the side of the accused. And I honestly believe that if Leninspart, Shah and certainly Walker were given the chance to rebut their enemies in debate at a university, they would do so in the same way Carter and his supporters vociferously routed Dershowitz. 72 per cent of British Jews say that Israel is important to them, compared to only 50 per cent of American Jews under 35. But that does not mean that British Jews do not want to see an end to their country’s persecution of the Palestinians. There are Jewish organisations in Israel helping the Palestinians defend their homes, families and livelihoods. You can find pictures of Orthodox rabbis in the long, black coats and broad-brimmed hats, forming cordons and lying down in front of bulldozers. University anti-racism and Palestinian solidarity groups have invited members of these organisations to speak. It would surprise me not one whit if many of those Brits reaching out to Palestine were Jews, and active members of their universities’ Jewsocs.

Political Motives behind Accusations

This isn’t about historical truth, however. This is about the Israel lobby trying to derail any criticism of the state and its persecution of the indigenous Arabs with accusations of anti-Semitism. It’s about the Blairites trying to hang on to power in Labour party by playing the race card against Jeremy Corbyn. But those accused have no real case against them. In any just court of law, they would be declared innocent, with damages found against their accusers.

Libel and Establishment Lies and Smears

Unfortunately, when it comes to libel, there is no justice in Britain. You are guilty until proven rich. And the accusations suit the British establishment very well. The Tories love it, because it harms Labour. And the Beeb’s Newsnight programme with Evan Davis uncritically swallowed all the guff from the guests that Labour had an ‘anti-Semitism problem’. One of the guests on RT’s Going Underground, with Afshid Rattansi, stated that the smears looked like the establishment coup against a leftwing British prime minister, as described in the novel and Channel 4 TV series, A Very British Coup. Listening to Finkelstein, I think that’s entirely plausible. There were smears by the establishment against Harold Wilson, which accused him of being a Communist spy. Many of them seemed to come from MI5. Finkelstein states that American funds Israel far and beyond the amount it gives to other nations, because it sees it as defending its interests in the Middle East.

Britain and America Supporting Israel to Retain Power in Region

I believe that this, or something like it, explains the British establishment’s attitude to the allegations. I can remember reading years ago a discussion on a right-wing American website about Israel, the Arabs and Britain under the Mandate. The site took the bog-standard right-wing American view that Brits must be anti-Semites, ’cause all Europeans hate Jews, as shown by the Holocaust and the increasingly secular nature of European society. The participants in the debate argued that the British deliberately set the Jews and Arabs at each other’s throats in order to maintain their control over the region. They quote the correspondence between one of the British officers involved in the Mandate, on this point. The quote was merely his own conclusion after studying the situation, and did not conclusively prove that it was so. They also quoted other correspondence, in which one British politician accused another wishing to establish a Jewish presence in the region as a kind of outpost of British influence, similar to Protestant Belfast amidst Roman Catholic Ireland.

It would not surprise me if something like that were the case. It may simply be that Britain gives unconditional support to Israel, because the Americans also give Israel their unconditional, or nearly unconditional support, in order to retain influence in the region. And since we declined as a world power, we’ve been acting as the American Empire’s junior partner and lickspittle. One former British ambassador to the US even went on Radio 4 and said that he was told by the Mandarins in London that his job was to go to Washington and ‘get up the American’s arse and stay there’.

The Beeb is the voice of the British establishment. It’s news programmes consistently support the Conservatives and industry, especially finance industry, against Labour and the trade unions. The establishment undoubtedly identifies British interests with those of Israel, though Robin Ramsey, the editor of Lobster, has said that the Beeb ties itself in knots trying to deny that it is pro-Zionist. So it is, unfortunately, a foregone conclusion that the Beeb and the establishment won’t give the accused a fair hearing. Not if there’s even more millions to be made from another bloody war.

Fighting Back against the Lies

Which doesn’t mean that the accused can’t win. The mainstream American media is also very staunchly pro-Israel and rabidly demonises the Arabs and the Muslim world. Despite this, in the polls Israel is just one point more popular amongst Americans than Iran. And you consider the massive negative campaign and image of that country in American media. The Israel Lobby – AIPAC and the leadership of J Street in America, the Labour Friends of Israel and BICOM over here, know that they’re losing the public’s hearts and minds. Hence the smears. I think the best course would be for Livingstone, Shah and Walker to stand up to them, call them out on their lies. Don’t expect any honesty from the press, ’cause that went long ago. But do it in the court of popular opinion – at public meetings, university seminars and talks, at literary events. Adam Shatz, of the London Review of Books, introduced Finkelstein and Baltzer when they spoke in New York. Perhaps the LRB can be relied on to give an unbiased platform. They should, at least regarding Jackie Walker. I can remember way back in the 1990s they published a piece on slavery at the time it was once again coming back into national consciousness. The treatment of Black people, and their abuse and discrimination, is of obvious acute interest to Jackie Walker, and so I think that more than some of the other media, they could be more inclined to give a sympathetic hearing.

This ain’t just about defending a group of accused Labour MPs. This is also about defending free speech and historical scholarship against the personal smears and gross historical distortions of a mendacious and deceitful establishment. An establishment that is prepared to grind down and destroy Jews, as well as Muslims, Christians, and those with no religion, in its campaign to preserve a monstrously racist order.

Norman Finkelstein on the Coming Break-Up of American Zionism: Part 3

May 28, 2016

Another audience member asks why it is that so many Palestinians survived in Israel, when the Israeli government was trying to cleans them. Finkelstein replies that in some areas, like Hebron, the Arab population survived because the Israelis needed them as workers. Galilee was mostly Christian, and the Arabs survived there because the Israelis were scared of offending the Vatican. And incidentally, their survival is further evidence that the cleansing of the Palestinians was not accidental, but was planned, as it wouldn’t have occurred otherwise. And some Palestinians survived by accident and sheer good fortune, like the Jews who survived the Holocaust.

Finkelstein also tackles the Holocaust industry, in response to another question from the audience. He is particularly incensed by this, as the descendant of Holocaust survivors himself. His father survived Auschwitz, while his mother survived that horrors of a succession of concentration and force labour camps. He makes the point that what made the systematic Nazi murder of European Jewry most shocking is its sheer efficiency. Of all the millions of Jews in eastern Europe, on 100,000 still survived by the end of the War. They did so only through sheer luck. And now, when the industry started in the 1990s, there must be even less, as many have died from old age. So the figures the Holocaust Industry advances for those, who have survived and need to be compensated are grossly inflated. He describes this distortion as a form of Holocaust denial. If so many people survived the Holocaust, then it means that the Nazis weren’t as good at killing people as was previously believed. He quotes his mother as asking, ‘Who did Adolf kill, if all these people have survived?’ The figures for the numbers of survivors are wrong, as abused by the Holocaust industry.

He is also less than impressed by the claims for vast wealth that the industry makes regarding European Jews murdered by the Nazis. He points out that European Jews were largely poor, living in shtetls – Jewish settlements. He says it’s why Tevia in Fiddler on the Roof sings, ‘If I were a rich man’. Because obviously, he isn’t. Finkelstein also makes the point that there were even fewer rich Jews around because of the Depression, which brought the Nazis to power. In depressions, rich people lose their money. He also makes the point that those Jews, who did have money, got out. The Rothschilds, for example, had branches of their family and money in a number of countries. As the Nazis invaded one country, they moved their money to another, and their relatives followed their familial obligations and bought their brothers and sisters out.

But now, according to the Holocaust industry, not only did many more Jews survive, but they all had Swiss bank accounts and private art collections. He makes the point that Swiss bank accounts are incredibly difficult to come by. He states that his brother’s a millionaire, and he doesn’t have a Swiss bank account. And neither do the people in his audience. And the figures for the numbers of surviving Jews, who had Swiss bank accounts, that the Holocaust industry have presented have been shown to be notoriously inflated.

On the subject of what can be done to support the Palestinians, he makes the point that no matter how deeply you believe in the Bible, it should still shock you that people are losing their homes. Israel is the only country that uses house demolition as a judicial punishment. He gives the example of one of his Palestinian friends, who was denied permission to build his house where he wanted to, and so has built it further away. But nevertheless, his house is illegal and it can be demolished at any time. Finkelstein points out that the Palestinians are poor. They don’t have stocks and bonds, and so everything they have is invested in their houses. He states that it is no good trying to win the settlers over, as ‘they’re like something from a science fiction story.’ He compares trying to do something about them with the question Trotsky was once asked about what to do about Fascists. ‘Acquaint them with the pavement’, was the dissident Marxist’s reply.

Finkelstein goes on to state that winning people over to supporting the Palestinians should be a simple case of vanquishing an enemy. He goes on to quote another writer that everyone should have a place at the table of victory.

There is no doubt that Finkelstein has very controversial views, especially on the Holocaust industry. He describes that as double shakedown. Nations are being blackmailed by the industry for money that they don’t actually owe, while the real survivors of the death camps don’t see a nickel or penny. This isn’t just his own opinion. He quotes another Jewish author, who states that its first time Jews have scammed people like this.

Despite the controversial nature of his views, it’s very clear that he has a very strong case against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and that his revulsion is also shared by very many Jewish Americans, who are likely to be the majority as time goes on. The generous and vociferous support AIPAC gives to Israel belies the fact that for many American Jews, the oppression of the Palestinians is very much a case of ‘Not in my name’.

As for the two Palestinians, who spoke up, I understand that they’re also factually correct. In the 19th century many liberal Jewish historians wrote books pointing out that Jews were treated better under Islam than they were in Christendom. As for Arabs and Jews living peacefully in Palestine, this also is true. In the 1960s the Israeli government expelled tens of thousands of indigenous Jewish Palestinians as they were culturally indistinguishable from Arabs. Moreover, Albert Hourani, in his book The Modern Middle East, in the chapter on Israel points out that during Muslim rule, Christian churches were regarded as mawsin by Muslims – ‘sacred’, ‘inviolable’. If you read the ethnographic literature on the modern Middle East, you do find accounts of friendship between Muslims and Jews, relationships which were disrupted through the great power occupations by France and Britain in the 1920s. Israel’s continuing maltreatment of the Palestinians is one legacy of this.

Here’s the video:

CounterPunch’s Alexander Cockburn on Censorship and Abuse for Covering Palestine

May 3, 2016

Alexander Cockburn, one of the writers and publishers of the radical US journal, CounterPunch, described his experience of abuse and censorship in a piece on the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians in the chapter ‘Palestine Down the Decades’ in his and Jeffrey St Clair’s End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate (Petrolia: CounterPunch/Edinburgh: AK Press 2007) 327-333. He writes

The first time I ever wrote about Palestinians was around 1973, when I was just starting a press column for a New York weekly called the Village Voice. It concerned a story in the New York Times about a “retaliatory” raid by the Israeli air force, after a couple of Al Fatah guerrillas had fired on an IDF unit. I’m not sure whether there were any fatalities. The Israeli planes flew north and dumped high explosive on a refugee camp in Lebanon, killing a dozen or so men, women, and children.

I wrote a little commentary, noting the usual lack of moral disquiet in the Times’ story about this lethal retaliation inflicted on innocent refugees. Dan Wolf, the Voice’s editor, called me in and suggested I might want to reconsider. I think, that first time, the item got dropped. But Dan’s unwonted act of censorship riled me, and I started writing a fair amount about the lot of the Palestinians.

These were the days when Palestinians carried far less news value for editors than Furbish’s lousewort, and no politician ever held that this beleaguered plant didn’t actually exist as a species, which is what Golda Meir, Israel’s prime minister said of Palestinians.

Back then you had to dig a little harder to excavate what Jewish Israelis were actually doing to Palestinians. Lay out the facts about institutionalized racism, land confiscation, torture and a hail of abuse would pour through the mailbox, as when I published a long interview in the Voice in 1980 with the late Israel Shahak, the intrepid professor from Hebrew University. (p. 327).

He then goes on to say that there were plenty of testimony about the Israeli oppression, but very little of it ever got into print. And any suggestion that there was a long term plan to displace the Palestinians was bitterly attacked.

It wasn’t hard to get vivid descriptions of the increasingly intolerable conditions of life for Palestinians: the torture of prisoners, the barriers to the simplest trip, the harassment of farmers and school children, the house demolitions. Plenty of people came back from Israel and the occupied territories with harrowing accounts, though few of them ever made the journey into a major newspaper or onto national TV.

And even in the testimonies that did get published here, what was missing was any
acknowledgement of the long-term plan to wipe the record clean of all troublesome U.N. resolutions, crush Palestinian national aspirations, steal their land and water, cram them into ever smaller enclaves, ultimately balkanize them with the Wall, which was on the drawing board many years ago. Indeed, to write about any sort of master plan was to incur further torrents of abuse for one’s supposedly “paranoid” fantasies about Israel’s bad faith, which much pious invocation of the “peace process”.

But successive Israeli governments did have a long-term plan. No matter who was in power, the roads got built, the water stolen, the olive and fruit trees cut down (a million), the houses knocked over (12,000), the settlements imposed (300), the shameless protestations of good faith issued to the U.S. press (beyond computation).(Pp. 328-9).

We’ve seen a little of how the Israel lobby seeks to silence the country’s critics with the vicious accusations of anti-Semitism levelled at Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone. But they certainly haven’t been alone, as this article shows.