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Robert Fisk: The truth behind the Israeli propaganda
Saturday, 5 June 2010
I have, of course, been outraged at armed men boarding ships in international waters, killing passengers on board who attempt to resist and then forcing their ship to the hijackers' home port. I am, of course, talking about the Somali pirates who are preying on Western ships in the Indian Ocean. How dare those terrorists dare to touch our unarmed vessels on the high seas? And how right we are to have our warships there to prevent such terrorist acts.
But whoops! At least the Israelis have not demanded ransom. They just want to get journalists to win the propaganda war for them. Scarcely had the week begun when Israel's warrior "commandos" stormed a Turkish boat bringing aid to Gaza and shot nine of the passengers dead. Yet by week's end, the protesters had become "armed peace activists", vicious anti-Semites "professing pacifism, seething with hate, pounding away at another human being with a metal pole". I liked the last bit. The fact that the person being beaten was apparently shooting another human being with a rifle didn't quite get into this weird version of reality.
Turkish family protests that their sons wanted to be martyrs – something which most Turkish family members might say if their relatives had been shot by the Israelis – had been transformed into confirmation that they had been jihadis. "On that aid ship," a Sri Lankan texted me this week, "I had my niece, nephew and his wife on board. Unfortunately Ahmed (20-year-old nephew) got shot in the leg and now treated (sic) under military custody. I will keep you posted." He did indeed. Within hours, the press was at his family's home in Australia, demanding to know if Ahmed was a jihadi – or even a potential suicide bomber. Propaganda works, you see. We haven't seen a frame of film from the protesters because the Israelis have stolen the lot. No one has told us – if the Turkish ship was carrying such ruthless men – how their terrible plots to help the "terrorists" of Gaza were not uncovered in the long voyage from Turkey, even when it called at other ports. But Professor Gil Troy of McGill University in Montreal – in the rabid Canadian National Post, of course – was able to spout all that gunk about "armed peace activists" on Thursday.
I wasn't personally at all surprised at the killings on the Turkish ship. In Lebanon, I've seen this indisciplined rabble of an army – as "elite" as the average rabble of Arab armies – shooting at civilians. I saw them watching the Sabra and Shatila massacre of Palestinians on the morning of 18 September (the last day of the slaughter) by their vicious Lebanese militia allies. I was present at the Qana massacre by Israeli gunners in 1996 – "Arabushim" (the equivalent of the abusive term "Ayrab" in English), one of the gunners called the 106 dead civilians, more than half of them children, in the Israeli press. Then the Israeli government of Nobel laureate Shimon Peres said there were terrorists among the dead civilians – totally untrue, but who cares? – and then came the second Qana massacre in 2006 and then the 2008-09 Gaza slaughter of 1,300 Palestinians, most of them children, and then...
Well, then came the Goldstone report, which found that Israeli troops (as well as Hamas) committed war crimes in Gaza, but this was condemned as anti-Semitic – poor old honourable Goldstone, himself a prominent Jewish jurist from South Africa, slandered as "an evil man" by the raving Al Dershowitz of Harvard – and was called "controversial" by the brave Obama administration. "Controversial"
, by the way, basically means "fuck you".
There's doubts about it, you see. It's dodgy stuff.
But back to our chronology. Then we had the Mossad murder of a Hamas official in Dubai with the Israelis using at least 19 forged passports from Britain and other countries. And the pathetic response of our then foreign secretary, David Miliband? He called it "an incident" – not the murder of the guy in Dubai, mind you, just the forgery of UK passports, a highly "controversial" matter – and then... Well, now we've had the shooting down of nine passengers at sea by more Israeli heroes.
The amazing thing in all this is that so many Western journalists – and I'm including the BBC's pusillanimous coverage of the Gaza aid ships – are writing like Israeli journalists, while many Israeli journalists are writing about the killings with the courage that Western journalists should demonstrate. And about the Israeli army itself. Take Amos Harel's devastating report in Haaretz which analyses the make-up of the Israeli army's officer corps. In the past, many of them came from the leftist kibbutzim tradition, from greater Tel Aviv or from the coastal plain of Sharon. In 1990, only 2 per cent of army cadets were religious Orthodox Jews. Today the figure is 30 per cent. Six of the seven lieutenant-colonels in the Golani Brigade are religious. More than 50 per cent of local commanders are "national" religious in some infantry brigades.
There's nothing wrong with being religious. But – although Harel does not make this point quite so strongly – many of the Orthodox are supporters of the colonisation of the West Bank and thus oppose a Palestinian state.
And the Orthodox colonists are the Israelis who most hate the Palestinians, who want to erase the chances of a Palestinian state as surely as some Hamas officials would like to erase Israel. Ironically, it was senior officers of the "old" Israeli army who first encouraged the "terrorist" Hamas to build mosques in Gaza – as a counterbalance to the "terrorist" Yasser Arafat up in Beirut – and I was a witness to one of their meetings. But it will stay the same old story before the world wakes up. "I have never known an army as democratic as Israel's," the hapless French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy said a few hours before the slaughter.
Yes, the Israeli army is second to none, elite, humanitarian, heroic. Just don't tell the Somali pirates.
Jun 13, 2010
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Alleged Mossad spy arrested in hit-squad case Poland arrests alleged Mossad spy regarding hit-squad slaying of Hamas agent in Dubai JUERGEN BAETZ Jun 12, 2010
Alleged Mossad spy arrested in hit-squad case
Poland arrests alleged Mossad spy regarding hit-squad slaying of Hamas agent in Dubai
Jun 12, 2010
The Strategic Ally Myth
by Philip Giraldi, May 27, 2010
It is difficult to understand why anyone would take Mort Zuckerman seriously. He is a New York based but Canadian born Israel firster who made a fortune in real estate before buying The New York Daily News and the US News and World Report. He now fancies himself as a leading journalist and political commentator. Zuckerman is frequently spotted on the television talking head circuit where he dispenses analysis of international events that could have been crafted in Tel Aviv or Herzliya, where the Israeli intelligence service Mossad has its headquarters.
The article's spin begins almost immediately thereafter in paragraph one, where the reader is informed that "the Israelis have agreed to [a Palestinian state] in principle." Zuckerman conveniently overlooks that Tel Aviv has in fact obstructed every move toward creation of a Palestinian state because that would stop its continued colonization of the West Bank and Jerusalem. He then proceeds to lay it on really thick in the next two paragraphs, where one learns that the Palestinians need to "do what the Israelis have done for decades, which is to declare…that both sides have genuine claims to this land," that the "Palestinian leadership has all along made an honorable peace impossible," and that the Palestinians are not prepared to live with an Israeli state along their borders. The Palestinians also "beat the drums of hate" and only the Israelis guarantee freedom of religion in Jerusalem. Without wishing to be too contentious, it is safe to say that everything Zuckerman writes blaming the Palestinians can easily be disputed and should be challenged.
Michael @ 917-974-6367
- Non-violence is not a principle, it is a tactic
- A father, 41, is killed at a Jerusalem checkpoint. Now whose story should you believe?
- Let's be clear: We have taken the American left
- Reliable sources prove reliable on Helen Thomas
- Don't blame the Jews for the Israel lobby
- 'NYT' laundry service
- The problem with soccer, redux
Posted: 13 Jun 2010 10:52 AM PDT
I thought the latest post by Matthew Taylor was out of touch. I have news for him: violence works. Violence pushed Israel out of southern Lebanon, and violence repelled the Israeli incursion into Lebanon in 2006. Violence let the Bielski partisans save our people during the Holocaust. Violence defined the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, one of the prouder moments of Jewish history. Non-violence can only be assessed conjuncturally, within a dense mesh of sociology, history, politics, and ideology. Each situation is different. There are no formulas. But we can use a rough typology of tactics. Non-violence must be pitched to appeal to either the world's conscience, or the humanity of the oppressor. It can also function as widespread civil disobedience—a general strike, for example, that can jam up the machinery of violence. These tactics are not exclusive of one another, but nonetheless it is clear that non-violence is not a principle, as Taylor raises it to. It itself is a tactic.
Taylor extracts his principle from a mis-reading of Gandhi, who supported violent resistance, and a mis-reading of Indian history. The British presence in colonial India was less than .05 percent of the population. The colonial apparatus mostly relied on the native "sepoy" army. Gandhian non-violence intended to sway that army, not the British colonizers. And that didn't work either. Japanese violence ended British colonialism, not Gandhi, and even Gandhi's non-violence worked against the looming fist of violent resistance taking place around the rest of the subcontinent.
Consider the feasibility of those options on the Mavi Marmara. Could the passengers rely on appealing to the conscience of Israeli commandoes while they were firing bullets at the activists? Taylor thinks so: "the true power of nonviolence to persuade the oppressor is unleashed with a commitment to pursue acts of courageous love." This seems wooly to me. Palestinian nationalism will be dead under a Merkava tank well before the oppressor is persuaded by local non-violent action (BDS globalizes non-violence in an ingenious way and creates a different correlation of forces, but plainly Taylor is not talking about this). Taylor instead is glossing his professor, Nagler. To say, "The point is that even if they were – while terribly difficult – the passengers could have resisted nonviolently by refusing to comply with the soldiers' demands without making any attempt to injure them," is ridiculous. When someone is shooting at you and your friends, you must disarm them, and probably use violence to do so. If you can't disarm them, you must use violence to stop them from shooting, one way or another. The demand a bullet entering your skull makes on you is for you to die, and if there is a way to "refuse to comply" with that demand, Taylor and Nagler should fess up quick.
In terms of the appeal of non-violence aboard the Mavi Marmara to the world's conscience, what is there to say? Israeli commandoes were authorized to use deadly violence, according to Michael Oren. The nine martyrs and the dozens of injured made this a major news-story, far bigger than if there had been no resistance of any sort. Did it appeal to the humanity of the world? Manifestly. There have been explosions of unrest in previously quiescent populations. The Egyptian opposition's mobilizational capacity was quite low before the massacre. In its wake the opposition has organized many amazing actions. In Istanbul and in other Muslim countries, Palestine is at the forefront of every demonstration. The Spanish government is discussing how to end the blockade. Civil society will not stop sending ships until the blockade is broken. What sort of response is Taylor looking for? A sudden "moment" when Americans rise up and overthrow our thug government for its complicity in the ongoing Nakba? Not going to happen, not yet—and those accustomed to accepting whatever hasbara Israel emits would not have changed their minds if the activists had stuck to non-violence. They wouldn't have noticed, most likely. Nagler, Taylor's mentor, acknowledges this, writing, "why was there virtually no coverage of the flotilla in the international media until the tragedy? Do we want 'if it bleeds, it leads' journalism to continue shaping our cultural narratives, constantly putting sales appeal ahead of political cogency?" ("We" don't own the press agencies. If "we" did, as Marcuse pointed out a long time ago, the revolution would have taken place a long, long time ago). Nagler wants impotent purism raised to an operational principle of the solidarity movement. Good luck with that.
Finally, in terms of jamming the machinery of occupation or violence: the passengers on the Mavi Marmara apparently did a great deal of this. They used water-hoses and repelling poles to keep commandoes off the deck. On other ships, some activists formed human chains, or jumped into the water to buy time, as Paul Larudee did. This can work, but, again, we run into the problem: the blurring of non-violence and violence. Where does disarming gun-toting commandoes fall? Violent or non-violent? Repelling their boarding vessels? Forceful or non-forceful? The Palestinian women who pushed Israeli soldiers at Budrus? Violent or non-violent? Taylor later writes that breaking windows constitutes violence. By this logic, blowing up unoccupied tanks is also "violent," and certainly, using a hammer to hit a soldier spraying bullets into civilians is also violence. Can Taylor possibly be serious about this principle, or the trouble that results when one maps non-violence and violence onto the ethical and moral spheres, and creates precise alignments between "violence" and ethical and moral rectitude, "non-violence" and ethical and moral disarray?
Taylor probably thinks that resistance on the Rachel Corrie followed his proposed path (although he doesn't mention the Rachel Corrie. Funny, that ship was barely in the news. Could that have had something to do with the presence or absence of forceful resistance?)
. Anyway, on the Rachel Corrie, the passengers were understandably scared and horrified, and resisted so little because they didn't want to die. This is no judgment on their bravery. But the sort of non-violence Taylor supports is the sort that castrates resistance, and takes resistance out of the realm of history and into the realm of religion. What would Taylor have recommended to the Vietnamese? There is nothing nefarious about defending oneself from armed attack. Making it nefarious writes the Palestinian right to resist out of history, reserving righteous violence and force for the Western powers that already almost monopolize it. Taylor wants to turn the fact of an imbalance of forces into a principle: don't resist. He wants to willfully "try to raise ourselves to such a cultural and moral level, both as individuals and as a community, that we would be able to control this reflex"—the resort to violence, as Chomsky wrote 40 years ago. But what Chomsky was talking about intra-communal oppression, and so intra-communal resistance.
Taylor is talking about something else entirely. He is talking about resistance to policies supported by an ideology that de-humanizes those whom it oppresses. Taylor thinks we should appeal to "Israeli public opinion," and not act as if it is "irrelevant; to do so is both a strategic and moral blunder. There's a reason that so many Israelis demonstrated in support of the IDF's actions, and I think the violence of the resisters was a huge part of it." Who is guilty of this blunder? Of course Israeli public opinion is relevant. That's precisely what BDS targets. But it targets it using a measure of coercion, because the Palestinians can't afford to wait while a militarized Sparta comes to its senses. Israeli articulate opinion is mostly upset that the assault on the Mavi Marmara didn't conform to its expectations. Does Taylor read the mainstream and right-wing Israeli press? This is a thoroughly brainwashed, militarized population. Yes, scared, not eager to join the military to brutalize and be brutalized, except the hard-right Zionists who disproportionately occupy the officer corps and make operational decisions in combat situations, but with a bunker mentality, and often, deeply racist—last week MK Ahmad Tibi was nearly assaulted in the Knesset by racist thugs for trying to deliver concrete to people without homes. Taylor writes that "We must design our activism campaigns to both end the oppression of the Palestinians AND help Israelis to feel less scared and more recognized for their humanity." What could he mean? Israelis aren't acting in a humane manner, for the most part. We can't recognize something that isn't there. And we are fantasists if we choose to believe otherwise. It is not the job of solidarity activists to heal Israeli culture. Israel is not fence-sitting. It is actively carrying out horrible crimes with the passive or active complicity of the overwhelming majority of its population. The men who wield power in that society should be facing war crimes trials, not quibbles about whether the solidarity movement is hurting their feelings.
There is far more to say: on how Western media frames resistance, on how it accepts the Israeli narrative or the imperial narrative, on how to acknowledge this as we plan tactics and strategy until such time as we can control the narratives, on the nature of institutional and non-institutional racism vis-à-vis Western solidarity activist-based resistance and Palestinian resistance, on the naturalization of state violence, Israeli and American aggression rights, and the relentless transformation, via dominant narratives, of just resistance into unjust terror, a narrative that unfortunately Taylor strengthens.
Summing up, here's what I think. Those who resisted violently were brave. Those who resisted non-violently were brave. All were right. All were just. Solidarity organizations can agree in advance to resist or not to resist, as Taylor instructs us. But most oppression in human history has been thrown off by horrible violence. Frankly, if a man has a gun pointed at my head on my own territory and has shot the person standing next to me, and I can disarm that man, I will disarm him. And there is something surreal, if not pitiful, to demand not only that I abjure that basic human response, but furthermore, abjure it when the gun is pointed not at my head but at the person standing next to me. Writing about it admittedly makes for good copy and good employment for those living and writing in Western countries where power is eager to dissolve an internationally-
sanctioned right to resist. For those living under the gun, Taylor's prescriptions may seem a little odder.
Posted: 13 Jun 2010 10:23 AM PDT
Haaretz reports in their article "Palestinian killed in suspected East Jerusalem terror attack":
A Palestinian driver was shot and killed in Jerusalem Friday after running over two Israeli border patrolmen, with an apparent intent to kill.
The man reportedly hit two the two policemen in East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz, with reported light injuries sustained by both victims.
According to police officials, the driver drove on a short distance, and then proceeding to flee the scene on foot. Police officers called on the suspect to stop, and opened fire at him once it was clear he had ignored their instructions.
Open and shut case, right? Not so fast. One of the notable features of the media coverage of the flotilla attack (at least online) has been an unwillingness to take the Israeli account at their word. Will this positive trend continue with other examples of Israeli violence towards Palestinians? This story presents an interesting opportunity.
First off, the driver has a name, Ziad Al-Julani (pictured right). He was 41 years old and a father to three girls pictured here. A report on Ma'an says he was a "a tradesman living in East Jerusalem's Shu'fat neighborhood.
" Al-Julani was killed at a temporary Israeli checkpoint that was set up in East Jerusalem following friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
A friend of Al-Julani's, who alerted us to the story, wrote us:
Ziad Jilani was a very family oriented man, a loving husband and a devoted father. No one who knew him believes that he intentionally tried to hit the border police at the checkpoint. I heard that a stone hit his car and caused him to swerve, starting the whole horrific chain of events. I don't know the whole story, but his wife told me that before her husband left the house that morning, they had discussed taking the kids out someplace fun that afternoon. This was no premeditated attack.
The Palestinian press is working on uncovering the story, Ma'an talks with eyewitnesses:
Sa'd Hamed As-Silwadi, from Silwan and the father of a child injured during the shoot-out, told the center he parked his car beside a butchery and saw Al-Julani driving toward the Al-Hadmi neighborhood in Wadi Joz, where he was killed.
He said he saw Al-Julani get out of his vehicle when he was first shot by Israeli forces. A relative of Al-Julani tried to help him, As-Silwadi said, but was kicked by Israeli forces. As-Silwadi returned to his vehicle to find his five-year-old child with a rubber bullet wound to the neck and head, and rushed him the Maqased Hospital on the Mount of Olives.
Ahmad Qutteneh told the center he saw Al-Julani running from four members of Israel's Special Forces, approaching him and opening fire at close range. "Then I saw one of them come near him and shoot him in the face and body," Qutteneh told the center.
Palestine Monitor helps round out the story a bit, and presents a situation where Israeli soldiers could have overreacted while under pressure from Palestinian protests:
A shopkeeper on the main street said he saw Israeli soldiers chasing ten people were shouting about the recent flotilla massacre prior to the arrival of Al-Julani's vehicle. "Look, it's every Friday like that. It's normal. The people and the army are like Tom and Jerry," said the shopkeeper, who identified himself solely as Ahmed. "But when they shot, I didn't know what's going on." Ahmed speculated that the vehicle was malfunctioning, claiming out that the prevalence of Palestinian residents in the street would prevent the driver from attempting to harm Israeli forces there.
All reports confirm that Al-Julani was killed at point blank range. His friend who contacted us said, "From what I understand, Ziad fell to the ground and the police walked up to him and fired point blank into the side of his face and body. I was told the bullets left a mark in the cement under his body." The Ma'an report adds, "Others told the center the shooter was seen 'dancing beside the body singing and cheering 'I killed an Arab, I killed an Arab'.'"
In the past, many would accept a story from the Israeli press about soldiers killing a Palestinian "terrorist" at face value. Is this still true after the flotilla?
Posted: 13 Jun 2010 09:33 AM PDT
Last week we picked up Jacob Berkman's report that the Jewish leadership's inflexible support of the flotilla raid risks alienating the Jewish street, which is "conflicted" about the raid. Yes, because the left now has profound misgivings. This is from a conservative site, Human Events, smart reporting by Michelle Oddis, saying that Jewish celebs are not showing up at the pro-Israel rallies:
Politically active Jewish celebrities have remained silent regarding Israel's right to defend itself after the recent raid on a pro-Palestinian aid flotilla headed for the Gaza Strip."Unfortunately," said [screenwriter Andrew] Klavan, "I think there are a lot of Jews who don't realize that the left has left the building."
"I'm hearing from Jewish friends in show business 'Gee I went to my theater group' or 'a movie set and I heard this horrible anti-Israel stuff, what's going on?' and they don't quite get yet that the political left has left Israel behind."
The real challenge here is again to MSNBC, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Your viewers/readers want criticism of Israel. Will you sound that demand in the community? (Or will you just let this site continue to grow..)
Posted: 13 Jun 2010 09:09 AM PDT
Well the battle is on inside the media, that's what's beginning to happen. I couldn't watch the Bill Maher clip, in which Oliver Stone trashes the lobby and Rachel Maddow says nothing, (per Idrees Ahmad's report). And I missed Howard Kurtz's Reliable Sources, but Koozie didn't. His report:
Howard Kurtz started the show with a segment on the Helen Thomas case. Wow. Panel included Dana Milbank and Jeffrey Goldberg. Take a wild guess how Helen came out of this? Clue: comparisons were made with Ahmadinejad.
Memo to the media: 91 percent in this Washington Post poll say Thomas shouldn't have lost her job. Andrew Sullivan, the canary in the coal mine, has asked, Is there any columnist in an American paper who is against the existence of Israel? and gotten no answer.
What about a strong critic of Israel? Who on the left side is going to begin to echo the critical spirit that countless Americans are now feeling. Not Daniel Schorr, who once again blamed Hamas for the blockade yesterday. Apparently not Maddow. Certainly not Maher. Not Kurtz. The Talmud says [yes, sexist], In a place where there is not a man, then be the man. That means you, Chris Matthews.
Posted: 13 Jun 2010 08:34 AM PDT
At Truthdig, Zachary Karabell rightly points out that Jerry Muller's book Capitalism and the Jews completely fails to deal with the modern reality of empowered Jews in the U.S., dealing strictly with the historical backdrop. Then Karabell gets off this claim about American policy in the Middle East:
Jewish support of Israel evolved in the 1960s and 1970s into a core aspect of American grand strategy, with evangelical Christians in the United States just as adamant about that policy as any Jewish group and with the U.S. foreign policy establishment turning Israel into a key pillar of American strategy in the Middle East.
This is why Karabell, a friend of mine, called Walt and Mearsheimer'
s book "a terrible book" at the LA Book Fair a year or so back. And the claim doesn't bear scrutiny. Evangelical Christians had nothing to do with the pressure that caused Truman to urge Partition and then recognize Israel-- political decisions. Let's give Karabell the Cold War; but the war on terror? The braintrust of the Bush Administration included an evangelical Christian or two, but many many Jewish neocons. And Sheldon Adelson was one of Bush's biggest backers. Evangelical Christians don't give to the Democratic Party, which is now a bulwark of the lobby, c.f., Schumer, Frank and Berman. About half of the money in the Dem party comes from Jews. Karabell reflects a resistance to even talking about Jewish Establishment power. Is it mere coincidence that 3/4 of the Supreme Court picks by Democratic presidents in the last 18 years have been Jewish? Of course not. Nor that the two offices closest to Obama's are not manned by evangelical Christians, but by Jews.
Is Rahm Emanuel a Zionist? I believe so; he cavorted in the Golan recently in utter defiance of the two-state-solution, so as to cultivate Jews for the 2010 elections. Is David Axelrod, Emanuel's good friend? I have no idea. But until journalists honestly scrutinize the role of Zionism in Jewish life and American political life, we will get this kind of blame game.
Posted: 13 Jun 2010 08:11 AM PDT
for nearly everyone who visits Gaza, often with worry of danger and hostility, what's surprising is the fact that daily life, while troubled, often has the staggering quality of the very ordinary.
Funny, Orlinsky doesn't quite seem to see it that way:
"From the bullet hole in the wall above the child playing on his outdated computer in a middle-class home, to the couple having dinner sipping Coca-Cola smuggled in from Egypt, the situation in Gaza — the war, the blockade, Hamas — touches everyone," she said. "I saw energetic, smart young women learning about the world in university, and I saw young girls who spent their days sorting through trash to find reusable materials to sell to factories for a few measly shekels. I saw happy families taking a break from their daily struggle to have a picnic on the beach, and met a traumatized family who hasn't been to the beach in two years even though it's only a 15-minute drive from their home."
Oh and check out Orlinsky's photo of a Gazan widow, her husband killed by the Gaza onslaught. Magic.
Posted: 13 Jun 2010 06:16 AM PDT
When I started this website more than four years ago, I got some traffic around the World Cup. I love the World Cup because it's pitched athletic competition of the highest order, with all my kumbaya stuff thrown in; and I am proudly uninformed about soccer. So to resume an old theme: We've now had seven matches. Total of nine goals. At least one on a penalty kick, one a gift. I've seen maybe two inspired goals in about five hours of soccer-watching so far (the Gerrard English goal, the Argentinian)
. Nine goals in 10-1/2 hours of play. Sorry folks but this is a problem.