Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No oppression to speak of

As some in Israel are trying to ban Nakba rallies (which mark the expulsion of some .75 M Arabs from Israel in 1948), I searched the Israeli press for information about what the commemorations look like. Eventually I found this article on Ynet.

In the comments section, I found an often-repeated argument:

Interestingly enough, today it was published that 94% of Israeli Arabs wish to continue living in Israel, the "racist", "oppressive", "Apartheid" state. How can you explain that? Maybe things aren't all bad over here?

Let's apply the logic to other situations:

  1. Blacks were not oppressed in the Jim Crow era: they didn't leave Alabama for Liberia or Sierra Leone.
  2. Algerians were not oppressed under French rule: they didn't evacuate Algiers and go into exile in Lybia, Morocco or Tunisia.
  3. Gypsies are not oppressed in Hungary: they don't flee the country when their homes are burned down.
  4. Kurds are not oppressed in Turkey, Syria or Iran. They're not flocking to the Kurdish section of democratic Iraq.
There are few if any racist or Apartheid regimes in the world, because only if people emigrate in mass from the land where they were born and where their families have been living for centuries can one speak of oppression.

The exception, of course, are the British Jews. Although 94% of them have no intention of leaving the UK, the country is a hotbed of antisemitism, as demonstrated by the existence of Seven Jewish Children, The Guardian, Ken Livingstone and George Galloway.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

On the allegedly antisemitic failure to report nonevents

Zionist bloggers in Spanish come from two major sources: Argentinian Jews and Spanish non-Jews.

The first group is understandable, even forgivable. They are brainwashed from the crib, and few people can survive relentless indoctrination unscarred. The second group, however, is a bit more complex to analyze, not least because it can, in turn, be broken down into two subcategories: righties and lefties. Rightwing Spanish Zionists believe the Muslims, whom they call the Moors, are out to destroy European culture, and any ally, even if it's the kikes, is welcome. In this they're no different from other European fascists, who only the day before yesterday were preaching antisemitism, but now have become ardent supporters of the State of Israel.

Somewhat more puzzling are Spanish Zionists who come from the left. They normally belong to parties that have not made it into government coalitions; and they take special pleasure in chastising other leftists, particularly those who do enjoy the exercise of power, as antisemites. Oversized egos also seem to play a role. After all, it must be gratifying to know you're the only enlightened one in a group of very wrong people, especially when you can tour Spanish-speaking Jewries delivering speech after Israeli-flattering speech before adoring crowds (and earning handsome sums in the process).

On the advice of an Argentinian Zionist I recently visited the blog of one such Spanish Zionist, Jorge Marirrodriga. The former had described the latter in glowing terms, claiming, among other things, that "I truly don't know how he manages to keep such high standards with such a high [publishing] rate [about one post a day]. (...) Jorge (...) keeps delighting us with original, creative, up to date and interesing contents." I must admit that I'm somewhat foolish and tend to have my curiosity awakened by these raving reviews.

As a less naive person would have forseen, however, the blog turned out to be a sophomoric exercise in whataboutery. But it did contain a piece of information that had apparently evaded my radar. The latest post presented the earth shattering new concept that Israel is unfairly treated by the press. After fixing a few grammar problems from the original (but probably introducing fresh mistakes of my own), here's my translation of the relevant paragraphs:

This has happened in less than 72 hours this week.

1-) A Sderot home was hit by a rocket fired from Gaza;
2-) Iran tested a missile able to deliver any kind of bomb Ahmadinejad wishes to any location in Israel, be it conventional, biological or nuclear when he gets one;
3-) Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has declared that his organization is prepared for "a new war with Israel."

But, apparently, the true problem is the Prime Minister of Israel's stubborn refusal to make big concessions without anyone else lifting a finger. Journalists assert that:

1-) he is encouraging new settlements in the West Bank. This week we have rushed to report that construction has started on a new one: Maskiot. But yesterday (Thursday), the security forces dismantled one and not a word has been said about it.

So that the unraveling of the settlements had begun and I hadn't noticed! That's what happens when you're so busy bashing Israel that you don't notice its peace overtures.

Since Marirrodriga did not provide a link, I did some AllTheWebbing to learn more about it. Just like when my soccer team wins, I wanted to know and revel in all the wee details. I finally found this story from the Jerusalem Post:

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the IDF to complete a contingency plan for the forced evacuation of illegal West Bank outposts, officials told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Barak intends to begin removing the outposts in the coming weeks but has instructed his settlement adviser Eitan Broshi to first try to reach an agreement with the settlers under which they will leave of their own accord, the officials said.

The IDF's surprise destruction of the fledgling Maoz Esther outpost near the Kochav Hashahar settlement on Thursday morning was an isolated incident and was not part of the contingency plan.

When you read about Israel evacuating things in the West Bank, there's always a caveat. In this case, Barak swears, promises and vows that he'll begin removing outposts... but first he'll try to reach an agreement with the settlers. Of course, years will pass trying to agree with them, a new legislature will come and the outposts will not have been removed.

However, an outpost was destroyed -- but the operative word is fledgling.

You see, there are three kinds of land-grabbing units in the West Bank. One is the settlements, which are legal under Israeli (but not international) law. Another one is the established outposts, which are illegal but have been provided with services (water, gas, phone lines) by the State. The third type of unit is the encampment -- small gatherings of makeshift homes, in some cases tents. It's an encampment, and a very tiny one at that, that was destroyed, as the JPost later clarifies:

Five families lived in the encampment's seven wooden huts.

But even so, and like my mother used to say, something is something, and is better than nothing. An encampment was removed, and that's news, right?

Wrong. The Post goes on to recall:

Since its establishment in December 2007, the IDF has demolished it a number of times.

But even if it has been repeatedly demolished, this at least disrupts the settlers' plans, right?

Wrong. The JPost, once more:

By nightfall on Thursday, settlers had already replaced five of the wooden structures.

So that, with all due respect for Mr. Marirrodriga, I have a theory, alternative to antisemitism, for why the removal of this settlement wasn't reported by the press: 1) it wasn't a settlement; 2) it was a repeat of several similar ineffectual actions that seem to have been taking place every few months; 3) the encampment had been set up again by the time Marirrodriga wrote his post.

In other words, the media sticked to the good journalistic practice of not reporting on trivial nonevents. And meeting the standards of good journalism is not (at least until a new Working Definition decrees otherwise) antisemitism.

Monday, May 18, 2009

In case you entertained any doubts

As Bibi Netanyahu visits Barack Obama in Washington, it's interesting to see how the Zionists are misrepresenting the immediate demands that the world is making (and, reportedly, Obama will also make) from Israel. Unfairly, both the world and Obama expect Israel to withdraw from the settlements, the Zionist littany goes, but that would lead nowhere: Israel has already withdrawn from Lebanon and Gaza, and what did it get in return? Kidnappings & rockets! No way the country will stumble upon the same rock again.

But, of course, the world isn't asking Israel to withdraw from existing settlements; such withdrawal is precisely the subject of the never-ending, or rather never-starting, negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. All the world is asking is for Israel to stop building new settlements, and to crack down on those fundamentalist Jews who set up illegal outposts. Only if Israel refrained from further expanding in the West Bank would it convince the international community that it's truly committed to a two-state solution. No peace negotiation was ever furthered by one of the sides creating ever more obstacles to the process under the vague promise that they will be removed all of a sudden when a final agreement is reached.

The usual response from Zionists is that settlement expansion is restricted to the large blocs around or near Jerusalem "that will have to remain inside Israel in a final status agreement" and is needed to accommodate natural population growth. Since the West Bank Jewish population grows by more than 7% a year, settlers seem to be procreating at a rate that would make a rodent blush. The other possible explanation is that settlers are being brought from abroad (for instance, Brooklyn or France) to grab more land from the Palestinians. But truth does not trouble Zionists so long as they can don a fig leaf and plausibly deny everything.

However, now and then a smoking gun reveals their true colors. Undetected by the Western MSM's radar, a Ynet story from Sunday tells us about plans for new housing for civilian settlers to be built in Maskiot, in the Jordan Valley -- i.e., far removed from the settlement blocs that have made it into the Guinness' Book for their ability to naturally grow. Reports the Israeli paper:

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plane landed in Washington Sunday, contractors were being given a tour of the northern Jordan Valley settlement Maskiot in the framework of a tender that was issued to build a new neighborhood there.

"The tender is part of the process to populate the community," Jordan Valley Regional Council Chairman David Elhayani told Ynet.

Ynet goes on to trace the history of the settlement.

Established in 1982, Maskiot formerly housed a Nahal Brigade base and several years ago included a pre-conscription military academy for national-religious youth. In December 2006, then-Defense Minister Amir Peretz approved the decision to build 30 new homes in the religious community, where the evacuees from the settlement of Shirat Hayam in Gush Katif could be housed. Peretz later revoked his decision amid US pressure.

In July 2008 Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized the settlement's repopulation with 50 families, some of them from the evacuated Jewish settlements in Gaza. Currently about 10 families reside in Maskiot, but many others are waiting for their lots to be released.

I.e., former military facilities (legal under occupation) are being turned into a civilian settlement (completely illegal as it transfers civilians from Israel proper to an occupied territory).

By Monday afternoon, the Israeli government was doing the understandable damage control, "cautioning" that final approvals would be needed before any construction could take place, and that none had been given. However, the Jordan Valley Regional Council Chairman didn't join in the fig-leaf donning:

The contractors' tour, he said, was scheduled in advance of Netanyahu's visit to DC. The fact that two events happened almost back-to-back, he said, "was an amazing coincidence." He said he was confident that the project would move forward.

It was an optimism shared by Yossi Hazut, formerly of Shirat Hayam, who lives at the site already with his family.

He said he expected that by the end of the year six more caravans will have been placed there and that the community would continue to grow.

Mr. Elhayani's candor went even further:

"This process takes a few months to complete. The timing is coincidental, and anyone who says otherwise is jeopardizing Israel's security-related interests. There is a consensus among the Zionist parties that the Jordan Valley must remain under Israel's control in any future (peace) agreement."

My emphasis.

That's it, in case you entertained any doubts that Israel's territorial ambitions in the West Bank go far beyond the few large settlement blocs that the Zionists would like us to believe they are restricted to.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"From 1948 to 1967 they didn't ask for a state"

Doing some research on a book I'll be quoting in an upcoming post, I stumbled upon this review page. One of the reviewers says:

The author makes us aware of a similar problem today. While antizionists may imply that there is a huge Arab population that can live only on Jewish land, that's simply not the case. Katz explains that when Arabs controlled the entire West Bank from 1948 through 1967, not even allowing Jews to live there at all, there were no demands for a separate Arab state there.

I must confess the continued currency of this argument beats me. The Arabs in the West Bank (its proponents claim) did not ask for an independent state when they were ruled by the Jordanians, so why would they demand one now? The answer, of course, is that they're part of the World Conspiracy Against Israel And The Jewish People. They don't want to be free; only to kill Jews, or, at the very least, ethnically cleanse them from Israel.

Of course, this reasoning may catch off guard Western audiences to whom the only possible reason a people may ask for a state is the realization of their national aspirations. A Westerner thinks, for instance, of the Basques, who enjoy a high standard of living, freedom of movement and the right to receive schooling in Euskara, but are very frustrated to have to see the Spanish flag flying over their public buildings. Or the Scots people, who don't even have a separate language but long for a separate state all the same. If the Palestinians are like those people, they should be frustrated by any foreign flag being hoisted in the West Bank; therefore, if they reject the Israeli flag but accepted the Jordanian one, it must mean they're antisemitic.

A more sophisticated and enquiring audience, however, might ask if the flags are the only difference between Israeli and Jordanian occupation. And here's where the argument begins to crumble.

For one thing, the Jordanian occupiers were Arab. They had the same language, the same religion, the same customs as the occupied people. Foreign rule is likely to be far less tolerated if the rulers' way of life and values are perceived as widely different from the occupied people's.

But, fundamentally, the Jordanian occupation did not disrupt West Bank life to the same extent that the Israeli occupation has. Let us just ask:

  • Did the Jordanians steal privately-owned Palestinian land to build illegal settlements, outposts and roads?
  • Did the Jordanians burn down fields, poison wells, savagely beat up shepherds or uproot trees?
  • Did the Jordanians write "Death to the Palestinians" on the walls and tombstones of the West Bank?
  • Did the Jordanians stone schoolgirls on their way to school?
  • Did the Jordanian soldiers shoot holes in the Palestinians' water towers?
  • Did the Jordanians make Palestinian drivers wait for hours on end at checkpoints, far beyond what would be justified by security concerns?

If your answer to all these questions is no, you'll understand why the Palestinians want independence now but didn't yearn for it in 1966. It's not a question of sovereignty or peoplehood; it's just an understandable craving for normalcy. That is easy to grasp, and I'm puzzled that the Zionists have been able to peddle their argument for so long without these elementary questions being raised.

Which is connected, by the way, to why a Bantustan solution can never be accepted by the Palestinians. If they have to cross Israeli territory, or make an impossibly long detour, to go from Hebron to Jericho, any sense of a normal life will be lost. The belief that a Palestinian state with long wedges of Jewish settlements cutting deep into it is sustainable in the long term is purely dellusional, but unfortunately it's the underlying assumption behind all Israeli versions of the highly questionable concept of a two-state solution.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Can one say "the Jews"? (part 2 of many)

The Association of Argentinian Residents in the United Kingdom (AARUK) plans to sue the Imperial War Museum (IWM) for libel. At the center of the conflict is the portion of the IWM's website devoted to the Falkland Islands War, which contains the following paragraph:

The Argentinians invaded the Falklands on 2 April 1982. Britain responded by sending a Task Force 8,000 miles to the South Atlantic to recapture them. A seven week naval, air and land campaign resulted in a British victory.

In a recent press release, the AARUK explained its decision:

In making explicit and unqualified reference to "the Argentinians," the IWM seems to forget that only a handful of soldiers invaded the Falklands/Malvinas; that not all Argentinians supported the invasion back then, or approve of it now in hindsight; and that the decision to invade was made by a military regime unrepresentative of the Argentinian people.

We can see no other reason behind the IWM's blanket generalization than a desire to create mistrust and hostility towards Argentinians and, in particular, towards those of us legally residing in the UK. The Association of Argentinian Residents in the United Kingdom will not tolerate this display of Argentinophobia, and will file suit for libel unless the Imperial War Museum corrects its webpage before Monday, 11 May.


There's no such entity as the AARUK, and even if it existed, the average Argentinian is not as paranoid as to find second, third and fiftieth meanings behind any printing of the word "Argentinian." More to the point, even if they suffered from that kind of persecution complex, they would be discouraged by their PR advisors from displaying it, lest they irreversibly ridicule themselves.

Not all people, however, show a comparable degree of sanity. Enter the Zionist critics of Caryl Churchill's play Seven Jewish Children, which, as we already discussed in our previous post, describes indoctrination as inflicted by Zionist parents on their children. According to such critics, SJC is antisemitic not only because it's a blood libel, a concentrate of Jew-hating tropes, a vicious assault on Israel's right to exist, etc., but also because it alludes to Jewish children. This, according to Zionist zealots, is the smoking gun. As the Irish Times reported:

The spokesman of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Mark Frazier, told the Jewish Chronicle: “We knew the play was going to be horrifically anti-Israel because Caryl Churchill is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.”

He added that the title – Seven Jewish Children, rather than Seven Israeli Children – “pushes it beyond the boundaries of reasonable political discourse”.

My emphasis.

I would say "bullshit," if it were not that I'm lately liking better the British term "bollocks." Mr. Frazier tries to convince us that SJC is wrong, but he would be fine with SIC. That is not true, of course, and it's evident he would trash the play all the same if "Israeli" were substituted for "Jewish" in the title.

But does he have any kind of a point? Would the former be a better or more logical title than the latter, given the play's contents?

Hardly so. In the first place, the play does not depict all Israelis, but Israeli supporters of Israel's wars, which are Jewish, not Arab, Israelis.

In the second place, the brainwashing depicted in the play is not confined to Israel, but it's also vastly prevalent in the Diaspora. While it's true that a lot of very coherent and articulate Diaspora Jews oppose Zionism, they speak as individuals, not in the name of their communities. All representatives of Jewish communities around the world, by contrast, stand solidly behind Israel. It's not like the forces of anti-Zionism will take over the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the American Jewish Congress, the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France or the Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas anytime soon.

Of course, even if all representatives of a group agree on something, it can be argued that one can't generalize because it's unfair to the contrarians within that group. But with all the generalizing on in the world, why are only generalizations about the Jews singled out as hateful? Why can one say "the Chinese invaded Tibet," or "the Americans tortured Abu Zubaydah," or "Kielce's murderers were Poles. Their language was Polish. Their hatred was Polish," but one can't say "the Jews uproot olive trees in the West Bank"? As if it were Israeli Druze or Samaritans who do the uprooting.

Are we antisemitic in making such a generalization? No, because we're not criticizing the Jewish representatives' Jewishness; we're criticizing their Zionism, and the crimes, felonies and misdemeanors that are part and parcel of it.

Dead-enders will insist that, in that case, the title of the play should have been "Seven Zionist Children." But it would be inaccurate, because the children are not born Zionist. That's precisely the reason why, in the play (as well as in real life), they're indoctrinated; only with time will they become Zionists. Or hopefully, if reason prevails, they will not.

(See here the first installment of this series.)