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In New York, Zionism and Liberalism Faced Offand Liberalism Won – The Nation

Posted By on July 2, 2020

Eliot Engel votes at a school near his home on June 23, 2020. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

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It is usually a mistake to try to draw historical lessons from events just days old. Its an even dicier proposition when it involves just the 50,000 voters who participated in last Tuesdays Democratic primary in New Yorks 16th district. But Ive been working for years on a book about the history of the Israel/Palestine debate in the United States and Im going to risk it, because I think American politicsspecifically American Jewish politicsis undergoing a significant shift with important implications.Ad Policy

Whether drawn to socialism, communism, anarchism, or plain old liberalism, American Jews have always tended toward the left side of the political spectrum. And for many decades, the founding and defense of the state of Israel proved largely consistent with the social and economic liberal ethos upon which the American Jewish community eventually settled. Sure, the story that American Jews told themselves about Israel was always a distorted one, and the Zionist ideology Israel eventually embraced was far more amenable to democracy and equality in theory than in practice. But wasnt that true of American liberalism as well? Yes, a significant percentage of the 750,000 or so Palestinians who were exiled in 1948 did not leave voluntarily and the ones who remained did not enjoy anything like the democratic rights or economic opportunities that Israeli Jews did, much less the idealistic promises of Israels Declaration of Independence. But there was so much else to celebrate about Israel. Despite being surrounded by nations that wished to destroy it, its pioneers were making the desert bloom, rejuvenating the Hebrew language, producing great literature, and, on the Kibbutzim, proving that socialism was not a pipe dream. In the wake of the Holocaust, it felt to many like a divinely inspired miracle.

In its policies on the world stage, Israel also offered a great deal for liberals to admire. Israel initially avoided taking sides in the Cold War, and, while the United States was stuck in the throes of its McCarthyite Red Scare, the country remained sufficiently democratic and committed to free speech as to allow Arab-supported Communists to be seated in its parliament. Former prime minister Golda Meir would recall that she was prouder of Israels International Cooperation Program and of the technical aid we gave to the people of Africa than I am of any other single project we have ever undertaken. (Tanzanias Julius Nyerere called her the mother of Africa.)

Matters grew far more complicated after the 1967 war and the resulting occupation. Many American Jews drew far closer to Israel than before as both the threat of its potential destruction and the exhilaration of its spectacular victory struck an emotional chord. This, however, had the effect over time of hollowing out their own experience of Judaism and replacing it with Zionism. In the early 1970s, a small group of liberal Jewish intellectuals, including a number of highly respected rabbis, began to raise difficult questions about Israels willingness to make peace with the Palestinians and formed an organization called Breira (Choice in Hebrew). But they found little resonance among most American Jews and were unceremoniously quashed by the mainstream Jewish organizations, who considered public criticism of Israel akin to treason. It was not until 1982when those admirable socialist pioneers had been replaced by the likes of Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon, and these far less romantic figures launched their invasion of Lebanon and cruel siege of Beirutthat uneasiness with actual, existing Israel reached a sufficiently critical mass that liberals could voice their discontent in public without fear of Spinoza-like excommunication.Related Article

Since then, as anyone who has paid even the slightest attention to the question is well aware, Israel has become a conservative cause. Capitalism and creeping theocracy replaced socialism. The occupation became further entrenched and increasingly brutal. In foreign policy, Israel supported apartheid in South Africa and dictatorships in Latin America. In the United States, it became the pet cause of the most regressive elements: first neocon warmongers, then evangelical anti-Semites, and finally the likes of Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Jared Kushner, and other avatars of American fascism.

Conservatives, neo- and otherwise, have insisted for over half a century that American Jews should abandon their liberalism and join up with the right wing, where support for Israel is not merely uncontroversial but obligatory. Instead, most liberals chose just to make an exception for Israel while sticking to the rest of their left-leaning agenda. Since his first election in 1988, Eliot Engel was an extreme example of this tendency. Over and over, when Israels lobbyists and their funders demanded 100 percent support for Israel regardless of how much it contradicted everything else about ones beliefs, these liberals caved. As The Nations Ken Klippenstein demonstrated, Engel never met an Israeli priority he couldnt wholeheartedly back. When it came to the Iran nuclear deal, he stood with Benjamin Netanyahu over Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Later, he stood with Trump and Kushner on moving the embassy to Jerusalem and continuing to support the Saudi murderers of Jamal Khashoggi. But being AIPACs patsy was not enough for Engel. He even embraced the racist right-wing leader of the Zionist Organization of Americaan organization that owes its existence to the far-right Trump and Netanyahu funder Sheldon Adelson and whose leader, Morton Klein, recently tweeted of Black Lives Matter, BLM is a Jew hating, White hating, Israel hating, conservative Black hating, violence promoting, dangerous Soros funded extremist group of haters.

As chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Engel was a macher in Washington but nowhere to be found at home. His power as a committee chair and decades of schmoozing his colleaguestogether with their own sense of self-preservation in opposing almost all primary challengersled to his endorsement in his primary by almost all national Democratic politicians, including many members of the Black caucus. But his absence from the district along with its changing demographics made him the perfect target for the progressive group Justice Democrats, who famously recruited Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Justice Democrats found a remarkable opponent to run against Engelan African American former middle school principal named Jamaal Bowman.Current Issue

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Endorsed by Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Bowman made it a point of reaching out to Jews. Bowman explained that while he believed firmly in the right of Israelis to live in safety and peace, free from the fear of violence and terrorism from Hamas and other extremists, and support continued US aid to help Israel confront these security challenges, he also believed that Palestinians are entitled to the same human rights, safety from violence and self-determination in a state of their own.

He said he also strongly objects to Benjamin Netanyahus move toward annexation, increased settlement expansion, and racist rhetoric toward minorities. And as for the Boycott Divest Sanctions movement, Bowman opposes it, though not to the point of shutting down its supporters First Amendment rights.

Most political reporters treat what is commonly referred to as the Jewish vote as entirely dependent on how pro-Israelthat is, how hawkish/anti-Palestiniana candidate is. This has long been nonsense. The vast majority of Jewish voters no longer prioritize Israel over issues of economic and social justice. The fact that so many liberal politicians do is largelythough not exclusivelythe product of the corrupt nature of our political funding system and the ability of the AIPACs and the Adelsons to exploit its weaknesses.

The 16th District is just under 12 percent Jewish and nearly 60 percent Black and Latino. With Engel looking vulnerable, the Democratic Majority for Israel, a PAC led by consultant Mark Mellman, spent an estimated $2 million trying to prop up Engel and smear Bowman. Progressive Jewish organizations like If Not Now and The Jewish Votean offshoot of Jews for Racial and Economic Justicecampaigned and raised funds for Bowman alongside Justice Democrats. The progressive Jewish City Council member Brad Lander wrote in an op-ed for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, To my fellow liberal Jews: please dont take the bait. Bowman shares our commitment to a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that ensures the self-determination, safety and human rights of both peoples. MORE FROM Eric Alterman

When it was over, Bowman won in a landslide. Engel could not even, it appears, carry the Jews. We dont actually know how much of Bowmans more than 60 percent landslide was attributable to Jewish voters, but one clue comes from the polling station at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale: It went for Bowman 500, Engel 324.

Engel did not lose specifically because his district liked Bowmans position on Israel better than his, though many obviously did. He lost because, given all the crises facing his constituents, Israel had lost its centrality. Engel stayed in Washington during the pandemic to keep his eye on the committee, especially no doubt its reaction to Netanyahus recent push to annex parts of the West Bank, rather than returning home to tend to the needs of his constituents, reeling under the threat of the pandemic and inspired by the politics of racial reawakening. Zionism and liberalism faced off, and liberalism won.

The lesson here for Jews is that the days when AIPAC directives and Mellman-like scare tactics on behalf of Israel could trump commitments to liberal principles are coming to an end. Bowmans victory is one harbinger, and so was the strong support for Sanders and Warren, both of whom supportedwith Bowmanconditioning US aid to Israel, a position thats been anathema to the so-called pro-Israel community for nearly 60 years.

As Israel grows increasingly illiberalembracing not only annexation but also official racism, theocratic governance, and increasingly anti-democratic restrictions on the freedoms of its Arab minoritythe choice for American Jews will grow increasingly stark. Liberal Zionisma cause to which I have committed myself for my entire adult lifehas come to look like a contradiction. The Jews of Israel, alas, appear to have made their choice. Bowmans sweeping victory demonstrates that American Jews will now be making their own.

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In New York, Zionism and Liberalism Faced Offand Liberalism Won - The Nation

Black Lives Matter UK: ‘Politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism’ – Jewish News

Posted By on July 2, 2020

Communal leaders have criticised the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK (BLMUK), after it claimed politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism.

The Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl criticised the movement over a tweet on Sunday, saying it was beyond disappointing that asupposedly anti-racist organisation has leaned into the antisemitic trope that British politics is gagged in terms of debating Israel, a claim particularly preposterous because Israel is one of the most-discussed foreign policy issues in this country.

However, the failings of this particular group will not stop us standing alongside black people in their quest for justice, whether inside or outside our community.

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A source at the Board added: The far right and far left are desperate to divide black and Jewish communities. We are not falling for it.

The Jewish Leadership Council tweeted: We unequivocally support the fight against anti-black racism. That people suffer abuse & prejudice because of the colour of their skin is abhorrent & we are actively involved in this fight as a community. But please do not fight racism with racism we must be allies

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said BLM should embrace solidarity from Jews and should aspire to be a movement against racism that unifies people and achieves lasting change, not a movement that spreads hatred and achieves lasting division. You cannot fight prejudice with prejudice.

Taking to Twitter, BLMUK told its near 60,000 followers: As Israel moves forward with the annexation of the West Bank, and mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism, and Israels settler colonial pursuits, we loudly and clearly stand beside our Palestinian comrades. FREE PALESTINE.

The tweet has so far been retweeted more than 21,000 times.

Following criticism, the movement added a series of subsequent tweets, including one citing Jewish activists who reject thecynical and false accusations of antisemitism that dangerously conflate anti-Jewish racism with opposition to Israels policies and system of occupation and apartheid.

Earlier this week, more than 1,000 European politicians signed a letter against annexation, started by senior Israeli figures. Signatories from the UK include included Lord Carlile, DameMargaret Hodge, former Tory leader, Lord Howard and Baroness Neville-Jones.

This follows a clash during a Board of Deputies meeting last Sunday over the BLM movement, afterGary Mond, deputy for JNF, urged the community not to support groups accused of using reactions to George Floyds death for twisted goals. He was criticised after saying that black lives matter, as well as Asian lives, African lives, Jewish lives and all lives.

Other deputies, warned the phrase all lives matter, a slogan commonly associated with critics of the Black Lives Matter movement, risks trivialising the experiences of people of colour.

The Black Lives Matter UK movement has been approached for comment.

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Black Lives Matter UK: 'Politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism' - Jewish News

AJC’s David Harris complains that liberal Zionist groups tried to ‘bully’ and ‘intimidate’ him to take ‘macho’ stand against Israel – Mondoweiss

Posted By on July 2, 2020

We have been saying for days now that the annexation argument has transformed the Israel lobby. Liberal Zionist organizations such as J Street and Americans for Peace Now are emerging as the new leaders of the Israel lobby because they seized on an issue of great moment and took a firm stance and by lobbying the Democratic Congress and appealing to foreign leaders appear to have turned Israel back from its determination to annex portions of the West Bank.

While the leading rightwing organizations kept their mouths shut and wavered and have suffered a political collapse in the eyes of the pro-Israel community, for doing nothing as beloved Zion burned.

Today the leader of one of those rightwing groups the American Jewish Committee lashed out on a webinar against liberal Zionist organizations for trying to bully him and practice intellectual intimidation so that the AJC would take a more macho stand against Israel.

David Harris never mentioned his enemies by name, but it was clear he meant J Street and Americans for Peace Now, which rose to this occasion and repeatedly called on leading Jewish groups to oppose annexation.

Harris was obviously referring to incidents like this one: Last week the AJC came out with a mealymouthed statement against annexation but assured Israel that it would defend Israel no matter what it does. Hadar Susskind, the head of Americans for Peace Now, responded to the piece by writing, Delete your organization.

In his webinar today, David Harris repeatedly slammed the left for having the arrogant notion that we know better. Or to use that famous phrase, To save Israel from itself. Thats where the AJC parts company. No it doesnt mean we have to keep silent but we at AJC have to keep in mind the distribution of risk here. Israelis are at physical risk from attack; and American Jews who criticize it are not.

Harris then said he was against annexation, but nicely.

The very word annexation itself is a toxic word. Because annexation in our vocabulary is very negative. Annexation is a hostile word, which is why some Israelis who support this prefer to use the extension of Israeli sovereign law.

From AJCs perspective again were friends of Israel, we are independent in our thinking, we will offer our perspective but at the end of the day we recognize its not our decision to make. Its Israels decision to make. From our perspective at AJC, we see the costs of the annexation or extension of sovereignty we see the costs as being very high. We dont see the benefits. There may be local benefits, political benefits within the domestic Israeli space. We dont see the benefits. We see instead something that will be used as yet another excuse or pretext by the Palestinians to avoid the peace table

But Harris said, thats not good enough for some in the American Jewish community. Hes faced attempted intellectual intimidation for not going further.

From our perspective at AJC, we are opposed to what were hearing based on our cost benefit analysis. I want to be very clear. On the other hand, there is a separate discussion to be had, and one cannot simply be lumped into a different political category for saying what Im about to say, although in todays world that is exactly how some will try and play it. Because in todays world you have a kind of binary political equation on just about everything, including this Youre either with us or youre against it. The moment youre trying to introduce any other elements or nuance, then youre immediately in the opposite camp. Thats not AJC, and were not going to play into attempted intellectual intimidation. Were going to defend our space which is to say, No to unilateral steps on the West Bank as are being discussed, in our perspective. At the same time it is fair to ask How long will Israel have to wait for a credible serious partner to sit across the table and negotiate

Harris said Israels failure to gain peace was not just Benjamin Netanyahus issue. Governments of the left and center had also failed. The burden was on the Palestinians, to show up, seriously, credibly, perseverantly.

But he went on that these liberal Zionist groups are playing to their donors by taking a muscular and macho stance against Israel. And Harris implied that they dont love Israel enough.

Look there are times that we have disagreed with Israel. How could we not? What AJC has done and I think its well understood in Israel is when there is criticism we try to find the most constructive way to channel the criticism. That means were not playing to our bleachers. Were not going to a group of donors and saying, Look how muscular and macho we are in what we told the Israelis. Were not hoping that the New York Times or the Washington Post picks up on our opposition to this or that and turns it into a pullquote and a headline. Were operating from a principle that for us would be referred to as ahavat Yisrael, love of Israel.Its not an effort to score points, to get attention, its not an effort to get patted on the back by other groups in the United States that we hunger for their validation..

So the donors are to Harriss left! It seems very clear from these remarks that the center of gravity in the pro-Israel Jewish community has shifted from the AJC to J Street.

Harris attacked J Street and other leftwing ideological organizations and dogmatists though not by name for supporting the Iran deal in 2015 even when Israels leaders said it posed an existential threat to Israel.

Take the Iran issue. The Israeli leadership came together as one and said the Iran deal as proposed poses an existential threat to the state of Israel. To me this was a defining moment in terms of how to lead the American Jewish community The Israeli leadership across the board at the very top said we agree on this, we disagree on everything else.

The ideological organizations werent prepared to follow along. So the leftwing groups here even confronted with that fact took recourse in their support for in this case the Obama administration, the assurance of the Obama administration that the Israeli concerns were misplaced and miguided. Did those groups even read the deal? AJC was one of the organizations that came out very clearly, If its a matter of existential importance to the state of Israel we have an obligation to speak out Thats where I seriously parted company with the dogmatists and the ideologues who couldnt get out from under the uniform that they wear every day.

He said that the AJC got bullied for trying to introduce nuance into the annexation debate.

If were really entering into a binary world, with two opposing orthodoxies and no room for conversation in between. youre either with us or youre against us. For me intellectually thats a very frightening world.

The AJC has always tried to inject nuance into our conversation about the U.S.-Israel relationship . That comes from a love of Israel.

I saw for example last week When we tried to introduce some nuance into one of the topical issues of the day, the anti-nuance crowd jumped on us, tried to mischaracterize our position, tried to in a way bully us. They were not going to succeed. I come from a place of Jewish unity, not disunity

The Israel lobby is breaking up before our eyes into two branches, liberal Zionist and right Zionist. Each has a political party. For once leading Jewish orgs are speaking in two voices on Israel. This fracturing will foster the politicization of Israel for U.S. politicians.

AJC's David Harris complains that liberal Zionist groups tried to 'bully' and 'intimidate' him to take 'macho' stand against Israel - Mondoweiss

Ben-Gurion: The Man Who Willed A State – Mosaic

Posted By on July 2, 2020

When David Ben-Gurion read Israels Declaration of Independence in Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948, he did so under a portrait of Theodore Herzl, whom he hailed as visionary of the Jewish state. The founder of political Zionismreally the founder of modern Jewish diplomacy and politicsHerzl had died 44 years earlier, in 1904. Though Ben-Gurion had always revered Herzl, proponents of the left-wing Zionism in which Ben-Gurion had grown up had had vicious quarrels with Herzl during his lifetime. Should they accept a British territory in East Africa as a national home? Should Zionism prioritize international diplomacy, as Herzl insisted, or focus on building communities and draining swamps, as many East European Zionists argued? The fights over these questions surely contributed to the health difficulties that sent him to an early grave.

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The 100 Years War On Palestine, And Still Counting – The Citizen

Posted By on July 2, 2020

One of the most terrifying sounds on earth, Palestinian American historian Rashid Khalidi recalls, is the screeching roar of supersonic warplanes diving to attack.

He experienced that while rushing to retrieve his children from a kindergarten and a nursery school in Beirut during Israels 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which claimed the lives of more than 19,000 Lebanese and Palestinians, mostly civilians.

It is one of Khalidis many personal encounters with Israeli militarism told in The Hundred Years War on Palestine.

Unlike in his previous scholarly work, here Khalidi weaves his personal and family history into the period he covers. In a way it is lived history, a testament not only to what Palestinians experienced as a collective but also to what this meant in very immediate ways to the author himself.

Khalidi comes from a well-known Palestinian family that can be traced back for multiple generations, including a great-great-great grandfather who was a religious scholar, and two uncles who the British imprisoned during the 1936-1939 Arab Revolt.

Khalidi grew up in New York City where his father worked for the United Nations. After graduating from Yale University, he received his doctorate from the University of Oxford and went on to a distinguished teaching and research career, culminating with his present appointment as the Edward Said professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University.

Khalidis 2013 book Brokers of Deceit: How the US Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East documents the role that successive US governments have played in the so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

It demonstrates persuasively how the US was never an honest broker in negotiations but a behind-the-scenes lawyer for Israel, bound in part by a pledge dating from the Gerald Ford administration to never float a peace proposal without first seeking approval from Israeli negotiators.

This theme of US complicity in Palestinian oppression carries over into The Hundred Years War and is deepened with an account of the US role in Lebanon when American officials promised to ensure the safety of Palestinian refugees following the departure of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Those same officials reneged on the pledge as Israel oversaw the Phalangist massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

Khalidi concludes that US administrations have colluded with Israel ever since the 1967 War, which Washington green-lighted. The US continues to provide both the military aid and the diplomatic cover essential to preserving Israel as an apartheid, settler-colonial state.

As Khalidi demonstrates, all of the six wars the Zionist movement and the State of Israel carried out against the Palestinian people were enabled by colonial or imperialist powers.

Khalidi brings new research to the subject with chapters devoted to each of the six wars. His personal stories such as his experiences living in Jerusalem during the first intifada and later serving as an adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team at the 1991 Madrid conference make an already tragic history even more poignant.

Ending US collusion with Israel is the chief focus of the concluding chapter. Khalidi sets the stage for a discussion of possible solutions by first probing the failures of the Palestinian leadership.

He faults that leadership for dismissing the importance of influencing American public opinion as a way to counter US government actions. He contends that the Palestinian civil society call to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel has done more to win over the American people than anything the Palestinian political leadership has done.

Khalidi proposes three counternarratives to undermine the dominant belief among most US citizens that Israel is a normal, democratic nation state, like any other that espouses Western values.

The first counternarrative is one that draws comparisons between Israel and other settler-colonial societies, including Australia, Canada, South Africa and, of course, the United States.

Parallels between the fate of Native Americans and the Palestnians indict both Israel and the US. Khalidi concludes, however, that many Americans still cherish their early history in which settlers are portrayed as hardy pioneers in conflict with savages.

The dominant narrative is being increasingly challenged but still holds sway, he maintains. The manifest destiny claim that the pioneers used to justify the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Native Americans dovetails with the Christian Zionist myth of Jews at last returning to their ancestral land, an uplifting scenario of post-Holocaust rescue that appeals to many Americans.

The second proposed counternarrative is to highlight the asymmetry of power between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians. The problem with this is that Israel still enjoys being perceived as David to the Arab/Muslim Goliath and media tropes claim that Palestinians failed to take best offers at the negotiating table.

The third, and in Khalidis opinion, the most promising and important counternarrative, is to focus on equal rights and the lack thereof in apartheid Israel. Inequality was embedded in the 1947 United Nations partition plan which proposed a majority of the land of Palestine to the Jewish minority and is therefore at the root of the problem, he writes.

Focusing on inequality is crucial, Khalidi asserts, because it is in direct contradiction to the proclaimed egalitarian values of the Western democratic societies that Israel has relied on for support.

This inequality has become even more starkly apparent today and is the central moral question posed by Zionism.

Khalidi concludes: By embracing its illiberal and discriminatory essence, modern Zionism is increasingly in contradiction with the ideals, particularly that of equality, on which Western democracies are based.

It is instructive that at the age of 72, the prominent Palestinian American scholar sees the struggle against Zionist ideology as one of the keys to ending US collusion with Israel.

But it is difficult to see how this can be accomplished without a counternarrative that indicts the US for failing to come to terms with its own settler-colonial history, including its internal colonialism and its external imperialism, both of which persist to this day.

The Hundred Years War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017by Rashid Khalidi, Metropolitan Books (2020)

Rod Such is a former editor for World Book and Encarta encyclopedias. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and is active with the Occupation-Free Portland campaign. ELECTRONIC INTIFADA

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The 100 Years War On Palestine, And Still Counting - The Citizen

Palestinians Are Losing What Little Faith They Still Have in the Palestinian Authority – Mosaic

Posted By on July 2, 2020

Among those most fervently opposed to Israel applying its sovereignty to Jewish areas of the West Bank are members of the hard right, many of whom live in the affected areas. They do so because, under the Trump administration proposal, the extension of sovereignty makes possible the creation of a Palestinian state in the remainder of the territory. Haviv Rettig Gur comments on this irony:

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Annexation, Israel & Zionism

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Palestinians Are Losing What Little Faith They Still Have in the Palestinian Authority - Mosaic

Antisemitism smears are being used to silence criticism of Israel. But supporters of Palestine wont shut up. – The Canary

Posted By on July 2, 2020

Content warning: This article contains graphic descriptions of violence that some readers may find disturbing.

Take a look at this image of 11-year-old Mahmoud Sawalhi, a Palestinian boy from Gaza. In 2018, an Israeli sniper shot him in the eye. The bullet went through his brain and shot through the top of his head. Yes, you read that correctly: the bullet went through his brain and shot through the top of his head. When his father rescued him off the ground, he said that part of Sawalhis brain was in his hands. Unbelievably, Sawalhi survived.

An Israeli sniper is trained to target victims with absolute precision. So its highly unlikely that Sawalhi was shot by mistake.

Sawalhi was transferred from Gaza to the West Bank for treatment. I met him laying in hospital, without his mother. The Israeli authorities had banned her from travelling with him. Imagine how terrified he must have been, laying in that room, surrounded by strangers.

My meeting with Sawalhi will be forever etched in my memory. But there are thousands of children like him, injured by Israeli forces. At least 25,503 Palestinian boys have been injured by Israel since 2008. And there are more than 1,000 children who didnt survive.

All the while, governments around the world look the other way. Or, even worse, like the UK, they are complicit in these murders.

If youre visiting Palestine, and you tell a Palestinian person that youre from the UK, theyll immediately respond with the words Balfour Declaration. Theyll remind you of Britains historical role in the Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

But the UKs role isnt just historical. The UK government, and its mainstream media, continue to be among Israels strongest allies. The government attempts to shut down any criticism of Israel by loudly accusing human rights activists of antisemitism when they dare to criticise Israel or Zionism. At the same time, the UK continues to arm Israel to the teeth. After all, there are big profits to be made.

Keir Starmers sacking of Labour MP Rebecca Long-Bailey has caused controversy in the UK. Starmer told Long-Bailey to step down after she tweeted an interview with Maxine Peake in which Peake stated:

The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyds neckwas learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.

The interview, published in theIndependent, was later amended and now states:

UPDATE (25.06.20): A previous version of this article reported that a 2016 Amnesty International report had found that hundreds of US law enforcement officials had travelled to Israel for training. Our article also implied that this training could have included neck kneeling tactics. While it is true that US law enforcement officials have travelled to Israel for training, there has been no suggestion that this training involved the tactics referred to in the article. The article has been amended accordingly.

A spokesperson for Starmer called this an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. This is yet another misuse of the term antisemitism, labelling any critical mention of Israel as being antisemitic.

The Israeli police claimed that there is no tactic or protocol that calls to put pressure on the neck or airway. However, there is ample photo evidence showing Israeli forces using this exact technique on Palestinians:

And in 2019, Middle East Eye reported that the US police were being taught brutal Israeli military-style policing tactics.

Fady Khoury, an attorney at Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said:

There is plenty of documentation out there of violent arrests that involve kneeling on detainees heads and necks.

We have seen this not only in the occupied territories when soldiers perform arrests, but inside Israel by police officers as well.

But, in fact, the purge of Long-Bailey shouldnt come as a surprise. Starmer has been labelled a Zionist by The Times Of Israel. The Israeli newspaper quoted Starmer as saying:

I do support Zionism. I absolutely support the right of Israel to exist as a homeland. My only concern is that Zionism can mean slightly different things to different people, and to some extent it has been weaponised. I wouldnt read too much into that. I said it loud and clear and meant it that I support Zionism without qualification.

Starmer also came 14th in a poll made by Israeli PR experts Social Lite Creative of the Top 50 Zionist Influencers of 2020.

Moreover,The Canary has previously reported that Starmer accepted a 50,000 donation from a pro-Israel lobbyist during his leadership bid.

Of course its possible to be a supporter of Palestinian human rights and to also be antisemitic. But being critical of Israel is not, in itself, antisemitic. And arguments like this actually dilute the term and detract from the fact that real antisemitism exists in the UK.

In 2019, The Canarys Nancy Mendoza responded to the smear campaign against Corbyn and the Labour Party. Mendoza said:

Im getting sick of non-Jewish people hijacking and misrepresenting my experience for their own gain. These days, that seems to be mainly for political gain against Jeremy Corbyns Labour Party.

Just to be really clear: The row over antisemitism in the Labour Party is actually fuelling antisemitism, whilst simultaneously weakening the term as its applied to genuine antisemitism. And it seems it was never really meant to be of service to Jewish people, anyway, so nobody gives a damn what impact it has on us. That is a very frightening development, for me.

The Canary has also been accused of antisemitism, even though a number of its staff are Jewish. Canary writer and editor Emily Apple, who is Jewish, expressed her opinion:

Honestly, its getting boring having to say it, but being anti-Zionist is not being antisemitic. Questioning Israels aggressive policies, Palestinian deaths, and illegal land occupations does not make anyone antisemitic. Protesting Israeli interests and supporting the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign does not make someone antisemitic. Being Jewish is not being Israeli, and we need to stop conflating the two.

And for me, this is where the real danger lies. Calling people antisemitic for questioning Israel creates the real problem of dismissing the rise of antisemitism; it replaces actually doing something to stop the real nastiness with a witch-hunt.

These constant accusations of antisemitism are an attempt to shut down all criticism of apartheid Israel. But no matter what you throw at us, supporters of Palestine wont shut up.

To those of you who are defending the Israeli government, youre on the wrong side of history. Future generations will look at you in horror, wondering how you could have defended such vicious apartheid. Its time to wake up.

Featured image via the International Solidarity Movement, with permission.

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Antisemitism smears are being used to silence criticism of Israel. But supporters of Palestine wont shut up. - The Canary

Foreign Minister Ashkenazi: I Don’t know about annexation, ask Netanyahu – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on July 2, 2020

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi was asked on Army Radio about annexation on Wednesday, replying that he does not know and added "Ask [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.""It is unreasonable to expect annexation to happen today," Ashkenazi added, not ruling out that it is possible for Israel to implement the plan.Ashkenazi reportedly told US envoy Avi Berkowitz that USPresident Donald Trump's Peace Plan is a good plan, but needs to be advanced by "bringing as many partners to the table."

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Foreign Minister Ashkenazi: I Don't know about annexation, ask Netanyahu - The Jerusalem Post

Prosecution oversight czar: State attorney should have cleared Mandelblit – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on July 2, 2020

Responding to a request to evaluate Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblits role in the Harpaz Affair, Justice Ministry oversight czar Judge David Rozen on Wednesday said if an error needs to be fixed, it is that Mandelblits name should be fully cleared.The Harpaz Affair was mainly a fight between then-defense minister Ehud Barak and then-IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi over who would be seen by the country as Mr. Security, with Mandelblit being involuntarily drawn into the mix from various spin-off issues.Rozen issued his ruling the day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched multiple attacks on Mandelblit for seeking to block him from receiving tycoon donations to pay his legal expenses in his public corruption trial.The oversight czar, who sent former prime minister Ehud Olmert to jail and criticized Mandelblit and the prosecution on a number of issues, is not viewed as being in anyones pocket.Recent reports by Channel 13s Ayala Hasson and leaks from supporters of Netanyahu have called into question whether charges against Mandelblit should have been dropped and whether he improperly tampered with the basis for which his case was closed.However, Rozen said the biggest error to be fixed now is that Mandelblits case should be officially closed because those suspicions have been found to be groundless.In 2015, then-attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein dropped the charges against Mandelblit. But he left open whether the case was being closed due to insufficient evidence, which could have blocked Mandelblit from becoming attorney-general, or because the charges were groundless.The High Court of Justice approved Mandelblit to become attorney-general, but the question of the basis for closing the case was never resolved.After becoming attorney-general, Mandelblits lawyer sent then-state attorney Shai Nitzan a letter asking him to close the case on the basis that the charges were groundless.Though Nitzan and the prosecution generally leaned in this direction, they decided they could not take any action for fear of violating conflict-of-interest principles because Mandelblit was their boss.Despite the conflict of interest, Mandelblit had a right for his name to be cleared, and if the prosecution also believed this, they should have acceded to his lawyers request, Rozen said.Furthermore, despite questions raised about Mandelblits withholding information from the deputy attorney-general for 24 hours during the Harpaz Affair, and despite statements he made to Ashkenazi suggesting he would try to help him during the probe, that the police, Weinstein and the state comptroller at the time saw all of the evidence when the case was closed, Rozen said.

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Prosecution oversight czar: State attorney should have cleared Mandelblit - The Jerusalem Post

Embattled Trump team cools on Netanyahu’s annexation bid – The National

Posted By on July 1, 2020

Support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned annexation of much of the occupied West Bank appears to have waned in the US this week, with the Trump administration beset by a barrage of political setbacks.

On Wednesday, Mr Netanyahu's self-imposed deadline, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said it was likely there would be no announcement.

Talks between senior Israeli and Trump administration officials in recent days have not resulted in Mr Netanyahu getting a green light to swiftly annex any West Bank settlements and parts of the strategic Jordan Valley areas that Palestinians want for a future state.

US President Donald Trump initially offered these zones to Israel in a plan unveiled in January, but appears to have cooled on any land grab as he fights the coronavirus pandemic, racial tensions and a new tell-all account of incompetence in the Oval Office.

Jonathan Cristol, an expert on Middle Eastern politics at New York's Adelphi University, said Americans were "completely consumed" by rising Covid-19 deaths and protests against heavy-handed policing as they mull whether to re-elect Mr Trump in November.

"Netanyahu may have thought he could move to annex parts of the West Bank while the world was distracted, but I think he underestimated the pushback from people he believed would be on his side," Mr Cristol told The National.

This includes American diplomats from all political persuasions and congressmen who are otherwise friendly to Israel, he said, as well as Gulf states.

Mr Netanyahu said he planned to swiftly extend Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley, as envisaged in Mr Trump's so-called Deal of the Century, under which Israel would control about 30 per cent of the West Bank.

Global opposition has mounted, with Palestinian leaders, the UN, European powers and Arab nations all expressing strong opposition to any annexation of land that Israeli forces captured in a 1967 conflict.

Talks last week between Mr Trump's top national security aides and Israeli officials were described as "productive" by a White House insider, but did not immediately approve Mr Netanyahu's plan to start claiming the disputed territories as soon as July 1.

On Tuesday, progressive congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other Democratic lawmakers signed a letter that called for placing conditions on $3.8 billion (Dh13.95bn) of US military aid to Israel if it moves forward with a land grab in the West Bank.

The strongly worded document outlines plans to "work to ensure non-recognition of annexed territories" and to "pursue legislation" to withhold military funding to Israel, though it is not known whether Ms Ocasio-Cortez can muster enough support on Capitol Hill.

Earlier this month, UAE Ambassador to Washington Yousef Al Otaiba published a widely read op-ed in an Israeli newspaper, warning Mr Netanyahu that annexation would hurt Israel's chances of normalising ties with Arab states.

Recent polling data from Shibley Telhami, a Palestinian-American professor at the University of Maryland, suggest that few Americans are focused on Middle East peace efforts, which have been drowned out by a glut of breaking news stories.

Only 29 per cent of 2,400 respondents were either "very familiar" or "somewhat familiar" with Mr Trump's blueprint for peace. Thirty-one per cent of respondents supported annexation, while 48 per cent were opposed. More Republicans backed annexation than Democrats.

Mr Trump, a Republican, is trailing in the polls behind his expected Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the November 3 vote, with coronavirus infections growing across the US south and west and political unrest over repeated police killings of unarmed black people.

Against this backdrop, Mr Netanyahu on Sunday presented his case for annexation in an online meeting of Christians United for Israel an American group of mostly evangelical Christians who are vital to Mr Trump's re-election strategy.

The Israeli leader told the pro-Trump crowd that he wanted to declare sovereignty over parts of the "historic Jewish homeland" that were also an "integral part of Christian identity, part of your heritage and of our common civilisation".

Sunjeev Bery, the executive director of Freedom Forward, which campaigns for looser US-Israeli ties, said the Trump administration was backtracking on Israel's expansion plans in the face of "deep opposition" among US voters.

"Even within Trump's evangelical base, there is significant ambivalence," Mr Bery told The National.

"Given the Trump administration's failure to address the coronavirus pandemic, along with so many other bruising headlines, it's no surprise that the Trump team might be stepping back from a full embrace of Netanyahu's latest brutal plan."

Updated: July 1, 2020 04:14 PM

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Embattled Trump team cools on Netanyahu's annexation bid - The National

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