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The footage is only a glimpse of Israel’s murderous bombing campaign in Gaza.
The Independent: Dozens of Holocaust survivors, together with hundreds of descendants of Holocaust survivors and victims, have accused Israel of “genocide” for the deaths of more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza since the conflict erupted in July.
In an open letter released by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and published as an advert in The New York Times, the group calls for a full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel over its “wholesale effort to destroy Gaza”.
“Genocide begins with the silence of the world,” the statement reads, “We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people.”
The statement also condemns the United States for its financial and diplomatic support of Israel.
The signatories express alarm at “the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever pitch.”
This condemnation was designed as a response to a widely-published advertisement from Nobel prize-winning author Elie Wiesel that condemned Hamas for its “use of children as human shields”.
The statement reads: “We are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history […] to justify the unjustifiable.”
Of the 327 signatories, 40 survived the Holocaust and the other 287 are descendants of Holocaust survivors or victims.
Recent today reports refer to the destruction of an high rise office building in the southern town of Rafah, and the bombing of an apartment building in Gaza City amid attempts from the Egyptian government to establish a durable ceasefire.
More than 2,100 Palestinians, including 500 children have been killed in the conflict, according to Palestinian health officials and UN figures. Israel has lost 64 soldiers and four civilians.
Ilan Pappe on Israel’s ethnic cleansing in 1948 and why it matters today.
SF Chronicle: Activists protesting Israel’s military action in the Gaza Strip converged on the Port of Oakland on Sunday afternoon in an effort to block the unloading of an Israeli cargo ship, the second such action in two days.
The activists formed pickets at several Port gates to prevent workers from unloading the Piraeus, a vessel from Zim Integrated Shipping Services, Israel’s largest shipping firm. The ship docked at 5 p.m. at the port’s Oakland International Container Terminal, and protesters communicating via Twitter said port employees were honoring their picket lines.
“It’s my understanding that labor did not report to work for the 7 p.m. shift at the Oakland International Terminal,” port spokeswoman Marilyn Sandifur said Sunday evening. “All other port operations are unaffected.”
With tensions still high between the Israeli government and Hamas, the Piraeus has become the focus of attention for Bay Area activists.
Organizing under the motto “Block the Boat,” they first expected the ship to reach Oakland early Saturday morning. Word that the ship’s arrival had been delayed led activists to rally at the port Saturday afternoon instead, in a large procession waving Palestinian flags and signs reading “Let Gaza Live.”
Then, as the ship neared the Golden Gate on Sunday afternoon, tracked by the online service Marine Traffic, activists returned to the port.
Organizers describe the action as part of a larger international movement to boycott Israeli goods and force companies to divest from the country.
The New York Times: THE HAGUE — In 1943, Henk Zanoli took a dangerous train trip, slipping past Nazi guards and checkpoints to smuggle a Jewish boy from Amsterdam to the Dutch village of Eemnes. There, the Zanoli family, already under suspicion for resisting the Nazi occupation, hid the boy in their home for two years. The boy would be the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust.
Seventy-one years later, on July 20, an Israeli airstrike flattened a house in the Gaza Strip, killing six of Mr. Zanoli’s relatives by marriage. His grandniece, a Dutch diplomat, is married to a Palestinian economist, Ismail Ziadah, who lost three brothers, a sister-in-law, a nephew and his father’s first wife in the attack.
On Thursday, Mr. Zanoli, 91, whose father died in a Nazi camp, went to the Israeli Embassy in The Hague and returned a medal he received honoring him as one of the Righteous Among the Nations — non-Jews honored by Israel for saving Jews during the Holocaust. In an anguished letter to the Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands, he described the terrible price his family had paid for opposing Nazi tyranny.
“My sister lost her husband, who was executed in the dunes of The Hague for his involvement in the resistance,” he wrote. “My brother lost his Jewish fiancée who was deported, never to return.”
Mr. Zanoli continued, “Against this background, it is particularly shocking and tragic that today, four generations on, our family is faced with the murder of our kin in Gaza. Murder carried out by the State of Israel.”
His act crystallizes the moral debate over Israel’s military air and ground assault in the Gaza Strip, in which about 2,000 people, a majority of them civilians, have been killed. Israel says the strikes are aimed at Hamas militants who fire rockets at Israeli cities and have dug a secret network of tunnels into Israel.
Mr. Zanoli transformed over the decades from a champion to a critic of the Israeli state, mirroring a larger shift in Europe, where anguish over the slaughter of six million European Jews led many to support the founding of Israel in 1948 as a haven for Jews worldwide.
But in the years since Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza during the 1967 war, Europeans have become more critical. Israel blames anti-Semitism, which has grown in Europe with the rise of right-wing politicians. Some European protests against Israeli military action have been marred in recent weeks by open anti-Semitism, blurring the line between criticism of Israeli policy and hate speech against Jews. But many other critics, like Mr. Zanoli, say their objection to Israeli policy is not anti-Jewish but consistent with the humanitarian principles that led them to condemn the Holocaust and support the founding of a Jewish state.
“I gave back my medal because I didn’t agree with what the state of Israel is doing to my family and to the Palestinians on the whole,” Mr. Zanoli said in an interview Friday in his spare but elegant apartment, adding that his decision was a statement “only against the state of Israel, not the Israeli people.”
“Jews were our friends,” said Mr. Zanoli, a retired lawyer who uses a motorized scooter but remains erect and regal, much as he appears in a yellowing 1940s photograph archived at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
Mr. Zanoli said he had never publicly criticized Israel “until I heard that my family was the victim.”
In Gaza, Mr. Zanoli’s in-laws say his gesture is a fitting response to the losses of their family and others who have lost multiple relatives in strikes on homes. Those in-laws include Hassan al-Zeyada, a psychological trauma counselor who is an older brother of Ismail Ziadah. Their mother, Muftiyah, 70, was the oldest family member to die in the bombing.
Like Mr. Zanoli, Dr. Zeyada, 50, who works to treat the many Palestinians in Gaza traumatized by war and displacement, has given much thought to the fact that Israel was founded after the Holocaust, one of history’s greatest collective traumas.
Dr. Zeyada, who transliterates his family name differently from his brother, said Friday that he admired Mr. Zanoli and his family for their struggle in World War II against “discrimination and oppression in general and against the Jews in particular.”
“For them,” he added, “it’s something painful that the people you defended and struggled for turn into aggressors.”
Dr. Zeyada said last month that none of his family members were militants. Israel says that it takes precautions to avoid killing civilians, and that Hamas purposely increases civilian casualties by operating in residential neighborhoods. It has offered no information on whether the Zeyada family home was hit purposely, and if so, what the target was and whether it justified a strike that killed six civilians. The military told the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which first reported Mr. Zanoli’s decision, only that it was investigating “all irregular incidents.”
At Yad Vashem, where a leafy garden commemorates the 25,000 people named Righteous Among the Nations, a spokeswoman said Friday that Mr. Zanoli’s renunciation of the prize was “his decision,” but “we regret it.”
More than 5,000 Dutch have received the honor; only Poles have been honored more.
In 1943, Mr. Zanoli’s father was detained by the Nazis for his work in the Dutch underground resistance movement. Soon after, according to Yad Vashem’s citation, also awarded posthumously to Mr. Zanoli’s mother, Jans, Mr. Zanoli traveled to Amsterdam to get Elchanan Pinto, 11, an Orthodox Jewish boy whose parents and siblings would all die in the death camps.
“Jans Zanoli knew very well the risks involved by then in hiding a Jewish youngster in her home, but felt the moral obligation to do so,” the citation reads. “Elchanan found a warm and loving home with them.”
After the Allied victory in 1945, an uncle of Elchanan’s took him to a Jewish orphanage. In 1951, the citation says, Elchanan immigrated to Israel, where he changed his last name to Hameiri. An Elchanan Hameiri is listed in phone directories as living in Israel, but could not be reached on Friday.
In his letter to the Israeli ambassador, Mr. Zanoli noted that among the bereaved were “the great-great grandchildren of my mother.”
He relinquished the honor “with great sorrow,” he wrote, because keeping an honor from Israel’s government would be “an insult to the memory of my courageous mother” and to his Gaza family.
He added that his family had “strongly supported the Jewish people” in their quest for “a national home,” but that he had gradually come to believe that “the Zionist project” had “a racist element in it in aspiring to build a state exclusively for Jews.”
He referred to the displacement of Palestinians — including members of the Ziadah family — during the war over Israel’s founding as “ethnic cleansing” and said Israel “continues to suppress” and occupy Palestinian areas. Israel still occupies the West Bank; it pulled troops out of Gaza in 2005 but retains control over its seafront, airspace and most of its borders.
Israel says it maintains control to curb Palestinian militants like those with Hamas, which in the past has killed several hundred Israelis in suicide bombings. Palestinians see the continuing conflict as a struggle for self-determination — they use Mr. Zanoli’s word for his anti-Nazi work, resistance — and say Israel is obstructing the establishment of a Palestinian state with policies like settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Mr. Zanoli said he could envision a situation in which he would take the medal back.
“The only way out of the quagmire the Jewish people of Israel have gotten themselves into is by granting all living under the control of the State of Israel the same political rights and social and economic rights and opportunities,” he wrote. “Although this will result in a state no longer exclusively Jewish it will be a state with a level of righteousness on the basis of which I could accept the title of ‘Righteous among the Nations’ you awarded to my mother and me.”
In that event, he concluded, “be sure to contact me or my descendants.”
To put things into perspective, here is a map of the GPS locations of all of Israel’s missile attacks on Gaza in its latest bombardment of the strip. Keep in mind that Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas of the world with 1.8 million Palestinians trapped under a blockade in an area equal to twice the size of tiny Washington DC (according to The Washington Post)
Mondoweiss: The recent crimetastrophe in Gaza has meant a month of being glued to the news, dry-mouthed, nauseated, furious and sad. It has meant posting endlessly on Facebook, feeling helpless and useless but noticing more support than I’ve ever had before, and making many more friends and contacts than the few I’ve lost. My family is even getting in on it, with my little sister particularly passionate, despite the fact that it’s scandalizing her Zionist in-laws.
It has also meant more contact with pro-Zionist trolls who pop up constantly with well-scripted talking points, defenses of mass slaughter, denials of Palestinian peoplehood, and (rather ironic) accusations of the type of bigotry known as anti-Semitism.
The most recent one posted a Huffington Post article called “Liberal Anti-Semitism,” which features several paragraphs of hand-wringing about how, when the author hears criticism of Israel, “I get so overwhelmed by the flood of thinly veiled Jew-loathing that I can’t respond to anything else.”
She then outlines five reasons why supporters of Palestinian human rights give her the heebie jeebies.
It’s like shooting fish in a barrel to respond to each of them in turn, but I did so anyway in order to give ammunition to people who are new to this conflict and may be intimidated by this type of rhetoric. Here is my rebuttal:
1. The failure to focus on the log in our own eye.
I have been a critic of American foreign policy since before I knew who occupied whom in Palestine/Israel. Just because I happen to be talking about Palestine right now doesn’t mean I don’t have other passions or interests.
2. Our silence when it comes to the role of the surrounding countries, who want the Palestinians to remain right where they are as pawns in a global power struggle.
As far as Palestinian refugees having a hard time in surrounding countries (which is often true), it wasn’t Jordan or Syria who created the Palestinian refugee crisis, and the US government pretty much pays the Egyptian army to make life difficult for Palestinians. Talk about a “failure to focus on the log in our own eye…”
3. Our indifference to Jewish post traumatic dynamics and conditions that reactivate trauma.
You have no reason to assume anyone is indifferent to Jewish or Israeli suffering without any evidence other than the fact that they support equal human rights for Palestinians without explicitly, every single time, adding a disclaimer that satisfies you.
(I admit I am sometimes cavalier about the actual threat Israelis feel right now, compared to the horrific violence the Israeli army has been inflicting on mostly innocent Palestinians, with 90+% Jewish Israeli support. There is really no comparison when it comes to suffering, and yet Israelis want the world to feel Israel’s (overblown) fear more than Palestinians’ unimaginable loss and pain. And it’s hard for me to take a grown adult seriously when they do that. It’s so blind and racist.)
Whatever collective PTSD Israelis may have, we should all have empathy for that. But past trauma does not exempt one from any accountability for criminal behavior. Any more than someone who was abused as a child should be free to abuse whomever they like without censure.
4. A double standard for Middle Eastern Countries.
Last I checked, we weren’t giving Syria $3 billion per year in foreign aid or blanket political cover to do whatever they like. And still, I haven’t been silent about Syria, and neither have any of the people of conscience whom I know. Though I’m not an expert on Syria and really have no clue what to do about it.
But look, if you want Israel to be treated like an out of touch, bloated-with-oil-and/or-Western-aid-money autocracy, or held to no higher standard than the Taliban, please stop calling it “The Only Democracy in the Middle East” with “The Most Moral Army in the World” and “shared values” with the West. You can’t have it both ways.
5. Our lack of comparable passion about other suffering in the world.
So you can read everyone’s mind? You know what kind of passion we have about all the suffering in the world? Must be a neat trick. Teach it to me some time.
Personally, I focus on Israel/Palestine more than other conflicts because (a) I lived there for two years and have a lot of friends directly involved, (b) It is the largest recipient of US military aid in the world, and (c) It seems there is some tantalizing hope of changing things, especially through educating fellow Americans, who have mostly been brainwashed into demonizing one side and thus being blinded to a lot of basic (and very disturbing) truths about what’s being done in our name with our tax dollars.
I suspect part of the reason other people focus on it is because there is a lot of support for Israel in America, and it gets reported on the news in (often wrong or out-of-context) detail, and there always seems to be a “peace process” or a war blasted across the news, and it’s been going on for decades, so people get invested in the long, drawn-out soap opera / narrative. Plus, many people have read the Bible, so we feel some connection to the land — the River Jordan and Jerusalem and all that — more than, say, the Sudan, about which most Americans know absolutely nothing. Doesn’t mean it’s right. But it’s a more plausible explanation than the fact that we’re all — including all the major news networks — secretly anti-Semitic.
Palestinians are also educated and social media savvy, so they are a bit better at getting their message out than some people in other conflict zones. Plus they’ve asked the world to come to their aid through a BDS movement that can get literally everyone in the world involved, even if our governments won’t do crap. A good model for other oppressed people throughout the world.
By implying that because I focus disproportionately on this subject, I must be a closet anti-Semite, you are simply throwing around slander in an apparent attempt to silence me. Sorry, it won’t work.
The best part of the article was this quote by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, which we would all do well to keep in mind:
“If only it were all so simple, if only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”
Pamela Olson lived in beautiful Palestine for two years during and after the second Intifada and is deeply humbled by that unearned privilege, given how many millions of Palestinians are not even allowed to visit. She is willing to send a free PDF copy of her book, Fast Times in Palestine, to anyone who wishes to learn more about what life is like under Israeli occupation. You can contact her through her website to request one.
The Huffington Post: The official name for Israel’s latest assault on Gaza is “Operation Protective Edge.” A better name would be “Operation Déjà Vu.” As it has on several prior occasions, Israel is using weapons provided by U.S. taxpayers to bombard the captive and impoverished Palestinians in Gaza, where the death toll now exceeds 500. As usual, the U.S. government is siding with Israel, even though most American leaders understand Israel instigated the latest round of violence, is not acting with restraint, and that its actions make Washington look callous and hypocritical in the eyes of most of the world.
This Orwellian situation is eloquent testimony to the continued political clout of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the other hardline elements of the Israel lobby. There is no other plausible explanation for the supine behavior of the U.S. Congress–including some of its most “progressive” members–or the shallow hypocrisy of the Obama administration, especially those officials known for their purported commitment to human rights.
The immediate cause of this latest one-sided bloodletting was the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli hikers in the occupied West Bank, followed shortly thereafter by the kidnapping and fatal burning of a Palestinian teenager by several Israelis. According to J.J. Goldberg’s reporting in the Jewish newspaper Forward, the Netanyahu government blamed Hamas for the kidnappings without evidence and pretended the kidnapped Israelis were still alive for several weeks, even though there was evidence indicating the victims were already dead. It perpetrated this deception in order to whip up anti-Arab sentiment and make it easier to justify punitive operations in the West Bank and Gaza.
And why did Netanyahu decide to go on another rampage in Gaza? As Nathan Thrall of the International Crisis Group points out, the real motive is neither vengeance nor a desire to protect Israel from Hamas’ rocket fire, which has been virtually non-existent over the past two years and is largely ineffectual anyway. Netanyahu’s real purpose was to undermine the recent agreement between Hamas and Fatah for a unity government. Given Netanyahu’s personal commitment to keeping the West Bank and creating a “greater Israel,” the last thing he wants is a unified Palestinian leadership that might press him to get serious about a two-state solution. Ergo, he sought to isolate and severely damage Hamas and drive a new wedge between the two Palestinian factions.
Behind all these maneuvers looms Israel’s occupation of Palestine, now in its fifth decade. Not content with having ethnically cleansed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948 and 1967 and not satisfied with owning eighty-two percent of Mandatory Palestine, every Israeli government since 1967 has built or expanded settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem while providing generous subsidies to the 600,000-plus Jews who have moved there in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Two weeks ago, Netanyahu confirmed what many have long suspected: he is dead set against a two-state solution and will never–repeat never–allow it to happen while he is in office. Given that Netanyahu is probably the most moderate member of his own Cabinet and that Israel’s political system is marching steadily rightward, the two-state solution is a gone goose.
Worst of all, the deaths of hundreds more Palestinians and a small number of Israelis will change almost nothing. Hamas is not going to disband. When this latest round of fighting ends, the 4.4 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza will still be Israel’s de facto prisoners and still be denied basic human rights. But they are not going to leave, mainly because Palestine is their homeland, but also because they have nowhere to go, especially given the turmoil in other parts of the Middle East.
Eventually another ceasefire will be negotiated. The dead will be buried, the wounded will recover, the tunnels now being destroyed will be rebuilt, and Hamas will replenish its stockpile of missiles and rockets. The stage will then be set for another round of fighting, and Israel will have moved further down the road to becoming a full-fledged apartheid state.
Meanwhile, U.S. politicians and policymakers continue to back a brutal military campaign whose primary purpose is not to defend Israel but rather to protect its longstanding effort to colonize the West Bank. Amazingly, they continue to support Israel unreservedly even though every U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson has opposed Israel’s settlements project, and the past three American presidents–Clinton, Bush and Obama–have all worked hard for the two-state solution that Israeli policy has now made impossible.
Yet as soon as fighting starts, and even if Israel instigates it, AIPAC demands that Washington march in lockstep with Tel Aviv. Congress invariably rushes to pass new resolutions endorsing whatever Israel decides to do. Even though it is mostly Palestinians who are dying, White House officials rush to proclaim that Israel has “the right to defend itself,” and Obama himself won’t go beyond expressing “concern” about what is happening. Of course Israelis have the right to defend themselves, but Palestinians not only have the same right, they have the right to resist the occupation. To put this another way, Israel does not have the right to keep its Palestinian subjects in permanent subjugation. But try finding someone on Capitol Hill who will acknowledge this simple fact.
The explanation for America’s impotent and morally bankrupt policy is the political clout of the Israel lobby. Barack Obama knows that if he were to side with the Palestinians in Gaza or criticize Israel’s actions in any way, he would face a firestorm of criticism from the lobby and his chances of getting Congressional approval for a deal with Iran would evaporate.
Similarly, every member of the House and Senate–including progressives like Senator Elizabeth Warren–knows that voting for those supposedly “pro-Israel” resolutions is the smart political move. They understand that even the slightest display of independent thinking on these issues could leave them vulnerable to a well-funded opponent the next time they’re up for re-election. At a minimum, they’ll have to answer a flood of angry phone calls and letters, and, on top of that, they are likely to be blackballed by some of their Congressional colleagues. The safer course is to mouth the same tired litanies about alleged “shared values” between Israel and the U.S. and wait till the crisis dies down. And people wonder why no one respects Congress anymore.
To be sure, the lobby’s clout is not as profound as it once was. Public discourse about Israel, U.S. policy toward Israel and the lobby itself has changed markedly in recent years, and a growing number of journalists, bloggers and pundits–such as Andrew Sullivan, Juan Cole, Peter Beinart, M.J. Rosenberg, Max Blumenthal, Phyllis Bennis, Bernard Avishai, Sara Roy, Mitchell Plitnick, David Remnick, Phil Weiss and even (occasionally) Thomas Friedman of the New York Times–are willing to speak and write candidly about what is happening in the Middle East. Although most Americans openly support Israel’s existence–just as I do–their sympathy for an Israel that acts more like Goliath than David is fading. The ranks of the skeptics include a growing number of younger American Jews, who find little to admire and much to dislike in Israel’s actions and who are far less devoted to it than were previous generations. Pro-peace groups such as J Street and Jewish Voice for Peace reflect that trend and show that opinion among American Jews is far from unified.
Moreover, AIPAC and other hardline lobby groups could not convince the Obama administration to intervene in Syria, and they have been unable to convince the Bush or Obama administrations to launch a preventive strike against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. They have also failed to derail the nuclear negotiations with Tehran–at least so far–though not for lack of trying. Pushing the U.S. toward another Middle East war is a lot for any interest group to accomplish, of course, but these setbacks show that even this “leviathan among lobbies” does not always get its way.
But the lobby is still able to keep roughly $3 billion in U.S. aid to Israel flowing each year; it can still prevent U.S. presidents from putting meaningful pressure on Israel; and it can still get the U.S. to wield its veto whenever a resolution criticizing Israel’s actions is floated in the U.N. Security Council. This situation explains why the Obama administration made zero progress toward “two states for two peoples”: if Israel gets generous U.S. support no matter what it does, why should its leaders pay any attention to Washington’s requests? Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry could only appeal to Netanyahu’s better judgment, and we’ve seen how well that worked.
This situation is a tragedy for all concerned, not least for Israel itself. A Greater Israel cannot be anything but an apartheid state, and exclusionary ethnic nationalism of this sort is not sustainable in the 21st century. Israel’s Arab subjects will eventually demand equal rights, and as former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned back in 2007, once that happens, “the state of Israel is finished.”
Unfortunately, AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and assorted Christian Zionist groups continue to exhibit a severe case of tunnel vision. Because defending Israel no matter what it does is their main raison d’etre (and central to their fundraising), they are unable to see that they are helping Israel drive itself off a cliff. Similarly, those pliant members of Congress who cravenly sign AIPAC-drafted resolutions are not true friends of Israel. They are false friends who pretend to care but are really only interested in getting reelected.
Historians will one day look back and ask how U.S. Middle East policy could be so ineffectual and so at odds with its professed values — not to mention its strategic interests. The answer lies in the basic nature of the American political system, which permits well-organized and well-funded special interest groups to wield significant power on Capitol Hill and in the White House. In this case, the result is a policy that is bad for all concerned: for the Palestinians most of all, but also for the U.S. and Israel as well. Until the lobby’s clout is weakened or politicians grow stiffer spines, Americans looking for better outcomes in the Middle East had better get used to disappointment and prepared for more trouble.
Make no mistake about it, Friday prayers under these circumstances in Gaza is a act of non-violent resistance.