what obama reads (or should read)

the other day amira hass had an article in ha’aretz, which i suspect barack obama did not read. in it she articulates the obvious: that the israeli colonial terrorist state has never been invested in peace, only in war and in a never-ending series of negotiations:

Successive Israeli governments since 1993 certainly must have known what they were doing, being in no hurry to make peace with the Palestinians. As representatives of Israeli society, these governments understood that peace would involve serious damage to national interests.

Economic damage:

The security industry is an important export branch – weapons, ammunition and refinements that are tested daily in Gaza and the West Bank. The Oslo process – negotiations that were never meant to end – allowed Israel to shake off its status as occupying power (obligated to the welfare of the occupied people) and treat the Palestinian territories as independent entities. That is, to use weapons and ammunition at a magnitude Israel could not have otherwise used on the Palestinians after 1967. Protecting the settlements requires constant development of security, surveillance and deterrence equipment such as fences, roadblocks, electronic surveillance, cameras and robots. These are security’s cutting edge in the developed world, and serve banks, companies and luxury neighborhoods next to shantytowns and ethnic enclaves where rebellions must be suppressed.

The collective Israeli creativity in security is fertilized by a state of constant friction between most Israelis and a population defined as hostile. A state of combat over a low flame, and sometimes over a high one, brings together a variety of Israeli temperaments: rambos, computer wizards, people with gifted hands, inventors. Under peace, their chances of meeting would be greatly reduced.

Damage to careers:

Maintaining the occupation and a state of non-peace employs hundreds of thousands of Israelis. Some 70,000 people work in the security industry. Each year, tens of thousands finish their army service with special skills or a desirable sideline. For thousands it becomes their main career: professional soldiers, Shin Bet operatives, foreign consultants, mercenaries, weapons dealers. Therefore peace endangers the careers and professional futures of an important and prestigious stratum of Israelis, a stratum that has a major influence on the government.

Damage to quality of life:

A peace agreement would require equal distribution of water resources throughout the country (from the river to the sea) between Jews and Palestinians, regardless of the desalination of seawater and water-saving techniques. Even now it’s hard for Israelis to get used to saving water because of the drought. It’s not difficult to guess how traumatic a slash in water consumption to equalize distribution would be.

Damage to welfare:

As the past 30 years have shown, settlements flourish as the welfare state contracts. They offer ordinary people what their salaries would not allow them in sovereign Israel, within the borders of June 4, 1967: cheap land, large homes, benefits, subsidies, wide-open spaces, a view, a superior road network and quality education. Even for those Israeli Jews who have not moved there, the settlements illuminate their horizon as an option for a social and economic upgrade. That option is more real than the vague promises of peacetime improvements, an unknown situation.

Peace will also reduce, if not erase entirely, the security pretext for discriminating against Palestinian Israelis – in land distribution, development resources, education, health employment and civil rights (such as marriage and citizenship). People who have gotten used to privilege under a system based on ethnic discrimination see its abrogation as a threat to their welfare.

if there were really “peace,” which of course will never happen without justice (read: right of return for palestinian refugees), then the zionist entity would not be able to dump toxic waste on palestinian land as mel frykberg reported in ips:

“Israel has been dumping waste, including hazardous and toxic waste, into the West Bank for years as a cheaper and easier alternative to processing it properly in Israel at appropriate hazardous waste management sites,” Palestinian Environmental Authority (PEA) deputy director Jamil Mtoor told IPS.

Shuqbah, a village of 5,000, lies near the border of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, not far from Ramallah. Israeli companies have been using land owned by a Palestinian middleman in the village to dump tonnes of garbage for as little as 30 dollars per tonne, significantly cheaper than dumping it at Israeli waste sites.

“For several years Israeli companies have been dumping solid and hazardous waste there,” Mtoor told IPS. “The subsequent burning of toxic waste including items such as x-ray films releases carcinogens into the environment, and this has affected the population, with many people developing asthma and related illnesses.”

The Israelis earlier buried the carcasses of thousands of chickens infected with the avian flu virus near Nablus in the northern West Bank, said Mtoor. The PEA also uncovered 500 barrels of insecticide in Hebron in the southern West Bank. Again, a Palestinian middleman had been paid off to accept the barrels on his property.

if there were an end to colonialism in palestine, which is the only way that a real solution could be maintained, then the zionist entity would have to do something about its maps, including those in its textbooks (see second image below), but also its tourist industry maps as per the one below that they are posting all over london:

wiping palestine off the map: zionist entity's ad campaign in london
wiping palestine off the map: zionist entity's ad campaign in london

the palestine solidarity campaign is asking for people to write letters to protest these ads, which you can do by clicking the link below:

Posters have recently appeared in London Underground tube stations advertising Israel as a tourist destination. The map on the advert depicts Israel as incorporating the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights.

Please write to London Underground, the Advertising Standards Agency and CBS Outdoors – the company which manages the poster sites – asking for the removal of these posters, which deliberately deny the existence of Palestine.

zionist entity's textbook showing what it considers to be its borders
zionist entity's textbook showing what it considers to be its borders

of course the zionists, along with their buddy hillary clinton, love to go on and on about palestinians recognizing them and their rights to colonize palestinian land as well as the mythology of palestinian textbooks inciting violence. a lot of this discussion over palestinian textbooks has been about maps–that they don’t recognize borders as delineated by the zionist entity. of course, they never mention the fact that their textbooks–and their colonizing terrorist state in general–have never marked such borders. and palestinians, because this is their land, must show the borders from the river to the sea: this is their history and their future. in any case, yesterday with obama, benjamin netanyahu decided to bring up the textbooks again:

If, however, the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, if they — if they fight terror, they educate their children for peace and to a better future, then I think we can come to a substantive solution that allows the two peoples to live side by side in security and peace. And I add prosperity (inaudible).

for those who still believe this zionist propaganda about the textbooks, you should check out the german georg eckert institute’s study on this, which put to rest several years ago these bogus claims in spite of hillary and company.

but obama was offered another sort of lesson from netanyahu yesterday in the form of a book. not the sort of book that hugo chavez gave to obama–eduardo galeano’s open veins of latin america. the ever inspirational rania blogged about this last month:

Chavez’s gift was a very wise way (if accidental) to get the book international attention and increases its sales and readership — and thus increase awareness on the centuries of colonization and theft of Latin America and thus increase understanding and, potentially, solidarity. Chavez explained: “This book is a monument in our Latin American history. It allows us to learn history, and we have to build on this history.”

but the book netanyahu gave to obama was none other than mark twain’s orientalist tale of traveling in the holy land otherwise known as the innocents abroad:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with a copy of “Pleasure Excursion to the Holy Land,” from Mark Twain’s book “The Innocents Abroad,” when they meet in Washington today. Netanyahu received the book, along with a newly published version in Hebrew (translated by Oded Peled), from the Kinneret Zmora-Bitan publishing house.

In his travel memoir, Twain describes a 1867 trip to the Land of Israel, which he finds a backward and desolate place devoid of culture or law. “Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village,” he states, calling it a country where prosperity had died out, a place of lost splendor and beauty where joy has turned to sorrow, and where silence and death prevail in its holy places.

actually, while i have serious problems with much of twain’s writing about the arab world in this book, an astute reading of it requires one to also see the irony in it. i wonder, for instance, what obama would make of this passage of twain’s travelogue to the region:

This morning‭, ‬during breakfast‭, ‬the usual assemblage of squalid humanity sat patiently without the charmed circle of the camp and waited for such crumbs as pity might bestow upon their misery‭. ‬There were old and young‭,‬ brown skinned and yellow‭. ‬Some of the men were tall and stalwart‭, (‬for one hardly sees any where such splendid-looking men as here in the East‭,)‬ but all the women and children looked worn and sad‭, ‬and distressed with hunger‭. ‬They reminded me much of Indians‭, ‬did these people‭. ‬They had but little clothing‭, ‬but such as they had was fanciful in character and fantastic in its arrangement‭. ‬Any little absurd gewgaw or gimcrack they had they disposed in such a way as to make it attract attention most readily‭. ‬They sat in silence‭, ‬and with tireless patience watched our every motion with that vile‭, ‬uncomplaining impoliteness which is so truly Indian‭, ‬and which makes a white man so nervous and uncomfortable and savage that he wants to exterminate the whole tribe‭.

twain’s entire text, by the way, can be downloaded for free from project gutenberg in six parts (the link above is to part five where this excerpt comes from). but this description of the palestinians–in comparison to indigenous americans–is telling for a number of reasons most notably the reaction colonizers–both american and zionist–have to the indigenous. while perhaps white man in chief, netanyahu, in the zionist entity is not “exterminating” palestinians right now, they are certainly finding other methods of removal from their ethnic, exclusive, colonial, racist, apartheid regime. building jewish-only colonies that force palestinians out of their homes and off of their land is one such method:

Shortly after the meeting between US President, Barack Obama, and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli sources said that a new Jewish only settlement would be constructed in the Jordan Valley, less that 20 kilometers away from the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

The new settlement plan was seen by several Palestinian and international officials as a clear Israeli message to the US administration that the country does not intend to halt the construction and expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The plan comes while Israel is formulating more plans to link major Israeli settlements in the West Bank with Jerusalem in spite of the increasing international condemnation.

and yet another eviction and new colony in al quds:

Israel plans to build 250 units of settlement housing after it forcibly evacuates two East Jerusalem families, a lawyer for the Palestinian president’s office said on Tuesday.

Attorney Ahmad Ar-Ruwaidi said Israel plans to level a total of 27 homes on the family’s Shiekh Jarrah properties after the families are removed, “while the world talks about human rights, genocide, and ethnic cleansing.”

“Once again, Israeli judiciary proved that it is a tool in the hands of Israeli settlement organizations which are conducting settlement programs in Al-Bustan and other neighborhoods of Jerusalem,” he said.

The remarks come after the Israeli district court decided on Sunday to fine each family 50,000 US dollars, with a further fine of 50,000 shekels (12,500 US dollars) if they do not evacuate by 19 July, the date of a court hearing.

The eviction order was issued by “Hotza Laphoal” the Israeli institution that executes court orders.

The families are two of the 27 that live in a 28-building complex in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The court ruled in favor of a settler organization, Nahalat Shimon, which claims it is the owner of the buildings. The Palestinians are accused of not paying rent to these self-proclaimed landlords.

but in the meeting between obama and netanyahu yesterday it became clear–or perhaps before yesterday?–that it is not any longer the dismantling colonies that the united states advocates; rather, it just wants them to stop building. good luck with either of those. here is ha’aretz’s take on the meeting:

Obama also reminded Israel of its commitment, under a 2003 U.S.-backed peace road map agreement to cease settlement activity in the West Bank.

“We talked about restarting serious negotiations on issues of Israel and the Palestinians,” Obama said, adding that it was in the interests of both sides “to achieve a two-state solution.”

Netanyahu, in his remarks, reiterated that he supported self-government for the Palestinians but made no mention of a state, a position underscoring a rare rift in U.S.-Israeli relations.

“We don’t want to govern the Palestinians. We want them to govern themselves,” Netanyahu said, echoing statements he has made in the past.

for a real justice-based solution, of course, colonies everywhere in historic palestine must stop. it’s not just about the west bank. it is about historic palestine and justice for refugees. but of course we never hear these words from the zionist entity or the u.s. now it’s just about the colonies (u.s.) or iran (zionist entity). here is jacky rowland’s report for al jazeera laying out these issues before netanyahu went to washington:

but the elephant in the room remains palestinian refugees and their right of return. if obama wants to seek justice, which would lead to peace, in the region then he should read are stories like this one of palestinian nakbas and refugee rights as suleiman abu jazzar tells rami almaghari narrates in electronic intifada:

“Only if we return to our homeland, can there be peace. But as long as [Israel] keeps us refugees, we have no choice to resist them now and for generations to come, until we are back in Beir al-Saba,” said 75-year-old Suleiman Abu Jazzar in his home in the Brazil refugee camp in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip.

Along with more than 700,000 other Palestinians, Abu Jazzar was forced from historic Palestine by Zionist forces in 1948, a period referred to by Palestinians as the Nakba (catastrophe) and commemorated in mid-May while Israel celebrates its “Independence Day.” During 1947-48, Zionist paramilitary groups — which later formed the Israeli army — attacked and destroyed more than 450 Palestinian towns and villages. Abu Jazzar’s town of Beir al-Saba was given the Hebrew name of Beersheva by its conquerers.

Abu Jazzar and his family are amongst the more than 4.5 million registered Palestinian refugees living in camps in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon — unable to return to their land, though their right to return is enshrined in international law. There are millions of other Palestinians scattered around the globe comprising the Diaspora, a nation in exile.

“Prior to 1948, we used to live peacefully and happily in our hometown of Beer al-Saba. All out of a sudden, armed Jewish groups attacked the town and displaced my family including myself, as well as many other families,” recalled Abu Jazzar.

“In that period, we fled [to the outskirts of] Beir al-Saba, leaving behind us heaps of barley, our main harvest at that time. When night falls, I recall that myself and other youths of the town, used to sneak into these heaps to bring food for hungry children and women.

“After a while, the Jews began to spot us, and finally we were all displaced form the whole area, leading us to the Gaza Strip, where me and my family were settled in the Rafah area here,” Abu Jazzar said while laying on a sofa in a traditionally-decorated room.

Asked whether residents of Beir al-Saba resisted the Zionist forces, Abu Jazzar put much blame on the Arab countries and armies for the Palestinian refugees’ situation.

“There were no Israeli warplanes at that time, only tanks. Also, their numbers were not that big, but unfortunately we had no guns or weapons. I only recall that someone from the Barahma tribe had a gun. I really blame the Arab armies, which failed us. Their weapons were not that effective. These armies did not even train us how to fight; we were merely farmers and had nothing to do with armament. They are to be blamed for our plight.”

Abu Jazzar endured not only the 1948 dispossession, but he witnessed and survived other Israeli wars and conflicts that he described as more Nakbas for the Palestinian people.

“In 1956, the occupation forces invaded our towns here in Gaza, using tanks and armored vehicles. Also, in 1967, they invaded us again and continued to occupy us until recently. They are not leaving us, they don’t want us to live peacefully,” he said.

More recently, Israeli army launched a three-week comprehensive attack on the Gaza Strip, killing more than 1,400 Palestinians — the majority of them civilians. During this war, Abu Jazzar’s asbestos-roofed house was partially damaged, as Israeli forces destroyed many houses in his neighborhood.

“Only God saved us during the Gaza war, the [Israelis] only want to destroy us completely. I didn’t go anywhere during the war; my family and I remained at the house. Where to go? … In 1948, we left our house and left our farm lands, thinking we would return in a few days. But as you see, son, we are here for 61 years now, and who knows how long we will remain so?”

Umm Salah, Abu Jazzar’s 70-year-old wife, sang a Palestinian folk song about the events of 1948: “You have made us refugees. When we fled al-Ramla and Beir al-Saba, heading to Gaza, carrying our luggage on our shoulders, we wondered: what did you do for us, Ben Gurion [Israel’s first prime minister], you brought us a Nakba!”

Sighing deeply, she said that only God protects them, but she hopes for peace, nevertheless.

“It is true that they are more powerful than us, but where can we go — where? We just resist them by our steadfastness on this land, sticking to our homes,” Umm Salah said.

Both Abu Jazzar and Umm Salah said that they would refuse to take monetary compensation instead of a return to their town of origin. “Our history is there in Palestine,” they said together, “in Beir al-Saba. How could we sell our history?”

The now elderly refugees have evidently passed down their profound connection to their land to their 28-year-old daughter, Laila, who said with great emotion:

“What peace are they talking about? Every day they kill us, our families have lived the suffering for 61 years now. … If there is a truce, this truce cannot last, as they aim to destroy us completely. Look at the last Israeli war on us, they killed many people. We should keep steadfast, until we return to our hometown of Beir al-Saba. We can never accept any compensation, even if we all die one after another.”

on plagiarism

i discovered today that some unknown person is plagiarizing my blog. there is a website called “gaza shout” and it is reprinting all of my writings here without attribution and without permission. i looked up this blog and it seems that this person is dubai. i have filed a complaint according to the digital millennium copyright act notice. i have no idea who this person is, but it is annoying that they are stealing my writing verbatim without a word about whose words they are.

i just discovered this today, but ironically i’ve been spending the past week or so talking to my research methods students about plagiarism. increasingly i take a harder stance on this. it has now come to banning paraphrasing and summarizing as well. mostly this is because years of rote memorization has led to my students inability to analyze anything or produce their own thoughts on paper. of course, my students have their own thoughts and ideas–many of them are quite brilliant. but oftentimes, when engaged in an academic context, i find this submerged. i see this creative thought when i have coffee with them or when they come to my office to chat, but in class it lurks beneath the surface. i was thinking about this in relation to the way that the palestinian authority’s curriculum–like most of the curricula in the region–forces this memorization pedagogy and does not allow for critical thinking. it occurred to me when i was talking about luis althusser’s ideological state apparatus in my postcolonial class last week that this is a good way of explaining why students here are taught to memorize and never think critically or question. to learn such skills would mean to question everything including the palestinian authority and its corruption and normalization with the zionist entity for one thing.

but this is not how it was supposed to be contrary to hillary clinton’s propaganda from her buddy the colonist over in efrat settlement occupying the land of al khader village near bethlehem. fouad moughrabi has an excellent analysis of palestinian textbooks and their evolution in an article that was published in the journal of palestine studies. he offers some important context on what happened with the plans for the new textbooks:

In 1994, the Palestinians established the first curriculum center on the basis of a formal agreement between UNESCO and the newly established Ministry of Education of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The center, directed by the late Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, began its work in October 1995 with a team of researchers analyzing the existing curriculum. They consulted with educators and teachers throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip and produced a blueprint containing the basic principles that should govern a unified Palestinian curriculum.

Birzeit University professor Ali Jarbawi, a member of the team, carried out a comprehensive analysis of history and social science textbooks, conducted workshops with teachers to obtain their assessment of the texts in use, and analyzed questionnaires that had been sent out to a random sample of history and social science teachers. Specifically in terms of writing Palestinian history, Jarbawi was guided by the following questions

What Palestine do we teach? Is it the historic Palestine with its complete geography, or the Palestine that is likely to emerge on the basis of possible agreements with Israel? How do we view Israel? Is it merely an ordinary neighbor, or is it a state that has arisen on the ruins of most of Palestine? This may well be one of the most difficult questions, but the answer to it need not be the most difficult. The new Palestinian curriculum should be creative, pragmatic, and truthful without having to engage in historical falsifications.

Since that time, new textbooks–language, history, science, civic education, national education, etc.–have been prepared for grades one and six and were introduced in September 2000; the PA Ministry of Educations’ plan is to introduce new textbooks for two more grades every year (grades two and seven in September 2001, grades three and eight in 2002, grades four and nine in 2003, and so on). In preparing the books, the ministry has tried to incorporate five basic principles suggested by Jarbawi. The first of these principles is that he curriculum should be predicated not on giving students facts as if they were eternal truths that must be memorized, but on encouraging them to become critical thinkers. Second, students should be encouraged to make independent judgments and intelligent choices, with careful attention to be paid to individual differences within the classroom. Third, the new curriculum should generate a concept of citizenship that emphasizes individual rights and responsibilities and that establishes a linkage between private interests and the public good so as to encourage responsible and intelligent political participation. Fourth, democratic values such as justice, personal responsibility, tolerance, empathy, pluralism, cooperation, and respect for the opinions of others should be emphasized. Fifth, students should be taught how to read primary texts, to debate, link ideas, read maps, interpret statistics, and use the Internet as well as how to verify facts, sources, and data critically and scientifically. (6-7)

although i don’t have time to write right now about the many ways in which none of the above was ever implemented into the curriculum (you’ll have to wait for my book for that one), i keep coming back to these writings by moughrabi, jarbawi, and others about what they envisioned for the curriculum. i imagine how different it would be to teach students equipped with skills already so they could do research, writing, and analysis about their topics of choice. instead, students are taught that reading, summarizing, and paraphrasing counts as academic writing and research. amazingly, last week i gave my students a two-page narrative from a palestinian man in a refugee camp in lebanon. it was a narrative about labor organizing in yaffa from 1945-46. i asked my students to share their opinions about his writings as a way to talk about how one formulates an analysis. i want my students to learn how to connect their opinions and ideas to other people’s texts so they can see how to develop their own sustained analysis. but only one of my students had a response and it was, unfortunately, a troubling one. he claimed that because this writer shared his feelings about the labor organizing that it was not “truthful” or couldn’t be counted as history. everyone else, when pressed to share their opinions, could only re-state facts from the narrative. they thought they were all sharing opinions, but not one of them did.

what is amazing to me is that if i got any one of them alone with a tv or a newspaper and asked their opinion outside of class i know i’d hear an earful. but somehow the classroom has been mystified for them. somehow their knowledge has been devalued. and i think this is part of what moughrabi and jarbawi talk about: this idea that knowledge can only come from some all powerful source because it is published in a book. that they have nothing valuable to contribute, which is a bunch of hooey. still, this is what i am up against.

i must plant more seeds…

on disappearing

i’m still thinking about disappearance. i have been thinking about this since i heard esmail nashif’s really fascinating, original talk at the muwatin conference a few weeks ago. though he was speaking about a different type of disappearance: one that gives palestinians agency. a new strategy of resistance. a disappearance underground, to reorganize, to regroup, to restrategize. it really is hard not to think about disappearance in a general sense when you live in palestine because people disappear every day. palestinians are exiled, murdered jailed, dispossessed of their land, they go underground. Things disappear, too; palestinian homes are demolished, villages are destroyed. these are all kinds of disappearance.

and still other things disappear. information disappears. evidence disappears. or access to information disappears. the zionist regime commits crimes every day for decades and where does it go? where are the journalists in the west to report on it? where are the human rights workers to cover it? where is the united nations? the rest of the world. they seem to disappear, too, when it is convenient for them.

voices disappear. people’s voices get silenced. arab leaders normalize relations with the zionist state and contribute to the disappearance of liberation. a liberation movement disappears and becomes as a pseudo-state. united nations resolutions are passed and forgotten; they disappear, too. ngos subsume palestinian creativity and agency.

of course, it is that initial disappearance: that presupposes all of these aforementioned disappearances and continues the practice of disappearance. it is the disappearance of the palestinians who are refugees and the disappearance of their land. jonathan cook’s new book, disappearing palestine, which i just started reading connects past and present disapperances in crucial ways. he is a journalist i admire greatly and whose books i always get as soon as they come out. a rarity in the world of journalism: one who delves into historical context and who is committed to the struggle of all palestinians, including those living in 1948 palestine where he resides. i want to quote at length from his introduction because it gets at how these various disappearances are connected in important ways:

Israel’s enduring approach to the Palestinians–and the assumption, in Zionist thinking, of their eventual disappearance–was illuminated to me during a visit to a nature park close by the northern Jewish town of Beit Shean, built on the ruins of the Arab town Bisan after the 1948 war that established Israel. There I came across a small fortified settlement constructed entirely of wood–a replica of Tel Amal, one of the earliest frontier outposts in Zionism’s battle against the Palestinians for territory. The original enclosure and tall watchtower at its centre–known as a tower-and stockade–was built in 1936 to protect “Judaized” land in the Beit Shean valley from the Arab Revolt, a Palestinian uprising against Britain’s increasingly overt support for Jewish immigration. A militia was stationed at Tel Amal, its members taking turns in the tower to keep watch over their comrades from the neighboring kibbutz of Beit Alpha working the fields below. Once the land was secure, a new kibbutz, Nir David, was safely established next to the enclosure. The kibbutzniks then extended their reach by building a new outpost further along the valley. Within a few years there were several dozen such tower-and-stockades erected across Palestine.

Tel Amal was the physical embodiment of the Zionist philosophy of “dunam after dunam, goat after goat”: the whole of Palestine could be occupied step by step, and wrested from the natives. Moshe Sharett, one of the Jewish Agency’s leaders and a later prime minister, observed that the point of the tower-and-stockades “was to change the map of Eretz Israel by erecting new settlements, to make it as difficult as possible to solve the problems of this land by means of division or cantonization.” Compromise over territory was not part of the Zionist plan. In 1938, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the pre-state Jewish government, declared that, once his forces were strong enough, “we will abolish the partition of the country [between Jews and Palestinians] and will expand to the whole Land of Israel.”

At the end of the war of 1948, when the threat that the Palestinians might reclaim their land had been decisively thwarted, the remaining tower-and-stockades were converted into kibbutzim or moshavim. These rural cooperative communities, which for several decades attracted young people from around the world wanting to show solidarity with the new Jewish state, explicitly ban from membership the fifth of the country’s population who are Palestinian (the vestiges of the Palestinian population expelled in 1948). Today such communities control most of Israel’s usable land, holding it in trust for world Jewry rather than Israel’s citizenry.

Later, after the Six-Day War of 1967, the tower-and-stockade would become the prototype for Israel’s land-grabbing settlements in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. In the early stages, armed civilians, usually religious fanatics, were encouraged to move into hostile territory to establish settlements to surround and fragment Palestinian communities. As these settlements were secured, less ideological Israelis were tempted there with offers of financial incentives from the state, such as cheap housing and low-interest loans. Today the job of the tower-and-stockade has passed from these established colonies to what Israelis sometimes call “illegal outposts,” small satellites of the main settlements in the West Bank that the government claims to oppose but that invariably become legal over time. The outposts have proved an ideal way to extend the boundaries of the main colonies and steal yet more land from the Palestinians. Inhabited by the most fanatical and violent of the settlers, the so-called “hilltop youth,” the outposts are sometimes justified as necessary by Israeli politicians because of the “natural growth” of the main settlements’ populations. But in truth their purpose is to consume vast areas of Palestinain land, which disappears at is “redeemed,” concentrating the rural Palestinian population into ever-narrowing confined spaces or driving them into the main West Bank cities for safety.

Today, the Tel Amal museum is the destination for endless parties of schoolchildren, there as part of their Zionist education to learn about the pioneering spirit of earlier generations. The youngsters are encouraged not only to reimagine conditions in the enclosure’s spartan living quarters but also actively to re-create the period, donning the khaki shorts and denim shirts of the kibbutzniks. Scaling the watchtower, the children pretend to survey the horizon, on the lookout for the Arab “enemy.” At Tel Amal, Israeli schoolchildren have the chance to re-enact the battle of redemption and celebrate the acquisition of territory. In the process, some are doubtless persuaded not only of Israel’s glorious past but also of the need to continue the struggle to take land from the Palestinians on Israel’s new frontiers in the occupied territories.

Zionism’s need to root Jews in the “Land of Israel” has always required a corollary: the uprooting of the native population. Whether adopting the settlers’ messianic language of returning to the Promised Land, the pioneer rhetoric of “redeeming” the land, or the bureaucratic jargon of “Judaizing” land, Zionists have been encouraged to regard their national identity as intimately tied to control over territory and the displacement of non-Jews who claim rival ownership. The staking of an indisputable claim to Palestine resonates with Zionists in several interrelated ways, including in the security, imaginary, and religious-mythical realms. It promises a personal and collective safety supposedly unattainable for populations that are stateless. It reinvents the supposedly weak Diaspora Jew led to the European gas chamber; now he is liberated, casting off his wandering and compromised nature to toil the land and become a muscular “Sabra” Jew. And inevitably it feeds on ideas of chosenness and return, the Jewish people’s armour against the twin dangers of modernity–secularism and assimilation. (4-6)

the continuity between pre-state and occupied land with respect to zionist policies, as cook shows, has always been about making palestinians disappear. whether it is golda meir doing it rhetorically and stating that “there is no such thing” as palestinian people. or whether it is literally disappearing villages, like bisan, so that we have to search for the ruins of palestinian life before an nakba. the disappearing act continues when israeli schoolchildren are taught a heavily propagandized, militarized curriculum of which this field trip cook describes is just one minor example. of course, this fact also disappears, especially in the u.s. media that only focuses on the american-israeli illegal settler itamar marcus’ racist propagandist venture as in a u.s. news and world report article this week. a fellow blogger, jillian york, wrote about this on the huffington post in which she quoted me.

the reason i love cook’s writing so much is that he never disappears palestinians in his writing. instead, what disappears is the zionist propaganda that characterizes too much of the world’s english language media. i’ve posted the film on this blog before, but for people who want to understand how palestinians voices and reality get disappeared from the media you should watch the film peace, propaganda, and the promised land. i will post it again though because it is important for people to watch it:

the film is old, but unfortunately the information conveyed in it remains true. there was a perfect example of this today. this morning i read a story about israelis announcing a new public relations campaign in one of their newspapers:

Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni and Israel’s ambassadors around the world are preparing to launch a global effort in a bid to secure backing for the anticipated operation in the Gaza Strip.

The campaign is intended to create an ‘international umbrella’ of support for the intensification of military action against Hamas, and possibly prevent the passing of UN Security Council resolutions against Israel.

and just a few moments later i saw that england’s independent had already picked up the piece:

The Israeli government faced growing pressure to adopt a tough military posture against Hamas as renewed rocket attacks against southern Israel moved to the fore of the Israeli election campaign yesterday.

what you learn in the documentary peace, propaganda, and the promised land is that the zionist regime writes press releases for the information they want to disseminate. lazy american and european journalists reproduce that material without doing the work of investigating, finding out the context, examining its effect on palestinians. the problem is that the other side of the story always already disappears in this process. the colonists’ voice works in tandem with the international media and palestinians struggle to get heard. to not be disappeared.

what you don’t see in the western media is the daily ways that the zionist regime, through their terrorist military, works to make palestinians disappear with american-made weapons. for instance, american media did not report on the israeli terrorist forces’ attack on gaza last night:

Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip reported on Sunday night that a woman was wounded after the Israeli Army fired a surface-to-surface missile at a group of fighters east of Gaza city.

Medical sources at Kamal Adwan hospital reported that the Palestinian woman suffered mild-to-moderate wounds.

likewise palestinians disappeared into israeli jails last night, another story not reported in the western media:

Israeli forces confirmed that they seized 10 Palestinians this morning during raids in the West Bank, Maan news agency reported.

Three Palestinians were arrested in the city of Jenin, and seven more were arrested in the city of Nablus. All were stated by Israeli Military sources as “wanted”.

Palestinian security forces said in a statement that three others, not mentioned in the Israel’s account, were taken from their homes near the Israeli annexation wall in the town of Zeita, just north of Tulkarem.

Those arrested in the town of Zeita were identified as Kifah Abu Al-Izz, age 18, Nasr Abu Al-Izz, Age 22, and Muhammad Abu Al-‘Izz, age 30.

this erasure from the media is like a triple disappearance: first palestinians disappear into israeli jails for years, decades on end, next their absence is ignored, and their context as political prisoners is erased thus branding them terrorists, yet another label that erases them once more into a subhuman category. palestinians are always painted as extremists while israelis who are racists, terrorists are branded in ways that always infers that those who engage in racist activities are extremists (read: not the norm):

Extremists spray-painted “Mohammed is a pig” and “Death to Arabs” early Sunday on the walls and doors of the Sea Mosque in Jaffa, sparking the fury of the Islamic Movement in the mixed Arab-Jewish city.

The hate slogans also included “Kahane was right,” a reference to the slain Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the outlawed anti-Arab Kach movement, and “No peace without the House of Peace,” alluding to the Hebron structure from which dozens of far-right activists were evicted earlier this month.

but it is the norm. i have yet to see a palestinian mosque in a village that the zionists disappeared that doesn’t say precisely the same thing. same graffiti everywhere.

the disappearance here has two sides: one the refugees who are physically absent and the other is the people in 1948 palestine who are forced to disappear on a daily basis in all sorts of ways–to be rendered invisible. when they get to visible, when they are too present, various israeli terrorists–some in uniform, some not–come into suppress 1948 palestinians. it can drive one to a sense of madness as emile habiby describes in his masterful novel the secret life of saeed, the pessoptimist. in this novel there are many forms of disappearance–including actual disappearances in some magical realist chapters–but the one i am thinking of is the way that internalized colonialism disappears the “real” saeed, the protagonist, whomever he may actually be. habiby’s humor is absurdist and in this particular scene over the top as he rides in the van on his way to prison. as they drive through 1948 palestine, saeed looks out the window and comments about the palestinian villages he notices. the “big man” (the israeli disappearing saeed to jail) proceeds to correct saeed to ensure the village’s original name is disappeared in actuality, historically, and in memory:

I found that we were then at a crossroad between Nazareth and Nahal, passing the plain of Ibn Amir. the big man signalled to the policemen through the glass window separating him from “the dogs.” They led me out and stuffed me in between the big man and the driver. I made myself comfortable and sighed, breathed the fresh air deep, and remarked, “Oh, I see we’re in the plain of Ibn Amir.”

Obviously annoyed, he corrected me: “No, it’s the Yizarel plain!”

“‘What’s in a name?’ as Shakespeare put it,” I soothed him.

I spoke the line in English,causing him to murmur, “oh, so you quote Shakespeare, do you?”

I smiled, relaxing. But I noticed that the big man was growing ominously under his breath. Had I known what this implied, I’d have been better off keeping my knowledge of Shakespeare within my heart rather than quoting him by heart.

As we descended further down into the plain toward its city of Affulah, with the hills of Nazareth to our left, the big man began reciting to me the principles governing my new life in prison, the etiquette of behavior toward the jailers who were my superiors and the other inmates who were my inferiors. He promised, moreover, to get me promoted to a liaison position.

While he was going through these lessons, I became ever more certain that what is required of us inside prison is no different than what is required of us on the outside. My delight at this discovery was so great that I exclaimed joyfully, “Why, God bless you, sir!”

He went on, “If a jailer should call you, your first response must be: ‘Yes sir!’ And if he should tell you off, you must reply: ‘At your command, sir!’ And if you should hear your fellow inmates engaging in any conversation that threatens the security of the prison, even by implication, you must inform the warden. Now if he should give you a beating, then say–”

I interrupted him with the proper response, “That’s your right, sir!”

“How did you know that? Were you ever imprisoned before?”

“Oh, no. God forbid, sir, that anyone should have beaten you to this favor! I have merely noticed according to your account of prison rules of etiquette and behavior that your prisons treat inmates with great humanitarianism and compassion–just as you treat us on the outside. And we behave the same, too. But how do you punish Arabs who are criminals, sir?”

“This bothers us considerably. That’s why our minister general has said that our occupation has been the most compassionate known on earth ever since Paradise was liberated from its occupation by Adam and Eve. Among our leadership there are some who believe that we treat Arabs inside prisons even better than we treat them outside, though this latter treatment is, as you know, excellent. These same leaders are convinced that we thus encourage them to continue to resist our civilizational mission in the new territories, just like those ungrateful African cannibals who eat their benefactors.”

“How do you mean, sir?”

“Well, take for example our policy of punishing people with exile. This we award them without their going to jail. If they once entered jail, they would become as firmly established there as the British occupation was.”

“Yes, God bless you indeed, sir!”

“And we demolish their homes when they’re outside, but when they’re inside prison we let them occupy themselves building.”

“That’s really great! God bless you! But what do they build?”

“New prisons and new cells in old jails; and they plant shade trees around them too.”

“God bless you again! But why do you demolish their homes outside the prisons?”

“To exterminate the rats that build their nests in them. This way we save them from the plague.”

“God bless and save you! But could you explain that?”

“This was the justification, pure and humanitarian, made by the Ministry of Health, and quoted by the minister of defense when he explained the reasons compelling us to demolish the houses in the Jiftlick villages in the lowlands. That was the response he gave to the accusations thrown in our faces in the Knesset by that Jewish Communist congressman, that stooge of Nasser, King Husain, the Emir of Kuwait, and Shaikh Qabus!”

“And was he shut up?”

“Actually, they really screwed him.”

“How, exactly?”

“The speaker prevented him from continuing his speech. Democracy is not mere chaos, my boy. Now the Communists, as you know, are chaos mongers. Their representatives refused to obey the rules of democracy, and the speaker had him forcibly ejected from the sitting. That screwed him, alright!”

By now the police car was leaving the city of Affulah on the Bisan road, which led to my new residence. On both sides refreshing water was being sprayed on to the green vegetation, fresh in the very heart of summer. Suddenly the big man, cramped there with me and the driver in the front seat of that dogcart, was transformed into a poet.

While I sat there being my usual Pessomptimistic self, he was ecstatic: “Verdant fields! Green on your right and on your left; green everywhere! We have given life to what was dead. This is why we have named the borders of former Israel the Green Belt. For beyond them lie barren mountains and desert reaches, a wilderness calling out to us, ‘Come ye hither, tractors of civilization!'”

“If you had been with me, boy, when we crossed the Latrun road on our way to Jerusalem, you would have seen the Green Belt: the greenery of our pine-clad hills, trees everywhere hugging one another, branch intertwined with branch, while lovers embraced beneath them. Then you would have seen, facing these green-robed hills, your barren mountains devoid of any cover that could hide their naked rocks. There they remained, weeping for a quarter of a century, shedding all their earth. Let us wipe the tears dry while you weep away, building your palaces on the rock above.”

“Was this why you demolished the Latrun villages, Imwas, Yalu, and Bait Nuba, and drove the inhabitants away, master?”

“But we gave the monastery to the monks, for a tourist attraction. And we left the graveyards to those buried there, out of our faith in God. These great expanses, however, are ours, our inheritance from the war. ‘Let bygones be bygones.’ That’s an American proverb of German origin.” (123-126)

this dialogue between saeed and the “big man” comes towards the end of the novel. it is probably difficult to understand the satire and sarcasm here if you do not understand the history. but in american terms it is like an african american slave thanking his “master” for destroying his native africa, enslaving him, torturing him (in other words, what is known as an uncle tom). here we see saeed, a palestinian, ironically thanking his israeli “master” for destroying palestinian villages, forcing palestinians to flee their land and become refugees, and for imprisoning him. in other words: saeed thanks the “big man” for zionist disappearances of palestine and palestinians.

i love absurdism in most forms and the most gifted palestinian film director, elia suleiman, who comes from nasra (nazareth) as so many palestinian directors do, is especially good at it. his 1996 film, chronicle of a disappearance (which is finally out on dvd) also makes use of this theme of disappearance in an absurdist style. it has been a long time since i have seen the film. but here is a trailer of elia suleiman’s other brilliant film divine intervention, (which tam tam seems to be too stubborn to watch…still) :

and here is an interview with elia suleiman:

it is interesting that as i write this it makes me think of a friend from shatila refugee camp in lebanon who is a young, gifted filmmaker himself. suleiman is his favorite director and this young friend has the artistic vision to create the sort of cinema in this same tradition. but i learned today that he has disappeared. literally. he went to france for a conference and disappeared.

Will Palestinians hit Hillary’s glass ceiling?

this is an article i wrote for electronic intifada a couple of weeks ago in the aftermath of my anger at rumors of clinton being appointed as secretary of state. this is material from the second chapter of my book that i’m working on, though many thanks and a big ya3tiki il3fiye to maureen who helped me whittle it down. she’s a genius of an editor. 🙂

Will Palestinians hit Hillary’s glass ceiling?

Dr. Marcy Newman, The Electronic Intifada, 2 December 2008

It is difficult to recall a US secretary of state who embodied the ideals of the position: the promotion of dialogue and privileging of diplomacy. Unfortunately, US President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee, Hillary Clinton, is not likely to restore these ideals to the office. Clinton has long championed military action against the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and has promised to “obliterate” Iran if the state launched a nuclear strike against Israel.

Clinton’s hawkish positions don’t give Palestinians much reason for optimism; her bias towards Israeli state policy has been made abundantly clear during her eight years as New York senator. While this is not unusual for an American legislator, nor for a secretary of state, it merits further skepticism of Obama’s promise for change, particularly when it comes to US foreign policy.

As demonstrated by the evolution of Obama’s campaign (always distancing itself from Obama’s March 2008 assertion that “Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people”), those who aspire to national office are forced to placate or champion Israel.

In their book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt chart a similar course for Hillary Clinton, who once publicly supported Palestinian national aspirations. However, she changed course after she was met with protests upon embracing Suha Arafat (wife of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat) in 1998 while she was First Lady:

“Clinton became an ardent defender of Israel once she began running for office herself, and she now gets strong backing, including financial support, from pro-Israel organizations and individuals. After Clinton appeared at a pro-Israel rally in July 2006 and expressed strong support for Israel’s highly destructive war against Lebanon, Helen Freedman, executive director of the hard-line Americans for a Safe Israel, declared, ‘I thought her remarks were very good, especially in light of her history, and we can’t forget her kiss to Suha.'”

The Suha Arafat controversy was significant enough to warrant discussion in Clinton’s 2003 autobiography, Living History, in which she contends that members of her diplomatic delegation did not hear the English translation of Suha Arafat’s “outrageous remark suggesting that Israel had used poison gas to control Palestinians.” Clinton claims that had she been aware of Arafat’s words, she “would have denounced them on the spot.” After New York City tabloids published the photos of their embrace, “Many Jewish voters were understandably upset with Mrs. Arafat’s comments and disappointed that I had not taken the opportunity to disavow her remarks. My campaign eventually overcame the fallout, but I had learned a hard lesson about the hazards of merging my role in the international diplomatic arena with the complexities of local New York politics.”

Indeed, Clinton learned to attack Palestinian claims and accept Israel’s line without question. Shortly after her election in 2000, Clinton aligned herself with figures who fed her fabricated reports about Palestinian textbooks which smeared Palestinians for “inciting” violence. At a 2001 press conference Clinton obediently stated that Palestinian Authority textbooks (never mind that the books in question were actually Jordanian and Egyptian) contained “anti-Semitic rhetoric,” arguing that these textbooks were teaching Palestinians “hatred.”

Clinton continued to concern herself with Palestinian education — of course, fixating on Palestinian textbooks rather than Israeli violations of Palestinians’ education rights. In press conferences, speeches, and official Senate subcommittee hearings throughout the last eight years, Clinton has propagated reports by the Israeli group Palestinian Media Watch (video of Clinton is featured on the home page of the organization’s website). The group’s director, Itamar Marcus, resides in the illegal settlement of Efrat, built on land stolen from the Palestinian village al-Khader. Not incidentally, Israeli-fired gas canisters have caused al-Khader’s residents to become clinically ill, requiring hospitalization (see Jonathan Cook, “Vale of Tears,” Al-Ahram Weekly, 5-11 April 2001).

The Palestinian Authority began updating the textbooks irrespective of the controversy, although under Israel’s microscope, yet the controversy raged on. Clinton continued to trot out materials from Marcus in Senate hearings and ignore independent investigations that found no evidence of the hatred alleged by Marcus’ organization. Furthermore, each year that Clinton addresses the conferences of the hawkish groups AIPAC (the Israeli lobby organization) and the Anti-Defamation League, she reiterates claims about fighting “hatred,” “incitement” and “propaganda.” Clinton’s statements have gone unchallenged even though they are libelous and have the effect of equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism and foment anti-Palestinian sentiments in the US.

As secretary of state, Clinton will be responsible for negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, yet her history gives no reason to believe she will be effective in this role. If Clinton’s trip to Palestine and Israel in 2005 is any indication, she will have an even more hard-lined approach to the so-called “peace process” than did her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice. One example can be gleaned from a diary Clinton kept when she saw Israel’s wall being built on West Bank land:

“The top priority of any government is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens, and that is why I have been a strong supporter of Israel’s right to build a security barrier to keep terrorists out. I have taken the International Court of Justice to task for questioning Israel’s right to build the fence, and on this trip, I wanted to see the fence with my own eyes. … I stood on a hilltop in Gilo and received a detailed briefing from Col. Danny Tirza who oversees the Israeli government’s strategy and construction of the security fence.”

Problematically for someone who should uphold international law, Clinton viewed Israel’s Apartheid Wall — which she calls a “fence” in keeping with Israeli spin — from the illegal settlement Gilo. Her perception was further distorted by her unwillingness to see the devastating impact this wall has had on the communities of Bethlehem whose land has been confiscated for its construction — let alone how Palestinian life is crippled by the wall’s accompanying infrastructure of checkpoints and Jewish-only roads which violate Palestinians’ freedom of movement. Moreover, Clinton’s utter disregard for the International Court of Justice’s 2004 advisory opinion, which stated that Israel’s building of the wall on Palestinian land is illegal, is deeply troubling for a secretary of state.

It is difficult to see how an Obama administration including Clinton will bring change to US foreign policy towards Israel and the Palestinians. In her eight years as senator, not once did Clinton condemn Israel for its bombing of Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure in the summer of 2006, nor for its continued incursions into the West Bank, nor its ongoing siege on Gaza. There is an obvious double standard here, and it’s at the expense of the Palestinians.

Dr. Marcy Newman is Associate Professor of English at An Najah National University in Nablus, Palestine. Her writing may be found at bodyontheline.wordpress.com.

it’s like watching a train wreck

Rumor after rumor, decision after decision: it’s like watching a train wreck. The latest news? That Hillary Rodham Clinton may be Obama’s Secretary of State. For a candidate who wanted change, for a candidate who ran on a platform that was purported to be anti-war–at least against the occupation of Iraq–this further signals Obama’s desire for the status quo. Moreover, her consistent attempts to deceive the American public on her stance on the Iraq war is equally troubling:

Indeed, in Thursday night’s debate, Senator Clinton claims that she voted to authorize war against Iraq in October 2002 because “we needed to put inspectors in.” However, this was also a lie, since Saddam Hussein had by that time already agreed for a return of the weapons inspectors. Furthermore, Senator Clinton voted against the substitute Levin amendment, which would have also granted President Bush authority to use force, but only if Iraq defied subsequent UN demands regarding the inspections process. Instead, Senator Clinton voted for the Republican-sponsored resolution to give President Bush the authority to invade Iraq at the time and circumstances of his own choosing regardless of whether inspectors returned. Indeed, unfettered large-scale weapons inspections had been going on in Iraq for nearly four months at the time the Bush administration launched the March 2003 invasion that Senator Clinton had voted to authorize.

This is part of a longstanding pattern of Senator Hillary Clinton misleading the American public about Iraq in order to justify her militaristic policies. It is important to remember that, back in October 2002, despite widespread and public skepticism expressed by arms control experts over the Bush administration’s claims that Iraq had somehow re-armed itself, Senator Clinton was insisting that Iraq’s possession of biological and chemical weapons was “not in doubt” and was “undisputed.” She also claimed, despite the reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iraq’s nuclear program had been completely eliminated, that Iraq was “trying to develop nuclear weapons.”

Moreover, Clinton has proven herself to be someone who has contempt for international law:

If Senator Clinton believes the United States can unilaterally claim the right to invade Iraq because of that country’s violation of Security Council resolutions, other Council members could logically also claim the right to invade other states that are in material breach of UN Security Council resolutions, such as Israel, Morocco, Turkey, Armenia, Pakistan and India. Her insistence on the right of the United States to unilaterally invade foreign countries because of alleged violations of UN Security Council resolutions seriously undermines the principle of collective security and the authority of the United Nations and thereby opens the door to international anarchy.

International law is quite clear about when military force is allowed. In addition to the aforementioned case of UN Security Council authorization, the only other time the UN Charter allows a member state to use armed force is described in Article 51, which states that it is permissible for “individual or collective self-defense” against “armed attack…until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.” Since none of these criteria were met, the U.S. invasion was clearly a violation of the UN Charter, as acknowledged by the UN Secretary General and the majority of member states. Clinton’s support for the war, therefore, demonstrates her belief that the United States should not be bound by its international legal obligations.

My problems with Clinton are also related to other deceptive work, particularly as it is related to Palestine. Since becoming Senator of New York, she has worked closely with Itamar Marcus, an Israeli American who is now an illegal settler in Efrat, an illegal Israeli settlement on a hill overlooking Deheishe refugee camp in Beit Lahem, an illegal settlement that continues to steal land from the neighboring village of Al Khader. Marcus has taught Clinton some of the key lessons in Zionism, which have served her well in Congress. First and foremost is always invert the truth to its opposite. So her claims on in collusion with Marcus and his slanderous organization, Palestinian Media Watch, are troubling because: 1) the claims she makes about Palestinian textbooks are false; 2) if she were to make those same claims about Israeli textbooks they would be true. Here is Clinton speaking on the subject at a press conference with Marcus in 2007:

A more accurate analysis of the textbooks and Hillary’s statements comes from Bethlehem University Education professor Sami Adwan:

She depended mainly on reports produced by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP), of which Itamar Marcus was the director. CMIP is a right-wing center that has offices in New York and Jerusalem and is well funded, though if you read the goals of the center one can easily be deceived that it is a peace-oriented center.

CMIP’s first report came out in 2000 which was based on analyzing the Jordanian and Egyptian school books that were used in Palestinian schools in West bank and Gaza Strip respectively since early 50s and were fully censored by Israeli Military Commanders in charge of Palestinian education since 1967. The Palestinian Authority by that time only published school books for grades one and six. Even so, CMIP’s baseless accusations and allegations were presented as if they are from the newly produced Palestinian school books. The first CMIP report was circulated all over the world causing serious problems for the Palestinian education system because many countries stopped funding the development of the Palestinians school books.

The report was criticized by many scholars like, Nathan Brown, IPICRI, Daniel Bar Tal, Nurit Peled El-Khanan and Ruth Firer and others. All disagreed with CMIP’s findings and found many mistakes in its translation, selective analysis, taking phrases out of context and drawing false conclusions.

Most of them concluded that Palestinian school books do not teach hate nor instigate violence, are free from stereotypes and praised them for being highly moderate, even though they were produced in extremely difficult situation-the Occupation. (See Akiva Eldar’s articles in Ha’aretz. )

Equally alarming have been reports about former Harvard University President Lawrence Summers as Treasury Secretary. Once again, so much for change:

Larry Summers, early front-runner to succeed Bush Treasury secretary Henry Paulson, was happy to be Enron’s eyes and ears at Treasury, according to a handwritten note to his pal Ken Lay you can find at OpenLeft.com. Summers famously remarked that third world countries were “underpolluted”. His solution to this “problem” is encouraging them to sell their share of “rights” to poison the planet’s oceans and air to wealthy western corporations through a system like the present futures and commodities exchanges. Both the outgoing Bush and the incoming Obama administrations are enthusiastic advocates of this “market-based” approach. So much for a Change We Can Breathe In.

Wild-eyed but unrealistic optimists insist that hacks like Summers and Emanuel are just the smartest guys around, and their policies are not Obama’s anyhow. But that fails the laugh test. There are plenty of smart political operators, and many equally brilliant economists who have called the mess right all along and would relish the chance to begin setting it right. Economists like Paul Krugman, Michael Hudson, or Paul Stiglitz, for instance. You don’t hire smart people for the new administration to do the opposite of what they built their careers doing. It defies common sense to expect anything else. Larry Summers will be looking out for his old friends and colleagues. Rahm Emanuel will be kneecapping advocates of single payer health care, opponents of the war, teachers, union members and anyone left of that rightward moving target they call “the center”.

You see, it is not change when the very economic crisis Obama purports to get us out of was created by those he wants around him on his economic team:

How bizarre it is to observe Obama playing the people’s crusader in the morning and colluding with his top economic advisers, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, in the afternoon. In February 1999, Rubin and Summers flanked Fed Chief Alan Greenspan on the cover of Time magazine, heralded as, “The Committee to Save the World.” Summers was then Secretary of the Treasury for Bill Clinton, having succeeded his mentor, Rubin, in that office. Together with Greenspan, the trio had in the previous year labored successfully to safeguard “derivatives,” the exotic “ticking time bomb” financial instruments, from federal regulation. Less than a decade later, unregulated derivatives would expand – like the Mother of All Bubbles – to notional values 10 to 15 times greater than the world’s total economic output. The global order would be brought to its knees, in a financial conflagration that has just begun to show its full dimensions and destructive potential. (See New York Times, October 9, “Taking Hard New Look at a Greenspan Legacy“)

So you might want to thank Obama’s main men on the economy, Rubin and Summers, for the current crisis. Be assured that this crew will deliver another catastrophe from their positions of influence, if Obama is elected.

Moreover, Summers was not only responsible for the financial mess we’re in, but he exported that mess to places like Mexico as well:

Summers, while serving as under secretary of the Treasury in 1995, engineered the destruction of Mexico’s economy by increasing interest rates to unmanageable levels—business and farm loans went from 11% to 56%, credit card rates from 7% to 61%, home loans from 5% to 75%, car loans from 7% to 91%. The result was massive human suffering and the forced migration of millions of economic refugees to the United States.

Although Wall Street banks profited handsomely, the impact of 1995 loan interest rate increases in Mexico was more than millions of people and businesses could handle. Thousands of farms and businesses, both large and small, went bankrupt. In 1995 alone over 12,000 of Mexico’s businesses filed for bankruptcy, and as economic activity came to a standstill and demand was cut, orders were canceled and plants operated at less than minimum levels. Idle capacity in many branches of the manufacturing sector increased to 70%. It became impossible for millions of workers to support their families by earning paychecks in their own country. Unable to earn enough to support their families, many of them migrated to the United States to find family wage work.

Finally, what do Hillary Clinton, Larry Summers, and Rahm Emanuel have in common? They are all Zionists to the core. While Zionism may not be related to the job in the Treasury (though with some $3 billion in aid going to the state of Israel every year, one may wish to argue this point), I think it is worth looking at what sort of role Summers played at Harvard. Judith Butler’s essay reveals some important key points in terms of how the Zionist police work to censor discussion at American universities by calling such discussion “anti-Semitism”:

When the president of Harvard University declared that to criticise Israel at this time and to call on universities to divest from Israel are ‘actions that are anti-semitic in their effect, if not their intent’, he introduced a distinction between effective and intentional anti-semitism that is controversial at best. The counter-charge has been that in making his statement, Summers has struck a blow against academic freedom, in effect, if not in intent. Although he insisted that he meant nothing censorious by his remarks, and that he is in favour of Israeli policy being ‘debated freely and civilly’, his words have had a chilling effect on political discourse. Among those actions which he called ‘effectively anti-semitic’ were European boycotts of Israel, anti-globalisation rallies at which criticisms of Israel were voiced, and fund-raising efforts for organisations of ‘questionable political provenance’. Of local concern to him, however, was a divestment petition drafted by MIT and Harvard faculty members who oppose Israel’s current occupation and its treatment of Palestinians. Summers asked why Israel was being ‘singled out . . . among all nations’ for a divestment campaign, suggesting that the singling out was evidence of anti-semitic intentions. And though he claimed that aspects of Israel’s ‘foreign and defence’ policy ‘can be and should be vigorously challenged’, it was unclear how such challenges could or would take place without being construed as anti-Israel, and why these policy issues, which include occupation, ought not to be vigorously challenged through a divestment campaign. It would seem that calling for divestment is something other than a legitimately ‘vigorous challenge’, but we are not given any criteria by which to adjudicate between vigorous challenges that should be articulated, and those which carry the ‘effective’ force of anti-semitism.

Summers is right to voice concern about rising anti-semitism, and every progressive person ought to challenge anti-semitism vigorously wherever it occurs. It seems, though, that historically we have now reached a position in which Jews cannot legitimately be understood always and only as presumptive victims. Sometimes we surely are, but sometimes we surely are not. No political ethics can start from the assumption that Jews monopolise the position of victim. ‘Victim’ is a quickly transposable term: it can shift from minute to minute, from the Jew killed by suicide bombers on a bus to the Palestinian child killed by Israeli gunfire. The public sphere needs to be one in which both kinds of violence are challenged insistently and in the name of justice.

If we think that to criticise Israeli violence, or to call for economic pressure to be put on the Israeli state to change its policies, is to be ‘effectively anti-semitic’, we will fail to voice our opposition for fear of being named as part of an anti-semitic enterprise. No label could be worse for a Jew, who knows that, ethically and politically, the position with which it would be unbearable to identify is that of the anti-semite. The ethical framework within which most progressive Jews operate takes the form of the following question: will we be silent (and thereby collaborate with illegitimately violent power), or will we make our voices heard (and be counted among those who did what they could to stop that violence), even if speaking poses a risk? The current Jewish critique of Israel is often portrayed as insensitive to Jewish suffering, past as well as present, yet its ethic is based on the experience of suffering, in order that suffering might stop.

Summers uses the ‘anti-semitic’ charge to quell public criticism of Israel, even as he explicitly distances himself from the overt operations of censorship. He writes, for instance, that ‘the only antidote to dangerous ideas is strong alternatives vigorously advocated.’ But how does one vigorously advocate the idea that the Israeli occupation is brutal and wrong, and Palestinian self-determination a necessary good, if the voicing of those views calls down the charge of anti-semitism?

One of the issues Butler raises, which is interesting, given that she wrote this essay five years ago, is the subject of divestment from the Zionist state, which thankfully is catching on. In a little-known about ballot initiative in that same city where Harvard is located and the one adjacent to it, was Question 4 led by the Somerville Divestment Project.

62 % of people voting in Somerville and 73 % of people voting in Cambridge casts YES votes on Question 4. Cambridge, MA is the home of leading colleges MIT and Harvard.

Here are the unofficial results for in each state representative district which represents a large fraction of the population of each city.

Unofficial results:
Somerville, MA: 62% of Voters for YES
YES 9100 NO: 5542

Cambridge, MA: 73 % of Voters for YES
YES 9637 NO: 3650

These results come after the pro-apartheid side attempted legal maneuvers to block the question from being on the ballot (failing in September), and over the opposition of mayor, all local elected officials in Somerville and a main newspaper in Somerville. The mayor of Somerville, two years ago, went on a trip to Israel sponsored by the pro-apartheid government of Israel.

In 2006, 45% of Somerville voters supported the Palestinian peoples’ Right of Return – a fundamental human right, despite the opposition from the pro-apartheid governor, congressman and mayor… all of whom opposed the fundamental human right of return.

For details on this resolution you may read their statement on the language on the ballot and what it means as well as what its limitations are.

One final word: I posted a bit of Vijay Prashad’s article on Sonal Shah the other day and there were a number of people defending her. First, my main reason for posting that piece was because I find it disturbing that someone from Goldman Sachs is advising Obama. But there were obviously other issues related to her and since Prashad himself has posted a follow up, I thought I’d quote some of it here as well for people to see additional arguments he makes:

The VHP says Ms. Shah left the organization in 2001. Three events from 2004 bear mention:

(1) Ms. Shah delivered a keynote address at the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh young conference. The HSS is the U. S. branch of the RSS. The University of Chicago’s Martha Nussbaum describes the RSS as “possibly the most successful fascist movement in any contemporary democracy.” The RSS “guru” (teacher) M. S. Golwalkar wrote glowingly about Nazi “race pride,” and called it a “good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by.”

(2) Ms. Shah delivered a keynote address at an Ekal Vidyalaya conference in Florida. The Ekal Vidyalaya’s are schools set up in tribal areas. The RSS’s Chief of Service work, Premchand Goel, said that the RSS and the VHP run “thousands of Ekal Vidyalayas.” One Ekal Vidyalaya teacher, Mohan Lal, told Frontline reporter, T. K. Rajalakshmi, “We go for the RSS shakha [branch] meetings regularly. The teachers are selected only if they subscribe to the RSS way of thought.”

(3) On her behalf, her brother Anand Shah received an award from the Gujarat government in the presence of Chief Minister Narendra Modi. When Mr. Modi became Chief Minister of the State in 2001 was the first RSS pracharak (volunteer) to be in the position. The RSS celebrated its victory. Human Rights Watch’s 2002 report calls attention to the way the RSS and Mr. Modi have used Gujarat as “Hindutva’s laboratory,” stacking the higher administration with RSS-VHP cadre. No Muslim police officer has a field posting. As Frontline reporter Praveen Swami wrote at the time, “Chief Minister Narendra Modi has become something of a hero for many Hindus because he presided over the pogrom.”

At none of these events did Ms. Shah or her brother raise their voices for the broken hearts and bodies, the survivors and victims of the 2002 pogrom in Gujarat. By 2004, even mainstream human rights organizations and media outlets had recognized that the Gujarat riots were state-engineered, and that their author was Narendra Modi. In 2005, the U. S. government refused to allow Mr. Modi a visa on these grounds. And yet, Ms. Shah received an award given by Mr. Modi. The novelist Amitav Ghosh refused to be considered for the Commonwealth Prize in 2001 because it commemorated imperialism. That is a sign of sound moral judgment. To have taken an award from a man who conducted a pogrom is a sign of moral turpitude.