Breaking Through to the Hindu and other recent developments

I was a bit surprised to learn that The Hindu newspaper carried coverage of the American Studies Association boycott resolution in its pages. It hardly seemed like international news to me. But what was more surprising is that it came in the form of Zionist articles by American columnists David Brooks (New York Times) and Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post). Both articles repeat stale propaganda about Israel and the boycott movement, which if they had been even fact checked some of that could have been reduced. In any case, I wrote my own response to them, which was published in today’s paper, although it was edited so I’ll post the original version below:

In the print edition of The Hindu on 11 January 2014, a column by Charles Karauthammer appeared from the newswire about the American Studies Association’s (ASA) recent resolution to boycott Israel. As a member of the ASA for almost twenty years, and as the person who initiated this move towards boycott in the spring of 2005, I find it a bit odd that such an article (the second, actually, as The Hindu published a wire piece by David Brooks a couple of weeks ago arguing more or less the same point) would appear in the pages of an Indian newspaper given that the bone of contention is from quite an American point of view. Moreover, Indians know from experience what the power of boycott can do when fighting a foreign colonial power on one’s land.

Brooks and Krauthammer may offer readers many opinions, but there is very little grounded in facts, which a quick perusal of the ASA’s website would reveal. For example, Brooks, for example, thinks that the problem is only the Israeli occupation of the West Bank; curiously Gaza doesn’t come into his frame. Both writers paint a portrait of an Israel that looks like it’s a beautiful, democratic society with just a few minor flaws that need to be worked out. Let me offer your readers a different American viewpoint, and one that comes from an American Jew who has spent several years teaching at Palestinian universities in the West Bank cities of Jerusalem and Nablus; there I had a front-row seat to the myriad ways that Israel actively interfered with the lives of Palestinian scholars and students, making teaching, conducting research, or merely going to school next to impossible.

Any way one examines the conditions of Palestinians, including access to education, there are problems whether in the West Bank, Gaza, or Israel itself. Israel has a segregated school system (similar to the “separate but equal” system the U.S. created for African Americans) as detailed in a recent Human Rights Watch report. Israel routinely targets schools in its invasions of Palestine (and Lebanon); during its 2008 war against Gaza, Israel targeted a United Nations school and the Islamic University of Gaza. In the West Bank, where I spent most of my time, students were routinely kept from attending university and school because of the checkpoint and Jewish-only road system. Last summer the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child released a report detailing the extent to which Palestinian children between the ages of twelve and seventeen are kidnapped from their homes at night, detained in military prisons where they are tortured, often until they agree to become informants on their family and community. If I had more space to write, I could produce a dissertation on the ways in which Palestinian youth are singled out by Israeli soldiers, abused, and prevented from pursuing their education.

Instead of exploring the reality of Palestinians, Krauthammer and Brooks deflect attention by either asking why Israel is “singled out” (answer: because as a state it singles itself out out as in its special relationship with the U.S., for which it is handsomely rewarded financially, militarily, and through UN vetoes). Those who pay taxes in the U.S. and who are part of the boycott movement do not want our tax dollars to continue funding these activities. In Israel, as in South Africa under its apartheid regime, universities are state-run and help produce the knowledge that undergirds the practices and policies that further the occupation and colonization of Palestinians.

But Brooks and Krauthammer would have it that the ASA operated out of either anti-Semitism or discrimination against Israeli scholars. In fact, the resolution, in keeping with the Palestinian call for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, calls for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions only. Neither the movement in Palestine nor the West nor in India targets any individual on the basis of religion, ethnicity, or nationality. In fact, the ASA resolution also acknowledges the fact that Israeli scholars are a part of this movement as well.

The false claim of “anti-Semitism” is often trotted out by Zionists—Christian and Jewish alike—who wish to remind their audience of violence perpetuated by Europeans against European Jews. But in the history of West Asia this charge is ironic given the fact that Arabs are far more Semitic than European Jews like me and given the fact that the people living under a brutal colonial regime are Palestinians, Syrians (in the Occupied Golan Heights), and Lebanese in the remaining five villages that Israel continues to illegally occupy.

Those of us active in the boycott movement around the globe do so out of a desire to see Palestinian people achieve justice meaning the right of return for Palestinian refugees and compensation as per UN Resolution 194. We believe that there shouldn’t be any nation with special status. We believe that when the UN makes a resolution all nations must abide by them not just countries bullied by the powers governing the Security Council and their allies.

Marcy Newman is an independent scholar and author of The Politics of Teaching Palestine to Americans and a founding member of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

There have been some more terrific pieces about the boycott in the press in the last couple of weeks, including the Modern Language Association (MLA) resolution, which doesn’t go as far as the ASA, but at lest it is taking the correct steps in that direction.

First, here is a terrific action alert from Adalah New York for people who want to respond and support the ASA. There is also a petition to sign to support the ASA, but you must be a member. This is especially essential since yesterday Forbes had the audacity to publish an openly ad hominem attack by Richard Behar about several of my colleagues and friends in the ASA who have been working tirelessly over the last several years to make this resolution happen.

Steven Salaita has a brilliant piece in Electronic Intifada called “Ten Things We’ve Learned About Opposition to Academic Boycott,” which pretty much responds to Behar and whatever other Zionist hack wants to do to try to belittle our work. Also, USACBI posted a brilliant piece this week called “This is What an Academic Boycott Looks Like” for people who are sincerely interested in understanding our work. Also here is the Indian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI) statement of solidarity with the ASA.

Second, the U.S. Green Party issued a press release supporting the ASA’s resolution.

Then there are a couple of great pieces in university newspapers from Bowdoin, Syracuse, and Tufts. Bill Mullen did a radio interview about the resolution and Democracy Now! hosted a debate, although the choice of debaters isn’t great.

Meanwhile at the MLA annual meeting, another one of my former academic homes, a resolution was passed, although it focused on the lack of human rights and academic freedom. A petition is here for people who want to sign it (you don’t need to be a member to do so). Here are some articles covering the MLA resolution and what transpired at the various panels there:

Liz Schulman’s “Boycott Panel at MLA Draws Applause and Fearful Questions”

Alex Kane’s “MLA Delegates Pass Measure Against Israel Denying Entry to Academics”

Bruce Robbins’ “‘Common Sense Has Moved On’: Report from MLA Debate on Israel”

David Palumbo-Liu’s “Modern Language Association Prepared to Talk Seriously About Palestine”

Finally, in the midst of all this, Ariel “the butcher” Sharon died. But instead of publishing an article from an Indian point of view, once again The Hindu resorted to a Zionist writer, Ethan Bronner, from the news wire. Many people have torn this and other whitewashed obituaries to shreds already, but today The Hindu also published a terrific, contextually rich piece by Vijay Prashad that highlights the damaging work that Sharon did, along with the BJP, to erode a history of solidarity between Palestinians and Indians:

In 2003, Sharon became the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit India. He had been invited by the BJP-led government to cement the newfound ties between India and Israel. At that time, The Hindu wrote, “New Delhi has sent out wrong signals by playing host to Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at this particular juncture… Even if it was possible to set aside [Sharon’s] appalling personal history, his apparent distaste for a just and permanent settlement with the Palestinians cannot be ignored. Even moderate constituencies in Arab countries are convinced that Mr. Sharon was largely responsible for scuttling the Oslo process. The policies Israel has implemented under his stewardship have aggravated the violent confrontation with the Palestinians.” Nonetheless, the Bharatiya Janata Party and later the Congress endorsed Israeli policy by its new attachment to Tel Aviv. India quickly became the largest importer of Israeli arms, unwittingly helping the Israeli economy in its principal task — to pursue the occupation of the Palestinians.

Not all of India embraced its leaders’ camaraderie with Sharon. “Katil Sharon se yaari, sharam karo Atal Bihari [shame on you, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for befriending the murderous Sharon],” and similar slogans echoed across the country at Sharon’s death, despite the warm condolence message crafted by the Prime Minister’s Office. India’s government, which once led the Non-Aligned world to defend the rights of the Palestinians, is now reticent to be critical of Israel and allows itself to celebrate the life of a man whose day in court was postponed because of his Western allies.

For other excellent coverage, which doesn’t include much of Al Jazeera’s shameful, borderline hagiographic tributes, see these pieces:

Democracy Now!’s interviews with Rashid Khalidi, Noam Chomsky, and Avi Shlaim

As’ad AbuKhalil’s “Ariel Sharon: International War Criminal Remembered”

Jonathan Cook’s “The Legacy of Ariel ‘the bulldozer’ Sharon”

Max Blumenthal’s “How Ariel Sharon Shaped Israel’s Destiny”

Ahmed Moor’s “Ariel Sharon: The Architect of Terror”

David Samel’s “Bronner Whitewashes Sharon’s Atrocities”

Peter Hart’s “How the Big Papers Remember Ariel Sharon”

A Week in Lucknow

DSC00039

I spent last week visiting a friend in Lucknow in the northern part of the country (more pictures in gallery below). Our first day we ventured out to the village of Malihabad so she could conduct some research she is doing about nurseries and seeds. Much of the agricultural land is being converted from local food production to decorative house plants and flowers for export. Prior to our trip, she was online doing a bit of last-minute research on the village when she stumbled upon this little gem:

Shahnaz Ali, a senior research fellow at the National Institute of Immuno-Hematology, Mumbai, has been awarded a scholarship by the government of Israel for the academic year 2009-2010, to study the DNA of Afridi Pathans of Malihabad in Lucknow to confirm whether they are of Israelite origin or not.

It is not clear what the purpose of this research is or how the Israeli government would use such information. In any case, the researcher involved clearly doesn’t know about the academic boycott of Israel given that he’s taking funds from the Israeli government to conduct his research. He also seems to be under the mistaken impression that there is some kind of historical enmity between Jews and Muslims when that is not the case.  But the largest problem in the blog piece is its erroneous concluding paragraph:

Navras said that as per history, ten Israelite tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel were exiled by the Assyrian invaders in 721 BC. It is believed that some descendants of these lost tribes settled in India between AD 1202 and AD 1761. Afridi Pathans of Malihabad are said to be one of them. Some Israeli academicians have visited Malihabad in the last few years to study customs and traditions of Pathans to find if they have any resemblance to Israelite traditions.

In fact, if he had read Israeli historian Shlomo Sand’s book The Invention of the Jewish People, he would know that:

 the Romans never deported entire peoples. We might add that neither did the Assyrians and Babylonians move entire populations from the countries they conquered. It did not pay to uproot the people of the land, the cultivators of produce, the taxpayers. But even the efficient policy of deportation practiced by the Assyrian, and later the Babylonian, empire—in which whole sections of local administrative and cultural elites were deported—was not followed by the Roman Empire. (130)

Notice that while the Assyrians did deport some people, it idid not exile entire peoples and its deportation policy was not about one’s religion.

DSC00127

From one colonial context to another.

After Malihabad we went to what is known as the Residency. It seems that each Indian city has a place with this name as it was once the home of the British colonials ruling the area. But the one in Lucknow is special. You can see it in photographs below more clearly. It was the site of the 1857 uprising (mutiny as the English refer to it) against the British. This expansive space includes the shells of all the former buildings that were destroyed during the Indian uprising against their colonial rulers. It’s quite impressive that one can still see this colonial history–and resistance to it–preserved in such a remarkable way.

DSC00067

My friend’s childhood friend was speaking at a commemoration of Swami Vivekananda’s famous 1893 speech in Chicago at the Columbian Exposition, which celebrated Christopher Columbus’ colonization of the Americas. I had read about him in Vijay Prashad’s The Karma of Brown Folk, but did not remember much about him at the time. Prashad paints him in an interesting light–as one who plays almost a trickster role to the Americans wanting to Orientalize him and fetishize his Hindu beliefs. And, according to Prashad, he was quite critical of the way Americans approached religion:

You Americans worship what? The dollar. Int he mad rush for gold, you forget the spiritual until you have become a nation of materialists. Even your preachers and churches are tainted with the all-perfading desire. (35)

Yet I was struck by a different set of beliefs that he conveyed in that speech as I heard it in the Bengali association hall last week. Here is the part that I was taken aback by:

 I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to the southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny.

Obviously, in 1893 when Zionism was in its incipient stages, there were no Shlomo Sands to historicize the Roman presence in West Asia, alerting us to the fact that the Romans never expelled any people. And yet on this trip I was hearing yet another allusion to Jewish expulsion (although often it is also that they are the 12th tribe who wandered and got lost) from Western Asia, which is often the historical argument used for how Jews arrived in India over a century ago.

DSC00220

The other main attraction I visited in Lucknow was the Bara Imbara, which is a fantastically preserved, beautifully designed Nawab palace from the eighteenth century:

the very romantic history associated with it – of Nawab Asaf-Ud-Daula commissioning the Imambara during the time of the great famine of 1783 to enable Awadhis to earn a living as they were too proud to have taken alms – makes it a fascinating piece of architecture.

This space, much like the Residency, is filled with fabulous nooks and crannies that seem to make the best hide-and-go-seek playgrounds for children. But in the Imbara there is also a labyrinth, which you need to hire a guide to take you through. One must travel up and down several flights of steep stairs and through a series of narrow hallways to navigate this area. There are interesting nooks, such as a passage way that leads underground, which people used to use to travel surreptitiously from one city to the next. However, the British closed it up. There are also several clever engineering feats that enable communication from one far off location along the same wall. Supposedly there is also a buried treasure there, but in order to discover it the entire property would need to be destroyed.

The photographs below are a bit mixed up, but they are of the places I mention above, plus random snapshots of the city, a couple of AIDS protests we saw because I was there during World AIDS Day, and its incredible food–especially the chaat and paan!

same.gov

i feel like i’m repeating myself. i am repeating myself. but i’m making myself sick from repeating myself. nauseous, really. oh, no, wait–the nausea is coming from the hypocritical, deceitful, immoral president elect barack obama. not that i ever drank even one sip of the koolaid that killed off whatever remaining strand of leftists there were in the u.s. i wonder how they will write off the official naming of obama’s national hawkish team:

eric holder attorney general
robert gates secretary of defense
hillary clinton secretary of state
janet napolitano secretary of homeland security
susan rice american ambassador to united nations
james jones national security adviser

here is a report on al jazeera that focuses on clinton’s nomination:

the clip doesn’t show much. it doesn’t talk about the myriad problems of the entire team. it doesn’t show the press conference after the announcement. one reporter called obama on his hypocrisy in relation to the recent events in mumbai. he asked if india has the same right as the u.s. to strike pakistan without working with the pakistani government. obama, in his usual hypocritical fashion, responded in relation to the u.s. (he refused to respond about india) “i think that sovereign nations have the right to protect themselves.” interesting. in what way is the u.s. “defending” itself exactly when it bombs pakistan in what has become a rather routine practice?

side note: as was to be expected as soon as news about the indian interrogation was released to the media who got blamed? pakistan. it seems to me that indian interrogation of a suspect to reveal something other than an answer like “let’s blame pakistan” is like a lebanese interrogation of a suspect to reveal something other than an answer like “let’s blame syria.” though vijay prashad has a different idea about how to respond (though i think we should add obama to the war mongering response to such actions):

Disoriented, like a musth elephant, the State seeks easy solutions: more draconian legislation, more fiery rhetoric, and more warmongering. The Congress-led Government is pushed from the Right by the BJP, who seem to want an instant attack on Pakistan, a sort of Bush reaction to 911. Those in the government in charge of intelligence and security have been sacked. Discussions are in process for how to move forward. The Communists caution against hasty action, and have urged the government to make a motion to the UN rather than to the Indian Air Force. The Pakistani Worker Communist Party sends its condolences and says, “Crimes of such barbarity must make people realize that the moment has arrived for the people of both India and Pakistan to develop a unified commitment towards peace and harmony in the world and to combat extremism and terrorism in all its shades and colors.” The call for unity seems remote in these times, and yet, utterly necessary. Hopes slumber even in those who take aim for the debauched. More blood feeds the beast; it is food, shelter and conviviality that transform it into a neighbor.

equally frustrating is the way clinton today in her acceptance speech and others in the west have been clamoring to claim the attacks in mumbai as their own. there is a wonderful rejection of this by kanishk tharoor:

But in my opinion this is definitively not a “9/11” for India, and it cannot be slotted comfortably into the larger puzzle of the “war on terrorism”. From a Western perspective, the events in Mumbai acquired real international significance only after it became clear that the militants targeted British and American citizens in the Taj and Oberoi hotels, as well as Jewish families in the Nariman House high-rise. There were echoes, to be sure, of Bali in 2002 and the US embassy bombings Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam in 1998. But I found it almost surreal to comb the front pages of many British newspapers on Thursday morning. It was as if India was merely another faceless arena for the clash between the West and radical Islam.

Mumbai does not belong in the same continuum of Islamist attacks on Western targets abroad such as that in Bali. Make no mistake, this was a blow aimed at India as much, if not more, than at the West. The terrorists singled out iconic landmarks in downtown Mumbai, including the Taj Hotel, which sits next to the majestic Gateway of India, a symbol of India’s historical openness to the world. South Mumbai is the hub of business and cultural activity in India’s cosmopolitan financial capital. To bring death and destruction here is to strike at the country’s image of itself as an aspiring world power.

back to the main story: so at the press conference this is what obama had to say for himself:

“We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends. We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships.”

Obama said his appointees “share my pragmatism about the use of power, and my sense of purpose about America’s role as a leader in the world.”

reading between the lines: power will still be used (read: military power). he made this abundantly clear when he responded to a question about withdrawing troops from iraq when questioned by a reporter in the audience. obama said: keep in mind what i said in the campaign. i said i would remove our combat troops from iraq in 16 months with the understanding that it might be necessary to keep residual forces in iraq. the sofa passed points us in the right direction.”

yes, this is same we cannot believe in. we now have a war cabinet. a hawkish cabinet. 4 more years of the same: more death, violence, destruction in the middle east. but that’s okay i guess, because americans are so self-centered that they think only about themselves and care nothing for the rest of the world’s hunger and starvation. for the massacres that they create or give other people the tools to create them.

but americans also care very little for people who seek economic or other forms of refuge in the u.s. who do so because of america’s economic or political interventions around the world. this is clear by obama’s choice for homeland security secretary:

AARTI SHAHANI: I think we should take pause and look at Governor Napolitano. She’s right now being celebrated as a liberal on immigration who can finally breathe some fresh air into a very hateful debate. The fact about Janet Napolitano is that she’s the leading democratic hawk on immigration. Her legacy in Arizona has been two-fold and I think it’s important to look at the nuance here. She rose to power politically as a prosecutor. She rose to power politically under Bill Clinton as Attorney General. She won the governorship in 2003. Soon after she won the governorship of Arizona, which is the leading immigration enforcement state, I mean if you want to understand what is the future of immigration enforcement, look at the state of Arizona and what it’s done. In her state, there were basically white supremacist groups trying to pass, and effectively passing a bill called Proposition 200 through ballot initiative. Proposition 200 back in November of 2004 required that just about any public servant start calling in a suspected undocumented person for deportation. It’s sort of the prelude to the Sensenbrenner bill that people blew up about in 2005. Governor Napolitano looked at this bill and she said this is hateful, this is wrong and she didn’t veto it, but sort of vetoed it by dragging her feet on its implementation.

Now the punch line comes when to save political capital or to try to regain political capital because there was a lot of falling out over her move there, she said, “Listen, I’m not against cracking down on illegal immigrants. I’m just saying we should crack down on the right types of illegal immigrants. And she introduced her own tough on immigration platform Now, that platform is two-fold. Part of it is enhanced border enforcement. The fact is that she called border crossing a national security crisis, the first governor to do that in US history, wanted to bring in Homeland Security resources to protect against this border crossing.

Now the other piece of the story that I think people are not familiar with is she that actually made a name for herself in Homeland Security circles by regularly writing to Chertoff and lobbying him to bring not just more border security resources to Arizona but ICE resources to Arizona, specifically Governor Napolitano wanted to see it an increase of interior immigration enforcement in Phoenix areas outside of border communities. She was the first governor to broker a 287-G agreement with ICE. Now, I’m not sure how many people know what 287-G is about, But basically, it was a tiny piece of law passed by Bill Clinton back in 1996. It was resurrected by ICE as a leading pilot project to devolve immigration enforcement from Federal to local hands, that is to bring the border into the interior so to speak. So Governor Napolitano was the first Democrat, the first one in the country to say we want 287-g in our state. And she opened up the door toall of the local enforcement, stopping while brown stuff we’re seeing in Arizona. She has a very peculiar relationship with Joe Arpaio. Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County is known as a total–the toughest sheriff in America, is what he calls himself. That’s his autobiography. Janet Napolitano readily went to Joe Arpaio back in 2005 and said, for our immigration agenda we need some of your jails because he runs a tent city, for which he was being sued left and right. We need some of your jails. And Joe Arpaio said to her, if we have to we’ll build jails from here down to Mexico to hold the immigrants you want to pick up.

i think that imran garda said it best on al jazeera: “the only change is between obama on the campaign trail and president-elect obama.”

it is telling that no one from house or senate who voted against iraq war have been chosen for any of these positions. obama mentioned today that he chose a cabinet of rivals. but it’s not. all of these people are hawkish, supported the iraq war, supported the lies about weapons of mass destruction in iraq. with a conflict between iran and the u.s. looming this does not bode well.

where is the opposition? the public pressure? the outrage? i must go. i’m feeling sick.

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.

what moderate looks like

Anyone who wonders about the influence of the Israel lobby on American media or on U.S. foreign policy needs to watch the documentary Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land. It’s an older film, but unfortunately still applies. I’m posting it here for people who want to watch it to see what happens in the world of U.S. media and mis-information:

I’ve been thinking about this film again, partially because of the continued, incessant attacks on Rashid Khalidi. Fox News’ Sean Hannity has led the pace, but there are others, too. One particularly offensive article by Mona Charen in the Washington Times is not only offensive, it’s a terrific example of an American journalist who gets away with publishing false information under the guise of facts:

“Twenty-three-year old Ibrahim Abu Jayyab sits by the computer in the Nusairat refugee camp (in the Gaza Strip) trying to call American citizens in order to convince them to vote for the Democratic candidate for president, Barack Obama.”

Like many Palestinians, Abu Jayyab is excited about the prospect of an Obama presidency. (By the way, the Gaza Strip is completely under the control of Hamas. Why then do they persist in speaking of “refugee camps”? But of course, we know why.) If Abu Jayyab and many others in the Palestinian areas are delighted, why are so many American Jewish voters feeling the same way? One side or the other has the wrong man. Which is it?…

Many politicians have distanced themselves from positions and associations of their youths. But in Mr. Obama’s case, he is distancing himself from positions staked out as recently as 2003. As National Review Online has reported, the Los Angeles Times is apparently sitting on a videotape showing Mr. Obama’s remarks at a farewell dinner that year for Rashid Khalidi, the one-time Palestine Liberation Organization spokesman who now heads the Middle East Studies Department at Columbia. (Columbia University’s shame is a subject for another column.) Mr. Khalidi is not distancing himself from his past.

Consistent with what you would expect from someone who justified PLO attacks on civilians in Israel and Lebanon from 1976 to 1982, Mr. Khalidi routinely refers to Israel as a “racist” and “apartheid” state, and professes to believe in a “one-state” solution to the conflict. Guess which country would have to disappear for that “one” state to come into existence?

I don’t even know where to begin. Gaza is controlled by the Zionist state of Israel. It controls its land, air, and sea borders. It controls what and who is allowed to leave and when. It assassinates leaders and civilians alike. It destroys homes, murders Palestinians with impunity. Yes, Hamas is the political party attempting to rule Gaza: but how exactly does one rule an area that is not a state, that is besieged by a state? The most offensive part of this article comes when she puts refugee camps in scare quotes to challenge their very existence. Of course, she can’t explain why she does this because it’s just plain factually inaccurate and deeply offensive as to deny the existence of Palestinian refugees is to deny the history and present Zionist project of ethnic cleansing. This is all a lead in to her attack on Obama vis-a-vis Rashid Khalidi. As with her claims about Gaza and Palestinian refugees, her claims about Khalidi are also erroneous. It usually follows that when you are deceitful about one claim you cannot be trusted with any other claims that you make.

Vijay Prashad, however, had an excellent piece in Counterpunch on the smear campaign of Khalidi as he shows how Sarah Palin’s team confused Khalidi with Edward Said in the claims she leveled against Khalidi and Obama:

Palin’s staff seem to be sloppy readers. Obama, we are told, did toast Khalidi at his going-away party in 2003. So far so good. Having seen the name Khalidi and Edward Said in the same sentence, the Palin team assumed they were the same person. But, it was Said, and not Khalidi, who played an active organizational role in the Palestinian struggle. Between 1977 and 1991, Said was a member of the Palestinian National Council, but not of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (the slippage is made all too often). The PNC was a general, all-party council of a people in the middle of a struggle, not like the PLO, which was an umbrella of various political parties headed by al-Fatah (whose leader in those years was Yasser Arafat, later a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace). Said broke with the PNC in 1991, just about when he was in Chicago for his talk. He would point out that the PLO, which had usurped the reins of the Palestinian struggle, lost ground during the Oslo discussions because of which it “lacked credibility and moral authority” (his voluminous writings that detail this break are collected in The Politics of Dispossession, 1994, Peace and Its Discontents, 1996, and The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and After, 2000). Said also received his diagnosis about leukemia in 1991. It was a fateful year.

Khalidi, whose name Palin could not pronounce, was born in New York. He is an intellectual with a moral commitment to peace and justice in the Middle East. His main organizational commitments don’t include the PLO, which, in the period of Khalidi’s ascent into the higher altitudes of the academy, was already in impervious decline. Nothing the New Yorker could say or do would help the festering Palestinian Authority, and neither would Khalidi give his voice to being the puppet of al-Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas or Farouk Kaddoumi (if anything, the politics of Khalidi might line up with those of Marwan Barghouti of al-Mustaqbal, but Khalidi’s intellectualism might not be the disposition for the jailed leader).

Where might this disinformation be emanating from? Well if you watched the above video you will begin to have some idea. Or if you read an earlier post where I talked about Hannity’s libelous program about Obama’s “radical friends” you may know the answer given that Daniel Pipes is featured so prominently in it. Pipes’ McCarthyite, witch hunting website, Campus Watch, currently features Khalidi on its front page. And one of its racist writers and activists, Cinnamon Stillwell has an article regurgitating these false claims about Khalidi in American Thinker (also posted on the Campus Watch website).

This is the same distorted, offensive and libelous material we hear on Hannity’s program. Here is an example of it:

Apparently my fellow Los Angelenos are upset about one of the core issues in this story: McCain and Hannity and other neocon, racist people in the public eye want the Los Angeles Times to release some video footage of a dinner where Obama was with Khalidi and Bill Ayers. There is also a video of this which interviews some American Jewish terrorists at the newspaper protest:

Notice the Jewish terrorist woman in this clip; she is from the organization with the oxymoronic name (a pattern with various Zionist militant organizations), the Jewish Defense League (JDL). The JDL has been on the U.S. terrorist watch list for quite some time. Here are some of its terrorist activities right in the U.S. of A. (Note to Palin: these are actual terrorists if you’re looking for the home grown variety.) Here is one example of their work:

The two terrorist plots prevented by law enforcement in 2001 were being planned by domestic extremists. Ronald Mike Denton was planning to attack his former place of employment, the Chevron Oil Refinery at El Segundo, California, when he was arrested in March 2001. In December 2001 Irving David Rubin and Earl Leslie Krugel, members of the extremist Jewish Defense League, were arrested as they were in the final stages of planning attacks against the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, California, and the local office of U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa.

Did I mention that the above quote comes from the FBI’s own website? A second incident is also from my home town (I don’t know what it is about Jewish terrorism in Los Angeles…) from my youth. Allison Weir’s If Americans Knew website has a detailed article about Jewish terrorism and here is just one example cited in it:

The other high-profile murder came in 1985, on Oct. 11, when Alex Odeh, 37, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) in Santa Ana, California, was killed by a bomb planted at his office. Odeh had appeared the previous night on a television show and called Yasser Arafat a “man of peace.” The Jewish Defense League praised the bombing but denied involvement, its usual practice in such incidents.

One of the suspects was Robert Manning, 36, of Los Angeles, a JDL member. He and his wife, Rochelle, moved to Israel, where he joined the Israel Defense Forces. FBI agents said Manning and others were also suspected of being involved in a year-long series of violent incidents in 1985 including the August house-bomb slaying of Tscherim Soobzokov, of Paterson, N.J., a suspected Nazi war criminal; the Aug. 16 attempted bombing of the Boston ADC office in which two policemen were severely wounded; the September bombing at the Brentwood, Long Island home of alleged Nazi Elmars Sprogis, in which a 23-year-old passerby lost a leg, and the Oct. 29 fire at the ADC office in Washington, DC, which was called arson.

By December 1985, FBI Director William H. Webster warned that Arab Americans had entered a “zone of danger” and were targets of an unnamed group seeking to harm the “enemies of Israel.”

Manning and his wife lived in the radical Kiryat Arba settlement in Israel’s occupied West Bank until March 25, 1991 when, after two years of pressure, Israel acceded to U.S. extradition demands.

Notice where these terrorists–the Mannings–moved to after their crime: to the most aggressively violent illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank. This settlement in Khalil is the site where the most active ethnic cleansing takes place on the part of the illegal settlers by way of murder, intimidation, and theft. This is also where New York Jew Baruch Goldstein lived when he carried out the terrorist massacre of the mosque in Khalil in 1994.

Of course you would never hear about this on Fox News. Nor would you hear a presidential candidate talking about Jewish terrorists. Only Muslims and Arabs are characterized that way. This is one reason why the republicans have worked so hard to try to get Americans to think that Obama is a closeted Muslim. Apparently, 1/4 of Texans believe this story. And for all the complaining of the “gotcha journalism” or “liberal media” in the U.S. another report released today shows that when it came time to discussing Obama and McCain’s relationships with religious leaders, the Washington Post and New York Times published more than 12 times as many articles mentioning Obama and Reverend Jeremiah Wright as they did mentioning McCain and John Hagee.

All of this got me thinking about censorship again. What stories are allowed to be told? What stories are reported in a truthful way? What stories are silenced? It reminds me of the way in which censorship always works: those doing the censoring are rarely familiar with the text or the person they wish to silence. I would bet my life that Hannity and Charen have never read a single one of Khalidi’s books. Or watched him interviewed. Or listened to him give a lecture. If they had they would see that Khalidi is the epitome of moderation. I’m actually re-reading his book The Iron Cage right now for my own research. While I like the book and find it useful it could hardly be considered radical, anti-Semitic, or anything of the sort. But it’s hard to convey this to people like Hannity who are offended by the very fact that the Arabic word for Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine is an nakba, which literally means catastrophe. This is something he objects to. But I get what is threatening about Khalidi: he’s an historian. He’s an historian who is dedicated to revealing the long silenced history of Palestine and Palestinians in various contexts. That very fact disrupts the Zionist mythology that has been allowed to reign supreme in the U.S. for far too long. But this is not the only time Khalidi has found himself under attack for these reasons, in spite of his moderate point of view. I actually published an academic article about this new McCarthyism and the way it has affected scholars like Khalidi and Joseph Massad among others. My article is here for those who would like to read it.

For those who are too lazy or busy to read Khalidi’s writing themselves I’m posting a couple of videos here that you may watch to hear him in his own words. Both are from 2007. The first one is and interview from Charlie Rose and the second one is a lecture from Portland State University. Watch and judge for yourself: does this sound like the terrorist? Personally, I think that the way Hannity is behaving is far more like a terrorist than Khalidi could ever be.

And if after all this my Zionist readers out there still think that Obama might be secretly pro-Palestinian, I’d like to remind readers he sold his sole to the Zionist devil a long time ago. See these three articles on Electronic Intifada by Ali Abu Nimah:

How Barack Obama learned to love Israel

What Obama missed in the Middle East

The senator, his pastor and the Israel lobby

And the Israeli press today reported on who just might be Obama’s adviser on the Zionist state:

Israel may earn more White House representation than it bargained for, in the event that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama emerges victorious from the November 4 elections.

Congressman Rahm Emanuel, who has served in the Israel Defense Forces and even speaks a little Hebrew, could be appointed the White House’s next chief of staff.