Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Police staging political theater - a missing link!

The link to JVP's call to action on behalf of New Profile activist
has not made it, somehow, into the previous post.
Here it is: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/301/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=27127

Our apologies.

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
Jewish Peace News sends its news clippings only to subscribers. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription, go to http://www.jewishpeacenews.net

Monday, April 27, 2009

Police staging political theater

As Jewish Peace News reported last September, Israel's Attorney General instructed police to investigate New Profile, a feminist movement working to demilitarize society and state in Israel. Among many other activities, New Profile creates safe spaces for young people to explore their views and feelings regarding military service-including their misgivings-and provides them with information regarding their legal rights as candidates for conscription. As the allegations would have it, however, the movement has actively incited young women and men to resist military service and has guided some of them in obtaining exemptions through fraudulent means.

On the morning of April 26th, Israel's police produced a hyperbolic piece of political theater. As if faced with a dangerous, violent organized crime "family", the police—as their press release put it—"raided" the homes of several New Profile activists in different parts of Israel.

As Ofra Lyth of New Profile noted, it was by no coincidence that the "raid" was staged just before Israel observes the annual day of remembrance for dead soldiers. Its timing exploited the ritual emotions of memorial day to deepen the demonization of the activists and movement it targeted, excluding them from legitimate membership in the community and making them (us) fair game.

Below are:
1) A press release issued by New Profile;
2) A Ynet report on the investigation;
3) An open letter from Eldad Kisch, life-partner of Annelien Kisch, one of the activists detained for interrogation;
4) A call to action from Jewish Voice for Peace with suggestions of what to do and a link through which you can contact the Attorney General.

Despite this stepped-up persecution of oppositional activism, all of us are well aware that Jewish activists are still more privileged and less endangered than our Palestinian friends, both within the borders of Israel and in the occupied territories. They are subject to such tactics and worse, continuously. However, as the rabid right, now officially instated in government in Israel, sets out to prove its mettle, your individual action—from anywhere in the world—is vital for denouncing and stopping its anti-democratic, orchestrated suppression of dissent.

Rela Mazali


26 April 2009

New Profile Movement: Harsh Police Attack on Freedom of Expression

The Police Detained Political Activists from Ramat Hasharon, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beer Sheva

• "One who believed that criminal cases due to political activism are conjured up "only" for Arab citizens discovers that s/he is also liable to be detained due to the expression of opinions concerning the failures of the society and rule in Israel."
• Amongst the detainees – a 70 year old ceramic artist, the daughter of a family of "Righteous among the Nations" from Holland, a grandmother to six Israeli grandchildren

This morning the Israeli police descended upon the homes of political activists, members of the feminist movement New Profile, which acts for the civil-ization of society in Israel and against the undue influence of the military on life in the country.

The police demanded that the activists turn over the computers located in their homes, and among other things took the computers of partners of the detainees and in one case also the computer of a fourth grade pupil, the daughter of one of those interrogated. The computers of family members were returned after the activists were released on bail.

Amongst those interrogated: Analeen Kish, aged 70, a ceramics artist, daughter of a family of the the "Righteous among the Nations" who converted to Judaism after her marriage to Holocaust survivor Dr. Eldad Kish, active in organizations of Dutch Holocaust survivors in Israel. The pair have six grandchildren; Miriam Hadar, age 51, an editor and translator, mother of two, married to professor of psychology Uri Hadar. The two women were born in Holland and continue to hold Dutch citizenship.

Additionally detained for interrogation were Amir Givol, a resident of Jerusalem, Sergei Sandler, a resident of Beer Sheva, and Roni Barkan, a resident of Tel Aviv. The computers of all those interrogated were taken by the police, who presented search warrants.

All five were interrogated in the Ramat Hachiyal station in the Yarkon Region of the police. At the conclusion of the interrogation they were released on bail and under limitng conditions, and all were told that during the next 30 days they are forbidden to contact other members of the movement.

The New Profile Movement expressed rage over the interrogation and the demand to not have contact with other members, which means a partial paralysis of the activities of this important organization in civil society in Israel.

Attorney Smadar Ben Nathan, who is representing New Profile, said that the investigation of the police is focusing on the website of New Profile, which has links to other sites on the internet. Ben Nathan added that the New Profile Movement is a recognized non-profit association which acts openly and publicly, in accordance with the law, and the use of a criminal investigation in this context is invalid and exaggerated, and stands in opposition to freedom of expression.

New Profile is a feminist movement established ten years ago. The movement has been warning for years of the exaggerated and destructive influence of Israeli militarism on civilian life, and provides legal aid and social support to young people desiring not to do military service, both for political and personal reasons.

The New Profile Movement noted today: "These recent acts confirm what we have been contending for many years: the militarism of society in Israel harms the sacred principles of democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of political association. One who believed that until now criminal files were conjured up "only" for Arab citizens of Israel saw this morning that none of us can be certain that s/he can freely express an opinion concerning the failures of society and rule in Israel."

For interviews:
Dr. Diana Dolev, telephone: 052 872 8300 Attorney Smadar Ben Nathan, telephone: 052 358 9775

For further details:
Ofra Leith, telephone: 050 552 4372
Eilat Maoz, Coordinator of the Women's Coalition for Peace, telephone: 050 857 5729



Six arrested for promoting draft-dodging

Police detain suspects, one of them a 70-year-old woman, seize computers used to upload material to website encouraging draft-dodging Avi Cohen

Six suspects, one of them a 70-year old woman, were detained for questioning and released Sunday on suspicion that they preached in favor of dodging the IDF's draft. Police say more suspects have been located and will be detained.

Police have been following the activities of two websites called Target 21 and New Profile, which encourage youths to dodge the mandatory draft. Officers used IP addresses to locate computers outputting information to the sites and arrived at the owners' homes Sunday morning to search the premises.

During the searches in homes located in various cities, including Ramat Hasharon and Jerusalem, officers confiscated computers and other materials related to draft-dodging. Police plan to use the material in order to charge the suspects.

A 70-year old woman who was among the suspects detained told Ynet she had no regrets. "Four policemen arrived at my home at 7 am but I wasn't home. My husband opened the door for them and they took two computers; mine and my husband's. They took some stickers and then summoned me for questioning," she said.

"I'm not nervous about this because my conscience is clear. We don't incite. Everything we do is legal, and that's what I told them during the interrogation. I'm calm. I don't know what they will claim, but you can sense a lack of democracy in the air," the woman added.

New Profile, on its part, stated that it was a public and fully legal establishment and that the interrogation violated freedom of speech.

"The militarization of Israeli society harms the sacred principles of democracy, freedom of speech, and political freedom. For people who thought that only Israeli-Arabs were being framed for criminal political activity, this morning was proof that none of us can be sure of the permission to express ourselves freely regarding the failings of Israel's society and regime," the statement said.

Anat Shalev contributed to this report


Is the Police State here already?

Part one.

At seven in the morning loud knocks on our door. I was barely awake, but Annelien was already in the swimming pool doing her customary 50 laps. In my innocence I thought that this was the refrigerator repair man, a little early in the day, but one has to be grateful for small favors. Our climate is not ideal for keeping the food fresh without the benefit of this technology.

Well, I was mistaken. Four strong policemen asked for Mrs Annelien Kisch. In all honesty I answered that she is not home. No explanation was forthcoming what they wanted of her. But they produced a warrant for a search in our house, in order to impound her computer, and mine too for good measure.

They asked when Annelien will be home, I told them in an hour or so. After a search of the house, not very thorough, but still, they decided that they had waited enough, and left a summons for her to come to the police station. They took our two computers, after signing a receipt.

In the meantime we heard that a friend of Annelien, a mother of two, was also rudely awakened at seven, all computers in the house were taken, including that of her 9 year old daughter. She was not allowed to take her child to school, but was directly put in the police van and taken to the police station; she was interrogated until 1 o'clock.

Annelien, a law-abiding citizen came to the police station, after finishing some things at home. The lawyer of her organization, New Profile, had been alarmed and had rushed to the police station, but she was not allowed to be present at the interrogation. At around two I was called that I could take Annelien home after signing an agreement that she would not contact her political friends for 30 days. My computer was released. I have no way of knowing whether the contents were copied or the whole thing was a farce.

Some explanations are called for. New Profile has been active in defending conscientious objectors to military service and in assisting soldiers refusing to serve in the occupied territories, legally and even paying for the upkeep of their families while they served time in jail. NP is not making any propaganda for doing these things, but will encourage youngsters to think for themselves, by pointing out what the occupation means on a day to day basis. This is not appreciated in all quarters.

Why now? An investigation has been threatened over half a year ago. Now we have a new rightist government that must show that something is done to improve the morale of the army and that they will stand by idly while young men 'shirk their duty'. I can think of some religious boys who shirk their duty, but that is acceptable.

Personally, I do not like being awakened at seven in the morning by four policemen. It makes me nervous. I feel very unhappy without my computer (not knowing that it would be returned so soon; but then I do not know very well were all the cables go to make the think work again).

I write this in haste before anything else happens.

In all honesty I must add that the policemen were polite, and the interrogation of Annelien was fair.

Otherwise a great country.

Eldad Kisch; April 26, 2009.


From: Sydney Levy, Jewish Voice for Peace [info@jewishvoiceforpeace.org]

Sent: Sun 4/26/2009 3:39 PM

Subject: What would you do if the government confiscated your computer?

Dear friend,

Let me cut down to the chase. We have just learned that a number of Israeli peace activists have had their computers confiscated, have been called for interrogations, and have only been released upon signing agreements not to contact their political friends for 30 days. We are asking you to contact the Israeli Attorney General to demand an immediate stop to this harassment.

The activists targeted are members of New Profile, a group of feminist women and men daring to suggest that Israel need not be a militarized society. They are being wrongfully accused of inciting young people--like the shministim--not to enlist in the army. The charge is not true. While New Profile does not tell youngsters not to enlist, they certainly support those who do not: pacifists, those who oppose the occupation, and others. New Profile informs them of their rights and gives them legal support when necessary. But Israel is a country that does not acknowledge the basic human right to conscientious objection.

The government's accusation against New Profile is not new. It has been out there for some time, as a source of harassment. Today's police actions tighten the screws considerably. We've seen how international pressure has helped get many shministim out of jail. Now it's time to put as much pressure so that Israeli peace activists can do their work free of intimidation.

I leave you with a note from New Profile: "These recent acts confirm what we have been contending for many years: the militarism of society in Israel harms the sacred principles of democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of political association. One who believed that until now criminal files were conjured up "only" for Arab citizens of Israel saw this morning that none of us can be certain that s/he can freely express an opinion concerning the failures of society and rule in Israel."

Sydney Levy


Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
Jewish Peace News sends its news clippings only to subscribers. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription, go to http://www.jewishpeacenews.net

Saturday, April 25, 2009

MuzzleWatch - 7 new reports from Durban II

I should have said it sooner: Having Cecilie Surasky's reports does not imply JPN's endorsement/agreement of every point she makes. We, the editors, don't always agree on everything among ourselves, and this applies to Cecilie, too.


"MuzzleWatch" - 7 new articles

1 Countering Palestinian/Nazi analogy and Never again, for all
2 Durban Conference ends with a bang
3 Indigenous peoples and Israel-Palestine
4 Jewish groups and 1 Iranian group yanked from conference
5 UN Side-Events: The silencing of Palestinian NGOs
6 Is Israel being singled out? Well, yeah.
7 Pt. III Israel a racist state? Usama Halabi and Alan Dershowitz
8 More Recent Articles
9 Search MuzzleWatch

Countering Palestinian/Nazi analogy and Never again, for all

A must-read for fighting back- Moshe Yaroni watched Alan Dershowitz's shameful association of Palestinians with Nazis and deconstructs the arguments:

Let's be clear about Hajj Amin: he was a venomous anti-Semite, and his hatred eclipsed the bounds of the Palestinian national struggle. There is no disputing that he worked with the Nazis and that he espoused murderous hatred of Jews, not just Zionism. But such diverse scholars as Zvi Elpeleg, Idith Zertal and Peter Novick have all concluded that his actual role in Nazi plans was insiginificant and that, as Zertal put it, "…in more correct proportions, [he should be pictured] as a fanatic nationalist-religious Palestinian leader."

Meanwhile, Sol Salbe's Middle East News Service has translated from its original Hebrew this article about Jewish suffering and the Holocaust. Salbe writes as a preface:

Yediot Acharonot columnist Ariana Melamed's comments are not particularly original. Others have observed the Israeli attitude to other peoples' suffering summed up in the saying "after what they have done to us…". But not only does Melamed puts it better than anyone else that I have read, she does bring it up to date. As the UN Conference on Racism is about to wind down, it is important to remember that the "never again" lesson need to be applied universally and that the ethos of victimhood exempts no one from doing the right thing.

Hebrew original: http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3703925,00.html

As victims, we're allowed

Ariana Melamed

Mistakenly, we continue to believe that being historical victims completely frees us of the need to develop solidarity with humanity and of the duty to consecrate the living, not only the dead.

From one Holocaust Day to the next, one registers a worrisome rise in Israeli racism. Between one compulsory mourning siren and another, the official Israel flatly denies other holocausts and sells arms to countries that use them against civilians. The official daily command to remember those murdered during the Second World War will not prevent the soldier at the checkpoint from then abusing those who aren't our citizens,. All the tours in Yad Vashem, even now that it is revamped and renovated, have evidently failed to have an impact on our society. We have apparently not learned that being children and relatives of victims does not justify our own injustices. Maybe it is too late for learning.

For too many years now we've been living within a false ethos of victimhood. In the name of those victims – those whose opinions were never sought – youths enshroud themselves in blue and white flags in Auschwitz and most of them immediately understand that a strong military is the key to our continued existence, but too few understand or question the benefit of such an army when our conscience is faltering.

For too many years we compelled the world to look at the horrors committed against the Jews. We made a visit to Yad Vashem obligatory for visiting dignitaries. We employed a sophisticated rhetoric that makes a connection between the Nazi and Iranian threats, between the Khmelnytsky-led pogroms and the Intifada, as though all these events – the actuality of which must never be underestimated – granted us a sweeping, almost automatic permit to mimic those nations we accuse of ignoring our victims; as though the Holocaust endowed us with exclusivity over suffering for all time.

As far as official Israel and most of its citizens are concerned, there are no other holocausts, and the arguments are always beautifully constructed: no regime in the history of humanity has made its aim to annihilate a whole people, nor has this ever been done with such monstrous efficiency. Therefore, when the Argentinean military regime wiped out tens of thousands of dissenters, official Israel said nothing; when villains in Cambodia slaughtered millions of their own people, this surely was no holocaust but an internal matter, and what's happening in Darfur is something between Muslims anyway, while Rwanda – there are no Israelis in Rwanda. So there's nothing to worry about. If they have an earthquake, we'll send over crews with blankets.

The Armenian holocaust was not as sophisticated as the Nazi assembly-line of death, hence it is not worthy of attention either, particularly since our relationship with Turkey is more important than our clear conscience. Regarding the Tibetans, we really have nothing to say; this Dalai Lama is nice enough – but our amazing trade with China is much more advantageous than a denunciation, however weak and polite, of what was clearly genocide and the ongoing dispossession of millions of their land.

In the name of the dead

We are victims, so we are allowed: this is the immoral defiant assertion uttered in the Israeli discourse between one Holocaust Day and the next. We are victims of Arabs wherever they may be, so we shall also apply dollops of disgust and fear to Arab citizens of Israel as well. Why not? Such a manoeuvre is worth 15 electoral seats and an honoured place at the Israel government's table.

We are victims, so when someone speaks of racism within, the horror is never real and is always placed in a totally foolish juxtaposition to the actions of the Nazis. No one remembers that those actions started with words. When no one is punished for calling an Ethiopian a "dirty nigger"; when soldiers can abuse Palestinians uninterrupted, knowing full well that their punishment will be, at worst, a rebuke; when a Jew massacres Arabs and his tombstone is consecrated with no one even contemplating removing the temple blockading his house. When the IDF showers Gazan civilians with molten lead, questions must not be asked in wartime and mistakes must not be admitted to. It is as if we are permitted to do so, because we were killed first.

On 9 May, sixty-four years will have passed since the Allies defeated the Nazis and freed the world. There were those who believed then that it was the last battle against murderous ideologies, but they were wrong. We continue to believe this mistake, and the even worse error, that our historical victimhood completely rids us of the need for human solidarity, of the duty to consecrate the living and not only the dead, and of the lesson that is as important as sovereignty and power: the duty to create a moral society that is sensitive to injustice.

For too many years we told ourselves that we do all this in the name and memory of the dead. This was too easy a lie. Would the dead and the survivors have rejected a more moral stance towards the world and the Other among us? Does the annual siren exempt us of the need to care for the Holocaust survivors, which is surely a more difficult matter than state-sponsored mourning, but no less important? Is the only thing the State can promise its citizens, as a real lesson from the Holocaust, is limitless military power – but not the knowledge that power alone will not be enough on a real day of reckoning?

A few years ago in a CNN broadcast dedicated to one of the periodic holocausts in Africa, a Baptist American priest stood before the camera holding a dead baby's carrier. He said, "People ask where was God during Auschwitz and I want to know where was man." And I want to know that this man, the man who possesses sufficient compassion to see the horror of others and know they are just like him, that this man is still among us. Perhaps.

[Translated from Hebrew by Keren Rubinstein.]


Durban Conference ends with a bang

This is from the final press statement of Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who announced the likely adoption of the final report and then launched into it:

It was very difficult. I had to face a widespread, and highly organized campaign of disinformation. Many people, including Ministers with whom I spoke, told me that the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, which as you know was agreed by 189 states at the original World Conference Against Racism in 2001 was anti-Semitic, and it was clear that either they had not bothered to read what it actually said, or they were putting a cast on it that was, to say the least, decidely exaggerated.

Many others have labelled the entire Durban process as a "hate fest." We have had some rough moments in the process, but a "hate fest?" I'm sorry, this is hyperbole. It is a gross exaggeration. But it is everywhere on the Internet. And I'm sorry to say many mainline newspapers who incidentally declined many op-eds that I sent up to them. Because I kept urging States to take part, one of the most vociferous opponents of the conference called me the "dangerous High Commissioner for Human Rights." So if you see a special look about me, that's the danger. Another called me the "ludicrous High Commissioner for Human Rights." That look I have dropped since. I expect these types of personal attacks to continue for the rest of my tenure. But I can live with them because I see this conference as a success and I know that you will judge this process in a valid and fair way.

If people actually read the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, they would have realized that it includes a paragraph which says that "the Holocaust should never be forgotten". It includes two paragraphs that denounce "anti-Semitism and Islamophobia", and one paragraph which mentions the suffering of the Palestinians, their right of self-determination and the security of all States, including Israel, and two paragraphs calling for peace. That's all there is on the Middle East. And I could not get these corrections published in some important newspapers, particularly in the US, who used the word hate fest without checking these paragraphs.

The final document of this conference – the Conference product, if you like – also says the Holocaust must never be forgotten and deplores anti-Semitism along with Islamophobia and all forms of racism, xenophobia, racial discrimination and related intolerance. But already the propaganda machine is starting to wind up to term this conference a failure, a "hate fest and all the rest of it." This is extraordinary. Yet no one has really written up the true story of this Conference – a strange rough and tumble affair full of smoke and mirrors, I must admit, yet very definitely a success story, with plenty of good will as well as plenty of bad will of the type I have described just now.

I want to say at this point particularly to you that the Geneva press corps has been terrific during the later stages of this process. You have seen through the propaganda, you have read the DDPA and the Review Conference's outcome document, and you have reported accurately, fairly and professionally. So on behalf of my entire office, I would like to extend you a very warm thank you for that. I believe you have played an exceptionally important role. I know that some of you have had to argue with editors who, like so many others, have succumbed to the mythology.

But because of this campaign that was so determined to kill the conference, some countries decided to boycott it, although a few days earlier, they had actually agreed on what is now the final text. I consider this bizarre. You agree the text on Friday evening, and walk out on Sunday. I think, it was unfortunate that a few states disengaged from the process. Although almost all of them had agreed this text, they are not part of the consensus that adopted it. I do hope they will come back into the process now. They can still add their names to the list of 182 states that have adopted the outcome document. And by the way, Iran is part of that consensus. When the final call came, Iran did not oppose the text.


Indigenous peoples and Israel-Palestine

Harley Eagle works with First Nations peoples with the Mennonite Central Committee in Canada. I was stunned to learn that he has been approached on multiple occasions by Canadian Jewish groups who identify as aboriginal. "They come to us and tell us 'our paths are similar. We have gotten our land back. We hope the same for you. We are cut of the same cloth.'" (I wrote about former Canadian AG Irwin Cotler's Jews-are-aboriginal formulation here.)

Harley says they tend to target Christian aboriginal people as well as inter-tribal political groups to form a larger political body. They invite people on trips to Israel.

But Harley's group had already been doing an exchange program with Palestinians. "For we younger First Nations people who haven't experienced colonialism and being put on reservations directly, the Palestinian program helps us remember what our people went through. It's very powerful, but for the Palestinians, visiting Native American reservations is shocking because they see the future of their own people."


Jewish groups and 1 Iranian group yanked from conference

{update: 1 member from B'nai Brith was also kicked out} Thursday, the Associated Press writes:
UN kicks Jews, Iranians out of racism meeting


GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations expelled three groups from its conference on global racism Thursday for unacceptable behavior related to the opening speech that Iran's president gave denouncing Israel.

The disciplinary action was the latest sign of the rancor at the weeklong conference caused by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinajad's claim that the West used the Holocaust as a "pretext" to harm the Palestinians. But it did not prevent officials from around the world from achieving their main goal on Tuesday: a consensus document calling for action against racism and xenophobia.

The groups whose passes were withdrawn are the French Union of Jewish Students; Coexist, a related French-based organization that fights racism and anti-Semitism; and the Tehran-based Neda Institute for Political and Scientific Research, said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

He told reporters that members of the first group had been involved Monday in disrupting Ahmadinejad's speech.

He did not elaborate, but a pair of rainbow-wigged protesters threw clown noses at Ahmadinajad, while others shouted, "You are a racist!" and "Shame! shame!" from the gallery. Iranian spectators also cheered loudly. Later about 100 members of pro-Israel and Jewish groups tried to block Ahmadinejad's entrance to a news conference.

The Neda Institute from Iran distributed inflammatory material to meeting participants, Colville said.

Altogether, 64 badges of representatives of the three non-governmental organizations were revoked, he said.

On Tuesday, U.N. officials announced that the badges of some members of these groups were withdrawn. But "After examining the types of conduct, and patterns of conduct, as well as the risk of possible disruptive behavior during the remainder of the conference, the High Commissioner has issued an instruction that the badges of all the participants of three NGOs be removed," Colville said. That ends the groups participation in the conference.


UN Side-Events: The silencing of Palestinian NGOs

[Pictured from left: Ingrid Jaradat Gassner of Badil, Maysa Zorob of Al Haq, and Harley Eagle of the Mennonite Central Committee] According to the United Nations website:

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has organized a series of events and cultural activities during the Durban Review Conference to highlight the issues being discussed at the conference.

Under themes such as the rights of indigenous peoples, the link between racism and poverty, and policing in diverse societies, the side events organized by OHCHR have enabled a large number of stakeholders to exchange views and share good practices on the issues at the heart of the Durban review process.

Non-governmental organizations and other civil society actors, such as victims' groups and academics, are essential in combating all forms of racism and OHCHR has encouraged their participation in the review process.

To help showcase the activities of civil society actors, OHCHR also made several meeting rooms available for the organization of further side events for organizations accredited to take part in the Conference.

Yesterday afternoon I spoke with Ingrid Jaradat Gassner, the head of Palestinian residency and refugee rights group Badil. She told me they were called into the UN office a few weeks before the conference started and told that they could not hold side-events that were region-specific.

Ingrid told me that
a) the Palestinian people rather than Palestine, is the human rights category (that would include dispersed Palestinians in other countries, for example) and so, like the Roma, they should still be entitled to a panel.

b) the UN staff said the Palestinian delegation had given up any demands for specific mention of I-P
issues in the outcome document, to enhance the likelihood that the US and other countries would attend, and that it was suggested that the Palestinian NGOs do the same (this is all oral, there is no documentation). and

c) all of the Palestinian NGOs- Adalah, Al Haq and Sabeel submitted proposals that were turned down, and not once did the UN office communicate with them a way to make it work. "We would have happily changed it, if they had told us," said Ingrid.

Meanwhile, I've been to sessions sponsored by UN Watch, Anne Bayefsky's Eye on the UN and the Hudson Institute, all extended attacks on the UN, Muslims and Palestinians. There was also a Simon Wiesenthal Center panel that I did not attend. You can look at the list of (sometimes Orwellian-named) side-events here.

Maysa Zorob of Al Haq (who I just met this week and who I continue to be impressed by) just called the conference to task for purposely excluding Palestinian NGOs before her searing indictment of separate and unequal laws in Israel.


Is Israel being singled out? Well, yeah.

It's easy to fall for the extreme polarization here. They hate the UN so you suddenly defend it. They say everyone is an anti-Semite so you want to say no one is. It's a natural emotional response to this kind of elevated rhetoric, but in the end, it's not helpful.

In fact, Israel does have some very legitimate claims when they talk about being singled out in the United Nations. For example, in January, the UN Human Rights Council called for an investigation into Israeli human rights violations during the attack on Gaza. But they neglected to call for an investigation into Hamas and other armed groups.

Or there is the Durban I 61-page outcome document- Israel and Palestine are the only countries/territories that are mentioned. Everything in it that is said about Israel and Palestine is both fair and mild. The hullaballoo about the Durban II document, which makes no mention of Israel and Palestine, is simply that it endorses the Durban I document. Of course, Durban I also singles out the Holocaust for acknowledgment. That kind of singling out would be greeted warmly.

There are numerous examples of a range of human rights concerns that get, relatively speaking, little attention, while the Israeli occupation gets a lot of attention-almost all of it, I might add, apparently useless, given that we are in the 41st year of occupation. Obviously many Muslim countries in particular use this issue so they need not address their own. I have found myself rolling my eyes when forced to listen to Iran lecture Israel on human rights, even if I agreed with many elements of their critique.

But none of that makes what Israel is doing OK or even remotely acceptable.

The right wing Israel advocates use this evidence of singling out in the UN to repeat the mantra, "this is anti-Semitism, pure and simple," as a way to delegitimize absolutely any kind of international criticism or rebuke.

And those of us from the United States are tempted to snarkily respond, "now you know what the Palestinians feel like when it comes to the US Congress," whose defining quality when it comes to Israel-Palestine is that it is more unanimous in its unconditional support for anything Israel does than the Knesset.

Israel often gets singled out in terms of world opinion because it considers itself a kind of European nation plopped down in the Middle East. It's a Western style democracy, and as such it is judged that way. And in recent years, both the United States and Israel have been equally singled out because we have failed miserably by Western standards and international law. That can't be blamed on anti-Semitism.

But it shouldn't be used to suggest that those in non Western countries are going to suffer anyway, so why summon the moral outrage. And that's why those of us committed to a genuinely universal human rights should respond to this targeting in the UN not by letting Israel off the hook, but by demanding that other countries be held accountable. That's entirely reasonable.

And as I have said before, I think the fear of Iran destroying Israel is very real. Israel is in a precarious place both politically and geographically. As one friend says, "Not even the most sophisticated army in the world can keep them safe from a nuclear bomb." While I categorically reject the campaign of demonization of Iran, and the threats of bombing rather than diplomacy, I do understand there is real fear behind it.

Me, I am scared for Israel. For so many reasons. Sometimes I'm terrified- which is why I think the only way to be pro-Israel (and yes, we work with so many phenomenal Israeli justice activists who love their country and work against every last shred of discrimination, repression or inequality both in and outside of its boundaries)…the only way to be pro-Israel is to be anti-occupation. Israel simply must end this occupation now. That of course is the terrible heartbreak about what I'm seeing here today: The American Jewish Congress, Eye on the UN and other groups are not just fueling anti-Semitism by overplaying their hand, they are helping push Israel down a path from which it may never return.

Right now, that concerns me much more than the singling out of Israel in the UN. If Anne Bayefsky, UN Watch et al want to stop the phenomenon, they might try using their resources to pressure Israel to end their occupation.


Pt. III Israel a racist state? Usama Halabi and Alan Dershowitz

[Updated] Seumas Milne of the UK Guardian has one of the best analyses I've seen thus far of Durban and the hypocrisy and gamesmanship of the European countries.

He looks at the issue of calling Israel a racist state, which is considered verboten by the European diplomats, but entirely uncontroversial for most of the Arab the world.

In fact, some 700,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes to make room for the Jewish state, and while people in my family who have never set foot in the Middle East have the right to citizenship under Israel's Right of Return law, Palestinians who still have the keys to their homes can not go back. The Israel Land Authority (ILA) holds nearly 94% of Israeli land in trust for Jews only [see video about JNF's Canada Park], and now Israel has a foreign minister who openly advocates for transfer of Arab Israelis and wants those left, I suppose, to take a loyalty oath. (And of course, the litany regarding racist history and institutions in my own country, the United States, is longer. Talking about it openly hardly means I want to destroy the United States. On the contrary, it means I want to make it live up to its promise.)

The issue of racism within Israel comes up in the conference in a dramatic way. At the Dershowitz/Voight panel on Palestinians as Nazis, Palestinian civil rights lawyer Zaha Hassan questions Natan Sharansky about the bombing of Gaza. Sharansky's response is too mild and Dershowitz steps in and starts demanding loudly that Zaha tell him just one international law that has been violated by Israel during the war on Gaza. Usama Halabi shouts out "proportionality" and suddenly the focus is on him. He says he is an Israeli citizen, but he has transgressed by trying to get a word in and suddenly Dershowitz is arguing with him. (Usama tells me that someone told him that later, Dershowitz told him to go back to Ahmedinejad. I'm going to review my tape on the plane.)

Halabi is an expert on the legal status of Arab Israelis: he is a lawyer, has written 7 books, and has served on the boards of Adalah, and Betselem. And like every other Palestinian here, he is forced to make his point in 60 seconds if he is lucky enough to get called on by a speaker. He has no official voice here, no place to make his presentation, no space to share his analysis.

I talk to Halabi in the hallway the next day:

Our lands are taken to this day, even those who go into the army. I am a Druze. So our land is being taken despite the fact that many people go into the army and serve. A false argument in Israel: if you don't give full obligations, you don't deserve full rights. This is totally false, because I know of many people who give everything and get nothing or almost nothing.

This distinguished professor said tell me about some international law. But when he said to this lady tell me about one international law that was violated by Israel, I just shouted "proportionality". Maybe both were acting wrongfully, but proportionality is THE issue. So what is that? And when I am an Israeli citizen, and you talk about facts. Show me facts and I'll show you facts. My facts show that there is total discrimination from affiliation. I can show you texts in some Israeli laws and many other texts from national institutions that are used against us.

My facts are on the ground, from discrimination I can show you texts of laws, 93.5 % of the lands in Israel are held for Jews only. I can show you, I have a chart, maybe tomorrow I will talk somewhere here I will find a venue and explain. And talk about laws and facts, not propaganda.

I'm sorry to say that he is accusing others of being anti-Semites. Arabs are Semites. If you are really human rights, as he said, activists, you do not distinguish between you and others. He was acting the same as those who he was accusing. It is shameful.

The Palestinian delegation made a big sacrifice for this conference. They omitted every single reference to our case, because other countries were opposed to that. There's no language accusing anybody of anything. So me, I don't understood what's going on.

This is a conference against racism, but we think some of it was used to do something wrong, like this.

The whole [Dershowitz/Voight] gathering was not to have asked for sympathy for Jews who suffered in 1945…but to attack others using this. This is a misuse of Shoah, which I don't want to deny. Not the Shoah itself. Nobody is denying Shoah/Holocaust. It is the misuses of this very tragic event that I am opposed to

I didnt hear that- he called me Ahmedinejad, he told me to go back to my people. He called me Ahmedeinajed. This is shameful.

Yesterday, Mr Cotler is right wing. I just wanted to ask him if he had heard something else, but they did not take questions.

Then Halabi shares something fantasticly awful about Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's new foreign minister:

I have 2 masters. I went to Hebrew University. Since 1977 Lieberman was a selector [bouncer] at the door of the nightclub at the dorms where I lived. And he would do everything not to have us [Arab Israelis] enter. I saw it in my own eyes. It's a fact. This guy has not changed. He's trying to say he wants to transfer us. Not me, he won't transfer me. Because I don't live in that area. If I talked about transfering you and your family out of Israel, you'd call me an antisemite.

He wouldn't let Arabs in…he stood at the door of that club, now he's standing at the door of the country as foreign minister.

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
Jewish Peace News sends its news clippings only to subscribers. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription, go to http://www.jewishpeacenews.net

MuzzleWatch reports from Durban II

"MuzzleWatch" - 3 new articles

1 Jews are aborigines and the Christians love us.
2 Entire world captivated by civil society groups!
3 Pt. II Dershowitz et al, "The worst two hours of my life."

Jews are aborigines and the Christians love us.

ast night I went to a support Israel rally at the Plaza des Nations, the spot with the chair. Unlike the side-events inside organized by the UN Watch and Anne Bayefsky's Eye on the UN/Hudson Institute, which have each escalated the rhetoric of demonization, this rally is a paragon of "positive messaging". The message control is tight-no home made signs here. Nothing about Muslim terrorists. It's all about wanting peace and democracy (versus, you know, them.) But I'm almost grateful. Nobody tries to whip up the crowd, a la Dershowitz, by declaring Palestinians Nazis and terrorists.

Everyone is crowded at the front, but when you stand in the back of the plaza, which isn't that big, the place looks empty. I actually suddenly share a sense of communal anxiety for the Jews in the crowd (well, at least half the crowd, the others are Christians, it turns out). It's a etaphor for living in Europe. There really aren't that many of us left and it is easy to feel threatened and tiny, so we project bigger and scarier. My Jewish friend who lives here has been telling me about the anti-Jewish comments she has heard from the white Swiss- the Jews control this, we do that.

I get there just as former Canadian attorney general Irwin Cotler is speaking. He has been ubiquitous at the conference. I am rather astounded by what he is saying. Jews are aboriginal people. This is the first time I've heard this formulation, though it makes sense to try it at a conference where indigenous people are pressing for their rights. But I'm not sure the people in the crowd really go for it. Here is what he has written about the topic:

For Israel, rooted in the Jewish people, as an Abrahamic people, is a prototypical First Nation or aboriginal people, just as the Jewish religion is a prototypical aboriginal religion, the first of the Abrahamic religions.
IN A WORD, the Jewish people is the only people that still inhabits the same land, embraces the same religion, studies the same Torah, hearkens to the same prophets, speaks the same aboriginal language - Hebrew - and bears the same aboriginal name, Israel, as it did 3,500 years ago.
Israel, then, is the aboriginal homeland of the Jewish people across space and time. It is not just a homeland for the Jewish people, a place of refuge, asylum and protection. It is the homeland of the Jewish people, wherever and whenever it may be; and its birth certificate originates in its inception as a First Nation, and not simply, however important, in its United Nations international birth certificate.

The State of Israel, then, as a political and juridical entity, overlaps with the "aboriginal Jewish homeland"; it is, in international legal terms, a successor state to the biblical, or aboriginal, Jewish kingdoms. But that aboriginal homeland is also claimed by another people, the Palestinian/Arab people, who see it as their place and patrimony.

At some point, someone on the stage thanks the Christians who have come to support Israel. The cheer from Christians in the crowd is much bigger than I expect, and I realize there are Christians everywhere.
On the tram afterwards, I start talking to an adorably sweet older woman wearing one of the Israel democracy t-shirts. Turns out she is one of the Christians.
Ann is from the German speaking section of Switzerland, and she found out about the rally through the Messianic Jewish congregation that works with her church. (Messianic Jews believe in Jesus. Their status is, to say the least, highly controversial in the organized Jewish community. In fact, the Presbyterian Church was attacked for anti-Semitism when they funded an evangelical Messianic congregation at the same time that they announced they'd look into divesting from the Israeli occupation.)
I asked her if she thought the Jews would find Jesus. "Why yes, it's in the bible."
Do you think Jews and Muslims or Christians and Muslims can live together? "No, they worship a different God."
Why did you come? "We Christians have not been good in the past, and the media is very biased against the Jews, Israel and all, so we should support them." If the media is biased, where do you get your information about the Middle East? "The bible. Oh, and Christian Embassy." The thing is, I love this woman. She's all smiles and sweetness. I don't doubt her sincerity for a moment.
Her English is not very good, so she probably didn't hear one of the speakers from the podium talk about how great gay rights are in Israel. I wonder how long this odd relationship can go on. I guess, they figure, until the Messiah returns. Then, of course, there's an apocalypse, and we Jews will either get incinerated or convert.


Entire world captivated by civil society groups!

Here's the media gallery at the UN today when the civil society groups from around the world that work on racism and various forms of discrimination finally get to speak- each gets 3 minutes.

Of course, the outcome document was actually voted on and finalized yesterday, so these speeches, the moment for which some NGOs have been preparing all year, are merely symbolic, if that.

I have now heard from 2 sources that the French were about to bolt (presumably because of Ahmedinejad and the larger campaign against the conference) so they quickly voted on the document early before hemorrhaging more countries. It's just one more way that a conference about racism has ended up being a conference about Israel.

I spoke to one delegate of African descent who told me about an earlier meeting with the NGOs and the general commissioner. The biggest applause line was after one delegate got up to call out the ways the conference had been hijacked by the Israel lobbyists here, resulting in the marginalization of everyone else's voices."They have made few friends here," she says.


Pt. II Dershowitz et al, "The worst two hours of my life."

That's what a Palestinian friend from the West Bank said after what was at times a hateful, nasty 2-hour long harangue by Anne Bayefsky, Jon Voight, Elie Wiesel, Alan Dershowitz, Natan Sharansky and Shelby Steele. "I just listened to 2 hours of demonization of Palestinians and Muslims fueled by racism and hate," said my clearly shaken friend.

I already posted some choice quotes by Jon-the-new-Holocaust-Voight. The tour de force of the session, ostensibly on anti-semitism but really promoting anti-Arab/Palestinian/Muslim hate, was Alan Dershowitz. (Although conservative African American scholar Shelby Steele, who gets plenty of applause from a room filled with white people, reaches a whole new depth in his theory about the end of white supremacy and the deep shame of people of color regarding their own inadequacies.)

Dershowitz is the schoolyard bully all grown-up, very smart and even angrier. Watching him, you feel like he might explode. Like all good demagogues, he knows how to whip up an audience at the most nasty applause lines. I admit it. I'm scared of him.

In the age of Obama and Iraq war exhaustion, the War on Terror clearly no longer provides the right wing Israel lobby with the umph it needs to delegitimize Palestinian claims for justice or, frankly, simple human decency. Here, Dershowitz launches a new frame. Netanyahu et al have been pushing the Hitler/Ahmedinejad comparison for some time now. But this is the first time I've heard such a sweeping condemnation of Palestinians (with a few exceptions of course, because Dersh "doesn't like to generalize") as Nazis. Excerpts from video above:

"Painful truths about the Holocaust today are being suppressed by college campuses, they're being suppressed wherever the Palestinian conflict is being discussed. My painful job today is to talk about one of those very difficult historical truths that many would prefer to see ignored..

The terrible, terrible, terrible tragedy is that there is a direct unbroken line between Hitler and [the anti-semitic Palestinian Mufti} Husseini on the one hand, and today Hamas and radical Islamic Jihadists on the other hand. They are the heirs of Hitler. Ahmedinejad their spoonsor is the heir of Hitler. Those who are complicit in that evil are complicit in the evil of Nazism. Nazism has not disappeared from the world today. It has the same genocidal goals….

Woe unto any of you out there who support Hamas. You are supporting Hitler's heirs. Whether you consider yourself a leftist or a centrist, you are complicit in the worst evil of the twentieth century. And there is no way of breaking that bond. As long as Hamas maintains its genocidal attitudes towards the Jewish people…

This conference is a hate fest. Like Nuremberg was a hate fest…

Durban I traces its roots to Nuremberg. It traces its roots to the Nazi-Husseini alliance.

There is a lot to say about his line of reasoning. In future posts.

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
Jewish Peace News sends its news clippings only to subscribers. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription, go to http://www.jewishpeacenews.net

Friday, April 24, 2009

MuzzleWatch reports from Durban II

"MuzzleWatch" - 5 new articles

1 More Darfur propaganda
2 Durban Review Conference Roundup
3 Poor Angelina: Jon Voight's "New Holocaust"
4 How do you decide who really wins?
5 American NGO delegation: "the fix is in."

More Darfur propaganda

All NGO (non-governmental organization) literature has the name and contact information of the organization that published it. That is, after all, the whole idea. This literature, with absolutely nothing printed on the back, was left on the NGO tables at the Durban Review Conference. There is no name printed on the cards because they don't want you to know who published them. Clearly the Darfur card, which uses a likely inflated figure, has not been printed by a Darfur advocacy group. It has been printed by one of the right-wing Israel advocacy groups. The objective is somewhat unclear. Not sure why they didn't just write, "the UN doesn't care" to continue their message.


Durban Review Conference Roundup

Scholar Stephen Zunes does a terrific job of putting the Durban happenings in a broader context:

Legitimate concerns about Israeli policies regularly appear at international forums sponsored by the United Nations. But they have sometimes been contaminated by sweeping statements condemning the state of Israel itself, and portraying some of the most racist and chauvinistic aspects of Zionism as representative of Jewish nationalism as a whole. However, these kinds of discriminatory resolutions have been declining in recent years, as countries have become more willing to recognize that, while some governments may pursue racist policies, no state should be singled out as inherently racist in and of itself. Efforts by anti-Israel delegations at the 2001 anti-racism conference in Durban were defeated and weren't considered a realistic threat at the Geneva Conference either.

…Still, even some of the more reasonable resolutions critical of Israel proposed at the 2001 conference distracted attention from the broader issues at stake. Such efforts often result in dividing Jews — themselves a historically oppressed people — from their natural allies among people of color. Furthermore, other governments that have as bad or even more racist policies than Israel have not been subjected to as much attention at such conferences.

The JTA reports:

The United Nations pulled credentials from a number of Jewish activists who disrupted a speech by the Iranian president at the Durban Review Conference.

Of the 46 badges that were pulled this week for disruptive behavior, the vast majority were from individuals accredited through Jewish organizations. Notably, the French Union of Jewish Students lost 21 badges.

Credentials were stripped as well from four members of the European Union of Jewish Students and one B'nai Brith member. Between them, the French and European Jewish student groups had 370 members accredited, amounting to more than one-third of all the NGO activists at the conference.

U.N. officials said they believed Jewish activists who already had their credentials pulled swapped badges with members of another group, Coexist.

Antony Loewenstein has some things to say:

The purpose of Durban remains essential, namely finding ways to address genuine human rights issues across the globe. Israel should not be protected from criticism or abuse. It's a normal country, like any other.


Poor Angelina: Jon Voight's "New Holocaust"

Jon Voight starred in the first movie that ever made me really cry: Conrack. It was one of those classic patronizing white people fantasy movies about the inspiring white teacher who saves the poor black kids living in the segregated South. But I was a kid and I cried through the whole thing. Ironic now, since Voight made me cry again but for an entirely different reason.

He used to be liberal but he's become a born-again lover-of-the-Torah (see video) and a somewhat incoherent anti-communist. He said of Obama recently:

This is a perilous time, and more than ever, the world needs a united and strong America. If, God forbid, we live to see Mr. Obama president, we will live through a socialist era that America has not seen before, and our country will be weakened in every way.

He started off his talk at the anti-semitism Dershowitz hate-fest panel with an ode to the Jews. He's cultish in his fetishization of the Jews. He kicked off with a couple poems about how we Jews are pretty much the cat's meow. We're even good in business. It's weird and embarrassing. We're chosen alright:

The Jewish people have given mankind the perfect tools for living, the teachings of the great Torah, which if followed, bring us to peace love courage wisdom and justice and every possible answer to life's needs.

(Photo: My bad picture of Voight and Wiesel) This is hard core. I don't even know any Jews, including the practicing ones, who believe that. Those Chabdniks are good. After letting us know what a "righteous Christian " he is, he gets into it:

Last year I visited the victims of suicide bombings. It was very difficult for me to spend time with these people. Ron Kerma is here-his daughter, 17 years old, was killed in a senseless act. I looked in their faces and my heart was almost torn out. I spoke to a young girl who was victim of a bombing, and she expressed to me she is trying to find ways to forgive. We spent time in Sderot which has been a victim of 7,000 bombings since the turn of the century. All the children have the syndrome that comes from being in battle- they wake up screaming.

Then he cuts to the chase:

I feel complete complete outrage at anyone who can make excuses for this barbarism. And I feel complete contempt for anyone who is not intelligent enough to see that this propaganda in the media painting the Palestinians as poor victims is capable of destroying the Jewish nation of Israel. (I think he means the Palestinians are capable of destroying..)

We're witnessing a new type of holocaust. And we good people of all faiths should express outrage and demand the truth be heard. The Palestinian radicals have only one prayer on their lips. And it is to kill and rid every Jew young and old from Israel. Let us pray for the courage to stand up and fight against all antisemitism that has found its way to all the evildoers, let us pray for peace with the understanding we do not bend to terrorism in any shape or form for the sake of peace. God bless us. [text corrected]

That's the new line. It's not even enough these days to shut everybody down by saying they're anti-Semites. The new line set forth in this session, and drawn aptly by Alan Dershowitz later on, is that this is all the new Holocaust. Thousands of Palestinians die, but this is a new Jewish Holocaust. And the moral Israelis, as ever, are simply defending themselves from the evil radical Palestinians who want nothing more than to kill the Jews.

Scholars have to study this. It's just too amazing. Shoahism.


How do you decide who really wins?

This conference is taking place on multiple levels. There are diplomats meeting behind closed doors; NGOs meeting in the lounge; large scale formal gatherings in the main room; and rallies outside its gates. And then there is the international media coverage which may define the story in the end. Further, there are thousands of people here, all with different agendas. How you turn all of this chaos into a coherent narrative depends, in part, on how you define power.

News accounts suggest the Israeli leaders are thrilled with how the conference has turned out, meaning they are happy that Ahmadinejad effectively delegitimized the proceedings. They needed him. I overheard a low level Palestinian diplomat say, on the other hand, that he is tired, angry, frustrated and pissed off. An Arab Israeli NGO delegate told me, "The Palestinian delegation gave up everything. They let them take every word about Israel and occupation out of the final outcome document, and they got absolutely nothing in return."

Meanwhile, Eye on the UN's Anne Bayefsky and company (sponsors of the Alan Dershowitz session) continue to make Israel the victims. It's an amazing magic trick. Thousands of Gazans are either dead or hospitalized after this January's war, but Israel, and we Jews, are the only victims that matter here.

Coming here myself has made me distrust virtually all reporting of Durban I. Already, I see terms in the media like "hate-fest" and " the "racist anti-racism conference." A journalist friend noted that at a press conference she attended, all of the reporters were asked questions from the right wing Israel Lobby talking points. (There are NGO Monitor fact sheets all over the press rooms here.) I don't doubt there was anti-Semitic literature and language at Durban I. But was it 90% of the conference, or .09%? I have no way to know. I do know, however, that yesterday's Sharansky, Voight, Dershowitz session, supposedly on anti-Semitism, was a tour de force of insulting and demeaning anti-Muslim/Arab stereotyping and callousness, infused with Islamophobia, and that not one media account will ever call it what it is.

There's simply no question that there are plenty of Arab and Muslim diplomats in particular who are more than happy to use their air time to go after Israel and ignore their own miserable human rights records. This is not news. And I'm sure that if you took enough time, you could find someone who supports Hamas, someone else who hates Jews, and someone else who hates women.

But where is the power? That, in some ways, is the only question that matters. And in the end, Israel continues to act with diplomatic impunity, thanks in large part to the US which protects it. That's why a strong UN is a threat.

The United Nations is not a corporate entity. It is a place where every country has some voice, though some-like the United States and other Security Council members- have much much stronger voices than others. At a conference like this, the representatives of those countries, no matter how vile, stupid or cruel, get to speak. As Ijm Dike told me, "After Ahmadinejad spoke, any leader of state could have gotten up and taken him to task, and then re-asserted the focus on the conference. I don't understand why nobody did that. Besides, Obama keeps telling us you need to talk to your enemies. How does boycotting a conference, which is mostly about important work on racism around the world, further anything?"

It doesn't.

American NGO delegation: "the fix is in."

mbers of the US civil society delegation, all part of the US Human Rights Network, held a press conference yesterday. I came directly from the session with Alan Dershowitz et al, which was so jammed with people and cameras and reporters that folks were locked out the room. It was a striking contrast to this press conference in a tiny room with a few reporters in the basement. It was a perfect metaphor for the different ways power has played out in these halls.

(Similarly, I'm writing from the media are of the main hall right now. When Achmedinejad was here, there was standing room only. Today, dozens of country reps are getting up to actually address racism and discrimination, and the media area is nearly empty. Turns out that people talking about helping others is boring.)

Ajamu Baraka of the network and the others on the panel seemed shell shocked when minutes before the conference started, they learned the final outcome document had already been approved. It was only day 2 of a 5 day conference, and none of the NGOs who had spent thousands of dollars and human hours to get here, had had a chance to make their statements. While acknowledging this is primarily a state driven process, Baraka said, "the fix is in." Indeed.

There is no struggle against racism without the NGOs, but governments are here to angle for their own interests. Got a complaint against the UN? Get in line. The difference of course, is that groups doing human rights work here generally respond to the laundry list of inadequacies by talking about how the UN might be strengthened. The UN Watch/NGO Monitor right wing Israel lobby types seem to really want to destroy the UN, and at this conference they generally don't mind taking everyone else down with it.

Ijm Dike (pictured above) of the Urban Justice Center's Human Rights Project, the driving force behind much of the US delegation, has an entirely different frame on what's really going on here- why the US and other states backed out from the conference. The whole demonization of Israel issue is a sham. These folks believe the United States was deeply worried about efforts to pursue recognition that slavery is a crime against humanity and reparations.

They're mad at Obama. Really mad. This is a defining moment and Obama has failed the test, letting politics get in the way of a sincere commitment to address systematic racism.

Internal documents show the United States was against the draft statement of 2001 because of these issue, over a year before Durban I took place. Think about some of the countries that boycotted- besides the US and Israel, you have Canada, the Netherlands and Australia, all with lengthy histories of repressing their indigenous populations and/or the slave trade . Hence the boycott, with a convenient excuse handed to them by the Israeli campaign of counter- demonization.

Their statement: "US activists call on the international community to take responsibility for ensuring the DRC address issues of Racism for all people and that we do not allow for the narrow focus that has been allowed to derail this conference and overshadow important issues of racial discrimination, including poverty, gross inequality, and persecution based on race and caste."

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
Jewish Peace News sends its news clippings only to subscribers. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription, go to http://www.jewishpeacenews.net

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Farid Esack's Open Letter is inscribed on Apartheid Wall

Arjan El Fassed, in an article titled "The writing on the wall spells "freedom" ", describes an project taking place in the West Bank, where activists are inscribing on the Apartheid Wall the full text of Farid Esack's Open Letter.
You can find the article at http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10475.shtml

Below is the Open Letter, which I find to be an especially fitting reading on (or around)Holocaust Memorial Day.


Farid Esack: Open Letter, 2009

My dear Palestinian brothers and sisters, I have come to your land and I have recognized shades of my own. My land was once one where some people imagined that they could build their security on the insecurity of others. They claimed that their lighter skin and European origins gave them the right to dispossess those of a darker skin who lived in the land for thousands of years. I come from a land where a group of people, the Afrikaners, were genuinely hurt by the British. The British despised them and placed many of them into concentration camps. Nearly a sixth of their population perished.

Then the Afrikaners said, 'Never again!'. And they meant that never again will harm come unto them with no regard to how their own humanity was tied to that of others. In their hurt they developed an understanding of being's God chosen people destined to inhabit a Promised Land. And thus they occupied the land, other people's land, and they built their security on the insecurity of black people. Later they united with the children of their former enemies – now called "the English". The new allies, known simply as 'whites', pitted themselves against the blacks who were forced to pay the terrible price of dispossession, exploitation and marginalization as a result of a combination of white racism, Afrikaner fears and ideas of chosenness. And, of course, there was the ancient crime of simple greed.

I come from Apartheid South Africa.

Arriving in your land, the land of Palestine, the sense of deja vu is inescapable. I am struck by the similarities. In some ways, all of us are the children of our histories. Yet, we may also choose to be struck by the stories of others. Perhaps this ability is what is called morality. We cannot always act upon what we see but we always have the freedom to see and to be moved.

I come from a land where people braved onslaughts of bulldozers, bullets, machine guns, and teargas for the sake of freedom. We resisted at a time when it was not fashionable. And now that we have been liberated everyone declares that they were always on our side. It's a bit like Europe after the Second World War. During the war only a few people resisted. After the war not a single supporter of the Nazis could be found and the vast majority claimed that they always supported the resistance to the Nazis.

I am astonished at how ordinarily decent people whose hearts are otherwise "in the right place" beat about the bush when it comes to Israel and the dispossession and suffering of the Palestinians. And now I wonder about the nature of "decency." Do "objectivity," "moderation," and seeing "both sides" not have limits? Is moderation in matters of clear injustice really a virtue? Do both parties deserve an "equal hearing" in a situation of domestic violence – wherein a woman is beaten up by a male who was abused by his father some time ago – because "he," too, is a "victim?"

We call upon the world to act now against the dispossession of the Palestinians. We must end the daily humiliation at checkpoints, the disgrace of an Apartheid Wall that cuts people off from their land, livelihood, and history, and act against the torture, detention without trial, and targeted killings of those who dare to resist. Our humanity demands that we who recognize evil in its own time act against it even when it is "unsexy" to do so. Such recognition and action truly benefits our higher selves. We act in the face of oppression, dispossession, or occupation so that our own humanity may not be diminished by our silence when some part of the human family is being demeaned. If something lessens your worth as a human being, then it lessens mine as well. To act in your defense is really to act in defense of my "self" – whether my higher present self or my vulnerable future self.

Morality is about the capacity to be moved by interests beyond one's own ethnic group, religious community, or nation. When one's view of the world and dealings with others are entirely shaped by self-centredness – whether in the name of religion, survival, security, or ethnicity – then it is really only a matter of time before one also becomes a victim. While invoking "real life" or realpolitik as values themselves, human beings mostly act in their own self–interest even as they seek to deploy a more ethically based logic in doing so. Thus, while it is oil or strategic advantage that you are after, you may invoke the principle of spreading democracy, or you may justify your exploitation of slavery with the comforting rationalization that the black victims of the system might have died of starvation if they had been left in Africa. Being truly human – a mensch – is something different. It is about the capacity to transcend narrow interests and to understand how a deepening of
humanness is linked to the good of others. When apartness is elevated to dogma and ideology, when apartness is enforced through the law and its agencies, this is called Apartheid. When certain people are privileged simply because they are born in certain ethnic group and use these privileges to dispossess and discriminate others then this is called Apartheid. Regardless of how genuine the trauma that gave birth to it and regardless of the religious depth of the exclusivist beliefs underpinning it all, it is called Apartheid. How we respond to our own trauma and to the indifference or culpability of the world never justifies traumatizing others or an indifference to theirs. Apartness then not only becomes a foundation for ignorance of the other with whom one shares a common space. It also becomes a basis for denying the suffering and humiliation that the other undergoes.

We do not deny the trauma that the oppressors experienced at any stage in their individual or collective lives; we simply reject the notion that others should become victims as a result of it. We reject the manipulation of that suffering for expansionist political and territorial purposes. We resent having to pay the price of dispossession because an imperialist power requires a reliable ally in this part of the world.

As South Africans, speaking up about the life or death for the Palestinian people is also about salvaging our own dream of a moral society that will not be complicit in the suffering of other people. There are, of course, other instances of oppression, dispossession, and marginalization in the world. Yet, none of these are as immediately recognizable to us who lived under, survived, and overcame Apartheid. Indeed, for those of us who lived under South African Apartheid and fought for liberation from it and everything that it represented, Palestine reflects in many ways the unfinished business of our own struggle.

Thus I and numerous others who were involved in the struggle against Apartheid have come here and we have witnessed a place that in some ways reminds us of what we have suffered through. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is of course correct when he speaks about how witnessing the conditions of the Palestinians "reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa.... I say why are our memories so short? Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation?" But yet in more ways than one, here in your land, we are seeing something far more brutal, relentless and inhuman than what we have ever seen under Apartheid. In some ways, my brothers and sisters, I am embarrassed that you have to resort to using a word that was earlier on used specifically for our situation in order to draw attention to yours.

White South Africa did of course seek to control Blacks. However it never tried to deny Black people their very existences or to wish them away completely as we see here. We have not experienced military occupation without any rights for the occupied. We were spared the barbaric and diverse forms of collective punishment in the forms of house demolitions, the destruction of orchards belonging to relatives of suspected freedom fighters, or the physical transfer of these relatives themselves. South Africa's apartheid courts never legitimized torture. White South Africans were never given a carte blanche to humiliate Black South Africans as the Settlers here seem to have. The craziest Apartheid zealots would never have dreamt of something as macabre as this Wall. The Apartheid police never used kids as shields in any of their operations. Nor did the apartheid army ever use gunships and bombs against largely civilian targets. In South Africa the Whites were a stable community and after
centuries simply had to come to terms with Black people. (Even if it were only because of their economic dependence on Black people.) The Zionist idea of Israel as the place for the ingathering for all the Jews – old and new, converts, reverts and reborn is a deeply problematic one. In such a case there is no sense of compulsion to reach out to your neighbour. The idea seems to be to get rid of the old neighbours – ethnic cleansing - and to bring in new ones all the time.

We as South Africans resisting Apartheid understood the invaluable role of international solidarity in ending centuries of oppression. Today we have no choice but to make our contribution to the struggle of the Palestinians for freedom. We do so with the full awareness that your freedom will also contribute to the freedom of many Jews to be fully human in the same way that the end of Apartheid also signaled the liberation of White people in South Africa. At the height of our own liberation struggle, we never ceased to remind our people that our struggle for liberation is also for the liberation of white people. Apartheid diminished the humanity of White people in the same way that gender injustice diminishes the humanity of males. The humanity of the oppressor is reclaimed through liberation and Israel is no exception in this regard. At public rallies during the South African liberation struggle the public speaker of the occasion would often call out: "An injury to one?!" and the
crowd would respond: "Is an injury to all!" We understood that in a rather limited way at that time. Perhaps we are destined to always understand this in a limited way. What we do know is that an injury to the Palestinian people is an injury to all. An injury inflicted on others invariably comes back to haunt the aggressors; it is not possible to tear at another's skin and not to have one's own humanity simultaneously diminished in the process. In the face of this monstrosity, the Apartheid Wall, we offer an alternative: Solidarity with the people of Palestine. We pledge our determination to walk with you in your struggle to overcome separation, to conquer injustice and to put end to greed, division and exploitation.

We have seen our yesterday's oppressed – both in Apartheid South Africa and in Israel today – can become today's oppressors. Thus we stand by you in your vision to create a society wherein everyone, regardless of their ethnicity, or religion shall be equal and live in freedom.

We continue to draw strength from the words of Nelson Mandela, the father of our nation and hero of the Palestinian people. In 1964 he was found guilty on charges of treason and faced the death penalty. He turned to the judges and said: "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

Farid Esack, 2009

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
Jewish Peace News sends its news clippings only to subscribers. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription, go to http://www.jewishpeacenews.net

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

MuzzleWatch reports from Durban II

Cecilie Surasky - MuzzleWatch editor and Jewish Voice for Peace communications
director is in Geneva, covering the Durban II UN conference.

For the next few days we will be sending out her daily reports.

Here is today's:

1 Propaganda campaign uses young people for anti-UN photo op
2 Gay Muslim filmaker Parvez Sharma is my hero
3 Shalom International, pro-settler movement, joins Holocaust
Remembrance event tonight
4 Israel's publicity campaign at Durban II- not really boycotting
after all

Propaganda campaign uses young people for anti-UN photo op

So hopefully by now, you're getting the gist of the Israeli
government's campaign. They work closely with various NGOs that make up
the pro-occupation/pro-Israel lobby. The Israel Project, for example,
functions as a PR arm. There's also NGO Monitor and UN Watch here in
Geneva. The strategy is to discredit Durban, discredit the UN,
discredit human rights organizations by actually using–but only in the
most shallow way- the language of human rights. It's brilliant and
amoral. I talk to some racial justice activists from the United States
(more later) who talk about how the anti-Semitism charge against Durban
makes it almost impossible for them to even talk about their work on
it. I realize I am witnessing a massive, coordinated re-branding

ple A, photos above and below: delegates encountered dozens of
well-dressed young people standing in line formation for the cameras in
front of the accreditations entrance at the UN today. I stopped and
spoke to one of them. "What group are you with?" I asked. "We're just a
bunch of students from all over the world." He struggles with English.
"Are you working on Darfur?" I ask. Uncomfortable silence.."about the
behavior of the United Nations with some problems with human rights. We
protest, because it's not normal….that nobody cares about that."

I move on and there are dozens more. None of the signs mention the name
of any sponsoring group. They're just kids who have been told to stand
there with these signs and duct tape on their mouths. It's pretty clear
they aren't actually women's and gay rights and Darfur activists. I
wonder if they even know what the signs say, though they did get some
sort of basic message training. It's a good photo op, so the organizers
have my admiration.

Still, it seems like a form of child abuse. Plus, of course, by
weakening the conference and the UN, they arely sabotaging the work of
all the racial justice groups that have come here to work on
substantive issues. It's beyond cynical.


Gay Muslim filmaker Parvez Sharma is my hero

to a UN side-event sponsored by UN Watch, affiliated with the American
Jewish Committee. It is another Orwellian group that works to
delegitimize the UN but says it does so because it cares deeply about
human rights. (I'll have a lot to say later about the stunningly
cynical ways superficial human rights language is being deliberately
deployed by groups like UN Watch and The Israel Project to actually
undermine and gut the human rights infrastructure.)

The panel featured truly extraordinary people like Esther Mujawayo who
survived genocide in Rwanda or Ahmad Batebi who endured repression in
Iran. They all talked about the ways the UN failed them, since that is
the agenda of UN Watch (do they know they are being used? It is hard to
say- they are all wonderful and inspiring.) The icing on the cake,
Canadian human rights lawyer, and strangely knee-jerk defender of bad
Israeli behavior, Irwin Cotler, used soaring and inspiring language to
praise the panelists, condemn racism, and verbally tear Ahmedinejad,
and the UN for hosting him, to tiny little pieces.

(There is no mention of the UN's obligation to allow any head of state
who wants one a platform. Is this the same as an endorsement? It's the
UN, so clearly not. The UN includes everyone, from bullying empires to
tinpot, wacked out dictators. They all get a say.)

The speakers insistently say that genocide starts with extreme racial
discrimination institutionalized by the state. In Rwanda, they were
forced to have ID cards with their ethnic identity etched on them.
Sound familiar?

And yet, sitting in the room were exactly the Palestinians who could
speak beautifully about systematic racial/ethnic discrimination in
Israel-Palestine. Three young lawyers/legal researchers from Al Haq,
the legal rights group based in the West Bank, are sitting quietly in
the room. Yeah, I'm sleep deprived, but I feel the injustice of it all-
they have been completely denied a way to speak at a side-event. They
are experts on precisely the topic at hand, but they virtually have no
voice at this conference. I start to cry, and rush over to Maysa's side
(she reminds me of a dear friend of mind, we could chat for hours) and
ask her "how can you sit here and listen to this?"

"I am so angry inside," she tells me. "I am staying here until the end
and I will ask questions and that will make me feel better." I am
amazed at her composure. Worried for all of them. And then…..Parvez.

It's Parvez' turn. He made the film Jihad for Love about gay Muslims.
He starts by saying that he objects to the one-sided panel, the attacks
on Ahmadinejad and Islam (not that he defends Ahmadinejad). He is proud
to be one of over 1 billion Muslims.

He objects to the conspicuous absence of talk about apartheid in
Palestine, the killings in Gaza, the lack of another Muslim voice with
a different perspective. You can see how emotional he is. Maysa claps
wildly. I can't believe it. Cutler answers with the old talking point,
"Israel should be treated like any other state and should be held
accountable, but it's singled out." Parvez responds some more. The UN
Watch director somewhat disengenuously says, "We knew you disagreed
with us and that's why we asked you here, so what you said is what we

Parvez is clearly emotional and I want to find him and hug him and
thank him. I want to cry again. What he did was brave. I turn to Maysa.
She is beaming. "What he did released me," she says. She takes a big
breath. How we must speak with and for each other.

The event gets no mention on the UN Watch blog of the panel.


Shalom International, pro-settler movement, joins Holocaust Remembrance
event tonight

Radical pro-settler group, ironically named Shalom International,
obviously hasn't gone through The Israel Project's rigorous media
training. (Unlike the sharply dressed students who lined the boulevard
today outside of the UN- a ready-made photo op, they held glossy
posters condemning the UN's silence on Darfur and Iranian human rights
violations. Slick stuff. Ask them who they are, they're trained not to
tell you the truth. I'll have photos and video later.) Here is Shalom
International's invitation to tonight's Holocaust Remembrance
Celebration with Elie Wiesel. I'm heading over now.

Remember the Holocaust and Protest Against the Jew Haters/Israel Haters
at "Durban II" (UNazis) who want to finish what Hitler started.

Join Shalom International at "Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day."
When & Where:

April 19, 2 p.m. across from the UN at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 47th
Street and First Avenue.
Contact: Bruce S. Ticker - 215-563-8553 or Bticker@comcast.net

April 20, at Noon, at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, sponsored by Stand With

Contact: Avi Posnick - 212-398-2524


April 20 in the late afternoon (we join others)

Palaise de Nacions, Geneva, Switzerland

Remember the Holocaust when 6 million Jews and 5 million others were
slaughtered by those with the same mentality as those cowards pushing
Durban II.


Better yet, here's the letter they wrote to supporters:

Dear "Chosen" Activists:

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a meeting at Beth Isreal on Miami
Beach, about Ateret Cohanim, which is a Jerusalem Reclamation Project
begun by the Moskowitz family.

However, I was also introduced to another most amazing project, also
going on, which is: www.nofzion.co.il

This is a 400 unit, private neighborhood, with the 'best view of
Jerusalem'. It also will have a shopping center, country club,
synagogue, kindergarten, hotel complex, with 95 units already done.
These folks are also supplying sewers and electricity to two nearby
Arab villages.

All of this going on in East Jerusalem no less.

Nof Zion is also a 'shield' to reclaim Jerusalem and one of the best
buys ever for anyone wanting to invest in Israel, for yourself, or

So G-d has brought Nof Zion and Shalom International together, for they
are sponsoring most of my trip to Geneva and to Israel. There we will
organize a huge "Rally to Keep Jerusalem United", on May 11, when Pope
Benedict is in Jerusalem, with 50,000 pilgrims and also hundreds of
media, so that we can tell our side of the story of our 3000 yr. old
Eternal Capital, that will be ours forever and isn't 'negotiable'.

We could not be doing this without Nof Zion's help ,(as well as other
donors). They have also asked us to let everyone know of our mutual
efforts and concerns here.

For each unit we can find buyers for, they will also contribute to our
activism. So if any of you are planning Aliya, or will be in Jerusalem,
to please let us know so that we can pass on this information. It will
help us tremendously to continue doing what we do best and more of it.

Given the politics of the world screaming to divide Jerusalem, Nof
Zion, is that 'role model' for an existing and giant effort in East
Jerusalem, everyone needs to know about.

Elegance with a purpose. A terrific investment ,at pre-construction
prices, that will hugely increase by next year and more importantly,
Nof Zion is making a vital statement ,at a critical moment in our
history, that none of our enemies can stop.

What a blessing to know about and to help participate in. Nof Zion
solidifies keeping Jerusalem Unitied.

Please pass on this vital project to all of your networks and our
involvement and their support for our efforts.

This, plus the freeing of the American ship Captain from Somali
pirates, a great Passover and tomorrow is our 101st. rally in support
of Israel at 5-7P.M., at Broward Blvd. and 3rd Ave., in Ft. Laud..
Then on Wed. same time and location, Shalom International, will join in
our local "Tea Party", we expect will be huge.

All of this activism, plus below, are many mitzvahs and much effort we
are proud to do. G-d is with us. Also, Tom Trento's, Florida Security
Council and others, are sponsoring a Free Speech Summit, 4/27/09,
6-10P.M at Delray Beach Marriott, 10 N.Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach,
Fla.,. featuring Geert Wilders and a number of other speakers on the
Islamic threats we all face. Please contact:
tom@floridasecuritycouncil.org, 561-582-1424.

For all of you who have contributed, many thanks. For those of you who
can still help, please go to our website:www.defendjerusalem.net, via
paypal. For a tax write-ff, make your check to: Mishkan Shlomo, c/o
Defend Jerusalem, P.O.Box 402263, Miami Beach, Fla. 33140. Everything,
no matter the amount, helps greatly.

These are very dangerous times and every effort to go on the offense to
oppose the anti-semites out there and all who want America, Israel and
the West destroyed, we must do all we can to expose and mobilize
against them.

We are doing our part and your help is very much appreciated.

Yours in Shalom,

Bob Kunst

Pres., Shalom International

305-864-5110. In Geneva:, and Israel, 305-519-7748



Israel's publicity campaign at Durban II- not really boycotting after

Turns out Israel is here in full force at Durban II. Earlier today I
told you about the range of Israeli-government-narrative-only events
being held in UN buildings, while Palestinian NGOs have been banned
from holding side-events. (The transparent excuse is that the
side-events can not be region specific, only issue specific. The real
story is the UN simply folded to pressure.)

As one respondent told me, the UN Human Rights Commissioner is still
reeling because she folded on all of the US demands to essentially
cleanse the Palestinian narrative from the conference, and still the US
and others pulled out. Of course, the UN can't say no to any leader of
state who wants to speak. I'll post more later about the disaster that
was Ahmadinejad's speech, which, it can be said with certainty, put the
issue of Israel and the US back into the center of the conference. In
fact, his speech made the scarily well-run Israeli
government/pro-occupation NGO propaganda campaign almost unnecessary.

Haaretz explains:

Israel, which had said it would boycott the event from the outset,
announced it would launch a publicity campaign while it is going on.
Israel is particularly concerned with the planned address by Iran
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and said it will organize demonstrations
during the speech, and will distribute materials on human rights
violations in Iran - with particular emphasis on public executions and
violence against women.

The campaign will be overseen by Israel Ambassador to Geneva Ronnie
Lashno-Yaar. He will be assisted by Nobel Prize laureate Elie Weisel,
U.S. law Prof. Alan Dershowitz and film actor Jon Voight. A special
media room will also be set up in Geneva, to provide immediate
responses to anti-Israeli statements.

A special delegation of 14 Israeli students will also be taking part.
All the students speak foreign languages and have undergone extensive
training by the Foreign Ministry and the World Jewish Congress.

And in more unintentional hilarity:

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued a statement yesterday, saying
"an international conference in which a racist like Ahmadinejad, who
preaches daily about Israel's destruction, is allowed to speak, says
all that needs to be said about its character and purpose."

Ahmadinejad, as I've said, is perhaps the last person anyone would want
to see as a speaker at a conference against racism and discrimination.
But equally, it needs to be said, what does it say about the Israel
government's (or more accurately Netanyahu's) "character and purpose"
that they have allowed a reviled racist like Avigdor Lieberman not just
to speak, but to become foreign minister?

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
Jewish Peace News sends its news clippings only to subscribers. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription, go to http://www.jewishpeacenews.net