Thursday, July 9, 2009

Games People Play

In his column in the New Jersey Jewish News today <>, Douglas Bloomfield, a former chief lobbyist of AIPAC, discusses the almost unbelievable leaked game plan of rightist Israel advocacy organization The Israel Project (TIP). According to TIP's advocacy manual for pro-Israel activists, Americans -- even "supporters of Israel" -- are generally hostile to Israel's settlements and to settlement growth. How to respond? Attack those who call for an end to settlement construction and argue instead that no government "should be expected to engage in ethnic cleansing against its own citizens" (i.e., the settlers). Wow. Can there be anything more ironic than the claim that ongoing attempts to remove Palestinians from the occupied territories by "passive" or active means is somehow legitimate, while calling for an end to the expansion of occupation by settlement is "ethnic cleansing"? That Bloomfield, an AIPAC strategist, criticizes TIP's tactics suggests that the Jewish lobby may be fracturing from within now that Obama has changed the rules of the game.

Evidence of another unpublicized effort to support the Israeli settlements from abroad is spotlighted by Joseph Dana, a prolific Israeli activist, blogger and microblogger (you can follow him on Twitter: @ibnezra). Dana brings renewed attention to the US and UK non-profit organization, Nefesh B'Nefesh, which is promoting North American and British Jewish immigration to illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. A video now on YouTube <> shows the organization celebrating its success in bringing thousands of new Jewish immigrants to Israel this summer, including many to the Israeli settlement of Efrat. So, is this what the Netanyahu government and Israeli settlers mean, Dana rightly asks, when they demand that the US permit settlement expansion due to "natural growth"? Dana works with Ta'ayush <>, a grassroots organization of Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel working to end Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

* * *

Finally, a comment on a different topic -- that of the fallout from Iran's fraudulent recent elections. JPN has regularly disseminated reports of brutal interrogation tactics used by the Israeli military against Palestinian prisoners. We must never forget that such inhumane practices are nearly ubiquitous in national conflicts -- as amply demonstrated by one needless regional war after another, one secret prison or "extraordinary rendition" after another, an administration's toady attorney or a "defense" secretary, a private military contractor or a paid legionnaire, and almost universally by a "right" man or woman's burden or assumed privilege.

It is equally a truism that even popular resistance-based movements can morph into the authoritarian enforcers they oppose: the once-revolutionary Iranian regime has reconfirmed this by using the very tactics of repression and cruelty that Iranians ruled by the US-supported Shah had rejected so forcefully in the late-1970s. Human Rights Watch has recently documented how viciously the Iranian regime treats those who challenge its claim to divinely inspired legitimacy: <>. Human rights belong to all; they are the natural province, however, of nowhere. It is for ordinary people animated by a universal spirit of justice to demand that such rights be everywhere and always respected.

--Lincoln Z. Shlensky

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

No comments: