Category: War

Mother of all Hypocrisy

If Trump cares so much about Syrian babies, why is he not condemning the rebels who slaughtered children?

By Robert Fisk, Monday 17 April 2017 12:15 BST

 

It was the Mother of all Hypocrisy. Some dead Syrian babies matter, I guess. Other dead Syrian babies don’t matter. One mass murder in Syria two weeks ago killed children and babies and stirred our leaders to righteous indignation. But the slaughter in Syria this weekend killed even more children and babies – yet brought forth nothing but silence from those who claim to guard our moral values. Now why should this be?

When a gas attack in Syria killed more than 70 civilians on 4 April, including babies and children, Donald Trump ordered a missile attack on Syria. America applauded. So did its media. So did much of the world. Trump called Bashar al-Assad “evil” and “an animal”. The EU condemned the Syrian regime. Downing Street called the gas attack “barbaric”. Almost every western leader demanded that Assad should be overthrown.

Yet after this weekend’s suicide bombing of a convoy of civilian refugees outside Aleppo killed 126 Syrians, more than 80 of them children, the White House said nothing. Even though the death toll was far greater, Trump didn’t even Tweet his grief. The US navy launched not even a symbolic bullet towards Syria. The EU went all coy and refused to say a single word. All talk of “barbarism” from Downing Street was smothered.

Do they feel no sense of shame? What callousness. What disgrace. How outrageous that our compassion should dry up the moment we realised that this latest massacre of the innocents wasn’t quite worth the same amount of tears and fury that the early massacre had produced. It fact it wasn’t worth a single tear. For the 126 Syrians – almost all of them civilians – who have just been killed outside Aleppo, were Shia Muslims being evacuated from two government-held (ie Bashar-held) villages in the north of Syria. And their killer was obviously from al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) or one of the Sunni “rebel” groups we in the West have armed – or quite possibly from Isis itself – and thus didn’t qualify for our sorrow.

The UN, clip-clopping on to the stage-boards as usual, did speak out. The latest attack was “a new horror”. And Pope Francis called it “ignoble” and prayed for “beloved and martyred Syria”. And having been brought up by a pretty anti-Catholic dad, I said what I often say when I think the Pontiff has got it right, especially Francis: Good old Pope! Why, even the virtually non-existent anti-Assad “Free Syrian Army” condemned the attack as “terrorist”.

But that was it. And I recalled all those maudlin stories about how Ivanka Trump, as a mother, had been especially moved by the videotape from Khan Shaykoun, the site of the chemical attack on 4 April, and had urged her father to do something about it. And then it was Federica Mogherini, the EU’s ‘High Representative” for foreign affairs and security policy, who described the attack as “awful” – but insisted that she spoke “first of all as a mother”. Quite right, too. But what happened to all her maternal feelings – and those of Ivanka – when the pictures came in from northern Syria this weekend of exploded babies and children packaged up in black plastic bags? Silence.

There’s no doubting the flagrant, deliberate, vile cruelty of Saturday’s attack. The suicide bomber approached the refugee buses with a cartload of children’s cookies and potato chips – approaching, I might add, a population of fleeing Shia civilians who had been starving under siege by the anti-Assad rebels (some of whom, of course, were armed by us). Yet they didn’t count. Their “beautiful little babies” – I quote Trump on the earlier gas victims – didn’t stir us to anger. Because they were Shias? Because the culprits might have been too closely associated with us in the West? Or because – and here’s the point – they were the victims of the wrong kind of killer.

For what we want right now is to blame the “evil”, “animal”, “brutal”, etc, Bashar al-Assad who was first “suspected” to have carried out the 4 April gas attack (I quote The Wall Street Journal, no less) and then accused by the entire West of total and deliberate responsibility of the gas massacre. No-one should question the brutality of the regime. Nor its torture. Nor its history of massive oppression. Yet there are, in fact, some grave doubts about Bashar’s responsibility for the 4 April attack – which he has predictably denied – even among Arabs who loath his Baathist regime and all it stands for.

Even the leftist but hardly pro-Syrian Israeli writer Uri Avneri – briefly, in his life, a detective – has asked why Assad should commit such a crime when his army and its allies were winning the war in Syria, when such an attack would gravely embarrass the Russian government and military, and when it would change the softening western attitude towards him back towards open support for regime change.

And the regime’s claim that a Syrian air attack set off explosions in al-Nusra weapons store in Khan Shaykoun (an idea which the Russians also adopted) would be easier to dismiss if the Americans had not used precisely the same excuse for the killing of well over a hundred Iraqi civilians in Mosul in March; they suggested that a US air strike on an Isis arms lorry may have killed the civilians.

But this has nothing to do with the weekend’s far more bloody assault on the refugee convoys heading for western Aleppo. They were part of a now-familiar pattern of mass hostage exchanges between the Syrian government and its opponents in which Sunni opponents of the regime in villages surrounded by the Syrian army or its allies have been trucked out to Idlib and other “rebel”-held areas under safe passage in return for the freedom of Shia villagers surrounded by al-Nusra, Isis and “our” rebels who have been allowed to leave their villages for the safety of government-held cities. Such were the victims of Saturday’s suicide bombing; they were Shia villagers of al-Foua and Kfraya, along with several government fighters, en route to what would be – for them – the safety of Aleppo.

Whether or not this constitutes a form of ethnic cleansing – another of Bashar’s sins, according to his enemies – is a moot point. Al-Nusra did not exactly urge the villagers of al-Foua and Kfraya to stay home since they wanted some of their own Sunni fighters back from their own encircled enclaves. Last month, the governor of Homs pleaded with Sunnis to leave the city on “rebel” convoys to Idlib to stay in their houses and remain in the city. But this is a civil war and such terrifying conflicts divide cities and towns for generations. Just look at Lebanon 27 years after its civil war ended.

But what ultimately proves our own participation in this immoral and unjust and frightful civil war is our reaction to those two massacres of the innocents. We cried over and lamented and even went to war for those “beautiful little babies” whom we believed to be Sunni victims of the Assad government. But when Shia babies of equal humanity were blasted to pieces this weekend, Trump could not care less. And the mothering spirit of Ivanka and Federica simply dried up.

And we claim that Middle East violence has nothing to do with us.

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-suicide-attack-refugee-buses-trump-only-cares-sunni-children-a7687066.html or http://ind.pn/2omynRX

Photograph caption: “No helping hand: a suicide bombing in the town of Rashidin on Saturday killed 68 children and wounded many more” (Getty).

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/04/20/mother-of-all-hypocrisy/

The irony is breath-taking

Deir Yassin Today

From http://www.deiryassinremembered.org

 

Although virtually all six million Palestinians in the world know of Deir Yassin, few have ever been there. The site is not identified on post-1948 maps of Israel. But it is not difficult to find.

The central part of Deir Yassin is a cluster of buildings now used as a mental hospital. To the east lies the industrial area of Givat Shaul; to the north lies Har Hamenuchot (the Jewish cemetery), to the west, built on the side of the mountain on which Deir Yassin is located, is Har Nof, a new settlement of orthodox Jews.

To the south is a steep terraced valley containing part of the Jerusalem Forest. On the other side of that valley, roughly a mile and a half from Deir Yassin and in clear view of it, are Mount Herzl and Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Hostility remains

While not difficult to find, Deir Yassin today is not easy to visit. There are few places to park. Admittance to the mental hospital grounds is understandably restricted. There are no signs, no plaques and no memorials of any kind.

The cemetery is largely gone; the ruins of the deir (monastery) are unmarked; and the quarry – from which the residents made a living and in which the bodies of those who were massacred were piled up and burned – is likely buried under a fuel storage depot on the south side of the mountain.

Orthodox Jews living in the area aren’t friendly to outsiders and either don’t know or refuse to acknowledge Deir Yassin’s history. Not surprisingly, picture taking invites suspicion and criticism.

“Man’s inhumanity” – a poignant irony

It is unfortunate that Palestinians do not visit Yad Vashem. They argue that they were not involved in the Holocaust and resent hearing again about Jews as victims of Nazis when the whole world has so long failed to recognise Palestinians as victims of Zionists.

They also believe that the Holocaust was used as a justification or rationalisation for the creation of the state of Israel and for the conquest and confiscation of their homes and villages.

Nevertheless, it is unfortunate because from Yad Vashem looking north is a spectacular panoramic view of Deir Yassin. The Holocaust museum is beautiful and the message “never to forget man’s inhumanity to man” is timeless.

The children’s museum is particularly heart wrenching; in a dark room filled with candles and mirrors the names of Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust are read aloud with their places of birth. Even the most callous person is brought to tears.

Upon exiting this portion of the museum a visitor is facing north and looking directly at Deir Yassin. There are no markers, no plaques, no memorials, and no mention from any tour guide.

But for those who know what they are looking at, the irony is breath-taking.

 

http://www.deiryassinremembered.org/#/deir-yassin-today/4571335893

Image:  http://www.deiryassin.org/einstein.html

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/04/11/the-irony-is-breath-taking/

Peace will come with justice

The cult of atheist Zionism posing as Judaism

By Rich Siegel, January 1, 2012

 

This essay was first published in Beyond Tribal Loyalties: Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists, edited by Avigail Abarbanel (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012), used with permission.

 

I consider myself a cult survivor. I was raised in the cult of Atheist-Zionism-Posing-as-Judaism. I stated this to a few select friends several years ago, and they thought it was funny. The statement brought with it a pregnant pause, as though a punch line was going to follow, as though I were telling a joke. No punch line. I’m serious. More recently, subsequent to Israel’s 2006 Lebanon war and the massacre in Gaza of 2008-2009, I find that I can say this and it is taken seriously. People know that something is very seriously wrong with Israel, and with the culture that supports Israel. They may not understand it, but they’re more open than they were.

My family’s involvement with Zionism goes back to its beginnings. It includes a grandfather who fought with the Jewish Legion to “liberate” Palestine from the Turks in WWI, great-great-grandparents who went to Jerusalem for their retirement in the 1920’s, the best buddy of an uncle who smuggled arms from Czechoslovakia to Jewish terrorist groups in Palestine in the lead-up to the 1948 war, grandparents who were officers in their local B’nai Brith1 chapter, and a cousin who was involved in “Operation Mural”2. He currently represents Jewish/Zionist NGOs at the United Nations office in Geneva. His wife writes Muslim-bashing books under a pseudonym.

During my childhood, Zionism and Israel were held up on a pedestal. They were central to our existence, our identity, our raison d’être. They were our sub-cultural equivalent of “Mom and apple pie”. I grew up convinced that they were perfect and beyond reproach. There was simply nothing in my environment to indicate otherwise. Finding out that I had been lied to all my life, and that I had been supporting something that I would never have supported had I been told anything resembling the truth, has been absolutely shattering.

My Atheist-Jewish parents got together with a group of their Jewish friends in 1963 to start up a new Reform synagogue in the suburb of Pearl River, New York, which previously had not had a synagogue. Some in this group were atheists, some had religious beliefs. I grew up in Beth Am Temple, where the belief system echoed that of my parents: “We’re proud to be Jews, members of this ancient group that everybody hates for no reason. We love Israel, our Jewish country that we need as our refuge in case another Hitler comes to power. Everybody hates Israel for no reason, just like everybody hates Jews for no reason.”

We knew about relatives who had perished in the holocaust. Although they were distant cousins, the holocaust loomed large for us. Our awareness of the massive loss of Jewish life during that dark time formed a significant part of our sense of who we were. This combined with the liberal political agenda of the 1960s and 1970s. We opposed the war in Vietnam. We supported African Americans in their struggle for equal rights. We opposed American overseas military activity while supporting Israeli military activity, and saw no contradiction in this. Israel was different. There were antisemitic Arab hordes trying to drive the Jews into the sea. It was about survival.

I took Hebrew School and Judaism seriously. When I was old enough, I began fasting on Yom Kippur3 even though my parents did not fast. Lessons on the holocaust were presented to me both in Hebrew School and in my parents’ discussions of their personal philosophy. One aspect of the history made a big impression on me: There were Germans and other Europeans who protected Jews from the Nazis, often at great personal risk. I thought about what I might do if I were in their situation. What would it be like to know that your people were committing monstrous crimes against humanity, and to have to make a choice between loyalty to them and doing the right thing? Opposing America’s crimes in Vietnam was a clear choice, but considering the possibility of having to oppose my people, the Jews, seemed impossible. I was glad that there was no reason to do this.

There was a paradoxical element to our worldview. We considered that it was through our “Jewish values”, our superior Jewish intellect and morality, that we were able to embrace progressive agendas. As contradictory as this was—I consider chauvinism antithetical to anything progressive—there was evidence to support it in my environment. Jews tended to be liberal Democrats, anti-war and pro-civil rights. The majority of the population in my town, Irish and Italian Catholics, tended to be conservative Republicans, pro-war, and racist. This was back when there were real differences between Democrats and Republicans.

My sub-culture didn’t mix well with the local majority culture. In the second grade a girl told me that her father said I killed Jesus. I told her I’d never killed anybody. I was a skinny smart kid who wore glasses, got very good grades, and sucked at sports. In my family, sport was not stressed and academic achievement was. I was a target for the tough non-Jewish kids I grew up with. And I was bullied quite a lot. Taunts of “Jew-boy” and “faggot” were frequent—lack of prowess in sport being ample evidence of homosexuality in the tribe of the playground, and there was occasional violence. I was also a bully, although it took me many years to see this. I took my humiliation out on kids who were more vulnerable than me: the fat kid at school, and my younger brother at home.

I found refuge in music, discovering early on that music was power. It earned the respect of my peers. I didn’t get bullied on school concert days. Music also provided something else, which I did not have language to describe at the time. It filled a void produced by the spiritual desert I was raised in. The rejection of God, the belief in the privilege of belonging to a universally despised and superior people, and the pressure to achieve academically to prove that we were indeed superior, were not working for me, although consciously I accepted all of it. Music was spirituality—a term I would have rejected at the time. It provided a sense of wholeness, which my anti-religious religion was not providing.

There was one childhood incident that gave me pause. On a visit to see an elderly aunt who lived at an Orthodox Jewish nursing home, my brother and I encountered Orthodox Jewish kids. Their parents did not allow them to play with us. My parents explained that because they were Orthodox they viewed us as goyim. It occurred to me that even the kids at school who bullied me were still allowed to play with me.

By the time I reached high school the bullying had become overt Jew-hatred. Kids would throw pennies at me. “Pick it up, Jew boy.” They were just as cruel to the very few African American kids at Pearl River High School, delivering taunts of “nigger” and making jungle noises. My parents decided to leave this racist town, and move to a place with a larger Jewish population.

Spring Valley was only a few miles away but worlds apart. The daily humiliations ended and I thrived. My experience of what we called antisemitism had served to make me more committed to Judaism, and by extension to Zionism, as the two were inseparable in our belief system. I believed Jews were persecuted, and that I had been personally persecuted, for being moral, intelligent, progressive.

I was an active teenage Zionist. In 1974 I went with a group of kids from my Jewish summer camp to protest against Arafat’s appearance at the UN, on the grounds that he was a terrorist. I had never seen so many people in one place before. The sea of humanity stretching several city blocks reassured me that I was on the right side.

There was a disturbing incident at a Zionist youth group I attended. Our adult sponsors wrote Zionist lyrics to songs from West Side Story, and passed around lyric sheets for a sing-along: “When you’re a Jew you’re a Jew all the way.” One repeated line stated, “We’ll kill those Syrians.” I remember feeling uncomfortable. Did I really want to sing about killing people? I rationalised that it must be OK. Arabs are our enemies. The adults in charge wouldn’t do something wrong. I sang along. (Apologies to Leonard Bernstein, and to Syria.)

After I graduated from college I took a trip with my family to Israel, to celebrate my youngest brother’s Bar Mitzvah. The previous Bar Mitzvahs in my family, mine and my other brother’s, were held at Beth Am, but now my mother was fulfilling a life-long dream with her youngest, celebrating a Bar Mitzvah at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Afterwards I was approached by an Orthodox Rabbi and it was the first and only time in my life that I’ve ever laid tefillin.

While we toured Israel I managed to secure employment playing piano at a luxury hotel. My family left, and I began my adventure in my Jewish country. My experience there was confusing. I was often taken for being a goy. I am light-complexioned, with light hair and green eyes, but so are many Ashkenazi Jews. Perhaps I don’t carry myself Jewish. I often heard disparaging comments like sheygetz4, that people assumed I didn’t understand. Then when it was revealed that I was indeed Jewish, there was warmth and welcome. Acceptance was clearly conditional. I didn’t like the way it felt. It was not lost on me that I’d had my ass kicked as a kid for being a Jew, that Orthodox Jewish kids were not permitted to associate with me, and now as an adult in my Jewish country, I was rejected as a presumed goy.

I didn’t like the feel of the place and was glad to leave, when an offer came to play shows on a Caribbean cruise ship. The job was fun at first but it soon became a challenge. I was getting burned out from many months at sea, but I was afraid of getting off ship, being unemployed and forced into medical school—something my father wanted me to do. It wasn’t just that I didn’t want to be a Jewish stereotype (“my son the doctor”), but that I had my own direction as a musician. I would take a week or two off here and there, and run up to New York to look for work, without success. On one road trip back to the Port of Miami I checked into a road-side motel in Southern Georgia.

I realise that in discussing my “revelation on the road to Miami” I leave myself open to various interpretations. Some might not be so kind. However, simply stated, I checked into a motel an atheist who was going through some emotional turmoil, and checked out a believer in One God. I have remained one ever since. Not a god who had an only son who died for my sins, and not a god who deals in real estate, but One God, One Love that connects us all to Him/Her/It, to each other, and to Eternity, to the fabric of the Universe, which is One Love.

I immediately had to re-think my childhood, my atheist parents who were founders of a synagogue, the tribal paranoia and martyrdom and the disdain for any notion of spirituality. I saw clearly the worship of the twin idols of Jewish identity and Israel. I identified the spiritual desert for what it was, and brought my new awareness home to a family that included two troubled younger brothers. My parents assumed that I had been converted by a Catholic girlfriend. I offered that if they would care to look into the Jewish religion, they would find that God is actually a big part of it.

I quit working the ships, settled in New York and soon became an in-demand freelance musician. I began to look for a Jewish place of worship where I would be comfortable. Orthodox Judaism was out of the question because of its multitudes of laws and the endless debate and analysis about them. Why would the Master of the Universe give a hoot if I push a baby carriage on the Sabbath, inside or outside a wire perimeter hung between telephone poles5? I wasn’t going near any of that. I investigated Reconstructionist Judaism but found that they were worshipping Jewish tribal identity and Israel much the same as in my Reform synagogue.

Finally and reluctantly I began looking outside Judaism. The “New Thought” movement, consisting of various types of churches and centres, has worked nicely for me for many years. I’m a member of the Congregation of Universal Wisdom, which does not offer religious services, and I attend services regularly at Unity churches and Religious Science centres. I enjoy the focus on One God without tribalism, and often provide music for religious services.

Remarkably, for many years, having identified contemporary Jewish culture as a cult, and having gone outside Judaism to worship, I was still so totally indoctrinated into Zionism, that I continued to believe all the mythology. I still believed that Israel had never done anything to harm anyone, that we went to Palestine wanting good neighbourly relations, but the Arabs just hated us for no reason. Distanced from Judaism and Jewish culture, I still held a “liberal Zionist” stand politically.

I got married in 1998 to my lovely wife Xuan who is Chinese. I married for love disregarding the Jewish directive against intermarriage. The following year we left the city for suburban New Jersey. In 2004 my wife, pregnant with our daughter Emily, came to visit me at an out-of-town job. While waiting for her outside the train station in Providence, Rhode Island, I discovered a table that activists had put out displaying literature about the Israel-Palestine conflict. (Outreach works!). Curious, I picked up some material, including Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer, by Phyllis Bennis. I got to the section about the Deir Yassin massacre. Jews massacring Arabs. My jaw dropped. This had somehow been concealed from me all my life.

I’ve been reading continuously since then. I’ve come to understand that Zionism has been a political agenda that sought to take a land with a 95% non-Jewish population, and turn it into a Jewish-exclusivist state. It achieved this in 1948 through massacres, campaigns of fear, and military forced mass expulsions—taking over most of Palestine and making over three quarters of a million people homeless, establishing the state of Israel on mostly stolen land. In 1967 it conquered the balance of Palestine, beginning an era of brutal occupation and settlement in occupied areas. It’s not rocket science to come to the conclusion that this is criminal, and just as easy to dismiss the various excuses commonly given for it.

Becoming active in the cause was automatic. I remembered having learned as a child about individual Europeans who protected Jews against Nazis, and having admired their commitment to doing right while insanity prevailed in the world around them. I had pondered what I would do in their position, later to discover that I had been in their position all my life without knowing it. I also credit my parents, because even in their atheism, and even though they taught me the lies they had been taught about Israel, they always valued justice and human rights more than anything else. I learned that from them. Today they are disillusioned with Israel.

It hasn’t been easy. I’ve lost long-term friends and some family members. But I really don’t feel a sense of loss about it. I see those relationships as having been Jewish relationships, based on a requisite tribal agenda, rather than genuine friendships. The friends and family that matter are still with me.

Perhaps the most difficult part was coming to appreciate the reality of the criminality of Zionism at the same time as becoming a father. It’s excruciating to know that Palestinian fathers cannot keep their children safe because of the insanity of this programme that unknowingly I supported all my life. This adds to my passion as an activist.

I find it painful to witness the spectacular hypocrisy of a people who are still whining, “Where was the world during the holocaust?” while committing another holocaust in Palestine. It’s a depravity that paradoxically I find both familiar and unfathomable. The willingness among Jews to obsess with Jewish suffering while being completely immune to Palestinian suffering, scares me. I don’t want to believe that I come from a place that sick.

Remembering myself as a child, both a victim of bullying and an unconscious bully, I’ve sometimes been tempted to excuse Israel. But Israel’s leaders know. Zionism’s leaders through history have always known. And the public has always had the responsibility to know.

Having made a U-turn on Zionism, I still had to resolve my relationship with my Jewish tribal identity. Two incidents served to cement a decision about this issue. The first was in 2006. It was the story of Tove Johannson, a young Swedish peace worker. While escorting Palestinian children home from school in Hebron, the group was attacked by settlers chanting, “We killed Jesus. We’ll kill you, too.” A settler broke a bottle over the young woman’s face and caused her severe injuries. I remembered having been accused of killing Jesus at the tender age of seven, and was shocked that members of my tribe were admitting it, and proud of it, while acting in a depraved and violent manner. It seemed to me that they were almost begging for the next holocaust, and were making it unsafe to be a Jew.

Soon after, in 2007, I found out that a local Orthodox synagogue was planning to host a West Bank settlement real estate event. An Israeli company was touring American synagogues selling settlement homes directly to American Jews. I organised a demonstration against it (with no help from the local “peace and justice coalition”, a largely Jewish organisation that refused to get involved), and thought it a good idea to contact the rabbi and ask him to cancel the event. This led to a lively email correspondence, as the rabbi saw an opportunity to try to bring a wayward son back into the fold.

When it came up that I have a Chinese wife and a mixed-race daughter, he became disgusted and ordered me to not raise my daughter Jewish, because by Jewish law she is not6. When I told him about having come to believe in God and that my belief directs me to reject tribal chauvinism, he insisted that I had invented my own god. It became clear to me that his god only exists in a book that can be misinterpreted and manipulated so perversely that it can lead to the justification of murder and theft. I saw clearly that he, and those like him, are atheists just as much as the atheist Jews of my childhood synagogue. (The real estate event went on as planned.)

I made the decision to stop calling myself a Jew, to simply leave the cult. I respect the Jewish activists who speak about the crimes of Zionism as antithetical to “Jewish values”, but I’ve had quite enough of “Jewish values”, and embrace only universal values. Judaism, like all ancient religions, is a mixed bag. You have to take what you like and leave the rest, or else be subject to its contradictions. Orthodox Zionists, who would be aghast at this notion, are the foremost practitioners of this, rejecting the “golden rule” found in Leviticus7 in favour of the tribalism and nationalism also found in various other writings.

The honourable agenda of Reform Jewish anti-Zionists like Elmer Berger and Alfred Lilienthal failed miserably. They promoted a Judaism based on the universalism of the prophets, rejecting Jewish nationalism. Not only were they unsuccessful, but they’ve been all but forgotten. I take this as evidence that, despite other possibilities in the religion, the ethos of Jewish life is more about tribalism and nationalism than anything else. I do not wish to be part of it.

In considering whether I can be of better service to Palestine as an Anti-Zionist Jew or as an Anti-Zionist ex-Jew, I finally decided that representing myself honestly was the best path—the path more likely to bring better results.

I find I have little patience for those who advocate for a “two state solution” or for any solution that calls for continued Jewish exclusivity in any part of historic Palestine. Clearly, peace will come with justice, and justice calls for the return of the refugees and their descendants, and the re-making of this land into a pluralistic society.

For me it’s simple: One God, one human race, equality, justice. We live in a world that tries to make those things very complicated. They are not.

 

Notes

1 B’nai Brith, Hebrew for “Sons of the Covenant”, is a Jewish service organisation. It was founded in 1843 in New York City. B’nai Brith is engaged in a wide variety of activities such as the promotion of Jewish rights and the state of Israel, assisting hospitals and victims of natural disasters, awarding scholarships to Jewish college students, sponsoring low-income senior housing, and opposing antisemitism.

2 “Operation Mural” was an undercover operation led by Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, to smuggle Jewish Moroccan children to Israel. The operation took place in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the newly independent Morocco restricted Jewish emigration out of the country.

3 Yom Kippur is the Jewish Day of Atonement. It’s a day of fasting and atonement, observed exactly ten days after Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

4 A Yiddish word for a non-Jewish boy or young man. It can has different degrees of pejorative connotations depending on context. A Jewish boy who has been naughty could be called a sheygetz.

5 This is a reference to the ritual enclosure of eruv that is constructed in some Jewish neighbourhoods. The eruv permits religious Jews to carry objects from a private to a public domain on the Shabbat.

6 Jewishness is determined by the maternal line. According to Jewish law a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother will produce a non-Jewish child.

7 Leviticus 19:18 states, “… Love your neighbour as yourself”, and 19:34 states, “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself”. These are considered the Jewish version of the “Golden Rule”: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.

 

https://www.deiryassin.org/byboard44.html

Illustration:  http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?lang=en&search_source=search_form&version=llv1&anyorall=all&safesearch=1&searchterm=jewish+blood&search_group=&orient=&search_cat=&searchtermx=&photographer_name=&people_gender=&people_age=&people_ethnicity=&people_number=&commercial_ok=&color=&show_color_wheel=1#id=94916881&src=858c86c7e0e37670313f2f40ea1c1a1f-1-5 or http://shutr.bz/GXRt6e

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/03/29/peace-will-come-with-justice/

How many shades of gray?

Martin McGuinness dies: The ‘super-terrorist who became a super-statesman – like so many others

By Robert Fisk, Tuesday 21 March 2017 07:45 GMT

 

Martin McGuinness followed along the familiar trail of so many enemies of Britain’s weary colonial history. A “super-terrorist” becomes a super-statesman. Jomo Kenyatta comes to mind. And Archbishop Makarios. And of course, Menachem Begin. With blood on their hands, they pass through that mist of nobility bestowed by colonial power and former rulers – and re-emerge as statesmen of compromise, eloquence, even humour.

I’ve never been sure they really changed that much. Begin blew up the King David Hotel, murdered two British army sergeants because the Brits were executing Irgun fighters, and became Prime Minister of Israel. He signed a peace agreement with Egypt, met Margaret Thatcher – then invaded Lebanon in 1982: 17,000 died.

In fact, most of these folk recalled their past with a certain amount of caution. “Father of the Nation”, they liked to be called – although that hardly applied to McGuinness. Michael Collins went through a similar transmogrification. There he was, killing Churchill’s Cairo Gang intelligence men in Dublin and then sitting in Downing Street with Lloyd George and Churchill himself, who told of meeting Collins whose hands had “touched directly the springs of terrible deeds”. Doubtless, he would have said the same of McGuinness.

In 1972 I saw him first, standing beside a table on the Creggan – already no-go Derry after Bloody Sunday – for a frantic press conference. They said he was the IRA commander in Derry (he was actually number two), but he was a rather frightening young man, 22 at the time, high cheekbones, fluffy, curly hair, red-faced, sharp, narrow eyes, unsmiling. A very dangerous man, I thought at the time – to his enemies, at least. There was a rifle in the room, though I don’t think he touched it. People later said it was a Kalashnikov, but there weren’t many AKs around at the time and I rather think it was an old American Garand.

The British were claiming at the time that McGuinness was the most wanted man in Derry or Northern Ireland or all of Ireland – but they did that on a regular basis to all their most tenacious enemies. That’s what they once called Begin. That’s what they said about Collins in the early 1920s, who passed through that infamous mist of nobility when he signed the grim Treaty which the Brits had prepared for him, Griffith and the others. It cost him his life, of course, so he never travelled to Buckingham Palace to meet the King. But Collins did meet James Craig, one of Northern Ireland’s most sectarian Protestant prime ministers, before he was killed by his own people. Avoiding assassination, McGuinness was to sit down with Ian Paisley and his cronies and become deputy minister of the state he tried so hard to destroy. That alone was worth a handshake from the British monarch.

But we should not be too romantic about violent men who pass through the archway of British political acceptance. Sadat was a German spy in Cairo in the Second World War. Then he became the beloved peace-maker. Nasser was at first greeted by Eden, who only later called him the Mussolini of the Nile, although Nasser did for the British Empire at Suez. Yasser Arafat was a “super-terrorist” when I first met him in Beirut in the 1980s, blathering on about the “Zionist military junta”; then he signed the Oslo agreement and became a “super-statesman” and shook hands with Bill Clinton and Yitzhak Rabin. Yet under the brutal Sharon, he reverted to “super-terrorist” status, up to and including his moment of death. What moral transformartions! His body must have been “spinning” even before it was put in the grave.

It’s a heady, giddy business to undergo these constant conversions. Saddam was our man when he sent his Iraqi legions into revolutionary Iran in 1980 but then became the Hitler of the Tigris when he invaded the wrong country (Kuwait) 10 years later and got bombed for it, and was then invaded in 2003 for the one crime he didn’t commit (9/11). Off with his head, we cried, and the noose surely strangled him. Then take Muammar Gaddafi, whose Libyan coup was at first welcomed by the Foreign Office. But then he went a bit mad, issuing Trump-like statements of mind-numbing inanity, and then tried to fix up McGuinness and his mates with explosives and organised a bomb in a Berlin nightclub where it killed an American serviceman – and then got bombed by Ronald Reagan who dubbed him the “Mad Dog of the Middle East”.

But the “Mad Dog” outlived Saddam and got slobbered over by the Brits for deconstructing nuclear weapons he never had, and Saint Tony bestowed a kiss upon him and all was well until the Libyans decided they’d had enough and the much-kissed Muammar was butchered by a mob. No wonder he had a strange, puzzled look in his eyes at the time. Then there was Bashar al-Assad, son of the ferocious Hafez, invited to Bastille Day but then – post-Arab Awakening – loathed by the French, whose foreign minister declared that he did not deserve to live “on this earth”. The Quai d’Orsay did not suggest which particular planet he should fly to. But reader alert: with the Europeans back-peddling on their demands for his overthrow and Putin welcoming him to the Kremlin, we may yet see Bashar back in the halls of western Europe.

McGuinness, of course, maintained his statesmanship to the end, seeing off the grousing old Paisley, watching Peter Robinson slip in the Unionist mire and then observing the Democratic Unionists swamped in financial scandal. A good time to go, you might say, and join all the other “most wanted men” in the sky. But one of them, we would do well to remember, had a wanted poster all his own more than 100 years ago, way back in the Boar War: his name was Winston Churchill. And much to talk about they’ll have, I’m sure.

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/martin-mcguinness-dies-super-terrorist-becomes-super-statesman-like-so-many-others-a7640676.html

Painting by John Lavery, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17870231

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/03/21/how-many-shades-of-gray/

And few there be that find it

 

 

The evangelical bloc

 

Dear editor:

Even though Donald Trump won the presidential election legitimately, the extreme liberal side still cannot understand how he really won, nor can they stop their ugly and harmful opposition. Even though they are loud and very organized, they are only hurting themselves, not helping our nation and certainly don’t represent the majority of Americans who still hold to conservative family values.

These extreme liberals have tried to say that Trump won because of Russia interfering with the election, even though there is no real evidence to substantiate their wild claims. They have tried to discount Trump’s victory in every way they can think of, all to no avail.

“It was a triumph that few predicted — especially the pollsters and media. Trump won 30 states, aided by a significant bloc of evangelical (Christian) support at the polls.”

The liberal mainstream news media “kept asking ‘How did this happen?’ ‘What went wrong?’ ‘How did we miss this?’ Some were in shock. Political pundits were stunned. Many thought the Trump-Pence ticket didn’t have a chance. Few of them understood the God factor — that hundreds of thousands of Christians from across the U.S. had been praying.”

“While the media scratched their heads and tried to understand how this happened, I believe that God’s sovereign hand worked mightily on election night to help stop the godless, atheistic, progressive agenda from continuing its moral assault on our nation.” (Quotes by the Rev. Franklin Graham, Decision magazine, December 2016, Page 4.)

Now, I don’t really expect the non-Christian side to believe all of this. Why do I say that? The Bible says, “But the man who isn’t a Christian can’t understand and can’t accept these thoughts from God, which the Holy Spirit teaches us. They sound foolish to him, because only those who have the Holy Spirit within them can understand what the Holy Spirit means. Others just can’t take it in. But the spiritual man has insight into everything, and that bothers and baffles the man of the world, who can’t understand him at all. How could he? … ” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16).

These things I am writing are mainly for the encouragement of all true Christians, even though I hope and pray that some of you would also trust in Jesus Christ for eternal salvation and spiritual rebirth. “Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12).

More recently (Jan. 16, 2107), the Rev. Franklin Graham said, “As God’s people, this is not a time to stand down or drop our guard. Powerful (satanic) forces are opposing any change of direction. Our new leaders need wisdom, strength and guidance from Almighty God. The Bible says, ‘Pray without ceasing.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17). For our nation and its future, that admonition never had more urgency. Our faith and hope is in God, not human leaders.”

“So, as we enter 2017 with new leadership for our nation, the most critical thing you can do is pray, pray, pray.” (Decision, February 2017, Page 5).

Lloyd Hoffman
Hot Springs

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/02/27/and-few-there-be-that-find-it/

Underlying essence of the United States

How Trump Finally Made This Israeli Arab Feel at Home in America

By Sayed Kashua, Feb 04, 2017 4:23 PM

 

At long last, after two-and-a-half years, I’m finally starting to feel at home here. Of course, it’s not the real deal yet, far from it, but it’s definitely a good start, and gradually, with God’s help, amateur racism will morph into professional racism and our acclimatization process here will be complete.

I was really afraid of losing the feeling of being persecuted, and was truly apprehensive that the disappearance of my political paranoia would play havoc with my writing. But, praise the Lord, everything is starting to work out. These days, when I wake up in the morning I’m less inclined to check what our leaders in the Holy Land have wrought, and instead start my routine with the local newscasts, eager to learn about the latest executive order from the elected president, may God increase his days.

For two-and-a-half years, I took only passing interest in American politics, avoiding the news in favor of sports broadcasts and sitcom reruns. Instead of MSNBC, I watched the History Channel, and could stare for hours at the vendors in antique stores who bargained with clients over swords from some world war and baseball cards from the last century. Instead of Fox News, I watched two “American pickers” who travel to remote towns in a van looking for antiques in family attics and in the storage rooms of oddball collectors.

Recently I feel that life has restarted, that there’s a reason to get up in the morning and find out how the horror is developing. I’m starting to recognize the names of politicians and to mark the local Bibis, the Erdans and the Ayoub Karas. It’s still new, this story, so I still need points of reference from Israel to organize my thoughts, but my feeling is that I’ll quickly be able to forgo the comparisons and the need for Israeli equivalents.

At first I complained that I just didn’t feel alive, that in contrast to Israel there were no figures here that really frightened me – no politicians or media people that I hated and regarded as the personification of human evil. I started off by looking for drivers on the road or parents from the kids’ schools whom I could fear, hate and accuse of racism, but nothing happened. They’re not even capable of cutting across lanes in this drowsy town in order to earn a juicy curse.

But now I have at least two Steves (Bannon and Miller) whom I can’t stand, and there’s Kellyanne Conway, who fills the void that the absence of Miri Regev created in my soul. I have the powerhouse Rachel Maddow of MSNBC to replace Israel Radio’s Keren Neubach, and Chris Hayes, who will fill in for… umm, I’m not sure who’s considered a left-wing television presenter in Israel – it’s been a while, you know.

And Sean Hannity in place of Israel Radio’s Arel Segal, and Bill O’Reilly instead of… well, any TV presenter in Israel, even if he calls himself left-wing.

Then there are the Muslims, of course, those who go on television or radio and in amazing English express their fears of the new regime. They call themselves Americans and say they are raising their children according to the American “spirit,” adding that they are proud of the country and think the American people are the greatest nation in the universe.

There are the unfortunates who tend to believe that everything will be fine, after all there’s a constitution. Wow, they talk so much about the Constitution here, and how to interpret it, going to such lengths that I’m starting to be glad that Israel doesn’t have one. There are those who believe in the concept of citizenship and still think that America can accommodate everyone. They remind me of someone from Israel – errr, maybe me?

There are also the Muslims who support Trump – the conservative pro-life TV stations prefer interviewing Muslim women in this case – and talk about the need to uncover the truth about repressive Islam, and say that it’s wrong to go on hiding under the shelter of political correctness. They’ll use words like “fundamentalism,” “terror” and “patriarchal,” thinking that will give them immunity when the time comes.

There are many things that remind me of the warm and the familiar, but still, this is a devil I don’t yet know well. I will make use of the same survival methods of helplessness and self-respect. For the kids, I will refresh the procedures of deployment and identity camouflage. I will check that the instincts that were acquired over the years to identify dangers based on having the wrong origins haven’t been eroded by the illusion of universality, which can confuse you in the United States, and that the skills of faking an accent and of adopting other religions and ethnic and national origins as the situation requires are still sharp.

But sometimes I’m apprehensive that what somehow worked in Israel might not be enough. I’m concerned mainly about those who have never experienced persecution, about pure, uncompromising whiteness. I’m afraid when I see just how little screen time is devoted to the massacre in a mosque in Canada, not to mention the brevity of reports, if there are any at all, of mosque burnings and harassment of minorities and Muslims across the United States.

I’m afraid when the most liberal programs on radio and television, the ones that oppose the government of Bibi – or whatever they call the leader here – in the coverage of a commando raid in Yemen, focus on the American killed in the operation, adopt the army’s version of events and ignore the killing of women and children. I’m afraid of those who think that America is the most moral nation in the world, even as the killing of millions in Iraq is reduced to little more than a domestic debate revolving around the question of who was for and who against.

I’m afraid of a country that brought about the killing of four million Vietnamese, but where what’s been burned into the public consciousness are a few movies according to which U.S. Marines were the only victims. A country that supported Middle East dictators due to calculations involving self-interest, and that stood and stands behind every Israeli government.

I know, by heaven I know: America is not Israel, you mustn’t compare and you mustn’t project. After all, clear, strong and courageous voices are heard here all the time, those of Democrats and even from a few Republicans, asserting that the banning edicts of the new administration are contrary to everything that this country stands for, and conflict with the underlying essence of the United States of America.

All that’s left is for me is to understand what the essence they’re talking about is. And until I grasp it, I’m going to hide within the house, memorize the national anthem, and if asked, will reply that the American people are absolutely marvelous and that America is the greatest nation in the world.

 

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.769384

Painting Head of an Arab, by Horace Vernet circa 1819.  http://www.arthermitage.org/Horace-Vernet/Head-of-an-Arab.html

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/02/10/underlying-essence-of-the-united-states/

Some special kind of stupid

 

 

‘Scary’ final days

 

Dear editor:

I am convinced that Barack Hussein Obama’s goal was to change America from Christian to (I won’t say what).

I heard years ago that “things” come into a country slowly, much of it in schools, to take over.

What is going on in his last days is “scary.”

I don’t know the history of our past presidents, we have never had one, that I know of, who would even think of doing the irresponsible acts this one is doing.

Will we make it to Jan. 20? Nothing would surprise me. I’m convinced he is trying for a third term.

If you have been listening for the last eight years, you know that he does not like America or Christians.

God bless America. America, bless God.

Mary Robinson
Hot Springs

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/01/15/some-special-kind-of-stupid/