Friday, March 30, 2007

The Bush non-plan

Here's an influential Ny Times columnist, Tom Friedman, pointing out that 7 years ago, there was a Clinton plan that offered both sides something. Arafat refused, according to most who were there (second and third-hand accounts abound). Then Bush came in and offered the parties nothing, because his administration was A-B-C--"Anything but Clinton." Now we're stuck with the Saudi plan, in large part because of US inaction on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and Bush's overall ineffectiveness. As Friedman puts it:

"Indeed, all that is on the table now is the restated Saudi peace initiative, calling for full peace with Israel after full withdrawal and justice for Palestinian refugees — with no maps, details or Arab plan for how to pursue it with Israel. And we have the Saudi-brokered Mecca peace accord between Hamas and Fatah, which doesn't even acknowledge Israel.

If you read the Mecca agreement, said Mr. [Dennis] Ross, "Israel appears only as an adjective, not as a noun. Israel only appears in the agreement modifying words like 'aggression' and 'occupation,' but never appears as a noun — much less as a state to be recognized."

That is what happens when America leaves a vacuum. Others fill it with peace plans that fit their needs first and the needs of a real peace second."

Americans and others MUST call for constructive involvement by the US to make sure we move forward on these peace plans, or non-violence plans. Otherwise, we will slip back to pre-Oslo days. It is an American obligation to make the parties come to the table. If the US cannot or will not, I wonder if any other country (Britain?) can step in?
--Wendy in Washington

March 30, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Many Plans, No News
In the Middle East today, home of the invention of algebra, a new math seems to have taken over. It is subtraction by addition. It goes like this: Add more trips to the region by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — who doesn't seem to have any coherent strategy — to an emotionally stale, restated Saudi peace overture to Israel, and combine it with a cynical Hamas-Fatah cease-fire accord and an Israeli prime minister so unpopular his poll ratings are now lower than the margin of error, and you'll find that we're actually going backward — way back, back to the pre-Oslo era.

Only the bad guys make history in the Middle East today. Only the bad guys have imagination and resolve. Arab, Palestinian and Israeli "moderates" are just watching. Their leaders have never been weaker, and America has never been more feckless in framing clear choices to spur them to action.

We could be and should be doing better. Nearly seven years ago, President Bill Clinton put forward something called the "Clinton plan" for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. For the first time, the U.S. laid out its own detailed design of a fair deal between the parties. That plan called for Israel to give up 95 percent of the West Bank, Gaza and Arab East Jerusalem; for Palestinian refugees to be able to return to Palestinian areas but not to Israel; for the most populated Jewish settlements around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to remain in place and the others to be removed; and for Palestinians to be compensated for those settlements with land swaps and other arrangements from Israel.

Yes, Yasir Arafat rejected it at the time, and even the Israelis never fully embraced the plan as it was, but everyone knew then and knows now that the Clinton plan is the only realistic framework for peace. The Bush team took the view that since Arafat wouldn't accept it, the Clinton plan was a dead letter and therefore could be and should be forever sidelined. They also put themselves on the sidelines of Arab-Israeli diplomacy for six years, rather than sell anything with the name "Clinton" on it.

So instead of constantly telling the parties that the Clinton plan was the only viable basis for peace, and that U.S. diplomacy would be devoted to building a context for Palestinians and Israelis to act on that plan and a U.S. team to execute it, President Bush gave us scattershot visits by his secretaries of state and minimalist, stopgap measures to engineer cease-fires or talks about talks. Who can name them? "The Mitchell plan," "the quartet," "the Zinni mission," "the Tenet plan," "the road map," the "two plus four plus four framework" and soon the "six plus two" framework.

You can make fun all you want of Bill Clinton's "naïve" Middle East peace passion, notes Mr. Clinton's top negotiator, Dennis Ross, but the fact is four times more Israelis and Palestinians died fighting each other during the "realistic," "pro-Israel," sideline-sitting Bush years of 2001 to 2005 than in the "naïve" decade of intense U.S. peacemaking — dominated by President Clinton — from Madrid to Oslo, 1991 to 2000.

Had the Bush-Rice team stuck with the Clinton plan, today, at a minimum, it would have been locked in as the only acceptable formula for peace, and at a maximum we might have gotten there. But the Bush philosophy seems to have been: "A.B.C. — anything but Clinton," said Gidi Grinstein, who heads Reut Institute, Israel's premier strategy policy group. "But by not endorsing the Clinton parameters, we are back with plans that are much worse."

Indeed, all that is on the table now is the restated Saudi peace initiative, calling for full peace with Israel after full withdrawal and justice for Palestinian refugees — with no maps, details or Arab plan for how to pursue it with Israel. And we have the Saudi-brokered Mecca peace accord between Hamas and Fatah, which doesn't even acknowledge Israel.

If you read the Mecca agreement, said Mr. Ross, "Israel appears only as an adjective, not as a noun. Israel only appears in the agreement modifying words like 'aggression' and 'occupation,' but never appears as a noun — much less as a state to be recognized."

That is what happens when America leaves a vacuum. Others fill it with peace plans that fit their needs first and the needs of a real peace second.

The Bush team reminds me of someone who buys a rundown house that comes with remodeling plans by Frank Lloyd Wright, but insists instead on using drawings submitted by the next-door neighbors. You get what you pay for. Or what you don't pay for.

Divest Iran AB 221

A short video telling people to divest their pension funds from companies doing business with the terrorist sponsoring state of Iran. Support California Bill AB 221  

Thursday, March 29, 2007

An Imaginary Peace Announcement

I really enjoyed the imaginary news announcement below. As Gershon Baskin writes, most of the ten points of the peace plan have been agreed to by members of the Israeli government and by many Palestinian intellectuals, publicly. Anyway, it's natural to dream as spring arrives. --Wendy in Washington

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 22 March 2007,
An imaginary announcement
Gershon Baskin JERUSALEM –

Israeli cabinet statement, March 25, 2007, regarding the Arab summit in Riyadh:

'The government of Israel convened this morning in regular session. The prime minister presented to the members of the government a new Israeli peace initiative -- "The Ten Points Plan".

"The government debated the initiative and then voted overwhelmingly in favour, with only the Yisrael Beitenu faction voting against the decision. Minister Lieberman submitted his resignation following the vote. His resignation will come into effect in 48 hours.

"The Government of Israel (GOI) calls for direct face-to-face negotiations with the governments of the Palestinian Authority, Syria and Lebanon in order to bring an end to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

"The GOI asserts that a full peace agreement with diplomatic and normal relations between all states in the region is the ultimate goal of the Israeli peace initiative.

"Israel recognizes that the convening of direct bilateral negotiations for peace constitutes explicit recognition of Israel's right to exist in peace with secure and recognized boundaries. Israel calls on the Palestinian Authority to undertake the utmost efforts to ensure that all acts of aggression will cease once the negotiations have ensued. On its part, Israel will continue to adhere to the ceasefire in Gaza and will extend the ceasefire to the West Bank.

"The GOI recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to have an independent sovereign state of their own living side-by-side with Israel in peace and in mutual security.

"While recognizing the need for mutually-agreed adjustment to the boundaries between Israel and the future State of Palestine, Israel recognizes that the basis for negotiations over boundaries is the Green Line armistice agreement of 1949.

"While Israel rejects the resettlement of Palestinian refugees within the territory of the State of Israel, the GOI recognizes that the refugee issue is one of the most important and sensitive issues for both sides and is committed to negotiating in good faith with the Palestinian leadership to find the most just and agreed-upon solution possible that will put an end to the suffering of the Palestinian refugees, wherever they are.

"The GOI is committed to resolving all of the other outstanding permanent status issues with the Palestinians including the future of Jerusalem, borders, water and economic issues, and mutual security arrangements.

The GOI is prepared to return to negotiations on all fronts based on understanding reached in previous rounds of negotiations.

"Israel has no conflicts with the other states and peoples in the region and calls upon all of the leaders of those states to assist in the process of reaching agreements toward full peace in the region, including supporting constructive ideas and steps regarding the sensitive issues of Jerusalem and of refugees.

"The GOI welcomes the assistance of the Quartet and others in helping to bring about a speedy and successful conclusion to negotiations. The GOI recognizes that substantial financial assistance will be required to provide for security and stability in the region, and calls upon the international community to actively engage in the process of rebuilding the Palestinian economy and the infrastructure of the West Bank and Gaza."

THE ABOVE does not have to be an imaginary report. Everything written above is acceptable to almost all of the ministers of the Israeli government.

While Yisrael Beitenu would probably quit the government, Ehud Olmert could rest assured that Meretz and the Arab parties would support the plan even without joining the coalition. Olmert's popularity would take a sudden surge, but this is not the reason why he should adopt this 10-point plan.

Every prime minister promises his people that he will do the utmost to ensure stability and security. Like most other prime ministers, Olmert has done almost nothing to fulfil this promise. According to all forecasts and analyses, he does not have much time left in office to even try.

But the urgency facing Olmert is not solely one of Israeli domestic politics. The clock is ticking rapidly on the very viability of the two-state solution.

The correct reading of the preceding sentence should be that the clock is rapidly running out on the viability and the feasibility of the Zionist enterprise. Without fulfilling the two-state solution, there will be no Jewish State of Israel.

The ticking clock is not solely because of the physical realities on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza, which impede the possibility of creating a Palestinian state there. The main factor accelerating the clock is the rapid movement of Palestinian intellectuals away from the idea of a separate Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. It was the Palestinian intellectuals who led their national movement to support this solution from the 1970s onward, and it is today the Palestinian intellectuals who are the driving force toward adoption of the South Africa model for Palestine.

Should the Palestinian masses reject the solution of two states in favour of one democratic state from the river to the sea, it is only a matter of time before the entire international community comes to their support, and then the end of the Zionist dream is in sight. If the Palestinian masses adopt the one-state democratic solution, Israel cannot win that battle. And although an unimaginable amount of blood would be spilled, in the end Israel would no longer be the state of the Jewish people.

Those Israeli nationalists and their supporters abroad -- Jews and non-Jews alike, who reject peace with our neighbours -- are nothing less than suicide bombers aiming to destroy Israel. This may seem to some to be a gross exaggeration, but it is not. Those who reject the risks of making peace are guaranteeing the demise of Israel by their blindness and failure to understand that time is not in our favour.

Arguing about the virtues of recognizing the new Palestinian government is a waste of time. Wasting time now is criminal. Now is the time for an Israeli peace initiative.

Olmert, kadima! – forward! Your time is running out.


* Gershon Baskin is the co-CEO of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information ( This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at

Source: Jerusalem Post, 19 March 2007,

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

UN Watchdog censured after accusing Human Rights Council of hypocrisy

Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch, delivered a scorching speech before the UN Human Rights Council 4th Session, accusing the body of blatant hypocrisy in ignoring gross rights violations worldwide except when committed by Israel. The speech was then repudiated by the Council Chairman, who refused to thank Neuer as is customary and then threatened to strike from the record similar statements in the future.
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru.

Knesset establishes Arabic Language Academy

This should be interesting. I can't wait until there's a conference at the
Arabic Language Academy in Israel...--Wendy in Washington

Israel okays Arabic Language Academy
Haviv Rettig, THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 21, 2007

The establishment of an official Academy for the Arabic Language received
final approval on Wednesday as the "High Institute for the Arabic Language
2007" bill passed its second and third readings in the Knesset plenum and
became law.

"This is the first time an Academy for the Arabic Language is established in
a country outside the Arab world, heralding an important change on the part
of the state of Israel in its treatment of its Arab citizens," said Knesset
Education Committee Chairman Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad), who
cosponsored the bill with MK Nadia Hilu (Labor).

According to the law, the new academy will conduct research on the history,
dialects, structure and vocabulary of the Arabic language. It will also
publish dictionaries, hold conferences and cooperate with organizations in
Israel and abroad that deal with Arabic.

The new Academy will also coordinate its work with the long-established
Academy for the Hebrew Language, contributing to the study of the
similarities, differences and connections between the two languages.
From the Jerusalem Post, at:

Intel's Israelis Make Chip to Rescue Company From Profit Plunge

March 28 (Bloomberg) -- Five hundred employees and guests crowded under a white tent half the length of a football field at Intel Corp.'s Santa Clara, California, headquarters as Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini put his company's newest line of computer chips through their paces.

``These are the best microprocessors we've ever designed, the best microprocessors we've ever built,'' Otellini told the audience. ``This is not just incremental change; it's a revolutionary leap.''

Otellini's pronouncement relegated to obsolescence Intel's Pentium chip, which once powered more than 80 percent of the world's personal computers. That wasn't the only surprise last July.

A camera zoomed in on engineers in lab coats in Haifa, Israel. The video revealed that the chip Intel is counting on to recover from a battering by Advanced Micro Devices Inc. wasn't invented in Silicon Valley. Instead, Intel is betting on a group of Israeli mavericks and a design bureau 7,400 miles (11,900 kilometers) away.
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Biggest simulated demonstration of force in Gulf since the 2003

DEBKAfile reports: More than 10,000 US personnel, two aircraft carriers and 100 warplanes begin biggest simulated demonstration of force in Gulf since the 2003 invasion of Iraq  From:

March 27, 2007, 3:50 PM (GMT+02:00)

DEBKAfile's military sources note that the exercise was launched March 27 the day before the Arab League summit opens in Riyadh, to demonstrate the Bush administration's determination not to let Iran block the Strait of Hormuz to oil exports from the Persian Gulf, or continue its nuclear program.

Taking part are the USS Stennis and USS Eisenhower strike forces.

With Iran's Revolutionary Guards one week into their marine maneuvers, military tensions in the Gulf region are skyrocketing and boosting world oil prices.

Intelligence sources in Moscow claim to have information that a US strike against Iranian nuclear installations has been scheduled for April 6 at 0040 hours. The Russian sources say the US operation, code-named "Bite," will last no more than 12 hours and consist of missile and aerial strikes devastating enough to set Tehran's nuclear program several years back.

The maneuver also occurs four days after 14 British seamen and one crew-woman were seized by an Iranian Revolutionary Guards warship, with no sign that their release is imminent.

London insists its marines were on routine patrol on the Iraqi side of the Shatt al Arb on behalf of the Iraqi government. Tony Blair has threatened "a new phase" in the crisis if the captured personnel are not speedily released.

The warplanes are flying simulated attack maneuvers on enemy shipping with aircraft and ships, hunting enemy submarines and seeking mines, off the coast of Iran.

US Navy Cmdr Kevin Aandahl declined to say when the maneuver was planned or how long it would last. He said US warships would stay out of Iranian territorial waters up to 12 miles from the Iranian coast. Tehran does not recognize this limit and claims a deeper stretch of water.

Our military sources explain the presence of the French naval strike group led by the nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle which joined the two US carriers last Friday: The group will carry out security missions in the Arabian Sea and its warplanes fly in support of NATO in Afghanistan.

"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment."  
Cowboy Saying.

UN Human Rights Council President Scolds UN Watch

Read and watch the video of Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch, as he addresses the Human Rights Council, at:

He stated, in part: "Let us consider the past few months. More than 130 Palestinians were killed by Palestinian forces. This is three times the combined total that were the pretext for calling special sessions in July and November. Yet the champions of Palestinian rights—Ahmadinejad, Assad, Khaddafi, John Dugard—they say nothing. Little 3-year-old boy Salam Balousha and his two brothers were murdered in their car by Prime Minister Haniyeh's troops. Why has this Council chosen silence?

Because Israel could not be blamed. Because, in truth, the dictators who run this Council couldn't care less about Palestinians, or about any human rights.

They seek to demonize Israeli democracy, to delegitimize the Jewish state, to scapegoat the Jewish people. They also seek something else: to distort and pervert the very language and idea of human rights."

And what's the response of the UN Human Rights Council president? Here it is in its entirety:


"For the first time in this session I will not express thanks for that statement. I shall point out to the distinguished representative of the organization that just spoke, the distinguished representative of United Nations Watch, if you'd kindly listen to me. I am sorry that I'm not in a position to thank you for your statement. I should mention that I will not tolerate any similar statements in the Council. The way in which members of this Council were referred to, and indeed the way in which the council itself was referred to, all of this is inadmissible. In the memory of the persons that you referred to, founders of the Human Rights Commission, and for the good of human rights, I would urge you in any future statements to observe some minimum proper conduct and language. Otherwise, any statement you make in similar tones to those used today will be taken out of the records."
[end quote]

I do hope that the increased use of the Internet to broadcast UN proceedings will expose this kind of hypocrisy and inaction. Some of us still care about the ideals on which the UN was founded (and which helped to create and recognize the state of Israel, as well as many other countries, most recently East Timor). You've got to have faith, somehow. With thanks to Melanie Phillips, at , for the link. She titled her post, "The UN Human Wrongs Council."
--Wendy Leibowitz

Monday, March 26, 2007

Arab Chutzpah

DEBKAfile Exclusive: The halt of Jewish immigration to Israel is one of two key Arab pre-conditions for engaging the Jewish state in peace talks

March 26, 2007, 11:56 PM (GMT+02:00)

Our Arab sources reveal that the two conditions will be incorporated in the final resolutions approved by the Arab League summit in Riyadh on Thursday.

1. Israel must halt Jewish immigration so that the Israelis leaving the country or revoking their citizenship are not replaced by newcomers.

2. The international community must condemn Israel's High Court of Justice for authorizing targeted assassination of Palestinians in cases of security threats. Arab justice ministers will lobby international judicial bodies to elicit this condemnation.
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru

Poll: Over two-thirds Palestinians say Hamas failed

According to a recent poll by An-Najah University, a significant number of Gaza Palestinians, more than two-thirds, believe the Hamas leadership has failed in its role as head of the government, reported Army Radio Monday.

In response to the recent formation of a unity government, more than fifty percent of those polled agreed that Hamas had strayed from its core platform by joining Fatah, and less than one quarter said they would vote for Hamas again if the chance arose.
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru

Saudis deny a Visa to Israeli covering U.N. visit

This is extraordinary--even by Saudi standards. The journalist (who has dual French-Israeli citizenship) applied for a visa to Saudi Arabia to cover the visit of the U.N. Secretary General. Everyone else gets a visa, but not her. Hmm. There is still a chance a visa might come through--fortunately, the denial of the visa has received some publicity, and the Saudis are sensitive to that. --Wendy in Washington

March 24, 2007
Saudi Arabia Bars Israeli Journalist Traveling With U.N. Chief
CAIRO, March 24 — Saudi Arabia has barred entry to a Washington-based Israeli journalist traveling with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on his current Middle East tour, the United Nations said today.

Mr. Ban is going to Riyadh on Tuesday for two days of the summit meeting of the League of Arab States.

Orly Azoulay, the Washington bureau chief of Yediot Aharonot, was unable to obtain a visa to Saudi Arabia despite assurances the Saudi mission in New York gave the United Nations last week, said Michéle Montas, Mr. Ban's spokeswoman.

[deletion re other Arab countries who provided a visa.]

Ms. Azoulay, 53, an Israeli-born dual citizen of France and Israel, sought the visa on her French passport. She said she had traveled during the past two years to Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and Pakistan and had gone to Saudi Arabia in 2000 with correspondents covering then-Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright.

When the Saudi consulate in New York returned the passports of the 11 news reporters and broadcasters to United Nations headquarters on Friday afternoon, only Ms. Azoulay's bore no Saudi visa. Ms. Montas said this occurred despite repeated appeals to the Saudis during the week from Vijay Nambiar, Mr. Ban's chief of staff.
Remainder of the article at:

EU Assistance with Gaza Border Security

And now for something a bit different. The BBC reports that an EU monitoring group, which has been assisting with Gaza border security since November 2005, has stopped a Gaza woman who had three live crocodiles strapped to her stomach. It's not April Fool's Day yet, so this is apparently a real news item. Enjoy, Wendy in Washington

EU snaps up Gaza croc woman

A Palestinian woman was found to have three live crocodiles strapped to her stomach when she was stopped by EU officials at Gaza's border with Egypt.

The reptiles, each around 40-50cm (15-20 inches) long, were taped to the woman's body beneath her dress.

But despite her loose fitting robe, suspicions were raised by her girth, an EU spokeswoman told the BBC.

The woman told border guards she intended to sell the crocodiles to a zoo in Gaza City.

She was stopped last week but later released.

The reptiles were sent back to Egypt....
[remainder, including smuggling attempts of two lion cubs, at]

Now We're Talking Honestly

Finally, an article in the NY Times that addresses what most people have long known: most Palestinians will not return to the region. So the insistence on the "right of return" is and has been an artificial obstacle to a peace settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians. It has been dangerous for many Palestinians to state this obvious truth, and of course no one else can speak for them.
--Wendy in Washington

March 26, 2007
For Many Palestinians, 'Return' Is Not a Goal
AMMAN, Jordan, March 22 — For nearly 60 years Nimr Abu Ghneim has waited, angrily but patiently, for the day he would return to the home he left in 1948.

A resident of a sprawling Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, Mr. Abu Ghneim, like most Arabs, says there can be no peace with Israel until he and 700,000 other Palestinians are permitted back to the homes they left in the 1948 fighting that led to Israel's creation.

But with the Arab League expected to focus later this week on the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, there is another, albeit quieter, approach being voiced, especially by younger and wealthier Palestinians: it may be neither possible nor desirable to go back.

"Every time people talk peace, you hear discussion of this subject," said Hanin Abu Rub, 33, a Web content manager at a Jordanian Internet startup, Shoofeetv, who has been active in Palestinian politics. "But now it is a major part of the discussions we have. When people think, 'Is it possible for us to go back?' deep inside they now know they are not going back."

Even having such a debate — rethinking a sacred principle — was once impossible. Now the discussion is centering on how to define the right of return in a new way. Some have come to see the issue as two separate demands: the acceptance, by Israel, that its creation caused the displacement and plight of the Palestinians; and the ability to move back to the lands they or their families left.

Almost no Palestinian questions the demand for Israel's recognition of the right to return; many, however, now say returning is becoming less and less feasible.
Remainder of the article at:

One sided Anti-Zionism at UCSC

The anti-Israel lobby is at work again. On March 15, UCSC faculty sponsored a conference on narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where speaker after speaker propounded the usual racist anti-Zionist propaganda, with nobody there to reply:

The first speaker was David Theo Goldberg, Director of the University of California Humanities Research Institute, who spoke on “Racial Palestinianization”. Goldberg claimed that Israel was, from its inception, a racist entity, which used its racist state policies to protect the purity of the Jewish race and exclude and oppress the Palestinians. In his talk and accompanying slide presentation, Goldberg explicitly and implicitly linked Israel’s current state policies and practices to those of the Nazis. Goldberg concluded his talk by asserting that Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians was part of a race war begun by Israel in order to rid the land of a despised racial
group, and that within such a context, suicide bombing was an understandable and
even fair response.

Judith Butler, a professor in the departments of Rhetoric and Comparative iterature at UC Berkeley, was the second speaker. Her talk was entitled “Hidden Histories of Post- Zionism”. Basing herself in part on the writings of Edward Said and in part on those of Jewish thinkers in the first half of the 20th century such as Martin Buber and Hannah Arendt, Butler claimed that Zionism was a racist and therefore illegitimate ideology, and she argued for the creation of a secular democratic bi-national state, which would replace the Jewish State...

The third speaker was Hilton Obenzinger, Associate Director for Honors and advanced Writing at the Stanford Writing Center. His talk, entitled “Jewish Opposition to the Occupation Since 1967, A Personal and Public Journey“, was... primarily a personal account of how, after growing up in a Zionist Jewish home, benzinger became an anti- Zionist activist who opposed the Jewish State and advocated Palestinian causes. Obenzinger also described and decried the opposition within the Jewish community to his anti-Israel pro-Palestinian efforts.

Terri Ginsberg, an adjunct professor at Purchase College, was the fourth speaker. In her talk, “Holocaust Film and Zionism: Exposing a Collaboration”, Ginsburg drew heavily upon the writings of Norman Finkelstein in claiming that Holocaust films have facilitated and justified the propagation of a racist Zionist ideology, which has resulted in the oppression, ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinians. She noted that her ideas were very unpopular both in the academy and in the Jewish community, and she accused those who would discredit her work of being “McCarthyites”.

The fifth and final speaker was Ryvka Bar Zohar, a graduate student at NYU, whose talk was entitled “A History of Zionism and the Politics of Divestment”. Bar Zohar presented her own ideas about the history of Zionism, arguing that the ideology grew out of the attempt of Eastern European Jews to recover from the “shame” of the Diaspora and the Holocaust by finding pride in domination. According to her analysis, Zionism was an essentially racist doctrine, which led to the creation of an apartheid state. Bar Zohar used her analysis to argue that the movement to divest from Israel was a justified and effective strategy for mounting an opposition to Zionism for all anti-Zionist and anti-apartheid activists.

Any attempt to introduce balance in such events is reviled as "McCarthyism," "Muzzling" and the works of the infamous "Israel Lobby."

A complete report is given here.

Israel and Palestine: Who is winning the propaganda war?

Extremist groups that have tried to boycott Israel won some successes, but lately, they seem to be having more and more failures (see here). First, the Presbyterian church reversed its unfair divestment stance. Then ISM campaigns to boycott Israeli exports and stop the Israel-England Euroleague qualifier failed as well.

Perhaps these are special cases. People who try to stop others from sending flowers on Valentine's day (or any other time) have no poetry in their soul. People who won't play fair in sports matches are humorless fanatics. But then, people who advocating blowing up others are not too nice anyhow.
More about boycotts here.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

New Islamic party seeks the center

Ramallah, West Bank -- A new Palestinian movement being launched today, March 21, is aimed at the moderate middle of Muslim politics.

Wasatia -- Arabic for "moderation" -- is the first Islamic religious party to advocate a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a tolerant, democratic society at home.

The new party is the brainchild of political science Professor Mohammed Dajani, director of the American Studies Institute at Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem.
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru. 

"Jewish" disease and intellect

Jewish achievement cannot be gainsaid yet I promise not to use expressions and words like Yiddishe Coup and Goyishe Coup here. We have all heard those expressions, those of us who are Jewish. It is indeed, a simple and often aptly descriptive thing to say about some things and people but may just be our way of describing what is often obvious. After all, Jews with its small population no more than 2-3% of the American population make up 50% of the top intellectuals (a study by Lipset and Rabb), 40% of ALL Nobel Prize winners in Math and Science and Economics, 20% of all university professors in the U.S., 40% of the partners and top lawyers in the NY and DC law firms, and most of the directors and producers of the top films in Hollywood, 59% of the writers (directors and producers) of the top 50 grossing movies, 39% of the winners of the National Association of Science and 50% of the world's chess champions and 25% of the all Turing awards (a prestigious award from the Association of Computing Machinery - of which I am also a member.
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru

Online summaries of Lebanon War testimony in Hebrew

This must be a first of some kind. An Israel commission of inquiry that is investigating the conduct of the Second Lebanon War has created a website where it is posting summarized testimony even before it issues a report.

Here is a Ynetnews story about the website and its contents.

Winograd Commission protocols now online

Commission probing Second Lebanon War launches website, invites public to submit information that may help investigation

Aviram Zino
Published: 03.24.07, 08:55,7340,L-3380396,00.html\

The Winograd Commission, which is probing the political and military echelons' conduct during Second Lebanon War, launched a website Friday in which it published some protocols of the testimonies that will be mentioned in its interim report next month.

The site, which does not offer an English version as of yet, includes details on the five commission members and information on its activity.

Currently posted on the site are the testimonies of Vice Premier Shimon Peres, former chief of Army Intelligence Maj.-Gen. (reserve) Amos Malka and Arnon Ben-Ami, chairman of the Israel National Emergency Economic Authority.

The testimonies of the other 71 witnesses, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former Chief of Staff Dan Halutz will be published at a later date.

On its site the Winograd Commission also responds to the petition filed by Meretz Knesset Member Zahava Gal-On with the High Court of Justice, in which she demanded that all the protocols be made public.

According to the website, “Most of the testimonies included confidential or top secret information.”

“The commission does not take the importance of transparency lightly, but opening the commission’s hearings to the public would hinder its ability to do its job properly.”

The commission further mentions on the site that its conclusions will focus on the implementation of the lessons drawn from the Second Lebanon War and invites the public to submit any additional information that may help the investigation.

--posted by Joseph M. Hochstein, Tel Aviv