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23 janvier 2014 4 23 /01 /janvier /2014 17:03


Israel’s military dictatorship in the West Bank

Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:11 pm (PST) . Posted by:

"Sid Shniad" sidshniad

< http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.569908>Haaretz |
22.01.14Israel’s military dictatorship in the West Bank In effect, the army
is circumventing the civil system. It sets policy and implements it without
any supervision from either the civil legal authorities or the political
authorities.By Naomi Sheffer and Gabi Sheffer*

Not long ago, the general in charge of the army’s Central Command, Nitzan
Alon, signed an order barring Palestinians from appealing to the military
courts against decisions to confiscate their West Bank property and/or
money solely on suspicion that they were used to commit a crime. This order
was issued solely on the basis of staff work done by the military
prosecution, which is not a civil agency. The Israel Defense Forces argues
that in any case, Palestinians can appeal to the High Court of Justice
(though in practice, such an appeal is difficult and expensive).

This decision strengthens the army’s control over Palestinians’ lives and
deepens their alienation from Israel. The IDF has instituted a military
dictatorship in the West Bank, which deviates from what is permissible for
the army of a democratic country and also violates UN conventions on
occupied territory. Decisions on everything that happens in the West Bank –
even approving the status of universities – are left up to the army, and
the army also carries out these decisions, which are becoming ever more
extreme, especially against the background of efforts to solve the conflict
between Israel and the Palestinians.

In effect, the army is circumventing the civil system. It sets policy and
implements it without any supervision from either the civil legal
authorities or the political authorities – though with the exception of a
few moderate politicians, these authorities apparently wouldn’t object to
its decisions.

Israel boasts of being the only democracy in the region and claims that its
behavior in the occupied territories is fair, while the Palestinians are
the ones who reject every solution it proposes to the conflict. But
democracy, of course, is built on the separation of powers – legislative,
executive and judicial – and on maintenance of a balance between them, with
organizational, political and social systems in place to prevent any of the
three from becoming dominant.

Measures like Alon’s order taken by the army in the territories undermine
the supremacy of the civilian political system, which is responsible for
the military. This new order is admittedly aimed at Palestinians, but it
fits well with the anti-democratic legislation of recent years, which has
seriously damaged Israel’s social fabric and the democratic foundations of
the state.

Given Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s recent statements about U.S.
Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as his statements about the
impossibility of a peace agreement and his contempt for the positions of
the Palestinian leadership, it doesn’t seem likely that he, of all people,
would exercise his authority to overturn this military order. Thus the
question is when will some responsible political or social organization
arise – one that has the good of the country in mind – and turn to the
Knesset or the High Court to get this perverse order canceled.

Naomi Sheffer serves on the board of Ossim Shalom-Social Workers for Peace
and Welfare. Gabi Sheffer is a professor emeritus of political science at
Hebrew University.


Even some Zionists should find the Tories’ Israel zeal to be

Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:27 pm (PST) . Posted by:

"Sid Shniad" sidshniad

< http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/01/21/jonathan-kay-even-some-zionists-should-find-the-tories-israel-zeal-to-be-disturbingly-manic/>
National Post January 21, 2014*Even some Zionists should find the
Tories’ Israel zeal to be disturbingly manic

* There is now room for even committed Zionists to wonder whether the
Conservatives might not have overshot the mark a tad on this file. It is
one thing to express solidarity with Israel in its struggle to fight off
enemies in a tight corner of the world. But the rhetoric Harper is using in
Israel is so soaring and effusive, that it seems almost to erase the line
that marks where the policies of one country begin and the policies of the
other end.*

*Jonathan Kay*

On Tuesday, the *National Post*’s John Ivison, who is following Stephen
Harper’s massive Israel entourage,
Conservative MP Mark Adler say to one of the PM’s aides:
“Jeremy you’ve got to get me in [to the secure area near the Western Wall].
This is the re-election — the $1-[million] shot.”

Adler represents the Toronto riding of York Centre, which does indeed have
a large Jewish population. And no doubt, a photo with Harper at Judaism’s
holiest site would play well in Adler’s 2015 campaign literature. Many of
the roughly 250 or so people trailing along in Harper’s massive entourage
undoubtedly also hope that the trip will benefit them, politically or
otherwise, in a material way.

The size of the group raises eyebrows. It is roughly double the size of the
Israeli Knesset. In per capita terms, it is the equivalent of Harper
bringing a 10,000-person entourage to the United States — or a
42,000-person entourage to China.

Speaking on CBC’s *The National* on Sunday, former Liberal speechwriter
Adam Goldenberg declared Harper’s Israel trip to be all about winning
votes, and ticked off a list of ridings where Jewish voters may play a
kingmaking role. That theory is consistent with the gargantuan size of
Harper’s Judeapalooza entourage — chock full of Conservative donors, as
well as rabbis who will return to their congregations full of Conservative
milk and honey.

The contents of the written prayer that Stephen Harper placed between the
stones at the Western Wall will forever remain between him and his God.

But there can be little doubt what Mark Adler, the Toronto Conservative MP,
would have wished for. Standing behind me in the press pen, he urged Mr.
Harper’s aide, Jeremy Hunt, to get him into the secure area to have his
picture taken with the Prime Minister in front of the Jews’ holiest shrine.
“This is the re-election – the $1-million shot,” he gushed.

But there is more to it than that: In politics, Israel is always about
more than just Israel. Among hawkish gentile voters, supporting Israel is a
proxy for larger principles, including: taking a hard line against Islamist
militancy, standing tall in the war on terror, rejecting moral relativism,
and sticking it to the United Nations. As Sarah Palin correctly
her own unique way, Harper’s massive Israeli love-in is a great big
hug to Judeo-Christian civilization and its ongoing fight against (as she
puts it) evil. For Jews and gentiles alike, that’s the real $1-million shot.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Christian who rarely speaks publicly of
his own faith, went Tuesday to the holiest of sites for Jews to pay his
respects and say a prayer.

He was met with cheers from some of the hundreds of Jews gathered at the
Western Wall in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City.

And as the media captured every image, one of Harper’s own Conservative MPs
in the large Canadian delegation — Mark Adler, of Toronto — urged the prime
minister’s staff to let him get closer to the action.

Moreover, this is not just theatre. Anybody who has spent much time with
senior members of the Conservative brain trust can attest that they speak
with real passion and conviction about the need for Canada to stand
shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel. It is important to remember that — apart
from Canada, the United States and a few other countries — the world
community continues to exhibit an appalling human-rights double-standard in
regard to the Jewish State. Under Jean Chrétien, Canada was just another
member of this intellectually lazy, morally bankrupt anti-Israel flock.
Paul Martin, and then the Tories, set out to change this. And they did.

Consider that in 2002, Chrétien delivered a speech at a Lebanese meeting
where Hezbollah terrorist leader Hassan Nasrallah was sitting in the front
row. When asked about it later, Chrétien said that he had no idea who
Nasrallah was, nor that his group was pledged to waging Holy War against
the Jewish state. The idea of Stephen Harper making a similar blunder in
2014 is absolutely unthinkable. This example alone shows how massively, and
suddenly, Canada’s Middle East foreign policy has lurched rightward over
the course of just a few years.

In fact, I dare say that there is now room for even committed Zionists to
wonder whether the Conservatives might not have overshot the mark a tad on
this file. It is one thing to express solidarity with Israel in its
struggle to fight off enemies in a tight corner of the world. But the
rhetoric Harper is using in Israel is so soaring and effusive, that it
seems almost to erase the line that marks where the policies of one country
begin and the policies of the other end.

In his speech to the Knesset, Harper declared that “No state is beyond
legitimate questioning or criticism.” And yet, on issue after issue in the
Middle East, the position enunciated by Harper and those around him
essentially has consisted of “What Netanyahu said” — notwithstanding
longstanding Foreign Affairs policy documents.

The Canadian government is now a much firmer supporter of Netanyahu than
Israelis themselves. I know of no other bilateral nation-to-nation
relationship that is characterized by this spirit of effectively
unqualified love. There is something odd about it, even if it is motivated
by a benign moral impulse.

Perhaps the best adjective I can use to describe the Conservatives’ zeal
for Israel — and, indeed for all things Jewish — is manic. In interpersonal
terms, it reminds me of a couple that professes their status as soul mates
— loudly, and very repeatedly — as they bask in the bloom of first love (as
opposed to the occasional bickering that characterizes the long, solid
marriage between Israel and the United States). In my email inbox, I have
lost count of the number of messages from Jason Kenney advertising his
government’s support of Israel, its steadfast opposition to anti-Semitism,
and its diligent observance of some anniversary or memorial day honouring a
figure connected to Judaism. Many times, whole days pass in which this is
the only type of message I get from his office. In each individual case,
the spirit is admirable. But the overall effect comes across as a sort of

This fixation is beginning to express itself in somewhat reckless gestures. One
of the members of Harper’s official delegation in
for instance, is a Rabbi who has offered public support to Pamela Geller,
an anti-Islamic conspiracy theorist. When taken to task for the Rabbi’s
inclusion, the PMO shot back with the lazy, apparently baseless, and
possibly libelous charge that the Muslim group raising the objections has “
to Hamas. This is the not the way a serious government responds to the
legitimate concerns of its citizens.

The Harper government is to be lauded for the overall tendency of its
foreign policy — which is to offer full-throated support for democratic
nations that share our values. But where the Jewish state is concerned, our
support is crossing the line into a sort of emotional mania. And it has
never been on fuller display than this week, during the Prime Minister’s
trip to Israel.

*jkay@nationalpost.com <jkay@nationalpost.com>*
— Jonathan Kay is Managing Editor for Comment at the *National Post*.


The Blind Alley of J Street and Liberal American Zionism

Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:58 pm (PST) . Posted by:

"Sid Shniad" sidshniad

< http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/22/the-blind-alley-of-j-street-and-liberal-american-zionismCounterPunch>

*CounterPunch January 22, 2014*

*The Contradictions of Israeli Exceptionalism*

*The Blind Alley of J Street and Liberal American Zionism*

Since its founding six years ago, J Street has emerged as a major Jewish
organization under the banner “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace.” By now J Street is
able to be a partial counterweight to AIPAC, the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee. The contrast between the two U.S. groups is sometimes
stark. J Street applauds diplomacy with Iran, while AIPAC works to
undermine it. J Street encourages U.S. support for “the peace process”
between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, while AIPAC opposes any
meaningful Israeli concessions. In the pressure cooker of Washington
politics, J Street’s emergence has been mostly positive. But what does its
motto “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace” really mean?

That question calls for grasping the context of Zionism among Jews in the
United States — aspects of history, largely obscured and left to archives,
that can shed light on J Street’s current political role. Extolling
President Obama’s policies while urging him to intensify efforts to resolve
Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, the organization has staked out positions
apt to sound humanistic and fresh. Yet J Street’s leaders are far from the
first prominent American Jews who have struggled to square the circles of
the moral contradictions of a “Jewish state” in Palestine.

Our research in the archives of the American Jewish Committee in New York
City, Johns Hopkins University and elsewhere shows that J Street is
adhering to — and working to reinforce — limits that major Jewish
organizations adopted midway through the 20th century. Momentum for
creation of the State of Israel required some hard choices for groups such
as the influential AJC, which adjusted to the triumph of an ideology —
militant Jewish nationalism — that it did not share. Such accommodation
meant acceding to an outward consensus while suppressing debate on its
implications within Jewish communities in the United States.

In 1945, AJC staff had discussed the probability of increased bloodshed in
Palestine — and a likelihood of “Judaism, as a whole, being held morally
responsible for the fallacies of Zionism.” In exchange for AJC support in
1947 for UN partition of Palestine, the AJC extracted this promise from the
Jewish Agency: “The so-called Jewish State is not to be called by that name
but will bear some appropriate geographical designation. It will be Jewish
only in the sense that the Jews will form a majority of the population.”

A January 1948 position paper in AJC records spoke of “extreme Zionists”
then ascendant among Jews in Palestine and the United States: The paper
warned that they served “no less monstrosity than the idol of the State as
the complete master not only over its own immediate subjects but also over
every living Jewish body and soul the world over, beyond any consideration
of good or evil. This mentality and program is the diametrical opposite to
that of the American Jewish Committee.” The confidential document warned of
“moral and political repercussions which may deeply affect both the Jewish
position outside Palestine, and the character of the Jewish state in
Palestine.” Such worries became more furtive after Israel became a nation
later in 1948.

Privately, some leaders held out hope that constraints on public debate
could coexist with continuing debate inside Jewish institutions. In 1950
the president of the American Jewish Committee, Jacob Blaustein, wrote in a
letter to the head of an anti-Zionist organization, the American Council
for Judaism, that the silencing of public dissent would not preclude
discussion within the Yiddish-language and Jewish press. In effect,
Blaustein contended that vigorous dialogue could continue among Jews but
should be inaudible to gentiles. However, the mask of American Jewry would
soon become its face. Concerns about growing Jewish nationalism became
marginal, then unmentionable.

The recent dispute in the Jewish student group Hillel — whether its
leadership can ban Hillel chapters on U.S. college campuses from hosting
severe critics of Israeli policies — emerged from a long history of
pressure on American Jews to accept Zionism and a “Jewish state” as
integral to Judaism. The Jewish students now pushing to widen the bounds of
acceptable discourse are challenging powerful legacies of conformity.

During the 1950s and later decades, the solution for avoiding an ugly rift
was a kind of preventive surgery. Universalist, prophetic Judaism became a
phantom limb of American Jewry, after an amputation in service of the
ideology of an ethnic state in the Middle East. Pressures for conformity
became overwhelming among American Jews, whose success had been predicated
on the American ideal of equal rights regardless of ethnic group origin.

Generally flourishing in a country founded on the separation of religion
and state, American Zionists dedicated themselves to an Israeli state based
on the prerogatives of Jews. That Mobius strip could only be navigated by
twisting logic into special endless dispensations for Jewish people.
Narratives of historic Jewish vulnerability and horrific realities of the
Holocaust became all-purpose justifications.


As decades passed after the June 1967 war, while the Israeli occupation of
the West Bank and Gaza wore on, younger American Jews slowly became less
inclined to automatically support Israeli policies. Now, 65 years after the
founding of Israel, the historic realities of displacement — traumatic for
Palestinians while triumphant for many Jewish Israelis — haunt the
territorial present that J Street seeks to navigate.

The organization’s avowed goal is an equitable peace agreement between
Israel and Palestinians. But J Street’s pragmatic, organization-building
strength is tied into its real-world moral liability: continuing to accept
extremely skewed power relations in Palestine. The J Street leadership
withholds from the range of prospective solutions the alternative of truly
ending the legally and militarily enforced Jewish leverage over
Palestinians, replete with the advantages of dominance (in sharp contrast
to the precept of abandoning white privilege that was a requirement in the
anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa).

Every conceptual lane of J Street equates being “pro-Israel” with
maintaining the doctrine of a state where Jews are more equal than others.
Looking to the past, that approach requires treating the historic Zionist
conquest as somewhere between necessary and immaculate. Looking at the
present and the future, that approach sees forthright opposition to the
preeminence of Jewish rights as extreme or otherwise beyond the pale. And
not “pro-Israel.”

Like the Obama administration, J Street is steadfast in advocating a
“two-state solution” while trying to thwart the right-wing forces led by
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A goal is to reduce his leverage by
altering the political environment he encounters in the United States,
where AIPAC — riding high astride much of the U.S. Congress — is aligned
with the hard right of Israeli politics. In contrast, J Street is aligned
with a fuzzy center that copes with cognitive dissonance by embracing
humane rhetoric about Palestinians while upholding subjugation of
Palestinians’ rights.

At J Street’s 2011 conference, Rabbi David Saperstein congratulated the
organization: “When the Jewish community needed someone to speak for them
at the Presbyterian Convention against the divestment resolution, the
community turned to J Street, who had the pro-peace credibility to stunt
the efforts of the anti-Israeli forces, and they were compellingly
effective. They did so at Berkeley on the bus ad fights, debating Jewish
Voice for Peace.” Saperstein — a Reform Judaism leader described by
*Newsweek* as the USA’s most influential rabbi — lauded J Street for its
special function among “the strongly pro-Israel peace groups that have the
credibility to stand before strongly dovish non-Jewish groups and guide
them away from delegitimization efforts.”

Such praise for being a bulwark against “delegitimization” is a high
compliment for J Street. And it is surely gratifying for its founder and
president, Jeremy Ben-Ami. When he reaffirms “our commitment to and support
for the people and the state of Israel,” he frames it in these terms: “We
believe that the Jewish people — like all other people in the world — have
the right to a national home of their own, and we celebrate its rebirth
after thousands of years.” His official J Street bio says that “Ben-Ami’s
family connection to Israel goes back 130 years to the first *aliyah* when
his great-grandparents were among the first settlers in Petah Tikva [near
present-day Tel Aviv]. His grandparents were one of the founding families
of Tel Aviv, and his father was an activist and leader in the Irgun,
working for Israel’s independence and on the rescue of European Jews before
and during World War II.” Readers are left to ponder the reference to
leadership of the ultranationalist Irgun, given its undisputed terrorist

Whatever its differences with the Likudnik stances of AIPAC and Netanyahu,
J Street joins in decrying the danger of the “delegitimization” of Israel —
a word often deployed against questioning of Jewish privileges in Palestine
maintained by armed force. In sync with U.S. foreign policy, J Street is
enmeshed in assuming the validity of prerogatives that are embedded in
Netanyahu’s demand for unequivocal support of Israel as “the nation-state
of the Jewish people.” In the process, the secular USA massively supports a
government that is using weapons of war emblazoned with symbols of the
Jewish religion, while the U.S. Congress continues to designate Israel as a
“strategic ally.” An AIPAC official was famously quoted by Jeffrey Goldberg
as boasting, “You see this napkin? In 24 hours, we could have the
signatures of 70 senators on this napkin.”

J Street is aligned with more “moderate” personalities in Israeli politics,
but what is considered moderate Zionism in Israel may not match
sensibilities outside Israel. On a J Street-sponsored U.S. speaking tour,
Knesset member Adi Koll said she is pleased that Palestinian refugees from
1948 are dying off, which she portrayed as good for peace: “This is what we
have been waiting for, for more and more of them to die,” to finalize the
War of Independence expulsion of Palestinians. J Street’s Ben-Ami has
warned of “the ‘one state nightmare’ — a minority of Jewish Israelis in a
state with a majority of non-Jewish residents.” For J Street, an embrace of
perpetual Jewish dominance as imperative seems to be a litmus test before
any criticism of the occupation is to be deemed legitimate.

A human rights lawyer active with Jewish Voice for Peace, David L. Mandel,
sees a double standard at work. “Too many progressives on everything else
still are not progressive about Israel and Palestine,” he told us. “And J
Street, by making it easier for them to appear to be critical, in fact
serves as a roadblock on the path to a consistent, human rights and
international law-based position.”

Covering J Street’s annual conference in September 2013, Mondoweiss.net
editor Philip Weiss pointed out: “J Street still can claim to be a liberal
Zionist organization that wants to pressure Israel to leave the
settlements. But more than that it wants access to the Israeli
establishment, and it is not going to alienate that establishment by
advocating any measure that will isolate Israel or put real pressure on it.


While evocations of the “special relationship” between the United States
and Israel may sound uplifting, J Street ultimately lets the Israeli
government off the hook by declaring that relationship sacrosanct, no
matter what. The organization insists that political candidates funded by J
StreetPAC “must demonstrate that they support a two-state solution to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, active U.S. leadership to help end the
conflict, the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel, continued
aid to the Palestinian Authority and opposition to the
Boycott/Divestment/Sanction movement.”

The sanctity of the proviso about “the special relationship between the
U.S. and Israel” became evident to one of us (Norman Solomon) while running
for Congress in 2012 in California. After notification that J Street had
decided to confer “On the Street” status on Solomon and another Democratic
candidate in the primary race, the group’s leadership suddenly withdrew the
stamp of approval — after discovering a Solomon op-ed piece written in July
2006 that criticized Washington’s support for the Israeli bombing of
Lebanon then underway. In a specially convened conference call, J Street’s
top leaders told the candidate that one statement in the op-ed was
especially egregious: “The United States and Israel. Right now, it’s the
most dangerous alliance in the world.”

In December 2013, while visiting Israel, Secretary of State John Kerry
affirmed that “the bond between the United States and Israel is
unbreakable.” He added that — despite occasional “tactical” differences —
“we do not have a difference about the fundamental strategy that we both
seek with respect to the security of Israel and the long-term peace of this

Two days later, on Dec. 7 at a Saban Center gathering in Washington, Kerry
joined with President Obama in paying tribute to the idea of a nation for
Jews. Obama endorsed the goal of protecting “Israel as a Jewish state.” (He
sat for an interview with billionaire Zionist Haim Saban, who joked: “Very
obedient president I have here today!”) For his part, Kerry addressed
Israeli ethnic anxiety by urging that Israel heed U.S. advice for
withdrawal from some territory, to defuse what he called the “demographic
time bomb” — non-Jewish births — threatening the existence of a “Jewish and
democratic” state.

Although “militant Islam” is common coin in U.S. discourse about the Middle
East, militant Jewish nationalism lacks a place in the conversation. This
absence occurs despite — and perhaps because of — the fact that militant
Jewish nationalism is such a powerful ideology in the United States,
especially in Congress. Yet recent erosion of the taboo has caused some
alarm. In May 2011 the Reut Institute, well-connected to the Israeli
establishment, held a joint conference with the American Jewish Committee
and met with smaller organizations to formalize a policy of “establishing
red-lines with regards to the discourse about Israel between legitimate
criticism and acts of delegitimization.”

In its own way, J Street has laid down red-line markers along the left
perimeter of American Zionism. For instance, some of the most telling
moments of J Street’s existence came during the November 2012 Gaza crisis.
As the conflict escalated, Israel threatened a ground invasion. J Street
urged Israeli restraint but did not oppose the ongoing intense bombardment
of Gaza. Instead, echoing President Obama, the organization endorsed
Israel’s “right and obligation to defend itself against rocket fire and
against those who refuse to recognize its right to exist and inexcusably
use terror and violence to achieve their ends.”

J Street’s statement, titled “Enough of Silence,” eerily mirrored the
brutal asymmetry of the warfare then raging — and, for that matter, the
asymmetry of the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While far more
Palestinians than Israelis were dying (87 Palestinian and four Israeli
noncombatants lost their lives, according to a report from the human-rights
group B’Tselem), J Street condemned the killing by Palestinians but merely
questioned the ultimate efficacy of the killing by Israelis. While J Street
was appropriately repulsed by the bloodshed, it could not plead for
reversal of the underlying, continuing injustice beyond its advocacy of a
two-state solution. During the years ahead, J Street is likely to be
instrumental in establishing and reinforcing such red lines.

A rare instance when J Street has not endorsed President Obama’s approach
in the Middle East came in September 2013, when the administration pressed
for U.S. missile strikes on Syria following claims that the Bashar al-Assad
regime had used chemical weapons. J Street remained officially silent on
the issue; Jeremy Ben-Ami reportedly pushed for endorsement of an attack,
but many others in the organization were opposed. The *Forward *newspaper
quoted a J Street activist: “Jeremy is a pragmatist. He wants to keep us as
progressive as possible without going too far from the mainstream.”


J Street is striving to support Israel differently than AIPAC: by fostering
the more peaceful, humane streams of Zionism. But among new generations of
U.S. Jews, the Zionist rationales for Israel as a whole are losing ground.
In a 2013 Pew Research Center study, 93 percent of American Jews state they
are proud of being part of the Jewish people — but only 43 percent say that
“caring about” the State of Israel is essential to being a Jew, and the
figure drops to 32 percent of respondents under 30 years old.

The Jewish establishment has always represented those Jews choosing to
affiliate with institutionalized Judaism. More and more, this leaves out
large numbers who don’t believe that blood-and-soil Jewish nationalism
should crowd out their Jewish and universalist values. As the Pew survey
shows, American Jews are less sympathetic than American Jewish
organizations to enforcing Jewish political nationalism with armed force.

Last summer, Ben-Ami told the *New Republic*: “We are advocating for a
balance between the security needs of Israel and the human rights of the
Palestinians. It is by definition a moderate, centrist place.” Ben-Ami
highlighted his strategy for practicality: “We have the ear of the White
House; we have the ear of a very large segment of Congress at this point;
we have very good relations with top communal leadership in the Jewish
community. If you want to have a voice in those corridors of power, then
get involved with J Street.”

We recently submitted three questions to Ben-Ami. Asked about the historic
concerns that a “democratic Jewish state” would be self-contradictory, he
replied: “J Street believes it is possible to reconcile the essence of
Zionism, that Israel must be the national homeland of the Jewish people,
and the key principles of its democracy, namely, that the state must
provide justice and equal rights for all its citizens. In the long run,
Israel can only manage the tension between these two principles if there is
a homeland for the Palestinian people alongside Israel.”

Asked whether relations with non-Jewish Palestinians would be better now if
Jewish leaders who favored creation of a non-ethnically-based state had
prevailed, Ben-Ami did not respond directly. Instead, he affirmed support
for a two-state solution and commented: “History has sadly and repeatedly
proven the necessity of a nation-state for the Jewish people. J Street
today is focused on building support in the American Jewish community for
the creation of a nation-state for the Palestinian people alongside Israel
— precisely because it is so necessary if Israel is to continue to be the
national home of the Jewish people.”

The shortest — and perhaps the most significant — reply came when we asked:
“Do you believe it is fair to say that the Israeli government has engaged
in ethnic cleansing?”

Ben-Ami responded with one word. “No.”

“They have destroyed and are destroying … and do not know it and do not
want to know it,” James Baldwin wrote several decades ago. “But it is not
permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is
the innocence which constitutes the crime.” Those who have seen to the
devastation of “others” — and have even celebrated overall results of the
process — cannot begin to atone or make amends without some genuine
remorse. With a pose of innocence, in the absence of remorse, the
foundation of J Street’s position is denial of the ethnic cleansing that
necessarily enabled Israel to become what it is now, officially calling
itself a “Jewish and democratic state.”

Population transfer of Arabs was part of the planning of Zionist
leadership, and it was implemented. Benny Morris, the pioneering Israeli
historian of the ethnic cleansing of Arabs from Israel, said: “Ben-Gurion
was right. If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into
being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the
uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here.”

In a talk five decades ago at Hillel House at the University of Chicago,
philosopher Leo Strauss mentioned that Leon Pinsker’s Zionist
manifesto “Autoemancipation,” published in 1882, quotes the classic Hillel
statement “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if not now,
when?” — but leaves out the middle of the sequence, “If I am only for
myself, what am I?”

“The omission of these words,” Strauss said, “is the definition of
pureblooded political Zionism.”

The full integrity of Rabbi Hillel’s complete statement — urging Jews not
to be “only for myself” — is explicit in the avowed mission of J Street.
But there is unintended symbolism in the organization’s name, which partly
serves as an inside Washington joke. The absence of an actual J Street
between I and K Streets is, so to speak, a fact on the ground. And sadly,
the group’s political vision of “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace” is as much a
phantom as the nonexistent lettered street between I and K in the Nation’s
Capital; unless “peace” is to be understood along the lines of the
observation by Carl von Clausewitz that “a conqueror is always a lover of

*Abba A. Solomon is the author of “The Speech, and Its Context: Jacob
Blaustein’s Speech ‘The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews.’” *

*Norman Solomon is the founding director of the Institute for Public
Accuracy, cofounder of RootsAction.org and the author of “War Made Easy:
How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”*


Harry Truman's concerns about Israel and Palestine were prescient --

Wed Jan 22, 2014 5:15 pm (PST) . Posted by:

"Sid Shniad" sidshniad

< http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116215/was-harry-truman-zionist>New
Republic | January 15, 2014 Seeds of Doubt Harry Truman's concerns about
Israel and Palestine were prescient — and forgottenby John B. Judis*

In November 1953, after he had left the presidency, Harry Truman traveled
to New York to be feted at the Jewish Theological Seminary. When his old
friend Eddie Jacobson introduced him as “the man who helped create the
state of Israel,” Truman responded, “What do you mean ‘helped to create’? I
am Cyrus.” Truman was referring to the Persian King who overthrew the
Babylonians in 593 B.C.E. and helped the Jews, who had been held captive in
Babylon, return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple.

In his *Memoirs*, published in 1956, Truman cast himself as a consistent
proponent of the Jewish state, and some of his noted biographers have
followed suit. In *Truman*, David McCullough writes that when Truman
recognized the new state of Israel in May 1948, he had “no regrets” about
what “he achieved.” Truman’s reputed devotion to Israel has become the
standard by which subsequent president’s commitment is measured. In 1982,
Richard Nixon described Ronald Reagan as the “most pro-Israel president
since Truman.” A *Boston Globe* editorial in 1998 described Bill Clinton as
“the most pro-Israel president since Harry Truman.” In 2009, Charles
Krauthammer described George W. Bush as “the most pro-Israel president
since Harry Truman.” And Vice President Joseph Biden declared in 2012 that
“no president since Harry Truman has done more for Israel’s security than
Barack Obama.”

To be sure, Truman had no regrets about Israel after he left office.
Israeli Prime Minister Ben Gurion recounted how when, during a meeting in
New York in 1961, he praised the former president for his “constant
sympathy with our aims in Israel … tears suddenly sprang to his eyes.” But
in the years leading up to, and in the months following, American
recognition of Israel in May 1948, Truman was filled with doubt and regret
about his role. The rosy portrayal of Truman’s unquestioning commitment to
and constant sympathy with Israel, which is often linked to a picture of
the younger Truman as a Christian Zionist, is dead wrong.

As president, Truman initially opposed the creation of a Jewish state.
Instead, he tried to promote an Arab-Jewish federation or binational state.
He finally gave up in 1947 and endorsed the partition of Palestine into
separate states, but he continued to express regret in private that he had
not achieved his original objective, which he blamed most often on the
“unwarranted interference” of American Zionists. After he had recognized
the new state, he pressed the Israeli government to negotiate with the
Arabs over borders and refugees; and expressed his disgust with “the manner
in which the Jews are handling the refugee problem.”

Of course, there were good reasons why Truman failed to achieve a federated
or binational Palestine, and I don’t intend by recounting Truman’s qualms
to suggest that he was wrong to recognize Israel. But Truman’s misgivings
about a Jewish state and later about the Israeli stance on borders and
refugees were not baseless. Truman was guided by moral precepts and
political principles and concerns about America’s role in the Middle East
that remain highly relevant today. Understanding his qualms is not just a
matter of setting the historical record straight. It’s also about
understanding why resolving the conflict between the Israelis and
Palestinians needs to be high on America’s diplomatic agenda.

Some of the same people who portray Truman as a dependable supporter of a
Jewish state also describe him as having been a proto-Zionist or a
Christian Zionist along the lines of Britain’s Arthur Balfour or David
Lloyd George, who in 1917 got the British government to champion a Jewish
homeland in Palestine. Truman biography Michael T. Benson says that
Truman’s support for Israel was an “outgrowth of the president’s religious
upbringing and his familiarity with the Bible.” But Truman’s love for the
Bible was partly based on his flawed eyesight. The family Bible, with its
extra large print, was one of the few books at home the young Truman could
read. By his teens, Truman’s favorite author was the irreverent Mark Twain,
and like Twain, he would come to have no patience with religious piety.

Truman was not a philo-Semite like Balfour or Lloyd George. He was
skeptical of the idea that Jews were a chosen people. (“I never thought God
picked any favorites,” he wrote in his diary in 1945.) He had the ethnic
prejudices of a small town Protestant Midwesterner from Independence,
Missouri. He referred to New York City as “kike town” and complained about
Jews being “very very` selfish.” But Truman’s prejudice was not exclusive
to Jews (he contrasted “wops” as well as “Jews” with “white people”) and
did not infect his political views or his friendships with people like
Eddie Jacobson, his original business partner in Kansas City. He was, his
biographer Alonzo Hamby has written, “the American democrat, insistent on
social equality, but suspicious of those who were unlike him.”

There were two aspects of Truman’s upbringing and early political outlook
that shaped his view of a Jewish state. Truman grew up in a border state
community that had been torn apart by the Civil War. That, undoubtedly,
contributed to his skepticism about any arrangement that he thought could
lead to civil war. And Truman, like his father, was an old-fashioned
Democrat. His political heroes were Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson,
and he shared Jefferson’s insistence on the separation of church and state.
He blamed Europe’s centuries of war on religious disputes, which, he said,
“have caused more wars and feuds than money.” That, too, contributed to his
skepticism about a Jewish state.

When Truman assumed office in April 1945 after Franklin Roosevelt’s death,
he had little knowledge of Palestine and even less of what Roosevelt’s
policies in the region had been. What immediately concerned him was what to
do about the Jewish refugees, the survivors of the Nazi’s final solution,
most of whom were stranded in ramshackle displaced person camps in Central
Europe, and some of whom wanted to migrate to Palestine. Truman was deeply
sympathetic to the Jews’ plight and defied the British, who still
controlled Palestine and were worried about the Arab reaction, by calling
for 100,000 Jewish refugees to be let in.

Truman was first lobbied to back a Jewish state in September 1945 by Rabbis
Abba Hillel Silver and Stephen Wise, the leaders of the American Zionist
Emergency Council (AZEC), a coalition of Zionist groups. They urged him to
support turning all of Palestine, which was about thirty percent Jewish,
over to the Jews. Truman told them that he objected to a religious state,
whether Catholic or Jewish. He also expressed fear that trying to establish
one would lead to war. In November, Truman repeated his opposition to a
Jewish state to a meeting of American diplomats in the Middle East.
Proponents of a Jewish commonwealth, Truman said, “didn’t give
consideration to the international political situation in that area.” In a
December meeting with Jewish representatives, Truman said that “the
government of Palestine should be a government of the people of Palestine
irrespective of race, creed, or color.”

That fall, Truman had agreed to a British proposal for an Anglo-American
Committee of Inquiry that would recommend solutions to the refugee crisis
and the future of Palestine. The committee handed down its findings in the
spring of 1946. It called on Britain to permit 100,000 refugees to enter
Palestine, but also recommended that Palestine not become either a Jewish
or an Arab state. It proposed instead that it continue under a United
Nations trusteeship, administered presumably by Britain. That part of the
proposal infuriated the Zionists who successfully lobbied Truman to
withhold his endorsement of the plan, but Truman, who favored the idea,
sent a State Department official Henry Grady to Britain to devise with
British representative Herbert Morrison a specific plan for Palestine’s

Truman conferred regularly with Grady and in late July approved what was
called the “Morrison-Grady Plan.” It would establish a federated Palestine
with autonomous Jewish and Arab regions. The British, or whoever the United
Nations appointed, would retain control of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the
Negev until the Arabs and Jews, who would enjoy equal representation in a
national legislature, were ready to rule all of Palestine without going to
war with each other. Truman and State Department were eager to publicly
endorse the plan, but Silver and the Zionist lobby mounted a furious
campaign against the proposal.

The Zionist lobby, which itself could call on thousands of activists around
the country, was joined by Democratic officials and White House aides who
were worried that without the Jewish vote in New York, Maryland,
Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio, the Democrats could lose Congress that
November. (At that time, New York was the important political prize, and
the Jewish vote had proven decisive in New York elections.) At a cabinet
meeting on July 30, Truman held up a stack of telegrams protesting
Morrison-Grady that, according to Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace, was
“four inches think.” Speaking of the Zionists, Truman exclaimed, “Jesus
Christ couldn’t please them when he was here on earth, so how could anyone
expect that I would have any luck?” Truman, who was sensitive to criticism
from the British, insisted that he was immune to political pressure on
Palestine, but he gave in, and failed to endorse the proposal he had helped
to design.

Truman’s defeat on the Morrison-Grady plan marked the end of his active
involvement in trying to shape Palestine’s future. From then on, Truman
followed a pattern of fleeting involvement and resentful withdrawal. After
agreeing under political pressure to take the Zionists’ side, he would
withdraw from the issue, leaving it to the State Department, which
generally opposed the Zionists. The State Department would then take a
position unfriendly to AZEC, and the Zionist lobby would begin pressuring
Truman, using the threat of electoral defeat. With the 1948 presidential
election looming, this threat was even more credible than in 1946. Truman
and the Democrats had to worry not just about the Jewish vote, but also
about fundraising from wealthy Jewish contributors. And they had to worry,
too, not just about the Republican opponent, but about Progressive Party
candidate Henry Wallace, who charged that a vote for Truman was a “vote to
rebuild Nazi Germany.” The political pressure would finally get to Truman,
and the pattern would recur.

Thus, after having given in on Morrison-Grady in August 1946, Truman
withdrew and turned his attention elsewhere. When the Jewish Agency in
Paris issued a new proposal for partitioning Palestine—a breakthrough that
occurred over AZEC's opposition—Truman initially refused to take a public
stand, and assured a visiting diplomat that he still could only support
“some local autonomy arrangement.” But after visits from Democratic
officials worried about Jewish support, lobbying from a major Jewish
contributor, and the threat of a Zionist ad campaign against the Democrats,
Truman gave in and issued a statement of support. Afterwards, however, a
disgusted Truman washed his hands of the issue, writing to a Democratic
National Committee official that “the situation is insoluble in my opinion.”

When the British gave up and ceded Palestine’s future to the U.N. in the
winter of 1947, Truman and Secretary of State George Marshall initially
attempted to take no position whatsoever. Finally, with the 1948 election
only a year away, and telegrams, calls, and visits mounting, Truman, after
tentatively backing a plan that would divide Palestine into parts roughly
proportionate to the Jewish and Arab populations, agreed to help win
support for a partition proposal that gave the Arabs only 40 percent of the
lands. “I don’t think I’ve ever had as much pressure put on the White
House,” Truman wrote in a letter. But after the U.N. passed the proposal in
November 1947 and the Arabs took up arms, as the State Department had
warned, Truman, resentful toward the “pressure boys,” withdrew and let the
State Department handle the repercussions.

That winter, the State Department, worried about the raging war, won
Truman’s tacit support for abandoning partition and reviving the idea of a
U.N. trusteeship. But when America’s U.N. representative introduced the
proposal, the Zionist movement reacted sharply. The movement planned
hundreds of nationwide rallies to take place on the evening of May 14, when
the new state of Israel was supposed to be announced. Truman’s political
advisors warned that the rallies would be used to denounce the president.
Truman once again gave in and agreed to recognize the new state that

Yet throughout this period, Truman continued to admit privately that he
preferred the Morrison-Grady plan for a federated Palestine and to blame
AZEC and also (at various times), the British, the Jews in Palestine, and
the Arabs for its abandonment. What’s most remarkable is that he continued
to insist Morrison-Grady was the right choice in the months before and
after his having recognized the new state of Israel.

In February 1948, Truman told an American diplomat that in 1946 he had
“found a sound approach … Grady had gone to London to get implemented but
had failed because of British bullheadedness and the fanaticism of our New
York Jews.” On May 6, Truman told Rabbi Judah Magnes, the president of the
Hebrew University, that it “was a thousand pities” that the Morrison-Grady
plan “had not been carried out.” “You Jews and your Arabs are spoiling
things,” he complained.

On May 15—the day after he recognized Israel—Truman wrote leftwing editor
Bartley Crum, a supporter of the new state, that he thought “the report of
the British-American Commission [sic] on Palestine was the correct
solution, and, I think, eventually we are going to get it worked out just
that way.” On May 18, he told Dean Acheson, who was between jobs at the
State Department, that in 1946 “we had the problem solved, but the
emotional Jews of the United States and the equally emotional Arabs in
Egypt and Syria prevented that settlement from taking place.”

Months later, Truman was still at it. In early September, a delegation of
Jewish War Veterans led by Brigadier Julius Klein visited the White House.
Truman expected a handshake, a few photos, and a request to appear at the
war veterans’ next event, but what he got instead was strenuous lobbying by
Klein for arms to Israel. An irritated Truman told the war veterans that he
and the British “had agreed on the best possible solution for Palestine,
and it was the Zionists who killed that plan by their opposition.”

Was Truman right that Morrison-Grady was the “best possible solution” all
along? Certainly, as an American, one has to believe that the best possible
solution is one where peoples of different religions and nationalities get
along in one country. And it remains, perhaps, an *ideal* solution, but it
was not going to happen in those years after World War II. Even if one sets
aside the fierce political opposition in the United States to the proposal,
there were ample reasons why the plan for a federated or bi-national
Palestine was not feasible.

The Arabs and Jews in Palestine both rejected the plan. The Arabs, who, in
Rashid Khalidi’s words, had been “envenomed” by their failed rebellion
against Zionism and the British, saw the arrival of more Jewish immigrants
as a harbinger to a Jewish-controlled Palestine, while the Jews saw any
restriction on their sovereignty (or the size of their state within
Palestine) as a threat to their survival in the wake of the Holocaust.
Still, in the year before Britain gave up trying to mediate between the
contending forces, there were hints of compromise from the Arabs and the
Jews. What was finally lacking, however, was an outside power capable of
imposing and then enforcing a compromise.

Britain was crippled by its war debts after World War II. It could no
longer support an overseas military, and in February 1947 announced the
withdrawal of its troops from Greece and Turkey. It threw the future of
Palestine into the lap of the U.N. in the hope of being able to remove its
troops from there, where it was in the midst of war with Zionist forces.
The British believed they could only oversee Palestine if the United States
contributed money *and* troops. They could have believed, with some
justification, that they could intimidate the Arabs and that the Americans
could intimidate the Jews into co-existing with each other. Truman,
however, was willing to contribute money but not troops. The United States
had undergone rapid demobilization after World War II, but the Cold War had
begun. By 1947, Truman and the State Department were preoccupied with
having enough troops to defend Europe against Soviet communism. As the
final debate over partition was occurring in the United Nations, the U.S.
was in the midst of the Berlin crisis with the Soviet Union. There was no
support in the American government, or in the public, for sending troops to

Truman rejected sending troops to enforce Morrison-Grady and later to
enforce the original U.N. partition plan. Without American troops, the
British and then the U.N. were powerless to prevent a civil war and to
alter the final results, which left the Jews with almost 80 percent of
Palestine, and the Palestinian Arabs stateless and dispersed as refugees
throughout the region. Even with an American-led intervention force, the
U.N. might still have been unable to prevent a civil war from breaking out
or the subsequent war between Israel and the Arab states, but without such
a force, there was simply no chance of realizing the Morrison-Grady plan or
the original U.N. plan of November 1947. Truman’s nostalgia for the
Morrison-Grady plan was based on a fantasy.

But the considerations that led Truman to favor a bi-national or federated
Palestine were not fantastic, and remain relevant today. There was always a
strong moral streak in Truman’s foreign policy. He thought of the world
divided between underdogs and bullies and good and evil. He genuinely hated
Nazis and sympathized with Jews as their victims. His support for the right
of the refugees to emigrate to Palestine reflected his moral conviction
rather than any concern about electoral support. And in Palestine, he
wanted a solution that was fair to the Arabs as well as to the Jews.

Truman didn’t know all the details of the history of Palestine, but he knew
that the Jews had come to Palestine a half century before to establish a
Jewish state where another people had lived, and had made up the
overwhelming majority for the prior 1,400 years. He was offended by the
proposal, pressed by Silver and American Zionists, that a minority should
be allowed to rule a majority. He wanted an arrangement that would respect
the just claims of both Jews and the Arabs.

After he dropped his public opposition to a Jewish state, and supported
some form of partition, Truman continued to be guided by moral
considerations. In October 1947, he had endorsed a partition that would
more accurately reflect the size of the existing populations. After Israel
was established, and had defeated the Arabs, he supported a peace agreement
that would allow some of the 700,000 Arab refugees from the war to return
to their homes. (The Israeli ambassador to the United States complained
that Truman was “sentimentally sympathetic” to the refugees.) In each case,
however, Truman backed down under pressure from the Zionist lobby. In
August 1949, Truman and the State Department finally gave up trying to
influence the Israelis.

Today, of course, the Arab-Israeli conflict remains a moral issue. The Jews
got their state in 1948, but the Palestinians did not. After the 1948 war,
Jordan annexed the West Bank and Egypt Gaza, and the term “Palestine” was
banned from Jordanian textbooks. After the Six Day War, Israel annexed East
Jerusalem and took over the West Bank and Gaza. It evacuated its settlers
from Gaza after 2006, but continues to control its outer access and air
space. The Israeli government has allowed over 500,000 Jews to settle in
Palestinian areas of Jerusalem and in the West Bank. The “underdogs,” as
Truman once put it in a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt, are now acting like
the “top dogs.”

Truman and the State Department were also worried that the attempt to
create a Jewish state in an Arab-dominated region would lead to war and
continued strife. Many of their concerns have become outdated. They were
worried originally that the Arabs would slaughter the Jews and that the
United States would have to prevent a second Holocaust. They worried for
decades that American support for Israel would drive the Arabs into the
arms of the Soviet Union. But their underlying concern—that a Jewish state,
established against the opposition of its neighbors, would prove
destabilizing and a threat to America’s standing in the region—has been
proven correct.

That’s been even more the case in the wake of Israel’s annexation of East
Jerusalem, a Muslim holy site, and its occupation of the West Bank.
Opposition to the Israeli occupation was central to the growth of Islamic
nationalism in the Middle East in the 1970s and to the rise of
international terrorist groups. Osama bin Laden’s 1996 *Fatwa
< http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/military/july-dec96/fatwa_1996.html> *was
directed at the “Zionist-Crusader alliance.” America’s continued support
for Israel—measured in military aid and in its tilt to Israel in
negotiations with the Palestinians—has fueled anti-Americanism. In his
testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2010, General
David Petraeus, then in charge of operations in Afghanistan said
< http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25010.htm>publicly
what many American officials privately believe:

Resolving the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians would not
necessarily calm the turbulent Middle East, but at a time when Iraq,
Afghanistan, Syria and even Lebanon are in chaos and could become havens
for international terrorism, it would remove an important source of unrest
and allow the United States to act as an honest broker rather than a
partisan in the region.

Truman’s solution to the conflict was, of course, a federated or binational
Palestine. If that was out of the question in 1946, it is even more so
almost 70 years later. If there is a “one-state solution” in
Israel/Palestine, it is likely to be an authoritarian Jewish state
compromising all of British Palestine. What remains possible, although
enormously difficult to achieve, is the creation of a Palestinian state
alongside Israel. That is what the last three American Presidents,
sometimes facing opposition from Israel’s lobby in Washington as well as
from the Israeli government and the Palestinian Hamas organization, have
tried unsuccessfully to promote, and what Secretary of State John Kerry is
currently trying to negotiate.

If Truman were still around, he would wish Kerry well. The same moral and
strategic imperatives that led Truman to favor the Morrison-Grady plan for
Palestine now argue in favor of creating a geographically and economically
viable Palestinian state. And if it is going to happen, America, the
leading outside power in the region, has to play a major role. It has to be
"Cyrus"--not just for the Israelis, but for the Palestinians.

United Nations
Proposed partition of Israel/Palestine in 1947


WTF Wednesday: Harper's speech to Israeli Parliament

Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:58 pm (PST) . Posted by:

"Tyler Levitan"


WTF Wednesday: Harper�s speech to Israeli parliament
By Simon Treanor <http://this.org/blog/author/simontreanor/>

I really, really hope it is obvious to everyone that �the Holocaust was a
bad thing� is a sentiment we can all agree on (if not, you might be reading
the wrong magazine). It is certainly something that Prime Minister Stephen
Harper believes in strongly. Strongly enough, apparently, to imply that the
Holocaust is enough to excuse all of Israel�s recent political actions. In
a speech<http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/stephen-harper-s-speech-to-the-israeli-knesset-1.2503902>
to the Israeli government, the Knesset, during his Middle-East trip, Harper
explained how he felt recent criticism of certain Israeli policies from
world leaders was a new subtle form of anti-Semitism:

Some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel� Most
disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state. Think
about that. Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that�
A state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded
so Jews can flourish as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst
racist experiment in history.

Now perhaps credit to Harper for trying, but this sort of statement seems
to indicate misunderstanding of a few things, as well as outright ignoring
others. By calling any critical statement towards the Israeli government
anti-Semitic, Harper appears to be claiming that the state of Israel is in
fact the entire Jewish population. Not only is this mistaken, but it serves
to highlight Harper�s questionable approach to issues in the Middle-East.

- State or not, Palestinians simply don't have a partner at the
negotiating table<http://this.org/blog/2011/09/30/palestine-statehood-un/?utm_source=thismag&utm_medium=related&utm_campaign=relatedX3>

Let�s be friends!
As Tyler Levitan, spokesperson for the Ottawa Independent Jewish
said in a recent press release on the issue: �This is a continuation of
Harper�s outrageous efforts to disparage the Palestinian people, as well as
the growing international solidarity movement that supports the non-violent
Palestinian campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel until
Israel is willing to accept Palestinian rights.�

During his speech Harper repeatedly compared recent calls to boycott Israel
to that of the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany, during which Jewish shops
were boycotted. He then went on to describe that Israel was being singled
out for criticism on a global scale, and that such an approach was
unbalanced, weak, and wrong.

However, as Levitan notes, ��Palestinian human rights activists support
universal human rights for all people, so we are not singling out Israel.
It is Harper, who refuses to challenge Israel�s systematic human rights
abuses, who is making an exception of Israel by exempting it from

Harper�s biased approach to the Middle-East was commented on by some of the
Knesset�two of their members openly heckled Harper, and then stormed out in
protest. Ahmad Tibi<http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/ahmad-tibi-why-i-walked-out-on-stephen-harper-s-speech-1.2503975>,
one of the hecklers, said that he walked out on Harper�s speech as the
approach Harper was taking was �biased, non-balanced,� and added �that�s
why Canada has a very marginal role in the Middle East.�

Not only this, but Harper seems to have completely ignored how the Canadian
government is against the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East
Jerusalem. In fact Harper was deafening in his total exclusion of the
subject, refusing<http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/harper-meets-with-shimon-peres-says-talks-with-israeli-president-are-always-thought-provoking/article16425500/>
be dragged into commenting on it at all. Tibi�s view on the situation was:
�When you are controlling, discriminating, confiscating, occupying lands
from one side and putting them in the corner without any basic rights, you
are by this way ruling and committing apartheid in the occupied Palestinian

While Harper is on his tour, there is a planned protest outside the Israeli
consulate happening today, January 22, at 4pm in Toronto, as well as twelve
other cities across Europe and North America. The protest is in support of
nearly 50,000 African asylum seekers on strike since the January 5. The
strike is in response to a recent amendment to the Prevention of
Infiltration Law, which previous amendments were condemned by the High
Court of Justice as �a grave and disproportionate abuse of the right to
personal freedom.�

More information on the protest can be found

Tyler Levitan
Campaigns Coordinator
Independent Jewish Voices-Canada / Voix juives ind�pendantes-Canada

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