VIDEO: Israel vs Israhell

Documentary about Israeli peace activists. For more information – join on Facebook > http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=134111073300491

Israel and the anti-Muslim blow-up

I don’t know why I am at all surprised that the American Right – including the Republican Party – has decided that scapegoating Muslims is the ticket to success. After all, it’s nothing new.

I remember right after 9/11 when the columnist Charles Krauthammer, now one of the most vocal anti-Muslim demagogues, almost literally flipped out in my Chevy Chase, Maryland synagogue when the rabbi said something about the importance of not associating the terrorist attacks with Muslims in general.

It was on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, but that did not stop Krauthammer from bellowing out his disagreement with the rabbi.  Krauthammer’s point: Israel and America are at war with Muslims and that war must be won.

It was shocking, not only because Krauthammer’s outburst was so utterly out of place but also because the man was actually chastising the rabbi for not spouting hate against all Muslims – on the Day of Atonement.

The following year, the visiting rabbi from Israel gave a sermon about the intifada that was then raging in Israel and the West Bank.

A sermon with a twist

The sermon was a nutty affair that tearfully made the transition from intifada to Holocaust and back again.

I remember thinking, “this guy is actually blaming the Palestinians for the suffering of his parents during the Holocaust.” I thought I had missed something because it was so ridiculous.

Then came the sermon’s ending which was unforgettable. The rabbi concluded with the words from Ecclesiastes.

“To everything there is a season. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap … A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”

He then looked up and said: “Now is the time to hate.”

At first, I thought I had not heard him correctly.  He could not be calling on the congregation to hate. There were dozens of children in the room. It wasn’t possible.

But it was. To their credit, many of the congregants I spoke with as we left the sanctuary were appalled. Even the right-wingers were uncomfortable with endorsing hate as a virtue.

Yet, the rabbi was unrepentant. I emailed him to complain and he told me that he said what he believed. Nice.

One could ask what the Middle East has to do with the vicious outbreak of Islamophobia (actually Islamo-hatred) that has seemingly seized segments of this country.

US Islamophobia’s origins

The answer is everything. Although the hate is directed at Arab-Americans (which makes it worse) it is justified by invoking 9/11, an attack by Muslims from the Middle East.

This hate is buttressed by the hatred of Muslims and Arabs that has been routinely uttered (or shouted from the rooftops) in the name of defending Israel for decades

Just watch what goes on in congress, where liberals from New York, Florida, California and elsewhere never miss an opportunityto explain that no matter what Israel does, it is right, and no matter what Muslims do, they are wrong.

Can anyone possibly argue that such insidious rhetoric has no impact on public opinion?

At the very least, it gives anti-Arab and/or anti-Muslim bias a legitimacy that other forms of hate no longer have. Bigots who hate African-Americans or Jews, for instance, feel that they must claim that they don’t. That is not the case with Muslims who can be despised with impunity.

And here the liberals are worse than the conservatives because liberals exempt Muslims and Arabs (and now Turks) from the humanitarian instincts that inform their views of all other groups.

Conservatives combine their Arab-bashing with a general xenophobia, as is evidenced by their views on immigration.

Illiberal Liberalism?

Liberals, on the other hand, single out Muslims for contempt.

They do it actively – i.e., by defending every single Israeli action against Arabs with vehement enthusiasm. And they do it passively, by refusing to evince an iota of sympathy for Muslims who suffer and die at the hands of Israelis – like the 432 Palestinian children killed in the 2008 Gaza war.

Liberals join conservatives in rushing to the floor of the House of Representatives and Senate to defend the Israelis against any accusation (remember how they robotically attacked the Goldstone report on Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, not caring at about the horrors Goldstone described).

And then they read their AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee lobby)talking points, enumerating all the terrible things Arabs have done while Israel has, Gandhi-like, consistently offered the hand of friendship. It would be laughable if the effect of all this was not so ugly.

Why wouldn’t all this hatred affect the perception of Arab-Americans too? Hate invariably overflows its containers, just like hatred of Israel sometimes crosses over into pure old-fashioned anti-Semitism.

Bottom line: it’s a witches’ brew that is being stirred up, and it is one that will no doubt produce violence. But the witches are not all on the right. Just as many liberals are stirring the pot to please some of their donors.

I’m not saying you should not blame Fox News’ Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh for all this hate. But don’t forget to blame your favorite liberal and progressive politicians. With a few (very few) exceptions, they are just as bad.

MJ Rosenberg is a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network. The above article first appeared in Foreign Policy Matters, a part of the Media Matters Action Network.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

American Stupidity – (Building the New York Mosque and the hatred surrounding it)


“Stubbornness and stupidity are twins.”

Sophocles’


What is it about Americans that they have so much going for them, yet they can be so very stupid?

Two stories in the Sunday New York Times jumped out as a sad backdrop to our misguided War On Terror.

The first is about the bigoted anti-Muslim xenophobia in New York over a proposed mosque some blocks from the site of the former World Trade Towers. The emotional volatility is being fueled by the usual Fox News agitators, and Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich stirred up the pot for their demagogic needs.

Even the Jewish Anti-Defamation League took off after the mosque and condemned it. Here’s the Anti Defamation League’s mission statement at the top of their web page:

“The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 ‘to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.’ Now the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.”

Don’t you just love bullshit PR?

The Times quoted the president of something called Former Muslims United, Nonie Darwish, who said this: “A mosque is not just a place of worship. It’s a place where war is started.”

Ms Darwish is also the founder of Arabs For Israel, and she has spoken before Rev. John Hagee’s group Christians United For Israel in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where Republican office seekers have stirred up the pot over a proposed Muslim religious center there.

Factor this kind of stupidity in with a recent report from The College Board that the United States is Number 12 and dropping out of 36 developed nations on the percentage of citizens with a college education.

Sure, not everybody needs to know about basic human psychology, Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative or William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. What’s scary about this American rush to stupidity, however, is it is usually linked up with the worst sorts of xenophobic fears and racism and our incredibly narcissistic feelings of American exceptionalism.

We are the best! Number One! The champions! We don’t have to worry about education. We got Apache helicopters and Predator Drones, and we got people who know how to use ‘em. Hear that, you ragheads! Hoo-ah!

This strain is then further exacerbated by forces out there in the world that, for their own interests, fuel our US home-grown stupidity. Take the Anti Defamation League’s decision to exacerbate anti-Muslim hatred in the New York case. What possible motive could “the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency” have for doing this?

We hear more and more that elements in the current Israeli militarist right wing think it can somehow bamboozle the United States of America into doing something really stupid like mount an aerial bombardment against Shiite Muslim Iran. Whipping up anti-Muslim hysteria in the United States is perfectly in line with this strain of international stupidity.

The reasonable people of America who still believe in things called Education and open-mindedness, and all those wonderful Enlightenment stirrings are being caught in a religious vice with willfully ignorant nutcases on either side.

Muslims can be stupid too

I believe in fairness, so let’s consider Muslim stupidity, certainly a very fertile area. The New York Times reports that in the industrial city of Faisalabad in the Punjab region of Pakistan, the minority Christian community is now under siege by angry Muslims. Several Christians have been murdered.

“There is a lot of anger among Muslims, and there is a revival of militant Islam,” said a local Catholic bishop. “Local Christians are seen as linked to the West and the United States.” Of course, these Christian Pakistanis may actually hate the US as much as most other Pakistanis do.

Pakistan is stirring these days with hatred of the United States for a host of reasons, the main one being we are actively killing, and encouraging the Pakistani government to kill, Pakistani people in the area just north of the Punjab along the Afghan border. While stupid Americans may see all Pakistanis killed by US death squads and drones as “terrorists,” to Pakistanis they tend to be seen as people just like you and me, albeit angry people.

No doubt stories from the United States of bigotry against Muslims adds to this craziness and hatred of Christians by Muslims. Then, in turn, stupid and demagogic Americans who hear about the stupid angry Muslims in Faisalabad killing Christians will have to intensify their vendettas against Muslim mosques in New York, Tennessee, California and other states.

Stupidity marches on, trampling the saner voices who timidly say maybe the best thing would be to defuse the cycle and welcome Muslim mosques.

Some stupid Americans will certainly point out that these stupid Pakistani Muslims are actually killing Christians, while they are only keeping Muslims from building mosques in which to pray. OK, but the American right wing from Reagan to Sarah Palin has enjoyed for years likening America to a “beacon” for the world, and religious bigotry is not the behavior of a great beacon. It’s the reaction of a stupid people.

Great beacons don’t do stupid things like confuse unfamiliar spiritual beliefs and practices with threats to their homeland. Think for just a minute: If these terrible Muslims are so bent on making war against us they certainly don’t need to build a mosque to do it from. They can do it just as well or better from their living rooms and their basements.

Falling back on Self Reliance

Sometimes we on the left get so disgusted with our own fellow Americans and the stupid delusions they can be so invested in that we forget there is the potential for greatness in America, that there are strains of great brilliance in our history that we might tap to get us out of the cycle of madness we are caught in. We could be a real beacon.

Lately, when the stupidity gets really thick and oppressive I pick up an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It somehow connects me to the Earth and Spirit of an earlier time in America. Here’s some thoughts from the classic essay “Self Reliance.”

“The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet. He is supported on crutches, but lacks so much support of muscles. … His note-books impair his memory; his libraries overload his wit; the insurance-office increases the number of accidents; and it may be a question whether machinery does not encumber; whether we have not lost by refinement some energy, by a Christianity entrenched in establishments and forms, some vigor of wild virtue.”

It’s amazing that Emerson understood this without ever having lived with air conditioning or a garbage disposal unit or used a cell phone or tried to keep up with his e-mail and Facebook. Or never conceived of a lethal drone.

“I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.”

“I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways.”

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.”

And where does one learn such principles? By engaging one’s proto-American, Emersonian, self-reliant mind with Nature and a good liberal Education — not by capitulating to “badges” or listening to the ravings of “dead institutions.

Ref: Counterpunch

JOHN GRANT is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent, collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper. His work can be found, along with that of colleagues Dave Lindorff, Linn Washington and Charles Young, at www.thiscantbehappening.net

ISRAHELL: Israeli butchery at sea

As I write this piece the scale of the Israeli lethal slaughter at sea is yet to be clear. However we already know that at around 4am Gaza time, hundreds of IDF commandos stormed the Free Gaza international humanitarian fleet. We learn from the Arab press that at least 16 peace activists have been murdered and more than 50 were injured. Once again it is devastatingly obvious that Israel is not trying to hide its true nature: an inhuman murderous collective fuelled by a psychosis and driven by paranoia.

For days the Israeli government prepared the Israeli society for the massacre at sea. It said that the Flotilla carried weapons, it had ‘terrorists’ on board. Only yesterday evening it occurred to me that this Israeli malicious media spin was there to prepare the Israeli public for a full scale Israeli deadly military operation in international waters.

Make no mistake. If I knew exactly where Israel was heading and the possible consequences, the Israeli cabinet and military elite were fully aware of it all the way along. What happened yesterday wasn’t just a pirate terrorist attack. It was actually murder in broad day light even though it happened in the dark.

Yesterday at 10 pm I contacted Free Gaza and shared with them everything I knew. I obviously grasped that hundreds of peace activists most of them elders, had very little chance against the Israeli killing machine. I was praying all night for our brothers and sisters. At 5am GMT the news broke to the world. In international waters Israel raided an innocent international convoy of boats carrying cement, paper and medical aid to the besieged Gazans. The Israelis were using live ammunition murdering and injuring everything around them.

Today we will see demonstrations around the world; we will see many events mourning our dead. We may even see some of Israel’s friends ‘posturing’ against the slaughter. Clearly this is not enough.

The massacre that took place was a premeditated Israeli operation. Israel wanted blood because it believes that its ‘power of deterrence’ expands with the more dead it leaves behind.

The Israeli decision to use hundreds of commando soldiers against civilians was taken by the Israeli cabinet together with the Israeli top military commanders. What we saw yesterday wasn’t just a failure on the ground. It was actually an institutional failure of a morbid society.

It is no secret that Palestinians are living in a siege for years. But it is now down to the nations to move on and mount the ultimate pressure on Israel and its citizens. The massacre was committed by a popular army that followed instructions given by a ‘democratically elected’ government.

Considering the fact that Israel stormed naval vessels sailing under Irish, Turkish and Greek flags, both NATO members and EU countries must immediately cease their relationships with Israel and close their airspace to Israeli airplanes.

Considering yesterday’s news about Israeli nuclear submarines being stationed in the Gulf, the world must react quickly and severely. Israel is now officially mad and deadly. The Jewish State is not just careless about human life, as we have been following the Israeli press campaign leading to the slaughter; Israel actually seeks pleasure in inflicting pain and devastation on others.

REf: Al jazeera

— Gilad Atzmon (gilad.co.uk) is an Israeli-born writer and jazz musician living in London. He had previously served in the Israeli military but he is currently an anti-racism campaigner. His latest CD is In Loving Memory of America.

Gaza: it’s Hamas’s move now

Hamas must seize the initiative if there is ever to be an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine

So it has happened again. Nearly 18 months after the Israelis bombed Gaza to a wasteland, with barely a load of building materials allowed in since then, Turkey has taken the brunt of an operation of humanitarian assistance gone wrong.

The UN must establish the facts impartially and independently and, if laws have been broken, those responsible must be held to account. Political demonstrations posing as relief flotillas go wrong too easily and Israel understandably has to prevent weapons being smuggled into Gaza. But was this really the best way to bring the ships to shore for examination? A commando attack on civilian ships looks callous and disproportionate. No one should have been hurt, whatever the emotions behind all this.

Why is Gaza under siege in the first place? Under international law, the Israelis are responsible as the occupying force for the proper administration of the territory; and half the point of Israel is not to be above the law. Yet they are creating a traumatised territory of 1.5m neighbours, many of whose children seem to want to grow up to be suicide bombers. They are also pouring fertiliser on al-Qaida’s ground.

The director of UNRWA operations in Gaza, John Ging, gave a speech in London this week entitled “Illegal, inhuman and insane: a medieval siege on Gaza in 2010”. This objective humanitarian practitioner should be listened to. How has Israel, the only democracy in its region and a symbol of the need for racially inspired violence to end, come to risk any claim to international legitimacy in its handling of this situation?

Hamas are the enemy of Israel, but they do not have to be. They preach violent resistance too readily, yet over the past 17 months they have been trying to control the militant groups intent on threatening Israel with rockets – imperfectly perhaps, but not a single Israeli citizen has been killed (alas, one immigrant worker was) by a rocket since the Gaza bombing stopped in January 2009. They are also the implacable opponents of al-Qaida. They won a fair election in 2006 and claim to respect democracy. Let’s test them on that. At present, Hamas security people are being sniped at by the Israeli Defence Forces when they try to arrest other militant groups. This is genuinely getting insane.

The unwisdom of reliance on angry military responses is all the clearer when the mood in Palestine, in both the West Bank and Gaza, is steadily moving towards a negotiated end to the occupation. I am convinced from my own direct experience that Hamas is prepared to establish and respect a long-term ceasefire so that the talking can start without the threat of violence, and that they would enter in good faith, if that were reciprocated, into negotiations to establish two states in the disputed territories, Israel and Palestine, with their own rights and responsibilities under international law. The distortion of their position, a little of it the fault of their own PR, does no side any good.

If a comprehensive negotiation is too much to expect for now, what about a first step? I believe an arrangement to end the blockade is within reach if only Israel, Egypt and Gaza would test the possibilities of dialogue. Hamas have indicated that they could cease all attacks on Israeli soil, close the tunnels, release Gilead Shalit and stop the import of arms into Gaza if the blockade was ended, an agreed number of Palestinian prisoners were released and Gaza began to be rebuilt.

The Palestinians of course have work to do on their own internal reconciliation, while the relationship between Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza remains so bad. But the UN, the US, Russia, the EU and the Arab world must make a much more serious attempt to test the possibilities, putting ordinary Israelis and Palestinians first, not their own political comfort.

We are coming close to losing the chance of a two-state solution. US policy, based on a West-Bank-only approach, is locked in a cul-de-sac if Gaza is left out of the equation, because majority Palestinian support will be lacking. Israel is confident in the knowledge that it cannot be militarily defeated.

But that ignores the huge danger of losing the political, diplomatic, legal and moral high ground. This matters in today’s world, as the US and the UK discovered in Iraq, because government authority and public opinion interact closely, and legitimacy breeds support.

Israel’s relationship with Turkey was the key to a broader understanding with the Islamic community and others beyond the west. That now lies in tatters. If Israel is left as the permanent occupier, or controlling a one-state structure with part of its population downgraded or imprisoned, it will truly be a disaster for its people and what they stand for.

I hope that Hamas will not sit back and enjoy Israel’s discomfiture. They have so far, for a political organisation, attracted much too narrow a range of international support. If they wish to be widely accepted as a negotiating partner, they must unequivocally accept the only fully justified condition set by the international Quartet – the cessation of violence – underline that their objective is a two-state settlement, and win international friends for the ending of the occupation. In whoever’s hands, bombs, bullets, rockets and iron bars will achieve nothing. But a push for justice will.

• This article was originally written for the Times but not published

Ref: Guardian

BREAKING THE ILLEGAL ISRAHELL BLOCKAGE!!!

Also read:

Israel to stop Gaza aid ships

Strenger than Fiction / In order to change its image, Israel must change its policy

Saying Israel is progressive and creative doesn’t work when its politicians focus on victimhood and aggression.

One of the Foreign Ministry’s most important projects over the last years has been to research how Israel can rebrand and reposition itself in the world. The project has involved first class researchers in Israel and abroad, and I have been very impressed by the quality of the data and the analysis.

The first conclusion of the ‘Branding Israel’ project has been that Israel needs to focus on the young global elites, because these are today’s opinion shapers, and tomorrow’s political leaders. These elites, as research by economist Richard Florida has shown, and my own research confirms, possess liberal and progressive world views. They are repelled by bigotry, violence and intolerance, and they utterly reject political and military repression.

So far, the Israeli narrative has been governed by themes like victimhood and the struggle for survival. Accordingly, Israel’s image has been built primarily around the army and has always centered on the conflict with the Arab world – as a result, Israel is perceived as aggressive, withdrawn, without joie de vivre, and therefore negative.

The most important positive result of the ‘Branding Israel’ project has been that during the last decades, a powerful new sub-brand of Israel has evolved: it is called Tel Aviv, it is associated with Israel’s culture, technology and joie de vivre: it is perceived as liberal in outlook, full of vitality, creativity and oriented toward the future. Hence, the study concludes, Israel must rebrand itself as creative, vital and progressive; an image that has positive resonance with the young global elites.

However, there is one major obstacle in the path to rebranding Israel. Our politicians don’t seem to understand how the mechanism of rebranding works. They confuse the old concept of ‘hasbara’, which literally means ‘explanation’ with branding. Explaining and arguing has no impact whatsoever on how people experience a person or a brand. Our relationship to brands is like our relationship to human beings: it is primarily emotional.

If somebody explains to you that she is a nice person, but does so sternly and harshly, it is the tone of voice rather than the content of the message that determines the listener’s emotional reaction. Moreover: if you explain that you are nice, and are then seen behaving violently, it is the behavior rather than the words that will determine the emotional reaction. We all know this: if an airline explains to you that it is friendly, but you are treated dismally by its employees, you will tell your friends that the airline is horrible, not that it is friendly. Ultimately perception of a brand hinges on actual behavior and organizational culture, not propaganda.

Our politicians keep maintaining the image of Israel as obsessed with power and survival and reinforce Israel’s image as a negative world-presence. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman use every opportunity to compare the Iranian threat to the Holocaust and Netanyahu keeps expressing his concern for the Jewish people. Interior Minister Eli Yishai keeps repeating that Israel will continue to build in Jerusalem forever. In addition BBC broadcasts pictures of settlers hitting Palestinians and uprooting their olive trees. Lieberman may think that rebranding Israel will divert attention from the conflict, but this will not work.

Israel’s politicians and many of its well-meaning defenders say things like ‘but BBC and CNN are tendentious: why don’t they broadcast pictures of Israel’s medical breakthroughs and of its rescue team in Haiti?’ The answer is that in a free world you cannot dictate to the media what to broadcast. Because Israel’s actions in the territories are seen as its true nature, Israel’s sending its rescue team to Haiti is interpreted by many in the world, unfortunately and unjustly, as nothing but a propaganda effort.

Here we come to the deeper problem: in the same way an airline is, in the end, judged by its service, not by its advertising slogans, Israel is judged by its actions and not by hasbara. If Netanyahu wants Israel to be seen as progressive, liberal and creative, he cannot continue to build in Jerusalem, or say in his speeches that he will continue to do so forever. This is seen by the world as reactionary, repressive and brutal, not because the world is biased, but because Israel’s policy of dispossession in Jerusalem and in the settlements is indeed reactionary and repressive and cannot be justified by any security interest.

Israel will have to decide: it cannot rebrand itself as a liberal, creative and progressive country without being one. Our business sector, our artists and academics are mostly progressive, liberal and creative. But their impact on how Israel is perceived will remain negligible as long as Israel’s politicians and emissaries keep harping on victimhood and survival and as long as its policies are repressive.

This being said, for me the most important point is not how the world perceives us, but how Israel really is. We should care about being liberal, progressive and creative because these are values in themselves. Once the young global elites of the world will see that this is what we are, because we will have changed Israel’s policies, Branding Israel will take care of itself.

REf: Haaretz

Foreign Ministry, PR firm rebrand Israel as land of achievements (No one knows fascism better than Israelis.)

Israel to re-brand itself in the world

Special Place in Hell / Rebranding Israel as a State Headed for Fascism