≡ Menu

There are massive waves of racist and hate sweeping the Israeli Jewish public in the aftermath of the Gaza summer massacre and a series of tit-for-tat terror attacks in Jerusalem. The response has involved some truly revolting developments. Among them, the above song written by the popular Israeli Mizrahi performer, Emir Benayoun. He is an avowed Judeo-racist who detests Arabs and has previously incited against them in his songwriting.

He’s uploaded his latest song, Ahmed Loves Jews, to his Facebook account (listen above).  The lyrics dispense with any subtlety or hint of parody.  The “hero” is nothing less than the hook-nosed Jew of Die Sturmer infamy.  Here are the lyrics:

סאלאם עליכום קוראים לי אחמד
אני גר בירושלים אני לומד באוניברסיטה איזה דבר או שניים
מי כמוני נהנה מכל העולמות
אני היום אני מתון וחייכן
מחר אעוף לשמיים
אשלח לגיהנום איזה יהודי או שניים

זה נכון שאני סתם חלאה כפוית טובה
זה נכון אבל אני לא אשם לא גדלתי על אהבה
זה נכון יבוא הרגע בו תפנה לי את הגב ואז
אני אתקע בך את הגרזן המושחז

אני אחמד
גר באזור המרכז
אני עובד צמוד לגן ילדים
ואחרי – על בלוני הגז
מי כמוני נהנה משני העולמות
היום אני
ומחר הם לא
הרבה מהם הרבה מהם לא

זה נכון שאני סתם חלאה כפוית טובה
זה נכון אבל אני לא אשם לא גדלתי על אהבה
זה נכון יבוא הרגע בו תפנה לי את הגב ואז
אני אירה בך ישר בגב

Hello, they call me Ahmed
I live in Jerusalem and study a thing or two at the University
I enjoy the best of both worlds [Jew and Arab]
Today I’m mild and all smiley
Tomorrow I’ll fly to the heavens
And take a Jew or two to Hell with me.

It’s true that I’m an ungrateful piece of shit
It’s true but I’m not at fault, I wasn’t raised on love
It’s true a moment will come when you’ll turn your back
And I’ll slash you with a sharpened ax.

I’m Ahmed living in town
I work next to a kindergarten
And am responsible for the gas cylinders…

Reuven Rivlin, Israel’s president invited this ‘ungrateful piece of s(^t’ (quoting his own lyrics) to sing at the official president’s residence.  This is the same politician making nice to Israel’s Palestinian community about offering apologies for past Israeli sins.  While such apologies are welcome and long overdue, Rivlin and his staff know who this guy is. He’s been a friggin’ racist for years, dripping hate for Israel’s Palestinian minority.  Why did it take this song for them to decide to disinvite Beyayoun?  It’s because Israeli Jews have a deliberately short memory.  Once the cameras are turned off and reporters move on to sexier stories, they resume their lazy habits.

israeli jewish racism

Israeli Channel 10 poll exposes Israeli Jewish racism

Even while cancelling his state concert, the president’s chief of staff offered praise to Benayoun:

“Amir Benayoun is a renowned and exceptional artist, and his talent has greatly contributed to Israeli music. However, his statements made at this time of conflict and tension, even if uttered out of frustration and pain, do not, to say the least, help bring calm to the streets, and are inconsistent with the responsibility required of the President’s Residence…

In other words, let this thing settle down and we’ll have you back in a heartbeat.  What lesson’s learned here?  That Israeli Jews are sensitive to racism only when the world forces them to be.  Otherwise, not so much.

In an interview with Israeli radio, Benayoun threw back critical questions from the interviewer who asked whether he was inciting violence against Israeli “Arabs.” He counter-accused her of “murder,” because she was inciting hate against him and endangering his life.  This is a classic Israeli ultra-right bullying tactic.

israel second class citizen

Hebrew caption: “State of Israel, 2nd-class citizen. Has [19]48 yet passed?”

Israeli Channel 10 TV news aired a segment on the decision by the right-wing mayor of Ashkelon to outlaw Palestinian laborers to work on building projects near kindergartens.  He claimed that parents were calling him and refusing to bring their children for fear of a terror attack.  Though many Israeli politicians have denounced the mayor’s decision and pronounced it illegal, a strong majority (58%) of Israeli Jews approve it.  Only 32% oppose it. H/t Ronnie Barkan.

Young Israeli Palestinians have launched a social media campaign of their own called: Second-Class Citizen.  It features their pictures with an official Israeli stamp declaring them to be second-class citizens.

{ 3 comments }

Israel and the Rise of Judeo-Fascism

Well I see a bad moon rising
Yeah I see the end coming soon
Well I hear earthquakes and lightning
Yeah I hear the voice of rage and ruin

Well don’t go out tonight
It’s bound to take your life
Yeah there’s a bad moon on the rise

Well I see the rivers overflowing
I hear the troubles on this way
Yeah I hear that hurricane blowin’
Well I’ve seen some bad times today

Well I hope you have got your shit together
I hope you are quite prepared to die
Well it looks like we’re in for nasty weather
Yeah one eye is taken for an eye

Bad Moon Rising, Credence Clearwater Revival

There are times when bad things happen to Israel and its response to them make things worse.  Then there are times, without any prompting, Israel shoots itself in the foot (or mouth).  Recent days offered a perfect example of this.  In light of repeated tit-for-tat terror attacks in Jerusalem in recent weeks, along with Israeli expulsion of Palestinians from their East Jerusalem homes, and police pogroms in Al Aqsa mosque, Netanyahu has decided he’s got to teach those Palestinians a lesson they won’t soon forget.

So he’s proposed a series of what I call Israeli racialist laws that strip much of the “democracy” from the term commonly used to portray Israel: a “Jewish democratic state.”  Na’aman Hirschfield, an Israeli academic living in Berlin, wrote this keen description of the proposed legislation in Haaretz, which he declares affirms the official triumph of Israeli apartheid:

The government approved a bill that extends Israeli civil law into the settlements automatically (settlers are already subject to civil law) and thus officially extends the state’s civil jurisdiction into the west bank, which being an occupied territory, is currently governed through martial law…This territorializing action…seeks to dissolve the distinction between the occupied and non-occupied…

The result of such legislation is to extend Israeli law not just to individual Israeli citizens who live in the West Bank, but to the territory itself.  From there it’s just a hop, skip and jump to annexing the Occupied Territories entirely to Israel.  A goal all settlers and most Israeli rightists share.  One which will lead to civil insurrection both among Palestinians in the Territories and likely inside Israel itself.

…The democratic and secular basis of the state is under attack with the proposed “Jewish Nation-State Basic Law,” which Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed to push through as soon as possible.

The first clause of this law states:

“a. The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people in which it realizes its aspiration for self-determination in accordance with its cultural and historic heritage;

b. The right to realize the national self-definition in the State of Israel is exclusive to the Jewish people;

c. The Land of Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and the place of establishment of the State of Israel.”

It further asserts the significance of “Jewish tradition as a source of inspiration” [for] legislation, demotes Arabic from being an official language into a secondary language, and sets the “basics of liberty, justice and peace envisioned by the prophets of Israel” as a defining characteristic of the state alongside democracy.

…The [proposed] law would force the Supreme Court to give more weight in judicial decisions to the Jewish element than the democratic one in all instances in which there is a clash between the two, curtailing the judiciary and removing key checks and balances that have thus effectively prevented the enactment of a de jure apartheid through legislative and executive actions. It would also dramatically exacerbate the bias against Palestinians who are Israeli citizens (euphemistically referred to in Israel as “Israeli-Arabs”,) while introducing the denial of the Palestinians’ claim to a homeland and of their right to self-determination, into the legal foundation of the State of Israel itself; making the erasure of Palestine and Palestinians into the law of the land while enabling the expansion of the state to include the entire territory of the Land of Israel / Palestine.

Though the racist foundation of the State of Israel was clear from its very beginning in the Nakba, until now there was always a tension between the Jewishness of the state versus its democratic nature.  For the first thirty years or so, the secular, democratic nature of the state was prominent, perhaps even predominant.  But that began to erode with Israel’s victory in the 1967 war and the rise of settler Judeo-nationalism.

These proposed law would forever seal not just in law, but in the foundational principles of the State that it officially rejects the Declaration of Independence which affirms the multi-ethnic nature of the State and espouses equal rights for all citizens regardless of religion.  If Israel had a constitution, these proposals would be, in effect, amendments fundamentally altering the nature of the state.  It would be as if John Hagee persuaded a Christian president and Congress to amend the Constitution to endorse Christianity as the state religion, and the secondary place of non-Christian religions in American society.  Further, it would be as if such amendments also affirmed that the State existed to affirm the aspirations of the white Anglo-Saxons; and that non-whites could have no similar expectations within this state.

If Christian evangelicals made such a proposal, it would be met with consternation and roundly rejected.  But only because the U.S. was founded with a constitution that enshrined separation of church and state.  In Israel, David Ben Gurion deliberately finessed the question of how prominent the role of Judaism should be in affairs of state.  For him, the legitimation offered by Israeli Orthodox Jews at the time the state was founded was much important than defining the limitations of the role of religion in the state.  As a result of this devil’s bargain, we have the current mess.

Reporters in the mainstream media have noted that these new proposals, which are a religious version of the Nuremberg Laws, would drive a wedge between Israel and Diaspora Jews; and that it would also further erode support for Israel within the international community.  But I think it will go further than that.  With such a fundamental change in the nature of the state, Israel will truly become a pariah state.

As long as there was a tension between religion and democracy in defining the State, the world could choose to see Israel as a democracy and overlook the fundamental violations of rights of the non-Jewish minority.  But once Israel renounces democracy, all bets are off.  Then Israel becomes apartheid era South Africa or North Korea.  It may be possible for Israel to survive the ensuing sanctions and isolation with which the world will respond.  But it will survive as a pariah state in the same way North Korea is.

Israel’s advocates will respond: no, Israel will be no different than scores of countries throughout the world viewed as pariahs (Moldova, Zimbabwe, Sudan, etc.).  Each of those countries are viewed no more favorably than Israel, yet their leaders continue to lead and the world has done nothing to topple them.

This may be true.  But none of these countries plays a critical role either in their region nor are they a threat to regional peace and stability.  In other words, their sins may be ignored, something the international community always prefers if it can get away with it.  That is not the case with Israel.  The Middle East is too central, too critical a region to ignore in this way.  There is too much at stake in terms of natural resources and the possibility of nuclear conflict.

But there comes a point in the affairs of men and states, when the world can no longer ignore oppression and injustice.  Then it is forced to act, whether as a result of genocide (Rwanda, Serbia) or a campaign by international activists (South Africa).

UPDATE: The latest news is that after threatening to bring down the government if it voted on the “Jewish state” bill, Avigdor Lieberman brokered an agreement to postpone a vote by seven days.  I’m not sure what the delay is supposed to accomplish, unless it’s meant to water down the language so so-called moderates can either vote for it or hold their noses as it passes.

Israeli Palestinians: Canaries in the Coal Mine of Israeli Democracy


Today, Israel’s leading Judeo-fascist politician, deputy Knesset speaker, Moshe Feiglin, ejected two Israeli Palestinian MKs who spoke to the plenum objecting to the proposed racialist laws.  In doing so, Feiglin violated basic protocol of the body.  But as long as he violated only the rights of ‘secondary’ MKs, there will be no repurcussions:

MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) was forcibly removed from the Knesset podium and dragged out of the plenum on Monday evening after he called Moshe Feiglin (Likud), the acting speaker, a fascist.  Prior to Zahalka’s eviction, MK Mohammed Barakeh (Hadash) was removed from the plenum, also at the behest of Feiglin, for allegedly shouting “You should be suffocated” at the acting speaker.

Barakeh was evicted without prior warning, which is required by Knesset regulations.

The session, which was debating a no-confidence motion, came to standstill after Zahalka’s removal, with opposition MKs loudly protesting the move.  Feiglin subsequently explained that he had meant for Zahalka to be removed from the podium but not evicted from the plenum.

…In his speech, Zahalka attacked the new Jewish nation-state bill…Quoting the Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt, Zahalka said that she had criticized the idea of a national homeland for the Jewish people in 1941, arguing that it would turn the Palestinians into second-class citizens.

After Feiglin interrupted the speech with questions about Zahalka’s sources and terminology, the MK said: “I suggest you read her. Of course you are in an opposite world from hers… She was anti-Nazism, anti-fascism — and you are a fascist.”  Feiglin ordered Zahalka to end his speech immediately and, when Zahalka refused, he called the security guards, three of whom dragged the MK from the podium and out of the chamber.

I have deliberately used the term “fascist” to portray Feiglin because of his belief in Judeo-supremacy, his desire to destroy the Haram al-Sharif and replace it with a shrine to Judeo-primitivism and animal sacrifice, and because he supports the expulsion of Palestinians not only from the Knesset, but from Israel itself.

There is a related anti-democratic Knesset bill which would call for the expulsion of any MK who called for violence to oppose the State.  It’s known as the “Zoabi law” since it’s intended to eject her and disenfranchise her Palestinian voters.  Of course, Zoabi has never advocated armed rebellion against Israel.  But in Israeli terms, if you say a sympathetic word (as Israeli Jews would define “sympathetic”) about acts of Palestinian terror, then you yourself are terrorist.

This bill is not controversial among most Israeli Jews who detest Zoabi with a hatred once reserved in this country for Malcolm X, and no one inside or outside Israel would get terribly worked up about her expulsion.  But they should.  Zoabi is the canary in the coal mine of Israeli democracy.  If she “expires” politically, it’s only a matter of time before the Judeo-fascists come after more moderate opponents, even Jews.

I’ve regularly written here that Israeli party/electoral politics have grown increasingly irrelevant to Israeli society and certainly to any possibility of resolving the Israel-Arab conflict.  The Knesset isn’t a body which makes major decisions relevant to Israelis.  Almost all such decisions are made by the cabinet or ministries.  Can anyone watch the above video in which Feiglin shoves a sock in Zahalka’s mouth and then blithely turns to fellow rightist Yuval Steinitz and recognizes him to speak in place of the Palestinian MK, without recognizing the irrelevance of the Knesset?  It is an illustration of the dysfunction and bankruptcy of Israeli politics.  An emblem of despair and the collapse of whatever vestiges of democracy that remain.

Livni and the Co-Optation of the Political Center

peace now israeli declaration of independence

Israeli Declaration of Independence, ‘revised’ by Bibi Netanyahu

Those of you versed in Israeli domestic politics may remember that the justice minister in this most extremist of all Israeli governments is none other than Tzipi Livni.  She was the child of Irgun extremists who fought at the side of Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir in the days when they were terrorists.  Livni had a change of heart when Ariel Sharon abandoned the Likud to begin what was originally conceived as a “centrist” party, Kadima.  She joined him as a senior leader of the new party.

Almost all Israeli politicians except those on the governing far right have virtually abandoned political principles in favor of survival.  That’s why Livni agreed to accept a cabinet portfolio in the Netanyahu government.  She did so despite the fact that she fundamentally disagreed with the foreign policy of the government and its approach to Palestinian peace.

Now, Livni, whose justice ministry would implement the very racist laws her government is proposing, has discovered what a schandeh they would be.  She’s stolen a clever Peace Now graphic featuring the Israeli Declaration of Independence with all the democratic clauses stricken from the document.  They say the imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  But in this case, it’s the height of insincerity and hypocrisy.

If these proposed laws really bothered her all she has to do is resign to express her fundamental opposition.  But she doesn’t dare do that because there is increasingly no role for moderates in Israeli politics.  Without a ministry, she’d be consigned to political oblivion.  She has no real mandate, no clear platform.  Whatever she claims to represent (peace or democracy) she’s abandoned every time she was forced to make a choice.

To express her mock horror at recent developments, Livni featured a graphic of the Israeli Declaration of Independence with the democratic clauses excised.  It would be more powerful if she hadn’t ripped off a far more graphically compelling version by Peace Now.  Here is how it reads in translation (words in brackets are the “updated” Likudist version):

The State of Israel will be open to the aliyah of Jews and to the ingathering of exiles.  It will strive for the development of the land for the betterment of all its citizens [its Jewish citizens].  It will be founded on the principles of freedom, justice and peace [faith, military power, and extremism] in light of the vision of Israel’s prophets. [the Likud central committee].  It will maintain the absolute equality of social and political rights for all its [Jewish] citizens without differentiating between religion, race or sex.  It will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.  It will protect the holy sites of all religions [except Islam] and be true to the principles of the United Nations.[the Bayit Yehudi party].

The signatures on the document are meant to imitate those of Ben Gurion and ministers in his first Israeli government.  But here the signatories are Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett, Avigdor Lieberman, etc.

I feel far differently about the sort of developments I described above than I once might have.  When I was a liberal Zionist, the horrors and opera bouffe above would’ve embarrassed me on behalf of Israel.  I would’ve decried them and pointed out how bad they were both for Israel and Jews the world over.  But now, I’m sorry to say, I welcome such megalomania.  It is the only way to expose to the world the racism, violence, and injustice at the heart of today’s Israel.  It is the only way to cause such revulsion that it will be forced to take action.  It is the only way to transform Israel and make it a decent place.

{ 13 comments }

In Race for Next Shin Bet Chief, May Worst Man Win

I wrote here about a scandal initiated by Shin Bet chief, Yoram Cohen, a few weeks ago concerning the past Gaza war.  Cohen arranged for some of his most senior agents and officers to speak on camera with Israel’s most popular news magazine, Uvdah.  The message was not a pleasant one.  The Shabak claimed that both the IDF and cabinet ignored its repeated warnings several months before hostilities began, that Hamas planned a war against Israel in which it would invade the country and attempt to conquer territory.  The message backfired once the segment aired.  The IDF of course reacted with rage.  But even more importantly, the domestic security agency came across as whiny and carping about not being given credit for the valuable work it does in protecting the State.  The unspoken message was that the Shabak was the only government agency which raised the alarm while all around them were asleep at the switch.

Perhaps in a more traditional democracy such a complaint might have resonated had the security agency had a strong political opposition which could take up the cause, call hearings, command headlines.  But Israel has no such system (in security matters there IS not opposition), so Cohen and his boys were left out there hanging all alone.  No one came to their defense.  What’s more, the facts didn’t appear to support the arguments they offered to the Israeli public.  It didn’t appear that the Shabak knew any more about a Hamas attack than any other military or intelligence agency.  In short, Cohen was made to look the fool.

As a result, several prominent journalists began to demand the chief’s head.  The Uvdah strategem was so blatant, so out of character for an agency not known for washing the nation’s dirty linen in public, that it seemed reasonable to demand accountability and a resignation.  Amir Oren wrote such a story in Haaretz.  Yossi Melman joined him in i24.  Even Bibiton joined in.

melman

Yossi Melman’s mini-profile of Roni Alsheikh in the running for next Shabak chief

But when they raised the question of who might replace Cohen, they diverged in evaluating the candidates.  As I’ve noted before, there are two major figures in the running: Nadav Argaman and Roni Alsheikh.  The one drawing most attention and controversy is Alsheikh.  His nickname is The Fox, and he’s known for his wily, relatively violence-free interrogation technique.  He rose up through the ranks along with Cohen, whose speciality was recruiting Palestinian agents.  Their paths crossed professionally numerous times and they worked closely on numerous cases.  Today, the deputy is known to have the ear of his boss.

That’s because they derive from the same Mizrahi Orthodox ethnic milieu.  While Cohen’s family ethnic background is Afghani, Alsheikh’s is Yemenite.

For the first time in the Israeli media, Yossi Melman has published a mini-profile of Alsheikh.  It appears designed to make him more palatable to Israelis of more centrist views.  Melman notes that while the agency deputy has a religious-nationalist reputation, even more secular Shabak officers say it hasn’t interfered with his adherence to high professional standards.

Melman notes that Alsheikh is a graduate of one of Jerusalem’s prestigious yeshivot and a former West Bank settler (he no longer lives in a settlement).  He has eleven children and was already a grandfather at age 40! There can be no doubt that despite Cohen’s slightly quieter and more moderate style, they’re both devotees of settlerism, which is, after all, the sina qua non of the Likud.

One of Cohen’s “innovations” at Shabak headquarters was the dedication of a new synagogue.  In naming it, they eschewed conventional middle-of-the-road names like Beth El, Beit Elohim, Beth Am, Beth Israel, etc.  Instead, they went whole hog, adopting the tragi-messianic name, “Masada Fortress.”  Any student of Jewish history can tell you that, at least according to the prevailing myth, Masada’s defenders fought bitterly to the end against the Roman invaders.  When all their other options were exhausted, they committed suicide in order to protect national honor.  That should tell you quite a bit about the nationalist impulses of those who run the show there.

Haaretz’s Sefi Rachlevsky called Alsheikh’s political leanings “messianic,” which infers a presumed devotion to the more radical of the settlers.  If you’re a liberal Zionist, afraid that ultra-nationalism will stain the reputation of Israel’s purported democracy, his appointment would be quite alarming.  One could expect a rise in Jewish terrorism and price tag attacks along with an escalation of the level of Jewish violence.  Increased calls for destruction of the Haram al-Sharif (videos like this by Israeli settler “activist” Avishay Ben Yishay will no longer be considered mere fantasies) and expulsions of Palestinian residents from East Jerusalem.  One would expect the police and intelligence services to ignore or even facilitate settler transgressions.  Such an appointee would fuel the rising religious war that’s gathered a head of steam over the past month or so.

Many of Haaretz’s columnists believe that Israeli democracy is salvageable if they would only work hard enough to save it.  For them, Alsheikh is yet another nail in the coffin of such liberal Zionist dreams.  I don’t share these views.  Like Jerry Haber who, during the 2008 election, publicly welcomed a Netanyahu victory because he believed it would further expose the fatal flaws of the current Israeli political system and hasten its downfall, I believe the more extremist Israel’s security approach becomes, the quicker the world will understand the naked ugliness at the heart of apartheid Israel.  External pressure and even intervention is the only hope for Israel’s longer term survival.  It won’t come as long as liberals inside Israel and out believe there’s something left to save of this empty shell.  So in this race to the bottom, I say may the worst man win.  Israel should get what it deserves: a Shin Bet director who reflects its worst fear, ignorance, violence and hate.  It’s supremacism, bigotry and Islamophobia.  Let’s not put a pretty face on this.

Liberal Zionists want to merely rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.  Why should we care whether the intelligence chief is a radical settler or more moderate, Meir Kahane or Tzipi Livni?  What’s the difference, really?  One smells nicer than the other.  But they each end up the same place.  It only takes longer for one to get there than the other.  They both serve the same fundamentally unjust system.  If the worst candidate wins, and bares the fangs of the agency so that the world sees this evil more quickly and clearly–so much the better.

The same holds true for candidates for prime minister.  Besides the certainty that no “moderate” could win, I wouldn’t want one to win if he or she could.  I say elect the most extreme there is.  Bibi’s too smooth.  He’s learned to sweet talk and appear moderate when he needs to.  Bennett, despite his support for ethnic cleansing and bantustans, may also be too moderate.  Lieberman would be good.  A former club bouncer turned Israeli despot.  A fire-breathing fascist.  Maybe Feiglin.  Eventually, you know as well as I, he will throw his hat into the ring.  I want him, personally.  The worse the better.  Let the world see the ugly face of Israeli racialism.  Force the world to stare it in the eye till it blinks.

Abraham Lincoln said “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” In this case, that’s not such a bad thing when the foundation is based in thievery, ethnic cleansing and apartheid.  The “house” that is Israel, the one predicated on Nakba, Occupation and apartheid, must fall before a New Israel can rise in its place.

{ 3 comments }

New Evidence of al-Ramuni Murder

Yigal Sarna's Yediot report on al-Ramuni killing

Yigal Sarna’s Yediot report on al-Ramuni killing

Tonight, a report in Yediot Achronot by Sokolov Award-winning journalist, Yigal Sarna, offers more circumstantial evidence that Hasan al-Ramuni, the East Jerusalem Egged bus driver found hung in his bus, was murdered.  For the basic elements of the story, read my last post here.

Sarna writes his story as a Tale of Two Cities, one Jewish and one Palestinian.  Just as in Dickens the two cities are separated by class, wealth, and status, so Jerusalem is divided by race, religion and ethnicity.  As Sarna moves from one part of the divided city to another, his observations are sad, almost elegaic, about the opportunities lost by both communities.  It’s Israeli journalism at its finest.

At the scene of the crime, which took place in the same neighborhood as the Har Nof synagogue terror attack, Sarna met investigators for the Israeli human rights NGOs, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Ir Amim.

This is a translation of excerpts of Sarna’s report:

“The bus driver was found dead,” the Palestinian investigator told me, “a few hours after the Bratslav Hasid was stabbed (Hebrew).  This too is a reason we believe this [al-Ramuni’s killing] was an act of revenge.”  According to his investigation, a dispatcher and another driver found him [al-Ramuni] strangled and [his body] almost seated, because the bus was too short for hanging.  “He was strangled with thin twine, not appropriate for hanging, which cut into his flesh.”

…Even if the police claim of suicide is correct, the Palestinians accept only one version, that he was murdered by Jews.  And that is what fans the flames.  This was also the same day that Bentzi Gopstein, one of the primary agitators in Jerusalem against employing Arab workers, was photographed brandishing a noose.  The picture was later removed from his Facebook page.

…As I made my way home through alleyways filled with Israeli SWAT teams wearing body armor, as a single elderly Palestinian street sweeper swept among them, I was reminded what the two NGO investigators had told me about a series of attacks against “Arab” bus and taxi drivers.  They work alone among Israelis every day.  Even the bus driver found strangled had complained in the past about being attacked.

It’s unfortunate that NGO investigators are the only ones continuing to pursue this case.  The Israeli police have forgotten it, even closed it.  They have no interest in proving anything other than suicide.  This rush to judgment will be further proof in the minds of Palestinians that there is no justice for them in Israel.

UPDATE: Interesting that the Israeli police, the very ones who’ve whitewashed this case, are attempting to strongarm the Palestinian pathologist who said he believed al-Ramuni was murdered.  Apparently, in Israel if police don’t like what you have to say they can browbeat you into submission.  Imagine threatening a medical professional with arrest, interrogation and prison (or God knows what other forms of harassment they have in store for him) because he offers his opinion on a matter within his field.  If only the police would treat all the other Israeli Jewish generals, politicians, and police officers who actually lie to the public the same way!

I challenge the authorities to allow an independent forensic pathologist from abroad to examine the body and conduct any relevant tests.  Such an individual could not be pressured, hectored or bullied.  If his or her opinion supports Israel’s that should go a long way to put to rest any doubts about the cause of death.  If this does not happen, then no amount of police bullying will stop Palestinians from drawing the proper conclusions.

{ 11 comments }

Terror Rules Jerusalem

All the U.S. national news headlines speak of yesterday’s heinous synagogue terror attack by Palestinians in the West Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof (largely populated by Haredi Jews).  The assault resulted in five Israeli dead with the two Palestinians attackers killed as well.  U.S. news programs have also focused on the American citizenship of three of the victims, bringing it closer to home.

Ironically, Har Nof means roughly (“lovely view”) and is the Hebraized name for the village of Deir Yassin, where the Irgun murdered 100 Palestinians as part of the pre-war (1948) violence that eventually led to the Nakba.  It’s also a bit of black humor that after the War of Independence, Deir Yassin became the site of an Israeli mental asylum, the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center.  It’s horrible to think that this single place could be the site of two such tragedies.

Jerry Haber offered this eloquent perspective on Har Nof:

I refuse to be affected by scenes of blood distributed by partisans from Har Nor or from Gaza. I refuse to play moral one-upmanship on behalf of my tribe or any tribe. In Cast Lead, I told people to stop forwarding me pictures of Palestinian babies who were blown to bits, the purpose of which was to harden my heart against the Other. The scenes of praying Jews lying in their blood remind me of the Jewish terrorist Barukh Goldstein and not Kristalnacht. But I pray to God that He gives me the strength to be unaffected, except by what I know to be right. This is not hardening my heart. This is stiffening my resolve not to be swayed by tribalist emotions. And, frankly, after seeing this go on for decades, it becomes easier.

In the next few days, after the IDF and the settlers will have taken their vengeance, under the Orwellian cover of “deterrence”, life will go on. The settlers who commit price-tag attacks will be condemned for a day, then understood, then arrested, maybe, convicted maybe, and pardoned, probably. The soldiers and police will do whatever they want with impunity, B’tselem cameras or not. Land will be expropriated, freedoms eliminated, the matrix of control and, most of all, the routine will continue until the next time, when Jews die, and the clueless Israelis hold everybody and everything but themselves responsible.

The families of the terrorists will have their houses blown up, and God’s name, and the memory of the Jews who were murdered today, will once again be desecrated

In this post, I want to focus on an earlier killing that has dropped out of the headlines.  Two days ago, a Palestinian bus driver, Yusuf Al-Ramuni, was hung on his Egged bus.  Israeli police immediately pronounced the death a suicide, before any forensic investigation.

Al ramuni corpse

Blood pooling on corpse of Hasan Al-Ramuni

An autopsy was performed by an Israeli pathologist.  The victim’s family also named their own Palestinian pathologist to join the procedure.  Within hours of the autopsy, Israeli media trumpeted the confirmation from the Israeli coroner confirming the verdict of suicide.  They erronenously claimed that the Palestinian medical expert concurred with the Israeli opinion.  Based on my own experience in such matters, everything seemed way too pat.  When it appears Israel is overexerting to fit circumstances to a preconceived set of “facts,” you know something is askance.

I wanted to find out what the family’s medical expert said before wading into the subject.  Last night, VICE linked to the Palestinian media version (similar report here), which stated categorically that the man was murdered by unknown “criminal others.” The following offers excerpted translations of this report (Arabic):

…According to the results of the initial autopsy he [the victim] was murdered by ‘strangulation by hanging’ and did not commit suicide…

The expert [pathologist] explained that … the autopsy showed postmortem lividity on the back, not on the lower extremities, indicating that the victim was not hanging for long.

In other words, in a standard case of suicide by hanging the blood would flow downward and pool in the legs and feet. In this case, the blood pooled in his back, indicating that he died while lying on the ground. He would later have been strung up in the bus in the condition in which he was found.

The account continues:

He [the pathologist] said samples of body fluids were taken to be tested in the laboratory to determine the presence or absence of narcotic substances… and pointed out that it devolves to the possibility that the martyr has been sprayed by someone with drugs, and at the same time  another person may have tied a wire around his neck from behind and cut off oxygen from his brain…

There was no dislocation of the first neck vertebrae, which is usually found in cases of suicide by hanging.

He said that the crime lies in the context of “organized crime” in which criminals are working to hide any evidence… and added that the laboratory tests need a long time, which exceeds three months.

Again, I do not know how Al-Ramuni died. But neither do the Israeli police. And the fact that they rushed to declare him a suicide before having any scientific or medical basis for doing so–along with the Palestinian pathologist’s finding–offer a strong basis for suspecting murder.

Not to mention that suicide is exceedingly rare in Palestinian society and suicide by hanging even rarer. I think the Israeli version of events stinks.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what really happened because Palestinains are so cynical and mistrustful of past Israeli bad behavior that they wouldn’t believe Israeli authorities even if they provided video of Al-Ramuni hanging himself. There is a deep credibility crisis, which no one seems to acknowledge. Why is it that Palestinians always have to prove their trustworthiness, while Israelis always assume that they are self-evidently so? That’s certainly not the way Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world see things.

Further, in the media rush to cover the horrific attack on the Har Nof synagogue, let’s not forget that this incident preceded it. Terror always has a context. Do not forget that no matter how heinous an event, something equally heinous preceded and incited it.

While the world justifiably gasps at an attack on a Jewish house of worship, let’s remember that Palestinians see their own mosques and cemeteries torched and desecrated by settler price taggers. They see hundreds of heavily armed Israeli Police defiling the sacred precinct of Haram Al Sharif. Does anyone believe that a Muslim is not as horrified by this encroachment as a Jew is by an assault on praying Jews?

It takes two, and Palestinian rage derives from Israeli provocation. Certainly, the settlers who murder Palestinians believe the converse. So why not credit Palestinian rage as much as Israeli?

I was bemused yesterday by John Kerry’s demand that Mahmoud Abbas express contrition for the Har Nof attack (which the PA leader dutifully did). Why should a measure of the worthiness of a Palestinian leader be based on how obeisant he is to Israeli pain or rage, when no Israeli leader (except perhaps Reuven Rivlin) expresses anything but rote lines of insincere, rehearsed regret at similar Palestinian suffering?

Examine once again Bibi’s response to the Kafr Kana police murder. He dispensed with rote regret altogether. He launched into barely controlled rage at Palestinian protests against this cold-blooded murder and warned they would be “dealt with” severely if they didn’t learn to behave themselves.

Bibi doesn’t mind the current level of civil unrest. It plays into his hand for upcoming elections, and this is literally all he cares about. Israelis flock to the strong man, even if he’s utterly unable to stifle Palestinian terror. The problem will be that Bibi will win an election, but have no more idea how to quell the rebellion after the election than he does now.

I wrote the title of this post deliberately, conveying a literal and figurative meaning. Law does not rule in Jerusalem. Bibi does not rule. Not even the security state rules. The wild-eyed, vengeful god of Terror does. Woe betide such a hellish zone of fire.

Those who murmur about a Third Intifada should admit that it’s already here. But unlike the earlier Intifadas, this one is a mutual affair in which Jewish terror (whether official and State-sponsored or vigilante-based) responds to Palestinian terror (or vice versa). This is a far more dangerous phenomenon than anything that preceded it. My fear is that the State, when it runs out of options, will resort to naked terror, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Think of Kent State in a U.S. context or Tiananmen Square in a Chinese context.

Like Casey Jones of the American folk-myth, we are on a train careening down a mountain grade after losing our brakes. Furiously blowing the whistle to warn bystanders to get out of the way won’t help. We are headed for disaster and no one will be spared. It’s only a matter of time before it happens.

{ 50 comments }


Those of you who go back with this blog to 2009, may remember a few posts I wrote then analyzing a fascinating bit of hasbara branding Frank Luntz prepared for The Israel Project.  Reading it five years ago felt so much like walking into the lion’s den, that I was endlessly fascinated by it.  I wrote four posts and only reached page 20 out of 80!  I rather liked my needling of the concept calling it a “hasbara fictionary.”

Now, of course, Luntz’s advice is much more stale and and less striking than it was then.  His arguments have been endlessly bruited about since then.  The cynicism and abject hucksterism of his approach has been ridiculed.

Jewish National Fund funds new hasbara handbook

Jewish National Fund funds new hasbara handbook

But after this summer’s Gaza war, his Israel Lobby clients decided they needed a sequel to the 2009 hasbara handbook.  I haven’t determined who his client is this time.  Since Josh Block has upended Jennifer Lazlo Mizrahi at TIP, Luntz may no longer be the preferred consultant.

In September, the Jewish National Fund featured a national phone briefing with Luntz which featured his new “research.”  So it’s likely this hired gun is now working for JNF.   The Rabbinical Assembly has also distributed the new work.  When he consulted for TIP, they paid him $200,000 a year, so that gives you an idea of how much this PR project earns him.

They commissioned the presumptuously titled, Communicating the Truth about Israel.  Jewish Voice for Peace and Zak Breiterman first publicized its existence.  It’s shorter this time, coming in at 60 pages and is mostly a series of Powerpoint slides.  Presumably, he can tote them around to his Lobby clients’ various board rooms and set up the slide projector and fire away at the enemies of Zion everywhere.

What continues to fascinate about Luntz’s approach is that it is almost totally devoid of facts or evidence.  The PR maven specializes in sentiment and emotion.  He focuses on what people believe, and changing it to what he wants them to believe, if the two diverge.

Reading this document was a little like listening to a soft rock radio station.  It played the sentimental favorites you remember from a more innocent time.  Nothing was terribly threatening or overly excited.  It seemed designed to lull you into a state of nostalgic contentment with tunes and slogans past.

The opening slide is most instructive, containing what might be the motto of the whole enterprise:

You decide which facts matter.

Just as Humpty-Dumpty said, a word meant precisely what he wanted it to mean, nothing more, nothing less; so Luntz opens his discourse with an invitation to cherry-pick reality.  And Luntz is using the word “facts” loosely since there are almost none in the document.

He offers an “alarm-bell” poll statistic which is indeed interesting: when offered a choice among supporting Israel, Palestine or remaining neutral, 54% of all those polled supported Israel while 38% were neutral.  But among those of college age only 36% favored Israel while 49% were neutral.  Though Luntz’s evaluation, calling it a “disaster among college kids,” is a bit histrionic, he’s not entirely wrong.  Israel’s reputation and perhaps future among the American public is on a downhill trajectory.  The younger generation doesn’t buy the romantic-nostalgic narrative that worked so well among the old.

While strong majorities of those polled overall described Israel as “democratic,” “civilized” and “peaceful,” among the young those numbers were much lower. The lowest youth polling figure, 31%, said Israel wants peace with its neighbors.

A large portion of the handbook is a sales-marketing tool directing not only which arguments to use (and which to shun), but which words and concepts to use in discussion with Israel’s critics.  This is political rhetoric brought to the field of battle just like armaments used by the IDF in actual war.

It’s light on analysis and heavy on peppy catch phrases like:

We use rockets to protect children and they use children to protect rockets.

In this mendacious slogan, there’s no acknowledgement that Palestinian rockets didn’t kill any Israeli children and hardly any Israeli adults, while Israeli rockets killed 500 Gazan children.

Luntz’s polling must be showing that the human shield meme resonates among his Zio-focus groups.  Which is terribly odd because while I hear the argument among pro-Israel social media advocates, it’s so easily disproven that they withdraw the claim as soon it’s refuted.  Again, the notion of human shields is one of those sentiment-motivated concepts that isn’t quantifiable or even provable.  It just sounds good.

Luntz milks the false sincerity of what those of us who spend time on political sites would call the “concern troll.:

I do not blame the people of Gaza for feelings of grief, anger, and desperation. I blame the Hamas leadership who sow the seeds of hate and tell innocent civilians to live as human shields while hiding in five star Qatari hotels thousands of miles away.

Or this:

All lives matter…Palestinian lives…Israeli lives…every life matters.

The picture accompanying this slide of course shows mourning Israelis.  No mourning Palestinians.  Surprise, surprise.

The above passage continues:

We need more conversations, not less … more listening, not less.

Children should be taught to live, not to die.

Let’s make this the last generation to experience war

Again, more sloganeering.  Hamas’ leaders were in Gaza and suffered along with civilians there.  Khaled Meshal does live in Doha because after an Israeli assassination attempt, he’s not safe in Gaza or any country in which Israel might be able to strike him.

It’s interesting that while Luntz’s “21 Phrases for the 21st Century” speak derisively of Palestinian society as a “culture of hatred” and “radical Muslim Jihadism,” he insists that Palestinians should offer Israel “mutual understanding/respect.”  That Palestinians should choose “conversation and cooperation,” “making progress” and “a future without violence.”  Again, there’s no recognition not just that Israel has offered far more violence than Palestinians, but that Luntz’s own slogans deny Palestinians the very respect he says Israel deserves.

Despite the fact that the United Nations denied Gaza militants the use of their facilities to launch attacks against Israeli forces (there were a very few instances in which unoccupied schools, which the UN could not monitor due to intense fighting, were used briefly), Luntz continues the false claim here:

Schools are for students to learn, not for terrorists to launch weapons.
Children are our hope, not our human shields.

luntz arabophobe map

Frank Luntz’s Arabophobic world view

No acknowledgement that in pre-state Israel, Jewish militants used civilian facilities including synagogues and schools to hide weapons.  With one of the most powerful armies in the world, Israel now maintains vast armories and bases to store its weapons.  It doesn’t need schools to do so.  But if the tables were turned, you can be damn sure Israelis would use any facility they could get their hands on to store such munitions.

The handbook features an ominous Arabophobic map in Islamist green which features the hostile “neighborhood” in which Israel lives.  The latter is a tiny endangered red spot amidst a sea of green.

In another interesting poll result, most respondents had a highly negative view of the word “Zionist,” with students polling even more unfavorably.  When offered the words “Israel,” “Jewish homeland,” “Jewish nation,” overall reactions were favorable to the terms.  But among students none offered a majority response that was favorable.

Clearly, a major goal of the project was to offer student activists and their adult handlers short, snappy, pithy pro-Israel pitches to bolster campus activism.  The horror-show video produced by Luntz and displayed above, covers ground not mentioned explicitly in the new handbook.  It offers heartfelt stories of purported anti-Semitism on campus.  Anti-Semitism is the fire and Frank Luntz is the fireman.  Show him the money and he’ll show you how to put the fire out.  That seems to be the message.

Here are some of the catch phrases offered under the Luntzian Words That Work:

Don’t say Israel is “willing” or “open” to negotiations. That’s way too passive. “Israel is eager to negotiate…”

Here’s a glaring lie offered under “Words to Use:”

Israel offered 97 percent of the disputed territories to the Palestinians and the recognition of a Palestinian state in return for two common sense conditions: recognition of the Jewish state and Israel’s right to exist. The Palestinians have refused

Note that Israeli maximalism (“recognition of the Jewish state”) is portrayed as a “common sense condition.”  Common sense for whom, one might ask?

Here’s another sentimental whopper which falsifies Jewish history:

Everyone deserves to call somewhere home. For Jews that were forcibly scattered across the globe again and again for centuries, that home has always been Jerusalem and the land around it. For more than two thousand years and right up to today, the religious, cultural and historic home for Jewish people has been Israel.

Actually, “for centuries” the actual, physical home of almost all Jews was not “Jerusalem and the land around it” but the Diaspora, where for much of this period we fared reasonably well and continue to do so now.  Yearning for Jerusalem has been inscribed in prayers recited during this period, but until the last century, very few Jews set out to realize the aspirations expressed in these prayers.

Luntz is partial to flourishes of trumpets as in this “clear call to action:”

Describe the GLOBAL threat of terrorism and the consequences of inaction. “We stand against terrorism everywhere and every time. That’s why we stand with Israel”

The implicit message here is that only Palestinians and Arabs can be terrorists.  Preferably, mixing them up with other Arab/Muslim terrorists like Al Qaeda and ISIS, through use of shibboleths like “global terrorism.”

Given that the hasbara project was initiated to rebut the bloody nose Israel suffered during the Gaza war, there is much that smears Hamas:

Point out the specific differences between Israel and Hamas.
Discrimination against women
Explicit laws against homosexuality
No religious freedom
No political tolerance
No justice or rule of law

One may easily throw each of these claims back against Israel itself and note that major pockets of Israeli society discriminate against women and denounce homosexuality.  Recent events have shown there is no religious freedom in Israel unless you confine the claim to Jews.  Israeli Muslims face tremendous restrictions on their worship, and their mosques and cemeteries are under regular assault by settler price taggers.  Israel offers very little tolerance of views outside the right-wing national political consensus.  Those on the left face physical assault, arrest and general repression.  The rule of law doesn’t exist in Israel for security offenses, whether you’re Jewish or Palestinian.

Luntz’s slogans are meant for those who have only superficial knowledge of both Palestinian and Israeli society.  In that sense, the Lobby’s favorite brand manager offers little more than pablum to his clients and those indoctrinated by his small ideas.  I’ve written before here about the closing of the American Jewish mind on questions like Israel.  The handbook is a perfect example of this.

gaza women

Women sans scarves at a riding school just outside Gaza City

He continues the anti-Muslim onslaught in this slide:

Under a Hamas-ruled Gaza, all women are forced to wear the head-scarfs, churches are destroyed, and homosexuals are put to death. Hamas has assassinated hundreds of opponents in its effort to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state.

arab head scarf

Grieving Palestinian woman wearing a head scarf. What oppresses her more? Israel’s killing of her son or her head scarf??

Here Luntz neglects to acknowledge that women throughout the Arab world wear head-scarfs.  The wearing of a head-scarf is not an oppressive act.  Not to mention that some women in Gaza do not wear head scarves as the photo proves.

Though there have been a few random acts of violence against Christians in Gaza, Hamas has not permitted the level of anti-Christian intolerance rampant in Pakistan or Iraq.  Islam, like many traditional religions frowns on homosexuality.  But homosexuals are not “put to death” there.  Nor has Hamas “assassinated hundreds of opponents.”  It has executed those it deems Israeli spies and in 2006, after Fatah launched an armed putsch against it, Hamas retaliated with violence against Fatah operatives. Operatives were killed on both sides. The Bush administration and Netanyahu government both supported the coup attempt.

Need we remind the great Luntz that in pre-state Israel, David Ben Gurion used violence to put down a threat to the military supermacy of the Palmach in the Alta Lena affair, which killed many Lehi fighters.  But why spoil this with facts??

Onward in the slideshow to “discuss” BDS.  Luntz ostensibly favors a soft approach in expressing his oppostion.  The words he uses are mild, soothing, irreproachable:

“Conversation & cooperation”

“Diplomacy & discussion”

It MUST be a HUMAN, EMOTIONAL, and HEART-FELT approach

How can you argue with this, except when you realize that the Jewish community itself has reacted to BDS with precisely the opposite approach.  Hillels, Jewish community centers and federations have demonized the movement and prohibited it from their premises.  “Discussion?” “Conversation?”  Where?  Perhaps on the campuses where Luntz is trying to fight this scourge.  But not in the Jewish community itself.  To which I reply, stop being hypocrites.  If you want to be credible as a campus opponents of BDS you must allow free discussion of the issue in your own communal institutions.

Luntz argues in the final line from this passage for a “human, emotional” rebuttal to BDS.  In other words, use a heart-felt Jewish affirmation of Israel to overwhelm any possible rational discussion of the issues.  Overwhelm opponents with tears and fears so facts or reason get shoved aside. This is the strategy pro-Israel student groups are using to fight campus BDS resolutions. Though it sometimes works, it often fails, as shown by the many campuses which have endorsed BDS.

Here’s more on how to fight BDS:

BDS fails to recognize that the path to peace is paved with diplomacy, discussion and cooperation, not isolation or continued conflict.

If this passage is correct, then Israel has been chief violator of the protocol prescribed by Luntz.  The only “diplomacy” Israel tried is a failed peace neogtiation in which it offered Palestinians nothing of value.  Israel has offered no “cooperation” with either Palestinians or even Americans, for that matter.  Its government has contented itself with apartheid, absolute separation between Israelis and Palestinians.  There are walls, segregated roads, and harsh punishments including possible death for Palestinians who violate the rules.  Israeli extremists, whose political allies run the government, offer repeated vicious acts of racist violence.  Where is “cooperation?”

The document spends a lot of time arguing with the straw-man that is the Hamas Charter.  The latter was written by an anonymous scribe in 1988 and never been embraced as an operational document.  It’s not a constitution, not even a mission statement.  No laws have ever been made following its precepts.

The U.S. Institute for Peace wrote in a 2009 report:

“Although peaceful coexistence between Israel and Hamas is clearly not possible under the formulations that comprise Hamas’s 1988 charter, Hamas has, in practice, moved well beyond its charter. Indeed, Hamas has been carefully and consciously adjusting its political program for years and has sent repeated signals that it may be ready to begin a process of coexisting with Israel. [And,] As evidenced by numerous statements, Hamas is not hostile to Jews because of religion. Rather, Hamas’s view toward Israel is based on a fundamental belief that Israel has occupied land that is inherently Palestinian and Islamic.”

Conversely, the humanistic values of the Israeli Declaration of Independence have never been realized.  But Israel advocates do not throw this in Israel’s face. Why no mention of an Israeli founding statement to which Israelis only pay lip service?  Instead, they hypocritically focus on a document no Palestinian or Hamas follower knows or cares about.

In other words, Luntz is grasping at straws, desperate to dredge up dirt on Hamas that will somehow change the subject from Israel’s mass murder during the Gaza war.  If it takes a 30 year-old document only David Horowitz, Frank Luntz and a few other Islamophobes know by heart, then so be it.

Here’s some more Hamas bashing based on false premises:

The Palestinian government uses its billions of dollars in global aid NOT for schools, playgrounds and hospitals, but for terror tunnels, bullets and bombs.

Note the use of “Palestinian government” rather than “Hamas.” First, the PA, which Luntz is attempting to include in this smear, does not engage in terror.  But even if this passage was addressed directly at Hamas, it would be wrong.

“Terror tunnels” are a hasbara branding effort to describe what are defensive tunnels inside Gaza, used with only a few exceptions to defend territory Israel invaded.  Those bullets and bombs mentioned are also used to defend Palestinians.  Anyone wishing to attack Hamas’ use of rockets against Israel must take into account the reason for the rocket attacks: Israel conducted massive pogroms on the West Bank after three teenagers were kidnapped and murdered there.  The rockets were a direct response to Israel’s acts of collective punishment and terror (seven Palestinians were killed during these pogroms and 500 were arrested).

Further, the only reason Gaza needs all that international aid is because of Israel’s illegal siege against 1.8-million Gazans.  Absent the siege, Gaza would have a thriving economy, tax collection and revenue enabling the building and maintenance of communal infrastructure.  Gaza could be a normal place.  The fact that it isn’t is Israel’s fault entirely.

Here is more glibness:

No child should have to experience the horror of a bomb shelter. No child should have to run for their life because of missiles and rockets fired on its people. None of this needs to be happening. We have done everything possible to avoid hurting Palestinian children. Hamas has done everything possible to put Palestinian children in harms way. This madness has to stop.

In Luntzworld, only Jewish children suffer; the suffering caused by Palestinian madmen.  If Palestinian children suffer, it is because of those same Palestinian extremists who force Israel to kill them.  No Israeli wants to kill anyone.  “We” have no choice.  It’s kill or be killed, and who can fault Israelis for choosing the former rather than the latter?

The “madness” may have to stop, but refusing to acknowledge the Israeli responsibility for it is only one of the many trespasses of this project against decency and truth.

Next, the slideshow touts Israel’s vaunted dedication to ethics in defense of the nation:

Nobody wants to harm the Palestinian people. They are Israel’s neighbors. They deserve better.

Israel has to remove the missiles that are being fired at her people. When those missiles are placed near schools or other civilian areas, Israel sends warnings 30 minutes in advance, telling them to get out of the way. Why? Israel wants the Palestinian people to be safe.  But Hamas tells them to stay.

Again, “we” Israelis don’t want to kill Palestinians.  If not for those nasty Hamasniks we could all be friends and love one another.  There is a notion that Israel only attacks Gaza to root out rockets killing Israelis.  No discussion of the Dresden-like immolation of entire Gaza neighborhoods in retaliation for ambushes that killed Israeli soldiers inside Gaza.  No explanation why, if the IDF solely wants to stop rockets, it’s necessary to kill 1,800 civilians including 500 children.  Were they all lying on top of rocket launchers when they were killed?

Hamas never told any civilians to defy Israeli orders to evacuate.  In fact, if civilians did as they were directed by Israel they had no refuge to which to flee.  They had no guarantee that in the open streets they would be safe.  In fact, they knew that the UN schools to which tens of thousands did flee, were themselves military targets in which massacres occurred.  Many preferred staying in their homes where they might die to fleeing to an unknown future.

In other words, what Luntz offers is an moral swamp of rhetoric that conceals, rather than reveals the truth.  Here’s more miasma:

Hamas deliberately places its rockets in and among schools, mosques, and other civilian areas. Israel puts its military weapons far away from civilian areas.

Not exactly.  IDF headquarters, the Kirya, is in the heart of Tel Aviv.  If an enemy attacks the Kirya, they will endanger hundreds of thousands of civilians living in its vicinity.  Is Israel a cynical monster for placing its own citizens in such danger?  As for Hamas’ siting of its weapons in civilian zones, I’m certain if Hamas had as much territory under its control as Israel did, it too would create military bases away from civilian areas and fortify them as Israel does.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t have that luxury.

Who are the warmongers? Hamas of course:

The Palestinian People Are The Victims

Who has the most to gain from peace? The Palestinian people.
And yet Hamas continues to wage war.
Peace cannot be achieved as long as Hamas is committed to war.

Actually, every Israeli attack against Gaza has been an offensive one.  No Hamas battalions ever crossed into Israel to attack civilian communities.  Hamas doesn’t threaten Israel existentially.  When Israel attacks and invades Gaza it is a war of choice.  A war of aggression.  Israel is the warmonger, not Hamas.

In the following statement, Luntz offers blatant lies:

Hamas has abused hundreds of millions of dollars donated for humanitarian aid, some of it American tax dollars, to build these terror tunnels. For the cost of one tunnel, they could have built one hospital. If there is a humanitarian crisis, why does Hamas spend its money on bullets and bombs?

There is absolutely no support for this claim.  In fact, U.S. law prohibits any aid to any Palestinian entity associated with Hamas.  If there are any tax dollars supporting Gaza they are violating U.S. law.  As for the claim that our tax dollars supporting building tunnels, this is an even more atrocious, shameful lie.

This portion of the Powerpoint whitewashes Israel’s illegal settlements:

If West Bank settlements were the real obstacle to peace we would have had peace long ago. The real obstacle is Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish state within any borders, as reflected in Palestinian leaders’ statements and in Palestinian media. The controversy about settlements is a symptom, not a cause, of the conflict, which is rooted in Palestinian rejectionism.

The first sentence above is incoherent nonsense, a failure of logic.  The claims about Israel as a Jewish state are also non-starters since Israelis themselves do not share a consensus on the question.  Secular Israelis understand that if Israel is a Jewish state it very likely will be a theocratic state in which religion dominates all spheres, especially the political.  That isn’t something these non-religious Israelis welcome, as shown by the fact that Justice minister Tzipi Livni has shelved a Knesset bill that would’ve incorporated into the Basic Law the precept of the State being Jewish.  Other Israelis also recognize that such designation of Judaic supremacy disenfranchises non-Jewish citizens, who are 20% of the population.

Not to mention that the “Jewish state” demand is illogical on its face.  How many western states define a single religion as a foundational principle?  Shall the U.S. demand all others recognize us as a Christian nation?  Would the Palestinians have the right to demand that Israel recognize Palestine as a Muslim state?  Why would even Hamas make such a demand?  If it wanted an Islamic state it would create one.  Why would it need Israel’s permission or approbation?  The entire notion is absurd.

{ 20 comments }

Israel and ‘Criminals’ Who Run the Asylum

Soldier at right in screenshot from this CNN video is aiming his rifle, which killed second Palestinian victim

Soldier at right in screenshot from this CNN video is aiming his rifle, about to kill second Palestinian victim

In this CNN video of the murder of two Palestinian boys at a Nakba Day protest outside Ofer Prison, it clearly shows a Border Police unit and an unidentified gunman firing at the Palestinians as the camera swivels to show the mortally wounded boy on the street. It’s incontrovertible that the shooter pictured is the killer. The video also shows a Magav commander removing the weapon from the hands of the soldier.  Though I’m no expert on Israeli uniforms, the shooter appears to be wearing a green uniform which matches those of the IDF.  He’s also wearing a helmet nothing like those worn by the Border Police, but more like those worn by the IDF.  The others with him appear to be wearing the black uniform of the Border Police.  That means that while a Border Police officer may’ve killed one of the youths at a different time, an IDF soldier likely killed the other.

There were reports at the time that an IDF videographer had taken a weapon and was firing it.  The individual firing the rifle in the screenshot and video is the one in question.  Why he would’ve been with the Magav unit, rather than the IDF unit to which he was assigned, I can’t explain.  In other words, this is either a frame-up or whitewash.  Either the wrong man’s been arrested or they’ve only arrested one of the killers.  Nor have they explained how a Border Police commander allowed unauthorized personnel to be firing weapons with live ammunition.

border police facebook supports

Israeli ‘enforcer’ uses weapons and grenades to spell out his support for Border Police shooter

Facebook: We are all Magavniks!

Israeli supporters of the unnamed Border Police officer charged with murdering two Palestinian youth and then lying about it have created a Facebook page, We’re All with the Magavnik!  “Magavnik” is an acronym for the Border Police and denotes a member of the unit.  It has nearly 24,000 Likes.  The timeline is filled with photo-shrines to the accused killer featuring personal weapons and grenades spelling out the Hebrew words.  There are also human backs (the literal Hebrew phrase “give a back to” means “lend a hand to”) festooned with messages of support along with dogs, babies, children, masked and unmasked soldiers, all decrying the country’s leaders who’ve allowed this fine specimen of Israeli manhood to be thrown to the dogs.

facebook border police

“‘Give a hand’ to the Border Police!”

Among the false claims made by the administrator of the Facebook page is that the incident in which the Palestinian boys were murdered was an “act of terror.”  The victims were not armed and weren’t even throwing stones at the soldiers.  They were also shot in the back and posed no threat to the Israelis.

Another posting is reputed to be written by a “close relative” of the accused:

…[My words] come from a many-years long, close relationship with the lad-fighter-Magavnik arrested in the name of the State of Israel, the same State he defended bodily, along with the people who dwell in Zion.  A fighter who dedicated his soul with endless love and devotion in defense of his homeland.  I attest on his behalf with the strength of a thousand witnesses to his being a valiant youth with the highest values and ethics, who respects all human beings because he too is a human being.

Your weekend rest [on Shabbat] is in your warm home, while this fighter’s is in a cold cell where he is imprisoned, alone and abandoned.  “Murderer” they call him.  Be ashamed!  Any connection between the word “murder” and this fighter is completely delusional.

In the name of mothers everywhere, I apologize that you are imprisoned at this time.  I apologize that you’ve been betrayed [by your leaders who arrested you].

We’re with you all the way!

The rhetoric and style of this address mirrors arguments offered by settler apologists who defended Yigal Amir and begged the nation for his release.  The words offer readers a sense of guilt and shame that a hero fighting desperately to defend them should be treated as such a vile criminal.  I can’t imagine another western country in which such rhetoric would resonate.  Here in the U.S., there are certainly police officers who would speak this way about someone like Darrel Wilson, the Ferguson killer.  There are soldiers who might defend one of their own who went on a rampage and killed 15 Iraqi civilians.  But I doubt they would organize a Facebook page in his defense with the equivalent of 1-million Likes (our population is approximately fifty times that of Israel).

That’s why I titled this post the “criminals are running the asylum.”  Israelis who’ve lent their support to these killers are essentially supporting his crimes.  They’re saying that murder committed in defense of the homeland isn’t a crime, but rather an act of valor.  This is nationalism turned into a criminal enterprise.

The leaders being pilloried by these protesters have reacted with mock anger saying that such public expressions of support amount to “digital insurrection.”  But this is mock indignation.  The officials themselves agree with those attacking them.  They’ve arrested the shooter probably with the intent either of allowing the charges eventually to be dropped or for him to receive a slap on the wrist (something like a 30 day prison sentence).

What interests me is what this says about contemporary Israel: only a criminal state mounts such vehement support for the criminals in its midst.  While the world reacts with revulsion at the murder and bloodlust which characterizes the Border Police (always known as one of the most brutal of Israeli security units), Israel views it as heroic.  There couldn’t be a greater disconnect between national illusion and reality.

{ 23 comments }