Thursday, March 29, 2012

Global March to Jerusalem

I've been doing some reading tonight to try to discover what will happen tomorrow in Jerusalem, the ultimate goal of the grandiosely-named "Global March." (For a more sympathetic report on the goals of the march, see a blog article on the MSNBC website - Global March to Jerusalem).

Israel - Land Day and Arab Israelis 

 

The reason that the "Global March" has been scheduled for tomorrow, March 30, is because this is the anniversary of "Land Day." According to AFP, "Land Day is held every year on March 30 to mark the deaths of six Arab Israeli protesters at the hands of Israeli police and troops during several mass demonstrations in 1976 against plans to confiscate Arab land in Galilee." The main demonstration in Israel will occur in Deir Hanna in the Galilee.

Preparations in Israeli itself include (according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and AP):
Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, who oversees the national police force, said officers would be spread out in potentially explosive areas Friday but would not enter Arab villages unless needed. "The guidelines are to allow everyone to mark Land Day quietly ... We will keep a low profile," he told Israel Radio.

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said thousands of officers were on the move throughout the country Thursday in preparation for Land Day. He said the biggest deployments were near Arab towns in northern Israel and in Jerusalem. He said police were in touch with leaders of Arab communities in Israel in an attempt to keep protests peaceful. "We're hoping there won't be any major incidents," he said. "If there are ... obviously the police will respond and deal with them." 

Jerusalem 

 

 According to the Jerusalem Post, the Jerusalem police have raised the alert level for tomorrow. "Thousands of police officers will fan out across Jerusalem, with an emphasis on the alleyways of the Old City and crossings such as the Kalandia checkpoint to Ramallah and the Rachel Checkpoint to Bethlehem, said Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby."

Palestine and Palestinian Authority

 

In Palestine itself, protestors will concentrate on crossing points from Palestinian territory into Israel, especially the checkpoint at Qalandiya. They will also be demonstrating in Bethlehem, and at the approach to the crossing into Israeli territory at Rachel's Tomb. In Gaza, they will be marching towards the Erez crossing into Israel. In Lebanon, they will convene at the Beaufort, which is a few miles from the northern border of Israel. In Jordan, they will gather at the site where it is believed that Jesus was baptised.

My expectation is that there will be violence at all of the crossing points, especially at Qalandiya, where there have been continuing protests and frequent violent clashes with the Israeli Border Police.

West Bank 

 

Ynet reports:
Sa'id Yakin, one of the protest organizers in the Palestinian Authority, told Ynet that rallies will be held at three West Bank focal points. "We expect thousands of participants," Yakin said. "We have no interest in confrontation, and this march will not give rise to a third Intifada. We hope this move will affect Israel and its government's policy." Palestinian security officials are also preparing for the weekend's events and are estimating that most marchers won't be able to get through local roadblocks and approach Israeli territory.
The AP reports: "Mahmoud Aloul, a Palestinian leader in the West Bank involved in preparations, said demonstrations were to be held in Jerusalem, the Qalandiya checkpoint — a frequent flashpoint of violence on the outskirts of Jerusalem — and in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.  

 Khaled Abu Toameh in the Jerusalem Post reports also about Aloul:
Mahmoud Aloul, a senior Fatah official, said that most of the protests in the West Bank will take place at the main entrances to Jerusalem. He voiced hope that tens of thousands of Palestinians would take part in the protests, which are expected to begin immediately after Friday prayers. The mass protests are intended to reflect the Palestinians' objection to Israeli occupation, Aloul explained.

Gaza

 

The AP reports: "Activists in Gaza planned to hold a demonstration about a kilometer (half a mile) from the Israeli border, but said they did not plan to move closer, minimizing the chance of clashes." Khaled Abu Toameh also reports: "In the Gaza Strip, Hamas officials also urged Palestinians to participate in Friday's marches and protests. Hamas is hoping that thousands of Palestinians would march toward the Erez border crossing with Israel after Friday prayers."

Lebanon 

 

Ynet reports that "In Lebanon, participants will convene for a prayer session on the Beaufort, which overlooks the border with Israel. Public figures are expected to deliver a speech at the site, with organizers looking forward to welcoming tens of thousands of participants." AP also reports: "Likewise, authorities in Lebanon and Jordan said they would keep demonstrators far from the Israeli border. Several thousand protesters were expected in each place. It was unclear whether protesters would gather in Syria, which is in the midst of a vicious civil war that has left thousands dead over the past year."

Jordan 

 

Ynet reports:
Jordan has set the gathering point at the site where it is believed that Jesus was baptized, a location overlooking Jerusalem. According to plans, this rally will also include speeches and masses of protestors. Jordanian coordinator of the march, Ribhi Halloum, said: "We feel the immense interest in the event expressed through donations from private individuals and the Islamic Movement."The Al-Dustour newspaper reported that Jordanian Prime Minister Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh expressed his readiness to provide the Jordanian government's sponsorship to the march which he said would be non-violent.

Syria 

 

Israel is also making preparations along the border with Syria. On Yom al-Nakba (May 15) and Yom al-Naksa (June 5) last year there were attempts to enter Israel at Majdal Shams, a Druze town very close to the Syrian border in the Golan Heights, and at Quneitra. Israel has strengthened the border fence near Majdal Shams, as the photo below shows.

Israeli soldiers stand on the border fence between Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights, and Syria, as security is tightened ahead of Land Day, Thursday, March 29, 2012. March 30 is traditionally marked by Israeli Arabs as "Land Day," a time of protests against the confiscation of Arab-owned lands by Israel. In recent years, Palestinians have joined in. Photo: Hamad Almakt / AP (http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Palestinians-Prisoner-ends-44-day-hunger-strike-3444158.php#photo-2752110).


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Student hooligans from Brandeis scream at Israeli Knesset members in Newton, Mass.

Disgusting hooliganism by Brandeis University students on Monday night (3/26/12), when so-called "pro-Palestinian" activists disrupted a meeting with several Israeli Knesset members in Newton, Mass. They went off campus to yell and scream at MKs from Likud (Ofir Akunis), Yisrael Beitenu (Lia Shemtov and Faina Kirshenbaum), Labor (Raleb Majadele), and Meretz (Ilan Gilon) who were participating in a "town-hall" style meeting at a synagogue in Newton, Temple Emanuel.
According to a statement by Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine, members of the group, as well as activists from affiliate groups, wearing t-shirts displaying the word "apartheid" in Hebrew letters, "mic-checked the panel, protesting the undemocratic nature of the Israeli apartheid state and notified the offending officials that until their government ceased its discriminatory policies they were not welcome by students at Brandeis University community events."

"The activists were pushed outside the hall by police officers and private security guards. One Brandeis student was arrested and another was injured while being thrown to the floor by a police officer," the statement added. A video of the incident was uploaded to YouTube.

Activists chanted at the panel: "Israel is an apartheid state and the Knesset is an apartheid parliament," as well as: "We will not welcome Israeli officials to any Brandeis University event until apartheid ends."
Raleb Majadele was the first Arab minister in an Israeli government, appointed by Prime Minister Amir Peretz in 2007 to the post of Minister of Science, Culture and Sport.

This is not the first time this year that Majadele has been subjected to hooliganism. In early January, "Anastassia Michaeli, a hawkish Israeli lawmaker, got so angry during a routine parliamentary debate Monday that she took a glass of water, tossed it at Labor Party backbencher Raleb Majadele and said 'shame on you' before storming out." Majadele must be doing something right, if both the extreme left and the extreme right react so violently to him.

I find it particularly shameful that the group that behaved so disgracefully was from Brandeis University, which was founded as a secular Jewish university and has a majority Jewish student body. It's disgusting that a group of students from Brandeis, an educational institution that prizes the use of reason and upholds the right of free speech for all, should be so intolerant of the exercise of free speech by others that they travel off campus to disrupt a conversation at a synagogue, of all places.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Daylight savings time in Israel - still controversial!

One of the amusing things about being in Israel is that every year the Knesset passes a law deciding when daylight savings time will start and end. This year, apparently, it will start on Friday, with the clocks moved one hour forward at 2 A.M.  The ending date still has to be decided. The Interior Ministry wants it to start before Yom Kippur, while the Kehat Committee (a committee set up by the Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, last year when 300,000 people petitioned to end daylight savings time later in the year) recommended that it should continue until October 1.

"Global march to Jerusalem" this Friday, March 30, 2012

It seems likely that things are going to get hot again here on Friday, when the "Global March to Jerusalem," organized principally by Iran and its proxies, will be sending marchers to all of Israel's borders with the goal to "end the Zionist policies of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaization, which all harm the people, land and sanctity of Jerusalem."
Earlier this week, the Israel-based Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reported that Iran is the primary force behind the initiative, both directly and through proxies such as Hezbollah. In February, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei described the Global March as an expression of Iran’s policy to strengthen “resistance operations” against Israel.
The Iranian regime is also apparently forcing its Jewish community to send representatives to this march. The Society of Iranian Jews issued a statement that was published on the Global March to Jerusalem website.
“We the Iranian Jewry would also like to show the disassociation of the anti-humanitarian works committed by the occupying Israeli regime and their usurping army with the commandments of divine laws of Prophet Moses (P.B.U.H). We would like to show our support with all those who desire the lawful rights of the valiant nation of Palestine,” the group said.
The Global March to Jerusalem does not acknowledge any Jewish claims either to Jerusalem or to the land of Israel.
The GMJ website refers to all of Israel as occupied land. “Massive marches will be organized in Palestine (the 1948 seizures, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) towards Jerusalem or to the nearest point to it,” it says.
The logo on the homepage features all of Mandatory Palestine, and is set against a banner showing Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock and Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Muslim and Christian holy places are set against the backdrop of the Mount of Olives, but the sprawling 3,000-year-old Jewish cemetery with its 150,000 tombstones is absent, replaced by a barren hillside.
On this point, see also the official letter sent out by the GMJ. The rights of Christians and Muslims in Jerusalem are mentioned, but not of Jews, and there is no reference to Jewish holy pages. The only possible reference to Judaism in connection to Jerusalem is the vague statement, "It is the centre of spirituality and ideological significance for all of the monotheistic religions," but otherwise there is not even a hint to legitimate Jewish rights to the city. Another thing to note is that the letter makes no distinction between east and west Jerusalem.

Among the "world leaders" who have signed this statement are Dr. Cornel West, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Prof. Judith Butler, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb. It's worthwhile to remember these names, because by their participation in this march, they have lost all moral or intellectual credibility that they might have otherwise gained through their worthy endeavors prior to their support for this march.

There are local organizing committees for the GMJ, including one for North America. Their website lists additional endorsers, some of whom include:
  • Ann Wright, United States Army colonel, ret.
  • Cindy Sheehan, anti-war activist; mother of US soldier killed in Iraq; author
  • Medea Benjamin, Co-founder Code Pink and Global Exchange
  • Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor and Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT
  • Richard Falk, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University
  • Marcy Winograd, Los Angeles teacher, peace activist and former candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives
For more information about the GMJ, see the website set up by CiF Watch - Exposing the Truth about the Global March to Jerusalem.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A nuclear duck!

Hussein Ibish just tweeted:


Well, we are well into Saturday afternoon and no one seems to have compared Iran or Israel to a duck yet. What gives?

I tweeted back:


Did you see the cartoon for the Friday paper?

He just tweeted back:

No - URL? Please, please, please tell me it doesn't have a duck in it!!!!!

I tweeted back: 

Let me see if I can find it in the online edition. Yes, there was definitely a duck in it! (tongue in cheek).

And then I found the duck!:

In response he wrote these two tweets (quacks?):


OMG! Last straw. But will not run screaming naked down the street like that Koby2012 psycho Jason Russell -

I stand disgusted & corrected - Friday's Ha'aretz cartoon does indeed feature... A DUCK (kill me now!) - via

I'm not sure what's driving him so nuts about ducks, but he's very funny about it!

Jerusalem Post article on the anti-war protest tonight in Tel Aviv

Around 1,000 march in TA anti-war with Iran rally

Protesters express opposition to strike on Iran, voicing anti-Netanyahu slogans and railing against AIPAC.

By BEN HARTMAN

24/03/2012

Print Edition
Photo by: Ben Hartman
In the first significant anti-war with Iran protest held yet in Israel, around a thousand Israelis marched through central Tel Aviv on Saturday evening to voice their opposition to those calling for a strike on Iran to stop the Islamic Republic’s quest for the nuclear bomb.

Titled “Israelis Against the War”, organizers said on the protest‘s Facebook page that “we will not agree to an irresponsible Israeli attack in Iran, leading to a war with an unknown end-date and casualty count…The billions that this war will cost will be paid by us – in health, education, housing - and in blood.”

One protester, 32-year-old Chen Sharabi-Cohen couched his opposition to the war in terms of how it will disproportionately affect weaker Israelis.

“I live in South Tel Aviv where we don’t have shelters or the protection we need. We have nowhere to go. If they want to attack Iran, they should first worry about preparing the home front.”

Israel’s first large anti-war rally was inspired by a campaign launched last week by an Israeli couple looking to reach out to their Iranian counterparts.

A little over a week ago Ronny Edri, 41, and his partner Michal Tamir, 35, both graduates of Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, uploaded pictures of themselves on Facebook which read “Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We love you.”

The anti-war meme quickly went viral, and within days there were dozens of such photos posted online by beaming, non-threatening Israelis. Soon after, the Iranians got into the mix, with several Iranians posting messages of love to Israelis, albeit most with their faces blurred or removed altogether from the posters. Within days the Israel and later the global media took notice, and a graphic artist’s whim became a major news item.

Saturday’s protest was not planned by Edri, but organizers said they saw it as a natural extension of the spirit of Edri’s online campaign.

In many ways the demonstration brought to mind the J14 “social justice” protests held over last Summer. Not only were there many familiar faces from the summer at Saturday’s rally, but the march began at Habima square, the same spot where the J14 protests started. In addition, the organizers of Saturday’s rally were all heavily-involved in the J14 movement, which, like Saturday’s protest, was started inadvertently by a young Tel Aviv woman who launched a Facebook initiative that caught the attention of the media and quickly soared to unforeseen heights.

The protesters also voiced many anti-Netanyahu slogans that were heard from time to time during the summer’s protests, including “Mubarak, Assad, Bibi Netanyahu” and “bring down the government”, among calls for peace and social justice. In addition, there were several placards voicing opposition to the American pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.

Overall it appeared to be a quintessentially Tel Aviv crowd, with many from the city’s protesting caste marching, a rather significant number with red flags and Hadash party posters.

Two protesters wearing posters with the slogan “Iranians we love you” from the Facebook campaign, Einav Raz and Shelly Nativ of Tel Aviv, said they were against not only a war with Iran, but also the very existence of nuclear weapons anywhere in the Middle East, including Israel.

“We must disarm all of the Middle East from nuclear weapons, Israel included,” Raz said. When asked how she would stop Iran from developing a nuclear program, she said “I would speak to them, invite them to sit at the table and talk to s. There are peace offers out there, but Israel just wants war.”

By the time the march made its way to Meir Park across from the Likud headquarters, the crowd had largely dwindled from its peak of around 1,000. They continued to chant at the park, with a small crowd moving from Israeli peace songs to the Beatles “all you need is love” and John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance”.

A large counter-protest was expected, but in the end only around a dozen people came to voice their opposition. One of them, Eliyahu Nissim, 24 of Herzliya, carried a sign that read “the left embraces our enemies”.

Nissim said he came Saturday night to say “the Jewish people is eternal and all people who rise up to destroy us are legitimate targets for attack.”

He added “all of the people [of Israel] are with us on this.”

First Israeli demonstration against war with Iran

Tonight in Tel Aviv there is the first demonstration in Israel against an attack on Iran. I had hoped to go but wasn't able to find a ride there (because of Shabbat, there weren't buses leaving for Tel Aviv in time for me to get to the march, but friends of mine went).

This is the report on Ynet: 1,000 march against Iran strike.
Virtual campaign takes to streets as protesters rally against bombing Iran's nuclear facilities
Shahar Chai

מחאה נגד מלחמה. הערב ליד כיכר הבימה  (צילום: מוטי קמחי)
"Social justice does not equal war with Iran" and "Bibi and Barak - war is not a game!"

Some 1,000 protesters marched in Tel Aviv on Saturday night in a show of opposition to the possibility of an Israeli strike in Iran. Over 2,300 citizens confirmed their attendance on Facebook. The march, titled "Israelis against a war with Iran," began at Habima Square and was expected to conclude with a rally at Meir Park.

"Together, we will inform Netanyahu and the world that there is no mandate to drive us into war with Iran," a spokesperson for the protest movement said prior to the event.

Some protesters wielded posters bearing the slogan "When the government is against the people, the people are against the government," and called on the country's leaders to resign.
"שיחות, לא פצצות. הערב בתל אביב" (צילום: מוטי קמחי)
"Talks, not bombs"

"The next war would take a very heavy toll," one protester said. "Thousands of rockets will explode every day, and there are no gas masks."

The global media and social networks have been abuzz in recent days over an Israeli couple's virtual message of peace and love to the Iranian people. The message, penned by graphic designers Ronny Edry and Michal Tamir, was simple: "Iranians, we love you. We will never bomb your country." A poster bearing the slogan was posted on Facebook and quickly went viral, prompting thousands to share it, comment on it and make their own versions.

Officials and pundits have been increasingly speculating in recent months that Israel is preparing to strike Iran's nuclear facilities in order to stunt the Islamic Republic's reported atom weapon development.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Israel loves Iran

If you don't live in Israel (or Iran, I guess), then you don't know how bad it has gotten. Israeli politicians are broadcasting the message loud and clear that it's only a matter of time before Israeli attacks Iran. It's frightening. I have had quite a few conversations with my Israeli friends about this - and while they are generally the type to hide their fears, they are talking about the risks of war. None of them want war, regardless of their political opinions (pretty right wing to ultra-left-wing). But there hasn't been any antiwar movement at all, on the popular level. Haaretz has editorialized against war, and some high officials (like Meir Dagan, the former head of the Mossad) has strongly campaigned against war with Iran. There haven't been any demonstrations, even from the far left (unless I haven't heard about them).

Ronny Edri and Michal Tamir are two Israeli graphic artists who have started a Facebook campaign with the message "Israel Loves Iran." They posted photographs of themselves and their family with the wording "Iranians: We will never bomb your country. We ♥ you." See their FB page for lots of posters -

At first, they only heard from fellow Israelis, who sent them posters with their photos on them. Then they started to get responses from Iranians, who take a real risk when they communicate with Israelis in any way.

Here are some of the posters they have received from both Israelis and Iranians. 

An Iranian Happy Nowruz (New Year) poster - Nowruz is happening right now.

From the Israeli satire show, Eretz Nehederet - these two guys appear on the show as workers in an Iranian atomic plant.


And here's the message that Ronny sent out with the first posters:
To the Iranian people
To all the fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters

For there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate.
I'm not afraid of you, I don't hate you.
I don t even know you. No Iranian ever did me no harm. I never even met an Iranian...Just one in Paris in a museum. Nice dude.

I see sometime here, on the TV, an Iranian. He is talking about war.
I'm sure he does not represent all the people of Iran.
If you see someone on your TV talking about bombing you ...be sure he does not represent all of us.

I'm not an official representative of my country. but I know the streets of my town, I talk with my neighbors, my familys, my friends and in the name of all these people ...we love you.
We mean you no harm.
On the contrary, we want to meet, have some coffee and talk about sports.

To all those who feel the same, share this message and help it reach the Iranian people

ronny

http://israelovesiran.telavivnet.com/

http://www.facebook.com/pushpin
I hope that this Facebook campaign turns into a real political movement against war with Iran.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gilad Atzmon in Geneva, New York

BobFromBrockley reminded me that Gilad Atzmon is now on a tour of the United States, and one of the places he visited was Geneva, New York, not too far from Ithaca, where I usually live. I found an article about his visit on the Finger Lakes Times website. He was, as usual, sponsored by Daniel McGowan's outfit, Deir Yassin Remembered. He was accompanied by his regular sidekick and fellow antisemite, Rich Siegel, playing at the Cracker Factory (no, I did not make up this name!).

At the same time, Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS) sponsored a showing of a documentary entitled "The Anatomy of Hate," by Mike Ramsdell, who also led a discussion about the film. The Geneva Human Rights Commission attended the film screening instead of going to hear Atzmon, something that McGowan complained about The Commission also placed an ad in the Finger Lakes Times called “10 Ways to Fight Hate.” About 110 people attended the film screening, while only about 30 went to hear Atzmon.

I don't know if the movie was scheduled purposely to counter Atzmon's visit. McGowan is a former professor of economics at HWS and has gotten into hot water in the past with the administration for his open advocacy of antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

The March 14, 2012 issue of the Finger Lakes Times reported on Atzmon's visit: "Controversial Israeli-born musician draws sparse crowd; more attend film on hate."
Mellow jazz mixed with controversial politics Tuesday night at The Cracker Factory, where about 30 people gathered to hear Gilad Atzmon play the saxophone and denounce his native Israel as a state “dominated by Jewish racist expansionist ideology.”

Across town, another group gathered for what the Geneva Human Rights Commission promoted as a positive alternative to Atzmon’s performance: A showing of the award-winning documentary “The Anatomy of Hate” at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

... Atzmon denounces Zionism, the movement that founded Israel as a Jewish state and defends it as such. He also believes Israel and Jewish Americans influence U.S. policy and use it to defend a system that discriminates against Palestinians.

Critics say Atzmon, at best, creates an atmosphere that fosters anti-Semitism and, at worst, makes anti-Semitic statements himself.

He lived up to his controversial reputation Tuesday, describing himself as a “self-hating Israeli Jew” and comparing Israeli policy to Nazism.

Siegel, who once led a Zionist youth group, likened Judaism to a “cult” and himself to a “cult survivor.” Atzmon, however, drew a distinction between people who follow the Jewish faith and people who consider themselves Zionists or adhere to what he described as Jewish ideology.
Karen Baer, the director of the Human Rights Commission said, as reported in in the same article, “The timeliness of ‘The Anatomy of Hate’ screening is perfect and significant in that it can serve as a positive alternative to the Gilad Atzmon concert taking place at the same day and time at The Cracker Factory. The concert is an event, we believe, that is intended to target, demonize and stereotype valued members of our diverse community.”

The article also reports more complaining by Daniel McGowan.
In a written statement, he said she was trying to smear two Jewish performers and the Deir Yassin Scholarship Fund he leads.

“Is our director an anti-Semite?” he wrote. “Or is she so philo-Semitic [biased toward Semitic people] that she cannot accept the charge of apartheid levied against Israel by Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and even President Jimmy Carter. ... ‘The Anatomy of Hate’ is an excellent film that promotes dialogue and understanding. But for the Geneva Human Rights Director to promote that film simply as a tool to bludgeon two Jewish performers whose work she has not read and for whom she has no time for dialogue is manipulative and shameful.”
The author of the article should have known better - "philosemitism" means that one is pro-Jewish. The word should be read as the opposite of antisemitism - hatred of the imagined quality of semitism that is characteristic of Jews, not of all "Semites" (an imaginary racial category).

So, another victory for sanity - 110 people decide to attend a film combating racism and antisemitism, while 30 decide to attend Atzmon's failed tour of the US.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Is it 2012 or 1955 in the United States? Postmodern antisemitism

While I've been living in Israel, working on my book, waiting for it to finally get warm here (It's warmer in Ithaca than in Jerusalem today - that is so wrong!), and worrying about missiles being fired at cities in southern Israel by Islamic Jihad, and on the longer term, worrying about whether there's going to be a war with Iran, the United States has apparently been obsessed with the crucial issue of whether women should use birth control, because if a woman uses birth control this means she's a slut, or something. Welcome to 1955!

I am sure that all my US readers know the details about Sandra Fluke's encounter with the unpleasant Rush Limbaugh, who called her a slut for the crime of being a young female. It turns out that the whole brouhaha about Fluke and birth control has descended completely into the gutter, more than you might imagine. I was just reading Marc Tracy of Tablet about a new wrinkle in this revolting story. Some right-wing agitator named Brooks Bayne posted a rant attacking her and her (supposed) boyfriend, who is Jewish. He attacks them both for being socialists, attacks Brandeis University as socialist (the boyfriend's family has given money to the university), while at the same time attacking them as members of the 1%. The boyfriend's great-grandfather was a wealthy man, and at one time headed the United Jewish Appeal, that terribly radical Jewish organization.

Bayne has thus succeeded in engaging in that unique trick of modern antisemitism - accusing Jews at the same time of being socialist agitators and very wealthy. I think I'm finally understanding why Jews can be smeared by such a ridiculously self-contradictory accusation - as socialist agitators, Jews are accused of undermining social stability and the correct hierarchy of society; as rich people, Jews are the enemies of the hardworking middle class. This rhetorical trick doesn't work if you think there's nothing wrong with rich people (the basic position of the Republican Party), but it is appealing to right-wing populists who can attack both the rich and socialists.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ran Boker (Ynet) on living under rocket fire in Beersheva

Ran Boker, a columnist for Ynet, wrote a very powerful article on what it's like to live under attack, in Hebrew. I've translated his column (Ynet hasn't yet posted it in English).

What escalation? There’s a crazy after-Purim

Ran Boker

Friday afternoon, the pots are on the stove, the table is already set, and Shabbat is knocking at the door.  A little update from the internet tears apart the festive atmosphere: the liquidation of a senior figure in the Resistance Committees. “Ema,” I call, “I don’t want to ruin your Shabbat, but look forward to a stormy Shabbat.” Her glance was troubled and fearful. I hope that nothing will happen. We, the residents of Beersheva and all the residents of the south, we have suffered enough. The evening approaches and the fear only increases.

Fleeing to the center is not an option, my soldier brother has just now returned from his military service. The truth? We also don’t have a protected room in the house, so we decided to pack up and to pass the Shabbat with our aunt and uncle, there they at least have a protected room. My soldier brother cancels his plans to enjoy himself, and is satisfied with a costume and sitting in the protected room of friends. My mother, wearing pajamas after a hard week, only waits for the siren so that this will pass. Ten at night, and now it arrives. The first siren. We descend to the protected room with a hysteria that will never pass, no matter how much we get used to it.

The waiting there only to hear the boom, in the small and empty protected room, to understand that we have been saved. This siren really signals to you that only a minute separates between you and another life, if indeed there is life. We go out of the protected room, and Ema has her regular hysteria. My little brother tries to calm her: “Ema, learn to enjoy the siren.” We go to sleep, with the windows open despite the freezing cold. None of us wants to miss the siren. “See you later with the Grads of 6 a.m.,” one of our cousins writes on his Twitter account.

Six in the morning? Ah, you’re joking with me. One in the morning, three in the morning, seven in the morning, and ten in the morning. The siren screams, go try to sleep after the difficult week that was. These trips to Tel Aviv every day. Ah, I’m sorry, I haven’t presented myself, I am Ran Boker, the gossip columnist for Ynet. I travel every day from Beersheva to Tel Aviv, round-trip. An hour and a half of traveling on the railroad, which separates between the fear, the darkness, the hysteria, the sirens, and the booms, and the city that never stops.

I want to be with them, to be afraid with them.

I was angry with my friends from the center who haven’t asked how I am. One SMS, it wouldn’t kill them to see that I’m okay. “We saw your status on Facebook, and saw that you’re okay,” they answered me. I don’t think that they don’t worry about me, I simply don’t think that they have any idea. They were busy with Purim parties. The truth is that I don’t really blame them. When the Qassams fell in Sederot for eight years, that didn’t really interest us in Beersheva, except for a “tut-tut” on our tongues when we saw them running for the shelters. In the afternoon, after the direct hit of the Grad on Beersheva, I became angry.

When I heard about the (Grad) falling (on Beersheva), no “item” interested me. I didn’t even eat anything, I only wanted to be there, with them, with my family in Beersheva. To feel the pain, to fear, and to feel them. I said, “There was a direct hit on Beersheva.” No one turned around, this really didn’t interest anyone. My friends in Tel Aviv continued with their own affairs. Until one righteous person in Sodom asked, “What? What did you say?” “Nothing,” I said, “Be ashamed of yourselves, there’s a direct hit in Beersheva and you’re not interested at all?” One of my acquaintances answered: “It’s Bibi who throws the Grads at you, be angry with him.” Do you get it? He still hasn’t asked if there were injured people and immediately turned it into a political argument. They will never understand. I only wish that they, my friends in the center, will come sleep at my house for one night. To feel what it’s like. I didn’t say another word about the fact that my friends in Beersheva are praying that a missile should fall on Tel Aviv, “so that they’ll understand.” Yes, the anger and the pain have reached this level.

I don’t know why I’m writing these words, perhaps so that the Tel Avivis will understand us, even though I don’t believe that will happen. There’s an after-Purim that it’s impossible to miss, that’s more important. Maybe I just write to weep over the keyboard, because aside from that there’s really nothing we can do. Understand that your fate is placed in the hands of Iron Dome, four cement walls, and a dangerous Grad missile. But what idiotic things am I saying? Today Big Brother is on television, only there shouldn’t be a special news program so that they have to cancel the broadcast.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

US Atrocity in Afghanistan: American soldier kills 16 Afghan civilians

This is appalling - what are we doing in Afghanistan? Cold-blooded murder of innocent civilians:
U.S. serviceman kills 16 in house-to-house village shooting, Afghan officials say.
Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan -- A lone American serviceman slipped away from his base in southern Afghanistan before dawn Sunday and went on a methodical house-to-house shooting spree in a nearby village, killing 16 people, nearly all of them women and children, according to Afghan officials who visited the scene.
The NATO force confirmed that the assailant was in military custody, and that he had inflicted an unspecified number of casualties during the shooting spree at about 3 a.m. Sunday. The U.S. Embassy called for calm and expressed deep condolences; the Taliban referred to the killings as an “act of genocide.”
The British Broadcasting Corp. reported that the shooter was a staff sergeant and a member of the U.S. special operations forces who had been involved in training the Afghan police.

Gay men are being brutally murdered in Iraq

This is an incredibly disturbing article about the killings of gay men in Iraq ('Emo' Killings Raise Alarms in Iraq):
BAGHDAD (AP) — Young people who identify themselves as so-called Emos are being brutally killed at an alarming rate in Iraq, where militias have distributed hit lists of victims and security forces say they are unable to stop crimes against the subculture that is widely perceived in Iraq as being gay.

Officials and human rights groups estimated as many as 58 Iraqis who are either gay or believed to be gay have been killed in the last six weeks alone — forecasting what experts fear is a return to the rampant hate crimes against homosexuals in 2009. This year, eyewitnesses and human rights groups say some of the victims have been bludgeoned to death by militiamen smashing in their skulls with heavy cement blocks.
This is in stark contrast with the lives of gay and lesbian people in Israel, which are steadily getting better. There is certainly homophobia here in Israel, but you can live openly in a same-sex relationship, raise your children, and be accepted by almost everyone you meet. There are gay members of Knesset and local city councils. You can enlist in the IDF without being harassed.

And to think that some people believe that to point out this stark difference between Israel and any Arab country is "pinkwashing"!