Sunday, May 15, 2022

Shireen Abu Akleh's funeral - "A Funeral Brutalized"

A Funeral Brutalized, by Oren Ziv, in 972.mag

I’ve documented my fair share of political funerals, but never have I witnessed what occurred as Shireen Abu Akleh’s body was laid to rest on Friday in Jerusalem. Despite the visible grief of Abu Akleh’s colleagues, who worked with her in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, and the other Palestinians in attendance who had regularly tuned in to her reporting over the years, the Israeli police’s behavior during the funeral procession was brutal, even by their very low standards.

Despite the documentation, which clearly shows the police attacking the pallbearers and mourners, the Israeli media, as well as a number of prominent international media outlets, continue to refer to what took place as “clashes.” Perhaps, then, it would be useful to set the record straight....

By now, the images of what happened next have spread far and wide, shocking the world. As the coffin was removed from the morgue, hundreds began marching toward the exit gate of the hospital, where dozens of riot police officers armed with batons were waiting for them. The police began brutally beating the mourners as they carried the coffin, almost causing it to fall. Contrary to police claims, no stones had been thrown. Only after the officers tried to disperse the crowd with batons and stun grenades were several objects, mostly bottles, thrown at them.

The attacks continued. Soldiers fired sponge-tipped bullets and threw stun grenades until, 15 minutes later, the body was whisked away in a vehicle. Even after that, the police did not allow Abu Akleh’s colleagues — who were not only there to report, but also to mourn — to leave the hospital yard, beating them once again with batons. As the vehicle made its way from the hospital yard, a police officer was seen removing the Palestinian flags that were draped on it. Only an hour later was everyone allowed to leave.

Read the rest of the article: A Funeral Brutalized, by Oren Ziv, in 972.mag

Friday, May 13, 2022

The funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh - comments by Daniel Seidemann

 Daniel Seidemann, on Twitter (


The dissonance among the press reports relating to the events surrounding today's funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh is stunning. The Arab language and international press, showing the footage express shock at the aggression of the Police.


The Arab/int'l press place the violence on same occupation-continuum that led to the killing of Abu Akleh.
A small number of independent Israeli journalists concur & report accordingly.
A larger number of mainstream Israeli journalists are reporting it as a hasbara disaster.

However, TV/Radio news report the funeral and the funeral procession as a large Israeli/Police success. "Minor incidents, it could have been much worse". Chapeau. By sinking deeper into occupation-denial, we are untethering from the rest of the world and how we're perceived.

4/ ( usual, the superb reportage of @SuleimanMas1 who reports for Israeli State News, the heart of MLM, is a rare exception. There are a number of others.
1/4 לא מצליח להבין את התנהלות משטרת ירושלים באירוע הזה. בהודעה רשמית של המשטרה נכתב שמשתתפי הלוויה זרקו אבנים וחפצים לעבר השוטרים בתחילת מסע הלוויה, ולכן השוטרים ״נאלצו להדוף אותם״. חזרתי לשידור החי מתחילת הלוויה ואני מצרף אותו כאן. רואים בבירור שהמשתתפים בלוויה מנסים לצאת מבית>>

1/4 fails to understand the conduct of the Jerusalem police in this incident. An official police statement said that the participants in the funeral had thrown stones and objects at the police at the beginning of the funeral procession, so the police "had to fend them off." I went back to the live broadcast from the beginning of the funeral and I attach it here. It is clear that the participants in the funeral are trying to leave the hospital > >

2/4 החולים כשהם נושאים את הארון של שירין אבו עאקלה. השוטרים נראים כשהם חוסמים את הלוויה, מכים את המשתתפים באלות, ואז רואים את זריקת הבקבוקים והחפצים. זה מתווסף להגעת השוטרים לבית משפחת אבו עאקלה ביום שהיא נהרגה והבקשה שלהם לפזר את ההמולה בתוך הבית ולהוריד את דגלי פלסטין>>
carrying the coffin of Sheerin Abu Akala. The cops are seen blocking the funeral, beating the participants with batons, and then one sees the bottles and belongings being thrown. This is in addition to the arrival of the police at the home of the Abu Akala family on the day she was killed and their request to disperse the commotion inside the house and lower the Palestinian flags > >
3/4 ״בשל פגיעה בסדר הציבורי״.בשורה התחתונה, למשטרת ירושלים יש זכויות רבות בתקופה האחרונה: השקט בשער שכם ברמדאן, >>
בהודעה נכתב גם שנשמעו קריאות הסתה. הקריאות שאני שומע בוידאו הן: ״ברוח בדם נפדה את שירין. ברוח בדם נפדה את השהיד. אללה אכבר. תגבירו את קריאותכם, מי שקורא לא מת״.
3/4 "Due to violation of public order". The announcement also said that cries of incitement were heard. The cries I hear in the video are: 'With blood and spirit we will redeem Sheerin. With blood and spirit we will redeem the martyr. Allahu Akbar. Increase your cries, whoever cries out is not dead. ' Bottom line, the Jerusalem police have had many rights [I'm not sure this is the right translation] in recent times: the silence at the Nablus Gate during Ramadan, > >

4/4 הטיפול בהפרות הסדר במסגד אל אקצא, שבר האור שעברה בשקט יחסי. האירוע הזה מתנהל רע מתחילתו ועד סופו, וחבל.
4/4 The treatment of riots at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which broke the light relatively quietly. This incident is going badly from start to finish, which is a shame.
One of the leitmotifs in the reporting is whether the Police was aggressive enough, or too tolerant, in their reaction to the flying of Palestinian flags during the procession. I heard no one state the simple truth: flying the Palestinian flag is legal under Israeli Law

Sunday, April 17, 2022

African American Jewish food traditions on Passover

Yesterday, NPR aired a lovely interview with Michael Twitty and Rabbi Sandra Lawson on African American Jewish food traditions on Passover: How Black American Jews Incorporate their food traditions into their Passover seders.

Michael Twitty

Rabbi Sandra Lawson

Tonight, across the world, Jewish families and friends will gather for the second night of Passover. Many will hold a Seder, a ritual meal where the story of the liberation of the Hebrew slaves from bondage in Egypt is retold. For Jews around the world, it's a time to honor their faith and make the celebration their own by bringing their own cultural and food traditions to the table. And that's also true of African American Jews, for whom the Passover story resonates on multiple levels.

To hear more about this, we called Michael Twitty. He is a James Beard Award-winning author and food historian. And Rabbi Sandra Lawson, director of Racial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Reconstructing Judaism. Michael Twitty and Rabbi Lawson, welcome. And thank you so much for joining us.

The forsythia in my garden (Pesach 5782)


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Middle East Studies Association Chooses BDS over Academic Freedom

The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) recently endorsed the BDS (boycott, divest, sanctions) movement against Israel, reversing its 2005 resolution opposing academic boycotts. The following statement was published today by the Alliance for Academic Freedom, and is cross posted from The Third Narrative. I'm on the Executive Committee of the AAF.

By Alliance for Academic Freedom


The Alliance for Academic Freedom (AAF) condemns the March 24, 2022 vote by the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) to join the campaign of Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) targeting the state of Israel. Academic freedom cannot exist where entire peoples or nations are effectively excommunicated from the global community of scholars and barred from the inherently collaborative work of research and teaching. By calling for an academic as well as cultural and economic boycotts of Israel, BDS restricts legitimate intellectual exchange with Israeli scholars, students, and institutions, and violates the most basic tenets of academic freedom; now, by endorsing BDS, MESA has embraced this violation. In doing so, it tramples on the rights of those who study or teach about the Middle East and North Africa, of all Israeli scholars and students, and of scholars around the world who collaborate with Israelis.

As we stated in our December 2021 statement on MESA, the organization itself had previously in 2005, through its own Committee on Academic Freedom, pointed to “the principles of academic freedom and the free exchange of information and ideas” as grounds for condemning academic boycotts such as BDS. At the time, MESA’s committee said, “We especially oppose penalizing entire segments of an academic community for any reason whatsoever.” That 2005 position was correct, we noted, because “free exchanges between faculty members and students worldwide are essential to the unfettered advancement of knowledge and to the viability of higher education.” International research collaborations, international conferences, study-abroad programs, and peer review of publications and appointments are just a few among the many activities that inevitably entail international cooperation among individuals and institutions. To ostracize an entire nation, its people, and its educational institutions because of political disagreements is to discriminate on the basis of nationality, which in this case also has the effect of discriminating on the basis of ethnicity and religion.

MESA’s abandonment of a principled position in favor of a politicized approach does not bode well for the organization, which in recent years has lost both institutional members and credibility in the eyes of many scholars. A professional society must be a home for scholars of all political persuasions.

As an organization, the AAF supports the national aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike. The full realization of those aspirations will come only with increased communication, interaction, and scholarly collaboration—not from the restriction of opportunities for such exchange.

On Behalf of the AAF Executive Committee: Susana Cavallo, David Greenberg, Rebecca Lesses, Jeffry Mallow, Sharon Musher, Cary Nelson (Chair), Kenneth Stern

Thursday, March 10, 2022

How do you know when a war begins? Syria and Ukraine.

WHAT does it feel like when a war begins? When does life as you know it implode? How do you know when it is time to pack up your home and your family and leave your country? Or if you decide not to, why? 
-- Janine di Giovanni, 2012

I've been spending a lot of time reading about the war in Ukraine, which is beginning to resemble the Syrian war in many sad and destructive ways. The Russians bombed the child and maternity hospital in Mariupol yesterday, as they also destroyed so many hospitals in Syria. I was just looked back at my many blog entries, searching for an article I read then about the shock of war beginning.

In 2012, I was in Israel on sabbatical from January to the beginning of August. Bashar al-Assad was already slaughtering his own people. Janine di Giovanni's article, "Life During Wartime," made chills go down my spine. I was safe in Jerusalem, but Syria was so close.

di Giovanni writes about the moment when the war finally arrived in Damascus, 17 months after it had begun in Deraa, with the arrests of children who had painted anti-regime messages on a school.
WHAT does it feel like when a war begins? When does life as you know it implode? How do you know when it is time to pack up your home and your family and leave your country? Or if you decide not to, why?
For ordinary people, war starts with a jolt: one day you are busy with dentist appointments or arranging ballet lessons for your daughter, and then the curtain drops. One moment the daily routine grinds on; A.T.M.’s work and cellphones function. Then, suddenly, everything stops.
Barricades go up. Soldiers are recruited and neighbors work to form their own defense. Ministers are assassinated and the country falls into chaos. Fathers disappear. The banks close and money and culture and life as people knew it vanishes. In Damascus, this moment has come.

War starts very suddenly:

I know about the velocity of war. In all of the wars I have covered — including in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Chechnya, Kosovo — the moments in which everything changes from normal to extremely abnormal share a similar quality. One evening in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in 2002, for example, I went to bed after dinner at a lavish French restaurant. When I woke up, there was no telephone service and no radio broadcast in the capital; “rebels” occupied the television station and flares shot through the sky. In my garden I could smell both the scent of mango trees and the smell of burning homes. My neighborhood was on fire. The 24-hour gap between peace and wartime gave me enough time to gather my passport, computer and favorite photos and flee to a hotel in the center of the city. I never returned to my beloved house with the mango trees.

The malign Russian role in the Syrian war had already begun - not with Russian soldier and aircraft, but with the UN:

As Russia continues to veto Security Council efforts to sanction and reproach President Bashar al-Assad, friends in Syria e-mail and tweet about assassinations, brutal killings, doctors torturing victims.

Russia now also stymies any Security Council actions with its vetoes. 

We have been here before in Europe.

Thirteen years ago [now 23 years ago], [UN Secretary General] Mr. Annan issued a report to the General Assembly on the failure of the international community to prevent the massacre of Bosnians at Srebrenica. He called it “a horror without parallel in the history of Europe since the Second World War.” 

We now have another unparalleled horror in European history. I've been struck by how many commentators write about the Russian war on Ukraine as if it's the only violent European episode since 1945. In the meantime, Russia has waged war in many other countries (just as the US has), and is now using the same tactics in Ukraine as it did in Syria and Chechnya.

Last weekend, there were two rallies in Ithaca in support of Ukraine. One, at noon on Sunday, March 6, was organized by Codepink in coalition with other dubious organizations, like Stop the War UK and the No to NATO Network. I don't know what the signs were in Ithaca, but looking at photos of other rallies sponsored by this coalition, it's clear that they blamed NATO just as much as Russia for the war. The slogan on one Codepink poster: "Stop the war in Ukraine, No to NATO expansion." Another sign - "NATO is the problem."

The second rally, at 2:00 pm, was organized by Ukrainians in Ithaca. I went to the second one, since I actually wanted to support Ukraine.