‘Oslo’: The Movie and the Myth

On May 29, 2021, HBO premiered the screen version of J.T. Rogers’ play Oslo. It follows a Norwegian couple as they coordinate meetings between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which resulted in the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Timely but not impartial, the film comes in a year that has seen Gaza burning under Israeli bombs; prominent activist Nizar Banat’s death while in custody of Palestinian Authority (PA) forces; and hunger strikes among detainees in PA prisons after being detained for several weeks.

In hindsight, a close reading of the roles played by Norwegian diplomat Mona Juul (Ruth Wilson) and her husband, sociologist and Fafo Foundation director Terje Rød-Larsen (Andrew Scott) highlight many of the problems that would arise from the Oslo decision.

The film opens with the couples’ visit to Israel-occupied Gaza where they witness the violence wrought upon Palestinians. At one point Mona watches as two boys, one Israeli, one Palestinian, face each other with what she describes as the same fear. Neither wants to be there, she continues, which was probably true, except that the Palestinian child, with no choice about where he wanted to be, no weapon, no power, faced off against an Israeli soldier who held at least two out of three of those options.

It is this unequal power structure, among other factors, which doomed Oslo from the start. Arafat sent PLO Finance Minister Ahmed Qurei (Salim Daw) along with his aide Hassan (Waleed Zuaiter), while Israel assigned an economics professor Yair Hirschfeld (Dov Glickman) and his associate Ron Pundak (Rotem Keinan).

In his review, Rahul Desai favorably sites what Terje calls “intimate discussions between people, not grand statements by governments.” Yet these participants are on the same footing as the two boys that Mona witnessed in Gaza; one represents a colonized people taking direction from a body exiled in Tunisia, while the other takes orders from the government that is colonizing the other.

Desai also praises what he calls “disarming moments of behavioural humour,” yet, as he later admits, the “Palestinian diplomats appear as caricatures – nationalistic, sentimental, bumpkin-ish, comically stern men,” drawn to mirror stereotypical Western medias. “The Israelis,” he continues, “are the more even-headed and ‘intellectual’ of the lot,” as opposed to the Palestinians.

“Our people live in the past,” Hirschfeld laments. “Let us find a way to live in the present.” With that statement he encapsulates much that is flawed with the film but also Western versions of the “conflict.” “The film, like its Norwegian protagonists,” Desai notes, “operates as a diplomat of its own accord.” In short, it “strives to present an objective view of a traditional conflict,” he continues, but in doing so, it leaves out the Occupation, which has driven Israeli violence since the Nakba in ’48.

Moreover, both the Oslo meetings and the film itself assume a neutral stance. As the late historian Howard Zinn said in the title of his autobiography: You Can’t Be Neutral On a Moving Train (2002), because to do so means siding with the oppressor.

When Hirschfeld calls out another reason for achieving peace, it turns out to be a riff on one of Golda Meir’s more egregious quotes. Translated by the actor Wallace Shawn, Meir was alleged to have said:

“When we kill the children of Arabs, the Arabs made us do it. They hate us so much, they are so angry, that they do things that enrage us and make us kill children. If they were decent people who loved their children, they would set aside their hatred and stop provoking us, and we would then stop killing the children.”

There is no clearer, albeit crueler, way to blame the victim than this, and it was paraphrased by Hirschfeld thus: “You’re fighting is killing your own children,” a line that might have gone unnoticed if it were not so close in meaning to Meir.

In the end, the Israelis call on their foreign minister to acknowledge the treaty, but we learn that Qurei has never been in touch with Arafat as he had claimed. Instead, he was off in another room, staring at the phone for a decent length of time.

Nor do the Israelis have the best interests of Palestinians in their minds. “Pulling out of Gaza would end the Intifada,” Hirschfeld claims, which, in fact, happened, but as outlined in the documentary Naila and the Uprising (2020) was probably a mistake.

This film follows the story of Naila Ayesh, whose participated in the First Intifada of the late 1980s. Preceding the Oslo Accords, but ending at approximately that time period, the documentary offers another perspective on that time period.

The film opens in 1967 during the Six Day war, a period in which young Naila’s home is demolished, thus setting her on a path towards activism. “The Occupation was everywhere,” she says, in every aspect of daily life, a fact never mentioned in Oslo.

In 1987, Naila joins the Intifada which included women at various levels of participation. Again, in Oslo, the only woman present is Mona, the Norwegian who brings the men together.

This fact Naila brings home at the ending of the film. The Madrid meetings in 1991 she attributes to the actions of grassroots resistance in the streets, but Oslo, she declares, brought much less. Moreover, it did not consult the movement on the ground, including many women, which brought the Israelis to the negotiation table.

In the end, Naila says, the Occupation was still in place, so nothing really changed. This is the same situation today.

In response, Dr. Ramzy Baroud, Palestinian-American journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle, and Prof. Ilan Pappé, professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter, recently discussed their forthcoming book Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out (November 2021).

Moderated by Mark Seddin, a British journalist media adviser in the Office of the President of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, also examined whether what has been called the “Unity Intifada” points the way to a new future.

Prof. Pappé declared that these events constituted a “juncture” in the history of resistance in which there is a heightened unity in the face of Israeli aggression. Moreover, the international response was much stronger than expected, all leading to what hopefully will be a united Global South resistance.

According to Dr. Baroud, the book will focus not only on the past but what those lessons can contribute to the future. In particular, he said, Palestinians must work on creating their own framing, their own language, that overrides the official story. In the Zionist scenario, for example, Palestine was portrayed without a people, so that Israelis were absolved of ethnic cleansing. Nevertheless, Zionists created two kinds of Palestinians, he explained, the Good Palestinians, exemplified by the PA, and those who are the “enemies of peace.”

Because Palestinians failed to articulate a unified identity as well as a clear definition of the struggle, they stopped using words like “decolonization,” “liberation,” for as Dr. Baroud explained, they were told it was too confrontational, even though that was the language of movements against colonialism around the world.

According to the book’s announcement, Our Vision of Liberation seeks to challenge the current “dead end” discourse:

“the American pro-Israel political discourse, the Israeli colonial discourse, the Arab discourse of purported normalization, and the defunct discourse of the Palestinian factions. None promote justice, none have brought resolution; none bode well for any of the parties involved.”

Their book, then, fulfills a need to reclaim the narrative within a distinct Palestinian context. Leaving Oslo to molder in the past, the book consists of essays by engaged Palestinian intellectuals and leaders who share a vision of “resistance and liberation” that refuses efforts to negotiate away their rights. “No conditions, no apologies,” declared Dr. Baroud, and in this way encapsulates the core of their forthcoming book.

– Benay Blend earned her doctorate in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. Her scholarly works include Douglas Vakoch and Sam Mickey, Eds. (2017), “’Neither Homeland Nor Exile are Words’: ‘Situated Knowledge’ in the Works of Palestinian and Native American Writers”. She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

The post ‘Oslo’: The Movie and the Myth appeared first on Palestine Chronicle.

Source: chr

Palestine Chronicle TV: The Youth of ‘The Palestinian Voice in Italy’

Palestinian author and journalist, Dr. Ramzy Baroud, hosts three guests from Italy: activists from The Palestinian Voice of Italy Sarah al-Bukhari and Ghazi Elamry, and Italian intellectual Romana Rubeo, to discuss the Palestinian discourse in Italian politics, media and society. 

(The Palestine Chronicle)

The post Palestine Chronicle TV: The Youth of ‘The Palestinian Voice in Italy’ appeared first on Palestine Chronicle.

Source: chr

Antisemitism’s Misdirection: Who Gets Hurt?

Unfounded or unconfirmed charges of antisemitism made by US pro-Israel organizations, which are then parroted by the pro-Zionist US mainstream press, always increase when Israeli actions become so hideous they shame even some of its most dedicated supporters.

With the latest Israeli shelling of Gaza, its evictions of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem, and the continuing Israeli police riots, raids and terrorism in and around the al Aqsa mosque and in mixed Jewish/Palestinian cities, this is just such a time. This is a time for the expected explosion of false reports trumpeting the sudden outbreak of violence against Jews throughout the US and the alleged alarming increase in antisemitic incidents generally.

All ethnic, racial and religious minorities experience hatred and racially motivated aggression. Jews are a minority and thus are included in this, but Jews are also a very privileged ethnic group in American society. The systemic antisemitism that existed in the 50s and 60s is a thing of the past. Today Jews have the highest average income of any ethnic or religious community. They are integrated into the power structure, with overrepresentation in many professions including politics, medicine, law and the media. Recently Jews married into the families of two former presidents (Clinton’s and Trump’s).

When you add the fact that most Jews are physically indistinguishable from the white majority, it makes the purported antisemitism crisis sound very illogical, especially when contrasted with discrimination and hate crimes against other minorities. However, Jewish organizations have a long, documented history of successfully promoting the concept of an antisemitism crisis especially when there is an increase of criticism of the Jewish state.

“Documented” antisemitic crimes have included everything from waving a Palestinian flag, not mentioning the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah at Christmas time, to not recognizing the Jewish 2000-year-old claim to sovereignty over the land of Israel. Not to mention that the offense is counted as extra harmful if one states the undeniable truth that many Jews have and employ political and economic power in the US to support and defend Israel.

One recent glaring example of the manufactured antisemitism crisis, is when the New York Times, the most powerful unabashedly pro-Israeli US media outlet, ran a story by Ruth Graham about what she characterized as a violent antisemitic hate crime committed by pro-Palestinian protesters in the streets of West Los Angeles. According to Graham, a caravan of pro-Palestinian street demonstrators assaulted Jewish patrons who were sitting in an outdoor dining facility at a Los Angeles sushi restaurant.

The main source of this story was a conference call that featured a representative of the LA Police hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. The latter is a pro-Israel organization that has devoted hundreds of millions of dollars to defending Israel against criticism and to attacking those it considers enemies. The activities of the LA Federation include financing the Canary Mission, a website that smears young Palestinian-American activists, pro-Palestinian academics and other activists with false charges of antisemitism.

The Federation has caused many of their victims to suffer numerous indignities including losing their jobs. For Palestinian-Americans a listing on the Canary Mission website may lead to searches and hostile interrogations upon entering Israel, and for some, to being refused entry to visit family upon arrival there.

It is highly inappropriate for the LA police to be participating in a press conference about an ongoing investigation into an alleged antisemitic hate crime that is hosted by an organization like the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, one that has a long history of promoting false charges of antisemitism. It should be noted that the Los Angeles Jewish Federation donates large sums of money to many organizations and institutions which can help them with their pro-Israel agenda.

Perhaps, the LA Police Department is a natural place to invest money to finance US police trips to Israel where officers are taught to use the same repressive methods that are used against the Palestinian population in the apartheid Jewish state. And – among the numerous large monetary donations the Federation makes, one should not be surprised if a gift given to the LA police department would gain a sympathetic ear when the Federation and other pro-Israel groups direct the police to crimes they claim are motivated by hate against fellow Jews.

Max Blumenthal, editor of thegrayzone.com, has written an eye-opening article about the many dubious recent claims and videos purporting to show antisemitic violence being committed by pro-Palestinian activists, which includes a debunking of the alleged Los Angeles restaurant attack video. Blumenthal documents how the numerous reports of pro-Palestinian violence against Jews are mostly either instigated by violent Jewish pro-Israel counter-demonstrators or simply fabricated events by pro-Israel groups like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, or the many local Jewish Federations in US cities. The fabricated incidents are later promoted as real to the US media by these same groups.

These propaganda operations are greatly facilitated by the social networking pro-Israel community of users of the Act.IL app which is supported by Israeli government security institutions such as the Office of Strategic Affairs and Jewish organizations in the US such as The Maccabee Task Force. The app users amplify and create messages that are helpful in promoting a pro-Israel agenda. Furthering the idea of the growing problem of antisemitism in the US is now one of the top priorities of Act.IL.

Articles such as Ruth Graham’s Times piece also portray the LA restaurant incident in the New York as a continuation of the “escalating violence” in Israel (with no mention that Israel is the cause of the violence), which has “sparked” a series of violent hate crimes against Jews across the US. The inference is clearly that the clashes in the US are somehow equivalent to the horror of Israeli war crimes. Incredibly, it aims to take the news focus away from those crimes onto the imagined plight of Jews in the US. Graham continued to plough similar ground six days later in a piece titled.

US Faces Outbreak of Anti-Semitic Threats and Violence with prominent mention of the LA restaurant incident (but no further details of the investigation) and with a heavy reliance on surveys conducted by the very pro-Israel ADL, which has a long history of dirty tricks promoting Israel and attacking its critics.

This false narrative about marauding Palestinian activists terrifying innocent Jewish bystanders because they are Jewish and the creation of a myth of an antisemitism crisis in the US, is being amplified not only by the media, but also by pro-Palestinian activists like Yousef Munayyer and Rebecca Vilkomerson on Twitter.

Munayyer, a Palestinian-American and former head of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights is a moderate, even-tempered advocate for the Palestinian cause. He is articulate and widely published with the ability to ingratiate himself with Jewish progressives like the JVP who are longtime supporters of false claims of antisemitism. In this tweet by Munayyer …

Those doing this [antisemitic crimes] are not in solidarity w/ Palestinians, they are in solidarity with racism, a force we suffer from. What separates our struggle for freedom from Zionism is it is about securing our rights by not denying them to others. Anyone in solidarity with us must model that.

… he swallows the narrative of Palestinian antisemitism and violence hook, line and sinker and thus reinforces the dubious assumption that there exists a serious problem with violent antisemitic Palestinian activists. Maybe this is the price a Palestinian must pay to get his/her voice onto the New York Times opinion page.

Rebecca Vilkomerson, the former head of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), unsurprisingly amplifies the false antisemitism narrative with this tweet:

Antisemitism, by people purporting to support Palestinians or anyone else, is never ok. My Palestinian comrades have consistently spoken out against antisemitism & continue to say clearly, even as they fight for their very survival, that antisemitism is antithetical to their values.

Vilkomerson follows up by approvingly quoting the Munayyer tweet above.

The JVP under Vilkomerson progressed from a liberal Zionist organization to one with a declared position of anti-zionism. They have made productive intersectional alliances and brought attention to the training of US police in Israel among many other important activities.

However, Vilkomerson and the JVP also attacked activists as Alison Weir and the Jewish Israeli-American, Miko Peled, with unfounded claims that both had made antisemitic statements. JVP even prohibited its local chapters from hosting Weir despite her popularity with the rank and file. JVP now runs numerous webinars and devotes many tweets to the subject of antisemitism. Showing concern about alleged rising antisemitism is a signal to the greater Jewish community that one still feels loyalty to the tribe. I think that for the JVP leadership there also exists the assumption that a campaign against antisemitism will earn them credibility with their co-religionists and somewhat protect them from the wrath of pro-Israel organizations.

In the Syracuse, New York area where I live, the Jewish Federation of Central New York has conducted a campaign against a handful of pro-Palestinian activists, many in their 70s and 80s, with not only false charges of antisemitism, but with the claim that their demonstrations have caused the local Jewish community to be “concerned about their physical safety.” Pressure from the Federation has already apparently convinced a local progressive group, the Syracuse Peace Council, to consider adding combatting antisemitism, on an equal footing with their Native American and Black advocacy. The Peace Council has formed a special committee dedicated to communicating with the Federation. In an internal email communication, one prominent Jewish member of the group who is leading a campaign for Jewish rights be part of the agenda of the group, wrote that Jews suffer from “systemic oppression” [bold letters in email, ig} in the US. And this from a leader of a group that has anti-imperialism and anti-war as one of its guiding principles!

Pro-Israel lobby pressures are obviously being felt and acted upon at the highest levels. On May 27, Democratic Party spokesperson and political operative Donna Brazile, wrote a hyperbolic op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, which like the New York Times is a newspaper that enthusiastically peddles Zionist propaganda.

Brazile claims her bona fides as a child of slavery and the Black struggle in the US and informs us that during the year of Black Lives Matter protests over the George Floyd and other police killings of her Black brothers and sisters, an equivalent attacks motivated by irrational hatred against American Jews also appeared across the US.

Then the Democratic Party spin queen makes the startling statement that not only is antisemitic violence “sparked” by “fighting” for which Israel, of course, bears no responsibility, but what seems to be politically motivated violence is not political at all, but just “an excuse to mount assaults against Jews.”

The latest eruption of anti-Semitism has been sparked by fighting between Israel and Hamas, the terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip. But the perpetrators of these vile anti-Semitic attacks, in the U.S. and elsewhere, use the actions of Israel as an excuse to mount assaults against Jews. (emphasis mine, ig)

How Brazile came to this totally erroneous conclusion that what may be isolated incidents of politically motivated violence is actually a pandemic of pure racial violence against Jews is never explained. How could it be? It is insane spin. And that is what is going on here.

The Brazile op-ed presaged the heavy-handed events which happened next. Douglas Emhoff, the Jewish husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, convened a meeting of influential representatives of the Jewish pro-Israel community to assure them that the Biden administration is “all in” for what appears to be a massive campaign to combat antisemitism.

This administration war on antisemitism will no doubt include more laws against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, more pressure from the Department of Education to restrict pro-Palestinian events at colleges and universities, more pressure to limit the freedom of speech and activism of Students for Justice in Palestine (SPJ) and more pro-Israel officials in the administration. So it goes ….

In contrast to the attitude of Vilkomerson, Munayyer, The New York Times writers, the husband of the Vice President and so many others, a recent voice of reason has garnered considerable attention on social media. That voice belongs to Amer Zahr, whose Twitter account describes him as a comedian, law professor, Palestinian and surrogate in the Bernie Sanders campaign.

A video from a recent Twitter thread demanding that pro-Palestinian activists stop condemning antisemitism because it “plays into the opponents’ game” has received almost a half a million views. He reminds his followers that false antisemitism charges have been a tactic used by Zionists for decades to divert attention from Israeli crimes. In his Twitter thread Zahr correctly points out that if a few idiots may have acted inappropriately, then people should condemn the specific acts, and not assume the Zionist narrative that antisemitism is a problem in the pro-Palestinian movement, because it simply is not and has never been.

As Shulamit Aloni, an Israeli politician quoted in Zahr’s thread, famously stated in a 2002 interview with Democracy Now, “antisemitism is a trick we [Israel] always use it” to stop people from criticizing Israel. What is now called “weaponized antisemitism” was not only by Israelis but also by pro-Israel groups in the US and Europe for years.

It is still employed to attack critics of Israel, by Israelis and its international supporters. The difference between then and the present is that the antisemitism charges are not only limited to attacks upon individual critics but are employed against groups such as activists, particularly Palestinians. Antisemitism charges are even used to characterize US society as a whole as discriminatory and violent toward Jews, at least, on a par with anti-Black or anti-Muslim discrimination.

It is obvious that the campaign to promote antisemitism as a significant social problem in the United States, serves to divert attention from the actions of the Israeli government. It also suppresses pro-Palestinian speech and activism because of the threat of a campaign of smears of antisemitism directed at the activists. But when the false charges move from being directed at individuals to being directed at groups and even the whole society, those charges serve to indemnify Israel and the massive support army of pro-Israel partisans both Jewish and non-Jewish, from facing opposition to the injustices they are promoting. In a truly Orwellian twist, the defenders of Israel become the victims and not the aggressors in the eyes of many.

The purveyors of the false narrative of antisemitic activists threatening Jews in the streets of America and the fabricated myth of the growth of antisemitism in the US (the research for which is generated by pro-Israel institutions like the Anti-Defamation League) are Americans that are predominately part of a very privileged class with much to lose by supporting positions which are considered unjustifiable. These people should be challenged not coddled or feared.

Malcolm X never pined over the possibility of innocent members of American white society being made to feel uncomfortable by the growing righteous anger of Blacks in the ghettos. Anti-apartheid activists in the 1970s and 1980s did not empathize with the pain that Afrikaners said they suffered because their way of life was being threatened. When the pro-Israel community comes to us with their ludicrous cries of discrimination and absence of physical safety in the United States, we should follow the example set by Malcolm and the anti-apartheid activists.

Do not coddle the oppressors with pledges to fight antisemitism, shame them and make them feel the guilt they deserve and the righteousness of your anger for what they are doing to help promote the destruction of Palestinian society.

Ira Glunts is a Jewish-American retired college librarian who lives in Central New York. His articles about Palestine/Israel have appeared in Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Palestine Chronicle, AntiWar and Mondoweiss. Mr. Glunts’ Twitter feed is @abushalom. She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle

The post Antisemitism’s Misdirection: Who Gets Hurt? appeared first on Palestine Chronicle.

Source: chr

Revolutionary Change Imminent as Israel Dithers

Renowned journalist John Pilger recounts that during 2003 following the invasion of Iraq, he interviewed Charles Lewis, a fellow distinguished American investigative journalist. The question he put to him was, “What if the freest media in the world had seriously challenged George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld and investigated their claims, instead of channelling what turned out to be crude propaganda?”

He replied that if journalists had done their job, there was a good chance that “…We would not have gone to war in Iraq.”

Pilger’s recollection is a stark reminder of the onerous responsibility media institutions have to report truthfully and fearlessly. The courage required to do so obviously comes at a huge price. More so in an environment where control of media outlets, especially those owned by huge corporations, deny spaces to independent voices.

You either toe the line or face the door.

Dilemmas such as these have come to the fore in the ongoing carnage unleashed by the world’s last remaining colonial-apartheid regime Israel. As images of the bloodbath in Gaza are beamed across the world, journalists assigned to the crime scenes have a distinct responsibility to ensure that the commentary they provide does not allow Israeli perpetrators to escape accountability.

Call a spade a spade.

Language thus becomes the means to either camouflage the horrendous consequences of Israel’s barbaric bombings or to spark global outrage against it.

The false narrative used to justify the war on Iraq that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, is no different to the deception spawned today by Israel to justify it’s evil inhumane madness in Gaza. It is that “Hamas is a terrorist organization allied to a global jihadist movement” and that unless Israel does the job to bomb it to smithereens, the world will not be safe.

Do you as a media practitioner accept such rubbish by wittingly function as an echo chamber of Benjamin Netanyahu’s crude propaganda, or do you interrogate and test the allegations before filing your report?

The leveling of residential buildings by US-sponsored sophisticated bombs and missiles under the guise of attacking and destroying Hamas has become a routine military practice. Yet being dug up from beneath the bloodstrewn rubble are infants and babies.

The scale of devastation is beyond the limited screengrabs of gruesome images the world is exposed to. And to keep harping about rockets fired by Hamas without qualifying that the deliberately discriminatory attack on Gaza is in effect an attempt to liquidate an occupied people by the occupier, would be a disservice to media ethics.

Reporting Israel’s belligerent military crimes in SheikhJarrah, Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Masjid Al Aqsa, necessarily imposes the need to chronicle seven decades of persecution. The ethnic cleansing which preceded the illegal dispossession of over 700,000 Palestinians, known as the Nakba, hasn’t ended.

Today in 2021 as death and destruction rain upon the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the 1948 population of Palestine, the media has to confront the question: what has changed?

That the political ideology of racist Zionism has been declared a system of apartheid, by none other than the Human Rights Watch, it behooves the international community and its wide array of media platforms to agitate against it.

At the same time, it is also incumbent on journalists to adopt a critical approach to the hypocritical role of the Biden administration in the UN Security Council. Mouthing “hope” for a ceasefire but in the same breath agreeing to provide millions of dollars worth of new military hardware which by any logic is understood to enable Israel’s incremental genocide, is immoral and deceptive.

Blocking the majority of UNSC members’ resolution calling on Israel to halt its barbaric bombings, lays bare the vile abuse of power by the US. Bizarre thus to observe levels of tyranny at the highest institution of international conventions set up to enjoin peace and justice.

Palestine’s freedom struggle epitomized by the current waves of #Resistance from sustained rocket fire into the heartland of apartheid Israel to barechested rebellion by unarmed youth against Occupation and ethnic cleansing, has recast a new frame of reference to the global media.

Changes are imminent as the revolutionary spirit of Palestinians is embraced by millions around the world. Indeed, media are not an exception. Journalists have risen to the challenge of changing the old lazy paradigms coated with undisguised levels of propaganda. And daring too. Unafraid of being cast aside as antisemites!

– Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the South Africa-based Media Review Network. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. Visit: www.mediareviewnet.com

The post Revolutionary Change Imminent as Israel Dithers appeared first on Palestine Chronicle.

Source: chr

Ignore Starmer’s Moral Posturing: He’s the One We Should Blame for Stoking Antisemitism

No one should be surprised that Britain’s right-wing prime minister, Boris Johnson, has had barely anything to say about Israel’s pummeling of Gaza, with nearly 200 Palestinians reported to have been killed by airstrikes and many hundreds more seriously wounded.

Nor should we be surprised that Johnson has had nothing to say about the fact that Israel is using British weapons to bombard Gaza, killing families and blowing up media centers.

Johnson has had nothing to say either about Israel’s recent efforts to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem – the very obvious trigger, along with its attacks on the al-Aqsa mosque, for this latest round of so-called “clashes” between Israel and Hamas.

And like most of his predecessors, Johnson has had remarkably little to say about the much longer-term ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that was always at the core of mainstream Zionism’s mission and was officially sponsored by Britain through its 1917 Balfour Declaration.

But if Johnson’s performance at this critically important moment has been predictably dismal, what about the leader of the opposition Labour party, Sir Keir Starmer? Presumably, he is picking up the slack, making clear that Israel is committing war crimes and that there must be harsh consequences, such as sanctions and an arms embargo.

Except Starmer is strangely quiet too.

Moral Cowardice

Over the past week, Starmer has tweeted three times on matters related to events in Israel-Palestine. The first two were nearly a week ago, before Israel had begun unleashing the full might of its arsenal on Gaza. Starmer joined others in mealy-mouthed calls to “de-escalate tensions”, as though this was a slightly-too-noisy row between a bickering couple rather than serial wife-beating that has been going on for decades, aided by Britain.

As the death toll in Gaza has mounted, and the both-sidism favored by western leaders is exposed ever more starkly as moral cowardice, Starmer has uttered not a word on the events unfolding in Israel and Palestine. Complete quiet.

That was until Sunday, when Starmer took time out from his day of rest to comment on a small convoy of cars – driven from Bradford and Oldham, according to a Jewish News report – that had passed through an area of London where many Jews live, waving Palestinian flags and shouting antisemitic curses.

Starmer commented: “Utterly disgusting. Antisemitism, misogyny and hate have no place on our streets or in our society. There must be consequences.”

And sure enough, there were immediate consequences. The police arrested four people under hate-crime laws.

Pain and Insult

In referring to Bradford and Oldham, the Jewish News report was suggesting – probably correctly – that the occupants of the cars were drawn from the large Muslim populations that live in those cities.

This is a pattern we have seen before. When Israel starts attacking Palestinians, many of whom are Muslim and whose lands include important Islamic holy sites under constant threat from Israel, Muslims are likely to feel the pain and insult far more deeply and personally than most other British populations.

Their outrage is likely to peak when Israel desecrates a holy site under occupation such as al-Aqsa in Jerusalem – which is also a powerful symbol of the Palestinians’ aspiration towards political sovereignty in their historic homeland – during the holy month of Ramadan.

Many Muslims feel Israel’s reckless bombardment of Gaza and its civilian population, as well as the invasion of al-Aqsa mosque by Israeli soldiers, as very personal attacks on their dignity, their identity and their values.

“White” Britons struggling to understand such emotions might try to recall how incensed they felt at an attack by Islamic extremists on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris back in 2015. That led to a march through the French capital by world leaders, including Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, upholding free speech, most especially the right to offend Muslims’ religious sensitivities, as a supreme – and inviolable – value. (That is the same Paris that at the weekend used water cannon and baton charges against Palestinian solidarity activists, many of them Muslims, trying to exercise their free speech rights to denounce Israel’s attacks on Gaza.)

 

Many “white” Europeans felt the attack on Charlie Hebdo as a threat to Enlightenment values and as an assault on “western civilization”. Similarly, many Muslims feel Israel’s attacks on Palestinians and on the sanctity of Islamic holy sites, largely indulged by western politicians and the western media, as no less grave a threat.

Dangerous Conflation

And just as it is common for many “white” Europeans – including western politicians – to confuse Muslims and Islam with Islamic extremism, blaming a religion for the flaws of its more extreme adherents, so a portion of Muslims wrongly associates Jews in general with the crimes committed by Israel.

Israel does nothing to dispel this dangerous conflation. In fact, it actively encourages it. It declares itself the state of the entire Jewish people, disdaining the presence and rights of 1.8 million second-class Palestinian citizens. Or as Netanyahu observed two years ago, shortly after enshrining institutionalized racism in Israeli law, Israel is “the national state, not of all its citizens, but only of the Jewish people”. When Israel speaks and acts, its leaders claim, it speaks and acts on behalf of all Jews worldwide.

Some prominent western Jews – including Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland – add to the confusion. They appear to agree with Netanyahu by avowing that Israel is at the core of their identity and that attacks on Israel are an attack on who they are. This line of argument was widely weaponized against former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, suggesting he was engaging in antisemitism, or at least indulging it, by being such a trenchant critic of Israel.

So, however wrong it was for the occupants of those cars at the weekend to be shouting antisemitic profanities, and however right it is for the police to be investigating this incident, it is not something difficult to explain. Manufactured confusion over the distinctions between Jews, Judaism, Israel and Zionism are as common as manufactured confusion over Muslims, Islam, various Islamic states and jihadism.

But there is a more important point to make that relates directly to Starmer – and most other western politicians. He may claim the moral high ground in his public denunciations of the antisemitic curses from the convoy of cars in London at the weekend. But he must take a considerable chunk of the blame for them.

Trampled Dignity

Over the past week, British politicians have mostly chosen to avert their gaze from the war crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians with Britain’s help – in the form of diplomatic silence, weapons sales and continuing trade agreements.

With Corbyn gone, no one in British politics now represents the rights of Palestinians – and by extension, the rights of Britain’s large Muslim population, whose interests and dignity are trampled every time Israel’s army kills, wounds or demonizes Palestinians or desecrates Palestine’s holy places.

In his studied silence about Israel’s bombing of Gaza – after Israel recklessly provoked Hamas rockets by intensifying the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem to replace them with Jewish settlers – Starmer has sent a clear message to Britain’s Muslim communities, like those in Bradford and Oldham:

“I do not represent you or your concerns. I support, as I stated during my campaign to become Labour leader, “Zionism without qualification”. Like the Palestinians, you are on your own. You are not part of the British debate.”

It is not just that Britain’s Muslims have been abandoned by politicians like Starmer. Muslims understand that, when it comes to core issues of their identity and their dignity, they have no representation, no voice, in the UK in stark contrast to the treatment of Jewish communities that choose to support the belligerent, apartheid state of Israel.

Those Jews – unlike Britain’s Muslims and anti-Zionist Jews – have Starmer’s full attention, his “support without qualification”. That was why Starmer was only too ready to insult every Muslim in Britain by canceling at the last minute his attendance at a Ramadan supper last month, to break that day’s fast, at the behest of pro-Israel Jewish groups. The reason? One of the supper’s organizers had once spoken in favor of boycotting Israel’s settlements, in line with international law – a position one might have imagined a high-profile lawyer like Starmer would have appreciated rather than punished.

Fuelling Alienation

These actions have all too predictable consequences. They fuel alienation from British politics among many Muslims, and racism and extremism among a very small subsection of them – of exactly the kind we saw at the weekend in the convoy driving through London.

Denouncing the convoy’s participants as racist while pretending that there are no grounds for Muslims – or anyone else who cares about international law and human rights – to feel aggrieved by what is happening in Gaza, as Starmer has effectively done through his silence, is to pick further at an open wound. It is to claim an entirely unjustified “white” righteousness – like those two-faced world leaders who marched through Paris in 2015 – that serves only to deepen the offense and spread it.

In professing his blind support for Israel and Zionism – Israel’s ideology of Jewish supremacism, the counterpart of extreme political Islam – Starmer revealed himself to be an utter hypocrite and racist. One rule for ugly Muslim supremacism, another for ugly Israeli supremacism. One denounced, one placated.

Starmer is not seeking to “de-escalate” the “tensions” causing bloodshed thousands of miles away in the Middle East – and mostly, let’s note, among Palestinians. Rather, he is fuelling those very same tensions, escalating them, in his own backyard. He may not be shouting profanities at the top of his voice from his car window. He has no need to.

He can cause even more damage simply by loudly prosecuting verbal threats while quietly exonerating war crimes that cause mass death.

– Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). Visit his website www.jonathan-cook.net. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

The post Ignore Starmer’s Moral Posturing: He’s the One We Should Blame for Stoking Antisemitism appeared first on Palestine Chronicle.

Source: chr

WATCH: Baroud to RT: Israel Deliberately Targeted Red Crescent Building

Talking to RT International, Palestinian journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle Ramzy Baroud said that Israel has deliberately destroyed the Red Crescent building in Gaza on Monday.

“Not because we have any information from the Israelis to show that, but because we have a track record, and the track record has been the destruction of numerous civilian facilities, various buildings and towers that host international media, including that of Associated Press, Al Jazeera, and of course main roads, main crosses and so forth,” Baroud said.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

The post WATCH: Baroud to RT: Israel Deliberately Targeted Red Crescent Building appeared first on Palestine Chronicle.

Source: chr

WATCH: Velshi on MSNBC: Right To Exist Goes Both Ways

Israel has a right to exist and to defend itself. That’s a fact. The same is true for Palestinians – that point seems to get missed. Palestinians are, at best, third-class citizens in the nation of their birth.

The Israeli government, on an ongoing basis, declares parcels of land on which Palestinians live to be either of military or archeological importance, causing residents to be evicted. Sometimes there’s a court case, and almost always, the Palestinians lose.

Yet months or weeks later, that same “important” land suddenly becomes home to a brand-new Israeli settlement.

As more and more Jewish settlers take over the land on which Arabs lived, the Occupied West Bank becomes de facto more Israeli and, in the explicit hopes of the Israeli government, more Jewish.

This is a long-standing and deliberate attempt to force Arabs – who have lived in that land sometimes for hundreds of years – out. It is an attempt to dilute their presence, because to have Arabs as full participants is, in the opinion of the Israeli government and courts, diluting Israel.

(MSNBC)

The post WATCH: Velshi on MSNBC: Right To Exist Goes Both Ways appeared first on Palestine Chronicle.

Source: chr

WATCH: John Oliver Accuses Israel of ‘War Crimes’ in Gaza

In his Sunday ‘Last Week Tonight’ episode, John Oliver openly accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza.

“One side has suffered over ten times the casualties,” Oliver said, “something which speaks to both the severe power imbalance at play here and how that often gets obscured by how we choose to talk about it.”

“For the record,” he continued, “destroying a civilian residence sure seems like a war crime”.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

The post WATCH: John Oliver Accuses Israel of ‘War Crimes’ in Gaza appeared first on Palestine Chronicle.

Source: chr

Understanding Israel’s Latest Attack on Gaza, and Who Benefits

“Both sides need to de-escalate.”

“No one benefits from this. ”

You’ll hear a lot of statements like that from pundits, elected officials, government spokespeople, and mainstream media anytime there’s violence in Israel-Palestine.

In the last few days, Israeli warplanes, armed drones, and artillery mounted on tanks have killed more than 119 Palestinians in the besieged and blockaded Gaza Strip. Thirty-one of them were children. Rocket fire from Gaza left eight Israelis, including one child dead.

It’s easy to say no one benefits. But it’s not true.

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has a whole lot to gain from this assault — among other things, it may keep him out of jail. More broadly, Israel’s strategic military planners have been waiting for another attack on Gaza. And for Israel’s arms manufacturers, assaulting Gaza is what the leading Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz has called “a cash cow.”

A Series of Provocations

It’s important to understand the specific factors that led to the current escalation in Israel’s horrific air war against Gaza.

The Hamas rocket fire that began on May 10 did not come out of nowhere. It was a response to Israeli police and settler attacks against Palestinians in Jerusalem, indeed across much of the West Bank as well.

Those attacks included demolitions to force Palestinians out of their homes and the continuing threat of eviction for families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. They included police denying Palestinians access to the steps of the Damascus Gate of the Old City, their traditional gathering place to share iftar (sunset) meals during the fasting month of Ramadan.

And they included the deliberate provocation — not only to Palestinians but to Muslims everywhere — of Israeli police raiding the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in all of Islam, shooting stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets at worshipers at morning prayer in and around the mosque.

Meanwhile, given the experience of Gaza’s 2 million people — half of whom are children and around three-quarters of whom are refugees, who have lived through 14 years of a crippling Israeli blockade of the over-crowded, impoverished strip — it was hardly a surprise that such provocative actions would lead to a military response from Hamas.

But these actions don’t explain Israel’s choice — and it was certainly a choice — to immediately escalate its military assault to the level of full-scale war. So what does explain it?

Netanyahu’s Troubles

For starters, politics.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is on trial and facing years in jail for a wide range of corruption charges. As long as he remains prime minister, he can’t be jailed — but if he loses his ruling coalition, as he was on the verge of doing just before this crisis, he could go to prison.

So for Netayanhu, maintaining public support is not just a political goal but an urgent personal necessity. The mobilization of troops and the sight of Israel’s military in action allows him to reprise his longstanding role as the ultimate “protector” of Israel against its “enemy” — whoever the chosen enemy du jour might be.

It might be Iran (which, unlike Israel, does not have a nuclear weapon or a nuclear weapons program). It might be the non-violent BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) campaign, which leading Israeli leaders equate with Iran as an existential threat. Or it might be Gaza — as it was in 2008-2009, 2012, and especially for the 50 days of Israeli bombardment in 2014 that left 2,202 Palestinians, including 526 children, dead.

Netanyahu’s political capital is also bound up with his claim to be the only Israeli leader who can maintain the key levels of absolute impunity and uncritical economic and political support from the United States. Certainly, the Trump years were characterized by Washington’s warmest embrace of Netanyahu’s right-wing government and the most extremist pro-Israel policies to date. But so far President Biden, presumably convinced that moving to restore the Iran nuclear deal means no other pressure on Israel is possible, has recalibrated only the rhetoric.

Washington’s actual support for Israel — including $3.8 billion in military support every year and the one-sided “Israel has the right of self-defense” rhetoric that refuses to acknowledge any such right to the Palestinians — remains in place. And history shows us that direct U.S. backing — in the form of additional cash and weapons as well as effusive statements of support — rise when Israeli troops are on the attack.

“Mowing the Grass”

Beyond the political advantages, there are strategic advantages for Israel to go to war against Gaza. Despite the withdrawal of Israeli settlers and troops from inside the Gaza Strip in 2005, since 2007 Gaza has remained under an Israeli-imposed blockade and siege. It is, under international law, still occupied.

And for years, Israel’s strategy towards Gaza and the Palestinians who live there has been one of absolute control. Israel controls who can enter or exit Gaza, which means control over people’s lives — and deaths. In the past, Israel has determined exactly how many calories Gazans should be able to eat each day — to “put them on a diet,” as Israeli military officials said in 2006.

And not surprisingly, Palestinian resistance to the years of siege and occupation in Gaza has at times included military resistance.

During the 2014 war, the influential Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies issued a report endorsing what had already become a standard approach for Israel toward Gaza. It was called “Mowing the Grass in Gaza,” and it described the lethal military assault as being “in accordance with a ‘mowing the grass’ strategy. After a period of military restraint, Israel is acting to severely punish Hamas for its aggressive behavior, and degrading its military capabilities — aimed at achieving a period of quiet.”

The report ignored the fact that Israel is an occupying power, that the people of Gaza are protected civilians, and that collective punishment, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, and the use of dramatically disproportionate levels of violence are all violations of international humanitarian law, the Geneva Conventions, and more. The report’s author was unequivocal that “a war of attrition against Hamas is probably our fate for the long term, and we will quite frequently need to strike Gaza in order keep the enemy off balance.”

Initiating periods of intense violence in Gaza, even when the resistance was non-violent such as the 2018 Great March of Return, has been Israel’s approach ever since.

Israel’s Arms Industry

Finally, these frequent attacks on Gaza have provided a critically valuable testing ground for the Israeli weapons manufacturers whose export deals — worth $7.2 billion in 2019 — represent a huge component of Israel’s GDP.

During the height of the 2014 assault, Ha’aretz reported that the company’s factories “worked around the clock turning out munitions as the army tested their newest systems against a real enemy. Now, they are expecting their battle-tested products will win them new customers.”

“Combat is like the highest seal of approval when it comes to the international markets,” explained Barbara Opall-Rome, the Israel bureau chief for Defense News told Ha’aretz. “What has proven itself in battle is much easier to sell. Immediately after the operation, and perhaps even during, all kinds of delegations arrive here from countries that appreciate Israel’s technological capabilities and are interested in testing the new products.”

“From a business point of view,” concluded the editor of Israel Defense, “the operation was an outstanding thing for the defense industries.”

As I write this seven years later, Israel’s latest air war against Gaza continues. Ground troops are massed outside the Strip, with tank-mounted artillery weapons aimed at 2 million people crammed into one of the most crowded territories on the earth. Half an hour ago a family of six was killed in their home as tank and airstrikes continue.

Far beyond some claim of “self-defense,” are there other reasons Israel might once again be on the attack? When you look at who benefits, the answer might not be so complicated after all.

– Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. This article was first published in Foreign Policy in Focus and was contributed to The Palestine Chronicle.

The post Understanding Israel’s Latest Attack on Gaza, and Who Benefits appeared first on Palestine Chronicle.

Source: chr

Discussing Israeli Apartheid: A Promising Shift in Germany’s Pro-Israeli Media

Despite its professional journalism and public media, German journalism is still lacking when it comes to Palestine and Israel.

When approaching coverage regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine journalists, tend to be too cautious, labor to remain “politically correct” and careful in their language. If one side must be taken, then they take Israel’s side, as if doing so represent some form of “compensation” for historical atrocities. But often, siding with Israel is also the financially and politically rational choice to make.

But if Israel and Germany are indeed ‘best friends’, then it is incumbent on the German government, to be honest with its friend, Israel. Some tough love is now more urgent than ever before, where Germany can inform Israel that while it regrets its history of racism and violence against Jews, Israel must also learn to respect the rights of the Palestinian people.

The silver lining is that the horrific situation underway in Gaza is finally registering in German media differently if compared to past wars. Yes, the German media continues to tout the Israeli viewpoint, but more and more new, sober voices are daring to offer an alternative narrative on the situation. A good example is a recent episode of the popular podcast Lage der Nation, hosted by journalist Philip Banse and Judge Ulf Buermeyer. In episode #241, they interviewed Dr. Muriel Asseburg, a Senior Fellow at the Africa and Middle East sector of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

From the onset, Asseburg defined Hamas according to the meaning of the word itself – a resistance movement, elaborating further on its historical roots. Then, she goes on to explain that Israel has a “one-state reality” with total Israeli control of the borders, the coastal waters, the airspace, and most of the territory. She also said that people in that de-facto state reality enjoy very different rights according to their nationality, ethnoreligious affiliation and according to where they live—rights that concern freedom of movement, political participation, but also economic and social rights.

When an interviewer asked for an example, Asseburg said that if a Jewish citizen in the West Bank commits a crime, he will be tried in a civil court; whereas a Palestinian from the West Bank who commits the same crime – will be tried in a military court.

She added, in these military courts there is a 99% conviction rate, so it’s very difficult for Palestinians to get any kind of justice.

Moreover, she explained that the restrictions on movement are even more severe: while Israelis have the right to move freely within the territories, Palestinians from the Gaza strip have no freedom (unless they have a special permit, which can only be obtained in exceptional cases). Even Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, Asseburg stressed, can only move from one city in the West Bank to another with an Israeli permit.

Here are a few excerpts from the 31-minute conversation (transcribed and translated from German):

Question: What is Hamas again?

Asseburg: Hamas is one of the major parties or movements (in Palestine). Hamas stands for the Islamic resistance movement. It emerged in 1987 from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which in turn had previously split off from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. In the meantime, however, Hamas has disassociated itself from the Muslim Brotherhood, i.e. it has established an organizational and ideological separation, especially with regard to Egypt, in order to make itself less vulnerable to attacks.

Question: Can you describe (…) these social divisions in the Israeli society. Human Rights Watch has just published a long, over 200-page report in which they accuse Israel of having installed a regime of apartheid, at least in the occupied territories. How do you assess this?

Asseburg: Well, I’ll try to describe the situation in a few sentences. I would say that we now have in Israel and the Palestinian territories, in this whole area, something that could be called a one-state reality. What do I mean by that? That we have an overriding Israeli control in this overall area. So that Israel controls the borders, controls the coastal waters, controls the airspace, controls most of the territory directly. It also means that people who live in this territory have very different rights according to their nationality, according to their ethno-religious affiliation and according to where they live. Rights that concern freedom of movement, political participation, but also economic and social rights.

Question: Give me an example; that always sounds so abstract.

Asseburg: For example, a Palestinian in the West Bank lives under Israeli military law, whereas a settler, an Israeli settler with Israeli citizenship in the West Bank, lives under Israeli civil law.

Question: What does that mean?

Asseburg: It means that this settler, if he commits a crime, (he) will be tried in a civil court, whereas the Palestinian who commits the same crime will be tried in a military court. And we have (…) in these military courts, a 99% conviction rate. So, it’s very difficult for Palestinians to get any kind of justice in such courts.

But I would say the restrictions on movement are actually even more severe. Israelis with Israeli citizenship have the right to move freely within the territory, with the exception of the Gaza strip and the so-called A-areas in the Westbank, where they are not allowed to stay for security reasons. Palestinians from the Gaza strip have no possibility to move towards Israel, towards the West Bank, unless they have a special permit, which can only be obtained in exceptional cases.

This also applies to Palestinians living in the West Bank, who can only come to Jerusalem with a special permit and this even applies to the representatives of the Palestinian authority, for example, the Palestinian president himself, who can only move from one city in the West Bank to another city in the West Bank with an Israeli permit.

For more information, in German, click here, or listen to the full episode here.

– Hadas Emma Kedar is a PhD student and Research Associate at the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences of Hamburg University, Germany. She researches science, climate and crisis communication, focusing on a comparative analysis of Covid-19’s mass communication in Germany, Israel and the USA. She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

The post Discussing Israeli Apartheid: A Promising Shift in Germany’s Pro-Israeli Media appeared first on Palestine Chronicle.

Source: chr