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Home arrow Blog arrow February 2009 arrow February 11, 2009

February 11, 2009
February 11, 2009:  "Israeli election could boost Hamas truce talks"  "Not From Jerusalem #18" and "Does Zionism legitimize every act of violence?" By Gideon Levy

"This is a time when there seems to be a particular need for men of philosophical persuasion—that is to say, friends of wisdom and truth—to join together…We Jews should be, and remain, the carriers and patrons of spiritual values. But we should also always be aware of the fact that these spiritual values are and always have been the common goal of mankind."-Einstein

Last update - 13:45 Haaretz, 12/02/2009            
Does Zionism legitimize every act of violence?
By Gideon Levy


The Israeli left died in 2000. Since then its corpse has been lying around unburied until finally its death certificate was issued, signed, sealed and delivered on Tuesday. The hangman of 2000 was also the gravedigger of 2009: Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The man who succeeded in spreading the lie about there being no partner has reaped the fruit of his deeds in this election. The funeral was held two days ago.

The Israeli left is dead. For the past nine years it took the name of the peace camp in vain. The Labor Party, Meretz and Kadima had pretensions of speaking in its name, but that was trickery and deceit. Labor and Kadima made two wars and continued to build Jewish settlements in the West Bank; Meretz supported both wars. Peace has been left an orphan. The Israeli voters, who have been misled into thinking that there is no one to talk to and that the only answer to this is force - wars, targeted killings and settlements - have had their say clearly in the election: a closing sale for Labor and Meretz. It was only the force of inertia that gave these parties the few votes they won.
There was no reason for it to be otherwise. After many long years when hardly any protest came from the left, and the city square, the same square that raged after Sabra and Chatila, was silent, this lack of protest has been reflected at the ballot box as well. Lebanon, Gaza, the killed children, cluster bombs, white phosphorus and all the atrocities of occupation - none of this drove the indifferent, cowardly left onto the street. Though ideas of the left have found a toehold in the center and sometimes even on the right, everyone from former prime minister Ariel Sharon to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has spoken in a language that once was considered radical. But the voice was the voice of the left while the hands were the hands of the right.

On the fringes of this masked ball existed another left, the marginal left - determined and courageous, but minuscule and not legitimate. The gap between it and the left was supposedly Zionism. Hadash, Gush Shalom and others like them are outside the camp. Why? Because they are "not Zionist."

And what is Zionism nowadays?

An archaic and outdated concept born in a different reality, a vague and delusive concept marking the difference between the permitted and the proscribed. Does Zionism mean settlement in the territories? Occupation? The legitimization of every act of violence and injustice? The left stammered. Any statement critical of Zionism, even the Zionism of the occupation, was considered a taboo that the left did not dare break. The right grabbed a monopoly on Zionism, leaving the left with its self-righteousness.


A Jewish and democratic state?

The Zionist left said yes automatically, fudging the difference between the two and not daring to give either priority. Legitimization for every war? The Zionist left stammered again - yes to the beginning and no to the continuation, or something like that. Solving the refugee problem and the right of return? Acknowledgment of the wrongdoing of 1948? Unmentionable. This left has now, rightly, reached the end of its road.

Anyone who wants a meaningful left must first air out Zionism in the attic. Until a movement that courageously redefines Zionism arises from the mainstream, there will be no broad left here. It is not possible to be both leftist and Zionist only in accordance with the right's definition. Who has decided that the settlements are Zionist and legitimate, and the struggle against them is neither?


This taboo must be broken. It is permissible not to be a Zionist, as commonly defined today. It is permissible to believe in the Jews' right to a state and yet come out against the Zionism that engages in occupation.

It is permissible to believe that what happened in 1948 should be put on the agenda, to apologize for the injustice and act to rehabilitate the victims.

It is permissible to oppose an unnecessary war from its very first day.

It is permissible to think that the Arabs of Israel deserve the same rights - culturally, socially and nationally - as Jews. It is permissible to raise disturbing questions about the image of the Israel Defense Forces as an army of occupation, and it is even permissible to want to talk to Hamas.

If you prefer, this is Zionism, and if you prefer, this is anti-Zionism. In any case, it is legitimate and essential for those who do not want to see Israel fall victim to the insanities of the right for many more years. Anyone who wants an Israeli left must say "enough" to Zionism, the Zionism of which the right has taken complete control.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1063597.html




Not From Jerusalem # 18
10 February 2009

I am a political junkie. Ever since the first time--at age six--I tried to stay awake to hear the name of the president the adults had elected, I have been captivated by the electoral spectacle. Two things stand out: First is the anticipation that there will be surprises. Even in the most predictable of races voters sometimes do what the wise pundits say they absolutely will not. Second is the sense of hope that this time justice and fairness will prevail.

This day there is neither. Today is the day that Israel elects its Knesset or parliament. One hundred twenty men and women will be named from 33 [!] political parties’ lists. Then the President will ask one of them--virtually always the leader of the party winning the greatest number of seats--to form a new government. The maneuvering begins. Bargains are struck; this group aligns itself with the majority while that one opts out; there is constant mention of center, left, right, of liberal, moderate, conservative, of religious and secular. Finally a coalition emerges. It must have 61 members, but can scarcely function without 65 or more. Then the work of government gets underway. Comparing this process to what takes place here in the United States is like comparing a well-officiated “winner-take-all” boxing match to “Wrestlemania” where ten or twelve wrestlers are put in the ring together to battle it out until only one remains. Both are interesting and entertaining to watch, but they differ from each other dramatically. The real suspense comes at the end of the drama when real life intrudes and we watch how bills are paid, wars are waged--or not--children are educated, rights are upheld or trampled, and the sick and needy are cared for. We rarely know in advance how political pronouncements will translate into policy and governance.

Except in this case!

There are three contenders for the post of Prime Minister, the one who will form a governing coalition. You may know their names, you may not. You may be able to name the top three parties and match the candidate with his or her party; you may not. You may know which ones have pledged to continue the “peace process” and which ones oppose it. Or not. And it doesn’t matter. For the history of nearly 42 years of occupation and control have been characterized by one dominating phenomenon: the construction of illegal Israeli settlements, built on Palestinian land, has continued in one unbroken chain of oppression. Regardless of how the ruling party has presented itself on the matter of a Palestinian state...regardless of whether it has thrust forth an olive branch or a white-phosphorous fist toward the people around it...regardless of how benevolent or munificent its policies...the taking and taking and taking of land by building a house and then another and another has continued unabated throughout those years. Nothing leads me to believe that this time will be different. Certainly the person who heads the government will determine something of the tenor and tone of relations with Palestinians, as well as those with the U.S., Europe, et al, and other Arab nations. If Livni, it will sound as if the talking loosely referred to as the peace process will continue. If Netanyahu, that is less likely. If Lieberman [and the early exit polls indicate that his right-wing nationalist party will be the third strongest in the Knesset.] we will see more of his measures which can only be characterized as efforts in “ethnic transfer/cleansing” of Arabs. If a compromise candidate, who knows what will be articulated as national policy. But we do know that the settlement enterprise will go on and on. It always has.

Last month I was speaking with an Israeli government official who implored me to tell my friends in Palestine that Israelis really want peace. I replied that many may have that desire, but it is impossible for Palestinians to believe it when each passing day sees more and more of their land taken illegally and arbitrarily and given to others. Remember, the land we speak of is not some disputed tract in the middle of nowhere. These are the farms and hills and villages which families have loved and have passed on to their children. Now they are taken from them; the grandchildren will have only a sad, bitter memory.

Perhaps now is the time that the whole world must come to a point of decision, a point of principle, of justice. Perhaps it is time for us to put the old religious stories in the 21st century where we no longer believe we can take the homes of others and label that taking a manifestation of a divine proclamation. Perhaps it is time we all resolve that the only path to justice and peace is the one that leads to respect for each other and a commitment to sit around the same civil table and grow to the point where we live together and share a common heritage.

Perhaps? No. It is time! Tell the President. Tell the Congress. Tell your pastor.
Russell O. Siler, Retired


Israeli election could boost Hamas truce talks
By JOSEF FEDERMAN, AP

JERUSALEM – For Hamas, the goal is opening Gaza's borders to tons of blankets, medicine and other humanitarian aid piled up in ports, and freeing hundreds of Palestinians from Israeli jails.

For Israel, it's stopping the smuggling of arms into Gaza and bringing home a soldier held captive by Hamas-linked militants since 2006.

With outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert suddenly freed of political constraints as rival parties wrangle over how to share power following Tuesday's elections, the next several weeks may offer a unique opportunity for Israel and Hamas to strike a deal — though it's unclear whether Olmert's successor would honor it.

John Ging, the top U.N. official in Gaza, said he was not concerned about who becomes prime minister, only about reopening the border crossings.

"We just hope that whichever government is elected changes its policy to focus on the plight of the people in Gaza," he said. "Thousands of tons of humanitarian aid, like blankets, medicine and aid are waiting in Ashdod (Israel), Egypt and Jordan. ... The aid isn't getting in because there is only one crossing open, so it's like the eye of a needle."

Senior defense officials said Olmert's dwindling time as prime minister has ironically improved conditions for working out an agreement that would open the borders and end the still simmering warfare.

One official said Olmert feels compelled to "clear the table" before leaving office, and that his lame-duck status has freed him to make difficult decisions. In particular, the prospect of releasing hundreds of Hamas prisoners, including convicted murders, is likely to generate heavy criticism in Israel.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing confidential information, said he believed a cease-fire could be reached relatively quickly if the Israeli government makes the required tough decisions.

Egypt has been trying to broker a long-term cease-fire since Israel ended its fierce three-week military offensive in Gaza last month.

Olmert's spokesman, Mark Regev, dismissed talk that Olmert feels pressed to reach a deal as "speculation."

But he said the Israeli leader will pursue a cease-fire until his successor takes office, a process that could take weeks.

"We will continue to seek sustained peace and quiet in the south and try to work for the release of Gilad Schalit, and we will continue our engagement with the Egyptians for long-term stability," he said.

Israel wants Hamas to release Sgt. Schalit, who was captured in June 2006. In return, Hamas has demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Hamas also wants Israel to end its economic blockade of Gaza, imposed after the Islamic militants seized power in June 2007, while Israel is demanding an end to arms smuggling into Gaza.

But with the two leading contenders to succeed Olmert both saying they want to topple Hamas — and with the Islamic militant group equally hostile to Israel — it's unclear that any long-term truce could survive.

Hamas appears eager to reach a cease-fire, though officials say the prospect of a hard-line Israeli government in the future will not make them reduce their demands.

"Any government that wants to have calm must pay the price, which is to lift the siege and stop the aggression," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

Israel's election ended inconclusively, with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu both claiming victory. Since neither candidate won a parliamentary majority, each will have to court coalition partners. Netanyahu seems to have the upper hand because of gains by other nationalist parties.

As a member of the current government and Olmert's centrist Kadima Party, Livni appears more inclined to honor a deal struck by the current prime minister.

Dan Meridor, a Likud member of the incoming parliament, said if Netanyahu becomes prime minister, he would not automatically support a truce worked out with Hamas. Meridor said, "Do we want to bring down Hamas and allow (moderates) to represent the Palestinians in negotiations, or do we say, the people chose (Hamas), they are strong, they are our enemies, but we won't deter them."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090211/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_gaza_analysis


Josef Federman, the AP's Jerusalem news editor, has covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 2003. Correspondents Mark Lavie and Ian Deitch contributed to this report.




Thanks to Mid East Analyst, Omar Barghouti for emailing:

According to the almost official results of the Israeli elections, reproduced below, the fanatic-to-fascist right was the biggest winner in Israel. A proper death certificate for the Israeli Zionist "left" should finally be issued -- 61 years late!
 
Here is a breakdown of the results for all Israeli parties, categorized into groups according to their respective positions towards international law and basic human rights. Only these universal criteria should be used in Israel and anywhere else to decide who is right, who is left and who is ultra right, etc. The common Israeli designations of "left," "right" and "center" to describe Labor, Likud and Kadima, respectively, are completely inaccurate and intentionally misleading, as they steer away from any objective criteria in distinguishing left from right. Still, unfortunately, these meaningless Israeli labels are parroted, verbatim, by commentators, even progressive ones, without any reflection on their accuracy or relevance.
 
By any objective standard, the election results must reveal the following accurate categories:
 
Ultra Right: (parties that openly adopt racist or fascist platforms calling for forcible displacement, or ethnic cleansing, of the indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel, based on diverse conditions that depend on the specific party in question; justify and/or commit war crimes and grave violations of international law; reject UN resolutions and international law as THE basis for a just peace; reject all three basic Palestinian rights enshrined in international law: (1) FULLY ending the occupation and withdrawing to the 1967 borders, as per UNSC Res. 242, including withdrawal from occupied east Jerusalem; (2) the UN-sanctioned rights of the refugees to reparations and return to their homes of origin; and (3) the right to full equality inside Israel and ending institutional racism against all "non-Jewish" citizens of the state):
 
  Yisrael Beitenu: 15 Knesset seats
  National Union: 4
  Shas: 11
  Jewish Home: 3
  Likud: 27
  Kadima: 28

TOTAL: Ultra right: 88 seats: 73% of the total seats in the Knesset or 80% of Jewish seats in the Knesset
 
 
Right: parties that conform to the Ultra-Right principles above with the exception of calling openly for ethnic cleansing as a political platform. There are exceptions, of course, whereby several key Labor leaders have occasionally called for ethnic cleansing, but it was not translated into part of their program or a consistent policy, unlike the parties of the Ultra-Right above
 
  Labor: 13
  United Torah Judaism: 5
  Meretz: 3

TOTAL Right: 21 seats: 16% of total or 19% of Jewish seats
 
Center: parties that support a FULL withdrawal from the 1967-occupied territory, but oppose equality for all the citizens of the state and the right of return. It may be generous to call them center, but ...)
 
  NONE
 
 
Left: parties that support a FULL withdrawal from the 1967-occupied territory, equality for all the citizens of the state, and the right of return. These parties are committed to a two-state peaceful solution based on international law and universal human rights principles)
 
  United Arab List: 4  (an entirely Palestinian party -- politically on the left, but socially on the right)
  Hadash (communists): 4  (note that less than 1% of Israeli-Jews voted for it, so it can statistically be regarded as a Palestinian party)
  Balad (national democrats): 3 (entirely Palestinian)
 
TOTAL Left: 11 seats: 9% of total
 
It is very important to note that, from initial news reports, it seems that half the Palestinian public in Israel BOYCOTTED the elections, the widest such boycott in history. This means that all the above Palestinian parties represent less than half of the Palestinian voters in Israel!
 
 
Main conclusions:
 
(1) The Israeli Jewish public has voted predominantly for the ultra right (including a huge increase in support for the fascist right)
 
(2) The Israeli Jewish (Zionist) left does not exist (as predicted) as a political force in Israel
 
(3) The ONLY left parties in Israel are entirely Palestinian
 
(4) There is a Jewish consensus in Israel (with the exception of a few brave, principled individuals and tiny anti-Zionist groups) AGAINST all the basic requirements for a just peace as laid out in UN resolutions and supported by most world governments
 
(5) For the first time in the history of Knesset elections, it is reported that Palestinian voters have shunned Zionist parties to an unprecedented level, opting for Palestinian parties instead.
 
 
What's to be done?
 
A paradigm shift from the defunct, immoral, and now impossible, two-state solution to the democratic, single state solution is NOW called for more than ever. Only by rejecting all forms of racism, apartheid, ethnocentrism, religious fundamentalism and colonialism, and by embracing FULL equality and democracy, including the right of return of the refugees, can we create a just and sustainable peace.
 
The call for a two-state solution has truly become a smokescreen to cover up and legitimize continued occupation, colonization and Zionist apartheid.
 
Omar
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1061917.html


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The Paradoxical Commandments
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People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
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People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

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The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



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