For first time since 2011, Palestine to apply for full UN membership

Palestinians wave their national flag during a rally in Ramallah on Nov 29, 2012, to support Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’s bid for UN recognition of statehood. (Issam Rimawi / Flash90)

Though Palestinian bid is doomed to fail due to expected US veto, Israeli envoy attacks Ramallah for ‘destructive policies that have encouraged recent terror ‎attacks’

By Raphael Ahren | The Times of Israel | Dec 27, 2018

“We are preparing to stop the initiative,” Israel’s Ambassador to the ‎UN Danny Danon declared, saying that his delegation will work together with the US administration on the matter.

The Palestinian Authority plans to apply for full membership at the United Nations, a move that is highly unlikely to succeed due to the opposition of the United States and other countries.

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki on Wednesday announced in an interview his intention to ask the UN Security Council to hold a vote on the matter next month.

At least nine countries would have to vote in favor of granting Palestine full membership, and even then one of the council’s five permanent members could veto the resolution.

The vote is expected to take place on January 15 in the framework of the Security ‎Council’s quarterly discussion on the Situation in the Middle East.

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Remember Christ was a Palestinian refugee

A view shows the dome of the Assyrian church facing a mosque minaret in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Dec 24, 2018. (photo: Mustafa Ganeyeh / Reuters)
Remember Christ was a Palestinian refugee — a Jewish Palestinian refugee — who is the founding figure of Christianity, and a beloved prophet for Muslims. The rest is commentary.

By Hamid Dabashi | Al Jazeera | Dec 25, 2018

And when the angels said, ‘O Mary, indeed Allah gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary — distinguished in this world and the hereafter and among those brought near [to Allah].’ (The Quran 3:45)

There is something beautifully sacred about the moment in the Quran when the angels inform Mary she is about to give birth to Jesus. Angels bring her the good news. They tell her of how “He will speak to the people in the cradle and in maturity and will be of the righteous.”

The sublime innocence of Mary at hearing this news can hardly be better captured in any scripture: “She said, ‘My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?’ [The angel] said, ‘Such is Allah; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is.’” (The Quran 3:47).

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When a medic was killed in Gaza, was it an accident?

A portrait of Ms. Najjar in her family’s home. (photo: Hosam Salem / The New York Times)
The bullet that killed her was fired by an Israeli sniper into a crowd that included white-coated medics in plain view. Neither the medics nor anyone around them posed any apparent threat of violence to Israeli personnel.

By David Halbfinger | The New York Times | Dec 30, 2018

Though Israel later admitted her killing was unintentional, the shooting appears to have been reckless at best, and possibly a war crime, for which no one has yet been punished.

A young medic in a head scarf runs into danger, her only protection a white lab coat. Through a haze of tear gas and black smoke, she tries to reach a man sprawled on the ground along the Gaza border. Israeli soldiers, their weapons leveled, watch warily from the other side.

Minutes later, a rifle shot rips through the din, and the Israeli-Palestinian drama has its newest tragic figure.

For a few days in June, the world took notice of the death of 20-year-old Rouzan al-Najjar, killed while treating the wounded at protests against Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Even as she was buried, she became a symbol of the conflict, with both sides staking out competing and mutually exclusive narratives.

To the Palestinians, she was an innocent martyr killed in cold blood, an example of Israel’s disregard for Palestinian life. To the Israelis, she was part of a violent protest aimed at destroying their country, to which lethal force is a legitimate response as a last resort.

[If the link above does not display a video in your browser, you can view it directly here →. The NY Times created a detailed reconstruction of the events leading up to Rouzan al-Najjar’s killing. — Eds.]

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Anti-Semitism is not just a point of view. The NY Times should know better.

Alice Walker stands in front of a picture of herself from 1974 as she tours her archives at Emory University, in Atlanta, in 2009. (photo: John Amis / AP)
What’s lacking from the Times is appropriate shock at Alice Walker’s bigotry and its own refusal to admit a mistake.

By Richard Cohen | The Washington Post | Dec 24, 2018

[NY Times Book Review Editor Pamela Paul] surely does not mean to, but she manages to treat anti-Semitism as just another point of view — not a hatred with a unique and appalling pedigree that has led to unending slaughter

Over the centuries, anti-Semitism has been many things — a religious conviction, an ideology, a national ethic, an unadorned expression of hate and, in more recent times, evidence of sturdy insanity. Now thanks to a New York Times interview with Alice Walker, it’s been reduced to merely a point of view. To cite the Times’s own motto, this interview was definitely not “news that’s fit to print.”

Walker, of course, is a highly praised novelist best known for “The Color Purple,” for which she won a Pulitzer Prize. Her renown is great, and it was no doubt on this basis that the Times interviewed her for its “By the Book” feature that runs in the Sunday Book Review. The trouble started with the first question.

“What books are on your nightstand?” the Times asked. The second book Walker named was “And the Truth Shall Set You Free” by the British conspiracy theorist David Icke. The book is so repellently anti-Semitic that Icke’s usual publisher wouldn’t touch it. Among other things, it endorses that hoary anti-Semitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which blames evil Jews for much of the world’s ills. The book also suggests that schools ought to balance lessons on the Holocaust with some questioning whether it ever even happened, and it reveals that the world is run by a cabal of giant, shape-shifting lizards, many of whom just happen to be Jewish.

Continue reading “Anti-Semitism is not just a point of view. The NY Times should know better.”

Alice Walker’s conspiracy theories aren’t just anti-Semitic — they’re anti-Black

Members of the National Socialist Movement, one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the US, hold a swastika burning after a rally on Apr 21, 2018 in Draketown, Georgia. (photo: Spencer Platt / Getty Images)
Ultimately defeating anti-Jewish and anti-Black prejudice in our communities depends on principled solidarity and rejection of the tropes created by white supremacy.

By Rebecca Pierce | Forward | Dec 19, 2018

The anti-Jewish tropes found in Icke’s writings are steeped in the ideology of white supremacy and white power, which casts Jews as simultaneously a perennial social other, a communist scourge and somehow in control of world banking, politics and media.

Every generation that struggles against oppression stands on the shoulders of those who came before us. But even as we honor those who taught us, we must also challenge them when they stray from the path of fighting for justice, and fall into the trap of stigmatizing one community to uplift another.

For Black feminists, The Color Purple author and activist Alice Walker has long been a luminary and leader, guiding us on a path towards personal and collective liberation through her work. Unfortunately, this week many of us find ourselves in the painful but necessary position of having to push back on anti-Jewish words and endorsements that are especially harmful coming from someone so influential in the fight against patriarchy and white supremacy.

In an interview with The New York Times Book Review this week, Walker recommended “And the Truth Shall Set You Free” by British conspiracy theorist David Icke, a book that alleges the existence of a Jewish-influenced cabal set on world domination and positively cites notorious anti-Jewish forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

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The NY Times published an unqualified recommendation for an insanely anti-Semitic book

Author Alice Walker attends “The Color Purple” TimesTalks, at the New School in New York City, Oct 29, 2015. (photo: Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images)
The book, recommended by author Alice Walker, repeatedly cites the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” dubs the Talmud “among the most appallingly racist documents on the planet,” and says Jews funded the Holocaust and control the KKK.

By Yair Rosenberg | Tablet | Dec 17, 2018

That a celebrated cultural figure like Walker would promote such a self-evidently unhinged bigot might seem surprising at first glance. But this is only because the cultural establishment has spent years studiously looking away from Walker’s praise of Icke and his work, and her repeated expressions of anti-Semitism.

Over the weekend, the New York Times Book Review published a full-length interview with Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple. The very first question: “What books are on your nightstand?”

Walker replied with four, the second of which was And the Truth Shall Set You Free by David Icke. “In Icke’s books there is the whole of existence, on this planet and several others, to think about. A curious person’s dream come true.”

This passed without comment from the New York Times interviewer, and the publication passed it on to readers without qualification. This is rather remarkable because the book is an unhinged anti-Semitic conspiracy tract written by one of Britain’s most notorious anti-Semites.

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Gaza: The Palestinians who died during the Great March of Return

A young boy carries a Palestinian flag during a Great March of Return demonstration in Gaza, May 14, 2018. (photo: AFP)

Scores of protesting Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers during 2018. These are some of their stories.

By Ahmad Nafi and Chloé Benoistor | Middle East Eye | Dec 27, 2018

The UN General Assembly denounced Israel’s use of force against the demonstrators as ‘excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate,’ while many rights groups slammed it as illegal, ‘horrifying’ and ‘calculated.’

One of the most enduring popular movements of 2018 has been the ongoing Great March of Return in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Since March 30, thousands of Palestinians in the small coastal territory have demonstrated along the boundary with Israel, demanding the implementation of Palestinian refugees’ right of return and an end to the crippling 11-year siege of Gaza.

But such high-scale mobilization has come at a high cost: according to Middle East Eye’s calculations, 190 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces within the scope of the demonstrations between March 30 and November 30 — equivalent to one Palestinian killed every 31 hours in eight months.

The numbers exclude more than 50 victims of air strikes or other Israeli military actions when demonstrations were not taking place.

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Messianic lobby builds support for US-funded ethnic cleansing in Palestine

Houses in the old town of the divided city of Hebron in the West Bank on Jun 29, 2017. (photo: Hazem Bader / AFP / Getty Images)
The Alliance for Israel Advocacy has been working quietly to pitch its plan to the White House and key donors.

By Lee Fang | The Intercept | Dec 16, 2018

If there are any Palestinian residents who wish to leave, we will provide funds for you to leave, with the hopes that over 10 years to change the demography of the West Bank towards an eventual annexation.
— Paul Liberman, executive director of the Alliance for Israel Advocacy

A pro-Israel activist group is quietly pushing lawmakers on Capitol Hill and key officials in the White House to embrace a plan that would entail paying Palestinian residents in the West Bank to move abroad. The plan is a bid to reshape the ethnic and religious population of territories controlled by Israel, according to the head of the group, called the Alliance for Israel Advocacy.

If all goes according to the group’s plan, legislation will be released in January, when the new Congress convenes, that will redirect U.S. funds once dedicated to the United Nations for Palestinian humanitarian assistance into a voucher program administered by the Israeli government. A draft summary of the proposal states that the money will help finance the permanent relocation of Palestinians from the West Bank to countries such as Turkey, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, or the United States.

The effort is being championed by the Alliance for Israel Advocacy, a lobbying group formed by the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, a nonprofit that represents Jews who have converted to Christianity but who still practice some Jewish customs. The so-called Messianic Jews broadly share many spiritual beliefs of modern born-again evangelicals. . . .

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Israel: The alternative

Palestinian refugees in northern Israel on the road to Lebanon, Nov 1948. (photo: Associated Press)
We thought this 15-year-old essay worthy of a second reading. — Eds.

By Tony Judt | The New York Review of Books | Oct 23, 2003 [sic]

The problem with Israel, in short, is not — as is sometimes suggested — that it is a European “enclave” in the Arab world; but rather that it arrived too late. It has imported a characteristically late-Nineteenth-Century separatist project into a world that has moved on, a world of individual rights, open frontiers, and international law. The very idea of a “Jewish state” — a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded — is rooted in another time and place. Israel, in short, is an anachronism.

. . . At the dawn of the twentieth century, in the twilight of the continental empires, Europe’s subject peoples dreamed of forming “nation-states,” territorial homelands where Poles, Czechs, Serbs, Armenians, and others might live free, masters of their own fate. When the Habsburg and Romanov empires collapsed after World War I, their leaders seized the opportunity. A flurry of new states emerged; and the first thing they did was set about privileging their national, “ethnic” majority — defined by language, or religion, or antiquity, or all three — at the expense of inconvenient local minorities, who were consigned to second-class status: permanently resident strangers in their own home.

But one nationalist movement, Zionism, was frustrated in its ambitions. The dream of an appropriately sited Jewish national home in the middle of the defunct Turkish Empire had to wait upon the retreat of imperial Britain: a process that took three more decades and a second world war. And thus it was only in 1948 that a Jewish nation-state was established in formerly Ottoman Palestine. But the founders of the Jewish state had been influenced by the same concepts and categories as their fin-de-siècle contemporaries back in Warsaw, or Odessa, or Bucharest; not surprisingly, Israel’s ethno-religious self-definition, and its discrimination against internal “foreigners,” has always had more in common with, say, the practices of post-Habsburg Romania than either party might care to acknowledge. . . .

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A Texas elementary school speech pathologist refused to sign a pro-Israel oath — so she lost her job

States with anti-Israel boycott laws. (graphic: Palestine Legal)
Nobody who claims to be a defender of free speech or free expression — on the right, the left, or anything in between — can possibly justify silence in the face of such a coordinated and pure assault on these most basic rights of free speech and association.

By Glenn Greenwald | The Intercept | Dec 17, 2018

In order to continue to work, Amawi would be perfectly free to engage in any political activism against her own country, participate in an economic boycott of any state or city within the U.S., or work against the policies of any other government in the world — except Israel.

A children’s speech pathologist who has worked for the last nine years with developmentally disabled, autistic, and speech-impaired elementary school students in Austin, Texas, has been told that she can no longer work with the public school district, after she refused to sign an oath vowing that she “does not” and “will not” engage in a boycott of Israel or “otherwise tak[e] any action that is intended to inflict economic harm” on that foreign nation. A lawsuit on her behalf was filed early Monday morning in a federal court in the Western District of Texas, alleging a violation of her First Amendment right of free speech.

The child language specialist, Bahia Amawi, is a U.S. citizen who received a master’s degree in speech pathology in 1999 and, since then, has specialized in evaluations for young children with language difficulties (see video below). Amawi was born in Austria and has lived in the US for the last 30 years, fluently speaks three languages (English, German, and Arabic), and has four U.S.-born American children of her own.

Continue reading “A Texas elementary school speech pathologist refused to sign a pro-Israel oath — so she lost her job”