Gideon Levy: A voice of sanity from Israel

Journalist Gideon Levy speaks at a Seminar of the Communications Dept. at Ariel University. (photo: Flavio~ / Flickr)

In spite of a systemic policy of demonization against him, Gideon Levy continues denouncing the Israeli government crimes against the Palestinians.

By Cesar Chelala | Mint Press News | Apr 23, 2018

“The only place on earth that Donald Trump is beloved, admired, adored, and appreciated is Israel. The only place that Benjamin Netanyahu is admired, adored and beloved is the United States. If this is not shared values, what is shared values?”
— Gideon Levy speaking at the AIPAC Summit, Mar 2018

I first learned of Gideon Levy many years ago, during a casual conversation with an Israeli human rights activist. He told me that he had asked Levy why was he such a serious critic of Israel’s government and its policies with the Palestinians. Levy, whose own father was a German Jewish refugee who had settled in Israel, responded, “I don’t want Israelis to say that they didn’t know.”

Levy frequently travels to and writes about the Occupied Territories. As a columnist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Levy wants to show the evils of the occupation and how it hurts not only the Palestinians but also the Israel that he loves so much. “I am an Israeli patriot. I want to be proud of my country. I want us to do the right thing,” he declared. His writing has gained him several prestigious awards, but also the hatred of many Israelis and several personal attacks.

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Dear Senator Harris, You have been drinking the pro-Israel Kool-Aid

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Nov 20, 2017. (photo: Twitter)

An open letter to Senator Kamala Harris of California.

By Alice Diane Kisch | Mondoweiss | Mar 20, 2018

Senator Harris, not only have I lived in Israel, I have hundreds of family members there, most of them descended from German-Jewish immigrants to Palestine in the early 1930’s. I am in touch with many of them, and I am also in touch with many Jewish-Israeli friends who still live in Israel. I know whereof I speak.

I should also mention that three of my Jewish-Israeli family members (including a 9-year-old boy) were killed in the West Bank in July 2002; they were shot at point-blank range by, presumably, Palestinian snipers while they were traveling by automobile to a friend’s home for Shabbat. So I am not untouched by the violence afflicting Israel-Palestine.

I am an 81-year old resident of Alameda County and I have lived here for 19 years.  I grew up in the U.S. northeast and in France, and I have also lived in Scotland and Israel.  I am Jewish and I am a committed Palestinian solidarity activist.

It therefore pains me to know that you have been drinking the pro-Israel Kool-Aid.  With your international background — not to mention your law degree (I come from a family of lawyers) — I would have thought that you might have understood the brutal reality that is today’s Israel.  Your pandering March 28, 2017 speech in front of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was a disgrace which only reflected and highlighted your ignorance and your willful blindness to the brutal and grotesque reality that is today’s State of Israel.  Unfortunately, your recent 2018 remarks to AIPAC have not yet been made public.

Continue reading “Dear Senator Harris, You have been drinking the pro-Israel Kool-Aid”

Chuck Schumer needs a history lesson on Israel — and on a changing America

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaking at the AIPAC Strategy Conference in Washington, DC. (photo: Getty Images)

Young Americans, including young American Jews, are more critical of Israel than their elders. But it’s not because they’re ignorant of history — it’s because they’re less enthralled by myth.

By Peter Beinhart | Forward | Mar 7, 2018

The real problem confronting Schumer isn’t that young Americans are ignorant. It’s that more and more of them are knowledgeable enough to realize that Israeli policy in both the West Bank and Gaza massively violates Palestinian human rights. And to wonder why a Democrat like Chuck Schumer is supporting policies so antithetical to the progressive principles he claims to hold dear.

Chuck Schumer is worried about young people. In his speech on Monday at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference, he warned that “too many of the younger Americans don’t know the history” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “and as a result they tend to say, well, both sides are to blame.” And so — after a joke about a Mrs. Goldfarb who is sentenced to one night in jail for each of the four peaches she stole, and whose husband yells to the judge, “She stole a can of peas, too” (relevance: unclear) — the Senate Minority leader offered a history lesson to America’s youth.

He began with the settlements. “There are some who argue, the settlements are the reason there’s not peace,” Schumer declared. “But we all know what happened in Gaza. Israel voluntarily got rid of the settlements there. The soldiers, Israeli soldiers dragged the settlers out of Netzarim and three weeks later the Palestinians threw rockets into Sderot. It’s sure not the settlements that are the blockage to peace.” Take that Israel-queasy millennials.

The implication of Schumer’s tale is that because Palestinians kept fighting Israel even after Israel withdrew its settlements from Gaza, Palestinians don’t really care about settlements. Their real beef is with Israel’s very existence.

But there are problems with this logic. Continue reading “Chuck Schumer needs a history lesson on Israel — and on a changing America”

AIPAC event spotlights settler alternatives to a two-state solution

Attendees at an off-site conference on settlements and the West Bank during the AIPAC Strategy Conference. (photo: Adelle Nazarian / Breitbart News)

Speakers emphasize moving beyond the two-state solution.

By Adelle Nazarian | Breitbart News | Mar 6, 2018

“The time has come to embrace the 650,000 people who live in Judea and Samaria. The time has come to find an alternative to the two-state solution . . . we are not going to give away our land anymore. We don’t believe in land for peace. It’s been tested and it’s failed.”
— Yishai Fleisher, spokesman for the Jewish settlers in Hebron

Israeli and American leaders from the Jewish and Christian communities spoke at a packed event on Monday at the historic Sixth and I Synagogue in downtown DC, which focused on combating the de-legitimization of Israel through the embrace of Judea and Samaria.

Yishai Fleisher, the international spokesman for the Jewish community in Hebron, was the master of ceremonies for the event, which featured products that are affected by the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement including dates from the Jordan Valley, halva from Ariel, wines from Psagot and Shiloh, Carni Eldad’s book “Yesha is Fun,” and Saboneto soaps and Argon oil.

Partners for the event included the Jordan Valley Regional Council, Yesha Council, Binyamin Regional Council, Hebron, Ariel University, One Israel Fund, Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce, and of course the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

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Chuck Schumer thinks there’s no peace because Palestinians don’t believe in the Torah

Senator Chuck Schumer speaks to the 2018 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington DC, Mar 5, 2018. (photo: AIPAC)

Which begs the question, instead of pointless negotiations, should Washington embark on a mass proselytizing program?

By Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man | +972 Magazine | Mar 7, 2018

“Of course, we say it’s our land, the Torah says it, but [the Palestinians] don’t believe in the Torah. So that’s the reason there is not peace.”
— Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference

Senator Chuck Schumer, arguably the top ranking democrat in the United States right now, believes that there is no peace between Israel and Palestine because — well, because the Palestinians don’t believe in the Torah.

Speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference earlier this week, Senator Schumer shuffled his way through a list of clunky talking points ostensibly exonerating Israel of any blame for — well, anything.

It’s not about the settlements, he explained, aptly noting that the conflict didn’t end in 2005 after Israel withdrew a whopping two percent of the settlers living in the occupied Palestinian territories.

It’s not about borders, obviously, because Yasser Arafat said “no” that one time, Schumer told the crowd of people who had clearly been on the fence about whether Arafat was the bad guy in this story.

And it’s definitely not about moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, he preached, because . . . well, he didn’t actually explain that one. But I’ll agree with him on this point, considering that it hasn’t actually happened yet.

Continue reading “Chuck Schumer thinks there’s no peace because Palestinians don’t believe in the Torah”

AIPAC bars journalists from panel on press freedom

A monitor announcing a panel on freedom of the press at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC, Mar 4, 2018. (photo: Allison Sommer)

The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) barred journalists from a panel on press freedom at its annual policy conference.

By Joel Pollak | Breitbart News | Mar 4, 2018

“AIPAC has a long history of being wary of, and less than friendly toward, the press. Members of the media enter the AIPAC convention through a separate entrance and must be accompanied by staff to proceed to the main area where sessions are held — and, at times, even accompanied to the rest rooms.”
— Editorial in New Jersey Jewish News

AIPAC is one of the most influential pro-Israel organizations in the United States.

Allison K. Sommer, a journalist for the left-wing Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz, tweeted Sunday that AIPAC’s panel on press freedom — on which she spoke — was closed to the media. She added the hashtag: “#irony.”

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Israeli ministers address pro-settler event on AIPAC sidelines

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, Mar 5, 2018. (photo: AIPAC)

Organized by Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs and a pro-settler group, the focused on fighting against calls to boycott products made in settlements.

By Amir Tibon and Jonathan Lis | Haaretz | Mar 6, 2018

“Refraining from visiting, talking, buying, and knowing each other — that’s bigotry.”
— Dani Dayan, Israel’s Consul General in New York

Supporters of Israeli settlements in the West Bank held an event on the sidelines of the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington on Monday, at the same time that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump held talks at the White House.

The event, organized by Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs and the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization of the settler movement, focused on fighting against calls to boycott products made in settlements.

More than a hundred people gathered to hear Israeli ministers from the right-wing coalition — including Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) — all of whom expressed their strong support for maintaining Israel’s presence in the West Bank and for rejecting any peace plan that involves the creation of a Palestinian state there.

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Anti-BDS bills to feature prominently at AIPAC conference

At least 23 states have passed anti-BDS legislation. (photo: Al Jazeera)

Annual meeting to push for measures that counter BDS boycotts.

By Dalia Hatuqa | Al Jazeera | Mar 3, 2018

BDS opponents have recently been dealt a series of setbacks, most notably the declaration by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights last month that it had identified more than 200 businesses, 22 of them American, that could be held accountable for operating in settlements.

Israel supporters in the US are gearing up for AIPAC’s much-vaunted annual policy conference, with measures to counter the widening campaign to boycott Israel and its West Bank settlements expected to feature prominently in the powerful lobbying group’s agenda.

This includes legislation that several Republican and Democratic Congress members have sponsored to curb the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to pressure Israel into ending its occupation of Arab and Palestinian land.

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Remembering Paul Findley and Yasser Arafat

Former Rep. Paul Findley (R-IL) speaking on “How to tame lobbies like AIPAC,” Apr 10, 2015. (photo: National Press Club)

A tribute to Paul Findley on the 13th anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death.

By James Wall / / Nov 14, 2017

Findley was that rare member of the U.S. Congress who ignored memos from foreign governments. He understood the danger of allowing the state of Israel to control American foreign policy in the Middle East.

On the day Yasser Arafat died, Nov 9, 2004, former Illinois Republican Congressman Paul Findley wrote an article to describe the relationship he had with the Palestinian leader.

Paul Findley knew then, and he knows now, that if enough members of Congress had joined with him in favor of talking with Yasser Arafat, Israel’s control over American policy might well have shifted in a different direction.

His article was published in the Daily Star, a Beirut, Lebanon, publication, on the occasion of Arafat’s death, 75, in a Paris hospital. Arafat had been under essential house arrest in his Ramallah headquarters. When he became ill, Israel moved him to Paris.

The failure of Finley’s news-worthy piece to find significant American exposure was further evidence of just how much Israel and its American allies fear an influential man like Paul Findley.

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Please Oppose the Israel Anti-Boycott Act

(image: wiredforlego / Flikr)

New bill in Congress aims to thwart international measures to hold Israel accountable for settlements built on occupied Palestinian land.

By Josh Ruebner / The Electronic Intifada
May 18, 2017

[Ed. Note: U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D. WA) is a co-sponsor of a related bill, S.170, Combating BDS Act of 2017.]

“Settlement businesses unavoidably contribute to Israeli policies that dispossess and harshly discriminate against Palestinians, while profiting from Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and other resources.”
— Arvind Ganesan, Human Rights Watch Director of Business and Human Rights

US Senator Ben Cardin is once again trying to pass legislation designed to suppress the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

During the last Congressional session, the Maryland Democrat succeeded in sneaking language into a must-pass trade bill making it a “principal negotiating objective” of the United States “to discourage politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from or sanction Israel” while negotiating trade deals.

This discouragement of BDS extended to boycotts of products originating from settlements in what the bill euphemistically referred to as “Israeli-controlled territories.” All of Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights are illegal under international law.

With BDS continuing to gain momentum, Cardin went back to the drawing board and introduced the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720, H.R.1697) on 23 March, designed to coincide with the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The powerful Israel lobby group duly made the bill one of its top legislative priorities.

Continue reading “Please Oppose the Israel Anti-Boycott Act”