Google+ Followers

Saturday, 3 October 2015

The Lies that the Guardian's Comment is Free Tells - Israeli Labour Party assertions re its 'opposition' to settlements are allowed to go unchallenged

Israeli Labour Party Supports Netanyahu's 'Terror' Bill
Israel -- the 'only democracy in the Middle East'  besieged by enemies as seen by 'anti-Semitic' Palestinian cartoonist Latuff
Guardian Denies Any Right of Reply
Michael Biran MK - Israeli Labour Party  liar
The strap line for the Guardian's Comment is Free is that 'Comment is Free but Facts are Sacred'.  It would be more honest to change it to 'Facts are flexible under Freedland'.
The Guardian's resident Zionist 'liberal' Jonathan Freedland - Chief Censor and Gatekeeper - addressing main ruling class Foreign Policy Thinktank despite knowing nothing of foreign affairs
On Tuesday the Guardian published in its CIF section, an article, demanding clarification by Jeremy Corbyn as to his attitude to Israel, by Michal Biran, an Israeli Labour Party MK which was a series of lies by assertion.    
brave Israeli soldier confronting terrorist
 Its argument, such as it was, was that the British Labour Party was the ideological counterpart of the Israeli Labour Party.  Despite the appalling record of the British Labour Party, it has at least been the venue for continuing strife and debate between socialists and non-socialists for the past century.  The Israeli Labour Party however was set up, as Mapai, as an explicitly anti-socialist party.  It rejected co-operation with the indigenous Arab population in favour of a Jewish only state, which is why it was a Labour government, under David Ben-Gurion which carried out the expulsion of ¾ million Palestinians in 1948 (the Nakba).  It was always a nationalist party which rejected in its entirety the idea that the class enemy might be the capitalists – Jewish or non-Jewish in favour of an alliance with, indeed the creation of, Jewish capitalism.
teaching 'em young
 The central lie of Biran’s miserable article was that ‘‘The Israeli Labour party is itself a harsh critic of the Israeli government’s policy’.  This must be news to many people who remember that it was Labour governments, between 1967 and 1977, which presided over the first settlements.  The Histadrut, the fake trade union of the Zionists, always controlled by Labour Zionism, which was then the second largest employer after the state itself, built via its building company Solel Boneh the first settlements!
The 'anti-Semitic' Palestinian cartoonist Latuff showing how Israeli bulldozers face continual Palestinian terrorism

As the article below shows, when it came to the recent Terror Bill introduced by Netanyahu, which criminalises the wearing of t-shirts, facebook posts and makes any support for ‘terrorist’ groups – which themselves can be defined as any group the Israeli government dislikes – punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment, the ILP supported Netanyahu.
Terrorism means one's enemy - not one's friend
I sent an article to the Guardian’s Comment Is Free.  It was ignored by these guardians of free speech.  CIF prides itself on the statement of the Guardian’s most famous editor, CP Scott that ‘comment is free but facts are sacred’.  The truth is that lies about Israel are even more sacred.  At the suggestion of the Executive Editor of CIF, Jonathan Freedland, I sent in a letter instead.  To date it has not been printed either.  Below is the letter and article I submitted plus correspondence with Freedland.
Another 'anti-Semitic' cartoon by Latuff
The British Labour Party has never been the ideological counterpart of Israel’s  Labour Party
 [30th September 2015,

Michal Biran of the Israeli Labour Party is worried that the election of Jeremy Corbyn marks a break in the traditional support of the Labour Party leadership for the Israeli settler-colonial state.  He fears that it will no longer turn a blind eye to Israel’s murderous occupation of their land, to say nothing of the treatment of Israel’s own Palestinian citizens.  [The Israeli Labour party wants clarification from Jeremy Corbyn

Another example of a brave Israeli soldier - part of the world's 'most moral army'
However Biran basis her argument on a fundamentally dishonest basis.  There is no basis for her assertion that the Israeli Labour Party is the ideological counterpart of the British Labour Party.  The British Labour Party has always been the site of fierce struggles over the meaning of socialism and whether or not it should be a party of managerial capitalism or a force for more fundamental socialist change in society.  The ILP, formerly Mapai, has always been a nationalist party which was fiercely anti-socialist [see Zeev Sternhell, the Leon Blum Professor of Political Science at the Hebrew University, ‘The Founding Myths of Israel.’].  Mapai only came into being in 1930 as a result of a merger of Ahdut Ha'avodah and Hapoel Hatzair, when the latter was convinced that the former had  abandoned even a cursory commitment to socialism.
Class struggle never played any part in Mapai’s politics.  Mapai, a Jewish only party, saw the role of the Jewish working-class as a nationalist battering ram.  ‘From class to nation’ was its founder, David Ben-Gurion’s rallying cry.  Unsurprisingly it didn’t even acknowledge the Arab working-class in Palestine, since it sought replace them with Jews.  Faced with the Arab-Jewish Union of Railway, Postal and Telegraph Workers which was a bastion of the political left. [Gabriel Piterberg, Returns of Zionism, pp. 72-3] Histadrut, the Zionist’s Apartheid ‘trade union’ sought to incorporate them in order to hive off the Arab workers into a separate national section. For 46 years Histadrut, which was always controlled by Israeli Labour, refused even to admit Arab workers.  As an

The dilemmas of a socialist Zionist were explained by David Hacohen to the Mapai Secretariat:
‘I had to fight my friends on the issue of Jewish socialism, to defend the fact that I would not accept Arabs in my Trade Union, the Histadrut; to defend preaching to housewives that they should not buy at Arab stores; to defend the fact that we stood guard at orchards to prevent Arab workers from getting jobs there... to pour kerosene on Arab tomatoes; to attack Jewish housewives in the markets and smash Arab eggs they had bought... to buy dozens of dunums from an Arab is permitted but to sell God forbid one Jewish dunum to an Arab is prohibited; to take Rothschild the incarnation of capitalism  as a socialist and to name him the 'benefactor' - to do all that was not easy.’
Michal Biran instead refers to the Israeli Labour Party as ‘a harsh critic of the Israeli government’s policy. We fiercely object to the current government’s settlement policy’.  Would that this were true.  Where is the evidence?  It was Mapai which presided over the establishment of settlements between 1967 and 1977.  Not once has it called for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the dismantlement of the settlements.  Even the Oslo Accords which Yitzhak Rabin negotiated made no provision for a Palestinian state.

The Israeli Labour Party today cowers in fear of Likud. It doesn’t even dare stand for elections in its own name, preferring to stand as Zionist Union, with ex-Likudnik Tzipi Livni, just to emphasise their nationalist anti-Arab credentials.

In a speech to the Knesset Jamal Zahalke, leader of Balad, which is part of the Joint Arab List [Jerusalem Post, 7.9.15. MK Jamal Zahalke says Labor Zionists build kibbutzes on the ruins of Arab towns Labour Zionism invented racism says Joint List MK  spoke of how Israel Labour’s ‘"Miss Social Justice Stav Shaffir has never said a word to me. She's never even said hello to me! I am transparent to her. Arabs do not exist! Racist! Racist of silence! Racism of ignoring; I will tell you what that is! Ignoring the existence of a person!’

Zahalke called the Labor Party ‘the "mother and father of racism." "You invented racism. The people who took our land, who expelled us, weren't the ones who chant 'death to Arabs.' They're the ones who said 'we're bringing peace to you.' Shame! You should be embarrassed by the racism and discrimination!... Give us back the land you took from us...in the name of universal values!"
"Who harmed us more, the Likud or Labor? Labor, of course. Likud built settlements next to Arab residents. You built your kibbutzes and your socialism on the ruins of our towns.’
Michal Biran seeks to fool the Guardian’s readers into believing that Israel’s Labour Party is no different from any other social democratic party.  You can’t however change a Zionist leopard’s spots.  As Asher Schechter wrote in Israel’s liberal daily, Ha’aretz [The 'terror bill' that outed the Israeli left’ September 8, 2015, http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/.premium-1.675130] the ILP supported a bill that enables the Israeli state to define virtually any opposition to it as “terrorism”.  It is ‘so farcically wide it includes such actions as wearing certain t-shirts.’

Anyone expressing praise, support or sympathy for a terrorist organization could get three years. ‘A Facebook post would suffice to warrant serious hard time and since the minister of defence is empowered to declare any entity a terrorist organization, without any due process, ‘almost any body organization that might be seen as a threat to those in power - civic or military, the bill makes no distinction -can be dubbed a “terrorist organization”, and the people supporting it (or god forbid, wearing its t-shirts) instant terror-supporters.’

Yet ‘Zionist Union, the purported leader of opposition, voted for the bill and even enforced party discipline, despite serious objections from a few Labor MKs.’  This was no aberration.  There is nothing that Netanyahu and Likud have done that Israeli Labour didn’t do before them.  At least Likud have the honesty to be upfront and not hide behind warm words and slogans. 

Michal Biran may choose to forget, but people don’t forget that the Israeli Labour Party:

1.             Supported every attack against the Gaza Strip including Operation Protective Edge, which killed over 550 children.
2.             Was the party of the Nakba, the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 and the murder of thousands of them.
3.             Was the party that demanded that the Holocaust be played down if not ignored in order that the sole focus could be on building a Jewish state. They even opposed the rescue of Jews if that meant going to other countries. [Robert Silverberg, If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem, p. 175. Pyramid Book, New York, 1972. Even Ben-Gurion’s official biographer concluded that ‘If there was a line in Ben-Gurion’s mind between the beneficial disaster and an all-destroying catastrophe, it must have been a very fine one.’ [Shabtai Teveth, The Burning Ground, p.851] 
4.             Mapai was the party that kept Israel's Arabs under miliitary rule for 18 years, from 1948 to 1966.
5.             Mapai presided over apartheid in Israel.  93% of land was controlled by the Jewish National Fund and the Israeli Land Authority, which meant Arabs could not lease or rent it.  The policy of not recognising half the Arab villages in Israel was a Labour Zionist policy as was the ‘Judaification’ of the Galilee and Negev.
6.             Mapai was the party that preferred an alliance with the National Religious Party, now the settler Jewish Home, to an alliance with even the left Zionist Mapam.   Labour granted the Rabbis the power to define who is a Jew for the purposes of marriage, birth and death. It accepted that there could be no civil marriage in Israel.  An Israeli Arab cannot marry an Israeli Jew, the foundation  stone of personal and social apartheid.
7.             Mapai was the party of the Suez invasion and supported every Israeli war, including that of Begin and Sharon in Lebanon in 1982.  It was a last-ditch supporter of the French in Algeria.
8.             Histadrut’s building company built the first settlements under Yigal Allon’s Plan which envisaged keeping the Jordan valley for 'security ' reasons.
Labour it was which pioneered the close military and economic links with Apartheid South Africa that culminated in the state visit of South African Premier John Vorster to Israel in 1976.  Vorster, who had been interned for his Nazi sympathies during the world war 2, made the holocaust memorial Yad Vashem his first stopover.

The Israeli Labour Party has always been a nationalist, racist and anti-Arab party.  The British Labour Party should take the opportunity of Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to break its links with this relic of British colonialism.

Tony Greenstein
Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods and founder member and first Chairperson of the Labour Committee on Palestine and founding member of Jews for Jeremy.

Thursday, 01 October 2015
Letters Editor
The Guardian
119 Farringdon Road
London EC1 3ER

Dear Sir or Madam,

Michal Biran of the Israeli Labour Party [The Israeli Labour party wants clarification from Jeremy Corbyn, Sunday 27th September] flatters to deceive.  Israeli Labour, an anti-socialist party from its inception, has never been the ideological counterpart of the British Labour Party.  It always rejected joint Arab-Jewish solidarity in favour of Jewish Labour.  As Labour Zionist veteran David HaCohen explained:

 ‘I had to fight my friends on the issue of Jewish socialism, to defend the fact that I would not accept Arabs in my Trade Union, the Histadrut; to defend preaching to housewives that they should not buy at Arab stores; to defend the fact that we stood guard at orchards to prevent Arab workers from getting jobs there... to pour kerosene on Arab tomatoes....'

The statement that ‘The Israeli Labour party is itself a harsh critic of the Israeli government’s policy’ is laughable.  It was under Israeli Labour that the first settlements were established.  Perhaps Ms Biran has forgotten the Allon Plan of July 1967 which established a belt of settlements in the fertile Jordan River valley and around Jerusalem?  Histadrut’s building company, Solel Boneh, even built the first settlements!

Jamal Zahalka, leader of the Arab nationalist Balad party, recently described how Labour’s ‘leftist’ MK Stav Shaffir had always ignored him, unlike the right-wing Knesset members.  ‘She's never even said hello to me! I am transparent to her.... I will tell you what that is! Ignoring the existence of a person!’

Zahalke asked "Who harmed us more, the Likud or Labor? Labor, of course. Likud built settlements next to Arab residents. You built your kibbutzim and your socialism on the ruins of our towns.’
There is nothing that Netanyahu has done that Israeli Labour didn’t do before him.  At least the Israeli Right is honest enough to say what it thinks rather than hiding behind socialist rhetoric.

Yours faithfully

Tony Greenstein
Founding Member - Jews for Jeremy

On 1 October 2015 at 01:00, Tony Greenstein <tonygreenstein111@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Jonathan Freedland,
I would prefer that my submission should be in the form of a CIF article.  It is true that it is somewhat longer than the original but Ms Biran's article relied on simple assertions and in rebutting them it is inevitable that this will take up space.  A simple denial of the assertion that the ILP has been a vigorous opponent of settlements is hardly taking debate forward.
However, if your preference remains for a letter, I shall compose one and send one to the letters editor with a copy to you.

Regards
Tony Greenstein

On 30 September 2015 at 23:27, Jonathan Freedland <jonathan.freedland@guardian.co.uk> wrote:

Dear Tony Greenstein
Thanks for this. My word count tells me that your proposed reply to Michal Biran is around 1480 words - and that her original piece was around 600 words long. Would you perhaps want to distil your response into a shorter letter for possible consideration by the letters page?

Sincerely

Jonathan Freedland

On 30 September 2015 at 05:00, Tony Greenstein <tonygreenstein111@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Jonathan Freedland,
I sent a response to the article on Commen is Free by Michal Biran of the Israeli Labour Party The IsraeliLabour party wants clarification from Jeremy Corbyn 

I have not received any response from the editors and given the almost immediate closure of comments on  the article it would appear that despite your professed commitment to free debate, certain topics remain immunse from in-depth criticism.

I note that you yourself penned what is, even by your standards, possibly the shoddiest and dishonest piece that you have written.  I refer to your article 'Friends who are enemies' Jewish Chronicle September 17, 2015.  I can only presume that the article was written out of either malice or ignorance or perhaps a combination thereof. 

A braver soul than you might have thought twice about submitting an article alleging collusion with anti-Semites by Jeremy Corbyn in a paper edited by Stephen Pollard.  Pollard is on record as describing Michal Kaminski, the anti-Semitic and far-Right Polish MEP thus:  '‘It would be harder to find a greater friendin Brussels.’  (JC 9.10.09.) 

It is difficult to believe that you are unaware of this or the brouha over Kaminski and Robert Zile  MEP, another member of the same Conservative & Reform Group in the European Parliament, since the Guardian covered it at the time. 

You are the Executive Editor of Opnion at the Guardian and therefore responsible for CIF.  You are therefore responsible for commissioning an article that is a deliberate lie.  By all means let the Israeli Labour Party defend its atrocious record but to pretend that the ILP 'fiercely object(s) to the current government’s settlement policy' is a lie made only worse by the fact that settlements were begun and encouraged under successive Labour governments from 1967 to 1977.  The rest of the piece is simply a mixture of flatulence and bombast.

If your boast that Comment is Free but facts are sacred is to mean anything more than a ritual nod to C.P. Scott, then perhaps you would explain how the comment of Jamal Zahalka in the Knesset: 
"Who harmed us more, the Likud or Labor? Labor, of course. Likud built settlements next to Arab residents. You built your kibbutzes and your socialism on the ruins of our towns.’
can possibly square with the dishonest little article that you commissioned?

I am therefore submitting a response to Biran's article.  I have no illusions that you will live up to your professed principles and publish my response because hypocrisy and cant is second nature with what used to be called the Police State Democrats of the Guardian. 

Tony Greenstein

Haaretz Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Israeli left proves it's as culpable as the right when it comes to destroying Israeli democracy.

By Asher Schechter | Sep. 8, 2015 | 9:50 PM

A few days ago, the Knesset approved a bill that threatens Israeli democracy.

No, it wasn't the amendment that prevents state-employed journalists from expressing “personal opinions” on radio or television (that one will reportedly be repealed by Benjamin Netanyahu), or the bill allowing the state to sentence Palestinian stone-throwers to 10 years in prison without even proving intent to harm, both of which passed in recent weeks. Alas, anti-democratic legislation has become such a common occurrence in Israel these days that it’s hard to keep track.

The latest bill, though, is no doubt the most draconian of them all: a sweeping counterterrorism act that radically expands the government’s powers and the definition of what constitutes terrorism.

Given the flurry of anti-democratic initiatives, though, it barely registered in the media or in the public.

What also failed to register was that this last piece of wildly authoritarian, absurd legislation was endorsed by the sad spectacle that is the Israeli left.

Treasonous t-shirt?

The government-sponsored anti-terror bill that passed its first of three readings into law last week, after five years of postponements and during a special recess session of the Knesset, passed by 45:14. Zionist Union, the purported leader of opposition, voted for the bill and even enforced party discipline, despite serious objections from a few Labor MKs.

To understand just how much this represents a betrayal of everything Zionist Union claimed to stand for just a few months ago, when it tried to unseat Benjamin Netanyahu, it’s worth seeing what the new terror bill includes, and what it means.

The new bill incorporates all existing anti-terrorism laws into a single act, significantly changing some, and significantly strengthening the state’s ability to oppress anything defined as “terrorism” - which, under the bill’s definition, is so farcically wide it includes such actions as wearing certain t-shirts.

Those who publicly express “praise, support or sympathy” for a terrorist organization could get three years. A Facebook post would suffice to warrant serious hard time.

Of course, since this bill also empowers the minister of defense minister to declare any entity a terrorist organization, without any due process, almost any body organization that might be seen as a threat to those in power - civic or military, the bill makes no distinction -can be dubbed a “terrorist organization”, and the people supporting it (or god forbid, wearing its t-shirts) instant terror-supporters.

Negligent abetters

The bill also significantly broadens the definition of terror-abettors, to include those guilty of “negligently abetting” terrorist acts. In a clause that violates basic tenets of criminal law, people who provide goods or services to people involved in terrorism could be convicted of supporting terrorism, albeit unwittingly. The maximum penalty for aiding terror is equated under the new law to that for actual terrorist acts - 30 years.

The bill also significantly increases the state’s ability to use confidential information to convict suspects, and to withhold this confidential information from the suspects themselves. For the first time, it legalizes administrative detentions, finally doing away with the British emergency measures on which Israel based its controversial policy so far, and making it easier than ever to put Israelis and others in prison without trial.

“Terrorist acts” are broadened to include vandalizing “national symbols”, like Israeli flags.

Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon, who did oppose the bill, defined some of its clauses as “totalitarian”. Indeed, it’s hard not to see this as the embodiment of the “Shin-Bet state” Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz prophesied about.

Yet the bill won a raving endorsement by Israel’s biggest center-left party. And why not? The bill is currently sponsored by justice minister and right-wing firebrand Ayelet Shaked – but it began as the brainchild of Tzipi Livni- until recently, the great white hope of the Zionist left.

Labor on a right-wing tear

Six months ago, during the elections, the Zionist Union presented itself as the antithesis to Netanyahu’s anti-democratic penchants, a staunch opposition against madness, a political party that represents sanity and tolerance in the face of the right wing’s ultra-nationalist, religious zeal.

But by supporting the terror bill, the single biggest party of the Israeli Zionist left has been outed as the accomplice of extremists. Instead of fighting for democracy, it has been exposed as a full-fledged member of Israel’s anti-democratic camp.

True, the Israeli left, specifically Labor, has been outed before. Hoping to cajole right-wing voters, Labor has veered more and more to the right in recent years. In the weeks before the elections, Herzog ran a right wing-lite campaign that said nothing about ending the occupation of the West Bank, but boasted of “understanding the Arab mentality” and “seeing Arabs through the crosshairs”.

In recent months, following Zionist Union’s defeat, the movement and its MKs have been on a right-wing tear, backing some of the government’s most controversial decisions. When it comes to the major issues these days, from Iran to BDS to censorship, it’s hard to differentiate between prime minister and opposition head.

Anti-democratic behavior, of course, is not new to Labor - it lies deep in its troubled history, as the party that first occupied the Territories, that started the settlements, that first institutionalized the discrimination and second-class-citizen status of Israel’s Arab population. Balad MK Jamal Zahalka acknowledged this historical fact just this week, when he brutally attacked Labor and its MKs for what he called their “racism” and hypocrisy. Joint List leader Ayman Odeh voiced a very similar sentiment in July.

But Zionist Union’s vote for the new terror bill goes beyond the problematic history and charts a new, worrying path for the party, as well as Israeli democracy itself. In its desperate, doomed quest to reclaim power, the Zionist left has given up its leftism. How can there be a chance of meaningful change, if when faced with this kind of oppressive bill, the opposition doesn’t even feign protest, but simply endorses it? Meretz and Hadash alone seem to be the puny, scattered remains of the Israeli left.

From abroad, it is tempting to see Israel’s political system as divided almost-equally by left and right. Throughout the elections, this has been the accepted narrative that appeared in world media. But if Zionist Union’s vote for the terror bill proves anything, it is that the left is not the savior of Israeli democracy - in fact, it seems determined to be its pallbearer.

Asher Schechter
Haaretz Contributor

No comments: