30 April 2008

We're not celebrating Israel's anniversary - The Guardian, Wednesday April 30 2008

The Guardian newspaper today printed a letter from over 100 British Jews, including yours truly, making it clear that in the midst of the ruling class’s celebrations of the establishment of their regional rottweiler, Israel, they would not be welcoming the 60th anniversary of the Nakba – the expulsion of the Palestinians from their homes and lands and the massacres that accompanied it. It is but a small contribution from Jewish anti-Zionists, but it makes it clear that not all Jews support the establishment of the Israeli state or its terrorist activities since then.

Two people who are reported to be as outraged as the Israeli Ambassador to London is Gilad Atzmon and his faithful bag carrier, Mary Rizzo. When asked for a comment on the letter Atzmon replied:

‘I really do not understand those who fight Zionism in the name of their secular Jewish identity. I have never understood them. By fighting Zionism in the name of their Jewish identity they approve Zionism. By declaring ‘not in my name’, one affirms the totality of that which one tries to oppose. By saying not in ‘my’ name, they label the rest of the Jewish people as criminally liable for Zionist crime…. Jews cannot criticise Zionism in the name of their ethnic belonging because such an act is in itself an approval of Zionism.’

In case anyone things I have made this up, then I suggest you go read the utterly crazy essay by Atzmon, 'NOT IN MY NAME’ – An analysis of Jewish righteousness’ in which all the above quotes appear.

Mary Rizzo when contacted replied that ‘once again we see the gatekeepers putting Jewish interests above those of the Palestinians.’ Her faithful Palestinian echo, Adib S. Kawar, when asked for a response said that he’d have to talk to Mary first before he could say anything.


In May, Jewish organisations will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. This is understandable in the context of centuries of persecution culminating in the Holocaust. Nevertheless, we are Jews who will not be celebrating. Surely it is now time to acknowledge the narrative of the other, the price paid by another people for European anti-semitism and Hitler's genocidal policies. As Edward Said emphasised, what the Holocaust is to the Jews, the Naqba is to the Palestinians.

In April 1948, the same month as the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin and the mortar attack on Palestinian civilians in Haifa's market square, Plan Dalet was put into operation. This authorised the destruction of Palestinian villages and the expulsion of the indigenous population outside the borders of the state. We will not be celebrating.
In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramleh in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the Death March. We will not be celebrating.

In all, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees. Some 400 villages were wiped off the map. That did not end the ethnic cleansing. Thousands of Palestinians (Israeli citizens) were expelled from the Galilee in 1956. Many thousands more when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Under international law and sanctioned by UN resolution 194, refugees from war have a right to return or compensation. Israel has never accepted that right. We will not be celebrating.
We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land. We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations.

We will celebrate when Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East.

Seymour Alexander , Ruth Appleton, Steve Arloff, Rica Bird , Jo Bird, Cllr Jonathan Bloch, Ilse Boas, Prof. Haim Bresheeth , Tanya Bronstein, Sheila Colman, Ruth Clark, Sylvia Cohen, Judith Cravitz, Mike Cushman, Angela Dale, Ivor Dembina, Dr. Linda Edmondson, Nancy Elan, Liz Elkind, Pia Feig, Colin Fine, Deborah Fink, Sylvia Finzi, Brian Fisher MBE , Frank Fisher, Bella Freud, Catherine Fried, Uri Fruchtmann, Stephen Fry, David Garfinkel, Carolyn Gelenter, Claire Glasman , Tony Greenstein, Heinz Grunewald, Michael Halpern, Abe Hayeem, Rosamine Hayeem, Anna Hellman, Amy Hordes, Joan Horrocks, Deborah Hyams, Selma James, Riva Joffe, Yael Oren Kahn, Michael Kalmanovitz, Paul Kaufman, Prof. Adah Kay, Yehudit Keshet, Prof. Eleonore Kofman, Rene Krayer, Stevie Krayer, Berry Kreel, Leah Levane, Les Levidow, Peter Levin, Louis Levy, Ros Levy, Prof. Yosefa Loshitzky, Catherine Lyons , Deborah Maccoby, Daniel Machover, Prof. Emeritus Moshe Machover, Miriam Margolyes OBE, Mike Marqusee, Laura Miller, Simon Natas, Hilda Meers, Martine Miel, Laura Miller, Arthur Neslen , Diana Neslen, Orna Neumann, Harold Pinter , Roland Rance, Frances Rivkin, Sheila Robin, Dr. Brian Robinson, Neil Rogall, Prof. Steven Rose, Mike Rosen , Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead, Leon Rosselson, Michael Sackin, Sabby Sagall, Ian Saville, Alexei Sayle, Anna Schuman, Sidney Schuman, Monika Schwartz, Amanda Sebestyen , Sam Semoff, Linda Shampan, Sybil Shine, Prof. Frances Stewart, Inbar Tamari, Ruth Tenne, Martin Toch, Tirza Waisel, Stanley Walinets, Martin White, Ruth Williams, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Devra Wiseman, Gerry Wolff, Sherry Yanowitz

28 April 2008

Appeal to Nadine Gordimer - Boycott the International Writers' Festival in Jerusalem - Don't Celebrate Israel's 60th Anniversary

Below is an open letter from Dr. Haidar Eid to Nadine Gordimer, a well known novellist and someone who was active in the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa. Gordimer was also the daughter of a refugee from the pogroms of Czarist Russia. She, of all people, should understand why it is wrong to 'celebrate' the founding of another apartheid state. She can be written to via her publishers, Bloomsbury Books.

Nadine Gordimer on her decision to participate in "Israel at 60 Celebrations"
April 24, 2008 By Dr. Haidar Eid

Dear Ms. Gordimer,

I am a Palestinian lecturer in Cultural Studies living in Gaza. I happen to also have South African citizenship as a result of my marriage to a citizen of that beloved country. I spent more than five years in Johannesburg, the city in which I earned my Ph.D and lectured at both traditionally black and white universities. At Vista in Soweto, I taught your anti-apartheid novels My Son's Story, July's People and The Late Bourgeois World. I have been teaching the same novels, in addition to The Pick Up and Selected Stories, to my Palestinian students in Gaza at Al-Aqsa University. This course is called "Resistance, Anti-Racism and Xenophobia". I deliberately chose to teach your novels because, as an anti-apartheid writer, you defied racial stereotypes by calling for resistance against all forms of oppression, be they racial or religious. Your support of sanctions against apartheid South Africa has, to say the least, impressed my Gazan students.
The news of your conscious decision to take part in the "Israel at 60" celebrations has reached us, students and citizens of Gaza, as both a painful surprise, and a glaring example of a hypocritical intellectual double standard. My students, psychologically and emotionally traumatized and already showing early signs of malnutrition as a result of the genocidal policy of the country whose birth you intend celebrating, demand an explanation.

They wonder in amazement that you might have missed Archbishop Tutu's contention that conditions in Israeli-occupied Palestine are worse than those under apartheid? They ask how you can ignore John Dugard's dispassionate and insightful report on the dismal state of Human Rights in the Occupied Territories? Surely, you have not been unaware of Ronnie Kasrils' writings following his latest visit to Gaza and the West Bank? Like you, these three men, all South Africans, were also active in the fight against racism and apartheid. Dugard's words on Palestine are very significant: "I certainly have a sense of déjà vu... The sad thing is that Israel is unwilling to learn from the South African precedent." In an article titled, "Israelis adopt what South Africa dropped," Dugard observed that the human rights situation in the occupied territories continues to deteriorate and called the conditions "intolerable, appalling, and tragic for ordinary Palestinians." Significantly, Dugard made shocking parallels between the situation in the Palestine and your country South Africa under apartheid: "Many aspects of Israel's occupation surpass those of the apartheid regime. Israel's large-scale destruction of Palestinian homes, leveling of agricultural lands, military incursions and targeted assassinations of Palestinians far exceed any similar practices in apartheid South Africa." Moreover, in its final declaration, the World Conference against Racism (WCAR) NGO forum, held in Durban in 2001, stated that: "We declare Israel as a racist, apartheid state in which Israel's brand of apartheid as a crime against humanity has been characterized by separation and segregation, dispossession, restricted land access, denationalization, ‘bantustanization' and inhumane acts."

You are no doubt aware of Israel's deep ties with apartheid South Africa, during which Israel, breaking the international embargo, supplied South Africa with hundreds of millions of dollars of weapons. Apartheid South Africa relied on apartheid Israel to persuade Western governments to lift the embargo. How did you relate to Israel during that period and what was your position regarding countries and individuals that did not support the policy of isolating apartheid South Africa? You were surely critical of the infamous policy of 'constructive engagement' led by Thatcher and Reagan at the height of the struggle in the 80s? And today, inexplicably, you have joined the ranks of sanctions busters.

The eminent Palestinian, Edward Said, who gave you his friendship, would have been dismayed by your decision. He named you as a model for what he called, "oppositional intellectuals." It was his strong belief that, with regard to Israel, "[i]t only takes a few bold spirits to speak out and start challenging a status quo that gets worse and more dissembling each day." Little did he know that you would fail the oppressed in Palestine.

My cold and hungry students have divided themselves into two groups, with one group adamant that you, like many of your courageous characters, will reconsider your participation in an Israeli Festival that aims to celebrate the annihilation of Palestine and Palestinians. The other group believes that you have already crossed over to the side of the oppressor, negating every word you have ever written. We all wait for your next action.

Dr. Haidar Eid

Gaza, Palestine

Dr. Haidar Eid is an Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza Strip, Palestine.

* * *

The first International Writers’ Festival is scheduled to take place 11-15 May 2008 in Jerusalem, just three days after Israel’s official celebrations of 60 years of independence. Substantially financed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, this festival must necessarily be seen in the context of the Israeli government’s wider public relations campaign to bring international artistic, cultural and political figures to brighten the state’s image on the international stage.
Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the international cultural center in West Jerusalem that is organizing and hosting the event, will publicize the official festival program on 11 April. However, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz newspaper, the international authors who have confirmed their attendance include:

Nadine Gordimer (South Africa)
Jonathan Safran Foer (United States)
Nathan Englander (United States)
Russell Banks (United States)
Anita Diamant (United States)
Lidia Jorge (Portugal)
Erri De Luca (Italy)
Javaier Cercas (Spain)
Anna Enquist (Netherlands)
Andrei Makine (France)
Hans Ulrico (Germany)
Gila Lustiger (Germany)
Guillermo Martinez (Argentina)
Niall Williams (Ireland)
The Alternative Information Center (AIC) calls on those who are working for social justice, along with Palestine solidarity groups from around the world to contact the participating authors, particularly those from their home countries, and encourage them to boycott this event in solidarity and support of a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis.
The AIC is particularly disturbed by the participation of Nobel Prize winning author Nadine Gordimer, who was an active opponent of apartheid in her native South Africa. Ms. Gordimer may be contacted via her publisher, Bloomsbury Publishing (Telephone: +44 (20) 7494 2111; Postal address: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 36 Soho Square, London W1D 3QY).
Most Israeli authors and other cultural figures have deep concern for the opinions of and working relationships with international authors, such that this boycott can make a substantial impact within Israeli society.

It is not possible that Israel continues to deny the human and national rights of the Palestinian people, to impose a deadly siege on the Gaza Strip and publicly flaunt its international political commitments by building additional settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, while its authors and cultural figures are honored with visits by distinguished international authors. Israeli society must be told loudly and clearly that it cannot act with complete impunity toward the Palestinian people and still enjoy privileges and honors of a law-abiding state.

21 April 2008

The Death of Mary Rizzo's 'PeacePalestine' Sewer

It is gratifying to announce that the anti-Semitic sewer, going by the name of 'PeacePalestine' has now died a death. After I had it taken down for a day or so, because of its libellous comment, Google decided in any case it was a 'spam' blog. Who are we to disagree?!!!

Naturally the last article on it was dedicated to the lying assertion that 'Anti-Zionist = Zionist (if you are Tony Greenstein!)'. In fact it is only anti-Semites who believe that all Jews are Zionists and therefore even anti-Zionists Jews are still Zionists.

Ironically the last article, picking up in her usual dishonest way, on a discussion on the Alef (Academic Left list hosted by Haifa University) where I stated that the creation of a Palestinian nation was ironically the outcome of Zionist colonisation, was proof that I was a Zionist!

According to Rizzo: 'The Palestinians were a people since the time they inhabited that land'. But the mere fact that people occupy a land doesn't make them a people or nation. Until recent times the Palestinians were no more a people, nor did they see themselves as such, than the ancient Hebrew, Jebusite, Canaanite and many other tribes and clans. It was Zionism which welded the indigenous population of Mandatory Palestine into a nation.

On this basis Rizzo tricked one Ismail Zayid, who has subsequently accepted that I was misinterpreted, into arguing in an article below Rizzo's that 'The Arab population of Palestine was native in all the senses of the word and their roots in Palestine can be traced back at least forty centuries." Of course I never argued that this was not the case. Not only can the Arab population of Palestine be traced back centuries, but it is highly likely that it is today's Palestinians who are the descendants of the Jews who converted to Christianity, whereas the Israeli Jews of today are no more than European settlers who have no more connection with ancient Palestine than the Norsemen.

It is therefore highly ironic that Rizzo's new blog, on Word Press, carries an article suggesting that.... the Palestinians aren't a nation!!! By Adib S. Kawar it is entitled 'Palestine is not a nation, Palestinians are part of the Arab Nation'. So who are the Zionists now?!!!

Tony Greenstein

A Zionist Conspiracy to Wreck Wikipedia

We all know about the conspiracy merchants who believe that Israel masterminded 9/11 whilst ensuring that its own citizens were not in the building at the time. In Britain we have had a not dissimilar version in the death of Princess Diana. Conspiracy theorists tend to be on the Right, and the far-Right, because it is easier to explain social phenomenon by referring to a hidden conspiracy of a few chosen individuals (usually with the same ethnic make-up) than to lay the blame where it is due, namely in the kind of society we live in.

But as Joseph Heller remarked, just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean that people aren't out to get you. There are of course very real conspiracies e.g. the fitting up of innocent people by the State such as the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, who were executed in 1927 or the attempted execution of Black journalist Mumia Abu Jamal, framed for killing a cop in Philadelphia in 1981 or indeed the decision to invade Iraq.

One such conspiracy has just been uncovered by the Electronic Intifada. It involves a particularly nasty group called Camera, dedicated to suppressing all freedom of speech in the USA where Palestine is concerned. Although they lazily suggest that critics of what they are trying to do will alleged that it is a "'Zionist' cabal (the same one that controls the
banks and Hollywood?)
the evidence is quite clear. They don't control any banks but they are trying to control and prevent free discourse and debate over Palestine and in particular to erase from Wikipedia any reference to massacres and expulsion of Palestinians.

All this is to be done, not openly by stating where they are coming from, but by recourse to the Neutral Point of View rules of procedure of Wikipedia. (ring a few bells? well that is what was done by the supporters of Gilad Atzmon on Indymedia not too long ago who used 'procedure' and 'rules' rather than arguing their case honestly.

It is clear that this attempted infiltration by Zionist activists of the editors' group, aided and abetted by an exiting Wiki editor 'Zeq', if it had succeeded, would have meant that Wikipedia would have become merely another arm of Israeli propaganda. The contempt by the Zionist movement for any modicum of freedom of speech and discourse should be no surprise. In Palestine they shoot people who speak out of turn, in the USA they merely demonise them and burn their books or the net equivalent.

Tony Greenstein

Pro-Israel group's plan to rewrite history on Wikipedia Report,

A pro-Israel pressure group is orchestrating a secret, Long-term campaign to infiltrate the popular online
Encyclopedia Wikipedia to rewrite Palestinian history, Pass off crude propaganda as fact, and take over Wikipedia Administrative structures to ensure these changes go Either undetected or unchallenged.

A series of emails by members and associates of the Pro-Israel group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), provided to The Electronic Intifada (EI), indicate the group is engaged in what one Activist termed a "war" on Wikipedia.

A 13 March action alert signed by Gilead Ini, a "Senior Research Analyst" at CAMERA, calls for "volunteers who can Work as 'editors' to ensure" that Israel-related articles On Wikipedia are "free of bias and error, and include Necessary facts and context." However, subsequent Communications indicate that the group not only wanted to Keep the effort secret from the media, the public, and Wikipedia administrators, but that the material they Intended to introduce included discredited claims that Could smear Palestinians and Muslims and conceal Israel's True history.

With over two million articles in English on every topic Imaginable, Wikipedia has become a primary reference Source for Internet users around the world and a model for Collaboratively produced projects. Openness and good faith Are among Wikipedia's core principles. Any person in the World can write or edit articles, but Wikipedia has strict Guidelines and procedures for accountability intended to Ensure quality control and prevent vandalism, plagiarism Or distortion. It is because of these safeguards that Articles on key elements of the Palestine-Israel conflict Have generally remained well-referenced, useful and Objective. The CAMERA plan detailed in the e-mails Obtained by EI appears intended to circumvent these Controls.

In the past, CAMERA has gained notoriety for its tactic of Accusing virtually anyone who does not toe a right-wing Pro-Israel line of bias. The group has even accused Editors and reporters of the Israeli daily Haaretz of
Being "extreme" and participating in "radical anti-Israel Activity." Jeffrey Dvorkin, the former ombudsman of
National Public Radio (NPR), frequently criticized by CAMERA for an alleged pro-Palestinian bias, wrote on the Web publication Salon in February 2008 that "as a Consequence of its campaign against NPR, CAMERA acted as The enabler for some seriously disturbed people," citing Persistent telephone threats he received in the wake of CAMERA campaigns.

Need for stealth and secrecy

Throughout the documents EI obtained, CAMERA operatives Stress the need for stealth and secrecy. In his initial Action alert, Ini requests that recipients "not forward it To members of the news media." In a 17 March follow-up Email sent to volunteers, Ini explains that he wants to Make the orchestrated effort appear to be the work of Unaffiliated individuals. Thus he advises that "There is No need to advertise the fact that we have these group Discussions."

Anticipating possible objections to CAMERA's scheme, Ini Conjectures that "Anti-Israel editors will seize on
Anything to try to discredit people who attempt to Challenge their problematic assertions, and will be all
Too happy to pretend, and announce, that a 'Zionist' cabal (the same one that controls the banks and Hollywood?) is Trying to hijack Wikipedia."

But stealth and misrepresentation are presented as the Keys to success. Ini suggests that after volunteers sign
Up as editors for Wikipedia they should "avoid editing Israel-related articles for a short period of time." This
Strategy is intended to "avoid the appearance of being One-topic editors," thus attracting unwanted attention.

Ini counsels that volunteers "might also want to avoid, For obvious reasons, picking a user name that marks you as Pro-Israel, or that lets people know your real name." To Further conceal the identity of CAMERA-organized editors, Ini warns, "don't forget to always log in before making [edits]. If you make changes while not logged in, Wikipedia will record your computer's IP address" -- a Number that allows identification of the location of a Computer connected to the Internet.

A veteran Wikipedia editor, known as "Zeq," who according To the emails is colluding with CAMERA, also provided Advice to CAMERA volunteers on how they could disguise Their agenda. In a 20 March email often in misspelled English, Zeq writes, "You don't want to be precived [sic] As a 'CAMERA' defender' on wikipedia [sic] that is for Sure." One strategy to avoid that is to "edit articles at Random, make friends not enemies -- we will need them Later on. This is a marathon not a sprint."

Zeq also identifies, in a 25 March email, another Wikipedia editor, "Jayjg," whom he views as an effective
and independent pro-Israel advocate. Zeq instructs CAMERA operatives to work with and learn from Jayjg, but not to reveal the existence of their group even to him fearing "it would place him in a bind" since "[h]e is very loyal to the wikipedia [sic] system" and might object to CAMERA's underhanded tactics.

"Uninvolved administrators"

The emphasis on secrecy is apparently not only to aid the undetected editing of articles, but also to facilitate
CAMERA's takeover of key administrator positions in Wikipedia.

For Zeq a key goal is to have CAMERA operatives elected as administrators -- senior editors who can override the decisions of others when controversies arise. When disputes arise about hotly contested topics, such as
Israel and Palestine, often only an "uninvolved administrator" -- one who is considered neutral because he
or she has not edited or written articles on the topic -- can arbitrate.

Hence, Zeq advises in a 21 March email that "One or more of you who want to take this route should stay away from any Israel realted [sic] articles for one month until they [sic] interact in a positive way with 100 wikipedia [sic] editors who would be used later to vote you as an administrator."

Once these CAMERA operatives have successfully infiltrated as "neutral" editors, they could then exercise their privileges to assert their own political agenda.

In addition, Zeq suggests making deliberately provocative edits to Palestine-related articles. He hopes that editors he assumes are Palestinian will delete these changes, and then CAMERA operatives could report them to administrators so they could be sanctioned and have their editing privileges suspended.

Passing propaganda as fact

Gilead Ini's 17 March email provides specific advice on how to pass off pro-Israel propaganda or opinion as fact meeting Wikipedia's strict guidelines:

"So, for example, imagine that you get rid of or modify a problematic sentence in an article alleging that
'Palestinian [sic] become suicide bombers to respond to Israel's oppressive policies.' You should, in parallel
leave a comment on that article's discussion page (either after or before making the change). Avoid defending the edit by arguing that 'Israel's policies aren't 'oppression,' they are defensive. And anyway Palestinians obviously become suicide bombers for other reasons for example hate education!' Instead, describe how this sentence violates Wikipedia's policies and guidelines. One of the core principles is that assertions should adhere to a Neutral Point of View, usually abbreviated NPOV. (The opposite of NPOV is POV, or Point of View, which is basically another way of saying subjective statement, or opinion.) So it would be best to note on the discussion page that 'This sentence violates Wikipedia's NPOV policy, since the description of Israel's policies as 'oppressive' is an opinion. In addition, it is often noted by Middle East experts that one of the reasons Palestinians decide to become suicide bombers is hate education and
glorification of martyrdom in Palestinian society ...'"

In fact, there have been numerous studies debunking claims about Palestinian "hate education," or "glorification of martyrdom" causing suicide bombings (such as Dying to Win by University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape) though this claim remains a favorite canard of pro-Israel activists seeking to distract attention from the effects of Israel's occupation and other well-documented and systematic human rights abuses in fueling violence.

Zeq specifically names articles targeted for this kind of treatment including those on the 1948 Palestinian Exodus, Causes of the 1948 Palestinian exodus, Hamas, Hizballah, Arab citizens of Israel, anti-Zionism, al-Nakba, the Palestinian people, and the Palestinian right of return.

Interestingly the CAMERA editors also target the article on the early Islamic period concept of Dhimmi, a protected status for non-Muslims which historically allowed Jews to thrive in Muslim-ruled lands while other Jews were being persecuted in Christian Europe. Pro-Israel activists have often tried to portray the concept of Dhimmi as akin to the Nuremberg laws in order to denigrate Muslim culture and justify ahistorical Zionist claims that Jews could never live safely in majority Muslim countries.

Also among the emails is a discussion about how to alter the article on the massacre of Palestinian civilians in
the village of Deir Yassin by Zionist militiamen on 9 April 1948. Unable to debunk the facts of the massacre
outright, the CAMERA activists hunt for quotes from "reputable historians" who can cast doubt on it. Their
strategy is not dissimilar from those who attempt to present evolution, or global climate change as "controversial" regardless of the weight of the scientific evidence, simply because the facts do not accord with
their belief system.

Zeq has already made extensive edits to the Wikipedia article on Rachel Corrie, the American peace activist
murdered by an Israeli soldier in the occupied Gaza Strip on 16 March 2003. As a result of these and other edits Zeq has himself been a controversial figure among Wikipedia editors, suggesting his own stealth tactics may not be working.

"We will go to war"

Zeq, however, counsels CAMERA operatives to be patient and lie low until they build up their strength. "We will go to war after we have build our army, equiped it trained [sic]," he wrote on 9 April. "So please if you want to win this war help us build ou[r] army. let's not just rush in and achieve nothing, or abit more than nothing [sic]."


CAMERA Seeks 10 Volunteers to Submit Info to Wikipedia
From: lee Green (Ieegreen@camera.org)
Sent: Thu 3/13/08 5:44 PM
Help us grow our team! Please forward this alert to people con1mitted to fair and factual reporting about Israel and the Middle East. Do not forward it to members of the news Inedia. Please use this alert as background for your own unique e-mails, letters and calls.
Shalom CAMERA E-Mail Team:

What if you could ensure accuracy and fairness directly in one of the Internet's most visited Web sites, without relying on reporters, editors or publishers? In fact, you can. Wikipedia, the hugely popular online encyclopedia site, can be edited by anyone. The idea behind Wikipedia is that if thousands of well-meaning and informed volunteers collaborate on an online encyclopedia, the result would be more accurate, up-to-date and inclusive than any print encyclopedia could possibly be.

The bad news is this allows anti-Israel "editors" to introduce all kinds of bias and error into the many Israel-related articles, even the entry on CAMERA. The good news is, individual volunteers can work as "editors" to ensure that these articles are free of bias and error, and include necessary facts and context. Assuring accuracy and impartiality in Wikipedia is extremely important. If someone searches for "Israel" on the Google search engine, for example, the top result returned by Google would be the Wtkjpediapag~emQn Israel.

CAMERA seeks 10 volunteers to help us keep Israel-related entries on Wikipedia from becoming tainted by anti-Israel editors. All it takes to be an effective volunteer is a basic comfort level with computers. Call or email me, and I will train you on how to become a volunteer Wikipedia editor.
gilead@camera.org or call 617-789-3672

With thanks,
Gilead Ini
Senior Research Analyst
To subscribe to CAMERA's E-Mail Team alerts, send a note with your name, address, email, telephone number and how you heard about the alerts to leegreen@camera.org
Wikipedia and CAMERA
From: Gilead Ini (gilead@camera.org)
Sent: Mon 3/17/08 2:35 PM
To: Gilead Ini (gilead@camera.org)

Shalom Wikipedia Editors and CAMERA E-Mail Team,
Page 1 of3

Thank you all for responding to the latest alert about editing Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. We know that your time is valuable, and very much appreciate your willingness to spend some of it in the quest for fairness and accuracy on Wikipedia. And considering the truly impressive quantity and quality of volunteers, 11m extremely hopeful that we can and will meet this goal.
Let me begin by addressing a couple of questions that some of you asked.
* First, while our alert noted that we are seeking ten volunteers, what we really meant was that we want at least ten. I'm happy to say that we currently have about five times that many!
* Another common question was: How much time do I need to devote to this project? The easy answer is: As much as you decide to devote. There is no minimum amount of time required to edit Wikipedia. Some of you will only be able to participate periodically, and others will be able to weave this into their daily routine. Whatever amount of time you can spare to learn about and edit Wikipedia will be extremely valuable. Every little bit helps. That said, I'll also point out that improving articlesYYiJJ sometimes require patience and persistence.
Fortunately, patience and persistence between 40 people is a good bit easier than patience and persistence by one person. Because Wikipedia articles often change, and are never finalized, we do hope that this will be a long term project. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
* The final common query was: Okay, so what do I do? How does Wikipedia editing work? A few of you already have experience editing Wikipedia. For all the others, I'll address the technical aspect of editing Wikipedia a little bit later. But first, 11 11 touch on a few broader, non-technical ideas that are based on my experience with Wikipedia, and on the advice passed onto me by some of the more experienced Wiki editors on this list.

Why are we even concerned with Wikipedia? Because Wikipedia is extremely popular, influential, and depends on the participation of fair-minded members of the community in order to work well. What is the problem?
It's influential and popular, but it isn't always accurate. Wikipedia has a series of policies and gUidelines meant to ensure that the encyclopedia develops in a fair, accurate and reasonable manner. Unfortunately, these gUidelines are often ignored by editors (even while these same editors loudly and speciously cite these guidelines in order to defend their unfair edits). And as we all know, "controversial" topics like the Arab-Israeli conflict tend to attract an especially large number of partisans hoping to warp the public's understanding of the Middle East. This is happening with many Wikipedia articles, ranging from the article about CAMERA, to the article about Nablu5, to 4/11/2008 various articles about anti-Israel activists, and beyond.
Who are we?
It's best to think of ourselves as a collection of individuals and individual Wikipedia editors interested in discussion about Wikipedia. This encyclopedia is intended to be written and edited by individuals –not by groups -- and that's what we'll do. At the same time, by having discussions within our group, we can learn about, discuss, and figure out how to overcome the challenges we each encounter as Wikipedia editors.
There is no reason to advertise the fact that we have these group discussions. Anti-Israel editors will seize on anything to try to discredit people who attempt to challenge their problematic assertions, and will be all too happy to pretend, and announce, that a 'Zionist' cabal (the same one that controls the banks and Hollywood?) is trying to hijack Wikipedia.
The Wikipedia community
We also should keep in mind that we are part of a larger, well-established, Wikipedia community. And while there are loud and aggressive groups of anti-Israel editors, most of the Wikipedia community is made up of well-meaning people who often don't know much about the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is important that these people -- our potential allies -- understand that we, too, are concerned with thoughtfully contributing to, and improving, Wikipedia.
First and foremost, that means having a history of working within the Wikipedia guidelines. (Note that anyone on Wikipedia can view your editing history.) These guidelines are explained on the Wikipedia website, but I will also discuss some of them a bit later. Obviously, it's also important to remain civil when arguing ideas on the Wikipedia discussion pages –even when people inevitably try to provoke you into an online shouting match. It's helpful, if possible, to build relationships. (Fortunately, we now have in this group a built in network of relationships. Nonetheless, it's still helpful to make relationships with established editors, and with super-editors know as 'administrators. ') It's important, after making changes on a Wikipedia article page, to explain these edits on Wikipedia's discussion pages. (I'll address the technical details on how exactly to do this later. For now, let's stick with conceptual issues.) It's very important to avoid framing our arguments in terms of the Mideast conflict, but rather to frame them in terms of Wikipedia's gUidelines.
So, for example, imagine that you get rid of or modify a problematic sentence in an article alleging that "Palestinian become suicide bombers to respond to Israel's oppressive policies. It You should, in parallel, leave a comment on that article's discussion page (either after or before making the change). Avoid defending the edit by arguing that "Israel's policies aren't 'oppression,' they are defensive. And anyway Palestinians obviously become suicide bombers for other reasons, for example hate education!" Instead, describe how this sentence violates Wikipedia's policies and gUidelines. One of the core policies is that assertions should adhere to a Neutral Point of View, usually abbreviated NPOV. (The opposite of NPOV is POV, or Point of View, which is basically another way of saying subjective statement, or opinion.) So it would be best to note on the discussion page that "This sentence violates Wikipedia's NPOV policy, since the description of Israel's policies as 'oppressive'is an opinion. In addition, it is often noted by Middle East experts that one of the reasons Palestinians decide to become suicide bombers is hate education and glorification of martyrdom in Palestinian society. I will add (or have added) a sentence to that effect, and cite it with a footnote pointing to one or more of these experts' articles. If (Or something along those lines.)
A veteran Wikipedia editor on this list has suggested that, after setting up your account, avoid editing Israel-related articles for a short period of time; or in the very least, try to edit articles unrelated to Israel more than articles related to Israel. This isn't a bad idea, not only to avoid the appearance of being one-topic editors, but also because it would be easier to practice editing, and to learn about Wikipedia, far from the Mideast hornet's nest. You might practice by visiting and editing articles about other topics that interest you. Editing could mean simply fixing typos and grammar, or it could mean adding (footnoted) sentences to these topics. This way, you can gain experience without having antiIsrael partisans jumping down your throat.
When signing up for a Wikipedia account, you might also want to avoid, for obvious reasons, picking a user name that marks you as pro-Israel, or that lets people know your real name. Anonymity is an accepted part of Wikipedia. Also, for the sake of greater anonymity, don't forget to always log in before making changes. If you make changes while not logged in, Wikipedia will record your computer's IP address.
What now? Now that we've considered some thoughts on Wikipedia, we're almost ready to act! You will soon get via email an invitation to join a Google Group entitled Isra-pedia. Itis there that we'll discuss problematic Wikipedia pages, and how to improve them. You'll also find there a copy of this welcome email, a tutorial on how to sign up for and edit Wikipeida (i.e. those technical details that I avoided discussion in this email), and an Action Items page. Those of you who already have a Wikipedia account and are familiar with the editing process can ignore the tutorial and focus on the action items and the discussion section of our Google Groups page.
I look forward to working with all of you.
Gilead Ini
Senior Research Analyst
Action Item:
When you get the invitation to a Google Group called Isra-pedia, accept the invite! 4/11/2008
[Isra-pedia] Re: CAMERA
From: Isra guy (zeqzeq2@yahoo.com)
Sent: Thu 3/20/08 4: 50 PM
To: isra-pedia (isra-pedia@googlegroups.com)
1. I strohgly suggest people will start with non israel related articles.
2. With all due respect it does not make anay sense to have wikipedia fights in articles about CAMERA. Think who uses wikipedia and for what ? the high school student or the person looking for general information about evenst, people, locations, terminlogy (such as "Right of Return" or II Summer rain operation") . You don't want to be precived as a "CAMERA defender" on wikipedia that is for sure - since they would think you were sent by CAMERA to "repair" the CAMERA entry. You also don't want to apear as only focus and one sided about israel.
So edit articles at random, make friends not enemies - we will need them later on. This is a marathon not a sprint.
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[Isra-pedia] Re: CAMERA
From: Isra guy (zeqzeq2@yahoo.com)
Sent: Fri 3/21/08 1: 14 AM
To: isra-pedia (isra-pedia@googlegroups.com)
I need perhaps to interduce myself. I have been working in wikipedia alone for nearly 3 years and learned a lot in the process. All of you will be more succefullif you would apear Neutral as possible. Look we will not be able to fix everything there and there are real importent articles. Nothing will harm your creadability more that if your edits will identify you as tied to or "representative of" a specific organization. I will not get into discussion about how important is the CAMERA article in wikipedia - my view is that CAMERA itself is a very important organization but that the article about in wikipedia is near meanigless (people do not shape their view of CAMERA by reading about it in wikipedia) Since people here have strong views and strong ties with CAMERA my advice is: Stay away from this article for at least 6 month - work on other articles, slowly go into Israel realted articles, in these articles present a view that has to do with Accuracy and for keeping Wikipedia policies in order to make the Wikipedia project BETTER.
If you deal with the CAMERA article now you will burn yourself and let them know what you are and your views - which is bad and would prevent you from making friends in wikipedia - friends we will all need in the long run so that one of us (or more) will become administrators. Why it is important There is in wikipedia the ability by an administrator to set significant limits on other editor. in 90% of the cases sanction placed b one administrator are not chalanged at all. they stick. In the issue of Israeli-palestine articles there is now additional restrictions that can be placed by an administrator AS LONG AS HE IS AN "uninvolved administrator". One or more of you who want to take this route should stay away from any Israel realted articles for month until they interact in a positive way with 100 wikipedia editors who would be used later to vote you as an administrator. This is not the only reason but just an example why you should take the marthon view and not rush in for a fight about a not so important article (about a very important orgnization) rememebr we are not dealing here with convincing the exterme antisemite and anti-israel activists (those on discussion boards) We are not dealing with convincing people who share our views either.
We are targeting those who look up a term in google and it sends them to Wikipedia or those who look for general explnation about issues.
Here is a list of articles I consider highly important- but for now stay away from them also and build your relationship with the wikipedia comunity WIKIPEDIA is a comunity - always keep this in mind. you want to make friends there not enemies. It is not a discussion board in which you will lIconvince" the other side.
Page 2 of2
f1.ttp://er\..v!:i.k.ipedia.. \"Jik.i/Hezbol1ah - notice how it is now "partyu of Allah" (it used to be described in wikipedia as "party of God"
http://en. citi srael
i:lttp://en. - be carefull as this will get you in direct fight with all the muslims there. for now I don't touch this any more until we have maybe 20 editors who can fight and two "uninvolved" admins on our side ...
http://en.wikipedia. / l\n t. i ... Zioni SIn
i:lttp://en. Palestine
http://e.n.. Israel.
http://eIl. /l~l ...}'Jakba
nt. tp: / / en. vJikipedia . erg/wik.i / Pa lest e
http://en. /Palest -
this will become a VERY important topic in the NEAR future. We will need your help nt.tp: / / en. . erg/wik.i/rvIoha.mrnad~J\rn.j.n_al - this is an article that the Palestinians will fight for. You want to get them into trouble: make legitimate edits on this article by bringing quotes from ACADEMIC sources (not jut from links on the web). get them sanctioned after they delete this info. http://en. about photos) .org/wiki (see issues with policy

[Isra-pedia] Re: Fwd: [Isra-pedia] Re: Using each other as a resource
From: Donna Halper (dlh@donnahalper.com)
Sent: Thu 4/10/08 2:45 PM
To: isra-pedia@googlegroups.com
At 02:05 PM 4/10/2008, you wrote:
can we do the same from Boston branches?
I have access to all these scholarly databases because I teach at Emerson and U.MassjBoston. I don't know whether the public libraries have them all, but I do, anytime you need me to look something up for you.
[Isra-pedia] Re: Wikipedia article: Deir Yassin
From: Niki Nymark (nnymark@sbcglobal.net)
Sent: Fri 4/11/08 12:20 AM
To: isra-pedia@googlegroups.com
I have spent a fascinating evening reading about Deir Yassin and Uri Millstein. In the Wikipedia article on Millstein, near the end, it says of Millstein, "In his last book, "Blood Libel at Deir Yassin--The Black Book,' he claims that a key incident in the development of Palestinian national consciousness, the massacre at Deir Yassin, was a myth created by the Israeli Left... " for political purposes. Niki
Gilead wrote:
This thread is a continuation of the discussion started in the "Use each other as a resource" thread. Someone there wrote the following. My reply follows: For example wiki says about Deir Yassin: "The Deir Yassin massacre took place on April 9, 1948 when between 107 and 120[1J Palestinian Arabs, predominantly old men, women and children[2J living in the village of Deir Yassin (transliterated Hebrew: Dirat HaYasmin) near Jerusalem in the British Mandate of Palestine were murdered by Jewish Irgun-Lehi force."
note [2J is given: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deir_Yassin_massacre#cite_note-1

1) the reference --further below-- and the footnote don't quite seem to jive in relation to the Lib Cong report
2) I have reason to believe that the quote is in fact wrong or doctored. Another writer ( Francisco Gil-White:
http://www.hirhome.com/israel/deir-yassin.htm) claims that Milstein does not hold that Deir Yassin was a massacre. So maybe we could put a query out when necessary, and if someone has the book article they will check it out for us? Anyone have a copy of Uri Milstein's War of Independence Vol IV p 273 -- to check if that quote is indeed accurate or if it is taken out of context? Otherwise I have to go through interlibrary loan -- which takes forever.
I'm looking at History of Israel's War of Independence, Vol. IV, Translated and Edited by Alan Sacks (1998). The title is a bit different than that cited in the footnote, and perhaps more importantly, the translation is by a different person. So the page numbers are different. On page 376 of this version, Milstein does make something very close to the assertion you describe. Here, he is translated arguing that "it cannot be denied," as opposed to "nobody denies. N
So the cite is more or less correct. The next question, then, is whether this assertion is disputed by other reputable historians. If so, this statement of fact in the lede of the article is extremely problematic. That is, if there is significant controversy about the truth of this statement, Milstein's claim can and should be relayed in the article, but not on its own, as an indisputed fact, in the lede. It would have to be relayed along with opposing points of view. Unfortunately, this is not something I can get to today. If anyone else has reliable resources that they can consult before I have a chance to look into it, please do post your findings here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki!U~er:Sli~Virgin were the two most important and infuential editors in wikipedia. Both have added many subjects but also edited israel related articles and took a lot of heat about it. Jay is Jewish, he is most likley an attorney and writes very well. Jay likes things to be done "his way" , he also a great believer about wikipedia project. If you edit in articles he edit. I suggest. you follow his lead or get. out of the way. Learn from the way he done things and cooperate but there is no need to let him know about this group as it will place him in a bind: He is very loyal to the wikipedia system and once even served few years in the Wikipedia supreme court.
Look at jay's recent contributions on and the way he engage in discssions. He divered issues t.o policy. examples: he diverted this discussion:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/jayjg into this:
http: j / en. wikipedia. org/wiki/vJikipedia.....talk: Verifiability#Using.....an.....entire.....booJ.:::......as.....a .....reference
http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/HikiI)edia: Reliable_sources!Noticeboard#Mazin_Qumsiyeh_on_qumsiyeh. org
http://en.\vikipedia.org/wiki/V~ikipedia:Reliable_sources/Noticeboard#Bruce_Dixon_or_ww'W.blackcommteonrt. acom
in a different place he turned a dsipute into mediation: http://en. wikipedia. orgjwiki/v:jikipedia_talk : Requests_for_mediation!Jewish_lobby Jayjg is a fine example how to work in the most due process way. The other side is not doing this and take advantage of their large numbers. we should learn from all of them.

19 April 2008

Hamas Leader Praises & Identifies with the Fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto

If you were to listen to the Zionist propagandists, then Hamas is the incarnation of evil, a movement dedicated to the extermination of Jewish people no less. Of course the reality is somewhat different. Despite their Islamist politics, which includes putting praise for the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in their Covenant, their politics - like those of all religious nationalists, are extremely confused. And we shouldn't of course forget that the Israeli State played a key role in helping foster and create Hamas in the first place, as a counterweight to secular Palestinian nationalism.

It is to be welcomed therefore that Hamas's foreign minister, Mahmoud al-Zahar, in the Washington Post, paying his respects to the fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and making an explicit comparison between the fighters of ZOB (the Jewish Fighting Organisation) and the fighters of Hamas. Mahmoud al-Zahar writes that:

Sixty-five years ago, the courageous Jews of the Warsaw ghetto rose in defense of their people. We Gazans, living in the world's largest open-air prison, can do no less.

And he goes on to say that:

Judaism -- which gave so much to human culture in the contributions of its ancient lawgivers and modern proponents of tikkun olam -- has corrupted itself in the detour into Zionism, nationalism and apartheid.

And al-Zahar's conclusion is no less remarkable:

A "peace process" with Palestinians cannot take even its first tiny step until Israel first withdraws to the borders of 1967; dismantles all settlements; removes all soldiers from Gaza and the West Bank; repudiates its illegal annexation of Jerusalem; releases all prisoners; and ends its blockade of our international borders, our coastline and our airspace permanently. This would provide the starting point for just negotiations and would lay the groundwork for the return of millions of refugees. Given what we have lost, it is the only basis by which we can start to be whole again.

I am eternally proud of my sons and miss them every day. I think of them as fathers everywhere, even in Israel, think of their sons -- as innocent boys, as curious students, as young men with limitless potential -- not as "gunmen" or "militants." But better that they were defenders of their people than parties to their ultimate dispossession; better that they were active in the Palestinian struggle for survival than passive witnesses to our subjugation.

History teaches us that everything is in flux. Our fight to redress the material crimes of 1948 is scarcely begun, and adversity has taught us patience. As for the Israeli state and its Spartan culture of permanent war, it is all too vulnerable to time, fatigue and demographics: In the end, it is always a question of our children and those who come after us.

Mahmoud al-Zahar, a surgeon, is a founder of Hamas. He is foreign minister in the government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, which was elected in January 2006.

Our reign of terror, by the Israeli army

Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian student during a protest in Hebron in 2005. Hebron is the only Palestinian city whose centre is directly controlled by the Israeli military

In shocking testimonies that reveal abductions, beatings and torture, Israeli soldiers confess the horror they have visited on Hebron

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem

Saturday, 19 April 2008

The dark-haired 22-year-old in black T-shirt, blue jeans and red Crocs is understandably hesitant as he sits at a picnic table in the incongruous setting of a beauty spot somewhere in Israel. We know his name and if we used it he would face a criminal investigation and a probable prison sentence.

The birds are singing as he describes in detail some of what he did and saw others do as an enlisted soldier in Hebron. And they are certainly criminal: the incidents in which Palestinian vehicles are stopped for no good reason, the windows smashed and the occupants beaten up for talking back – for saying, for example, they are on the way to hospital; the theft of tobacco from a Palestinian shopkeeper who is then beaten "to a pulp" when he complains; the throwing of stun grenades through the windows of mosques as people prayed. And worse.

The young man left the army only at the end of last year, and his decision to speak is part of a concerted effort to expose the moral price paid by young Israeli conscripts in what is probably the most problematic posting there is in the occupied territories. Not least because Hebron is the only Palestinian city whose centre is directly controlled by the military, 24/7, to protect the notably hardline Jewish settlers there. He says firmly that he now regrets what repeatedly took place during his tour of duty.

But his frequent, if nervous, grins and giggles occasionally show just a hint of the bravado he might have displayed if boasting of his exploits to his mates in a bar. Repeatedly he turns to the older former soldier who has persuaded him to speak to us, and says as if seeking reassurance: "You know how it is in Hebron."

The older ex-soldier is Yehuda Shaul, who does indeed "know how it is in Hebron", having served in the city in a combat unit at the peak of the intifada, and is a founder of Shovrim Shtika, or Breaking the Silence, which will publish tomorrow the disturbing testimonies of 39 Israelis – including this young man – who served in the army in Hebron between 2005 and 2007. They cover a range of experiences, from anger and powerlessness in the face of often violent abuse of Arabs by hardline Jewish settlers, through petty harassment by soldiers, to soldiers beating up Palestinian residents without provocation, looting homes and shops, and opening fire on unarmed demonstrators.

The maltreatment of civilians under occupation is common to many armies in the world – including Britain's, from Northern Ireland to Iraq.

But, paradoxically, few if any countries apart from Israel have an NGO like Breaking the Silence, which seeks – through the experiences of the soldiers themselves – as its website puts it "to force Israeli society to address the reality which it created" in the occupied territories.

The Israeli public was given an unflattering glimpse of military life in Hebron this year when a young lieutenant in the Kfir Brigade called Yaakov Gigi was given a 15-month jail sentence for taking five soldiers with him to hijack a Palestinian taxi, conduct what the Israeli media called a "rampage" in which one of the soldiers shot and wounded a Palestinian civilian who just happened to be in the wrong place, and then tried to lie his way out of it.

In a confessional interview with the Israeli Channel Two investigative programme Uvda, Gigi, who had previously been in many ways a model soldier, talked of "losing the human condition" in Hebron. Asked what he meant, he replied: "To lose the human condition is to become an animal."

The Israeli military did not prosecute the soldier who had fired on the Palestinian, as opposed to Gigi. But the military insists "that the events that occurred within the Kfir Brigade are highly unusual".

But as the 22-year-old soldier, also in the Kfir Brigade, confirms in his testimony to Breaking the Silence, it seems that the event may not have been exceptional. Certainly, our interview tells us, he was "many times" in groups that commandeered taxis, seated the driver in the back, and told him to direct them to places "where they hate the Jews" in order to "make a balagan" – Hebrew for "big mess".

Then there is the inter- clan Palestinian fight: "We were told to go over there and find out what was happening. Our [platoon] commander was a bit screwed in the head. So anyway, we would locate houses, and he'd tell us: 'OK, anyone you see armed with stones or whatever, I don't care what – shoot.' Everyone would think it's the clan fight..." Did the company commander know? No one knew. Platoon's private initiative, these actions."
Did you hit them? "Sure, not just them. Anyone who came close ... Particularly legs and arms. Some people also sustained abdominal hits ... I think at some point they realised it was soldiers, but they were not sure. Because they could not believe soldiers would do this, you know."

Or using a 10-year-old child to locate and punish a 15-year-old stone-thrower: "So we got hold of just some Palestinian kid nearby, we knew that he knew who it had been. Let's say we beat him a little, to put it mildly, until he told us. You know, the way it goes when your mind's already screwed up, and you have no more patience for Hebron and Arabs and Jews there."

"The kid was really scared, realising we were on to him. We had a commander with us who was a bit of a fanatic. We gave the boy over to this commander, and he really beat the shit out of him ... He showed him all kinds of holes in the ground along the way, asking him: 'Is it here you want to die? Or here?' The kid goes, 'No, no!'

"Anyway, the kid was stood up, and couldn't stay standing on his own two feet. He was already crying ... And the commander continues, 'Don't pretend' and kicks him some more. And then [name withheld], who always had a hard time with such things, went in, caught the squad commander and said, 'Don't touch him any more, that's it.' The commander goes, 'You've become a leftie, what?' And he answers, 'No, I just don't want to see such things.'

"We were right next to this, but did nothing. We were indifferent, you know. OK. Only after the fact you start thinking. Not right away. We were doing such things every day ... It had become a habit...

"And the parents saw it. The commander ordered [the mother], 'Don't get any closer.' He cocked his weapon, already had a bullet inside. She was frightened. He put his weapon literally inside the kid's mouth. 'Anyone gets close, I kill him. Don't bug me. I kill. I have no mercy.' So the father ... got hold of the mother and said, 'Calm down, let them be, so they'll leave him alone.'"
Not every soldier serving in Hebron becomes an "animal". Iftach Arbel, 23, from an upper-middle class, left-of-centre home in Herzylia, served in Hebron as a commander just before the withdrawal from Gaza, when he thinks the army wanted to show it could be tough with settlers, too. And many of the testimonies, including Mr Arbel's, describe how the settlers educate children as young as four to throw stones at Palestinians, attack their homes and even steal their possessions. To Mr Arbel, the Hebron settlers are "pure evil" and the only solution is "to remove the settlers".
He believes it would be possible even within these constraints to treat Palestinians better. He adds: "We did night activity. Choose a house at random, on the aerial photo, so as to practise combat routine and all, which is instructive for the soldiers, I mean, I'm all for it. But then at midnight you wake someone up and turn his whole house upside down with everyone sleeping on the mattresses and all."

But Mr Arbel says that most soldiers are some way between his own extreme and that of the most violent. From just two of his fellow testifiers, you can see what he means.

As one said: "We did all kinds of experiments to see who could do the best split in Abu Snena. We would put [Palestinians] against the wall, make like we were checking them, and ask them to spread their legs. Spread, spread, spread, it was a game to see who could do it best. Or we would check who can hold his breath for longest.

"Choke them. One guy would come, make like he was checking them, and suddenly start yelling like they said something and choke them ... Block their airways; you have to press the adams apple. It's not pleasant. Look at the watch as you're doing it, until he passes out. The one who takes longest to faint wins."

And theft as well as violence. "There's this car accessory shop there. Every time, soldiers would take a tape-disc player, other stuff. This guy, if you go ask him, will tell you plenty of things that soldiers did to him.

"A whole scroll-full ... They would raid his shop regularly. 'Listen, if you tell on us, we'll confiscate your whole store, we'll break everything.' You know, he was afraid to tell. He was already making deals, 'Listen guys, you're damaging me financially.' I personally never took a thing, but I'm telling you, people used to take speakers from him, whole sound systems.
"He'd go, 'Please, give me 500 shekels, I'm losing money here.' 'Listen, if you go on – we'll pick up your whole shop.' 'OK, OK, take it, but listen, don't take more than 10 systems a month.' Something like this.

"'I'm already going bankrupt.' He was so miserable. Guys in our unit used to sell these things back home, make deals with people. People are so stupid."
The military said that Israeli Defence Forces soldiers operate according to "a strict set of moral guidelines" and that their expected adherence to them only "increases wherever and whenever IDF soldiers come in contact with civilians". It added that "if evidence supporting the allegations is uncovered, steps are taken to hold those involved to the level of highest judicial severity". It also said: "The Military Advocate General has issued a number of indictments against soldiers due to allegations of criminal behaviour ... Soldiers found guilty were punished severely by the Military Court, in proportion to the committed offence." It had not by last night quantified such indictments.
In its introduction to the testimonies, Breaking the Silence says: "The soldiers' determination to fulfil their mission yields tragic results: the proper-normative becomes despicable, the inconceivable becomes routine ... [The] testimonies are to illustrate the manner in which they are swept into the brutal reality reigning on the ground, a reality whereby the lives of many thousands of Palestinian families are at the questionable mercy of youths. Hebron turns a focused, flagrant lens at the reality to which Israel's young representatives are constantly sent."
A force for justice
Breaking the Silence was formed four years ago by a group of ex-soldiers, most of whom had served in Israel Defence Forces combat units in Hebron. Many of the soldiers do reserve duty in the military each year. It has collected some 500 testimonies from former soldiers who served in the West Bank and Gaza. Its first public exposure was with an exhibition of photographs by soldiers serving in Hebron and the organisation also runs regular tours of Hebron for Israeli students and diplomats. It receives funding from groups as diverse as the Jewish philanthropic Moriah Fund, the New Israel Fund, the British embassy in Tel Aviv and the EU.

12 April 2008

The BNP - the most Zionist of the Political Parties

On Thursday April 10th the Guardian carried a news story which, for some of us at least, was no revelation. ‘BNP seeks to bury antisemitism and gain Jewish votes in Islamophobic campaign’.· We were told by one Ruth Smeed of the Board of Deputies of British Jews that ‘The BNP website is now one of the most Zionist on the web - it goes further than any of the mainstream parties in its support of Israel’.

Of course to some people the idea that the BNP, a party started by an open holocaust denier, the late John Tyndall, was now opposed to anti-Semitism and supportive of Zionism must seem 1ike a sick joke. Maybe global warming is now having an effect on the fascists’ ability to think rationally. Yet, in fact, there is nothing at all strange about the BNP being pro-Zionist and dropping anti-Semitism.

Those who have kept up with fascist and far-Right politics will be aware of the fact that the present leadership of the BNP is determined not to make the same mistakes as the National Front did in the 1970’s when they were at one time described as the four major political party. In the West Bromwich by-election they saved their deposit, obtaining over 16% of the vote and in the GLC elections in 1976 they gained over 100,000 votes. It was to meet this threat that the Anti-Nazi League was formed (then it was a mass movement not an SWP front). A combination of mass political agitation and the cultural appeal of Rock Against Racism resulted in the NF being caught between the rock of anti-fascism and the hard stone of Thatcher. The 1979 General Election all but wiped them out and the NF subsequently imploded politically.

The lesson that Nick Griffin, has learnt has been a painful one. Jews in European society are white. Racism in its mainstream variant is anti-Black or today anti-Muslim. Racism has moved from an obsession with the immigrants from Afro-Caribbean societies to the victims of western imperialism in the Middle East. It is Muslims not Jews who are demonised. Indeed Israel is an armed watchdog of the West, at the cutting edge of imperial barbarity against non-white peoples. For the BNP to engage in solidarity with the victims of imperialism on account of their traditional hate of Jews would be an act of self-immolation. And one thing Griffin doesn’t want to do is to see the BNP self-destruct.

In what is a key article by Nick Griffin, By their fruits (or lack of them) shall you know them’ he makes his reasons for the switch to a pro-Zionist position explicitly clear:
‘When the overwhelming majority of the instinctively patriotic people of our nations feel threatened by an alien force which is self-evidently evil by Christian and democratic secular values alike, to place oneself in the position whereby our political opponents can portray you as an enemy sympathiser, a collaborator, a traitor, is political suicide.’

Historically British fascism has marked itself out as pro-Nazi. True there has always been a smattering of Tory fascists who were anti-Nazi in the anti-German sense, people like John Bean or Roy Painter, (who Martin Walker got waylaid by in his book 'The National Front') but from Moseley onwards the vast bulk of British fascism has traced its origins back to the bunkers of Berlin. In so doing they have paid a heavy price. Griffin, an ex-Cambridge graduate, is not stupid. He has looked at the success of equivalent movements in Europe – the French FN and the Italian National Alliance wistfully. These movements have been equally hostile to ‘foreigners’ without feeling the need to bow the knee at the slightest mention of Adolf. Hence why the BNP expelled Tyndall before his death and now seeks to position the BNP as a mainstream party of the nationalist right rather than the neo-Nazi right.

In so doing Griffin is doing little more than following the lead given by groups like the Ulster Defence Association and a variety of Loyalists in Northern Ireland who have always supported Israel in its ‘anti-terrorist’ fight, whereas the Republicans identified with the Palestinians. Likewise the apartheid regime in South Africa was as close as one could get with the Zionist entity yet for historical reasons, British fascism – which supported both Loyalism in Ireland and Apartheid in South Africa – nonetheless ‘supported’ the Palestinians.

The first indications of the BNP’s move was an article by its Legal Affairs Director, Lee Barnes, in the summer of 2006, when he came out openly in support of Israel’s bombing of the Lebanon. The article has since been removed from the BNP web site but it was clear at the time that it was intended to fly a kite. At that time, Israel Shamir, close friend and ‘unique and advanced thinker’ to Gilad Atzmon, engaged in an e-mail debate with Barnes. The results were not edifying. Barnes wrote of Shamir’s that
‘The only thing sadder than a self hating jew empathising with those who would cut his throat in a moment are those whites who are so eaten up by anti semitism they prostrate themselves before the islamic invaders that pollute our nation.’

To which Shamir, still dreaming of a far-right and white supremacist alliance against Zionism protested that ‘I do not feel at ease accusing you and your comrades of betraying the Britons and joining with the Jews, but if I'd keep mum, stones won't.’ In the course of this ‘debate’ Shamir accused Barnes of selling out the grand and noble traditions exemplified by Oswald Moseley of the British Union of Fascists!

What began as a toe in the water has now assumed full-scale proportions as the BNP attempts to win over a sizeable section of London’s Jewish community in the GLA elections. How successful will they be? In The Jewish Community & British Politics Geoffrey Alderman, once a radical but now a reactionary columnist for the Jewish Chronicle, noted that about 300-400 Jewish voters in Hackney North had voted for the National Front in the February 1974 General Election on the basis of anti-Black prejudices. This was at a time when the NF was widely acknowledged to be anti-Semitic. But even then it had a smattering of Jewish members, including Albert Elder in Eastbourne and Gerry Vine in Hackney. Today it has a Jewish councillor and one suspects that despite the attempts of the Jewish establishment to pour cold water on the matter, that the BNP may well succeed in doing what Le Pen’s FN has done, which is to gain proportionately more Jewish voters in the Rhone Valley than it does among non-Jewish ones.

It is therefore interesting to have a look at the BNP web site as an indication of what is happening. In an
article on Ken Livingstone, the BNP attack his connections to Muslims and in particular one Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Livingstone is attacked because Qaradawi is close to the Muslim Brotherhood, which according to the BNP has a ‘history of enthusiastic collaboration with the Nazis - including significant participation in the genocide of both Christians and Jews in Europe, during the war.’ Such is the dizzy pace of change, the BNP now condemns those who apparently collaborated with the Nazis during the war (except of course the Zionists!).

Indeed Livingstone is condemned for making ‘sick jokes about the Holocaust’ which must qualify as a good example of what is meant by chutzpah.

Indeed the BNP paints a nightmare scenario where, put under western pressure, ‘Israeli representatives cave in to international pressure and waive the demand to recognize Israel’s unique Jewish character.’ Words such as Paul and Damascus come to mind.
'Is this crazy, or is this crazy?’

Unsurprisingly some of the BNP’s members and sympathisers have found this somewhat hard to digest. Under an article entitled ‘The Wonderful world of Disney - AKA the Religion of Peace!’ about a Hamas video being shown to school children, one contributor comments that ‘I’m not sure that we should be using the Israeli Palestinian conflict for propaganda. I just think it’s a bit more complex than those pesky Islamists having a go at innocents. … We don’t need to use the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to put across the bad side of Islam. Islam does a good enough job of that already.’ To which Hilton Gray responds that ‘I cannot imagine what sort of mental state a person must be in after they have lost not just their husband and brothers but all their children to “accidental” shootings at the hands of Israeli soldiers. Or to have watched an Israeli officer empty an assault rifle magazine into the body of a 14 year old girl - my mind cannot deal with such barbarism, and I think it best we simply stay out of the whole ugly mess.’

The moderator Ed then joins in to reorientate the discussion: 'Look at the bigger picture. It is a threat the Western World faces. Israel today, where next do you think?’ To which an obviously more naïve and innocent member of the BNP, one Dissident Congress, asks: ‘Out of interest, is the BNP pro-Israeli? When I joined I was told that the BNP has no policy regarding Israel and Palestine.’

And in case DC fails to get the message then Artorius is there to help out. He explains that ‘Extermination of the Jews is a religious obligation for all Muslims, which long precedes the establishment of the state of Israel.’ which may not have the effect that is intended, since a sizeable proportion of the BNP presumably still subscribes to said obligation. We are told that:
Twice in three days, PA religious leaders have openly called for the genocide of Jews.’ And almost on cue, Artorius asks: ‘P.S. Has the BNP ever thought of attracting the Jewish vote? I realise that relations haven’t always been sweetness and light in the past, but ultimately only the removal of most of the Muslims from Britain can protect British Jews from extermination.’
The zealousness of the convert, yesterday denying the holocaust, tomorrow predicting it, is fascinating. And why stop there? He adds another postcript: ‘P.P.S Similarly with the gay/lesbian vote, which normally supports Livingstone’ citing those well known anti-fascists at Harry’s Place no less!

Indeed we told that ‘Under a BNP government gay/lesbian couples wouldn’t be able to adopt kids, but at least they’d keep their heads on their shoulders.’ which must be comforting indeed!
And after being regaled with ‘an Arabic saying I grew up with: ‘First the Saturday people and then the Sunday people.’ by one Brigitte Gabriel, Artorius then goes on to cite Pastor Martin Niemöller’s famous saying ‘First they came for the Jews’. And unlike the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, he doesn’t even omit the line which says ‘Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.’ Clearly the BNP is going to pot or Tyndall is spinning in his grave!

And in case we didn’t get the message he goes on to quote Benjamin Franklin: “We must hang together, gentlemen…else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.” Asking ‘
When are we kuffars (Jews, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Secularists) going to learn to hang together?… Israel is the Canary in the Coal Mine. Eventually the poison will engulf us all.’

It has taken a long time for Britain’s fascist right, but eventually they have managed to align their politics with the overwhelming majority of the Right. And like Arthur J Balfour and the Tory Zionists of old, the BNP are quite capable of maintaining both pro-Zionist and anti-Semitic politics. As trueblueloyalist explains: ‘While I find it unsettling that the Jewish interest has rather an excessive amount of influence in our nation’s political/financial life I really believe we need to support the Israeli state 100%. Israel is a useful tool for drawing the sting of Islamic aggression…. It devours Islamic military resources and rots the power of the Arabic nations preventing them from forming any meaningful conventional military alliance with which to attack the west.’ Which, let us face it, is a pretty accurate analysis of Israel’s role in the Middle East.

In what is a lengthy article, By their fruits (or lack of them) shall you know them (10.11.07.) Griffin explains at length why the BNP must ditch its traditional anti-Semitism in favour of something more refined and nuanced. First we must be clear who is the main enemy and the real target and he issues a warning that ‘The enemy of your old enemy may turn out not to be your friend, but something much worse.’ His opponents, the Tyndallites and old Nazis, who are so wedded to anti-Semitism, ‘are perilously close to entrenching themselves in political dead ground from which there can be no escape.’ And quoting from Karl Marx, he exclaims that: ‘Truly, they are living examples of the old adage that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, and then as farce.’ In the middle of this debate, we have the anti-Nazi pastor Niemoller and now Marx himself brought into play!
Griffin goes on to explain that:

‘When the overwhelming majority of the instinctively patriotic people of our nations feel threatened by an alien force which is self-evidently evil by Christian and democratic secular values alike, to place oneself in the position whereby our political opponents can portray you as an enemy sympathiser, a collaborator, a traitor, is political suicide.’

And that is the rub. To be seen to be aligned with Muslims today for a racist, far-right party, is political suicide. And Griffin goes on to lay into US neo-Nazis who have never built a nationwide political party:
‘The USA is, after all, the country whose ‘far-right’ leadership has consistently failed even to establish a viable national organisation…. By what monumental arrogance do such pathetic failures claim the right to criticise others…?’

Griffin also lays into those ‘Internet cockerels of the anti-Semitic new dawn’ who believe that Iraq is ‘a war for Israel, organised as part of a Jewish plot to rule the world.’ He explains to his admittedly pretty dense audience that the problem is that the BNP’s supporters, when told this will say: “great, let’s hope the Jews and Our Boys win and wipe out those limb-amputating, suicide-bombing Arab Muslims” So the problem with claiming that “We’re in the Middle East for the Jews. This is a war for Israel organised as part of a Jewish plot to rule the world” is that it ‘has precisely the opposite effect on around 90% of the population to that which we must presume is intended by those who make it’.

Griffin makes clear his view of ‘the real conspiracy nuts’ who shout that “Griffin’s sold out to the Jews, that’s why he gets media coverage and such fair treatment,” or those who though ‘slightly less hysterical but still obsessed by “the Jews”, suggest that my motivation for being so critical of Islam is the hope that “the Jewish media will go easy on the BNP.”

Griffin doesn’t deny this may be the result, rather that this isn’t his motivation. He explains that he had an ‘interesting conversation’ with one of the Judeo-obsessives who, whilst ‘at least giving me credit for not having sold my soul for a purse full of shekels from the Learned Elders … did opine that “the Jews will never treat you fairly, they hate us too much.” To which Griffin responds that ‘during the Leeds Free Speech Trial, huge sections of the British media did indeed treat us remarkably fairly’. Which is one way of putting it! And then Griffin reaches the key point of his article:

“it stands to reason that adopting an ‘Islamophobic’ position that appeals to huge numbers of ordinary people - including un-nudged journalists - is going to produce on average much better media coverage than siding with Iran and banging on about “Jewish power”, which is guaranteed to raise the hackles of virtually every single journalist in the Western world.”

And showing, it has to be said, a somewhat firmer grip on reality than Gilad Atzmon, Israel Shamir and the Rizzos of this world he explains that:
‘there is also the little matter of truth: The neo-cons are mainly Jewish, but they are not “the Jews”. When it comes to Middle Eastern policy, they are a particular faction, an unofficial overseas agitprop department of Israel’s ruling Likud party. To oppose their war is not to oppose “the Jews”, but only one group of Jews and their Christian-Zionist and plutocrat allies.’

In a section entitled ‘Jewish opponents to neo-cons’ Griffin employs heavy sarcasm in making the obvious point that:

‘any anti-Semite worth his salt could just as easily ‘prove’ that it is “the Jews” who are behind the efforts to stop those nice Christians George Bush and Dick Cheney from making the world safe for American capitalism by killing all those A-rabs and confiscating their oil. Just look at the key players in the ‘American’ anti-war movement: Within days of 9/11, Susan “the white race is the cancer of history” Sontag was widely quoted in the US media sympathising with the Saudi kamikazes.…. It may not always be Politically Correct even to name them as an ethnic group, but the plain truth is that individual Jews are prominent on both sides of this quarrel. Wow! There’s a surprise, since individual Christians, individual white atheists, and no doubt individual Red Indians find themselves in exactly the same position, on the opposite side of the war fence to their parents, siblings, cousins and childhood friends: Some for, some against, some don’t know.’

And dealing with the conspiracy theorists he takes up another of their arguments:
‘Why are a disproportionate number of Jews involved in various movements? “So they can control both sides of the argument,” is the fallback position of the doctrinaire anti-Semites, and the fact that they can shift so quickly from ignoring inconvenient facts to incorporating them in their Grand Scheme is an indicator that we are dealing here with cultist faith rather than a rational assessment of facts.’

It must be even more of a bitter pill coming from one of their own. Of course Griffin has to throw some red meat to his more neanderthal followers. And he reassures them thus:
‘This is not to say that all Jews are angels who can do no wrong. While some Jews have made valuable contributions to our civilisation, others have not. Marxism, the Frankfurt School, feminism, the multi-cult - one only has to make the most cursory study of the origin of such socially devastating movements to find radical leftists from East European Ashkenazi stock playing a vastly disproportionate role. Why? Partly because it was in their ethnic self-interest - a weak gentile society is less likely to identify and persecute Jews than certain kinds of strong one.’

Which is another way of saying, anti-Semitism is fine in its place, but don’t let it cloud your judgment when it comes to matters of high state. Which is of course little different to the old Nazi pro-Zionist position, but maybe that is too sophisticated even for Griffin!
And Griffin also demonstrates that anti-Semitism and philo-Semitism are but two sides of the same debased coin. Griffin explains the ‘reason for Jewish over-representation in all sorts of intellectual movements’. It is because ‘On average, Jews are the cleverest people on the planet. Someone had to be, after all, and a people who have been selectively bred for intelligence by internal choice and external pressure for nearly two thousand years were always more likely to be brighter than groups which valued brawn more than brains.’

And in case the brawn in the movement still doesn’t get it, Griffin patiently explains that
‘The neo-Nazi “global Jewish conspiracy” line also triggers a Pavlovian PC reaction among most educated gentiles as well. Most journalists are not directly ordered to write or to bury specific stories, they just know the kind of things that can and cannot safely be said, and inevitably they also reflect the opinions of the wider society of which they are a part.’

And although he’s wrong about there being a ‘huge peace movement in Israel’ the key point Griffin makes is unarguable (except amongst his own traditional supporters!):

We should oppose the war-mongers on grounds of what they do, not what they are. For simple propaganda reasons we should go out of our way to avoid criticism of neo-cons being portrayed as ‘anti-Semitism’ by pointing to the contra-indicators: The huge peace movement in Israel, the radical left Jews opposed to the war in Western countries, the role of other motivations and interest groups - oil, reconstruction contracts, and the vanity of individual politicians.'

What is one to make of this? The BNP as a party of the far-right is, above all, a party of imperialism and racism. It is, as Griffin makes clear, impossible to be the most clear and expicitly racist party if one’s main anger is directed against a section of Whites – the Jews – rather than Muslims who have become the main scapegoat for the war against Iraq. This is a circle which simply cannot be squared. Although much of the left even has not faced up to it, anti-Semitism is a marginal form of racism, a prejudice for the most part in Western Europe. That isn’t to say it isn’t dangerous when it rears its head but there is simply no comparison between what Muslims experience on the streets and what Jews go through. That is why one has the rednecks of the British press, people like Richard Littlejohn, shedding tears over ‘anti-Semitism’ at the same time as pillorying Palestinians as ‘pikeys’ a racist term of abuse for Gypsies.
What is perhaps most pathetic of all is when one of Atzmon and Rizzo's buddies bemoans the fact that the BNP isn’t anti-Jewish enough!

Tony Greenstein