Demonizing Israelis

Qabatiya, near Jenin 2:6:16 (AFP)

It’s politically unwise to get into demonizing Israelis, including Israeli soldiers involved in the occupation. The Palestinian proposal for a democratic, secular state where Jews & Palestinians will live as brothers & sisters presumes the ability of Israelis to be persuaded. That won’t be just through painstaking pedagogy & spiritual transformation but through the development of Palestinian political power against the state of Israel.

After Israel’s murderous invasion & carpet bombing siege over Gaza in 2014, the Israeli military reported a rise in soldier suicides. The figures given are likely fudged & they aren’t anything as massive as soldier suicides in the US military which are greater than combat deaths. Nevertheless, they are significant. Israeli military officials deny any connection between the barbaric military operations & the suicides because that would belie their claims about Israel being ‘the most moral army in the world.’

But we know from testimony gathered by Breaking the Silence, the Israeli anti-occupation group of soldiers & veterans, that distress among Israeli soldiers at what they did & what they witnessed is deeper & more widespread than reflected in the number of suicides. That’s why demonizing is so short-sighted. Putting aside the psycho, special forces troops, most Israelis weren’t raised to do monstrous things; most have the same human values as people round the world–except that they are bred in hatred for Palestinians & in Zionist mythology justifying colonialism. When they’re engaged in occupation, they find themselves doing things at odds with who they thought they were & perhaps in a peculiar way, they find themselves confronting the humanity of Palestinians.

It isn’t up to Palestinian solidarity activists to dispense contrition for human rights crimes committed nor to demonize soldiers. Our job is to build a movement that can grow Palestinian political power. That’s what BDS is all about. But we should take note that testimony gathered by anti-occupation soldiers & the suicide of soldiers reflects distress at Israeli policy & shows possibilities for political work among soldiers & vets. That’s only possible if they aren’t demonized & treated like pariah. That doesn’t mean sweet-talking around war crimes; it means not giving up on Israelis because troubled veterans are a weak link that can be politically organized to build Palestinian political power.

Photo is Israeli soldiers in Qabatiya, West Bank, pointing assault weapons at unarmed Palestinians. How Palestinians under brutal occupation deal with Israeli troops is for them to decide.

(Photo from AFP)

How is the US government really run?

Refuee family at Grk-Mac border (REUTERS:Marko Djurica) Mar 9 2016

The presidential elections raise the question of how the US government is run. The social studies catechism teaches all that stuff about three branches: judicial, legislative, executive. They don’t mention Wall Street, lobbyists, think tanks, special advisers (like Kissinger), or other ways the oligarchy intervenes to make sure their interests are best served.

How otherwise do we explain Obama, elected because he promised the moon but who hasn’t come through on a single pledge? It’s a hard thing to own up to, but the president doesn’t run this country. The monied interests are not so reckless with their international investments that they would put a rookie like Obama in charge. He has “advisers.”

People want to believe if Sanders becomes president (file that under fat chance), he’ll be easier to pressure–though it’s something of an insult to their own man to say he’s so wishy-washy, so uncommitted. Is lily-livered what you’re looking for in a president? Enough with the pipe dreams. Sanders knows exactly how this country is run & has long-since made his accommodations with it.

Starry-eyed naiveté is understandable in youth but those who were part of pressuring presidents like Nixon in the Vietnam era or Reagan in the 1980s, when we massively opposed the US in Central America, know well that all of them are subject to pressure if enough people mobilize against them. We know that partially from the Pentagon Papers. We know it full well from history.

Mass mobilizations are how revolutions are made. So the ruling elite at all times gauge their options in relation to how much they can get away with & how much active opposition there is. If elected, Drumpf isn’t going to bring the onset of fascism to the US even if he wants to. That is not how fascism develops; that is not how the US is run.

If things change in the US (& they must) in a progressive direction, it will be based on principled politics, not expedience. Expedience is what got us to the mess we’re in now with endless wars & massive refugee crises. Principled politics call for action to defend human & democratic rights & to oppose their monstrous wars. Therein lies the rub because it is easier to do nothing & vote a chimera than it is to take action to end what we cannot allow.

Whoever is elected, the only way forward is to take our place with millions of others in defending justice here & around the world.

(Photo of refugee crisis as a result of expedience. By Marko Djurica/Reuters)

Indian female fighter pilots not an advance for women’s rights

Indian women fighter pilots (from zeenews.India

These are India’s “first batch of female fighter pilots.” There’s a militarist trend in journalism promoting the notion that women in elite military units are a sign of women’s advancement. They made a spectacle of the first Muslim woman fighter pilot & when women trained for US special forces.

There’s nothing laudable or progressive in training a handful of women to bomb or terrorize other people. That is no measure of women’s progress but of tokenism & giving a softer, gentler face to military barbarism. The only measures worth a patoot are the elimination of sweatshop economics, the end of violence against women, & the end of discrimination in every sphere of economic, political, & social life.

We’re going to hear all that elitist feminist baloney played out in campaigning for Clinton as the first woman president. It isn’t good enough she’s female. So were Margaret Thatcher & Indira Gandhi; so is Angela Merkel. They only prove that gender is not the decisive question but politics are & which side you are on.

(Photo from Zee News India)

Palestinians on crime spree across Israel or hunted down by Israeli police?

Jaffa stabbing scene ((REUTERS:Amir Cohen) Mar 9 2016

Media today is bursting with headlines like “Palestinian kills US tourist in stabbing spree on Tel Aviv boardwalk” & “US student dead & at least 13 others injured in attacks across Israel.” The problem with the reporting about three separate attacks is the dearth of information. There’s all sorts of extraneous filler in the articles about what rightwing Israeli politicians had to say; that Joe Biden’s family (he is visiting the immediate area for talks with Shimon Peres) were dining on a nearby beach; & a non sequitur about Netanyahu’s alleged snub of Obama.

The incident of particular interest is the Palestinian man, now reportedly shot dead by Israeli police, who stabbed 10 people in a “stabbing rampage.” Some reports say he was running down the boardwalk; other reports say “he was running along the Tel Aviv beachfront stabbing pedestrians & motorists stuck in traffic.” We’d just like to know how one person could manage to stab so many people since the logistics seem improbable; stabbing someone takes quite an effort. Did he just brandish a knife or actually skewer them?

The Guardian-UK says “Initial accounts of the attacks were confused & contradictory.” You bet your sweet ass they were. They still are–even within the same article in the Guardian. What’s curious about that is the Israeli police are usually media’s only source of information. Can’t the police get their story straight?

According to the Guardian, the assailant, who was shot dead trying to flee, was later identified as a 22-year-old Palestinian man from Qalandiya. They know his age & where he’s from, but not his name? There was apparently another incident in occupied East Jerusalem where a Palestinian “gunman opened fire on Israeli police” before being shot dead by police. Other than his name, Fouad Tamimi, & age (he was 25), there is no other information. The third incident of an alleged stabbing in Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv isn’t described at all. What kind of sloppy-assed reporting is that!?

The Guardian (which functions as the rightwing Jerusalem Post’s European edition) says these latest attacks ‘come after months of violence in Israel & the Palestinian territories in which 183 Palestinians & 28 Israelis have been killed since October.’ Well we’d sure like them to explain the differential there because the rate of Palestinians killed is nearly seven times that of Israelis & yet all the news coverage is about that alleged “stabbing Intifada.” Stabbing Intifada, my ass! There is a pogrom against Palestinian youth which media refuses to report.

We would like to know about those 183 Palestinians killed. Israel also claims 121 of them were knife assailants. We want reports on the circumstances & the forensic results along with an explanation for why Israel won’t return the bodies to Palestinian families for respectful burial. But as we see, vague allegations better serve propaganda.

We regret if Palestinian youth actually did use a knife or gun because those Israelis injured are not the ones calling the shots in Israel. But color us skeptical as all get-out until we get confirmation from Palestinians. If Israel can’t provide names & forensic details that can be verified, the assailants could just as well be Israeli agents provocateur. It’s been done before.

Photojournalism on these three alleged incidents are also scanty & journalistically embarrassing.The caption to this photo (the typos are all theirs) says: “An Israeli policeman clear the spot where, according to Israeli police spokesperson, at least 10 Israelis were stabbed, in the popular Jaffa port area of Tel Aviv, Israel March 8, 2016.” Were they all stabbed on that spot?

We are undaunted in our support for Palestinians. As in Kashmir, the criminals are not those who resist occupation; the criminals are the occupiers.

Build & honor the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel (BDS) & demand no US aid of any kind to Israel.

(Photo by Amir Cohen/Reuters)