Cal Tzedek: 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004

Friday, October 29, 2004

Uri Avnery on the Israeli Nation

Uri Avnery, one of the most eloquent voices of the Israeli peace movement, was scheduled to give a talk in Berkeley next week, which unfortunately has been cancelled. Avnery hopes to reschedule his talk for the spring, but for now, we'll have to make do with his words in print. One of his recent columns addresses the seeming paradox that "The government of Israel does not recognize the Israeli nation." You can read why here . You can also subscrive to the email newsletter of the Israeli peace group, Gush Shalom, which regularly includes Avnery's columns, by sending a message to .



Monday, October 25, 2004

Which side are you on?

American Jews, according to William Safire, appear to be suffering from an epidemic of false consciousness. While American Muslims, he writes, know “what side they are on” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a conclusion he draws from a recent poll showing that group’s overwhelming support for presidential candidate John Kerry, American Jews apparently don’t have their heads screwed on straight. Or something. Safire writes:

“Jewish American voters who differ with their Arab and Muslim compatriots, one might logically conclude, would seriously consider supporting the candidate who many Israelis believe has been their best friend in the White House.”

Not only does this statement suffer from the terrible logic of assuming that, if Arabs and Muslims take one position, Jews logically ought to take the opposite, Safire appears to have made a typo and substituted “many Israelis” where it should read “Ariel Sharon.”

Shockingly, at least for Safire, American Jews appear to overwhelmingly support Kerry, despite the fact that many American Muslims support him as well. His explanation for this apparent lack of clear thinking is that

“most Jewish Americans quite properly base their vote on issues like social justice, civil liberty, economic fairness and not primarily on what may be good for Israel”

Safire cleverly avoids the possibility that Bush’s presidency has not in fact been good for Israel, and that perhaps some of us American Jews may even realize that. Finally, if one’s vote is based on the principles of ‘social justice, civil liberty, and economic fairness’ at home, ought one not apply those values abroad as well?

I know who I’m voting for.



Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Tarazi's reply

In today's Haaretz, PLO legal adviser Michael Tarazi
replies to a previous Haaretz article by Avraham Tal which was replying to a Tarazi article from a couple of weeks ago. The debate is about the 1-state solution, and who is responsible for advocating it (Israel, with its "barrier" and settlements, or Palestinians, with their desire for "destroying" Israel).
Tarazi was a member of a panel sponsored by Faculty For Israeli-Palestinian Peace that spoke at Berkeley a couple of years ago, which I attended. Some (meaning, my dad) have described him as "Israel's worst nightmare," because he knows his stuff and is a very persuasive speaker. I'll bet we'll be hearing more from him in the near future, assuming he doesn't have an unexpected boating accident or find himself on the receiving end of an IAF missile or something.


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

On Peace Partnership

In tonight's vice-presidential debate, both Cheney and Edwards said that Israel has "no partner for peace," and both emphasized the failure of Arafat.

Now, I'm no big fan of Arafat, but perhaps the two gentlemen would like to consider this bombshell published this evening in Haaretz:

"The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's senior adviser Dov Weisglass told Haaretz, in an interview for the Friday Magazine....

Weisglass does not deny that the main achievement of the Gaza plan is the freezing of the peace process in a "legitimate manner." "That is exactly what happened," he said. "You know, the term `peace process' is a bundle of concepts and commitments. The peace process is the establishment of a Palestinian state with all the security risks that entails. The peace process is the evacuation of settlements, it's the return of refugees, it's the partition of Jerusalem. And all that has now been frozen.... what I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns. That is the significance of what we did."

Maybe it's true that Israel has no partner for peace, but this suggests that it hasn't exactly been bending over backwards looking for one.

Haaretz will publish the full interview with Weisglass on Friday.



Tuesday, October 05, 2004

As the dust settles

"B'Tselem has completed an initial investigation into the IDF operation in the northern Gaza Strip. The investigation reveals that from the beginning of the operation until this afternoon (Monday):

-75 Palestinians have been killed by IDF forces. This includes 31 civilians who took no part in the fighting. Among the dead are 19 children, ages 17 and under.

-The IDF has completely demolished some 55 houses in the eastern neighborhoods of the Jabaliya refugee camp.

-Some 50 additional houses have been severely damaged.

-Seven Palestinian neighborhoods in Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya and the Jabaliya refugee camp, home to some 50,000 people, are under complete siege. The water and electricity supplies have been cut off and food stocks are running out."


I never thought I’d see opposing torture become a controversial stance

A current bill in the House of Representatives (H.R. 10) contains provisions for ‘extraordinary rendition.’ According to the American Bar Assocation,

"These provisions would permit secretly transferring terrorist suspects to foreign countries known to use torture in interrogating prisoners. Extraordinary rendition not only violates all basic humanitarian and human rights standards, but violates U.S. treaty obligations which make clear that the U.S. government cannot avoid its obligations under international law by having other nations conduct unlawful interrogations in its stead."

Basically, the bill makes it legal for the U.S. to enable torture. Not only does the bill remove the current immigration provisions preventing the U.S. from deporting folks to their home countries if they would be subject to torture there, it would also, according to Amnesty International, give the Department of Homeland Security the authority

"to deport people to countries other than where they are citizens or residents if DHS believes deporting the person to his or her home country "would be prejudicial to the United States." The word "prejudicial" is not further defined. This vague authority would allow persons to be returned to any country, even ones in which they had never set foot."

More information:
Paul Krugman’s recent editorial in the New York Times, in which he writes “This would institutionalize a Kafkaesque system under which suspects can be sent, at the government's whim, to Egypt or Syria or Jordan”

Posts at Crooked Timber, where I first learned of this.

Representative Edward Markey is introducing an amendment to remove the provisions for extraordinary rendition. Please write your representative in support of his amendment.



How cute!

"Deportating Jews from anywhere starts the new Holocaust...not 'peace,' " declares DAFKA, the self-proclaimed "civil rights group" and seemingly-marginalized UCB student organization, as a byline for a piece of "news" or "commentary" (it's usually hard to tell which is which, if any are either, with them) entitled "The New Judenrat."

Now, lest we give Dafka too much credit, this does not appear to be an actual original creation; it is some rehashed propaganda from the Women in Green, romanticizing IDF Colonel Gadi Dorchler who says that "The pullout plan is extremely similar to the plan to deport Berlin Jews to the crematoriums." This, of course, refers to the Gaza disengagement plan, in which 7000 settlers will be asked nicely and given hundreds of thousands of dollars to move away from land which a). does not belong to them and b). will be unsafe for them once the IDF stops protecting them.

Now, unless I'm mistaken, these comments by Dorchler have become the basis for a police investigation; he could very well be guilty of incitement. Which is fine. I'm not going to criticize the Israeli government for taking very seriously some very inflammatory language, nor will I excessively commend them.

But it is telling that DAFKA, which shuns those who equate Zionism to Nazism or the IDF to Nazis (and they have every right to --Tzedek also wants nothing to do with such reprehensible rhetoric) proudly champions similar statements that even the Sharon government find too extreme.

Calling Israelis Nazis would be completely unacceptable from a left-wing group.

DAFKA calling Israelis Nazis, on the other hand, is a cute and original analogy, and better yet, it somehow protects innocent Israeli children from terror!



Monday, October 04, 2004

Hey, at least we'll have a choice

In case you thought the Bush adminstration's so-called "support" for Israel is grounded in a deep love for the Jewish people, this article reminds us who Bush is really working for. I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to the fun-filled choice between conversion and death, once Jesus returns.
- Gidon


Friday, October 01, 2004

Courage to Refuse

Courage to Refuse has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

I believe the way this works is that they are competing against a potentially unlimited number of nominees and will not necessarily make it past the recommendations of the Nobel Peace Prize winners who nominated them.

If they win, this would be a huge victory for the Israeli Peace Movement, for progressive Jews worldwide, for the Palestinians, and basically for human rights (which is not to say that there aren't many other people whose Nobelity would also be a human-rights victory). The members say that this will be a great victory for Zionism in general, and I certainly agree that a Zionism based on the highest principles of human rights is superior to a Zionism that is not.

However, when Tzedek held a Refusenik panel two years ago, one of the men who I believe was from Courage to Refuse said

"The group started with a very patriotic image, it was very important to say that we were all brave soldiers, competent and so on and so forth, and I think people get more mature as times go, and people see that it does not impress anyone, and you are being marginalized in a we learn to cooperate more with other groups and to deal less with the issue of images and just to struggle with whoever is willing to struggle...You're marked in a second as a traitor, so at least let's fight."

So, if what he said is any indication of the mindset of most refuseniks, the human rights of the Palestinians really are more important to the movement than the image of Israeli nationalism.

I'd like them to win.



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