DSA votes for BDS. NYT’s Jerusalem bureau chief says they self-censor and Israel practices apartheid.

90% of the delegates to the Democratic Socialists of America 2017 convention voted to adopt Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). The text of the resolution read:

1. Democratic Socialists of America declares itself in solidarity with Palestinian civil society’s nonviolent struggle against apartheid, colonialism, military occupation and for equality, human rights, and self-determination.

2. Democratic Socialists of America responds to Palestinian Civil Society’s call by fully supporting BDS.

3. Democratic Socialists of America affirms that any political solution to the ongoing crisis must be premised on the realization of basic human rights, including all rights outlined in the BDS call.

4. Democratic Socialists of America condemns all efforts to deny the right of Palestinian in the United States and their allies to free speech, assembly and academic freedom.

— Twitter

Following the vote, DSA has come in for criticism from various angles. The Jerusalem Post criticized DSA for holding the vote on Saturday. The pro-Likud ‘zine Tablet said the DSA was a “disgrace” that had “descended into anti-Zionism”. The JTA suggested the DSA were allied with the Palestinian-American activist (and co-organizer of the Women’s March) Linda Sarsour and this was a bad thing.

Yet, as this thread expertly demonstrates, much of the criticism of BDS is exactly what was leveled against proponents of boycotting South Africa’s apartheid regime.

Meanwhile, Jodi Rudoren, formerly the New York Time’s editor in Jerusalem admits they censor opinions and reporting due to attacks and pressure from pro-Israel organizations.

The former New York Times bureau chief in Jerusalem Jodi ­Rudoren has admitted to “defensive writing” after several “Twitter campaigns” against her. Rudoren says this was “to protect ­myself and keep me focused on the essence of what I’m trying to do instead of these distractions but you could totally get out of hand with this”. She says there is not a healthy debate in the US about Israel because of the power of pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC.

The interviews are contained in Balcony Over Jerusalem, in which journalists tell how they come under attack from pro-Israel groups if they ­report what they see in Israel and the West Bank.

The New York Times’ Rudoren says that because the occupation of the Palestinians has gone on for so long — 50 years — it has started to look “a lot like apartheid”. While Rudoren was talking about the situation for Palestinians in the West Bank, she also addressed the plight of Palestinians in Israel — the so-called Arab Israelis. She says: “I actually think the issue of apartheid is more relevant to how Arab Israelis are treated within the framework of the country (Israel).” — www.theaustralian.com.au/…

Jonathan Cook writing in Alternet covers the relentless campaign to influence coverage of Israel by pressuring journalists, editors and publishers. His analysis is very thorough, discussing the ways in which individual journalists end up self-censoring, and how editors cave in by developing “guidelines” .  He also examines more subtle influences, for example the NYT’s tacit policy to only appoint Jewish reporters as heads of the Jerusalem division. Rudoren’s predecessor actually had children serving in the IDF. One of the most powerful testimonials is from Clyde Haberman, whose byline should be familiar to all:

Here is another veteran NYT correspondent, Clyde Haberman, telling Lyons that the lobby’s “non-stop assault” on the paper’s Jerusalem correspondents has made the posting a poisoned chalice. Few want it, says Haberman.

We’ve had decades of correspondents that, no matter how talented they are or how many Pulitzer Prizes they have to their name, always end up being accused of being either anti-Semites or self-hating Jews; at some point, this seeps into the DNA of the newspaper. This is what you can expect if you go there—to have your integrity hurled back in your face every single day,” he says.

Pause for a second. Unless I have wildly misunderstood the implication of “seeping into the newspaper’s DNA”, a leading journalist at the U.S. paper of record has just suggested that for decades its reporters and editors have toned down their coverage to avoid run-ins with the Israel lobby. As near as he dare, Haberman has conceded that you won’t learn the full truth about Israel and Palestine from the NYT. 

— www.alternet.org/…

As military occupation enters 51st year, Trump administration wants UN to stop “bullying” Israel

What’s the difference between a Bantustan and Area A?

Palestinians have lived for 50 years under a military occupation by a foreign government and there are no signs this will end anytime soon. The Israeli government has been busily dispossessing Palestinians as individuals and as a nation of land and resources. Three generations of Palestinians have lived the bulk of their lives (five decades) with their human and civil rights curtailed by the Israeli government.

The Trump administration believes the UN is “bullying” Israel by condemning these policies:

[US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki] Haley arrived in Israel to a hero’s welcome one day after warning that the United States might pull out of the U.N. Human Rights Council unless it changes its ways in general and its negative stance on Israel in particular.

Haley, a former governor of South Carolina who often is touted as a future Republican presidential candidate, has focused heavily on what she calls the mistreatment of Israel during her six months at the United Nations. Her efforts have made her a darling of Israeli leaders, and have endeared her to conservative pro-Israel organizations in the United States. […]

“You know, all I’ve done is to tell the truth, and it’s kind of overwhelming at the reaction,” she said. “It was a habit. And if there’s anything I have no patience for it’s bullies, and the U.N. was being such a bully to Israel, because they could.” — WaPo

Israeli policies towards Palestinians have many parallels with our own treatment of Native Americans. There are other parallels to our history too. For much of the 20th century, towns across the US systematically excluded African-Americans from living there.

What Palestinians are allowed to do in the settlements is work, assuming they can pass a rigorous security screening and a get a permit. But the workers — mostly in construction and service jobs — are not allowed to drive in, and they can’t spend the night. During my two weeks in the West Bank, I learned that the best way to estimate the number of Palestinians working in a given settlement at any moment is by counting the cars parked just outside the gate. This underscored one of the ironies of the settlements, which is that Palestinian hands built most of them: their houses and synagogues, their community centers and shopping malls. — Washington Post

Palestinians are often building these houses for settlers on public Palestinian lands which the Israeli government or settlers have encroached on. In other cases, Israeli officials will condemn private Palestinian lands, establishing “nature preserves” which then turn into gardens or farms for Israeli settlers.

Across Israel proper, housing discrimination is pervasive and various types of discrimination are codified into law. Most housing is largely segregated, with Jewish Israelis living in separate towns and communities, from their Arab Muslim or Christian fellow-citizens. Of course, in the occupied territories, the Israeli army enforces such segregation, just as law enforcement and vigilante groups did in the US.

Such discrimination and oppression is only possible if you successfully propagate a supporting narrative through schools and media. Gil Gertel writing in +972mag discusses how the Israeli education system has helped sanitize Palestinian suffering:

In the wake of the 1948 War, the list of people we forgot only got longer — refugees whom we continued not to see. This is what students read about that period from the “Artzi” textbook, published in 1950: “It is very good that we found a desolate and abandoned land. It is good that every piece of land we obtained is for us […] none of those who hate us (and their numbers are great) can complain that we took someone else’s land.

This book was published two years after the Nakba, when 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes. The Israeli government subsequently razed to the ground hundreds of villages to prevent the inhabitants from ever returning. The JNF began a campaign to plant “forests” to erase evidence of Palestinian villages. Palestinian houses in urban areas were reassigned to Jewish persons.

Students, however, were told it was a “desolate and abandoned land”. In a way, this is analogous to the stories we still tell our students about early European colonization of this country and the impact on Native American peoples.

This is what we teach our children, from a fifth-grade textbook: “In 1967, following the Six-Day War, the territories of Judea and Samaria, which were not yet in Israeli hands, came under its control. Today it is populated by both Arabs and Jews. The Arab population, according to estimates, is comprised of 1.5-2.5 million people, who live mostly in urban areas […] the Jewish population is closer to 400,000, who live in approximately 125 settlements.” (pg. 156). How idyllic: those territories “came under our control,” a real miracle. Jews and and Arabs living side by side — the Switzerland of the Middle East.

— @subirgrewal

Obama caricatured as Pharaoh in Israel; Palestinians don’t have the right to defend themselves

Haaretz reported on significant changes to the IDF’s military rule in the West Bank. Israel applies its penal code across the West Bank. Their discussion of self-defense under these laws particularly instructive.  As most of us know, during last summer’s bombing of Gaza (Protective Edge), various talking-heads saturated our TV screens and Op-Ed pages to pontificate on “Israel’s right to defend itself”. Self-defense, of course triggers a deep response among most Americans.

As many of you know, most of the West Bank is governed under military law, with the IDF engaged in the criminal justice business. Palestinians in much of the West Bank, have to deal with a justice system run by the Israeli military. Israeli settlers though, enjoy access to Israeli civilian courts.

To quote the article:

Central Command chief Nitzan Alon signed an order applying Israel’s penal code to Palestinians in the West Bank, hours before he left office earlier this week.The new order’s significance is mainly declarative. Parts of the Israeli penal code have already been adopted by military judges in the West Bank. And in general, arrest, detention and penal procedures are significantly harsher when applied to West Bank Palestinians than to Israeli citizens.

However, an aspect that will not apply to the West Bank is the so-called Shai Dromi amendment enacted in 2008, which exempts a person from criminal responsibility for an “act urgently required to ward off someone who breaks into his home, business or farm.”

This aspect would have let Palestinians ward off settler attacks without bearing criminal responsibility.

As we’ve been reminded repeatedly, Israel definitely has the “right to defend itself”. It seems this right can be delegated to West Bank settlers. But under no circumstance can it be extended to Palestinians.

In other news, the Israeli singer and provocateur Amir Benayoun released a song caricaturing Obama as Pharaoh on Youtube (complete with images of Obama with a stone Egyptian figure-head superimposed):

Screenshot from Amir Benayoun's video

Outspoken Israeli singer Amir Benayoun has released a Passover-themed song in which U.S. President Barack Obama is cast as biblical villain Pharaoh.[…]

In his latest offering, Benayoun calls Obama “the stupid president” and says that he will “never manage to wipe out the People of Israel.”

This is not the first time that Benayoun has taken aim at Obama. In 2014, he released a song titled “Jerusalem of Hussein,” in which he calls the American leader “determined and cruel” and accuses him of plotting to take Jerusalem away from the Jewish people.

and in case you’re wondering where you’ve heard Amir’s name before: President Rivlin cancels performance by singer who published anti-Arab song:

President Reuven Rivlin has canceled a performance by an Israeli star singer who caused controversy earlier this week after publishing an anti-Arab song describing a fictional Arab student as “ungrateful scum.”The song “Ahmed loves Israel,” sung from the viewpoint of the fictional Arab, continues with him saying that “one day, it’s true, you’ll turn your back to me and I’ll strike you with my well-honed ax.” The song was posted on Facebook.

Singer Amir Benayoun was scheduled to perform in a ceremony marking the expulsion and departure of Jews from Iran and Arab countries. The director general of the President’s office Harel Tubi told the ceremony’s organizers that “following the posting of Benayoun’s song, I would like to inform you that he will not be welcome at the President’s residence.”

Filasṭin Week by Week: A March for the Bedouin, A License to Kill & To Teach the Nakba

Haaretz reports a few dozen people, including members of the Arab-Jewish Joint-List have begun a Four-day march to Jerusalem for Bedouin rights

President Reuven Rivlin had promised to welcome marchers, but will be abroad when they arrive in Jerusalem to draw attention to the Negev’s unrecognized villages.A four-day march to Jerusalem to raise awareness of the plight of unrecognized Bedouin villages and to present a plan to recognize them began on Thursday morning as planned, even though President Reuven Rivlin will not be receiving the marchers in the capital, as they had hoped.

Although Rivlin had agreed to receive the marchers on Sunday at the President’s Residence, the march’s final destination, it was learned on Wednesday that he will be in Singapore for the funeral of former president Lee Kuan Yew.

This reminds me somewhat of the Salt March led by Gandhi. It will never gain as much attention because the number of people who would be engaged are bound to be so much smaller in I/P. I’ve discussed the forced relocation of Bedouin in a diary called A Modern Day Trail of Tears in Jerusalem and on Medium: What happened to Ben-Gurion’s Oasis in the Desert?.David wrote a diary back in 2013 on the treatment of the Bedouin within Israel: Israel to Raze Palestinian Villages (within Israel) & Displace its Citizens to Build ‘Jewish’ Towns

+972mag has a deeply personal story from Mya Guarnieri about how she (an American Jew from Florida with Israeli citizenship) found herself living in the West Bak. She discusses how porous the barriers between the West Bank and Israel are. I think this is a must read if you’re interested in Israel/Palestine and a good example of the kind of writing that +972 showcases. It’s called The long road to Bethlehem

After taking a job at a Palestinian university in the West Bank, Jewish journalist Mya Guarnieri feels that the center of her life is increasingly on the ‘other side’ of the Green Line. Israeli soldiers give her a hard time for being a Jew in ‘enemy territory’ and it becomes more and more difficult to live in Israeli society.[…]

He answered in Hebrew in kind, ken, yes, and showed me the pictures he’d taken on his phone. There was the guard tower, just meters away. There was the group that had gathered as soldiers attempted to enforce the new closure in the fence; there was the fellow holding the hole open; there were men helping an elderly woman and a young lady through. The parking lot; the bus. I was struck again by the absurdity of it all. Hafuch al hafuch al hafuch.

That’s not to downplay Israeli-imposed restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement. It’s more to point out that if someone wants to slip into Israel without a permit, they can. In fact, approximately thirty thousand Palestinian workers do it every day. But, in doing so, they risk injury, arrest, and death. In July of 2012, a Palestinian day laborer was killed when soldiers opened fire on a car full of workers that tried to pass a checkpoint without permits.

The International Solidarity Movement reports on  the IDF’s heavy handed response at a regular Friday demonstration in the village of Ni’lin: Ni’lin demonstrators met with senseless violence

On the 20th of March, during Ni’lin’s weekly Friday demonstration, Israeli occupation forces attacked protestors with about 20 rounds of tear gas canisters shot with the ‘venom’ tear gas launcher mounted on a military jeep (which can launch up to thirty rounds of tear gas before needing to be reloaded), countless rubber-coated steel bullets and approximately one hundred rounds of live ammunition. One Israeli activist was shot in the ankle and one Palestinian boy was injured in the leg, both with rubber-coated steel bullets. Many protesters suffered from tear gas inhalation.

In +972mag: License to Kill, part 3: Why did Colonel A. order the sniping of Ihab Islim?

Members of a family are standing on a balcony and chatting. The commander of IDF forces in the region orders snipers to open fire on them. One brother is killed, the other one loses an eye. The commander fails to account for the order in the investigation that ensues. The case is closed, and the commander is promoted. In the following months, other civilians in the region are killed in the exact same manner. No one is found guilty.[…] the IDF has admitted that an innocent person had been shot, and that the targeted sniping of 17-year-old Ihab Islim in his head was carried out without him having committed a crime.

Yet the Military Police has failed to find the shooters; an IDF video clip that documents the shooting and the preceding events; or the operations logs that could have shed some light on the events that transpired in Nablus on June 25, 2004.

Int’l Solidarity Movement: Resistance to the destruction of olive trees in Wadi Qana

Supporters, many from the nearby village of Deir Istiya, as well as locals and internationals, turned out in anticipation of soldier presence or settler provocation, but no conflict took place.In 2008 and 2011 farmers of Wadi Qana were issued with similar notices.  These removal orders were not carried out. In 2012 trees were removed without notice. Approximately 3,000 trees have been destroyed in Wadi Qana by settler attacks and by order of Israeli authorities.

Olive groves are a ubiquitous feature of Palestinian agriculture. Destroying them is a way of asserting authority over the land and indigenous uses of it. It is in keeping with other efforts like that run by the JNF, to plant stands of non-indigenous varieties, some of them on the ruins of former Palestinian villages.From Haaretz: UN report: 2014 saw the most Palestinians killed by Israel’s military since ‘67

Israeli security forces killed 2,312 Palestinians, most in the Gaza war over the summer. Roughly two-thirds were civilians.The number of Palestinian civilians killed by the Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip last year topped 1,500 — the highest number since the occupation began in 1967. By most other measures, the Palestinians’ lives under the occupation also took a turn for the worse, as reflected in the annual overview by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

This is being covered quite widely, including the Guardian, Al-Jazeera and YNet.+972mag: Hundreds mourn Palestinian youth shot dead by Israeli soldiers

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered to take part in the funeral of Ali Safi in the Jalazun refugee camp near Ramallah Thursday. Safi, 18, was shot with live bullets by Israeli soldiers during clashes near the refugee camp on Wednesday, March 18. He was taken to a hospital in Ramallah and placed in the ICU until he died on Wednesday night.

In Haaretz: When Zionist parties wooed Palestinian-Israeli voters

The early Israeli establishment allowed Arab citizens to vote and Zionist parties even courted their support. Today, however, the Arab vote is seen as a threat.[…]

Some American commentators rushed to link Netanyahu’s remarks to the Jim Crow South of the 1960s, when African-American participation in the political process was considered dangerous by white supremacists. This comparison rings even more poignant if we consider that at the same time as when African Americans fought against segregation, Palestinians in Israel were placed under what was known as the Military Government.

This form of martial law (1948-1966; not to be confused with the post-1967 military occupation and Israeli settlement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip) suspended many of the civil rights and legal protections that Israeli citizenship afforded those Palestinians who managed to remain in the state after 1948. There is, however, a fundamental difference between early Israel, the Jim Crow South – the early Israeli establishment still allowed the community it oppressed to vote and actually courted their electoral support.

Int’l Solidarity Movement: Continuing harassment of activists in Palestine

“We are not wearing vests like Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT) for example, which makes it easier for us to pass through the checkpoints. But they don’t like us either. Only a few days days ago one of us was arrested and held for seven hours for bogus reasons, and now he’s not allowed in the city for two weeks” ISM volunteer Franceska explains.In four different incidents within one week in late February, Israeli forces raided the ISM apartment without having a warrant or any legit reason. Franceska was in the apartment when the soldiers came:

+972mag: Distorting the facts of Occupation: Regavim’s attacks on the EU

Reports started circulating before Israel’s elections that Prime Minister Netanyahu had ordered the destruction of mobile structures distributed by the EU in Area C of the West Bank. This harks back to a report in November 2014 by the Israeli NGO Regavim, which draws a shocking parallel between the EU’s humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Area C and Israel’s building of settlements there.  Assuming that Israel’s settlements are legal under international law, Regavim accuses the EU of assisting the Palestinians in an illegal plan to take control of large parts of the West Bank.

Activestills.org: Solidarity with Palestinian farmers, Wadi Qana, West Bank, 20.3.2015

Palestinian and international activists hold a sign that reads, “Wadi Qana is for us”, during a solidarity activity with Palestinian farmers in the area, West Bank, March 20, 2015. On Sunday March 15th, Palestinians received an Israeli military order to uproot 123 olive trees in Wadi Qana, which is surrounded by seven settlements. According to OCHA maps, Wadi Qana is supposed to be annexed to Israel in order to create a path for the Wall.

Haaretz: Ex-Education Minister Piron backs teaching Nakba to all Israeli students

Shay Piron, education minister in the previous government, was quoted on Tuesday as backing the teaching of the Nakba – the Arabic word for “catastrophe,” which the Palestinians use to refer to Israel’s War of Independence – to all Israeli students.Piron’s remarks, in a recording broadcast by Israeli Army Radio, indicated that he supported teaching the Nakba story alongside what he called the “settler narrative.”

“In the bilingual schools in Misgav” – a city 45 minutes northeast of Haifa – “I was asked what I thought about teaching the Nakba to Arab students,” Piron, a member of the Yesh Atid Party, said.

“I answered that I opposed it. I support teaching the Nakba to all Israeli students. I don’t think that a student can reach deep in the Israeli educational system when 20 percent of the students have an ethos, a specific story, and he does not know that story.”

Israelis who wish to learn more about the Nakba have a number of sources they could use, including the iNakba app produced by Israeli NGO Zochrot (which has been working on this since 2002). And of course, S Yizhar’s seminal novella about an army unit expelling Palestinian villagers from the fictional Khirbet Khizeh has been an optional part of the Israeli curriculum for decades (though I have no idea how often it’s actually assigned).+972mag: Israeli army arrests 7 in action against E1 settlement

Palestinian, international and Israeli activists protested against Israeli plans to seize and build in the E1 area, which would cut off the northern and southern parts of the West Bank. Held on the same day as Israeli elections, the protest was aimed at attracting international attention to the progress of illegal Israeli construction and the planed displacement over 15,000 Palestinians and Bedouin communities living in 45 communities in the area.

United Nations OCHA-oPt: Weekly Highlights – March 17 – March 23

Israeli forces injured 21 Palestinians, including seven children, in various clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians. The most serious incidents reported in the West Bank, include ran eight-year-old child who was seriously injured when a soldier, with his rifle, hit the child in the eye while playing in proximity to clashes in Al Khader (Bethlehem); three Palestinians, including two children (14 and 15 years old), shot with live ammunition in Silwan; and a man who was shot with live ammunition in the back during clashes at the entrance to Al Jalazun Refugee Camp (Ramallah). Another three Palestinians were injured during clashes with Israeli forces next to the Gaza perimeter fence, east of Khan Younis.Two Palestinian attacks resulting in Israeli injuries or property damage were reported, including four people, two of whom are children, injured as a result of stone-throwing at an Israeli bus and damage to settlers’ houses as a result of a Molotov cocktail-throwing, both in East Jerusalem.

Israeli forces uprooted 492 trees and saplings planted by Palestinians next to the Majdal Bani Fadel (Nablus), Bidya (Salfit) and Adh Dhahiriya (Hebron) villages in Area C of the West Bank, on grounds that these areas were designated as “state land”. According to official data, over 99 per cent of “state land”, or public land, has been included within the jurisdictional boundaries of the local and regional councils of Israeli settlements, built in contravention of international law.

This is a roundup of news related to Filasṭīn with a particular focus on grassroots action and peaceful civil disobedience in the Occupied Territories and within the borders of Israel proper. The goal is to provide a bi-weekly update on the non-violent resistance movement.

Diplomatic negotiations and actions by armed resistance groups are covered quite widely by the mainstream press and in other diaries on DKos so they will rarely be included.

We use the term Filasṭīn, since that is the pronunciation preferred by Arabic speakers (irrespective of faith) of the pre-partition era for their land. The more familiar Palestine is the Hellenic or Roman variant. Filasṭīn refers to the geographic entity roughly encompassing Israel and Palestine. It is likely a cognate of “Philistine”, the name used in the Hebrew bible to describe a rival of the Jewish kingdom of that era.

The failure of the Evian conference and Likud’s insistence on a “Jewish State”.

Many see me as a pro-Palestinian voice on this site. A couple of recent conversations made me think about the Evian conference which I’ve only discussed in passing. There was a diary around  Helen Thomas’s retirement that mentioned Evian, but not much since. It deserves to be better known since it is a shameful episode and understanding it is critical to realizing the desperation and determination of the early Zionists to create a homeland that would serve as a permanent refuge for their people. It is crucial to understanding, and appreciating, the agony many feel over the deterioration or even demise of Israel’s Jewish character or Jewish majority. It is positively essential to the deep emotional connection many Israelis have with the idea of aliyah.

I cannot dismiss these concerns, and what happened at Evian has much to do with it. But first we have to talk quickly about the prelude.

Prior to World War I, much of Central Europe was a surprisingly cosmopolitan and diverse place. Under the Austro-Hungarian empire, professionals and merchants moved and settled across a broad swath of central Europe. Russia continued to experience pogroms and its institutions forced re-settlement and practiced harsh discrimination towards Jews. In Central Europe though discrimination was present, it was not as overt. Levels of international trade as a portion of global GDP were comparable to where they are today (partly due to colonial exploitation), and a global supply chain existed for many manufactured goods (as it does today for most). From many perspectives, the world looked quite tolerant and inter-connected. As it does to many today.

There is a real case to be made that our own interconnected world is just a thin, brittle veneer over deep, un-shakable tribal divisions that can flare up at any time. A subtext of exploitation, charged with race could be used by demagogues to embark once again on mass slaughter (as indeed we have seen in numerous episodes in Asia and Africa post World War II). If you look around you, there are places in the world (some in the Middle East) where things look quite horrific. As liberals we look for the humanity and good in all human beings, but we have to be aware of this criticism and acknowledge it as we work against such an outcome.

But back to Central Europe in the inter-war years. The Nazis acquire power in 1933 and begin implementing their campaign promise of racial purification. Zionists had already seen what was to come and frantically negotiated the Haavara agreement which offered to purchase German goods so Jewish emigrants could leave and realize some value, however small, for their property. In 1934, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Vienna, is shaken by shelling during the Austrian Civil War between various factions on the left and right, including fascist and Nazi elements (Patrick Leigh Fermor’s magnificent trilogy describes these incidents, which he witnessed). In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws are passed, Jews are no longer citizens, and Jewish life becomes untenable in Germany. The Nazi’s annex Austria (the Anschluss) in March 1938 and suddenly Jews are as persecuted in cosmopolitan, vibrant Vienna as they were in Germany.

Those who can, have been fleeing Central Europe through the 30s. This is possible for those with means and easier for those who have assimilated into modernist European society. The poor and those following traditional ways have limited opportunities.

It is in this context that FDR convenes a conference in Evian-les-Bains in France during early July 1938. The intention was to discuss what, if anything, could be done for Jewish refugees who faced limited opportunities to emigrate. The US still operated on the national origins formula which severely limited the immigration of many peoples, including Jews. *

Hitler made the following statement when informed of the Evian conference:

I can only hope and expect that the other world, which has such deep sympathy for these criminals [Jews], will at least be generous enough to convert this sympathy into practical aid. We, on our part, are ready to put all these criminals at the disposal of these countries, for all I care, even on luxury ships.

The national origins formula capped immigration at 30,000 a year from Germany/Austria. At Evian the US representative “magnanimously” made the entire quota available to Jewish refugees from those countries (though in practice it ended up being a bit higher). After the conference, Britain modified the refugee quota for mandate Palestine to permit 75,000 Jewish refugees a year to enter. It did not offer resettlement in its other colonies, though some Jewish refugees did find their way to India, and others made it as far as the diaspora community in China. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and much of South America explained their refusal to accept additional refugees by pointing to the depression. The tiny Dominican Republic offered to accept 100,000 refugees and set aside land for them but in the end only 800 refugees received visas and were re-settled.

In the end, the free world failed the Jewish populations of Germany and Austria. And it failed all other Jewish communities in Central Europe that swiftly found themselves subject to the same persecution as more nations fell to the Nazi onslaught. What sticks in many throats is that though Golda Meir was at the conference, she was not permitted to speak, only observe.

I’m for one state in Israel/Palestine, with a federal character and equal rights for all. It seems to me to be a difficult, but just and sustainable answer. In any such state, Jews will eventually be a slim majority or a sizable minority. The equilibrium state is likely to be very similar to Lebanon’s Christian minority. Israel/Palestine also has a 6-10% Christian/Druze population. Any such proposal has to overcome the objection that if the Jews do not have a homeland where they are a secure majority, the unthinkable is possible.

This objection is not just about a resurgence of a genocidal threat, which may sound far-fetched to many ears. It is also about the abject, shameful failure of the free, western world to provide a refuge at the exact moment when it was both necessary and possible.

And here’s the lesson for us on DKos. For liberals who idolize him, this is particularly distressing, because it was FDR. It doesn’t matter whether it was a failure of imagination, analysis or simply an unwillingness to exercise power. Nor does it matter that Poland and Romania demanded the same “right” to expel their Jews they saw the Nazis being offered, multiplying the number of possible refugees ten-fold to over four million. The fact is that FDR’s administration did not grasp the opportunity when it was presented. One of the most liberal administrations in American history, one we still hold as a lodestar in any discussion of social justice saw almost five million souls held in a vice and failed them.

I support one state in Israel/Palestine, with a federal character and equal rights for all. But it is a difficult cause to support given Evian (among many other events). It is difficult for me, as a gentile to support it given all that history. I understand how thoroughly impossible it may be for those who consider themselves a part of the Jewish people. It may be difficult to remember all this deep in a comment thread with those who support two-states or those who object to anything that would compromise Israel’s ability to defend it’s borders and further compromise its severely limited strategic depth. But let us all strive to remember the deep and true reasons for their views, and respect them.

* These racial quotas were not conclusively swept aside till LBJ’s administration and the 1965 Immigration reform act.

NYTimes Editors say US should support Security Council resolution on Palestinian state & 1967 lines

The NY Times has an editorial (this is not an Op-Ed, it is the entire Editorial Board) today titled Keeping Palestinian Hopes Alive:

Since negotiations seem impossible, President Obama has told Mr. Netanyahu that the United States would have to “reassess our options.” Obama administration officials say that could mean support for a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a sovereign Palestine along the pre-1967 lines that divided Israel from the West Bank and Gaza. At a minimum, the administration should not veto a resolution that is expected to be proposed by France and other permanent council members.

In recent years, peace proposals advanced by the United States and others have focused on agreed upon land swaps that would let Israel retain some settlements while compensating Palestinians with land that is reciprocal in quantity and quality. In a Palestinian state, security forces would be used only to maintain internal security and the rule of law. The two states would refrain from alliances that bring them into conflict. Palestinian refugees would have the right of return to Palestine, a limited number would be permitted to unite with families in Israel. Jerusalem would be open to all but also shared in some way.

The United States has long been Israel’s main defender at the United Nations, fending off political attacks and vetoing resolutions that criticize or punish Israel. While the United Nations has often been unfair to Israel, and the United States has to remain on guard against that, it should consider potential resolutions if they fault Israel fairly for building settlements or taking other steps that foreclose the possibility of a Palestinian state.

There is a sop to the Israel hawks:

A clear Security Council statement in favor of a two-state solution would be an important benchmark. If the United States and other major powers quickly show commitment to that approach, they might be able to keep Palestinians from pressing a complaint against Israel in the International Criminal Court. The Palestinians, who will join the court on April 1, have long argued for an investigation of Israeli “war crimes.” Israel vehemently opposes action by the court, which would poison relations even more and alienate many Americans.

They are assuming the ICC will take the case, and that there is a real risk they will decide against the Israeli administration. Most of the legal analysis I’ve seen suggests the case is pretty clear cut against the settlements and the use of water and other resources from the West Bank. So my read is that there’s no way the ICC can avoid that issue (occupying powers are prohibited from utilizing resources, that’s basically to prevent pillaging).

I think the Editorial is a big deal since it means the liberal establishment including the Sulzbergers have lost patience with the Israeli leadership. They specifically point to many years of stalling and settlement building (which is not new). The open call for the US to support a Security Council resolution on Palestinian statehood is new (to my knowledge).

I sense is that the NY Times readership has shifted their stance over the past few weeks. I read the comments regularly. There used to be a lot of reflexive support for Israeli policy, particularly last year during Protective Edge. It has been minimal once the Iran-talks issue ramped up and Bib’s speech to Congress.

As an example, the top comment on the editorial is:

Robert Eller. 6 hours ago“The intent is not to impose a settlement but to encourage, in time, negotiations.”

And why should the intent not be to impose a settlement?

“Encourage, in time, negotiations?” Where have the NYT editors been for the last 67 years? It surely sounds like the Editorial Board would like to “Keep Palestinian hopes alive.” But that is all the Editors apparently want to keep alive.

It’s time to not only talk about, but bring about, a living Palestine.

+972mag: Herzog’s Anti-Arab Campaign, Bill Maher and the One-State Solution

For those of you who are unfamiliar with it:

+972 is a blog-based web magazine that is jointly owned by a group of journalists, bloggers and photographers whose goal is to provide fresh, original, on-the-ground reporting and analysis of events in Israel and Palestine. Our collective is committed to human rights and freedom of information, and we oppose the occupation.The name of the site is derived from the telephone area code that is shared by Israel and Palestine.

To my ears, it consistently has some of the most interesting and sensitive opinion coming out of I/P. Much of it resonates with me. I am also far more willing to credit their views because the collective has Palestinian members. Their views on contemporary Palestinian society are grounded in first-hand observations rather than the pre-judice engaged in by many other Israelis and Palestinians living in their segregated towns.

In many ways, the writing, themes and narratives remind me of our own country’s struggle with equal rights for American Indians, the Civil Rights Struggle and the Abolitionist movement.

For instance, Edo Konrad asks today – Why did we forget about Herzog’s anti-Arab campaign?:

The media, of course, rightfully panned Netanyahu for his remarks. But while Bibi’s racism was clear as day, it was Herzog’s utter indifference toward Israel’s Palestinian minority, not to mention the 47-year military dictatorship in the occupied territories, that received little media attention.In fact, the only time Herzog’s campaign really made an effort to spotlight Israel’s Arab citizens was in a video featuring IDF veterans who served alongside him in the prestigious Unit 8200, which is part of Israel’s vaunted intelligence corps. In the video, the veterans laud Herzog as someone who “understands the Arab mentality” and “has seen Arabs in all kinds of situations,” including “in the crosshairs.”

If that wasn’t enough, Herzog and the Zionist Camp also supported the disqualification of MK Haneen Zoabi from the elections, joining the chorus of far-right extremists who have been inciting against her for years. Perhaps Herzog hoped that by attacking Zoabi he would be able to steal some seats away from centrist parties, which lean to the right on security issues. In doing so, however, Herzog only proved that he is willing to delegitimize an entire public for the sake of a few votes.

I do not know whether Netanyahu or Herzog harbor a deep hatred for Arabs, or whether they simply know what brings in votes. What is clear is that Netanyahu, who took a page out of Meir Kahane’s book, was roundly criticized, while Herzog — who rubber-stamped the delegitimization of Israel’s Palestinian citizens — was mostly let off the hook.[…]

By warning against “buses full of Arabs,” Netanyahu crossed the line from Likud hawk to Marzel-type incitement. Herzog, on the other hand, remained strictly within the confines of “good taste” — and lost.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man concludes – No, Bill Maher, Bibi’s campaign was indeed racist:

Maher continued: “I think that would be a good analogy if America was surrounded by 12 or 13 completely black nations who had militarily attacked us many times, including as recently as last year. Would we let them vote?”[…]

“I don’t know,” Maher continued. “When we were attacked by the Japanese we didn’t just not let them vote, we rounded them up and put them in camps.”

And finally, Yonatan Amir says – It’s time for a one-state solution:

There is no use convincing the Jewish public to support the two-state solution, especially when over 500,000 settlers live beyond the Green Line and there is no guarantee that a Palestinian state will not be the source of terror against Israelis. The only way forward is to grant full equality to all.

Every time I say that the two-state solution is no longer realistic, and that we need to think about new approaches to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, center-left voters respond with anger, condescension and pity. They claim that this is a far-fetched idea, not to mention dangerous and cruel (!) — an idea that proves the desire to destroy the State of Israel, and is disconnected from the will of the “sane Jewish majority.”Let’s start with a reminder: the new Knesset includes 107 members belonging to Jewish parties. Seventy-eight of them oppose the two-state solution, and are divided between those who have no qualms about their stances (Likud, Jewish Home, Kulanu, Shas, United Torah Judaism and Yisrael Beiteinu), and a minority that talks about a solution but creates obstacles to ever achieving one (Yesh Atid). On the other side we have the supporters of two states: five MKs from Meretz and 24 from the Zionist Camp. All in all, 29 versus 78.

These are the statistics. We aren’t talking about a difference of 2-3 seats that could make a difference in the future, not a “majority,” not “sane,” no “support” and no “solution.” The majority of Israelis oppose a two-state solution. Welcome to the negligible minority.

Even if we assume that we can convince a large percentage of settlers to evacuate the West Bank, and assuming the Israeli economy will be able to deal with the price, and assuming that a state that was unable to take care of thousands of Gaza evacuees will be able to take care of hundreds of thousands of evacuees from Judea and Samaria, and assuming that both sides will agree to allow visits to each other’s holy sites, and assuming the Palestinians will be satisfied with a demilitarized 21 percent of their historic homeland, and assuming that they will agree to give up on the right of return, and assuming we find a solution that will reconnect Gaza and the West Bank, and assuming that the agreement will be accepted by the majority of Palestinians (and not just a handful of suits in Ramallah). Even if we assume all these to be true, after Oslo and the disengagement, who can guarantee that missiles won’t strike central Israel a month after an agreement is signed? The Zionist Left has no good answer beyond its belief that things will eventually work out. So is it really a surprise that so few buy their plan?As opposed to the Zionist Left, the Right actually understands that the Palestinians and their demands aren’t going anywhere. The problem is that the Right doesn’t offer any logical plan to deal with the situation. As a result, what is called “Israeli policy” today is nothing more than a hysterical combination of Netanyahu-style paranoia and childish, folksy behavior à la Naftali Bennett. What we end up with are mantras about maintaining Israeli security alongside infantile slogans such as “the eternal people do not fear a long road.”

Most of the settlers are far from the violent messianism of Kahane. They came to the settlements because of their belief in God or settling the land, a desire for better quality of life, or simply the option to buy a home for a decent price. We can disagree with them, but we need to start learning how to work with what we’ve got. Speak to the average settler about evacuation because “it is the decent price to pay so to make it better for all of us,” and they will slam the door in your face. Speak with them about equality for the Palestinians they meet every day, and you will find the beginnings of cooperation.

Instead of organizing conferences where people mingle and discuss ways to divide the land, a Left that wants to have political influence must work with the Right to advance equal master plans in Arab villages. Instead of entrenching ourselves in its comfort zone, it must work with people and organizations that promote dialogue and coexistence.Instead of chasing after the well-respected general turned successful arms dealer who can explain that stopping negotiations on a two-state solution only isolates Israel and harms it economically, it must join those on the Israeli Right and the Palestinian Left in order to advance equality in the workforce and education. Instead of trying to sell the Right on fantasies of dividing the land, which are destined to fail, it must work with it to bring about one state with equal rights for all residents on both sides of the Green Line.

This move will not abrogate Palestinian national aspirations. It will not put an end to either Jewish or Arab terror and will not solve all of Israel’s essential problems. But it will help build a more stable and fair infrastructure based on democracy and equality, which so crucial for the existence of a healthy society.

Amir’s is a hard-headed pragmatic analysis. I tried to write about the one-state solution in human, personal terms yesterday. We’ve been having a one-state vs. two-state discussion on this site for some time (perhaps mostly instigated by me).

I used to believe in a two-state solution as well.  But I stopped seeing it as the only game in town a number of years ago. My own rough-sketch view of how it might work is in this comment from a while ago. It’s a phased approach over 18 years.

I’ve been reading analysis and advocacy for a single, bi-national, federal, secular state for the past decade. I’ve looked at it with a critical eye (after all, I had to be persuaded too), and I find it difficult to refute the logic of its inevitability, I find it virtually impossible to deny the inherent justness of a single state with equal rights for all. That is what we have in the US for the most part. We continue to struggle towards a more perfect union. And perhaps it is naive, but this is the sentiment I think Israelis and Palestinians will have to embody to succeed:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

That is an enormous demand, perhaps greater than most men and women can meet. But what alternative is there?

Lastly, believe it or not, Palestinians and settlers in the West Bank can talk like neighbors.