Monday, December 29, 2008

YNetNews: Our speech at the UN

Original Link

Assaf Wohl presents Gaza operation speech he wrote for our United Nations ambassador

By Assaf Wohl

Members of the United Nations,

Democracies, dictatorships, republics, and the honorable secretary-general:

Within a few hours, media outlets in your countries shall present horrific photos of blood, fire, and rubble from the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians will be screaming, in front of the cameras, about the massacre undertaken by the State of Israel. Initially, you may show understanding for our operations in the Strip, yet once the photos of wounded civilians reach you, you shall press us, as is your custom, to stop defending ourselves.

The first signs of this phenomenon can already be seen. Calls to “end the violence” from across the world are being heard loud and clear – yet they are only being heard now, after years of violence, and after Israel finally decided to respond. The European Union already rushed to declare that it condemns Israel’s “disproportional use of force.” Several news networks have brought together panels whose members are scrutinizing the law books at this very moment in order to ascertain whether the Jewish State violated some international law.

I do not intend to deal with the question of where were these condemners and critics for the past seven years, when Hamas’ murderers set the timers of their rockets to coincidence with the end of the school day in Israel, because of a declared aim to kill as many children as possible. The question we should be discussing at this time is as follows: Why do the countries of the world and global media outlets obsessively engage in strict criticism that is only directed at Israel? After all, there is not even one country out there that is required to adhere to the moral criteria which the world demands of us – of us of all people, the ones who as opposed to the rest of the world face threats of extermination.

Our Arab neighbors are well familiar with this double standard vulnerability. On their part, they are not bound by any kind of moral code. And so, they learned to exploit the international strictness towards Israel. A long time ago, they already understood that they cannot face the State of Israel on the battlefield. Indeed, when it comes to photographs and videos, they boast uniforms and weapons, yet once the fighting gets underway, they are quick to take off their uniforms and assimilate among women and children used as human shields.

They also make sure to place their arms depots in hospital basements and to fire rockets at population centers out of schoolyards. Their great hope is to elicit an Israeli response that would unintentionally hurt a few children. Once that happens, they will wave their bodies before the cameras and cry out to the world for help. This was the case in Lebanon, and this may happen tomorrow in the Gaza Strip.

Easing Europe’s conscience
The states demanding that Israel adhere to certain moral standards do not even dream of asking the same of her enemies. After all, we are dealing with theocracies and dictatorships, where homosexuals are publicly hanged, where women are regularly stoned for undermining their “family’s honor,” and where children suspected of theft have their arms severed. What do these states have to do with the value of human life? We should therefore ask representatives of global opinion: Be honest with yourselves - Do the lives of humans being butchered daily in Iraq, Afghanistan and Darfur arouse you into similar action? Reality indicates this is not the case.

My answer to the question regarding the obsessive preoccupation with the actions of the Jews is purely sociological. Many of you, the shapers of public opinion, and mostly the Europeans amongst you, are interested in easing your conscience: If only can only show that the Israelis-Jews are not so moral or innocent, perhaps they deserve everything you did to them before they were able to establish their state? After all, here they are, occupying and butchering the poor Palestinians; they are certainly no better than us!

To that end, you are willing to help out the lowliest terrorists. Therefore, you bought into their slanderous Mohammed al-Dura tale, and therefore you will rush to buy into various blood libels in the coming days. Those who launch missiles and mortar shells into kindergartens know that they will always enjoy a protective umbrella from you. They draw their self-confidence from the intolerable ease with which they enlist your public opinion in their favor.

Therefore, you would do well to think twice before you move to stop the punishment they lawfully deserve. After all, you are the only lifesaver that can spare this radical terror group the measure of justice hovering above it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

IAF strike on underground Qassam rocket launching site

From Internet Haganah:

Note the abortive flight of a rocket after the strike.

LGF: Flying Pig Alert: Egypt Blames HAMAS

From LGF:

As Israeli forces prepare to enter Gaza on land, and warplanes continue to attack Hamas targets from the air, the Foreign Minister of Egypt is blaming ... Hamas?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Representative from Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood being hosted by UCI Academic Divisions

Hat Tip: An alert member of the UCI Faculty Family

The UCI History Department, MESSI, and two UCI research centers are bringing to campus a representative from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

Click here for a selection of quotations from the leadership of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood showing their support for violence.

Original Link from UCI School of Social Sciences

Title: Religion and Democracy in the Middle East
Office: International Studies
Event Date: 10/8/2008 - 10/8/2008
Details: The Department of History, Middle East Studies Student Initiative (MESSI), Center for Research on International and Global Studies (RIGS), and Center for Global Peace and Conflict Studies (CGPACS) present:

"Religion and Democracy in the Middle East: A New Generation of the Muslim Brotherhood Takes the Stage"
with Ibrahim El Houdaiby, leading young member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Cairo

Wednesday, October 8, 2008,
1:00-2:30 p.m.
Humanities Instructional Building, Room 135

El Houdaiby will discuss the history and current positions of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the situation of democracy in Egypt today, the rise of a new generation of secular and religious
cyber-activists, the challenges and successes they've encountered in struggling for democracy, and the role of U.S. policy in furthering or stifling democracy in the Middle East.

Ibrahim El Houdaiby is a leader of the emerging generation of political and social activists associated with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest religiously-founded group of its kind in the Middle East. He is a board member of, the Muslim Brotherhood's Official English Website. A graduate of the American University in Cairo, he holds a B.A. in political economy, and is currently working towards an MA in Islamic Studies at the High
Institute of Islamic Studies in Cairo. He is a freelance columnist and researcher, with published articles and research papers in Arabic and English periodicals and journals. His Arabic works were published on,, Weghaat Nazar Monthly, Contemporary Muslim Quarterly, Al Badeel Newspaper and Al Dostoor Newspaper. His English works were published in th Guardian, Daily News Egypt, Jewish Daily Forward, World Politics Review,, Conflics Forum and CEPS.

This event is free and open to the public. For further information, please contact Mark LeVine, 949.824.8304.

A selection of quotes from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leadership showing support for violence

This is a selection of quotes - I will be adding more as time permits.

From MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute):

Leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Sheik Mahdi Akef: We Are Ready to Send 10,000 Men to Palestine, But It Is the Egyptian Government that Should Arm Them

Video Clip

Following are excerpts from an interview with Sheik Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef, Leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, which aired on Al-Hiwar TV on November 30, 2007.

Interviewer: During the Israeli aggression against Lebanon, you said that the Muslim Brotherhood was prepared to arm ten thousand young men, and to send them to Lebanon in order to support the resistance. Does this apply to Palestine too?

'Akef: This applies to any country under occupation. One of the principles of the Muslim Brotherhood is to rid the Arab and Islamic nation of any foreign rule. The Muslim Brotherhood must support all the forces of resistance in the Arab and Islamic world.

Interviewer: From where will they get the weapons?

'Akef: I don't know. I was talking about men, not weapons. I said we would recruit ten thousand men...

Interviewer: Armed men...

'Akef: No, you added the word "armed." The government must arm these people. When I fought in Palestine, the government knew about it. The government trained and armed us. As you know well, the military commanders worked with the Muslim Brotherhood. When we fought the English in 1951 in the [Suez] Canal, the government knew about it. We would undergo weapons training within [Al-Azhar] University.

Leader of Muslim Brotherhood Mahdi 'Akef: Arab and Islamic Countries Should Obtain Nuclear Technology "For Military Purposes"

Video Clip

Following are excerpts from an interview with Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef, Head of the Muslim Brotherhood, which aired on Al-Alam TV on May 14, 2006.

Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef: The Western world - American and Europe - is not fighting Egypt but Islam. They do not want Islam to survive. Therefore, whoever protects Islam is fought against.

The Arab and Islamic countries suffer from severe backwardness, and the Western world wants to make them even more backward. It does not want these countries to progress at all.


The Muslims are required to remain backward in all fields, not only the nuclear field. All fields of advanced modern technology are closed to the Arabs and Muslims - let alone the nuclear field.

Is it not the duty of all countries to have nuclear technology for peaceful purposes? Even if it is for military purposes... Doesn't America have this? Doesn't Israel have this? Doesn't Europe have this? Are all the countries entitled to this, except for the Arabs and Muslims? Brother, this is illogical, inconceivable, and unjustified.

From, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's official English language website:

Akef: How Can We Support Hamas
Wednesday, March 1, 2006
Hamas in the middle of a storm, how do we support it?

A Message from Mr. Mohammad Mahdi Akef – Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood

In the name of Allah; and peace and blessings be upon His messenger and his proponents.

Resistance is the Consience of the Ummah[Editor's note: "resistance" is the Palestinian's way of stating support for attacks targeting not just the Israeli military, but also deliberately targeting innocent civilians]
Palestinian resistance is the conscience and dignity of our Ummah. It gave life to the Ummah, and revived its weak hope. It frustrated the Zionist project that targeted the heart of the Ummah, not Palestine only. It forced the whole world to recognize the Palestinian people after harshly denying their existence. As a result, the Ummah protected it; and the people supported it sincerely. Had it not been for hindrances and obstacles set up by the governments, thousands and may be millions desiring to liberate the land, freeing sanctities, and restoring rights, would have joined the Palestinian resistance, indifferent to accusations from old and new colonization countries.

From, formed by Sheik Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood:

Qaradawi Criticizes Al-Azhar for Condemning Jerusalem Attacks
DOHA, Dec. 4 (IslamOnline & News Agencies) - A leading Muslim religious scholar in Qatar on Tuesday criticized Sheikh Mohammad Sayyed Tantawi, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, for his condemnation of "any attack on innocent civilians," in the wake of weekend attacks that killed more than 26 Israelis.

"How can the head of Al-Azhar incriminate mujahideen [fighters] who fight against aggressors? How can he consider these aggressors as innocent civilians?" asked Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, quoted by Qatari newspapers.

Tantawi, Sheikh of Cairo's al-Azhar University, the oldest university in the world, said Monday that Islamic Shari'ah law, "rejects all attempts on human life, and in the name of Shari'ah we condemn all attacks on civilians, whatever the community or state responsible for such an attack."

Tantawi was referring to both Israel and the Palestinians in his statement.

"We disapprove of all whose who justify attacks against children by reasoning that the children will join the army when they grow up."

These arguments "are odious. I reject them and they are contrary to the recommendations of the prophet Mohamed," said Tantawi, who was appointed by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"Has fighting colonizers become a criminal and terrorist act for some sheikhs?" Qaradawi asked. He added that "Israeli society was completely military in its make-up and did not include any civilians."

In Israel, "men and women are soldiers," added Qaradawi. "They are all occupying soldiers."

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Ynet: Miki Goldwasser: No More Gestures

Again, I sense my tribalism here.


10:21 , 08.07.08

No more gestures

Instead of releasing more prisoners, we need to get something for a change
Miki Goldwasser

On Wednesday I met with Noam Shalit, the father of abducted IDF soldier Gilad. Yet the very same day, we heard about Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ delusional request to our prime minister: As a goodwill gesture, Abbas asked that Israel release 150 prisoners, including Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Saadat, the man who planned Minister Rehavam Ze’evi’s assassination.

A gesture for what? I was crying after I heard it. The grave of my son is still fresh. The pain is terrible. Yet despite this, I cannot but think all the time about Aviva Shalit, Gilad’s mother, who needs to cope with oh-so-humanitarian Israeli gestures while her own son is held in cellars of horror.

Does PM Olmert also have Aviva Shalit on his mind? I hope that our own people will make it clear to our prime minister that we cannot make any more gestures. No more. We too want gestures.

For example, we want negotiations on Gilad Shalit’s release to be accelerated. For example, we want Gilad to be handed over to the Egyptians. For example, we want Gilad to be granted the basic humanitarian right of Red Cross visits. Don’t we deserve it?

We have made plenty of gestures already. Sick Gazans receive medical treatment in Israel, and Israeli doctors have been saving lives in Gaza without asking whose children they are saving. The children of Hamas men have also been treated. Yet somehow we do not get any gestures.

Therefore, Mr. Olmert, I hope that you come back to your senses and realize that even goodwill gestures must secure something in exchange. And if Mahmoud Abbas cannot give us Gilad Shalit in exchange for those gestures, then make no more gestures, Mr. Olmert.

Gilad Shalit comes first; only then you can think about Mahmoud Abbas.

Miki Goldwasser is the mother of fallen IDF reserve soldier Ehud Goldwasser

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Jerusalem Post: The real victims are...

Hat Tip: Israel Matzav

I am not completely sure how to respond to this.

Samuel Friedman's April 2002 article "Going Tribal" described to a T what I was feeling at that time. Those feelings have returned to a certain degree.

That's all I'll say for now.

Elizabeth Devorah Goren-Friedman, 54, who was killed in the murderous bulldozer attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Photo: Reproduction

The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

The real victims are...
Aug. 4, 2008

A person grows up and believes there are perpetrators and victims. He sees a person assaulted or hears about a rape or someone being abused, and he believes that in each incident there is a person who perpetrates the crime and a person who is the victim. Then one becomes more "enlightened" and learns that the victim is not as interesting as the perpetrator. The perpetrator's life story and mental state are deemed important in order to understand "why" he or she committed the crime.

Then one grows even older and wiser and comes to learn that when there is a crime, the actual victim is the perpetrator's ethnic or religious group, which will be viewed negatively because of what he did. In the end, one learns that the real victim in every crime is the wider society - particularly the group the criminal came from. This is how one grows up in modern Western society. In this world the "victims" of World War I, far from being all the soldiers or civilians killed, were the Germans because, as the aggressors, they were punished by the Versailles Treaty. The victims of the Holocaust were not the Jews who died but the Palestinians who saw the survivors sent to their homeland. The victims of the three recent acts of terrorism by Muslims from east Jerusalem are not the 11 dead and 70 wounded Jews, but the Palestinian Arabs who might lose work because of the actions of their countrymen.

I REMEMBER the first time I learned how this "true victimhood" works. I was a college student in Tucson, Arizona. Along with everyone else, on September 11 I awoke to news of the terrorist attacks. But a day later, when I began to read the local papers, I was astonished to learn that the true victims were not the 3,000 dead Americans but the nation's Muslims, because after 9/11 they would face increased scrutiny and perhaps even hate crimes.

There were soon marches in my city, not to condemn terror or support the families of the victims, but to reassure Muslims. Muslim human rights groups became wealthy off the notion that Muslims were victims.

As if to reinforce this notion, the BBC published a story on July 24 by Heather Sharp entitled "Palestinian workers fear backlash." There was no story about fears by Israelis of more bulldozer attacks; the only people who were truly victimized, it seems, were Palestinians. The story relates how Palestinian face "widespread discrimination" and how they "fear revenge attacks. They say stones were thrown at them as they worked near a right-wing neighborhood." (What exactly constitutes a "right-wing" neighborhood, according to the BBC, is not clear.)

It turns out, according to the BBC, that "in both attacks using construction vehicles, the motives of the attacker remain a mystery - local press reports suggested that the attackers had previous involvement with crime and drugs, and no links to militant groups have emerged."

There is no mention of the fact that both attacks were directed at Jews and Jews only.

ONE IS reminded of the closing scene of the film A Time to Kill (1996), when the white attorney of a black man accused of shooting three white rapists of a black girl in the American South is giving his closing statements. Realizing he cannot convince the white jury to acquit a black man, the lawyer asks them to imagine the raped girl was white.

In the case of these Jerusalem attacks one must do the same. One must ask viewers of the BBC to imagine that the drivers were settlers driving over Arab children. Then one must ask oneself, would the media claim that "settlers fear backlash"? After Timothy McVeigh bombed Oklahoma City, were we told that the real victims were right-wing militias and Christian conservatives who now feared a backlash?

The real victims of terror are the people who die and are injured. There are no other victims. We must therefore steel ourselves against the media's ever-present attempts to turn innocent Afghan children into the "real" victims of 9/11. The real victims of 9/11 were those who died that day.

Elizabeth Goren-Friedman, 54, Jean Relevy, 68, and Batsheva Unterman, 33, were the victims of the bulldozer terror attacks in Jerusalem. They and the 50 wounded. No one else.

The writer is completing his doctorate at Hebrew University.

This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1215331190732&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Copyright 1995- 2008 The Jerusalem Post -

Friday, May 09, 2008

Praise and commentary on the UC iFest 2008

I have to praise Hillel, Jewish Federation, Anteaters for Israel, AEPi, and Epsilon Phi for putting on the 2008 UC iFest. My only participation was as a spectator for the "Israeli" Shabbas Dinner, but this video shows what they did over the past week.

Educating the students, faculty, administration, staff, and local community members with the positive facts about Israel was a great step.

The hookah smoking and nightclub partying...well...I can only chalk it up to them being from a younger generation.

On Yom HaShoah, one of the powers-that-be in the campus Jewish leadership announced that the iFest events would include educating the Jewish students on questions to ask the anti-Semites that are coming to campus. I've talked to two different individuals who regularly spend time on campus, and both said that they did not see this.

Maybe it did happen, and both of them missed the event(s). If it did, great - I look forward to seeing the results of those efforts. But if that did not happen - if the education was merely a litany of positive facts about Israel - then I must express my concerns.

Positive facts are an important part of the process of combating anti-Semitism. But the MSU's speakers work from an irrational standpoint, and the positive facts are going to only get the students so far.

So, let me offer up some suggestions for the students. Check back on these pages, as I don't have time right now to link everything.

  • Myths and Facts - a most valuable resource for a lot of the schlock dished by the anti-Semites

  • Film or audio record the anti-Semites, whether they're indoors or outside; you have a right to do so as UCI is a public university, and as long you are doing it quietly and peaceably, nobody is allowed to stop you. Post the video online and then post a comment with a link to the video in the latest blog post such as this one, Red County, or Reut R Cohen's.

    Not that they won't try; rumor has it Nida Chowdhry, the UCI MSU's Public Relations Board member, as well as some blond burly Russian guy - tried to stop people from filming Wednesday night's Norman Finkelstein event. To paraphrase (perhaps quote) Lee Kaplan of Stop the ISM, there is no such thing as a secret society on a public university (read: UCI) campus. On top of that, only a judge can legally force you to erase any recording you make; so if the police, administrators, or the MSU tell you to erase a recording you've made, politely tell them "no". If you get arrested for quietly and peaceably recording events, or if the police confiscate your camera equipment and tamper with your recordings, the lawyers will have a hayday making mincemeat of the other side.

  • Know the campus policies - I'll post a compendium of applicable policies later, but for now, here's a link to the UCI implementation of the UC-wide policies and the UCI Principles of Community. We play by the rules, so there's no reason why the MSU or anybody from UCI shouldn't.

  • If you experience anti-Semitism, or know someone who has, you need to report it. First, if you or someone else is injured, call 9-1-1 ASAP or get to a medical facility.

    Next, go here to get a list of email addresses to contact; give details such as who was there (people involved as well as bystanders), when it happened, where it happened, what happened.

    Also, tell a leader in Hillel immediately. I have received assurances from a prominent board member that Hillel will make sure to do whatever it takes - filing complaints, following up, contacting attorneys - if the university administration does not take your complaint seriously. If the Hillel doesn't do its job - or if it tells you to suck it up or, even worse, calls you a troublemaker - call the ZOA at 212-481-1500 and ask to speak to Susan Tuchman.

    In case you're wondering why I'm so suspicious of Hillel and the UCI administration, it's because of my own experiences. I'm hoping this iFest event is evidence that Hillel has changed their ways.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Petition: "Renounce Hate at UC Irvine"

Please pass the above link around. We need as many signatures as possible - especially from UCI Faculty, Staff, Administration, and Students.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

MSU quietly posts announcement for their upcoming 2008 Anti-Zionism Week

Hat Tip: Reut R Cohen

Strangely, the MSU isn't touting their events too highly on their website. It's a tiny little link in the upper left hand corner of their website. Are they afraid of something?

Click on each thumbnail below to see the full-size version:

front side of flyer
back side of flyer

Here's the text on the back:

May 14th, 2008 marks 60 years since the beginning of the Palestinian tragedy, commonly referred to by Palestinians as the Nakba (Catastrophe). 60 years of dispossession, statelessness, and ethnic cleansing have created the largest group of refugees in the world; has left thousands of innocent men, women and children dead; and has shattered the livelihood of millions of people facing the scourge of the longest, most brutal occupation in modern history. This week, we will tell their story, we will mourn their suffering, and we will honor their resistance. This week, we will stand with them.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Al-Jazeera: Mark LeVine: Tragedy of Israel and Palestine

Hat Tip: A Friend

Link to article

SUNDAY, MARCH 09, 2008
8:15 MECCA TIME, 5:15 GMT
Tragedy of Israel and Palestine
By Mark Levine

The father of 18 days-old newborn Palestinian baby girl Amira Abu Asr, who was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers, mourns during her funeral on March 5 [GALLO/GETTY]

Americans have grown so accustomed to the disastrous dynamics operating between Israelis and Palestinians today that the failure to reach a peace deal amid the soaring death tolls assumes an aura of normalcy in their minds.

This reflects a situation we imagine ourselves to be powerless to help change and only adds to the tragedy unfolding in the Occupied Territories and Israel as well.

Today the world's attention has turned to the aftermath of the murder of eight students of an ultra-Zionist Mercaz HaRav yeshiva, established by the founder of religious zionism, Rabbi Avraham Isaac Kook in 1924.

Last week the focus was the ongoing war in Gaza, which will likely be the centre of attention next week as well.

The attacks on religious students in the midst of study and prayer - coupled with the ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza on the Israeli towns of Sderot and Ashkelon - are already being offered as the latest examples of continued Palestinian unwillingness to make peace with Israel more than two years after its unprecedented withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

World's largest prison

Shanbo Heinemann, a pro-Palestinian activist, is injured in a protest against the wall [GETTY]
But there are many problems with this argument; firstly, most of the acts of Palestinian resistance to the occupation have always been non-violent.

Equally important is the fact that while Israeli civilians no longer live in Gaza, Israel's military presence has never ended.

Tel Aviv withdrew civilian settlers and then threw away the key to what has now become the world's largest prison.

Ariel Sharon, the former Israeli prime minister and the architect of the settlement movement, was willing to sacrifice Gaza in order to ensure Israel held onto the major settlement blocs of the West Bank, which today house more than 250,000 settlers (almost double that number if one includes the Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem).

The settler population of the West Bank also doubled during the years of the Oslo "peace" process - which began when Abu Dahim was about 12 and ended when he was 19 - without a whimper of complaint from the United States.

By the time Yitzhak Rabin, the former prime minister, was assassinated in 1995, Palestinian leaders were warning that the continued settlement expansion was "killing" the peace process and would sooner or later lead to a "revolution" from the street.

Matrix of control

The presence of well over 100 settlements has necessitated a matrix of control in which 80 per cent of the West Bank be declared off limits to Palestinians.

It also meant the destruction of thousands of homes and olive and fruit trees (the backbone of an otherwise closed Palestinian economy), the confiscation of 35,000 acres of Palestinian land, and the creation of a network of bypass roads, military bases.

The 400-kilometre, 8-metre-high "separation wall" also pierces deep into Palestinian territory, cutting into at least three isolated cantons.

Together, the settlement system has made the idea of creating a territorially and economically viable Palestinian state impossible to implement.

With the eruption of the al-Aqsa intifada in September 2000 whatever infrastructure of peace had been created during Oslo was quickly dismantled by both sides.

By mid-2002 Israel began deploying a strategy of managed chaos, in which a near total closure of the Territories, coupled with a destruction of much of their economic and political infrastructure, turned the intifada into what Palestinians term an "intifawda," a neologism that brings the violence of the intifada together with the chaos, or "fawda" of a society living in a barely functioning state and economy.

Dividing Palestine

Israel's separation wall cuts a broad path through Palestinian olive groves [GALLO/GETTY]
Israeli planners gambled that by splitting the West Bank from Gaza, deepening the occupation of the former while freeing itself of the settlements in the latter, and routinely deploying disproportionate violence (including tanks, helicopter gunships, F-16s, and heavily armed troops) against all signs of resistance, Palestinian society would begin turning on itself.

Indeed, Israel hoped for this when it clandestinely supported the emergence of Hamas two decades ago, with the goal of building up a rival to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) that would have them fighting each other rather than figuring out more successful strategies of fighting the occupation.

But, even as Palestinians fight each other, resistance to the occupation has continued. Most of it is comprised of various forms of non-violence (marches, sit-ins, and attempts to stop home demolitions or replant uprooted fields or groves).

These are rarely covered by the international media, and are usually met with violence by the Israeli military or settlers.

Fairly or not, however, it has been Palestinian violence, and especially suicide bombings and now rocket attacks on civilians, that have defined their resistance to the ongoing occupation.

Suicidal suicide attacks

In depth

And in this regard the actions have been nothing short of suicidal - Palestinian "resistance" to the occupation seems to have been scripted by Israel as it has suited the interests of the Israeli governments in power since 2000. As Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston recently put it:

"The Palestinians have kept their ultimate doomsday weapon under tight wraps for 40 years ... Israeli senior commanders could only pray that the Palestinians would never take it out and put it to actual use ... non-violence. This is one reason why, for decades, Israel did its best to head off, harass, and crack down on expressions of Palestinian non-violence."

If Palestinians ever decided to just "get up and walk" en masse to the Erez Crossing separating Gaza from Israel and the major West Bank check points like Qalandiya and used hammers and picks to tear them down, there would be almost nothing Israel could do, short of a massacre in full view of the world's cameras.

But Palestinians have become so stuck in the ideology of summud, (which naturally become a national imperative after a million Palestinians were uprooted in the 1948 and 1967 wars), or defiantly staying put, that they have rarely taken the strategic or moral offensive.

When they applied the moral approach during the first intifada, Israel's harsh crackdown coupled with PLO dominance of Palestianian politics, ensured the de-politicisation and disempowerment of the first "intifada generation".

Two weeks ago, when a few brave Palestinians tried to organise a peaceful march to the Erez border crossing to build on the momentum gained by breaching the border fence between Gaza and Egypt, they were stopped far from the border by a line of heavily armed Hamas policemen.

Soon after, the day's ration of rockets was fired into the nearby Israeli town of Sderot, wounding two Israeli children.

Israel responded with a new rounds of attacks by Israel, killing and wounding more Palestinians.

How to stop?

A few years ago, in a particularly violent moment of the intifada, I interviewed a senior Hamas leader at his office in Gaza. After the usual boiler plate questions and answers, I finally grew exasperated and said to him, "Look, let's put aside the question of whether you have the right to use violence, particularly against civilians, to pursue your ends. The simple fact is that the strategy has not worked."

His response stunned me with its honesty: "We know the violence doesn't work, but we don't know how to stop."

In a mirror image of Israeli strategic thinking, Hamas has remained unable to break free of the dangerously outdated paradigm that says violence, particularly against civilians, can only be met by even more violence until the other side yields.

Aside from the moral turpitude of such thinking by both sides - not to mention blatant illegality according to international law - the reality, at least in the near term, is that the human and political cost of such a policy for Israel is far lower than for Palestinians, who have very little time left before their dreams of independence are crushed for good.

Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister, has himself admitted, the day Palestinians give up on the dream of an independent state will be the day Israel will "face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, and as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished."

Dysfunctional dynamics

Israeli settlements

In 1987, Meron Benvenisti, the former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, concluded his well-known "West Bank Data Base Project" report by arguing that the West Bank settlements were too integrated into Israel to separate them as part of any future peace deal
But so dysfunctional are the current dynamics that neither side seems willing to take the first step away from the abyss.

In such a situation, only a strong outside party can force the warring sides to make the hard compromises necessary to achieve a just and lasting peace.

This was the job the US signed up for in 1993, when Bill Clinton, then president, witnessed the signing of the first Oslo agreement on the White House lawn. But we have failed miserably in our self-appointed role as "honest broker."

It's not just that US has unapologetically taken Israel's side on almost every major issue since then.

During the Oslo years the US worked hand in glove with the Israeli and Palestinian security services to stifle dissent within Palestinian civil society, or the Legislative Council, to a process that was moving away from rather than towards a just and lasting peace.

And with the militarisation of US foreign policy after September 11 and the sullied occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, Israel has had even greater carte blanche to inflict precisely the kind of damage upon Palestinian society we are witnessing now in Gaza.

Blood of children

By refusing to press Israel - as many Israeli commentators, and an increasing number of US policy-makers as well, urge - to negotiate with Hamas we have not just enabled the current violence, but are directly responsible for it.

Hamas has declared its willingness to negotiate a two-state solution, albeit under conditions to which Israel has little incentive to accept.

The blood of Israeli and Palestinian children that appears on TV is on our hands too.

It would be nice if we could imagine that the next US president will have the courage to "change" this dynamic. But there is little chance of that.

The only hope is that Israeli and Palestinian societies come together to stop the violence their leaders keep inflicting on them before the delusions of victory on both sides cross the line into psychosis.

Mark LeVine is professor of history at UCI Irvine and author or editor of half a dozen books dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and globalisation in the Middle East, including Overthrowing Geography: Jaffa, Tel Aviv and the Struggle for Palestine, Reapproaching Borders: New Perspectives on the Study of Israel and Palestine, Why They Don't Hate Us: Lifting the Veil on the Axis of Evil, and the forthcoming An Impossible Peace: Oslo and the Burdens of History.

Source: Al Jazeera

Thursday, February 14, 2008

OC Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism at UCI releases its report

I am glad that the team of laymen and religious leaders - both Jewish and non-Jewish - decided to finish the interviews of UCI students, alumni, faculty, staff, community members, and even one politician, then write this 30 Page Report in PDF format. I thank all of them for sticking it out and putting in so much time to get the job done right.

It completely contrasts with the report issued two months ago by the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, where UCI was found to not have violated students' civil rights. OCR, in coming to its conclusions, appears to have blatantly ignored facts that the Task Force thoroughly documented in their report.

This ain't over yet.

Task Force Press Release:

Huntington Beach, CA –February 12, 2008 –The Orange County Independent Task Force released its Findings and Recommendations (Report), concerning alleged incidents of anti-Semitism at The University of California, Irvine (UCI). The investigation began in February 2007 and lasted approximately one year. Over the course of the investigation Task Force members interviewed, students, faculty and community members and visited the campus on many occasions. Over 80 hours of interviews and numerous documents, articles, and written complaints were used in the compilation of the Report.

Among its findings, The Task Force investigation has concluded the following:

• The existence of: physical and verbal harassment, hate speech directed at Jews by guest speakers, hate events sponsored by the Muslim Student Union (MSU), disruptive behavior on the part of Muslim students when pro-Israeli speakers appear on campus, anti-Israeli classroom environments, and an unresponsive, if not a hostile, administration.

• Hate speakers have targeted “Zionist Jews” at MSU events; that MSU has defiled Jewish symbols, often using depiction of anti-Semitic stereotypes; and that Jewish students were targets of intimidation.

• There has been a lack of response by the administration that has selectively enforced University rules and regulations.

• The Chancellor has refused to unequivocally condemn anti-Semitic speech although other college/university presidents have spoke clearly and decisively against this form of hate speech.

• For the most part, Jewish organizations in Orange County have been ineffective in dealing with anti-Semitism at UCI.

Some of the major recommendations include: UCI should be held accountable for its actions and inaction by community leaders, Jewish organizations, and donors. Students with a strong Jewish identity should consider not attending UCI until tangible changes are made. The Board of Regents should investigate the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs in his capacity as an impartial arbiter of University Rules and Regulations.

The Task Force had initially decided to release its Report and Recommendations in December 2007. The release was delayed in order to study the report(s) issued by the United States Department of Education Office, Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

On November 30, 2007, (OCR) issued two reports contained in separate letters written to Dr. Michael V. Drake, Chancellor of UCI, and to Ms. Susan B. Tuchman of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). ZOA initiated the complaint in 2004 on behalf of students at UCI. These two letter/findings are not identical and do not contain exactly the same listed allegations. The reason why OCR issued two separate letter/findings is unclear. For example, the letter to Ms. Tuchman deals with a total of 26 allegations while the letter to Chancellor Drake deals with only 13 allegations.

In addition:

• Certain allegations were dismissed because they were not “related to the national origin of any of the Jewish students who complained”.

• Several other allegations were dismissed as “untimely filed”.

• The University was excused from any wrongdoing based on minimal action it did after these events occurred.

• Key administration figures were not interviewed by OCR investigators until late September 2006, nearly two years after the initial complaint was filed by ZOA on October 11, 2004.

The OCR investigation does not deny that these “allegations” of anti-Semitism occurred. In fact, OCR’s investigation and report(s) substantiates this Task Force’s findings that significant anti-Semitic activities have existed UCI for some period of time and that, while the University administration may not have done anything illegal in this regard, the University has done little if anything, except for token actions after each incident, to help prevent, discourage, curtail or punish the perpetrators of these anti-Semitic activities on campus.