Posts Tagged ‘Gaza’

My son Felix joined Jesse and me in the studio to try to deal with this horrible conflict.

Our general outline was:


  • This is based on a speech I gave at a Solidarity for Gaza event in Orlando last Friday.
  • My mom was born under British rule and my dad immigrated after surviving the holocaust in Europe. While they were definitely Zionists and served in the military (my dad was in combat since ‘49), they were some of the first people to realize that Israel was headed in a wrong direction.
  • I grew up in the Israeli peace-movement that was in part created in our kitchen ;)
  • I’m not an expert on any of this.
    • Just a concerned human who happens to be Jewish and Israeli (grew up there, served in army, left in 87).
    • I have followed this pretty closely and read books and articles.
    • There’s lots of details I don’t know–correct me
    • I AM qualified on:
      • political-economic history
      • philosophy and particularly ethics
      • So what I’m generally good for is: the big picture


  • Context is missing and so many misconceptions prevail in the US.
    • First FACTS!!! occupation, blockade, hunger, sham peace-process, brutality, torture, assassinations, prison camps, political manipulations, etc
    • this is not about religion and not an age-old conflict: It’s part of European nationalism and colonialism of the 19th century.
    • Even Zionists debated this back in 1881 when a delegation visiting Palestine reported back to the 2nd Zionist International and said that the land is taken.
      • Those who thought that the Jewish homeland should not be created on stolen indigenous land lost with 20% of the vote .
      • The majority adopted the slogan “a land without a people for a people without a land” and so began the erasing of the Palestinians people.
  • What really breaks my heart is the rhetoric of the well-meaning reasonable people who proclaim a so-called balanced opinion and claim that this is a very complex issue and that blame is equally shared by both sides.
  • By now you realize that I am not being “balanced” on this
    • Damn balance! Things are never black or white but there are different shades of gray.
      • The truth about evolution is NOT midway between science and superstition
      • The truth about the environment is NOT midway between science and oil companies
      • The truth about war-crimes is NOT midway between facts and propaganda
    • The history and politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are complicated but the ethics aren’t that complicated at all:
      • One side does the vast majority of the killing; the other side mainly does the dying (ratio of well over 100 to 1)
      • Palestinians are blamed for refusing a ceasefire:
        • They have accepted and even proposed many ceasefires and Israel has either refused or violated them.
        • The real option they are given is to lay down and go back to dying silently in Gaza. Nobody could accept such an offer.
      • Particularly disgusting are the unsubstantiated claims that Palestinians use human shields and are thus themselves responsible for their own massacre.
        • Should they stand in an open field in front of the IDF?!  In fact the IDF uses human shields regularly and the warnings they send before bombing are little more than cruel jokes for PR.
      • Finally: lets not forget that Palestinians (especially in Gaza) are living in horrendous economic conditions under extreme oppression.
        • Do they sometimes have difficulties maintaining stable control over competing factions?
        • Do they sometimes act in ways that are not perfectly rational politically and strategically?
        • Is this surprising for a people living in the most miserable place on Earth, in what amounts to a giant open-air concentration camp, for multiple generations, with absolutely no hope?!?
  • Solution can only come internally and from the powerful side:
    • Consider:
      • Northern Ireland: truly age-old conflict 700+ years
      • South Africa: Apartheid correctly compared to Israel
    • The powerful side must not impose it’s power but offer more concession for conflict resolution to work. Israel does the opposite.
  • Calling for the US to stop or at least change it’s support for Israel’s actions.
    • This is a bit problematic considering US foreign policy…
    • The US is just as guilty as Israel but it is nevertheless a necessary critical part of the solution.
    • If we are to escape a new dark age, the people of the US and Israel would need to bring real change to the political-economic system since this one is NOT working for the vast majority of us.
  • The good news is that popular opinion is changing–slowly but surely.
    • especially among the younger, females, non-whites, even Jews
    • but public opinion does not determine policy. Money does
    • That is the core problem behind almost all our problems and must be changed for anything positive to happen anywhere.
  • The solution:
    • a broad solidarity across interest groups and nations for global justice
    • not an easy task, and times are very bad, but we have no other option except to continue the old struggle for human progress.

Some links:

Click to enlarge



27 July 2014

Israelis in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square light candles for Palestinians killed in Gaza on 26 July. (Yotam Ronen /ActiveStills)

I do not know yet who your loved one was. She might have been a baby a few months old, or a young boy, a grandfather or one of your children or parents. I heard about your loved one’s death from Chico Menashe, a political commentator on Reshet Bet, Israel’s main radio station.

He explained that the killing of your loved one, as well as turning Gaza neighborhoods to rubble and driving 150,000 people from their homes, is part of a well-calculated Israeli strategy: this carnage will destroy the impulse of Palestinians in Gaza to resist Israeli policies.

I heard this while reading in the 25 July edition of the supposedly respectable Haaretz the words of the not so respectable historian Benny Morris that even this is not enough.

He calls the genocidal policies so far “refisut” — feebleness of mind and spirit. He demands far more massive destruction in the future with the knowledge that this is how you behave if you want to defend your “villa in the jungle,” as former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak described Israel.

Inhuman wilderness

Yes, I am afraid to say the Israeli media and academia are fully behind the massacre apart from few, hardly audible voices in this inhuman wilderness. I am not writing this to tell you that I am ashamed — I long ago dissociated myself from this state ideology and do all I can as an individual to confront and defeat it. Probably it has not been enough; we are all inhibited by moments of cowardice, egotism and maybe a natural impulse to take care of our family and loved ones.

And yet I feel the urge today to make a pledge to you, which none of the Germans my father knew during the time of the Nazi regime was willing to make to him when the thugs committed genocide against his family. This is not much of a pledge at your moment of grief, but it is the best I can offer and saying nothing is not an option. And doing nothing is even less than an option.

This is 2014 — the destruction of Gaza is well documented. This is not 1948 when Palestinians had to struggle hard to tell their story of horror; so many of the crimes Zionist committed then where hidden and never came to light, even until today. So my first and simple pledge is to record, inform and insist on the truth.

My old university, University of Haifa, has recruited its students to disseminate Israel’s lies all over the world using the Internet, but this is 2014 and propaganda of this kind will not hold water.

Pledge to boycott

But surely this is not enough. I pledge to continue the effort to boycott a state that commits such crimes. Only when the Union of European Football Associations throws Israel out, when the academic community refuses to have any institutional ties with Israel, when airlines hesitate to fly there, and when every outfit that may lose money because of an ethical stance in the short-term understands that in the long run it will gain both morally and financially — only then we will begin to honor your loss.

The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has had many achievements and continues its tireless work. The obstacles still include the false allegation of anti-Semitism and the cynicism of politicians. This is how an honorable initiative by British architects to force their colleagues in Israel to take a moral stance rather than be accomplices in the criminal colonization of the land was blocked at the last moment.

Similar initiatives were sabotaged elsewhere by spineless politicians in Europe and the United States. But my pledge is to be part of the effort to overcome these hurdles. The memory of your loved one will be the driving force, together with the vivid memory of the suffering of the Palestinians in 1948 and ever since.


I do it all egotistically. I really pray and hope that in this worst moment of your life when Palestinians stand in Shujaiya, Deir al-Balah or Gaza City, gazing at the slaughterhouse created by Israeli warplanes, tanks and artillery, you would not lose hope in humanity.

This humanity even includes Israelis, those who do not have the courage to speak but who express their horror in private as my overflowing email and Facebook inboxes attest, as well as the small handful who demonstrate publicly against the incremental genocide in Gaza.

It also includes those not born yet who perhaps will be able to escape a Zionist indoctrination machine that teaches them, from cradle to grave, to dehumanize the Palestinians to such a level that the burning alive of a sixteen-year-old Palestinian boy fails to move them or shatter their belief in their government, army or religion.


For their sake, mine and yours, I wish we can also dream of the day after — when Zionism will be defeated as the ideology that governs our lives between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea and we all have the normal life we crave for and deserve.

So I pledge today not to be distracted even by friends and Palestinian leaders who still foolishly pin their hopes on the long-gone “two-state solution.” If one has the impulse to be involved in bringing regime change in Palestine, the only reason to do this is for a struggle for equal human and civil rights and full restitution for all those who are and were victimized by Zionism, inside and outside the beloved land of Palestine.

May whoever is your loved one rest in peace knowing that their death was not in vain — not because it will be avenged and revenged. We do not need more bloodshed. I still believe there is a way of bringing evil systems to an end with the power of humanity and morality.

Justice also means bringing the murderers who killed your loved one and so many others to court, and we must pursue bringing Israel’s war criminals to trial in international tribunals.

It is a far longer way and, at times, even I feel the impulse to be part of a force that uses hard power to end the inhumanity. But I pledge myself to work for justice, full justice, restorative justice.

This is what I can pledge — to work to prevent the next stage in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

The author of numerous books, Ilan Pappe is professor of history and director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter.

Wednesday (tomorrow!) 2-4PM on WPRK 91.5FM in Central Florida (podcast will be available a few days later)

I could REALLY use some help. It’s such a huge topic and I would like to adapt to what people want to discuss and not give a long-winded angry lecture.

I welcome even hostile questions, comments, rants that I would respond to on the air. Let me know if you want your name mentioned or not.

Also announcements by activists are welcome.

Ghoulish-Clockwork-Orange (20min)

Democracy New hosts a debate on U.S. media’s coverage of the Israel-Gaza conflict and the roots of the crisis with two guests: Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the website Electronic Intifada and author of the new book, “The Battle for Justice in Palestine”; and J.J. Goldberg, editor-at-large and columnist at the newspaper, The Jewish Daily Forward. Abunimah and Goldberg discuss news headlines that ignore the massive Palestinian toll, whether the ceasefire should address the Gaza blockade, and the history of the conflict.

This is especially interesting because JJ Goldberg is a well-meaning liberal and not a radical racist yet Abunimah shows just how empty and enabling that position actually is. I honestly think well-meaning liberals need to understand how they contribute to the atrocities they are trying to stop.


The history and politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are complicated but the ethics aren’t that complicated at all…

Here’s a very short and clear way of explaining it: