Archive for October, 2007

The ISM: ‘non-violent’ support of terrorism

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-run organization which recruits ‘internationals’ (mostly Europeans and Americans) to take part in demonstrations, interfere with IDF activities, sabotage the security fence, etc. This serves a dual purpose: they can get away with activities for which Israeli citizens or Palestinians would be arrested, and they become passionate advocates of the Palestinian cause in their home countries. Rachel Corrie was an ISM member.

The ISM is committed to a one-state solution, including full right of return for the descendants of Palestinian refugees. The effect of this would simply be the replacement of the Jewish state by an Arab one. Although they claim to be non-violent, they do their best to provoke violent confrontations, and they sometimes act as human shields for Palestinians engaged in violent actions.

In the US, the ISM is known as the Palestinian Solidarity Movement, or PSM. It has connections to other anti-Israel groups such as al-Awda (“the right of return”) and others. It employs a highly effective propaganda approach in which support for the destruction of Israel is linked to themes popular among young people, such as environmentalism, human rights, civil rights, and opposition to the Iraq war. It presents Israel as a racist apartheid state.

ISM/PSM turns the truth upside down, and uses the language of peace, freedom, human rights, anti-racism, justice, and nonviolence to support a project which is being implemented by means of terrorism, which is genocidal in its goals, and whose practitioners are racist, sexist and homophobic.

ISM makes much of its “nonviolence”. But we must keep in mind that what they mean is ‘non-violence in support of terrorism’. In an article entitled “Why Nonviolent Resistance is Important for the Palestinian Intifada“, ISM leaders Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro write,

The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics – both nonviolent and violent. But most importantly it must develop a strategy involving both aspects. No other successful nonviolent movement was able to achieve what it did without a concurrent violent movement…

Recently, the ISM and affiliated groups took credit for causing the One Voice Movement’s simultaneous ‘peace concerts’, supporting a two-state solution, in Jericho and Tel Aviv to be canceled, although the organizers cited threats from terrorist groups. One Voice is an organization whose goal is to put pressure on both the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to bring about a two-state solution, and although it says that it does not advocate any particular position, it falls on the left side of the spectrum.

Even this, however, is too much for the ISM, which is uncompromising in its desire to see Israel gone. Here’s an excerpt from an email sent by ISM to supporters, which contains their rationale:

This achievement [the cancellation of the events] is further proof that a clear majority in Palestinian society continues to insist on the full realization of the inalienable rights of the people of Palestine, paramount among which is the right to self-determination and the right of return for the refugees, as guaranteed by international law. A just peace can only be attained by completely ending the occupation with all its manifestations as well as the various forms of Israeli oppression against the Palestinian people, in compliance with international law and the universal principles of justice and human rights.

A perfect example of the truth inversion technique, this argument ignores the reason that the refugees have remained refugees since 1948 (Arab rejectionism), the cause of the occupation (Nasser’s failed attempt at genocide in 1967), the reason that Israel continues the occupation today (see the results of withdrawal in Gaza), the reason for ‘oppressive’ measures such as the security fence and checkpoints (terrorism), and the right of the Jewish people, as well as the Palestinians, to self-determination.

A two-state solution that would actually be a peaceful solution could only come to be if the will existed on both sides. I think a majority of Israelis would support it, if they thought it would bring peace and be more than just a vehicle for Israeli concessions that would come back to bite them when the relationship with the Palestinians deteriorated into conflict.

But the positions of Israelis and Palestinians do not seem to be symmetrical. The ISM/PSM is another expression of the widespread view among Palestinians that a) the only just solution is one that does not include a Jewish state, and b) with persistence and struggle on many fronts, they can succeed in eliminating it.

If the Palestinians have another point of view, they should show it to us.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Fatah assassins or a Paliwood movie?

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

What are they up to?

The Fatah operatives suspected of plotting to assassinate Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were rearrested last week and are currently being held in custody, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad told Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik during a meeting Sunday afternoon…

According to [Shabak head Yuval] Diskin’s report, Israel obtained intelligence on the planned assassination attempt and transferred the details of the plot to the PA, whose security forces promptly arrested three of the suspects. However, security officials said that the suspects were released two months later despite having confessed to their involvement in the plot. — Jerusalem Post

Israeli politicians responded predictably:

“Even assuming goodwill on the part of Abbas… we’ve just seen a red warning light. Don’t delude yourselves – [Abbas] doesn’t control his own forces. This is neither the time nor the place for agreements [with the Palestinians],” [Likud MP Yuval] Steinitz said shortly after Diskin made his report to the cabinet.

However, Meretz chairman Yossi Beilin told Army Radio, despite the report of the planned assassination, Israel could not “be the prisoner of those elements who don’t want the parley to take place.”

One interpretation, apparently shared by both Steinitz and Beilin, is that the ‘assassins’ were part of an extremist group opposed to Abbas, who appears to favor a deal with Israel (at least, a deal that meets his specifications).

Another is that the whole thing was a bit of drama designed to show Israel what she will be dealing with if she does not come to agreement with Abbas.

As I wrote yesterday, Abbas is pulling out all the stops in trying to push for a settlement that basically replicates the Palestinian interpretation of the Taba proposals: borders close to the 1967 lines, with some land swaps; re-division of Jerusalem with Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount area (they accepted an Israeli ‘relationship’ to the Western Wall); and Israeli assumption of moral responsibility for the Palestinian refugee problem, including the right of return or compensation.

Nobody knows how far both sides will go towards a compromise, but it looks today as though Israel is being asked to choose between a very bad agreement or war.

Some people argue that a bad agreement is better than war. But the worst case is a bad agreement followed by war anyway.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Abbas’ ‘nuclear option’

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

Abbas threatens to use his ‘nuclear option’:

Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas is reported to have threatened to resign if the upcoming peace conference in Annapolis fails, paving the way for another round of violence and for the emergence of al-Qaida in the Palestinian territories…

“It was a very tough meeting,” the [unnamed PA] official said. “President Abbas threatened to resign and to deliver a public speech that would cause the US political difficulties and earthquakes not only in the Palestinian territories, but among US allies throughout the world as well.”

The PA official also quoted Abbas as telling Rice that the absence of his “moderate” policies would force Washington to deal with a “third intifada”…

The official added that Abbas made it clear during the meeting that had it not been for his Fatah security forces in the West Bank, Iranian, Hizbullah and al-Qaida operatives would have infiltrated Israeli cities.

“You would have heard about hundreds of civilians killed every day in Israel had it not been for our efforts,” Abbas was quoted as saying. — Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post

Failure, for Abbas, means failure to come up with an agreement on ‘core issues’: borders, Jerusalem, refugees, etc.

There are two big problems that prevent such an agreement: first, Abbas has so far demanded much more than Israel can give. And second, even if agreement is reached, Israel does not believe that Abbas can deliver the necessary commitments on the Palestinian side, which would have to include an end to terrorism and a compromise on the refugee issue.

Israel wanted the conference to limit itself to a declaration of principles which would form the basis of an agreement, not the agreement itself.

Possibly Abbas thinks that with anything less than a big victory (e.g., an Israeli agreement to leave the territories, including East Jerusalem, and to at least take responsibility for the refugees), he will not be able to maintain even the little bit of support he has. So he might as well quit if he doesn’t get it.

He also is very aware that he is the only game in town for the US and Israel. What would happen if he walked away? He is at pains to detail this, especially for the Americans whom he feels can squeeze anything out of Israel (that’s why he repeatedly mentioned our bête noir, al-Quaida).

So it looks like either he will get what he wants, in which case Israel will be in a far weaker position when he is replaced by Hamas, or he will not get what he wants, in which case he will quit and be replaced by Hamas.

If these are the alternatives, it’s better to call his bluff.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Another day, another murderous attack

Friday, October 19th, 2007

Yesterday’s murderous attempt on Benazir Bhutto’s life in Karachi:

KARACHI, Pakistan [AP] – Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, her return from exile shattered by a suicide attack that killed up to 136 people, blamed militants Friday for trying to kill her and said she would not “surrender our great nation” to them.

Bhutto said there were two attackers in the deadly bombing, and that her security guards found a third man armed with a pistol and another with a suicide vest. Ahead of her arrival, she said, she was warned suicide squads were dispatched to kill her.

“There was one suicide squad from the Taliban elements, one suicide squad from al-Qaida, one suicide squad from Pakistani Taliban and a fourth — a group — I believe from Karachi,” she said.

Whoever was responsible, this was one of the worst terrorist attacks in recent history, and Pakistan’s worst ever, with at least 113 dead and hundreds injured from the suicide bomb packed with the usual ball bearings and other metal scrap.

I am still always surprised when somebody is sincere enough in his (or her) belief that mass murder will achieve their political or religious goals to atomize themselves. I guess I should get over this.

I’m waiting for the usual suspects to say that the attack was perpetrated by the Mossad, or by ‘Zionists’.

Or that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would prevent this kind of thing.

Technorati Tags: ,

Whose word is it, anyway?

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

Alan KaufmanHere is a story about how we are allowing our enemies to define us:

PALO ALTO, Calif. — An Israeli-American artist contends that a San Francisco gallery that displayed his paintings dropped plans to publish a catalog of his work after he proposed that the cover title of the collection refer to Zionism.

The artist, Alan Kaufman, said several of his Jewish-themed paintings were rotated on-and-off the walls at the Himmelberger Gallery near Union Square beginning in July. Some of Mr. Kaufman’s works bear the names of figures from the Hebrew Bible, while others listed in a contract with the gallery have titles such as “Anti-Semitism,” “Battle for Israel,” and “Flight of Israel’s Foes.” One canvas is named after an Israeli city near the Gaza Strip, Sderot, and depicts a figure crouched under a Jewish star as missiles fly overhead.

Mr. Kaufman said he and the gallery’s owner, David Himmelberger, were working closely on a catalog of the art as well as plans to exhibit it at other sites, when Mr. Himmelberger expressed discomfort with using the word “Zionist” in the catalog’s title and with essays that included references to Zionism…

Mr. Kaufman said the disagreement erupted on October 8 at a meeting with Mr. Himmelberger to discuss the layout and contents of the 24-page catalog. “He had a printout of the catalog with ‘Visionary Expressionism: A Zionist Art’ in front of him. He pointed to the word, ‘Zionism,’ and said, ‘I can’t do that,” Mr. Kaufman told The New York Sun. “I said, ‘What exactly is the problem? You know what my paintings are about.'”

“He said, ‘I don’t stand for that. … We don’t want to advocate any kind of platform here,'” Mr. Kaufman said. — NY Sun

One is hard-pressed to imagine what Himmelberger thinks Zionism is, since he is obviously not uncomfortable displaying Zionist art, painted by a Zionist (the American-born Kaufman is the child of a Holocaust survivor, served in the IDF, and does not try to hide his pro-Israel point of view). But calling it by its name, apparently, is taboo — or at least very bad for business.

San Francisco, of course, is a center of the radical left, and today antisemitism and anti-Zionism permeate the media and the campuses. So it’s not unlikely that the gallery owner really had very little idea of what Zionism actually is, and what it isn’t — for him, the word probably is synonymous with ‘fascism’ or ‘racism’. This is certainly what he would hear, for example, on Pacifica Radio’s KPFA.

Kaufman and some others are doing their best to reclaim the word:

Kaufman; David Twersky, a longtime editor and publicist for Jewish groups; David Rosenberg, co-author with Harold Bloom of “The Book of J”; Israeli writer Etgar Keret; and Polly Zavadivker, a Judaic studies scholar, hope to turn the episode into a cause celébre that will redeem Zionism as a concept and as a term.

“Zionism is the Civil Rights Movement of the Jewish People,” the five proclaim in a statement. “It is the answered prayer to two thousand years of ceaseless persecution at the hands of unpredictable host nations.” — The Jewish Week

Technorati Tags: , , ,