Search

band annie's Weblog

I have a parallel blog in French at http://anniebannie.net

Tag

US Politics

The war for ‘The New York Times’


18 Comments

A war has begun for the soul of The New York Times.

People in the Palestinian solidarity movement criticize the Times all the time — we do; the glass is always half empty — but then so do supporters of Israel. The glass is also half-empty for them. And something you may not have noticed lately is that we are beginning to have victories. There are people at The New York Times who fully comprehend Israel’s crisis and want the newspaper to reflect that reality. They are digging in, and they are under attack. But they are having little victories.

Consider:

— Jodi Rudoren is gone. She was the last New York Times bureau chief in Jerusalem and came out of a firmly Zionist background and could be counted on to offer a warm, fuzzy, pro-Israel slant to any story that was often embarrassing. Even the human rights atrocities of Gaza could be spun by Rudoren (“sliver of opportunity“). She has been replaced by Ian Fisher, who seems like a fair, open-minded reporter who is probably right now in shock at what he is seeing. His hunger strikers piece yesterday was very good. His piece on Banksy’s new hotel — Fisher’s emphasis was the “ugly” wall. Anyone who tells it like he sees it is going to help Palestinians.

— Yesterday the Times International edition ran Marwan Barghouti’s piece saying that Israel is a “moral and political failure.” We know we slammed the Times for burying this piece in the international edition in our dudgeon yesterday. But the amazement is that it ran at all — Barghouti’s explanation that 40 percent of the male Palestinian population has been in Israeli prisons, that his son jailed in the years that Americans go to college, and these prisons are the cradle of a global anti-colonial movement . . . Yes, the piece has come under enormous attack. Israelis including the prime minister are expressing outrage that it ran at all. To the point that the backsliders of the New York Times have appended a clarification filling in what Barghouti was convicted of. “The article . . . neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization . . .” Etc.

Actually, the many Nelson Mandela references were sufficient context; Mandela was also charged with terrorism, the ANC did use violence. But it is a measure of the war that the Times is in that Michael Oren became unhinged over the newspaper’s role:

Shame on NYT for printing libelous op-ed by convicted killer Barghouti, the Palestinian Dylann Roof. Americans would be horrified. So are we

Crazy, yes. But Oren’s right about one thing: the Times is now in play. And where it goes, everyone else will follow.

— Yes, you say: the New York Times hired neoconservative crank Bret Stephens as an op-ed columnist the other day, a great setback to the discourse; Stephens has a long track record of racist statements. But while editorial page editor James Bennet’s announcement was fulsome (“beautiful,” “profound,” “bravery,” “generous,” “thoughtful”), it contained this important signal:

We read this as a sign that a pro-Palestinian columnist is coming, maybe even an anti-Zionist. Bennet knows exactly what Zaid Jilani is saying at the Intercept and what we have been saying here about the Times‘s conservative pro-Israel range. David Brooks’s son served in the Israeli military, for god’s sakes. The Times is getting battered by young people on the left for the fact that Roger Cohen and Tom Friedman’s weary Zionism is the best it has to offer to critics.

And bear in mind, if you’re pro-Israel, you have seen a deficit. Where is the firebreather to replace AM Rosenthal, William Safire and Bill Kristol? Well, you just got Stephens. The Times is in play.

— There is further evidence of the Times-at-war in the pushback to Stephens from within the Times ranks. (Michael Calderone reported on this at Huffpo.) Declan Walsh, the paper’s Cairo bureau chief, tweeted the following over the weekend:

Max Fisher, the Times “interpreter,” promptly expanded the thought:

Bret Stephens became defensive about the criticism and slung some more anti-Arab horseshit.

There was a time when journalists at a major newspaper were careful not to criticize that paper publicly. Those days are over, thanks to the internet. Two Times reporters are peeved at the racism of a colleague. They surely speak for many more. (Some of whom read Yakov Hirsch pointing out this racism first, last year: “The Politics of Jewish Ethnocentrism.”)

There was a time when the New York Times was a reliable supporter of Israel. A.M. Rosenthal and Max Frankel begat Ethan Bronner and Jodi Rudoren. We say those days are coming to an end. The shift in American discourse on the Palestinian issue that Bernie Sanders reflected a year ago is happening deep inside the Times too. Younger writers are woke on this question. They’re not going to just shut up about it. The neocons are also digging in. But the coverage is getting better . . . the coverage is getting better. Glass half full.

– See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2017/04/the-york-times/?utm_source=Mondoweiss+List&utm_campaign=04957f876b-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b86bace129-04957f876b-309259350&mc_cid=04957f876b&mc_eid=39adaa9ab6#sthash.pSLErpIS.dpuf

Advertisements

Media are stunned by Congress’s ‘loyalty’ to Netanyahu (but refuse to explain it)

 

 

 on March 4, 2015 10 Comments

In the Emperor’s New Clothes, only the little boy can say that the emperor is naked. The good news about yesterday’s speech by Netanyahu to a joint meeting of Congress is that lots of media are taking on that boy’s role, and pointing out the nudity: exclaiming over the fact that a foreign leader came into our house of government to try and overrule our president on foreign policy. Chris Matthews was especially forceful, describing it as a takeover. While a New York Times article said that Democrats have to choose between “loyalty to the Jewish state” and the president.

But journalists have a bigger job than merely exclaiming. They must explain to readers why this outrage took place. Why did Netanyahu get this platform? The answer is the power of the Israel lobby inside our politics. And while there was some talk about the Christian Zionist component of the lobby compelling Republicans to show up, no one could explain why so many Democrats– about 175 of them– sat still for this insult to the president. They did so because of the importance of the Jewish part of the lobby inside the Democratic Party, epitomized by Alan Dershowitz in the gallery. This was surely obvious to viewers. But the media were silent on that score.

Here is some of the coverage I’m talking about. A piece at the New York Times saying that Netanyahu had issued an effective policy challenge to Obama pointed out the strangeness of the spectacle–

Mr. Netanyahu’s hotly disputed address constituted a remarkable moment in Washington: a foreign leader taking the podium before members of the House and Senate to argue strenuously against the policies of the sitting American president. In doing so, the Israeli leader was essentially urging lawmakers to trust him — not Mr. Obama — when it comes to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon…

Times reporters Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear then openly spoke of Democrats whose “loyalty to the Jewish state” is competitive with their support for the president:

For Democrats who have long viewed themselves as supporters of Israel, Mr. Netanyahu’s speech sought to impress upon them the likelihood that they will eventually need to make an awkward, painful choice between the president of their country and their loyalty to the Jewish state.

Why is that choice awkward and painful? I would like to hear why those Democrats feel that “loyalty.” Why aren’t we hearing about Haim Saban and other leading funders of the Democratic Party? Why aren’t Chris Matthews, Jon Stewart, Anderson Cooper and Chris Hayes interviewing John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, the scholars who wrote the book The Israel Lobby?

Stewart did a lot of Jewish shtik about the Netanyahu speech yesterday. He called it the longest blowjob a Jewish man has ever received. But he tried to put it on the Republicans– “the state of the union speech the Republican wanted.” Hold on. As the Times informed us:“Some Democrats who are strong supporters of Israel praised Mr. Netanyahu’s speech.”

Stewart briefly hinted at the power of the lobby when he played Obama’s rather-restrained response to the insult:

[whispering] That’s how powerful Israel is. Their prime minister comes here, publicly slaps Obama in the face and the president’s response is, That’s OK, in fact, everyone should know, I’m buying him gloves, so when he hits me, it doesn’t hurt his hand as much.

Good that Stewart got in US aid to Israel.

Respecting the Israel-loving climate on the Democratic side, Chris Matthews was very careful about the speech. He praised it lavishly as a masterful performance. And then he blew his top. First yesterday afternoon:

This man from a foreign government walked into the United States legislative chamber and tried to take over foreign policy…. He said you should trust me, not your president on this… I’m the man you should trust, I’m your true leader on this question of U.S. geopolitics….

It was a startling situation… It’s a remarkable day when the leaders of the opposition in Congress allowed this to happen. Think it through, what country in the world would let a foreign leader come in and attempt to wrest from the president control of U.S. foreign policy? And that’s what the applause was about today…. This was a takeover attempt by Netanyahu with his complying American partners to take American foreign policy out of the hands of the president.

Last night on Hardball, Matthews also blew up– and asked the all-important Why? question:

Can you name another time in American history that we have invited someone into the US Congress chamber to criticize a president’s foreign policy? I can’t think of one. I’ve never heard of that done before. Has it ever been done before? Why now?

Why do we break a tradiiton”? Why do we do something all of a sudden for the first time in history let someone from a foreign government come into our governing chamber and tell us the president is wrong?

No answer to his own questions.

The New York Times was also opaque. Its editorial board exclaimed over the spectacle but then had no words to explain it.

With Republicans and most Democrats as his props, he entered the House of Representatives to thunderous applause on Tuesday, waving his hand like a conquering hero and being mobbed by fawning lawmakers as he made his way to the lectern.

Even Washington doesn’t often see this level of exploitative political theater; it was made worse because it was so obviously intended to challenge President Obama’s foreign policy.

I suppose I should be happy that the press is at least exclaiming over the outrage, and that it’s now obvious to Americans. The Democratic lib-left is now taking on the Israel lobby, though not by name. Stewart castigated Netanyahu for pushing the Iraq war 12 years ago, and Matthews went further, saying that Netanyahu had worked with the US neoconservatives:

Let’s be honest here.  Bibi Netanyahu would have a chunk more credibility on this peace-and-war issue if he hadn’t been blowing his bugle over the heads of the Bushes and the neo-cons as we rushed into Baghdad.

His complaint about Iran’s grab of other countries would have more blare to it if it hadn’t been that he, Bibi Netanyahu, had not been totally “in” on the war that turned Iraq into an Iranian pawn.

Dana Milbank in the Washington Post called out Netanyahu for all but committing the Congress to go to war.

[Nancy Pelosi’s] agitation was not difficult to comprehend. It’s a rare thing for Congress to declare war — and rarer still to do it at the request of a foreign leader.

It wasn’t literally a war declaration, of course, just symbolic applause from Republicans, and several Democrats, for Netanyahu’s bid to scuttle U.S. negotiations with Iran.

So that’s the plus side of the coverage yesterday. The political dynamics are so obvious that the American people are feeling outraged. A friend writes from abroad:

Yesterday, the US was not only publicly, but globally insulted…. Now that the dual loyalty business is out of the closet, I hope the US won’t return to its usual induced coma.

Commenters on the New York Times editorial are clued in to the whole charade. ScottW:

That is Bibi’s stick and it never changes. Iran is the boogeyman and while Israel has untold numbers of nuclear weapons, has never signed the nuclear nonproliferation agreement, and permits no inspectors in its country, the Iranian’s somehow pose a greater threat. Pure baloney.

The congressmen who gave Bibi an ovation for a speech that offers nothing new, only the old, is disgraceful. Are they trying to placate the Jewish Lobby in hopes of securing hundreds of millions in donations?

Fortunately for the process, neither Bibi nor any of his cheerleading representatives are involved in trying to reach a deal with Iran that will bring us into the 21st Century.

TDW:

If this doesn’t prove to the world that the United States is nothing more than Israel’s puppet state I don’t know what will. Remember this is the guy who appeared on all the Sunday morning blab fests telling us about Saddam’s WMDs prior to our adventure in Iraq.. The paranoia, ignorance, and xenophobia displayed by the republicans can all be traced to their master “President” Bibi. I’m ashamed of my country today because of this disgrace.

Alison:

Every Congressman who contributed to Netanyahu’s photo op and campaign rally from within our hallowed hall did a disservice to our nation, our presidency, and our voters. We need their names and we need them held publicly accountable for their choice.

Banzai:

Wow. Looking at that picture, I’m hard pressed to believe Netanyahu is not the American President, and those beaming congressmen are not reprensentatives of the American people.

The NSA should be alarmed at this enormous influence of a foreign country on our legislative body.

Thanks to Susie Kneedler for pointing out all the progress.

– See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/03/congresss-netanyahu-explain#sthash.f8VnfbDI.dpuf

US and Israel divorce rumors over Iran

 on February 16, 2015 55 Comments

A lot has been going on on the diplomatic front over the U.S., Israel, and Iran over the weekend. Things are on a boil because of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress in March, the Israeli elections that month, and the impending deadline at the end of the month on the P5+1 talks with Iran.

Here are some of the reports. First, David Ignatius in the Washington Post has published a widely-circulated story on a supposed breakdown in confidence between the U.S. and Israel because Netanyahu allegedly leaked details of the U.S. negotiating position that President Obama had conveyed him in confidence to Israeli journalists.

The decision [by the U.S.] to reduce the exchange of sensitive information about the Iran talks was prompted by concerns that Netanyahu’s office had given Israeli journalists sensitive details of the U.S. position, including a U.S. offer to allow Iran to enrich uranium with 6,500 or more centrifuges as part of a final deal….

An initial report Sunday by Israel’s Channel 2 news that the administration had cut all communications with Israel about the Iran talks was denied by White House spokesman Alistair Baskey. Sources here said that Philip Gordon, the Middle East director for President Obama’s National Security Council, would see Israeli national security adviser Yossi Cohen and other senior officials on Monday. The discussion would include Iran policy, but U.S. officials aren’t likely to share the latest information about U.S. strategy in the talks.

Ignatius’s tick-tock on the spat goes back before the invitation from the Republican leadership of Congress to Netanyahu to speak following Obama’s State of the Union speech.

This latest breach in the U.S.-Israeli relationship began around Jan. 12 with a phone call from Netanyahu. Obama asked the Israeli leader to hold fire diplomatically for several more months while U.S. negotiators explored whether Iran might agree to a deal that, through its technical limits on centrifuges and stockpiles, extended the breakout period that Iran would need to build a bomb to more than a year. But Netanyahu is said to have responded that a year wasn’t enough and to have reverted to Israel’s hard-line insistence that Iran shouldn’t be allowed any centrifuges or enrichment.

Obama was concerned because the United States had shared with Israel its goal of a one-year breakout period since the beginning of the talks. The White House saw Netanyahu’s comment as a change, one that could potentially scuttle the negotiations. The Israeli response is that Netanyahu has always argued for “zero enrichment.”

Relations began to unravel quickly after the phone call. On Jan. 21, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) invited Netanyahu to address Congress and share his concerns about the talks. The invitation hadn’t been pre-negotiated with the White House, as is usually the case when foreign leaders are invited to address Congress.

Then came the alleged leaks about the nuclear talks. On Jan. 31, the Times of Israel reported that an unnamed senior Israeli official had told Channel 10 TV news that the United States was ready to allow more than 7,000 centrifuges and had “agreed to 80 percent of Iran’s demands.” Channel 2 reported that the U.S. offer was 6,500 centrifuges. U.S. officials believed that Netanyahu’s office was the source of these reports and concluded that they couldn’t be as transparent as before with the Israel leader about the secret talks.

Ignatius sees it all coming to a head in March:

The Iran issue will come to a head next month. Netanyahu’s speech to Congress is scheduled for March 3. Israeli elections, in which Netanyahu is running against a coalition of more moderate Israeli politicians, will take place March 17. The deadline for reaching a framework deal in the Iran negotiations is March 24. It’s a month that could shape the future of the Middle East, not to mention the U.S.-Israeli relationship, for years to come.

At Vox, Max Fisher channels neoconservativism in deploring the apparent intelligence breakdown between the U.S. and Israel:

Some proponents of a nuclear deal with Iran may welcome this news as demonstrating that Netanyahu is a bad actor who should be sidelined from the negotiations process. But this would be misguided, and even proponents of a deal should worry about this development. One reason that Iran is willing to negotiate at all is that the US has succeeded in putting enormous pressure on the country and its nuclear program — often with crucial Israeli help. That has meant both gathering intelligence and, in cases such as the 2010 cyberattack on centrifuges via the Stuxnet virus, offensive operations.

Yes, what a great partnership. At Lobelog, Jim Lobe has rerun a post he first ran three years ago, detailing Netanyahu’s horrid advice to the U.S. on the urgent need to invade Iraq. Excerpt of Netanyahu’s counsel in 2002:

the question of time [for taking preemptive action], I think the sooner the better. But now the question is when you choose a target, I think Iraq brings two things, a confluence of two things. One, it is sufficiently important in this network to have a tremendous effect. If it collapses, it will have a beneficial seismic effect

Lobe’s piece is titled, “Lest We Forget: Bibi’s ‘Wisdom’ on Iraq.” Lobe writes:

Republican members of Congress say they are eagerly waiting to hear directly from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on why the nuclear deal being negotiated between the United States and its P5+1 partners (including its three closest NATO allies) and Iran is so dangerous…. Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) [wrote] in a letter signed by 47 of his House Republican colleagues in support of Speaker Boehner’s invitation to Bibi last week. “It is necessary now for Congress to hear from Prime Minister Netanyahu, and welcome his expertise on Iran’s regional designs.”

Which, of course, brings to mind once again Netanyahu’s demonstrated regional expertise in his enthusiastic promotion of the invasion of Iraq in testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on September 12, 2002. His appearance was transparently part of the Bush administration’s (and the neoconservatives’) campaign to persuade Congress to approve the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) against Iraq—which it did one month later, on October 16, 2002.

Bibi’s timing was superb; he spoke on the day after the first anniversary of 9/11 and five days after Vice President Dick Cheney told “Meet the Press” that, “We do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon.”

The excerpts of Netanyahu’s “wisdom” are to die for. Chris Matthews really owes it to his viewership to air this testimony in advance of Netanyahu’s visit.

Netanyahu greets Giuliani, Feb. 1, 2015

More in the unhinged department. Former NY Mayor Rudolph Giuliani met Netanyahu two weeks ago (above). Now he calls Obama a “moron” for dealing with Iran.

[Talking to Iran] is like playing poker with a guy who cheated you twice before. You know who does that? A moron. An agreement with Iran in to regard to nuclear power should be very simple. Iran should not be allowed to have any form of nuclear power…. The Ayatollah is insane. He’s like the guy walking around Bellevue Hospital thinking he’s George Washington. He’s a madman.. And we’re upset that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to come here and defend his country?

The Netanyahu speech is doing great things for our country. It’s allowing Americans to talk about what’s in our interest and what’s in Israel’s, and distinguishing between the two categories. Thanks to Annie Robbins

– See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/02/israel-divorce-rumors#sthash.bey2e5vG.dpuf

Bill Maher defends anti-Muslim hate speech in Vanity Fair interview

On eve of University of California honor, Bill Maher defends anti-Muslim hate speech in Vanity Fair interview

ben_affleck_bill_maher-715x500

 

Bill Maher with Ben Affleck and Sam Harris.

This weekend, UC-Berkeley honors its graduates and Bill Maher’s Anti-Muslimism, together.

Unlike Harris-Maher-Affleck-Gate, a very peculiar comment from Bill Maher recently flew completely under the journo radar.  Sally Kohn of Vanity Fair said to him:

“The religious scholar Karen Armstrong did an interview with Salon and talked about what you and Sam Harris said. And she said that your comments fill her with despair because this is ‘the sort of talk that led to the concentrations camps in Europe. The sorts of things that people were saying about Jews in the 30s and 40s.’ That’s gotta sting, especially coming from her.”

To which he replied:

“It doesn’t sting because it’s beyond stupid. Jews weren’t oppressing anybody. There weren’t 5,000 militant Jewish groups. They didn’t do a study of treatment of women around the world and find that the Jews were at the bottom of it. There weren’t 10 Jewish countries in the world that were putting gay people to death just for being gay. It’s idiotic.”

Here, we see that Maher disagreed with the comparison between American Muslims in concentration camps and European Jews in concentration camps by listing off “reasons” for why the latter did not deserve it (and the former would?).  The big fat realization staring us all right in the face is…did Bill Maher just justify the mass murder of American Muslims?  What the hell did he just say?

Let’s go through this again, for the sake of clarity.  The scholar Karen Armstrong says she is fearful that if anti-Muslim bigotry (like Maher’s) persists in this country, one day American citizens will get targeted based on whatever classifies as “Muslim”, will get illegally picked up one by one, and will get forcefully placed in 21st century concentration camps where a Muslim Holocaust may or may not be happening.  Instead of laughing her off as hyperbolic or the idea off as preposterous (which I thought was going to follow after his “it’s beyond stupid”), or instead of giving liberal assurances to assuage such fears, Bill Maher instinctually accepts the notion of a Muslim genocide in America and proceeds to contextualize it by blaming Muslims themselves.  Armstrong validated.

According to Maher’s response, the entire spectrum of American Muslims then are at fault for matters outside of their control, involving people that they’ve never met.  For actions that they don’t condone, by subcultures that are different from their own.  For mentalities that they don’t share, by groups whose names they can’t even pronounce.  All because they happen to fall under the same category of religious identity.  This is extreme bigotry against a people that Maher has been able to professionally masquerade as rational critique against a religion…a maneuver only popular, self-identified “liberals” can get away with if they keep saying the words “free speech” louder than others are saying “hate speech”.

In the same interview, Maher proudly claimed “way more people came over to my side” after the exchange with Ben Affleck.  He’s right.  And he loved that racists, homophobes, illegal Mexican blamers, Anti-Semites, climate-change-denying crackpots, White-supremacist nut jobs, and all the other groups of people that he’s been ridiculing for decades jumped the fence and hi-fived him on this one.  This is where they join forces, where their bigotry circles intersect to form that Anti-Muslim vesica piscis in the middle, where they’re brothers in discrimination.  After all, Sean Hannity praised him.  Yeah…take a moment if you need to.

Maher claims he has “two” “Muslim” “friends” but after all he’s spewed about Muslims over the years, we don’t really know what that means.  Maybe they enjoy his impossible ignorance, gross generalizations, warmongering, misinformation, and chronic out-of-context taking.  In the interview, he made it a point to say that Reza Aslan considers him a friend instead of the other way around, despite Aslan trying to publicly make a case for Maher not being a bigot.  My guess is he didn’t make the cut as the third official Muslim friend because he doesn’t do the whole former-Muslim-pet-for-Islamophobes song and dance that Maher loves to spotlight.  Makes you think about his “two” “Muslim” “friends” and if Maher would intervene on their behalf in the American Muslim Holocaust.

Congratulations UC-Berkeley, this Saturday, December 20, you’ll be on the wrong side of history.

– See more at: site

srael has no answer to BDS, Barghouti tells packed hall at Columbia

Screenshot-2014-12-05-11.57.56

Omar Barghouti’s appearance at Columbia University on Tuesday night felt like a landmark in the Palestinian solidarity movement in the U.S. A large hall at the law school was crowded to overflowing and the mood was celebratory. Luminaries of the community were in attendance, among them Lila Abu-Lughod, Rula Jebreal, Rashid Khalidi, Rebecca Vilkomerson, Nadia Abu El-Haj, Dorothy Zellner, Lia Tarachansky. Barghouti’s speech was hugely optimistic. He said that the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement was racking up victories far faster than the organizers had imagined when they began nine years ago, faster than the South African movement had progressed. And the BDS movement has the “closet” support of the Netanyahu administration, which was doing its utmost to demonstrate the fallacy of a Jewish democracy.

The suspense of waiting for the Israel supporters to say something was a bit of a fizzle, not the big drama it used to be at such events. Law professor Katherine Franke had urged the crowd not to be civil in discussing one of the most challenging moral questions of our time, and at the end, a man at the back said he had a short question.

“Do you believe that the Jewish people have a right to self determination?” And if so, “Where should it be?”

Barghouti said it was not up to him as a Palestinian to decide whether Jewish communities make up a nation, and where they should have a state. Though he pointed out that there was not consensus among Jews globally about whether they are a people; this is a recent debate, and in fact up till the 1945 the majority of  Jews did not support Jewish nationhood. Then he said sharply:

One thing I do know– not at my expense. If they are a nation and have a right of self-determination, not at my expense. That does not give them the right to expel us or to take our land–

The audience broke into applause, the first time that any speaker had been interrupted by applause in two hours. Barghouti swiftly moved on to other questions. The questioner walked out of the hall.

That summed up the spirit of the event. Its title was, “Palestine’s South Africa Moment?” Barghouti said that Palestine appeared at last to be approaching that moment. Speaker Mahmood Mamdani said it is not. I will get to Mamdani’s analysis in the next few days. In the meantime, though, here is a summary of Barghouti’s remarks.

Barghouti began by quoting Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s declaration in 1923 that because Palestinians would never accept the Zionist takeover of their lands, the Zionists must build an “iron wall” and convince the Palestinians that it was impossible to resist colonization. Barghouti said it was realistic in the view of geopolitics then for Zionists to conclude that Palestinians would give up the struggle, and if Jabotinsky could see President Mahmoud Abbas today, he would “celebrate in his grave: ‘See, I told you, They’ve given up.’”

But recent history shows that Palestinians have not given up, and in fact are commanding the world’s sympathy and attention.

The latest discussion in Israel about the Jewish nation state law has brought to the fore the very possibility of the unraveling of the entire Zionist project. And these are not my words, these are the words of certain very important leaders in Israel, who say that. What’s happening is that the oxymoron of the Jewish and democratic identity of the state of Israel is unraveling.

I can understand the frustration of the extreme right in Israel. ‘Why is the whole world, even the US, against us with this new law? Why are they so mad? We’ve been doing it all along, we’re just making it a bit more formal.’

Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has always consistently discriminated by law against the indigenous Palestinians. Other than ethnically cleansing them of course. So  why is everyone so angry that they’re trying to codify the Jewish identity of the state. Some say it’s at the expense of the democratic identity. What democratic identity? When you have 50 laws that discriminate against a minority of your citizenry, that’s not democracy…

What Netanyahu and his far right government are doing is resolving this oxymoron. It cannot exist any longer. Let’s be very honest, Forget  democracy. This is an ethnocracy… this is a Jewish supremacist state. So– no pretense of democracy. And that’s a very important development because it’s revealing Israel’s true nature.  The last mask of Israel’s so-called democracy has been dropped.

Barghouti moved on to the tactics and success of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

We’ve got to see it as our goal, as part of what we do in this country in the BDS movement… to disabuse  Americans of the myth of empire being beneficial to all… Only then will most people in this country realize that Israel does not serve American interests writ large, but the 1 percent’s interests. The great majority of Americans cannot possibly benefit from what Israel is doing to the Palestinian people.

Shabtai Shavit, former Mossad chief, wrote in Haaretz a couple of weeks ago, that for the first time in his life, he’s really concerned about the future of the Zionist project. Shabtai Shavit is no lefty. He’s not your typical Che Guevara but an honest to goodness hard core Zionist. He’s really, really concerned… He’s saying, Europe is closing in our faces, European markets, even the US, our best friend,  the relationship can’t be worse, it’s an unprecedented lowpoint. And the third point he mentions as an indicator of this hopelessness, university campuses in the west, like yours, are hothouses for the future leadership of their countries. He says, We’re losing the fight for support for Israel in the academic world. An increasing  number of Jewish students are turning away from  Israel. The global BDS movement has grown and quite  a few Jews are members.

That’s one of the very rare times that an Israeli leader mentions the Jewish dimension of the BDS movement. It’s ignored completely.

Barghouti said that when he wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times last January, “Why Israel Fears the Boycott,” he had to insist on including the fact that BDS had small but strong Jewish support. That was an “extremely difficult point that I had to negotiate, with the New York Times.”

At appearances in the States, he is invariably asked to compromise on the third plank of the BDS call, honoring the right of return of Palestinian refugees. In fact, this is the most significant right for Palestinian people. The percentage of Palestinians who are refugees, including those internally displaced in Israel, approaches 69 percent. “That is why the right of return is absolutely the most significant right in the BDS call.”

Then Barghouti moved on to describe the great success of the movement, and why he believes Israel is approaching its South Africa moment.

The BDS call was modeled on the South African boycott and divestment call, but you don’t cut and paste. There are important differences. “Israel is a worse system than South African apartheid in some ways.” Israel had committed ethnic cleansing and massacres that were worse than South African episodes, his partners there have told him.

“We’d never seen F16s bomb us in our Bantustans. We never had different license plates on our cars.” And so on and so forth

Israel has a more sophisticated and evolved system of oppression than South Africa’s. And the BDS movement has moved faster than in South Africa.

Since BDS was launched until now, we’ve achieved far more than we had initially thought possible within nine years. Actually, the  movement has gone much, much faster than South Africa. There are many reasons for this. Israel is at the center of universe; Israelis tend to think so– but in some ways  they are, because of United States power, the Holocaust, many factors. The internet.

Communiques from the anti apartheid movement in South Africa to supporters at his alma mater Columbia used to come through some clandestine fax in someone’s basement, Barghouti said. Now social media and email make these communications wide and instantaneous.

In 2013, Israel classified BDS officially as a strategic threat, when it transferred the fight against the movement from the ministry of foreign affairs, a propaganda ministry, to the ministry of strategic affairs.

Why should Israel, a nuclear power that’s still very powerful economically, be afraid of this nonviolent nuisance as they called us in the beginning. Well I would be very afraid if I were them. But I can be a bit smarter in how to fight it. But I won’t tell them that. [Laughter] I think their IQ is dipping, I don’t now what’s happening with Zionism. But when I went to school here, Zionists used to be very smart… Either smarter people have abandoned Zionism or the average IQ of Zionists has gone down, but they’re really not thinking straight. Because they haven’t come up with one smart tactic to fight BDS… since 2005. We’re not being cocky about that. I mean, seriously, we’re not facing serious challenges there. It’s becoming an open door.

For several years the battle was over Israel’s image. Israel has pumped billions into rebranding the country as a liberal democracy and a haven for gays and scientists and artists and entrepreneurs, and abused the Holocaust to foster this image, Barghouti said. And still it competes for unpopularity with North Korea, which spends nothing on propaganda.

The problem is again, talking about IQ– you commit one massacre in Gaza, it [the branding campaign] all disappears. It doesn’t work. Ok you can send over your nice ballerinas and musicians. But then you commit one major war crime and it’s gone. People are not idiots.

Barghouti ran down a list of BDS’s triumphs in the last year or two, including many in the academic community and church community. A year ago he could not have said that the movement was having an economic impact on Israel. Now he can. He cited bank divestments in Europe and Bill Gates‘s sale of shares in an Israeli prison contractor, G4S.

There was a time, he said, when the phrase “Made in South Africa” was “toxic, untouchable.” He said: “We’re not there yet, but we’re getting closer.”

Israel was aiding this trend.

They’re not coming up with rational solutions to BDS. Not that there is an easy solution….There won’t be a solution till the system of oppression which has been revealed to the world…mainly thanks to the BDS movement and the apartheid government[, ends]. We’ve got to give credit to Netanyahu. Without him we could not have reached this far, at this time. It could have taken much, much, much, much longer, but with the help of  the Israeli government, our biggest closet supporters in the world, we’re going much faster.

Increasingly it appears that  Israel’s South Africa moment is arriving at last, he said.

 

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .

source

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑