Monday, May 31, 2010

Israel's sea of stupidity (and brutality, illegality, etc)

Columnist Gideon Levy of Ha'aretz called it right yesterday when he predicted that Israel would do something stupid today. In a piece entitled "Gaza flotilla drives Israel into a state of stupidity," Levy excoriated the current attitude of Israeli leaders and much of its population for the kind of self-delusion of people who believe their own lies. A few excerpts from Levy's piece, and then a few thoughts of my own:

The chorus has been singing songs of falsehood and lies. We are all in the chorus saying there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. We are all part of the chorus claiming the occupation of Gaza has ended, and that the flotilla is a violent attack on Israeli sovereignty - the cement is for building bunkers and the convoy is being funded by the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood. The Israeli siege of Gaza will topple Hamas and free Gilad Shalit. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy, one of the most ridiculous of the propagandists, outdid himself when he unblinkingly proclaimed that the aid convoy headed toward Gaza was a violation of international law. Right. Exactly.

Levy adds:

And facing them on the seas has been the Israeli ship of fools, floating but not knowing where or why. Why detain people? That's how it is. Why a siege? That's how it is. It's like the Noam Chomsky affair all over again, but big time this time. Of course the peace flotilla will not bring peace, and it won't even manage to reach the Gaza shore. The action plan has included dragging the ships to Ashdod port, but it has again dragged us to the shores of stupidity and wrongdoing. Again we will be portrayed not only as the ones that have blocked assistance, but also as fools who do everything to even further undermine our own standing. If that was one of the goals of the peace flotilla's organizers, they won big yesterday.

Today, we are confronted with tragedy, the death of numerous activists who had right on their side. Israeli stupidity has had a big price. Today, it is for those who lost their lives and their friends and loved ones. But Israel and Israelis will also pay a big price, the loss of whatever was left of the legitimacy of the "Jewish state" and the beginning of the end for the apartheid system which most of the world has tolerated way too long. Basing a state or a nation on ethnicity, and defining its citizens and its in and out groups in that way, was odious when the Nazis did it, and it is odious when Jews do it. The jig is up, and Israel seems to know it, thus the desperation of its actions. It remains now for the Jews of Israel, the United States, and the rest of the world to salvage what remains of their reputation as a just people--if they can.

Update: Bradley Burston, also writing in Ha'aretz today, pursues the theme of Israel stupidty and self-delusion.

Israel's legal obligations to Gaza. A legal analysis by the Israeli NGO Gisha, which advocates for the rights of Gazans.

The failure of the American Jewish establishment. If you have not yet done so, be sure to read Peter Beinart's article earlier this month in the New York Review of Books. It could not be more relevant today.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Goldstone was right about Gaza

That's according to a Human Rights Watch report on the Israeli operation "Cast Lead," available at this link. Read it and weep.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Boston's Museum of Science hosts Israeli propaganda effort

Noam Chomsky and a number of other noted scientists have issued an open letter to Boston's Museum of Science, condemning it for hosting "Israeli Innovation Weekend" a few days ago. The letter is carried on the excellent blog Mondoweiss (a project of the Nation Institute) and many others. A few quotes:

IIW is far from an innocent educational endeavor. It is part of a propaganda campaign by the State of Israel to present itself as a beacon of progress in a desert of backwardness and deflect attention from its atrocious human rights record and fundamentally discriminatory policies.

Another key paragraph from the letter:

Propaganda efforts such as IIW are key to sustaining the virtually unconditional U.S. support for Israel that only exacerbates the conflict. The U.S. singles out Israel for special treatment, lavishing billions of dollars of aid upon it every year and protecting it from any concerted action in the UN Security Council. This assistance supports a state that systematically privileges Jews from anywhere in the world over the country’s non-Jewish inhabitants and which continues to perpetrate war crimes and other human rights abuses to uphold this fundamental inequality.

The letter is cosigned by a number of well-known researchers, including Nancy Kanwisher from MIT, Robert Trivers from Rutgers, and, importantly, a number of Israeli scientists as well.

I am heartened that we are now entering a phase in the struggle against Israeli apartheid (yes, that's what it is) that approaches the campaign against South African apartheid of the 1980s. Another example, of course, is the support in the University of California, Berkeley student government for university divestment from firms that do business with Israel, which failed to overturn a veto by one vote but nevertheless is an excellent sign of things to come. The old canard that any criticism of Israel is based on anti-semitism is fast losing credibility, especially when Israelis themselves are in the forefront of the struggle against their nation's inhuman policies against the Palestinians. We need to build a movement that exacts the kinds of sanctions from Israel appropriate for any country that routinely violates human rights.