Israel’s 60th Birthday

What a Way to Mark Independence Day by Dave
May 18, 2008, 4:32 pm
Filed under: Independence, Israel, Israel's 60th Anniversary, Jonathan Cook, Nakba, Parade | Tags:

Jonathan Cook describes how a Nakba memorial procession was blocked by a small number of Zionist protestors and then attacked by armed police.

This attack was most likely planned as Israel views commemoration of the Naba as deeply subversive. In fact, Israel’s Public Security Minister Avi Dichter (who recently cancelled a trip to the UK for fear of being arrested for war crimes) warned as much in December saying “whoever speaks for 60 years about the ‘catastrophe’ [Nakba] befalling them will suffer a real catastrophe in the end.” By his poisonous tear gassing of infants we can assume he wasn’t joking. Dichter was also pressured by the World Likud Chairman, Danny Danon, to cancel the Nakba parade as Danon felt its goal was “to oppose and incite against the state.” He called for leaders of the demonstration to be arrested as well as anyone seen brandishing the flag of an enemy state or a terrorist organization.  In other words – no Palestinian flags and forget your PAlestinian history.  There’s no room in Israeli history for the Nakba (ethnic cleansing of Palestine).

It has been a week of adulation from world leaders, ostentatious displays of military prowess, and street parties. Heads of state have rubbed shoulders with celebrities to pay homage to the Jewish state on its 60th birthday, while a million Israelis reportedly headed off to the country’s forests to enjoy the national pastime: a barbecue.

But this year’s Independence Day festivities have concealed as much as they have revealed. The images of joy and celebration seen by the world have failed to acknowledge the reality of a deeply divided Israel, shared by two peoples with conflicting memories and claims to the land.
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One State or Two? Neither. by Dave

Jonathan Cook, as I said before, is one of my favourite journalists and this has to be the best argument for a resolution to the Israel Palestine conflict that I’ve come across. Start reading it and finish it – you won’t be disappointed.

One State or Two? Neither.

The Issue is Zionism

Editors’ note: On Monday we ran Michael Neumann’s argument against the so-called “one state” solution for Israel and Palestine. This is the second of three replies. AC / JSC.

If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the world’s most intractable, much the same can be said of the parallel debate about whether its resolution can best be achieved by a single state embracing the two peoples living there or by a division of the land into two separate states, one for Jews and the other for Palestinans.

The philosopher Michael Neumann has dedicated two articles, in 2007 and earlier this week, for CounterPunch discrediting the one-state idea as impractical and therefore as worthless of consideration. In response, Kathy Christison has mounted a robust defence, neatly exposing the twists and turns of Neumann’s logic. I will not trouble to cover the same ground.

I want instead to address Neumann’s central argument: that it is at least possible to imagine a consensus emerging behind two states, whereas Israelis will never accept a single state. That argument, the rallying cry of most two-staters, paints the one-state crowd as inveterate dreamers and time-wasters.

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The Meaning of Gaza’s ‘Shoah’ by Dave

Jonathan Cook is one of my favourite reporters on the Israel-Palestine conflict.  Yet again his analysis is sharp and harrowing – Israel’s plan to ethnically cleanse all of Gaza.

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai’s much publicized remark last week about Gaza facing a “shoah” — the Hebrew word for the Holocaust — was widely assumed to be unpleasant hyperbole about the army’s plans for an imminent full-scale invasion of the Strip.

More significantly, however, his comment offers a disturbing indication of the Israeli army’s longer-term strategy towards the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Vilnai, a former general, was interviewed by army radio as Israel was in the midst of unleashing a series of air and ground strikes on populated areas of Gaza that killed more than 100 Palestinians, at least half of whom were civilians and 25 of whom were children, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

The interview also took place in the wake of a rocket fired from Gaza that killed a student in Sderot and other rockets that hit the center of the southern city of Ashkelon. Vilnai stated: “The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they [the Palestinians of Gaza] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.”

His comment, picked up by the Reuters wire service, was soon making headlines around the world. Presumably uncomfortable with a senior public figure in Israel comparing his government’s policies to the Nazi plan to exterminate European Jewry, many news services referred to Vilnai’s clearly articulated threat as a “warning,” as though he was prophesying a cataclysmic natural event over which he and the Israeli army had no control.

Nonetheless, officials understood the damage that the translation from Hebrew of Vilnai’s remark could do to Israel’s image abroad. And sure enough, Palestinian leaders were soon exploiting the comparison, with both the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and the exiled Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, stating that a “holocaust” was unfolding in Gaza.

Within hours the Israeli Foreign Ministry was launching a large hasbara (propaganda) campaign through its diplomats, as the Jerusalem Post reported. In a related move, a spokesman for Vilnai explained that the word shoah also meant “disaster”; this, rather than a holocaust, was what the minister had been referring to. Clarifications were issued by many media outlets.

However, no one in Israel was fooled. Shoah — which literally means “burnt offering” — was long ago reserved for the Holocaust, much as the Arabic word nakba (catastrophe) is nowadays used only to refer to the Palestinians’ dispossession by Israel in 1948. Certainly, the Israeli media in English translated Vilnai’s use of shoah as “holocaust.”

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