Archive for Gaza

Inside Torat Hamelech, the Jewish Extremist Terror Tract Endorsed by State-employed Rabbis

Posted in Loon Rabbis, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2011 by loonwatch


We have been covering the story about “The King’s Torah” for quite some time now, it is quite popular amongst the religious right in Israel. Can you imagine if texts such as this were found in an Islamic book called the “The Caliph’s Sharia’”?,

I. A gentile must not kill his friend, and if he has killed, he must die.

II. The prohibition “thou shalt not commit murder” refers to a Jew who kills another Jew.

III. A Jew who kills a gentile is not required to die.

Replace “gentile” with “kafir” and Jew with “Muslim,” and imagine the reaction from the Islamophobesphere.

Inside Torat Hamelech, the Jewish extremist terror tract endorsed by state-employed rabbis

by Max Blumenthal

Last year, I reported on a convention of top Israeli rabbis who gathered to defend the publication of Torat Hamelech, a book that relied on rabbinical sources to justify the killing of gentiles, including infants “if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us.” The most prominent rabbinical endorsers, Kiryat Arba’s chief rabbi Dov Lior and Yaakov Yosef, had dismissed police summons at the time, insisting that man’s law could not touch the halakha. A year later, in late June, the Israeli police finally arrested Lior for his role in endorsing and promoting the book.

Riots broke out almost immediately in the wake of the arrest, with mobs of religious Zionists burning tires and attempting to storm the Israeli Supreme Court compound. Fearing more riots and with sales of Torat Hamelech surging, the police handled Rabbi Yosef with kid gloves, requesting he come in for questioning but not arresting him. In the end, the state neglected to remove Lior, Yosef, or any other state-employed rabbi from his position for endorsing Torat Hamelech.

Why is Torat Hamelech so explosive? Yuval Dror, an Israeli journalist and academic, excerpted some of the book’s most incendiary passages. What appeared was Jewish exclusivism in its most extreme form, with non-Jews deemed permissible to kill, or Rodef, for the most inconsequential of wartime acts, including providing moral support to gentile armies. The book is a virtual manual for Jewish extremist terror designed to justify the mass slaughter of civilians. And in that respect, it is not entirely different from the Israeli military’s Dahiya Doctrine, or Asa Kasher and Amos Yadlin’sconcept of “asymmetrical warfare.” The key difference seems to be the crude, almost childlike logic the book’s author, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, marshals to justify the killing of non-Jewish civilians.

Here are passages from Torat Hamelech, as excerpted by Dror and translated by Dena Bugel-Shunra:

II. Thou Shalt Not Commit Murder

Maimonides wrote in the Halachas of Murder, Chapter A, Halacha A:

He who kills one soul of Israel violates a prohibition, as it is said “thou shalt not commit murder, and if he committed murder maliciously, in front of witnesses, his death shall be by the sword…

It is therefore made explicit that the “thou shalt not commit murder” prohibition refers only to a Jew who kills a Jew, and not to a Jew who kills a gentile, even if that gentile is one of the righteous among the nations… we have derived that from the verse “thou shalt not commit murder”, one cannot learn that there is a prohibition on killing a gentile.

(Page 17-18)

VIII. Conclusion

I. A gentile must not kill his friend, and if he has killed, he must die.

II. The prohibition “thou shalt not commit murder” refers to a Jew who kills another Jew.

III. A Jew who kills a gentile is not required to die.

IV. The prohibition on a Jew killing a gentile derives from the fact that a gentile is not allowed to kill a gentile.

(Page 27)

I. A gentile is killed for one death, and with one judge

A gentile who violates one of the seven rules [of Noah] must be killed, and he is killed based on the word of one witness and with one judge and with no warning.

II. A witness becomes a judge

For the Sons of Noah [gentiles] the witness can himself be a judge. This mean: if one person saw the other committing a crime – he can judge him and kill him for this, as he is the witness and he is the judge… Moses [moshe rabbenu] saw the Egyptian hitting a man of Israel, and killed him for that. So there Moses is the witness and is the judge, and this does not delay the carrying out of the law upon the Egyptian.

(Pp. 49-50)

What transpires from these matters is that when you judge a gentile for crimes that he has committed – you must also consider the question of whether he has repented, and if he has – he must not be killed… moreover: it is better that the gentile repent than that we kill him. If we come upon a gentile who does not abide by the Seven Laws [of Noah], and the importance of abiding by them can be explain to him, so he will repent – we would prefer to choose that path, and not judge an kill him.

(page 70)

It is explained in Yerushalmi [codex] that when a [child of] Israel [a Jew] is in danger of his life, as people tell him ‘kill this particular gentile or you will be killed’ – is permitted to kill the gentile to save himself… and the [interpreters of the law] Rashi and Maimonides say that the law of requiring to die rather than commit the crime is only valid in case of a Jew against another Jew, not in the case of a Jew against a stranger living among them… It is clear from these statements that when the choice is between losing the life of a stranger living among them and losing the life of a child of Israel [a Jew] – the simple decision is to permit [the killing].

(Pp. 157-158)

When the question is of a life of a gentile weighed against the life of a child of Israel [Jew], the initial proposal returns, which is that a Jew can violate  law in order to save himself, as what is at stake is the soul [life] of a Jew – which supersedes the entire Torah – in contrast with the life of a stranger living among us, which does not permit any Torah prohibition to be superseded.

(page 162)

To save the life of a gentile, one does not violate the Sabbath rules, and it is clear from this that his life is not like the value of the life of a child of Israel, so it may be used for the purpose of saving the life of a child of Israel.

(page 167)

An enemy soldier in the corps of intelligence, logistics, and so forth aids the army that fights against us. A soldier in the enemy’s medical corps is also considered a “rodef” [villain who is actively chasing a Jew], as without the medical corps the army will be weaker., and the medical corps also encourages and strengthens the fighters, and helps them kill us.

A civilian who supports fighters is also consider Rodef, and may be killed… anyone who helps the army of the evil people in any way, strengthens the murderers and is considered to be Rodef.

(page 184)

III. Support and encouragement

A civilian who encourages the war – gives the king and the soldiers the strength to continue with it. Therefore, every citizen in the kingdom that is against us, who encourages the warriors or expresses satisfaction about their actions, is considered Rodef and his killing is permissible. Also considered Rodef is any person who weakens our kingdom by speech and so forth.

(p. 185)

We are permitted to save ourselves from the Rodef people. It is not important who we start with, as long as we kill the Rodef people, and save ourselves from the danger they pose. And see for yourself: if you say that the fact that there are many of them brings up the question of whom to start with, and that that question is supposed to delay us from saving for ourselves – why it stands to reason: the existence of any one of them postpones the salivation, and this is the reason to treat each and every one as a complete Rodef, and to kill him, so he will not cause this ‘life-threatening’ question…

Whoever is in a situation where it is clear that he will chase and danger us in the future – it is not necessary to give it fine consideration as to whether at this moment, exactly, he is actively helping the chasing [harassment?] of us.

(Pp. 186-187)

X. People who were forced to partner with the enemy

We have dealt, so far, with gentiles whose evil means that there is a reason to kill them. We will now turn to discuss those who are not interested in war and object to it with all force…

We will start with a soldier, who is party to fighting against us, but is doing so only because he has been forced by threats to take part in the war.

If he was threatened with loss of money and such things – he is completely evil. There is no permission to take part in chasing and killing due to fear of loss of money, and if he does so -he is a Rodef in every definition thereof.

And if he was threatened that if he would not participate in the war, he would be killed – according to the MAHARAL [rabbi]… just as he is permitted to kill others – so, too, can others (even gentiles)kill him, so we will not die. And for this reason, according to the MAHARAL, it is simply evident that such a soldier may be killed.

And according to the Parashat Drachim [rabbi? Or possibly book of law?] – he must not participate in the murdering even if he must give his life due to this. And if he does so [participates] – he is evil and may be killed, like any other Rodef.

We will remind, again, that this discusses all types of participation in the war: a fighter, a support soldier, civilian assistance, or various types of encouragement and support.

(P. 196)

XVI. Infants

When discussing the killing of babies and children – why on the one hand, we see them as complete innocents, as they have no knowledge, and therefore are not to be sentenced for having violated the Seven Laws, and they are not to be ascribed evil intent. But on the other side, there is great fear of their actions when they grow up… in any event, we learn that there is an opinion that it is right to hurt infants if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation the damage will be directed specifically at them.

(Pp. 205-200)

IV. Killing the enemy like killing our own men

Inside Torat Hamelech, the Jewish extremist terror tract endorsed by state-employed rabbis

by Max Blumenthal

If the king is permitted to kill his own men for the purpose of war – that same opinion also holds with regard to people who belong to the evil kingdom. In a war of righteous people against evil people, we assume that the evil will eventually hurt us all, if we let it raise its head, and the people of the evil kingdom will also suffer from it.

We are, in fact, arguing to any person from the evil kingdom: if you belong to the evil king – you are liable to be killed for helping murderers; and if you do not help him – you should help us, and it is permissible to kill you as we kill our own people (as we are all in trouble together, and in such a situation it is permissible to kill the few in order to save the many.)

This theory also permits intentional hurting of babies and of innocent people, if this is necessary for the war against the evil people. For example: If hurting the children of an evil king will put great pressure on him that would prevent him from acting in an evil manner – they can be hurt (even without the theory that it is evident that they will be evil when they grow up.)

(P. 215)

VII. Revenge

One of the needs which exists, in the hurting of [Evil people?] is the revenge. In order to beat [win the war against] the evil people, we must act with them in a manner of revenge, as tit versus tat…

In other words, revenge is a necessary need in order to turn the evil-doing into something that does not pay off, and make righteousness grow stronger; and as great as the evil is – so is the greatness of the action needed against it.

(Pp. 216-217)

Sometimes, one does evil deeds that are meant to create a correct balance of fear, and a situation in which evil actions do not pay off… and in accordance with this calculus, the infants are not killed for their evil, but due to the fact that there is a general need of everyone to take revenge on the evil people, and the infants are the ones whose killing will satisfy this need; and they can also be viewed as the ones who are set aside from among a faction, as reality has chosen them to be the ones whose killing will save all of them [the others from that faction?] and prevent evildoing later on. (And it does indeed turn out that to this consideration, the consideration that we brought forth at the end of the prior chapter also definitely is added – which is, that they are in any event suspected of being evil when they grow up.)

Daniel Barenboim: Peace Concert in Gaza

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2011 by loonwatch

Peace through Music and justice.

Barenboim to conduct ‘peace concert’ in Gaza

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim will on Tuesday lead an orchestra of European musicians in a peace concert in Gaza, in the first-ever performance there by such a prestigious international ensemble.

The rare concert, which will take place at lunchtime at the Al-Mathaf Cultural House, was announced on Monday by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process (UNSCO).

It will be the first time that Barenboim, an outspoken proponent of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, has visited the coastal territory, a spokeswoman for the chamber orchestra told AFP.

“It is the first time,” Judith Neuhoff confirmed, saying that the ensemble, which is made up of 25 musicians and known as the “Orchestra for Gaza,” had been put together especially for the visit.

In a statement released by UNSCO, Barenboim said he was “very happy” to be coming to Gaza. “We are playing this concert as a sign of our solidarity and friendship with the civil society of Gaza,” he said.

The musicians, who belong to five prestigious European orchestras, were expected to enter Gaza from Egypt on Tuesday, via the southern Rafah border crossing, a UNSCO spokesman said.

They will travel directly to the venue where they will play a programme of pieces by Mozart including Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and the G minor symphony to an audience of between 300 to 400 people, which will include music students and other members of Gaza’s civil society.

“The concert is to try and bring something to the people of Gaza,” he said. “It is not a political event in any sense.”

Ibrahim al-Najjar, director of Al-Qattan Music School, the only such establishment in Gaza, told AFP that he and a group of his students would greet the 68-year-old maestro and his delegation, which numbers around 50 people, at the Rafah border.

“This visit is very important to us for many reasons, both cultural and civil,” he told AFP.

Although a handful of musicians had visited Gaza in recent months to support the school and to teach classes, it was the first time such a large group of so many prestigious players was coming, he said.

The ensemble includes players from the Berlin Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Berlin, the Vienna Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris and the Orchestra of La Scala di Milano.

“We love culture, and music is a way of expressing peace and showing that we Palestinians are civilised,” Najjar said, adding that it was important that people had a chance to meet the orchestra and get to know different musical instruments.

“And from a political perspective, it is important to show that Gaza is a safe place,” he said.

Israelis are forbidden by law to venture into Palestinian territory. Barenboim has previously been refused entry to Gaza by the Israeli army — most recently in April 2010 — meaning the only way for him to enter the Hamas-run territory is via Rafah.

The legendary conductor, who lives in Berlin and holds Argentine, Israeli and Spanish citizenship, also accepted honorary Palestinian citizenship in 2008, saying he hoped the move would be an example of the “everlasting bond” between Israelis and Palestinians.

He has long used his fame as a conductor and pianist to promote the cause of peace between Israel and its neighbours, and in 1999 co-founded a “peace orchestra” with his friend Edward W. Said, a Palestinian-American scholar who died in 2003.

Known as the East-West Divan orchestra, it brings together Israeli, Arab and international musicians, and in 2005 it performed in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Barenboim performs regularly in the West Bank, but has never performed in Gaza, which has been subjected to a crippling Israeli blockade since 2006, which was eased somewhat last year following international pressure.

Chuck Schumer: Mainstream Democrat

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2010 by loonwatch
Glenn Greenwald

Another excellent piece from the anti-loon Glenn Greenwald. He takes on the crazy and zany remarks from Chuck Schumer, a “mainstream Democrat.”

Chuck Schumer: Mainstream Democrat

by Glenn Greenwald

Chuck Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate, spoke to an event of Orthodox Jewish leaders on Wednesday and made comments that can only be described as bigoted and disgusting.  Kudos to Zaid Jilani who, despite working for the Democratic Party-serving Center for American Progress, wrote about Schumer’s remarks on CAP’s ThinkProgress blog and explained the reasons they were filled with falsehoods, or — as he put it — “as offensive as they are wrong.”

Schumer told his audience that the ”Palestinian people still don’t believe in the Jewish state, in a two-state solution” and added that “they don’t believe in the Torah, in David.”  As a result,”you have to force them to say Israel is here to stay.”  It’s the Israeli blockade which accomplishes that, he argued.  And Schumer is due some credit for being honest enough (unlike most devoted Israel defenders) to admit that a prime purpose of the blockade has nothing to do with keeping arms away from Hamas, but rather, is to economically strangle the people in Gaza — meaning not Hamas, but the 1.5 million human beings (men, women and children) who live there:

And to me, since the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, while certainly there should be humanitarian aid and people not starving to death, to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go, makes sense.

So as long as Israel stops just short of starving them all to death, then what Israel is doing is justified — just like John Yoo explained that American torture is perfectly legal and permissible just as long as it stops short of causing major organ failure or death (or, as Juan Cole put it, “anything short of ‘starving to death’, i.e. mass extermination in the camps, is all right as long as it convinces the enemy?”).  I think the most repugnant part of Schumer’s comments is when he spoke about Gazans as though they were dogs needing to be trained to behave properly:  the blockade is justified because it shows the Palestinians living there that “when there’s some moderation and cooperation, they can have an economic advancement.”  Is that — punish the people of Gaza for the acts of Terrorists — not the very definition of “collective punishment,” which happens to be a war crime under the Geneva Conventions?  The crowd — as the video of Schumer’s speech reflects (below) — erupted in wild cheers at his comments.

Of course, before Israeli propagandists began claiming for the consumption of Americans that the purpose of the blockade was to keep arms away from Terrorists, they freely admitted what Schumer acknowledged; when the blockade was first instituted, Dov Weisglass, adviser to then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”  Indeed, Schumer made very similar remarks back in April when — in the middle ofcondemning Obama for the crime of applying minimal pressure on Israel — he told an interviewer:  ”Israel has blocked off the border and not let anything into Gaza, and I support Israel in doing that, and it may be tough on the Palestinian people, but when they vote for Hamas they are going to have to suffer the consequences.”  If a country doesn’t vote for the leaders Chuck Schumer and Israel want, their children will be malnourished to the point of stunted growthpervasive anemia, and massive food insecurity.  Aside from how morally repugnant and criminal those actions are, see here for how harmful it is to America’s national interests, something with which Schumer appears completely unconcerned (they hate us for our Freedoms!).

At his personal blog, CAP’s Jilani elaborated on why Schumer’s remarks are so foul, including asking us to imagine what would happen if, say, Rep. Keith Ellison gave a speech urging that all Israelis be denied “fresh meat, basic medical supplies, and a whole host of humanitarian items” as a result of the horrific acts of the government they elected.  Condemnation would pour down on him from all corners.  That’s the same glaring double standard that just ended Helen Thomas’ career even though people as disparate as Mike HuckabeeDick Armey and Matt Yglesias have said virtually the same exact thing about Palestinians that Thomas said about Israelis without any repercussions whatsoever (indeed, have seen their careers flourish afterward, though Yglesias, who was in college at the time, clearly no longer believes anything like that and now sees his remarks as “terrible”).  Numerous people have written very good posts about why Schumer’s comments are as false as they are repugnant — see Juan ColeDavid DayenPhilip Weiss, and Taylor Marsh (who said, accurately:  ”This is your Democratic Party hierarchy, folks”).

That last point, made by Marsh, is the critical one.  This is why I’ve come to see the Democratic Party (and its apologists and loyalists in the pundit class) much differently now that it’s in power rather than out of it.  Just look at Schumer himself.  He isn’t some obscure Democratic official; he’s one of its leading figures.  He’s not one of those dreaded Blue Dogs or “conservative” Democrats which Party pundit-apparatchiks and reverent Obama loyalists love to exploit to excuse the Party’s flaws (don’t blame the weak and helpless Obama; he is a prisoner to those bad, powerful conservative Democrats); rather, Schumer is considered progressive, or at least mainstream, within the Party, representing one of its largest and bluest states.  If anyone is the face of the mainstream Democratic Party, it’s Chuck Schumer.  That’s why he’s clearly the most likely replacement for Harry Reid to become Senate Majority Leader if Reid loses in November.

But look at what Schumer represents, who he is.  Schumer championed countless, radical Bush appointees (including John Bolton, Michael Mukasey and Michael Hayden), but then sabatoged Obama’s appointment of Chas Freeman due to insufficient devotion to Israel.  As The New York Times documented, he has long served as one of Wall Street’s most loyal and devoted servants, reaping huge benefits for himself and his Party.  As the financial reform package gets negotiated and watered down, Schumer leads the way in doing Wall Street’s bidding.  After spending years sucking up union money, he just congratulated Blanche Lincoln for fighting unions (and, showing how cynical he is, also congratulated her for fighting Wall Street even as business interests almost single-handedly funded her campaign and as he himself continues to serve as the most devoted property of bankers).  So that’s Chuck Schumer:  suffocate Gazans; champion Bush national security appointees; punish those with insufficient devotion to Israel; serve Wall Street.  And that, by definition, is the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

* * * * *

One last, related note:  Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman, one of Israel’s most steadfast defenders in Congress, last week demanded, while speaking on a conference call organized by “pro-Israel groups,” that the Justice Department prosecute all American citizens who were on board the flotilla attacked by Israel (for, in essence, providing material support to Terrorists by trying to deliver humanitarian aid to Gazans), as well as demanding that Homeland Security permanently ban all the other passengers from entering the U.S.  In this conflict that involved a foreign nation (Israel) against numerous American citizens, one of which ended up being shot four times in the head by the foreign country’s commandos, Sherman sides with the foreign nation and calls for the Americans involved to be imprisoned.  I spent the last week emailing with Sherman’s Communications Director, Matt Farrauto, in an attempt to schedule a podcast interview (or other type of interview) with Sherman about his demands.  Suffice to say, I have some questions to ask Sherman about his ideas.  After repeatedly indicating that he would try to schedule something, Farrauto — who sent me a pro formastatement from Sherman on this matter — emailed last night to say, without explanation:  ”Not sure that I’m going to get him for an interview. Is the statement useful for your purposes?”

I asked Farrauto whether Sherman has agreed to any interviews where he faced skeptical or adversarial questions about his radical call for American citizens to be prosecuted for trying to deliver humanitarian aid in violation of Israel’s wishes.  He hasn’t responded, and I’ll post any response I get.  But that’s Brad Sherman:  cowardly issuing demands like that in front of highly sympathetic Israel activists, but then refusing to answer actual questions about it.

UPDATE:  Earlier in the week, McClatchy obtained internal Israeli documents demonstrating that the purpose of the blockade isn’t about security but, rather, “economic warfare.”  Meanwhile, M.J. Rosenberg writes about the numerous Congressional Democrats lining up to support Israel’s attack on the flotilla.

UPDATE II:  The aforementioned Matt Yglesias, of the aforementioned CAP, has a post condemning what he calls Schumer’s “disgusting” remarks, and he adds some thoughts about Israel and Gaza generally.

Helen Thomas Resigned, will Chuck Schumer?

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2010 by loonwatch
Chuck Schumer

Helen Thomas made an indefensible and impulsive comment that she subsequently apologized for, and now is being branded an “anti-Semite” and the “scum of the earth.” Not only has she apologized but she has essentially been forced to retire.

It is sad that her whole career will be overshadowed by one statement made by a questionable guysticking a camera in her face. She let her emotions get the best of her, something we can all relate to, but I don’t agree with those who are impugning from her comment that she implied Jews should be ethnically cleansed.

However, insert Chuck Schumer into the equation, a life long advocate of the belief, “Israel is right no matter what,” who was speaking at an Orthodox Union dinner in which he said ‘we should strangle the Gazans economically until they moderate.’

Think Progress:

This past Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) delivered a wide-ranging speech at an Orthodox Union event in Washington, D.C. The senator’s lecture touched on areas such as Iran’s nuclear program, the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and several domestic policy issues.

During one point of his speech, Schumer turned his attention to the situation in Gaza. He told the audience that the “Palestinian people still don’t believe in the Jewish state, in a two-state solution,” and also that “they don’t believe in the Torah, in David.” He went on to say “you have to force them to say Israel is here to stay.”

New York’s senior senator explained that the current Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip — which is causing a humanitarian crisis there — is not only justified because it keeps weapons out of the Palestinian territory, but also because it shows the Palestinians living there that “when there’s some moderation and cooperation, they can have an economic advancement.” Summing up his feelings, Schumer emphasized the need to “to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go, makes sense”

Read the whole story: Think Progress

Outrageous isn’t it? But do you think Chuck Schumer will apologize let alone be forced into retirement? The truth is that anti-Palestinian remarks will not get you into trouble, in fact they might boost your votes depending on where you live.

An interesting aside here is that Schumer got something else wrong as well. He stated that Palestinians don’t believe in “David or the Torah.” This statement was obviously directed at Palestinian Muslims who make up the majority of Palestinians (he can’t be referring to Christian Palestinians who obviously believe in the Old Testament).

Unfortunately the ignorance of our elected officials know no bounds. Schumer doesn’t know much about Islam, and probably hasn’t read the Quran, because if he did he would realize that David, or in Arabic Dawood, is one of the most revered prophets of Islam. The Quran also calls on Muslims to affirm belief in the Torah and all Heavenly revealed books from God, to do otherwise is contrary to basic Islamic creed and puts one outside the pale of Islam.

If he was following recent news he would also have noted that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas quite controversially stated his belief in the legitimacy of Jewish claims to Israel deriving from the Quran,

Reports of Abbas’s remarks were met with seeming disbelief in the Arab media and led an Al Jazeera reporter later that day to ask him if the reports were correct. Abbas replied, “Jews are there, and when you read the Holy Koran you have it there. That’s what I said.”

Cenk Uygur had some excellent commentary on the hypocritical double standards that this situation highlights,

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/user/TheYoungTurks#p/u/11/-Vr3zCy8V2U 350 300]

Bill Maher on the other hand seems to think that Israel is besieged in the press. Here he goes toe to toe with Oliver Stone.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdaNCjp1ni0&feature=player_embedded 350 300]

What do you think?

 

Gaza Flotilla Massacre: Israeli Pirates of the Mediterranean

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2010 by loonwatch

The Memorial Day weekend is a time for many to sit with their families, barbecue and remember those soldiers who sacrificed their lives in wars. However, news headlines delivered shocking news of Israeli commandos attacking a ship in international waters carrying aid to Gaza, killing at the very least nine peace activists while other reports put the figure higher at 16 and injuring dozens more.

The ship, known as the Mavi Marmara was part of a fleet of six ships that embarked from Greece with the goal of heading to Gaza to break the suffocating siege that Israel has placed on the Palestinian territory. Israel expressed that it would deal harshly with the flotilla and viewed it as an “attack on its sovereignty”. Those were the exact words of Israel’s right wing foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The ship never got a chance to get close to Gaza, as Israeli commandos on dinghies and helicopters intercepted the ship. Israel claims it was acting in self-defense, saying the commandos were attacked with wooden batons, metal rods and knives. Yet, Israel imposed a media blackout immediately after the attack and only now are we learning about events from first hand sources.

“This was not an act of self-defence,” said Mr Paech, a politician, as he arrived back in Berlin wrapped in a blue blanket.

“Personally I saw two and a half wooden batons that were used… There was really nothing else. We never saw any knives.

“This was an attack in international waters on a peaceful mission… This was a clear act of piracy,” he added.

Fellow German activist Inge Hoeger said they had been on the ships “for peaceful purposes”.

“We wanted to transport aid to Gaza,” she said. “No-one had a weapon.”

She added: “We were aware that this would not be a simple cruise across the sea to deliver the goods to Gaza. But we did not count on this kind of brutality.”

Activist Bayram Kalyon, arriving back in Istanbul, had also been a passenger on the Mavi Marmara.

“The captain… told us ‘They are firing randomly, they are breaking the windows and entering inside. So you should get out of here as soon as possible’. That was our last conversation with him.”

Condemnation of the attack came from all over the world with leaders from Europe, Africa and the Middle East united in one way or another in deploring the raid and mourning the victims. Turkey was the strongest in its condemnation, labeling the Israeli attack as a “massacre” and an act of”barbarism” and “piracy,” the strong condemnation made sense considering many of those on board the ships were Turkish.

Breakdown of those on board the ship,

Australia 3; Azerbaijan 2; Italy 6; Indonesia 12; Ireland 9; Algeria 28; United States 11; Bulgaria 2; Bosnia 1; Bahrain 4; Belgium 5; Germany 11; South Africa 1; Holland 2; United Kingdom 31; Greece 38; Jordan 30; Kuwait 15; Lebanon 3; Mauritania 3; Malaysia 11; Egypt 3; Macedonia 3; Morocco 7; Norway 3; New Zealand 1; Syria 3; Serbia 1; Oman 1; Pakistan 3; Czech Republic 4; France 9; Kosovo 1; Canada 1; Sweden 11; Turkey 380; Yemen 4.

However, the media has unfortunately in some ways portrayed this as a Turkish-only venture which it certainly was not, it had nationals from all over the world, noble peace laureates, a holocaust survivor, a former US ambassador,  prize winning authors, philosophers, politicians and activists from all walks of life. This diversity of backgrounds came together for the sole purpose of bringing relief to besieged Gazans, but instead they were met with violence.

Israelis burn Turkish flag

This fact also belies the cynical attempt by Israeli PR propagandists to paint this flotilla of peace as an armada of terror. Mark Regev, a face familiar to many during the information blackout that Israel enforced during the 2009 Gaza war was at it again, this time claiming that this flotilla was led by “Islamic Extremists.”

Pamela Geller has already shot off a dozen or more blog posts and articles about the Israeli attack, in her world these were “war ships” that were sent in a “military operation from re-Islamicized Turkey,” where according to her the number #1 best selling book is Mein Kampf (she can’t miss a Hitler reference can she?). Robert Spencer on his site is not to be undone by his partner Pamela, and has also shot off a handful of posts that reproduce articles making the argument that the Israeli attack wasn’t about targeting humanitarian work but about Radical Islam vs. Liberal West, that those on board have possible ties to Al-Qaeda, etc. You get the picture, let the dehumanization begin!

In the end the attack on the ship seems to have served no purpose but to perpetuate violence, and I can only imagine that it will galvanize more people to want to partake in non-violently breaking the blockade of Gaza. As we speak, the Rachel Corrie, an Irish ship, is on its way in an attempt to break through the Israeli blockade. Here’s hoping that the Israeli military won’t react wildly once again and do something crazy like killing innocent civilians on a peace mission.

Ireland to Israel: Let the new aid ship break the Gaza blockade

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen urged Israel to let the vessel to finish its mission. The ship was carrying 15 activists including a northern Irish Nobel Peace laureate.

“The government has formally requested the Israeli government to allow the Irish-owned ship … to be allowed to complete its journey unimpeded and discharge its humanitarian cargo in Gaza,” Cowen told parliament in Dublin.

An Israel Defense Forces officer pledged that the newest ship would also be halted, setting the stage for a fresh confrontation after Monday’s deadly clash.

“We as a unit are studying, and we will carry out professional investigations to reach conclusions,” the lieutenant said, referring to Monday’s confrontation in which his unit shot nine activists aboard a Turkish ferry.

“And we will also be ready for the Rachel Corrie,” he added

But activists said they were determined to follow through with their plan. “We are an initiative to break Israel’s blockade of 1.5 million people in Gaza. Our mission has not changed and this is not going to be the last flotilla,” Free Gaza Movement activist Greta Berlin, based in Cyprus, told Reuters.

Israeli officials were continuing to deport the activists who were aboard the six-ship flotilla. One hundred and twenty of the nearly 700 passengers were transferred Tuesday evening to the border crossing with Jordan, from where they will be returned to their home countries.

Passengers on the MV Rachel Corrie include Northern Irish Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire and Denis Halliday, an Irish former senior UN diplomat, and several other Irish citizens.

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin told parliament he had spoken with Halliday on Tuesday afternoon.

“We will be watching this situation very closely — as indeed will the world — and it is imperative that Israel avoid any action which leads to further bloodshed,” Martin said.

Israel’s Army Radio reported that the ship would reach Gazan waters by Wednesday, but activist Berlin said it might not attempt to reach Gaza until early next week.

“We will probably not send her till (next) Monday or Tuesday,” she said of the 1,200 ton cargo ship. The Israeli navy stormed aboard a Turkish ferry leading a six-ship convoy on Monday, killing nine people in what authorities said was self-defense but sparking a world outcry, a crisis in diplomatic relations with Turkey and condemnation from the United Nations Security Council.

The Rachel Corrie was carrying medical equipment, wheelchairs, school supplies and cement, a material Israel has banned in Hamas-ruled Gaza, organizers said.

Mark Daly, a member of Ireland’s upper house of parliament who had been due to join the convoy but was refused permission to leave Cyprus, told Reuters in Dublin that the ship had fallen behind the rest of the convoy because it was slower.

Passengers aboard it had heard about the attacks but decided not to turn back, he said.

“After having a discussion among themselves about what to do, they decided to keep going,” Daly said.

Nearly 700 international activists were processed in and around Israel’s port of Ashdod on Monday evening, where the six ships of the blockade-running convoy had been escorted.

Among the activists were many Turks but they also included Israelis and Palestinians as well as Americans and many Europeans.

The Interior Ministry said 682 activists were ordered deported, and that 45 left on Tuesday, while others were jailed as they challenged the orders, or in hospital being treated for injuries.

 

Marwan Bishara: Israeli Religious Forces on the March

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2010 by loonwatch

isgetty3565

Marwan Bishara is an interesting political analyst and host on AlJazeera. His program, Empire is a very insightful view into the modern political landscape and how the power brokers in that landscape are shaping the world. He has penned a penetrating piece on AlJazeera’s website about the rise in the IDF of Jewish religious-nationalists. A fact that will make the Israel-Palestine issue even harder to resolve, while also raising the spectre of an inevitable religious war. This piece was written at a favorable time considering our last piece on the ignorance of Bill Maher.

Israeli Religious Forces on the March by Marwan Bishara

As the Israeli Palestinian ‘peace process’ marches in place, religious-Zionism is marching into the leadership of the Israeli army, rendering an improbable peace mission impossible.

If as expected their number continues to increase at the same rate, no future Israeli leader will be able to evacuate Jewish settlements in the context of a peace agreement.

The radicalisation of Israeli society and polity is evident not only in the most right wing government in the country’s history, but also in the make up of its professional military.

Recent revelations in the Israeli media show how the Israeli military, which was once a bastion of ‘secular Zionism’, is slowly but surely falling under the influence of extreme religious Zionism with a wider role for radical rabbinical chiefs.

The disproportionately high numbers of religious-nationalists in elite units and the combat officer corps is transforming the Israeli military and its relationship to the occupation and illegal settlements.

Dramatic increase

In 1990, the year before the peace process started between Israel and its neighbours, two per cent of the cadets enrolled in the officers’ course for the infantry corps were religious; by 2007, that figure had shot up to 30 per cent.

Moreover, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz:

“This is how the intermediate generation of combat officers looks today: six out of seven lieutenant colonels in the Golani Brigade are religious and, beginning in the summer, the brigade commander will be as well. In the Kfir Brigade, three out of seven lieutenant colonels wear skullcaps, and in the Givati Brigade and the paratroopers, two out of six. In some of the infantry brigades, the number of religious company commanders has passed the 50 per cent mark – more than three times the percentage of the national religious community in the overall population.”

Worse still, according to the Israeli Peace Now organisation, the number of religious nationalists continues to grow at a worrying rate.

Its sources estimate that “more than 50 per cent of the elite combat units now are drawn from the religious nationalist sector of Israeli society”.

Professor Stuart Cohen of Bar Ilan University estimates that during the second intifada (2000-2002) the overall number of religious Zionist soldiers – as defined by those who wear knitted caps, or kippah seruga – in the infantry units may be roughly twice their proportion of the Jewish male population as a whole.

Many of these soldiers live in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Some live in so-called ‘illegal outposts’, which the International Quartet (the US, UN, EU and Russia) insists on dismantling and which Israel considers ‘unlawful’ according to its own narrow standards.

And increasing numbers live in the so-called “illegal outposts”, or those new Jewish settlements considered illegal by the International Quartet (the US, UN, EU and Russia) and according to Israel’s own narrow standards.

Despite Israel’s commitment under the 2003 ‘roadmap for peace’ to evacuate tens of these outposts, they remain standing and are even expanding.

A ‘higher authority’

Clearly, many of those who live in the settlements cannot be expected to help evacuate their own homes if such a time comes. And they are making it known.

Recently, soldiers in the infantry brigade waved placards with the slogan “we did not enlist in order to evacuate Jews” as they paraded in Jerusalem to mark the end of their training.

A number of rabbis have issued religious edicts against such evacuations.

Most of these religious Zionist settlers see settlement in the occupied West Bank (using their biblical names Judea and Samaria) or the overall “land of Israel”, which includes the territories occupied in 1967, as a religious duty.

Although Ariel Sharon, a former Israeli prime minister, succeeded in evacuating the marginal Gaza settlements in 2005, it is doubtful that any such evacuation from the tens of small scattered settlements in the West Bank is possible.

The nationalist religious camp is making it clear that the ‘word of God’ as they see it, takes precedence over the secular leadership.

Reportedly, the top military brass is quite fearful of such a scenario.

Soldiers and settlers

Lately, there have been reports about tensions between the Israeli military and some of the most violent settlers as the military tries to reign in some of their more extreme provocations.

In general, however, the military has been the settlers’ best friend and defender in the occupied territories.

And despite increased settler violence and vandalism against adjacent Palestinian towns and villages, the occupation army has been no less than complicit in the daily harassment of Palestinian residents and farmers.

Many settler-soldiers seem to deploy around their settlements, allowing them to man check points and harass and humiliate Palestinians at road blocks, turning the country’s military into their own private militias.

In the process, Palestinians find themselves held hostage by an Israeli government that has neither the will, nor increasingly the capacity, to deal with the settlement issue – the engine of violence and the terminator of the two state solution.

Eventually, they will march straight into a destructive religious war that is far harder to contain in or outside the ‘Holy Land’.

 

Harvard scholars respond to Martin Kramer’s support of a eugenics program against Palestinians

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by loonwatch
Prof. Martin Kramer advocated starving out Palestinians so that they could not reproduce, a view that some have called "genocidal"Prof. Martin Kramer advocated starving out Palestinians so that they cannot reproduce, a view that some have called “genocidal”

Prof. Martin Kramer, a right wing loon (who unlike the garden variety loon has a Harvard affiliation), advocated starving out the population of Gaza so that they could not reproduce–a view which flirts with genocide and is a form of eugenics.  We covered his hate-filled words earlier on our site.  I am a firm believer in Godwin’s Law and very rarely like using Nazi comparisons, but I think this is the rare exception in which it is more than fitting: one can well imagine Adolf Hitler contemplating blockading Jewish ghettos to starve them out and thereby prevent them from reproducing.

Anyways, this is old news.  So what’s new? Here’s what: a group of Harvard professors just published another response in the Harvard Crimson, condemning his statements:

Condemning Kramer

By Lori Allen, Vincent A. Brown, and Ajantha Subramanian
Published: Monday, April 19, 2010

Much has been made of Martin Kramer’s suggestion that Palestinians be denied food and medicine in order to weaken their opposition to the Israeli occupation. We, along with a group of 25 other professors, scholars, and Harvard alumni, add our voices to the chorus of condemnation directed towards Dr. Kramer and express our concern that the Weatherhead Center has lent him its credibility. As academics, we question both the ethical and scholarly basis of Dr. Kramer’s public statements. We maintain that this is not a question of protecting Dr. Kramer’s free speech, as was indicated by the Weatherhead Center’s response to criticism. Rather, it is about maintaining appropriate standards of ethical and intellectual conduct; Dr. Kramer’s repellent statements evince a clear failure to meet those standards.

The speech in question was made at the 10th annual Herzliya conference, the single most important gathering of influential policymakers and commentators in Israel. Kramer’s talk was part of a panel held on Feb. 3, 2010 entitled “Rising to the Challenge of Radical Indoctrination;” his Harvard affiliation was clearly identified in the conference program in connection with the talk. In Kramer’s presentation, he suggested that Israel’s current economic blockade of Gaza, now in its fourth year, represents a successful effort to “break Gaza’s runaway population growth.” He therefore argued against what he called “pro-natal subsidies” of food, medicine, and humanitarian aid that help to reproduce the “constant supply of superfluous young men” demanded by a so-called “culture of martyrdom” in Gaza.

His argument has little scholarly merit. In the name of state security, it validates demographic strategies of population control that date at least back to Thomas Malthus and have been repeatedly found wanting both intellectually and morally for over two centuries. Also, by attributing to culture what is a political and social phenomenon, Kramer misrepresents the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A willingness to sacrifice oneself is not a desire for martyrdom rooted in Palestinian culture. Rather, as has been shown by scholars of the conflict, Palestinian youth turn to violent means to oppose the dehumanizing effects of the Israeli occupation. In short, Kramer’s remarks are not informed by current scholarship, but are animated by the spirit of early 20th century eugenics.

Even if the Weatherhead Center were to overlook these scholarly shortcomings, it should at least consider the ethics of Kramer’s interventions. His characterization of young Palestinians as a superfluous population culturally predisposed to violence can only be described as racist. Indeed, his statements are rooted in a polemic that would have been unacceptable in reference to any other population. To quote Weatherhead Center executive committee member Stephen Walt, “What if a prominent academic at Harvard declared that the United States had to make food scarcer for Hispanics so that they would have fewer children? Or what if someone at a prominent think tank noted that black Americans have higher crime rates than some other groups, and therefore it made good sense to put an end to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and other welfare programs, because that would discourage African-Americans from reproducing and thus constitute an effective anti-crime program?” And, finally, what if a similar argument was made with regard to the Jewish people? If the Weatherhead Center would distance itself from such arguments and likely condemn them, why does it defend Kramer when he calls, in effect, for a policy of eugenics against Palestinians?

As Harvard faculty, alumni, and affiliates, we deplore Dr. Kramer’s statements as morally reprehensible and intellectually indefensible. Furthermore, we encourage the Weatherhead Center to reexamine its procedures for evaluating the scholarly credibility of future affiliates.

Lori Allen is an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy of International and Area Studies. Vincent A. Brown is a Professor of History and of African and African American Studies. Ajantha Subramanian is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and of Social Studies.