Dr. MLK, Jr
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Vol. 15 No. 44…Dedicated to the Dialogue on Race…Dec. 6, 2012
In 1938, Avnery joined the Irgun, a Zionist paramilitary group and wrote for some of their publications. At one point he edited the internal Revisionist journal Ba-Ma'avak ("in the Struggle"). He started writing for independent publications at age 17.
Avnery left the Irgun in 1942 after becoming disenchanted with their tactics, stating in a 2003 interview that, "I didn't like the methods of terror applied by the Irgun at the time", noting he did not back killing people in retaliation for similar acts by the Arabs. In 1947 Avnery started his own small group, Eretz Yisrael Hatze'ira ("Young Land of Israel"), which published the journal Ma'avak ("Struggle"). Avnery's early political thought was influenced by Canaanism; in 1947 he proposed a union of the countries in the "Semitic region": Palestine, Transjordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.
During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, he fought on the southern front as a squad commander, and later in the Samson's Foxes commando unit (and also wrote its anthem). He wrote dispatches from the front line which were published in Haaretz and later as a book, In the Fields of Philistia Avnery was wounded twice, the second time, toward the end of the war, seriously; he spent the last months of his army service convalescing and was discharged in the summer of 1949.
After the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 Avnery used his editorials in HaOlam HaZeh to call for a preventive war against Egypt, arguing that "the reactionary Arab regimes" would attack Israel "the minute Arab superiority in weapons over Israel is great enough." He began to revise his views after the 1956 Suez Crisis, which ended in Israeli withdrawal and strengthened Nasser. In June 1957 Avnery suggested that Israel aid Palestinians in overthrowing the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan (a "product of imperialism"); Israel would then form a federation with the new Palestinian Jordanian state. In the late 1950s Avnery was among the founders of the group Semitic Action, which argued for a regional federation of Israel and its neighbors.
Avnery famously crossed the front lines and met Yasser Arafat on 3 July 1982, during the Siege of Beirut -- said to have been the first time an Israeli met personally with Arafat.
His visit with Arafat was among the reasons he became estranged from his mother, Hilda Ostermann, who disinherited him. In her will, Hilda wrote "I do not leave a penny to my son Uri, who instead of taking care of me went off to visit that murderer Yasser Arafat".
He later turned to left-wing peace activism and founded the Gush Shalom movement in 1993, which he continues to lead as of 2009. He is a secularist and strongly opposed to the Orthodox influence in religious and political life.
The Big Winner is Hamas
By Uri Avnery
It has displaced the slogan which dominated several decades: "Bang And Finish!" It did not quite work.
The big winner emerging from the cloud is Hamas.
Until this round, Hamas had a powerful presence in the Gaza Strip, but practically no international standing. The international face of the Palestinian people was Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian National Authority. No more.
Operation Pillar of Cloud has given the Hamas mini-state in Gaza wide international recognition. (Pillar of Cloud is the official Hebrew name, though the army spokesman decreed that the English name, for foreign consumption, should be Pillar of Defense.) Heads of state and droves of other foreign dignitaries made their pilgrimage to the Strip.
First was the powerful and immensely rich Emir of Qatar, owner of Aljazeera. He was the first head of state ever to enter the Gaza strip. Then came the Egyptian prime minister, the Tunisian foreign minister, the secretary of the Arab League and the collected Arab foreign ministers (except the one from Ramallah.)
In all diplomatic deliberations, Gaza was treated as a de facto state, with a de facto government (Hamas). The Israeli media were no exception. It was clear to Israelis that any deal, to be effective, must be concluded with Hamas.
Within the Palestinian people, the standing of Hamas shot sky-high. The Gaza Strip alone, smaller than an average American county, has stood up to the mighty Israeli war machine, one of the largest and most efficient in the world. It has not succumbed. The military outcome will be at best a draw.
A draw between tiny Gaza and the powerful Israel means a victory for Gaza.
Who remembers now Ehud Barak's proud declaration in the middle of the war: "We shall not stop until Hamas gets on its knees and begs for a cease-fire!"
If Abbas could at least show a major political achievement for his pains, the situation might be different. The Palestinians are a sensible people, and if Abbas had come even one step closer to Palestinian statehood, most Palestinians would probably have said: he may not be glamorous, but he delivers the goods.
This round will only reinforce a basic Palestinian conviction: "Israelis understand only the language of force!" (Israelis, of course, say exactly the same about the Palestinians.)
Looked at from the outside, this looks like sheer lunacy. Why undermine the "moderates" who want and are able to make peace? Why elevate the "extremists", who are opposed to peace?
The answer is openly expressed by Avigdor Lieberman, now Netanyahu's official political No. 2: he wants to destroy Abbas in order to annex the West Bank and clear the way for the settlers.
After Hamas, the big winner is Mohamed Morsi.
US reactions were almost the same.
And now - less than four months later - we hang on every word Morsi utters. He is the man who has put an end to the mutual killing and destruction! He is the great peacemaker! He is the only person who can mediate between Israel and Hamas! He must guarantee the cease- fire agreement!
Can it be? Can this be the same Morsi? The same Muslim Brotherhood?
All the suffering, the killed, the injured, the destruction, the hours and days of terror, the children in trauma?
Now that it is over, we are almost exactly where we were before. The operation, commonly referred to in Israel as "another round", was indeed round - leading nowhere than to where it started.
Each of the two sides is now celebrating its great victory. If they organized just one joint celebration, a lot of money could be saved. What are the political conclusions?
The most obvious one is: talk with Hamas. Directly. Face to face.
Yitzhak Rabin once told me how he came to the conclusion that he must talk with the PLO: after years of opposing it, he realized that they were the only force that counted. "So it was ridiculous to talk with them through intermediaries."
Save Abbas. As of now, he has no replacement. Give him an immediate victory to balance the Hamas achievements. Vote for the Palestinian application for statehood in the UN General Assembly.
Move towards peace with the entire Palestinian people, including Fatah and Hamas - so we can really put an end to the violence, ONCE AND FOR ALL! (Source: www.counterpunch.org/2012/11/23/the-big-winner-is-hamas/)
One of Israel's Great Leftist Warriors Wants Peace with Hamas & Gaza - But Does the Knesset?
By Robert Fisk
Our correspondent meets the legendary Uri Avnery, who roars out against Netanyahu and his government and foresees growing ethnic strife in Israel.
He's still the same guy I last came across 30 years ago, playing chess with Yasser Arafat in the ruins of Beirut. White hair and white beard now, and roaring his words - he's a wee bit deaf these days - with the same rage and humour as ever. I ask Avnery what Netanyahu and his government are doing. What was this Gaza war meant to achieve? The eyes sparkle and he spits out his reply.
"You are presuming you know what they want and you presume they want peace - and therefore that their policy is stupid or insane. But if you assume they don't give a damn for peace but want a Jewish state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan river, then what they are doing makes sense up to a point. The trouble is that what they do want is leading into a cul de sac - because we already have now one state in all of historic Palestine, three quarters of it the Jewish state of Israel and one quarter the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip."
Avnery speaks in perfect sentences and my pen skids over the page until it runs out of ink and I have to steal one of his.
"If they annex the West Bank as they have annexed East Jerusalem," he says. "It doesn't make much of a difference. The trouble is that in this territory which is now dominated by Israel, there are about 49 per cent Jews and 51 per cent Arabs - and this balance will become larger every year because the natural increase on the Arab side is far greater than the natural increase on our side. So the real question is: if this policy goes on, what kind of state will it be? As it is today, it is an Apartheid state, a full apartheid in the occupied territories and a growing apartheid in Israel - and if this goes on, it will be full apartheid throughout the country, incontestably."
The Avnery argument goes bleakly on. If the Arab inhabitants are granted civil rights, there will be an Arab majority in the Knesset and the first thing they will do is change the name `Israel' and name the state `Palestine', "and the whole exercise of the past 130 years has come to naught." Mass ethnic cleansing is impossible in the 21st century, he says - or hopes - but there is no discussion about the demography.
"There is a suppression. We are supposed to push this out of our consciousness. Not one single political party speaks about this problem. The word `peace' does not appear in any election manifesto, except for the little Meretz party - neither the Opposition or the Coalition. The word `peace' has completely disappeared.
"And The Left in Israel? They have been more or less hibernating - since the Left was killed off by Ehud Barak in 2000. He came back from Camp David - as self-proclaimed leader of the `peace camp' - and told us `we have no partner for peace'. This was a death blow. It was not Netanyahu who said this, but the leader of the Labour Party. This was the end of Peace Now."
Avnery is convinced that Hamas would accept the same - he lectured to them in Gaza in 1993, "standing there, facing 500 black-bearded sheikhs, speaking to them in Hebrew - I was applauded and invited to lunch."
Undermining Peace in Gaza and Israel in One Minute Flat How the House Defeated the Democratic Process "Unanimously"
By Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
On November 16, 2012, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution, H.Res 813, expressing "vigorous support" and "unwavering commitment" to the State of Israel while bombs were being dropped on Gaza and missiles were launched toward Ashkelon. The resolution expresses the official opinion of the House of Representative. The resolution was passed "without objection."
It is unusual that legislation addressing a topic of such importance would be brought up without giving members of Congress any prior notice. The bill was introduced at 12:04 pm. The resolution was "agreed without objection" by 12:05 PM.
"There was no notice, no committee hearing, no discussion and no debate. In such a fashion, we achieve unanimity on great matters related to the Middle East," said Kucinich.
Concerning this abnormal set of circumstances and addressing the tragic violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today released the following statement.
"I object to H.Res.813, an unfortunately and unnecessarily one-sided resolution that was brought up on Friday, November 16th for consideration without any advance notice to members of Congress and which was completed in about a minute without any discussion. The hasty nature in which this resolution of such significance was considered undermines the unspoken, but operationally essential understanding, that bills of great importance will not be quietly tiptoed through Congress. A loss of Members' confidence in Leadership results when House floor procedures are conducted in a manner frustrating to good faith. Such conduct can only add to the hyperpartisanship and the breakdown of comity in Congress that Americans find objectionable.
"Members must be given the opportunity to debate U.S. support of a military operation that is likely to be of significant consequence in talks between Israel and the Palestinians. This impacts the region and the world.
"Only one minute for consideration of a most consequential resolution in the House, when in the past week, the death toll in Gaza has climbed past 100, including 24 children. Over 800 people are reported to have been wounded. Rockets from groups in Gaza have landed in several Israeli towns. Three Israelis have been killed.
"This latest military escalation began after Israel assassinated Ahmed Al-Jabari, the head of Hamas' military wing. According to Israeli negotiator Gershon Baskin, who secured the release of Gilad Shalit, Mr. Jabari 'wasn't just interested in a long-term cease-fire; he was also the person responsible for enforcing previous cease-fire understandings…On the morning that he was killed, Mr. Jabari received a draft proposal for an extended cease-fire with Israel, including mechanisms that would verify intentions and ensure compliance.' Could anything be more destructive of peace than the assassination of a principal to ceasefire negotiations? And the House only has one minute to consider the ramifications of such action?
"The root of this latest flare up in hostilities is deep. Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on a two-state solution have been virtually non-existent. Innocent people in Gaza continue to suffer under a blockade that has deprived them of everything from food and clean water to educational opportunities. Illegal settlements continue to be built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, further diminishing prospects for a negotiated two-state solution.
Examining the 3 Palestinian-Punishment Focused Efforts in the Senate
By Lara Friedman
As of this writing, three initiatives have been introduced in the Senate over the past 18 hours or so aimed at punishing the Palestinians (and others) for the current Palestinian initiative at the UN. All have been in the form of amendments to S. 3245, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) -- a piece of must-pass legislation that happens to be under consideration in the Senate right now (making it a prime target for opportunistic legislative riders).
The amendments are: SA 3139, SA 3171 and SA 3203. SA 3139 and SA 3171 are partisan (supported only by Republicans) and, in their substance and drafting, pretty ham-fisted. SA 3203 is also pretty ham-fisted, but it is bipartisan and could be viewed as more "reasonable" and "moderate" than the other two amendments, and in effect is more broadly consistent with the tone that Israel is increasingly taking (i.e., that the UN vote to upgrade the Palestinians' status isn't really important; what is really important is what happens next). It thus seems likely that the real action on this issue will be around SA 3203. In that context, the other two amendments play a useful role in making SA 3203 look measured and "reasonable" by comparison.
SA 3203 is offered by Senators Graham (R-SC), Schumer (D-NY), and Barrasso (R-WY). It would prohibit all aid to the Palestinian Authority if the International Criminal Court "adjudicates any matter proposed or supported by the Palestinian Authority or any other entity, legally recognized or otherwise, that purports to represent the interests of the Palestinian people." This wording is interesting, in that the onus of responsibility falls on the ICC, not the Palestinians. Under this language, a Palestinian effort to gain standing at the ICC, or even a Palestinian effort to bring a case to the ICC, would NOT trigger an aid cut off. What would trigger the cut-off would be the decision of the ICC to adjudicate a case in which the Palestinians were involved (a threat that is almost certain to outrage many at the UN, as it represents a pretty direct effort to interfere in the ICC's independence in deciding what cases to adjudicate).
Moreover, either intentionally or due to incredibly poor drafting, this language would impose a cut-off in aid in the case that the ICC adjudicates any matter "supported" by the PA. This means that even if the Palestinians decided not to try to gain standing in the ICC or file any case there against Israel, the mere fact of the PA expressing support for another country's case in the ICC - even outside the context of the United Nations itself, or even a case entirely unrelated to Israel - would trigger the aid cut.
Notably, this language includes no waiver -- as in, the cut-off of aid could not be waived even if U.S. national security is involved. Moreover, as-written, the cut-off in aid would not expire or sunsets with the passage of time or changing conditions (i.e., if aid to the PA were cut off, it would stay cut off forever - or at least until the law is changed , which based on experience is the same as forever).
In addition, this amendment would force the closure of the PLO representative office in the U.S. unless the President determines and reports to Congress that "the Palestinians have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel." This wording, too, is interesting. It includes no grace period and as written would in effect require a constant re-affirmation of the determination - as opposed to a determination made, say, every 90 or 180 days. It also permits no "wiggle room" for efforts to re-start or keep alive negotiations once they have started. This, if this language became law today, the PLO office would have to be closed immediately. Likewise, it would mean that if negotiations were underway and broke down FOR A SINGLE DAY, the office would be kicked out of the U.S.
Disgruntled feels: Untenable! Last week the United Nations General Assembly voted by an overwhelming margin to grant the nation of Palestine "observer status." While this does not bring into fruition the long-awaited state for the displaced people, it does give them an avenue down which to travel in bringing Israel before the World Court to account for its atrocities. The foreign ministers of the nations voting for and against the resolution spoke eloquently of the decades-long conflict. The two sides were clearly delineated. On the Palestinian side, they spoke of the plight of the Palestinian people, the overdue response of the international community, the need to end Israel's illegal occupation and collective punishment and bring freedom and justice to the oppressed people of Gaza and the West Bank. On the Israeli side, there was this specious argument that continues this charade of negotiations about a two-state solution that essentially maintains the status quo that allows Israel to continue stealing Palestinian land. Unfortunately, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice was on the side of Israel. In that capacity, Rice looked stressed; I could see the beads of sweat. That is what happens when one is obliged to espouse the talking points of a policy that is morally and ethically untenable!
Disgruntled wants to know: Personally, all this media attention devoted to the fiscal cliff has me suspicious. It seems more hype that substance, because, if it was as serious as we are being programmed to believe, then our "responsible" leaders would have already fixed it instead of politicking to their respective bases for brownie points. Even I can come up with spending cuts and revenue from tax reform. Consider this! The US has the biggest military in the world. It has enough weapons to destroy Earth hundreds of times and still have leftovers. Surely, there are savings to be had in really ending those unnecessary wars, spending less on weapons and closing some of those far-flung military bases. We could end corporate welfare. Now that's a novel idea! Instead of beating the entitlement horse to death, we could cut the big business and farm subsidies. And, on the tax reform front, why not make all wages subject to the Social Security tax and start treating capital gains like ordinary income, so fat cats like Mitt Romney and Warren Buffett pay income tax rates similar to those paid by Joe, the Plumber and Susie, the Secretary?
Disgruntled says: Thank goodness Thanksgiving is over and X-Mas is mere days away. I will be the first to admit that this is not my favorite time of the year. I annually experience a bout of depression beginning early November; it tends to linger through December. One might read my childhood stories and glimpse some of the reasons for this seasonal gloom, but I am inclined to believe it goes much deeper than my impoverished upbringing and Santa's failure to deliver those goodies promised to good little girls and boys. I dislike the seasonal cheer and giving that magically dry up come January as if the poor and homeless only require food, clothing and shelter Thanksgiving and X-Mas. This year, there is even more reason to be down. My birthday is December 21, the day the Mayan calendar ends, and according to the doomsday folks, the world with it. What a total bummer!
Email http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com...Israeli Military's Twitter Warrior Forced to Retreat After 'Obama Style' Blackface Joke...By Robert Mackey...The young Israeli officer who leads the campaign to cast his nation's military in a positive light on social networks restricted access to his own Facebook account, after a Lebanese blogger discovered that the soldier had uploaded an image of himself with mud or dark paint on his face captioned, "Obama style." The officer, Lt. Sacha Dratwa, a 26-year-old who emigrated to Israel from Belgium eight years ago, was identified last week by Tablet and Gawker as the man marshaling Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr and Pinterest to support and celebrate the actions of the Israel Defense Forces. After Lieutenant Dratwa blocked access to the photograph on Sunday, he defended himself on Twitter, writing, "I'm not racist." In a statement posted on Facebook he insisted that he had "nothing to hide," but was merely trying to stop what he called the "cynical use" of "private photos from my Facebook profile in order to publicly misrepresent my opinions." The photographs of himself posted on the social network, he added, "do not reflect my beliefs and have no bearing whatsoever on my position in the IDF." In a comment to an Israeli news site, the officer's superiors said that because the image was posted on the soldier's personal Facebook account, it had no bearing on his official role.
Email http://mg.co.za...Stevie Wonder decided not to perform at a concert raising money for Israeli soldiers and their families. The singer pulled out of a scheduled appearance at Friends of the Israel Defence Force (FIDF)'s gala benefit in Los Angeles. "Given the current and very delicate situation in the Middle East, and with a heart that has always cried out for world unity, I will not be performing at the FIDF gala," Wonder said. "I am and have always been against war, any war, anywhere." Wonder was to headline the December 6 event, which would also see a performance by songwriter and music mogul David Foster. Tickets to the show started at $1 000. Friends of the Israel Defence Forces is a US-based charity that seeks to "provide for the wellbeing" of Israeli soldiers and "the families of fallen soldiers". "Their job is to look after Israel," reads the organisation's slogan. "Ours is to look after them." Wonder revealed that a contact from the United Nations had recommended he pull out of this week's gig; the 62-year-old was named a UN "messenger of peace" in 2009. But activists at the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation told Reuters that Wonder's move was a response to the "growing outcry" from pro-Palestinian protest groups, as well as three international petitions. The most successful of these petitions, started by an Italian fan, garnered almost 5,000 electronic signatures. In light of his decision, Wonder announced he would be making donations to charities that support Israeli and Palestinian children with disabilities.
Irvin Grice, Photographer
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