Saturday, August 9, 2014

Judiasm against Zionism

Reading the commentary on Finkelstein's calling the BDS movement a cult, I came across an astounding comment by Hadassah Borreman of Judiasm against Zionism.

Validating what I said about Orthodox Rabbis being opposed to Zionism, Borreman's website has a gallery of Orthodox Rabbis with their own words.  Borreman echoes that with on his websites:

His own words as a strict observing Jew are quite blunt also.

A Jewish domination (a fortiori a Zionist domination which is the highest physical achievement of the Zionist heresy) is prohibited everywhere, especially in the Holy Land. The Zionist entity was founded against the Torah; this Zionist entity isn’t a Jewish State. The question of Palestine can’t be solved only politically, she responds to spiritual laws.
The first Zionist settlers have captured Palestine, an Arabic land that was inhabited by the Palestinians that also the Zionists of today continue to disregard and ignore. This is injustice! Much worse, the Zionists are acting in our name, in the name of the Jews, since the beginning. The two-States solution is nonsense; it doesn’t solve any problem, because the root of the problem is the application of the Zionist ideology. We must uproot this root, not just cut the dead leaves of the weeds.
Zionists must give back everything they have stolen, they must leave Palestine and they have to be tried as war criminals.
The Palestinians have the right, and above all, they have the duty to defend themselves, the duty to protect their property and identity according to the rules they decide. Everything is permitted to end this Evil.
The Palestinians deserve our support, BDS and other actions will help to the disappearance of their misery that’s also ours. Yes to a Palestinian Islamic rule with only the Palestinian flag!

Finkelstein's Critique of "BDS Movement"

Finkelstein credits his political analysis to Gandhi.

But it seems to me a very shallow political/psychological analysis to me.

The first step in reaching people is honesty and openness.  So when someone asks what you think, the worst thing to do is to deflect the question.

I think the right thing would be for Palestinians to have their stolen country returned.  The whole thing, going back to before any zionist violence and aggression occurred.  That's obvious and the minimum degree of fairness because it's not even counting the death, pain, and suffering that has occurred as a result of zionist and Israeli violence and aggression.

Most people can understand and sympathize with people getting their land back.  It's the knowledge that it happened that's been delayed by cold war fears and hasbara distortions, including the basic distortion that somehow it was and is illegal and immoral for Palestinians to resist the original and continuing dispossession.

Now that those distortions are being debunked, and often by people like Finkelstein and Chomsky, it becomes apparent what happened and is still happening, and the fundamentally cruel and murderous character of the whole Zionist project.

If and when Palestinian lands are returned to their rightful owners, I don't care if that means a Jewish State couldn't exist there anymore.  I'm fine with a Jewish state existing or not, I don't care much about that specific fact, though I think all (including Jews) are better off without a Jewish supremacy State, and I especially don't think a Jewish State should exist on stolen land needing endless death (or worse) with USA military backing and deceit to continue existing

That's a dangerous and murderous business for my state--the USA--to be in…militarily and diplomatically defending both the morally indefensible theft of a country, and to be doing so to the hatred of a large fraction of the world's population, if not more.  I rue the day Truman got us into this mess by making the U.S. the first state to recognize the State of Israel on 78% of a stolen country.

So I support BDS.  Others can have their own reasons, like the notion that UN law must be applied.  Generally I think that's a good idea, but one can argue about the details, and here I can argue with all of them, going at least back to the unfair preallocation of 55% of the land (which grew to 78% and now more by aggression) including most of the coastline to a minority Jewish population by the UN in 1947.    That doesn't represent any fundamental notion of fairness.  It happened because of the power politics of the day.  Today the power politics occurs more exclusively in the Security Council, which has kept Israel free of UN sanction and peacekeepers.

Maybe because I know so much about this whole situation, the actual law has been far more fair to Jews than Palestinians.  Let alone the fact that none of what would have been good for Palestinians has actually been done (and maybe that would be correctible with existing states…or maybe not--I think.)

But even if you're not some kind of junkie on this issue, as I am, I honestly don't think that "International Law must be applied" resonates as much as all the various notions of fundamental justice, like that theft is wrong and what is stolen should be returned.

If there's an organization or proto-organization which wants to promote the International Law aspect differently than existing BDS organizations, I'm fine with them existing, in fact I'd love to see that too.  They could consider themselves part of the existing BDS movement or not.  Maybe they'd grow much bigger and ultimately win.

The fact they don't suggests that maybe the International Law aspect doesn't resonate with people as much as the fundamental justice one.

Now what actual Palestinians decide they are willing to accept is not up to me anyway.  The BDS movement creates the pressure for change, not the change itself.  No one should expect anything like fundamental justice can be achieved.

Many have felt that radical thinking and ideas make reforms possible.  Many of Marx's ideas did get adopted in 20th century USA.  Hardly all, of course.  Many credit the New Deal reforms to political success achieved by US Socialists and Communists as well as opportunists like Huey Long.  That created the need for the mainstream FDR to respond with mainstream reform.  If the pressure from the further left hadn't appeared, FDR's achievements would likely have been far less.

Chomsky seems to completely follow Finkelstein in his critique of the BDS movement.  But strangely in most other areas outside the Israel/Palistine war…Chomsky has been reluctant to tell people what to do.  He says something like there are many obvious things to do.

That is actually the correct thing to say, in every case I'd say.

So why is Chomsky himself, at one time at least believer in the one state with equality for all Jews and Palestinians (including when he lived there), so much fine tuning the required goal for action here?  Action occurs as people are moved, not as we would intend them to.

He does tell the compelling story of how once the 2 state settlement became possible, when Arafat of the PLO accepted the outlines of a 2 state settlement according to UN law in 1975…Israel and the US worked to make it impossible.  But it's still not entirely impossible, he says.  Others are not so sure.

Chomsky goes beyond just mentioning international law, but the international community, leading Palestinian authorities, etc.  Pretty much the main thing blocking UN direct action is the vote of USA in the Security Council.  No nation should have veto, and especially the USA.

Anyway, it does seem to me that Chomsky becomes uncharacteristically directing in his response to this issue for the same reason as Finkelstein.  He cares a lot about it, perhaps even personally, for Palestinians to have peace now, and not 100 years from now.  Strangely, however, Chomsky often suggests other issues in the world may be much more important, or at least involve greater death and suffering.

Friday, August 8, 2014

2 state settlement is existing and enforceable international law

According to blogger named Hostage at Mondoweiss, in a comment to this thread at Mondoweiss.

Hostage says:
i would support two states if israel would start by defining those borders. it won’t.
Israel did that when it signed the Armistice Agreements as a provisional measure under Article 40, Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The ICJ cited Security Council resolution 62 and the other relevant resolutions in determining the legal status of the territory. I’ve noted elsewhere that Israel admitted the status of the territory is unchallengeable in the absence of a new round of negotiations and mutual consent. Palestine is not under any obligation to accept any changes. link to
The international community adopted a consensus definition of the crime of aggression which included any military occupation that violates the UN Charter – and it has long-since applied it to the on-going occupation of the Arab territories captured by Israel in 1967. See for example UN General Assembly resolution 39/146 link to The ICC Assembly of State Parties adopted the consensus definition into the recent amendments to the Rome Statute. So Norman is actually correct. There is an enforceable consensus solution under existing Security Council resolutions 62 & 73 and international law.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Dual Right of Return

Though unusual, the concession to Jewish persecution should well be a highly unusual constitutionally guaranteed Right of Return (for Jews, meaning any Jew can enter, as under Israel) as well as the demanded by many international laws of Right of Return for all Palestinian refugees and their descendants.  A dual right of return state would be the only one imaginable which would be reasonably fair to all parties, and still maintain an extraordinary status as a Jewish haven.  Israel is not Gaza, there are large quantities of unused land in Israel, enough for all of those with a right to be there.

I have come to believe that USA's legitimacy should come from the realization of the inscription on the Statue of Liberty.  European descendants, such as myself, were initially welcomed by Native Americans in many places.  It was only when the white man started monopolizing things that there was violent conflict.  Still, many agreements and treaties were reached with Native Americans in the 1800's.  Fighting was relatively isolated.  By 1924, 20 years before violent zionism (and palestinian resistance to ethnic cleansing), native americans had full US citizenship and also tribal citizenship from which might come other benefits.  They had largely agreed upon tribal lands, which have not been useless.  US history is not free of violent and unfair aggression, and more recently the US has not been a perfect steward, and that's terrible and should be fixed, but I believe the situation is far different than in Palestine, contrary to suggestions by hasbarats.

To not allow in the "huddled masses yearning to be free" we are pulling up the ladder after ourselves.  And in so doing, we destroy our own legitimacy, as long as we monopolize the resources the Native Americans were willing to share with us.

Likewise, legitimacy only comes to Israel/Palestine only when there is right of return for all palestinians, and a single state.  Then the great theft of a national homeland for the indigenous Palestinians has been reversed.

[Of course I understand the difficulty of the current situations, and it may be better to accept a reasonable two state solution now to end the historic and punishing war.  It is for the locals to decide, not me.  I only stand in judgement as to what seems more fair by my lights, and attempting to follow universal standards as much as possible.  I am not an activist leader, though I have participated in free Gaza demonstrations.  Certainly the 2000 proposals at Camp David were ridiculously unfair to the Palestinians even by two state standards.]

About my Jewish friends…so giving

Thinking back upon all my Jewish friends, just all of my best friends going back to age 8.  They haven't necessarily the smartest (although some pretty close)  or the most exciting (though they have generally been more fun to me than others--same speed) but what has really set them apart from others has been how giving they have been to me.  Right away they invited for play, then dinner, and so on.

Now it might be different facing a Jewish lawyer under cross examination, or any other adversarial circumstance.

Israel was created by lying murdering ethnic cleansing extremists who set a deadly ball of murder and deceit in motion, and not surprisingly it is making the worst of the best of people.  Nationalism does that, and so does capitalism.  Both nationalism and capitalism empower the worst people in society the most, which is made worse by the strong extremist nationalist edge of Jewish society.  There is also no King or singular religious leader who could dial it back, as sometimes happens in traditional societies, though that just as often doesn't work.

The best idea is no Israel, no special country club for Jews, especially one built on the stolen land and broken backs of the earlier owners and occupants who were shoved off to make a Jewish majority and are now being squeezed into the margins of their previous state where it had been promised that they would finally get freedom from colonialism and self determination after World War II.

If Jews were to choose to leave a secular and liberal Palestine--with guaranteed equality for all--and full right of return for all displaced Palestinians and their descendants, I'm fine with them leaving.  Jews can live with full rights and little prejudice in many countries now.  I never thought my Jewish friends in the USA suffered prejudice, indeed some got special advantages it seemed to me--as a result of having the more cohesive society I wished I had.  Even if there is prejudice, the best thing is to fight it where it is, largely with kindness, which is what Judaism successfully promotes in diaspora if not in nationhood.

Getting to a secular and liberal Palestine is almost unimaginable via sustained direct conflict by the parties involved…but a regime of sustained international sanctions including blocking weapons shipments to and from Israel from all other states…would be the best tactic.  Another key strategy is educating people about the Nakba and the creation of Israel and the nature of it's role in Imperialism (Battleship Israel) and how that thwarted true local self determination.  I think if many Jews realized they were being used this way--as a force to block global democratization--they wouldn't want to be a part of this enterprise.

The fact that many Arab states such as Egypt support Israel more than Palestinian rights is not a measure of Israel's popular success, but rather a measure of how successful the anti-democratic strategy of having an Israel to block pan Arab democracy has been.  Along with other imperialist measures.  There could have been pan arab secular democracy if it had not been blocked at every turn, and the client dictators supported.  Islam became the only way permitted way to resist.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Dear Obama, stop sending military aid to Israel

We must stop sending military aid to Israel until it honors its obligations under international law, including not attacking hospitals, UN refugee centers, and civilians in Gaza.  Israel must  lift the blockade on Gaza--itself a brutal act of war, and the brutal occupation of the West Bank.

Until Israel honors its obligations, it should be considered a military aggressor towards Palestine, and all violent actions by Palestine toward Israel are justifiable self-defense given the limited means at their disposal.

Israel was a big mistake from the very beginning, when Harry Truman made the USA the first state to recognize Israel while ignoring unsettled issues, such as the forcible expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians in order to create a Jewish majority.  FDR had committed himself to seeking Arab approval before recognizing a Jewish state.  At minimum, the Palestinian state should have been simultaneously recognized.

Ever since, the brutality and bad faith of Israel has continued and become our brutality and bad faith.  As the supporters of state terrorism by Israel, we make ourselves legitimate targets for justifiable asymmetric warfare.

We are better off not supporting Israel, and the world would be a better place if Israel were abandoned.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Israel over and over

Jewish Orthodox Rabbis, as well as many others, were opposed to Zionism.  They saw it as secular nationalism overtaking their historic theology.  According to Jewish theology, it was no accident that the Romans drove the Jews out of Israel in the first century CE.  It was God's will.  And it was God who must decide when they return, not men.  Orthodox Rabbis made dire predictions of what would happen if Israel were reconstituted prematurely by Jews acting without God's will.  They said nationalism would overtake religion, other nations would be angered, and a new anti-Semitism would arise.  Very prescient, and I think I like these guys.

Strangely, this is the 3rd time Israel has been established, and the first two times led to its disestablishment by a large empire.  What might happen this time?

The second time it was established, it was established on behest of one empire, with bags of money from Cyrus, then 600 years later, was disestablished by another empire, the Roman empire, which found Israel not to be an obedient vassal state, and tending to generate chaos.  100 years earlier, the Jews had invited the Romans in, because the Jews had been having internal chaos.

Secular observers don't have good stories for the first establishment of Israel.  Here we have as practically our only history the Torah, with very little independent corroboration.  The Torah was written down in the style of religious myth 500 years after the purported events happened.  So we can't really accept the stories about Moses, King David, and Solomon, as established facts at face value, rather only as religious myths--which might have some connection to the facts.

According to the Torah, Moses organized slaves who revolted from Egypt and escaped to set up their own state in Canaan.  There is no independent evidence of any of this.  But one very peculiar thing is that these "slaves" had weapons and knew how to use them.

My interpretation is that these "slaves" were not exactly slaves, and they did not exactly conquer Canaan, there is no evidence for the Battle of Jericho or that kind of thing either.  Instead, the Jews may have been mercenaries for the Egyptian empire, situated in Canaan to protect the Egyptian frontier from Assyria.  Mercenaries aren't generally slaves, but may be under contract.  Perhaps they didn't like their contract, and got out of it to become independent operators, do their own trade and security for cash.  And this was the first Israel.

One way or another, the first time Israel was "established," it at least had an imperial connection even according to the Torah story, though in the Torah version the imperial connection was looser than in my guess.

So initially, there was a mercenary culture.  The women didn't like where things were going with that.  So they sought out holy men in the area and got them involved to make the culture more civilized.  So when the rules were written, they were written so that it was the children of the women who were the chosen.  That's the mark that this religion was established for the women, in order to civilize the men.

So we see today, the descendants of the mercenaries and the holy men, which to me aptly describes the polarities we see among Jews from right to left.  The mercenaries are men and women like the Prime Ministers of Israel…a cadre of state terrorists, some with considerable previous terrorist achievements.  The holy men are like the unending battalions of Jewish peace organizers and leftist writers.  The Jews produced Jesus, who had many ideas that still resonate with leftists today.

Israel exists now because it was convenient to Imperial planners in Europe and the USA to have a battleship in the oil rich middle east manned by local operators who would rather die than see pan arab democracy--which the Empire doesn't want either because it would loosen their grip.

We know that twice when Israel was established (now and after the first exile) it was with imperial cash for imperial ends.  And perhaps this is actually the third time Israel has been established for imperial ends with imperial cash.  Which strengthens the suggestion that the outcome may be similar as well.

The orthodox rabbis were right, time had just not come for an Israel yet.  Israel needs to be established by God, not by empires.  Empires come and go.  And being an imperial mercenary is not a good thing to live for, even if the pay is pretty good.   Israel gives the worst of Jews the upper hand.