Non-violent demonstration, Bethlehem

Non-violent demonstration, Bethlehem

With even a modest ability to consider objectively the barrage of “information” overwhelming us hour by hour by hour by minute, one can see that any media—any format—presenting information about the current attempt of Israel to obliterate Palestinian Gaza assumes a priori that Israel’s actions are justified.

The common—no the absolute overwhelming majority—wisdom is that “Israel has the right to protect itself.”

This is a “truth” so often repeated that it sounds as if it came from, Oh, I don’t know, perhaps the Holy Bible. Or the United States Constitution. Or the United Nations Charter. Or the Bhagavad Gita. Or the Qur’an. Or Shakespeare. Or SNL. It is simple truth, not to be questioned. It is as universal belief as the science of economics.

Belief in Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is no less pervasive than that “Israel has a right to protect itself.”

Hardly anyone (at least hardly anyone in public) thinks about whether or not the proposition is true. And almost no one wants to hear any information that might contradict the received wisdom.

The wisdom began to be received, I would guess, during and immediately after the 1967 War between Israel and its Arab neighbors. I have, in fact, read about the process whereby the Israeli Cabinet decided to use Madison Avenue tactics to begin to persuade the American people that the belief, “Israel has a right to defend itself,” is simply true, is simply to be accepted without thought. I will plow through the stuff I have and find that article (or reread the book, whatever it takes).

Until then, trust me. OK, don’t trust me. There’s no reason for you to do so until I have located the evidence that I am correct.

So in lieu of trusting me, trust yourself. Ask yourself why the massive destruction of cities, the horrifying murder of civilians Israel is perpetrating right now is in any way an expression of the “right to self-defense.”

Do you think Russia’s annexation of Crimea was an act of self-defense?
Do you think Saddam Hussein’s annexation of Kuwait in 1990 was an act of self-defense?
Was the genocide of the Tutsi by the Hutus of Rwanda in 1994 an act of self-defense?
Which side in the Bosnian war of the 1990s, the Serbs or the Croats was exercising its right of self-defense?

Think. Simply think about it.

Defense against a child.

Defense against a child.

My guess is that anyone who might be reading this can quote the last sentence of

Perhaps someone might say, “Socrates, can you not go away from us and live quietly, without talking?” Now this is the hardest thing to make some of you believe. For if I say that such conduct would be disobedience to the god and that therefore I cannot keep quiet, you will think I am jesting and will not believe me; and if again I say that to talk every day about virtue and the other things about which you hear me talking and examining myself and others is the greatest good to man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living, you will believe me still less. Socrates speaking in Plato’s Apology [37 (e) to 38 (a)].

The unexamined life is not worth living.

“As I’ve said repeatedly, Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks that terrorize the Israeli people,” [President] Obama said.

What on earth does that phrase mean—and what are its implications? Its implications are that Israel has a right to continue the ethnic cleansing of all “Arabs” (read “Palestinians”) from the territory Israel claims as its own—the ethnic cleansing that began during the war that led up to the declaration of the founding of Israel in 1948.
The constant repetition of an idea for decades does not make it true.

Ad populum: This is an emotional appeal that speaks to positive (such as patriotism, religion, democracy) or negative (such as terrorism or fascism) concepts rather than the real issue at hand.

Much writing is available to anyone who wants to think about the “received wisdom” that “Israel has a right to defend itself.” One might—after reading any or all of such writing—decide that the proposition is correct.

The question remains, however, where did the idea originate, and why was it first stated? Is it, in fact, the “truth,” or is it an Ad populum logical fallacy used to justify aggression and the subjugation of one people by another?

I said above there is much writing available. My project over the next few weeks is to gather a bibliography of such material and publish it here as a resource for anyone who believes that

talking and examining myself and others is the greatest good to man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living

includes questioning our received beliefs about atrocity.

The first installment of the bibliography is below Auden’s explanation of tyrannical speech. All of the entries are from my personal library both of books and of academic articles. As time goes on, I will annotate the list and add more. You are welcome to plagiarize anything I have written here or that I eventually add to the bibliography.

Oh, one other note: Do not accuse me of being one-sided or biased. If you want “fair and balanced,” all you need to do is turn on the TV, read a newspaper, or follow any of the links on your Yahoo home page or in you friends’ Facebook pages.

“Epitaph on a Tyrant,” by W. H. Auden (1907 – 1973)

Going home from work.

Going home from work.

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

Abbasi, Mustafa. “Nazareth In The War For Palestine: The Arab City That Survived The 1948 Nakba.” Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal (Edinburgh University Press) 9.2 (2010): 185-207.

Ashrawi, Hanan. This Side of Peace: A Personal Account. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995.

Confino, Alon. “Miracles and Snow in Palestine and Israel: Tantura, A History of 1948.” Israel Studies 17.2 (2012): 25-61.

Darwish, Mahmoud. Unfortunately, It Was Paradise. Selected Poems. Translated and edited by Munir Akash and Carolyn Forché. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

Esber, Rosemarie M. Under the Cover of War: The Zionist Expulsion of the Palestinians. Alexandria, VA: Arabicus Books and Media, 2008.

Hass, Amira. Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land under Siege. Trans. Elena Wesley and Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1999.

Khalidi, Rashid. The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood. Boston: Beacon Press, 2006.

Khalidi, Rashid. Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East. Boston: Beacon Press, 2014.

Khoury, Elias. “Rethinking the Nakba.” Critical Inquiry 38.2 (Winter 2012). Web. JSTOR.

Khoury, Samia Nasir. Reflections from Palestine: A Journey of Hope (personal memoir). Nicosia, Cyprus. Rimal Publications, 2014.

Kritzeck, James, Ed. Anthology of Islamic Literature: From the Rise of Islam to Modern Times. New York: New American Library, 1964.

Lutz, Charles P. and Robert O. Smith. Christians in a Land Called Holy. Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 2006.

Manna, Adel. “The Palestinian Nakba and Its Continuous Repercussions.” Israel Studies 18.2 (2013): 86-99.

Mearsheimer, John J. and Stephen M. Walt. The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2007.

Narwani, Sharmine. “Excuse Me, But Israel Has No Right to Exist.” Al Akhbar English. Thu, 2012-05-17 21:46. Web.

Nasrallah, Rami. “The Road To Partition.” Palestine-Israel Journal Of Politics, Economics & Culture 9.4 (2002): 58.

Pappe, Ilan. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Oxford: OneWorld, 2006.

Said, Edward W. From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map. New York: Pantheon Books, 2004.

Said, Edward W. “Permission to Narrate.” London Review of Books 6.3 (16 February 1984), 13-17.

Saint Joseph School for Girls, Bethlehem. Your Stories Are My Stories: A Palestinian Oral History Project. Ramallah: Arab Educational Institute, Culture and Palestine Series, 2001.

Saalakhan, Mauri. The Palestinian Holocaust. American Perspectives, Vol. 1. Silver Spring, MD: Awakening Publishing Group, 2008.

Santos, Madalena. “Relations of Ruling in The Colonial Present: An Intersectional View of the Israeli Imaginary.” Canadian Journal of Sociology 38.4 (2013): 509-532.

Shehadeh, Raja. When the Bulbul Stopped Singing: A Diary of Ramallah under Siege. London: Profile Books, 2003.

Shlaim, Avi. The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000.

van Oord, Lodewijk. “Face-Lifting Palestine: Early Western Accounts of the Palestinian Refugee Problem.” History & Anthropology 22.1 (2011): 19-35.

Younan, Munib. Witnessing for Peace in Jerusalem and the World. Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 2003.


The beginning of Nakba.

The beginning of Nakba.

Imagine, if you can, a history of the United States that leaves out the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, “taxation without representation,” the siege of New York, the British “prison ships system;” or a history of World War II that leaves out the blitzkrieg, the Holocaust, or D-Day; or a history of the Viet Nam War without My Lai or the Tet Offensive.

Yesterday I searched the (in my opinion) most useful academic database, EBSCO’s Academic Search Complete which indexes 13, 780 academic journals and provides online copies of most of the articles in them–10,000,000 articles. I was looking for articles about the Nakba (Wikipedia’s description is faulty at several points and incomplete, as Wikipedia is wont to be–to say nothing of unbalanced).

Academic Search Complete did not find (in 13,700 journals) a single reference to the Nakba. I was able to search all of the databases available to me at the SMU Library and found many informative and academically sound articles. (Some writers of American history have included the Boston Massacre, fortunately.) I have provided extended quotations from one such article. You needn’t be put off by the term “academic.” The writing is perfectly clear. Khoury is a literary critic, so his historical writing is in reference to a couple of literary works; the passages I have copied below are part of the history, not the literary criticism.

(To gain a limited understanding of the importance of the Nakba to Palestinians today, I suggest you read this short article before you begin reading the Khoury essay.)

Displaced Palestinians arriving in Ramallah

Displaced Palestinians arriving in Ramallah

The following (except for the last sentence) is from:
Khoury, Elias. “Rethinking the Nakba.” Critical Inquiry 38.2 (Winter 2012). One of the Chicago Journals, published online by JSTOR.

The facts about 1948 are no longer contested, but the meaning of what happened is still a big question. Was it a struggle between two absolute rights, as Oz formulated it? Before tackling this issue, I want to point out that I am questioning the approach of dealing with the nakba as a historical event that happened in the past and once for all. My hypothesis is totally different: what happened hasn’t stopped happening for sixty-two years. It is still happening now, in this moment.

In 1948, the Palestinians lost four main aspects of their lives:

  • 1.They lost their land, which was confiscated by the newborn Israeli state. Eight percent of the Palestinian population was peasants who became refugees, living in camps in the outskirts of different Arab cities, in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Even in Israel, the peasants of destroyed Arab villages became refugees in other villages and had no right to return to their original homes, although they had become citizens of the new state.

  • 2.They also lost their cities. The three major coastal cities—Jaffa, Haifa, and Aka—were occupied and their citizens evacuated. Jaffa, the biggest Palestinian harbor on the Mediterranean and the cultural center of Palestine became a small, poor suburb of Tel Aviv. Jerusalem was divided along new borders in 1948, and the Palestinian neighborhoods of west Jerusalem were evacuated. Haifa faced the implementation of the first Palestinian ghetto in Israel. Israeli historian Tom Segev gave a full description of this process in The First Israelis. Aka became totally marginalized, and the historical old city became the home of many Palestinian refugees. The destruction of the Palestinian cities left the Palestinians without any cultural reference and created a huge cultural vacuum. We had to wait until the 1960s to witness the emergence of a new Palestinian culture that arose in Haifa and Nazareth in the milieu of Al Ittihad newspaper (the organ of the Israeli Communist Party edited by Habibi) and in Beirut with the emergence of a new Palestinian consciousness and Kanafani as its leading figure.

  • 3.They lost their Palestinian name. Suddenly a whole people became nameless and had no right to use their name and refer to their national identity. This was one of the most painful elements of the 1948 war. One can argue that Palestine has never existed as an independent state. This is true not only for Palestine but also for most of the countries of the region. But this land was known to every one as the land of Palestine. Even in the Zionist documents, this name was used. The people who inhabited this land are known as Palestinians. Suddenly the name has vanished. The small Palestinian minority in Israel were renamed Arabs of Ertz Israel by the new authorities. The Palestinians of the West Bank that was annexed to Jordan after the war of 1948 became Jordanians, and the others who were scattered in Lebanon and Syria became simply refugees.

  • 4. They lost their story or the ability to tell their story. I want to refer to the replacement of muteness by deafness in Yehoshua’s “Facing the Forests” and Kanafani’s “Men in the Sun.” The narrator of the Israeli story begins with the hypothesis that the Arab (this is how the Israeli Palestinian is named) is mute, and his tongue was  cut. On the other hand, the narrator of the Palestinian story ends his novel with the water-tank driver Abul Khaizaran shouting, “Why didn’t they knock?”

(section about details of the literature is omitted, HAK)

I want to suggest an outline that permits us to read the different pages of the nakba from the expulsion of 1948 to the Wall and settlements in the West Bank and the expulsions that are taking place nowadays in Jerusalem.

  • 1.When we think of the confiscation of Palestinian land from 1948 onwards, two villages, Akrat and Bir’im, are an example of the destinies of those who stayed as strangers in their homeland and lived under military rule as second-class citizens in the democratic Jewish state of Israel until 1965.

  • 2.As the infiltrators were limited by Israelis, Palestinian peasants tried to return across the borders in order to rejoin their households or to collect their harvest. Habibi gave us examples of these cases in The Secret Life of Saeed, and Darwish’s autobiographical text In the Presence of Absence relates his personal story as a boy of eight when he crossed the Lebanese border with his parents and siblings to discover that their village al-Birwa was demolished.

  • 3.The refugee camps were structured as a combination of slums and ghettos, and the Palestinians suffered various kinds of oppression in different Arab countries (in politics, work, education, travel, and so on).

  • 4.The occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 and the new structure of settlements—including the Wall, the continuous confiscation of land and property, the uprooting of trees, laying siege to villages, and so on—make the occupation a continuation of the war of 1948. Even the retreat from Gaza became a way to create a ghetto under siege and fire.

  • 5.The massacres in Palestinian camps—Jordan (1970), Lebanon (1975), Tal Al Zaatar camp (1976), and Shatila and Sabra (1982)—are a continuation of the massacres of 1948.

(HAK note: And, I might add, the massacre in Gaza today.)

The Nakba continues.

The Nakba continues.

Israeli illegal settlement in the West Bank

Israeli illegal settlement in the West Bank

From Arutz Sheva:
Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 11:01 PM

Op-Ed: My Outline for a Solution in Gaza

By: Moshe Feiglin, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Knesset Member, and head of the Manhigut Yehudit (“Jewish Leadership”) faction of Israel’s governing Likud party

Clear and concise, the steps towards achieving quiet in Gaza.

Ultimatum – One warning from the Prime Minister of Israel to the enemy population, in which he announces that Israel is about to attack military targets in their area and urges those who are not involved and do not wish to be harmed to leave immediately. Sinai is not far from Gaza and they can leave. This will be the limit of Israel’s humanitarian efforts. Hamas may unconditionally surrender and prevent the attack.

Member of the Knesset, leader of his party, Moshe Feiglin

Member of the Knesset, leader of his party, Moshe Feiglin

Attack – Attack the entire ‘target bank’ throughout Gaza with the IDF’s maximum force (and not a tiny fraction of it) with all the conventional means at its disposal. All the military and infrastructural targets will be attacked with no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’. It is enough that we are hitting exact targets and that we gave them advance warning.

Siege – Parallel to the above, a total siege on Gaza. Nothing will enter the area. Israel, however, will allow exit from Gaza. (Civilians may go to Sinai, fighters may surrender to IDF forces).

Defense – Any place from which Israel or Israel’s forces were attacked will be immediately attacked with full force and no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’.

Conquer– After the IDF completes the “softening” of the targets with its fire-power, the IDF will conquer the entire Gaza, using all the means necessary to minimize any harm to our soldiers, with no other considerations.

Elimination- The GSS and IDF will thoroughly eliminate all armed enemies from Gaza. The enemy population that is innocent of wrong-doing and separated itself from

Legal Palestinian homes in Gaza

Legal Palestinian homes in Gaza

the armed terrorists will be treated in accordance with international law and will be allowed to leave. Israel will generously aid those who wish to leave.

Sovereignty – Gaza is part of our Land and we will remain there forever. Liberation of parts of our land forever is the only thing that justifies endangering our soldiers in battle to capture land. Subsequent to the elimination of terror from Gaza, it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews. This will also serve to ease the housing crisis in Israel. The coastal train line will be extended, as soon as possible, to reach the entire length of Gaza.

According to polls, most of the Arabs in Gaza wish to leave. Those who were not involved in anti-Israel activity will be offered a generous international emigration package. Those who choose to remain will receive permanent resident status. After a number of years of living in Israel and becoming accustomed to it, contingent on appropriate legislation in the Knesset and the authorization of the Minister of Interior, those who personally accept upon themselves Israel’s rule, substance and way of life of the Jewish State in its Land, will be offered Israeli citizenship.


Posted by: Harold Knight | 07/04/2014

Independence Day Greeting from Samia Khoury

Suha, mother of Mohammed Abu Khudair

Suha, mother of Mohammed Abu Khudair

July 4, 2014

To my American friends: As I send you my warm greetings on the occasion of your independence day, I hope you do not mind that I wonder  whether you are actually more independent than we are. At least we are  aware of the physical  Israeli military occupation while your congress and administration as well as your media are psychologically under Israeli intimidation.

Commenting on the  shooting of teenagers Muhammad Abu Thahr and Naim Nuwara on May 15, 2014  Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director for Human Rights Watch, said: “The willful killing of civilians by Israeli security forces as part of the occupation is a war crime,” Yet those killings and the imprisonment of hundreds without charge or trial continue unabated despite all the concessions that the Palestinian Authority has made for the sake of peace. But it was only when three Israeli settlers were kidnapped and found killed that hell broke loose, as if they are human and we are subhuman. I Just watched the funeral of Mohammad Abu Khdeir from Shufaat, a suburb north of Jerusalem, who was abducted killed and burnt by Israeli settlers. Mohammad also has a family, a bereaved mother and father who are lamenting their great loss. Not only the double standard applies to the living but to the dead as well. However I must admit that Israeli voices have been critical of the way the Israeli government handled the matter as they exposed the agenda of the government which is basically to destroy the reconciliation between Fateh and Hamas. An American friend of mine wrote a couple of days ago:

“Never did I think that I would receive a message from a Jewish organization urging me to write letters to newspapers criticizing Israeli oppression of Palestinians! But that is what JVP is doing” It was actually the JVP who also supported the Presbyterian Church Divestment Vote from three companies that have been benefitting from the occupation of the PalestinianTerritories.
(Jewish Voice for Peace: )

So will Israel heed  those Jewish voices and will it demolish the homes of those who killed Mohammad,   or  will   we continue to watch an era of terror launched by one of the most sophisticated  military forces and the  so called  only democracy in the Middle East supported morally and financially by the US congress and administration? 

Happy 4th of  July.  Samia


Posted by: Harold Knight | 07/01/2014

By SUSAN ABULHAWA: “The searing hypocrisy of the West.”

From: Intifada, Voice of Palestine (

Palestinian children are assaulted or murdered every day and barely do their lives register in western press. No mother should have endure the murder of her child. No mother or father. That does not only apply to Jewish parents. The lives of our children are no less precious and their loss are no less shattering and spiritually unhinging. But there is a terrible disparity in the value of life here in the eyes of the state and the world, where Palestinian life is cheap and disposable, but Jewish life is sacrosanct.



The searing hypocrisy of the WestSusan Abulhawa  is a Palestinian-American writer and human rights activist. She is the author of a bestselling novel, Mornings in Jenin (2010) and the founder of a non-governmental organization, Playgrounds for Palestine.

The bodies of three Israeli settlers who went missing on June 12th were found in a hastily dug shallow grave in Halhul, north of Hebron.

Since the teens went missing from Gush Etzion, a Jewish-only colony in the West Bank, Israel has besieged the 4 million Palestinians who already live under its thumb, storming through towns, ransacking homes and civil institutions, conducting night raids on families, stealing property, kidnapping, injuring, and killing. Warplanes were dispatched to bomb Gaza, again and repeatedly, destroying more homes and institutions and carrying out extrajudicial executions.Thus far, over 570 Palestinians have been kidnapped and imprisoned, most notably a Samer Issawi, the Palestinian who went on a 266-day hunger strike in protest of a previous arbitrary detention. At least 10 Palestinians have been killed, including at least three children, a pregnant woman, and a mentally ill man. Hundreds have been injured, thousands terrorized. Universities and social welfare organizations were ransacked, shut down, their computers and equipment destroyed or stolen, and both private and public documents confiscated from civil institutions. This wonton thuggery is official state policy conducted by its military and does not include the violence to persons and properties perpetuated by paramilitary Israeli settlers, whose persistent attacks against Palestinian civilians have also escalated in the past weeks. And now that the settlers are confirmed dead, Israel has vowed to exact revenge. Naftali Bennet, Economy Minister said, “There is no mercy for the murderers of children. This is the time for action, not words.”

Although no Palestinian faction has claimed responsibility for the abduction, and most, including Hamas, deny any involvement, Benjamin Netanyahu is adamant that Hamas is responsible. The United Nations requested that Israel provide evidence to support their contention, but no evidence has been forthcoming, casting doubt on Israel’s claims, particularly in light of its public ire over the recent unification of Palestinian factions and President Obama’s acceptance of the new Palestinian unity.

In the West, headlines over pictures of the three Israeli settler teens referred to Israel’s reign of terror over Palestine as a “manhunt” and “military sweep.” Portraits of innocent young Israeli lives emerged from news outlets and the voices of their parents are featured in the fullness of their anguish. The US, EU, UK, UN, Canada and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) condemned the kidnapping and called for their immediate and unconditional release. Upon discovery of the bodies, there has been an outpouring of condemnation and condolences.

President Obama said, “As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth.”

Although hundreds of Palestinian children are kidnapped, brutalized or killed by Israel, including several in the past two weeks, there is rarely, if ever, such a reaction from the world.

Just prior to the disappearance of the Israeli settler teens, the murder of two Palestinian teens was caught on a local surveillance camera. Ample evidence, including the recovered bullets and a CNNcamera filming an Israeli sharpshooter pulling the trigger at the precise moment one of the boys was shot indicated that they were killed in cold blood by Israeli soldiers. There were no condemnations or calls for justice for these teens by world leaders or international institutions, no solidarity with their grieving parents, nor mention of the more than 250 Palestinian children, kidnapped from their beds or on their way to school, who continue to languish in Israeli jails without charge or trial, physically and psychologically tortured. This is to say nothing of the barbaric siege of Gaza, or the decades of ongoing theft, evictions, assaults on education, confiscation of land, demolition of homes, color coded permit system, arbitrary imprisonment, restriction of movement, checkpoints, extrajudicial executions, torture, and denials at every turn squeezing Palestinians into isolated ghettos.

None of that seemingly matters.

It does not matter that no one knows who murdered the Israeli teens. It seems the entire country is calling for Palestinian blood, reminiscent of American southern lynching rallies that went after black men whenever a white person turned up dead. Nor does it matter that these Israeli teens were settlers living in illegal Jewish-only colonies that were built on land stolen by the state mostly from Palestinian owners from the village of el-Khader. A huge portion of the settlers there are Americans, mostly from New York, like one of the murdered teens, who exercise Jewish privilege to hold dual citizenship; to have an extra country no matter where they’re from, one in their own homeland and one in ours, at the same time that the indigenous Palestinians fester in refugee camps, occupied ghettos, or boundless exile.

Palestinian children are assaulted or murdered every day and barely do their lives register in western press. While Palestinian mothers are frequently blamed when Israel kills their children, accused of sending them to die or neglecting to keep them at home away from Israeli snipers, no one questions Rachel Frankel, the mother of one of the murdered settlers. She is not asked to comment on the fact that one of the missing settlers is a soldier who likely participated in the oppression of his Palestinian neighbors. No one asks why she would move her family from the United States to live in a segregated, supremacist colony established on land confiscated from the native non-Jewish owners. Certainly no one dares accuse her of therefore putting her children in harms way.

No mother should have endure the murder of her child. No mother or father. That does not only apply to Jewish parents. The lives of our children are no less precious and their loss are no less shattering and spiritually unhinging. But there is a terrible disparity in the value of life here in the eyes of the state and the world, where Palestinian life is cheap and disposable, but Jewish life is sacrosanct.

This exceptionalism and supremacy of Jewish life is a fundamental underpinning of the state of Israel. It pervades their every law and protocol, and is matched only by their apparent contempt and disregard for Palestinian life. Whether through laws that favor Jews for employment and educational opportunities, or laws that allow the exclusion of non-Jews from buying or renting among Jews, or endless military orders that limit the movement, water consumption, food access, education, marriage possibilities, and economic independence, or these periodic upending of Palestinian civil society, life for non-Jews ultimately conforms to the religious edict issued by Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba, saying “a thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail.”

Israeli violence of the past few weeks is generally accepted and expected. And the terror we know they will unleash on our people will be, as it always is, cloaked in the legitimacy of uniforms and technological death machines. Israeli violence, no matter how vulgar, is inevitably couched as a heroic, ironic violence that western media frames as “response,” as if Palestinian resistance itself were not a response to Israeli oppression. When the ICRC was asked to issue a similar call for the immediate and unconditional release of the hundreds of Palestinian children held in Israeli jails (which is also in contravention of international humanitarian law), the ICRC refused, indicating there’s a difference between the isolated abduction of Israeli teens and the routine abduction, torture, isolation, and imprisonment of Palestinian children.

When our children throw rocks at heavily armed Israeli tanks and jeeps rolling through our streets, we are contemptible parents who should be bear responsibility for the murder of our children if they are shot by Israeli soldiers or settlers. When we refuse to capitulate completely, we are “not partners for peace,” and deserve to have more land confiscated from us for the exclusive use of Jews. When we take up arms and fight back, kidnap a soldier, we are terrorists of the extreme kind who have no one to blame but ourselves as Israel subjects the entire Palestinian population to punitive collective punishment. When we engage in peaceful protests, we are rioters who deserve the live fire they send our way. When we debate, write, and boycott, we are anti-Semites who should be silenced, deported, marginalized, or prosecuted.

What should we do, then? Palestine is quite literally being wiped off the map by a state that openly upholds Jewish supremacy and Jewish privilege. Our people continue to be robbed of home and heritage, pushed to the margins of humanity, blamed for our own miserable fate. We are a traumatized, principally unarmed, native society being destroyed and erased by one of the most powerful militaries in the world.

Rachel Frankel went to the UN to plead for their support, saying “it is wrong to take children, innocent boys or girls, and use them as instruments of any struggle. It is cruel…I wish to ask: Doesn’t every child have the right to come home safely from school?” Do those sentiments apply to Palestinian children, too? Here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here are video examples of the abduction of Palestinian children from their homes at night and on their way to and from school.

But none of that matters either. Does it? It matters that three Israeli Jews were killed. It doesn’t matter who did it or what the circumstances were, the entire Palestinian population will be made to suffer, more than they already are

Remember the certainty of Weapons of Mass Destruction?

Now we are being told–and everyone is believing–that there are thousands of Europeans and Americans in Iraq with passports just waiting to get into the US and kill us. Can you imagine what further erosion of our freedom that story–because we will all believe it–will lead to?

935 liesSurely we Americans have some way to learn the truth.

Taking the 25 minutes to watch Bill Moyers would be a beginning. “And so we really have a problem here because if we don’t know what the truth is in this country, we don’t have a country. It’s end of story. It’s not our country anymore. This is fundamental. And if the public doesn’t care about facts then journalists, frankly, are not terribly relevant either. I had a professional crisis. Like, why am I doing this if no one cares and false information is what they believe, not the actual information?” (Charles Lewis)

Read Charles Lewis’s account of the genesis of his book, 935 Lies – available from Amazon and B&N.

Charles Lewis is a tenured professor of journalism and since 2008 the founding executive editor of theInvestigative Reporting Workshop at the American University School of Communication in Washington, D.C. He is the founder of The Center for Public Integrity and several other nonprofit organizations.


“Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”
― George Orwell, 1984

Posted by: Harold Knight | 06/04/2014

Special edition: for all contributors to PBS

Be more or acquiesce more?

Be more or acquiesce more?

If you give money to PBS, you might want to rethink – can your pittance match the Koch Brothers – or is it just like politics?






An Article from the Salem Oregon News

Resistance Growing To Zionism’s Corrupting Influence

(May-01-2014 12:27)
See link at end for entire article.

by Allan C. Brownfield

The introductory section (see link at end for entire article):

(WASHINGTON DC) – Zionism, the philosophy of Jewish nationalism which believes that Israel is the “homeland” of all Jews and that those living outside of Israel are in “exile,” has distorted American Jewish life and is driving large numbers of young people away from what is becoming an increasingly intolerant community.

Many synagogues fly Israeli flags and have replaced God with Israel as the virtual object of worship, a practice akin to the idolatry practiced in the worship of the Golden Calf. In 1999, the Union for Reform Judaism adopted a resolution declaring that Israel, not God, “is central to our religion.” Emigration to Israel—“aliyah”—was encouraged as the highest form of religious expression.

Sadly, the organized Jewish community has turned itself, in effect, into a defense attorney for Israel, defending actions by the Israeli government which are vigorously opposed at home. When it comes to separation of church and state, Jewish groups have led legal battles even against voluntary, non-sectarian school prayer. Yet, in Israel, they embrace a society with no separation of church and state, one which is, in real terms, a theocracy. Non-Orthodox Jews have fewer rights in Israel than any place in the Western world. Non-Orthodox rabbis cannot perform weddings or funerals in Israel, and their conversions are not recognized.

A section of interest in light of Israeli insistence that Hamas is a terrorist organization:

“The King’s Torah”

 Consider the reality of contemporary Israel, which American Jewish groups completely ignore. The year 2009 saw the publication of Torat Ha’Melech (“The King’s Torah”), which the Israeli newspaper MA’ARIV described as “230 pages on the laws concerning the killing of non-Jews, a kind of guidebook for anyone who ponders the question of when it is permissible to take the life of a non-Jew.”

According to the authors, Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature” and may have to be killed in order to “curb their evil inclinations.”

The commandment “Thou shalt not kill,” the rabbis argue, refers only to killing other Jews. In their opinion, “There is justification for killing babies if it is clear they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation may be harmed deliberately and not only during combat with adults.”

Torat Ha’Melech was written as a guide for Israeli soldiers and army officers seeking rabbinical guidance on the rules of engagement. According to the authors, all enemy civilians—including women and children—can be killed. The rabbis also justify the murder of Jewish dissidents, a philosophy which emerged from the settlement of Yitzhar in the occupied West Bank, where Shapira helps lead Od Yosef Chai yeshiva.

Shapira studied under Rabbi Yitzchok Ginsburgh, who defended seven of his students who murdered an innocent Palestinian girl by asserting the superiority of “Jewish blood.” In 1994, when the American-born Jewish extremist Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinian worshippers at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Ginsburgh lionized Goldstein in a lengthy article entitled “Baruch Hagever” (“Baruch, The Great Man”).

The entire article is at:



Posted by: Harold Knight | 04/29/2014

Pause? Mr. Obama, Pause? A message from Samia in Jerusalem

"Feed my sheep." (See explanation below)

“Feed my sheep.”
(See explanation below)

April 26, 2014
Samia Khoury

Unable to admit the failure of US diplomacy, Mr. Obama suggests a pause in the peace negotiations because “Israeli and Palestinian leaders are unwilling to make hard choices.” Really Mr. Obama!! You cannot be joking after all the compromises that the Palestinians have made since Oslo, when you were still maybe in college or working your way through your career. Just to remind you of but a few of those hard choices that the Palestinians did take for the sake of peace and only peace:

1) As early as 1988 The PLO, the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinians passed a major resolution in its Palestinian National Council in Algiers to recognize the State of Israel.
2) In 1993 the PLO representatives at a special meeting in Gaza for the PNC and in the presence of Mr. Clinton, amended the charter of the PLO to abandon armed struggle.
3) With the signing of the Oslo agreement, the PLO acknowledged the State of Israel on 78% of historic Palestine

I am not going to delve into the absurdity of the Oslo agreement. But it was signed and the Palestinian National Authority that came out of this agreement could not have been more compromising on all issues regarding Israel. The hard choices that Israel has been asked to take are to return to the Palestinians only the 22% of Palestine which it captured in 1967, and to stop grabbing more and more land for settlement building and expansion during the years of negotiations.  At the same time the hard core issues of borders, Jerusalem, refugees and the right of return were all deferred, and eventually shuffled under the carpet.

We are all keeping our fingers crossed regarding the reconciliation between Fateh and Hamas. Against the ongoing onslaught of Israel supported by the US administration, and the inability of the Arab world to stand up against what is happening, and especially in Jerusalem, all the Palestinians are hoping that this reconciliation will be a hopeful step in the right direction. It is no surprise to see how supportive the US administration is of Israel’s reaction towards this reconciliation. After all it is the US that put pressure on the Palestinian Authority when Hamas won a democratic election in 2006, and which was the beginning of this long era of in-fighting. Yet how ironic it is that while the US and Israel were trying to prolong the period of negotiations beyond April 29 despite the failure of Israel to meet its commitments, and especially regarding the prisoners, Mr. Netanyahu so arrogantly announces the end of the negotiations, once the news of the reconciliation was announced. And trying to be a little diplomatic, Mr. Obama is suggesting a “Pause” because “both leaders refuse to make hard choices.”  I think it is Mr. Obama himself who needs to made a hard choice, and stand up for international law and for the implementation of United Nations resolutions, and try for a change, and before the end of his term to be an honest broker and truly earn the peace prize which he won a priori.


Dear all,

I am pleased to inform you that the Web version of the May 2014 issue of TWIP is online on Distribution of the print edition will start end of tomorrow.

We took the challenge to talk about Palestinian “Oral History” in our current May 2014 issue, and I dare say it was a challenge indeed. However, the issue is rich in content and contains a number of personal stories and testimonies which would melt a stone. Having researched the topic, it is evident that Palestinians are no doubt passing their stories on to the next generations orally and otherwise. Projects like the Wall Museum in Bethlehem initiated by the Arab Educational Institute, and The Fabric of Our Lives run by the YWCA are but examples of national projects which aim not only to honour the stories of refugees, but also to present oral history to a non-academic audience. Another example is the Memories of Tell Balata which is a cross-generational record of native stories by people living around the historical site of Tell Balata. Children and Gaza are also covered in this issue in relation to oral history, in addition to a more technical piece on what oral history is and how it should be handled by one authority on the topic, Dr. Sharif Kanaana. This is a synopsis of the current May issue of This Week in Palestine which in fact has more than what I already mentioned. Hope you’ll enjoy it.
Sani P. Meo / GM

While "settlements"(?) take land, Palestinian homes are destroyed in East Jerusalem

While “settlements”(?) take land, Palestinian homes are destroyed in East Jerusalem

NOTE: About the pictures. I was going through travel pictures and came across these pictures I took in 2006. From Wikipedia, descriptions:
The Church of the Primacy of Peter in Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, contains a projection of limestone rock in front of the present altar which is venerated as a “Mensa Christi”, Latin for table of Christ. According to tradition this is the spot where Jesus is said to have laid out a breakfast of bread and fish for the Apostles, and told Peter to “Feed my sheep” (John 21:1-24).
The Cremisan Valley is a valley located on the seam line between the West Bank and Jerusalem. The Cremisan monastery is within Jerusalem municipal limits, while the storeroom on the other side of the parking lot is in the West Bank. The valley is one of the last green areas in the Bethlehem district, with vast stretches of agricultural lands and recreational grounds. The Salesian Sisters Convent and School, the Salesian Monastery and Cremisan Cellars are located in the valley.

Israeli "settlements"(?) taking over Palestinian land in the Cremisan Valley

Israeli “settlements”(?) taking over Palestinian land in the Cremisan Valley

Posted by: Harold Knight | 03/04/2014

“. . . a deceitful political stunt. . . “

From Samia Khoury, a letter from  Naim Ateek of the Sabeel Center in Jerusalem.

New Israeli legislation:

The Lutherans of Jerusalem worship

The Lutherans of Jerusalem worship

On Monday, February 23, 2014, the Israeli Knesset enacted a new law that recognizes Muslim and Christian Arab communities as separate identities, giving them their own representation in an employment commission. The law passed by a margin of 31 to 6.

The new law passed by the Knesset favoring Christians is, to say the least, a deceitful political stunt by Likud-Beiteinu members aimed at sowing seeds of division among Christians and between Christians and Muslims.

For the last sixty-five years, the government of Israel has not shown favoritism or bias towards the Christian community of the land, so why now?

During the Nakba of 1948, the Christians, like the Muslims, were dispossessed by the Zionists and were forced out of their homeland. Furthermore, during the military rule imposed by Israel on all Palestinians who stayed inside the Israeli state (1948-1966), Israel did not show favoritism to Christians over Muslims. Both were discriminated against and both were treated as unwanted aliens in their own land. There is a plethora of documentation to substantiate the history of that period. The problem for Israel in those days was not the Palestinians’ religious affiliation but their Palestinian national identity.

I believe that the new law reflects the moral bankruptcy of the government of Israel. Indeed, it must be in trouble to allow itself to stoop so low as to blatantly use this tactic to attempt to win the support of some Christians abroad, and, at the same time, sow dissent among Christians and Muslims. It is the old adage of “divide and rule.” This law is sinister in that it exploits the sensitive tensions among the religious communities of the Middle East, especially in light of what has been happening in Egypt and now is happening in Syria.

I am certain that the Palestinian community is mature enough not to fall into such a despicable religious trap.

There is another dishonest and hidden angle to this law. Jewish religious tradition has always considered Christianity, not Islam, as the mortal enemy of Jews and Judaism. This is due to the fact that the Christian faith came out of the same foundation as the Jewish faith, namely, the Hebrew Scriptures, i.e. the Christian Old Testament. I still remember the Israeli religious establishment discouraging Jewish students from visiting Christian churches while encouraging them to visit Muslim mosques. The advisory pointed out that there was greater affinity between Judaism and Islam, while the gap was quite wide between Judaism and Christianity.

What has caused this sudden infatuation with Palestinian Christians to merit new legislation? Or is it just an ugly political stunt? What favors can the right-wing Israeli government give the Palestinian Arab Christians who are Israeli citizens? Will it restore their confiscated land to them? Will it grant them equality with their fellow Jewish citizens? Or are we witnessing another divisive Israeli ploy similar to when Israel set the Druze community apart from its Arab base?

It is worth mentioning that over sixty years ago, Israel managed to make the Druze religion a separate ethnic entity, thus separating them from

The Muslims of Jerusalem worship

The Muslims of Jerusalem worship

their Arab roots. Through this new legislation, Israel wants to make the Christian religion a separate ethnic identity in order to separate them from their Arab Palestinian roots. But in spite of what Israel has done to the Druze community, an increasing number of young Druze men have been resisting imposed Israeli military service.

Israel has been very shrewd in concocting devious ways and means to impose its will on the Palestinians and keep them weak and divided. It continues to connive ways to limit and even deprive them of their rights to the land so they will give up and leave.

I am certain that the Christian community in Israel will see through this new Israeli legislation, will expose its sinister nature, and reject it. It is my hope also that our people’s resilience and maturity will foil the Israeli government’s insidious objectives. This we can do through our unity and solidarity, as well as through our determination to continue to work for a just peace, inclusive democracy, and human dignity for all the people of our land.


Naim Ateek

Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center


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