Editor’s Note: July 27, 2014, Sunday morning: As of yesterday with over 1,000 fatalities in Gaza, 928 fatalities had been identified by name as of 10 A.M. and revealed that 764 were civilians, including 215 children and 118 women. Over 30 Israeli soldiers and 2 Israeli civilians have been killed. Israel rejected a proposed ceasefire and furiously critiqued Sec. of State Kerry for proposing it without allowing Israel to continue (during the “ceasefire”) to destroy Hamas tunnels. Kerry backed down and apologized. Please read the following articles, which may provide you with some of the information and analyses you won’t find in Western media.

Below we have an article by Henry Siegman who was once the powerful director of the American Jewish Congress. In those days he refused to write for Tikkun or join our board–our insistence that Israel should negotiate with the Palestinians was considered far too radical, and Siegman, who told me he personally agreed with Tikkun’s position, lacked the courage to challenge the major American Jewish mainstream of which he was a part. As has happened to so many people after they lose their positions of power, he became more forthright in his articulation of what needed to change. I imagine the same thing will happen with Obama after he leaves office. It’s a terrible shame that these people didn’t have the courage to do so when they had the power to make a difference.

On the other hand, I understand the risks–Tikkun was, at first, welcomed as the liberal voice of the Jewish world when we began in 1986, but once we criticized Israel’s response to the First Intifada in 1988 (do you remember the Defense Minister at the time, Yitzhak Rabin’s famous order to his army about the Palestinian protesters: “Break their bones” or do you remember the way that Shimon Peres, when he became Prime Minister, refused to negotiate an end of the occupation with the Palestinians?), we lost our funding from the Jewish world and have been treated as traitors, though we continue to defend Israel from those who believe it has no right to exist!! In any event, now we celebrate that Henry Siegman is speaking the truths that the mainstream institutions of the Jewish world, e.g. the Union of Reform Judaism and the American Jewish Committee and the ADL and the Jewish Federations in cities around the world that control huge amounts of money in the local Jewish communities, refuse to talk about or allow to be debated. And yet these institutions claim to be “open” and reflective and ethically sensitive! Their members rarely challenge their leadership to be more courageous.

After reading Siegman and Roland’s articles below, please read the article by Rabbi Eric Yoffie to get a picture of how American Jews justify giving full support to Israel in the current struggle in Gaza. Yoffie was president of the Union of Reform Judaism and remains one of the Reform movement’s most influential spokespeople.

You may also want to read two articles by Amira Hass in Ha’aretz, Death Toll exceeds 1,000– a report on the realities facing Palestinians in Gaza– and On response to the Gaza war in the West Bank.

And finally, please read the article in Haaretz about Israel rejecting a proposed cease fire.

–Rabbi Michael Lerner

RabbiLerner.tikkun@gmail.com

 

Israel Provoked This War

It’s up to President Obama to stop it.

By HENRY SIEGMAN

July 22, 2014, Originally printed on politico.com

There seems to be near-universal agreement in the United States with President Barack Obama’s observation that Israel, like every other country, has the right and obligation to defend its citizens from threats directed at them from beyond its borders.

But this anodyne statement does not begin to address the political and moral issues raised by Israel’s bombings and land invasion of Gaza: who violated the cease-fire agreement that was in place since November 2012 and whether Israel’s civilian population could have been protected by nonviolent means that would not have placed Gaza’s civilian population at risk. As of this writing, the number killed by the Israel Defense Forces has surpassed 600, the overwhelming majority of whom are noncombatants.

Israel’s assault on Gaza, as pointed out by analyst Nathan Thrall in the New York Times, was not triggered by Hamas’ rockets directed at Israel but by Israel’s determination to bring down the Palestinian unity government that was formed in early June, even though that government was committed to honoring all of the conditions imposed by the international community for recognition of its legitimacy.

The notion that it was Israel, not Hamas, that violated a cease-fire agreement will undoubtedly offend a wide swath of Israel supporters. To point out that it is not the first time Israel has done so will offend them even more deeply. But it was Shmuel Zakai, a retired brigadier general and former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division, and not “leftist” critics, who said about the Israel Gaza war of 2009 that during the six-month period of a truce then in place, Israel made a central error “by failing to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians in the [Gaza] Strip. … You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they are in and expect Hamas just to sit around and do nothing.”

This is true of the latest cease-fire as well. According to Thrall, Hamas is now seeking through violence what it should have obtained through a peaceful handover of responsibilities. “Israel is pursuing a return to the status quo ante, when Gaza had electricity for barely eight hours a day, water was undrinkable, sewage was dumped in the sea, fuel shortages caused sanitation plants to shut down and waste sometimes floated in the streets.” It is not only Hamas supporters, but many Gazans, perhaps a majority, who believe it is worth paying a heavy price to change a disastrous status quo.

The answer to the second question – whether a less lethal course was not available to protect Israel’s civilian population – is (unintentionally?) implicit in the formulation of President Barack Obama’s defense of Israel’s actions: namely, the right and obligation of all governments to protect their civilian populations from assaults from across their borders.

But where, exactly, are Israel’s borders?

It is precisely Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to identify those borders that placed Israel’s population at risk. And the reason he has refused to do that is because he did not want the world to know that he had no intention of honoring the pledge he made in 2009 to reach a two-state agreement with the Palestinians. The Road Map for Middle East peace that was signed by Israel, the PLO and the United States explicitly ruled out any unilateral alterations in the pre-1967 armistice lines that served as a border between the parties. This provision was consistently and blatantly violated by successive Israeli governments with their illegal settlement project. And Netanyahu refused to recognize that border as the starting point for territorial negotiations in the terms of reference proposed by Secretary of State John Kerry.

But on July 12, as noted in The Times of Israel by its editor, David Horovitz, Netanyahu made clear that he has no interest in a genuine two-state solution. As Horovitz puts it, “the uncertainties were swept aside … And nobody will ever be able to claim in the future that [Netanyahu] didn’t tell us what he really thinks. He made it explicitly clear that he could never, ever, countenance a fully sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank.” The IDF, Netanyahu said, would remain permanently in the West Bank. During the Kerry-sponsored negotiations, he rejected out of hand the American proposal that U.S. and international forces be stationed on the Israeli-Palestinian border, which he insisted would remain permanently under the IDF’s control. Various enclaves will comprise a new Palestinian entity, which Palestinians will be free to call a state. But sovereignty, the one element that defines self-determination and statehood, will never be allowed by Israel, he said.

Why will he not allow it? Why did he undermine Kerry’s round of peace talks? Why is he inciting against the Palestinian unity government? Why does he continue to expand illegal settlements in the West Bank, and why did he use the tragic kidnapping and killing of three Israelis as a pretext to destroy what institutional political (as opposed to military) presence of Hamas remained in the West Bank?

He’s doing all of these things because, as suggested by Yitzhak Laor in Haaretz, he and his government are engaged in a frenzied effort to eliminate Palestinians as a political entity. Israel’s government is “intent on inheriting it all” by turning the Palestinian people into “a fragmented, marginalized people,” Laor writes. It is what the Israeli scholar Baruch Kimmerling described as “politicide” in a book by that name he wrote in 2006.

So exactly who is putting Israel’s population at risk? And what is Obama prepared to do about it?

I’m sure the president’s political advisers are telling him that a congressional election year is not the time to take on the Israel lobby. They are wrong, not only because it is always election time in the United States, but because successive polls have established that American Jews vote constantly and overwhelmingly Democratic for a wide variety of domestic and international reasons, but support for Netanyahu’s policies is not one of them.

And if the president wishes to convince Israelis and Palestinians that Israeli-Palestinian peace is a cause worth taking risks for, should he not be willing to take some domestic political risks as well?

Henry Siegman is president of the U.S./Middle East Project. He served as senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and non-resident research professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, and is a former national director of the American Jewish Congress.

 

GAZA: A LIVING HELL WITH NO ESCAPE

Sergey Ponomarev for N.Y Times - Relatives of a boy killed Thursday in explosions at a UN school sheltering Gaza residents grieving over his body at a hospital.

With a death toll of over 800 dead and climbing daily, the photos from Gaza are like a Goya painting depicting the desperation and frenzy of Palestinians existing in a living hell with no apparent escape– surrounded by solders with their guns pointed– while complicit Israeli’s watch on hilltops from beyond their Iron Dome and celebrate with their neighbors their barely concealed ethnic cleansing in triumphal glee. They most certainly have the right to their self defense:

Allen L Roland, Ph.D

Francisco Goya

Goya’s masterpiece “Third of May, 1808″ fully captures the desperation and despair of an entrapped Spanish people facing their eminent death at the hands of their brutal French occupiers. To fully understand the significance of Goya’s classic painting of repression as well as its similarities today, please watch this magnificent 12 minute video: BBC The Private Life Of A Masterpiece – Goya’s Third of May 1808

And when you watch this video, you will realize what that Spaniard is crying out to hisFrench executioners– and it’s the same cry the entrapped Palestinians are crying out to their brutal Israeli occupiers–WHY?

And it’s a question that the world must soon find an answer– for this long festering cancer of illegal repression and apartheid is spreading and must end soon before it’s too late.

It is apparent that this in your face illegal Israeli land grab must be turned from a stumbling block into a stepping stone toward world peace before the Palestinians are completely eradicated– which appears to be the long term goal of the Israeli Zionists. See evidence of this death yard of angels.

The recent invasion of Gaza testifies to the depraved and morally bankrupt character of the Zionist regime in Israel. The government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu represents an isolated and demoralized ruling class that has lost its head and has no answer to the crisis it confronts except disorientated and homicidal outbursts of violence and ethnic cleansing– which they laughingly call ‘mowing the lawn‘.

Even the son of a famous Zionist general, Miko Peled,shares that the current preoccupation of Israel with Iran is a smokescreen to cover up apartheid with Palestine, that the only law that applies to Palestinians is Israeli military law and that only a bottom up American demand for human rights and democracy can change or break the Israeli garrison apartheid state and its AIPAC supporters. See the article here.

This mass slaughter against a defenseless Palestinian population serves only to deepen the revulsion and hostility toward Zionism throughout the Middle East, around the world and among Jewish workers in Israel itself, What will this map look like in 2016– particularly when on Friday, the US Senate voted 100-0 to support Israel’s recent invasion of occupied Gaza.

Perhaps only poetry can adequately describe the living hell of occupied Palestine:

Occupation, curfew, settlements, closed military zone, administrative detention, siege, preventive strike, terrorist infrastructure, transfer. Their WAR destroys language. Speaks genocide with the words of a quiet technician.

Occupation means that you cannot trust the OPEN SKY, or any open street near to the gates of snipers tower. It means that you cannot trust the future or have faith that the past will always be there.

Occupation means you live out your live under military rule, and the constant threat of death, a quick death from a snipers bullet or a rocket attack from an M16.

A crushing, suffocating death, a slow bleeding death in an ambulance stopped for hours at a checkpoint. A dark death, at a torture table in an Israeli prison: just a random arbitrary death.

A cold calculated death: from a curable disease. A thousand small deaths while you watch your family dying around you.

Occupation means that every day you die, and the world watches in silence. As if your death was nothing, as if you were a stone falling in the earth, water falling over water.

And if you face all of this death and indifference and keep your humanity, and your love and your dignity and YOU refuse to surrender to their terror, then you know something of the courage that is Palestine.

Suheir Hammad

 

Allen L Roland is a Freelance Alternative Press Online columnist. He is also a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his web site at AllenRoland.com. He also guest hosts a Truthtalk, a national radio show that airs monthly. He is available for comments, interviews, speaking engagements and private consultations via email at allen@allenroland.com.


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