How historian Shlomo Sand “stopped being a Jew”

By Rod Such, Israeli author and academic living in the US. He is active with Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace-Portland Chapter and the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign.

140912-sand“Is not the very fact of defining oneself as a Jew within the State of Israel an act of affiliation to a privileged caste which creates intolerable injustices around itself?” the Israeli historian Shlomo Sand asks, and in turn answers in the affirmative in the very title of his latest book, How I Stopped Being a Jew.

Sand is speaking as a secular Israeli Jew, an atheist, who ultimately rejects the idea that he belongs to a certain ethnos simply by virtue of matrilineal descent.

The bulk of the book is devoted to how he came to this conclusion — but as to why, that story is relatively simple. His epiphany began inside Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv when he witnessed a Palestinian citizen of Israel being escorted away by security agents while he breezed through check-in, his Jewish nationality stamped on his Israeli identity card.

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Veterans of elite Israeli unit refuse reserve duty, citing treatment of Palestinians

By Jodi Rudoren, Jerusalem bureau chief of The New York Times.

The aftermath of an airstrike on a beach in Gaza City in July. Four Palestinian boys were killed.Denouncing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians under occupation, a group of veterans from an elite, secretive military intelligence unit have declared they will no longer “take part in the state’s actions against Palestinians” in required reserve duty because of what they called “our moral duty to act.”

In a letter sent Thursday night to their commanders as well as Israel’s prime minister and army chief, 43 veterans of the clandestine Unit 8200 complained that Israel made “no distinction between Palestinians who are and are not involved in violence” and that information collected “harms innocent people.” Intelligence “is used for political persecution,” they wrote, which “does not allow for people to lead normal lives, and fuels more violence, further distancing us from the end of the conflict.

Read the full letter here. Continue reading

The Jews In Palestine by Mahatma Gandhi

Published in the Harijan, 26-11-1938

gandhiSeveral letters have been received by me, asking me to declare my views about the Arab-Jew question in Palestine and the persecution of the Jews in Germany. It is not without hesitation that I venture to offer my views on this very difficult question.

My sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them intimately in South Africa. Some of them became lifelong companions. Through these friends I came to learn much of their age long persecution. They have been the untouchables of Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close.

Religious sanction has been invoked in both cases for the justification of the inhuman treatment meted out to them. Apart from the friendships, therefore, there is the more common universal reason for my sympathy for the Jews. But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. Continue reading

The rise of ‘If Not Now’ and the collapse of the pro-Israel consensus

By Alex Kane, freelance journalist, writing in Mondoweiss.

SONY DSCWhen Israeli bombs blanketed Gaza in July, the liberal Zionist lobby J Street largely fell in line with the Jewish establishment.  “Our public record throughout the current military confrontation in Gaza has been unambiguous: we support Israel’s right to defend its citizens,” J Street said in a statement.

At the same time that J Street was proving its pro-Israel credentials, former and current members of the organization, most of them affiliated with its campus arm, were throwing themselves into a starkly different kind of activism–one that forthrightly criticized the attack on Gaza and the Jewish establishment that supported the military action. The group they formed, If Not Now, has taken aim at mainstream Jewish leaders, demanding that they take a public stance against the occupation of Palestinian lands. Organizers say they are trying to fill a void in the Jewish community by taking on the official spokespeople of American Judaism that march in lockstep with Israeli actions.

If Not Now quickly became more than just another organization. Much like Occupy Wall Street, If Not Now’s grassroots, social media-savvy messaging has led others around the nation to take up its banner.

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The myth of the U.N. creation of Israel

By Jeremy Hammond, independent political analyst.

471129-unga-vote-300x205There is a widely accepted belief that United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 “created” Israel, based upon an understanding that this resolution partitioned Palestine or otherwise conferred legal authority or legitimacy to the declaration of the existence of the state of Israel. However, despite its popularity, this belief has no basis in fact, as a review of the resolution’s history and examination of legal principles demonstrates incontrovertibly.

Great Britain had occupied Palestine during the First World War, and in July 1922, the League of Nations issued its mandate for Palestine, which recognized the British government as the occupying power and effectively conferred to it the color of legal authority to temporarily administrate the territory.[1] On April 2, 1947, seeking to extract itself from the conflict that had arisen in Palestine between Jews and Arabs as a result of the Zionist movement to establish in Palestine a “national home for the Jewish people”,[2] the United Kingdom submitted a letter to the U.N. requesting the Secretary General “to place the question of Palestine on the Agenda of the General Assembly at its next regular Annual Session”, and requesting the Assembly “to make recommendations, under Article 10 of the Charter, concerning the future government of Palestine.”[3]

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Globalizing Gaza

By Jeff Halper, head of The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). See Link.

betlehem mural

The Wall in Bethlehem near Aida Refugee Camp

Operation Protective Edge was not merely a military assault on a primarily civilian population. As in its previous “operations” (Cast Lead in 2008-9 and Pillar of Defense in 2012), it was also part of an ongoing assault on international humanitarian law (IHL) by a highly coordinated team of Israeli lawyers, military officers, PR people and politicians, led by (no less) a philosopher of ethics. It is an effort not only to get Israel off the hook for massive violations of human rights and international law, but to help other governments overcome similar constraints when they embark as well on “asymmetrical warfare,” “counterinsurgency” and “counter-terrorism” against peoples resisting domination. It is a campaign that Israel calls “lawfare” and had better be taken seriously by us all.

The urgency of this campaign has been underscored by a series of notable legal setbacks and challenges Israel has incurred over the past decade or so, beginning with the indictment of Ariel Sharon in 2001 by a Belgian court over his involvement in the Sabra and Shatila massacres, for which he escaped trial. Continue reading

If we love Israel, then why are we not fighting for its morality?

Michael Brull blogs on Israel, Palestine, and media discussion of related issues on the Independent Australian Jewish Voices website. He now has a blog where he will comment on other matters at

What does it mean to support Israel? What does it mean to support Australia?

Here, we understand perfectly well that there are many ways to support Australia – one can make any number of contributions, in any number of fields, which can make it a better place.

People whose occupational or financial interests are tied up with a particular government or its policies may wish to obscure this point, and will try to insist that opposing their particular aspects of the status quo is a form of opposing the entire country.

They are wrong, and we would usually recognise this freely.

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