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Politics and its Discontents: Dahiyeh – It’s How Israel Wages "Peace"

“We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction. This isn’t a suggestion. This is a plan that has already been authorized.” – Major-General Gadi Eisenkot, IDF.

That was Israeli strategy in the 2006 invasion of southern Lebanon. It’s Israeli strategy today in Gaza. Disproportionate power.. immense damage and destruction… by plan. It’s a strategy not targeted at an armed opponent. This is a strategy targeted directly at civilians – the young, the elderly, women and children – the cannon fodder that are least able to get (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: If All You Had Were Useless Rockets, Would You Be Firing Them?

A timely and invaluable reminder of what it means to be a Palestinian in Gaza under the yoke of the Israeli military. This is a report of a calculated and brutal murder of a 13-year old Palestinian girl by Israeli troops outside a refugee camp in 2004. As I recall, the officer who finished off the girl with two shots to her head was never punished for the murder.

How would you react if this girl was one of ours?

As for today another UN school, this one designated a refuge for Palestinian civilians. 15-dead, 90-wounded as three artillery (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Zionism Does Not Excuse Gaza

There are some self-identified Liberals (and New Democrats) who proclaim their support for Israel in its current butchery in Gaza and they tend to do it in the name of Zionism.

Zionism comes in many shapes and flavours, so many that its meaning is often unintelligible.

The New York Times’ Roger Cohen is a proud Zionist but he sees the Gaza tragedy a little more clearly than some of our Liberal friends:

I am a Zionist because the story of my forebears convinces me that Jews needed the homeland voted into existence by United Nations Resolution 181 of 1947, calling (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Is There Anything Wrong With This Picture?

The Obama administration’s $225 million request to aid Israel during its war with Hamas may not be enough, warned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday afternoon.

So far, no word about humanitarian aid for the Palestinians, who so far have suffered over 1000 civilian deaths.

Recommend this Post

Politics and its Discontents: Gaza – A Suggested Solution

Further to that piece Friday on how Israel’s radical rightwing shift is brutalizing Israeli society, I stumbled across this:

http://forward.com/articles/202558/israeli-professor-suggests-rape-would-serve-as-ter/

And I found this insightful and well footnoted piece from The Nation on AlterNet debunking Israel’s (and our own) narrative on the Gaza invasion.

http://www.alternet.org/world/five-israeli-talking-points-gaza-debunked?akid=12060.103986._jtkpX&rd=1&src=newsletter1013185&t=5

When an Israeli, of all people, can openly call for a “final solution” to the Palestinian problem, well…

Netanyahu calls upon Palestinian civilians to “leave Gaza.” How exactly? And go where?

I have a solution to this unbearable mess. This would be a perfect opportunity for NATO to (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Massaging The Message: How A Republican Has Helped Israel Justify Its Invasion Of Gaza

The Independent reports on how an American Republican pollster and political strategist has helped Israel sell its recent invasion of Gaza, drawing upon a

playbook [that] is a professional, well-researched and confidential study on how to influence the media and public opinion in America and Europe. Written by the expert Republican pollster and political strategist Dr Frank Luntz, the study was commissioned five years ago by a group called The Israel Project, with offices in the US and Israel, for use by those “who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel”.

The strategy, which relies (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: It Wasn’t Hamas – And Israel Knew That From the Get-Go.

We all know that Israel used the kidnapping/murder of three Israeli teens, that it blamed squarely on Hamas, to whip up support for its brutal invasion of Gaza. It’s been claimed that Israeli intelligence knew the teens had been killed shortly after they were kidnapped but withheld the information to stoke anti-Hamas sentiment.

Now, with over 1,000 Palestinians dead at Israeli hands, word is out that Israel knew Hamas had nothing to do with those three murders. An Israeli police spokesman is said to have confirmed to BBC reporter, Jon Donnison, that the killings were not the work of Hamas (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Our Monochromatic Political Leadership

The images are graphic and heartbreaking – buildings reduced to rubble, maimed and dead children strewn among that rubble, families fractured, lives broken beyond repair. Were it not for the distancing effect that television news inevitably brings, the pictures would be overwhelming, leaving room for nothing but despair.

Thus is the reality of the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza, a seemingly insoluble situation aided and abetted by a West that offers nothing but the staunch bromide of Israeli’s ‘right to defend itself,’ an assertion with which few would disagree.

And therein lies the problem. That reflexive cliche whenever Israeli ‘excesses’ (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Justin, You Need to Read This

While Justin Trudeau’s pandering Liberal Party may praise Israel’s “commitment to peace,” Israeli society is displaying a darker, brutal face.

Lisa Goldman, director of the Israel-Palestine Initiative at the Washington think tank, New America, writes of an Israel utterly at odds with Trudeau the Lesser’s obsequious drivel.

Goldman writes of, “a series of events that were marked by violence and incitement against the Arab population, from the government to the street. One member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, called for a war against the Palestinian people on her Facebook page. Another called an Arab legislator a “terrorist” during a parliamentary (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: No Shame, No Shame At All

There is no situation, however tragic, that Harper and his regime won’t exploit for political advantage. I guess that comes as no surprise to anyone:

Be sure to check out the Conservative Party website for more evidence, as well as Alison’s caricature at Creekside. Recommend this Post

Politics and its Discontents: When Israel Says It Isn’t Out To Punish Innocent Palestinians, It’s Lying – And We Don’t Care

Actions speak so much louder than words, especially when it comes to Israel attacking Palestinians.

The current invasion of Gaza demonstrates that Israel’s claims to be targeting Hamas but not the Gaza Palestinian population is an outright lie. That much is blatant from the weapons used.

What weapons? Try water. When you’re targeting the civilian population of an already water-stressed locale the simplest way to turn the screws is to attack their water and sewage infrastructure. Once you deprive them of fresh water and compound that with a collapse of their sewage system, nature will take care of the rest. (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Holding Our ‘Leaders’ To Account

It is almost impossible, I think, to feel anything but a dark impotence when it comes to world events today. Wherever we look, be it the Ukraine, Africa, the Middle East or our own backyards, death, despoliation and injustice prevail. At times, it seems assuming the fetal position is the only reasonable response to a world out of control.

Yet, even when there seems little we can do to ameliorate the world’s suffering, there is something all of us can do – refuse to be silent and passive in the face of atrocity – refuse to make (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: About That Invasion Of Gaza

To hear our political leaders tell it – the sorry lot of them – Israel is right to yet again invade Gaza. The Palestinians have it coming. It’s all the doing of Hamas.

It’s a convenient and cowardly political posture. Harper probably believes it. Trudeau and Mulcair? Expedience, sheer craven expedience.

Nathan Thrall, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, has an op-ed in The New York Times, entitled, “How the West Chose War in Gaza. Gaza and Israel: the Road to War, Paved by the West.” The Palestinians, he writes, were on the road to forming a (Read more…)

Song of the Watermelon: National Post Letter

Should any readers take a look inside today’s National Post, they might find a letter of mine defending Canada’s United Church and its boycott of goods from Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Click here to read my letter and scroll down to the heading “… or is it just?”

Filed under: Letters to the Editor, Middle East Tagged: boycott, Israel, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, National Post, Palestine, settlements, United Church

Song of the Watermelon: Vancouver Sun Letter

A letter of mine in the Vancouver Sun today, this one about the “Disappearing Palestine” ads on public transit here in the city. I try to defend the ads against the absurd charge that they target Jews. Click here to read it.

Filed under: Ethnicity, Letters to the Editor, Middle East Tagged: Israel, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jewish, Palestine, TransLink, Vancouver, Vancouver Sun

Song of the Watermelon: An Open Letter to TransLink Regarding the “Disappearing Palestine” Ads

Dear TransLink:

I am writing to express my wholehearted support for your decision to display the pro-Palestinian transit ads recently unveiled at the Vancouver City Centre Skytrain station and on several buses. The ads offer an important perspective that needs to be heard as part of any informed debate on the Middle East conflict.

My commendation may sound a bit strange, since, as you yourselves have noted, “within defined limits TransLink has no legal authority to decline advertising content.” A 2009 Supreme Court decision established that TransLink, as a public body, is bound by the free speech provisions (Read more…)

Song of the Watermelon: Thoughts on the New Israeli Government

On the same day that the world erupted in joyous, teary-eyed celebration following the selection of a new pope, a slightly less climactic breakthrough was reached thousands of kilometres away as four Israeli political parties, nearly two months after elections, quietly decided to form a coalition government. Right away, the deal seemed like it might fall apart over a last-minute dispute regarding deputy prime ministerial appointments, but two days later, all differences have been ironed out and the coalition agreement signed.

The chances were never exactly high that Israel would bend far enough to conclude a successful peace agreement (Read more…)

Song of the Watermelon: Israel’s Election Results and the Prospects for Peace

Yair Lapid

Well, that wasn’t quite as bad as I thought.

Sadly, Benjamin Netanyahu will almost certainly remain prime minister of Israel after his Likud party and its electoral partner Yisrael Beiteinu won a plurality of seats in Knesset elections today. But their share has gone down sharply since the last election. Even Habayit Hayehudi, an extreme right ultra-nationalist party that was widely expected to come in third or perhaps even second, suffered an upset with a fifth-place finish.

The Knesset now appears to be split clean in half between the right wing on one side and the centre, left,

. . . → Read More: Song of the Watermelon: Israel’s Election Results and the Prospects for Peace

Song of the Watermelon: Fanatics, Zealots, Warmongers, and Peaceniks: Israel’s Crowded Electoral Landscape

Haneen Zoabi

Due perhaps to my Jewish identity and my family’s history, Israel tends to be the country whose politics I follow most closely apart from Canada’s and the United States’. Nevertheless, there is a giant gulf separating numbers one and two from number three. My understanding of Israeli parties, personalities, and issues is far from perfect, and when I observe the campaign leading up to the January 22 elections to Israel’s Knesset, I do so as an outsider.

There is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that I feel very passionately about, as I strongly believe in Palestinian national aspirations, equal

. . . → Read More: Song of the Watermelon: Fanatics, Zealots, Warmongers, and Peaceniks: Israel’s Crowded Electoral Landscape

Song of the Watermelon: Two-State Twilight

For many years, I have felt that, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were an exaggeration. Yes, Israel has been unyielding in its expansion of settlements in the West Bank in clear violation of international law, effectively dividing the already-slight territory into several isolated segments and making the creation of a viable Palestinian state nearly impossible. But Israel has withdrawn settlers from occupied territory before, in the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. Unlikely as it may now appear, it could always happen again.

The above represents the

. . . → Read More: Song of the Watermelon: Two-State Twilight

Song of the Watermelon: Montreal Gazette Letter

Joel Lion, Israel’s Consul-General in Montreal, wrote an op-ed in the Montreal Gazette detailing the virtuous lengths Israel goes to in order to avoid civilian casualties in its unrelenting bombardment of the Gaza Strip. At the urging of Canadians for … Continue reading . . . → Read More: Song of the Watermelon: Montreal Gazette Letter

Song of the Watermelon: Live From Gaza

Nothing cuts through the bullshit quite like live footage. The following comes inadvertently from a CNN interview conducted with a Palestinian in Gaza and an Israeli in Ashkelon. I will let the video speak for itself: . . . → Read More: Song of the Watermelon: Live From Gaza

Song of the Watermelon: An Open Letter to Israeli and Palestinian Hawks

Dear Israeli hawks: What are you thinking? I realize that you consider every destructive, civilian killing, infrastructure shattering air raid you launch on the impoverished people of the Gaza Strip to be an act of self-defence against the terrorism of … Continue reading . . . → Read More: Song of the Watermelon: An Open Letter to Israeli and Palestinian Hawks

Song of the Watermelon: Israeli Settlements and the United Church Boycott: Three Common Distortions

*** Note: An unfinished draft version of this post mistakenly went out to e-mail and feed subscribers yesterday. Please do your best to scrub it from your memory and enjoy the updated post — as its author intended — below. Many thanks and apologies. ***

After months of controversy and negative media attention, the United Church of Canada, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, finally made it official. The church’s General Council voted today to call on its members to avoid buying products coming from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Presbyterian and Methodist churches in the United States have

. . . → Read More: Song of the Watermelon: Israeli Settlements and the United Church Boycott: Three Common Distortions

Song of the Watermelon: Israel, the Settlements, and the United Church: Three Common Distortions

- proposed United Church boycott of products from Israeli settlements

Distortion #1: Why Israel? The world is full of tyranny and injustice. Of all the places and issues, why boycott the Middle East’s only democracy?

Three assumptions are packed into this distortion: that the United Church is boycotting Israel, that Israel’s critics routinely let others off the hook, and that Israel is a democracy. All three assumptions are false.

First, it is true that the United Church has never in its history chosen to boycott any other country except for apartheid South Africa, but it is not boycotting Israel

. . . → Read More: Song of the Watermelon: Israel, the Settlements, and the United Church: Three Common Distortions