The Invention of the Jewish People

The fundamental myth of Zionism is the return of the Jewish people to its land. The sovereign people was conquered, and exiled far and wide, but remained aloof and united, inspired by the memory of its ancient sovereignty. In the late 19th century the people began its return, which culminated in the dramatic establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, fulfilling two millenia of longing. Tel Aviv University historian Shlomo Sand, in his remarkable book The Invention of the Jewish People, marshals past and present academic work to refute the Zionist historiography underlying this myth, and tells instead a story
of a religious minority and its creed, waxing and waning through proselytizing and conversion, subject to the same social forces as any other religious minority.

Entire article (PDF with notes) is at The Invention of the Jewish People

On CounterPunch, February 4, 2010, The Invention of the Jewish People

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Justice Goldstone at Brandeis

Justice Richard Goldstone spoke at Brandeis University on November 5, with former Israeli UN ambassador Dore Gold, on a program entitled “The Challenge of the UN Gaza Report.” Goldstone, a South African jurist and former prosecutor of International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, headed the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, established by the UN Human Rights Council in April. The Mission’s charge was to ” ‘to investigate all violations of international human rights law and
international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.’ ” The Mission “interpreted the mandate as requiring it to place the civilian population of the region at the centre of its concerns,” and defined the “context” as the period 19 June
2008 to 31 July 2009.

The report notes that the “Mission repeatedly sought to obtain the cooperation of the Government of Israel,” unsuccessfully, which \prevented it from meeting Israeli Government officials” and also “from travelling to Israel to meet Israeli victims and to the West Bank to meet Palestinian Authority representatives and Palestinian victims.” “The Mission has enjoyed the support and cooperation of the Palestinian Authority” and “[d]uring its visits to the Gaza Strip [through Rafah] the Mission held meetings with senior
members of the Gaza authorities and they extended their full cooperation and support to the Mission.” The Mission received evidence from West Bank residents in Amman and from West Bankers and Israelis in Geneva also.2 The Mission released the the final version of its report on September 25. Inevitably, the report’s most severe findings concerned Israel, as best conveyed by excerpts from the Conclusions and Recommendations:

Entire article (PDF with notes) is at Justice Goldstone at Brandeis

CounterPunch, November 16, 2009, Justice Goldstone at Brandeis

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Michigan Peaceworks on Palestine

What should one make of an Arab-Jewish women’s “dialogue group,” presumably concerned with the catastrophe in Palestine, one of whose Jewish members led the suppression of activism on Palestine in a general peace and justice group she also helped found? What if the group is being touted as a model of cooperation and learning, and has become the subject of a film made by the Jewish member in question? What if the film omitted the views of one Palestinian woman who dropped out because the group wasn’t politically active? An experienced observer might be surprised, because the “dialogue group” and its assumptions have long since come under criticism.

The late Edward Said described his experience in dialogue groups in these terms.

[T]hrough the period from 1969 to 1991, I and many other Palestinians had had private, even secret, meetings and peace discussions with Israelis, American Jews, and others who were concerned about the issue. . . By the period of the intifadah I had lost interest in the encounter groups principally because they were often manipulated by professional “conflict resolution” technicians, and also because they were now being used by the PLO not to argue the Palestinian case but, in my opinion, to try to prove to Israelis how many concessions the PLO was prepared to make. I also found that most members of the Israeli Left (including Peace Now) were focused on asking for more Palestinian concessions (recognize us, give up on the National Charter, etc.) without offering anything in return. In other words, these private attempts at reconciliation, with some notable   exceptions…reflected the exact balance of power between us, a very weak partner and a very strong one, some of whose advocates shamelessly kept asking the victims of military occupation and dispossession for various moral acknowledgements from their victims.

Entire article (PDF with notes) is at Michigan Peaceworks on Palestine

on CounterPunch, March 28, 2007 at Michigan Peaceworks on Palestine

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Suez 1956, Iran 2007?

In the fall of 1956, Britain, France and Israel attacked Egypt, in “the best-documented war plot in modern history,”1 which the conspirators put in writing and signed at a meeting at Sevres near Paris on October 22-24. Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion, the military chief of staff Moshe Dayan, and their fellow militarists viewed Egypt’s Gamel Abdel Nasser as a new Saladin or an Arab Ataturk, a mortal threat to Israel, who had to be destroyed. That June Ben-Gurion had forced the resignation of his main opponent within the government, foreign minister Moshe Sharett, while denying him a debate in the cabinet and in their Mapai party on the broad choices represented by their respective policies. Sharett was also concerned, but recognized that Israel’s policies had largely provoked the crisis with Egypt, and viewed war as a last rather than first resort.

The government of France was as obsessed with Nasser as Israel’s, blaming him for Algerian resistance to French rule, an illusion which Israel cultivated. The Algerian conflict “escalated into all-out war” in the period before the Suez crisis.2 The defense ministry was the seat of French anti-Nasser sentiment, reflecting the frustrations of the military, which chafed from defeats in 1940, and in 1954 at Dienbienphu. French arms sales to Israel had arisen from liaison between their defense ministries, bypassing both foreign ministries. Franco-Israeli talks were held near Paris in June, resulting in an arms deal and initial military collaboration against Nasser. These gave Israel an arms supply and a political partnership, laying the basis for participation in the eventual tripartite campaign.

Entire article (PDF with notes) is at Suez 1956, Iran 2007?

This was in the subscription CounterPunch newsletter for April 1-15, 2007, is not on-line as HTML.

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Thrice-told Tales

Gabriel Kolko’s work as a historian casts a giant shadow, but his recent account of “Israel, Iran and the Bush Administration” (CounterPunch, February 10/11) is open to challenge. The Israeli peace talks with Syria, which Kolko finds of “enormous significance,” are a thrice-told tale which has not yet come true, least of all because of the United States, as Kolko claims.

Syria is the historic heartland of Arab nationalism, and Syria’s late president Hafez al-Asad, who ruled from 1970 until his death in 2000, held steadfastly to his ideal of justice for the Syrian and Arab cause in the conflict with Israel. His abiding concern for Syria was securing Israel’s total withdrawal from territory it conquered in the 1967 war, the Golan Heights. This he defined as withdrawal to the pre-war, June 4, 1967 line, rather than the 1923 border under the League of Nations Mandates, which he always viewed as a line drawn by imperialists. The 1923 line was the border of the Jewish state with Syria in the 1947   UN partition resolution. The June 4 line was the 1949 armistice line, plus and minus demilitarized zones which Israel and Syria had absorbed, and had served as a border until the war.

After the 1973 war, Asad accepted UN Resolutions 242 and 338, and offered a non-belligerency agreement, with peace treaty to follow, if Israel were to withdraw to the June 4 line, in a general Arab-Israeli settlement. He repeated these terms at intervals, in worsening circumstances for Syria’s interests. The Egypt-Israel treaty deprived Syria of its most important ally; the Lebanese civil war and Israeli invasion of 1982 were great political, economic and social strains; Syria’s chief patron, the USSR, reduced its support and urged a political solution, under Premier Mikhail  Gorbachev’s regime. By the late 1980s Asad thus sought more actively a settlement with his principal adversary.

Entire article (PDF with notes) is at Thrice-told Tales

on CounterPunch, March 17-8, 2007 at Thrice-told Tales

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Truman and Israel

The Truman Administration’s policy on Palestine challenges at its start the “strategic asset” view of the US-Israel relationship, and reinforces the “Israel lobby” view, as argued in the recent article by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. Truman’s support for the creation of a Jewish state was due entirely to the US Jewish community, without whose influence Zionist achievements in Palestine would have been for nought. Long before any strategic argument was made, indeed, while a Jewish state was considered a strategic liability, long before Israel’s fundamentalist Christian supporters of today we re on the map, the nascent Israel lobby deployed its manifold resources with consummate skill and ruthlessness.

Rabbi Abba Silver, a Cleveland Zionist with Republican contacts, and Zionist official Emmanuel Neumann, initiated “Democratic and Republican competition for the Jewish vote.” In 1944 they “wrung support from the conventions of both parties for the Taft-Wagner [Senate] resolution” supporting abrogation of the Palestine immigration limits in the 1939 British white paper, and the establishment of Palestine as a Jewish commonwealth. Ensuring the traditional loyalty of Jewish voters was a paramount concern of Democratic politicians, up to the president himself, in the New York mayoral election of 1945, the 1946 congressional elections, and the 1948 presidential election.

Gentile opinion was also courted in non-electoral ways, through the American Palestine Committee of notables, organized in 1941 by Emmanuel Neumann of the American Zionist Emergency Committee. By 1946 it included “sixty-eight senators, two hundred congressmen and several state governors” with “seventy-five local chapters.” It became  “the preeminent symbol of pro-Zionist sentiment among the non-Jewish American public.'” It was entirely a Zionist front.

Entire article (PDF with notes) is at Truman and Israel

On Counterpunch, June 3, 2006, at Truman and Israel

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Shabtai Gilad Zvi, anti-Zionist messiah

This arose in October, 2018 on Facebook, on a post by Gilad Atzmon, linked at the end. The post featured an article by Atzmon about the failure of Holocaust education, arguing that universal lessons about “the Holocaust” need to be drawn. This is praiseworthy and unoriginal, echoing many writers.

But you cannot at the same time, as Atzmon has, deny (excuse me, “question”) whether “the Holocaust” (what historians call “the Judeocide”) took place, whether gas chambers were used in industrial genocide, and then argue that its lessons must be universalized. Nor can you compare the Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany to AIPAC’s influence on the US in support of Israel as two sinister examples of Jewish power, or praise Henry Ford’s anti-Semitism, among other statements.

I pointed this out after Atzmon mentioned me in a comment, saying “I hope the article doesn’t upset Harry Clark too much.” It is absurd that Atzmon thinks questioning whether gas chambers were used, and comparing the Jewish boycott of Germany to AIPAC’s influence in the US, “universalize” the Judeocide.

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