You probably heard the great news – after two years of progressive activism, FOX finally cancelled Glenn Beck’s show–but the Boycott Must Go On!!


Dear Kevin,
You probably heard the great news – after two years of progressive activism, FOX finally cancelled Glenn Beck’s show.
Beck was targeted after he slandered President Obama by saying, “This president has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture, I don’t know what it is… This guy, I believe, is a racist.”
Activists at ColorOfChange, Media Matters, StopBeck, FoxNewsBoycott, and of course Democrats.com responded with a boycott of advertisers on Glenn Beck’s show. Ultimately over 300 advertisers pulled their ads from Beck, costing FOX over $40 million.
Advertiser boycotts work! And it’s time to boycott all FOX News advertisers:

http://www.democrats.com/boycott-proactiv

We’re starting our boycott of all FOX News with Proactiv, which sells acne medicine to teenagers and young adults. Why?
First, there are lots of other acne treatments. Second, young adults above all are hurt by FOX News, which promotes right-wing policies on race, education, healthcare, the environment, and war. Let’s get our future leaders to lead the fight against FOX News!
Sign the petition to Proactiv and enter the email address of every young adult over 18 you know:

http://www.democrats.com/boycott-proactiv

Beyond President Obama, FOX regularly slanders nearly everyone: Democrats, unionized workers, the unemployed (including veterans and 99ers), environmentalists, feminists, blacks, Hiics, Jews, Muslims, progressives, scientists, and any other group it disagrees with.
FOX News broadcasts rightwing extremist slander, incitement to violence, political propaganda, and outright lies to promote its rightwing political agenda. This is not “news,” but rather a never-ending “war on news” – and it’s all documented in our petition.
Why would any decent company want to fund it? Tell Proactiv to stop advertising on FOX News:

http://www.democrats.com/boycott-proactiv

Thanks for all you do!
Bob Fertik

GLEN BECK ADMITTED in 2007, “I Am RACIST and Barack Obama is very White” THIS MAKES Boycotting FOX NEWS needed NOW

By Kevin Stoda

Dear, American supporters of the Fascist Oddball Xenophobic (FOX) news networks.

AMERICANS are getting less tolerant of your racism and stronghold on our major media.

For example, we have noted that in his 2007 TV program from FOX (See on You-Tube), Glen Beck admitted he himself was racist. Further, Beck then, in contrast to 2009, called Barrack Obama much more white than black. (Apparently, Beck now he has other nonsense to mush men’s minds.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0tgvWxC_6A

Using a major news platform to promote racism and to tell people to disrespect a whole presidential administration through mixed truths, outright lies, and xenophobia, is not to be tolerated any more.

On Democracy Now today, Amy Goodman asked Benjamin Jealous of the NAACP what he thought of Wal-Mart’s pull-out from advertising on the Glen Beck program on FOX.

NOTE: Goodman had simply asked , “The whole attack by Glenn Beck that drove this (resignation)? In your response from the NAACP to Van Jones, it says, ´The only thing more outrageous than Mr. Beck’s attack on Van Jones is the fact that there are sponsors that continue to pay him to provide this type of offensive commentary.` Do you support the continued boycott of companies like Wal-Mart of Beck’s show on Fox?”

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/8/white_house_environmental_adviser_van_jones

This is a particularly important point because Glen Beck´s HATE CAMPAIGN ON THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION led recently to a great American policy maker, Van Jones, quitting the government this week.

http://thinkprogress.org/2009/09/06/van-jones-resigns/

Mr. Jealous said, “We certainly support them (Walmart) choosing with their dollars who they’re going to support. I mean, it’s—Glenn Beck is somebody who’s told a seven-year-old girl, a seven-year-old black girl, that he would buy her a ticket back to Africa, that she needed to go back to Africa. And then he comes out, and he says that healthcare is the beginning of reparations. I mean, this guy plays the race card on a weekly basis. He does it very aggressive—you know, in a very hateful way.”

Recall, first, that Van Jones is one of the most important and thoughtful men in America—however, the FOX (Fascist Oddball Xenophobic) news network chose to support a man, like Glen Beck, rather than seeing that tens of millions of Americans need to get health care from promoters like Jones and that our America economy needs to move starting today to the kind of economy that its competitors worldwide are already doing.

http://www.alternet.org/environment/95963/what_will_the_green_economy_look_like/

Let’s quote the wisdom and influential words of Van Jones on the absolute necessity to green the American economy NOW!
“I think it’s really important to point out that we’re sort of at the end of an era of American capitalism, where we thought we could run the economy based on consumption rather than production, credit rather than creativity, borrowing rather than building, and also, most importantly, environmental destruction rather than environmental restoration.”
Jones continued, “We’re trying to make the case in this book that that era is over. We now have to move in a very different direction. And key to that will be basing the US economy not on credit cards, but based on clean energy and the clean energy revolution that would put literally millions of people to work, putting up solar panels all across the United States, weatherizing buildings so they don’t leak so much energy and put up so much carbon, building wind farms and wave farms, manufacturing wind turbines. We argue you could put Detroit back to work not making SUVs to destroy the world, but making wind turbines, 8,000 finely machine parts in each one, twenty tons of steel in each wind tower, making wind turbines to help save the world.”
Finally, Van Jones wisely noted, “So we think that you can fight pollution and poverty at the same time. We think that you can actually power our way through this recession by putting people to work, but we’re going to have to start building things here and re-powering, retrofitting, retooling America, and that that’s the way forward both for the economy, for the earth and for everyday people.”
Note: These statements came from a program on DN from October of last year:

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/10/28/van_jones_on_the_green_collar

Van Beck has written a book of the same title, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems.

http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780061650758/The_Green_Collar_Economy/index.aspx

America needs such voices as Van Jones in government leadership in America—not Fascist Oddball Xenophobic (FOX) types.

Clean up the American airwaves of all its fascism and racism, today.

http://www.pittsburghurbanmedia.com/a-petition-against-fox-conservative-host-glenn-beck.aspx

NOTE: One way to change the noise of Fascist Oddball Xenophobic (FOX) media moguls is to support alternative media organizations

http://aan.org/alternative/Aan/index

and alternative monitoring websites.

http://americas.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/64380

Another way, is to demand that local radio and TV channels put better programming on, such as Democracy Now or news sources promoted by serious progressive journalists:

http://www.tacomapjh.org/progressive_news.htm

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“[ For M]ost American Jews, Israel has become the content of their Jewish religious identification. [For too many Jews,] It has very little other content.


NERMEEN SHAIKH: , I’d like to again quote from something you said in a 2002 New York Times interview with Chris Hedges. You said, “The support for Israel,” in the United States, “fills a spiritual vacuum. If you do not support the government of Israel then your Jewishness, not your political judgment, is in question.” So could you explain what you mean by that and what the implications of that have been, in terms of U.S. governments supporting Israeli government policy?

HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, what I meant by that, and that was an interview quite a while ago—

NERMEEN SHAIKH: 2002, yes.

HENRY SIEGMAN: I see, OK, which is not all that long ago, for me anyway. I meant by that something quite simple, that for many American Jews—and, I suspect, for most American Jews—Israel has become the content of their Jewish religious identification. It has very little other content. I rarely have been at a Shabbat service where a rabbi gives a sermon where Israel isn’t a subject of the sermon. And typically, they are—the sermons are not in the spirit of an Isaiah, you know, who says, “My god, is this what God wants from you? Your hands are bloody; they’re filled with blood. But he doesn’t want your fast. He doesn’t want—he despises the sacrifices and your prayers. What he wants is to feed, to feed the hungry, to pursue justice and so on.” But that’s not what you hear from rabbis in the synagogues in this country. So, what I meant by that is that there’s much more to Judaism and to the meaning that you give to your Jewish identity than support for the likes of Netanyahu.

from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/01/israeli-settlement-west-bank-gvaot-condemned

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Huge new Israeli settlement in West Bank condemned by US and UK –British foreign secretary urges Israel to reverse decision to seize 990 acres of Palestinian land near Gvaot to create new city


Huge new Israeli settlement in West Bank condemned by US and UK
British foreign secretary urges Israel to reverse decision to seize 990 acres of Palestinian land near Gvaot to create new city

from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/01/israeli-settlement-west-bank-gvaot-condemned

Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem
The Guardian

The UK and US governments have criticised, in unusually strong language, Israel’s decision to approve one of the largest appropriations of Palestinian land for settlement in recent decades.

The UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, said he deplored the move as “particularly ill-judged”.

However, Israel’s economics minister, Naftali Bennett, who visited the Gush Etzion settlement in the occupied West Bank on Monday, applauded Sunday’s decision as an “appropriate Zionist response to murder”. Bennett said: “What we did yesterday was a display of Zionism. Building is our answer to murder.”

The settlement affects nearly 400 hectares (1,000 acres) at Gvaot near Bethlehem, which have been designated as state land, as opposed to land privately owned by Palestinians, clearing the way for the potential Israeli building.

Israel’s announcement comes after an apparently concerted effort by some of its officials and politicians to use the kidnap and murder of three religious students earlier this summer to justify the expropriation.

The direct link between the murder of the three students, which shocked Israeli society, and the announcement suggests the move was designed in part as a punitive measure.

Israel’s decision has been condemned by senior Palestinian government figures and Israel’s chief negotiator in the stalled peace process, the justice minister, Tzipi Livni, who said the decision would damage Israel’s security in the long run. “The decision was incorrect,” Livni told Israel Radio News. “It was a decision that weakens Israel and damages its security.”

Settler representatives said they hoped to expand around Gush Etzion to create a contiguous new city for thousands.

Explaining the decision on Sunday, the Co-ordination of Government Activities in the Territories said there was no Palestinian claim on the area but that protesters could register their opposition within 45 days. Local Palestinians, including the mayor of nearby Surif, Ahmad Lafi, insist the land belongs to Palestinian families.

According to a report released by the PLO’s negotiations affairs department: “The illegal settlement of Gvaot was established in 1984 as a military base. It was later transferred to a Yeshiva (Jewish religious school) and currently is inhabited by 16 families. The recent Israeli confiscation would allow for the illegal settlements to grow to the size of a city. It aims at linking the illegal settlement with the green line, grabbing more Palestinian land so as to facilitate future annexation.”

Settlers and their supporters in the Israeli government have long sought to build on the land around Gvaot, currently the site of a small settlement. They claim there is an Israeli consensus that in any future peace deal, the settlements around Gush Etzion would be annexed to Israel.

That position is rejected by Palestinians and many in the international community, including the US. “We have long made clear our opposition to continued settlement activity,” the US official told Reuters on Sunday night.

“This announcement, like every other settlement announcement Israel makes, is counterproductive to Israel’s stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians. “We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision,” the official said.

Hammond used even stronger language on Monday, saying the decision threatened to damage Israel’s standing in the international community. “Our position on settlements is clear,” Hammond said. “They are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace and take us further away from a two-state solution at a time when negotiations to achieve this objective urgently need to be resumed.”

The kidnap and murder of the three teenagers, blamed by the Israeli government on Hamas, has now been used to justify mass arrests on the West Bank, as a contributory cause to the recent 50-day war in Gaza, and now one of the largest appropriations of land for settlement building in recent memory. Some Israeli critics of Binyamin Netanyahu’s government have suggested the announcement was a response to the significant pressure applied to Netanyahu from the extreme rightwing elements of his coalition.

Netanyahu has faced strong criticism from within his own cabinet – not least from Bennett – and the Israeli media for agreeing a ceasefire with Hamas, they have argued, without enough gains.

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HEGEMONIC WAR & USA Today


HEGEMONIC WAR

By NESTOR MATA

from: http://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/opinion/hegemonic-war

THOUGHTS of a hegemonic war or great power war are beginning to surface once again. The fears of such a calamitous global catastrophe have been reignited by the constant stream of news about a confrontation between a rising China and the United States.

In times of international flux, where the worst seems possible, it is important to turn to those who can best interpret these eras. In the case of hegemonic wars, there is hardly a greater authority than Robert Gilpin, professor emeritus of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, and author of the book “War and Change in World Politics.”

In his seminal work on the subject, Prof. Gilpin argues that three preconditions must be met for a hegemonic war to occur. First, he believes that the soon-to-be warring parties must feel there is a “‘closing in’ of space and opportunities.”
Second, there must be a general “perception that a fundamental historical change is taking place.” Finally, events around the world start to “escape human control.”

All three of these conditions currently exist in the world today, according to Gilpin. He recalled that Europe, where great power conflict took place for centuries, was heavily congested and contested. As powers like Britain, France, Germany and others rose, they fought for influence and geography at the expense of the others’ territory. Due to the close quarters, any desire for expansion on one country’s part would cause concern in the others.

Today, the world is different. The two powers that would compete in a war – the United States and China – are separated by a vast ocean, supposedly making it hard for each to antagonize the other. This, however, is not true. The map may show an expansive world, but new technologies – leading to hyper-connectivity and shorter travel times, especially for military equipment – have made the world “claustrophobic.” To wit, when China announced an “Air Defense Identification Zone” the United States quickly deployed two B-52 bombers to challenge its claim. And that was using old equipment. Both China and the United States are developing hypersonic missiles and vehicles.

Humanity has already conquered physical space with commercial flight and fast ships. Now, it continues to shrink space even further for potentially decisive advantage. It is also hard to claim that China and the United States are far apart when they regularly bump up against each other as they have in the South China Sea.

Since the dawn of “Pax Americana” after World War II, belief in the United States as the undisputed global hegemon remained fairly stable until now. According to a recent Pew poll, Americans’ views of the United States as a global power have reached a 40-year low. Indeed, only 17 percent believe that America plays a “more important and powerful role than ten years ago.”

Rightly or wrongly, this perception exists. Even though most people still find the United States preferable to China, regional powers can use the widespread belief that America is declining to make their cases for running the system. In fact they are already doing so to a degree. For example, China’s Global Times reports that 47 percent of people believe China has achieved “major power” status. Should both perceptions keep trending in the same direction – the United States is declining while China rises – then the feeling of an historic shift is almost inevitable.

As current events prove, even the great powers cannot stop horrendous things from happening in the world. From Latin America and Africa to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia, chaos and turmoil run rampant. While this is a particularly bad period for international affairs, it is naïve to think this may be an isolated epoch.

In fact, there is reason to think the world might grow more unstable in the years ahead. Over the next 11 years, the world can expect another one billion people, reaching a total of around 8 billion by 2030. As technology becomes more powerful, it will do two things. First, it will empower the individual, or a group of individuals, to do great good or great harm. Second, it will allow individuals to be more aware of how the middle class lives.

People around the world will demand similar things, causing stress on governments and brewing civil unrest and instability. Thus, as people are further empowered and further angered, the probability that these non-state actors – indeed, normal, everyday people – disrupt international affairs or geopolitics is high. Governments will continue to have less and less control of the citizenry, allowing the regular citizen to do with her newfound power what she wills. In essence, we will see, in a big way, the diffusion of power.

Although the world currently satisfies Prof. Gilpin’s three preconditions, there is no need for pessimism, according to Alex Ward of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowdroft Center on International Security. For one, current relations between the United States and China are nowhere near the point where a potential great war between them is possible, and there is no other rivalry nearing that of Washington and Beijing. Second, some of the trends that can cause harm, like rapid technological progress, can also be used to help stabilize the global order. To be sure, technology could be used to curb the desolation brought on by expectedly low water, food, and energy levels.

Finally, and most importantly, Gilpin’s guidance is certainly not comprehensive. There are more variables for which to account (i.e. the effect of nuclear weapons) that dictate whether or not a great power war may take place. That said, Gilpin’s framework serves as a good rubric by which to measure the current global climate. By all measures, this is certainly a dangerous time.

But Gilpin’s preconditions shouldn’t be misconstrued as predictive or fatalistic, in the view of Alex Ward. Indeed, the United States, as the world hegemon, has the capability and responsibility to preserve the international order and lead the world out of this mess. By keeping good relations with partners and allies, deterring adversaries, reversing the perception of its decline, and leveraging technological capabilities for global good, there is a decent chance that the U.S. can make the great-power-war-incubation period fade away.

Should the United States not seize this moment, and ensure that China is a responsible partner in the current global system alongside it, then the chance of a great power war, however remote, cannot be dismissed.
– See more at: http://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/opinion/hegemonic-war#sthash.Rk5ddc76.dpuf

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Economic policy and social responsibility


by Mercedes B. Suleik

from: http://www.mb.com.ph/economic-policy-and-social-responsibility/

The current “politically correct” trend is to dichotomize the secular and what pertains to one’s consciential convictions, or as the world would call it, religion. And so, religious convictions are not supposed to impinge on secular matters such as government, business, and media. One can only discuss economic strategies and growth, profitability, risk-taking, good governance and social responsibility in “politically correct” language. It is incorrect to discuss right and wrong in the context of morality, but should only discuss these in the context of what is legal and acceptable. There is “no need” to discuss of what the Bible says about subduing the earth and having dominion over it in the context of moral responsibility over God’s gifts but it is acceptable to talk about the environment and social responsibility on the part of business and economic policy.

But I will stick my neck out, and once again call attention to Jesus Christ’s explicit words, “…what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their soul?” And I will repeat what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger) observed, “for a long time… business ethics rang like hollow metal because the economy was held to work on efficiency and not on morality…” The world stresses that business and economics cannot determine whether any activity is ethical or not. The technical revolution has made possible modern market products as internet stock valuations, derivatives, hot money transfers, online shopping, even gaming and pornography not to mention credit abuse that inveigled people to spend on products they could not possibly afford on their incomes. This brings us to the conclusion that a consumeristic society is the result of the science of production, distribution, and consumption of wealth (i.e., the fulfilment of wants). But this cannot be the be-all and end-all of a human being, a person whose destiny goes beyond worldly affairs.

As Pope, Benedict XVI’s profound understanding of the relation between business and economics led him to exhort that there needs to be a “profoundly new way of understanding business enterprise” and that there has to be an increased awareness of the need for greater social responsibility on the part of business. It is indeed true, that in light of political correctness, business has been looking at good corporate governance, but this needs to be enriched by the corporate world looking at their activities in light of the Church’s social doctrine. He reiterates the profound truth that charity is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine.

Social doctrine emphasizes that if the market is governed solely by the principle of equivalence in value of exchanged goods, it cannot produce the social cohesion that it requires to function well. That is, “without internal forms of solidarity and mutual trust, the market cannot completely fulfill its proper economic function.” Likewise, the late Pope Paul VI stated that the economic system itself would benefit from the wide-ranging practice of justice, inasmuch as the first to gain from the development of poor countries would be the rich ones. He called for “a model of market economy capable of including within its range all peoples and not just the better off…” for more efforts to build a more human world for all, in which “all will be able to give and receive, without one group making progress at the expense of the other.”

Our current Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, has also reflected on the social dimension of evangelization, linking the preaching of the Gospel and the promotion of every human being, that must be “holistic and capable of avoiding the relegation of religion to the private sphere, with no incidence in social and public life.” Two great themes emerge from Chapter IV of this Apostolic Exhortaion: The “social inclusion of the poor” and “peace and social dialogue” which the Pope says is indicative of his conviction that they will decide the future of humanity. The Church must contribute to the resolution of the instrumental causes of poverty and promote the integral development of the poor.

Thus there is no need to dichotimize between what is “secular” and “religious.” The Church has a good, in fact a better understanding, of what is politically correct. Social responsibility goes beyond mere handouts and soundbytes that business incorporates into its economic projections – true social responsibility is solidarity with human beings who, if properly understood, must be the object of all the good that this world can give.

merci.suleik@gmail.com

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HENRY SIEGMAN on similarities between the Public and Electorate of the Nazi-Era in Germany and the Public and Electorate in Israel (and USA) Today


NERMEEN SHAIKH: Henry Siegman, as you are far more familiar than most, the argument made by Israel and supporters of Israel is that what might be construed as a disproportionate response by Israel to Hamas has to do with the historical experience of the persecution of the Jews and, of course, the Holocaust. So how do you respond to those kinds of claims?
HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, I don’t accept that at all, because the lesson from the persecutions would seem to me—and certainly if you follow Jewish tradition, the lesson of those persecutions, we have always said, until the state of Israel came into being, is that you do not treat people in that kind of an inhumane and cruel way. And the hope always was that Israel would be a model democracy, but not just a democracy, but a state that would practice Jewish values, in terms of its humanitarian approach to these issues, its pursuit of justice and so on.
I have always felt that, for me, the Holocaust experience, which was important to me, since I lived two years under Nazi occupation, most of it running from place to place and in hiding—I always thought that the important lesson of the Holocaust is not that there is evil, that there are evil people in this world who could do the most unimaginable, unimaginably cruel things. That was not the great lesson of the Holocaust. The great lesson of the Holocaust is that decent, cultured people, people we would otherwise consider good people, can allow such evil to prevail, that the German public—these were not monsters, but it was OK with them that the Nazi machine did what it did. Now I draw no comparisons between the Nazi machine and Israeli policy. And what I resent most deeply is when people say, “How dare you invoke the Nazi experience?” The point isn’t, you know, what exactly they did, but the point is the evidence that they gave that decent people can watch evil and do nothing about it. That is the most important lesson of the Holocaust, not the Hitlers and not the SS, but the public that allowed this to happen. And my deep disappointment is that the Israeli public, precisely because Israel is a democracy and cannot say, “We’re not responsible what our leaders do,” that the public puts these people back into office again and again.

from: http://www.democracynow.org/2014/9/1/a_slaughter_of_innocents_henry_siegman

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The Guns of August Returned in 2014



The Guns of August

By Amy Goodman with Denis Moynihan

In her epic book, “The Guns of August,” historian Barbara Tuchman detailed how World War I began in 1914, and how the belligerence, vanity and poor policies of powerful leaders led millions to gory deaths. We can look at that war in retrospect, as if through a distant mirror.

LISTEN at http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2014/8/28/the_guns_of_august

In her epic, Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Guns of August,” historian Barbara Tuchman detailed how World War I began in 1914, and how the belligerence, vanity and poor policies of powerful leaders led millions to gory deaths in that four-year conflagration. Before people realized world wars had to be numbered, World War I was called “The Great War” or “The War to End All Wars,” which it wasn’t. It was the first modern war with massive, mechanized slaughter on land, sea and in the air. We can look at that war in retrospect, now 100 years after it started, as if through a distant mirror. The reflection, where we are today, is grim from within the greatest war-making nation in human history, the United States.

In the early years of the 20th century, the leaders of the nations of Europe had contrived a web of alliances, each treaty binding one country to join in the defense of another in the event of war. When the Austrian emperor’s son, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, visited Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, 19-year-old Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated him. As Barbara Tuchman writes in her book, published in 1962, Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia, which set off a chain reaction, involving Russia, France, Belgium and Great Britain in the war against Austria-Hungary, Germany and the Ottoman Empire.

After the war plans of the various powers failed, a period of brutal trench warfare began, with millions of lives lost under a relentless barrage of mortars, machine guns, mustard gas and newfangled airplanes outfitted with machine guns and bombs. By the war’s end, an estimated 9,700,000 soldiers would be dead, along with 6,800,000 civilians killed.

What, if anything, have we learned from the disaster of World War I? Look no farther than Gaza, or Ferguson, Mo. After nearly 50 days of the bombardment of Gaza with Israel’s intensely lethal, high-tech, U.S.-funded arsenal, Palestinian health officials put the number of Gazans killed at 2,139, of whom over 490 were children. Israel reported 64 soldiers killed as a result of its ground invasion of Gaza, with six civilians dead. The narrow Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated places on Earth, suffering under an Israeli-imposed state of siege, is now a pile of rubble through which people pick, searching for the bodies of loved ones.

Read full column posted at Truthdig. http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_guns_of_august_20140827
.

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The “Oral Orders Given to Rabin” and How Israeli Historians compare Hamas today with Israeli and Zionist Movements of the 1930s and 1940s


Is there any difference?

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU today says: “I know that in our society, the society of Israel, there is no place for such murderers. And that’s the difference between us and our neighbors. They consider murderers to be heroes. They name public squares after them. We don’t. We condemn them, and we put them on trial, and we’ll put them in prison.”

AMY GOODMAN: That was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talking about the difference. Henry Siegman, can you respond?
HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, the only difference I can think of is that in Israel they made the heads of the two major pre-state terrorist groups prime ministers. So this distinction he’s drawing is simply false; it’s not true. The heads of the two terrorist groups, which incidentally, again, going back to Benny Morris, in his book, Righteous Victims, he writes, in this pre-state account, that the targeting of civilians was started by the Jewish terrorist groups, and the Arab—and the Arab groups followed.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re talking about Irgun and the Stern Gang.
HENRY SIEGMAN: Yes, yes. And as you know, both the head of the Irgun and both the head of the Stern Gang—I’m talking about Begin and Shamir—became prime ministers of the state of Israel. And contrary to Netanyahu, public highways and streets are named after them.


from: http://www.democracynow.org/2014/9/1/a_slaughter_of_innocents_henry_siegma
n

HENRY SIEGMAN wrote in 2009 in the London Review of Books. “Hamas is no more a ‘terror organisation’ … than the Zionist movement was during its struggle for a Jewish homeland. In the late 1930s and 1940s, parties within the Zionist movement resorted to terrorist activities for strategic reasons.”

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Could you elaborate on that and what you see as the parallels between the two?

HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, I’m glad I said that. In fact, I repeated it in a letter to The New York Times the other day, a week or two ago. The fact is that Israel had, pre-state—in its pre-state stage, several terrorist groups that did exactly what Hamas does today. I don’t mean they sent rockets, but they killed innocent people. And they did that in an even more targeted way than these rockets do. Benny Morris published a book that is considered the Bible on that particular period, the war of—
AMY GOODMAN: The Israeli historian.
HENRY SIEGMAN: Sorry?
AMY GOODMAN: The Israeli historian, Benny Morris.
HENRY SIEGMAN: The Israeli historian, right, then in the book Righteous Victims, in which he said—I recall, when I read it, I was shocked—in which he—particularly in his most recently updated book, which was based on some new information that the Israel’s Defense—the IDF finally had to open up and publish, that Israeli generals received direct instructions from Ben-Gurion during the War of Independence to kill civilians, or line them up against the wall and shoot them, in order to help to encourage the exodus, that in fact resulted, of 700,000 Palestinians, who were driven out of their—left their homes, and their towns and villages were destroyed. This was terror, even within not just the terrorist groups, the pre-state terrorists, but this is within the military, the Israeli military, that fought the War of Independence. And in this recent book, that has received so much public attention by Ari—you know, My Promised Land.
AMY GOODMAN: Shavit.
HENRY SIEGMAN: Ari Shavit. He describes several such incidents, too. And incidentally, one of the people who—according to Benny Morris, one of the people who received these orders—and they were oral orders, but he, in his book, describes why he believes that these orders were given, were given to none other than Rabin, who was not a general then, but he—and that he executed these orders.
AMY GOODMAN: Meaning?
HENRY SIEGMAN: Meaning?
AMY GOODMAN: What did it mean that he executed these orders, Rabin?
HENRY SIEGMAN: That he executed civilians. And the rationale given for this when Shavit, some years ago, had an interview with Benny Morris and said to him, “My God, you are saying that there was deliberate ethnic cleansing here?” And Morris said, “Yes, there was.” And he says, “And you justify it?” And he said, “Yes, because otherwise there would not have been a state.” And Shavit did not follow up. And that was one of my turning points myself, when I saw that. He would not follow up and say, “Well, if that is a justification, the struggle for statehood, why can’t Palestinians do that? What’s wrong with Hamas? Why are they demonized if they do what we did?”
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to the Israeli prime minister earlier this month, Benjamin Netanyahu, vowing to punish those responsible for the killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian teen who was burned alive following the murders of three Israeli teens. But in doing so, Netanyahu drew a distinction between Israel and its neighbors in how it deals with, quote, “murderers.”

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THE JEWISH QUESTION OF THE DECADE AS CONCERNS ISRAEL–by HENRY SIEGMAN


“So, the question I ask myself: What if the situation were reversed? You know, there is a Talmudic saying in Pirkei Avot, The Ethics of the Fathers: “Al tadin et chavercha ad shetagiah lemekomo,” “Don’t judge your neighbor until you can imagine yourself in his place.” So, my first question when I deal with any issue related to the Israeli-Palestinian issue: What if we were in their place?
What if the situation were reversed, and the Jewish population were locked into, were told, “Here, you have less than 2 percent of Palestine, so now behave. No more resistance. And let us deal with the rest”? Is there any Jew who would have said this is a reasonable proposition, that we cease our resistance, we cease our effort to establish a Jewish state, at least on one-half of Palestine, which is authorized by the U.N.? Nobody would agree to that. They would say this is absurd. So the expectations that Palestinians—and I’m speaking now about the resistance as a concept; I’m not talking about rockets, whether they were justified or not. They’re not. I think that sending rockets that are going to kill civilians is a crime. But for Palestinians to try, in any way they can, to end this state of affair—and to expect of them to end their struggle and just focus on less than 2 percent to build a country is absurd. That is part of—that’s propaganda, but it’s not a discussion of either politics or morality.”
–HENRY SIEGMAN, , president of the U.S./Middle East Project. He is the former executive director of the American Jewish Congress from 1978 to 1994 and former executive vice president of the Synagogue Council of America.

FROM: http://www.democracynow.org/2014/9/1/a_slaughter_of_innocents_henry_siegman

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Henry Siegman: “Couldn’t Israel be doing something in preventing this disaster that is playing out now, in terms of the destruction of human lives? Couldn’t they have done something that didn’t require that cost? And the answer is: Sure, that they could have ended the occupation, with results—whatever the risks are, they certainly aren’t greater than the price being paid now for Israel’s effort to continue and sustain permanently their relationship to the Palestinians.”


“A Slaughter of Innocents”: Henry Siegman, a Venerable Jewish Voice for Peace, on Gaza

from: http://www.democracynow.org/2014/9/1/a_slaughter_of_innocents_henry_siegman

GUESTS
Henry Siegman, president of the U.S./Middle East Project. He is the former executive director of the American Jewish Congress from 1978 to 1994 and former executive vice president of the Synagogue Council of America.

Today, a special with Henry Siegman, the former executive director of the American Jewish Congress, long described as one of the nation’s “big three” Jewish organizations along with the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League. Henry Siegman was born in 1930 in Frankfurt, Germany. Three years later, the Nazis came to power. After fleeing Nazi troops in Belgium, his family eventually moved to the United States. His father was a leader of the European Zionist movement, pushing for the creation of a Jewish state. In New York, Siegman studied and was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi by Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. He later became head of the Synagogue Council of America. After his time at the American Jewish Congress, Siegman became a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He now serves as president of the U.S./Middle East Project.

Over the years, Siegman has become a vocal critic of Israel’s policies in the Occupied Territories and has urged Israel to engage with Hamas. He has called the Palestinian struggle for a state “the mirror image of the Zionist movement” that led to the founding of Israel in 1948. In July, wrote an op-ed for Politico headlined, “Israel Provoked This War.” Democracy Now! hosts Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh sat down with him on July 29 — in the midst of Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: Today, a special with Henry Siegman, the former executive director of the American Jewish Congress, long described as one of the nation’s “big three” Jewish organizations along with the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League. Henry Siegman was born in 1930 in Frankfurt, Germany. Three years later, the Nazis came to power. After fleeing Nazi troops in Belgium, his family eventually moved to the United States. His father was a leader of the European Zionist movement, pushing for the creation of a Jewish state. In New York, Henry Siegman studied and was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi by Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. He later became head of the Synagogue Council of America. After his time at the American Jewish Congress, Siegman became a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He now serves as president of the U.S./Middle East Project.

Over the years, Henry Siegman has become a vocal critic of Israel’s policies in the Occupied Territories and has urged Israel to engage with Hamas. He has called the Palestinian struggle for a state, quote, “the mirror image of the Zionist movement” that led to the founding of Israel in 1948. In July, he wrote a piece for Politico headlined “Israel Provoked This War.”

Democracy Now!’s Nermeen Shaikh and I sat down with him on July 29th in the midst of Israel’s offensive in Gaza. I started by asking Henry Siegman if he could characterize the situation in Gaza at the moment.

HENRY SIEGMAN: Yes, it’s disastrous. It’s disastrous, both in political terms, which is to say the situation cannot conceivably, certainly in the short run, lead to any positive results, to an improvement in the lives of either Israelis or Palestinians, and of course it’s disastrous in humanitarian terms, the kind of slaughter that’s taking place there. When one thinks that this is what is necessary for Israel to survive, that the Zionist dream is based on the slaughter of—repeated slaughter of innocents on a scale that we’re watching these days on television, that is really a profound, profound crisis—and should be a profound crisis—in the thinking of all of us who were committed to the establishment of the state and to its success. It leads one virtually to a whole rethinking of this historical phenomenon.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: What do you believe—Mr. Siegman, what do you believe the objectives of Israel are in this present assault on Gaza?
HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, they have several objectives, although I’m not sure that each of them is specifically responsible for the carnage we’re seeing now. It has what seems on the surface a justifiable objective of ending these attacks, the rockets that come from Gaza and are aimed—it’s hard to say they’re aimed at civilians, because they never seem to land anywhere that causes serious damage, but they could and would have, if not for luck. So, on the face of it, Israel has a right to do what it’s doing now, and, of course, it’s been affirmed by even president of the United States, repeatedly, that no country would agree to live with that kind of a threat repeatedly hanging over it.
But what he doesn’t add, and what perverts this principle, undermines the principle, is that no country and no people would live the way Gazans have been made to live. And consequently, this moral equation which puts Israel on top as the victim that has to act to prevent its situation from continuing that way, and the Palestinians in Gaza, or Hamas, the organization responsible for Gaza, who are the attackers, our media rarely ever points out that these are people who have a right to live a decent, normal life, too. And they, too, must think, “What can we do to put an end to this?”
And this is why in the Politico article that you mentioned, I pointed out the question of the morality of Israel’s action depends, in the first instance, on the question: Couldn’t Israel be doing something in preventing this disaster that is playing out now, in terms of the destruction of human lives? Couldn’t they have done something that didn’t require that cost? And the answer is: Sure, that they could have ended the occupation, with results—whatever the risks are, they certainly aren’t greater than the price being paid now for Israel’s effort to continue and sustain permanently their relationship to the Palestinians.
AMY GOODMAN: When you say that Israel could end the violence by ending the occupation, Israel says it does not occupy Gaza, that it left years ago. I wanted to play a clip for you from MSNBC. It was last week, and the host, Joy Reid, was interviewing the Israeli spokesperson, Mark Regev.
MARK REGEV: Listen, if you’ll allow me to, I want to take issue with one important word you said. You said Israel is the occupying authority. You’re forgetting Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip. We took down all the settlements, and the settlers who didn’t want to leave, we forced them to leave. We pulled back to the 1967 international frontier. There is no Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip. We haven’t been there for some eight years.
AMY GOODMAN: Henry Siegman, can you respond?
HENRY SIEGMAN: OK, yeah. That is of course utter nonsense, and for several reasons. First of all, Gaza is controlled completely, like the West Bank, because it is totally surrounded by Israel. Israel could not be imposing the kind of chokehold it has on Gaza if it were not surrounding, if its military were not surrounding Gaza, and not just on the territory, but also on the air, on the sea. No one there can make a move without coming into contact with the Israeli IDF, you know, outside this imprisoned area where Gazans live. So, there’s no one I have encountered, who is involved with international law, who’s ever suggested to me that in international law Gaza is not considered occupied. So that’s sheer nonsense.
But there’s another point triggered by your question to me, and this is the propaganda machine, and these official spokespeople will always tell you, “Take a look at what kind of people these are. Here we turned over Gaza to them. And you’d think they would invest their energies in building up the area, making it a model government and model economy. Instead, they’re working on rockets.” The implication here is that they, in effect, offered Palestinians a mini state, and they didn’t take advantage of it, so the issue isn’t really Palestinian statehood. That is the purpose of this kind of critique.
And I have always asked myself, and this has a great deal to do with my own changing views about the policies of governments, not about the Jewish state qua Jewish state, but of the policies pursued by Israeli governments and supported—you know, they say Israel is a model democracy in the Middle East, so you must assume—the public has to assume some responsibility for what the government does, because they put governments in place. So, the question I ask myself: What if the situation were reversed? You know, there is a Talmudic saying in Pirkei Avot, The Ethics of the Fathers: “Al tadin et chavercha ad shetagiah lemekomo,” “Don’t judge your neighbor until you can imagine yourself in his place.” So, my first question when I deal with any issue related to the Israeli-Palestinian issue: What if we were in their place?
What if the situation were reversed, and the Jewish population were locked into, were told, “Here, you have less than 2 percent of Palestine, so now behave. No more resistance. And let us deal with the rest”? Is there any Jew who would have said this is a reasonable proposition, that we cease our resistance, we cease our effort to establish a Jewish state, at least on one-half of Palestine, which is authorized by the U.N.? Nobody would agree to that. They would say this is absurd. So the expectations that Palestinians—and I’m speaking now about the resistance as a concept; I’m not talking about rockets, whether they were justified or not. They’re not. I think that sending rockets that are going to kill civilians is a crime. But for Palestinians to try, in any way they can, to end this state of affair—and to expect of them to end their struggle and just focus on less than 2 percent to build a country is absurd. That is part of—that’s propaganda, but it’s not a discussion of either politics or morality.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: One of the things that’s repeated most often is, the problem with the Palestinian unity government is, of course, that Hamas is now part of it, and Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and also by the United States. I’d just like to read you a short quote from an article that you wrote in 2009 in the London Review of Books. You said, “Hamas is no more a ‘terror organisation’ … than the Zionist movement was during its struggle for a Jewish homeland. In the late 1930s and 1940s, parties within the Zionist movement resorted to terrorist activities for strategic reasons.” Could you elaborate on that and what you see as the parallels between the two?
HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, I’m glad I said that. In fact, I repeated it in a letter to The New York Times the other day, a week or two ago. The fact is that Israel had, pre-state—in its pre-state stage, several terrorist groups that did exactly what Hamas does today. I don’t mean they sent rockets, but they killed innocent people. And they did that in an even more targeted way than these rockets do. Benny Morris published a book that is considered the Bible on that particular period, the war of—
AMY GOODMAN: The Israeli historian.
HENRY SIEGMAN: Sorry?
AMY GOODMAN: The Israeli historian, Benny Morris.
HENRY SIEGMAN: The Israeli historian, right, then in the book Righteous Victims, in which he said—I recall, when I read it, I was shocked—in which he—particularly in his most recently updated book, which was based on some new information that the Israel’s Defense—the IDF finally had to open up and publish, that Israeli generals received direct instructions from Ben-Gurion during the War of Independence to kill civilians, or line them up against the wall and shoot them, in order to help to encourage the exodus, that in fact resulted, of 700,000 Palestinians, who were driven out of their—left their homes, and their towns and villages were destroyed. This was terror, even within not just the terrorist groups, the pre-state terrorists, but this is within the military, the Israeli military, that fought the War of Independence. And in this recent book, that has received so much public attention by Ari—you know, My Promised Land.
AMY GOODMAN: Shavit.
HENRY SIEGMAN: Ari Shavit. He describes several such incidents, too. And incidentally, one of the people who—according to Benny Morris, one of the people who received these orders—and they were oral orders, but he, in his book, describes why he believes that these orders were given, were given to none other than Rabin, who was not a general then, but he—and that he executed these orders.
AMY GOODMAN: Meaning?
HENRY SIEGMAN: Meaning?
AMY GOODMAN: What did it mean that he executed these orders, Rabin?
HENRY SIEGMAN: That he executed civilians. And the rationale given for this when Shavit, some years ago, had an interview with Benny Morris and said to him, “My God, you are saying that there was deliberate ethnic cleansing here?” And Morris said, “Yes, there was.” And he says, “And you justify it?” And he said, “Yes, because otherwise there would not have been a state.” And Shavit did not follow up. And that was one of my turning points myself, when I saw that. He would not follow up and say, “Well, if that is a justification, the struggle for statehood, why can’t Palestinians do that? What’s wrong with Hamas? Why are they demonized if they do what we did?”
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to the Israeli prime minister earlier this month, Benjamin Netanyahu, vowing to punish those responsible for the killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian teen who was burned alive following the murders of three Israeli teens. But in doing so, Netanyahu drew a distinction between Israel and its neighbors in how it deals with, quote, “murderers.”
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: I know that in our society, the society of Israel, there is no place for such murderers. And that’s the difference between us and our neighbors. They consider murderers to be heroes. They name public squares after them. We don’t. We condemn them, and we put them on trial, and we’ll put them in prison.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talking about the difference. Henry Siegman, can you respond?
HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, the only difference I can think of is that in Israel they made the heads of the two major pre-state terrorist groups prime ministers. So this distinction he’s drawing is simply false; it’s not true. The heads of the two terrorist groups, which incidentally, again, going back to Benny Morris, in his book, Righteous Victims, he writes, in this pre-state account, that the targeting of civilians was started by the Jewish terrorist groups, and the Arab—and the Arab groups followed.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re talking about Irgun and the Stern Gang.
HENRY SIEGMAN: Yes, yes. And as you know, both the head of the Irgun and both the head of the Stern Gang—I’m talking about Begin and Shamir—became prime ministers of the state of Israel. And contrary to Netanyahu, public highways and streets are named after them.
AMY GOODMAN: Henry Siegman, former head of the American Jewish Congress. We’ll continue our conversation with him in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh, as we continue our conversation with Henry Siegman, president of the U.S./Middle East Project, former head of the American Jewish Congress.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: I’d like to turn, Henry Siegman, to Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, who was speaking to Charlie Rose of PBS. He said Hamas was willing to coexist with Jews but said it would not live, quote, “with a state of occupiers.”
KHALED MESHAAL: [translated] I am ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians, and with the Arabs and non-Arabs, and with those who agree with my ideas and also disagree with them; however, I do not coexist with the occupiers, with the settlers and those who put a siege on us.
CHARLIE ROSE: It’s one thing to say you want to coexist with the Jews. It’s another thing you want to coexist with the state of Israel. Do you want to coexist with the state of Israel? Do you want to represent—do you want to recognize Israel as a Jewish state?
KHALED MESHAAL: [translated] No. I said I do not want to live with a state of occupiers.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: That was Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, speaking to Charlie Rose. Henry Siegman, could you respond to that, and specifically the claim made by Israelis repeatedly that they can’t negotiate with a political organization that refuses the state of Israel’s right to exist in its present form?
HENRY SIEGMAN: Yes. It so happens that in both international custom and international law, political parties, like Hamas, are not required or even ever asked to recognize states, whether they recognize a state or not. The question is whether the government of which they are a part and that makes policy and executes policy, whether that government is prepared to recognize other states. And this is true in the case of Israel, as well, the government of Israel, any government. I, incidentally, discussed this with Meshaal, not once, but several times, face to face, and asked him whether he would be part of a government that recognizes the state of Israel, and he says—and he said, “Yes, provided”—they had a proviso—he said, “provided that the Palestinian public approves that policy.” And he repeated to me the fact that—he said, “You’re absolutely right.” He says, “People ask us will we recognize the state of Israel, and will we affirm that it’s legitimately a Jewish state.” He said, “No, we won’t do that. But we have never said that we will not serve in a government that has public support for that position, that we will not serve in such a government.”
But a more important point to be made here—and this is why these distinctions are so dishonest—the state of Israel does not recognize a Palestinian state, which is to say there are parties in Netanyahu’s government—very important parties, not marginal parties—including his own, the Likud, that to this day has an official platform that does not recognize the right of Palestinians to have a state anywhere in Palestine. And, of course, you have Naftali Bennett’s party, the HaBayit HaYehudi, which says this openly, that there will never be a state, a Palestinian state, anywhere in Palestine. Why hasn’t our government or anyone said, “Like Hamas, if you have parties like that in your government, you are not a peace partner, and you are a terrorist group, if in fact you use violence to implement your policy, as Hamas does”? So the hypocrisy in the discussion that is taking place publicly is just mind-boggling.
AMY GOODMAN: Henry Siegman, you’re the head, the former head, of one of the leading Jewish organizations, the American Jewish Congress.
HENRY SIEGMAN: Two of them, also of the Synagogue Council of America.
AMY GOODMAN: So, these are major establishment Jewish organizations. You said you went to see Khaled Meshaal, the head of Hamas, not once, but several times to meet with him. The U.S. government calls Hamas a terrorist organization. They will not communicate with them. They communicate with them through other parties, through other countries, to talk to them. Talk about your decision to meet with Khaled Meshaal, where you met with him, and the significance of your conversations.
HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, first of all, it should be noted that the U.S. has no such policy of not meeting with terrorist organizations. It has a policy of not meeting with Hamas. That’s quite different. We’re very happy to meet with the Taliban and to negotiate with them. And they cut off hands and heads of people, and they kill girls who go to school. And that didn’t prevent the United States from having negotiations with the Taliban, so that’s nonsense that we don’t talk to terrorist organizations. We talk to enemies if we want to cease the slaughter, and we’re happy to do so and to try to reach an agreement that puts an end to it. And why Hamas should be the exception, again, I find dishonest. And the only reason that we do that is in response to the pressures from AIPAC and, of course, Israel’s position.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Henry Siegman, as you are far more familiar than most, the argument made by Israel and supporters of Israel is that what might be construed as a disproportionate response by Israel to Hamas has to do with the historical experience of the persecution of the Jews and, of course, the Holocaust. So how do you respond to those kinds of claims?
HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, I don’t accept that at all, because the lesson from the persecutions would seem to me—and certainly if you follow Jewish tradition, the lesson of those persecutions, we have always said, until the state of Israel came into being, is that you do not treat people in that kind of an inhumane and cruel way. And the hope always was that Israel would be a model democracy, but not just a democracy, but a state that would practice Jewish values, in terms of its humanitarian approach to these issues, its pursuit of justice and so on.
I have always felt that, for me, the Holocaust experience, which was important to me, since I lived two years under Nazi occupation, most of it running from place to place and in hiding—I always thought that the important lesson of the Holocaust is not that there is evil, that there are evil people in this world who could do the most unimaginable, unimaginably cruel things. That was not the great lesson of the Holocaust. The great lesson of the Holocaust is that decent, cultured people, people we would otherwise consider good people, can allow such evil to prevail, that the German public—these were not monsters, but it was OK with them that the Nazi machine did what it did. Now I draw no comparisons between the Nazi machine and Israeli policy. And what I resent most deeply is when people say, “How dare you invoke the Nazi experience?” The point isn’t, you know, what exactly they did, but the point is the evidence that they gave that decent people can watch evil and do nothing about it. That is the most important lesson of the Holocaust, not the Hitlers and not the SS, but the public that allowed this to happen. And my deep disappointment is that the Israeli public, precisely because Israel is a democracy and cannot say, “We’re not responsible what our leaders do,” that the public puts these people back into office again and again.
AMY GOODMAN: You mentioned your experience as a Holocaust survivor. Could you just go into it a little more deeply? You were born in 1930 in Germany. And talk about the rise of the Nazis and how your family escaped.
HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, I don’t consider myself a Holocaust survivor, in the sense that I was not in a concentration camp. But I lived under Nazi occupation. I was born in 1930, but the Nazis came to power in—I think in 1933. And shortly thereafter, we lived in Germany at the time. My parents lived in Germany, in Frankfurt. And they left. My father decided to give up a very successful business and to move to Belgium then, and on the assumption that Belgium was safe, that we would be escaping the Nazis. But in 1940, the Germans invaded Belgium, and they invaded France. That was in early 1940, I believe. And so, it’s a long story, but for the next—from that point on until February 1942, when we arrived, finally arrived in the United States.
And how my father pulled that off is a miracle; to this day, I don’t fully understand, because there were six children that he had to bring with him, and my mother, of course. We ran from place to place. First we were at Dunkirk, where the classic evacuation, memorable evacuation took place, and the French and the British soldiers withdrew to across the channel. We happened to find ourselves there at the time. And then we were sent back by the—when the Nazi troops finally caught up with us in Dunkirk, they sent us back to Antwerp. And then my father had connections with the police chief, because of his business interests in Antwerp before the Nazis came. He was tipped off the morning that we were supposed to be—the Gestapo was supposed to come to our house to take all of us away. And so we just picked up, and we managed to get to Paris. And from Paris, we crossed—we were smuggled across the border into occupied Vichy France, and we were there for about a year, again without proper papers and in hiding. Then we tried to cross into Spain. And we did, but when we arrived at the Spanish border, they finally closed the border and sent us back into France.
So, then we managed to get a boat to take us from Marseille to North Africa, where we were interned briefly in a camp in North Africa. And then the—what I believe was the last ship, a Portuguese, a neutral ship, taking refugees to the United States stopped in North Africa. We boarded that ship. And we were on the high seas for two months, because the Nazi subs were already busy sinking the ships that they encountered. So we had to go all the way around to avoid various Nazi submarine-infested areas.
So after two months on the high seas, we arrived in New York, where we were sent to Ellis Island, which was full of Bundists, who had been German Bundists, who were arrested and were being sent back to Germany. But as we walked into Ellis Island into that hallway, something I will never forget, “We’re in America at last!” And those Bundists were greeting each other in the hallway, “Heil Hitler!” So the “Heil Hitlers” that we were trying to escape in Europe was the first thing we encountered as we landed on Ellis Island.
AMY GOODMAN: And how did you end up becoming head of one of the country’s—or, as you said, country’s two major Jewish organizations? And what was your position on Zionism after World War II?
HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, my father was one of the leaders of European Zionism. He was the head of the Mizrachi in the religious Zionist movement, not just in Belgium, but in Western Europe. And the leaders, the heads, the founders of the Mizrachi—mayor of Berlin himself, Gold, many others—were guests in our house in Antwerp. And they used to take me on their knees and teach me Hebrew songs from Israel. So, I had—I was raised on mother’s milk, and I was an ardent—as a kid even, an ardent Zionist. I recall on the ship coming over, we were coming to America, and I was writing poetry and songs—I was 10 years old, 11 years old—about the blue sky of Palestine. In those days we referred to it as Palestina, Palestine.
And so, into adulthood, not until well after the ’67 War, when I came across—and I got to know Rabin and others, and I came across a discussion in which I was told by Israelis, by the Israeli people who I was talking to, government, senior government people, that they had an initiative from Sadat about peace and withdrawal and so on. And Rabin said, “But clearly, the Israeli public is not prepared for that now.” And that hit me like a hammer. I always had this notion drilled into me that if only the Arabs were to reach out and be willing to live in peace with Israel, that would be the time of the Messiah. And the Messiah came, and the Israeli leadership said, “No, public opinion is not ready for that.” And I wrote a piece then in Moment magazine—if you recall, it was published by Leonard Fein—and he made it a cover story, and the title was, “For the Sake of Zion, I Will Not Remain Silent.” And that triggered my re-examination of things I had been told and what was going on on the ground.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Prior to that, your sense had always been that if the Arabs reached out, there would be two states: Palestine and Israel.
HENRY SIEGMAN: I had no doubt about that. I mean, that was, you know, just a given, that we are sharing. The resolution said, you know, two states. The resolution, which Israel—the partition resolution, which Israel invoked in its Declaration of Independence, planted, rooted its legitimacy in that—it cited the Palestinian—the partition plan. But when someone these days says, “But there’s a partition plan that said that the rest of it, that was not assigned to Israel, is the legitimate patrimony of the Palestinian people,” the answer given is, “Ah, yeah, but they voted they would not accept it, and the partition plan was never officially adopted.” Well, why are you quoting it then in your Declaration of Independence, if you consider it to be null and void and not—anyway.
AMY GOODMAN: And the response of—or the slogan, the idea that was put forward so much in the founding of the state of Israel: Palestine is a land without people for a people without land?
HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, that was the common understanding and referred to repeatedly in Ari Shavit’s book and others, that the Zionist movement, at its very birth, was founded on an untruth, on a myth, that Palestine was a country without a people. And as he says, obviously—and he recognizes in his book that it was a lie. And therefore, from the very beginning, Zionism didn’t confront this profound moral dilemma that lay at its very heart. How do you deal with that reality? And as a consequence of that, one of the ways in which they dealt with it was to see to the expulsion of 700,000 people from their cities, from their towns and villages, and the destruction of all of them, which, to his credit, Ari Shavit writes about very painfully and honestly.
AMY GOODMAN: Henry Siegman, former head of the American Jewish Congress. We’ll continue our conversation with him in a minute.

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AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue our conversation with Henry Siegman, president of the U.S./Middle East Project, former head of the American Jewish Congress. Democracy Now!’s Nermeen Shaikh and I sat down with him on July 29th. I asked Henry Siegman about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that Israel is just responding to the thousands of rockets that Hamas and other groups are firing from Gaza.

HENRY SIEGMAN: My response is that they wouldn’t be firing those rockets if you weren’t out—if you didn’t have an occupation in place. And one of the reasons you say you do not have an occupation in place is because you really don’t have a united partner, Palestinian partner, to make peace with, and when Palestinians seek to establish that kind of a government, which they just recently did, bringing Hamas into the governmental structure, Palestinian governmental structure, that is headed by Abbas, you seek to destroy that. You won’t recognize it. And this is why I say there are several reasons for the Israeli action. A primary one is to prevent this new government from actually succeeding. It’s an attempt to break up the new unity government set up by the Palestinians.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Why would they do that? Why would they want to do that?
HENRY SIEGMAN: They want to do that, for the first time—for years, I have been suggesting and arguing that they want to do that because they are intent on preventing the development of a Palestinian state. To put it bluntly, they want all of it. They want all of Palestine.
Now, this is something that Netanyahu said openly and without any reservations when he was not in government. He wrote about it, published a book about it, his opposition to a Palestinian state, that Israel couldn’t allow that. The difference between the time that he—and he, incidentally, opposed not just Palestinian statehood. He opposed peace agreements with Egypt. He opposed peace agreements with Jordan. Any positive step towards a stabilization and a more peaceful region, Netanyahu has been on record as opposing.
And when he came into office as prime minister, he understood that it is not a smart thing to say that Israel’s policy is to maintain the occupation permanently. So, the only difference between his positions in the past and the position now is that he pretends that he really would like to see a two-state solution, which, as you know, is the affirmation he made in his so-called Bar-Ilan speech several years ago. And some naive people said, “Ah, you know, redemption is at hand,” when, to his own people, he winked and made clear, and as I just read recently—I didn’t know that—that it’s on record that his father said, “Of course he didn’t mean it. He will attach conditions that will make it impossible.” But that was his tactic. His tactic was to say, “We are all in favor of it, but if only we had a Palestinian partner.”
Now, in fact, they’ve had a Palestinian partner that’s been willing and able—they set up institutions that the World Bank has said are more effective than most states that are members of the U.N. today. And that, of course, made no difference, and continued to say we do not have a partner, because you have nearly two million Palestinians in Gaza who are not represented. So the unity government became a threat to that tactic of pretending to be in support of a Palestinian state.
AMY GOODMAN: In a response to the piece that you wrote for Politico that was headlined “Israel Provoked This War,” the Anti-Defamation League writes, quote, “Hamas has a charter which they live up to every day calling for Israel’s destruction. Hamas has used the last two years of relative quiet to build up an arsenal of rockets whose sole purpose is to attack Israel. Hamas has built a huge network of tunnels leading into Israel with the purpose of murdering large numbers of Israelis and seizing hostages.” Henry Siegman, can you respond?
HENRY SIEGMAN: What I would point out to my former friend Abe Foxman of the ADL is that, too, is Israel’s charter, or at least the policy of this government and of many previous governments, which is to prevent the emergence of a Palestinian state. And they have built up their army and their armaments to implement that policy. And the difference between Hamas and the state of Israel is that the state of Israel is actually doing it. They’re actually implementing it, and they’re actually preventing a Palestinian state, which doesn’t exist. And millions of Palestinians live in this subservient position without rights and without security, without hope and without a future. That’s not the state of—the state of Israel is a very successful state, and happily Jews live there with a thriving economy and with an army whose main purpose is preventing that Palestinian state from coming into being. That’s their mandate.
But sadly and shockingly, they can stand by, even though international law says if you’re occupying people from outside of your country, you have a responsibility to protect them. I mean, the responsibility to protect is the people you are occupying. The soldiers who are there, ostensibly to implement that mandate, will watch settler violence when it occurs when they attack Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, and they won’t do a thing to prevent it. They won’t intervene to protect the people they are supposed to protect, and they will tell you, “That’s not our job. Our job is to protect the Jews.”
NERMEEN SHAIKH: On the question of the support, the successive U.S. administrations supporting Israel, I’d like to again quote from something you said in a 2002 New York Times interview with Chris Hedges. You said, “The support for Israel,” in the United States, “fills a spiritual vacuum. If you do not support the government of Israel then your Jewishness, not your political judgment, is in question.” So could you explain what you mean by that and what the implications of that have been, in terms of U.S. governments supporting Israeli government policy?
HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, what I meant by that, and that was an interview quite a while ago—
NERMEEN SHAIKH: 2002, yes.
HENRY SIEGMAN: I see, OK, which is not all that long ago, for me anyway. I meant by that something quite simple, that for many American Jews—and, I suspect, for most American Jews—Israel has become the content of their Jewish religious identification. It has very little other content. I rarely have been at a Shabbat service where a rabbi gives a sermon where Israel isn’t a subject of the sermon. And typically, they are—the sermons are not in the spirit of an Isaiah, you know, who says, “My god, is this what God wants from you? Your hands are bloody; they’re filled with blood. But he doesn’t want your fast. He doesn’t want—he despises the sacrifices and your prayers. What he wants is to feed, to feed the hungry, to pursue justice and so on.” But that’s not what you hear from rabbis in the synagogues in this country. So, what I meant by that is that there’s much more to Judaism and to the meaning that you give to your Jewish identity than support for the likes of Netanyahu.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And Henry Siegman, what do you think the Obama administration has done since his first administration? And what do you think he ought to be doing differently, on the question of Israel-Palestine and, in particular, his response to this most recent military assault on Gaza?
HENRY SIEGMAN: Look, I have written about this for years now. It’s not all that complicated. It is quite clear that, left to its own devices, if Israel—if the United States says to the Palestinians, “Hey, you guys have got to talk not to us; you’ve got to talk to the Palestinians—to the Israelis, and you have to come to an understanding that’s how peace is made, but we can’t interfere. You know, we cannot tell Israel what to do”—left to their own devices, there will never be a Palestinian state. And the question is—I have very serious doubts that we have not gone beyond the point where a Palestinian state is possible. The purpose of the settlement movement was to make it impossible. And I believe they have succeeded: That project has achieved its goal.
AMY GOODMAN: The Jewish settlements.
HENRY SIEGMAN: The Jewish settlers have achieved the irreversibility of the settlement movement, in terms of the vast infrastructure that has been put in place. So, even if there were a leftist government, so-called leftist government, that came to power, it would not be able to do it, because of the upheaval that would be necessary to create such a state.
There is only one thing—as far as I’m concerned, there are only two things that could happen that could still, perhaps, produce a Palestinian state. The first one is for the—because the United States remains absolutely essential in terms of Israel’s security, to its continued success and survival. If at some point the United States were to say, “You have now reached a point—we have been your biggest supporters. We have been with you through thick and thin. And we have based—we have treated you”—you know, a lot of people say, criticizing the U.S. and the international community, that we have double standards, that we expect things of Israel that we don’t expect of the rest of the world. We do have double standards, but it works the other way around: We grant Israel privileges and tolerate behavior that we would not in other allies. We may say there’s nothing we can do to change that, but we don’t give them billions of dollars. And we don’t go to the U.N., at the Security Council, to veto when the international—efforts by the United Nations to prevent that bad behavior. So we have double standards, but it works the other way. But if the United States were to say to Israel, “It’s our common values that underlie this very special relationship we have with you and these privileges that we have extended to you, but this can’t go on. We can’t do that when those values are being undermined. The values—what you are doing today contradicts American values. We are a democratic country, and we cannot be seen as aiding and abetting this oppression and permanent disenfranchisement of an entire people. So, you’re on your own.” The issue is not America sending planes and missiles to bomb Tel Aviv as punishment; the issue is America removing itself from being a collaborator in the policies and a facilitator, making it easy and providing the tools for Israel to do that. So, if at some point the United States were to say what is said in Hebrew, ad kan, you know, “So far, but no further. We can’t—this is not what we can do. You want to do it? You’re on your own,” that would change—that could still change the situation, because the one thing Israelis do not want to do is have the country live in a world where America is not there to have their back.
And the other possibility, which I have also written about, is for Palestinians to say, “OK, you won. You didn’t want us to have a state. We see that you’ve won. You have all of it.” So our struggle is no longer to push the border to—to maintain a ’67 border, where nobody is going to come to their help, because borderlines—international opinion doesn’t mobilize around those issues. But this is a struggle against what looks and smells like apartheid—we want citizenship, we want full rights in all of Palestine—and make that the struggle. If Palestinians were to undertake that kind of a struggle in a credible way, where the Israeli public would see that they really mean it and they are going to fight for that in a nonviolent way, not by sending rockets, for citizenship, I am convinced—and I’ve seen no polls that contradict that belief—that they would say to their government, “Wait a minute, that is unacceptable, in fact, for us, and we cannot allow that. We don’t want a majority Arab population here.” I’ve talked to Palestinian leadership and urged them to move in that direction. There is now a growing movement among younger Palestinians in that direction. And that, I hope, may yet happen. Now, it has to be a serious movement. It can’t just be a trick to get another state, but only if it is serious, where they are ready to accept citizenship and fight for it in a single state of all of Palestine, is it possible for the Israeli public to say, “This we cannot want, too, and we have to have a government that will accept the two states.”
AMY GOODMAN: Henry Siegman, I wanted to ask you about media coverage of the conflict right now in Gaza. In a comment to close the CBS show Face the Nation on Sunday, the host, Bob Schieffer, suggested Hamas forces Israel to kill Palestinian children.
BOB SCHIEFFER: In the Middle East, the Palestinian people find themselves in the grip of a terrorist group that is embarked on a strategy to get its own children killed in order to build sympathy for its cause—a strategy that might actually be working, at least in some quarters. Last week I found a quote of many years ago by Golda Meir, one of Israel’s early leaders, which might have been said yesterday: “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children,” she said, “but we can never forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.”
AMY GOODMAN: That was the host, the journalist Bob Schieffer, on Face the Nation. You knew Prime Minister Golda Meir.
HENRY SIEGMAN: Yes, I did. I wasn’t a friend of hers, but I knew her, and I heard her when she made that statement. And I thought then, and think now, that it is an embarrassingly hypocritical statement. This statement was made by a woman who also said “Palestinians? There are no Palestinians! I am a Palestinian.” If you don’t want to kill Palestinians, if that’s what pains you so much, you don’t have to kill them. You can give them their rights, and you can end the occupation. And to put the blame for the occupation and for the killing of innocents that we are seeing in Gaza now on the Palestinians—why? Because they want a state of their own? They want what Jews wanted and achieved? I find that, to put it mildly, less than admirable. There is something deeply hypocritical about that original statement and about repeating it on the air over here as a great moral insight.
AMY GOODMAN: Henry Siegman, president of the U.S./Middle East Project, former head of the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America, recently wrote a piece for Politico headlined “Israel Provoked This War: It’s Up to President Obama to Stop It.” You can go to our website at democracynow.org if you’d like to get a copy of the full DVD interview with Henry Siegman.

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HOW AUSTRALIA PERFECTED SOLAR POWER AND THEN WENT BACK TO COAL


It’s kind of like UAE buying into Nuclear Power after having one of the hottest and sunniest lands on Earth for millennia.–kas

HOW AUSTRALIA PERFECTED SOLAR POWER AND THEN WENT BACK TO COAL

By Julian Morgans


All images courtesy of the Clean Energy Council

There was a time in the 1980s when Australia led the world in solar technology. To begin with, Australia receives more solar radiation per square foot than anywhere on the planet, and that presents an obvious advantage. But the true catalyst was geography: two thirds of the country consists of uninhabited desert. This posed problems for engineers tasked with constructing a national telephone network in the early 1970s. The solution was to build remote relay stations powered with solar energy, which at the time was a fledgling, expensive technology. Yet by 1978 the national provider, Telecom, had developed reliable solar cells that could be installed affordably across the country and be infrequently maintained. International recognition came in 1983 when Perth was tapped with hosting the Solar World Congress.

Fast-forward to 2014 and Australian solar power is in a very different place. This week a proposed solar farm with 2,000 dishes—capable of powering 30,000 homes—was canceled amid uncertainty about the future of renewable energy. This comes at a time when every one of the country’s proposed solar farms are on hold and coal operators push legislation to strangle solar proliferation. So what happened?

“Power generators and NSPs (network service providers) are scared,” says Giles Parkinson, who is the editor of the green news site Renew Economy. “There will always be a grid, but it’s just a question of where that power comes from. Now we’re at the point where rooftop solar, subsidized by solar farms, is becoming a cheaper option. You see this with the internet affecting telcos, with digital cameras and film—it’s inevitable with new technology. But in Australia it’s catastrophic because we used to be leaders, but we’re now going backwards.”

Like most of the world, Australia swings between climate disavowal and action. In the 1980s Australian solar power was federally funded. Then, in the mid 90s, the incoming government scrapped the Energy Research and Development Corporation. Broadly speaking coal became the energy source of choice, until July 2012, when Australia introduced a fixed-price tax on carbon emissions. This carbon tax was part of a slate of climate initiatives called the Clean Energy Plan, which also legislated that 20 percent of electricity would come from renewables by 2020.

Now the weather-vane has swung back, with a center-right government coming to power in 2013, promising to repeal the “job destroying carbon tax.” They succeeded on July 17, and although they reluctantly retained the binder on renewables, they placed the entire program “under review.” According to Dr. Richard Corkish, who is the COO for the Australian Center for Advanced Photovoltaics, “under review” is clever wording as it “effectively achieves the same thing as a repeal.”

Here’s why: For a proposed solar farm to get financing, they need a signed power-purchase agreement from a distributor, stipulating exactly how much power they’ll buy. But given distributors are no longer required to buy renewable energy, and given their business models are threatened by solar, they’re not signing the agreements. The result is that solar farms don’t get built. According to Dr. Corkish this is what happened to the aforementioned solar farm. “We were hoping they could hold out until the review finished,” he said. “But uncertainty is enough and the investors ran. It’s a terrible shame.”

According to Australia’s Clean Energy Council, there are four large-scale solar farms currently under construction and another 13 in development, all with uncertain futures. As their Acting Chief Executive, Kane Thornton, explained via email, “Australia’s Renewable Energy Target is the critical policy for all renewable energy projects. While large scale solar projects also receive support from other Australian Government programs, without the Renewable Energy Target they wouldn’t get built.”

Not only is financial uncertainty putting solar technology on hold, generators and distributors are pushing legislation to repress it, which, according to Giles Parkinson, is “basically a conspiracy.” As he says, “none of the incumbents want to see more solar. Generators are fucked and they know it. NSPs will eventually profit from solar, but they’re focused on the short term, so they’re resisting.”

One example is in the northern state of Queensland, where power companies from July can charge their customers “an additional amount… for the purchase of electricity from renewable or environmentally friendly sources.” There are several conditions to this, but the upshot is that companies can now charge heavy solar consumers (mostly businesses) around $500 (£302) for every service, including meter readings. This piece of legislation, which is basically a deterrent to solar, was quietly approved at the behest of the state’s coal lobbyists, with very little scrutiny.

This suppression of solar is widespread, says Dr. Anna Bruce, who is an engineering lecturer at the University of New South Wales. “NSPs are doing all they can to stop it. They’re capping the amount of solar power that can be fed into the grid in certain areas, and they’ve introduced bans on exporting. The justification is that we need the network. If every home installs solar, the network won’t exist.”

But wouldn’t this behaviour attract the attention of some sort of consumer watchdog? Apparently not. Bruce claims that technological progress has outstripped the warning systems of advocacy groups, but Giles Parkinson says it goes further. “In Australia, we have this unique situation where regulators are run by state governments, and they see their role as protecting the incumbents, which are often the state power companies. It’s a hopeless conflict of interest. Just a classic example of aging white men who don’t understand the future.”

Despite the gloom about the short term, most exponents of solar seem positive about the future. The consensus is that while governments come and go, the market will always demand the cheapest option. Eventually, it’s hoped, solar will plunge power companies into something called the “death spiral.” This is essentially when solar and battery technology allow consumers to use far less grid power, which will force costs onto an exponentially shrinking customer pool, which will encourage more to install solar. The grid will still exist, but customers will be using insufficient amounts of power to necessitate traditional generators, leaving solar farms to fill the gap.

If that sounds a little too much like hacktivist optimism, Parkinson insists Australians can at least claw back on the solar science front. “We’ve got the fundamentals,” he says. “Lots of sun, expensive electricity, and smart people. We’ll get there.”

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