• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

donderdag 27 juli 2017

U.S. History

The bodies of Moro insurgents killed by US troops during the Battle of Bud Dajo in the Philippines, March 7, 1906.
The bodies of Moro insurgents and civilians killed by US troops during the Battle of Bud Dajo in the Philippines, March 7, 1906.
On March 7, 1906, US troops under the command of Major General Leonard Wood massacred as many as 1,000 Filipino Muslims, known as Moros, who were taking refuge at Bud Dajo, a volcanic crater on the island of Jolo in the southern Philippines.
The First Battle of Bud Dajo, also known as the Bud Dajo Massacre, was a counter insurgency action fought by the United States Army against Moros in March 1906, during the Moro Rebellion phase of the Philippine–American War. After the United States revoked the Bates Treaty in March 1904, the Moros renewed their resistance to American authority. This took form of sporadic violence and refusal to pay taxes. The Governor of Moro Province, Major General Leonard Wood, had been unsuccessful in efforts to pacify the insurgents in Jolo Island. Consequently, Moro attacks became more frequent, and the insurgents came to believe that the Americans were too weak to stop them.
In response to rumors that the Americans planned to exterminate them, several hundred Moros, including women and children, moved to Bud Dajo, where legend held that spirits at the site would help warriors in times of need. Bud Dajo, the crater of an extinct volcano, is about six miles from the city of Jolo. Rising some 2,100 feet with steep, heavily jungled slopes, it was accessible only by three narrow paths. As such, it provided an easily defender position and was well stocked with provisions.
When negotiations between several friendly datus (chiefs) and hostile Moros failed to bring about the surrender of the insurgents, Wood commenced a campaign on March 5, 1906, to end the standoff at Bud Dajo. He sent U.S. and Philippine Constabulary troops under Colonel Joseph W. Duncan to put down the insurgents. Meanwhile, another attempt to negotiate ended in failure on March 6. As their artillery bombarded Bud Dajo to weaken resistance, the attackers hacked their way through the dense jungle and up the slope. On the evening of March 6, Duncan’s men paused midway up the mountain and bivouacked for the night. In the darkness, Moro drums and chanting could be heard from the crate, while Moro snipers periodically fired at the troops.
The following day, the advance up the summit continued as American artillery fired ineffectively at the defenders. On March 7, while taking heavy casualties, many of the Moros feigned death and then attempted to ambush Duncan’s forces when they neared the top of the mountain. The Americans troops then attacked the cottas (forts) and the other Moro positions, taking Bud Dajo on March 8. Once the outer rim has been secured, artillery and machine guns were employed. As Wood reported: “All the defenders were killed as near as could be counted”.
In the battle, 18 Americans lost their lives, and another 52 were wounded. Wood estimated the number of enemy dead at 600, including women and children, although some estimates ran as high as 900. Corpses were piled five deep, and many of the bodies were wounded multiple times. Only seven were captured, three women and four children. Eighteen men escaped from the mountain, and it is possible this number could have been double. Wood censored the telegrams from Jolo describing the casualties.
Although U.S. authorities considered the Battle of Bud Dajo to be a significant victory and commended Wood for his actions, some in the U.S. press viewed it a little more than a massacre, particularly given the deaths of so many noncombatants. Moro practice was for warriors to take their wives and children with them, but some in the press said that Wood should merely laid siege to the mountain. Wood’s friend, Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, sent him a congratulatory telegram, and Secretary of War William Howard Taft also approved.
In response to criticism, Wood’s explanation of the high number of women and children killed stated that the women of Bud Dajo dressed as men and joined in the combat, and that the men used children as living shields. A second explanation was given by the Governor-General of the Philippines, Henry Clay Ide, who reported that the women and children were collateral damage, having been killed during the artillery barrages. These conflicting explanations of the high number of women and child casualties brought accusations of a cover-up, adding to the criticism.
The controversy soon died down, as local datus and the sultan of Sulu, religious leader of the region, believed that the action at Bud Dajo would bring about long-term stability. Unfortunately, Moro resistance continued, leading to another Bud Dajo Campaign in 1911 and the Battle of Bud Bagsak in June 1913.

Zionistische Terreur

Crises tussen Israel en Jordanië en rond de Aqsa moskee nog niet voorbij

Netanyahu omhelst de man man die in Amman tijdens een ruzie twee Jordaniërs doodschoot als een held. (Haaretz)

Israel is nog niet helemaal over de crisis heen met Jordanië. Het is ook nog lang niet klaar met de crisis rond de Aqsa moskee (Tempelberg), zo blijkt.
De Jordaanse minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Ayman Safadi toonde zich dinsdag uitermate ontevreden en boos  met de afhandeling van de zaak van de ambassade beveiliger die een Jordaanse  jongen van 16 en een chirurg heeft doodgeschoten. tijdens een ruzie. Hij noemde het ''absurd dat er in Israel reacties waren alsof er helden thuiskwamen en alsof Jordanië de verdachte en de ambassadeur gegijzeld hield. Dat is echt absurd,'' zei hij op CNN.(Op de Facebook pagina van Netanyahu was een filmpje te zien, waarop de ambassadebeveiliger door Netanyahu werd omhelsd en als een held werd binnemgehaald).
''Dit is een kwestie van strafrecht. en ik geloof dat het voor iedereen een zaak zou moeten zijn die als zodanig wordt behandeld," aldus minister Safadi. 
Het recht zou zijn loop moeten hebben en in overweging moeten nemen dat er twee Jordaniërs zijn gedood. Maar Jordanië is haar juridische verplichtingen nagekomen [door de wetten te volgen die gelden voor diplomatieke vertegenwoordigers die immuniteit genieten]. Het is nu aan Israel om hetzelfde te doen en het recht zijn loop te laten  hebben en te stoppen met provocerend gedrag dat de feiten verdoezelt. We hielden ons aan onze verplichtingen [.....] en nu is het aan Israel om zich te houden aan waartoe het moreel en wettelijk wettelijk verplicht is, dat betekent dat het strafrecht zijn loop moet hebben en dat er recht wordt gedaan.''  Hij voegde eraan toe dat de Jordaanse regering kritiek van parlementariërs had gekregen, maar niet anders had kunnen handleen gezien haar diplomatieke verplichtingen.   
Wat betreftt de crisis rond de Aqsa moskee is intussen duidelijk geworden dat wél de elektronische poortjes zijn weggehaald, maar dat het Israeliche kabinet, in tegenstelling tot wat eerer bekend werd gemaakt. toch heeft besloten de ''veiligheidscamera's''te laten hangen. Al gevolg daarvan heeft de Paleetijnse Waqf die Aqsa moskee beheert, besloten het verzet voort te zetten. Ook de Palestijnse leider Abbas heeft gezegd dat hij de "veiligheidscoördinatie"met Israel voorlopig bevroren houdt. Het kabinet besloot overigens maandag ook dat er een nieuw systeem rond de ingangen van het terrein zal worden geïnstalleerd dat werkt met gezichtsherkenning en een database.

Israeli Terror

Over the last several weeks, Mondoweiss has presented “They Fear The Truth—We Report It,” a series sharing the experiences of journalists and activists working in Palestine who have been attacked by the Israeli government and its defenders. The clampdown proves it: The work Mondoweiss presents daily, from hundreds of brave reporters and photographers, makes a real difference. So throughout this series, we have also asked for your contribution to sustain and expand this essential service. Today, with an analysis by correspondent Jonathan Cook, we finish the series and the campaign. We are grateful that over 650 generous donors have donated, and a few last gifts today can get us the remaining $1,500 to our $75,000 campaign goal. Thank you for making our work possible, and helping defy the Israeli government’s efforts to control, suppress and silence the truth.

Dear stan,

In 2008 Gaza-based reporter Mohammed Omer won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism and was able to attend the awards ceremony in London only after Dutch officials intervened to get him an exit permit. On his return, crossing into the West Bank on his way to Gaza, he was separated from his Dutch escort by Israeli security personnel. He reported of his next experiences:

“I was stripped naked at gunpoint, interrogated, kicked and beaten for more than four hours. At one point I fainted and then awakened to fingernails gouging at the flesh beneath my eyes. An officer crushed my neck beneath his boot and pressed my chest into the floor. Others took turns kicking and pinching me, laughing all the while. They dragged me by my feet, sweeping my head through my own vomit. I lost consciousness. I was told later that they transferred me to a hospital only when they thought I might die.”

Israeli officials explained Omer’s extensive injuries by claiming he had “lost his balance” during an interrogation over suspicions he was a smuggler. Yet during his detention, the officers showed they knew who he was by demanding his “English pounds”—a reference to the £2,500 prize money. Omer concluded: “Could it be that despite their tanks, fighter planes and nuclear arsenal, Israel is threatened by our cameras and computers, which give the world access to images and information about their military occupation of Palestinians?”

I told Omer’s story in a 2010 essay about Israel’s increasing efforts to control reporting on its actions. Today, the suppression has intensified – and the danger to Palestinian journalists, in particular, is greater than ever. Mondoweiss’s summary of the situation is accurate, stan: “They fear the truth. We report it.”

As Omer’s treatment demonstrated, those journalists at greatest risk are Palestinian because they witness in person Israel’s actions, which are supposed to be kept out of the public eye. Palestinian reporters can provide Western media with photos, firsthand stories and other evidence of Israel’s aggression, war crimes, and attempts at cover-up. The work of dissident Israeli journalists and human rights groups can be similarly threatening to Israel’s control over public discourse.

It’s as true now as it was seven years ago: Israel wants to justify continuing assaults on Palestinians as well as its refusal to engage in real negotiation. To do so, the state has invested ever more in controlling coverage—especially from Western news organizations, and most of all from the U.S media.

The occupation, and the state of Israel itself, could not survive without U.S. financial, diplomatic and military support. So Israel pressures not only American journalists on the ground, but also the editors in the U.S. who select reporters, approve or reject story ideas, and set the tone of coverage by editing reports from the field.

As I predicted, stan, Israel’s control over the narrative coming from the region has weakened with the rise of new and more democratic forms of media. New platforms like Mondoweiss have led to more accountability in reporting from the region, and in turn have raised the pressure on journalists in traditional media. In response, Israel’s publicity machine has tried to bypass reporters based in Israel/Palestine in favor of polishing its image for editors abroad in hopes they can be more easily swayed.

The passage, and now the enforcement, of laws prohibiting entry for BDS advocates are also part of the effort to silence voices from outside Israel/Palestine. But Israel is fighting a losing battle, due to the persistence of Palestinian journalists, the slow opening of cracks in the mainstream media, and the new opportunities for freelance journalists like myself through electronic media such as Mondoweiss.

stan, the existence of Mondoweiss and other online outlets means that I can report honestly what I learn from witnesses and documents—information that “established” media have been too cowardly to publish.

A watershed moment in my own understanding of self-censorship by Western news media occurred soon after my arrival in the region. In 2002 I investigated the death of Iain Hook, a British United Nations worker, at the hands of an Israeli sniper in Jenin refugee camp.

As the only journalist to go to the U.N. compound in Jenin where Hook died, I was able to speak to Palestinian witnesses and later got access to a suppressed U.N. report on the killing. Israel claimed that the sniper who shot Hook in the back believed he was a Palestinian militant holding a grenade, rather than a mobile phone, and that he was about to throw it at Israeli troops.

But my investigation showed the sniper’s account had to be a lie. From his position overlooking the U.N. compound through telescopic sights, the sniper could not have misidentified either the distinctive red-haired Hook or the phone. In any case, the U.N. compound was surrounded by a high concrete wall and a chainmail fence right up to the metal awning that covered the entire site. Had Hook thrown a grenade, it would have bounced right back at him—as the sniper, who had been there for hours, must have known.

When I offered this story to the Guardian, the foreign editor agreed to publish only a small article looking at the diplomatic fall-out from the killing. It was then that I fully understood the degree to which even a newspaper known for being critical of Israel would not overstep unwritten bounds.

Almost 15 years later, reporting about Israel/Palestine by news media such as the New York Times, the Guardian, BBC and MSNBC has barely improved. The world is waking up nonetheless because the stories are being shared through channels hardly imagined at the turn of this century. Mondoweiss reports the truth, as do other vital news sources that are unafraid of ostracism.

I’m privileged to be one of the many hundreds of contributors who have been able to publish accurate information through Mondoweiss.

Omar Barghouti has said it well: “It is never about giving voice to the oppressed voiceless, I have found out, as we've always had our voices and never needed anyone to speak on our behalf or articulate what we really want. It is all about giving media to the oppressed media-less. In this, Mondoweiss and a few other progressive alternative media outlets have excelled.

“We crucially need alternative media that is accurate, professional and timely, like Mondoweiss, particularly due to the Israel-induced censorship against our voices in the mainstream media. I urge you all to generously donate to Mondoweiss to keep censorship at bay and to further grow our progressive media platforms that are making a real difference in the struggle for rights and justice, writ large.”

As a journalist, I agree wholeheartedly with Barghouti. stan, please join us in supporting Mondoweiss so that this essential publication will continue to wake up the world.

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woensdag 26 juli 2017

The World May Have Less Time to Address Climate Change

The World May Have Less Time to Address Climate Change Than Scientists Thought

A new global temperature baseline casts doubt on humanity's ability to meet the Paris target
Credit: MamiGibbs Getty Images
The temperature baseline used in the Paris climate agreement may have discounted an entire century's worth of human-caused global warming, a new study has found.
Countries in the Paris climate agreement set a target of keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius by curbing carbon emissions compared to their preindustrial levels. But a new study shows that the preindustrial level used in the agreement, based on temperature records from the late 19th century, doesn't account for a potential century of rising temperatures caused by carbon dioxide emissions. Accounting for those gases, released from about 1750 to 1875, would add another one-fifth of a degree to the baseline temperature, the study found.
Published yesterday in Nature Climate Change, the research suggests there's less time than previously believed to address global warming, said Michael Mann, a climatologist at Pennsylvania State University.
The study estimates that there may have already been 0.2 degree Celsius of warming, or 0.36 degree Fahrenheit, built into Earth, he said. That means the Paris Agreement would have to be more aggressive, according to the study, which was also written by researchers from the universities of Edinburgh and Reading in the United Kingdom.
“When you take that into account, it turns out we have 40 percent less carbon to burn than we thought we had,” Mann said.
When it comes to climate change science, researchers typically use atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from the late 19th century as a guideline, because that's when instrumentation was developed to accurately measure temperatures. Researchers use models that combined observed temperatures with simulated sea surface temperatures and surface air temperatures to determine temperatures from 1401 to 1800.
The new baseline casts doubt on humanity's ability to meet the Paris target of holding temperatures below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
“The probability of exceeding the thresholds and timing of exceedance is highly dependent on the pre-industrial baseline,” the authors wrote.
Mann cautioned that there is still time to stave off the worst effects of warming, and that the Paris Agreement is the best path to get there. Still, he said, the study suggests the world's carbon budget — the amount of carbon dioxide the world can burn while keeping global temperatures below 2 degrees — may be smaller than nations realize.
The advent of the internal-combustion engine sparked a major release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that has warmed the Earth. The Paris climate accord is the broadest attempt in human history to limit those emissions. Re-establishing a new baseline would put more pressure on countries around the world. The study came after Trump announced he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement in order to get a “better deal.”
Before the age of industrialization, the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide was about 280 parts per million (ppm), scientists have determined. They measured air bubbles frozen in Arctic ice to ascertain that number. The early decades of industrialization, fueled by economic growth in Europe, may have added 30 to 40 ppm of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, according to Mann.
Now, atmospheric CO2 is rising at a record pace and is already at 410 ppm. It's expected to climb for decades. A growing body of research suggests that the continuing rise in atmospheric CO2 could eventually make some places on the planet uninhabitable, cause sea levels to swamp coastal cities and lead to millions of refugees.
“The Paris commitments were seen as at least getting us on to the right path and putting in place a framework where we could tighten the framework in the years ahead,” Mann said. “Our studies suggest it's even more urgent than we might have thought, because Paris, at least by this measure, doesn't even get us halfway there. It gets us a third of the way there.”
The global pact is supposed to review the best available science every few years to inform progress toward limiting global temperature rise. The study released yesterday is exactly the type of research that could inform future negotiations, said Andrew Light, a distinguished fellow at the World Resources Institute and a former senior climate change adviser in the Obama administration.
“There has always been a strong tie between the scientific community and the negotiations process,” he said. “The forum where most of this stuff gets hashed out is the IPCC [the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] ... [and] there will be more of an ongoing opportunity for parties to think about whether or not they need to revise their targets in response to this.”
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from E&E News. E&E provides daily coverage of essential energy and environmental news at www.eenews.net.

Neoliberal Criminals

Watchdog Group: U.S. Electric Industry Knew of Climate Threat Decades Ago

Documents reportedly show warnings made in 1968 of “catastrophic effects” from fossil fuel carbon emissions
Credit: HHakim Getty Images
(Reuters) - The U.S. electric industry knew as far back as 1968 that burning fossil fuels might cause global warming, but cast doubt on the science of climate change and ramped up coal use for decades afterward, an environmental watchdog group said on Tuesday.
The California-based Energy and Policy Institute, which opposes fossil fuels, cited documents it obtained. It said its research mirrors reporting conducted by InsideClimate News about Exxon Mobil’s early understanding of climate change, which triggered an investigation by New York’s Attorney General.
The documents released by the EPI showed the Edison Electric Institute industry group was warned at its annual convention in 1968 by a member of then-President Lyndon Johnson’s administration that carbon emissions from fossil fuels could change the climate and trigger “catastrophic effects.”
The electric industry’s research organization, the Electric Power Research Institute, then began studying the issue in the 1970s and produced its own research that included warnings of rising CO2 levels, temperatures, and sea levels, according to the EPI, which provided links to documents supporting its findings.
By 1988, the EPRI produced a report that concluded “there is a growing consensus in the community that the greenhouse gas effect is real,” the EPI said.
However, "rather than warn the public", the electric industry made long-term investments in coal-fired generation and joined energy industry efforts to block climate regulations - including by lobbying, funding advertisements, and funding scientists skeptical about climate change, the EPI said.
There is now overwhelming consensus among scientists that fossil fuel emissions cause global warming. Nearly 200 nations agreed in Paris in 2015 to work together to cut emissions to keep warming in check - although President Donald Trump has since decided to exit the accord because, he says, it would cost the U.S. economy trillions of dollars without benefit.
The Edison Electric Institute, which represents electric companies in all 50 states, declined to comment directly on the EPI’s findings, but said the industry had already reduced emissions of the gases blamed for causing climate change.
"The electric power industry has reduced carbon emissions by 25 percent below 2005 levels as of the end of 2016," said Jeff Ostermayer, an EEI spokesman.
An official at the EPRI did not respond to a request for comment.
U.S. coal use peaked more than a decade ago. Many utilities have in recent years turned away from coal toward cheaper natural gas - as well as solar and wind - contributing to a steep decline in carbon emissions.
Dozens of utilities surveyed by Reuters earlier this year said they would continue to move away from coal despite efforts by the Trump administration to revive the coal industry.
The EPI said some in the industry were still misleading the public and investors on climate change. It named Georgia-based Southern Co, whose CEO Thomas Fanning told CNBC in March that he did not believe scientists had proven that CO2 is the main driver of climate change.
A Southern spokesman said “climate change is a challenging issue,” the company had cut carbon output 27 percent from 2005 levels, and was "meeting or exceeding all environmental regulations across our system."
(Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Sorry American Jews, you don’t have a birthright

Sorry American Jews, you don’t have a birthright

Middle East 
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A colloquial expression in Hebrew is “tzeh li me’havrid” – “get out of my veins”: you are too pushy, too close, you’re brutally invading my space. It’s an aggressive expression, and aggression is not my intention, so I’ll go with “American Jews, kindly get out of my veins.” As a left-wing Israeli, the last thing I want is your intervention in my politics – or, rather, your intervention as Jews.
I know, I know. Your intentions are good. You want to promote peace, justice and liberty in a place which sorely lacks them. I understand that. I believe you. I truly do. I’ve seen the horrified faces of American Jews who came to Israel and saw what it actually looks like. But, please, while your intentions are good, your actions are destructive.
Please hear me out. Recently, there was a loud hue and cry over the decision of the Israeli government over the Western Wall and legality of conversion issues. Many Jewish leaders came over and protested. Senators were burning the international wires with outraged phone calls to the government. Why did this happen?
It’s simple: While Israel pretends to be the “homeland of the Jews”, it is actually the homeland of the Orthodox Jews. Israel has a state religion, which is Orthodox Judaism. It maintains two chief rabbis – one Sephardic Orthodox, one Ashkenazi Orthodox. The so-called “national” education system is actually a light-Orthodox education system; we have also a national-Orthodox education system and several shades of ultra-Orthodox education systems. There was once (i.e., in the 1930s and 1940s) a humanistic school system, but David Ben-Gurion dismantled it. The little autocrat didn’t like the idea of freethinking.
Why is this so? Well, the short version of it is this. In the 1880s and onwards, Eastern Europe witnessed a mass emigration of Jews. Some 2.5 million of them went to the US. A few tens of thousands went to Palestine. The Jews who went to the US – yes, this is a gross generalization, we’re talking about 2.5 million people here – were progressive. They wanted a better life and were willing to discard the ghetto thinking of the old Jewish town. In a short period of time – amazingly short – they’ve become one of the most brilliant and forward-thinking communities in the history of the world. American Jewry, for all its problems, is a huge success story. The main drive behind this wave of emigration was the will, if not to assimilate, then to participate. To include, not to exclude.
Then we have to talk about the others. They were (again: this is a generalization) a polar opposite. They wanted a state for the Jews, or a Jewish state – they never quite managed to make a sharp distinction between the two. They were, in the main, Eastern European revolutionaries who discarded Communism; they wanted not the opportunity to participate, but to dispossess. And, in order to dispossess a people, you need – if you’re unwilling, as most conquerers are, to see yourself as a despoiler – an ideology to back you up. And Orthodox Judaism fit the bill. It alone could provide the essential link to the past which will allow the Zionists to claim a “historical right” to the land.
Zionism had – still has – an inherent contradiction. It claimed that all the Jews in the world were not a religious community, but a people. Yet they lacked a common history, a common language, and naturally a common homeland. Nor were they similar ethnically. A Jew from Northern Africa had little in common with a Jew from Belarus – aside, of course, from the prayers they were saying every day and their joint messianic bond.
So Zionism pulled a difficult stunt: it claimed that Jews were a nation because throughout the ages they kept the belief they will one day have a homeland; and this bond manifested itself in religion. But Judaism has also strong anti-national messages: the inherent passivity of the Talmudic Three Vows*, for instance. The Zionists had to take out of Orthodox Judaism just its nationalist core.
So we came to the position where the Zionists – who were mostly secular – had to use the paradoxical claim (as formulated by Prof. Amnon Raz-Karkotzkin) that “God does not exist, and he promised us this land.” The emphasis here is on “us.” And, since as Gershom Scholem noted, “God will not stay silent in the language in which He was invoked millions of times”, Zionism could not but cling to Orthodox Judaism. Even as Zionism claimed to replace it, it had to use it to get legitimacy. Indeed, a main talking point of the Orthodox against secular Israelis is “what are you doing here? If you don’t believe in God, you are nothing but robbers and despoilers, who unjustly dispossessed the Palestinians.”
Still with me? Good.
To sum:
1. A Zionist state had to be a Jewish Orthodox state in order to gain legitimacy.
2. Hence, it cannot recognize the legitimacy of other Jewish movements.
3. A Jewish Orthodox state, being based on the most exclusionary elements of Judaism, will inevitably be illiberal. Furthermore, it will likely spiral into radical illiberalism as it tries to return to an imagined “laws of our fathers” system which never actually existed.
4. Any attempt to sway the country from this course will run up on the shoals of the source of Zionism’s legitimacy: Orthodox Judaism.
Hence, the government’s decision to not recognize Conservative and Reform conversion was not only unsurprising, it was inevitable. So was the decision to exclude heretical Jews (which is how Reform and Conservative Jews are seen by a majority of Israel’s Jews) from one of Judaism’s holy sites, the Western Wall.
Fine, Yossi, nice historical lecture. Why do you want us out of your bloodstream?
Well, it’s quite simple. Israel claims it is a Jewish country.
It contains some 20% non-Jews, who are discriminated against. And I’m not even talking about the Occupied Palestinian Territories, where it’s full-bore apartheid. When you are trying to impact Israel’s policy as a Jew, you are granting legitimacy to this. You are saying: I, who was not born in Israel, should have not just a voice in its affairs – but a much louder voice than its non-Jewish natives. What do they call that popular hasbara trip? I have a birthright.
You don’t.
At least, you can’t claim a birthright here and still claim to be a liberal. If you do, you’re playing Israel’s game: you’re claiming Jews are a nation, you are claiming Israel is the national homeland of the Jews, and that therefore your voice counts more than non-Jews who live here.
It shouldn’t.
And, of course, by playing Israel’s game, you are empowering its government to spit you out like a half-eaten grape. They’ll take your money, they’ll take the legitimacy you grant them in the US, but at the end of the day, Zionists will Zionate: they will always return to Jewish Orthodoxy, and the virulent local strain of Orthodoxy will always consider you as heretics.
Does it mean I don’t want to hear from you? Not at all.
You are important to me as liberals. Liberalism everywhere is under attack. You might have noticed that Israel is walking hand in hand with Russia and the eastern European anti-liberal governments. We are facing an international ultra-national movement. We need to link hands against it if we are to survive.
So, as liberals, you are my allies; but, as Jews, kindly get out my veins. By speaking as Jews, you are lending force to the illiberal forces here. Speak to us in the voice of humanity you earned by standing by the civil rights movement, by the martyrs of the Freedom Riders; but don’t speak to as Jews. My country only sees you as Jews when it needs to exclude others. Don’t legitimize it.
*Footnote, re The Three Vows:
According to Talmudic legend, God issued three vows:
1. That Jews would not antagonize the gentiles.
2. That Jews would not “rise up the wall” (Ya’alu ba’khoma) – attempt to seize the Land of Yisrael before the coming of the Messiah.
3. That the gentiles will not abuse the Jews “too much.”
 The second vow was used as a weapon by the Ultra-Orthodox against the Zionists, and the alleged breaking of it was why Zionism was considered a heresy.

Zionist Terror

I’m a 90-year-old woman who has lived in Israel for 50 years – here is what I think about Israeli settlements 

Since I witnessed their beginnings half a century ago, the settlements have only got worse. The size and scale is something I can’t get over 
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Independent Voices
It took decades for the immorality of occupation to sink in.
In 1967, my husband was a military man. We were posted abroad when the war was won and the fabric of the still-infant Israel changed, perhaps irreversibly. When we came home in 1968, the mood was victorious and we thought it was marvellous. We were truly blind to what was happening.
No one spoke of occupation back then. In those early days there was no wall, no checkpoints and no closures. But slowly, the cracks began to form. My children first helped me realise what was happening. I had three sons in the army during the first Lebanon war and then later as reservists in the West Bank.Through their stories I began to see the truth. 
But still I did nothing. We were busy living and life was good. The anger took a long time to cook before it reached boiling point. It was not until 2001, after the second intifada, when, for me at least, enough was enough. I could not longer sit back and watch my country behave illegally and immorally and so, in anger, I began to act.
First, I stood at checkpoints with other women to monitor what was happening there. It was here we started to see the other side and we were shocked. When we went to the villages in the West Bank, I was flabbergasted.
We met a Palestinian called Ibrahim, who said, “Things are happening here. They won’t let me go on my land. They are beating us.” After several years of simply bearing witness, Ibrahim made us realise that exposing the injustices of occupation was not enough. More needed to be done.
We were just a handful of naive women and, with nothing but chutzpah, we founded Yesh Din. I still don’t know how we did it.
Yesh Din, Hebrew for “there is justice”, is now one of the handful of Israeli NGOs holding our government’s practices to account and seeking to uphold the law, human rights and freedoms the occupation denies millions of Palestinians.
Since 2005, Yesh Din has helped Palestinian victims of crime and grave violations of international humanitarian law file 1,122 complaints. By 2016, only 90 investigations (8 per cent) led to indictments. In addition, we represented Palestinian landowners and municipality heads in 64 legal proceedings before the Israeli Supreme Court or administrative tribunals.
I believe that while this occupation – the main source of Palestinian human-rights violations – continues, there will not be justice here for Israelis or Palestinians alike.
Our wins are still too few. We have successes, such as the recent evacuation of the Amona outpost, and demolitions of settler houses elsewhere, but so much of our daily work, even now, is done knowing that more cases will be closed than won. But even when we know this, we also know, as we did when we stood at the checkpoints almost 20 years ago, it is the right and moral thing to do.
Since I witnessed its beginnings half a century ago, the occupation has only got worse. The size and scale of settlements is something I can’t get over. I know every little road and every little village of the West Bank and it is frightening to see them swallowed up piece by piece by indistinguishable rows of red roofs that multiply across Palestinian land. It is robbery that is devoid of shame.
If only all Israelis could see what I have seen. I know that when life is good people are indifferent and blind to the suffering of others. In the bustle and beaches of Tel Aviv it is almost impossible to think about the scale of poverty and abuse of rights happening just 20 miles away. Settlers live in cheap housing with wonderful views of the mountains. No one thinks of the injustice that lies among those hills.
No one does enough; Israelis, international governments, or the global public. We are all too indifferent and too comfortable. The occupation, among the worries of the world right now, hardly registers.
For 50 years the occupation has weakened Israel from within. It should never have happened. It has brought such radical and negative change to the country I love that I wonder every day whether what we have become is a place that I want my grandchildren to grow up in. In my 90 years, I have lived all 50 of this occupation. I will keep trying to end it. I don’t know for how long, but I will.
Ruth Kedar is a founding member of the Israeli NGO and Oxfam partner Yesh Din and continues to volunteer every week with Yesh Din in the West Bank.