AP Article Says More Than It Intends

From Salon:

Jan 31st, 2009 | CARACAS, Venezuela — An armed group vandalized Caracas’ oldest synagogue, shattering religious objects and spray-painting walls in what Jewish leaders called the worst attack ever on their community in Venezuela.

Two security guards were overpowered by about 15 people who ransacked the synagogue’s sanctuary and offices late Friday, leaving graffiti such as: “We don’t want murderers,” and “Jews, get out.”

Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro condemned the attack and promised it would be investigated, while reiterating his government’s opposition to what he called Israel’s “criminal” government.

“We respect the Jewish people, but we ask respect for the people of Palestine and their right to life,” Maduro said in a ceremony called to welcome home two Venezuelan diplomats expelled from Israel this week.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry ordered the envoys to leave after Venezuela expelled all Israeli diplomats on Jan. 6, to protest Israel’s offensive in the Gaza strip. President Hugo Chavez labeled Israeli leaders as “genocidal.”

Nearly 1,300 Palestinians died in the three weeks of fighting.

Leaders of Venezuela’s estimated 15,000-member Jewish community warned that vocal denunciations of Israel by Chavez and the country’s government-funded news media may have encouraged Friday’s attack.

“These declarations permeate society,” said Abraham Levy, president of the Venezuelan Confederation of Israelite Associations.

The incident forced the synagogue to cancel Saturday’s worship service.

I do think that the violence speaks for itself, and that Jews in parts of the world being punished for what the nation of Israel does is nothing new, I just wanted to highlight something I found curious about the whole thing: the Venezuelan government’s response.

1.) Why was the Venezuelan Foreign Minister promising an investigation into this incident? If a minority group in the United States experiences violence, would the Secretary of State promise to investigate?

2.) The Foreign Minister then went on to mention Palestine when referring to an attack on Jews in their own country.

Here’s what I saw: the Venezuelan government, while not outright condoning this violence, nevertheless makes it clear that they see Jews in their own country as not really Venezuelan citizens, but simply Israeli foreign nationals and saw it as, essentially, something akin to looking into some unfortunate attacks on some tourists and not domestic crime. Just another example of where Jews are not seen as citizens of whichever country they’re living in, and their first loyalty is to Israel.

If the Venezuelan government, or at least their Foreign Minister, did not see them in this way, was the phrase “We respect the Jewish people, but we ask respect for the people of Palestine and their right to life” necessary? What do the Venezuelan Jews have to do with Israel beyond these assumptions?

Good to see the Venezuelan government is continuing a pattern of behavior in Latin America previously established by the Argentinian government’s “investigation” into synagogue bombings

A Gentile Privilege Checklist

I know most of us have pretty much said what we need to say about the Feministe debacle, but there’s one more thing I want to address before I try to put it behind me.

There were a few bloggers and commenters who, when responding to David’s reference to gentile privilege (a concept that immediately made sense to me), stated, explicitly or implicitly, that they didn’t believe it exists. In doing so, they broke one of the fundamental rules of anti-oppression work: you never, ever dictate to a group what its own experience looks like. If you haven’t lived as a member of that group, you simply do not have the right to tell them how they are or aren’t oppressed. This, for me, was the most hurtful aspect of the whole debate. If you don’t think you need to understand anti-Semitism in order to understand why Israel launched an outrageous and inexcusable attack on Gaza – fine, I’m glad you’ve got it figured out. If you feel you have the energy to learn about Palestinian oppression or Jewish oppression, but not both – fine, I’ll see you at half the meetings. But I think it’s clear here that if you’re not acknowledging the existence of gentile privilege, then you’re not acknowledging the existence of anti-Semitism. Oppression cannot exist without corresponding privilege. It’s just not possible, folks.

I feel like I should be inured to it – after all, it’s not like it hasn’t happened to WOC, the disabled, Muslims, and countless other groups who thought that social justice meant justice for them, too – but it’s been bothering me for days. Indeed, looking over my last post on the subject, I’m reminded that I mentioned it there, too. I didn’t think for a second that the concept of gentile privilege would, in a feminist, anti-racist space, be controversial. I should have, though. (No wonder so many activists I know just don’t read comment threads at all.)

So: a checklist. I wrote this based on my own experiences, so what you’re seeing is gentile privilege among American liberals and radicals from a white Ashkenazi point of view. That obviously means that it’s a work-in-progress and hopefully a collaborative effort, since I lack the expertise to write about Jews in conservative or apolitical communities, Jews in other countries, and American Jews of color. (I also think it’d be very useful to write up checklists on Ashkenazi privilege and male privilege within Jewish communities.) Because gentile privilege often operates in tandem with white and Christian privilege, I’ve included a sort of “prologue” of instances of white and Christian privilege that happen to apply to Diaspora Jews (items i-vii). It doesn’t make sense to look at complete lists of white or Christian privilege when talking about Jews, since most European Jews have white privilege and many Jews identify as secular or even Christian, so I’ve only included instances relevant to the intersection of the various identities that comprise Jewishness.

There were certain aspects of anti-Semitism that I couldn’t quite articulate as a form of privilege. Does that mean that they fit into one of the items I’ve already written? Take, for instance, the non-Jews who insist that since anti-Semitism is an inaccurate term, we Jews shouldn’t have a specific word for our oppression at all. Is that a function of denial (8)? Of mistrust (11)? Is it a separate kind of privilege that I’m not getting at yet – or does it happen simply because people don’t know that anti-Semitism operates differently than other types of oppression? Also, how do Jewish women factor into this list? Everything I wrote resonates with me – but at the same time, I’ve been keenly aware of the fact that, with the notable exceptions of the JAP and the Jewish Mother, Jewish women remain largely invisible in both Jews’ and non-Jews’ perceptions of Jewishness. Does what I wrote resonate with me because I genuinely feel it, or because, lacking my own solid identity, I’m forced to siphon it off of Jewish men?

If a “final” draft of this list is ever produced, it’ll probably be very messy and complicated – more like multiple lists connected under the umbrella category of gentile privilege. I think this is the only way it’ll accurately reflect the various interconnections and distinctions of Jewish cultures around the globe. Or maybe this list will just serve as a brief and limited addendum to David’s essay. I’d be happy with that, too.

Quick note: I’m one person with a short history of anti-oppression work and an even shorter history of Jewish activism, so constructive criticism and collaboration will make the list better. But I’d like non-Jews to please remember that you are not an expert on Jewishness. If you see an item in the proper list that would be better placed in the prologue – awesome, thanks. But what I do not want to see is people who have never walked around as a Jew, never opened a book on Jewish history, or never heard of terms like “blood libel” lecturing me on how I’m whining and how a disagreement about Zionism or Gaza or the rhetoric in an essay excuses everything they said in the Feministe threads and how I obviously misunderstood what they meant in this thread or that post. If you’re not familiar with one or more of these items – some of them are pretty esoteric – April Rosenblum’s The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere is a great place to start, and has a good bibliography. If you read it and still have a question about one of the items, I’ll gladly answer it, but don’t start from the assumption that I pulled it out of thin air.

The Gentile Privilege Checklist (Liberal and Radical Edition)

White/Christian Privilege

i. My religious and cultural holidays are national holidays. Even if my job requires me to work on some holidays, generally speaking, I and my community members don’t have to explain ourselves to employers and teachers, request time off to celebrate and/or worship, and risk falling behind or losing pay when we take that time.

ii. Even if I “pass” for a member of another group, I can advertise my identity through my appearance, language, or other markers without fear of discrimination, harassment, or assault. Revealing my group identity has never felt like “outing” myself.

iii. I have never felt pressure to alter my body – chemically, surgically or otherwise – or engage in displays of strength or violence to compensate for perceptions of my group as ugly or weak.

iv. I can visit my place of worship or a community building without fear of injury or death.

v. Even if I’m in a sparsely populated area, it is never difficult to find other members of my group.

vi. Generally speaking, my community is not targeted for hate crimes or threats.

vii. When other members of my group commit violent crimes, I will not be held personally responsible for it, expected to explain or condemn their actions to members of other groups, or punished for continuing to identify as a member of my group. Others do not use those crimes to justify instigating or ignoring assault and harassment against me.

Gentile Privilege

1. If I achieve success in my career, it will not be attributed to a predisposition to cunning and greed, or my group’s supposed control of the field, community, government, or world.

2. If I save money, accept money, or don’t spend as much as others think I should, it will not be attributed to a predisposition to stinginess or miserliness.

3. If I am angry, upset, or worried, my emotions are not attributed to my group’s supposed neurotic or infantile tendencies.

4. If my group suffers a monumental, culture-altering tragedy, no one speculates or tries to prove that I have exaggerated or fabricated the tragedy for material gain.

5. If I am robbed, it is not because the thief assumes, based on my group identity, that I am unusually rich.

6. When other members of my group commit violent crimes, I am not regularly portrayed as a monster that engages in demonic, inhuman acts.

7. In liberal and radical circles, It is not widely believed that my group has caused its own oppression, and I am not viewed as selfish or hypocritical for speaking about my oppression. It is generally accepted that fighting my oppression is not tantamount to endorsing the oppression of another group.

8. In liberal and radical circles, the very existence of my oppression – in any form or in any part of the world – is not routinely called into question or denied.

9. If, within a liberal or radical discussion, I feel that an individual’s criticism of members of my group is problematic, it is not immediately and universally assumed that my objection is delusional or a deliberate attempt to halt discussion. While it is acknowledged that one can “play the X-card,” legitimate instances of my oppression are given more attention than false accusations.

10. When economically oppressed groups organize to fight poverty, racism, and other injustices, they do not scapegoat me for those injustices.

11. When I work with liberals and radicals who are not members of my group, they do not view me with suspicion, require that I prove my loyalty to their cause, or wait for me to distinguish myself from the “bad” members of my group before they decide to trust me.

12. I can speak out against, or work to put a stop to, activities that promote hatred of my group without confirming beliefs that I am controlling the media or using a position of uncanny power over the community, government, or world to quell freedom of speech.

13. If the country in which I happen to live – or a country that is an ally to my country – goes to war, I will not be blamed for starting it.

14. If the country in which I happen to live – or a country that is an ally to my country – loses a war, I will not be blamed for sabotaging it.

15. No one assumes, based on my group identity, that I am physically deformed. Upon meeting me, no one violates my privacy by asking to see that deformity, nor do they violate my bodily autonomy to search for it.

Thoughts?

(Cross-posted at Alas, A blog.)

Protest for a CLEAN Carwash!

It’s that time again!

Who: Progressive Jewish Alliance and the CLEAN Carwash Campaign. More importantly, though: YOU.
What: A picket line to protest a failure to pay minimum wages, a lack of basic health and safety protections, and numerous other workers’ rights violations in the Los Angeles carwash industry.
When: This Sunday, January 25th, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Vermont Hand Wash at 1666 Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles.
Why: Although almost no carwash in Los Angeles can be described as “good,” the owners of the Vermont Hand Wash in Los Feliz are among the worst in the industry. By protesting the Vermont Hand Wash, we hope to send a message to other carwashes throughout the city. For more information, visit cleancarwashla.org.

Please repost or link to this message on your blog, or forward this to any Los Angeles residents you might know. Last time we protested, we managed to bring business to a standstill. The more support we have, the bigger a statement we’ll make – and the closer we’ll come to getting the owners to agree to meet minimum labor standards and allow their workers to organize.

Share Your Anti-Semitism Stories.

Richard Jeffrey Newman asked me to invite MM readers to share their anti-Semitism stories on Alas. From the post:

I know that the first post I wrote was the first time ever that I tried to construct a chronology, a narrative of the antisemitism I have experienced in my life, and it brought home to me all over again just how enormous and profound an effect it had on my worldview…. So here’s what I propose: a post where the point of the comments is, simply, to tell stories about our experiences with antisemitism, not to analyze those experiences, but just to tell them and then let them speak for themselves. I am not talking about political analysis of some politician’s or scholar’s or blog posts’ rhetoric, and I am not talking about listing antisemitic incidents at which you were not present. I am talking about moments when you saw or experienced antisemitism in action.

The thread is open to everyone – Jews and non-Jews.

I think this is a great way to get past the question of how much or how little we should care about anti-Jewish oppression while we’re working to end the occupation of Palestine, past all the harsh words and bad feelings that have arisen on Feministe and elsewhere, and just take a moment to catch our breaths and reflect on the issue on a personal level. Please don’t post any stories here – go to the original post here.

(By the way, I shared a couple of my stories here.)

Self-Sufficiency Sundays: Keep Your Soil Healthy!

Quick note: I’m probably going to start doing these biweekly. Little easier on my schedule.

I don’t think I need to tell you that healthy soil leads to healthy plants. Is your soil light in color, dry, hard and impacted, or dusty and crumbly? Do your plants always wilt and die as soon as the fertilizer’s used up? Is there a patch in your garden (I know you don’t have a lawn!) where nothing ever grows? Do your potted plants never seem to do well? You’ve got some bad soil, my friend.

Here’s a rule of thumb: healthy soil is living soil. Healthy soil is teeming with microbes, fungi, worms, insects, and other beasties; unhealthy soil is uninhabited. Soil life is what causes decomposition, which releases nutrients for plants; healthy soil can’t help but fill itself with plant life as seeds are deposited by wind and larger animals. Unfortunately, our current agricultural practices – on both large and small scales – both discourage soil life from forming and actively kill it off. There are four things you can do, though, to encourage the critters to reinhabit your garden or pots: give them good water, fertilize with compost, refrain from chemical pesticides, and mulch each surface.

1. Water.
Most tap water is chlorinated. Chlorine, as any Orange Country resident knows, is the stuff that you pour in your pool to keep the sides from turning green. You do this because chlorine is a poison. When you put it in your pool water, it kills the algae; when you pour it on your plants, it kills all the soil life.

So here’s what you do. If you’re in an apartment and are just dealing with potted plants, fill your watering can or another container with tap water and let it sit, uncovered, for 24 hours. All the chlorine will gradually evaporate into the air. When I started doing this, I didn’t notice any huge surge in growth, but the pots did seem to retain their moisture a lot longer. (A quick note on potted plants: soil doesn’t have time to soak up the water if you just slosh some in there and let it run through; furthermore, any water running out the bottom of the pot takes nutrients with it. Water your potted plants at least two or three times, catching the water in a reservoir beneath the pot and pouring it back in.)

If you have a house and a yard, consider installing a cistern to catch rainwater. A cistern is basically just a big barrel positioned under the downspout that leads from your rooftop gutter. Just make sure that if you have an asphalt roof, you install what’s called a foul flush system so that you don’t get toxins in your water. For more detailed instructions, see Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew’s Toolbox for Sustainable City Living.

2. Compost.
The ecosystems found within soil are incredibly complex, and the nutrients they provide plants are correspondingly so. Conversely, the nutrients in chemical fertilizer are reduced to three main elements (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) plus a few extra chemicals thrown in for good measure. Recreating natural fertilizer in a lab is the equivalent of trying to put together a puppy. You can try, but instead of this:

a labrador retriever puppy.

Image Description: a labrador retriever puppy.

You’ll probably get this:

Sonys robot dog, the Aibo.

Image description: Sony's robot dog, the Aibo.

Just… not… the same.

(Oh, how I wanted to find a clip from Futurama’s Robo Puppy episode. “Robo Puppy commencing cheek licking! Licking in progress! Licking complete!” Classic.)

Luckily, you don’t need that jar of Miracle-Gro anyway, because compost has all the microbe-produced nutrients your plants need. If you’re not sheet mulching (more on that later), adding compost to your soil will keep it full of natural plant food. And as an added bonus, the soil life will attract more soil life, making your ecosystem even richer! A few weeks after I added my worms and garbage to the compost bin in my garage, I opened it up to find pill bugs crawling through the castings.

3. Pest Control.
To some extent, healthy soil itself will cut down on pests, since with all those species either in the soil or attracted by the soil, there’s bound to be a natural predator or two. Pests are naturally drawn to weakened plants, so if you’ve got a healthy garden, you probably won’t need much spray. But I’ve found that potted plants seem to be more susceptible to pests – especially my indoor ones, maybe because aphids can fit through the window screen but ladybugs can’t – so you may have to do a little maintenance now and then. Like chlorine, pesticides are poisons, and kill everything on contact, including beneficial soil life. Constantly spraying crops with poison only exacerbates pest problems; the soil life and predators die, making the plants even more vulnerable, and the pests, which are quick-breeding and more resilient than predators, come right back in even greater numbers.

The best thing is to try to attract natural predators with mulch (great for tiny spiders) and flowers (loved by ladybugs). But, like I said, in some cases you’ve just got to spray. In that case, try to use an organic spray with natural ingredients – these will suffocate the pests. You’ll still kill some beneficial life, but you won’t render the soil uninhabitable.

4. Mulch.
In dry climates, exposed soil is scorched, lifeless soil. In wet climates, exposed soil is probably not occurring very much, because it’s full of seedlings. Keep your soil moist! A layer of dried leaves or wood chips regulates the temperature and keeps moisture from evaporating. Sheet mulch, which is a thick layer of “green” (manure, kitchen scraps, etc.) and “brown” (dried leaves, paper, or wood) composting materials, actually creates compost and builds soil as organisms eat it and poop it out. Toby Hemenway describes it pretty thoroughly in Gaia’s Garden. Finally, groundcover plants, such as clover, function as a living mulch.

Why I’ve Stopped Talking About Gaza

Short answer: because I can’t think of anything to say.

A few days ago, I came across this video on Jewschool:

There’s a midrash on the Jacob story that Avraham Burg mentions in his new book. According to the story, Jacob was “anxious and distressed” as he went to fight his brother Esau. He was anxious, the Talmud explains, because he knew he might die – but he was distressed because he knew he might kill.

Even if the attack on Gaza were 100% justified – even if there was absolutely no other action Israel could have taken – don’t these people care about how un-Jewish it is to celebrate killing people? Even if you believe this had to be done, what about it makes you want to dance a horah? Even if you believe that every single Palestinian who has died deserved to die, why would the task of ending someone’s life make you happy?

I meant to write about that video days ago, but I was distracted by the slew of anti-Semitic comments on, ironically, two parts of an essay about anti-Semitism. If we can wrap our heads around the idea that one can do something racist without hating POC, then surely we can fathom that, say, denying the existence of Gentile privilege is anti-Semitic even if some of one’s best friends are Jewish. I want Gaza to be centered in anti-racist, anti-capitalist work right now simply because at the moment, their situation is one of the most desperate and time-sensitive. But I can’t stand it when non-Arab, non-Jewish Americans shriek that even mentioning global violence against Jews is somehow hurting Gazans, and then develop a fucking martyr complex when a Jew angrily points out that decrying Jewish liberation work is anti-Semitic. (I also can’t stand it when the rhetoric in a “discussion” becomes so angry and inflammatory that anti-Zionist Jews are accused of being self-hating and are basically forced to leave. Fuck. That. Shit.)

If you seriously can’t believe that we can work on dismantling anti-Semitism without advocating the deaths of Palestinians, then I doubt I can work with you. If you’re itching to leave a comment along the lines of, “Jewish liberation?! That means ZIONISM,* right!? You must be a Zionist, right!? Because only Zionists care about Jewish liberation!!” then for God’s sake, read a book or two before you accuse me of being a racist anti-Palestine warmongerer because I don’t like it when flaming cars are driven into synogogues.

(On the anti-Semitic attacks in Europe – you wouldn’t believe the number of people I’ve seen saying, “Well, those Israelis have to learn somehow.” If you can’t figure out the distinction between a European Jew and an Israeli, and if you can’t figure out that violence against any ol’ Jewish person probably isn’t stemming from a sincere desire to help Palestinians, then I say it again: I doubt I can work with you.)

I think Mandolin’s post is right on.

I saw Waltz With Bashir the other night. I’d planned on writing a very nice, eloquent review of it, but really it would have all boiled down to this: it helped me stay human. Please see this movie and stay human. Now if only Palestinian filmmakers could enjoy international exposure.

By the way, how do I personally feel about Zionism? Do I identify as a Zionist, an anti-Zionist, a non-Zionist, or a post-Zionist? I honestly don’t know. If we accept that Zionism has come to mean a Jewish state in Palestine, then I’m an anti-Zionist. If we were to consider a Zionism that meant a Jewish state anywhere, then, depending on how much violence or alienation I was personally experiencing, I would be either a Zionist or a non-Zionist (someone who supports a Jewish state but doesn’t plan on moving there). But I feel like the whole question of whether there should be a Jewish state is moot; the fact is, there is one, and it’s not going anywhere. So does that make me a post-Zionist? Not quite; that term means something slightly different. What about the question of keeping Israel Jewish? What will happen when/if Arab births outnumber Jewish births, and the ratio begins to change? More ethnic cleansing is unacceptable (even having to write that seems to diminish its truth) – but if Israelis let their national character change, do they risk violence against Jews? Why is addressing root causes always out of the question?

Why do I feel like any time I write something that’s not explicitly condemning the actions of Jews, readers are combing over my sentences, looking for anti-Palestinian oppression? Why can’t anyone accept that it’s harmful when so many liberal and radical Jews feel like our Jewish identities have to revolve around feeling ashamed of Israel? I’ve literally seen people – Jews! – claiming that Zionism is the sum total of Jewish identity. That doesn’t make any fucking sense! Maybe sometimes I want to read my great-grandmother’s letters or take my Yiddish classes without thinking about Israel!

I wanted this post to be about Gaza, but the truth is, I don’t know anything about Gaza. I’m sitting here in California with palm trees swaying outside my spacious apartment and I have no fucking clue.

I think I’m going to start using this blog, in part, to rediscover and examine Yiddish culture. Partly it’s because I suck at timely commentary. Partly it’s because a Youtube search reveals a wealth of Yiddish theater, music, and dance. Partly it’s because the introspective styles of writers like BFP, Joan Kelly, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, and Little Light have taught me more about activist work than even the best political commentary. Maybe, by developing a firmer idea of where I came from, I can stop defining myself against the people celebrating the deaths of Gazans. Maybe if we remember how vibrant Jewish cultures can be, we can funnel our energy into art and writing and dance instead of wars. Maybe we can do the same for American cultures, maybe even for white cultures. Please, please, please, someone tell me you’re with me on this.

(Cross-posted at Alas, A Blog.)

__
* I’m not even getting into the problem with the “Zionism=murderous bloodthirsty racism” mentality… maybe in another post. I know I can’t hope for people to just look it up themselves, or ever believe that early twentieth century European Jews could possibly have sensible reasons for wanting a state. I know it’s too troublesome and complicated to accept that, while the decision to “buy” Palestinian land was obviously racist and unjust, the desire to escape violence by forming autonomous territory was understandable.

Boycotting Jews Does Not Help Gazans.

From Ha’aretz (the article seems to be missing the first few paragraphs):

Jewish group in Italy slams boycott initiative of Jewish-owned shops
By The Associated Press

Mayor Gianni Alemanno for condemning the boycott. Alemanno, a right-wing politician, had gone shopping on Thursday in a Jewish-owned clothing store to show his opposition to the boycott.

Politicians and mainstream unions also condemned the boycott announced by the FLAICA-CUB group, which claims to represent thousands of workers in shops and malls.

While praising the mayor’s strong reaction, Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Paris wrote in a letter to Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi saying the union should be prosecuted for inciting racism, intimidation and other crimes.

“A campaign to boycott Italian Jews would be a clear repetition of Benito Mussolini’s measures,” wrote Samuels, referring to the anti-Semitic laws passed in 1938 during the fascist leader’s regime.

Rome’s Jewish Community has also said it would take legal action. Italy has laws banning discrimination.

The ANSA news agency reported police on Friday seized banners hung up in the north of Rome that contained insults against Jewish leaders and called Alemanno a Zionist executioner.

On Thursday the FLAICA-CUB union called in a statement for a boycott of businesses linked to the Roman Jewish Community. It suggested shoppers should focus the protest on clothing stores, many of which are traditionally owned by members of the capital’s small Jewish community.

Since Israel began its offensive in December, anti-Semitic acts have increased across Europe and attacks have been reported against Jews and synagogues in France, Sweden and Britain.

First off, why are our supporters always right-wingers? Is the Left really so afraid of complexity?

Anyway, the operative word here is Jews. Italians aren’t boycotting Israeli products (which itself is a form of collective punishment), they’re boycotting Jewish-owned businesses. As in: “Hey, those people in another country are doing something shitty! They belong to your ethnic group – which has a reputation for being evil! Therefore, you must be personally responsible!”

How does punishing some random person who happens to live near you help Gazans? How does it bring us closer to a viable Palestinian state?

And what makes you think that fostering hostility towards Jews won’t heighten support for Israel? Remember what happened when the US and Israel tried to make Gazans feel ashamed of being Gazan?

When Palestinians Die, Americans Eat.

On the radio today: news about the recession. Story after story about dismal holiday sales. Explanations of why it’s not a good idea to be thrifty when money’s tight: if you don’t go out and buy stuff, people will lose their jobs! Why is it that our very survival depends on accumulating and then discarding useless luxury items? How did we get to the point where my lack of interest in a plasma screen may eventually lead to my starvation? What would happen if we decided that some of our needs and wants would be bought with currency, and some we would make or procure ourselves? What if the workweek was only 20 hours long? Why have we forgotten how to grow our own fucking food?

The military industrial complex: a mutually dependent relationship between a government, its armed forces, and the commercial sector producing weapons and other equipment. According to the documentary Why We Fight, every single state in the union has a stake in keeping this industry healthy – and, consequently, every single legislator faces pressure to green-light wars. Why do you think democrats cave so easily every time hawks want to attack someone?

As an interviewee in Young, Jewish and Left points out, Israel has never benefited from the occupation of Palestine; it’s the American weapons manufacturers who are making a profit. Could it be that the US, happy to have a foothold in the Middle East, isn’t just giving Israel its blessing – but actually pressuring Israelis to keep driving those tanks, keep using those bombs? Because when Israel attacks, Americans keep their jobs. When Palestinians die, Americans eat.

When will we figure out that capitalism is killing us?

(Cross-posted at Alas, A Blog.)

Senate to Vote on Pro-War Bill

From Jewish Voice for Peace:

I am outraged. I just read the text of a bill being voted on in the Senate today – a bill we cannot let pass.*

The bill, introduced by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), puts the all blame for the current violence between Israel and Gaza entirely on Hamas. It offers unconditional support to Israel, tacitly endorsing the raining down of bombs on the heads of Gazan civilians, a tactic which has led to the deaths of over 700 Palestinians in just a few weeks. In fact, it endorses continued bloodshed of both Israelis and Palestinians.

I am dumbstruck by how one-sided this bill is. The US should condemn Hamas. They are deliberately targeting civilians with Qassam rockets and 9 Israelis have died since Israel started bombing Gaza. But they should also hold Israel accountable. Accountable for denying Palestinians access to badly needed medicine, fuel and food through their year-long blockade of Gaza; accountable for endangering the lives of Israelis by repeatedly violating ceasefires and refusing to negotiate with Hamas, a group, which facts show, can maintain a ceasefire**; accountable for the destructive US-made weaponry they are using on dense population centers, which has now drawn rocket fire from southern Lebanon and threatens to enflame the rest of the Mideast; and accountable for Israel’s illegal 40-year occupation.

But it does no such thing. Instead, it reads like a press release written by AIPAC, giving Israel carte blanche to do whatever it wants whenever it wants, without legal or moral restraint. It does not call for an immediate ceasefire, or an end to Gaza’s blockade, which is also an act of war.

And after the Senate, its going to the House.

Write your representative now and tell her or him that you expect the United States to take a balanced approach. Tell them that it is in the best interests of Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians for Israel to accept a ceasefire, end the blockade, and achieve peace through an end to Israel’s 40-year old occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Cecilie Surasky,
Jewish Voice for Peace

* Amnesty vs. AIPAC: Senate to Consider AIPAC Resolution Endorsing War in Gaza Huffington Post

**Reigniting Violence: How Do Ceasefires End? Huffington Post

It may already be too late, but you can send an email here.

Protests and Dialogue

Via Muslimah Media Watch, footage of a march in Tel Aviv and a dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians:

Israel Social TV: Israeli’s and Palestinian talk peace and protest against “Cast Led” – The siege and attack on Gaza.

And, via Jewschool:

Call to protest: Oppose warmongers and haters on both sides

On Sunday, January 11, a coalition of New York-based Jewish and Zionist organizations will be holding a mass demonstration outside of the Israeli consulate on 42nd Street and 2nd Avenue in unreserved support of Israel’s military action in the Gaza Strip. AIPAC, the ADL and several other groups will join forces to proclaim in the name of American Jewry that it is Israel’s right and responsibility to decimate Hamas, even at the cost of hundreds of civilian Palestinian lives and thousands more injured.

Also on Sunday, a mass demonstration by pro-Palestinian activists will transpire in Times Square, where protesters will condemn Israel’s actions in Gaza and — in all probability — justify Hamas’ attacks on Israeli civilians as a legitimate response to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, its multiple violations of the 2008 ceasefire agreement, and the international community’s failure to adequately address these matters.

Both of these groups will likely demonize one another — the Jews decrying the Palestinians and the pro-Palestinian activists maligning the Jews — each engaging in gross displays of hatred, and advocating not in favor of peace, but in one side’s victory over the other.

I wish to propose a third way: A counterdemonstration to both the pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations. That is, I wish to propose a pro-peace demonstration.

Read the rest at Orthodox Anarchist.

Does anyone know of any events in L.A.? Is anyone interested in planning one?

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