Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2007

The IDF and My Daughter’s Hamburger
By Sam Bahour

Dear friends,

I wanted to write this last night but was exhausted from playing umpteen hands of the card game UNO with my 6 year old daughter, Nadine (pic attached).  Why this card frenzy, especially given I hate playing cards? Well, we were in the center of Ramallah yesterday afternoon, at 3:40pm when the almighty Israeli military decided, again, that it was time to wreak havoc on our city.  I should not really complain since what happened in Ramallah yesterday happens across the West Bank and Gaza regularly. Nevertheless, I will make an issue about it and urge every Palestinian, in every city, to make an issue about every Israeli infraction on our lives.

Yesterday I was extremely busy all day and had a dinner appointment with a serious venture capitalist in Jerusalem in the evening, so I agreed with my wife and girls that since I would not be home all day and night, that I’d pick them up at 3:30 sharp and we would go for a late lunch. We haven’t been out much given all of the infighting lately so my girls were thrilled.  I rushed home at 3:30 to pick them up and found my daughters dressed to kill. To them, this was a serious outing after a long holiday break which was spent mostly at home.  The restaurant they had as first choice was closed due to the holidays, so they reverted to their favorite popular place, Angelo’s Pizzeria, for those that know it.

Angelo’s Pizzeria is on the main street in Ramallah, a few hundred meters from Lion’s Circle, the smack middle of town where you saw on the the news Israeli bulldozers destroying cars last night.  I parked on the Friends Girls School road which is behind the restaurant.  As soon as I exited the car I felt something was wrong.  As we walked into the restaurant I looked up and could see an Israeli gunship helicopter hoovering overhead firing at some unknown target.  We thought it would be safer to enter the restaurant rather than return home.

The restaurant was full with most tables nervous at the sound of gunfire from overhead.  The waiters, who have been through this dozens of times, visited the tables and played and joked with the kids.  They knew that things were not right and went out of their way to make life normal, at least while we were their customers.  The restaurant manager, a friend, came to our table and asked me for my car keys.  He wanted to move my car because word came that the Israeli jeeps and armored vehicles that were operating in town were crushing cars parked on the side of the road.  He found my car already in a safe spot and reassured us that this will pass soon.  He knows, he has lived this reality every day for 40 years now!

We ordered a pizza and salad and Nadine insisted that Angelo’s Pizzeria has the best hamburgers in town and wanted one as well so she ordered one herself.  As we sat, things outside were clearly deteriorating.  I got a call on my cellular hone from my dad back in Youngstown, Ohio. He asked where we are because no one answered at home.  He briefed me on the live reports he was watching about what was happening outside the restaurant door.  After talking with my father, I made frequent visits to the restaurant door to view people rushing away from the city center.  While I was standing at the door, a friend of mine had finished eating with his wife and 4 kids and stood at the door contemplating to leave to cross the street to his car.  I kept a lookout and gave him the all clear as he rushed his family across the street to his car and he was off.  At this stage, I knew it was not only military activity overhead but something very close by.

The salad showed up in no time and we enjoyed it.  Then the famous hamburger followed and then our pizza.  All the time my wife was trying to make phone contact with her sister who we invited to join us but never showed up.  She wanted to make sure she was ok given all the shooting and commotion outside.  My older daughter, Areen, was a bit nervous, wondering how we were going to get back home.  We reassured her that all would be fine.  In reality, we had no idea.

Forty minutes later, my wife, Abeer, Areen and I had finished eating and were ready to go.  Nadine, was happily, and very slowly, enjoying her world-class hamburger and fries while every so often reassuring us. ” They come, shoot, arrest, and leave…so what’s the problem?  When they leave, we will go home, right dad?”

“So what’s the problem?”!  The problem is how can a 6 year old calmly sit through a mini-war happening outside the restaurant while enthusiastically devouring a hamburger without the slightest hint of being disturbed?

Nadine finally finished and we headed home.  Luckily we were parked in the opposite direction of the shooting, so we drove the wrong way down a one way street and headed home.  On the way, taxis were rushing about, driving worse than usual, shuttling people away from the center of Ramallah.  When we got near our home we had to cross the Jerusalem-Ramallah road. Looking left about 200 meters away my girls yelled out that the IDF was blocking the street. I glanced and it was a mess.  Jeeps all over, rocks filled the street, behind the jeeps I could see the open market was full of soldiers.

We finally got home.  Turned on CNN, nothing!  Switched to Jazeerah and they had live pictures of what was happening and the extent of it – another Israeli invasion into Ramallah.  An undercover Israeli hit team tried to arrest someone and were exposed and came under Palestinian fire.  They called in reenforcements and all the lone rangers came running (and shooting and plowing).

I was contemplating with my wife if I should risk heading to Jerusalem later in the evening.  We agreed to wait and see how it develops given the news reports started to say the IDF was completing their operations and leaving the city center (only to move back to their permanent position of surrounding our city).

I went to check my email and cancel a radio interview appointment with CBC that I missed because of this mess.  This is when Nadine came and asked if I could accompany her to the bathroom.  She never asks to be accompanied.  The bathroom in our small flat is literally 1 meter from my computer and 3 meters from the living room where Abeer was watching the news and Areen was letting Grandma Sarah in Youngstown know we were all home and ok.

I immediately understood and gladly accompanied Nadine and even made it a fun trip.  Then I cancelled all my appointments that evening and spent the rest of the night doing exactly what Nadine asked for – to play UNO.  We played alone, with Areen, as a family, and then alone again, multiple times.  When bedtime came she kissed me good night and headed to her room along with her sister as usual – no escort.  I felt that UNO therapy had worked.  I may even claim for a new deck of UNO on my health insurance policy.

My friends, I write this not to bore you with one family’s experience during 2 hours of occupation, but rather to scream to the world that we need your help!

4 Palestinian civilians were killed last night in this attack, 20 were injured, 5 of them seriously.  I have no statistics on the number of children, like Nadine, whose skin become thicker during this latest Israeli adventure.

Israel has lost her way and the US is Palestinian-blind.  Israel is creating yet another generation of Palestinians that are more numb to their military occupation than any other.  Likewise, it is creating a generation of Israeli occupiers that see my city as the wild, wild, west.  It is stripping children, Palestinian and Israeli, of their childhood.  It must stop and NOW.  We need your active support:

Organzine locally, at your church, community center, union, etc.

Support Jimmy Carter’s stance against Israeli Apartheid. Read his book.

Write letters.

Visit and engage your representatives. Demand public statements.

Sponsor a Palestinian student.

Invest in Palestine.

Request Angelo’s Pizzeria start exporting hamburgers by express mail.

and most importantly, play UNO with your kids.

Braced for the 4 funerals that will start in 3 hours,

Sam

Sam Bahour serves on the Advisory Board of Cafe Intifada.  He is the treasurer of Birzeit University and co-Editor of Homeland.

Read Full Post »

WOMEN IN BLACK-LOS ANGELES INVITES YOU TO JOIN US:

SILENT VIGILS FOR A BOYCOTT OF THE ISRAEL PHILHARMONIC

WHEN:
SUNDAY, JANUARY 14, 2007, 1:00-2:00 P.M. and
SUNDAY, JANUARY 28, 2007, 1:00 P.M. TO 2:00 P.M.

WHERE: DISNEY HALL (First Street and Grand, Downtown Los Angeles)

WHY: Let the audience of a matinee at Disney Hall know about the boycott of the Israel Philharmonic and the need to end the Occupation and to end Israeli Apartheid in Palestine.

PLAN TO ALSO JOIN US IN A SILENT VIGIL AT THE PERFORMANCES OF THE ISRAEL PHILHARMONIC AT DISNEY HALL

MONDAY EVENING, FEB. 5, 2007, 6:30 P.M. TO 8 P.M.
TUESDAY EVENING, FEB. 6, 2007, 6:30 P.M. TO 8 P.M.

See our letters to the Israel and L.A. Philharmonic Orchestras on our website at http://www.wib-la.org/ Our letter to the Israel Philharmonic asking them to publicly oppose Israel’s occupation of Palestine was signed by 800 supporters worldwide.

Contact us at womeninblackla@gmail.com or at (323) 993-3322

Read Full Post »

This image comes from Jewish World Review, along with the article. Had Cafe Intifada published or developed the image, it would be attacked for being anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.

“Should Rosenthal and her ilk be treated as legitimate Jewish voices?”

“As Union rolls here in the United States swell with members of minority communities, anti-Israel forces waste no time forging alliances with those groups. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, self-appointed visionary of a new socialist Latin America and bosom buddy of Iran’s Ahmadinejad, blatantly tries to drive a wedge between working-class Americans and others by offering Citgo heating oil at reduced prices in Boston and the Bronx. When the Latino Congresso — a national umbrella for Latino organizations — met in Los Angeles, Chavez’ representatives were highly visible on the program and in the crowd. We know that part of the declared strategy of anti-Israel groups is to infiltrate labor unions across America in an attempt to target Israeli goods.”

The quotes above, come from the following article, published months after a Zionist victory against union democracy at UTLA.  Cafe Intifada and Emma Rosenthal were specifically targeted during that campaign, resulting in shutting down the web page and the list serve of the Human Rights Committee, erasing the entire archive, and silencing dissent and discourse within the Committee.  Rosenthal had developed both the web page and the list serve, constantly seeking out guidance and input from the Committee, careful to make sure that the public image of the Committee, the public statements of the Committee represented the Committee as a whole, and not her particular point of view.  Even during the contentious period leading up to the decision to destroy anything affiliated with her or moderated with her (the listserve was also moderated by Committee Chair, Steve Seal, and former Chair Andy Griggs,) She was careful to make sure that public comments of hers not be attributed to the group as a whole, clarifying to the press and in her own statements that she spoke only for herself as a committee member, not for the group.

The article that follows is an outstanding example of the dual role that Zionist “human rights” organizations play in promoting Israeli hegemony in historic Palestine, and U.S. empire around the globe.

By manipulating the fears of the Jewish public (exploiting the trauma of the Shoah for the purpose of empire,) groups such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the ADL perpetuate the collective trauma of the Jewish community, and the collective guilt (at the expense of the Palestinian community) of the West.  Doomsday scenarios and constant reminders of what may happen, suggestions that former allies are no longer friends, constant linking critique of Israel, Zionism and U.S. policy to the memory of the shoah mobilize fear and hysteria, not dialogue and discourse.  Case in point was the modest meeting that the Wiesenthal Center, the ADL etc.  effectively shut down, arguing that such a meeting would be biased and unbalanced.  Had they simply ATTENDED the meeting, they would have been free to inject their own bigotry into the discourse.  It was their insistence that the meeting not be held, that the union determine the scope and nature of discourse of union members and their associated organizations.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center constantly baits progressive international leaders, such as Hugo Chavez, with anti-Semitism, and distorts the statements of others.

For example, they  state:   Rosenthal also believes that antisemitism “is not much more than a century old, in reaction to the imperialist intentions of Zionists such as Herzl and Jabotinsky, and the terrorist activities of Jewish groups.”

The statement comes from a response to hate mail in which a Jewish man addresses  Rosenthal as “Jew Bitch.”  The accurate quote is:

…it was in Europe where our people met the greatest persecution; it was in Europe where we were subjected to crusades, inquisitions, pogroms, humiliation, ghettos, discrimination, rape, slave labor and genocide. It was in the United States, an extension of European hegemony, and now, the empirical force in the world, where we were subjected to immigration restrictions, discrimination, witch hunts, red scares, executions, klan violence and false imprisonment. In this country, Jews fleeing Nazi persecution were turned back to Germany, to face certain death, while British children, and even British dogs (yes, some British sent their dogs) were given safe harbor to escape the bombings imposed on them during the war. During times of great repression in Europe, many Jews found it safer to escape to the Middle East where we never suffered in the way that we suffered in Europe, where we lived, for the most part in peaceful co-existence with Christians and Moslems. Animosity against the Jews in whole or in part, coming from the Middle East is not much more than a century old, in reaction to the imperialist intentions of Zionists such as Hertzl and Jabotinsky and the terrorist activities of Jewish groups such as the Urgun and the Stern Gang, who made clear their desire, not to simply resettle as immigrants or refugees, but to conquer. Opposition to Zionist hegemony, is not genocidal, it is reasonable. (emphasis, cafe itifada)  (http://emmarosenthal.wordpress.com/category/jew-bitch/)”

So, where she clearly state that animosity to the Jews, in the Middle East is not much more than a century old, they quote her as saying that anti-semitism (anywhere) is not much more than a century old.  Why the need for such brazen dishonesty? If their arguments are just and found, why do they have to resort to distortions and lies to attack her?”

Additionally, they ask the question:  “Should Rosenthal and her ilk be treated as legitimate Jewish voices?” Is it their $36 million a year budget, their self appointed role of spokes organization for the shoah, that gives them the hubris to determine who is a legitimate Jewish voice.  They state:

Every Palestinian agitprop presentation trots out a Jewish activist who hates Israel. The message they wish to convey is clear: American Jews are divided about Israel…We must let America know that this is not true. Jewish Israel-haters are entitled to speak, but not for us. We should not let America think that they are anything but a small minority, swimming against the current of the overwhelming majority of American Jews. They must be moved to where they belong — at the margins and fringes of the community, but not within our mainstream.

And here it is!!!  The absolute and total control of the narrative in the hands of those who have wealthy donors and important  connections to the seats of power.  This is the Jewish establishment, not to be confused with  the rest of the Jewish people.  Of course Rosenthal is a legitimate Jewish voice, She’s Jewish. Jews are an astoundingly diverse population, so much so, that they defy definition. No one can claim, including the Wiesenthal Center, to speak for all Jews, or even most Jews.  On the other hand, can the Wiesenthal Center be considered, as they claim, to be a human rights organization, when they attempt to marginalize and silence those with whom they don’t agree, while all the time, demanding “balance” of  those who would criticize Israeli brutality and hegemony?  Israel claims to be a nation for all the Jews of the world.  As such, how can the voice of any Jew, not be legitimate?  These are their definitions, and their contradictions, bound in their privilege and the hegemonies and empires they defend.  While most Jews don’t have the same nuanced understanding of zionism, Rosenthal possesses, most disagree with and are silenced, intimidated and ignored by the Jewish establishment whose real purpose is to support the power elites, either regionally in Israel, or globally in defense of  U.S. empire.

-Cafe Intifada

___________________________

Jewish World Review Jan. 4, 2007 / 14 Teves, 5767

Israel’s Next Battle: Labor unions

By Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Life-saving medical equipment, standing in crates in Galveston, undelivered to waiting hospitals, because truckers refuse to handle Israeli cargo. Tons of Jaffa oranges, dumped into the waters off Long Beach, California, as a labor action against the Israeli ‘occupation’ gets out of hand.

 

These events have not occurred yet, but they are not merely part of a speculative doomsday scenario either. There are groups committed to make them happen, as a new front opens up in the war against the Jewish state. The shock troops have already taken their positions, in unions overseas and across America.

Labor unions were once among Israel’s most important allies. In the spring of 1948, President Truman sustained intense pressure to vote against the United Nations partition plan that ultimately created the State of Israel. Having originally voted for partition in November 1947, Truman reversed US policy in March of 1948, after intense lobbying by British and Arab interests, and announced to the UN that it supported a trusteeship instead. On April 14th, fifty thousand garment workers packed Yankee Stadium to rally against the shift. Clark Clifford, Truman’s advisor, produced a list of interest groups whose support was crucial to his presidential campaign. Jews ranked eighth, but labor placed second. Labor’s support for the Jewish state was a force that Truman could not and did not ignore, turning a deaf ear to the entreaties of the Arabists in the State Department.

Labor’s partnership with Israel began much earlier, with the American labor movement purchasing land in Palestine for Jewish workers, building trade schools, and lobbying the British to lift barriers against the emerging Jewish State through its clout with the British Labor Party. Jews at the helm of unions – Max Zaritsky, David Dubinsky, Sidney Hillman – agitated on behalf of the Jewish homeland succeeding in bringing non-Jewish colleagues on board, all the way to the top echelons of the AFL and CIO. In 1944, the CIO convention passed a resolution endorsing “the ultimate establishment of a Palestinian Jewish Commonwealth.” The contribution of Organized Labor continued after the establishment of the State in May 1948, with the construction of housing and cultural centers in Israel funded by the AFL and CIO. United Auto Workers founder Walter Reuther was close with Golda Meir; at one point, the UAW may have been the largest institutional purchaser of Israel Bonds.

Naturally, the face of the Unions changed over the next decades, as the social and economic makeup of the labor force changed. To be sure, there is strong and steady support for Israel in many unions today, and the Jewish Labor Committee works to maintain that support. The makeup of both the rank and file as well as the politics of the unions has shifted, however. Other minorities have taken the places of Jewish laborers. Union political orientations always had progressive and socialist leanings, which today are bolstered by alliances with left-leaning and third world groups around the globe, many of whom regularly demonize Israel and the United States. Indeed, unions played a prominent role in the single largest hate-fest against Israel at the United Nations’ World Conference Against Racism at Durban in August 2001.

The anti-Israel chants hardly stopped with Durban. Recently, the Ontario division of Canada’s largest union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, voted overwhelmingly to support an international campaign boycotting Israel. After the Danish General Workers Union (SiD) voted for a boycott of Israeli goods, Norway’s largest labor organization, the Federation of Trade Unions (LO), called for a boycott of all Israeli products, despite the fact that LO has been a long-time supporter of Israel, and has ties with Israel’s Labor Party. Calling Israel an “apartheid state” the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) demanded in July that the South African government drop diplomatic ties with Israel, and participate in a program of boycott and sanctions.

Here in the United States, union leadership has shifted its focus. Where they previously took an internationalist stance – and valued ties with union-friendly countries like Israel – they now often hunker down against the threat of globalism, and worry about basic survival on the local level. Today, individual union members are often disconnected from political posturing of their organizations about non-economic issues, half way around the world. These changes have left room for highly motivated, agendized extremists to fill the vacuum in committee positions, and assume disproportionate prominence. For many years, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party helped keep anti-Israel union extremists in check, but in recent years they have shown an unwillingness or inability to take a stand-up position.

We therefore shouldn’t be surprised or view as an isolated incident when the Human Rights Committee of the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) agreed to host the launch of a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions directed against Israel. The goal of this agenda – known as BDS, and the kingpin of the enunciated strategy of dozens of pro-Palestinian groups working in concert – is to cripple Israel’s economy while propagandizing people to treat Israel as a racist, colonialist, apartheid state. The Los Angeles program was sponsored by the Movement for a Democratic Society (where former SDS members go when they are too old to be students any longer) and Caf� Intifada. Only the public outcry from Jewish organizations in Los Angeles forced the union to move the meeting off-site from its headquarters.

As Union rolls here in the United States swell with members of minority communities, anti-Israel forces waste no time forging alliances with those groups. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, self-appointed visionary of a new socialist Latin America and bosom buddy of Iran’s Ahmadinejad, blatantly tries to drive a wedge between working-class Americans and others by offering Citgo heating oil at reduced prices in Boston and the Bronx. When the Latino Congresso — a national umbrella for Latino organizations — met in Los Angeles, Chavez’ representatives were highly visible on the program and in the crowd. We know that part of the declared strategy of anti-Israel groups is to infiltrate labor unions across America in an attempt to target Israeli goods.

All of these developments should serve as a wakeup call for supporters of Israel.

  • First, if you are a member of any union, be informed about its human rights agenda. Find out what positions they take at the bully pulpit that your dues are funding. Don’t allow well-organized extremists to speak in your union’s name. When the UTLA story broke, union members sent a tidal wave of email — overwhelmingly critical of the union hosting an anti-Israel event. Only active participation in the Union can prevent extremists from acting in stealth.
  • Take union leaders to Israel. A well-planned trip to Israel – one in which visitors meet ordinary, dues-paying working Israelis- continues to be the single most effective way to get people to understand Israel’s predicament and value her democracy.
  • Communicate. So many Americans have simply never heard Israel’s take on the events in the news. Nor do they understand the scope and depth of American Jewish commitment to Israel. We can’t expect them to respect Israel’s integrity and interests if we do not let them know how important they are to us.
  • Not in our name. Every Palestinian agitprop presentation trots out a Jewish activist who hates Israel. The message they wish to convey is clear: American Jews are divided about Israel; taking a stance against her will not lead to undesirable consequences from the Jewish community. We must let America know that this is not true. Jewish Israel-haters are entitled to speak, but not for us. We should not let America think that they are anything but a small minority, swimming against the current of the overwhelming majority of American Jews. They must be moved to where they belong — at the margins and fringes of the community, but not within our mainstream.
  • As a case in point, consider Caf� Intifada, one of the sponsors of the event hosted by the UTLA Human Rights Committee. It is headed by Emma Rosenthal who is also a member of that committee. Rosenthal endorses the infamous International Solidarity Movement – which has refused to condemn “armed struggle” against Israel, and has aided terrorists on the group. Rosenthal also believes that antisemitism “is not much more than a century old, in reaction to the imperialist intentions of Zionists such as Herzl and Jabotinsky, and the terrorist activities of Jewish groups.” Should Rosenthal and her ilk be treated as legitimate Jewish voices?


We must never concede that this piece’s opening scenario as inevitable. We need not give up on the historic alliance between Unions and the Middle East’s only democracy. Ultimately, however, which way the Unions go will depend on how well advocates for Israel connect her core values with those of Organized Labors’ card-carrying constituency.


Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein serves as its Director of Interfaith Affairs.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: