Monday, April 6, 2009

War Crimes?

The past couple of weeks have seen the most atrocious claims of war crimes being made on the basis of soldiers' "testimony". Vast quantities of ink has been wasted and many miles of newsprint have carried these false allegations. The IDF did and investigation and found no crimes. Of course, some will say, the IDF would not uphold these allegations. In reality, the IDF has a robust investigation unit that actually does bona fide inquiries. However, if that is not accepted, look at what the person who reported these alleged "crimes" has to say:

"May our camp be pure." This is the watchword borne by my soldiers in the IDF, not only because this is how they've been educated by their commanders and their officers, but because this is the essence of their belief and their national heritage, a belief and heritage shared by and uniting us all: secular and religious, right and left, in the IDF and outside it. It is a source of pride and of confidence in our way, even in times of venomous attacks from every quarter - such as transforming a sensitive, personal discussion among combat soldiers back from the battlefield to mendacious claims of policies that involve so-called war crimes.
This is Danny Zamir speaking. His whole op ed can be read here. Danny Zamir is a scoialist Zionist and a major in the IDF. He was briefly imprisoned in the 1990s for refusing to guard settlers at Joseph's tomb. He is a man of principles - socialist principles and Zionist principles. His words should carry some weight.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A moment of reflection

The following poem is worth reflecting on.

I wrote in nineteen-forty that at need
I'd fight to keep the Nazis out of Britain;
And Christ! How shocked the pinks were! Two years later
I hadn't lived it down; one had the effrontery
To write three pages calling me a 'traitor,'
So black a crime it is to love one's country...
Your game is easy, and its rules are plain:
Pretend the war began in 'thirty-nine,
Don't mention China, Ethiopia, Spain,
Don't mention Poles except to say they're swine;
Cry havoc when we bomb a German city,
When Czechs get killed don't worry in the least,
Give India a perfunctory squirt of pity
But don't inquire what happens further East;
Don't mention Jews - in short, pretend the war is
Simply a racket 'got up' by the Tories.

George Orwell, 1943
With little effort at rewriting,

So black a crime it is to love one's country...
Your game is easy, and its rules are plain:
Pretend the war began in '[forty-eight],
Don't mention...[fill in the blank]
Cry havoc when we bomb a [Gazan] city
When [Jews] get killed don't worry in the least

Thursday, March 19, 2009

blogging the Hamas charter (2)

Continuing the project of blogging the Hamas charter, let's take a look at the first few articles in its charter.

Article 1 states that Hamas is an Islamic movement.

Article 2 state
s that "The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine."

Just so we're clear - the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 and has been centred on antisemitic hatred from the beginning. In cooperation with Yasser Arafat's close cousin, the notorious Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini (Hitler's chief Arab propagandist), the Brotherhood organized mass demonstrations in Egypt with slogans "Down with the Jews." As Matthias Kuentzel notes:
Their Jew-hatred was also inspired by Nazi influences: Leaflets called for a boycott of Jewish goods and Jewish shops, and the Brotherhood’s newspaper, al-Nadhir, carried a regular column on “The Danger of the Jews of Egypt,” which published the names and addresses of Jewish businessmen and allegedly Jewish newspaper publishers all over the world, attributing every evil, from communism to brothels, to the “Jewish danger.”
Documents seized from German sources during and after the second world war show that the Brotherhood received subsidies from the Third Reich for its activities. This is the organization that is still calling for Jewish boycotts, now dressed up in anti-Zionist and "human rights" language. Frankly, it is the same boycott with the same purpose. Leftist and trade union organizations need to understand the real origin of the boycott calls in order not to be misled and misused.

Articles 3, 4 and 5 are more reaffirmations of the Islamic basis of the movement.

We'll take a look at Article 6 next time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

American teachers' union rejects academic boycott

In a refreshing sign of the times, the American Federation of Teachers (which represents teaching professionals from elementary school to university and everything in between) rejected calls for an academic boycott:

"We believe academic boycotts were a bad idea in 2002 and are a bad idea now," AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. "Academic boycotts are inconsistent with the democratic values of academic freedom and free expression."
Thank you, Randi.

Read the full story here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

blogging the Hamas charter

I think that foundational documents are vitally important in revealing the character of an organization. I do not think that such documents are entered into lightly. In fact, I am willing to treat the Hamas charter with the same seriousness as other foundational documents of other states or peoples - such as declarations of independence, constitutions, etc. It is important in looking at this document to understand that it was written in August 1988.

This blog entry is one a series exploring the Hamas charter with a view to exploring the worldview of the movement which currently controls Gaza and was responsible for the recent conflict. I think that an examination of its charter will say all that needs to be said.

Today, we look at the preamble. Included in the preamble are these two paragraphs:

When the idea was ripe, the seed grew and the plant struck root in the soil of reality, away from passing emotions, and hateful haste. The Islamic Resistance Movement emerged to carry out its role through striving for the sake of its Creator, its arms intertwined with those of all the fighters for the liberation of Palestine. The spirits of its fighters meet with the spirits of all the fighters who have sacrificed their lives on the soil of Palestine, ever since it was conquered by the companions of the Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, and until this day.

This Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), clarifies its picture, reveals its identity, outlines its stand, explains its aims, speaks about its hopes, and calls for its support, adoption and joining its ranks. Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. It is a step that inevitably should be followed by other steps. The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished and Allah's victory is realised.

You will note that the preamble is clear - it is intended to "clarify" what the organization stands for in order to attract adherents.

You will also note what Hamas is all about: "Our struggle with the Jews." Let there be no doubt that Hamas sees no distinctions between Israelis and Jews. Their stated objective is to continue until "the enemy is vanquished."

How could Hamas have such a view of the world? If we look elsewhere in the preamble we find this view of Muslims and the Jews and Israel:

"Ye [Muslims] are the best nation that hath been raised up unto mankind: ye command that which is just, and ye forbid that which is unjust, and ye believe in Allah. And if they who have received the scriptures [Jews] had believed, it had surely been the better for them: there are believers among them, but the greater part of them are transgressors. They shall not hurt you, unless with a slight hurt; and if they fight against you, they shall turn their backs to you, and they shall not be helped. They [Jews] are smitten with vileness wheresoever they are found; unless they obtain security by entering into a treaty with Allah, and a treaty with men; and they draw on themselves indignation from Allah, and they are afflicted with poverty. This they suffer, because they disbelieved the signs of Allah, and slew the prophets unjustly; this, because they were rebellious, and transgressed." (Al-Imran - verses 109-111).

Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).

So, the death of innocent Israelis and Jews is OK because Jews "are smitten with vileness..were rebellious and transgressed." And, in case anyone thought that Hamas was simply a political movement attempting to improve the conditions for the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank, it is clear that Hamas' goal is the "obliteration" of Israel.

I will continue to work through the rest of this toxic charter for one reason and one reason only. I do not believe that peace can possibly begin to sprout in an environment as poisonous as the one created by an organization governed by such a charter. Hamas now controls a quasi-state with full command of the educational, governmental and military apparatus of this statelet. This does not bode well for peace.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The need to fight back

Once again, Eric Lee hits the nail right on the head. In his recent piece in Democratiya, he identifies one of the key problems in the current struggle within the labour movement - a lack of coordination among pro-Israel groups.

But it should not be the task solely for the Jewish community to combat rising anti-Semitism.

Trade unionists themselves, Jews and non-Jews, should be spearheading a globally-coordinated effort to fight back. They should be able to mount an aggressive campaign to make the case that Israel has the right and duty to defend itself, and that its main enemy (Hamas) is a fascist terrorist organisation and a natural enemy of the unions and the Left.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Odd alliances and worrying associations

The secretary of the Brazilian Labour Party, Valter Pomar, recently opposed an agreement between the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio De Janeiro and Tel Aviv University on the following grounds:
Pomar had contended that “this is not a time for such agreements”, and that
“Israel deserves the same treatment as South-African Apartheid regime”.
Pomar also claimed that the Israeli army used ‘Nazi practices’, so he was
now promoting boycott of Israel and its isolation.

Once again we see the willful attempt to deligitimize the Jewish state by association with the twin political evils of Nazism and apartheid. It is so sad to see the left and labour falling into this discourse. Martin Regg Cohn in today's Toronto Star hits the point on its head:

But what's the point of calling this apartheid – unless the motive is to
muddy the waters by reviving a bygone brand: the anti-apartheid struggle and the
glory days of boycotts that united idealists against South Africa's
state-sanctioned racism and its policy of shunting blacks into bantustans.

Worse, the same party signed a cooperation agreement with the Syrian Baath Party...? That's right, the same party that bombed the city of Hama in order to send a powerful message to the Muslim Brotherhood (of which Hamas is the Gaza branch). Apparently between 10,000 and 25,000 died in this attack in February 1982. These are troubling alliances.

Read the SWC report here:

Read the Star column here: