Archive for August 29th, 2011

Congressional tourists avoid apartheid in Israel 

FRIDAY, AUG 26, 2011 08:30 ET

Congressional tourists avoid apartheid in Israel

As a Palestinian member of the Knesset, I know American lawmakers aren’t being shown the reality of life here



Beskrivning: Flocking to Israel, congressional tourists avoid apartheid

Reuters/Darren Whiteside

A Palestinian woman waits behind a wall after she was refused entry to cross into Jerusalem from Israel’s Qalandiya checkpoint

Americans, do you know where your member of Congress is? 

He or she may well be visiting Israel right now. In fact, 81 members of the House of Representatives — nearly 20 percent of the whole body — are expected here this month, according to new reports. If challenged, the representatives (numbering 55 Republicans and 26 Democrats) are likely to say a few words about looking for business opportunities good for their constituents or the need to provide for the security of Israel, which has cost American taxpayers billions of dollars. That’s their business and yours. 

As a member of the Israeli Knesset, I am concerned that they’re on a propaganda tour run by an affiliate arm of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which bills itself as “America’s leading pro-Israel lobby,” yet has helped stymie Palestinian freedom aspirations for decades. Yes, the members will have a token meeting or two with officials of the Palestinian Authority, but they certainly are not going to learn of the discrimination and occupation that the state of Israel imposes on the Palestinian people in its midst.

The real story, tweeted by one wit, is whether any member of Congress would have accepted a trip paid for 20 years ago by an Anglo-Boer lobby-affiliated organization seeking to put a positive shine on apartheid South Africa. The Rev. Jesse Jackson, a leader in the anti-apartheid movement, certainly would not have taken a propaganda junket to legitimize whites-only neighborhoods. 

Yet his son, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., has visited here, where ethnic-religious discrimination is written into law. I dare say, Jackson heard very little about the more than 35 laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel. I doubt Israeli officials volunteered information about the new legislation passed by the Knesset that subjects anyone who calls for a boycott of companies colonizing the West Bank and East Jerusalem to financial damages. 

As a member of Israel’s large Palestinian national minority, I find Jackson’s participation, along with five other members of the Black Caucus especially disappointing. As for delegation leaders Rep. Eric Cantor and Rep. Steny Hoyer, their shilling for Israel is business as usual. They’ve never expressed any alarm regarding Jewish settlers subjugating Palestinians, and I don’t expect them to start now. 

But I do expect Jackson and the other members of the caucus (other than Rep. Allen West, advocate of torturing Arabs) to reject colonization and racial discrimination. Their complacency in the face of modern-day colonization and their adoption of hard-line AIPAC positions stand in stark contrast to the beliefs of many Americans I have met who believe wholeheartedly that it is wrong for Israel to discriminate against Palestinians. 

The visitors will be meeting with opposition parties in the Jewish state, but none of them — not a single one — is scheduled to meet with Palestinian members of the Knesset even though our existence is often highlighted when Israel’s defenders seek to refute charges that Israel is an apartheid state. Israel does allow its Palestinian citizens to vote — bully for them (this is the 21st century) — but its commitment to discriminate against Palestinians is explicit and growing. 

The Knesset recently passed legislation allowing communities in the Galilee and Negev to discriminate against would-be residents on cultural grounds, a euphemism that will permit anti-Palestinian discriminatory housing to proceed. Legislation is currently being considered that would strike Arabic as an official language of the state. Many Knesset members and a disturbing percentage of Israel’s Jewish population regard us as little more than a fifth column in their midst.  

As for Israel’s policies in the occupied Palestinian territories, these are certainly reminiscent of apartheid. There is a segregationist legal system operating there — one for Jewish settlers and a harsh, discriminatory one for colonized Palestinians. There are roads in the West Bank where local Palestinians are prohibited while Jewish settlers can travel unimpeded. That’s apartheid, in my book. But this reality is ignored by the visiting members of Congress who seem incapable of recognizing Israel’s discriminatory practices, much less asking hard questions about Israel’s actions. 

And, at this point, that’s all I ask: If congressional representatives are going to visit my country they should strive to get a full view and not simply disregard the rampant discrimination Israel practices against its Palestinian minority and against the Palestinians of the occupied territories. They should visit Jerusalem on those days when Palestinian men under 50 are prohibited from praying at the al-Aqsa mosque. I could take them personally to my hometown and the neighboring Jewish community where they will see the discriminatory infrastructure gap that saddles Palestinian children with disadvantages that nearby Jewish children never face. 

What we need from the members of Congress, and especially the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, are public statements from our American visitors expressing grave reservations about Israel’s oppressive treatment of Palestinians in the territories and Israel. 

I’ve been advised such words would be political suicide. If true, if speaking for equality and non-discrimination is now political suicide, then America’s problems are even bigger than the recent debt debacle fomented by many of the Republican representatives now visiting Israel.  

I hope the members of Congress will reconsider and reject the outrageous view that the United States should veto Palestinian statehood and freedom at the United Nations next month. The United States is totally out of sync with the rest of the world on this matter. The U.S. should act as an enlightened leader rather than appearing like a colonizing power in repeatedly backing Israel’s determination to postpone Palestinian freedom. That’s the message our visitors from Washington need to take home from their summer vacation.

Ahmad Tibi is deputy speaker of the Israeli Parliament.


AIPAC Sends Congress to Israel:

One can see the Israeli (apartheid-like) check-points in the recently released ‘Miral’ film:

Official charges that Israel is taking organs from Palestinian bodies again

Official charges that Israel is taking organs from Palestinian bodies again

Sweden denies Israel request to condemn IDF organ harvest article

Syria’s WMDs: The Scaremongering Begins Anew (for another war for Israel)

Syria’s WMDs: The Scaremongering Begins Anew

WMD in Syria?! ‘Nuke plant’ a ‘fig leaf for Iraq-style intervention’

Posted By Jason Ditz On August 28, 2011 @ 7:56 pm In News | No Comments

What do a 1995 attack on a Japanese subway system, the crumbling security at Libyan military bases and al-Qaeda’s putative ambitions to create a “dirty bomb” have in common? They all sound scary, and therefore all fit (albeit with no small handwaving) into the latest narrative of the “threat” of Syria.

With the ink barely dried on the latest calls for NATO intervention in Syria, the Washington Post has emerged with an article brimming with unrelated factoids, most of which have not even a cursory relation to Syria, arguing that the nation’s WMD arsenal is something to be greatly feared.

The timing is brazen, being paired with another Washington Post article on rebel calls for NATO to attack the nation. It also comes just days after Dick Cheney, busily parlaying his book and the media’s notoriously short term memory into a restoration from hawkish caricature to “gravitas” wielding elder statesman, lamented his inability to start a war in Syria.

The fast and loose effort to cram anything and everything into the article is equally telling, as vague mentions of “dirty bombs” using fuel rods that Syria does not possess in particularly useful numbers combine with theories about nerve gas somehow polluting the world’s drinking water and food playing equal roles in a familiar game: frightening the public about an illusory enemy on the eve of dropping a bomb about the administration’s intentions to drop literal bombs on them.

That such a fanciful tale worked in the past was shameful enough. That it is being tried again while the occupation of the last “WMD threat” is still going on is nothing short of shocking.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Eileen Flemming wrote:

My friend in Syria just informed me that the Philippine government has called for all their nationals to leave the country. He spoke to the British council and was told the British government is gearing up to evacuate all Brits to Turkey at a days notice and the money has been sent and is deposited. He added, “With September right around the corner I have no doubt that something very bad is brewing and will probably be here before the U.N. vote for Palestinian statehood…”

MUCH MORE on this coming asap on my website:

‎12 Signs That We Are Getting Dangerously Close To War With Syria

Call for Larry Toenjes who is currently sailing to USS Liberty attack site (what Eileen Fleming conveyed about Syria above was mentioned as well):

Keep in mind that the Israel first neocon warmongers would love to continue the rest of their ‘Clean Break’ agenda ( into Syria to involve Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon to take down any threats to their beloved Israel no matter how many Americans have to die/get horribly maimed for such like they already have in Iraq which was in accordance with their ‘Clean Break’ agenda as well!:

US neo-cons seek war on Syria, Iran

Neoconned Bachmann Criticizes Obama’s Action on Syria (scroll to links at bottom of following URL):

If there is a military intervention is Syria, then we are in for an extended war, which goes from the Mediterranean right to the Chinese border

Unfolding the Syrian Paradox:

Iran warns NATO against entering Syria “quagmire”: