Truth to Power

Israel Moves One Step Further Away From Democracy

In Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Policy, Israel, Mideast Peace, Politics on October 10, 2010 at 4:36 pm

And the United States says nothing, of course:

Cabinet ministers on Sunday approved by a majority vote a controversial proposal which would require every non-Jew wishing to become a citizen of Israel to pledge loyalty to “the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Twenty-two ministers voted in favor of the proposal, including most of Likud, Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu. Eight ministers were opposed, five of them from the Labor Party and three – Benny Begin, Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan – from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.

[snip]

Netanyahu’s Labor coalition partners believe that his support for the loyalty oath is a sop to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, aimed at winning his Yisrael Beiteinu party’s support for an extension on a settlement construction freeze that expired late last month. The U.S. and EU have urged Israel to extend the construction freeze, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has warned that he will quit the current round of peace talks if the moratorium on new building in the West Bank is allowed to expire.

What Happens When Groups Use Nonviolence, Like We’ve Been Begging Them to Do For Years?

In Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Mainstream Media, Mideast Peace, Politics on July 24, 2010 at 6:53 am

Apparently the U.S. and Israel treat nonviolent protesters as being as much of a threat as terrorists:

Bil’in Protest organizer Abdallah Abu Rahmah was sentenced to two months of imprisonment and to a six month suspended sentence, after a five year long trial on charges clearly related to freedom of speech.

Abu Rahmah was convicted of two counts of “activity against the public order”, simply for participating in demonstrations, in one count despite the fact that “No evidence of violence towards the security forces was provided”. Abu Rahmah was also convicted of “obstructing a soldier in the line of duty”, for shouting at a police officer and refusing to leave the scene of a demonstration, of “breaking curfew”, for being in the street in front of his house when the army declared curfew on Bil’in to suppress a demonstration, and of “incitement”, which under military law is defined as “The attempt, verbal or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order”. Abu Rahmah was convicted of inciting others to “[…] continue advancing [to their lands during a demonstration in Bil'in], claiming that the land belongs to them.

For years the U.S. and even Israel have been saying that groups (or individuals) who use violent means to get their point across, will not have a place at any negotiating table. Increasingly we are a seeing not only peaceful groups use economic boycotts and peaceful civil disobedience, but also traditionally violent groups like Hamas begin to realize the political power of civil disobedience and other forms of protest. And no, unfortunately Hamas has not renounced violence but more and more it has become clear that they recognize the power of being able to attract public attention through means other than violence. This presents a big problem for the U.S. and Israel, both of whom once called on people to use these very means we are now condemning.

I believe that the U.S. never really expected certain groups/organizations people to use civil disobedience so we never thought we would have to face a situation like the flotilla incident or the growing number of boycotts, peaceful protests in Gaza and other parts of the Occupied Territories. And what has the US response been? Have we praised groups for their nonviolent means of getting their message out? No, we have sat quietly by and Israel has violently repressed free speech, the right to assemble and nonviolent protests. We have sat quietly by as Israel murders protesters, enacts draconian laws which violate free speech and we have joined in the demonization of these protesters by changing our rhetoric- now we say things which infer that “those who attempt to deligitimize Israel…” are as dangerous to Israel’s security as those who plant bombs or use missiles to get their point across.

This is shameful on our part and shows just how the U.S. never really supported nonviolence to begin with. The same thing happened with Northern Ireland when Sein Fein began to realize the power of civil disobedience. Although because Northern Ireland is not Israel, we eventually accepted them and allowed them to negotiate a peace treaty.

Israel refers to the boycott movement as “economic terrorism” and justified killing nine people flotilla because they sought to “delegitimize” the Jewish State. That’s the big story which the media is ignoring- what happens when groups use nonviolence in the Mideast, like we’ve been begging them to do for years?

Are Certain Media Viewpoints Privileged Over Others?

In Mainstream Media, Neocons, News, Politics on July 8, 2010 at 7:47 pm

There seems to be a spate of media people lately who are getting fired for voicing opinions which the mainstream finds offensive. Is this a slippery slope and is there a problem with deciding which views or biases are acceptable and which are not?

The latest firing:

A senior Middle East editor at the US cable news channel CNN has been fired after she wrote on Twitter that she “respected” a late Lebanese Shia Muslim leader with links to Hezbollah.

Octavia Nasr lost her job after the 140-character tweet sparked fierce online debate and the channel’s management decided that her credibility had been compromised.

Nasr posted the tweet as news of the death of Lebanon’s Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah broke over the weekend. She called him “one of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot”.

Nasr has apologised for the remark, describing it as a “error of judgement” to praise Fadlallah without any context, although she said she had been referring to his “pioneering” stance on women’s rights.

Fadlallah was branded a terrorist by some Western governments, but issued religious edicts banning so-called honour killings of women and enshrining the right of women to defend themselves from domestic abuse.

In a blog posting after the incident, Nasr wrote that Fadlallah was “revered across borders yet designated a terrorist. Not the kind of life to be commenting about in a brief tweet. It’s something I deeply regret”.

CNN management decided that Nasr, who had worked at the company for 20 years in mainly off-screen roles, should leave her job. “We have decided that she will be leaving the company,” said a company memo circulated on Wednesday.

Professor Juan Cole of Informed Comment thinks there is a double standard and a wee bit of Islamaphobia involved. Philip Weiss also weighs in. Both believe the Islamaphobic neocons are to blame (read: the Lobby).

There does seem to be a double standard. How long would it take us to find a media figure who has voiced unwavering support for an Israeli figure or policy which the mainstream might find extreme or very controversial? What is notable about this is that Nasr was a very behind the scenes figure at CNN- very important of course, but not exactly the face of CNN. That a bunch of people waged a social networking war against her so successfully is pretty amazing.

And then there is this- The Washington Post’s David Ignatius expressing some respect for the controversial Fadlallah in 2002.

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