The initial 2 articles deal with boycotting Israel.
In item 1 Jello Biafra, after cancelling his band’s performance in Israel, shares with us his deliberations about the cultural boycott, and also about the knowledge that he has gained by coming to see for himself. In the end says that he will not perform in Israel except under certain conditions that do not violate the call for boycott—a long thought-provoking essay worth reading.
In item 2 MJ Rosenberg states “Don’t Boycott Israel.” The problem with Rosenberg and Finkelstein and others who believe that boycotting Israel is wrong because it implies a desire to do away with Israel is that they presume that Israel is good for the Jews. It is not. It is worse for Palestinians—much worse– but neither is it good for Israeli Jews. Nor has it been good for Jews as a whole. It has been a most divisive element. Not that Jews have agreed about things as a unit, any more than any other group has. But the debates over Israel have turned nasty, with some Jews calling other Jews anti-Semites and worse. Who needs that?
But beyond that, Israel has been terrible for Israeli Jews. No place in the world since WWII (with the exception of war zones as Syria and Afghanistan, which are safe for no one) has been less safe for Jews than Israel. Zionism foresaw Israel as a safe haven for Jews. That it is not. Nowhere else in the world have so many Jews been killed since the establishment of the state. Nowhere else have so many Jews been injured. Nowhere else have so many Jews suffered from post-traumatic distress. Nowhere else in the world is every 18-year old male and female obligated to enlist in the military (with the exception of ultra-Orthodox who study in Yeshivot and Palestinians with Israeli citizenship). Nor do Jews in other countries face wars every few years (Israel has seen 12 wars/military campaigns in its 64 years).
These data are only part of the story. Israel wishes to be considered a western democracy. But no other Western power is grounded on a single ethnicity, religion, race. No country that is grounded on such can be a democracy. Its criterion will always be demography. From this standpoint there is no difference between in principle between a pure Aryan state and a pure Jewish state. The means to keep the demographic principle might differ from one demographic entity to another, but the tribal ideal holds.
I have said all these things before. I repeat them, because of arguments as Rosenberg’s and Finkelstein’s. The desire to alter Israel from being a militaristic entity enslaved by its demographic fears and to have instead of a ‘pure Jewish militaristic and racist society’ a single country in all of mandate Palestine with a separation of religion and state, and equal rights for all its citizens be they green with purple dots or any religion, ethnicity, and color—where my Palestinian friends can come to visit me as readily as I can visit them, and where they can come with us to the sea without permits and without practicing civil disobedience. And where Palestinian families won’t be separated because of crazy laws and lack of freedom of movement, and where wars will be a thing of the past, not the present and never of the future. Is this such a terrible dream?
To accomplish this dream means finding ways to pressure Israel’s governments to bring about change. I know of no less violent means than bds, except, of course, an end to Jewish immigration to Israel, which, if there is another war, might happen. But till then, bds though not a fast means is the most sure means to bring about change that I dream of.
I apologize for taking so much of your time. But this subject is important, and those who censure us for urging bds are barking up the wrong tree. They should be doing everything in their power to bring about change. It won’t come of itself.
Item 3 is a visit by US congresswomen to Israel and the West Bank under the auspices of Jstreet. I am not a supporter of Jstreet, because I am not a Zionist, having come to the conclusion that Israel is not good for Jews (something others intelligent people knew well before Israel came into being), but I applaud Jstreet for taking these congresswomen on a tour far different from the ones that AIPAC does, in which participants see only the beautiful and none of the ugly.
Item 4 brings us back to reality: Israel is planning on 475 kilometers of rail tracks in the West Bank. Had any doubts about Israel’s intentions as concerns 2 states? Israel’s elected officials are hardly doing this out of the goodness of their hearts for the Palestinian state to be born in some never-never land.
Item 5 is a 1-minute video that shows how CNN quashes what it does not want aired.
1 Al Jazeera Monday, February 27, 2012
Jello Biafra was the frontman of punk rock band The Dead Kennedys. He currently plays with the band Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine.
Caught in the crossfire: Should musicians boycott Israel?
The former Dead Kennedys frontman goes to Israel and the West Bank, and shares his thoughts on the BDS movement.
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2012 12:15
Israel’s wall is intended to permanently enclose Palestinians [GALLO/GETTY]
Last summer, punk rock icon Jello Biafra and his band decided to cancel a show they had planned on playing at the Barby Club in Tel Aviv. At the time, Biafra wrote that ‘the toll and stress on the band members and myself has been huge, both logistically and as a matter of conscience’. In August, Biafra decided to travel to Israel and Palestine himself to explore his thoughts on the cultural boycott of Israel.
San Francisco, CA – So now I have been to Israel. I have also been to Palestine. I got a taste of the place, but not in the way I’d originally hoped.
In many ways I really wish my band, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, had played in Tel Aviv. But I also share most of the boycott’s supporters’ feelings about Israel’s government, the occupation and ongoing human rights violations.
I hope people take the time to understand how deeply this has torn at the fabric of our band. The promoter in Tel Aviv lost thousands, and I am eating thousands more in lost and re-booked airfares that I have no idea how I am going to pay, or how I will pay my bills for the rest of the year. Real human beings got hurt here.
This whole controversy has been one of the most intense situations of my life – and I thrive on intense situations. But the rest of the band was not used to this. How fair was it to drag them there in the first place? This is not like fighting Tipper Gore and the Los Angeles Police Department, greedy ex-Dead Kennedys members or more-radical-than-thou thugs who think it’s OK to put someone in the hospital for being a “sellout”. I gradually felt like I had gotten in over my head sticking my nose into one of the longest and nastiest conflicts on earth.
So with the rollercoaster still in my stomach and my head, I flew solo to Israel instead. The mission: to check things out myself and hopefully at least get closer to some kind of conclusion on whether artists boycotting Israel, especially me, was really the best way to help the Palestinian people.
The first people who wrote asking us to boycott went out of their way to be diplomatic and communicate how they felt. Then the gloves came off, and so did some of the masks. Our Facebook page went from eye-opening and educational to a childish, bickering orgy between a handful of people. Racial slurs began to appear on this and other boycott sites. Many writings seemed to have no idea who I was or what punk is. One called me a “fanatic Zionist with a clear touch of cultural racism”.
I also got an invitation from a self-proclaimed fan to “come meet the Israeli right” and see the settlements through their eyes, complete with a wine-tasting party.
Many people I met on my trip to Israel feel that the boycott has damaged the Israeli opposition more than it has anyone else and “helped silence the peace camp in Israel”. A veteran journalist I met later told me, “the best way to contribute to peace is to try and work to understand both sides” and that he felt that boycotts strengthen extremists by keeping people apart.
Others felt the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement “is not all bad”, and can raise awareness across the pond of what the US is letting Israel’s government get away with. One wrote to me later, saying that: “I don’t disagree with BDS myself … and I definitely feel that BDS is a legitimate way to do so [raise awareness]. But if the price paid for this is worldwide ignorance, then I think I believe the price is too high. If musicians were to boycott Israel or Palestine, they would miss out on the opportunity to educate themselves – and then hopefully preach that opinion when and where they see fit.”
Facing the music
My second day in Israel began with a long, tasty meal above the ocean in Jaffa with two guys (both named Guy), the promoters of the show that my band had originally planned on playing. I felt I owed it to them to sit down and talk, and it is a good thing we did. They said they were more disappointed than angry – and they were sure disappointed. They were also grateful that I at least came to Israel to see things with my own eyes, and was willing to talk to them.
They both described themselves as “left”, a more respectable and widely used term in Israel than in post-Crass Europe or the United States. They felt that concerts and politics should be separate. For me, it’s a little more complicated. “Our fight is not for land or religion, it is for peace,” said Guy from the Barby Club, claiming that some pro-boycott Israelis he knew bought tickets to our show anyway. The Guy from Useless ID, the band that was supposed to open for us, told me: “My band has done benefits for families in Gaza and the West Bank. What have the boycotters on your Facebook page done besides write in?”
He went on to say that we were the only cancellation all year; that I was, in effect, boycotting my own fans. If I cancel Israel, I should also cancel Germany because of the Holocaust and neo-Nazis, Holland because their right-wing government supports Netanyahu, and the UK for occupying Northern Ireland and Scotland. If I want to talk about war crimes, I should be looking at my own country. In other words, why Israel?
The show at the Barby Club went ahead anyway, with the other bands on the bill playing for free. The two Guys encouraged me to come. With so many people so upset, I wondered if that was the worst thing I could do. I finally decided to go. I went up and talked to some of the fans outside. They were the most emotional yet about how heartbroken they were that we didn’t play. Others said they were glad.
“One of the few things both Israelis and Palestinians seem to agree on is that one of the main obstacles to peace these days is the settlers.”
I asked them how they felt the boycott helped, and their main answer was that it was to show solidarity with the Palestinian people. They felt the boycott was already having a major impact and the government was already afraid.
Several felt guilty and angry that they were living in such privilege while people suffered so badly right next door. As I listened, I tried, but could not come up with any quick advice to offer in the way of hope, or step-by-step ideas to lift their own situation and build a future.
Beast in the belly of the beast
One of the few things both Israelis and Palestinians seem to agree on is that one of the main obstacles to peace these days is the settlers.
Today the illegal settlements are completely out of control, with 300,000 settlers planted across the Green Line in the West Bank and another 200,000 beyond the Green Line in East Jerusalem. Borders are creatively moved and enforced by the infamous wall, started by the ideas of Yitzhak Rabin and greatly expanded by Ariel Sharon. It’s a black eye on the face of Israel’s reputation today, considered so even among many of Israel’s citizens and supporters.
Some people told me that if the wall had been built along the Green Line, it might have actually worked. But Sharon then used it as a land grab, creatively and maniacally routing it through the middle of Palestinian towns, Palestinian farmland and across Palestinian roads, in a deliberate attempt to make the West Bank such a splattered Swiss-cheese hodgepodge of impassable walls and checkpoints that a free Palestinian state could never get off the ground.
Any fantasy that Palestinians could one day be broken down to stay on “their side” of the wall and live happily ever after is ridiculous. It flies in the face of all human instinct and human rights. It is never going to happen. Like the Berlin Wall, it is destined to fall sooner rather than later.
However, some activists emphatically denied to me that Israel was an apartheid country. “It is not apartheid. It’s a military occupation. There’s a difference.” OK, how about this: The occupying army is practicing apartheid in the occupied territories, and enforces and maintains it to the smallest, most obsessive detail. Like South Africa, there is a pass system called Tasrich, and a census law requiring people’s ethnicity on their ID books. Jewish Israelis have a blue book, Palestinian books are orange and state whether they are Muslim or Christian, and non-Jewish immigrant workers’ books are green.
A boycott of products made in settlements has begun inside Israel. There is also a growing boycott by artists refusing to cross the Green Line and perform for the settlers. A fancy venue has opened in one of the largest settlements in Ariel. Many artists refuse to perform there. With the law passed last fall by Israel’s parliament – which allows citizens to file lawsuits against people or groups who call for a boycott of Israel – will these artists be sued by settlers for declining a gig?
So now what?
It would have been so easy for me and the Guantanamo School of Medicine to quietly decline the Israel/Tel Aviv gig offer, and no one would have been the wiser. Naïve or not, we thought that in our own small way, if we showed up we might be able to do some good. Opinions swung back and forth every day as hell got hotter, even among individual band members.
“Bringing down this regime by boycott may be a much higher mountain to climb than the boycott of South Africa.”
I do not regret speaking out. It has been quite a learning experience along the way. I can’t very well shut up now. It’s as if I’ve been covered with someone else’s chewing gum, and I’ll never be able to scrape it all off. As my friend said, “it gets in your blood” – and it has definitely gotten in mine.
I loved Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem was hardly the “dead city” at night that some Tel Aviv hipsters claim it is. I want to go back. I want to play. But I, too, am as sickened as the next person that not all the cool people I met in the West Bank can cross into Israel and enjoy Tel Aviv – or even worship in Jerusalem. That unnecessary checkpoints prevent them from reaching their farms, schools or even hospitals. Forty-four years of brutal occupation has done no more to solve the problem than the United States has accomplished in its War on Drugs. You can’t just keep almost four million people in prison.
Yet bringing down this regime by boycott may be a much higher mountain to climb than the boycott of South Africa. The 1985 musician boycott of Sun City (a posh, government-owned golf resort and casino in South Africa) was just a promotional tool for the financial boycott, where banks, universities and corporations caved into pressure to pull their investments out of South Africa and broke the back of the white apartheid regime.
With South Africa, there was not heavy-duty religion involved. There were not millions in the US and worldwide so emotionally attached to the other side for that reason. There was not a powerful Americans for Apartheid lobby in Washington DC or Students for a White South Africa on campus. Investors who pulled their money out did not risk an even bigger backlash from pro-Apartheid stockholders and customers.
There was not so much money pouring in from boycott-proof super-rich zealots such as Netanyahu and settler patron Sheldon Adelson, a casino tycoon – whose estimated $28bn makes him reportedly the third-richest American and the richest Jew in the world.
I am not saying the same tactics that brought down apartheid South Africa can’t be done. I am just saying that there are different and heavier obstacles this time and people need to be ready for them.
South Africa never had anything like the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) lobby, which is now considered more of a lobby for Likud than for the Israeli people. Nevertheless, they have a stranglehold over almost every member of Congress of both parties, using Joe McCarthy-type tactics to smear anyone they don’t like as anti-Jewish – and get them voted out of office.
Then there is the massive funding of settlers, extremists and more by the US Christian right. I am told Mike Huckabee is a regular fixture at the settlements. Sarah Palin – whose end-of-the-world doomsday visions rival those of Ahmadinejad – is on board too, telling Barbara Walters that Israel needs to speed up settlement construction because, “more and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead”.
This is not because they love Israel or the Jewish people. This is because, according to certain strains of evangelical Christianity, the Messiah will return only when the Jewish people return to the Holy Land.
This is why the US Christian right is much more interested in aiding Jewish settlers who don’t need the money than they are in aiding Palestinian Christians on the other side of the Wall who do. I asked people in Israel about this and they told me the settlers don’t care about their motives, they just want the money and think they’re using the Christians.
What the Palestinian Solidarity Movement does have on its side is the horror of the occupation itself for all to see. If only more people could see it. This is where I say, yet again, Don’t hate the media, Become the media. In this case, what this means is that people in Palestine and Israel – and people who have been there – need to reach out, one-on-one, and show everyone else – especially those in the US – what is going on and what they have experienced.
Believe me, most Americans are so out of it, they have no idea any of this is happening.
What can one person do, small things, big things? Step-by-step things that an overwhelmed person just trying to pay their rent can actually work in to their daily rat race and do?
With eyes on the prize of something this important, there needs to be room for everybody. We who care (and I do) need all the people we can get from BDS to Peace Now to the International Solidarity Movement to the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolition, Anarchists Against The Wall and beyond.
There is a new Jewish lobby in Washington called J Street, formed to challenge the toxic effects of AIPAC. They may be moderate for my tastes, but anyone who will get in the ring and challenge AIPAC deserves some support.
I heard talk in Israel of a movement started by Rabbi Menachem Froman saying that the settlements in the West Bank should stay, but Jews living in Judea and Samaria [the Biblical term for the West Bank] should be willing to live there under a Palestinian state.
I personally support a two-state solution in hopes that it can lead to a one-state solution in our lifetime. In the short run we may get a three-state solution if Hamas in Gaza splits with its rival factions in the West Bank, like when East Pakistan broke off and became Bangladesh.
“I will not perform in Israel unless it is a pro-human rights, anti-occupation event that does not violate the spirit of the boycott.”
Let’s not forget that the Palestinians and Arabs have rolled their demands way back from the “destroy the Jewish State” rhetoric of earlier decades. Yasir Arafat agreed to a Palestinian state defined by the pre-1967 borders clear back in 1988. It is now ten years since all 22 nations of the Arab League offered peace and full recognition of Israel if Israel would agree to a solution based on the pre-1967 borders.
Jonathan Pollack, an Israeli activist whom I met in Tel Aviv, told me that a friend of his from the United Democratic Front in South Africa told him that the most hopeless period in their struggle seemed to be around 1985-1990. The Apartheid regime seemed more invincible than ever, right before the regime actually fell. Like the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Velvet Revolution, the collapse of the Soviet Empire – and now the Arab Spring – it took almost everyone, including me, by total surprise. No one expected it. Luckily, like the former Czechoslovakia, the rebels had prepared for the aftermath and all hell didn’t break loose. No civil war, no bloodbath. Could the same thing happen in Israel too? I did not hear one word of simmering anger over high rents and the cost of living, yet Israel’s “summer of protest” erupted less than a week after I left.
I hope that is where we are today. Because the occupation, the wall and the settlements must go. As horrible as the Arab extremists have been, it does not justify this. I support the people of Palestine in their fight to be free, and the many brave Israelis who are totally fed up with their government’s human rights violations and who want to live in peace.
I will not perform in Israel unless it is a pro-human rights, anti-occupation event that does not violate the spirit of the boycott. Each artist must decide this for themselves. I am staying away for now, but am also really creeped out by the attitudes of some of the boycott hardliners, and hope someday to find a way to contribute something positive here. I will not march or sign on with anyone who is more interested in making threats than making friends.
As for the Arab Spring, I cross my fingers on one hand and bite my nails with the other.
I have a lot to learn and a long way to go.
Jello Biafra was the frontman of punk rock band The Dead Kennedys. He currently plays with the band Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.
2 Forwarded by Rupa
Monday, February 27, 2012
Don’t Boycott Israel
1 hour and 13 minutes ago — MJ Rosenberg
The movement to boycott Israeli products seems to be growing, albeit primarily on college campuses and food co-ops — two venues where one might expect this tactic to pick up traction. After all, it is at universities and among progressives (do non-progressives even shop at food co-ops?) that sympathy for the Palestinians is most pronounced and where fury at the 45-year-old Israeli occupation is highest.
It is heartening that, at long last, progressives have come to see that indifference to the occupation, in all its forms, makes no sense. Unless you’re wearing ideological blinders, it is impossible to look at what the Israeli government is doing in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza (yes, Israel still controls the air, sea and land entry and exits to and from Gaza) and not be outraged. The occupation must end, and the United States should do everything in its power to help end it rather than simply do whatever Prime Minister Netanyahu dictates.
As for the rest of us, I believe that we should convey to our elected officials that we will no longer give them a “pass” on Israel/Palestine. Today, a senator or representative feels free to be utterly reactionary on the Middle East and remain immune to challenges by progressive constituents if he is on the right side on other issues.
If he or she is “good” on the economy, gay and women’s rights, health care, immigration, etc., they are free to support Israel’s incursions into Gaza, the expropriation of Palestinian land, saber rattling over Iran and, in fact, to do whatever AIPAC tells them to do. They count on their progressive constituents’ silence and acquiescence. And they get it.
That has to stop. Being “good” on other issues does not absolve any government official from being terrible on Israel/Palestine or, for that matter, Iran. Certainly progressives in the 1960′s and 1970′s didn’t give a pass to liberals who supported LBJ’s Great Society programs but also supported the horrific war in Vietnam. In fact, they even challenged them in primaries (and often won).
There were no free passes on Vietnam. There should be none on the Middle East (especially as the threat of war with Iran grows).
I have to say, however, that I do not believe that boycotting Israel, as we are seeing on some campuses and at those co-ops, makes any sense — at least for those of us who favor peace, the end of the occupation, a Palestinian state, and also the continued secure existence of Israel.
It is one thing to boycott companies which are directly involved in the occupation either by exploiting the natural resources of the occupied lands or by providing the Israeli government with equipment (civilian or military) that can be used to sustain the occupation. If one’s target is the occupation, boycott the occupation.
But boycotting Israel itself only makes sense if one wants Israel itself to go away. After all, why else would one refuse to purchase goods grown on kibbutzim inside Israel proper or manufactured in Haifa and Tel Aviv, places that are indisputably Israel.
Why, for example, would one oppose Israeli participation — Israeli, not settler, participation — in international academic conferences, unless one opposes the existence of the state itself. Why would Madonna and a host of other performers face demands that they not perform in Tel Aviv, unless those urging the boycott believe that all Israelis are beyond the pale.
Those who want to boycott, divest and sanction should limit their actions to the occupation or admit that their target is not just Israel beyond the ’67 lines but inside them as well.
It is particularly maddening to see Americans join in those boycotts. Did they boycott themselves when we, the United States, illegally invaded Iraq and proceeded to destroy the country? How about when we overthrew Allende, supported fascist death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala, and backed blood-drenched juntas in Argentina and throughout Latin America?
To be honest, I would have supported a boycott against my own country in those days if it was targeted against the people responsible for those atrocities. I would have welcomed it as a way to make those responsible for these atrocities pay a price. But I would not have supported a boycott that targeted all Americans.
Not to put too fine a point on it, I would not have punished all those Americans who voted for McGovern in 1972 in order to stick it to Nixon’s thugs. Why would you punish the good guys too?
The same applies to Israel, a country that is as diverse as this one, a country that includes secular left-wing Tel Aviv, a country with millions of people who oppose the occupation and thousands who put their lives on the line to do so.
Who are we to boycott them? We should, instead, empower them by pressing our government to stand up to Binyamin Netanyahu and the settlement movement.
Yes, boycott the occupation — the settlers, the politicians who support them, and the businesses that sustain them. But not Israel itself, unless you think that it is a society beyond redemption. It isn’t — any more than we are.
3 Forwarded by Sam
JTA: The Global News Service of the Jewish People
U.S. congresswomen see Israel, Palestinians in the eyes of J Street
By Linda Gradstein · February 27, 2012
KALANDIYA, West Bank (JTA) — The U.S. congresswomen get off the bus and stand in the chilly shadows of the Kalandiya crossing point between the West Bank and Jerusalem.
It’s late morning, well past the rush hour when thousands of Palestinians congregate here, and only a few dozen Palestinians stand in line. To cross, the Palestinians go through a series of metal turnstiles and wait with their documents until they are called, one by one, to approach the Israeli soldiers sitting behind bullet-proof barriers.
One Palestinian man strikes up a conversation.
“I have American citizenship but I am not allowed to travel through Ben Gurion Airport because I have a Palestinian ID card,” Hamad Hindi of Louisiana tells the congresswomen. “We are seen as guilty of something because we are Palestinian.”
After crossing to the Palestinian side, the congresswomen — part of a trip to Israel and the West Bank organized by the J Street Education Fund — head to Ramallah.
“This is a ticking bomb waiting to go off,” says Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) “There must be some other way to do this. After so many years there should be some resolution for this issue.”
The congresswomen clearly are moved by their experience at the checkpoint, and that’s the point.
J Street, the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobbying group that heralds itself as a left-wing alternative to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is trying to present an alternative to the usual pro-Israel fare on congressional missions to Israel. The trip last week included six U.S. congresswomen and a group of women from the Women Donors Network, a coalition of women involved in progressive and social causes.
A spokeswoman for J Street, Jessica Rosenblum, said the trip was part of the organization’s overall effort to promote a two-state solution.
“Our hope is that this and future delegations will help to open up and deepen the conversation in Congress about American policy in the Middle East,” Rosenblum told JTA. “In particular,” she said, the trips are meant to “encourage participating members to convey to their colleagues the urgency of the situation and the need for sustained and vigorous American engagement to reach a two-state solution.”
Over six days, the delegation met Israelis and Palestinians, both leaders and “ordinary women.”
Among the Palestinian business leaders the group met in Ramallah was Sam Bahour, a Palestinian-American entrepreneur who says he has had difficulty acquiring an Israeli residency permit.
“I really appreciate what J Street is doing — it’s a breath of fresh air that there is not one line of thought in the American Jewish community,” he told the delegation. “We are at a fork in the road. Either there will be a two-state solution or it will be too late.”
On the way to the Kalandiya checkpoint, two women from Machsom Watch, an Israeli organization that monitors Israeli soldiers at checkpoints, spoke to the group.
“We believe occupation is ruining our society and threatening our democracy and future existence,” said Neta Efrony, director of a 2008 documentary about the Kalandiya checkpoint. “We need your help and to hear your voice. Israelis don’t want to hear and don’t want to know what is happening.”
If the delegation members’ reactions were any gauge, J Street’s strategy shows promise.
“There’s no awareness of this in the U.S.,” Donna Hall, the president and CEO of the Women Donors Network, said in reference to difficulties faced by Palestinians. “The congresswomen are so brave to be here, especially in an election year.”
The congresswomen also heard from Palestinian businesswomen and female hedge fund managers who described ways to empower Palestinian women in business.
“To see people who are building and hopeful and looking forward to the future is so important,” said Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) “We are already figuring out how to change the dynamics of U.S. policy in the region.”
A single mother living on welfare, Moore began her public career as a community organizer and today is also the Democratic chairwoman of the Congressional Women’s Caucus.
The J Street trip also included visits with Jewish settlers in the West Bank.
From Ramallah, the group drove to Shiloh, a Jewish town in the heart of the West Bank halfway between Ramallah and Nablus that because of its location likely would not be incorporated into Israel in any two-state settlement.
A group of Jewish women from several area settlements met with the congresswomen and told them they have no intention of leaving their homes.
“I’m holding the Bible; Shiloh was our first capital before Jerusalem and it has layers and layers of history,” Tzofiah Dorot, the director of Ancient Shiloh, told the women. “This is the heart of Israel and I don’t see a future for the state if you take the heart out.”
All of the women said they were sure that their settlements would remain part of Israel.
“This is our homeland, the homeland of the Jewish nation — period,” Tamar Aslaf told the delegation. “A Palestinian who lives here is welcome to stay. It’s his home but it’s our homeland.”
Several of the settlers described a scenario in which Palestinians could stay in their homes but not receive national or voting rights. That drew a sharp reply from the congresswomen, five of whom are African Americans.
“Some people would call that apartheid,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), the only white congresswomen on the trip.
“It’s easy to sit in your comfortable house and decide what is good for the Jews,” Dorot responded. “I’m begging you to see that we’re not pieces of Lego you can move around. This is life and death. We all need to think out of the box. I’m asking you to forget about the two- state solution.”
Several members of the delegation said the trip gave them a more sophisticated understanding of the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“In Jerusalem and Tel Aviv it’s so easy not to see much of what we saw,” said Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.). “But what does it mean for democracy when you are willing to sacrifice so much in the name of security?”
5 Forwarded by Marilyn
CNN Silences War-Skeptical Soldier
By Ray McGovern
This one-minute video-that-is-better-than-a-thousand-words could come in handy as at least a symbolic reminder of the bias at CNN and other parts of the FCM when it comes to allowing a full and fair discussion about going to war against some “designated enemy.”
[categories Updates from Activists and Activist