Wednesday, December 31, 2008
About a year-and-a-half ago I wrote:
The Jewish holidays of Purim, Passover, and Hanukkah are part of the "culture of death" and "victimization" that permeates Judaism and much of modern Jewish life, as noted by Idith Zertal in Israel's Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood (2005; pp. 1-2). ... The Maccabean civil war at the root of Hanukkah started when Mattathias, a priest and father of Judah Maccabee, killed another Jew [sic] for coming "forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice" to Greek gods. According to I Maccabees 2:I concluded that post by noting, "Last year's Israeli slaughter in Lebanon and the ongoing war against Palestinians are natural expressions of a Judaic culture of death." The recent murderous onslaught against Palestinians in Gaza by the Jewish state only confirms this. As the pro-Israel Matzav.com reports:When Mattathias saw it, he burned with zeal and his heart was stirred. He gave vent to righteous anger; he ran and killed him on the altar. At the same time he killed the king's officer who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar.
Israel has given its Gaza assault the codename "Operation Cast Lead." Where did this rather poetic title come from? Most people don't know that it actually comes from a poem. Specifically, a Chanukah poem by Israel's national poet, H.N. Bialik. The operation began on Shabbos, the sixth day of Chanukah. According to Eli Isaacson, a spokesman for the IDF, the codename comes from a line in "For Chanukah" referring to "a dreidel cast of solid lead."The Jewish Telegraphic Agency simply notes: "The name of the operation, Cast Lead, is a Chanukah reference: The dreidel originally was manufactured by pouring molten lead into a mold. It has a double meaning, because that is how bullets are manufactured."
- "Hanukkah Games in Gaza" in the Palestine Chronicle
- "Why Israel Named Its Gaza War After a Hanukkah Poem" by Ethan Perlson
- "Happy Hanukkah"
- "Shtulman, Jewish Federation on the Hanukkah Massacre"
- "Readers Respond to 'Israel's Hanukkah Massacre & Judaism's Culture of Death'"
- "95% of Israeli Jews Support Hanukkah Massacre"
Palestinian Unions say "intensify the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel"
We add our voice to the urgent appeal issued two days ago by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) urging international civil society not just to protest and condemn Israel's massacre in Gaza, but also to join and intensify the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel to end its impunity and to hold it accountable for its persistent violations of international law and Palestinian rights. We agree that, without sustained, effective pressure by people of conscience the world over, Israel will continue with its gradual, rolling acts of genocide against the Palestinians, burying any prospects for a just peace under the blood and rubble of Gaza, Nablus and Jerusalem.See also "Gaza massacres must spur us to action" by Ali Abunimah in The Electronic Intifada
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
In the wake of the recent Israeli war crimes in Gaza, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee has called upon people of conscience around the world "not just to protest and condemn in diverse forms Israel's massacre in Gaza, but also to join and intensify the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel to end its impunity and to hold it accountable for its persistent violation of international law and Palestinian rights." Likewise, Ali Abunimah writes: "what will happen after the demonstrations disperse and the anger dies down? Will we continue to let Palestinians in Gaza die in silence? Palestinians everywhere are asking for solidarity, real solidarity, in the form of sustained, determined political action. The Gaza-based One Democratic State Group reaffirmed this today as it 'called upon all civil society organizations and freedom loving people to act immediately in any possible way to put pressure on their governments to end diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel and institute sanctions against it.' The global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement for Palestine provides the framework for this. Now is the time to channel our raw emotions into a long-term commitment to make sure we do not wake up to 'another Gaza' ever again."
People in southeast Michigan will have a special opportunity to heed this call on February 14-15 when the Batsheva Dance Company of Tel Aviv comes to Ann Arbor, courtesy of the University Musical Society. Now is the time to begin building opposition to the Batsheva Dance Company's performances as part of a sustained BDS campaign. A recipient of public financing since the 1990s, the Batsheva Dance Company is clearly an Israeli apartheid cultural institution that includes Israeli soldiers in its ranks. Writing October 26, 2008, in The Independent of London, Jenny Gilbert reports that the dance company is "funded by Israel's government, its performers include none of Arab extraction, and it is 'proud to be considered Israel's leading ambassador.'" For more information on the Batsheva Dance Company, please see "Organize to stop apartheid dance troupe's North America tour" in The Electronic Intifada
Batsheva Dance Company Boycott Organizing Meeting
When: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 7:30 PM
Where: Memorial Christian Church, 730 Tappan Ave (at Hill), Ann Arbor
What: This is a special meeting sponsored by the Middle East Task Force of Ann Arbor and the Detroit/Ann Arbor Friends of Sabeel -- North America. The purpose of the meeting is see if and how the various Palestinian solidarity groups in Ann Arbor and southeast Michigan can work together to respond to the scheduled performance by the Batsheva Dance Company of Tel Aviv on the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus. This meeting is only for people who support the 2004 Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the 2005 Palestinian Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
From the concluding paragraph of the article below: "Now, more than ever, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, BNC, calls upon international civil society not just to protest and condemn in diverse forms Israel's massacre in Gaza, but also to join and intensify the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions ( BDS) campaign against Israel to end its impunity and to hold it accountable for its persistent violation of international law and Palestinian rights" [emphasis added].
Ali Abunimah writing in "Gaza massacres must spur us to action" on The Electronic Intifada, says:
On top of the intense anger and sadness so many people feel at Israel's renewed mass killings in Gaza is a sense of frustration that there seem to be so few ways to channel it into a political response that can change the course of events, end the suffering, and bring justice.People of conscience all across North America will have a special opportunity to heed this call in January when the Batsheva Dance Company of Tel Aviv begin its tour of the US and Canada. A recipient of public financing since the 1990s, the dance troupe is clearly an Israeli apartheid cultural institution. Writing October 26, 2008, in The Independent of London, Jenny Gilbert reports that the dance company is "funded by Israel's government, its performers include none of Arab extraction, and it is 'proud to be considered Israel's leading ambassador.'" The Batsheva Dance Company is currently scheduled to perform in Houston, TX; Purchase, NY; Princeton, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Chicago, IL; Columbus, OH; Ottawa, ON; Ann Arbor, MI; Minneapolis, MN; Vancouver, BC; Santa Barbara, CA; San Diego, CA; Los Angeles, CA; and New York, NY. Let's begin planning now; let's make that "long-term commitment to make sure we do not wake up to 'another Gaza.' " For more information on the Batsheva Dance Company, see "Organize to stop apartheid dance troupe's North America tour" in the Electronic Intifada.
But there are ways, and this is a moment to focus on them. Already I have received notices of demonstrations and solidarity actions being planned in cities all over the world. That is important. But what will happen after the demonstrations disperse and the anger dies down? Will we continue to let Palestinians in Gaza die in silence?
Palestinians everywhere are asking for solidarity, real solidarity, in the form of sustained, determined political action. The Gaza-based One Democratic State Group reaffirmed this today as it "called upon all civil society organizations and freedom loving people to act immediately in any possible way to put pressure on their governments to end diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel and institute sanctions against it."
The global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement for Palestine (http://www.bdsmovement.net/) provides the framework for this. Now is the time to channel our raw emotions into a long-term commitment to make sure we do not wake up to "another Gaza" ever again [emphasis added].
"Stop the Massacre in Gaza – Boycott Israel Now!"
Occupied Ramallah, Palestine - 27 December 2008: Today, the Israeli occupation army committed a new massacre in Gaza, causing the death and injury of hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including a yet unknown number of school children who were headed home from school when the first Israeli military strikes started. This latest bloodbath, although far more ruthless than all its predecessors, is not Israel 's first. It culminates months of an Israeli siege of Gaza that should be widely condemned and prosecuted as an act of genocide against the 1.5 million Palestinians in the occupied coastal strip.
Israel seems intent to mark the end of its 60th year of existence the same way it has established itself – perpetrating massacres against the Palestinian people. In 1948, the majority of the indigenous Palestinian people were ethnically cleansed from their homes and land, partly through massacres like Deir Yassin; today, the Palestinians in Gaza, most of whom are refugees, do not even have the choice to seek refuge elsewhere. Incarcerated behind ghetto walls and brought to the brink of starvation by the siege, they are easy targets for Israel's indiscriminate bombing.
Prof. Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and international law expert at Princeton University, described Israel 's siege of Gaza last year, when it was still not comparable in its severity to the current situation, as follows:
"Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not. The recent developments in Gaza are especially disturbing because they express so vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its allies to subject an entire human community to life-endangering conditions of utmost cruelty. The suggestion that this pattern of conduct is a holocaust-in-the-making represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current genocidal tendencies from culminating in a collective tragedy."
The most brutal episode of this "collective tragedy" is what we have seen today.
Israel's war crimes and other grave violations of international law in Gaza as well as in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem , could not have been perpetrated without the direct or indirect complicity of world governments, particularly the United States, the European Union, Egypt, and other Arab regimes.
While the US government has consistently sponsored, bankrolled and protected from international censure Israel's apartheid and colonial policies against the indigenous people of Palestine, the EU was able in the past to advocate a semblance of respect for international law and universal human rights. That distinction effectively ended on December 9th, when the EU Council decided unanimously to reward Israel's criminal disregard of international law by upgrading the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Israel clearly understood from this decision that the EU condones its actions against the Palestinians under its occupation. Palestinian civil society also got the message: the EU governments have become no less complicit in Israel's war crimes than their US counterpart.
The large majority of world governments, particularly in the global south, share part of the blame, as well. By continuing business as usual with Israel, in trade agreements, arms deals, academic and cultural ties, diplomatic openings, they have provided the necessary background for the complicity of world powers and, consequentially, for Israel's impunity. Furthermore, their inaction within the United Nations is inexcusable.
Father Miguel D'Escoto Brockman, President of the UN General Assembly prescribed in a recent address before the Assembly the only moral way forward for the world's nations in dealing with Israel:
"More than twenty years ago we in the United Nations took the lead from civil society when we agreed that sanctions were required to provide a nonviolent means of pressuring South Africa to end its violations. Today, perhaps we in the United Nations should consider following the lead of a new generation of civil society, who are calling for a similar non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel to end its violations."
Now, more than ever, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, BNC, calls upon international civil society not just to protest and condemn in diverse forms Israel's massacre in Gaza, but also to join and intensify the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions ( BDS) campaign against Israel to end its impunity and to hold it accountable for its persistent violation of international law and Palestinian rights. Without sustained, effective pressure by people of conscience the world over, Israel will continue with its gradual, rolling acts of genocide against the Palestinians, burying any prospects for a just peace under the blood and rubble of Gaza, Nablus and Jerusalem.* The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) includes: Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine; General Union of Palestinian Workers; Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions; Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations' Network (PNGO); Federation of Independent Trade Unions; Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations; Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition; Occupied Palestine and Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI); General Union of Palestinian Women; Palestinian Farmers Union (PFU); Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign ( STW); Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI); National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba; Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem (CCDPRJ); Coalition for Jerusalem; and Palestinian Economic Monitor.
Monday, December 22, 2008
I have never been so upset by a poll in my life. Only 22% of Americans now believe "the movie and television industries are pretty much run by Jews," down from nearly 50% in 1964. The Anti-Defamation League, which released the poll results last month, sees in these numbers a victory against stereotyping. Actually, it just shows how dumb America has gotten. Jews totally run Hollywood.See also:
How deeply Jewish is Hollywood? When the studio chiefs took out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times a few weeks ago to demand that the Screen Actors Guild settle its contract, the open letter was signed by: News Corp. President Peter Chernin (Jewish), Paramount Pictures Chairman Brad Grey (Jewish), Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger (Jewish), Sony Pictures Chairman Michael Lynton (surprise, Dutch Jew), Warner Bros. Chairman Barry Meyer (Jewish), CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves (so Jewish his great uncle was the first prime minister of Israel), MGM Chairman Harry Sloan (Jewish) and NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker (mega-Jewish). If either of the Weinstein brothers had signed, this group would have not only the power to shut down all film production but to form a minyan with enough Fiji water on hand to fill a mikvah.
The person they were yelling at in that ad was SAG President Alan Rosenberg (take a guess). The scathing rebuttal to the ad was written by entertainment super-agent Ari Emanuel (Jew with Israeli parents [and brother of Rahm Emanuel]) on the Huffington Post, which is owned by Arianna Huffington (not Jewish and has never worked in Hollywood.) ...
As a proud Jew, I want America to know about our accomplishment. Yes, we control Hollywood. Without us, you'd be flipping between "The 700 Club" and "Davey and Goliath" on TV all day.
So I've taken it upon myself to re-convince America that Jews run Hollywood by launching a public relations campaign, because that's what we do best. I'm weighing several slogans, including: "Hollywood: More Jewish than ever!"; "Hollywood: From the people who brought you the Bible"; and "Hollywood: If you enjoy TV and movies, then you probably like Jews after all." ...
"That's a very dangerous phrase, 'Jews control Hollywood.' What is true is that there are a lot of Jews in Hollywood," he said. Instead of "control," Foxman would prefer people say that many executives in the industry "happen to be Jewish," as in "all eight major film studios are run by men who happen to be Jewish."
But Foxman said he is proud of the accomplishments of American Jews. "I think Jews are disproportionately represented in the creative industry. They're disproportionate as lawyers and probably medicine here as well," he said. He argues that this does not mean that Jews make pro-Jewish movies any more than they do pro-Jewish surgery. Though other countries, I've noticed, aren't so big on circumcision.
I appreciate Foxman's concerns. And maybe my life spent in a New Jersey-New York/Bay Area-L.A. pro-Semitic cocoon has left me naive. But I don't care if Americans think we're running the news media, Hollywood, Wall Street or the government. I just care that we get to keep running them.
- "Jewish Grip on WashingtonTightens"
- "Why won't anyone say they are Jewish?"
- "Jews Could Decide Dems Presidential Nominee"
- "The Magic Jew in the Village"
1. We, the representatives of local, national and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other civil society groups from around the world gathered in Durban/South Africa during the week of 28 August - 3 September 2001 for the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR), guided by our commitment in the struggle against racism and racial discrimination and inspired by the recommendations of the NGO Forums held in Strasbourg/France, Santiago de Chile/Chile, Dakar/Senegal and Tehran/Iran and the related sub-regional NGO meetings held in Warsaw/Poland, Kathmandu/Nepal, Cairo/Egypt and Quito/Ecuador, in preparation for the World Conference, hereby make the following Declaration: ...Source: United Nations World Conference Against Racism NGO Forum Declaration, Durban, South Africa, 2001.
162. We declare Israel as a racist, apartheid state in which Israel's brand of apartheid as a crime against humanity has been characterized by separation and segregation, dispossession, restricted land access, denationalization, "bantustanization" and inhumane acts. ...
419. Also call for the reinstitution of UN resolution 3379 determining the practices of Zionism as racist practices which propagate the racial domination of one group over another through the implementation of all measures designed to drive out other indigenous groups, including through colonial expansionism in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, including Jerusalem), and through the application of discriminatory laws of return and citizenship, to obliterate their national identity and to maintain the exclusive nature of the State of Israel as a Jewish state to the exclusion of all other groups.
See also: "Excerpts from the WCAR NGO FORUM DECLARATION on Palestinians and Palestinian Refugees"
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The "John" was Yaron Z. Eliav (pictured at right), Associate Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan, specifically, Eliav is the Jean and Samuel Frankel Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature & Jewish History of Late Antiquity. For his part, Eliav "admitted to slapping her face, but said it was 'like a game.' "
The Ann Arbor police have also taken a playful attitude toward the assault allegation with Ann Arbor Detective Sgt. Richard Kinsey saying, "Perhaps she should have cracked a legal textbook before coming in to the police station to talk about this." I guess the police's attitude is if you engage in prostitution then don't expect any help if your John hurts you.
The unnamed victim, like her assailant, was charged with "using a computer to commit a crime"--a misdemeanor. Charging the victim and ignoring her assault is the exactly the wrong thing to do to someone who has already been victimized by prostitution, which in progressive countries is regarded as a form of exploitation and violence against the prostitute. In Sweden, prostitution has been greatly reduced by a) criminalizing the buying of sex, b) decriminalizing the selling of sex, and c) providing ample and comprehensive social services for "any prostitute who wants to get out, and additional funds to educate the public."
This story was brought to my attention by someone who identified Eliav as an Israeli and judging from his c.v. there seems little doubt about that. At a minimum, he's lived in the Jewish state for several years. This got me thinking about sexual mores and practices in Israel--the "blight unto the nations" backed by the full diplomatic, military, and financial force of the United States.
As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness. -Leviticus 25:44-46.The 2008 US State Department "Trafficking in Persons Report" (p. 146) shows Israel has never been a "Tier 1" state in the seven years that the US has been monitoring human trafficking (Tier 1 countries are those "whose governments fully comply with the [US] Trafficking Victims Protection Act's minimum standards").
The Halakhah [Judaic law] presumes all Gentiles to be utterly promiscuous ... Whether a Gentile woman is married or not makes no difference, since as far as Jews are concerned the very concept of matrimony does not apply to Gentiles ... Therefore, the concept of adultery also does not apply to intercourse between a Jewish man and a Gentile woman; rather, the Talmud equates such intercourse to the sin of bestiality. ...
This does not imply that sexual intercourse between a Jewish man and a Gentile woman is permitted - quite the contrary. But the main punishment is inflicted on the Gentile woman; she must be executed, even if she was raped by the Jew '... because through her a Jew got into trouble' ... and all Gentile women are presumed to be prostitutes. -Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years.
Here's an outtake from the 2006 report, as you read the figures bear in mind that Israel has a total population of about 7.1 million:
Israel is a destination country for low-skilled workers from the P.R.C., Romania, Jordan, Turkey, Thailand, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and India who migrate voluntarily for contract labor in the construction, agriculture and health care industries. Some are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude. Many labor recruitment agencies in source countries and in Israel require workers to pay up-front fees ranging from $1,000-10,000 – a practice that often leads to debt bondage and makes these workers highly vulnerable to forced labor once in Israel. Israel is also a destination country for women trafficked from Eastern Europe – primarily Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Belarus, and Russia – for the purpose of sexual exploitation. NGOs estimate that in 2005 between 1,000-3,000 women were trafficked into Israel for sexual servitude and 16,000-20,000 foreign workers faced involuntary servitude, though NGOs do not provide evidence to support their claim.Did you notice the contradiction at the beginning of the second paragraph? Here it is again with key portions in bold: "The Government of Israel does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Israel is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to address trafficking ..."The Tier 2 Watch List is the second lowest category and placed Israel on a par with countries such as Brazil, Cambodia, Egypt, Kenya, Kuwait, and Russia. Oh, and "involuntary servitude" and "forced labor"--those are just fancy ways of saying slavery without coming right out and saying it.
The Government of Israel does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Israel is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to address trafficking, namely the conditions of involuntary servitude allegedly facing thousands of foreign migrant workers. The government did not pass a much-needed law criminalizing all forms of trafficking, including labor trafficking, drafted in 2003, though it took more steps than in previous years to criminally investigate and prosecute employers allegedly keeping foreign workers in conditions of involuntary servitude.
By the 2008 report not that much had changed although Israel did finally pass a law after the 2006 report outlawing all forms of human trafficking. Here's an excerpt from the 2008 report:
... NGOs note an increase in the internal trafficking of Israeli women for commercial sexual exploitation, and report new instances of trafficking of Israeli women abroad to Canada, Ireland, and England. African asylum seekers entering Israel illegally are also vulnerable to trafficking for forced labor or prostitution.According to the report, "This year, the government convicted 38 individuals for sex trafficking ..." Bear in mind that thousands of women are victims of sex trafficking in Israel every year.
The Government of Israel does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking ... though the government prepared some indictments for forced labor, it did not criminally prosecute or convict any employer or recruitment agent for labor trafficking.
Now, that we've looked at parts of official reports prepared under the watchful eye of State Dept.'s very own 'anti-Semitism' thought police let's look at a few other accounts of trafficking in the Jewish state. In 2006, the Jewish Tribune of Montreal quoted Victor Malarek, author of the 2003 book The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade: "Newspaper ads from modelling and employment agencies promise exciting jobs, but the women are duped. They must submit, or they are raped, beaten and tortured. There are between 5,000 and 10,000 trafficked women in Israel and more than 280 brothels in Tel Aviv alone" (metro Tel Aviv has a population of 3.1 million).
In his book, Malarek quotes Leah Gruenpeter-Gold: "Israeli men have simply grown used to the idea that women can be bought. Both married and single men no longer want to work at relationships. For them it is easier to purchase sex when they want it." In the same interview, he spoke with Nissan Ben-Ami, who describes how young Israeli men flock to brothels on Rosh Hashanah and how "the haredim (orthodox Jews) ... crowd the Tel Aviv brothels on Friday mornings and afternoons for a pre-Shabbat tumble." He continues that the haredim consider masturbation to be a sin and they won't use condoms and so they end up paying the pimps more money and "sacrific[ing] these women." To which Gruenpeter-Gold adds, "Because these women are not human beings. They are foreign women. The religious prefer it to be with foreign women because then they don't wrong Jewish women" (emphasis added).
In 2005, Ynet, the online version of the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, reported:
Thousands of women are being smuggled into Israel, creating a booming sex trade industry that rakes more than USD one billion a year, a parliamentary committee said on Wednesday.A 2007 BBC report illuminated the personal price that the victims pay:
The Parliamentary Inquiry Committee, headed by Knesset member Zehava Galon of the left-wing Yahad party, commissioned the report in an effort to combat the sex trade in Israel. Findings showed that some 3,000 and 5,000 women are smuggled to Israel annually and sold into the prostitution industry, where they are constantly subjected to violence and abuse.
The report, issued annually, said some 10,000 such women currently reside in about 300 to 400 brothels throughout the country.
Marina rarely leaves her two-room home in northern Israel these days.See also: "Human rights abuses of women trafficked from countries of the former Soviet Union into Israel's sex industry" by Amnesty International (2000)
She is in hiding - wanted by the Israeli authorities for being an illegal immigrant, and by the criminal gangs who brought her here to sell her into prostitution.
Marina - not her real name - was lured to Israel by human traffickers. ...
"When I was in the Ukraine, I had a difficult life," said Marina, who came to Israel in 1999 at the age of 33 after answering a newspaper advertisement offering the opportunity to study abroad.
"I was taken to an apartment in Ashkelon, and other women there told me I was now in prostitution. I became hysterical, but a guy starting hitting me and then others there raped me.
"I was then taken to a place where they sold me - just sold me!" she said, recalling how she was locked in a windowless basement for a month, drank water from a toilet and was deprived of food. ...
Prostitution in Israel is legal, but pimping and maintaining a brothel are not.
The law however is not widely enforced and few brothels are closed down.
In Tel Aviv's Neve Shaanan district for instance, just a short walk from the city's five-star tourist hotels, brothels masquerading as massage parlours, saunas and even internet cafes, fill the side streets.
One such place even operates opposite the local police station.
There are bars on windows and heavily-built men guard the doors, which are only opened to let customers in and out.
Inside, groups of sullen-looking women sit in dimly-lit rooms, waiting for their next client.
Foreign women fetch the highest prices, with trafficked women forced to work up to 18 hours a day. ...
Campaigners say things began to change for the better in 2004, when the government opened a shelter in north Tel Aviv for women who had been trafficked for sex.
It marked a change in the way the state perceived them - as victims of a crime rather than accomplices.
There are some 30 women at the Maggan shelter - most from former Soviet states, but also five from China.
For years, Israel treated trafficked women as criminals "When they come here they are in a bad condition," said Rinat Davidovich, the shelter's director.
"Most have sexual diseases and some have hepatitis and even tuberculosis. They also have problems going to sleep because they remember what used to happen to them at night," she said. ...
Friday, December 12, 2008
Barack Obama: The First Jewish President?
Chicago circle nurtured him all the way to the top
by Tom Hundley
The Chicago Tribune
December 12, 2008
Original URL: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-obama-jews-wrapdec12,0,1483597.story
Archived at: https://web.archive.org/web/20090126003035/http://chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-obama-jews-wrapdec12,0,1483597.story
Writer Toni Morrison famously dubbed Bill Clinton "the first black president"—a title he fervently embraced.
Abner Mikva, the Chicago Democratic Party stalwart and former Clinton White House counsel, offers a variation on that theme. "If Clinton was our first black president, then Barack Obama is our first Jewish president," says Mikva, who was among the first to spot the potential of the skinny young law school graduate with the odd name.
"I use a Yiddish expression, yiddishe neshuma, to describe him," explains Mikva. "It means a Jewish soul. It's an expression my mother used. It means a sensitive, sympathetic personality, someone who understands where you are coming from."
Obama, of course, is a Christian. And his middle name is Hussein. In the presidential election, he won 78 percent of the Jewish vote and about 70 percent of the Arab-American vote, according to unofficial exit polling. Obama collected 52.8 percent of the overall vote.
Putting aside which of the three great Abrahamic religions can lay claim to Obama's soul, it is clear that his political career, from its South Side inception to the audacious run for the White House, was nurtured and enabled by a close-knit network of Chicago Jews.
Mikva and his friend Newton Minow, the former Federal Communications Commission chairman and Kennedy-era New Frontiersman, were there at the beginning. Minow first heard about Obama in 1988 from his daughter Martha, a professor at Harvard, where Obama was studying law. Minow, senior counsel at Sidley Austin, offered him an internship and later a permanent job at the white-shoe firm, but Obama declined, saying he was planning to go into politics.
When Obama graduated, Mikva, then a U.S. appeals court judge in Washington, tried to lure him with a prestigious clerkship, but Obama turned him down too. That, according to Mikva, took some chutzpah.
Both Mikva and Minow say they sensed back then that Obama was something special. They made a point of staying in touch.
Obama's circle of Jewish patrons and advisers widened further in 1992 when he became involved in a voter registration drive that brought him into contact with Bettylu Saltzman, a liberal activist (and daughter of the late Philip Klutznick, a former commerce secretary and shopping mall developer). Saltzman says she knew from the moment she met Obama that he would someday be president. She introduced him to David Axelrod, who saw something similar.
Axelrod designed the strategy in which Obama first won the backing of white liberals and then reached out to blacks. Jews made up a significant number of the first constituency.
"As Jews got to know him, they recognized a kindred spirit, not someone who came down from Mars," Mikva said.
Rabbi Arnold Wolf, of KAM Isaiah Israel synagogue across the street from Obama's Chicago home, was another early backer. Like Mikva, he sees what he called Obama's "Jewish side."
"Obama is from nowhere and everywhere—just like the Jews. He's black, he's white, he's American, he's Asian, he's African—and so are we," Wolf said.
Certainly, Obama is comfortable with Jews, especially Jews from Chicago. Axelrod will remain at his side as senior adviser, and Rep. Rahm Emanuel will be White House chief of staff. Billionaire Penny Pritzker, who has known Obama since the mid-1990s and served as his campaign finance chairwoman, was said to be under consideration for commerce secretary until she took herself out of the running.
But Jews haven't always been comfortable with him. The once-solid alliance between Jews and blacks that was forged during the civil rights movement has frayed in recent years. During the primary campaign Sen. Hillary Clinton was far more popular among Jewish voters, many of whom were worried about Obama's close friendships with influential Palestinian thinkers, including his former Hyde Park neighbor Rashid Khalidi, now at Columbia University.
Mikva and Minow recall trying to help candidate Obama reassure skeptical Jewish audiences that he would be a genuine friend to Israel.
"He was frustrated," Mikva said. "And I remember I told him that it wouldn't matter if your name was Chaim Weizmann [first president of Israel], there are some Jews who won't vote for you no matter what you say because they are Republicans."
Obama jokingly asked if it would make a difference if he called himself Baruch Obama, noting that the Swahili name Barack and the Hebrew Baruch derive from the same linguistic root. Both mean "blessing."
Throughout the presidential campaign, Obama did and said what was necessary to court the Jewish vote. In March he made the pilgrimage to AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying organization. There he pledged unwavering commitment to Israel's security. In July he traveled to Israel and was photographed with Israeli leaders.
Even without the Jewish vote, Obama would have carried New York, California and Illinois, three key states with large Jewish populations. Florida was a different story.
The battleground state had cost Al Gore the 2000 election and was carried again by President George W. Bush in 2004. Florida's Jewish population tends to be older and more conservative. Florida's Jews also were the target audience for an Internet smear campaign that portrayed Obama as a secret Muslim with ties to terrorists.
The Obama campaign spent heavily in Florida. It also got a boost from comedian Sarah Silverman, who organized The Great Schlep, a tongue-in-cheek Internet campaign to get young Jews to visit Florida and persuade their grandparents to vote for Obama.
Obama won Florida. Exit polls suggest the Jewish vote there was in line with the Jewish vote elsewhere.
Having gained the trust of mainstream American Jews, one question now is whether Obama will be the president to finally deliver a decent settlement for the Israelis and Palestinians.
"I think he's going to try. We've had presidents whose hearts were in the right place—Clinton and Carter," Mikva said. "But Barack Obama really has a way of bringing people together."
James Zogby, director of the Arab American Institute, a Washington lobby, said Arab-Americans also were optimistic that Obama was uniquely positioned to achieve a breakthrough.
"He gets it. He really gets it," Zogby said of Obama's understanding of the core issues. "He believes in reconciling diverse communities."
- "The First Jewish President"
- " Update on 'The First Jewish President' "
- " Update II: The First Jewish President"
Saturday, December 06, 2008
issued at WCC International Peace Conference "Churches together for Peace and Justice in the Middle East"
Amman, Jordan, 18-20 June 2007
1. Almost sixty years have passed since the Christian churches first spoke with one voice about Arab-Israeli peace. For the last forty years the Christian churches have called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. In the very place where Jesus Christ walked upon the earth, walls now separate families and the children of God - Christian, Muslim and Jew -- are imprisoned in a deepening cycle of violence, humiliation and despair. The Palestinian Christians from Gaza to Jerusalem and to Nazareth, have called out to their brothers and sisters in Christ with this urgent plea: "Enough is enough. No more words without deeds. It is time for action."
2. We welcome the timely and prophetic statement of the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem. We affirm that "the Churches are part of the conflict, because the Churches cannot remain silent while there is still suffering. The role of the Churches is to heal and to bring all sides to reconciliation." Our belief in God reminds us "that all God's children of all religions and political parties are to be respected." We assure the Churches of Palestine and Israel of our prayers, collaboration and resources.
3. Thus, in Amman, Jordan 18-20 June 2007, days that have witnessed a deepening of the crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories,and also includes the United Nations World Refugee Day, we representatives of Christian churches and church-related organizations from every corner of the earth, affirm the decision of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and launch the "Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum" as an instrument to "catalyze and co-ordinate new and existing church advocacy for peace, aimed at ending the illegal occupation in accordance with UN resolutions, and demonstrate its commitment to inter-religious action for peace and justice that serves all the peoples of the region."
4. This action has been taken in response to three fundamental imperatives that call us to action:
The ethical and theological imperative for a Just Peace
The ecumenical imperative for unity in action
The Gospel imperative for costly solidarity
5. The premises of this action are the following:
5.1. That UN resolutions are the basis for peace and the Geneva conventions are applicable to the rights and responsibilities of the affected people.
5.2. That Palestinians have the right of self-determination and the right of return.
5.3. That a two-state solution must be viable politically, geographically economically and socially.
5.4 That Jerusalem must be an open, accessible, inclusive and shared city for the two peoples and three religions.
5.5 That both Palestine and Israel have legitimate security needs.
5.6. That the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal, and constitute an obstacle to peace.
5.7. That the "Separation Barrier" constructed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories is a grave breach of international law and must be removed from the occupied territory.
5.8. That there is no military solution for this conflict. Violence in all its forms cannot be justified whether perpetrated by Israelis or Palestinians.
5.9. That comprehensive regional peace is indivisible from a just peace in Israel and Palestine.
5.10. That the life and witness of local churches is at the center of worldwide church advocacy for a just peace.
6. We understand the mandate of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum to be a space where we will develop comprehensive strategic approaches to the two processes of peace making and peace building. An inclusive core group convened urgently by the WCC should be mandated to facilitate this and also ensure improved coordination between all actors. The core group will be informed by the reports of the working groups of the Amman conference, and that its composition and mechanism be designed and announced by the WCC.
7. Peace building will include the following:
7.1. Furthering theological and biblical perspectives and Christian education resources around those issues central to the conflict.
7.2. Developing strategies that will support the processes of justice and reconciliation, including inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.
7.3. Strengthening the churches' responses to the occupation.
7.4. Recognizing, encouraging and cooperating with all efforts of Israeli and Palestinian civil society that are in accord with the vision and goals of the PIEF.
8. Peace making will include the following:
8.1. Defining and promoting measures, including economic ones, that could help end the occupation and enhance sustainable growth and development.
8.2. Strengthening existing efforts and identifying new models of church solidarity in action. Supporting local churches and church related organizations not only to survive and continue their powerful ministries, including educational, health, cultural and social services, but also to thrive and be witnesses of hope.
8.3. Developing a long-term advocacy strategy in order to mobilize all of our constituencies and influence change.
9. We have heard the voices of the Christian churches of Palestine and Israel challenging and saying to us:
9.1. Act with us to liberate all peoples of this land from the logic of hatred, mutual rejection and death, so that they see in the other the face and dignity of God.
9.2. Pray with us in our efforts to resist evil in all of its guises.
9.3. Raise your voices along with ours as we speak "truth to power" and name with courage the injustices we see and experience. The illegal occupation has stolen two generations of lives in this tortured place, and threatens the next with hopelessness and rage.
9.4. Risk the curses and abuse that will be aimed at you and stand in solidarity with us and with our Palestinian brothers and sisters of all faiths as we defiantly reject the possibility that occupation will continue.
9.5. Help us to tear down walls and build and rebuild bridges among all peoples in the region. Extremism on all sides produces chaos. It threatens to divide us and to destroy bridges among peoples that would lead to reconciliation and peace.
9.6. Add your hope to ours in the knowledge that evil and despair have been overcome through the death of our Lord on the Cross and through His Resurrection.
9.7. Insist with us that all dispossessed peoples, all refugees, have the right to return.
9.8. Partner with us as we seek peace and pursue it. Peace is possible. Christians and Muslims and Jews have, can and will understand one another and live together as neighbors.
10. And we representatives of Christian churches and church-related organizations from every corner of the earth, we respond:
11. Yes, we will. Together we will act and pray and speak and work and risk reputations and lives to build with you bridges for an enduring peace among the peoples of this tortured and beautiful place –Palestine and Israel– to end these decades of injustice, humiliation and insecurity, to end the decades of living as refugees and under occupation. We will work with you to seek peace and pursue it. We have allowed too much time to pass. Time has not served the cause of peace but has served the cause of extremism. This is our urgent cause that cannot wait.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Nor was [Martin] Buber alone in his attitude, although in my opinion he was by far the worst in the evil he propagated and the influence he has left behind him. There was the very influential sociologist and biblical scholar, Yehezkiel Kaufman, an advocate of genocide on the model of the Book of Joshua, the idealist philosopher Hugo Shmuel Bergman, who as far back as 1914-15 advocated the expulsion of all Palestinians to Iraq, and many others. All were outwardly 'dovish', but employed formulas which could be manipulated in the most extreme anti-Arab sense, all had tendencies to that religious mysticism which encourages the propagation of deceptions, and all seemed to be gentle persons who, even when advocating expulsion, racism and genocide, seemed incapable of hurting a fly – and just for this reason the effect of their deceptions was the greater.
It is against the glorification of inhumanity, proclaimed not only by the rabbis but by those who are supposed to be the greatest and certainly the most influential scholars of Judaism, that we have to struggle; and it is against those modern successors of the false prophets and dishonest priests that we have to repeat even in the face of an almost unanimous opinion within Israel and among the majority of Jews in countries such as the USA, Lucretius' warning against surrendering one's judgement to the declamations of religious leaders: Tantuii: religio potuit suadere malorum – 'To such heights of evil are men driven by religion.' Religion is not always (as Marx said) the opium of the people, but it can often be so, and when it is used in this sense by prevaricating and misrepresenting its true nature, the scholars and intellectuals who perform this task take on the character of opium smugglers.
But we can derive from this analysis another, more general conclusion about the most effective and horrific means of compulsion to do evil, to cheat and to deceive and, while keeping one's hands quite clean of violence, to corrupt whole peoples and drive them to oppression and murder. (For there can no longer be any doubt that the most horrifying acts of oppression in the West Bank are motivated by Jewish religious fanaticism.) Most people seem to assume that the worst totalitarianism employs physical coercion, and would refer to the imagery of Orwell's 1984 for a model illustrating such a regime. But it seems to me that this common view is greatly mistaken, and that the intuition of Isaac Asimov, in whose science fiction the worst oppression is always internalized, is the more true to the dangers of human nature. Unlike Stalin's tame scholars, the rabbis – and even more so the scholars attacked here, and with them the whole mob of equally silent middlebrows such as writers, journalists, public figures, who lie and deceive more than them – are not facing the danger of death or concentration camp, but only social pressure; they lie out of patriotism because they believe that it is their duty to lie for what they conceive to be the Jewish interest. They are patriotic liars, and it is the same patriotism which reduces them to silence when confronted with the discrimination and oppression of the Palestinians.
In the present case we are also faced with another group loyalty, but one which comes from outside the group, and which is sometimes even more mischievous. Very many non-Jews (including Christian clergy and religious laymen, as well as some marxists from all marxist groups) hold the curious opinion that one way to 'atone' for the persecution of Jews is not to speak out against evil perpetrated by Jews but to participate in 'white lies' about them. The crude accusation of 'antisemitism' (or, in the case of Jews, 'self-hate') against anybody who protests at the discrimination of Palestinians or who points out any fact about the Jewish religion or the Jewish past which conflicts with the 'approved version' comes with greater hostility and force from non-Jewish 'friends of the Jews' than from Jews. It is the existence and great influence of this group in all western countries, and particularly in the USA (as well as the other English-speaking countries) which has allowed the rabbis and scholars of Judaism to propagate their lies not only without opposition but with considerable help.