Showing posts with label Supremacism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Supremacism. Show all posts

December 01, 2009

Arming Goldman Sachs With Pistols Against the Public

Alice Schroeder
Commentary by Alice Schroeder

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- “I just wrote my first reference for a gun permit,” said a friend, who told me of swearing to the good character of a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who applied to the local police for a permit to buy a pistol. The banker had told this friend of mine that senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank.

I called Goldman Sachs spokesman Lucas van Praag to ask whether it’s true that Goldman partners feel they need handguns to protect themselves from the angry proletariat. He didn’t call me back. The New York Police Department has told me that “as a preliminary matter” it believes some of the bankers I inquired about do have pistol permits. The NYPD also said it will be a while before it can name names.

While we wait, Goldman has wrapped itself in the flag of Warren Buffett, with whom it will jointly donate $500 million, part of an effort to burnish its image -- and gain new Goldman clients. Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein also reversed himself after having previously called Goldman’s greed “God’s work” and apologized earlier this month for having participated in things that were “clearly wrong.”

Has it really come to this? Imagine what emotions must be billowing through the halls of Goldman Sachs to provoke the firm into an apology. Talk that Goldman bankers might have armed themselves in self-defense would sound ludicrous, were it not so apt a metaphor for the way that the most successful people on Wall Street have become a target for public rage.

Pistol Ready

Common sense tells you a handgun is probably not even all that useful. Suppose an intruder sneaks past the doorman or jumps the security fence at night. By the time you pull the pistol out of your wife’s jewelry safe, find the ammunition, and load your weapon, Fifi the Pomeranian has already been taken hostage and the gun won’t do you any good. As for carrying a loaded pistol when you venture outside, dream on. Concealed gun permits are almost impossible for ordinary citizens to obtain in New York or nearby states.

In other words, a little humility and contrition are probably the better route.

Until a couple of weeks ago, that was obvious to everyone but Goldman, a firm famous for both prescience and arrogance. In a display of both, Blankfein began to raise his personal- security threat level early in the financial crisis. He keeps a summer home near the Hamptons, where unrestricted public access would put him at risk if the angry mobs rose up and marched to the East End of Long Island.

To the Barricades

He tried to buy a house elsewhere without attracting attention as the financial crisis unfolded in 2007, a move that was foiled by the New York Post. Then, Blankfein got permission from the local authorities to install a security gate at his house two months before Bear Stearns Cos. collapsed.

This is the kind of foresight that Goldman Sachs is justly famous for. Blankfein somehow anticipated the persecution complex his fellow bankers would soon suffer. Surely, though, this man who can afford to surround himself with a private army of security guards isn’t sleeping with the key to a gun safe under his pillow. The thought is just too bizarre to be true.

So maybe other senior people at Goldman Sachs have gone out and bought guns, and they know something. But what?

Henry Paulson, U.S. Treasury secretary during the bailout and a former Goldman Sachs CEO, let it slip during testimony to Congress last summer when he explained why it was so critical to bail out Goldman Sachs, and -- oh yes -- the other banks. People “were unhappy with the big discrepancies in wealth, but they at least believed in the system and in some form of market-driven capitalism. But if we had a complete meltdown, it could lead to people questioning the basis of the system.”

Torn Curtain

There you have it. The bailout was meant to keep the curtain drawn on the way the rich make money, not from the free market, but from the lack of one. Goldman Sachs blew its cover when the firm’s revenue from trading reached a record $27 billion in the first nine months of this year, and a public that was writhing in financial agony caught on that the profits earned on taxpayer capital were going to pay employee bonuses.

This slip-up let the other bailed-out banks happily hand off public blame to Goldman, which is unpopular among its peers because it always seems to win at everyone’s expense.

Plenty of Wall Streeters worry about the big discrepancies in wealth, and think the rise of a financial industry-led plutocracy is unjust. That doesn’t mean any of them plan to move into a double-wide mobile home as a show of solidarity with the little people, though.

Cool Hand Lloyd

No, talk of Goldman and guns plays right into the way Wall- Streeters like to think of themselves. Even those who were bailed out believe they are tough, macho Clint Eastwoods of the financial frontier, protecting the fistful of dollars in one hand with the Glock in the other. The last thing they want is to be so reasonably paid that the peasants have no interest in lynching them.

And if the proles really do appear brandishing pitchforks at the doors of Park Avenue and the gates of Round Hill Road, you can be sure that the Goldman guys and their families will be holed up in their safe rooms with their firearms. If nothing else, that pistol permit might go part way toward explaining why they won’t be standing outside with the rest of the crowd, broke and humiliated, saying, “Damn, I was on the wrong side of a trade with Goldman again.”

(Alice Schroeder, author of “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life” and a former managing director at Morgan Stanley, is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.) To contact the writer of this column: Alice Schroeder at

Jewish Progressive Endorsement of Murder

Gutsy progressive congressman Alan Grayson leads a double life

by Max Blumenthal on December 1, 2009

Since defeating an incumbent in Florida’s Republican-heavy 8th congressional district last year, Rep. Alan Grayson has emerged as one of the progressive movement’s most vocal champions. His attacks on Republican obstruction of healthcare reform and staunch opposition to escalation in Afghanistan have earned Grayson effusive praise from many liberal bloggers and activists.

Even before his election, Grayson gained recognition from the Wall Street Journal for being a "fierce critic of the war in Iraq" who sported a "Bush Lied, People Died" bumper sticker on his car. Recently, Grayson to CNN, "People want to see a congressman with guts. And America likes to hear the truth."

Grayson has battled for the public option and opposed the wars Obama has inherited from Bush. Of course, these positions are upheld by a broad swath of congressional Democrats and, at least in the case of the public option, are supported by a majority of Americans. But when it comes to the Israel-Palestine conflict, Grayson is fully programmed by AIPAC and the pro-war, pro-settlements wing of the Israel Lobby.

In an interview in March with the Philadelphia Jewish Voice, Grayson revealed two meetings he held the previous week with AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr. In the interview, Grayson explained how Kohr helped to "educate" him about Israel-related issues, then misquoted the Abba Eban line, "The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

GRAYSON: I met with Howard Kohr, the head of AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee], twice last week.

PJV: And what was the gist of the conversation?

GRAYSON: The gist of the conversation was that Iran is a tremendous threat to Israel and needs to be stopped. And I agree with that.

PJV: And what about what is going on in the Gaza Strip; was there any conversation about that?

GRAYSON: Yes, we talked about that. I think what AIPAC often tries to do is to educate Members of Congress who frankly follow this a lot less closely than I do. In my case, I read Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post online four or five times a week, so I am pretty familiar with the circumstances and why the war took place. As a famous Israeli once said, the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Grayson’s January 8th statement explaining his vote in favor of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip read like a mimeograph of those released by other AIPAC-friendly members of Congress. However, its introductory line stood out: "Congressman Alan Grayson, one of three incoming Jewish members of Congress, issued the following statement on the situation in Gaza."

Why did Grayson feel compelled to advertise his religion in a statement in favor of a war that would ultimately kill 1400 people, including at least 400 women and children, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza? Grayson lately voted to condemn the Goldstone Report that confirmed these figures. And why does Grayson toe the AIPAC line on Israel’s wars while fervently opposing the wars America wages in the Middle East to supposedly stamp out Islamic terror? Americans would like to the hear the truth.

November 30, 2009

‘Arab women need not apply’

By Jonathan Cook
November 30, 2009

NAZARETH // Israel’s finance minister was accused last week of trying to deflect attention from discriminatory policies keeping many of the country’s Arab families in poverty by blaming their economic troubles on what he described as Arab society’s opposition to women working.

A recent report from Israel’s National Insurance Institute showed that half of all Arab families in Israel are classified as poor compared with just 14 per cent of Jewish families.

Yuval Steinitz, the finance minister, told a conference on employment discrimination this month that the failure of Arab women to participate in the workforce was damaging Israel’s economy. Eighteen per cent of Arab women work, and only half of them full time, compared with at least 55 per cent of Jewish women.

He attributed the low employment rate to "cultural obstacles, traditional frameworks and the belief that Arab women have to remain in their home towns", adding that such restrictions were characteristic of all Arab societies.

But researchers and women’s groups pointed out that employment of Arab women in Israel is lower than almost anywhere else in the Arab world, including such employment blackspots for women as Saudi Arabia and Oman.

"Most Arab women want to work, including a large number of female graduates, but the government has refused to tackle the many and severe obstacles that have been put in their way," said Sawsan Shukha of Women Against Violence, a Nazareth-based organisation.

That assessment was supported by a survey this month revealing that 83 per cent of Israeli businesses in the main professions – including advertising, law, banking, accountancy and the media – admitted being opposed to hiring Arab graduates, whether men or women.

Yousef Jabareen, an urban planner at the Technion technical university in Haifa, who has conducted one of the largest surveys on Arab women’s employment in Israel, said the problems Arab women faced were unique.

"In Israel they face a double discrimination, both because they are women and because they are Arabs," he said.

"The average in the Arab world [for female employment] is about 40 per cent. Only women in Gaza, the West Bank and Iraq – where there are exceptional circumstances – have lower rates of employment than Arab women in Israel. That gap needs explaining and the answers aren’t to be found where the minister is looking."

He said a wide range of factors hold Arab women back, many of them the result of discriminatory policies by successive governments to prevent the 1.3-million Arab minority, which comprises one-fifth of Israel’s population, from benefiting from economic development.

These included widespread discrimination in hiring policies by both private employers and the government; a long-standing failure to locate industrial zones and factories in Arab communities; a severe lack of state-supported childcare services compared with Jewish communities; a shortage of public transport in Arab areas that prevented women reaching places of work, and a lack of training courses aimed at Arab women.

According to a study by Women Against Violence, 40 per cent of Arab women with degrees are unable to find work.

When interviewed, Mr Jabareen said, 78 per cent of non-working women blamed their situation on a lack of job opportunities.

Maali Abu Roumi, 24, from the town of Tamra in northern Israel, has been looking for a job as a social worker since she finished training two years ago. She said cash-strapped Arab schools, unlike Jewish schools, could not afford to employ a social worker, and that Israel’s Arab minority lacked the equivalent of the welfare institutions and foundations funded by wealthy overseas Jews that offered work to many Jewish social workers.

"Most of the Jews I studied with have found work, while very few of the Arabs on my course have been employed," she said. "When a job comes up, it’s usually part time and there are dozens of applicants."

The Alternative Planning Centre, an Arab organisation that studies land use in Israel, reported in 2007 that only 3.5 per cent of the country’s industrial zones were in Arab communities. Most attracted such small businesses as workshops for car repairs or carpentry that offered few opportunities for women.

"Israel’s private sector is almost entirely closed to Arab women because of discriminatory practices by employers who prefer to employ Jews," Mr Jabareen said. He added that the government had failed to provide leadership: among governmental workers, less than two per cent were Arab women, despite repeated pledges by ministers to increase Arab recruitment.

Ms Shukha said: "The civil service is a major employer, but many of these jobs are in the centre of the country, in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, a long way from the north where most Arab citizens live."

She noted that there were no regular buses from Nazareth, the largest Arab town in the country, to Jerusalem. "The transport situation is even worse in the villages where most Arab women live."

In addition, she said, most could not travel long distances to find work because of the scarcity of child-care provision. Only 25 government-run daycare centres have been established for preschool children in Arab communities out of 1,600 operating across the country. Ms Shaukha also criticised the trade and industry ministry, saying that, although it had invested heavily in training for Jewish women, only six per cent of Arab women were attending courses, and then mostly for sewing and secretarial work.

Mr Jabareen said Arab men faced massive discrimination, too, but found work because they filled a need in the economy by doing hard manual labour that most Jews refused, often travelling long distances to work on construction sites. "Women simply don’t have that option," he said. "They cannot do that kind of work and they need to stay close to their communities because they have responsibilities in the home."


November 27, 2009

Dreaming of Freedom and Peace

Notsylvia Night
Aletho News
November 27, 2009

In 1971, at the height of the brutal mass-murder of over 3 million people in south-east Asia which was called the Vietnam War, John Lennon wrote the song "Imagine" about a dream he had of a world without separate nations or separate religions or cultures.
Lennon´s wife, Yoko Ono told, the Rolling Stone magazine in an interview :

"Imagine" was "just what John believed -- that we are all one country, one world, one people. He wanted to get that idea out."

John Lennon was both right and wrong on this, I think.

Yes we are one world and one species, humanity. No national, ethnic or religious distinction gives one person´s life more value than another person´s life.

Lennon imagined, that ending all cultural differences and abolishing all borders would also end all war and violence among the people. What John Lennon didn´t know, was that his dream of an end to all national borders and all religious or cultural differences was shared by the very same war-mongering fascist elites which Lennon fought against with his songs and his political activism.

These elites also dreamed of creating a single culture and a single nation on earth. This "one global country" would then be under one global rule...theirs. They dreamed of "Full Spectrum Dominance", and what they "imagine" could become a nightmare for all other people on earth.

Lennon thought that it was the differences which divide us and move us to hatred and subsequently violence, and the borders which make us choose war.

In reality, the differences between us don't lead us to hatred, but our refusal to accept differences in others, tolerate them and learn to live with them.

Borders, national or otherwise, are actually great tools in setting limits to power.

It´s the aspiration for unlimited power in those who want to rule all nations and eliminate everything that would limit their rule, which drives us to war. Their striving for power and domination has driven the war-agendas time and again, as far back as rulers and empires existed.

Your differences from me enrich me. If I look at them, I get a new point of view, wider and less restricted. And mine can enrich you, if you allow me to have them. Both or ours will always enrich humanity. Humanity is growing, changing and evolving because of those differences.

While I accept the fact of your views being different from mine on so many levels, I do not want you to push them on me by the force of the power you might have over me. I do not want you to rule over me by either force or tricks and deception, and you don´t want me to rule over you in this way, either.

Of course, I know, that you and I, both members of the human race, often need to cooperate, and sometimes have conflicts of interest. Nobody can live on his or her own in this world and survive for long, or raise his or her children fully self-sufficient and independent from the rest of the world.

Cooperation, which is necessary, and most often a long-term deal, will eventually always lead to structures built around it and rules expected to be followed, written or unwritten ones. Social structures, which originally are built to serve everyone and make cooperation go more smoothly, always entail the danger, that in the long run they will become tools of power for the few over everybody else.

When I start to "imagine" a world of peace and a world where people are truly free, my dream is different from John Lennon´s. I dream of political power being limited by borders and concentrated in the smallest possible political units, in the communities.

In my dream, the United Nations is nothing more than a negotiation table, where nations send their representatives to negotiate with other nations on possible trade agreements or on conflicts of interest until a just solution is found for both sides. But the UN in my dream will never have an army nor any other enforcement power, nor will it be allowed to call any nation´s army to it´s service.

If a just agreement is made between two or more parties, why should it need enforcement? And if those who are involved cannot come to a common understanding of what is just, who can? Is the sense of justice of the would-be "enforcers" higher than of those who are involved? Or is, what is actually higher, only the "enforcers´" sense of self-importance and even supremacy? In my dream, when an agreement is reached, there will be a shared trust, that those who have agreed upon it, will honor their agreement.

In the same dream I see national-, and in large nations additionally state-, parliaments also as negotiation tables, where communities send their representatives to negotiate conflicts of interest between them or common goals among them while working together on temporary or permanent projects.

Participation of communities on common national or state- projects would be voluntary. But most communities who see a rational sense and a common need and shared interests or values would naturally do so.

Striving for cooperation to better accomplish common goals is an integral part of human nature.
It just happens, it doesn´t have to be enforced.

Communities would send their representatives to state and national parliaments on a mandate, voting according to the majority decisions made by either communities´general assemblies or by community councils concerned with the matter.

In this way national or state tax-funds, for whatever common projects are deemed to be worthwhile, will be under the control of the communities, who contribute the funding. In the same way will the decision of how and how much taxes are being collected for state or national purposes under the control of communities.

In my dream multi-national corporations will have ceased to exist. They will have been cut into ordinary companies, put under the rule of law of those countries in which they do their production.

The taxes being taken from the profits of very large companies, with profits above a certain limit, would be decided by the national parliaments. And those tax-revenues would be redistributed to the communities on a per capita bases. In this way the big companies could no longer blackmail the communities to lower their environmental standards and allow them to pollute water and air, just because they are large "tax-payers".

When political representatives in state or national parliaments will be bound in their voting by the decisions taken back home in their communities, they can no longer be bribed by lobbyists or blackmailed by special interest groups. Their only function would be to gather as much information as possible and send it back home, so that the people of their communities can make informed decisions. Representatives will be chosen for their efficiency in getting good and objective information across, not for their charisma in speeches they didn´t even write themselves, or for their good looks on TV. Campaign funds for them or any parties who´d put them in office, would no longer be needed.

There would not be any need for national or state governments in my dream, only parliaments with members representing their communities. In my dream there´d neither be any national or state law-enforcement. There would only be community police forces, which could cooperate with other community police forces, if need be.

And in my dream the laws to be enforced by courts or by the police would be laws the communities would give unto themselves.

Communities would be villages, or smaller or larger towns, or small city-districts. Populations in a community could range from a few thousands to maybe some tens of thousands of people in large cities, but not more. When communities become too large, the opportunity that most individuals have, to take part in the political and law-making process would shrink due to the size of the community.

In large nations or in supra-national organizations the chance of participation in the law-making process that ordinary citizens have nowadays becomes nearly zero. And the power of those who are in the position to make decisions concerning the many, has grown accordingly, and so has the ruthless abuse of this power, to the detriment of everyone else. A cross on a ballot paper or a touch on a monitor of a computer, with soft-ware which might or might not be rigged, is not, what real democracy is all about; not in my dream anyway.

Democracy for me means participation in the decision making process, at least in all those decisions which concern me and I feel concerned about. If things seem unimportant to me one way or the other, I don´t need to put my five cents in. I´d let others decide, who are more concerned and therefor have educated themselves more on the issue. These would be the decision making processes in the communities of my dreams. People would show up for the political assemblies when they are concerned about a certain subject and stay home when they are not. Those who are concerned would also be motivated to educate themselves on the subject. In this way those who would take part in decision making process would be those among the people who are indeed competent to do so.

Supremacists with a disdain for ordinary people have often called democracy a "mob-rule" of the stupid and un-informed, the easily deluded and manipulated. They used this as an excuse to prevent any form of direct democracy. Their distrust of humanity has led the western world to the verge of full-fledged fascism, to be ruled by elites who do not only want full control over us, but actually hate us to the extent of wanting to have a lot fewer of us around on this planet.

In my dream, it is in the communities where all laws are made in which the members of the communities will live. These laws might be made by elected representatives or by general assemblies, whatever the majority will decide to fit better to their needs.

The law-books would be slim, since there would be far fewer lawyers around to complicate them. There will not be a whole rat-tail of precedence-case, or of exceptions of law, or exceptions of exceptions, or of exceptions of exceptions of exceptions. There would just be laws. And, if there are mitigating circumstances to be argued in court, a jury of ordinary citizens would decide, if the points made are valid or not, using their own conscience, their traditional values and a bit of common sense.

In my dream most laws would be similar from one community to the next in a single nation, since the population in most nations share similar traditions and value systems. But still there would be differences among the communities. Some might be more conservative and others more liberal on certain issues (ln the western world those issues might be pornography, for instance, or prostitution or the use of certain recreational drugs). Some might be more ecological minded than others. Some might be more concerned about public health and the safety of food and medical drugs. Some might be strictly secular and others not. Some communities might have a tax-financed education- and public health- system or social system. Some would try a different form of financing for those purposes (for instance a system based on voluntary contributions to social or charitable organizations or a system based on voluntary insurance payments.)

All this would be decided in political processes, where every citizen of the community would have a chance of participation, having his or her opinion heard. Of course, how a community organizes it´s necessary work in the up-keep of social and physical infrastructure, would then automatically determine how high the tax-burden on everyone would have to be.

To be sure, not even in my dream, will all communities be the perfect place to live for all people.
In the past local majorities have often discriminated against minorities. But then, whenever those minorities were persistent, when they stood their ground in a just cause, demanding equality from their neighbors, then in time they gained this equality.

Majorities aren´t written in stone. When a just cause is promoted long enough in a community by honest and decent people who live there, they will be joined by others and then the majorities will change. That is, if a community actually is ruled by its own members and not by outside forces. However, in a society, where the real powers are far away rulers, all movements for equality and justice can easily be corrupted and infiltrated by agents who are on the payroll of the far away power-center. Of course, other forms of corruption have in the past troubled many local communities as well. Local corruption seemed no different from the corruptions seen in national governments or international bodies.

But still, there is a difference:

In a community corruption cannot stay hidden for a very long time. If a community actually would have the power of self-rule, then those citizens hurt by corruption, would soon put a stop to it. But once again, if the center of power is far removed from the community, this power-center always supports those corrupt local leaderships, who enforce the foreign rule on the population.

What if a community administration was really, really bad, with a philosophy straight from the dark ages? Shouldn´t there be some outside force to stop them?

Well, I don´t think so.

Even in a worst case scenario, the harm such a leadership could do, would be rather limited to the community they rule over, and maybe in a lesser way to neighboring communities, while the harm those "enforcers" have done in the past, has always been much greater. (Just think about all the children killed at Waco by those law-enforcement agencies who wanted to "save the children" there)

Something else would limit the harm a "dark age" community leadership could do to their population:

It´s the chance people have, to just... leave. Even a child-bride in a polygamist compound-community eventually has that chance. With all those other non-polygamist communities around, she easily could make a run for it.

"But she is under some form of mind-control", you say.

True, but no mind-control works forever. If the pain of living under oppression becomes too great, the girl will eventually be able to shake off this manipulative control over her mind and then she´ll only need a little bit of courage.

In this day and age, no community can isolate itself totally and live without trade with others.
Trade-contacts also mean exchange of ideas and chances to leave.

While leaders of large nations or those with global aspirations might dream of a smaller population, for local leaders their people are assets, they can´t afford to lose too many of them.
(Unless the community is actually one of those very rare suicide cult, the leaders wouldn´t harm their people intentionally, they would want to keep them save and sound)

The need to keep their citizens reasonably happy, so they won´t constantly be tempted to leave, will limit the amount of harm even bad community leaders can do to the people they rule.

If the bad and oppressive community leaders would ever want to try to spread their bad rule over their neighbors, who don´t want to join their cult, they could easily be kept in check by a defense coalition of the neighbors against them. But for those who choose to stay put under the rule of what most everybody else around them would see as a really bad leadership... well, it would be their choice.

Freedom means having a choices.

And if nothing else would be left of your freedom, then still, in a world where power is concentrated in communities, the freedom to leave and live some place else would still be a choice you have.

In a world like ours not everyone has this choice. Even those who seek asylum to escape the oppression and the danger to their life back home will often be sent back, if they can´t make a good case before an immigration court. Most of those who seek to get away from economic oppression and hopelessness have no legal chance at all to escape.

Absolute freedom, the thought you could ever do, whatever you want and whenever you want to do it, is an illusion. Not even the laws of nature allow this.

Whenever you have to live with others, your actions will be restricted by some rules.

Freedom means you can take part in shaping those rules. Freedom also means having a choice between different sets of rules. It means that there are choices people can make because there are differences.

Peace means, when people in one community learn to accept the collective choices of people in other communities, even if they don´t like their respective choices.

This is the freedom and peace I´m dreaming of when I "imagine" a better world. I ask you, is this an unrealistic dream?

The author is a frequent contributor to Aletho News and a human rights activist based in Iceland. An archive of previous articles is available at her blog. She deals with subjects like Zionism and the war against the Palestinian people, Western Islamophobia and the myths used to justify wars in the Middle East, imperialism in general, pseudo-scientific myths, falsification of history, the influence of religion on political philosophies, the human mind and how it is influenced by organized propaganda.

November 25, 2009

"We will have to kill them all": Effie Eitam, thug messiah

Jim Holstun and Irene Morrison, The Electronic Intifada, 25 November 2009

Efraim Eitam
Colonel Efraim (Fein) Eitam was only following orders when he told his troops to beat Ayyad Aqel in 1988. They beat him to death.

Eitam, who since then has held several senior posts in the Israeli government, has recently toured the US as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "Special Emissary" to the "Caravan for Democracy" program of the Jewish National Fund (JNF). This is a marriage made in heaven. Since Israel was founded, the JNF has organized the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the settlement of Jews on their expropriated land; Eitam sees himself as the messianic soldier-prophet directing future expulsions of Palestinians from Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Hillel of Buffalo, New York, invited Eitam to speak at our campus, the University at Buffalo (UB), on the recommendation of UB Professor Ernest Sternberg, a board member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and a founder of its local campus chapter.

In February 1988, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin discreetly told the Israeli army to break the bones of Palestinians rising up during the first Palestinian intifada. According to the testimony of Israeli soldiers, Colonel Eitam relayed the message to his Givati Brigade, then occupying Gaza. On 7 February, he ordered four of them to break the bones of two brothers from al-Bureij refugee camp. They cuffed and blindfolded them, beat them for a while in their own home, then took them to a secluded olive grove, where they kicked and beat them for 20 minutes. Khalid Aqel survived; his 21-year-old brother Ayyad died. In 1990, an Israeli court martial convicted these soldiers of assault, reduced their ranks, gave suspended sentences to three, and sentenced the fourth to two months ("Soldier jailed for intifada killing will sue Rabin," Guardian, 2 November 1990).

Eitam's soldiers testified he had ordered and participated in the Givati beatings. He admitted driving around Gaza with four batons in his jeep, including a shatter-proof, non-regulation knout made of thick rope. The army judges found that Eitam's "violent behavior became the norm, and was taken as an example by those under his command" ("Soldier Sentenced for Palestinian Beatings," Associated Press, 31 October 1990; "Givati Commander Denies Telling Men to 'Break Bones'", The Jerusalem Post, 23 February 1990; "Givati 4 Are Convicted", The Jerusalem Post, 2 October 1990). Still, he received no judgment for almost two years. Then, on 13 July 1992, Rabin became prime minister, and three days later, Eitam got off with a reprimand and a recommendation against promotion. The Jerusalem Post quotes sources suggesting that his likely appeal to Israel's high court of any conviction might have implicated his higher-ups, including Rabin, in the beatings and murders ("Effi Fein Reprimanded to Prevent Him Appealing to Supreme Court", 19 July 1992).

Nevertheless, when Ehud Barak became Rabin's general staff chief, he promoted Eitam to brigadier general. In December 2000, after Rabin's death, Barak's successor Shaul Mofaz refused to promote Eitam to the general staff. Chafing at the slight, Eitam gave an incendiary anti-Oslo lecture at Bar-Ilan University. He called Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat "a miserable murderer," attacked the government for sharing control of Jerusalem, and proposed a new Nakba, or dispossession: the Israeli army "can tomorrow ... conquer Judea, Samaria [the West Bank], and the Gaza Strip and expel the population there overnight. It's not a problem to do this. We have a problem of having the will to do this. As a nation we are inhibited" ("Eitam quits IDF", The Jerusalem Post, 27 December 2000).

Shortly thereafter, Eitam resigned from the army, but his career flourished. Elected to the Knesset in February 2003, he helped form the National Religious Party and the Renewed Religious National Zionist Party. In 2002-04 he held several cabinet-level portfolios in the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, including minister of housing and construction, a post he used to accelerate settlement in the Golan Heights, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

In a long interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz, Eitam called Palestinian citizens of Israel a "ticking bomb" and a "cancer" ("Dear God, this is Effi", 20 March 2002). Nations other than Israel are a "world of robots without souls." In classic fascist fashion, he stated that in war the most "sublime things in man appear." He seems to believe that he is the Messiah, saying his mission is "to save the people of Israel and the State of Israel." Such a leader, Eitam said, "also leads the Jewish people. He stands in the place where not only Ben-Gurion stood, but where Moses, too, stood. Where King David stood. So how does one do that, yet remain modest? How does one not get lost between coalition agreements and political intrigues, and a process that involves the very order of nature and the order of the heavens and the earth?" ("Continuation of Dear God, this is Effi", Haaretz, 20 March 2002).

But this modest Messiah isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. Unchastened by the killing of Aqel, Eitam has continued his racist and violent incitement. At a 2002 address in a Tel Aviv synagogue, Eitam called for the murder of then Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat, along with the rest of his colleagues: "If I [could] give the order now, he would be dead in 15 minutes, together with his whole gang." Of former Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade leader Marwan Barghouti, then being investigated by Israel in preparation for trial, Eitam suggested Israel should just "Take him out to an orchard and shoot him in the head" ("NRP leader Eitam: Arafat, Barghouti should be killed", The Jerusalem Post, 5 July 2002).

In typical colonial fashion he has called Palestinians "creatures who came out of the depths of darkness" who were "collectively guilty" and who could be indiscriminately killed not only if they had "blood on their hands" but because of "the evil in their heads." "We will have to kill them all," he said ("A Reporter at Large: Among the Settlers", The New Yorker, 31 May 2004).

Eitam has repeatedly called for the wholesale expulsion of Palestinians, seeing a 2002 Israeli assault on the West Bank as an opportunity to force them into Jordan, leaving "our Jewish conscience ... clean" ("Israeli nationalist hopes to persuade the country to expel Palestinians, Associated Press, 7 April 2002). In 2006, he stated: "We will have to expel the great majority of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]" ("Leftist MKs blast Eitam's statements on Arabs", Haaretz, 11 September 2006).

Addressing Arab Knesset members in 2008, he said, "the day will come when we will banish you from this house ... and from the national home. ... You ... should be expelled to Gaza, where your people, who are fighting us, dwell; that is where you belong" ("Security around MK Eitam boosted after anti-Arab speech", Ynet, 15 April 2008). During Israel's attacks on Gaza last winter, Eitam advocated mass transfer of Gaza civilians and turning the Strip into a "free hunting zone" ("Audio Exclusive: One Jerusalem Interview with Israeli General Effie Eitam (Res)", One Jerusalem, 7 January 2009).

The Israeli press has documented other staggering statements by Eitam: on the Israeli army's "very moral" but also fatal use of Jenin teenager Nidal Abu Muhsein as a human shield; his demand that Israel "declare war" on Palestinian citizens of Israel living in the Negev; and his calls for outlawing commemoration of the Nakba; executing Israeli politicians who favor returning occupied territories to Palestinians; and "decapitating" Hamas leaders.

Eitam's visit protested

When University at Buffalo community members asked Hillel to cancel Eitam's meeting because of his previous violence and hate speech and the damage his visit would do to local interfaith efforts, it refused. Hillel and other Eitam supporters responded that the scrupulously-documented charges made against him were a "medieval blood libel"; that Eitam never said or did these things; that he was misquoted (he seems to be misquoted a lot) or quoted out of context; that the leading Israeli newspapers reporting his words and deeds were part of a vast left-wing conspiracy; and that even if Eitam did say and do these things, he represents an important sector of Israeli opinion that should be heard.

On 2 November, Hillel held a noon meeting with Eitam for University at Buffalo students. Before the talk, one Eitam supporter talked with another about killing a protestor, while third called out to a student wearing a headscarf, "Why don't you go blow yourself up?" Eitam's speech consisted of a tirade about Iran, Hamas and Hizballah, and how efforts to make peace with them all failed, and "withdrawal" from Gaza was also a failure. Eitam compared Israel's actions to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, explaining that [US President] Truman had to "incinerate 200,000 people in a second" to protect American troops. When challenged repeatedly by one of us why he has made racist statements such as calling Palestinian citizens of Israel a "cancer," Eitam simply denied ever having said them and insisted his words had been taken "far out of context" ("Hillel Student to Arab Student: "Why don't you go blow yourself up?", The Buffalo Activist, 2 November 2009).

Eitam also spoke at a packed evening lecture. Hillel President Dan Lenard began by denouncing the "fascists" who had presented critical information about Eitam. Consistent with his earlier performance, Eitam's speech was a mish-mash of Arab-hating, Israel-boosting, and bare-faced lies. He insisted that Iran constitutes an unprecedented existential threat, and indeed, he has been calling for an attack on Iran since at least 2006 ("MK Eitam: Strike Iran now", Ynet, 18 May 2006). Astonishingly, he said Iran sponsored al-Qaeda's attacks. And again he compared the course taken by the US with Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the course the US and Israel should take with Iran.

But Eitam couldn't completely forget his favorite enemies. He claimed that Palestinians fled Palestine in 1947-48 on the broadcast orders of Arab leaders -- a claim long discredited. He said that a steady barrage of Hamas-fired Qassam rockets prompted the Gaza massacre, though Israeli sources, including Ehud Olmert's press spokesman, demonstrate that Hamas ceased all rocket fire between 19 June and 4 November 2008, when Israelis infiltrated Gaza and killed six Hamas activists. Palestinians on the West Bank, he says, are desperate for Israel to maintain the occupation and protect them from Hamas.

It was not a memorable performance. Eitam left the hall with a posse of three armed guards (or so a supporter reports) and a few diehard supporters. Outside the event, 40 students and community members protested Eitam's presence on campus; they had been alerted by UB Students for Justice in Palestine and the Palestine-Israel Committee of the Western New York Peace Center. A few Eitam supporters spat at protesters or yelled "terrorists!" but more passers-by joined in with the protest.

Eitam's policies may not ultimately be much different from those of, say, former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. But there is an air of desperation in organizing a US tour by such an unmanicured monster. On the other hand, the quickly-organized protest was one of the most spirited in recent UB memory. As the recent actions against former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in New Orleans, the University of Kentucky, the University of Arkansas, the University of Chicago and in San Francisco suggests, Israeli war criminals can no longer count on respectful US campus forums for state-funded propaganda tours. There's something in the air.

Jim Holstun teaches world literature at SUNY Buffalo and has published several articles for The Electronic Intifada. He can be reached at jamesholstun A T hotmail D O T com. Irene Morrison is Assistant to the Director of the Western New York Peace Center. She can be reached at Irene A T wnypeace D O T org. Both are members of the WNYPC Palestine-Israel Committee.

November 24, 2009

Why Israelis pick Tarantino over Spielberg

By Matt Beynon Rees
November 23, 2009

Quentin Tarantino’s "Inglourious Basterds" is the definitive Israeli movie.

The bloodthirsty revenge fantasy of Jewish soldiers crushing German skulls with baseball bats and scalping dying Nazis has been a big hit here since its release in mid-September and, unusually, has been reviewed in every big newspaper or magazine. But that’s not just because Israelis, like audiences elsewhere in the world, seem to enjoy seeing Hitler’s henchmen meet grisly pulp fiction ends.

There’s something deeper at work in Israelis’ responses. It’s tied to the way their country has dealt with the very concept of the Holocaust. More particularly, the way Jews died in the Holocaust.

The response of critics has been almost uniformly positive. One of Israel’s most respected and thoughtful critics, Uri Klein, wrote in the leading newspaper Ha'aretz that "what Tarantino does in 'Inglourious Basterds' seems to me more valid and more decent than what Spielberg did in 'Schindler's List.'"

Instead of trying to recreate the horror that was the Holocaust as Spielberg did, Klein wrote, Tarantino simply made up an alternative reality, dealing with Jews and the Nazis on his own terms. That, in fact, is what Israel did, too.

In that context, the most revealing review was by Avner Shavit in Achbar Ha’Ir, a Tel Aviv weekly. “The truth is that [Tarantino] is on our side. … Like a typical Yankee who has been raised on stories about Ari Ben-Canaan, Moshe Dayan and other Mossad agents, he describes the Jew as the only one capable of kicking the bad guy's ass for humanity's sake.”

In other words, Shavit believes Tarantino’s portrayal of Jewish fighters during World War II is determined by the image created of Israel since then. Ari Ben-Canaan was the hero of Leon Uris’ “Exodus,” which is set during Israel’s founding struggle. Moshe Dayan was Israel’s army chief and the country’s Defense Minister during the victory in the 1967 Six-Day War. Mossad agents crop up in almost every popular thriller with inside information and a magical ability to rub out the bad guy.

But what appeals to Israelis about Tarantino’s portrayal of these fantastical Jewish avengers is that they bear little relation to the great bulk of Jews who died in Hitler’s camps without making any attempt to resist.

That gets at the heart of the issue, because the Israeli establishment is, in many ways, still ashamed that so many Jews went to their deaths without a fight. The implication is that Israel created a new breed of Jews who’d have stood up to the Nazis, rather than being herded onto cattle cars.

Israel commemorates the victims of Hitler’s depredations with Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day — the relatively few “heroes” of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising get as much prominence in the naming of that memorial day as the millions of “martyrs.”

After World War II, Israel’s founders didn’t want to acknowledge that most Jews had gone powerless to their deaths. They lauded those “heroes” who fought back, no matter how hopelessly, over those who simply survived. The survivors never overcame that taint in the eyes of those who had arrived in Israel before the war. Many survivors have told me they were called “soaps” when they came to what was then Palestine — a callous reference to the rumor that the Nazis used the bodies of their victims to make soap.

Israel’s founders built a myth around the Holocaust. But the myth was like the repression that an individual places upon the unthinkable moments buried within his own subconscious.

Even to be recognized as a survivor in Israel requires a long battle with red tape. Then the government does its best to hold onto money that’s due to the survivors. New allegations emerged this week that lawyers hired to wrest that cash from the bureaucrats continue to take extortionate commissions from survivors, in violation of recent laws forbidding it.

Of 240,000 survivors in Israel, 20,000 receive compensation from Germany, and 40,000 get an Israeli stipend of less than $300 a month. The rest have nothing but their scarred memories. About 80,000 survivors live below the poverty line in Israel. The worst place in the developed world to be a Holocaust survivor is Israel.

So cheering Tarantino’s bloodcurdling re-imagining of history is an easy way out.

It’s also something which casts an unpleasant light on current Israeli politics.

On the Israelity blog, leading Israeli cultural writer David Brinn described how the crowd at the theater where he watched Tarantino’s movie cheered the demise of each German. In a reference to a banned political party that advocates the forced expulsion of Palestinians and has a reputation for violence, Brinn wrote that it felt like I was at a Kach rally.”

“On the one hand, it was liberating to be the avengers of the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis,” Brinn wrote, “but on the other hand, maybe we shouldn’t have been so happy about it.”


November 19, 2009

Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby

From Channel Four’s Dispatches program. The documentry on the disease crippling the Western governments.

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November 18, 2009

Globalization Unchecked:
How Alien Media is Suffocating Real Culture

By Ramzy Baroud
November 18, 2009

A Muslim family sits across of me in café, in a largely Muslim Asia country. An older woman shyly hunches over and desperately trying to avoid eye contact with the giant plasma screen TV, blazing loud music on the popular music video channel, MTV. The scantily dressed presenter introduces her ‘top song’ for the week. Beyonce, dressed in so very little, annoyingly reiterates that she is “a single lady.” The old woman’s son is mesmerized by what he sees. He pays no attention to his mother, young wife or even his own son who wreaks havoc in the coffee shop. The man’s T-Shirt reads: “what the fxxx are you looking at?”

Respecting the message on his T-Shirt, I try to keep to myself, but find it increasingly difficult. The wife is completely covered, all but her face. The contradictions are ample, overwhelming even.

The attire of the family, the attitude of the ladies and even the man with the provocative T-Shirt are all signs of the cultural schizophrenia that permeates many societies in the so-called Third World. It’s a side effect of globalization that few wish to talk about.

It’s almost always about trade, foreign investment, capital flow and all the rest. But what about culture, identity, traditions and ways of life; do these things amount to anything?

True, Globalization has various manifestations. If viewed strictly from economic terms, then the debate delves into trade barriers, protectionism and tariffs. Powerful countries demand smaller countries to break down all trade barriers, while maintaining a level of protectionism over their own. Smaller countries, knowing that they cannot do much to hide from the hegemonic nature of globalization, form their own economic clubs, hoping to negotiate fairer deals. And the economic tug-of-war continues, between diplomacy and threats, dialogue and arm twisting. This is the side of globalization with which most of us are familiar.

But there is another side of globalization, one that is similarly detrimental to some countries, and profitable to others: cultural globalization - not necessarily the domination of a specific culture, in this case Western culture, over all the rest - but rather the unbridgeable disadvantage of poorer countries, who lack the means to withstand the unmitigated takeover of their traditional ways of life by the dazzling, well-packaged and branded ‘culture’ imparted upon them around the clock.

What audiences watch, read and listen to in most countries outside the Western hemisphere is not truly Western culture in the strict definition of the term, of course. It’s a selective brand of a culture, a reductionst presentation of art, entertainment, news, and so on, as platforms to promote ideas that would ultimately sell products. For the dwarfed representation of Western culture, it’s all about things, tangible material values that can be obtained by that simple and final act of pulling out one’s credit card. To sell a product, however, media also sell ideas, often one sided, and create unjustifiable fascinations with ways of life that hardly represent natural progression for many vanishing cultures and communities around the world.

Recently in some Gulf country, a few Turkish teenagers turned an Internet café into a shouting match as they engaged one another in some violent computer game. I desperately tried to mind my own business, but their shrieks of victory and defeat were deafening. “Kill the Terrorist”, one of them yelled in English, with a thick Turkish accent. The “Rs” in “terrorists” rolled over his tongue so unnaturally. For a moment, he was an “American”, killing “terrorists”, who, bizarrely looked more Turkish than American. As I walked out, I glanced at the screen. Among the rubble, there was a mosque, or what was left of it. The young Turkish Muslim was congratulated by his friends for his handy work.

There is nothing wrong with exchanges of ideas, of course. Cultural interactions are historically responsible for much of the great advancements and evolution in art, science, language, even food and much more. But, prior to globalization, cultural influences were introduced at much slower speed. It allowed societies, big and small, to reflect, consider, and adjust to these unique notions over time. But the globalization of the media is unfair. It gives no chance for mulling anything over, for determining the benefits or the harms, for any sort of value analysis. News, music and even pornography are beamed directly to all sorts of screens and gadgets. When Beyonce sings she is a ‘single lady’, the whole world must know, instantly. This may sound like a harmless act, but the cultural contradictions eventually morph into conflicts and clashes, in figurative and real senses.

More, it makes little sense, for example, that Asian audiences are consumers of Fox News and Sky News, while both are regarded as rightwing media platforms in their original markets. And what can Nepali television, for example, do to control media moguls and morphing media empires all around? Young people grow, defining themselves according to someone else’s standards, thus the Turkish teenager, temporarily adopting the role of the “American”, blows up his own mosque.

Globalization is not a fair game, of course. Those with giant economies get the lion’s share of the ‘collective’ decision-making. Those with more money and global outlook tend to have influential media, also with global outlook. In both scenarios, small countries are lost between desperately trying to negotiate a better economic standing for themselves, while hopelessly trying to maintain their cultural identity, which defined their people, generation after generation throughout history.

The Muslim family eventually left the coffee shop. The husband watched MTV throughout his stay; the young wife, clicked endlessly on her iPhone, and the older woman glanced at the TV from time to time, then quickly looked the other way. One is certain that a few years ago, that family would have enjoyed an entirely different experience. Alas, a few years from today, they might not even sit at the same table.

source: Palestine Chronicle

November 17, 2009

Palestinian History and Identity in Israeli Schools

By Sa'id Barghouti - Published in Nakba Education on the Path of Return (Autumn 2009)

Children from Kufr Qasem develop their own activities to educate one another about history, geography and their rights as part of Badil's Youth Education and Activation project, August 2009. Badil

This article is based on my personal experience as a teacher of Palestinian students in Israeli public schools and through my work as school inspector and history curriculum team coordinator for Arab schools from 1975 until 2004. During this period I was engaged in efforts at textbook reform, and on research about Israel's education system which I undertook for my doctoral dissertation.1


Israel has a highly centralized public education system which is operated and controlled by the Ministry of Education. The only major exception is the ultra-orthodox Jewish education system which enjoys autonomy for ideological reasons.2 The state education system operated by the Ministry is composed of two separate streams: the public secular stream, and public national religious stream.
Palestinian students make up one quarter of all students in the Israeli state education system.3 All public schools in Palestinian communities in Israel belong to the public secular stream; no public religious schools are available for Palestinians. Public education for Palestinians is administered by the Department for Arab Education, which is a special administrative entity within the Ministry of Education and under its direct control. The Department for Arab Education has no autonomous decision making authorities.

Up until 1987, the Department for Arab Education was headed by a Jewish-Israeli director who was appointed by the Ministry and involved in policy making to ensure control over the Palestinian population.4 Since then, Palestinians have been appointed to lead the Department but have been excluded from policy decision making as a result of parallel organizational reform which provided for the integration of Arab public schools into the Jewish public education system and its local authorities. Thus, while the Department for Arab Education continued to exist and came to be headed by a Palestinian employed by the Ministry, the heads of Arab Education have held no real power. The Department is only meant to oversee the education of Palestinians and answer to Jewish-Israelis who continue to be in charge.5

From the beginning, Israeli politicians saw in the state education system, an instrument to realize Zionist political objectives: the founding of a Jewish nation with a shared identity rooted in Zionist beliefs.6 Conversely, the educational system was used to ensure a complete lack of Arab and Palestinian identity among the Palestinian citizens of the state.7

In 1953, Israel passed the Public Education Law with the aim to centralize the education system. In this context, the goals of public education were defined and formalized for the first time. The first goal stated that the educational system seeks to “raise youth on the values of Israeli culture, and love of the [Jewish] nation and people of Israel.”8 This goal remained in place throughout subsequent amendments of the law. No positive goals have been formulated for the education of Palestinians based on the values of Arab, Muslim, and Christian culture and the Palestinian nation. Thus, the teaching of Palestine's history in Israeli schools, both Jewish and Arab, is based on the Zionist narrative which holds that Jews are one people that formed their identity in the land of Israel (Palestine) more than one thousand years ago, and returned to it to form that identity again.9

Of course Palestine was, and has remained, inhabited by its Arab-Palestinian population, who have marked it with its culture, landmarks, and language. But the Zionist narrative avoids facing this reality. This is expressed in Israeli educational texts and curricula through:
  • the secularization, of myths from the Torah, i.e. their transformation into “facts”: the myth of “the promised land”, for example, is turned into an actual “land of the forefathers” and the presentation of Israel as “the historical homeland of the Jewish nation;”
  • promotion of a system of social beliefs, such as “we are victims,” “we call for peace,” “our wars are defensive,” “our arms are pure,” “Palestinians hate us,” “they are the aggressors;”10
  • selectiveness in the choice of facts and explanations, ignoring contradictory arguments, especially facts connected to Arab-Palestinian history, or at best, presenting them as a “narrative” that is part of distorted history.
Main findings from research

In 1953, the Ministry of Education issued the first history curriculum for Jewish public and religious elementary schools.11 This curriculum was translated into Arabic with some adjustments,12 and Palestinian students were expected to learn the same narrative as their Jewish peers. Arab and Jewish teachers were subsequently charged with the task of preparing textbooks according to that curriculum. History at that time was taught in a complete chronological cycle, with ideas introduced in elementary school (fifth through eighth grade), revisited and expanded upon in High School (ninth through twelfth grade). In my research, I undertook, among others, to investigate how Zionist history has been presented to Palestinian students in history textbooks up until 1975.

Early history textbooks for Palestinian fifth graders,13 tell the history of Palestine from the perspective of the [Jewish] “people of Israel” based on the Torah. Exceptions are a few scattered paragraphs which state that the Canaanites colonized the mountains of “Judea” and the “Negev,” the Jebusites colonized the mountains of Jerusalem, and that Palestinians differ from Canaanites and are not Semites.14

As expected, the texts were strongly driven by the Torah: “The Hebrews were begot from Abraham, who crossed the Euphrates and settled in an area which naturally splits into three parts, including the middle region, called Sharon, and the northern region, which is separated from the middle region by the Jezreel Valley.”15 Canaanites that lived in that area are described as “the primitive tribes.”16

The textbook then mentions Jacob, calling him by his last name, Israel: “Israel became the father of the Israelite tribes.”17 It then describes the exile of the Israelites to Egypt, and their flight from Egypt, led by Moses: “The exodus of the Israelites led by Moses was an important event in their history that remained in the nation’s mind with the passing of eras. It was a great event that placed them in history as a nation.”18 When the book gets to Joshua Ben Nun, it points to his heroic feats and the sacrifice of his people, “which secured victory for them against their enemies.”19

The textbook follows the narrative from the Torah, era after era, until the destruction of the temple and the Babylonian capture. From there, the Jews return from captivity during the reign of Cyrus the Great. The book does not deviate from heroic descriptions of the Israelites, justifying all of their wars, and describing the indigenous population of Canaanites and others as “enemies and primitive people” while using contemporary Hebrew names for names of places and localities, and ignoring their original names.

This method is repeated with regard to the history of Palestine under Hellenic rule. The main thrust of the text here concerns the heroic deeds of the Maccabees and their wars, “Judah Maccabee went forth with his brothers to secure the foundations of governance and protect the people from enemies, battling the Adamites, and Omarites and the inhabitants of the Galilee, as well as standing up to military campaigns of the Seleucids.”20

Sixth grade history textbooks do not differ in method or content. The history of Palestine under Roman rule is the history of Jews in “Israel” until the destruction of the temple in 70 BC. About seven hundred years of the indigenous Palestinians' history is absent from the pages of the book until the onset of the Arab-Islamic conquest. It briefly mentions the Arab conquest of Jerusalem under the heading “The Conquest of Jerusalem,” with one sentence in particular standing out: “Omar [the second Muslim caliph] treated the Jews, who helped the Muslims, well, left them their property and pardoned them from paying taxes.”21 The aim of this sentence is to provide assurance of a Jewish presence in the city at that time.

Although this book revolves around Arab-Islamic history and Islamic civilization until the fall of the Abbasid empire, it does not mention Palestine until the start of the crusades. It also remains silent about Arab initiatives in Palestine, such as the building of Ramla by Sulayman bin Abd al-Malek, and the construction of the Hisham Palace in Jericho. Casual mention is given (pp. 155-156) of the building of the Dome of the Rock, and then the Aqsa mosque, during the reign of Abd al-Malek ibn Marwan.

Returning to the history of Palestine, a history textbook for seventh graders called “Yearning for Zion” contains the following sentence: “facing [the Christian oppression of Jews in Europe], their attachment to their beliefs grew and their desire to return to Zion, the land that the Romans forced them out of in the first century AD, deepened.”22 Under the heading “The Relationship Between Jews in Diaspora and the Land of Israel” the book reviews at length stories of individuals or small groups of Jews that immigrated to Tiberias, Safad, and the villages of Galilee between the years 1141-1662. It describes their achievements in every field, portraying them as the ones who made the area blossom.

To sum up, the textbook omits the history of Palestine from 638 to 1791 except insofar as it pertains to Jews. The two main exceptions are the construction the walls of Jerusalem by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1542, to protect the city from Bedouin attacks (p. 186), and the mention of Napoleon's siege of Akka (p. 301).

The Zionist historical narrative is completed in the eighth grade history textbook23 which presents the contemporary history of Palestine. The topic is divided into two units: “The English in Israel” (instead of the British Mandate in Palestine) and “The Founding of the State of Israel.” Thirty of sixty class periods that eighth graders must attend are devoted to this second chapter. In the spirit of the curriculum, the narrative in this book revolves around subheadings with suggestive meanings, such as “The Continuous Yearning for Return and National Independence” (pp. 178-182). This chapter, as well as the chapters that follow, address at length everything that has any connection to contemporary Jewish history from the perspective of the Zionist historical narrative, until the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. Under the heading “War of Independence” (p. 222), the book states that “the armies of the Arab countries entered the country in May of 1948 and fought against the Israeli forces . . . which were able to push back these armies until the four countries that have shared borders with Israel were forced . . . to sign a truce.” As for Arab-Palestinian society, it is completely absent in the textbook. Moreover, not even one word is spent on the Palestinian refugees.

This trend repeats itself in the high school curriculum and textbooks, and which are all translated from Hebrew, with the only exception of the book The History of Arabs prepared by Salman Falah (a former education inspector) who writes that Omar Ibn al-Khatab divided greater Syria into the regions of Hims, Hama, Aleppo and Israel [sic].24

Efforts at educational reform

In 1975, I began my work as school inspector and coordinator for the history team in the Arab schools and set out to change the situation. A first success came in 1976 when a new curriculum was issued for elementary and middle schools.25 The new curriculum differed from its predecessor in the following ways:
  • The name “Palestine” was inserted into the curriculum for the first time, instead of “the land of Israel.” Places were named using their original Arabic names rather than the Hebraized names of the older curriculum;
  • The emphasis on the Torah narrative was reduced, and the histories of other peoples, like the Canaanites, were highlighted. Emphasis on the Zionist narrative of the history of Palestine was reduced, and an Arab-Palestinian historical narrative was introduced for contrast. For instance, a new headline read: “The beginning of Jewish colonization and the Arabs in Palestine26” instead of the previous “Yearning for Zion and the Return to Israel.” In other words, the focus of the curriculum shifted from the Zionist historical narrative of Israel towards a history of Palestine.
Following the publication of the new curriculum, I also oversaw the preparation of a series of books that replaced the previous textbooks. A new book which most strongly related to Palestinian history was a history textbook for the sixth grade.27 It said, for example, that “The Torah states that the prophet Moses . . .” (p. 26), and that “Joshua Ben Nun resorted to subterfuge in his battle against the Canaanites” (p. 28). This stylistic change, which makes mention of the Torah in reported language, improved the objectivity of the text, allowing for a critical approach towards the Torah-Zionist narrative. A seventh grade textbook surveying at length the history of Palestine under the rule of the crusaders, moreover, notes: “The crusaders also built relationships with the Muslims in their everyday life by hiring Arab craftsmen, as well as being influenced by their Eastern style of dress and manners.”28

Part two of the history textbook for the eighth grade contains the heading “Palestine in the Age of Political Organizations”, and says: “For forty years in the nineteenth century, the Ottomans tried to control the inhabitants of Palestine by recognizing local leadership.”29 In this way, the Arab-Palestinian narrative began to gain ground in textbooks, albeit in a limited fashion.
As for high school, I oversaw the preparation of a new curriculum in 1999, which was only approved by the Education Ministry after a two-year long battle. This curriculum included an entire unit called “Modern Arab-Palestinian Society.”30 It covers the Palestinian presence on the land until 1948. In the unit on “The War of 1948,” we prepared a chapter titled “The Origin of the Refugee Problem (Expulsion? Escape?).”31 By the time I stopped working with the Ministry of Education in 2004, a version of the textbook that included this chapter had not yet been published. The Arab-Palestinian narrative did however appear in a general, brief form in the three sections of textbooks over which I oversaw preparation.32One chapter ends with the sentence, “many Palestinians whose cities and villages were occupied were forced to leave their homes and became refugees, because of the dangers of war and its destruction, and because of a number of massacres that were perpetrated against them, such as the Massacre of Deir Yassin in April 1948.”

The ideological backlash

In April 2004, I left my post at the Ministry of Education, but I continued to follow the government's development of the curriculum. A new high school curriculum was issued in 200733, which was followed in 2008 by a new curriculum for elementary and middle school levels,34 replacing both the 1976 and 1999 curricula. The new curriculum for elementary school completely erased modern Palestinian history. Also erased was the unit called “The History of Arab-Palestinian Society in the Modern Era” for high schoolers. Again, the Zionist historical narrative is imposed on Palestinian students in history textbooks which ignore the history and culture of the Palestinian people. Just as in the period before 1975, anything connected to the history of the Palestinian people has been erased in the revised curricula of 2007 and 2008.
Such orientation will leave a negative impact on students in the long term. First, the connection between the Palestinian-Arab students and their history, culture and identity is severed. This effect is reinforced by the lack of extra-curricular educational activities in Arab schools, such as the commemoration of important events, including the Nakba, massacres, and important political events. This in addition to the prohibition on commemorating national personalities and thinkers such as Ghassan Kanafani, Mahmoud Darwish and Edward Said. Such commemorations are now about to become explicitly banned by the Ministry of Education. Severing this connection means that the cultural wellsprings, which allow students to build their collective history and identity, are dried out. As a result, students are likely to slide towards alienation from their homeland, and opportunities for reflection on the Palestinian people's history and their ongoing Nakba, which are vital for students to form their world view, are missed.
The second impact of a Zionist historical narrative in curricula, including the use of Hebrew names and the Hebraization of Arabic names of places in textbooks, is to raise students on the idea that the country, Palestine, called Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), belongs to Jews. Palestinian students are inculcated with the idea that Jews are the original and oldest inhabitants of the land and the most attached to it. Raising Arab-Palestinian students on this idea, while not providing adequate cultural and historical knowledge to challenge it, encourages alienation from their homeland.

Feelings of alienation will later on undermine the capacity of students to tackle oppressive policies, especially in matters of land and social culture, and transform them into easy prey for the dominant Israeli political discourse which can be summarized as follows: “this is the land of the Jewish people. We returned to our rightful historic homeland and built it up. You Arab-Palestinians are just ‘passers-by,’ strangers to this land, and a source of annoyance to our presence.” This is the discourse underlying Israeli political demands for the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Palestinian history teachers can do little to correct this negative trend. They are limited by the state curriculum and textbooks, and banned from deviating from these texts. They are also monitored by officials in the schools, and by the Ministry of Education. Ultimately, Palestinian students have no choice but to memorize history as it is presented in the textbooks, because they will take their final high school graduation exams (bagrut), in which the Ministry of Education prepares the questions and evaluates the students' answers.

Some would argue that history classes and textbooks are no longer central for students to get to know their history and build a collective memory and identity. New means of communication, as well as the role of television and computers, have become the “vectors” of that memory. Scholars, however, agree that school textbooks, and especially history textbooks, have remained central in building memory and fashioning identity.35 This, because students, like others in society, absorb information from various sources in a haphazard and unsystematic manner, and usually in an individual setting. History classes on the other hand, meet day after day, year after year, and from an early age until maturity. School history education is delivered through systematic, didactic and pedagogical methods, and in a collective setting with peers. History classes and history textbooks therefore remain the central and strongest element in the fashioning of identity, and play a crucial role in building collective memory, or, as in our case, erasing it.

Source and endnotes