Subject: ON POLITICAL ORDER, SOCIAL JUSTICE, AND POPULAR FEAR.
New Year's Day 2007
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
We at CEIMSA wish you a happy and liberating New Year.
Critical analyses in social science should produce clear
thinking which might save us from making big mistakes, for instance
from becoming tacticians for strategists whose intentions are against
our own best interests. Or in the words of the famous 19th-century
historian, Henry Brooks Adams : "Politics, as a practise, whatever its
professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds."
The 4 items below to begin this new year speak to a false
consciousness produced by a politics of fear and to corrective
measures which are now being advanced by democratic movements for
Item A. is an article, sent to us by Professor Bertell Ollman, on
"Holocaust Deniers and the Iraq Study Group" by Professor Mazin
Qumsiyeh, author of Sharing
the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle (Pluto
Press, 2004) and retired faculty member at Duke and Yale Universities.
Item B. is an article by Meron Benvenisti, "The
temples of the occupation", first published in the Israeli newspaper,
Haaretz, and forwarded to us by Professor Edward Herman.
Item C., also forwarded to us by Professor Herman, is an article by
Israeli labor organizer, Ran HaCohen, discussing "The Embarrassment of the Wretched" and other
successful tactics for Peace and Justice.
Item D. is a call by Historians Against War for
support of the mass antiwar mobilization to be held in Washington, D.C.
on January 27-29.
And we leave you on this New Year's day with words of wisdom from three
intellectual giants who have contributed so much to our international
socialist culture :
Howard Zinn : "If those in charge of our society -
politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television -
can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will
not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves."
Noam Chomsky: "The point of public relations slogans like
"Support our troops" is that they don't mean anything... That's the
whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that
nobody's going to be against, and everybody's going to be for. Nobody
knows what it means, because it doesn't mean anything. Its crucial
value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean
something: Do you support our policy? That's the one you're not allowed
to talk about."
Bertrand Russell : "The whole problem with the world is
that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser
people so full of doubts."
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Dircector of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
from Bertell Ollman :
28 December 2006
The long apology for Zionism that you just forwarded to me deserves the
one below as a riposte . . . .
Palestinian-American, I am appalled that many people meeting in Teheran
claim to support Palestine while denying or trying to minimize Jewish
suffering. Few at the conference articulated that the Holocaust
did happen, was horrendous, and it needn't be denied in order to
support Palestinian human rights or to oppose Zionism (throughout I
refer to political Zionism not cultural Zionism).
This is not surprising, considering that Zionists constantly and
intentionally conflate Zionism with Judaism. This is accomplished
in many ways: using Jewish symbols for Israel, choosing a national
anthem that speaks of Jewish yearning (even though 20% of the
population is not Jewish), emphasizing Israel as a Jewish state,
speaking of "the Jewish people" as united in support of Israel, even
though most Jews are not Zionists, and countless other ways.
But to me the most dangerous Zionist myth that contributes to
anti-Jewish ranting in Teheran and beyond is that political Zionism is
the defender and protector of Jews against a hostile (gentile)
world. The truth is otherwise, and is now well documented in
declassified archives, in Zionist archives, in letters and books, and
it is rather "inconvenient" (to put it mildly) to political Zionists.
In 'Mein Kampf', the only Jews admired were the Zionists. Hitler called
it a "great movement out of Vienna" that helped him dispel the doubts
he had as to whether Judaism simply represented another religion or was
a nationality (and thus did not belong in Europe). After the 1935
Nazi racial laws were introduced, the Zionist Federation of Germany was
the only Jewish group allowed to function, with offices open in Berlin
until 1942. This is not surprising, considering that they (ZFG) wrote
to the new Nazi regime that "Zionism believes that a rebirth of
national life, such as is occurring in German life through adhesion to
Christian and national values, must also take place in the Jewish
Edwin Black's book "The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the
Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine" is an eye opener on
the tragic practical results of this convergence of these two
segregationist ideologies. In the US, a powerful Zionist lobby
scuttled efforts to bring Jewish refugees from WWII; this is documented
in books by Jewish leaders and intellectuals like Alfred Lilienthal and
The future first Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, rejected
plans to save Jewish children, telling a meeting of Labor Zionist
leaders on 7 Dec. 1938: "If I knew that it would be possible to save
all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only
half of them by transporting them to Eretz Yisrael, then I would opt
for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life
of these children, but also the history of the People of Israel." Iraqi
Jew (and ex-Zionist) Naiem Giladi exposed this and other of Ben
Gurion's scandals in a book by that title. (e.g. Zionist
underground forces bombed Jewish targets in Baghdad to achieve Zionist
objectives of driving Jews to Israel).
Sigmund Freud wrote a letter rejecting putting his name in support of
the Zionist project on psychological grounds :
- Whoever wants to influence the
masses must give them
- something rousing and inflammatory
and my sober judgment of
- Zionism does not permit this. It
would have seemed more
- sensible to me to establish a
Jewish homeland on a less
- historically-burdened land. But I
know that such a rational
- viewpoint would never have gained
the enthusiasm of the masses
- and the financial support of the
wealthy. I concede with
- sorrow that the baseless
fanaticism of our people is in part
- to be blamed for the awakening of
In a letter published December 1948 in NY Times by Alfred Einstein and
26 other leading American Jews we read :
- The discrepancies between the bold
claims now being made
- by Begin and his party, and their
record of past performance in
- Palestine bear the imprint of no
ordinary political party.
- This is the unmistakable stamp of
a Fascist party for whom
- terrorism (against Jews, Arabs,
and British alike), and
- misrepresentation are means, and a
"Leader State" is the
Begin went on to become Israeli Prime Minister and his party morphed
into the Likud, and its allies in the US became the neoconservatives
who pushed for the war on Iraq.
The horrors of what happened in Europe as a result of 19th century
nationalism fed the ethnocentric nationalism known as Zionism, and was
used to justify the ethnic cleansing and destruction of Palestinian
society. It is now destabilizing Western Asia and encouraging other
narrow chauvinistic ideologies (e.g. Bin Laden's Pan-Islamic
nationalism mirroring Zionism by claiming to represent members of a
particular religion wherever they live).
The Iraq study group report recognized the centrality of the
Israel/Palestine question to the spiraling mayhem and loss of US
credibility, but failed to suggest the only change that would make a
difference: a shift in US foreign policy goals and strategy to promote
human rights and International law. The latter four words are
ironically missing from both the "Road Map to Peace in the Middle East"
and the "Report of the Iraq Study Group."
Mazin Qumsiyeh is author of "Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights
and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle". He served on the faculties
of Duke and Yale Universities.]
Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact
Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine (New York : Carroll &
Lenni Brenner, 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis
(Barricade Books, 2002)
Lenni Brenner, The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to
Shamir (London: Zed Books, 1984).
Marc H. Ellis, Israel and Palestine: Out of the Ashes, (London: Pluto
Naeim Giladi , Ben Gurion's Scandals (Flushing: Glilit Pub. Co., 1995).
Alfred M. Lilienthal, What Price Israel (IPS Reprint edition, 1969)
Tom Segev with Haim Watzman (Translator) The Seventh Million: The
Israelis and the Holocaust, (New York: Owl Books, 2000).
Rabbi Moshe Shonfeld, The Holocaust Victims Accuse, Neturei Karta, USA,
New York, 1977.
Freud's Letter to Dr. Chaim Koffler Keren HaYassod, Vienna:
26 February 1930; posted at the Freud Institute in UK website: www.freud.org.uk./arab-israeli.html.
June 21, 1933 memo from The Zionist Federation of Germany, reprinted in
Brenner, 51 Documents, p. 43. Translated from German by Dr. D. S.
Blondheim, Federation of American Zionists, 1916, Essential Texts of
Zionism; Jewish Virtual Library www.us-israel.org/jsource/Zionism/pinsker.html
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Reissue edition (Boston: Houghton Mifflin,
from Edward Herman :
30 December 2006
Subject: Haaretz: Benvenisti: The temples of the occupation
What gets me is that the Israelis are so much more critical of their
own state than many Americans and Europeans.
[Although Benvenisti does not use the term in
this detailed description of how Israel maintains control over the
lives of Palestinians and has since the creation of the state, if there
is one word that most quickly comes to my mind when defining zionism is
not its inherent racism and belief in Jewish supremacy, but its
equally inherent sadism which long before there was an intifada
in the occupied territories was expressed through over a thousand
military laws that covered everything from prohibiting the wearing of
the Palestinians colors to requiring a permit for the growing of a
far, of the dozens of checkpoints promised to be removed from the West
Bank in a "gesture" to Mahmoud Abbas, not a single checkpoint has been
It will be interesting to see what excuse they come up with after the
weather improves. The plan to remove the roadblocks has been delayed
over some excuse or another for several years, and in the meantime
their number has multiplied. We can assume with reasonable certainty
that the newest attempt to ease the lives of the Palestinians will fail
like its predecessors, because the regime of roadblocks is not a matter
of a marginal gesture, nor a matter of quantity, whose reduction is
likely to signal change in the situation prevailing in the occupied
territories. Instead, the roadblocks are the foundation of Israeli
control of the West Bank, and they fulfill three major roles: symbolic,
geo-strategic and socio-political. Therefore anyone who attributes only
tactical-security or settlement-dependent significance to them is
missing the point.
In this respect, the IDF officers (who sabotage any effort to remove
obstructions) are more faithful to Israel's basic perception than are
the prime minister and the defense minister, who are using the
roadblocks as a short-term political means. The hundreds of permanent
and mobile roadblocks, the constructed and improvised ones, the cement
blocks and the revolving gates, the mounds of earth and the ditches,
are all designed for one purpose: to show who has the power to control
the lives of the Palestinians. Small groups of young, inexperienced and
frightened soldiers serve as the agents of the power that forces
millions of people to behave according to arbitrary rules that
interrupt the most basic routines of their lives. This domination is
implemented for the most part without any need for force, by exploiting
the fear of the Palestinians.
The disdain for the Palestinians and the arrogant use of a mentality of
submissiveness is reflected not only by the roadblocks themselves but
by the checking procedures, which are conducted without any sensitivity
to the dignity and needs of the Palestinians, who are expected to wait
in line in silence or else be "punished." Colonial regimes have always
been based on the arrogance of a small number of soldiers who
controlled the lives of million of natives with minimal force, and a
dependence on deterrence, which guaranteed the inferior status of those
subject to their authority.
The Israelis have improved on the colonial system: Instead of the
occupying powers dictating the lives of the natives on a daily basis in
their towns and their villages, they for ce an indirect regime of
imprisonment on the natives, fencing them off and interfering in their
daily routines. Here, the ruler does not encroach on their space, but
they are forced to plead with him in the temples of the occupation, the
roadblocks; and as long as they surrender to the rules imposed on them,
the occupier knows his status is secure.
The roadblocks serve as a first-class geo-strategic means: They
institutionalize the expropriation of the physical space and the public
infrastructure of the West Bank and their transference to the exclusive
use of the Israelis. The map of the hundreds of roadblocks erected in
Palestinian populated areas outlines the physical division of the West
Bank into areas west of the separation fence that have been annexed de
facto, and the Jordan Valley that has been cut off from its
surroundings, and 10 Palestinian enclaves from Jenin in the North to
Mt. Hebron in the South.
The mounds of earth and the cement blocks, which are ostensibly
scattered randomly, in effect constitute a complete geo-strategic
system, and therefore the "removal" of several mounds of earth or
obstructions is liable to spoil the scheme so carefully planned out.
And those who believe that "the ideology of Greater Israel has been
shelved" should understand that the roadblocks symbolize the
expropriation of the West Bank territories without annexation, albeit
with the addition of the creation of Palestinian "reservations."
The geographical division has fragmented the Palestinian community into
weak and impoverished sub-communities, where centers are disconnected
from peripheries, urban centers are eroding and rural areas becoming
poor, families are separated, and medical treatment is denied along
with access to higher education. This division is imposed in the hopes
that the political and social siege will result in demographic distress
and perhaps to emigration.
The planners of the roadblock regime devoted great effort to the
planning and implementation of the system, but apparently were mistaken
in their assessments of the efficacy of their method. Palestinian
society is demonstrating signs of strong cohesion and adjustment to the
cruel living conditions forced on it, and there are no signs that the
strategic goals have in fact been achieved. Therefore, the planners
feel that they must increase the number of roadblocks each year, and
this number has already reached 522, i.e. an obstruction for every
3,500 Palestinians. Anyone who seriously desires to stop this march of
folly - when even its limited usefulness for security is in doubt, and
its damage clear to everyone - must order the dismantling of all the
roadblocks that are not deployed on the borders of sovereign Israel,
and must not surrender to the army officers'
from Edward Herman :
30 December 2006
Subject: The Embarrassment of the Wretched , by Ran
Ran HaCohen has a long history of solid activism and journalism. In
1987, an article by him in the Jerusalem Post exposing the nefarious
relationship between the Israeli labor federation Histadrut and the
South African apartheid regime was the inspiration for the first action
of the Labor Committee in the Middle East which picketed the annual
dinner that the San Francisco Labor Council held for the Histadrut
which, amazingly, maintained an office in the headquarters of the Hotel
and Restaurant Workers Union. Our picket line was so embarrassing to
the Labor Council and to then Mayor Willie Brown, an African-American,
who spoke at the dinner and snuck in by a back entrance to avoid
crossing the picket line that not only was this the last such dinner
but soon afterward the Histadrut closed its office and left town. Now,
if they would only leave Palestine.
The Embarrassment of the Wretched
[A recent call
for a cultural boycott against Israel by John Berger and others has
elicited one of its more wretched responses in the Guardian
(Dec. 22), signed by Anthony Julius and Simon Schama. I confess I
haven't heard of Anthony Julius before – I am told he is a lawyer, and
lawyers sometimes bend truth for their clients. But Simon Schama is a
prominent academic, professor of history at Columbia, a man of science.
He should know better.]
by Ran HaCohen
Who's Singling Out?
recurrent theme in anti-Palestinian propaganda (usually misnamed
"pro-Israel") is "Don't Single Out." The idea is that evil should be
addressed everywhere; the greater the evil, the greater the protest
against it should be; and since there are worse cases of evil than
Israel's, Israel should not be criticized. Not now, at least: perhaps
after all other evils have been eradicated.
The article by Julius and Schama is no exception: you'll find this
cliché as argument number three:
"[T]hough the call [to boycott Israel] purports to affirm universal,
human rights values, it is incapable of explaining why it seeks a
boycott of Israel, alone among the nations of the world. It says
nothing about the abuses and human rights breaches inflicted on
Israel's citizens. It says nothing about the egregious human rights
abuses committed elsewhere in the world (Darfur, Chechnya, and many
Let's apply the Don't-Single-Out argument to the writers
themselves. If, as they claim, evils should be addressed top-to-bottom,
then Schama and Julius must either consider the proposed boycott the
greatest evil on earth, or else they have already done their best to
address all greater evils.
Is the proposed boycott really the greatest evil on earth? Well, I
haven't heard of a single human injured, killed, or even suffering
because of it. But while Julius and Schama were busy writing their
article, Gaza had been under Israeli siege for months on end. Numbers
of dead reached historic levels
; a million and a half human beings
have been locked in the tiny Strip, deprived of proper medical care and
on the verge of starvation. Schama and Julius don't even mention this
At the same time, the U.S. government has been using Julius' and
Schama's tax money to train
and arm one party
of the feared Palestinian civil war –
coincidentally, the party that lost the recent democratic elections.
Schama and Julius don't mention this evil, either. But they did find
the time to single out the call for boycott and to write against it.
And they do have the nerve to blame the initiators of the boycott of
"singling out," i.e., of hypocrisy.
But – you may argue – perhaps the writers have already addressed all
the greater evils on the globe, so that they can legitimately find time
to address the boycott? Well, I tried to trace Schama's peace activism.
Googling "Schama and Israel" yields just one relevant result: during
the last Lebanon war, when Israel was flattening entire neighborhoods
in Beirut, killing
1,140 civilians, 30 percent of them children under 12,
Prof. Schama went out of his way to express this devastating criticism
of Israel's atrocities: "what Israel's doing – bombing city centers –
is ultimately not going to help its own attempt to get rid of a
mini-army like Hezbollah," he told
. Bombing city centers, then, is quite fine – the only problem
is that it's not all too helpful. A brave criticism indeed. And so
I then Googled "Schama and Darfur": nothing of relevance. "Schama and
Chechnya": nothing at all. (By the way, how about U.S.-controlled Iraq?
Or Afghanistan? Everything fine over there?) But now I have to be
careful: perhaps Simon Schama has been an unrelenting and indefatigable
activist for peace and justice in Palestine, in Darfur, in Chechnya,
and in "many other places," as he puts it. But as far as I can see, his
relentless activism hasn't left any trace on the World Wide Web (where
his name yields more than 450,000 results). Perhaps the public activity
of Schama – honored "Commander of the British Empire" – was done
entirely in private.
o dismiss the analogy drawn between Israel and South African
apartheid, Julius and Schama claim that "Palestinian, Druze, and other
minorities in Israel are guaranteed equal rights under the basic laws.
… There are no legal restrictions on movement, employment, or marital
This claim is correct, at least on a layman's level: an informed
historian and a serious law expert should have known that marital
relations between partners of different religions/ethnicities are not
possible under Israeli law; but let's not expect too much. What turns
their words into pure demagoguery is that neither John
, nor the
, not even the Palestinian
call for boycott
mention the status of minorities within Israel as
their motivation for the boycott, or for comparing Israel to South
Julius and Schama know very well why Israel is likened to apartheid
South Africa: not because of minorities within it (discriminated as
they are), but because of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
With this, of course, they cannot cope. So first they dismiss a claim
not claimed, and then move on to distract from the occupation with a
single, counterfeit sentence:
"[T]he relations between Israel and the Palestinians of Gaza and the
West Bank are not governed by Israeli law, but by international law."
That's indeed one of the greatest pearls I have ever read in this
context. I challenge the legal expert and the honorable historian to
supply one piece of evidence for a single aspect of "the relations
between Israel and the Palestinians" – i.e., of the occupation (a term
the writers carefully avoid) – which is actually "governed" by
international law. Does international law allow creating
settlements and moving the occupier's population to occupied land
Does international law allow deporting
individually or en
? Does international law allow constructing
the apartheid wall
? Does international law allow setting hundreds
and a permit system that makes Palestinian economic and even family
life utterly impossible? Does it allow confiscation
of land and property
, as Israel's occupation forces constantly
practice? International law does not allow any of these. Israel does
not respect a single paragraph of international law, which, according
to Schama and Julius, "governs" its relations with the Palestinians.
If a history student claimed, say, that in the 17th-century Dutch
Republic certain relations were "governed" by some legal principle, not
bothering to mention that that legal principle was not accepted by the
concerned party, was not implied, and had no impact on reality
whatsoever, I am sure Prof. Schama would finish him off, rightly
dismissing his statement as pure charlatanism. But when Israel's
occupation is at stake, Schama himself readily resorts to this kind of
ne doesn't have to be a professor of history at Columbia to know
that historical analogies are always controversial, simply because
history never really repeats itself. The apartheid analogy has been
under fire, too: e.g., because unlike the blacks in South Africa, the
Palestinian liberation movement struggles for a nation-state and not
for a single multi-ethnic one. I myself agree with former U.S.
President Jimmy Carter, who recently said that what Israel is doing in
the occupied territories is worse than
; "apartheid" has by now turned into a euphemism.
Dismissing an historical analogy, as Schama and Julius are doing, is
However, Julius and Schama insist on introducing their own historical
analogy: in an article criticizing the boycott as "banal," they
themselves use the most banal analogy of all, namely that of Hitler's
Germany. There's no need to address this analogy, nor would it have
been worth mentioning at all, were it not for the extremely
manipulative manner in which Julius and Schama introduce it. The nexus
between the present boycott initiative to "April 1933" Germany is
fabricated by a single sentence, standing suspiciously alone as an
independent paragraph. It reads:
"This is not the first boycott call directed at Jews."
What a manipulation. Berger's is indeed not the first
boycott directed against Jews: it's not a boycott directed against Jews
. It is directed against Israel
, not against Jews
Some of its supporters are Jews, but this doesn't really matter. To
discredit the boycott, Julius and Schama lie about its target,
portraying a political boycott as a racist one. By this manipulation,
the writers in fact reaffirm the defamation that "all the Jews" are
culpable and thus responsible for the Israeli occupation. This is
precisely the criminal logic behind indiscriminate terrorism against
innocent Israeli civilians and Jews worldwid
from Historians Against the War :
Date: Sun, 31 Dec 2006
Subject: HAW Endorses January 27-29 Mobilization in DC
Dear HAW members,
The Steering Committee has
endorsed this major national mobilization by United for Peace and
Justice, to hold the new Democratic majority accountable to the verdict
of the voters on November 7: Out Now!
Below is part of a UFPJ alert seeking local coordinators, to meet the
goal of getting every single congressional district to DC on January
We will shortly forward to you an important appeal by Vassar College
faculty to support UFPJ financially, also endorsed by HAW.
for the Steering Committee
Dear UFPJ Member Groups:
Momentum is beginning to build for the politically urgent
mobilization on Jan. 27th. There are already some 450 endorsements for
the demonstration and we are hearing from groups around the country
that they are organizing to get people to Washington, DC. In
order to send the strongest, clearest message to the new Congress we
are working hard to have the largest turnout possible.
And we have set another important goal for this mobilization: We want
to have at least one person from each of the 435 Congressional
districts marching on Jan. 27th to help represent the truly nationwide
We're asking member groups and individuals to sign up to be a local
coordinator for people coming from their area to DC. Being a local
coordinator means doing the things you are undoubtedly already doing --
spreading the word and encouraging people to come to DC, arranging
buses, car caravans or rideshares, helping people find housing in DC,
hosting a sign-making party -- but it also will mean following up with
people in your area who will find you through the website listing.
Many of you are already working on some or all of these activities --
and more! Now we've set up this system to help people in your area
connect with your efforts. By signing up as a local coordinator, you
will be putting your congressional district on our map that will show
that folks are coming from all around the country to stand up for
- To sign up and/or to find out more information about being a
local coordinator, please click here: http://www.unitedforpeace.org/j27coordinatorinfo
- Ideas and resources for local coordinators: http://www.unitedforpeace.org/j27resources
- Once you sign up, your location and info will show up on this
http://www.unitedforpeace.org/j27map) and people will be able to
"RSVP" for whatever you are organizing (car caravan, sign-making party,
etc.). You will then be able to log in and change or update your
listing as needed, and also contact the people who have RSVP'd for your
listing. This is a great way to reach new people in your area and to
build your group's membership.
If you want to know more
about the role of the coordinators before signing up, please get in
touch with either Leslie Kauffman (firstname.lastname@example.org) or
Susan Chenelle (email@example.com),
and both can be reached by phone at 212-868-5545.
If you have other creative ideas for organizing people to come to DC
that we haven't listed here or in our materials on the website, please
send them to lak [at] unitedforpeace.org and we'll share them in future
bulletins to member groups.
for further resources and updates on the January 27-29 mobilization.
Together we can end this war!
haw-info mailing list
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université de Grenoble-3