Michael Riordon

the view from where I live

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Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land


From the US-based Media Education Foundation, an incisive documentary with a roster of eloquent witnesses.  Its title is self-explanatory: Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land.

An essential counter to the relentless wash of misinformation on Israel and Palestine that we get from mainstream media.

See it here, on Vimeo.

And please, pass it on.

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Israel: the morning after

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gestures to supporters at party headquarters in Tel Aviv

Two Jewish responses to yesterday’s elections in Israel.  Both are published on Mondoweiss, March 18, 2015.

Netanyahu won.  Now what?  Avigail Abarbanel.

Who can save Israel now?  Philip Weiss.

Avigail Abarbanel: “The message to those of us who support the Palestinians is to get ready to escalate our support. It is about to get very very tough.”

BDS: more than ever, the best chance for real change.



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“Israel has always been crazy”

Cutting through the white noise of relentless propaganda, impressive plain-speaking from Jewish psychotherapist Avigail Abarbanel, born and raised in Israel, now living in Scotland.  It’s her response to Phil Weiss’s editorial [Psst! Is Israel Going Crazy? in which Weiss details the bizarre source of recent photo-shopped Nazified images of Israeli leaders]. December 2, 2014, on Mondoweiss.

Avigail AbarbanelAvigail Abarbanel

“It’s not a big claim to fame but I have been saying for years that Israeli society is crazy.  I escaped from Israel largely because of that…

“Phil Weiss’s analysis  is correct except for one point, and that is that those sentiments he describes have always been there.  It’s not like it’s something new that just sprang up recently.  I have grown up with this all around me. I recognise the language. I was brought up (I was born in 1964) to believe that the ‘Arabs’ (the word ‘Palestinian’ was largely not used in my childhood) could not be trusted, that ‘they’ are not like ‘us’, that they are treacherous and would stab me in the back if I relaxed and trusted them. We were always kept apart from the Palestinian citizens of Israel, let alone the Palestinians living in the West Bank or in Gaza.

Gaza in fact was a symbol of a cursed, hellish place. When someone annoyed you, you said to them Lech le’Aza, ‘Go to Gaza’, the equivalent of ‘go to hell’. That was part of normal day-to-day Hebrew in my youth. Like I mentioned in the past, the first time I met a Palestinian as an equal human being was in Australia, in my early thirties…

“Without knowing it, I grew up with classic colonial rhetoric. Colonisers motivated by fear and possibly guilt, have always demonised the people they have hurt. For some people it is easier to inflict suffering if they don’t see the other as a fellow human being. Dehumanisation helps to reduce empathy and shut down the conscience. It is being done everywhere where there is injustice and abuse.

“The difference now is that that these largely informal but widespread social attitudes to the colonised have now found themselves back in power. Drunk with their newfound freedom, coming out of the shadows with no need to hide themselves any longer, free from the tyranny of worrying about ‘world public opinion’, they are out celebrating and feasting, politicians outdoing one another acting out and giving life to their most depraved, murderous fantasies. And they are out-of-control.  Continue reading

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“Genocide begins with the silence of the world.”

On August 1, The New York Times and other mainstream papers in the US and the UK published a full-page ad written by famous Holocaust survivor and campaigner Elie Wiesel. Part of a vast international propaganda offensive to justify Israel’s latest brutal war on Gaza and its decades-long occupation of Palestine, the ad was sponsored by This World: The Values Network.

Founded by American Orthodox Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, This World describes itself as “dedicated to disseminating the light of the Jewish people and promoting and defending the state of Israel as the supreme embodiment of a nation founded on these principles.”

Gaza ruins, 4Gaza, July 26, 2014. Photo: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Among other things, Wiesel accuses Hamas of “child sacrifice,” and reframes the Israeli massacre in Gaza as “a battle of civilization versus barbarism.” In this he echoes Theodor Herzl, a key 19th century European proponent of a Jewish state in the Middle East: “For Europe we would constitute over there part of a bulwark against Asia as well as the advance post of civilization against barbarism.” (Der Judenstaat, The State of the Jews, published in 1896.)

Wiesel assumes that by now, surely his readers will know which label applies to which party in the Middle East.

Apparently some Jewish Holocaust survivors are not so sure.

On August 23rd, as Israel continues to bombard Gaza, 327 Jewish Holocaust survivors from a number of countries countered Wiesel’s attack ad with their own message in The New York Times:

As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine.

We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch.  In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.

Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities.  Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people.

We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza.

We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel.

“Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!


Holocaust survivors
children of survivors
grandchildren of survivors
great-grandchildren of survivors
other relatives of survivors.

The signers’ names (358 to date; more continue to sign on) and locations are posted here, on the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

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Desmond Tutu to the people of Israel: Liberate yourselves!

Gaza rally, LondonGaza rally, London, July 2014

 Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, August 14, 2014:

“If you add together all the people who gathered over the past weekend to demand justice in Israel and Palestine – in Cape Town, Washington, D.C., New York, New Delhi, London, Dublin, Sydney, and all the other cities – this was arguably the largest active outcry by citizens around a single cause ever in the history of the world.”

Read Desmond Tutu’s stirring call to liberation here.

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Inside the Gaza ‘meat grinder’

Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta:  “All the areas around the hospital were being bombed all the time. We then got a call to the emergency room and we were told that the administration and the out patients building had been hit – a lot of families had taken refuge in that area – so we had to go and help.”

Injured Palestinians taken to hospital after Israeli airstrikesAl-Shifa Hospital, July 2014.

During each of Israel’s three major assaults on Gaza, Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta has volunteered as a surgeon at the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.  A Palestinian reconstructive surgeon, he lives in Lebanon.

This interview with him was conducted by journalist Yazan al-Saadi, and published in the English edition of Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper.

As of August 18, 2014, the number of Palestinians killed by the Israeli assault on Gaza has risen to 2,016, including 541 children, 250 women and 95 elderly men. Wounded: 10,196.  The death toll keeps rising as more people die from catastrophic injuries.­


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Gaza: Why do Israel and the U.S. insist on war?

Gaza, July 27Gaza City, July 27, 2014.  Photo: Oxfam International.

“For the last eight years, Israel and the U.S. had repeated opportunities to opt for a diplomatic solution in Gaza.  Each time, they have chosen war, with devastating consequences for the families of Gaza.”


The answer is here, in a well-documented account by Sandy Tolan, author of The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East, and an associate professor at the University of Southern California

The only practical response that does not depend on goodwill or common sense from the Israeli or American authorities: the growing international grassroots movement for BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions.