Michael Riordon

the view from where I live


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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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A desperate plea from an Israeli Jew

Via Jewish Voice for Peace:

“My name is Eran Efrati, I am Jewish, a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces, and a 7th generation Jerusalemite.

What I’ve seen in Israel over the last few weeks is beyond anything I have witnessed in my life.

Gaza under attack, July 2104                                Gaza under Israeli attack, July 2014.  Photo: The Times, UK.

I’ve seen terrified Palestinian children in Hebron and Halhul, sitting on the ruins of their homes.

I’ve seen Israeli mobs in the street chanting “death to Arabs” and pulling out Palestinian men from their stores to beat them as other Israelis stood idly by. I’ve seen Israeli soldiers lined up at the Gaza border, ready at a moment’s notice to invade.

And now, like you, I’ve seen the climbing death toll in Gaza, over 100 dead and some 500 injured – all by Israeli missiles, with no end in sight.

As much as it pains me to say it, I don’t think I can do a lot about it. But I believe you can.

North American voices – especially Jewish North American voices – are probably the most critical voices right now.  [MR: I would add that in the face of crimes on this scale, all voices of reason and compassion need to be heard wherever and however they can.]

We need you to tell Israeli politicians, the Israeli media, Israeli society, that you can’t support this attack. That you can’t support human rights violations. That you can’t support racism. That you won’t support the idea that Jewish lives matter more than Palestinian lives.

Join me and sign this Open Letter now—if they get another 10,000 signatures, Jewish Voice for Peace will take out ads in Haaretz and the Jewish Forward with our message.

We know the roots of this are long and deep. But the truth behind this latest assault is finally coming out: as J.J. Goldberg wrote in The Forward, the Israeli government lied, and created this situation.

For weeks, the government knew that the three kidnapped teenagers were dead.  But they instituted a gag order on the media, lied to Israelis and the world, and falsely claimed the mass arrests and collective punishment of Palestinians was all in the hopes of finding the teenagers alive.

In other words, their chosen response was to kidnap the mind of an entire country.

From the very beginning, this has been about punishing Palestinians. From the beginning, the government has been willing to manipulate and use its own people for that goal.

Overhead, I hear airplanes headed to Gaza all day long, and I know there’s nothing I can do to stop them. And now we all know the lengths they’ve gone to justify this attack, and how fully Israeli society has bought into it.  And I don’t think we can stop it from within.

But I think you can.

Please join me and sign this statement: We oppose the occupation, the bloodshed, the privileging of Jewish lives over others lives.

Reliable updates on the current Israeli assault on Gaza and the West Bank, here, and here.

For an inside look at how Palestinians and Israelis are resisting the occupation, check out Our Way to Fight.