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Wall Writings

Wall Writings
News analysis of politics, cinema, modern culture and the ambiguity of human existence addressed from a religious perspective.
Updated: 2 hours 14 min ago

Samia Khoury and Trump’s Deal of the Century

June 1, 2019 - 10:13am

By James M. Wall

Samia Khoury has been my friend since before the first Intifada. My first of 20 trips to Palestine and Israel, always as a journalist, was in 1973.  All too slowly, since that first trip, I grew to grasp the depths of the harsh reality of Israel’s oppressive military occupation of the Palestinian people.

I first met Samia Khoury when I attended a board meeting of the Palestinian Sabeel organization. We have remained in touch through our blogs and through personal notes. Through these exchanges with Samia, she has kept me informed on the politics and cultural life of Palestine.

I have quoted from Samia in Wall Writings from time to time. She has connected me to life in Palestine under occupation. What she does not know is that she has also tempered my anger over the governments of Israel and the United States, an anger she also feels I am sure, but handles with grace and if I may quote Job, “patience”.

She epitomizes the steadfastness (in Arabic, sumud), of the Palestinian people under occupation. which anyone open to human suffering, knows is an illegal, brutalizing, and well-orchestrated colonizing Israeli plan, to steal the land and imprison the people of Palestine.

Her most recent posting is such a masterful statement of this current moment in Palestine that I felt I must share it with my Wall Writings family. Since I am sharing it in its entirety, and not through quotes, I wrote and asked her permission to reprint it.

I also asked her for a few words to introduce her to my readers, She gave the permission and offered this introduction and explanation of her posting title:

“I started it as “Deal of the Century”, and that is how it was posted on my blog, but then many of my recepients were being blocked, so I changed the title to “Bribery”

I am a retired community volunteer and maintain a blog of reflections from Palestine. I used the same title for my blog as my book, Reflections from Palestine: a Journey of Hope. Samia”

I told her I would use her preferred title.  Here from Samia Khoury’s blog is:

The Deal of the Century

by Samia Khoury

The US administration has never been supportive of our cause as Palestinians.  And I specifically say the administration because we have a lot of support from the public, the main stream churches, the civil society, as well as many Jewish Americans.

The United Nations records show clearly that it was the Veto of the US at the United Nations that has hindered the implementation of the UN resolutions that would have guaranteed our rights as Palestinians, basically the right to return to our homes from which we  were evicted by force or  had to flee for our lives in 1948.

We were never even offered compensation,  and Israel  continues till this day to deny its responsibility for our plight.

But never has an administration been so blatantly pro active in its humiliation of the Palestinians and ignoring their rights like this present administration.  It actually violated  international law so as to offer Israel all that it wants on a silver platter.

First by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, then by cutting all US Aid that started flowing into the country after the Oslo agreement between the PLO and Israel was signed.

Yet the US found it very timely to close the offices of  the PLO in the USA,  as well as cutting aid to UNRWA, the organization which was established by the United Nations to take care of the basic needs of the Palestinian Refugees until they were able to realize their right of return.

So it seems like “this great democracy in the world” is taking its clue from “the only democracy in the Middle East.”  I still remember how Mr. Netanyahu in his theatrical presentation at the UN General Assembly Meeting in September 2018 thanked the president of the USA for pulling out of the agreement signed with Iran during the term of Mr. Obama, while sending a message to Iran that Israel knows what they are doing.

Will Israel be the force behind the US to wage a new war against Iran this time.  Nothing would be surprising now that more American troops have already been sent to the bases in the region.

Ironic indeed that the US has waged so many wars on other people’s lands in the name of democracy, while Israel continues to hold a whole population under occupation, and it has recently passed the Nation State Law in its Kenesset that would deprive 21% of its citizens most of their basic rights.

While the US has the liberty to impose sanctions on countries that do not abide by its rules, it takes harsh measures against any individual, or body that promotes the BDS (Boycott Divestment  and Sanctions) against Israel for violating international law, in the same way that Israel does.

After seventy one years of dispossession  and fifty two years of a brutal occupation, we get a novice in political issues to come up with the “Deal of the Century.”  First they humiliate us, then they starve us and now they want to further humiliate us by  bribing  us into accepting money for our rights in a conference in Bahrain.

Thank you, but no thank you.  In our ethics lessons, we were taught that those who bribe and those who accept the bribery are just as guilty.  But who will convict the guilty in this case?

Israel Creates A New Political Normal

May 16, 2019 - 7:00pm

by James M. Wall

Adam Shatz, writing in the London Review of Books, described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s legislative victory on April 9, as a “tribute” to his “transformation of the political landscape”. He wrote:

At no point were [the legislative elections] discussed in terms of which candidates might be persuaded by (non-existent) American pressure, or the ‘international community’, to end the occupation.

This time the question was which party leader could be trusted by Israeli Jews – Palestinian citizens of Israel are now officially second-class – to manage the occupation, and to expedite the various tasks the Jewish state has mastered: killing Gazans, bulldozing homes, combating the scourge of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS), and conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism.

Israel brags about its collective business successes. In his succinct summary of “the various tasks the Jewish state has mastered”, Adam Shatz writes that Israel’s success story is the achievement of a colonial state. 

To emphasize and repeat, Shatz’s list capsules that colonial state success as “Killing Gazans, bulldozing homes, combating the scourge of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS), and conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism.”

That “success story” list should be posterized, emphasized, and weaponized, in the opening of any discussion of Israel as a “democracy”.

To convince the world of its success, Official Israel lives in a constant state of deceit. Fortunately there are Jewish voices within the state who refuse to join the deceit.

 In a recent Ha’aretz column, Gideon Levy exposes a governmental set of deceits as
he reacts to this week’s Eurovision song contest, underway this week in Tel Avi.

Tourist Israel describes the event:

The 2019 Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Tel Aviv, Israel from May 14-18, 2019. The 64th edition of the international song contest, this will be the first time that Eurovision has been hosted in Israel for 20 years, and will be held at Expo Tel Aviv. Eurovision in Israel will be a memorable and exciting event, with international fans traveling to visit. . .Eurovision is set to be the event of the year, bringing locals and tourists together to celebrate music and unity.

Gideon Levy is well-aware that visitors to Israel under the guidance of Israelis, need
to study his, A Trip Advisor to the Real Israel. 

So you’ve decided to come, despite Roger Waters and everything. Welcome to Israel. You’re here and everything is wonderful: sunshine, alcohol, rock and roll, nice people, a terrific production, a big party. I suggest you also dedicate one day to reality. See the Israel that the video postcards shown before each song will never show you – the Israel that’s hidden from view, the dark side of the moon on which you’re now dancing.

Levy’s Trip Advisor begins its tour:

When you leave Expo Tel Aviv, walk west for a few minutes. You’ll see a huge complex of buildings. This is a security compound, and the people who work there are responsible for many of the crimes and injustices you’ll see throughout the day. From here, for example, they dispatched the agents who instructed female soldiers to conduct a rectal and vaginal search of a Palestinian woman in her home.

This is the headquarters for the abuse of the Palestinian people in the name of security. In the parking lot you’ll see a fence, and behind it some abandoned graves. This is the cemetery of the Palestinian village that stood there before 1948. Israel wiped off the face of the earth more than 400 such towns and villages, kindly leaving just the graves.

You can meet the descendants of the inhabitants, children of refugees who either fled or were expelled, when Eurovision is held in Lebanon, Syria or Jordan sometime. Oops, they’re not in Europe, but then again neither is Israel. Or you can meet them later on in our tour, in the refugee camps.

Gideon’s tour continues south to Gaza. Below is one look inside Gaza. For the entire tour click here, Make copies for anyone you know planning a trip to Israel. 

You’ve never seen anything like it. Just one hour from the exuberant Expo. It’s a place the United Nations says won’t be fit for human habitation by next year. The year 2020 will be the end for life in Gaza and no one cares. Now, with Qatari money, they’re handing out thin soup there, and the lines are getting longer. On Wednesday tens of thousands massed by the fence to mark Nakba Day, and soldiers fired at them.

This is a tour a Jewish citizen of Israel does not take. It is a reality that Israelis do not experience unless sent there in a military uniform “to keep order”.

How, then, did Benjamin Netanyahu win the legislative elections that returned him to his office of Prime Minister?

Look again at Shatz: 

With his promise to annex the West Bank, Netanyahu had won even before the election was held. It wasn’t simply Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights that sped the incumbent on his way; it was the nature of the conversation – and the fact that the leader of the opposition was Benny Gantz, the IDF commander who presided over the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, in which more than two thousand Gazans were killed.

Israel’s voters on April 9 had two choices, a manger who promised even more land-stealing, and greater oppression, against a military leader who has shown his skills in military oppression, not management.

The voters kept the manager who demonstrated he could manage with one hand and pretend peace with the other. Two choices, both operating from the “new normal” of Israel’s political landscape.

Shatz also notes that Israel had help from the U.S, political leadership in pretending “peace” when it is now obvious Israel is operating with a “new normal” in which the Occupation is part of that normal. 

Illusions about the ‘peace process’ – and Israel’s ‘search for peace’ – die hard. The hopes invested in ‘peace’ were once immense, but they have never looked so shaky, even in America, which has underwritten these fictions for decades and rewarded Israel handsomely for paying lip service to them.

American liberals no longer lament the fact that Netanyahu has moved Israel away from its preordained, conciliatory course, or hope that ‘the left’ might steer it back.

What may we expect in the future from Israel’s so-called peace camp? With the exception of a few heroic small groups,  according to Shatz,” Netanyahu’s Israel – illiberal, exclusionary, racist – is now the political center”. And it is the “political center” that dictates normalcy. 

The path ahead is dark my friends. It is a path, as Adam Shatz notes later in his essay, which began in 1948.

In 1948, Hannah Arendt, whose critique of territorial Zionism owed much to Ahad Ha’am, warned that after the Arab-Israeli war, the ‘victorious’ Jews would live surrounded by a hostile Arab population, secluded inside ever-threatened borders, preoccupied by matters of defence to a degree that would submerge all other interests and activities … political thought would centre on military strategy; economic development would be determined exclusively by the needs of war. And all this would be the fate of a nation that – no matter how many immigrants it could still absorb and how far it extended its boundaries … – would still remain a very small people greatly outnumbered by hostile neighbours.

Arendt’s prediction was in large part borne out. More remarkable still, few Israelis – or their supporters abroad, among Jews and Evangelicals – fret over this ‘fate’. Arendt’s warning that an expansionist Israel would never realise the dream of Herzl and the founders and become a ‘normal’ state has lost its charge because Israel’s abnormality is the new normal.

Which brings us to the future: Benjamin Netanyahu has served as Israel’s prime minister for 13 years and 64 days as of May 16, 2019. He has just been reelected to a new term, which means that two months from now, July 17, he will become the longest serving Prime Minister in Israel’s history. 

In that time, Netaanyahu has pretended peace, while expanding a settlement policy designed to create an Israeli state from the Sea to the Jordan River. The peace facade has been dropped. Palestinians are officially second class citizens and captives in their own ancient land. 

Donald Trump will have served four years as president of the United States in 2020. If he is reelected, barring legal problems, he will serve a total of eight years.

Out of abnormality, Bibi Netanyahu created a new normal in Israel in 13 plus years.  Donald Trump could move from his abnormal leadership to an American new normal, if he is reelected in 2020.

Democratic primaries begin in eight months. So do the Republican primaries. It
is time to reject or accept a new U.S. political normal.

“Listen, my children, and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of Paul Revere”

March 16, 2019 - 1:19pm

by James M. Wall

“Listen, my children, and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of Paul Revere”, launch the poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882).

Those opening words came to memory as I read the latest posting from one of my most trusted and reliable Jewish sources, Phillip Weiss.

On the site he co-founded, Mondoweiss, Phillip Weiss wrote under the headline, “Don’t accept the rules for how to criticize the Israel lobby”  :

A maddening element of the Ilhan Omar controversy is all the experts offering instruction on The right way and the wrong way to criticize the Israel lobby.

Why must someone who sees a dreadful faction working to skew US policy-making walk on eggshells when attacking it? Do the Parkland students hold back about their target lobby? Do advocates for abortion rights issue rules of rhetorical niceness when they see the enemy gathering across the Supreme Court plaza?

Oh– but you are talking about Jewish influence.

Actually we have made that distinction: we are talking about Zionist influence.

My high school English teacher encouraged her students to become familiar with Longfellow’s poem. I know she succeeded with me, because here I am, reading Phillip Weiss many decades later, and saying to my self, you must share this.

Which is what leads me to write: Listen, and you shall read, not the story of a British invasion, but the invasion of the Israel Lobby into every personal corner and public square of American life.

Phillip Weiss’ latest posting led me to utilize Longfellow’s poem to sound the alarm that the current discussion of Zionism and Judaism has been politically manipulated, not just by members of the Jewish community, but by Zionists of all stripes, including Christian fundamentalists.

The goal of that highly-successful Lobby invasion, is to totally erase the distinction between the political ideology of Zionism, a 19th century political phenomenon of exclusivism, and religious/ethnic Judaism.

This unholy merger of Zionism with Judaism was predicted by many Jewish religious leaders when the modern state of Israel was created in 1947-48. Their warning was simple: A state established for Jews, is an act of idolatry, the move to replace Yahweh with the worship of a state.

Those Jewish leaders knew Zionism for what it is: idolatry. To criticize a state which demeans and seeks to eliminate non-Jewish residents is not anti-semitic. Hatred of, the Jewish people is anti-semitic.

Through both its words and deeds, anti-semitism is evil and deplorable. Criticism of Zionism is not anti-Semitism. To erase that distinction, which the Israel Lobby does repeatedly, demands corrective criticism.

The midnight ride of Paul Revere recalls a journey from history which may now be seen as recalling a more recent invasion in our history, one which has reduced an unwitting nation   to a bondage to the Israel (Zionist) Lobby.

We must guard against that invasion which works so effectively to shape each new generation into a bondage. How does the Lobby accomplish that?  

This week we have the latest example of how a racially-based ideology led to the horrific slaughter of at least 49 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, by a white nationalist killer from Australia.

The Israel Lobby exploits Americans with its message that merges  Zionism, a political ideology, with Judaism, a racial ethnicity and a religion. As earlier noted, they are not the same, just as white nationalism, an ideology of exclusion, is not the same as the white race.

“So listen my readers, we must be “ready to ride and spread the alarm” against a foreign power To close this journey which began with “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Below here are the first stanzas which I want my grandchildren and great grandchildren to read and remember.

Their parents and grandparents are responsible now to connect the dots which identify links from history. We must be ready to ride and spread the alarm.

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”

The picture at top of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and former American President Barack Obama, is from Mondoweiss.