Thursday, 29 September 2011

Free Palestine book is posted on the internet as Holy Land looks to United Nations for justice and liberty

A book telling the plight of the Palestinians under the longest military occupation in modern times has just been made available on the internet in flip-page form.

It comes at a critical time for Palestinians as the UN considers their bid for statehood while America and the EU try to derail the application and force them back to negotiations with their tormentor, Israel.

The book, by Stuart Littlewood and Phillip Vine, was inspired by visits to the occupied territories. "The Holy Land and its people made a lasting impression on us both," says Stuart. "Phillip produced the deeply moving poetry while my task was to shoot pictures and write the narrative."

Radio Free Palestine is 172 pages with over 110 colour photos. It can now be read by visiting

Stuart hopes it will help people understand what lies behind the Palestinians' application to the United Nations. "It is a story of betrayal by the Western Powers, especially Britain and the United States. It is not taught in schools or covered accurately by mainstream media, and Parliament is so heavily influenced by the pro-Israel lobby that honest debate is regarded as 'politically incorrect'."

The Foreword, by 2006 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Jeff Halper, Coordinator of ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions,), describes the book as "a cry from the heart, written in moral anger by a person who bothered to leave his comfortable surroundings far from the suffering of another people, the Palestinians, and share, witness, expose and protest in the strongest voice he could find at what he saw and heard, what so few others have even cared to see or hear."

Christians and Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza have been slaughtered or had their homes, farms and water resources stolen while waiting in vain 63 years for the international community to deliver justice. Those who remain are prisoners inside sealed borders, unable to travel freely within their own territory, visit relatives, find work, choose which university to attend, or even worship at their holy places in Jerusalem. Israel now plans to steal their offshore gas.

Gaza continues to suffer under naval blockade and two-and-a-half years ago was ferociously bombarded in a killing-spree that annihilated 1,400 souls including hundreds of women and children, leaving thousands more maimed, making  tens of thousands homeless and destroying vital infrastructure. Ships bringing humanitarian relief have been attack on the high seas with impunity . Fishermen are regularly fired on if they put to sea.

The Christian population, once 20 percent, has now dwindled to around 2 percent. At this rate there will soon be no Christians where Christianity was born. The United Nations does nothing, Western Christendom does nothing and Britain and the EU continue to reward Israel with trading privileges.

Radio Free Palestine was published in 2007 and sold through Church channels so has not been widely available until now. "Phillip and I thought we should put it on the web for anyone and everyone to read in the hope that more people will know what is happening and why an immediate end to the occupation is so important to world peace," says Stuart.

"We wish all our friends in the Palestine good fortune in their quest for justice and freedom."

Monday, 26 September 2011

Mearsheimer responds to Goldberg's latest smear

From Foreign Policy:

Ever since John Mearsheimer and I began writing about the Israel lobby, some of our critics have leveled various personal charges against us. These attacks rarely addressed the substance of what we wrote -- a tacit concession that both facts and logic were on our side -- but instead accused us of being anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists. They used these false charges to try to discredit and/or marginalize us, and to distract people from the important issues of U.S. Middle East policy that we had raised.

The latest example of this tactic is a recent blog post from Jeffrey Goldberg, where he accused my co-author of endorsing a book by an alleged Holocaust denier and Nazi sympathizer. Goldberg has well-established record of making things up about us, and this latest episode is consistent with his usual approach. I asked Professor Mearsheimer if he wanted to respond to Goldberg's sally, and he sent the following reply.

John Mearsheimer writes:

In a certain sense, it is hard not to be impressed by the energy and imagination that Jeffrey Goldberg devotes to smearing Steve Walt and me. Although he clearly disagrees with our views about U.S.-Israel relations and the role of the Israel lobby, he does not bother to engage what we actually wrote in any meaningful way. Indeed, given what he writes about us, I am not even sure he has read our book or related articles. Instead of challenging the arguments and evidence that we presented, his modus operandi is to misrepresent and distort our views, in a transparent attempt to portray us as rabid anti-Semites.

His latest effort along these lines comes in a recent blog post, where he seizes on a dust jacket blurb I wrote for a new book by Gilad Atzmon titled The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics. Here is what I said in my blurb:

Gilad Atzmon has written a fascinating and provocative book on Jewish identity in the modern world. He shows how assimilation and liberalism are making it increasingly difficult for Jews in the Diaspora to maintain a powerful sense of their 'Jewishness.' Panicked Jewish leaders, he argues, have turned to Zionism (blind loyalty to Israel) and scaremongering (the threat of another Holocaust) to keep the tribe united and distinct from the surrounding goyim. As Atzmon's own case demonstrates, this strategy is not working and is causing many Jews great anguish. The Wandering Who? should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike.

The book, as my blurb makes clear, is an extended meditation on Jewish identity in the Diaspora and how it relates to the Holocaust, Israel, and Zionism. There is no question that the book is provocative, both in terms of its central argument and the overly hot language that Atzmon sometimes uses. But it is also filled with interesting insights that make the reader think long and hard about an important subject. Of course, I do not agree with everything that he says in the book -- what blurber does? -- but I found it thought provoking and likely to be of considerable interest to Jews and non-Jews, which is what I said in my brief comment.

Goldberg maintains that Atzmon is a categorically reprehensible person, and accuses him of being a Holocaust denier and an apologist for Hitler. These are two of the most devastating charges that can be leveled against anyone. According to Goldberg, the mere fact that I blurbed Atzmon's book is decisive evidence that I share Atzmon's supposedly odious views. This indictment of me is captured in the title of Goldberg's piece: "John Mearsheimer Endorses a Hitler Apologist and Holocaust Revisionist."

This charge is so ludicrous that it is hard to know where to start my response. But let me begin by noting that I have taught countless University of Chicago students over the years about the Holocaust and about Hitler's role in it. Nobody who has been in my classes would ever accuse me of being sympathetic to Holocaust deniers or making excuses for what Hitler did to European Jews. Not surprisingly, those loathsome charges have never been leveled against me until Goldberg did so last week.

Equally important, Gilad Atzmon is neither a Holocaust denier nor an apologist for Hitler. Consider the following excerpt from The Wandering Who?

As much as I was a sceptic youngster, I was also horrified by the Holocaust. In the 1970s Holocaust survivors were part of our social landscape. They were our neighbours, we met them in our family gatherings, in the classroom, in politics, in the corner shop. The dark numbers tattooed on their white arms never faded away. It always had a chilling effect. . . . It was actually the internalization of the meaning of the Holocaust that transformed me into a strong opponent of Israel and Jewish-ness. It is the Holocaust that eventually made me a devoted supporter of Palestinian rights, resistance and the Palestinian right of return" (pp. 185-186).

It seems unequivocally clear to me from those sentences that Atzmon firmly believes that the Holocaust occurred and was a horrific tragedy. I cannot find evidence in his book or in his other writings that indicate he "traffics in Holocaust denial."

The real issue for Atzmon -- and this is reflected in the excerpt from his blog post that Goldberg quotes from -- is how the Holocaust is interpreted and used by the Jewish establishment. Atzmon has three complaints. He believes that it is used to justify Israel's brutal treatment of the Palestinians and to fend off criticism of Israel. This is an argument made by many other writers, including former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg, historian Peter Novick, and political scientist Norman Finkelstein. Atzmon also rejects the claim that the Holocaust is exceptional, which is a position that other respected scholars have held. There have been other genocides in world history, after all, and this whole issue was actively debated in the negotiations that led to the building of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. Whatever one thinks of Atzmon's position on this subject, it is hardly beyond the pale.

Finally, Atzmon is angry about the fact that it is difficult to raise certain questions about the causes and the conduct of the Holocaust without being personally attacked. These are all defensible if controversial positions to hold, which is not to say one has to agree with any of them. But in no way is he questioning that the Holocaust happened or denying its importance. In fact, his view is clear from one of Atzmon's sentences that Goldberg quotes: "We should strip the holocaust of its Judeo-centric exceptional status and treat it as an historical chapter that belongs to a certain time and place." Note that Atzmon is talking about "the holocaust" in a way that makes it clear he has no doubts about its occurrence, and the passage from The Wandering Who? cited above makes it clear that he has no doubts about its importance or its tragic dimensions; he merely believes it should be seen in a different way. Again, one need not agree with Atzmon to recognize that Goldberg has badly misrepresented his position.

There is also no evidence that I could find in The Wandering Who? to support Goldberg's claim that Atzmon is an apologist for Hitler or that he believes "Jews persecuted Hitler" and in so doing helped trigger the Holocaust. There is actually little discussion of Hitler in Atzmon's book, and the only discussion of interactions between Hitler and the Jews concerns the efforts of German Zionists to work out a modus vivendi with the Nazis. (pp. 162-165) This is why Goldberg is forced to go to one of Atzmon's blog posts to make the case that he is an apologist for Hitler.

Before I examine the substance of that charge, there is an important issue that needs to be addressed directly. Goldberg's indictment of Atzmon does not rely on anything that he wrote in The Wandering Who? Indeed, Goldberg's blog post is silent on whether he has actually read the book. If he did read it, he apparently could not find any evidence to support his indictment of Atzmon. Instead, he relied exclusively on evidence culled from Atzmon's own blog postings. That is why Goldberg's assault on me steers clear of criticizing Atzmon's book, which is what I blurbed. In short, he falsely accuses me of lending support to a Holocaust denier and defender of Hitler on the basis of writings that I did not read and did not comment upon.

This tactic puts me in a difficult position. I was asked to review Atzmon's book and see whether I would be willing to blurb it. This is something I do frequently, and in every case I focus on the book at hand and not on the personality of the author or their other writings. In other words, I did not read any of Atzmon's blog postings before I wrote my blurb. And just for the record, I have not met him and did not communicate with him before I was asked to review The Wandering Who? I read only the book and wrote a blurb that deals with it alone.

Goldberg, however, has shifted the focus onto what Atzmon has written on his blog. I discuss a couple of examples below, but I will not defend his blog output in detail for two reasons. First, I do not know what Atzmon may have said in all of his past blog posts and other writings or in the various talks that he has given over the years. Second, what he says in those places is not relevant to what I did, which was simply to read and react to his book.

Let me now turn to the specific claim that Atzmon is an "apologist for Hitler." Again, I am somewhat reluctant to do this, because this charge forces me to defend what Atzmon said in one of his blog posts. But given the prominence of the charge in Goldberg's indictment of Atzmon (and me), I cannot let it pass.

Plus, I see that Walter Russell Mead, who is also fond of smearing Steve Walt and me, has put this charge up in bright lights on his own blog. Picking up on Goldberg's original post, Mead describes Atzmon's argument this way: "poor Adolf Hitler's actions against German Jews only came after US Jews called a boycott on German goods following Hitler's appointment as German Chancellor. Gosh -- if it weren't for those pushy, aggressive Jews and their annoying boycotts, the Holocaust might not have happened!"

It is hard to imagine any sane person making such an argument, and Atzmon never does. Goldberg refers to a blog post that Atzmon wrote on March 25, 2010, written in response to news at the time that AIPAC had "decided to mount pressure" on President Obama. After describing what was happening with Obama, Atzmon notes that this kind of behavior is hardly unprecedented. In his words, "Jewish lobbies certainly do not hold back when it comes to pressuring states, world leaders and even superpowers." There is no question that this statement is accurate and not even all that controversial; Tom Friedman said as much in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago.

In the second half of this post, Atzmon says that AIPAC's behavior reminds him of the March 1933 Jewish boycott of German goods, which preceded Hitler's decision on March 28, 1933 to boycott Jewish stores and goods. His basic point is that the Jewish boycott had negative consequences, which it did. In Atzmon's narrative -- and this is a very important theme in his book -- Jews are not simply passive victims of other people's actions. On the contrary, he believes Jews have considerable agency and their actions are not always wise. One can agree or disagree with his views about the wisdom of the Jewish boycott -- and I happen to think he's wrong about it -- but he is not arguing that the Jews were "persecuting Hitler" and that this alleged "persecution" led to the Holocaust. In fact, he says nothing about the Holocaust in his post and he certainly does not justify in any way the murder of six million Jews.

Let me make one additional point about Goldberg's mining of Atzmon's blog posts. Goldberg ends his attack on me with the following quotation from a Feb. 19 blog post by Atzmon: "I believe that from [a] certain ideological perspective, Israel is actually far worse than Nazi Germany." That quotation certainly makes Atzmon look like he has lost his mind and that nothing he has written could be trusted. But Goldberg has misrepresented what Atzmon really said, which is one of his standard tactics. Specifically, he quotes only part of a sentence from Atzmon's blog post; but when you look at the entire sentence, you see that Atzmon is making a different, and far more nuanced point. The entire sentence reads: "Indeed, I believe that from [a] certain ideological perspective, Israel is actually far worse than Nazi Germany, for unlike Nazi Germany, Israel is a democracy and that implies that Israeli citizens are complicit in Israeli atrocities." This is not an argument I would make, but what Atzmon is saying is quite different from the way Goldberg portrays it.

Finally, let me address the charge that Atzmon himself is an anti-Semite and a self-hating Jew. The implication of this accusation, of course, is that I must be an anti-Semite too (I can't be a self-hating Jew) because I agreed to blurb Atzmon's book. I do not believe that Atzmon is an anti-Semite, although that charge is thrown around so carelessly these days that it has regrettably lost much of its meaning. If one believes that anyone who criticizes Israel is an anti-Semite, then Atzmon clearly fits in that category. But that definition is foolish -- no country is perfect or above criticism-and not worth taking seriously.

The more important and interesting issue is whether Atzmon is a self-hating Jew. Here the answer is unequivocally yes. He openly describes himself in this way and he sees himself as part of a long dissident tradition that includes famous figures such as Marx and Spinoza. What is going on here?

The key to understanding Atzmon is that he rejects the claim that Jews are the "Chosen People." His main target, as he makes clear at the start of the book, is not with Judaism per se or with people who "happen to be of Jewish origin." Rather, his problem is with "those who put their Jewish-ness over and above all of their other traits." Or to use other words of his: "I will present a harsh criticism of Jewish politics and identity ... This book doesn't deal with Jews as a people or ethnicity." (pp. 15-16)

In other words, Atzmon is a universalist who does not like the particularism that characterizes Zionism and which has a rich tradition among Jews and any number of other groups. He is the kind of person who intensely dislikes nationalism of any sort. Princeton professor Richard Falk captures this point nicely in his own blurb for the book, where he writes: "Atzmon has written an absorbing and moving account of his journey from hard-core Israeli nationalist to a de-Zionized patriot of humanity."

Atzmon's basic point is that Jews often talk in universalistic terms, but many of them think and act in particularistic terms. One might say they talk like liberals but act like nationalists. Atzmon will have none of this, which is why he labels himself a self-hating Jew. He fervently believes that Jews are not the "Chosen People" and that they should not privilege their "Jewish-ness" over their other human traits. Moreover, he believes that one must choose between Athens and Jerusalem, as they "can never be blended together into a lucid and coherent worldview." (p. 86) One can argue that his perspective is dead wrong, or maintain that it is a lovely idea in principle but just not the way the real world works. But it is hardly an illegitimate or ignoble way of thinking about humanity.

To take this matter a step further, Atzmon's book is really all about Jewish identity. He notes that "the disappearance of the ghetto and its maternal qualities" in the wake of the French Revolution caused "an identity crisis within the largely assimilated Jewish society." (p. 104) He believes that this crisis, about which there is an extensive literature, is still at the center of Jewish life today. In effect, Atzmon is telling the story of how he wrestled with his own identity over time and what he thinks is wrong with how most Jews self-identify today. It is in this context that he discusses what he calls the "Holocaust religion," Zionism, and Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Again, to be perfectly clear, he has no animus toward Judaism as a religion or with individuals who are Jewish by birth. Rather, his target is the tribalism that he believes is common to most Jews, and I might add, to most other peoples as well. Atzmon focuses on Jews for the obvious reason that he is Jewish and is trying to make sense of his own identity.

In sum, Goldberg's charge that Atzman is a Holocaust denier or an apologist for Hitler is baseless. Nor is Atzmon an anti-Semite. He has controversial views for sure and he sometimes employs overly provocative language. But there is no question in my mind that he has written a fascinating book that, as I said in my blurb, "should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike." Regarding Goldberg's insinuation that I have any sympathy for Holocaust denial and am an anti-Semite, it is just another attempt in his longstanding effort to smear Steve Walt and me.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Open society and the enemy within

From Gilad Atzmon:

This film is dedicated to the so-called Jewish "anti"-Zionists who were harassing and distracting us ahead of the Freiburg Conference ("Palestine, Israel and Germany – Boundaries of Open Discussion"). Ideally, we would like to see many Jews contributing to the discourse rather than attempting to dismantle it. However, we will prevail! 

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Two different worlds: 9-11, the internet and mainstream media

From Paul J. Balles:

This past week the internet and mainstream media have both been chock-a-block with 9/11. But they haven't been in the same world. The contrasting stories have been absolutely amazing.

The mainstream media has covered the ceremonies honouring the dead and the courageous. Both deserve the honours – the dead as innocent victims and the courageous for sacrificing their lives and health in rescue efforts.

TV and print media have both gone into expansive detail about the victims and the heroism of first responders – police, fire fighters and paramedics.

The stories cover moving, appropriate memorials to the dead and injured.

But then there's the other world, which exists outside of the mainstream – the 9/11 truth seekers.

Truth seekers range from extreme conspiracy theorists, who believe that the Bush administration engineered the attacks to consolidate power, roll back civil liberties and help oil mogul friends.

More moderate factions simply insist that top government officials know more about the attacks than they have acknowledged, and then used the attacks as a pretext for invading Iraq.

A large percentage of activists proffer – often in great detail – what they call inconsistencies in government explanations of the attacks, which many consider a governmental cover-up.

The most amazing thing about these two worlds is that one of them doesn't even acknowledge that the other even exists.

Major newspapers like the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and major networks like MSNBC, ABC, CBS and CNN have knowledgeable reporters, researchers and anchors working for them.

They can't possibly be so completely detached from the internet world and unaware of the truth seekers. They act as if they don't know the questions that have been raised or the findings that have been reported in the online world.

Mainstream media voices continue to talk about 9/11 as if thousands of intelligent researchers didn't even exist!

These people might as well have duct tape over their mouths! What silenced the media people who use remarkable resources to dig up facts, evaluate them and make sound judgments about other issues?

It's impossible to believe that mainstream commentators and their staffs have willingly buried their heads in the sand obliterating any honest investigation of the questions raised about 9/11.

How can they pretend to be honest anchors and programme hosts and not stay awake at night with guilt over what they have shoved under the carpet?

David Ray Griffin, Professor Emeritus, author of 11 books on 9/11 wrote, "All the proffered evidence that America was attacked by Muslims on 9/11, when subjected to critical scrutiny, appears to have been fabricated." Have our brilliant news anchors been oblivious to this?

Apparently the wealthy networks and publications haven’t used their vast resources to investigate the findings of more than 3000 professionals and experts who have questioned the official story.

The findings that follow come from The Wisdom Fund.

More than 220 Senior Military, Intelligence, Law Enforcement and Government Officials, including two generals, have questioned the 9/11 Commission's report.

Lt. Col. Robert Bowman, PhD, Former Director of Advanced Space Programs Development said "Scholars and professionals . . . have established beyond any reasonable doubt that the official account of 9/11 is false and that the official 'investigations' have really been cover-up operations."

The following have all found serious flaws in the Commission's findings.

1500 plus architects and engineers; more than 250 pilots and aviation professionals; 400 plus professors, dedicated to research and teaching the truth; more than 300 survivors and family members; 200 plus artists, entertainers and media professionals.

A video released last week entitled AE 9/11Truth Experts Speak Out provides the clearest analysis of the 9/11 attacks from professional architects and engineers. It is, without doubt, the best and most comprehensive film yet produced challenging the official version of the WTC attacks. It’s also the appropriate antidote to the disinformation that continues to be pervasive in the US media.

The world of the mainstream media need not entertain flawed or questionable conspiracy theories. However, with their articulate anchors, investigative reporters and large staffs of producers and researchers, they have no excuse for wallowing in ignorance.

The major news organizations and networks need to get in tune with the cogent minds of scientists and credentialed professionals who have found legitimate flaws in the public accounts of 9/11.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Operation Cast Lead massacre

Dedicated to the suffering people of Gaza who have and will endure

By By Arthur F. Billy, William A. Cook and Gilad Atzmon

 The date 27 December 2008 opened with Israel’s invasion of a people locked behind walls with no place to go, an invasion by the world’s fourth largest military according to Israeli estimates, an invasion against a people that have no military, an invasion of a small speck of land that is home to 1.5 million people, an invasion that capped two years of siege by this same military that destroyed the infrastructure of Gaza, preventing food and medicine and oil and gas and water from entering Gaza, an invasion that was as merciless as that of any ferocious animal killing its prey, but here the prey is not one but 1,400 with upwards of 5,000 wounded and maimed, an invasion that can only mark the perpetrators as ruthless killers without compassion or conscience, a robotic mass that has lost all sense of humane sensitivity, a people that should be and must be isolated from the law abiding nations of the world.

The video is more than just a memorial and requiem to the valiant people of Gaza. It is an expression of friendship, love and solidarity with all the Palestinian people to let them know that they are not alone.

There is no monument like it anywhere; it is the victims' tale of fear and suffering caught in the act of betrayal by those who have renounced their humanness. It is, therefore, a cry to all peoples everywhere that our civilized world of the 21st century has accomplished what no other barbaric horde of times past could achieve – a requiem for those who died conveyed through the weeping eyes and torn faces of those who witnessed this testament to inhumanity delivered by a nation that reverted back to tribal indifference of others and hate for others and vengeance to others.

May they and all Americans who view this memorial to the dead of Gaza give serious thought to what America has wrought in our undeviating support for the Zionist mind, because that mind suffers from no remorse, bears no responsibility for its acts, and willfully uses even our representatives as fools to gain their end.

The video documents the US complicity in Israel's outrageous, inhumane and barbarous Operation Cast Lead massacre of the Palestinian people of Gaza and the destruction of the Gaza Strip. One thing glaringly stood out: the truth about Operation Cast Lead was missing from the misinformation presented by the Israelis and their supporters, including the United States administration and especially most members of Congress and the Senate of the United States of America.

Dr. Arthur Billy started working on the video on 10 January 2010. It took about 1,450 hours to complete the presentation on 15 May 2011, with help from two very caring men: William A. Cook PhD, Professor of English, University of Laverne, Laverne, California, and Gilad Atzmon MPhil, musician and author, London, England.