I Was Born Free

"We're all one thing, Lieutenant. That's what I've come to realize. Like cells in a body. 'Cept we can't see the body. The way fish can't see the ocean. And so we envy each other. Hurt each other. Hate each other. How silly is that? A heart cell hating a lung cell." - Cassie from THE THREE
Posts tagged "Palestine"

At least once a week I get this song stuck in my head, but my head says “Palestine” instead of “ballantines,” and it kinda works?


Madonna will not be adhering to the Israel cultural boycott, unlike some of her celebrity cohorts such as Julianne Moore (her old Body of Evidence costar), Cynthia Nixon and Elvis Costello. On the contrary, the Material Girl’s new tour launches in Tel Aviv in May.

Madge has a special affinity with Israel (she’s a follower of Kabbalah which I guess makes her Jew-ish). Ms Penn Richie Ciccone has visited a few times to further her spiritual education. She once even referred to Israel as ‘the energy centre of the world.’

The Queen of Pop’s Israeli fans also feel a special affinity to her with one even setting up a Facebook page begging and pleading with Israel not to attack Iran until after her Madgesty has performed to ensure the show goes on. I guess that’s like a prayer.

Obviously a post called “Madonna and the Middle East” is getting reblogged by me.

This is probably the most interesting blog I have followed recently. I suggest you all check it out.

90s TV Stars for Palestine.

All credit to Israel’s friends in the British Jewish community: they are nothing if not energetic. A matter of months after they gathered for BICOM’s We Believe in Israel rally in London, they are now erecting a Big Tent for Israel in Manchester. According to an ad for a spin-off event, once again the focus will be the “delegitimisation of Israel”.

I applaud the tirelessness of these campaigners and they are certainly right to take on those who would deny the legitimacy of Israel’s existence. But I wonder if they realise that the fight for the Israel they love may also need to take other forms - and not just against the obvious enemies.

Start with the place I visited a week ago: Hebron. What I saw there would shock even those who think they know all there is to know about Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians. The centre of a city of 175,000 people has been utterly emptied, its streets deserted, its shops vacant, thanks to a policy the Israeli army calls “sterilisation” - ensuring the area is clear and safe for Hebron’s 800 Jewish settlers.

In what was once a throbbing market district, a place teeming with life, successive restrictions have been placed on Hebron’s Palestinian population. A map shows purple roads where no Palestinian cars are permitted, yellow roads where no Palestinian shops are allowed to open and red roads where no Palestinians are even allowed to walk.

I watched an old man, a bag of cement on his shoulder, ascend a steep bypass staircase because his feet were forbidden from going any further along the road. Those unlucky enough to live on a red road have had their front doors sealed: they have to leave their own houses by a back door and climb out via a ladder.

All this has made life so impossible that an estimated 42 per cent of the families who once lived in this central part of town have now moved out.

What they have left behind is eerie. Israelis can walk freely down streets that are barred to Palestinians, surveying the shuttered shops that have been covered with some of the most vile graffiti I have ever seen. The familiar “Death to the Arabs” is there, but so is “You have Arabs, you have mice,” the words covered up, but still legible. Perhaps most shocking are the Stars of David, daubed on Arab shopfronts and doors. To see that cherished symbol used to spit in the eye of a population hounded out of their homes is chilling.

All right, some will say, Hebron is an extreme case. Not according to my guide, Yehuda Shaul, a kippah-wearing army reservist who served two long tours in Hebron and who now works with the Breaking the Silence movement which, via the new Yachad organisation, has shown several Anglo-Jewish Zionist youth leaders and synagogue activists around the city. Shaul believes that Hebron simply reveals the reality of the occupation in an intense, distilled form.

But let’s say Hebron is too much to stomach. Contemplate instead the bill that would formally make Israeli democracy subordinate to the state’s Jewish identity, altering the nation’s Basic Law and elevating, in the words of the Knesset’s legal adviser, Eyal Yinon, “values such as national strength, honour and Jewish identity, even at the expense of values…such as freedom of expression, the right to equality and minority rights”.

It would be consoling if this proposal to turn Israel into a kind of Jewish Prussia - high on nationalism with democracy an afterthought - had at least come from the far right, with no prospects of success. But behind it is Avi Dichter of the supposedly centrist Kadima party.

Or visit the ultra-orthodox Mea She’arim neighbourhood of Jerusalem, where the streets themselves now have a mechitza, men walking on one side of the barrier, women the other. That is until they get on a bus, where the women are required to sit at the back, leaving the seats at the front for the men.

The point is that if the Israel we love is the Jewish, democratic state established in the Declaration of Independence then we need to fight for it. It is under threat and not only from the usual suspects, the hostile media and the “delegitimisers”. It is also threatened from within, by Israel’s own actions. Put simply, if we are true friends of Israel we would take on those who would transform the country into a place most pro-Israeli Jews in Britain would not even recognise.

A YouTube video featuring a man who presented himself as an American gay rights activist disillusioned with the latest Gaza flotilla campaign has been exposed as a hoax.

The man in the video, who introduced himself to viewers as Marc and claimed that the organizers of the latest flotilla of ships bound for Gaza had rejected his offer to mobilize a network of gay activists in support of their cause, was identified as Omer Gershon, a Tel Aviv actor involved in marketing, by the Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian Web site.

As my colleague Ethan Bronner explains, pro-Palestinian activists, including the prominent American author Alice Walker, are planning to sail a flotilla of small ships from European ports toward Gaza to protest Israel’s naval blockade of the Palestinian territory.

Just hours after the supposedly homemade video was uploaded to YouTube on Thursday, Benjamin Doherty of the Electronic Intifada pointed out that it had suspiciously high production values — most obviously, lights and what is known as B-roll — and was attributed to an activist calling himself Marc Pax, who seemed to have no other online presence.

While it remains unclear who produced the video, and Mr. Gershon has not responded to a request for comment, bloggers were quick to point out that people in three different Israeli government offices promoted it on Twitter soon after it was posted online.

As the blogger Max Blumenthal reported on Friday, one of the first people to draw attention to the video was Guy Seemann, who is an intern in the office of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.


Ayn Rand on Israel and the Middle East

There’s just something about her that rubs me the wrong way, know what I mean?

Nablus at dusk (by pirates and plants)

Gaza (by thomas rassloff)

Far from Iowa, likely Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told a crowd of Jewish Israelis yesterday that he’d be just as mad as they are if anybody tried to kick him out of America the way Israelis are being asked to not build or live in disputed lands.

"I cannot imagine as an American being told that I could not live in certain places in America because I was Christian, or because I was white, or because I spoke English," Huckabee said. "I would be outraged if someone told me that in my country, I would be prohibited and forbidden to live in a part of that country, for any reason."

Huckabee was attending a cornerstone-laying ceremony for a new neighborhood on the Mount of Olives in east Jerusalem — a disputed territory in the Middle East that Huckabee says should belong to Israel. East Jerusalem and the adjacent West Bank aren’t recognized as Israeli land by most of the international community; Israel annexed East Jerusalem shortly after the Six Day War, while the remainder of the West Bank — where there are numerous Israeli settlements — remains under military administration..

Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Huckabee said, should settle in “territory that [is] in the hands of Muslims, in the hands of Arabs,” as determined by the “international community.”

Huckabee appeared at the event with actor Jon Voight, the Tea Party’s favorite celebrity better known to most Israelis as Angelina Jolie’s father.

"And now you are here, this is your time, and you are doing what you should be doing, which is to prepare the next generations and to be the hope of the world that you are," Voight said. "I love you all."

Kind of a poor analogy, what with the US Indian Reservations and all, no?

But yeah, this guy shouldn’t be in charge of a bodega.

PA leaders repeatedly threatened to abandon attempts to negotiate a two-state solution in favour of a one-state option. At the same meeting, Erekat declared that if the settlement of the West Bank continued, “we will announce the one state and the struggle for equality in the state of Israel”.

But the documents show US officials unmoved by such claims. Why were the Palestinians “always in a chapter of a Greek tragedy”, secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, asked at a meeting with Erekat in Washington in the autumn of 2009.

Her predecessor, Rice, had been even more dismissive. In July 2008 during talks with Palestinian leaders over compensation for refugees who fled or were forced from their homes when Israel was established in 1948, she said: “Bad things happen to people all around the world all the time.”