Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Palestinian Authority’s UN statehood bid: an exercise in futility?

Last week I attended a discussion on the Palestinian Authority’s statehood bid at the UN by Susan Akram, a Boston University School of Law professor who is a leading expert on refugee issues and international law. Akram delivered a withering assessment of the PA’s statehood campaign at the UN. She focused her lecture on contrasting the PA’s strategy with Namibia’s, demonstrating how Nambia managed to achieve independence despite its initial designation by the UN to be one of the least likely colonial mandates to attain the status necessary for statehood, and despite a prolonged occupation by apartheid South Africa. Nambia and its supporters filed a steady stream of submissions to the International Court of Justice, winning decisions that confirmed the illegality of South Africa’s occupation while demanding sanctions on South Africa. Thus Nambia established a legal framework guaranteeing that any UN resolution granting it statehood would also establish its full independence.

In contrast, the PLO and PA accepted the formula of a negotiated land for peace, allowing the UN Security Council to relegate Resolution 194, the right of return resolution that guarantees individual, inalienable Palestinian rights, to “final status” talks (the UN’s acceptance of Israel as a member state in 1949 was contingent on its fulfillment of Res 194). Since Israel’s occupation of Palestine began, the Palestinian Authority has made only one request for an advisory opinion from the ICJ, when in 2004 it challenged Israel’s right to build the separation wall across the Green Line. Though the PA received a favorable ruling, it did nothing to enforce the ruling — no mobilization of civil society or demand for sanctions. In fact, despite the ICJ’s recommendation, the PA rejected the Palestinian civil society call to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel.

Akram said the PA’s failure to enact a strategy of “soft and hard law” had left an array of questions about the upcoming Palestinian statehood resolution unresolved, casting serious doubt on the whole endeavor. She enumerated some the key unresolved issues:

1. What do the 150 UN member states who vote for the resolution do with the recommendation? Do they afford Palestine full representation or representative status? Where will their embassies be? Since Israel will refuse to allow foreign embassies in East Jerusalem, will they instead be in Ramallah, and if so, does that mean that Ramallah is the future capitol of a Palestinian state? Will passports be issued to Palestinians and will they receive full consular intervention if they require it abroad?

2. What will be the recognized population of Palestine? Will it include Palestinians in the diaspora? In the West Bank and Gaza? Inside Israel? The refugees? If it does not include the refugees, do they then lose the legal right to return to their property and land confiscated by the state of Israel? None of these questions have been answered and the consequences are enormous.

3. If Palestine will be considered a legitimate state on the diplomatic front, it will not have relations with states that refused to recognize it. That means it would not have relations with the United States. How does that impact Palestine’s status at the International Court of Justice or the UN, where the US and Israel could prevent its admission to the Human Rights Council?

4. What can Palestine do to enforce the withdrawal of Israeli settlements and its territorial integrity in the absence of Israeli withdrawal and the backing of the US? The issue of enforcement has not been addressed through the statehood resolution.

5. Even if new avenues open for legal recourse against the Israeli occupation, Israel does not recognize the International Court of Justice’s authority and the United States will block any efforts to bring Israeli defendants to the ICJ for crimes they committed against Palestinians. So in real terms, what can Palestine do? Further, if Palestine becomes a member of the UN, it could table and introduce resolutions, but does this represent a change in the observer status the PLO has enjoyed since 1974? It does not.

6. Do Palestine’s security forces become a legitimate military force with all the benefits that it entails? Can they purchase arms as all state military forces do? If Israel refuses to accept members of the Palestinian military as legitimate soldiers than the status quo of captured Palestinian soldiers being treated as terrorists remains.

The consequences of statehood without real independence are enormous, Akram said. In the absence of a strategy based on hard and soft law, the PA’s statehood resolution bid could be an exercise in futility. While Namibia relied on a protracted legal battle for 40 years along with armed struggle and a political/media strategy to lay the foundation for its independence, Akram warned that the outcome for Palestine is highly uncertain.

Anders Behring Breivik, a perfect product of the Axis of Islamophobia

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store visits the Utoya Labor Youth camp a day before Breivik's killing spree. He earned loud cheers with an unapologetic call for Palestinian rights.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store visits the Utoya Labor Youth camp a day before Breivik's killing spree. He earned loud cheers with an unapologetic call for Palestinian rights.

When I wrote my analysis last December on the “Axis of Islamophobia,” laying out a new international political network of right-wing ultra-Zionists, Christian evangelicals, Tea Party activists and racist British soccer hooligans, I did not foresee a terrorist like Anders Behring Breivik emerging from the movement’s ranks. At the same time, I am not surprised that he did. The rhetoric of the characters who inspired Breivik, from Pam Geller to Robert Spencer to Daniel Pipes, was so eliminationist in its nature that it was perhaps only a matter of time before someone put words into action.

As horrific as Breivik’s actions were, he can not be dismissed as a “madman.” His writings contain the same themes and language as more prominent right-wing Islamophobes (or those who style themselves as “counter-Jihadists”) and many conservatives in general. What’s more, Breivik was articulate and coherent enough to offer a clear snapshot of his ideological motives. Ali Abunimah and Alex Kane have posted excellent summaries of Breivik’s writings here and here and a full English translation is here. It is also worth sitting through at least a portion of Breivik’s tedious video manifesto to get a sense of his thinking.

From a tactical perspective, Breivik was not a “lone wolf” terrorist. Instead, Breivik appeared to operate under a leaderless resistance model much like the Christian anti-abortion terrorists Scott Roeder and Eric Rudolph. Waagner and Rudolph organized around the Army of God, a nebulous group that was known only by its website and the pamphlets its members passed around in truck stops and private meetings. If they received material or tactical support, it occurred spontaneously. For the most part, they found encouragement from like-minded people and organizations like Operation Rescue, but rarely accepted direct assistance. Breivik, who emerged from the anti-immigrant Norwegian Progress Party (which built links with America’s Tea Party) and drifted into the English/Norwegian Defense League sphere of extremism, but who appeared to act without formal organizational support, reflects the same leaderless resistance style as America’s anti-abortion terrorists.

While in many ways Breivik shares core similarities with other right-wing anti-government terrorists, he is the product of a movement that is relatively new, increasingly dangerous, and poorly understood. I described the movement in detail in my “Axis of Islamophobia” piece, noting its simultaneous projection of anti-Semitic themes on Muslim immigrants and the appeal of Israel as a Fort Apache on the front lines of the war on terror, holding the line against the Eastern barbarian hordes. Breivik’s writings embody this seemingly novel fusion, particularly in his obsession with “Cultural Marxism,” an increasingly popular far-right concept that positions the (mostly Jewish) Frankfurt School as the originators of multiculturalism, combined with his call to “influence other cultural conservatives to come to our…pro-Israel line.”

Breivik and other members of Europe’s new extreme right are fixated on the fear of the “demographic Jihad,” or being out-populated by overly fertile Muslim immigrants. They see themselves as Crusader warriors fighting a racial/religious holy war to preserve Western Civilization. Thus they turn for inspiration to Israel, the only ethnocracy in the world, a country that substantially bases its policies towards the Palestinians on what its leaders call “demographic considerations.” This is why Israeli flags invariably fly above black-masked English Defense League mobs, and why Geert Wilders, the most prominent Islamophobic politician in the world, routinely travels to Israel to demand the forced transfer of Palestinians.

Judging from Breivik’s writings, his hysterical hatred of the Labor Party’s immigration policies and tolerance of Muslim immigrants likely led him target the government-operated summer camp at Utoya. For years, the far-right has singled Norway out as a special hotbed of pro-Islam, pro-Palestinian sentiment, thanks largely to its ruling Labor Party. In 2010, for instance, the English Defense League called Norway a future site of “Islamohell,” “where unadulterated political correctness has ruled the roost, with sharp talons, for decades.” Yesterday, when the Wall Street Journal editorial page rushed to blame Muslim terrorists for what turned out to be Breivik’s killing spree, it slammed the Norwegian government for pulling troops from Afghanistan and demanding that Israel end its siege of Gaza. For his part, Breivik branded the Labor Party as “traitors.”

There is no clear evidence that Breivik’s support for the Israeli right played any part in his killing spree. Nor does he appear to have any connection with the Israeli government. However, it is worth noting that in November 2010, the Israeli government joined the right-wing pile on, accusing the Norwegian government of “anti-Israel incitement” for funding a trip for students to New York to see the “Gaza Monologues” play. Then, the day before Breivik’s terror attack, which he planned long in advance, Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stor visited the Labor Youth camp at Utoya. There, he was met with demands to support the global BDS movement and to support the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral statehood bid. “The Palestinians must have their own state, the occupation must end, the wall must be demolished and it must happen now,” the Foreign Minister declared, earning cheers from the audience.

Breivik’s writings offer much more than a window into the motives that led him to commit terror. They can also be read as an embodiment of the mentality of a new and internationalized far-right movement that not only mobilizes hatred against Muslims, but is also able to produce figures who will kill innocent non-Muslims to save the Western way of life.

Being Jewish in Turkey, before and after the Mavi Marmara (part 2 of 2)

Yesterday I published the first of two interviews I conducted with Turkish Jews during a brief trip to Istanbul. The first interview is here. In the second, I spoke with “B,” a media professional in her late 20′s who studied at a liberal arts college in the United States. As with “E,” B was adamant that I not reveal her identity, telling me that she was “really scared” of complicating her situation at work. In our interview, B expressed the same cultural outlook as E and a similar attitude to Israel: while she complained that its actions towards the Palestinians affect her negatively as a Jew in a Muslim majority nation, the situation remains abstract and disconnected from her identity. In both cases, I found my interview subjects to be wise beyond their years. “I never took security for granted,” B told me. “I’m more ready for battle than [Americans]. So it’s completely logical that I would survive more easily in a challenging situation.”

Our interview follows:

MB: On a basic level what is it like being Jewish in Turkey and do you feel like you stand apart from the majority of Turks?

B: Being Jewish in Turkey has its ups and downs. Jews have an accent and when we speak in Turkish we stand out. I don’t know where it comes from but probably from Ladino. In the last 70 years Jews were pushed to speak Turkish and were constantly told the slogan, “Citizens speak Turkish.” At home the accent comes from your parents. It’s like a whisper. In the US for Jews the accent comes out when you are upset. Imagine if it came out without being angry!

MB: So how does that affect you in your daily life?

B: In the social world you are aware that you are an other. You can’t be sure what anyone’s idea of the situation is. But in the social arena you’re often surrounded by others like you. In the business world being Jewish is sometimes positive because we are seen as good at commerce and Jews almost always repay their debts here.

But to be honest I would say I’m putting in more effort than ever at work because the moment I slip up, I become the foreigner. At work there are always a few people I have to win over. I have to prove my Turkishness to them somehow. And then these people see me as “the good Jew.” But they don’t represent the general consensus. And I wouldn’t say there is any anti-Jewish movement in the country even though we are an easy target when people look for someone to blame.

MB: Why don’t you simply confront those people at work instead of trying to live up to their standards?

B: If someone came out and said, “the Jews are horrible,” I would confront them for sure. But sometimes it’s better to lead by example. Consistency will prove that I’m a good person.

MB: Yesterday “E” told me that Israel’s actions sometimes cause problems for the Jewish community here. Do you agree?

B: Definitely. The big problem is that whenever something happens with Israel we automatically become “Israelites,” not Jews. I don’t see myself as an Israeli Jew — I’m Turkish. But whatever happens in Israel affects us here and safety becomes an issue. Some people here have fish minds and can’t distinguish between Jews and Israelis.

MB: So how has the phenomenon played out in your personal life?

B: I can give you an example. I was importing lingerie for five years. When Israel began bombing Gaza, I was importing all these brands from the states. And a trade magazine for the lingerie retailers [in Turkey] put out a boycott list that focused on Jewish owned brands. My brands were on the list. I’m not a public person so it’s hard to know that I’m Jewish at all. But my brands were listed because I’m Jewish. Who am I? How do you know who I am? The magazine was a small publication in some rural city. I only knew about the boycott list because some salesman found it and showed it to me.

The boycott also spread on Facebook. Who knows if it distinguished between Jewish and Israeli? The page said, “The owners of these brands help Israel in its efforts against Gaza.” What the hell do I have to do with Israel? These people don’t know the difference between Jews and Israelis. And the extremists take advantage of this [lack of distinction].

MB: What about after the Mavi Marmara incident? What was it like for you and other Turkish Jews?

B: Everyone was scared to go to malls or synagogue. Not that I ever go to synagogue but in times of trouble I limit my risks. During the crisis some protesters blocked the entrance outside the Israeli consulate and were waving flags and shouting. Even if I wasn’t Jewish I would have been scared to go there. This wasn’t a peace march. The crowd wanted blood. If it came out that I was a Jew, what they have done to me?

MB: Do you think the government played a productive role at all?

B: The Prime Minister [Recep Erdogan] took a stand saying Jews are not Israelis, they are Turkish. He made the differentiation clearly. That was a very positive thing for us.

MB: Are you a Zionist? It seems like Israel does not factor into your identity very much.

B: I’m not a Zionist. Israel is an abstract place for me just like France. But there is a connection as a Jew and it is a safe haven in a sense. They are welcoming you with open arms and there is a sense of community. At least it’s better to be attacked as a community than on your own. Of course I’d rather go to London but if another Holocaust happens where will I go?

MB: Do you seriously think the Holocaust could happen again? It seems a little far-fetched to me.

B: Maybe? Who knows? It happened before and no one expected it.

MB: Do you have any interest in learning more about the history of the conflict in Israel-Palestine? Or what about taking a tour of the West Bank and seeing the occupation up close for yourself?

B: No, I don’t think I’d be interested in something like that. Right now Israel’s just an abstract place. I have been three times. Basically I go to the beach in Tel Aviv and come back.

MB: What do you think about anti-Zionist Jews and do you have any here in Turkey?

B: Whether a Jew is Zionist or not has nothing to do with their faith in Judaism. That’s not the issue for me. The issue is non-Jews failing to distinguish between Jews and Israelis. And of course [in the Turkish Jewish community] anti-Zionists would be accused of being self-hating. But who would even take such a stand? We’re not political here. Our only concern is self-preservation.

MB: When you studied in the US what were the principal differences you noticed between yourself and American Jews, and between you and Americans in general.

B: I went to a Bar Mitzvah in the US and it was like a Broadway show. It was for entertainment purposes and educational. For us in Turkey, Judaism is about religion. We get together for our ceremonies and in the synagogue, where many of our melodies come from traditional Ottoman songs, and I find solace in that.

On the more general question, the way I grew up is different from the way Americans grew up. I never took security for granted. I’m more ready for battle than they are. So it’s completely logical that I would survive more easily in a challenging situation than an American. That’s why America reacted the way it did to 9-11. Their whole naivete bubble popped in a day.

MB: What was is it like for you personally being in America right after 9-11?

B: For a long time I had worn a Chai necklace. But I eventually took it off, like I just didn’t feel like wearing it anymore. But after 9-11, suddenly I wasn’t Jewish enough because I wasn’t Ashkenazi, I was Eastern, and I have an Arab sounding last name. At my college I had to advertise that I was Jewish so I wouldn’t be seen as a Muslim. So I suddenly put my necklace back on and everything was okay. When I’m over there I feel a level of safety as a Jew.

MB: Your experiences remind me of a term that was used to describe Jews in the US but isn’t really used much anymore: “insider-outsider.”

B: Exactly. We are living with a foot in both worlds. But it’s hard to get through the door when you can’t use both feet.


Being Jewish in Turkey, before and after the Mavi Marmara (part 1 of 2)

During a brief trip I recently took to Istanbul, I had the chance to interview two members of the local Jewish community, which is one of the largest and most cohesive Sephardic communities in the Jewish diaspora. My primary interest was in how Jewish life has changed in Turkey since Israel’s deadly raid on the Mavi Marmara, but we also discussed the social characteristics and history of Turkish Jews.

Numbering around 26,000, Turkey’s Jews are guided by a constant focus on self-preservation. The community generally eschew collective political engagement and, in sharp contrast to the country’s Kurdish and Armenian minority groups, avoid mounting any challenges to the Turkish state. “All we ask for is equal treatment and living well,” said one of my interviewees. Though they are generally secular and liberal, intermarriage is considered out of bounds — even marrying an Ashkenazi Jew is suspect. Like other Sephardic communities throughout time, Turkish Jews have survived and prospered by relying on a simple formula of cultural assimilation and ethno-religious exclusivity.

The factor that most complicates Jewish life in Turkey (at least judging from my interviews) is Zionism. By now, most of the Jews who planned to emigrate to Israel have done so, either for ideological or economic reasons. Turkish Jews may privately support Israel, but unlike Jews in the United States, they make absolutely no show of it. However, both of my interview subjects told me that Israel’s behavior has impacted their lives in an entirely negative fashion.

Turkish Jews experienced unprecedented levels of anxiety during Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in 2008 and ’09 and after Israel’s killing of 9 passengers on the Mavi Marmara in 2010. After the Mavi Marmara incident, the Turkish Chief Rabbi issued a statement mildly condemning the Israeli raid. My interviewees told me that despite Prime Minister Recep Erdogan’s declaration that “looking upon hatred at the Jews is…unacceptable,” (which they considered helpful) extremists scapegoated local Jews. Though the reactionary mood has dissipated, the trauma of shrinking from public view for several days was an experience my interviewees have not forgotten.

Neither of my interview subjects objected to my opinion that Zionism imperils Jews around the world, and especially outside the West. Indeed, their testimonies were proof of the crisis Israel has created in Jewish diaspora life. At the same time they displayed a complete lack of interest in engaging with the situation, either by examining the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, understanding the occupation, or developing a clear position on the issue. While Israel’s actions — and the reactionary tendencies of radical elements inside Turkey — undermine their sense of security, the Jewish state remains a distant abstraction that has only the most fleeting connection to their identity. And the Palestinians do not even merit a second thought.

My interview subjects both insisted I conceal their identities out of fear of upsetting their employers. Both are women in their late 20′s who studied at Western universities and speak nearly fluent English. Like many Turkish Jews, they are upper middle class, however, I can hardly present them as representatives of the entire community. On the other hand, neither of them knew one another, but they expressed a remarkably similar outlook. My friend Duygu, who arranged the interviews, occasionally chimed in. Here is the first in the two part series, an interview with “E,” a public relations consultant living in Istanbul:

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Inside Torat Hamelech, the Jewish extremist terror tract endorsed by state-employed rabbis

Religious ultra-Zionists attempt to storm the Supreme Court after the arrest of Dov Lior, a state-employed rabbi from Kiryat Arba who endorsed Torat Hamelech

Religious ultra-Zionists attempt to storm the Supreme Court after the arrest of Dov Lior, a state-employed rabbi from Kiryat Arba who endorsed Torat Hamelech

Last year, I reported on a convention of top Israeli rabbis who gathered to defend the publication of Torat Hamelech, a book that relied on rabbinical sources to justify the killing of gentiles, including infants “if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us.” The most prominent rabbinical endorsers, Kiryat Arba’s chief rabbi Dov Lior and Yaakov Yosef, had dismissed police summons at the time, insisting that man’s law could not touch the halakha. A year later, in late June, the Israeli police finally arrested Lior for his role in endorsing and promoting the book.

Riots broke out almost immediately in the wake of the arrest, with mobs of religious Zionists burning tires and attempting to storm the Israeli Supreme Court compound. Fearing more riots and with sales of Torat Hamelech surging, the police handled Rabbi Yosef with kid gloves, requesting he come in for questioning but not arresting him. In the end, the state neglected to remove Lior, Yosef, or any other state-employed rabbi from his position for endorsing Torat Hamelech.

Why is Torat Hamelech so explosive? Yuval Dror, an Israeli journalist and academic, excerpted some of the book’s most incendiary passages. What appeared was Jewish exclusivism in its most extreme form, with non-Jews deemed permissible to kill, or Rodef, for the most inconsequential of wartime acts, including providing moral support to gentile armies. The book is a virtual manual for Jewish extremist terror designed to justify the mass slaughter of civilians. And in that respect, it is not entirely different from the Israeli military’s Dahiya Doctrine, or Asa Kasher and Amos Yadlin’s concept of “asymmetrical warfare.” The key difference seems to be the crude, almost childlike logic the book’s author, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, marshals to justify the killing of non-Jewish civilians.

Here are passages from Torat Hamelech, as excerpted by Dror and translated by Dena Bugel-Shunra:

II. Thou Shalt Not Commit Murder

Maimonides wrote in the Halachas of Murder, Chapter A, Halacha A:

He who kills one soul of Israel violates a prohibition, as it is said “thou shalt not commit murder, and if he committed murder maliciously, in front of witnesses, his death shall be by the sword…

It is therefore made explicit that the “thou shalt not commit murder” prohibition refers only to a Jew who kills a Jew, and not to a Jew who kills a gentile, even if that gentile is one of the righteous among the nations… we have derived that from the verse “thou shalt not commit murder”, one cannot learn that there is a prohibition on killing a gentile.

(Page 17-18)

VIII. Conclusion

I. A gentile must not kill his friend, and if he has killed, he must die.

II. The prohibition “thou shalt not commit murder” refers to a Jew who kills another Jew.

III. A Jew who kills a gentile is not required to die.

IV. The prohibition on a Jew killing a gentile derives from the fact that a gentile is not allowed to kill a gentile.

(Page 27)

I. A gentile is killed for one death, and with one judge

A gentile who violates one of the seven rules [of Noah] must be killed, and he is killed based on the word of one witness and with one judge and with no warning.

II. A witness becomes a judge

For the Sons of Noah [gentiles] the witness can himself be a judge. This mean: if one person saw the other committing a crime – he can judge him and kill him for this, as he is the witness and he is the judge… Moses [moshe rabbenu] saw the Egyptian hitting a man of Israel, and killed him for that. So there Moses is the witness and is the judge, and this does not delay the carrying out of the law upon the Egyptian.

(Pp. 49-50)

What transpires from these matters is that when you judge a gentile for crimes that he has committed – you must also consider the question of whether he has repented, and if he has – he must not be killed… moreover: it is better that the gentile repent than that we kill him. If we come upon a gentile who does not abide by the Seven Laws [of Noah], and the importance of abiding by them can be explain to him, so he will repent – we would prefer to choose that path, and not judge an kill him.

(page 70)

It is explained in Yerushalmi [codex] that when a [child of] Israel [a Jew] is in danger of his life, as people tell him ‘kill this particular gentile or you will be killed’ – is permitted to kill the gentile to save himself… and the [interpreters of the law] Rashi and Maimonides say that the law of requiring to die rather than commit the crime is only valid in case of a Jew against another Jew, not in the case of a Jew against a stranger living among them… It is clear from these statements that when the choice is between losing the life of a stranger living among them and losing the life of a child of Israel [a Jew] – the simple decision is to permit [the killing].

(Pp. 157-158)

When the question is of a life of a gentile weighed against the life of a child of Israel [Jew], the initial proposal returns, which is that a Jew can violate  law in order to save himself, as what is at stake is the soul [life] of a Jew – which supersedes the entire Torah [code of law] - in contrast with the life of a stranger living among us, which does not permit any Torah prohibition to be superseded.

(page 162)

To save the life of a gentile, one does not violate the Sabbath rules, and it is clear from this that his life is not like the value of the life of a child of Israel, so it may be used for the purpose of saving the life of a child of Israel.

(page 167)

An enemy soldier in the corps of intelligence, logistics, and so forth aids the army that fights against us. A soldier in the enemy’s medical corps is also considered a “rodef” [villain who is actively chasing a Jew], as without the medical corps the army will be weaker., and the medical corps also encourages and strengthens the fighters, and helps them kill us.

A civilian who supports fighters is also consider Rodef, and may be killed… anyone who helps the army of the evil people in any way, strengthens the murderers and is considered to be Rodef.

(page 184)

III. Support and encouragement

A civilian who encourages the war - gives the king and the soldiers the strength to continue with it. Therefore, every citizen in the kingdom that is against us, who encourages the warriors or expresses satisfaction about their actions, is considered Rodef and his killing is permissible. Also considered Rodef is any person who weakens our kingdom by speech and so forth.

(p. 185)

We are permitted to save ourselves from the Rodef people. It is not important who we start with, as long as we kill the Rodef people, and save ourselves from the danger they pose. And see for yourself: if you say that the fact that there are many of them brings up the question of whom to start with, and that that question is supposed to delay us from saving for ourselves - why it stands to reason: the existence of any one of them postpones the salivation, and this is the reason to treat each and every one as a complete Rodef, and to kill him, so he will not cause this ‘life-threatening’ question…

Whoever is in a situation where it is clear that he will chase and danger us in the future - it is not necessary to give it fine consideration as to whether at this moment, exactly, he is actively helping the chasing [harassment?] of us.

(Pp. 186-187)

X. People who were forced to partner with the enemy

We have dealt, so far, with gentiles whose evil means that there is a reason to kill them. We will now turn to discuss those who are not interested in war and object to it with all force…

We will start with a soldier, who is party to fighting against us, but is doing so only because he has been forced by threats to take part in the war.

If he was threatened with loss of money and such things - he is completely evil. There is no permission to take part in chasing and killing due to fear of loss of money, and if he does so -he is a Rodef in every definition thereof.

And if he was threatened that if he would not participate in the war, he would be killed - according to the MAHARAL [rabbi]… just as he is permitted to kill others - so, too, can others (even gentiles)kill him, so we will not die. And for this reason, according to the MAHARAL, it is simply evident that such a soldier may be killed.

And according to the Parashat Drachim [rabbi? Or possibly book of law?] - he must not participate in the murdering even if he must give his life due to this. And if he does so [participates] - he is evil and may be killed, like any other Rodef.

We will remind, again, that this discusses all types of participation in the war: a fighter, a support soldier, civilian assistance, or various types of encouragement and support.

(P. 196)

XVI. Infants

When discussing the killing of babies and children - why on the one hand, we see them as complete innocents, as they have no knowledge, and therefore are not to be sentenced for having violated the Seven Laws, and they are not to be ascribed evil intent. But on the other side, there is great fear of their actions when they grow up… in any event, we learn that there is an opinion that it is right to hurt infants if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation the damage will be directed specifically at them.

(Pp. 205-200)

IV. Killing the enemy like killing our own men

If the king is permitted to kill his own men for the purpose of war - that same opinion also holds with regard to people who belong to the evil kingdom. In a war of righteous people against evil people, we assume that the evil will eventually hurt us all, if we let it raise its head, and the people of the evil kingdom will also suffer from it.

We are, in fact, arguing to any person from the evil kingdom: if you belong to the evil king - you are liable to be killed for helping murderers; and if you do not help him - you should help us, and it is permissible to kill you as we kill our own people (as we are all in trouble together, and in such a situation it is permissible to kill the few in order to save the many.)

This theory also permits intentional hurting of babies and of innocent people, if this is necessary for the war against the evil people. For example: If hurting the children of an evil king will put great pressure on him that would prevent him from acting in an evil manner - they can be hurt (even without the theory that it is evident that they will be evil when they grow up.)

(P. 215)

VII. Revenge

One of the needs which exists, in the hurting of [Evil people?] is the revenge. In order to beat [win the war against] the evil people, we must act with them in a manner of revenge, as tit versus tat…

In other words, revenge is a necessary need in order to turn the evil-doing into something that does not pay off, and make righteousness grow stronger; and as great as the evil is - so is the greatness of the action needed against it.

(Pp. 216-217)

Sometimes, one does evil deeds that are meant to create a correct balance of fear, and a situation in which evil actions do not pay off… and in accordance with this calculus, the infants are not killed for their evil, but due to the fact that there is a general need of everyone to take revenge on the evil people, and the infants are the ones whose killing will satisfy this need; and they can also be viewed as the ones who are set aside from among a faction, as reality has chosen them to be the ones whose killing will save all of them [the others from that faction?] and prevent evildoing later on. (And it does indeed turn out that to this consideration, the consideration that we brought forth at the end of the prior chapter also definitely is added - which is, that they are in any event suspected of being evil when they grow up.)

Actor in Israel gov’s new anti-flotilla vid said to be Haaretz employee (Updated)

Update: A second source inside Haaretz has confirmed for me that Neistat is a Haaretz employee.

A new anti-flotilla hasbara video surfaced this week, this time depicting a young woman in a psychiatrist’s office describing her flotilla-related trauma and nightmares. The video is even more embarrassingly stupid than the pinkwashing hoax that Ali Abuminah, Ben Doherty and I exposed as a fraud promoted and possibly produced by the Israeli government. Using the female actor as a symbol for Israeli society, the video blames the flotilla for wounding the tender souls of hip Tel Avivians, turning sexy, innocent young people into paranoid trauma patients. At least, that was my reading of the otherwise incoherent video.

According to +972′s Dimi Reider, the new anti-flotilla production has government fingerprints all over it. As Reider reported, “+972 was able to confirm through a source with knowledge of the actress’ engagement that the gig was indeed described at the time as a Hasbara video commissioned by the government.”

I made some calls about the female actor in the video, Aimee Neistat. A source who works inside Haaretz told me that Neistat is a Haaretz employee who translates Hebrew content into English (occasionally staffers at the translation desk produce original journalist content and editorials). Of course, everyone at Haaretz is entitled to their opinion, but Neistat’s involvement in a government-sponsored propaganda campaign seems like an ethical breach. As appallingly bad as the video was, the fact that an apparent staffer for one of Israel’s major newspapers played a starring role is far worse.

Yonatan Shapira held in Greek port: “I don’t know if I’m detained or not”

I just spoke by phone with my friend Yonatan Shapira, an Israeli refusenik and activist who is among the crew of “The Audacity of Hope,” the American boat currently being held by the Greek government. The captain of the ship has been jailed and will be formally charged this week. Meanwhile, Yonatan and the crew are being held by the Greek authorities, though he doesn’t actually know if he’s being formally detained. I encourage readers to call the Greek Embassy in Washington at 202.939.1300 and report what you’ve learned in my comments section.

My conversation with Yonatan follows:

MB: What’s the situation?

Yonatan Shapira: We’re on the boat right now and it’s docked in this place guarded by the Greek Coast Guard. Basically they took us to this Coast Guard place and kept us in detention. And the crew was supposed to not leave the boat or this little compound. But the two British members of the crew were just told by the embassy that they could leave there — under the European Union law they could be free. So it’s just me and the American crew members and it’s not clear if we can leave. One of the guys form the crew tried to leave and they said he couldn’t. Most of the passengers chose to stay with us. The press has all left. Democracy Now tried to come back today and they were not allowed in.

MB: Why have they jailed the captain?

YS: They can use him as an example for all the future flotillas and keep him in jail for a long time, to try to intimidate them. On Monday or Tuesday there will be a court hearing and the lawyers are preparing. But it’s an obvious case of the Greeks trying to intimidate future flotillas and the current one because there are several vessels preparing to leave. The Canadians are still in port surrounded by Coast Guard vessels.

MB: Do you think there’s any chance of the flotilla disembarking for Gaza?

YS: It’s hard to believe that they will leave. It’s all a political decision and how much pressure can we apply on a government that’s under so much pressure, so hated by its own people? On the other hand, maybe we are just one fly on the back of this big cow.

MB: So are you officially a prisoner of the Greek government?

YS: I don’t know if I’m detained or not but I’m going to check a bit later and see if I can just go out. They took our names and numbers. But I believe they are going to pursue the trial of the captain and let us go.

MB: It’s kind of funny that Greece is holding Americans apparently on behalf of Israel and the US government doesn’t seem to mind.

YS: It just shows how the US and Israel is becoming like one big distorted body.

MB: Maybe if you had Rabbi Dov Lior as a crew member the Israeli government would allow Greece to release the boat. [Yonatan laughs] Seriously though, do you think this latest flotilla has achieved at least a symbolic victory?

YS: We have generated a lot of media and the battle is still long. But personally I want to sail. Then again, it’s a long sail that we’re on and maybe this is just one stop on the journey.