Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Special Invitation to Progressive German Activists

I recently received a "special invitation" from the Jewish Voice for Peace via the Michigan Peace Team. It was eerily similar to a message from the German American Bund I had seen recently in a dusty, old WWII-era archive Here's what the invitation said:
If you feel, that in addition to protecting the people of Germany, and fighting all forms of anti-Teutonism,
That the occupation of Jewish land in Poland must be ended,
That the 'right to return' issue should follow the guidelines of international law,
That Nazism or anti-Nazism does not need to be the focus,
That German and Jewish people are equal as human beings,
That terrorism is destructive to both sides,
That the current actions of Germany are jeopardizing the lives of everyone in the region, including the people of Germany, and
that we have to find a PEACEFUL way to resolve the decades old struggle for the rights of the people in that region,

Then you need to make your voice heard ... through this new chapter of German Voice for Peace

PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND AND SPREAD THIS INVITATION TO ALL PROGRESSIVE GERMAN ACTIVISTS
!
Yes, this is satire and I know the analogy is not perfect but I find it outrageous that peace activists would be promoting the call of a Zionist outfit like Jewish Voice for Peace. Their first loyalty is to Jews and Jewish ethno-religiocentrism/supremacism is what started the mess in Palestine in the first place and continues to feed the conflict there and beyond. People who really care about peace for Israelis and Arabs should stop pandering to Jewish chauvanists--put justice first and then we'll, eventually, have a lasting peace. Send the Michigan Peace Team a message (michiganpeaceteam@comcast.net) and tell them to stop making common cause with "progressive" apologists for violent Jewish supremacism.

Below is the matching text from the original message from Jewish Voice for Peace:
If you feel, that in addition to protecting the people of Israel, and fighting all forms of anti-Semitism,
That the occupation of Palestinian land in the West Bank and Gaza must be ended,
That the 'right to return' issue should follow the guidelines of international law,
That Zionism or anti-Zionism does not need to be the focus,
That Jewish and Palestinian people are equal as human beings,
That terrorism is destructive to both sides,
That the current actions of Israel are jeopardizing the lives of everyone in the region, including the people of Israel, and
that we have to find a PEACEFUL way to resolve the decades old struggle for the rights of the people in that region,

Then you need to make your voice heard....through this new chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace

PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND AND SPREAD THIS INVITATION TO ALL PROGRESSIVE JEWISH ACTIVISTS!
Jeff Blankfort has exposed the repulsive reality behind Jewish Voice for Peace in "The Debate that never Happened: Blankfort vs. Plitnick on the Israel Lobby" (below the Qumsiyeh article) , which is his scathing intertextual commentary on "Myth and Reality: Jewish Influence on US Middle East Policy" by Mitchell Plitnick, Director of Policy and Education, Jewish Voice for Peace. Here are the opening and closing paragraphs (Plitnick's words are italicized):
Plitnick: In working for a just resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, we constantly bump into the fact that the powerful party is the state of one of history’s most oppressed groups. Some get frustrated by always having to address anti-Semitism while working toward a just resolution to the plight of the Palestinians. But we’re kidding ourselves if we believe for a moment that anti-Semitism is not an integral part of the problem.

Blankfort: That seems to be the role that Jewish Voice for Peace has assigned for itself, to make sure that the issue of anti-Semitism is never far from the minds of those engaged in fighting for justice for the Palestinians and where it can inhibit activists from targeting Jewish organizations and institutions that support Israeli policies, such as AIPAC, the ADL, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish National Fund, and the Jewish Community Relations Councils, locally.

It is significant that the only publication issued by JVP to date was entitled, "Reframing Anti-Semitism," which sets the parameters it deems acceptable for criticizing Israel, e.g., only specific policies may be opposed and not Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, and no link can be made connecting actions of the Israel lobby or the interests of Israel to the current war in Iraq. Regarding the former, what JVP is implying is that "anti-Zionism" equals "anti-Semitism," which is identical to the position of the Anti-Defamation League and the organized Jewish establishment.

It is that history which creates the fear and anger that drive many Israeli policies. And if we fail to recognize the legitimate fear that history has instilled in the Jewish people, we fail before we start.

Apparently, we must forget the issue of settler colonialism and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians Arabs that predated the Holocaust, forget the issue of house demolitions, torture of prisoners, administrative detentions and collective punishment. It has all been done out of fear and so, it seems, we must make allowances for Israel's crimes. For those who have not directly experienced oppression, the Zionist propaganda machine is around to make sure every Jews sees her or himself as a "victim," enabling them to eat their cake and have it, too.

...

I have seen much of this movement over the years. It is clear to me that we can mount the case we need to mount, one where Israelis and Palestinians are treated as equals, as people with much tragedy in their historical consciousness. But we haven’t done it yet. Now is the time to start.

What Jews have in their consciousness is one thing and subject to debate. What the Palestinians have as their reality is quite another. With friends like Plitnick that reality does not promise to get any better.

And I fully understand why he was not willing to debate me, as I predicted beforehand.
Addendum

From the Jewish Voice for Peace FAQ page with my comments in bold:

Q: Are you Zionist, anti-Zionist, post-Zionist or something else?

A: JVP is an organization with a wide spectrum of ideological diversity. Our members hold a wide variety of views on many issues involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict. This diversity has been a great source of strength for JVP. The organization welcomes people from many different political points of view, asking only that they hold to our core principles. Those political points of connection include the following:
JVP dodges the question and the points they outline below are consistent with Zionist thinking that suggests the maintenance of the Jewish supremacist state occupying the 78% of Palestine seized in 1948 (a.k.a. Israel) is at risk due to the continuing occupation of the 22% of Palestine seized in 1967.
  • We are committed to an end to the Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. We see ending the Occupation as the beginning, not the end, of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • The root of ending the Occupation is here in the United States, not in Israel, and we work for an end to US military aid to Israel until the Occupation ends.
  • Interest groups within the United States, such as the Christian Zionist lobby, the arms and aerospace industry lobbies, and right-leaning Jewish organizations, have a vested interest in maintaining the Occupation. But since the Occupation threatens the peace and security of the Middle East, the true interests of the United States, as well as those of Palestinians and Israelis, lie in ending the Occupation.
No explicit mention here of the Israel lobby or the Jewish Zionist lobby.
  • We support a solution to the Palestinian refugee crisis that will also preserve the right of the Israeli people to self-determination. International law calls for the rights of nations to self-determination and a right of return for all refugees. We believe these two important principles of international law must be balanced to find a workable and just resolution to this long-time crisis.
It is outrageous for JVP to invoke the right of self-determination in order to sustain Israel--a nation-state created by immigrants and as a result of clear violations of the Palestinian right of self-determination in the forms of the British mandate, the UN Partition resolution, and the Zionist war of 1947-1949. The Zionists at JVP have turned the right of self-determination on its head in order to justify keeping millions of Palestinian refugees in exile so that Jewish supremacy can be maintained in the 78% of Palestine violently seized in 1948.
  • We firmly state that it is not anti-Semitic to criticize the policies of the government of the State of Israel or the policies of the Jewish establishment in the US. But we also believe that actual anti-Semitism is alive and well and is mostly misunderstood both on the left and in the mainstream.
If as JVP admits "it is not anti-Semitic to criticize the policies of the government of the State of Israel or the policies of the Jewish establishment in the US" then just what is it that is "misunderstood"?
  • We stand against all violence against civilians. We believe that the Occupation is the root cause of the violence, and that the Occupation itself, with its checkpoints, harassment, and dispossession of Palestinians is itself an act of violence. We believe that all attacks on civilians, whether by the Israeli army or Palestinian militias, are war crimes.
Zionism is at the root of the "Occupation" and all of the atrocities committed to maintain it but JVP has conveniently taken Zionism off the table.
  • We believe that when the Occupation ends, it will then become possible to consider all the different ideas for a permanent and sustainable peace in the Middle East. We believe that an open dialogue that includes all different formulations of such a permanent solution are legitimate, as long as they each respect the individual and collective rights of both Israelis and Palestinians.
This is clearly Zionist doubletalk, JVP welcomes "an open dialogue that includes all different formulations" but not any that would question Jewish supremacy in the 78% of Palestine seized in 1948.
JVP's "core principles" follow a long line of deliberate Zionist use of language for the purposes of deception. Zionists use ambiguous language to trick the lazy and the careless into supporting them or at least dropping their guard. The 1917 Balfour Declaration provides another prominent example:
The term Heimstatte ("national home") was coined by Max Nordau, with a view to disarming suspicion about any larger intentions for statehood. Writing to fellow Zionist who needed persuading, he described it as "a circumlocution that would express all we meant, but would say it in a way that would avoid provoking the Turkish rulers of the coveted land. ... I suggested it," he went on, "as a synonym for 'State.' This is the history of the much commented expression. It was equivocal, but we all understood what it meant. To us it signified Judenstaat then and it signifies the same now."*
*Source: Kenneth Cragg. The Arab Christian: A History in the Middle East. (Lousiville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox Pr., 1991) p. 255, n. 2 citing Christopher Sykes. Two Studies in Virtues. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953), p. 100. Der Judenstaat ("The Jewish State") was the title of Theodor Herzl's pivotal 1896 book articulating the Zionist dream which became a Palestinian nightmare.

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