Friday, August 29, 2003

LGF links to the ISM announcement list that I mentioned the other day, and I see that a lot of readers are now taking a look at the messages.

Here are some more sites that include writings by ISMers: Riseup Lists (search for "ism" or "palestine"), gaza.blogspot.com (mostly cut-and-paste, original content is in Swedish, some interesting photos), ISM Vancouver, ISM London Forum, "Boston To Palestine" (also here), Colorado group Rapprochement List (the progenitor of the ISM?), blog by Mika The majority of these people really do seem to be either hard-leftys or ultra-naive; and the Americans seem to be worse than the Brits. Talk of "martyrs", or "revenge attacks" is common, as is whitewashing of events and peoples' backgrounds.

If you are looking at these sites, please keep an eye open in particular for information about ISM's involvement with the al-Titi (or Teeti) family in Balata - ISM maintains a headquarters of sorts in the family home (and has for since at least early 2002 I think). CNN interviewed the proud (and pre-aware) mother of the family after her son Jihad blew up himself and two Israeli women at an ice cream parlor in Petah Tikva (or "committed suicide" in the words of one very fiskable ISM-er writing around the time of Operation Defensive Shield who seems to be unaware of Mom's pride in her son, that Israel killed cousin Mahmoud al-Titi for activities in the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, etc. etc.). Please look out for information about who manages the ISM organization and how, and also any info on cooperation with the media. It's good to save webpages because you never know when they might disappear.

The ISM announcement list is not a discussion group and is fairly predictable. Tomorrow they will moan about how many fruit trees were destroyed when the IDF entered Gaza today, and they won't mention that this was in response to the new longer-range Qassam rockets that were launched from the site. Media coordinator Sam McGarry nevers mentions Israel, but only the "Israeli state".

Thursday, August 28, 2003

More Huwaida Arraf In 2002, Haggai Elitzur attended a presentation by Arraf and husband Adam Shapiro at UMichigan . Arraf confidently claimed that Israel was planning to expel all the Palestinians during the imminent Iraq war.

And Haggai asked Arraf a few questions himself (report here).

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Huwaida Arraf today sent an email that can be said to constitute the ISM's official reaction to last Tuesday's bus bombing in Jerusalem.

Let's try to step inside her mind and see things "the ISM way" - if we dare:

After the August 19 bus bombing in Jerusalem, the ISM received a number of emails asking if the ISM was going to make a statement and we received some of the usual, "why isn't the ISM riding Israeli busses?" comments.  One email suggested that if we don't speak out against this bombing, we are "party to it". 
These are good questions. The messages on the ISM mailing list agonize daily over Palestinian suffering (both real and otherwise) but made no mention at all of the Jerusalem bombing. The ISM's "actions" interfere with the IDF's operations against terrorists, which leaves the impression that the internationals tacitly support such actions. So I look forward to hear Arraf's responses to these questions even as she sneers at them.

Again our response is that we are working to stop all violence in the region, not by issuing statements, but by working to end the root cause of the violence against Israelis and Palestinians - the ongoing, brutal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and lives ......
Hmm. "Blaming it on The Occupation". But she's supposed to make a ritual condemnation first .. You know, like, "We condemn these attacks, but ..."
In the few short weeks after the hudna was announced on June 29, 2003, up until August 9, 10 days before the bus bombing in Jerusalem, the Israeli military killed 10 Palestinians, 5 of them children, wounded 348 Palestinians, 65 of them children, arrested 435 Palestinians, damaged or completely demolished/destroyed 211 Palestinian homes, and uprooted or destroyed over 10,050 Palestinian fruit and olive trees.  This is not to mention the vehicles and businesses damaged and/or destroyed, the thousands of dunams of Palestinian land confiscated or isolated from its owners, the number of new settlement structures that were built, the bypass roads created, the Israeli military outposts erected, the continued work on the apartheid wall, the continued denial of access to Palestinians to their land, and the ongoing daily abuse at checkpoints
CBBTFTP = "Can''t be bothered to fisk that part....
We are not going to issue statements.
She said that already, but OK.
We stand against the killing of all civilians and are saddened for the families of the victims of that bus bombing.
If Arraf had said "We stand against the killing of civilians under all circumstances", I would understand her to be expressing an objection (and taking a moral stand) against the Islamikazes. But she's taking pains to say that she's not "making a statement", so I can only understand her to be saying that the ISM opposes killing civilians "in principle" - the same way that she's for peace on earth. 
At the same time we're frustrated with the politics of governments and the complacency that is allowing this to continue.  Without a check on the Israeli government and military, this will continue.  There can be no hudna or "road map" without restraints put on the Israeli military and government.
I thought you just said that you guys weren't going to issue statements. To me this sure sounds like a statement to the effect that the ISM thinks that the suicide bombings should continue until "The Occupation" ends.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Aaron Weisburd links to a series of Yahoo news photos showing the IDF searching and then demolishing an explosives and missile lab in Nablus. And sure enough "activists" (presumably the ISM) attempt to interfere with the IDF.

It would be very interesting to know the course of events. Were the ISM-ers at all surprised or disturbed about the explosives?
Thanks to all who emailed with encouragement and information and apologies for not getting back to you right away.

Please forward me whatever interesting info you get on ISM activities (esp. on your particular campus). It's important to document that these are not "peace activists". Also when sending me info, please indicate if you want me to use your name.
Aaron Weisburd describes the ISM's involvement with Omar and Alah al-Titi, whose brother Jihad was an Islamikaze who blew up an Israeli child and her grandmother at an ice cream shop in Petah Tikva. Also note this ISM-affiliated dispatch. In addition to accusing the IDF of planting a truck bomb etc. , the memo says:
The Teeti family home houses the ISM office and its team located in the Balata Refugee Camp.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

I don't believe overexposed narcissist ISM-er Abe Greenhouse when he writes:
I haven’t read all the articles I’ve been quoted in yet, but I’m worried about coming across as somehow taking advantage of this tragedy to get up on a political soapbox and talk about ending the occupation.

He saw Tuesday's bus bombing first-hand but waited til Saturday (after Friday's LGF articles showed him taking advantage of the tragedy to get up on a political soapbox) before describing the attack on his "support" mailling list. His earlier "reportbacks" scarcely mention the bombing.

In my opinion, the story isn’t about ME. It’s about the innocent people who died, the latest victims in a cycle of violence that has claimed too many lives on both sides. I’m afraid that focusing on my own experience detracts from the story, and perhaps even disrespects the memory of those who died.

Hmmmm. . . Abe seems to have discovered a new persona that was absent from all his previous writings.

Despite his expressions of horror and sympathy, much of the post (and its ending) are the same boring (and Jaysonesque) blah-blah .
He told me that he’d never before met a Jew who would even use the word “Palestine”, let alone express any reservations about Israeli policy. He told me that he was totally opposed to the attacks carried out by groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but that it seemed like Israel was deliberately provoking them by repeatedly violating ceasefire agreements and making life miserable for ordinary Palestinians. He said he longed for the day when Palestinians and Israelis could live side by side in peace, but that he was doubtful that such peace would come in his lifetime.

Abe isn't pigheaded enough (in this post anyway) to claim that it was Israel who violated the ceasefire, or that taking down the roadblocks or the security fence would prevent attacks like Tuesday's - so he quotes a oh-so-peaceful and soft-spoken Palestinian gentlemen to make the same points.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

A reader forwards an email from the mailing list of the Ohio State "Committee for Justice in Palestine" in which an ISM-er named Karl describes the "martyr" whose home he is staying at in anticipation of demolition by the IDF:
I have been staying almost every night for the past 6-7 weeks with the Abu Ayesh family in the Balata refugee camp (more info about Balata here: ). Their son Amer Ayesh performed an operation in 1948 near Quaqila 5 months ago in which 3 soldiers were killed.

Actually, Amer Ayesh and an associate injured two Israeli civilians in a gun attack on Shaarei Tikva before being killed by the IDF (report - scroll down, AP report on the demolition). Though most likely Karl doesn't care either way.

"1948" that Karl mentions would seem to be ISM-parlance for Israel proper (and "1967" would be West Bank/Gaza).

Friday, August 22, 2003

More from the writings of ISM-er "Steve":

A suggestion that Palestinians might actually engage in violent activity:
On Monday night we learned that a time bomb had been found by security near the farmers' gate, and was detonated by the Israeli army. As a result, the area around the gate was closed by the army and was crawling with troops. We decided not to attempt access to the lands west of the fence on Tuesday. There has been speculation here that the Israeli army planted the time bomb in order to justify widening their off-limits zone on either side of the fence.

Distracted by the complexity of the local conspiracy theories, the guy slipped and described the security fence using the term "fence".

There was a group of boys in front of us-little boys, not teenagers-who were chanting energetically without apparent adult guidance. I was struck by how these boys see themselves as empowered members of the resistance to Israeli occupation and injustice.

Others see hateful indoctrination, stolen childhoods, and perpetuation of the conflict for at least the next generation - but the ISM sees empowered 8 year-olds.

Trip to Jerusalem:
The pedestrian mall in West Jerusalem was packed, because it was Thursday night (everything's closed Friday night for the Jewish Sabbath), and because there is a currently a cease fire between the Israeli army and Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade.

Nuances like who made a truce with who, and what a hudna is would no doubt be lost on Steve.

Actually the hudna has nothing to do with people going downtown more often. The crowds started to drift back over the past 6 months as the IDF gradually got the situation under control. There aren't too many parents who are less concerned about their kids going downtown because of the hudna.

Everyone entering the outdoor mall had to be thoroughly checked by one of a legion of security guards. I found it pretty scary...

Here's someone who describes working is a security guard at the outdoor mall last summer - she doesn't look scary to me.

I also thought that the Israeli peace movement ought to do an action there, hanging banners on the barricades that point out that it's the Occupation that makes metal detectors on a city street necessary.
The mainstream Israeli peace movement doesn't do "actions". The Israeli peace movement may be naive, but they don't live under an ideological rock in the way Steve seems to.
"Peace and Rage" is the parting phrase used by ISM-er "Steve" in this post that includes an obscene juxtaposition of a picture of the Warsaw Ghetto with the West Bank security fence ("Hey Dude they look the same don't they").

The letter actually gives a reasonable report about hardships endured by Palestinian villagers in Jayyous and other villages near where the security fence is being built. This stuff is sad, but not shocking - so Steve unskeptically reports a lot of local rumors about the IDF (eg. border guards shooting out water tanks, soldier shooting at kids etc.) and incessantly uses that mind-numbing ISM lingo: "apartheid" wall , illegal settlements, "trapped" family, "anyone think that's a coincidence?", "ever-expanding" settlements, "protects" in sneer quotes. "sheer brutality of the Wall project". A few times though he slips up and calls the security fence a "fence".

Steve easily adapts Palestinian non-sequiturs: eg. The {"Wall", checkpoints, etc. } mean that Israelis don't want peace. He preposterously claims that the Israelli government forces Russian immigrants to become settlers.

Steve proudly describes ISM "actions":
Afterward, Gabriel and I rushed back to Mas'ha, on word that Israeli activists were about to stage a surprise action there. About 24 young Israeli Jews arrived, held onto the scoop of a front loader, and stood on a giant drill, forcing work to stop. They then occupied the front loader. Their signs were all in Hebrew, and said things like "Separation Wall=Land Theft=Death", "This isn't a fence, it's a ghetto", and, chillingly, "Does this remind you of anything?" They chanted "No to the fence, no to transfer."

Had they been Palestinians, they would have been met with live fire immediately. ....

A few interesting factual points from the post:

- the "activists" and local Palestinians have some mechanism for getting around the Israeli checkpoints at Kalkilya. Always romantics, they call it the "Underground Railroad".

- the security fence includes a special gate for access by Palestinian farmers from the village of Jayyous

- an Associated Press photojournalist named Ragheb worked in close coordination with the ISM (eg. wakes them up when the IDF activity)

- the IDF avoids arresting the ISM-ers when they are within the perimeters of Palestinian villages
The tabloid Trentonian speaks to ISM-er Abe Greenhouse at the site of Tuesday's bus bombing in Jerusalem that killed 18:
"There is a lot of danger in the work I do," Greenhouse said. "It was a very trying experience, but nothing compared to the regular dangers Palestinians face every day.

Compare with this:
At the end of our conversation, Jens asks that I quote him on one more thing: "It's clear to me that what I'm going through here, and what happened to Brian, are nothing compared to what the Palestinians go through every day." At the workshop in Beit Sahur, they taught us to insert this sentence into every interview with the media.

Greenhouse is the fellow who was pleased with himself for putting a note in the Western Wall saying "End the %$#%$# occupation!!!". (via LGF)

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