By Rod Driver
The call came out of the blue. A sales rep from The Daily Cal, the student newspaper of the University of California at Berkeley, called asking if our organization wanted to purchase ad space. Our Justice First Foundation had placed occasional ads with them on the tragedy in Palestine, but these drew little feedback.
This time we placed the above ad, based largely on information from If Americas Knew, which appeared on May 12, 2012.
A few days later, The Daily Cal published two letters to the editor: one from Thyme S. Siegal, a Berkeley Peace and Justice Commissioner, headed “Anti-Israel ad breaks trust, propagates lies,” and one from Vladimir Kaplan of San Mateo headed “Ad illustrates essence of anti-Semitism.” Both blamed Alison Weir of If Americans Knew.
In fact, Ms. Weir hadn’t even known we were running the ad. So she and I wrote letters to the editor documenting the claims in the ad and pointing out that it was placed and paid for by the Justice First Foundation, not If Americans Knew.
At first, the editor, Stephanie Baer, refused to run our letters. Finally, after much correspondence, she published part of Alison’s, pointing out who had sponsored the ad. But Ms. Baer refused to publish my letter, which is printed here, in part:
“The Siegal and Kaplan letters are nasty. But let’s give the writers the benefit of the doubt. Let’s assume that, like many others, they know nothing about Palestine.
Not all Jews support Israeli cruelty. In fact every assertion in the ad and much more can be found from respected Israeli sources. See, for example, B’Tselem, Gush Shalom, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights, The Other Israel, and Why We Refuse. Google any of these to find the organization’s web site…
Israeli policies of destroying Palestinian homes and crops and livestock, of restricting travel, physical assaults by settlers, indefinite incarceration without trial, torture and murder even of children represent ethnic cleansing at its worst. Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu have pointed out the similarity between Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and the now-defunct apartheid in South Africa. Ronnie Kasrils, a member of the African National Congress, concludes that Israel’s apartheid is far worse than the South African apartheid.
Despite the mantra that Israel is the ‘only democracy in the Middle East,’ there is little justice for Palestinians …”
The reaction to the ad was not surprising. Zionists appear to have a powerful influence in Berkeley and nearby Oakland. On March 18, 2010, for example, the student senate of the University of California at Berkeley voted 16-4 in favor of a resolution calling for divestment from companies which profit from the Israeli occupation. But the president of the student senate, under Zionist pressure, vetoed the resolution. To override his veto required a vote of 14 senators. The meeting to consider the override continued through the night of April 15 with testimony by anti-apartheid Jews rebutted by AIPAC supporters. In the end, 13 members supported the override, one short of passage.
And, on Sept. 24, 2011, the Berkeley-based Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) was about to open an exhibit of art work by children from Gaza at the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland, CA. But just 16 days before the exhibit was to open, the museum announced that it was cancelled. Zionist pressure had convinced the directors that some of the children’s paintings were “graphically violent and sensitive works” unfit for viewing by children of California. In this instance, MECA found another venue, and the exhibit opened to a great turnout.
To my surprise someone at the Daily Cal’s advertising department called me recently to solicit further ads. They weren’t successful. ■
by Henry Clifford
In July 2011, posters at Metro-North stations displayed the maps shown above. Credit for the maps goes to PASSIA, the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs.
These ads were published by this writer for the Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine, an organization formed in 2000 by a group of like-minded activists on eastern Long Island. Our goal was to inform the public of the truth of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
By happenstance, not design, the committee came to have an equal number of Christian and Jewish members, which did not immunize it from the always predictable knee-jerk accusations of anti-Semitism.
The station posters received wide TV, radio and newspaper coverage. They then went viral worldwide after being posted on Facebook. Over 1,500 e-mails were received praising the ads which, at last report, are being duplicated in the U.S. and abroad.
As described in an excellent article by Dr. Lawrence Davidson, a historian at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, the posters triggered the expected criticism. There is nothing I can add to his insightful analysis and commentary and so, with his permission, I cite his response to the anti-Semitic charges by area rabbis and Jewish community leaders:
“Here is the reasoning of Dovid Efune, editor of the Manhattan-based Jewish newspaper, The Algemeiner. ‘This is anti-Semitic because when people think of the Jews they think of the Jewish state. Jews have seen this happen many times. It always starts with messaging that says Jews are committing a crime.’
Three things are to be said about Mr. Efune’s reaction: 1) On one hand, he seems not to care that the map display and U.N. statistic are accurate and what that means for the lives of millions of people. 2) On the other, and no doubt inadvertently, he does infer that what the ad reveals is criminal behavior. 3) Finally, if there is any truth to the assertion that ‘when people think of the Jews they think of the Jewish state’ it is because Zionist propagandists have, for over 64 years, incessantly insisted on that identification. Those Jews who have publicly denied the connection have been abused and libeled. So, to the extent that Jews in general are identified with Israel’s ‘committing a crime,’ you can thank the Zionists for that.
Rabbi Joshua Davidson (no relation to this blogger), senior Rabbi of Temple Beth El in northern Westchester, N.Y., says the map presents ‘a distorted and skewed view of a complicated conflict.’ Actually, that is untrue. The ad simply puts forth historical truth. In addition, the conflict really is not as complex as Zionists say it is. It is the consequence of a rather straightforward, post-World War I, imperialist land grab that, in the case of Palestine, is on-going even now. It was and continues to be justified by religious mythology on the one hand and the history of anti-Semitic persecution on the other. The land grab was originally abetted by the British imperial politicians, some of whom imagined that they were helping to fulfill biblical prophecy, and others who saw a Jewish homeland in Palestine as a way of solving the ‘Jewish problem’ in Europe. The Palestinians, being seen as inferior natives, were then and are now, still pushed aside.
Rabbi Davidson might object to such simplicity, but Dani Dayan would not. Dayan is the leader of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities, a leading organization espousing Israeli settlement of the West Bank. Unlike Rabbi Davidson, Dayan does not seek refuge in historical complexity. He lays it on the line in a recent New York Times Op-ed (www.nytimes.com/2012/07/26/opinion/israels-settlers-are-here-to-stay): ‘Arabs called for Israel’s annihilation in 1967, and Israel legitimately seized the disputed territories, and the right of Israelis to call them home today is therefore unassailable.’
Unfortunately, the day when conquest automatically resulted in a transfer of sovereignty ended with World War II. The primary rationale for the creation of the United Nations and the expansion of international law was to prevent just the sort of behavior Dayan describes.
Also, like the statement of Dovid Efune, Dayan’s argument is logically confused. He is claiming that the hyperbolic rhetoric of Arab leaders in the run-up to the 1967 war somehow frees Israel from its obligations as a signatory to such international treaties as the 4th Geneva Convention. Article 49(3) of that treaty prohibits an occupying power from ‘transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.’ Successive Israeli governments, both of the left and the right, have energetically violated that law by transferring civilians into these conquered lands. Dani Dayan now proudly points out there are some 350,000 of these illegal squatters (the number goes up by 200,000 if we include the Israeli transfers into Jerusalem). And because this now constitutes the new ‘status quo,’ Mr Dayan proclaims that Israelis have the ‘right…to call’ such territories ‘home.’ Where did he get that right? From his god? From very ancient history? From the fact he walks about the area with an Uzi submachine gun strapped over his shoulder? There is certainly no basis for it in international law.
However, Dani Dayan and his settler movement have not written the final act in this tragedy. Even if we take note of his present position in the West Bank, and also admit that the ‘peace process’ is a pitiful fraud, it is premature for Dayan to proclaim that he has won the struggle and we must all accept his ‘status quo.’ Colonialist ventures can be defeated in more than one way. The ‘usual’ way is through prolonged and bloody armed struggle. Thanks to the world-class military machine the United States has helped Israel create and maintain, this is not a likely path to success. But such regimes have also been forced to transform themselves into more equitable, more democratic, and less repressive ones through concerted outside pressure. And such pressure is now as real and growing as Dayan’s squatter movement.
A major effort at outside pressure is the worldwide BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign against Israel. Ilan Pappe, an Israeli-born professor at Exeter University in England, notes that this ‘campaign’s elasticity has made it into a broad process powerful enough to produce a new public mood and atmosphere…’ As someone who has spent the last 35 years espousing the Palestinian cause, I can testify to the truth of that statement, even here in the United States.
It might very well be that Israel is here to stay. But that does not mean that it will always be the racist, oppressive society it is now. Consistently applied outside pressure, growing in scope and strength, can wear down support for ideologues such as Dani Dayan and his backers both in and outside of today’s Israel. It can, slowly but surely, convince ordinary Israelis that they have a choice: go along with their expansionist leaders and face increasing international isolation or, as Pappe puts it, cooperate willingly in ‘finding a formula for joint living’ — that is, creating a better society that is tolerant and mindful of the need for justice, first and foremost for Israel’s victims, the Palestinian people. … It is ironic in the aftermath of the Holocaust that international law was strengthened and now, as the history so simply displayed on Mr. Clifford’s billboards tell us, it is the Israelis who choose to cast it aside. If we allow this to happen, the world becomes a more dangerous place for all of us.”
Postcards from Palestine
by Alison Weir
A series of four maps next to each other depict Palestine before partition, the 1947 United Nations partition recommendation, the division of land following Israel’s founding war, and modern-day Palestine-Israel.
Palestinian land is green; Israeli is white. The 1947 map is almost all green, but the green shrinks over the subsequent three maps until the 2011 map is almost all white with isolated dots of green.
An enlarged version of this map is found on the preceding two pages of this issue; it is also available in postcard size.
This powerful image conveys immediately the core issue of the much-misconstrued “conflict” and the colonial and aggressive nature of the Israel project. It is featured in our one-page Synopsis of the History & Toll of the Conflict, in our one-page Gaza Fact Sheet; and in our Shrinking Palestine Map Cards designed by the Palestine-Israel Action Group of Ann Arbor. All are available through If Americans Knew.
We also offer USA Map Cards that bring the Palestinian reality home to Americans by showing an imaginary map of the United States in which about 80% of the country has been confiscated and the rest consists of unconnected pieces. (On the reverse, the cards explain that this is what it’s like for Palestinians.)
In addition, we create other infographics that contain charts of Palestinian and Israeli conflict deaths, showing that Palestinians were killed first and in far greater numbers; still other charts depict news coverage patterns in which Israeli deaths are reported in far greater rates than Palestinian ones, creating false impressions of the chronology and quantity of those being killed.
We encourage people to order these materials to distribute at events and protests, in public places, to neighbors and friends. We provide large numbers of materials to conferences, events, and activists around the U.S. and the world.
We find that graphics like these maps make the basic facts of the history and current reality clear and compelling in ways that words cannot match. And virtually always, we include the amount of money American taxpayers give to Israel —over $8 million per day—so that our citizens will understand our core connection to this injustice, and our unique ability to end it.
And, as Americans learn the facts, we find that more and more are demanding a reversal of current U.S. policies that enable ethnic cleansing, perpetuate the conflict, and prevent peace.
Readers of The Link can order our cards at If Americans Knew.org, or by e-mailing email@example.com, or by calling 202-631-4060. We ask for a donation to cover printing and shipping costs. If someone can’t afford this but will work to distribute materials in their area, we send them anyway. We feel strongly that if we all do all that we can, we will eventually bring peace and justice to Palestine, while creating the kind of America we wish to leave to our children.