Sunday, December 12, 2010

Demonstrations in Spain by people wearing Guy Fawkes masks, ala the movie V For Vendetta, says the BBC, are among the first street protests in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is now being held in solitary confinement in a London prison. Many supporters of Assange are replacing their internet icons with a Guy Fawkes-type image wearing a blindfold to show their support.

As of this morning, 1,885 web sites are mirroring WikiLeaks to ensure it can't be shut down, and the powers that be, overcome by pique and consumed in spite, are simply going after Assange himself.

Israel's Loss Of Legitimacy

I'm reading an interesting book, Breakthrough, by Richard Forer, who, coincidentally, lives in my town, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
I don't know Forer, but I read a review of his book at Palestine Chronicle and based on that I bought it. I'm about 1/4 through it, and so far Forer, who grew up in New Jersey attending a Reform Judaism synagogue, has been telling about his journey from being an uncritical supporter of Israel to learning the truth about what a deplorable situation it really is over there, and in so doing explaining how our beliefs and emotions shape our perceptions and our idea of what we think of as reality. I'll write more about the book when I'm finished.

I don't have a good sense of how many Americans, or American Jews, really know what the situation is in Palestine. I didn't know myself until a few years ago when I began listening to Pacifica Radio podcasts. I had always assumed that before the Jews went down there in 1948, Palestine had been, as former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir famously proclaimed, "a land without people for a people without a land." I had no idea Palestinians had been living there for hundreds if not thousands of years, and that the founding of Israel involved mass theft of Palestinian land and in many cases the mass slaughter of the Palestinians who lived there, and relegation to squalid refugee camps for the rest. And I did not know that the Palestinians who were able to hold on to their land are, as they have been since 1948, being forced out, their land confiscated, and in many cases murdered, one by one, day by day, year in, year out.

Almost nothing about what happens over there makes it into the so called "mainstream media." What little does is far outweighed by the propaganda efforts of israel and its supporters in the US, which include pro Israel lobbies like AIPAC and the Anti Defamation League, pro Israel politicians, which includes most of them, and pro Israel media.

But the perception about what is happening over there is slowly but surely changing -- from the original theft of Palestinian land when Israel was created in 1948, to the ethnic cleansing that has been going on ever since both inside Israel and in the part of Palestine that Israel didn't capture, to the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Israel army in the remaining Palestinian territory that Israel has occupied since they took it over in the 1967 Six-Day War.

The perception has changed so much that the Israel and its supporters now rate "delegitimization" as one of Israel's most serious existential threats. Delegitimization, loss of legitimacy, is about peoples' belief that Israel has a right to exist, and exist on its own terms, which means continuing to fulfill the zionist dream of "greater Israel," that is, having all of historic Palestine for Jews and being rid, one way or another, of the native Arab population.

The perception of Israel is changing due to a couple of things. One is that their brutality and theft of land has grown worse and more overt as times goes by, leading many to change their minds who, recalling the horrors of the holocaust, once overlooked what the Israelis did. The other is the internet. Palestinians and  those who support their struggle for existence and justice have learned how to get the truth out to a much wider audience.

One such effort is a web site called Electronic Intifada, begun in 2001. As their web site says, it "publishes news, commentary, analysis, and reference materials about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict from a Palestinian perspective. EI is the leading Palestinian portal for information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its depiction in the media"

Indeed, its co-founder, Ali Abunimah, now is a frequent guest on shows like Democracy Now and Flashpoints at Pacifica Radio, and on Al Jazeera, and more and more often is appearing on mainstream TV and being quoted in the mainstream US media.

As you might well imagine, Israel and its supporters, alarmed that the truth is finally being told, have launched a massive counterattack against groups like Electronic Intifada, and one thing they do is go after their funding. According to Abunimah, about a third of Electronic Intifada's funding comes from a Dutch foundation, which itself gets some of its funding from the Dutch government, and Israel and its allies in Dutch politics, such as Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal and the virulently Islamophobic Geert Wilders, are trying to get that funding supply cut off.

In response, Abumimah, besides publicizing what is happening, has asked readers to pitch in and make sure the web site can continue its work. It's a good cause. At least visit the web site to learn more about the plight of the Palestinians and what they are doing to try to survive as a people.

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