Exposing J Street: Jewish Supremacy At Its Finest

I was excited when J Street at my university agreed to engage my SJP in a debate. I thought it would be a great opportunity to shed light on the true hypocrisy of J Street’s stances not only to members of J Street but also to a public audience. Unfortunately, as with all agreements concerning the Israeli-Palestinian impasse, what was agreed on was not implemented.

The topic of the debate was “One State or Two?” with SJP advocating for 1 state and J Street advocating for 2 states. It should be noted that SJP as an organization does not support nor prefer a particular solution, it is simply a Palestinian solidarity organization. The views expressed in the debate were those of my colleagues and I.

The structure of the event was clearly in the form of a debate. We agreed to have opening statements by both sides followed by presentations of the definitions of a one state solution and a two state solution read to the audience by the moderator. The definitions were followed by a back and forth between the 2 panels and ultimately ended in a Q&A.

One thing I would like to point out is that in the preparation of the event, both SJP and J Street agreed to exchange definitions beforehand (This was a decision made by SJP leadership, one that I did not support.) SJP followed through on its end of the deal, and submitted our definition of a 1 state solution to J Street 3 days before the event. J Street on the other did not honor the agreement. When our definition was sent to J Street we received nothing in return, not even a phone call or email explaining the delay. We began calling the J Street member who had been involved in organizing the event with SJP, only to find their phone was turned of for a period of almost 2 days. They eventually sent us their definition an hour before the debate was scheduled. I read their definition of a 2 State Solution only to find clear instances of plagiarism from the definition I personally drafted.  At this point, there was no turning back. SJP and its member had put in a lot of time and effort into this event and the group wouldn’t allow it to go in vain.

This takes us to the debate. Everything seemed to be running smoothly. We had a great turn out, and everything ran according to plan. As the moderator began calling for everyone to take their seats, my colleagues and I took our seats on the panel ready to begin the debate. To our surprise, the moderator began by asking the audience to “find someone they didn’t know, specifically from a different perspective, and talk to them for a few minutes and to find some common ground.” Now, I don’t have a problem with people getting to know one another, but this was not a mutually agreed portion of the event. It was taking time away from the debate I had come to participate in. I approached the SJP President to inquire as to what was going on and he, like me, was clueless. The event was being hijacked.

I immediately approached the moderator and told him to wrap it up and begin the actual event. He could sense the urgency and frustration in my voice and he quickly obliged. As the event started, the moderator gave J Street the first word and allowed them to begin speaking. Even though this was not the order I was told things would proceed in, I didn’t mind them speaking first as long as we we’re doing what we agreed to do; engage in a meaningful debate.

The first and main J Street representative began speaking by admitting he was just a boy from Queens, New York having no real ties to Israel. But since he was Jewish “Israel mean a lot to [him]” He then went on to announce how happy he was that SJP agreed to engage them in conversation and announced “This is not a debate.” This was a clear attempt by J Street to force us to participate in the normalization of  Zionist racism and Palestinian suffering. I made it clear in my opening statement that these are not 2 equal and opposite parties, and I did not sign up for a discussion. We were there to debate the issues head on, not to feel good about racism and oppression.

Now, I have always said J Street is worse than AIPAC from what I have read and heard of the organization. After experiencing it first hand, my feelings are all the more real. At the end of the day, AIPAC is principled in its Zionism. J Street markets itself as a liberal middle ground organization seeking a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian impasse for all parties. This is entirely false and misleading. What follows are actual quotes used in the debate by members of J Street:

“We call for a 2 state solution in order to preserve the Jewish State and Homeland”

This statement reeks of racism. It is nothing short of a call to preserve Jewish supremacy over the indigenous Palestinian people. Moreover, it is an announcement of J Street’s refusal to recognize the rights of Palestinians. The only function J Street finds in a Palestinian state is to create a space to throw Palestinians in so as to rid Zionism of the demographic realities of historic Palestine. Considering the apartheid nature of Israeli rule over Palestinians, this is highly reminiscent of Apartheid South Africa’s willingness to grant Bantustans their own independence. I will not aid nor support any organization aiming for the banstutanization of Palestine and its people, much less so would I ever engage in a “discussion” with such an organization. The difference between J Street and AIPAC is that J Street recognizes that the 2 state solution is the last chance Zionists have to save Zionism as a practice of racial supremacy and to dress is up as legitimate and consensual.

“Yes, Palestinians paid the price for Zionism, but we must look forward if we wish to make progress.”

The same individuals who made this argument, earlier in the debate argued that the need for a Jewish State is found in the history of the Jewish people and their suffering. But yet, when we try to analyze the history and injustices that befell the Palestinian people, J Street views it as counterproductive. This only goes to echo the double standards, discrimination and racism of Zionism. To use Noam Chomsky’s terminology, in the eyes of J Street, Jews are people and Palestinians are ‘unpeople.’ That is why the grievances of the Jews are seen as legitimate while the Palestinians are required to forget their own suffering for the preservation of the racist Jewish State.

“In one state, democracy would be impossible to implement because people would vote according to ethnicity.”

Democracy is a practice not a label. Democracy is meant to give all Peoples living under the same rule an equal voice and representation. Yes, if Israel continues to discriminate against Palestinians for no reason other than their race, Palestinians would naturally vote according to ethnicity in response to Israeli discrimination. Let me be clear, this would only be a response to Israeli discrimination. So if Israel discriminates against Palestinians because they are Arab, Palestinians are more than likely to vote for certain individuals and policies because they are Arab. If Israel were to become a state of its citizens with equality and justice for all, this would not be a concern as no one ethnicity would be under threat from the State. But this of course is unfathomable for J Street considering they are a Jewish supremacy group. Furthermore, J Street entirely ignored the fact that in its current state, Israel is not a democracy. Maybe within the framework of its Jewish citizenry, one can call it a democracy. But when one includes all of the groups which live under Israeli rule, Israel doesn’t come close. On the contrary, Israel proves its self to be nothing short of an Apartheid regime.

“Both Israelis and Palestinians want a 2 state solution.”

While there is some truth to this statement, it is not nearly that simple. Palestinians support for the 2 state solution does not stem from a belief that it is the most just solution. Rather, Palestinians believed in the false promises that a 2 state solution would allow them some sort of free and sovereign existence. 20 some odd years later, Palestinians realize that this is not the case. On the other hand if we look at Israeli society we find a Prime Minister and his coalition who were elected on a platform of no Palestinian State. So who is it that actually wants a 2 state solution? Furthermore, the representative of J Street based his analysis and ability to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people on his trip “backpacking through Amman and the West Bank.” Along the same lines, J Street offered no insight into what a Palestinian State would look like in terms of borders, settlements, refugees or Jerusalem only to mention a few of the most pressing concerns.

“Advocating for the One State Solution is advocating for the destruction of Israel.”

I advocate for justice and equality for all Peoples currently living under Israeli rule. If justice and equality for all threatens the existence of Israel, then one must reconsider what type of a country Israel is. Is a true democracy threatened by a vacancy of religious or ethnic hierarchy? This type of rhetoric is part and parcel of an enthnocentric apartheid regime.

“My Zionist dream..”

Self explanatory. If you don’t see what is wrong with this just replace ‘Zionist’ with “White/Black/Gay/Homophobic/Muslim/Christian/Atheist” etc

“Israel has an Arab Judge on its Supreme Court. Where else does that happen?

Somehow in the mind of J Street an ‘Arab’ (Note: Palestinians in Israel are referred to simply as ‘Arabs”) judge in Israel somehow compensates or even refutes the fact that Palestinian Citizens of Israel face a tremendous and despicable amount of institutionalized racism and discrimination. This is equivalent to saying a Black man in the White House indicates that racism is no more in America. No one in their right mind would argue that, but when it comes to Israel it makes perfect sense!

“But, what would the national anthem and flag be?”

Give me a break. Reading between the lines the point being made here is “The flag and anthem must be symbols of Judaism and the Jewish people.” There are many fair and just ways of solving such a problem, where both Peoples would have their own equal symbolism. But J Street doesn’t know much fairness, justice or equality now do they?

Former CNN Anchor Rick Sanchez Admits To Disingenuous Reporting on Gaza.

A week ago I read a terribly misleading and outrageous article full of Israeli propaganda written by former CNN anchor Rick Sanchez (You can read it here). In the article Sanchez refers to war criminal Ariel Sharon as a ” war hero turned statesman.” Sanchez goes on to list statistics regarding the effects of Hamas rockets fire on home sales and factory closures. He doesn’t bother to mention any of the following:

  • Only a few of the 40,000 housing units that were needed to replace homes lost during Operation Cast Lead and for natural population growth could be built as a result of the ongoing restrictions on importing building materials
  • 95% of Gaza’s industrial operations are suspended due to the ban on imported raw materials and the block on exports (World Bank, 2007).
  • 80% of families in Gaza currently rely on food aid. This amounts to approximately 1.1 million people (OCHA, 2007).
  • 40-50 million litres of sewage continues to pour into the sea daily (Oxfam, 2008).
  • Few of the 40,000 housing units needed to replace homes lost during Operation Cast Lead and for natural population growth could be built as a result of the ongoing restrictions on importing building materials

While completely ignoring the grim realities facing Palestinians in Gaza, Sanchez made sure to include a conversation he had with an Israeli “anti-terrorism superstar” claiming that Hamas rockets are no longer being made in Gaza but rather in Iran. The only evidence Sanchez provides for this claim is by stating “He says he has intel supporting this.” The lack of professionalism is mind boggling.

Sanchez ends his piece by attempting to show just how courageous he is by stating “We are standing on a hill from where you could throw a rock into the Gaza Strip.” In reality, Sanchez has proven himself to be nothing short of spineless. I confronted Sanchez about his misleading and irresponsible reporting on twitter. Surprisingly, he admitted to being disingenuous. You can read the twitter conversation below.

Rick, your job is to provide your readers with the facts. Consciously excluding the Palestinian perspective when reporting from the Gaza border is shameful and cowardly. It should be noted that Sanchez’s trip to Israel is sponsored by “ADL for Hispanic journalists.” The notion of “giving Palestinians a country” merits its own post. Stay tuned.

PALESTINIAN FREEDOM RIDES SOLIDARITY ACTION

Tuesday, November 15th, local DC activists will be boarding buses around the city educating the public on actions happening simultaneously in the Occupied West Bank in a show of solidarity with Palestinian Freedom Riders.

 

When: Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Where: DC Metro Public Transportation and local university shuttles

Media Contact: palfreedomridesdc@gmail.com

 

Fifty years ago, 13 Freedom Riders left Washington DC on Greyhound and Trailways buses headed to New Orleans in order to directly challenge segregation in the Jim Crow South by staging mixed-race bus rides. This Tuesday, November 15th, Palestinian Freedom Riders will be asserting their right for liberty and dignity by challenging the military regime of the Israeli Occupation through non-violent civil disobedience in Freedom Rides of their own by boarding segregated Israeli public transportation headed from the West Bank to Occupied East Jerusalem.

 

Local activists in Washington DC, made up of, but not limited to, students from American, George Washington, Georgetown, and Howard University, as well as members of the United States Palestinian Community Network – DC, will be boarding DC Metro buses and their respective university shuttles Tuesday morning passing out educational flyers and speaking to local residents, in a show of solidarity with the Palestinian Freedom Riders.

 

After the morning solidarity bus rides, they will then be meeting at Howard University’s main quad at 12pm for a demonstration in support of the Palestinian Freedom Rides, highlighting the parallels between these actions of defiance and the US Civil Rights Movement.

 

The actions of Palestinian Freedom Riders are a challenge to Israel’s apartheid policies, the ban on Palestinians’ access to Jerusalem, and the overall segregated reality created by a military and settler occupation that is the cornerstone of Israel’s colonial regime.

 

The American Freedom Riders began their campaign knowing they would be arrested, or worse, beaten to within an inch of their lives. They made a decision – “Jail No Bail.” People thought they were crazy, but they continued on their ride to freedom and despite the arrests and vicious beatings, they prevailed.

 

Likewise, the Palestinian Freedom Riders recognize that their defiance of the system of apartheid practiced in the Occupied Territories is dangerous. They could be attacked by Israeli settlers during the rides themselves, or detained for months or years without trial under Israeli military law, facing potential abuse in prison. By standing up for their rights, they will be risking their lives.

 

Tuesday, here in DC, activists are standing up and lending their voices and support for these brave actions, as well as calling others to join them. Come to Howard University, home to the legacy of the US Civil Rights Movement, at 12pm and lend your voice in support of Palestinians struggling for justice and freedom.

سهرة حب جزء أول وديع الصافي فيروز الرحابنة

How the IDF gave me more followers on Twitter.

This past summer, at the entrance of the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, my phone was taken from me and abused to send false tweets in my name encouraging the unarmed protesters in Nabi Saleh to go home. At the time, I was utterly furious that my property was mistreated and my rights violated. Even more infuriating was the fact that I really had no means of holding these soldiers accountable. However, I was not entirely surprised at the pathetic ends to which the IDF will go to intimidate unarmed protesters. Like they say, hindsight is always 20/20 and now I cant help but be a little appreciative for what has turned out to be the best #FF ever.

I really wish I had an awe-inspiring story to tell of how I did something extraordinarily daring and jaw dropping, but I don’t. In fact far from it- I did everything the soldiers demanded me to do with no questions asked. What makes this story out of the ordinary is not what I did, but rather what was done on my behalf. In fact, its kind of sad to think that now more than half of my followers on twitter follow me for tweets I didn’t send! Whatever, I’ll take what I can get.

That friday morning I was off to a late start. I woke up too late to convene with the rest of the activists at Al Manara in Ramallah. So I went into Ramallah with the hopes of finding a means of getting to Nabi Saleh. I was unsuccessful in finding a ford or any sort of service to Nabi Saleh, so I did what at the time seemed logical (but ultimately turned out to be a huge misstep) and jumped into a taxi. I was on my way to Nabi Saleh.

The drive up to Nabi Saleh was absolutely breathtaking. The hills sheltered under all sorts of greenery and the illustrious and cloudless sky guiding us along the way. Having been cooped up in Ramallah a large amount of the time I never grasped how enormous and, well, blue the sky above Palestine was.

The drive took about 45 minutes. When we arrived at the yellow-gated entrance to the village there were approximately 2 Israeli jeeps and 4 IDF soldiers manning an emergency checkpoint. The driver stopped the car at a distance, but the soldiers made gestures telling us to progress forward. So we did.

As we approached the closed off village the soldiers began shouting at us in Hebrew to turn off the car and lay the keys on the roof of the car. The driver complied with the instructions of the soldiers without hesitation. The soldiers then approached the car and demanded identification from both of us. The driver handed over his hawiyeh (Palestinian ID) and me my American passport. As the soldier strolled away with my passport, one of the jeeps shifted behind the taxi seemingly to prevent us from making a run for it. We remained in the car for approximately 30 minutes without so much as a “Ufff” or an “Akkhhh.” After 30 minutes the soldiers insisted we exit the vehicle so as to be searched. We got out and were searched twice each. After I was searched the 1st time my passport was returned to me, however, the soldiers held on to the driver’s hawiyeh. The driver began to make a commotion about his hawiyeh, demanding that it be returned. One of the soldiers countered the driver’s demands by shoving his M16 in the drivers face. The driver turned off like a switch.

As we stood waiting for the soldiers to return the hawiyeh, another soldier came up and searched us again. Like the first time he demanded we take off our shirts and spread out our arms and legs. Unlike the first time, however, he left with my wallet, passport and phone. This was the exact moment where I began to candidly comprehend what the word dignity means, and what it is like to go without it. The feeling of being helpless is a wicked and traumatizing experience that I don’t wish on anyone, not even my enemy.

Once the search was completed, the driver and I were escorted off to the side of the road where we were handcuffed and instructed to sit on our knees on the asphalt and wait for an indefinite amount of time. We waited for approximately 20-30min. All the while I could hear the driver (understandably) cussing me out under his breath. I don’t know why, but there was something terribly comical about it. Eventually, our property was returned to us on one condition- that we return without delay to Ramallah. I tried to tell the soldiers I wanted to continue to Beit Reema to visit friends (I was really hoping to hike into Nabi Saleh). The soldiers wouldn’t have it. And in order to make sure we wouldn’t try anything funny, one of the jeeps followed us on our way to Ramallah for about 15 minutes before turning back to Nabi Saleh.

Up until right before I was searched the first time I had been tweeting all of what was occurring. A few minutes before I was searched, the soldiers demanded that I put away my phone- again, which I did without hesitation. As we began our journey back to Ramallah, I whipped out my phone to send an “I’m fine” tweet. In the process I found my twitter account to have been logged out of. I frankly didn’t think anything of it for some reason. I sent the tweet informing my followers of my well being and went on to check my mentions. What I found blew me straight out of the water- several comments all claiming that my account had been hijacked by the IDF. I immediately scrolled through my time line, only to find that the allegations were true. The IDF soldiers abused my phone to send tweets encouraging the unarmed protesters in Nabi Saleh to “stop” and “go home.” They even had the audacity to blame their brute aggression in the village on rock throwing. In total they sent 6 tweets from my account.

While this is definitely a new and unprecedented intimidation method employed by the IDF, it hardly surprises me. These are actions befitting of young unaccounted-for children, like those Israel puts on the ground in charge of running the occupation . Palestinian society in its entirety operates according to the whims of these 18 year old boys and girls. It’s no wonder where they got the chutzpah to steal and abuse my phone.

At the same time, the actions of these soldiers are a testament to the efficacy of using social media (particularly twitter) in spreading awareness of Israel’s’ oppressive and discriminatory policies. I am convinced that unless these soldiers recognized Twitters’ indispensability in the prompt and unfiltered passing of raw on the ground facts, they never would’ve bothered to abuse my phone the way they did. However, their hasty and thoughtless actions ultimately backfired on them, as they more than doubled my audience on twitter. Not to mention they didn’t even come close to shutting me up.

On some level, I feel it would be rude not to express my gratitude to the IDF for making it easier for me to show the world their barbaric ways. So here it goes. *Ahem Ahem* Thank you, IDF, for the best #FF ever! #Sarcasm