Muslim Refusenik and Me, Part II

I thought I’d publish my correspondence with Manji in parts, but now I just want to get it over with. Spending more time on someone so far beneath contempt is unjustifiable when this morning’s CBC report said there have been 280 Iraqis killed in Fallujah alone since Sunday. Western media deflate Iraqi casualties; there are more cities that the Americans are attacking; these numbers come from hospital estimates and it is guaranteed that not everyone is getting to the hospitals; in other words, there is a major massacre unfolding here. Manji is an unaffordable diversion. So, I’ll publish the entire correspondence below, and have done.

When Manji wrote me the first time, I was as much amused as anything else. She was obviously bluffing. I hadn’t read her book yet, but I had seen her speech and gone through her website carefully and it was quite clear that she was not someone who was going to put her body on the line to protect Palestinian civilians (though I didn’t realize the depths of her racism until I read her book). So, I figured I would call her bluff. Here’s what I wrote back (interspersed, her words in italics):

Dear Justin,

Greetings. Irshad here. I’m writing to explore next steps with regard to sending me on a journalistic mission under the auspices of the International Solidarity Movement. I’ve checked out both websites that you’ve given to me, and look forward to learning more.

Given my crazy schedule for the next several months, I would hope to go in the very late spring or early summer.

Late spring or early summer sounds fine. The ISM normally has a ‘freedom summer’ campaign. Should you go in late spring, you will be between campaigns, but there will still be plenty going on.

Next steps?

ISM is normally caught up in issues of the moment — house demolitions, incursions, volunteers being deported, and so on — so the Palestine-side folks won’t be able to help much until you’re there. But folks in Canada probably can, at least somewhat, at least to answer your questions — you can certainly write me to answer any questions, for example. But basically all you need to do is go through the website, follow the instructions, travel there, and attend the training and screening in the territories.

From this point on in the email, you should take this as a personal email from me and not as a note from a ‘representative’ of ISM. Having read your book, I should tell you that this mission wouldn’t be like the one you went on in July 2002 — ISM is not in a position to pay plane tickets or expenses for volunteers, who normally raise their own funds through events and so on.

Volunteers get to the occupied territories and then join the ISM for trainings and then (nonviolent) actions, reporting, etc. As you can imagine, given that many would-be volunteers have been turned away, and others have been arrested, deported, (in the case of Tom Hurndall, Brian Avery, Coimhe Butterly, and others) shot and even (in Rachel Corrie’s case) killed by Israeli authorities, ISM is quite conscious of security and has a screening and training process. It asks that participants agree to some basic principles of unity, which you can find at both sites. These include adherence to nonviolence in practice, but they also include solidarity with the rights of Palestinians under international law and others, as you can read about. If you can in good faith agree with these principles and can join ISM without endangering yourself, other ISM volunteers, or Palestinians, then you’re set to go. My own feeling, having read your book and heard your talk, is that you would not be able to accept these principles of solidarity. But it is not my decision.

Last, and again speaking not as an ISM volunteer, I have written a review of your book for a radical site called ‘ZNet’, where I’m a frequent writer. Some of those you mention or reference in your book, including Noam Chomsky, Robert Fisk, Tariq Ali, and the late Edward Said, have writing featured on this site. Likewise a lot of progressive Israelis, notably Amira Hass, Gideon Levy, Tanya Reinhart, Baruch Kimmerling, and Neve Gordon. If you’d like to respond to the review, ZNet would probably publish your reply, along with my own reply to your reply.

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=22&ItemID=4624

————-

Her next reply escalated the bluff, and admittedly had me worried. It became obvious that she did not want to debate, but instead wanted to turn this into an opportunity to attack the ISM. I should have understood that from the beginning: while for me, the invitation and the correspondence was an opportunity to show the world what a fraud she is, from her point of view, this was an opportunity to join the mainstream chorus denouncing, smearing, and slandering ISM and spitting on the grave of people like Rachel Corrie.

Here’s her next note:

Jan 2, 2004

1) I knew about your review of my book when I emailed you the first time. I’ll be posting your review on my website shortly. Ain’t democracy great?

2) I’ve gone through the ismcanada website and, unless my eyes deceive me (very possible), I’ve missed the statement of unity that you mention. Do you mean familiarizing myself with the following:

* Going For the Right Reasons
* Respecting the Spirit of the ISM

If so, I’ve read it and I’m not sure what you think is so distasteful to me. On key fronts, I want the same things that the ISM does: an independent Palestinian state alongside a sovereign Jewish state, an end to the Israeli occupation (with clear and enforceable guarantees that the Israeli people will have secure borders after a withdrawal of troops), justice for the people of Palestine (which entails ending the corruption of the PA – an issue I don’t see tackled by the ISM). What is it about any of the above that the ISM would disagree with, even if it isn’t vocal about the need to be critical of PA human rights abuses and monetary manipulations?

In the spirit of my questions above, I will not be told what to think. Indeed, the conditions under which I went on my first, CIC-sponsored, trip to Israel were a) that I would be able to ask any questions I wanted, no matter who approved or disapproved; and 2) that I would have a hand in helping to shape the itinerary.

Will both conditions be met on any trip to the Occupied Territories under the International Solidarity Movement? Will representatives of the ISM attend meetings with Zionists in Israel, just as Canada-Israel Committee reps attended meetings with anti-Zionists in the Occupied Territories (and beyond)? If so, I can go with integrity.

But if not, I won’t pander to double-standards.

The choice is the ISM’s.

——–

Between her chortle about ‘democracy’ (there is a bizarre part in her book where she, presumably quoting from Fareed Zakaria without attribution, says it was ‘democracy’ that brought the Nazis to power so democracy isn’t always good… leaving aside the fact that it wasn’t ‘democracy’ that brought the Nazis to power but a putsch, I suppose one can’t expect her to remember her own book in every email), her talking about ‘integrity’, her failure to find the ISM’s principles of unity that are more or less front and centre on the palsolidarity.org website, and her failure to understand the disproportion between Israel (that is deliberately starving hundreds of thousands in Gaza) and PA corruption, I was rather too stunned to realize a simple fact: if all she wanted to do was a ‘journalistic mission’ why would she need ISM or anyone else to co-set up an itinerary?

But when I got that note, I was quite worried that I had created a situation where ISM activists and Palestinians would suffer for my writing to Manji. She would get a little more fame, perhaps prolong her 15 minutes, and the ISM would get a little more bad press, leading to more headaches and more problems for an organization that has already been hit extremely hard by repression. So, I made a point of telling her that she wouldn’t be welcome with ISM: the ISM has a screening process, and she could consider herself screened out.

In retrospect, I could simply have laid out an itinerary for her — the real refuseniks, some real journalists with integrity (Amira Hass, Gideon Levy), some serious researchers (Jeff Halper, Tanya Reinhart, Ilon Pappe, Baruch Kimmerling), some serious peace activists (Uri Avnery) — and all this without her ever having to leave Israel’s borders. I could have told her to try to get into Rafah, and spend some time watching bulldozers slowly raze the place to the ground… perhaps take one of those embarrassing photos of herself in front of a bulldozed house or a bullet-filled building, or maybe even in the wreckage of a missile attack. But instead, I wrote this:

Jan 2, 2004

Starting with 1), and me, as opposed to ISM. On the review and your posting it — I do agree that the most open and free debate and discussion is important, that pandering to double standards is a bad thing. If you want to debate on the internet any of the points raised in the article — on your site or elsewhere, ZNet for example, feel free to engage on any of them, and we will proceed from there. I would be pleased to have our correspondence go in that direction.

I said that I didn’t think that you would fit ISM’s criteria, and let me clarify further, because I think I miscommunicated something. My intention was to let you know that ISM has an open call for volunteers and that you could easily have gone to join ISM and seen ‘the other side’, to use your expression, and were not limited to presenting the limited and distorted view of the conflict that you present because ‘no one answered your email’. If you really are interested and ISM doesn’t fit, there must be other groups that probably have delegations that are closer to what you are looking for. The Bay Area’s ewish Voice for Peace (www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org), perhaps, or a journal like MERIP, (www.merip.org), or Toronto-based groups like the CJP-IP, etc.

Having said that, I think that your going with ISM would be a waste of their time and yours, at best. At worst, I think you would endanger the lives of activists working under very difficult conditions. I also think you would end up smearing and slandering ISM and misrepresenting its views the way you have smeared people like Edward Said, Tariq Ali, and Robert Fisk, all of which is spelled out in my review of your book. ISM has been smeared and slandered before, and survived it, but it isn’t something they should have to deal with on top of everything else.

But in any case, if you took what I said at Ryerson and in my review to mean that ISM could arrange a special fact-finding mission for you, that was my mistake. It can’t. It can only afford to take sincere, principled activists who want to work in genuine solidarity with Palestinians. This includes plenty of Israelis, of course, and plenty of people who consider themselves Zionists, which should also be obvious. But again, having read your book, I don’t think it applies to you. If there is a miscommunication here, it is my fault, for misrepresenting ISM’s open call to people of conscience to be an invitation to you to go on a fact-finding mission equivalent to that of the Canada-Israel Congress. I don’t know too much about the CIC, but I suspect that their offices have not been raided, dozens of their volunteers arrested and deported, and some of them shot or killed (as I detailed in a previous email). The ISM does not have the resources to arrange a special fact-finding mission for you — it does not do fact-finding missions, it is for committed activists who want to (nonviolently) act against the occupation under very difficult conditions. A solidarity trip is different from a fact-finding trip. This has nothing to do with telling people what to think or double standards. It has to do with what the ISM does and is. Again, I take responsibility for the miscommunication.

Dealing with 2), and ISM specifically, as opposed to me, my views, and my mistakes in communication.

The relevant parts of the site for activists to decide if they can accept ISM’s call for volunteers are on the www.palsolidarity.org site. They are here:

http://www.palsolidarity.org/about/aboutISM.php

Particularly these — this is the ‘statement of unity’ you were looking for but didn’t find:

“*We support the Palestinian right to resist the occupation, as provided for by International Law;
*We call for an immediate end to the occupation and immediate compliance and implementation of all relevant UN resolutions;
*We call for immediate international intervention to protect the Palestinian people and ensure Israel’s compliance with International Law.”

But the entire page is relevant.

Also, the ISM’s mission is here:

http://www.palsolidarity.org/about/mission.php

This is highly relevant. One expression of their invitation to people of the world is this:

“Because Israeli violence against civilians in Palestine has worsened, and the repression of the Occupation has tightened, many international allies of the Palestinian cause want to do more than write letters, demonstrate, present programs, form solidarity delegations, or send humanitarian aid. They want to do something more dramatic to stop Israeli attacks on Palestinian neighbourhoods and people with bombs and bullets, or closures and curfews, and to stop the United States from massively rewarding Israel for its brutality and protecting its occupation of Palestine They want to take direct action that will oppose the Occupation and force Israel to withdraw from the West Bank East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

“If this describes your feelings, this call is for you.”

The 4 goals stated in the mission statement are as follows:

“The International Solidarity Movement aims to do four things:

1: to dramatize the terrible conditions under which Palestinians live because of the Occupation, and to protect them from physical violence from Israeli soldiers and settlers. We work under the leadership of Palestinian peace activists, supporting them in their creative resistance to the Occupation, and lending support to Israeli and other peace activist groups.

2: to pressure International news media to focus on the illegality and brutality of the Occupation, and to so change public opinion that it demands that Israel respect international law, and that America stops funding Israel with billions of dollars each year.

3: to recruit volunteers from other nations to undertake non-violent resistance to the Occupation.

4:to establish divestment campaigns in the US and Europe to put economic pressure on Israel the same way the international community put pressure South Africa during the apartheid regimes.”

These are the most relevant parts of the ISM site to help you decide if you can join the ISM. It is an open call, to people who share these goals and principles and want to act on them. Those are ISM’s criteria.

——–

And so ended my interaction with the Muslim Refusenik, who is now making money in the United States and being paraded on television as a middle east expert (she cites one op-ed from the Boston Globe on the Sudan five times when discussing Israel/Palestine). A debate with me would have been no help to her career, I suppose. It’s just as well: there is little time for this nonsense right now.

Biddu, West Bank

This from the International Solidarity Movement. I won’t be posting every such report I get — but this is very typical of what goes on. I remember Thomas Friedman of the New York Times (the one who taunted Yugoslavia during the 1999 bombing and suggested the US bomb them back to 1389) reproaching Palestinians for not doing nonviolent resistance. Here’s how Israel responds to nonviolent resistance — sometimes, though it gets worse than this.

ISRAELI ARMY ATTACKS NONVIOLENT PROTESTERS IN BIDDU
Two Palestinian community leaders arrested and dozens villagers injured

[Biddu, NW Jerusalem] Before 6am this morning, Israeli army bulldozers started the construction of the wall in the outskirts of Biddu village again. They were confronted by villagers, Internationals and Israeli activists who tried to reach the worksite and stop the work. Israeli soldiers opened fire directly at the line of nonviolent protesters, shooting tear gas and concussion grenades and then rubber-coated metal bullets. Dozens of Palestinians are reportedly injured by eyewitnesses.

At 7:30am, the Israeli army arrested two Biddu community leaders, Mohamed Mansour and Ibrahim Saleh Bedwan, as they were protesting nonviolently the construction of the Wall through the village farmlands. They have been taken away to an unknown location.

The protesters are now completely surrounded by over 80 soldiers who are firing tear gas canisters, concussion grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets, targeting upper parts of the body.

The Popular Committee against the Wall and the activists are now trying to protect a house located at the outskirts of the village which is about to be demolished by the Israeli army. Some villagers are staying in the house to prevent its destruction while other are staying outside and are currently targeted with tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets.

For more information, please contact:

Biddu Village Council: +972.22.47.12.20
Mohammed Ayyash: +972.67.395.422
Mansour Mansour: +972.55.804.830
Neal: +972.66.346.165
ISM Media Office: +972.22.77.46.02

The Muslim Refusenik and Me, Part I

The blogging and reporting on Iraq has been so good that I won’t do another roundup here, other than to lament, as someone who is subjected to the Canadian media, how dreadful the asymmetry is. The most ‘liberal’ paper in the country, the Toronto Star, had a massive headline: “12 more marines die in Iraq”. The subheadline, much smaller — “3-day toll is 30 Americans and 130 Iraqis” (that would be my emphasis). The casualties are almost certainly far higher for Iraqis, as the US has sealed Fallujah off to commit atrocities unnoticed there. It seems that I have commented on Iraq, after all. But the purpose of this entry is to discuss my correspondence with that intrepid ‘Muslim Refusenik’, Irshad Manji… read on, if you have the stomach.

So, Norman Finkelstein called Alan Dershowitz a ‘raving lunatic’ in a recent interview, and I patterned my own review of Irshad Manji after Finkelstein’s work. Unfortunately I lack Norman’s imagination for terms of abuse, although that’s probably just as well: Dershowitz’s strategy is plagiarism and fabrication under the veneer of Harvard University. Manji’s strategy is flagrant displays of ignorance in order to elicit abuse, which she can then use as proof of how intolerant her detractors are. That’s why I stuck to the fact that she’s a fraud in the review, rather than on any opinions I might have of her character.

Anyway, at the end of my review I wrote this:

“Let me say publicly that on Nov. 20, 2003, at her public talk at Ryerson university in Toronto, in front of several hundred people who came to listen to her speech, “Defending Israel is Defending Diversity”, I told Irshad Manji that she has a standing invitation to go to the Occupied Territories with the International Solidarity Movement. I gave her my email address and the sites for ISM Canada (www.ismcanada.org) and ISM (www.palsolidarity.org). She has not replied to my invitation.”

A few weeks later, Manji did indeed write to me! I’ll post the first email, and then leave you hanging… posting the next round in a later post.

December 16, 2003

Dear Justin,

Greetings. Irshad here. I’m writing to explore next steps with regard to sending me on a journalistic mission under the auspices of the International Solidarity Movement. I’ve checked out both websites that you’ve given to me, and look forward to learning more.

Next steps?

Best,

Irshad

P.S. Sorry I couldn’t follow up with you sooner. I’ve been on book-related travels. Life gets even more hectic as of mid-January, so let’s be sure touch base before then.

Urgent situation in Sudan

Of course it’s the News Insider who pointed this story out, as usual. In fact, readers, you should assume that any obscure story I come up with in this blog, if it is in the mainstream media and in English, it probably came from the News Insider (not the case for Spanish sources, or alternative media sources). Human Rights Watch is very concerned about the situation in the Sudan. I started looking into Sudan because of the similarities with Colombia: state-armed militias, massacres with the express purpose of displacing people from resource-rich zones, ‘development without people’, and so on. Sudan is an ‘official enemy’ of the US, on the terrorist list, but it won itself some wiggle room to attack its population by collaborating with the US after 9/11. Most, though not all, of the experts on the conflict have a relatively pro-US outlook on the world. I reviewed a worthwhile book by one of those experts recently — it might serve as context for what’s going on.

Iraq Roundup Today

So, things continue in Iraq. We have a very good report from Andrea Schmidt in Baghdad. Please check it out. Rahul is blogging as usual, no less analytical for being right on the scene. Fisk has a new one that should be up on the ZNet site shortly. In that, you will find this:

“What good this will do “new” Iraq is anyone’s guess. Vast concrete walls have been lowered across the road and military vehicles have been used to chase away civilians trying to by-pass them. A prolonged series of Israeli-style house raids are now apparently planned for the people of Fallujah to seek out he gunmen who first attacked the four Americans – whose corpses were later stripped, mutilated and hanged.”

“The helicopter attacks in Shoula – by ghastly coincidence the very same Shoula suburb in which civilians were slaughtered by an American aircraft during last year’s invasion – looked like a copy-cat of every Israeli raid on the West Bank and Gaza. Indeed, Iraqis are well aware that the US military asked for – and received – Israel’s “rules of engagement” from the Sharon government. America’s losses these past 24 hours – at least 12 dead and many soldiers wounded – have come nowhere near Iraq’s but their enemies may soon outnumber them.”

And there is more…

A story in the Washington Post, by Thomas E. Ricks, describes the kinds of atrocities that one ought to expect from an occupation — “an allegation that U.S. troops killed an Iraqi detainee when they forced him and another man to jump from a bridge into the Tigris River.” This is something the Vietnamese would remember. Or the Chileans, under Pinochet.

Fallujah has been sealed off. I haven’t been able to get figures for Iraqis killed, but everyone is sure they are high: US soldiers have been counted, and two more were killed today according to Reuters.

What is all this about? Again, both Fisk and Rahul have described these as ‘stupid’ on the part of the US. Indeed, Fisk has gone so far as to say they are playing into as-Sadr’s hands. Again, I can’t agree with him. It is too convenient to have the big, dumb, USA playing into the hands of clever, ruthless Arabs in the colonies. It might be an interesting way to reach people, but I don’t think it’s the case. It’s the empire that provokes the violence it needs to do what it does, not the reverse.

UTS, while disagreeing with me about what the motives of that provocation might be, agree that the US is provoking all this. They just think that Bush is counting on the media to cover up the chaos that will be happening underneath the surface, and are wrecking more in order to keep the contracting/rebuilding shell game going.

Fair enough. The electoral motive Naomi suggested wasn’t really the point I wanted to emphasize, though I think it’s as compelling as the two reasons suggested by Jessica via Brian — just that chaos is the intended outcome , in virtually every intervention the US has made since at least 1999 — maybe before — as opposed to some evolved authoritarian dictatorship.

More soon… but I there is other chaos to report on…

Chaos is not a side effect

Reading Naomi Klein and Robert Fisk on what’s going on in Iraq, you get the same facts but two different interpretations. Both are on the ground right now. Fisk has a longer experience in the region. But I think it’s Naomi who’s right. About Paul Bremer’s decision to shut down as-Sadr’s paper, Fisk says:

“It now seems that his decision to shut down the paper (its circulation of 10,000 was hardly going to arouse Shias to attack Western troops) has incited violence on a far greater scale than Mr Bremer could have imagined.

“Yet he managed to say all the wrong things again yesterday. “This morning, a group of people in Najaf have crossed the line and they have moved to violence,” he announced. “This will not be tolerated. This will not be tolerated by the Iraqi people and this will not be tolerated by the Iraqi security forces.”‘…

Fisk also says:

“The Americans can scarcely contain the Sunni Muslim revolt to the north; they cannot fight another community, this one representing 60 per cent of Iraqis, even if British troops, who control the largely Shia city of Basra, become involved.”

But is this really the case? Or are the Americans doing just exactly what they want? Naomi believes the latter.

“On the surface, this chain of events is mystifying. With the so-called Sunni triangle in flames after the gruesome Faluja attacks, why is Bremer pushing the comparatively calm Shiite south into battle?

“Here’s one possible answer: Washington has given up on its plans to hand over power to an interim Iraqi government on June 30, and it is now creating the chaos it needs to declare the handover impossible. A continued occupation will be bad news for George Bush on the campaign trail, but not as bad as if the handover happens and the country erupts, an increasingly likely scenario given the widespread rejection of the legitimacy of the interim constitution and the U.S. appointed Governing Council.”

I think this is exactly what is going on, and it is a very important point, not yet widely understood, about the way the US has been operating lately. A few decades back, the preferred mode of operating in third world countries was to find an authoritarian ruler who would bring ‘stability’: open markets, freedom to invest and plunder the country for multinationals, accompanied by a police state and the liquidation of opposition. But I don’t think that’s the case any more. Today, it is a different model. Military bases in key areas give the option of direct control over resource-rich areas, and prevent anyone else from controlling those resources. As for the type of government, if a pliant authoritarian regime can be found, fine. If not, complete chaos is fully acceptable, so long as the bases and control are there.

That is what was done in the Balkans; it was the model for Haiti; it is the model for Venezuela; it is what is happening in Colombia; it is what is happening in Afghanistan; and it is what the US is preparing in Iraq.

All hell is breaking loose in Iraq…

And no, the title doesn’t mean I got to the Fallujah story too late. Instead, I’d like to call your attention to what I can only interpret as the reprisals for the killings of the mercenaries in Fallujah — again, these stories come via the News Insider, although I’m pretty sure there will be very good reports from our own people, many of whom are in Iraq now, including Rahul Mahajan, Dahr Jamail, Naomi Klein, and Andrea Schmidt. But now to the stories you *could* find in the mainstream, if you were following it as closely as the folks at the News Insider.

Riots — of Shia now, supporters of a leader (Muqtada al-Sadr) who Bremer has just declared an ‘outlaw’ — in Sadr City, Najaf, Kufa, and Nasiriyah, resulted in at least 22 Iraqis killed, 8 US soldiers, and one Salvadorean soldier, according to the Guardian — and hundreds injured, according to other sources. I’m reminded of the outbreak of the second intifada, when deaths of Palestinians at demonstrations were low, but injury statistics were massive. Not sure if that’s what’s going on here… injuries are always higher than deaths, it need not imply a systematic policy of shooting to injure.

In Baghdad, US tanks crushed two Iraqi protesters, also apparently supporters of as-Sadr.

Italian and Portuguese police were injured by a grenade in Nasiriyah(sorry about the passive voice — I’m quoting from the Dow Jones newsbrief that doesn’t identify who did it).

4 Iraqis were killed by a car bomb, this time in North Iraq.

British troops ‘clashed’ with protesters in Amara, though no reports on casualties yet.

Rahul Mahajan put it simply in his own blog: “All hell is breaking loose in Iraq”. More soon, but take a look at some material on how it all started, from the UTS blog.

Starving Gaza

Killing Sheikh Yassin and a half-dozen innocent bystanders was not enough for Israel, which is also intensifying its efforts to starve the population of Gaza. After the UN Special Rapporteur for food last year warned that a fifth of the children in Gaza are malnourished and that the situation is getting worse, a BBC story of a few days ago describes how “the UN Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa) said an Israeli ban on moving empty containers out of Gaza had forced it to suspend delivering 11,000 tons of food.” Why? Because, according to an (unnamed) Israeli spokesman, suicide bombers might be hiding in the food containers… this after UNRWA had already cut rations from 60% to 40%, where unemployment is total, 2/3 of the families are below poverty, and the town of Rafah is being razed to the ground. And that’s not all…

The UNRWA spokesperson, Peter Hansen, said “If the new restrictions in Gaza continue, I fear we could see real hunger emerge for the first time in two generations”. The Israeli spokesman said that “At the moment we cannot trust anything, especially since the death of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.”

To clarify: because Israel engaged in a major attack against Gaza, killing civilians by dropping a bomb in the middle of a city, Israel is now forced to starve the population of Gaza.

An Israeli professor, Lev Greenberg of Ben Gurion University, has accused the state of Israel of genocide. Greenberg was imprisoned as a refusenik. The Minister of Education for Israel, Limor Livnat, was not impressed: “I am not authorized to interfere in academic affairs”, she said, “but I call on the president of the university and the academic community to take issue with and denounce anyone who attacks and opposes the government of Israel”.

And last, while we’re on the topic, it turns out that Israel believes that the BBC is biased — against Israel!

“Natan Sharansky, Israel’s minister for diaspora affairs, complained that Guerin had portrayed the army’s handling of the arrest of Hussam Abdu, who was captured with explosives strapped to his chest, as “cynical manipulation of a Palestinian youngster for propaganda purposes”. He said this revealed “a deep-seated bias against Israel”.”

ZNet published an article by Tim Llewellyn a few months back on the BBC’s coverage of the Israel/Palestine conflict that rather disagrees with Sharansky.

The pieces on Gaza and Greenberg came via the News Insider, an indispensable source for any blogger.