Philip Weiss

One of the Most Elite Think Tanks Held Secret Panel to Counter Growing Movement Criticizing Israel

Last June, Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson held a secret summit in Las Vegas to come up with ways of fighting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign on college campuses. They raised a reported $50 million to do so.

Now the secret process seems to have moved on to far more influential turf, to Washington, D.C., and a leading liberal thinktank. Last week the Brookings Institution held a secret panel on BDS, sponsored by Haim Saban. By all appearances, the intent of the panel was to counter the BDS campaign.

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Trump’s Religion Test for Immigrants Is Standard Practice in Israel

The widespread political condemnation of Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States and for surveillance of mosques was pretty great yesterday. American leaders left and right said that such policies are unconstitutional and counter to U.S. values. “Donald Trump is a race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot,” Senator Lindsey Graham said emphatically.

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Like an Unrequited Lover, ‘NYT’ Confesses Itself Heartbroken Over Israel’s (Latest) Betrayal of Democracy

You surely saw the news that the Israeli cabinet approved a bill to define Israel as “the nation state of the Jewish people.” The State Department issued mild criticism of the measure: “we would expect [Israel] to continue Israel’s commitment to democratic principles.” Israel’s centrist cabinet ministers objected strongly to the bill. And even the Anti-Defamation League has come out against the legislation, saying it’s “unnecessary.”

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President of Israel Admits His Society Is 'Sick' and American Media Pretend It Never Happened

Did you hear that the president of Israel said Israel is a “sick society”? Reuven Rivlin, a Likudnik, said in late October. There’s been lots of coverage in Israel, but as AndrewSullivan points out, the declaration hasn’t gotten much attention stateside. I should think it would be viral.

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Is the American Media Finally Waking Up to the Truth about Israel's Assault on Gaza?

There are more signs that what the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008-2009 did for the left, the latest assault is doing for the mainstream: solidifying a perception that Israeli leadership has lost its moorings, opening the floodgates of criticism. 

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Gaza Is a Concentration Camp, And It's an American Delusion Not to Recognize That - Weschler

Lawrence Weschler, a writer of considerable mainstream prestige, is sick of prevaricating about Israel. It’s rabid. It has rabies. And Gaza is a concentration camp. Weschler has let loose chiefly because of the “remorseless” and “repetitively compulsive” aspect of Israeli violence. I believe that understanding is now widely shared in the liberal mainstream, and interventions like Weschler’s make it easier for others to speak up. From Truthdig:

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The Goldstone Report Now Belongs to the World

In the wake of Judge Richard Goldstone's op-ed in the Washington Post "reconsidering" one part of the United Nations report on the Gaza conflict that he co-authored, many have tried to write the obituary for the Goldstone Report. The truth is that the Report is more alive than ever. The ferocious debate ignited by Judge Goldstone's op-ed has demonstrated that the world refuses to forget those 22 days in the winter of 2008-2009, when Israel pummeled the Gaza Strip, killing more than 1,300 people, including over 300 children. And it has shown that the 450 pages of the report have lost none of their power to shock and galvanize.

“The court of world opinion has accepted that the Report is credible and that the events it described occurred,” Desmond Travers, a member of the Gaza fact-finding mission along with Goldstone, and a retired colonel in the Irish army, told us yesterday. “People saw on their TV screens that unacceptable levels of terror were brought down on a defenseless city. And then a report came out and confirmed that understanding.”

As many others have pointed out, Goldstone's op-ed does not stand as a recantation of the Goldstone Report. Even if one accepts Judge Goldstone’s claim that Israel did not intentionally target civilians during Operation Cast Lead – a position that the U.N. Committee of Experts, the official body charged with monitoring Israeli and Palestinian investigations into Cast Lead, does not support – the vast majority of the report stands as written. As Judge Goldstone has said himself in an interview with the Associated Press, "I have no reason to believe any part of the report needs to be reconsidered at this time."

This means that Judge Goldstone still believes that Israel and the Palestinian authorities committed war crimes during the conflict, that Israel intentionally targeted Gaza's civilian infrastructure and used "deliberately disproportionate force designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize the civilian population." These are the damning charges that remain unchallenged and that demand international action.

Beyond the specific charges leveled by Goldstone’s fact-finding mission, perhaps the true legacy of the Report is the way it reconfigured the world's understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Goldstone Report helped “to reframe the Israeli-Palestinian debate around the world,” the LA Times editorialized. Instead of a superficial political debate about a stagnant peace process, the Goldstone Report introduced the concepts of international law and human rights into the discourse. It gave us a new language with which to describe the atrocities of Operation Cast Lead – and not just Operation Cast Lead, but the decades of Israeli occupation – and in giving us this language, it held out a solution to the “crisis of human dignity” that has perpetuated violence in the region for so long.

As Naomi Klein writes in the introduction to The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict: "The Goldstone Report, with its uncompromising moral consistency, has revived the old-fashioned principle of universal human rights and international law—a system which, flawed as it is, remains our best protection against barbarism. When we rally around Goldstone, insisting that this report be read and acted upon, it is this system that we are defending."

This is a cause that was taken up around the world following the original publication of the Goldstone Report, and it remains today in the outrage and confusion surrounding Judge Goldstone's op-ed.

As editors of The Goldstone Report, we recognize and honor the work that Judge Goldstone has done to help bring the report to fruition. But we also believe that now the report stands apart from him. It is no longer his report, or even the UN's report, but it is our report.

“Richard and I ceased to have any connection to the report when we turned it in and it was accepted by the Human Rights Council,” Colonel Travers says. International civil society has seized the call for justice and transformed the Goldstone Report from a simple document to a powerful tool for truth-telling and accountability.

No doubt there will be many people who will attempt to exploit this moment to bury the report once and for all. The Israeli government has been working overtime to press the United Nations into voiding, or at least qualifying, the original document, while longtime Goldstone Report critics have been gleefully pressing the line that the whole report is now mortally flawed. But the process the report started can’t be so easily undone. It has permanently transformed the landscape of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and will not be unraveled by a single op-ed.

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