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Ali Abunimah

A Response to Ali Abunimah & Co.

by Gilad Atzmon

Ali Abunimah & Co tend to present themselves as advocates of “One Democratic State in Palestine.” This leaves me puzzled: what kind of democracy do they have in mind, exactly?  For by calling for my “disavowal,” they prove beyond a doubt that they cannot tolerate even some elementary cultural criticism—criticism that is endorsed and praised by some of the most respected thinkers within our movement and beyond.

In fact, I am pretty delighted with the outraged reactions to my thoughts. I guess it enables us to map the discourse and its boundaries—and means that those boundaries are now official. Not only has my latest book, The Wandering Who?, rocked the boat, but it also has managed to unite Alan Dershowitz and Abe Foxman with Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal. That is pretty encouraging: it means that peace may prevail after all.

However, I also have some bad news for my would-be silencers, Palestinian and Jewish alike. I do not have any plans to slow down or drift away. I am a jazz musician and an independent thinker. I am basically a free agent—I say what I think and think what I say. The popularity of my writing among Palestinians, solidarity activists and truth seekers is the direct outcome of my sincere approach to the subject matter.

Whether my detractors accept it or not, the strength of my arguments is grounded on the transparent truthful nature of my premises. Until now, not one of my opponents has been able to point out a single discrepancy within my argument or the facts I cite. For instance, I contend that since Israel defines itself as the Jewish State—its tanks and planes decorated with Jewish symbols—it is our duty to ask: Who are the Jews? What is Judaism? And what is Jewishness all about?

The fact that some activists shy away from asking those questions doesn’t mean that the rest of us also should behave cowardly.

In case my detractors—be they Zionists, Anti-Zionist Zionists or Palestinians—fail to realize it, Palestine is not alone anymore, and is no longer an isolated, remote discourse. Even as I write, AIPAC is publicly and relentlessly pushing America into a new global conflict. In Britain, 80 percent of Tory MPs are members of the Conservative Friends of Israel. What we are witnessing here is a clear Zionist shift from the discourse of a “promised land” to one of a “promised planet.” I’m convinced that calling a spade a spade could actually save the world, including Americans, Brits, Iranians and Palestinians. But it also can save the Jews from the grave potential consequences inflicted on them by the Jewish lobbies.

Sadly, Ali Abunimah has misrepresented my thoughts. Clearly there is no racism, anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial in my writing.  As determined as my detractors are to find it, they have failed to identify a single bit of evidence of such tendencies in my work.  Ali Abunimah says on my behalf that “one cannot self-describe as a Jew and also do work in solidarity with Palestine, because to identify as a Jew is to be a Zionist.” What a ludicrous interpretation of my writing, in which I go out of my way to define the issue in categorical terms. What I am obviously opposing is Jewish racial exclusivity. If Israel is in the wrong for being a Jews-only State, I argue, then its Jewish critics better fight it using an inclusive, universalist ideology and practice.

I am indeed critical of Jewish identity politics, Jewish culture and Jewish ideology. I am also critical of the Jewish cultural attitude toward history. I am critical of Jewishness and any form of Jewish exclusive political activism. And yet, I wonder, why should any person who seeks justice and peace object to my approach? Is Jewish culture or identity politics beyond criticism? Are Jews chosen after all.

I am sorry to disappoint my Palestinian and Jewish opposition league, but it seems as if their terminology is faulty and misleading: Zionism is not colonialism, for colonialism is defined as a material exchange between a Mother State and a Settler State. The fact that there is no Jewish Mother State suggests that Zionism doesn’t fit the colonial model.

Nor is Israel an Apartheid State, for Apartheid is defined by the exploitation of the indigenous residents. Yet the Jewish State prefers that the Palestinians simply and completely disappear. In other words, we are dealing here with a unique racially driven expansionist philosophy not very different from the Nazis’ Lebensraum.

Israel is not Zionism, and vice versa.  Israel is the outcome of the Zionist project. If Zionism is a promise to establish a “Jewish National Home in Palestine,” Israel is its post-revolutionary product. Indeed, Israelis are barely familiar with Zionist thought and ideology. From their perspective, anti-Zionist ranting is a remote Diaspora discourse.

Shalom does not mean peace, reconciliation or harmony. Its accurate English translation is “security for the Jews.” Israeli culture lacks a clear notion of “peace” as we know it—i.e., harmony and reconciliation.

I suggest that my detractors spend some time and think this through, so they can understand that the issues involving this conflict and its resolution go far beyond mere political discourse.

I would like to take this opportunity to advise my opponents that their campaign is counterproductive. Those who are interested in my ideas realize that we are living in a post-political and post-ideological era.  Like myself, they are interested in an ethical argument. They are not “party members,” and they are not taking “orders” from any sectarian group or ideology. Instead they listen to their hearts. Those pro-Palestinian organizations sponsoring my current U.S. book tour realize very well that my work galvanizes a demarcation line between truth and its enemies.

In spite of the relentless slander campaign against my writing, it has not achieved a thing except to expose a rigorous intellectual intolerance in our midst. If my opposition is concerned with my thoughts, it will have to learn to debate. Before we can proceed, I guess, my detractors may have to actually read my book and decide exactly what they are against.

Gilad Atzmon’s New Book: The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity Politics or

Ali Abunimah on the one state solution


At a colloquium held in Brussels on November 19.

Israel thinks we’re “very powerful.” So keep us strong

Ali Abunimah

(Mailing List Information, including unsubscription instructions, is located at the end of this message.)

14 December 2010

Now we know why Israel is trying to shut down The Electronic Intifada.

Recently I wrote to you and other friends about the attack on The Electronic Intifada by NGO Monitor, an extremist Israeli group that works with the Israel’s far-right government and wants to shut us down.

At a 9 December press conference at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, hosted by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, the head of NGO Monitor said:

“… we also see this combination between a very powerful organization called the Electronic Intifada, and the people who are involved in that, a gentleman by the name of Ali Abunimah in particular, who appears on many, many campuses and frameworks, preaching the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions and one-state, eliminate-the-State-of-Israel solution…”

Of course NGO Monitor distorts the truth, and tries to misrepresent what we as a publication do and what I as an individual say, but they are right about one thing: we are powerful, because the original news and analysis published by The Electronic Intifada empowers activists all over the world who are working for justice, equality and respect for universal rights in Palestine.

We’re a small publication, standing up to the might of Israel and making a big difference by educating thousands of people every day.

I am privileged to work with an incredible editorial team, and The Electronic Intifada counts on dozens of first class reporters, writers and activists. We can do this work and withstand these attacks only because of the support of people like you. You make us powerful and Israel has noticed.

To remain strong and independent in 2011 we must raise $100,000 by December 31. We’ve already raised almost $30,000, but we still have a long way to go. Be powerful and make a tax-deductible donation today!

With thanks on behalf of The Electronic Intifada Team

Ali Abunimah

PS: You can read more about our campaign, and revisit some of the great articles that have made Israeli so mad! Donate Now.

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The Electronic Intifada Campaign: Help keep our reporting strong in 2011

Appeal, The Electronic Intifada, 8 December 2010

Gaza (Matthew Cassel)

To remain a strong, independent publication and an educational resource for the Palestine solidarity and justice movement, The Electronic Intifada needs the support of readers and friends like you. Please make a contribution today.

As The Electronic Intifada prepared to launch its annual campaign to ask our readers and friends to support our independent reporting on Palestine by making a contribution, we found ourselves under attack from a prominent anti-Palestinian organization.

The goal of the attackers, we believe, is to shut us down by pressuring funders to withdraw grants they’ve given us. If we can’t pay our editors or reporters, or maintain our equipment and keep our servers working, their reasoning goes, then there will be one less watchdog to report on human rights abuses in Palestine and to educate our thousands of daily readers about the Palestinian struggle for freedom and the global solidarity movement.

The escalating attacks on The Electronic Intifada and other Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights and civic groups working for justice are evidence that what we do is changing minds. Why else would they try to stop us? But we also know that major organizations which oppose human rights for Palestinians are gearing up for even more aggressive tactics as we have reported.

We are resilient because most of The Electronic Intifada’s funding comes not from a foundation grant but from readers who rely on us every day for solid reporting, prescient analysis, moving features, activism news and a full range of arts coverage and reviews.

As long as we have a strong base of community support, no one can stop us from doing our work. Show your support and help us to keep educating people and inspiring them to work for justice. Please make a contribution today.

Readers like you support our work because they know that the information produced by The Electronic Intifada does more than inform a passive audience. It is a powerful resource in the hands of all who work for justice.

  • Our consistent reporting on Veolia’s involvement in the “Jerusalem Light Rail” linking illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank has provided activists with the information they needed to launch a successful campaign to hold the corporation accountable and make it unprofitable to build infrastructure for the Israeli occupation in violation of international law. In late November, Veolia announced it was pulling out of the project, a major victory.
  • The Electronic Intifada broke the story that the son of Ethan Bronner, The New York Times bureau chief in Jerusalem, had voluntarily enlisted in the Israeli army, raising a serious conflict of interest for Bronner’s and The New York Times’ coverage. Citing our report, the newspaper’s public editor called for Bronner to be reassigned (“Too Close to Home,” 6 February 2010). Although the The Times chose to ignore its ombudsman’s recommendation, our story forced a major institution to publicly acknowledge its own biases and generated broad debate about double standards plaguing mainstream reporting about Israel and the Palestinians.

These are just two examples of how, with your support, The Electronic Intifada makes an impact. Below are some more highlights of our original reporting and analysis over the past year, powerful pieces made possible with the support of our readers. Please read and share them, and remember, we can’t do this work without you.

As we do each year, it is our turn to say we count on you. To make sure we do stay strong in 2011, please take action today to help us meet our $100,000 goal by 31 December. It’s a bigger goal than we’ve ever had because we are doing more reporting than ever. Please do more if you can. Donate now.

Thank you.

Highlights from The Electronic Intifada 2010

Please donate now. Thank you!


Why do UNM Zionists want to “protect” Jewish students from a message of equality, justice and peace?

Several developments to report in the over-the-top Zionist campaign to prevent me being heard at the University of New Mexico on Nov 7.

The Zionists of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico (JFNM) and Hillel at the University of New Mexico (UNM) are apparently embarrassed by the exposure of their backdoor campaign to have two academic departments cancel their sponsorship of my upcoming talk at the University of New Mexico on 7 November.<!–more–>

The campaign of vilification and defamation has included a statement by JNMF director Sam Sokolove published in the Albuquerque Journal likening me to the Ku Klux Klan.

In the latest demarche, Sara Koplik, director of UNM Hillel and one the organizers of this defamation campaign has written a letter to “Hillel Students” reproduced below. In her letter, Koplik expresses annoyance that her and Sokolove’s initial letter to department heads vilifying me and calling on the departments not to support my appearance became public, but she goes on to attack me further by claiming that “Ali Abunimah calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.” You would think from her hyperbole that it is me, and not Israel, that possesses hundreds of undeclared nuclear warheads, or that it is me, and not Israel that constantly invades, occupies and threatens its neighbors and holds millions of people under a brutal military occupation without any basic civil or political rights. Nevertheless, Dr. Koplik goes on to claim that it is her “job to help make UNM a place where Jewish students do not feel under siege.” Apparently my presence on campus constitutes such a siege!

Surely Dr. Koplik should be more concerned about hundreds of thousands of children and students in Gaza who are literally under Israeli siege, and urge Hillel Students to help expose, break and end this siege in keeping with the Jewish values of justice that Hillel professes.

Of course I can only guess at Dr. Koplik’s motives in continuing with this campaign of personal vilification and defamation against me, I wonder if her real fear is that students under her tutelage may come to my event, find out that I am a human and not a monster, that what I actually call for is not the “destruction of Israel” but its transformation into a democracy which guarantees strict equal rights for all its citizens including its Palestinian and Israeli Jewish citizens — equality under the law just like we have in the United States. This is the unbearable threat to the Zionist narrative that must be stopped. Here is Koplik’s letter.

Dear Hillel Students,

You may have noticed an article in the Daily Lobo last week or one in the Albuquerque Journal yesterday which talks about Hillel’s opposition to departmental sponsorship of a talk by Ali Abunimah on Sunday.

Ali Abunimah is the founder of the Electronic Intifada and a representative of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.  Along with the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation, I expressed private concerns to Prof. Alex Lubin of American Studies and Prof. Les Field of the Peace Studies Program.

Unfortunately, Prof. Lubin did not respond to us directly, but rather sent out our letter to the BDS list serve, the Stop $30 Billion list serve, and to Ali Abunimah, who printed our letter on his blog.

This turned a private matter into a public one, and now much of Albuquerque knows about this controversy.  Please allow me to explain our perspective.

1. We are not opposed to Ali Abunimah speaking at the University of New Mexico.

2. We are not opposed to any student group sponsoring this talk.

3. We are opposed to departmental sponsorship of this talk, as we believe that Ali Abunimah calls for the destruction of the State of Israel, and thus, it is not appropriate for a department in a public university to condone such language.

As Hillel director, it is my job to ensure that Jewish students have a home on campus – no matter what their political persuasion or feeling about Israel.  All Jews are welcome to every event. However, it is also my job to help make UNM a place where Jewish students do not feel under siege.  This is why I am concerned about Ali Abunimah.  I do not believe that hatred towards the State of Israel, and the policies of boycott, divestment and sanctions will bring about a peaceful future for Israelis and for Palestinians. Next Friday, November 12th, we will have an opportunity to talk about these issues after Shabbat services and dinner.  If you have any concerns, questions, or thoughts on the matter, I hope you can attend.

All the best,

Sara Koplik

In another development, Professor Les Field, Director of the UNM Peace Studies Program, had also written to UNM Hillel Members (letter below) stating, “In light of the unfortunate misunderstandings that have so far characterized the upcoming lecture by Ali Abunimah this coming Sunday, I would like to extend my formal invitation to the members of Hillel.” He adds, “There are also many Jewish people, like myself, in this country and in Europe who are trying to reach out across the sharp differences of opinion about the present and future of Israel-Palestine conflict.  It is crucial to hear a wide variety of ideas at this point.”

I wholly endorse Professor Field’s invitation. Last night at Stanford I stood for two hours and took unmoderated questions from an audience including many strong supporters of Israel. Instead of scaremongering and making outrageous claims about me, why doesn’t Dr. Koplik urge Hillel students to attend my event? I will, as I did at Stanford answer all their questions and concerns, and I am ready to stand for as long as it takes. Here is Professor Field’s letter:

Dear UNM Hillel members:

In light of the unfortunate misunderstandings that have so far characterized the upcoming lecture by Ali Abunimah this coming Sunday, I would like to extend my formal invitation to the members of Hillel.

I hope that you and other members of Hillel will attend the Abumimah event, and hear him out. You would be very welcomed.

Positions similar to his have been enunciated in different ways by a significant number of people in Israel, including academics, activists and politicians. There are also many Jewish people, like myself, in this country and in Europe who are trying to reach out across the sharp differences of opinion about the present and future of Israel-Palestine conflict.  It is crucial to hear a wide variety of ideas at this point.

Thirty years ago Israel’s official position was that a two-state solution was not only impossible but that the Palestinian people did not really exist. Talking to the PLO was seen as an endorsement of terrorism, and those who advocated talks with Yasir Arafat were called anti-Semites. The history of this conflict shows us that dialogue even with those whose ideas we currently find unacceptable is crucial and can eventually prove productive.


Les Field

Les W. Field Professor of Anthropology

Director, UNM Peace Studies Program

Department of Anthropology MSC01-1040

University of New Mexico(Albuquerque, NM 87131

Also, the Albuquerque Journal has published an op-ed  (Palestinian’s Message Not Anti-Semitic or Divisive) responding to the Jewish Federation and Hillel’s defamation campaign, authored by Danya Mustafa, UNM Coalition for Peace and Justice in the Middle East (CPJME) co-President, Margaret Leicester CPJME co-founder, and Rich Forer an Albuquerque community activist. An excerpt:

Federation and Hillel authors write: “Abunimah is a representative of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a global movement intent on destroying Israel and her credibility in the world… according to the Anti-Defamation League, ‘BDS is about the three ‘D’s: Demonization, Delegitimization, and applying a Double Standard.’ This movement is disinterested in peace, the exchange of ideas or legitimate dialogue…. This is all anti-Semitism in its clearest, most noxious form.”

Who is guilty of the three D’s? Not once has Hillel or the Jewish Federation engaged the Coalition for Peace and Justice in the Middle East in public dialogue about this issue. Instead, their supporters write nasty letters to the editor and on Internet blogs attacking campus and community members critical of Israeli policies. They employ character assassination and ad hominem attacks to stifle dialogue and constructive debate.

In contrast, the coalition is bringing Ali Abunimah to our campus in order to unite all sides of the Israel-Palestine issue through dialogue about peaceful resolutions to this ongoing conflict. BDS is not about demonizing, delegitimizing and applying a double standard nor is it a strategy intended to punish the Jewish or Israeli people.

They end with this rallying cry:

The Coalition for Peace and Justice in the Middle East and its many sponsors will unambiguously communicate to every single person in the room that denouncing Israel’s inhumane policies is not a crime, nor is it anti-Semitic. We will take this opportunity to educate and raise awareness on the UNM campus and in the larger Albuquerque community about the Israel-Palestine issue and the BDS campaign. Abunimah personally invites Jewish Federation and Hillel members to attend his talk on Sunday and “to ask me any questions they want.” Join in the dialogue!

See Also:


Bahrain-based Saudi-financed “Islamic” bank Arcapita doing rich business with Israel military

Posted by Ali Abunimah

This blog reported on 9 October that American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) Board Member Marwan M. Atalla and his investment firm NEST U.S.A. Inc. are shareholders in Cirrus Design Corporation, an aircraft manufacturing firm which does millions in business with Israeli military contractors closely tied to the Israeli military establishment. (See “Board member of Ziad Asali’s ATFP does millions in business with Israeli military firm” )<!–more–>

As the earlier post explains, Cirrus has a long history of working with Israeli companies and recently chose an Israeli military contractor called TAT Technologies to supply $10 million worth of aircraft parts. TAT Technologies is run by Israeli military officers, including a former commander of Israeli occupation forces in southern Lebanon, and its factory is built on the land of the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of Yasur.

Since publishing that post, I have received new information from a former employee who is also a current minority shareholder at Cirrus. According to this individual Atalla was an active board member of Cirrus until 2001, but was forced to resign along with other independent board members when another investor, the First Islamic Investment Bank of Bahrain took a majority stake in Cirrus. Atalla and his firm NEST U.S.A. Inc. remain shareholders of Cirrus as of this time, according to NEST’s own website.

In 2005, the First Islamic Investment Bank of Bahrain changed its name to Arcapita. Arcapita is financed by investors in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia and is well-connected to those countries’ ruling families.

The Arcapita website states on its current corporate investments page that it acquired a stake in “Cirrus Design Corporation” in 2001, but does not say how big the stake is. A 2007 report on aviation industry website AVweb, put Arcapita’s stake at a controlling 58 percent.

While the AVweb report mentions that Arcapita was seeking to divest from Cirrus, in fact it has become more deeply involved. An April 2009 press release from Cirrus stated that Arcapita had pumped even more money into the company during the global financial crisis.

As an Islamic investment bank, all of Arcapita’s investments are screened by its Shariah Supervisory Board which currently includes a religious scholar and former judge from the Supreme Court in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, as well as religious scholars from Pakistan and Bahrain. Such advisory boards are supposed to screen investments to make sure they comply with Islamic banking standards — typically avoiding interest, or investments in alcohol or pornography.

But for Arcapita, at least, there seems to be nothing un-Islamic about profiting from deals with the Israeli military establishment — the same military that has slaughtered more than nine thousand Muslims, Christians and others and injured and permanently maimed tens of thousands more in Palestine and Lebanon in the past decade alone in what numerous international investigations have termed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Needless to say, Arcapita-controlled Cirrus’ business with the Israeli military establishment is a gross violation of the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel.


Obama’s UN speech ‘nothing new’

Video of Ali Abunimah at Olympia WA: Boycott: A Nonviolent Technology for Peace and Justice in Palestine/Israel


Click on the photo

Zionist Dossier Exposed: ‘How to expose Ali Abunimah when he comes to your campus’

29, 2010

In advance of my speech tomorrow in Port Townsend, Washington, anti-Palestinian activists have been privately circulating a 12-page dossier on me, and on how to “counter” and “expose” me.

The document is being circulated by Rob Jacobs, Northwest Regional Director of StandWithUs. StandWithUs is an extreme pro-Israel hasbara group supported by funders with a clear anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim agenda.

The StandWithUs dossier (attached below as a PDF) is a mishmash of biographical information about me, much of it taken from my own writing, but wildly distorted and wrapped in hostility. Its main purpose it to advise anti-Palestinian activists how to “expose” me. Parts of it are quite complimentary though: “When Ali Abunimah comes to your campus, be prepared for a sophisticated, smooth advocate of radical Palestinian positions.” It warns that my “calmness, highbrow style and constant references to international law and human rights cannot conceal [my] intense hostility about the very founding of Israel… .”

The most interesting part is the advice on what questions to ask to confound me:

Though Abunimah seems calm and even reasonable, he is extremely radical. When countering him, maintain your own composure and be as rational as he is. He has written many article [sic] and made many public statements. Use his own words to expose and challenge him.

But none of the questions designed to “expose” me are particularly difficult to answer — I answer them at almost every lecture I give and I am more than happy to do so again. Mr. Jacobs is welcome to come and ask them in person and need not circulate them secretly to encourage others to do so as if they were spontaneous and not part of a well-funded and planned hasbara operation.

It’s worth recalling that StandWithUs has worked closely with the Israeli government and acted as a public relations arm for the Israeli army to help prettify it following the war crimes and crimes against humanity it committed in the Gaza Strip in early 2009 and thoroughly documented by the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict chaired by Judge Richard Goldstone.

Activists at a recent StandWithUS sponsored rally in San Francisco also shouted ugly anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian slogans and threats at members of the peace and justice groups Bay Area Women in Black and Jewish Voice for Peace.

What the StandWithUs dossier reveals is that in the absence of any credible arguments to defend Israel’s occupation, violent ethnic cleansing and colonization of Palestinian land, war crimes and crimes against humanity, its rank racism and apartheid, and the growing religious extremism motivating its politics, Israel’s defenders must rely on a strategy of ad hominem attacks.

Many of StandWithUs’s tactics would appear to come straight from the “sabotage” and “attack” playbook of Israel’s Reut Institute. These include a StandWithUs produced video that personally targets me and other advocates of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel in an attempt to discredit BDS.

The video and the dossier also fit the strategy advocated by several anti-Palestinian outfits of “naming and shaming” so-called “delegitimizers” of Israel.

But here is the problem. There is no shame in standing up for universal human rights for everyone in historic Palestine, international law, equality and peace. It is those who deny the Nakba, defend colonization, ethnic cleansing and apartheid, and offer apologias and lies to justify war crimes and crimes against humanity who should be ashamed.

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