THE LAST PASSOVER
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THE LAST PASSOVER

April 7, 2001

JEWISH VOICES OF OPPOSITION TO ISRAELI POLICIES

"Is this the last Passover that I will celebrate? My heart is not in the celebration this year. And it can never be again until freedom for Jews is also freedom for Palestinians."

MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 4/07: For many Israel has usurpsed and sullied the very word "Jewish", calling itself as it does a "Jewish State". And in the US, still the largest community of Jews in the world, the "Israeli/Jewish lobby" and the big national Jewish organizations have done much the same, alienating many Jews from their own and causing many non-Jews, especially Arabs and Muslims, to shun and distrust nearly all persons who are "Jewish", even though many of the most outspoken voices of serious and principled dissent against Israeli policies have been and are Jewish -- Rodinson, Chomsky, Falk, Ben-Veniste, Shahak, Flapan, Morris, Schlaim, and so many others.

Passover, which begins today, is a Jewish celebration of "liberation" and "freedom". And yet most Jews around the world will attend their sedars without a serious appreciation of how at this time in history it is they themselves who have created a neo-Apartheid situation in the once Holy Land, complete with ghettos, pogroms, racism, and militarism -- a situation which indeed can be sadly and tragically compared to those who oppressed the Jewish people at other times in history.

This article by Professor Marc Ellis is very timely, even if actually considerably restrained in view of what is quite literally happening at the moment. And the unique video documentaries WE DARE TO SPEAK and PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD - made by Americans Jews in support of the Palestinian Intifada to support their own struggle for liberation and freedom -- can be viewed at http://www.MiddleEast.Org/video.htm

THE LAST PASSOVER

Marc H. Ellis

This weeks Jews all over the world Jews celebrate Passover, the ancient festival commemorating the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. The narrative of liberation is read within the context of food and fellowship. As Jews we are commanded to place ourselves in the original struggle to be free, to experience the suffering and hope of the ancient Israelites as they did, to see this ancient liberation as our own. Despite the plagues and death, the wanderings in the desert and admonishments of God, Passover is a festive holiday. Food and wine is plentiful. Family and friends come together.

How we celebrate our freedom in the past with the complexities of the present is always a challenge. Over time as Jews became free, struggles of other peoples were mentioned in the Seder meal. As a child being raised in the 1950's and 60's, at Passover we incorporated the civil rights struggle into our narrative.

In the 1980's and 90's there were specific Passover narratives featuring the struggle of women, freedom movements in Central America and elsewhere. And in some Jewish homes and synagogues, Palestinians were featured as a people struggling for liberation. There is hope in remembrance applied to the present. If we are there in Egypt demanding our freedom, the Passover story accompanies us as we demand freedom now. Freedom is interdependent, across time and community boundaries. No one is truly free if others are not also free.

Today with Israeli gunships daily firing rockets into defenseless Palestinian towns, cities and refugee camps, it is difficult to accept the Passover narrative in its deepest implications. We as Jews are free, are "in Jerusalem, "but is that freedom at the expense of others? If Palestinians are being taught the "lesson" of opposing Israeli power and standing up for their rights and dignity, if the message from the Israeli government to the Palestinian people is surrender or die - a message not unfamiliar to Jews - do we repeat this story at the Passover table?

Most Jews will be silent about the helicopter gunships at Passover. Since the beginning of the most recent Palestinian uprising in November, Jewish organizations have placed full-page paid statements in newspapers around the country. They trumpet Israel's desire for peace, call for Jewish unity and castigate Palestinian terrorism and the deficiencies of Palestinian leadership. These statements will continue to be published during the Passover season.

The call for Jewish unity is a caution against Jewish dissent and the dissent of others who see the Passover story as embodying their own struggle today. Should we as Jews celebrate our own liberation while being silent about or even denigrating the Palestinian struggle? Are the helicopter gunships guarding Jews in Israel and Jews around the world on these Passover nights? Or are these gunships a symbol of our own need to reconsider the road we as Jews are traveling?

War is war, and in the midst of war few rules of civility are left unbroken. But is the expansion of Israel through settlements, land confiscations, assassination squads and the terror of exploding rockets, a war Jews want to fight, should fight or can be silent about under the guise of unity?

Can we recall the ancient struggle for freedom as our own and praise the violence of Israel as justified? As our own? Or are we, while speaking of our liberation struggle, undermining its essential meaning, that we and all peoples should be free?

During these days of celebration I will remember my first Palestinian friend, Nyaela Ayed, who was murdered in Jerusalem in 1999. A health advocate and planner who studied in the United States and was known by all as a gentle and principled person, I last saw Nyaela in Jerusalem in 1998 and spent many hours speaking to her about her life and the future of her people. I also visited the land her family owned in Jerusalem that Jewish settlers coveted. These settlers were willing to pay large sums of money for a small piece of land that would then forever be removed from Nyaela's family and from her people. The Ayed's refused to sell the land. A short time later, Nyaela was murdered, a single stab wound to the heart, a professional execution.

It was during Passover last year that I learned of her death and visited her mother and sisters one morning in the same home where I had previously visited with Nyaela. In the afternoon, I went to Nyaela's grave just outside of the walls of the old city. In ancient understandings of Islam, those buried there are to be among the first resurrected in the last days, in contemporary Palestinian life Nyaela was designated a martyr, her grave sealed with the love of a grateful people.

This Passover I remember Nyaela and all those Palestinians known and unknown to me. As helicopter gunships reign terror on a defenseless people, I remember the faces and cries of a people whose freedom is integral to my own and to that of my people.

Is this the last Passover that I will celebrate? My heart is not in the celebration this year. And it can never be again until freedom for Jews is also freedom for Palestinians.

What do I answer my children when they ask the simple and difficult questions they are commanded to ask as we gather to tell the story of our origins thousands of years ago? That helicopter gunships are like the parting of the sea? That Ariel Sharon is like Moses leading us through the difficult times of desert and rebellion?

I no longer have the answers to their questions. But I will respond as a Jew in the only way possible today. That the Palestinians are part of our story of liberation and until they are free, we are not.

* Marc H. Ellis is University Professor of American and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for American and Jewish Studies at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. The author can be reached at Marc@MiddleEast.Org


April 2001


Magazine



ARAB-AMERICANS - PATHETIC STATE OF AFFAIRS
(April 30, 2001)
Regular readers of MER won't be all that surprised; though many others will be, especially those who misguidedly and in many cases sincerely give their money, support, and most of all their hopes to these pathetic groups.

THE DARK SIDE OF ISRAELI INDEPENDENCE Day
(April 30, 2001)
Leave it to the Arab Americans to screw things up all the time. As the iconoclastic Israel writer Israel Shamir said as he prematurely departed American shores a few days ago: "With such Palestinian activists, who needs the Israeli lobby?"

ABDULLAH AND THE CIA - LONG HISTORICAL CONSPIRACY AGAINST PALESTINIANS
(April 30, 2001)
The Israelis and the Americans are busy using the Mubarak Regime in Egypt and the Hashemite Regime in Jordan in an increasingly desperate attempt to quash Intifada II and create still more years for the Israelis to consolidate and make permanent their grip on the Palestinians.

WAR MACHINES ON THE MARCH - MER FLASHBACK
(April 29, 2001)
Before the Second Intifada began, before last year's aborted Camp David fiasco, before this year's sweeping victory of Ariel Sharon and the attempt to then position Ehud Barak as Defense Minister, MER was already writing about what was to come while most of the media was sidetracked with and seduced by "the peace process."

THE "APARTHEID PEACE" REMAINS THE GAME BEING PLAYED
(April 28, 2001)
They -- the same personalities representing the same countries that created this "Apartheid Peace" and its resultant intensified uprising against it -- are at it again.

THE SLAUGHTER IN ALGERIA
(April 28, 2001)
This book contains shocking testimony about what is happening inside a country where, according to reliable estimates, more than 150,000 of its citizens have been slaughtered during the past decade.

THE ARAB AMERICAN and JEWISH AMERICAN SCENES
(April 27, 2001)
You gotta love all these scams that so many so tragically so often fall for -- especially the confused and naive Arab Americans.

THE GAZA CONCENTRATION CAMP
(April 27, 2001)
Over the years the Israelis have essentially turned The Gaza Strip from a Ghetto to a kind of Concentration Camp. In this small area today live more than 1 million Palestinians, a large number of whom have never been able to leave and reenter.

ARAFAT'S ESCAPE PLAN - MER FLASHBACK
(April 26, 2001)
More than $100 million dollars in a secret bank account set up by the Israelis and designed to make it possible for Arafat and friends to flee a coup and set up a "government in exile"?

SHA'ATH and PERES DESERVE EACH OTHER -- BUT HOW TRAGIC FOR THE PALESTINIANS
(April 26, 2001)
Sharon is sending Peres to Cairo, and Sha'ath visiting Sweden says there is a "crack in the wall of darkensss."

BERKELEY STUDENTS TAKE THE LEAD
(April 25, 2001)
With the total failure of the Arab American organizations at the national level, and of course provoked now by an Intifada II that is half a year old and the election of Ariel Sharon as PM in Israel, the grassroots are finally stirring a little, students in the lead as at other times in history.

CASINO FIRST!
(April 25, 2001)
In the old days of Intifada I Yossi Beilin and Shimon Peres were busy pursuing their "Gaza First" strategy. It was never presented, but always designed, as a kind of trap for the Palestinians; and it was continually rejected by the Palestinian negotiating team that went to Madrid and then Washington, headed by Dr. Haider Abdul-Shafi.

Washington Scene: THE TRAGIC STATE OF ARAB AMERICAN AFFAIRS
(April 25, 2001)
Three things this week underscored the pathetically tragic state of affairs for the Arab American community which remains, well, politically retarded and as a result miserably weak...not to mention oh so co-opted and manipulated.

ISRAEL & TURKEY - MAJOR MILITARY ALLIANCE
(April 25, 2001)
While the misnomered "peace process" continues to dominate the news, arms continue to flood into the Middle East region and possible war preparations are underway.

SHIMON PERES - NOW HOLOCAUST DENIER!
(April 23, 2001)
For the past few years we have mentioned the great importance of the new military axis in the Middle East that adds Turkey's size and power to the U.S.-Israeli alliance that dominates and controls the region.

ARAFAT'S TRAVEL NOW RESTRICTED - MAYBE ON PURPOSE?
(April 23, 2001)
The front-page Washington Post article over the weekend about what the Israelis are up to helps reveal what the new General in charge of the Israeli Army, Ariel Sharon, is attempting to accomplish.

BLOODY SUNDAY AS SIX BOMBS ROCK ISRAEL, GAZA
(April 22, 2001)
Two explosions hit Israel over the space of several hours, and four bombs were detonated in Gaza City which is under Palestinian control.

TERROR IN TEL AVIV TODAY AS US PREPARES FOR BIOLOGICAL ATTACK
(April 22, 2001)
Like so many things in life, terror is a two-edged sword. No doubt the Israelis will use today's bomb blast in Tel Aviv to still further clamp down on and try to choke the Palestinians into submission.

ISRAEL'S ETHNIC CLEANSING SECRETS
(April 21, 2001)
Israel's prime minister-elect, in the throes of forming a new government, is known to be a militant nationalist. Ariel Sharon's view of history is that the Zionists unequivocally have justice on their side in the conflict over what is known to Jews as the Land of Israel and to Palestinians as Palestine.

HISTORIC JEWISH STATEMENT SUPPORTING PALESTINIAN INTIFADA
(April 21, 2001)
Two months after the first Palestinian Intifada began in December 1987, a group of professionals, all American Jews including many professors and lawyers, joined together to publish as a full page ad in THE NATION Magazine of 13 February 1988 this historic statement: "Time To Dissociate From Israel"

ARAB AMERICANS STILL TERRIBLY WEAK
(April 20, 2001)
Three things this week underscored the pathetically tragic state of affairs for the Arab American community which remains, well, politically retarded and as a result miserably weak...not to mention oh so co-opted and manipulated.

FROM THE FRONT
(April 19, 2001)
Attempts by Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, to crush Palestinian violence by adopting still harsher military tactics came to nought last night, after guerrillas in the Gaza Strip fired more mortars into Israel, and one of the worst battles for months erupted on the edge of Bethlehem.

MUBARAK - MORE FRIGHTENED THAN ANGRY OR CREDIBLE
(April 19, 2001)
They use to call him the "laughing cow". Anwar Sadat made him Vice-President thinking he'd never really have to worry much about him. And he himself has never made anyone Vice-President fearing any and everyone.

QANA MASSACRE - 5TH ANNIVERSARY
(April 18, 2001)
It was only four years ago; but already it has been mostly forgotten -- the terrible Qana Massacre in southern Lebanon, and the atrocious cover-up by Israel, the U.S. and the U.N. that followed.

QANA REMEMBERED
(April 18, 2001)
It was five years ago today that hundreds of civilians under U.N. protection in southern Lebanon were brutally killed or maimed by the Israeli Army. With Shimon Peres then Prime Minister after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the Israelis desperately tried to cover it all up and pretend it was just a mistake of war.

LATEST NEWS FROM THE FRONTS
(April 17, 2001)
With a heavy rocket barrage, Israel seized nearly a square mile of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, retaking Palestinian-controlled territory for the first time since 1994 in retaliation for a mortar attack on a small Israeli desert town.

ROBERT FISK SPEAKS UP OH SO THOUGHTFULLY AND COURAGEOUSLY
(April 17, 2001)
The famous American Jewish iconoclastic journalist Izzy Stone (I.F.Stone) once told me over a long dinner in my apartment that the role of real and serious journalists in our day and age needed to be "to afflict the comfortable and to comfort the afflicted."

ISRAEL STRIKES STILL HARDER, IMPOTENT ARAB "CLIENT REGIMES" COWER
(April 17, 2001)
We shouldn't be surprised what the Israelis are doing. Ehud Barak may have hesitated, but after all in the end both he and Shimon Peres publicly gave their endorsements to Ariel Sharon and Sharon has been warning and threatening to do just such things for a very long time.

HASHEMITES CONTINUE TO COLLABORATE
(April 16, 2001)
Today the Jordanian Foreign Minister goes to Israel even as Israeli bombs kill Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians and the whole region is being humbled and shaken by the Israeli Generals, accused war criminal Ariel Sharon now in charge.

CIA BUGS ARAFAT AND ALL P.A. LEADERSHIP
(April 14, 2001)
Arafat has been paid a very great amount of money for the deals he signed in Washington, Cairo, Sharm, Hebron, et. al. He, his family (the Tawils), and top cronies like Nabil Shaath, Abu Mazen, et. al., now have hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts as a result.

EPILOGUE TO A DECADE - A SERIOUS ISRAELI ANALYSIS
(April 14, 2001)
From what would usually be called the far far left in Israel and whose voice is rarely heard these days beyond their own circles -- but which we would term the serious, sophisticated, highly committed and principled Israeli intelligentsia -- there is a magazine published every other month called "Challenge".

EASTER IN THE "HOLY LAND"
(April 13, 2001)
Two thousand years ago on the ancient streets of Jerusalem it was the Roman army in control, the Jewish people under occupation, and Jesus, a heretical Jewish rabbi, heading to his crucifixation as a result of "official" Jewish and Roman cooperation.

DEATH MY REMOTE CONTROL AS HIT SQUADES RETURN
(April 13, 2001)
Israel's strategy has always been to overwhelm and suffocate the Palestinians. At various times different tactics have been used ranging from diplomacy to brutality, from talk of "Statehood" to the imposition of neo-Apartheid.

ISRAELI ARMY ON THE RAMPAGE
(April 12, 2001)
A seven-year-old Palestinian girl was shot in the face by an Israeli rubber bullet while at school in the West Bank village of al-Khader when clashes broke out nearby, medical sources said.

IT'S WAR, MURDER, ASSASSINATIONS AND BEATINGS
(April 12, 2001)
With Robert Fisk, based out of Beirut and the longest serving Western journalist in the region, and Phil Reeves among the Palestinians and the Israelis, The Independent is usually heads above the English rest in both its coverage and analysis.

ISRAELIS ATTACK EVEN MORE BOLDLY
(April 11, 2001)
The Israelis won't be returning to "Zone A"; why should they? After all one of the major goals of the Madrid-Oslo "Peace Process" was to get the Palestinians into isolated and controlled "autonomous population centers" and let them fend for themselves.

ISRAEL BEGINS MINI INVASION STRATEGY
(April 11, 2001)
The Israelis have changed Generals, and the new master General Ariel Sharon is doing things his way. But then nearly everyone else among the Israeli elite has lined up right behind him.

ABDULLAH - KING OF JORDAN, AGENT OF THE ANGLO-AMERICANS
(April 11, 2001)
Abdullah II, ruler of Jordan, once called TransJordan, once called the East Bank of Palestine, is once again in Washington. The pattern is all too familiar.

ISRAELIS START USING GROUND TO GROUND MISSILES TO ATTACK PALESTINIANS
(April 10, 2001)
Starting yesterday, and for the first time in the occupied territories against the Palestinians, the Israelies have begun to use surface to surface missiles. In doing so the Israelis are once again throwing down the gauntlet to the entire Arab and Muslim world.

RACISM, MILITARISM, NEO-NAZISM IN THE "JEWISH STATE"
(April 10, 2001)
Racism, militarism, and a peculiar form of Israeli neo-Nazism thrives in today "Jewish State". Harsh conclusions, true; but buttressed by considerable evidence, both factual and ideological.

"VOICE OF AMERICA" EXPANDING TOWARDS CRUCIAL MIDDLE EAST
(April 9, 2001)
Just a few years ago, after the original Camp David agreement in 1978, the joke around Cairo was that the "Voice of America" was really all those loud muffler-broken U.S-supplied buses helping choke, or unchoke depending on your perspective, Cairo's teeming streets.

BARAK AND SHARON PLAN NEXT WAR
(April 9, 2001)
Long before anyone even thought Ariel Sharon might become Israeli Prime Minister... Long before anyone even thought Shimon Peres would serve as Sharon's Foreign Minister... While the "Peace Process" and plans for "Camp David II" were riding high... MER was writing about the coming war being planned by Generals Barak and Sharon in tandem.

DEIR YASSIN REMEMBERED AND "THE QUILT"
(April 8, 2001)
"It's so unfair... After 50 years the Israelis have nuclear weapons, the Mossad, Hollywood, a kosher White House, and their own Assistant Secretary of State; while the Arabs have corruption, secret-police, pathetic Arab- American organizations, Arafat, and the 50th anniversary quilt!"

THE PATHETIC ARAFAT - GIVER AND BEGGAR
(April 8, 2001)
This guy Arafat, and those who advise him, are truly getting ore pathetic all the time. We now learn that while his people suffer even worse than before as a result of what he and his cronies have done, and not done, Arafat has been busy giving expensive jewelry gifts to the former American President, First Lady, and Secretary of State (and no doubt there is a larger list!).

PASSOVER IN THE TIME OF THE INTIFADA
(April 8, 2001)
"I have been invited to a neighbor's Seder this year, and in my fantasy I have thought that I would rather sit on a box at home by myself in the dark with my face to the wall for the length of time the Seder lasts, out of a mixture of shame and protest against Israel's denial of freedom to her Palestinian neighbors."

THE LAST PASSOVER
(April 7, 2001)
"Is this the last Passover that I will celebrate? My heart is not in the celebration this year. And it can never be again until freedom for Jews is also freedom for Palestinians."

THE NEXT EXPULSION OF THE PALESTINIANS?
(April 7, 2001)
The effect of the four-month-old al-Aqsa intifada has been to radicalize and polarize all sides and thus the current situation poses a great danger to the Palestinian people.

ISRAELIS AND U.S. CONGRESS POUND PALESTINIANS
(April 6, 2001)
What is happening now is the result of all the past years of ineptitude, corruption, stupidities, and mistakes by the the various Arab "client regimes", Yasser Arafat's included of course, as well as from the various "client organizations" allied with them, especially in the US.

ISRAELIS BUILD, AMERICANS DECEIVE, ARABS WINK AND HIDE
(April 6, 2001)
This little game has gone on quite literally for decades now. The Israelis twist and turn, delay and obfuscate, but all the while push forward. The Americans say one thing and do another, and when the going gets hot they provide a little criticism of Israel for the Arab media but reserve the important things that really matter for ongoing and escalating cooperation with the Israelis.

"RIGHT OF RETURN" AMERICAN STYLE - PART 4
(April 5, 2001)
This time they are going to march down a largely weekend deserted street in New York City, after gathering at a closed Israeli Consulate, to listen to a group of largely unknown speakers familiar only to themselves, with no strategy other than to gather among themselves to listen to themselves and to be able to say for themselves that they are doing something important...

ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT AGAINST TOP THREE ARAFAT PEOPLE?
(April 5, 2001)
Believing the official Israelis is all but impossible at this point; so one has to do the best one can to put together the pieces in ways that make sense. What happened yesterday was probably not an actual assassination attempt -- if that's what the Israelis wanted to do to these three they have the capabilities to do so and not to miss.

THE JORDANIAN POLICE STATE
(April 4, 2001)
About five days before the convening of the Arab Summit in Amman, dozens of masked security men armed to the teeth, along with officers of the Intelligence service (mukhabarat), stormed the house of Siajj Said Daraghmeh near Jabri on the Gardens Street in Amman.

"RIGHT OF RETURN" AMERICAN STYLE - PART 3
(April 4, 2001)
Saturday a few thousand Arab Americans are planning to make it to Washington "demanding" the "Right of Return" for Palestinian refugees. What should one think about this?

"RIGHT OF RETURN" CONF A "DISASTER" - PART 2
(April 3, 2001)
The region itself has corrupt and incompetent "client regimes", now including that of Yasser Arafat. And that explains a great deal why such an important and rich part of the world with over 200 million people is so regularly humbled and bleeding.

"RIGHT OF RETURN" AMERICAN STYLE - PART 1
(April 3, 2001)
This year the selected slogan for Arab Americans is "the Right of Return". A couple of years ago at the time of the 50th anniversary of the 1948 war -- the "nakba", the "disaster" -- the slogan was "the Quilt".

"INVASION" PREPARATIONS AS MUBARAK COMES COLLECTING
(April 2, 2001)
Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has come to Washington once again. His visits have become customary to in a sense collect his allowance and meet with his new American keepers, which are in fact really the old Bush crowd he is very familiar with.

PERES 'MORE AGGRESSIVE' THAN SHARON
(April 2, 2001)
"Peres is more aggressive than I am, (said Sharon). "Peres responded (to the Cabinet), "Yes, he had to restrain me this time."

PLOT TO KILL ARAFAT'S TOP PEOPLE
(April 1, 2001)
Yesterday the Senior U.S. Senator from New York, Chuck Shumer, went before the Washington cameras to denounce Yasser Arafat as a "terrorist" and demand he comply with U.S./Israeli dictate or else.

ANOTHER ARAB SUMMIT COMES AND GOES
(April 1, 2001)
If the demonstrators going to the Palestinian Rally in New York next weekend had any guts, and any smarts, after they gather at the Israeli Consulate they would move on and conduct their serious shouting where the Arab Ambassadors and the Arab League hang their sorry hats.




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