A Tale of Two Accordionists

Robert Resnik is one of the most well-known figures in the Vermont folk music scene, a multi-instrumentalist and the host of the fine Vermont Public Radio show All the Traditions. We have been friendly acquaintances for years. Robert has favorably reviewed my albums, helped me to get gigs, and generally encouraged my musical development. I have always enjoyed dropping in on him at the library were he works as a reference librarian, to geek-out about accordions, a subject of which we never tire. I have always spoken well of him to others. All of this good will came quickly to an end when I began to speak openly about Israel and Palestine. I am planning to give a talk this weekend about the Gaza Freedom March, and was surprised when the director of the studio where I will be giving my presentation received a rather snide email from Robert, which brought about the following exchange. I post it here because it is illustrative of the way the “antisemitism” bomb is thrown around casually whenever anyone talks about what Israel is doing to the Palestinians, even by otherwise reasonable, liberal people. My friend Yonatan calls such people PEPsis, which stands for Progressive Except Palestine. Needless to say, no one is ever hysterically accused of “anti-Arabism” (yes, I know Arabs are Semites too, but I’ll ignore that for reasons of clarity) for criticizing the actions of an Arab government.

Robert: oooo- does this mean I get another chance to hear that groovy young “Klezmer” musician David Symons go on and on about how he doesn’t like Jews….?

Me: Hi Robert,

It’s come to my attention that you have been saying some extremely nasty and unfounded things about me behind my back, no doubt because of my public criticism of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. This is particularly sad for me, as I had considered you a friend and respected you as colleague. I would be happy to have a rational, fact-based discussion with you sometime about the Israel/Palestine conflict. Tell me, is it really useful or necessary to call me names? I can’t imagine encountering such a reaction were I talking about any other heavily-documented abuses committed by any other nation. Are you interested in human rights, or only Jewish rights? My views are not especially controversial or extreme. My information comes from mainstream human rights groups like Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, or the Israeli group B’Tselem, or the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, or from U.N. reports, or from the pages of Ha’aretz. Are you willing to believe that these organizations are simply made up of “Jew haters”? I have also visited the occupied territories (as well as Israel) and seen first-hand the daily, run-of-the-mill terror that is has been inflicted on the Palestinians there by soldiers, settlers, and the Israeli bureaucracy for the past 43 years. One doesn’t have even have to look for it. Anyone who spends even a day in the West Bank with open eyes, an open mind and heart will be overwhelmed by the clear and ubiquitous injustice of the situation, to say nothing of Gaza, next to which the West Bank is a paradise by comparison.

I believe in reading widely and skeptically, and since the horror I felt watching Israel’s offensive in Gaza last year, this conflict has been my main area of study and concern. However much you may disagree with my conclusions, I would hope that you could at least assume that my activism is motivated by a genuine concern for human beings and a desire to help, in some small way, to end a conflict in which my own government and taxes play such a decisive role. To call me a “Jew-hater” without basis is irresponsible, hateful, and slanderous. It’s ridiculous. I have never called someone an “Arab-hater” because they criticized the Hamas government or some other Arab government, or a “Muslim-hater” or “Persian-hater” because they criticized Iran. If you, too, would like this conflict to end, wouldn’t it be more productive to attempt a rational, respectful discourse? I would like to invite you come to my talk on Saturday and ask dissenting questions. If you would prefer not to do that, I would be happy to meet with you one-on-one to talk about the issue. Please, our little folk music community is much too small for such name-calling.

Respectfully Yours,
David

Robert: Hi David,

No, I haven’t called you a “jew hater” – yet.

You’ll have to forgive some of us who barely escaped being furnace fuel
for the Nazis from being a bit sensitive – being anti-Israel means the
same as  being anti-Jew in much of the world – I just spent 2 weeks in
Barcelona, where they hacked and burned the Jewish community out of the
city about 200 years before Ferdinand and Isabella outlawed and threw the
Jews out of Spain once and for all.  You won’t catch me defending many of
the things that the Israelis have done (or for that matter, what everyone
on all sides have done in the Middle East), but you should choose your
words and deeds carefully.  Plenty of people think you are Jewish because
of the music you choose to play, which gives your words more weight, and a
greater burden of responsibility for what you say.   I have always
respected you as a musician, and have also told you before that I am not
interested in your politics.  When you provide extra fuel for
anti-Semites, however, I will do what I can to stand in your way.

Robert Resnik

Me: Robert,

You’re right. You did not say “Jew hater”. I remembered incorrectly. What you said was that I don’t like Jews, which would seem to be almost the same thing. You say that you respect my music, yet call me a “klezmer” musician in quotation marks of suspicion. Am I no longer a real klezmer musician because I have decided to speak out about Israel’s crimes? Also, I have never in any way represented myself as being Jewish any more than you are pretending to be Irish. Whenever anyone has asked me if there is any connection between the music I play and my advocacy of Palestinian rights, my answer has always been that there is no connection, except perhaps for the very tenuous connection of wanting to bring some joy into the world through music, and my discomfort with the fact that millions of people are being denied joy or any semblance of a normal life because they happened to be born Palestinian. Also, I suppose my interest in Jewish music led me to a general interest in modern Jewish history, and in the nazi holocaust in particular, and that I concluded that the moral challenge it posed was not to stand around condemning already near-universally condemned crimes of the past, which takes no courage and which anyone can do without lifting a finger, and is no help to the victims now in any case, but rather to confront the outrages of my own time. There is no shortage of injustice and cruelty in the world, and I wouldn’t claim that the plight of Palestinians or the crimes of Israel are the worst of them, nor do I think its even appropriate to compare the suffering of one oppressed people with that of another. Still, I think it is fair to say that, after our own wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there is not another major crime in the world today in which my own country is so deeply complicit. When I speak about these things, it is not as a Jew or a Gentile, but as a human being and an American. And yes, I do choose my words carefully. I have not said anything that I am not prepared to back up with evidence, or else admit was a mistake (see the beginning of this letter). Can you say the same, Robert? Forgive me for what you will no doubt see as my insensitivity, but might I suggest that it’s just a teeny, tiny bit of hyperbole to say that you “barely escaped” being incinerated by the Nazis? I could be mistaken about your biography, but I remember reading on the VPR website that your mother’s family came to Vermont in the 1880’s, and if you are old enough to have lived through World War 2, then you are a remarkably well-preserved man. I have known people who came much closer than you to being killed by the Nazis who took from that experience the lesson that we must “never again” remain silent while a whole civilization is being destroyed in front of our eyes, whether that civilization is Jewish or otherwise, whether people or being herded into gas chambers or otherwise. That’s not an exaggeration, by the way. I ask you to take a little time to read some of the credible reports coming out of Gaza, in which 1.5 million people have been imprisoned and reduced to a “subhuman existence” (John Ging, director of operations for the UN Refugee and Works agency said this in 2008, even before the Israeli attack made things immeasurably worse). I was in Cairo recently with an 85 year-old holocaust survivor, a wonderful woman named Hedy Epstein, who went on a hunger strike to try to compel the Egyptian government to let us into Gaza to deliver aid and march against the blockade. This is a woman who’s parents and entire family were exterminated, who escaped from Germany at the age of 12 by the skin of her teeth and who literally could not bear the thought of what Israel is doing to the people of Gaza. When I was in the West Bank, at a demonstration on land being confiscated by Israel to build yet another illegal settlement, I met an Israeli man whose daughter had been murdered by a Palestinian suicide bomber. I also met his two sons a couple of days later. I get choked up just writing about this family. All of them were passionately committed to ending the occupation, all the more so because of the unimaginable loss they had suffered, the same loss that so many more Palestinians have had to endure. If an Israeli man who has lost his daughter can understand that Palestinian terror does not happen for no reason, or because of “antisemitism”, but against a context of incomparably greater Israeli terror and dispossession, why can’t Americans, who are so far from danger, see this? And no, I don’t accept that being “anti-Israel” (which I am not, by the way, any more than I am “anti-American”) is the same thing as being “anti-Jew”. Antisemitism is characterized by irrationality, nonsense like “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and so forth. There are perfectly rational reasons for opposing, even militantly opposing, Israel’s very real and well-documented crimes, particularly if you are on the receiving end of them. No one in their right mind today would accuse Native Americans of “anti-Europeanism”, though they certainly committed atrocities in their battle to hold onto their land. If you are so concerned about fuel being given to anti-Semites, you should be attacking the policies of the State of Israel, not people who are trying to call attention to them. You say that being possibly mistaken for a Jew gives my words more weight and places on me a greater burden of responsibility for what I say. If that is the case, then you, as a real Jew, have an even greater responsibility to peer through the veil of propaganda learn the truth about what Israel is doing to the Palestinians in the name of all Jews, and to loudly denounce it. I know that you have told me you are not interested in my politics, and I have respected that, but if you are going to go around telling people that I don’t like Jews, you are going to get a response from me. I assumed that you would prefer a reasoned and thoughtful one to a brief obscenity.

Respectfully Yours,
David

Robert: I won’t tell anyone anything more about you – good luck.

And there our dialogue, and friendship, appears to have ended.

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2 Responses to “A Tale of Two Accordionists”

  1. Al Salzman Says:

    Whatever happened to historical context? In these emotionally charged debates slinging anecdotal sound bites does
    not help. First, to David: As a diaspora Jew I do not hesitate to condemn certain Israeli policies particularly of the right such as Likud, and certainly the religious fascists like Shas and the outlawed Kach party. The historical context is vital. Although the Shoah has disappeared down the memory black hole of most people it continues to inform every Jew either secular humanists, like myself, or haredim. There is much talk about the fine line between being anti-Israel and being anti-semitic and indeed often, the line disappears when stereotypic canards are leveled at the whole country, discounting that Israel is a Democracy and therefore does not speak with one voice. The peace movement is still vocal. Groups like B’Telem are a good example. By the way, I find it hard to name one democracy in the Arab world.

    For two thousand years, anti-semitism was central to European culture – I stress CENTRAL! It’s a familiar story – expulsions, pogroms, ghettos, degradation under so-called Christians and Muslims alike. Hitler reaped the fruits of that hatred. To underscore that hatred among Arabs, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem supported Hitler and spent WWII as his guest in Berlin. Understand me, that does not justify inhumane behavior against the enemies of Israel. It was not the Jews who went to war, four times, over the legitimate division of the land by the UN in 1948. At the Camp David talks between Ehud Barak and Yassir Arafat, Barak was willing to concede, according to Clinton, 98% of what Arafat demanded, including East Jerusalem as the seat of a Palestinian State and a share of the Temple Mount so long as the PLO would allow free access. The ostensible reason for the failure of the talks was Arafat’s insistance on the law of return for displaced Palestinians, which was geo-politically not an option. It’s interesting that few people who argue for the right-of-return for Palestinians, an estimated 800 thousand, know that over a million Jews were displaced from Morroco, Lybia, Egypt, Syria and other Arab states, without compensation. I believe that the real reason for Arafat’s intransigence was the deep seated hatred for Israel among his handlers i.e. Hezbollah and ultimately Iran, who would take nothing less than the extermination of the ‘Jewish entity’! I find it compelling that the legendary hostility between Sunni and Shia melts away where Israel is concerned. Hardline Shiite Iran, although Persian, makes common cause with Sunni Hamas to exterminate Israel. In regard to the ‘law of return’ for Palestinians, Consider Joan Peter’s book From Time Immemorial which deals with the rather amorphous flux of immigration and emmigration in the area for millennia. Though the book has been criticized for faulty research it makes an interesting point.
    In my view, the Arab shieks, princes, strongmen -Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan have manipulated the Palestinians to win world opinion against Israel whom they see as a threat to their power. The Saudis with their fundementalist brand of Islam, Wahaabism, and who have fomented terrorism around the world,use Israel as a diversion from their own record of human rights abuses. Then, of course, there is the oil-oil-oil, with which these dictators bribe the world and grease world opinion against Israel.

    But as much as I support Israel, I would not let her get away with crimes against humanity and neither would the vast majority of Israelis. Israel has over reacted and serious mistakes have been made but the record as revealed in the Goldstone Report is significantly biased against Israel. Did Hamas use mosques for weapons storage? Did they use civilian homes as bunkers? How many rockets were fired into Israel? Playing the morbid body count game goes on. Who kills more children? Or women? Fatah on the West Bank will shortly name a public square to honor a young woman suicide attacker who commandeered a bus and killed 37 civilians.

    As for the apartheid analogy, it is an egregious distortion. 20% of Israeli’s are arabs, christians and druze and there is no public policy which denies them access to buses, restaurants and other public places. I’m not saying there isn’t a degree of discrimination against this minority but it does not reflect government policy. Just a few weeks ago the Israeli Supreme Court over-ruled a IDF(military) order to restrict Palestinians from using a particular road between villages. I can’t imagine a Jew in any Arab country having the same recourse to the law. That incident in itself speaks volumes about the effort in Israel to follow the rule of law – largely absent among its enemies!

  2. klezhobo Says:

    Dear Al,

    I agree that we should try to avoid ” slinging anecdotal sound bites” whenever possible. I prefer reasoned discussion, personally, and I’ll try to respond to all of your points, though it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with the “historical context”. It’s revealing that the one book you mention, “From Time Immemorial”, has been been almost universally regarded as a fraud, from its first page to its last, for at least 20 years. No one who is serious about studying this conflict regards this book as anything other than a joke. People who learn history from Joan Peters should not be delivering lectures about the “historical context”. I would like to have a serious and reasonable conversation with you, but if your knowledge of the history is based on hoaxes, I can no more do so than I could with someone who thought that “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” “makes an interesting point”. I don’t have the patience to go over the many distortions and outright fabrications of the historical record that this book contains, but if you would like to read a meticulous, scholarly-to-the-point-of-tedium, devastating analysis of “From Time Immemorial”, I recommend Norman Finkelstein’s expose of the book, which can be found in an anthology called “Blaming the Victims”, and in his own book, “Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict”.

    Taking your other points more or less in order:

    * It’s ridiculous to say that “the Shoah has disappeared down the memory black hole of most people”. There is no other genocide in history that is so well-commemorated, that continues to get so much play. There are endless movies, books, museums, television programs, museums, memorials, university departments, etc. dedicated to the Nazi holocaust. How many films have you seen, how many books have you read, about the Armenian genocide? Israel won’t even acknowledge that it took place, because Turkey is a strong ally. I guess it’s okay to be a holocaust denier, as long as it’s someone else’s holocaust. There has been exactly one book published, in 1998, about the extermination of roughly 10 million Congolese by Belgium between 1885 and 1908. In Washington, D.C., we have a Holocaust Museum, but no museum of our own genocide of the American Indians, or a museum of American slavery. Imagine the indignation if Berlin had no Holocaust museum or memorial, but instead had a memorial dedicated to the murdered Native Americans.

    * “I find it hard to name one democracy in the Arab world”. Actually, there is at least one democracy in the Arab world. It’s called “Palestine”. In 2006, an election was held which was declared by all international monitoring groups to be free and fair, in fact, the most legitimate election in the history of the Arab world. How did the US, Israel, and the EU respond to this extraordinary breakthrough for democracy? By collectively punishing Palestinians for voting the “wrong way”. All aid to Palestine was immediately frozen, and Gaza, Hamas’ stronghold, was transformed into an enormous, open-air prison. The US, always eager to spread democracy, engineered and armed a Fatah coup to overthrow the democratically elected Hamas party, deliberately provoking a Palestinian civil war and, as everyone knows, leaving Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah in control of the West Bank. I use the word “control” advisedly, since nearly every aspect of life in the Occupied Territories (yes, Gaza is still illegally occupied, under international law) is determined by Israeli policy. “But” the Israeli/US apologists say “Hamas refuses to recognize Israel! They want to destroy the Jewish State! They must renounce violence!” What if we apply the same standards across the board? Israelis have elected government after government that do not recognize the right of Palestinians to a state. Israel has nearly destroyed Palestine. They killed more civilians in 22 days in Gaza a year and a half ago than Hamas has since it’s founding 23 years ago. Israel has certainly not renounced violence, nor does anyone expect them to. If renouncing violence were a prerequisite of legitimacy for a government, nearly every government in the world would be illegitimate, most notably ours and Israel’s. Though it has gone unreported in the US media, Hamas has been endorsing a two-state settlement (the position of the entire world excepting Israel, for over 30 years) since 2006.

    * “the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem supported Hitler, etc.” So what? Why is that relevant to the contemporary situation? Many leaders and ordinary people, including in the US (at least before Pearl Harbor) around the world openly supported Hitler. He was a powerful man. Mussolini was a lot closer to Hitler than the Mufti, as well as a far more powerful leader. Would that somehow justify Israel attacking or occupying Italy today? So much of what you write is simply an attempt to steer the subject away from what all the human rights organizations, including B’tselem, have copiously documented, namely, the victims in this conflict are, overwhelmingly, the Palestinians, and the perpetrators are, also overwhelmingly, Israeli. I encourage you to read some human rights reports, rather than the work of propagandists like Peters, Alan Dershowitz, Abba Eban, Michael Oren, Dennis Ross, etc, etc.

    * Regarding the Camp David talks, It’s clear that you know nothing about the historical record of these negotiations. The Israeli proposal would have annexed 27% of the West Bank, carving up what was left into dis-contiguous Palestinian islands, and taking most of the water resources for Israel. One glance at a map of what Israel was offering makes it clear why no Palestinian leader could possibly have accepted. Israel also required that any Palestinian state be demilitarized and defenseless, and that Israel would retain control of its airspace and reserve the right to deploy its troops in Palestine “in the event of an emergency”. Essentially, the occupation would continue in all but name. In fact, the Palestinians made extraordinary concessions at Camp David, particularly regarding the right of return of the refugees, who make up fully half the Palestinian population. It bears pointing out that, under international law, the Palestinian refugees have a legal right to return to their homes, and all of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal, according to the 2004 ruling of the International Court of Justice, the world’s highest judicial body. Taking the law as a basis for negotiations, all of the concessions were made by the Palestinians. Though the Palestinians insisted on their legal right of return for refugees, they acknowledged Israel’s demographic concern and offered that a mechanism, to be agreed upon by both sides, could be implemented which would channel most of the refugees against the option of returning to Israel. According to Madeleine Albright, Palestinian negotiators were willing to discuss a limit to the number of refugees who would be allowed to return to Israel. Israel, however, continues to disavow any responsibility for the refugee problem. In an interview in 2006, Shlomo Ben-Ami, the Israeli foreign minister at the time and one of the main actors in the Camp David talks said this: “Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David as well.”

    * “over a million Jews were displaced from Morocco, Libya, etc.” The reason so few people know about this terrible event is that it never happened. It’s true that many Jews emigrated to Israel from the Arab countries after 1948, but it would appear from reading the history that most of them did so by choice. For several decades, the standard explanation for the exodus of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes was the well-worn story, with which I’m sure you are familiar, of the “Arab radio broadcasts” telling the Palestinians to leave in order to make room for the invading Arabs armies to drive the Jews into the sea, and so forth. Though this claim had been demolished in the early 1960’s by Erskine Childers and Walid Khalidi, who pored through the back files of all the radio stations and local newspapers from the period and could find no evidence of such orders, it continued to be repeated as fact until finally laid to rest by the eminent Israeli historian Benny Morris in his 1988 book “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem”. As it was no longer possible to claim that the refugees had left voluntarily, a new propaganda paradigm was required. Thus, the “population exchange” story was invented. In fact, many Arab governments initially prohibited the Jews from leaving, because they knew that a large influx of immigrants to Israel would only strengthen the new state. The situation of Arab Jews varied widely from country to country, and I don’t pretend to be an expert on it. It’s complex, and there’s not yet a lot of very good scholarship regarding the immigration of Arab Jews to Israel. No doubt, there was discrimination and violence against Jews in some of the Arab countries, as is often the case against minorities, but there is no evidence that Arab Jews were the victims of a mass ethnic-cleansing campaign, as Palestinians were in 1948, as has been well documented by Israeli historians such as Ilan Pappe. Some interesting quotes from prominent Arab-born Israelis:

    “I have this to say: I am not a refugee. I came at the behest of Zionism, due to the pull that this land exerts, and due to the idea of redemption. Nobody is going to define me as a refugee”. – Iraqi-born Ran Cohen, former Knesset member

    “We are not refugees. [Some of us] came to this country before the state was born. We had messianic aspirations”. – Yemeni-born Yisrael Yeshayahu, former speaker of the Knesset

    “I do not regard the departure of Jews from Arab lands as that of refugees. They came here because they wanted to, as Zionists.” – Iraqi-born Shlomo Hillel, former Speaker of the Knesset

    * “the Goldstone Report is significantly biased against Israel.” What is your evidence for this claim? Goldstone’s findings are not unique. The report essentially concurs with the results of the investigations of the major human rights groups, all of whom have independent investigative teams. The Israeli assault on Gaza has been very thoroughly investigated, perhaps more so than any other single episode in the history of the conflict, and the remarkable thing is how little these reports differ from one another. What makes the Goldstone Report stand out from the other reports is not its findings, it’s who Richard Goldstone is. Goldstone is one of the most respected war crimes prosecutors in the world, who has prosecuted war crimes in Rwanda and Yugoslavia. He is an avowed, life-long Zionist who sits on the board of Hebrew University. His daughter lives in Israel. He has said that it was the lessons of the Nazi holocaust that led him to a career in international criminal law. If you are going to claim that Goldstone is biased against Israel, you need to provide some evidence. No one has yet done so. I actually agree that the Report, though extremely important, is biased, though the bias is in Israel’s favor. It may seem unfair to Israel that 9/10 of the Report deals with alleged Israeli crimes, and about 1/10 with crimes allegedly committed by Hamas, until you look at the actual balance of death and destruction on both sides. For example, Israel killed 1,419 people during its offensive, 1,167 of whom were civilians. On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers were killed, 4 of them by friendly fire, and 3 civilians were killed by rockets fired from Gaza. Israel destroyed approximately 6,000 houses in Gaza, leaving many tens of thousands of people homeless, and badly damaged many more. On the Israeli side, 1, I repeat, 1 house was “almost completely destroyed”. I could go on and on about the systematic destruction of nearly the entire public and industrial/commercial infrastructure in Gaza, though it’s all there to be read in the various reports, including Goldstone, should you choose to take the time. The main problem with the Report is that it is framed in terms of the Laws of War, yet there was no war in Gaza. There were no battles fought. There was practically no resistance, yet in the various testimonies of Israeli soldiers that have come out, again and again they talk about the “insane” amounts of firepower Israel used. For war crimes to have been committed, there must have been a war. What happened in Gaza clearly fits the definition of a massacre, and if you have the stomach to read the various reports of human rights organizations, I’m sure you will agree. As far as Hamas using mosques, hospitals, ambulances, etc. for military purposes, none of the investigations found a scrap of evidence for that. Are you going to believe the independent investigations of many international organizations, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, and others who have no direct stake in the conflict, or are you going to believe the statements of the Israeli government? For my comment regarding Hamas rocket fire into Israel and the self-defense claim, please go to my post entitled “Notes on a Debacle” and read my response to a comment from “Reality”.

    * “the apartheid analogy”. The analogy refers not just to the Israeli interior, though it’s applicable there as well. In the West Bank there are “Jewish only” roads, vastly different services, water rations, and treatment from authorities for Jews and Arabs. Armed Jewish settlers habitually terrorize Palestinians with relative impunity. I was in the West Bank recently, and the injustice is ubiquitous and undeniable. As a very minor example, I was in a town that had been trying to connect to the power grid for years, but Israeli bureaucrats kept putting up every sort of obstruction to keep this town from having electricity. Meanwhile, the illegal Jewish settlement that had recently been built a stone’s throw away (no pun intended) was immediately connected to the grid. The Palestinians had to use generators, and paid 4-5 times as much for electricity as their Jewish neighbors. Actually, the apartheid analogy is rather generous to Israel. At least, in South Africa, there were self-ruled bantustans that had a degree of autonomy which the people of occupied Palestine could only dream of.

    * “the effort in Israel to follow the law”. I assume you are not including international law in your assessment. Israel has been in constant, flagrant violation of international law since 1967. According to the International Court of Justice’s decision, Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem is illegal, the settlements are illegal, Israel’s wall in the West Bank (80% of which goes well beyond the June 1967 border, annexing the West Bank’s most fertile land and much of the water resources) is illegal. It’s a basic principle of international law that acquiring territory through war is illegal. Long before the horrific Gaza massacre, Israel was an outlaw state. It now appears to have become a lunatic one as well.

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