Sunday, July 30, 2006

Does Hezbollah TARGET Non-Combatants, or Not?

Does Hezbollah TARGET Non-Combatants, or Not?
by John Spritzler

In my previous posts I discuss why I do not support violence targeted against non-combatants. But does Hezbollah target non-combatants? Some people argue that in fact Hezbollah does NOT target non-combatants, that its rockets falling on Israel are targeted only at legitimate military targets, and that when non-combatants die from these rockets it is only as a collateral consequence and not at all the intended objective of the rockets being fired. To the extent that this claim is true, then I do not criticize Hezbollah for firing such rockets.

I would like to know, however, if this claim is indeed true. I have tried to find out by looking for an English-language official web site of Hezbollah. I haven't found it. The closest I have found is this one, which does not address the question (and does not seem to have been updated very recently.)

Does anybody have solid information on this question? If so, I would like to hear from you.

Any organization fighting on the working class side of the class war would have, as one of its highest priorities, communicating to the world that its violence was directed only at anti-working class combatants and military targets like weapons factories. And by the same token, the anti-working class forces would have as one of its highest priorities making sure that its enemy did not succeed in communicating this message to the world. So the fact that we do not read or hear in our mass media about Hezbollah's only targeting combatants and military targets does not, by itself, prove that Hezbollah is not trying to communicate that message. Hezbollah may or may not. I, and literally billions of other people, would like to know what their official position is on this question. If anybody can provide the answer, please do.

If it is indeed the case that Hezbollah only targets combatants and military targets, and that civilian deaths from their actions are collateral, and not at all the intended, effects, then I will do everything I can to spread this word and thereby build more support for Hezbollah and hasten the abolition of the apartheid Israeli regime. This would be the opposite of what some people are currently doing, which is "defending" Hezbollah by apologizing for its (supposed) targeting of non-combatants, thereby helping Israel to isolate its enemies from public support by portraying them as people who just hate Jews.

Please help spread the word about what Hezbollah's true intentions are, with respect to non-combatants, in its current use of rockets aimed at targets inside Israel. To start with, this means confirming what Hezbollah actually officially says about this question. Secondly, it means judging from Hezbollah's actual practice whether it conforms to their stated official views. (Israel, for example, claims that it does not target non-combatants and that when they die from Israeli actions it is only a collateral effect, but we know this is disingenuous. Also, let us not forget, Israeli violence against combatants is just as unjust as its violence against non-combatants, because its purpose is to enforce unjust ethnic cleansing and apartheid.)

Apparently Israeli law prohibits people in Israel from discussing the location of military targets. Still, if anybody can provide clear evidence as to whether or not Hezbollah's rockets seem to be aimed exclusively at military targets or not, please let us know. If they are so aimed, we should help spread that word. If not, we should know that too.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Why I Believe in "No War But the Class War" and Not Killing Non-Combatants

Why I Believe in "No War But the Class War" and Not Killing Non-Combatants

I am engaged in a heated off-line debate/discussion about the controversial question of violence against non-combatants. This is obviously an issue that cannot be avoided by anybody trying to persuade the American public to oppose Israel and support the Palestinians (and now Lebanese) who are presently so bravely fighting the Israeli military onslaught. The moderator in this debate/discussion called on people to say what they believe, in terms of basic principles. This is what I wrote.

I believe that a person's status as a non-combatant has nothing whatsoever to do with what s/he thinks or with the nature of the society s/he lives in. A non-combatant is a person who, at the moment in question, is not an on-duty member of a military that is oppressing people and is not otherwise (as a civilian possibly) engaged in committing unjust violence against people.

I believe a non-combatant may or may not be guilty of a crime committed in the past (possibly as a combatant), and if they are they should be punished, perhaps by execution, after a fair trial determines their personal guilt. Except for such judicial, as opposed to military, violence, there is no moral or political or military reason to kill non-combatants, and the consequences of doing so are only counter-productive.

I believe that upper class rulers foment wars along non-class lines in order to control people and prevent people from fighting the class war for a more equal and democratic world.

I believe that upper class rulers organize violent atrocities against one nationality or religion or ethnic group in the name of another precisely to foment such wars and to destroy working class solidarity. Examples of this are abundant: the Japanese "Rape of Nanking," the Yugoslavia violence in the 1990s destroying Croat-Serb solidarity, the Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, all of WWII and WWI, and so on.

I believe that people have a right to fight back violently against the combatants who are unjustly oppressing them. (I do not believe, by the way, that oppressed people have to wait, before fighting back, for working class people "on the other side" to support them. I have been told that Trotskyites and maybe Marxists in general believe this, but whether they do or not, I do not.)

I believe that when oppressed people fight combatants violently and do not target violence against non-combatants, then that maximizes their (oppressed people's) strength both militarily and politically. Politically it maximizes the clarity of their message to the world: that they are fighting against oppression and the people who violently enforce it, not against people simply because of their nationality or religion or ethnicity. This maximizes the likelihood that people everywhere (including ordinary people "on the other side") will increase their support of the oppressed, moving either from hostility to neutrality or from neutrality to active support. This is what happened in the Vietnam war to Americans, both GIs in Vietnam and civilians at home.

I believe in the slogan, "No war but the class war." Killing non-combatants is not part of the class war; it is part of the non-class war that upper class rulers try to get working class people to engage in.

I believe that sometimes the upper classes are successful in persuading people that their own lives and safety require the killing of non-combatants. This certainly happened in WWII when FDR and Truman convinced millions of Americans that they needed to commit mass murder of German and Japanese civilians in order to be safe. Just because the upper class sometimes succeeds in this effort does not mean that we should agree with them!

I believe we need to build a revolutionary movement that draws its strength from ordinary working class people understanding that what working people have in common with each other--values of solidarity and equality and democracy and a desire to live in peace with one another--is far more important than what they may share in common with their upper class rulers.

I believe this is fundamentally true even though upper class rulers sometimes succeed in persuading their working class populations that it is not true, as is certainly the case for many Jews in Israel today and Jews elsewhere in the world in the past. As difficult as it may be to build a revolutionary movement, it is nonetheless the only way out of the trap that otherwise awaits us, in which upper class elites pit working people against each other in bloody wars ad infinitum, just to strengthen their power over us.

I believe that whatever strengthens a revolutionary movement maximizes our chance of making positive changes even in the short term, because the ONLY thing that has a chance of making upper class rulers think it is in their interest to back off on their attacks on people is the fear that if they don't, it will result in a stronger revolutionary movement developing, which they know is the only thing that truly spells their doom.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Regarding Jonathan Cook's Truthful Defense of Hezbollah

Regarding Jonathan Cook's Truthful Defense of Hezbollah
by John Spritzler []

Here's a good article by Jonathan Cook defending Hezbollah from lies the pro-Israel media and punditry use to justify Israeli attacks on people. Everything Cook says in defense of Hezbollah seems true or at least very likely true (I can't vouch for everything obviously.) And, I would add, Hezbollah's success in holding the Israeli army at bay and inflicting serious casualties on it is downright inspiring.

The problem, of course, is that, because Hezbollah also directs violence against Israeli non-combatants, the whole tone of Cook's article is necessarily extremely defensive. It would be a lot better if nobody fighting Israeli oppression and ethnic cleansing directed violence against non-combatants. Then, we wouldn't be forced to take the defensive posture that Cook's article so clearly illustrates. We would be on the offensive ideologically. We would be in a position to win far more support among the world's public for the fight to abolish the apartheid state of Israel.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Whoever is Ordering Rocket Attacks on Israeli Civilians is Objectively Collaborating with the Israeli Ruling Class

Whoever is Ordering Rocket Attacks on Israeli Civilians is Objectively Collaborating with the Israeli Ruling Class

by John Spritzler []

The Israeli ruling class is a criminal class that carries out ethnic cleansing against Palestinians and war crimes against the Lebanese people and others. The Israeli ruling class must be defeated; its Zionist government (which is anti-democratic since it does not even pretend that its authority comes from the consent of all of the people it rules and only the people it rules) needs to be abolished and its Zionist military needs to be disarmed and disbanded. OK, we agree on that, right?

Now let's discuss HOW to defeat the Israeli ruling class. Obviously, the Israeli ruling class gets its power from having convinced the preponderance of Jews in the world as well as many other gentiles in North America and Europe that it is protecting Jews from anti-Semitism. This enables it to rule Israel and build up its huge military force and get away with its ethnic cleansing. Also, it makes it possible for the American ruling class and the Israel Lobby to get the American public to go along with the pro-Israel U.S. foreign policy. If Jews in Israel, and Jews and gentiles in North America and Europe, did not believe that the Israeli government was defending Jews from anti-Semitism, then the Israeli ruling class would be PROFOUNDLY weakened.

Since the Israeli ruling class is a capitalist ruling class that is attacking the well-being of the Israeli working class (inequality in Israel is second only to the United States in Western nations) class struggle goes on inside Israel. For example there was a huge general strike in 1997 against the government. But that was during Oslo when people thought peace was at hand. When the Israeli Jewish public, however, is extremely frightened of being attacked by Arabs, that is when they turn away from fighting their government and rely on it to protect them. This is when the Jews in Israel support their govenment's warmongering and its worst atrocities, as is the case today.

Now let us consider the effect of Hamas and Hezbollah aiming rockets at Israeli civilians in Haifa and other towns. How does it help the Palestinians to defeat the Israeli ruling class?

Answer: Zip! Nada! Zero! Zilch!

I challenge anybody to show how attacks on Israeli non-combatants help defeat the Israeli ruling class. It is as clear as day that it only strengthens our enemy. If the Israeli rulers didn't have rockets landing in Haifa and other civilian targets, they wouldn't have nearly the support for their war on Gaza and Lebanon that they unfortunately enjoy today from the Israeli Jewish population and much of the North American and European population, gentile as well as Jewish. If Hamas and Hezbollah didn't fire those rockets at Jewish civilians, then I am sure Israel's Mossad or Military Intelligence would arrange to make it seem as if they did. Absolutely. The Israeli ruling class NEEDS those rockets to be fired (or suicide bombers to attack people at bus stops etc.) Without attacks on Jewish non-combatants carried out in the name of the Palestinian people, the CORE Israeli ruling class strategy for staying in power would COLLAPSE. Think about that, very very hard. Please. [Also, see this analysis of the relation between Israel and Hezbollah, especially point #2.]

Incidentally, there is a huge difference between directing violence against Israeli combatants versus non-combatants. If Hamas and Hezbollah only attacked Jewish combatants, the Israeli ruling class would not be nearly as able to persuade Jews and others that it was protecting Jews from anti-Semitism. It would be far more clear to people that the Israeli military was being attacked by people who were defending themselves against ethnic cleansing. Dissent inside Israel and inside the Israeli military would grow because the public would see the truth instead of being blinded to it by attacks on Jewish children at bus stops or old people in hospitals. Eventually the Israeli ruling class would face the same problem that the U.S. ruling class faced in Vietnam, which caused it to retreat: it could not rely on its own army to fight.

It is a CRIME that somebody is ordering those rockets to be fired on Israeli non-combatants. It is a crime against the Palestinian people! It is a form of collaboration with the enemy, far far worse even than, say, the crime of some Palestinians who inform on their people to the Israeli government.

But this particular crime is, unfortunately, not obviously a crime in the eyes of many people trained by our elite rulers and leaders to view conflicts in terms of religion or race or ethnicity instead of class. People have been trained to think, "If the Israeli ruling class attacks us, then the logical thing is for us to attack Israeli civilians." Just like Israelis have been trained to think, "If Palestinian organizations attack us, then the logical thing is for us to attack Palestinian civilians." That is why these criminals (both Israeli and Palestinian and Lebanese) can get away with it. We need to speak out nonetheless. We need to say out loud that whoever orders an attack on non-combatants in the name of the Palestinians, is a traitor to the Palestinian people. It is impossible to win a fight when one's own leaders are sabotaging it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What Would it Look Like if Hamas and Hezbollah Fought a Class War?

What Would it Look Like if Hamas and Hezbollah Fought a Class War?

by John Spritzler []

In my previous post I said that the two sides in the conflict raging now in Palestine, Israel and Lebanon are:

#1. Ordinary people of all religions and ethnic groups in Palestine/ Israel/ Lebanon who want to live in peace with one another as equals (the opposite of Zionism's Jewish privilege and apartheid.) This is the vast majority of people of all ethnic and religious persuasions.

#2. Those who are, or want to be, ruling upper classes, who want inequality, and who want to control ordinary people by setting them against each other along religious/ racial/ ethnic lines as mutual mortal enemies.

These are the actual two sides. Obviously powerful governments and various leaders want to disguise this conflict as a religious or ethnic or national conflict, and they have unfortunately succeeded in that effort to a great extent.

But to stop the blood bath hell that side #2 is raining down on side #1 today, we need to start by at least imagining what a war waged by side #1 against side #2 would even look like.

Violence or non-violence?

Side #1 cannot win by trying to persuade side #2 to stop its attacks. The leaders of side #2 believe their cause is right, they lose no sleep feeling guilty about the atrocities they carry out to control people, and while some individuals may defect from this class, this class itself will never be persuaded that they are wrong. Relying on persuasion of one's opponent is what the philosophy of non-violence is all about, and that is why it won't work. Violence, per se, cannot be ruled out as a necessary factor for side #1 to prevail.

But persuasion of one's potential friends is, along with violence against side #2, also a necessary factor for success, and pursuing this vital objective is not at all the same thing as adopting the philosophy of non-violence.

What would it look like if Hamas and Hezbollah were fighting 100% for side #1 against side #2, in other words if they were fighting the class war?

Their strategy would be first, to persuade all potential friends in the world to support them, by clearly explaining that they were fighting for side #1 aims and against side #2 aims. The violence used by Hamas and Hezbollah would always be subordinate to its political strategy, of uniting ordinary Arabs and Jews and others around a common program of equality, security and mutual support for all. In keeping with this strategy they would direct violence exclusively against combatants (as opposed to non-combatants) on side #2, in order to focus all their military power on the real target, and to avoid helping side #2 gain political strength by disguising the true nature of the conflict as a religious war.

What would class war violence look like for Hezbollah?

Hezbollah has acquired serious weapons including rockets that they can fire, albeit with very little precision, into Israeli towns. These weapons are good for killing random non-combatants. But the weapons they would be trying to get if they were waging the class war would be, on the contrary, weapons designed to attack combatants. They would be using artillery that could be aimed with precision at combatants. An anti-tank gun is the kind of weapon they would be trying to get their hands on, not a long range missile. [It appears Hezbollah already has anti-tank weapons and is using them.]

Instead of trying to make side #2 back down by attacking civilians in side #1 who live in Israel (as if side #2 cared about "their own" people, which they clearly do not) , Hezbollah's strategy would be to take control of Israeli land adjacent to the Lebanon border, by fighting Israeli military forces for that land with weapons designed for that purpose. If Hezbollah succeeded in capturing some Israeli land, they would make it a point to treat the Israeli civilians in that land respectfully, as potential friends who potentially shared their side #1 aim for people of different religions to live together peacefully and as equals. They would of course disarm captured Israeli soldiers but also make it clear to them that they viewed the conflict as one between sides #1 and #2, not Jews versus Arabs.

American Indians won over a lot of European-descended prisoners by treating them exactly this way in the 1700s and 1800s. If Hezbollah adopted this strategy, word would spread about how Hezbollah was treating side #1 civilians and captured soldiers. And Israeli civilians would grasp soon enough that they were not considered the enemy but actually potential friends by Hezbollah. The Israeli government's ability to rally the Israeli population to support a war against Hezbollah would be undermined enormously, in sharp contrast to the way it presently enjoys maximum support for a war it has convinced its population is in self-defense.

If Hezbollah followed this strategy it would also gain greater support from non-Palestinians in Lebanon, who would be inspired by the side #1 objectives, and who would see that Hezbollah was not waging a religious war.

What would class war violence look like for Hamas?

Hamas apparently has less powerful weapons than Hezbollah. But the strategy would be the same. Hamas would stop trying to kill random non-combatants in Israeli towns near Gaza with its missiles, and instead it would direct all the violence it could muster against Israeli combatants who directly oppress people in Gaza: the Israeli military forces that control Gaza's borders and sea coast.

The military objective would be to make it as hard as possible for the Israeli military to control the Gaza borders. Hamas, instead of telling Gazans that "we'll do the fighting for you," would help ordinary Gazans contribute to this violence against Israeli border guards, even if only by throwing rocks, as they were obviously able to do in past intifadahs. If territory in Israel adjacent to Gaza could be captured and Israeli civilians residing in it treated respectfully, all the better.

The aims of the violence would be to defeat the military forces that deny Palestinians their right to return and their right to live as the equals of Jews in their own country. Hamas and Hezbollah would subordinate their use of violence to the strategy of uniting ordinary Arabs and Jews and others for their mutual security and support and against Zionism and all other forms of racial, religious or ethnic inequality. These aims would become evident to Israeli civilians, and the Israeli government would not be nearly as able to convince Israelis that their lives were threatened by Hamas as they are able to do today.

The opposition inside Israel to the government would be able to take the offense, instead of being on the defensive ideologically as they are today. Doubts within the ranks of the Israeli army itself would spread, just as they did within the U.S. army in Vietnam. The U.S. had to retreat from Vietnam because American rulers realized that they could not count on the army to fight any more. This could happen to the Israli army if they understood that the only thing they were fighting for was side #2 against side #1.

How would class war affect the American public's support for Israel?

If Hamas and Hezbollah fought the class war along these lines, certainly the media and politicians would try to disguise the fact, but some of the truth would get through. To the extent that it did, it would transform the mindset of the American public about the Middle East. Instead of falling for the propaganda about Israel defending its people against terrorists, the American working class would recognize that Hamas and Hezbollah were fighting for working class values against the same kind of upper class people that American workers have to fight at home on the job and in their communities. The American government would have a hard time convincing Americans that it was right to support Israel.

Why don't Hamas and Hezbollah fight the class war?

Good question. I hope Palestinians start asking it, because the Palestinians, as part of side #1, can actually win this fight. It is simply a tragedy to lose it.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Horrifying Pictures Force Us to Think: What Are the Sides in the Palestine/Israel Conflict?

Horrifying Pictures Force Us to Think: What Are the Sides in the Palestine/Israel Conflict?

by John Spritzler

There are horrifying pictures of children burned to death by the Israeli attack on Lebanon, posted at

I assume the pictures are legitimate, but I cannot vouch for them. I also know that one could find equally gruesome photos of Israeli children killed by violence directed at non-combatants by Hamas and Hezbollah. But I also know that far far more Palestinian children are killed this way than Israeli children. In fact, since Sept 29, 2000, 121 Israeli children have been killed versus 734 Palestinian children.

The point is not that the side that kills the most children is the wrong side and the side that kills the fewest children is the side we should support. No. The point is that this terrible violence against children and other non-combatants forces us to re-define what the "sides" are in the first place.

As I see it the two sides are:

#1. Ordinary people of all religions and ethnic groups in Palestine/ Israel/ Lebanon who want to live in peace with one another as equals (the opposite of Zionism's Jewish privilege and apartheid.) This is the vast majority of people of all ethnic and religious persuasions.

#2. Those who are, or want to be, ruling upper classes, who want inequality, and who want to control ordinary people by setting them against each other along religious/ racial/ ethnic lines as mutual mortal enemies.

In the second group, the most powerful are, of course, the United States and Israeli ruling classes. The Israeli ruling class, by its brutal, unprovoked and morally indefensible ethnic cleansing of Palestinians since at least 1948, are, as David Ben-Gurion himself admitted, the initial aggressors in a conflict that, as he put it, "is essentially a political conflict."

The vast majority of Palestinians, no matter how many Israeli children Hamas wrongly kills, are part of the #1 side; they are a people who are defending themselves against the fundamental injustice of ethnic cleansing. They have every right in the world to use violence against Israeli combatants, which includes the Israeli military and those civilians who, like the military, use violence to enforce racist oppression of Palestinians. Such violence is justified as violence in self-defense.

Now comes the question of Hamas and Hezbollah. Some of the violence carried out by these organizations is directed at Israeli combatants and is perfectly justified, even inspiring. But some of the violence of these groups is targeted against Israeli non-combatants. There is no good reason--neither military, political nor moral--for targeting violence against non-combatants. It completely plays into the hands of the #2 side. Which is why one has to wonder, which side are the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah on?

Just because the Palestinian people are oppressed by a vastly stronger Israeli ruling class (with U.S. backing) does not mean that there is not a Palestinian upper class or would-be upper class, with class objectives that conflict with those of the people in side #1. It is as clear as day that genuine leaders of side #1 would NEVER deliberately attack non-combatants. If leaders do target violence against non-combatants, even if only sometimes, and even if they also justifiably target combatants at other times, it is strong evidence that they are doing it for upper class, side #2, objectives.

To support the Palestinians, we need to support the #1 side. In practice (as in, for example, talking to people in Somerville, Massachusetts about why they should vote to divest from Israel) it is crucial to let them know that it is the #1 side we are asking them to support, not ANY part of the #2 side no matter whether or not it claims to represent ordinary Palestinian or Jewish/Israeli people.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Israel, Gaza and Lebanon: The People Versus The Rulers

Israel, Gaza and Lebanon: The People Versus Their Leaders

by John Spritzler []

Why are ordinary people who live in Gaza, Lebanon and parts of Israel going through hell now?

Gaza: Mona El-farra, a Palestinian physician living in Gaza, wrote July 5: “A BIG explosion, and so loud, and I’m fully awake. So is my daughter Sondos. We hardly can see anything--it is very dark. A drone hit the Ministry of Interior building again with a missile, completely destroying it. I contact my friend Hoda to find her screaming, shrieking in pain, trapped under the windows of her flat, which were broken by the blast. Fumes fill the place, and she is waiting for the emergency team to evacuate her.”

On July 12 she wrote: “As a physician, I fear for our patients. Twenty-two hospitals have no electricity. They have to rely on generators, but the generators need fuel. We have enough fuel to last a few days at most, because the borders are sealed so no fuel can get in. The shortage of power threatens the lives of patients on life-support machines and children in intensive care, as well as renal dialysis patients and others. Hundreds of operations have been postponed. The pharmacies were already nearly empty because of Israeli border closures and the cutoff of international aid. What little supplies were left have gone bad in the absence of refrigeration.”

Lebanon: A Lebanese man, Hayan Charara, wrote a friend on July 12: “As you may or may not know, Israel is bombing southern Lebanon. I found out around 4AM--a phone call from my father. Apparently, he was driving with his wife and my 6 year old brother back from a trip in Beirut and he turned his car around when he saw Israeli jets firing missiles at civilian villages. Nothing new, really--this is the second time in the last several weeks that my little brother has endured Israeli air attacks (it could be worse--he could be Palestinian). Anyhow, the last time, mortar shells fell about a mile from his school. But he's used to it by now. The sound of jets streaming across the sky and of bombs falling to the earth don't frighten him so much anymore.”

Mr. Charara also wrote to President Bush: “I want nothing more than to see Arabs and Israelis to live in peace. After all, whether Jew or Palestinian or Lebanese, the people of these lands should not have to endure collective punishment either. However, Israel makes this nearly impossible. While terrorists should be dealt with, it is wrong for any state to punish an entire population for the actions of a few. Israel has been collectively punishing Palestinians in Gaza in order to secure the release of a single soldier, and it is now bombing civilian villages in Lebanon to secure the release of two soldiers. Israel has killed innocents--men, women, boys, girls--and justifies those deaths, or simply waves them off as ‘regrettable’--we expect this from terrorists, but from ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’?”

Israel: One can only imagine the fear that Israelis experience when rockets hit their communities. July 13, the Jerusalem Post reported: “A Katyusha rocket landed in Yesud Hama'ala on Israel's northern border on Friday afternoon. MDA reported several people were wounded in the attack.

“Thirteen people were wounded in the latest bombardment of rockets on Safed and Nahariya on Friday afternoon. A rocket landing in Safed hit a residential building. Two of the wounded in Safed sustained moderate wounds, the other eight were lightly wounded. The wounded in Nahariya were all reported to be in light condition. Rockets also reportedly landed near Hatzor, Bar'am, Mahanayim, Horfesh, though no one was reported wounded.”

The reason the people are going through hell is because Israeli leaders, and Palestinian leaders in Hamas and Hezbollah, benefit from this hell.

Powerful rulers like the Israeli ruling class with the 5th strongest army in the world, and weak want-to-be rulers like those in control of Hamas and Hezbollah, have one thing in common: they can control their own people more easily when their people are frightened, by attacks on them from an external enemy, into supporting “their own” leaders. Israeli leaders with F-16 jets, and Palestinian leaders with home-made rockets, commit violence against innocent civilians of the “enemy” religion in the name of their own, in order to foment a virulent racial/ ethnic/ religious war between Jews and Palestinians. Why? Because in the midst of such a war, people don't challenge their own leaders the way they otherwise would with demands for real equality and democracy. Israelis, for example, staged a general strike against their leaders in 1997 when Oslo made them think peace was at hand.

The fundamental violence, that makes all the rest easy to generate, is the brutal and morally indefensible ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that Israeli leaders have carried out. In 1948 they drove out 80% of the non-Jews who once lived in what is now Israel, and today they deny Palestinians their fundamental human right to return to their country, forcing millions to live in refugee camps in places like Lebanon and Gaza. The anger generated by this ethnic cleansing is the ONLY reason that those who fire rockets at Israeli civilians have ANY support from their own people for this unjustified violence.

At the same time, violence against Israeli soldiers (and some fanatical settlers) who violently enforce racist oppression of Palestinians IS justified.

Unfortunately, the people who want an end to ethnic cleansing, and peace between Jews and non-Jews in the land of Palestine, based on equality instead of religiously exclusive apartheid states, are the people without real power, like the ones quoted above. They are the ones who need our help.

What can Americans do to help?

The best thing we can do to help all people suffering in Palestine/Israel/Lebanon is to make our government stop supporting the ethnic cleansing that is the root of the conflict. We need to make our government stop giving aid to Israel until it abandons its project of ethnic cleansing, grants every Palestinian the right to return and be fully equal to Jews inside what is now Israel, and compensates Palestinians for the property Israel illegally seized from them in 1948.

Our upper class government leaders also benefit from this hell in the Middle East.

Our rulers want to see this terrible ethnic war continue, because they want elite rulers, not ordinary people, to be in power in the Middle East, just as in our own country. The real war in the Middle East is a class war of elites against the people, a war that the elites try to diguise as a religious war.

The problem facing people in the Middle East is our problem too. It will take ordinary people all over the world acting together in solidarity to solve it.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

How the Boston Globe Attacks the Idea of Democracy

How the Boston Globe Attacks the Idea of Democracy
by John Spritzler []

Here's how American elites (and their loyal pundits) attack the substance of democracy while substituting for it mere trappings.

The headline on Eileen McNamara's column today, on the first page of the "City & Region" section of the Boston Globe, reads: "Constitution trumps all."

McNamara argues that "Lawmakers should not be cowed by cries of 'let the people vote.' Fundamental civil rights are not a matter to be put to popular referendum."

Democracy, implies McNamara, is actually a bad thing. She writes,
"If we had just 'let the people vote,' black children would have been confined to segregated classrooms, wives would have remained the property of their husbands, and the slaves the chattel of their masters."
Wow! Talk about specious backwards logic. These problems were not caused by those who said "Let the people vote"; they were caused by those who said "Don't let the people vote." Slaves were not allowed to vote and they should have been. When women were treated as property they were not allowed to vote and they should have been.

We're always taught that poor whites are the source of racism, and letting them vote policy would mean terrible things for black people (and women too, I guess.) This view is the big lie that elites indoctrinate us with, to make us fear democracy.

The fact is that in the 1930s throughout the South, especially in Mississippi and Arkansas, white tenant farmers united with black tenant farmers in the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. Together they fought the big landowners, who backed the Ku Klux Klan. When white and black members of the STFU met together in churches they were attacked by the Ku Klux Klan (fronting for the large landowners) for "violating" the racial separation laws. Nor did these united white and black tenant farmers get any real help from the "enlightened" liberal upper class who ruled the nation. As Robert MacElvaine writes in The Great Depression, "Organizers complained that the New Dealer 'too often . . . talked like a cropper but acted like a planter.'"

But that was long ago. What about during the near race war days of Boston's school bussing crisis in 1974-5 when white leaders like School Committee President Louise Day Hicks, from one of South Boston's wealthiest families, told her followers to throw stones at black elementary school children in school busses? That was when the oh so liberal Federal Judge Arthur Garrity teamed up with Hicks to foment a race war. He did this by ruling that the only way to integrate the schools was with a plan that maximized long distance bus rides for kindergarten children; he refused to consider integration plans, brought forward by integrated working class groups, that proposed building schools where the checkerboard white and black neighborhoods met, so that the principle of integration would not be confounded with the idiocy of hour-long bus rides for little children. But no! Garrity realized that Hicks needed the idiotic long-distance bus rides to foment anger against blacks, and he was determined to help her succeed. This is how real life works. But McNamara wants us to think the problem is people who say "Let the people vote."

McNamara dismisses, as irrelevant, the views of Massachusetts citizens, arguing instead that, "In the end, what the state Constitution says matters more than what Bob Kraft or Sean O'Malley think." McNamara goes on to argue that John Adams, who wrote the Massachusetts Constitution, is the real authority over our lives.

In this fashion McNamara attacks the very idea of democracy, the idea that the people living under the rule of a government are themselves the supreme and sovereign authority, above the government and above the Constitution. The idea of democracy is that the authority of the government and the Constitution comes from the consent of the people, not the other way around.

"Consent of the people" means consent of the people who are currently alive, not consent of people who are long dead, not even consent of people who are long dead and who wrote the Constitution.

Even the founding fathers who wrote our state and federal constitutions acknowledged the principle that the people alive at the time are the supreme sovereign authority. Otherwise they would not have felt obliged to conduct popular ratification votes for the constitutions they wrote, would they?

Democracy is the same principle that operates when people get together to play a game like baseball. They agree on the rules (i.e. the constitution) that they will play under. If next week at the same ball field the players are different people, or if they are the same people but for some reason they have changed their minds, they have every right in the world to dump the old "constitution." They are not slaves to their previous selves or to the previous people who played on the ball field. John Adams and the other "founding fathers" of the old Constitution have no more formal authority over us today than anybody else. We may read what they wrote and be influenced by their arguments, but it is up to us and us alone to decide how to live our lives.

Since our state constitution was ratified (i.e. granted authority) by people who lived hundreds of years ago, McNamara's obeisance to the Constitution amounts to granting those long-dead people the power to rule over people living today. Talk about being anti-democratic! If Eileen McNamara wants to practice ancestor worship, that is her right, but she should do it in private.

Furthermore, McNamara should get off her Constitutional high horse and admit the truth, which is that the issue she is so concerned about was simply not addressed by the founding fathers and our Constitution has no language about it one way or the other. McNamara just happens to agree with the Massachusetts Supreme Court's current interpretation of the Constitution on this controversial issue.

Now, you might be wondering, what is this issue about which McNamara is so frightened of letting the people vote? It is same-sex marriage. Beware how the elite will use this issue to attack democracy. The issue is designed for this role. With it, our rulers accuse ordinary people of being wrong on so fundamental an issue as sexuality that they cannot possibly be entrusted to run society. Better leave that to our enlightened, wiser, concerned-for-minority-rights, upper class "superiors."

Saturday, July 08, 2006

My Fellow Americans: We Need Another Revolution

My Fellow Americans: We Need Another Revolution

by John Spritzler []

We have the trappings of democracy–elections and so forth–but not the substance. The decisions that shape our lives are made from on high, not by the likes of us, nor by people who represent our values.

War: None of us even know the reason our government goes to war. Our leaders never tell us the true reason, only lies. If the politicians were really our representatives, we’d know exactly why they wage war. Right now we can only guess. We’re out of the loop, entirely. A lot of us, with good reason, even think 9/11 was an inside job, designed to scare us into supporting the “war on terror” so we will give up our liberties in its name.

Jobs: In a truly democratic society we would work together as citizens, friends and equals to accomplish goals of our own, goals that we determined ourselves, like how to make our lives and the lives of our children better. For example, we would use automation to make it possible for all of us to enjoy more leisure time. We wouldn’t use it the way today’s economic royalty do. They throw some people out of work entirely while making others work long hours under the threat that if they complain they will be thrown out of work too. They pit us against each other and against foreign workers, destroying what would otherwise be relations of friendship and mutual support. In today’s undemocratic world, we aren’t the masters of our own lives, we’re just the hired help.

Families: Our families are under attack from above because the key value they are based on–a commitment to one another–challenges the key value of our reigning corporate elite–self-interest. Corporate and government leaders have deliberately created an environment hostile to families. They force parents, both mom and dad now, to work away from home longer hours than ever (despite a quadrupling of productivity since WWII), and make it increasingly hard for parents to care for and raise their own children. In Massachusetts, where the courts are under the sway of radical feminists who view men as the enemy, the courts encourage rather than discourage divorce. They tell mothers that fathers are just abusive jerks, of no value to their children except as a paycheck. The courts tell mothers, “If you divorce dad (any trivial reason suffices in our “no fault” system) you have nothing to lose because the court will give you physical custody of the children and make dad pay you enough to maintain your same standard of living, even if that impoverishes him.”

Sexuality: Government, corporations and Hollywood attack the very idea that the bond between a child and its biological parents is important, by promoting homosexuality. (Governor Romney’s Commission for Gay and Lesbian Youth pushes Gay Pride Week and “gay-straight alliances” in our schools, and the Court gave us same-sex marriage.) Many homosexual couples selfishly “have a child of their own” by buying anonymous human eggs or sperm and bringing children into the world in a manner that guarantees breaking the bond between the child and its biological mother or father. Our government promotes this terrible practice and accuses us of being “homophobic” if we object to it!

Our values: To shape society by OUR values--equality and democracy and commitment to one another--instead of THEIR values--inequality and elite rule and selfishness--will take a revolution. Let’s talk about how to do it.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

How Norman Finkelstein and Amy Goodman Help Apartheid Israel

How Norman Finkelstein and Amy Goodman Help Apartheid Israel
by John Spritzler []

I'm sure you've seen one of those TV lawyer shows in which the lawyer for the good guy has a star witness who is going to demolish the bad guy's story, but when the witness gets on the witness stand and actually starts testifying, the testimony, to the surprise of the good guy's lawyer, helps the bad guy. At that point the good guy's lawyer says to the judge something like, "Request permission to treat the witness as hostile, your honor."

I think it's time we considered treating the witness, Norman Finkelstein, and his accomplice, Amy Goodman, as hostile to the Palestinian struggle against apartheid Israel. Here's why.

Below is the latest so-called debate between Norman Finkelstein and an overt Zionist (Josh Block in this case), hosted by Amy Goodman. This debate is similar to other ones Finkelstein has engaged in. Read this "debate" carefully, and you will see that it boils down to four basic assertions by Block and three basic counter-assertions by Finkelstein:


1. Israelis are defending themselves against unprovoked terrorist attacks on their population.

2. "Hamas is an organization that fundamentally believes, deep in its core, that Israel does not have the right to exist."

3. The values on which Israel is based, "liberal fundamental values, which are celebrated in Israel -- freedom of the press, women's rights, gay rights, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion -- are denied to those living in Palestinian areas and throughout the rest of the Arab world."

4. When Israel kills non-combatants it regrets it and says so; when Hamas kills non-combatants it does not express regret.


1. Israel uses disproportionately more terror against Palestinians than Hamas does against Israelis.

2. Israel deliberately kills Palestinian combatants but Hamas intends only to take them as prisoners. (Then, undercutting his own position, he accuses Israel of being the first to take hostages; he says this in order to make the point that it's ok if Hamas takes hostages now.)

3. Israel has taken far more hostages (prisoners) than Hamas.

Nowhere (and this is true of Finkelstein in general, not just this debate) does Finkelstein state clearly that 1) Israel is fundamentally the aggressor against the Palestinians because it is a Jews-only (hence anti-democratic) state based on ethnic cleansing, 2) that Israel therefore has no right to exist, and 3) that Israel is thus the aggressor and Palestinians the defender no matter
who kills more of the other, no matter who uses more (or any) terrorism, no matter who takes more hostages, no matter who regrets the killing of non-combatants more, and so forth. Even David Ben-Gurion was more honest on this score than Finkelstein, when Ben-Gurion told the Political Committee of his party, Mapai, in 1938,

"When we say that the Arabs are the aggressors and we defend ourselves -- that is only half the truth. As regards our security and life we defend ourselves...But the fighting is only one aspect of the conflict, which is in its essence a political one. And politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves." [Flapan, Simha, Zionism and the Palestinians, London, Croom Helm, 1979, p. 141, cited by Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001, Vintage Books, New York, 2001, p. 676]

Finkelstein in this debate even agreed with Block when Block resorted to what is perhaps the most fundamental lie of all Zionist lies, the lie that they care about the well-being of ordinary Jewish people. Here's how "our" witness, Finklestein, responds to that lie: "Now, Josh says Israel has a responsibility to protect its citizens. I totally agree with that." (To read about how Zionists are anti-Jewish-people and have been from the days of the Holocaust to the present, see

The unfortunate fact is that the manner in which Finkelstein "debates" overt Zionists does not help us; it hurts us. By never stating the fundamental reason why Israel is wrong--i.e. that what it is defending should not be defended because it is a state based on ethnic cleansing and apartheid--and by merely criticizing the MEANS by which Israel defends itself, or by merely saying that "both sides do bad things but Israel does them disproportionately," or that Israel doesn't play by the rules of international law, Finkelstein is about as persuasive as somebody arguing against the old apartheid South African government with arguments that NEVER mentioned apartheid but only asserted that the South African government, in defending itself, did more bad things to black South Africans than black South Africans did bad things to whites.

In fact, if I were in charge of Zionist propaganda in the United States, I would make sure to donate lots of money to the Amy Goodman show, because it frames the "debate" about Israel/Palestine in exactly the manner that Zionist propaganda requires. The Zionist side says: "The conflict is one between a peace-loving democratic Israeli society that is, unfortunately, required to do unpleasant things in defense of itself against terrorists. But just because Israel is fortunate enough (due to the admirable traits of Jews) to be the stronger power with a real army, capable of inflicting more damage to terrorists than vice-versa, does not mean that it is not deserving of support from Americans who value democracy and freedom of speech. To condemn Israel for being strong makes no more sense than to condemn the Allies in World War II for being stronger than the Axis nations." Finkelstein then "counters" with what seems like a deliberately unpersuasive reply: "Israel is more powerful than Hamas, and in its legitimate effort to protect the Israeli people it does more bad things to Palestinians than Hamas does to Israelis."

I request permission to treat Norman Finkelstein and Amy Goodman as hostile witnesses, your honor.

AIPAC v. Norman Finkelstein: A Debate on Israel's Assault on Gaza

Democracy Now! | 06.29.2006

Video | Mp3 | more options>

We host a debate on the situation in Gaza with Norman Finkelstein, a professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago and author of "Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History" and Josh Block, the Director of Media Affairs for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). [includes rush transcript]
  • Norman Finkelstein, professor of Ppolitical science at DePaul University in Chicago. His latest book is "Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History."
  • Josh Block, director of Media Affairs for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution. Donate - $25, $50, $100, more...

AMY GOODMAN: As we continue our coverage, we're joined now by two guests. Here in our Firehouse studio, Norman Finkelstein, Professor of Political Science at DePaul University in Chicago. His latest book is called Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. And on the telephone, we're joined by Josh Block, Director of Media Affairs for AIPAC -- that's the American Israel Public Affairs Committee -- speaking to us on the line from Connecticut. Josh Block, let's begin with you. Your response and the latest, the last thing that Chris McGreal said, saying human rights groups, the Palestinian leadership, Mahmoud Abbas talking about this as collective punishment and a crime against humanity.

JOSH BLOCK: Well, clearly the concern is the reaction from those same folks when it comes to the murder and kidnap of Israeli citizens. From many perspective, American or otherwise, an attack inside Israel, unprovoked, that resulted in the murder of two Israelis and not the capture, Amy, but the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier is, in and of itself, an act of war.

And clearly the Israelis tried for several days, 48 hours, 36 hours, of intense diplomacy with the aid of the United States, the French -- and I should add that this young man who has been kidnapped is also a French citizen -- to secure the release from Hamas, the terrorist group that has him. And by the way, in high irony, the government of the Palestinian Authority, run by the same terrorist group, so a government that's charged with fighting terrorism is itself a terrorist group that's responsible for his kidnapping. So after 48 hours and 36 hours of difficult and unproductive diplomacy, clearly the Israelis felt that they needed to act in their own defense.

And I think the question is what is the reaction from these same human rights groups when it comes to the condemnation of terrorism or other acts? And clearly -- and I don't speak for the Israelis, but they must have felt that this was an important thing to do to help isolate and prevent the movement of this terrorist groups from moving the captive or kidnapped Israeli soldier around the Gaza Strip.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Finkelstein?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I think it is useful to begin with what the human rights groups have to say about this. Let's leave aside the background for a moment and look narrowly at the incident that triggered the Israeli invasion. Let's see what Hamas did not do, what the Palestinian militants did not do. Number one, they did not liquidate the corporal, which Israel routinely does, namely its political assassinations. That's a war crime under international law. Israel routinely does that. Hamas did not do that to the corporal.

Number two, they didn't kill the corporal while trying to arrest him. Israel routinely does that. If you look at July 2005, B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, they put out a very hefty report entitled "Take No Prisoners." And the report shows Israel routinely, during so-called arrest operations, kills Palestinians, documents a case of a Palestinian who was wounded, on the ground, no weapon. Israel killed him. Hamas didn't do that to the corporal.

It said by this – by [inaudible], it said that they took him hostage, they kidnapped him. Okay. Israel routinely takes Palestinians, Lebanese hostage. In fact, Israel was the only country in the world, in 1997, which legalized hostage-taking. The liberal head of the Israeli High Court, Aharon Barak, he said it's legal, legitimate, under international law to take what he called bargaining chips in order to get prisoners, Israeli prisoners being held by the Lebanese. The decision was reversed in 2000, but Israel continued to hold Lebanese hostages until 2004. So, at worst, Hamas is being accused of what Israel legalized and routinely does.

And finally, let's talk about those 9,000 Palestinians who are effectively hostages being held by Israel. 1,000 of them are administrative detainees.

AMY GOODMAN: You're talking about prisoners.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yes. Administrative detainees who are being held without any charges or trial. And the other 8,000 are being held after military courts have convicted them, almost always on the basis of confessions which were extracted by torture. So if we're going to look simply at the numbers, we have one hostage on the Palestinian side, and effectively we have about 9,000 on the Israeli side.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to break, and then we'll get a response from Josh Block of AIPAC. Dr. Norman Finkelstein is Professor at DePaul University in Chicago.


AMY GOODMAN: We're talking about the siege in Gaza. Our guests are Josh Block, a spokesperson for AIPAC, which is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, speaking to us from Connecticut; and Professor Norman Finkelstein, teaches political science at DePaul University in Chicago, is in our Firehouse studio. Juan?

JUAN GONZALEZ:Josh Block, before break, Norman Finkelstein was talking about the lack of proportionality in looking at the issue of prisoners and hostages on both sides. Your response to that?

JOSH BLOCK: Well, I think the first thing that he said was that we should ignore the context in which this attack took place, and I think that's a major flaw with his commentary over time. I'm not surprised to hear him talk about things in those terms, considering he's called Hezbollah, which is the number one killer of Americans outside of al-Qaeda, a heroic organization.

You know, ultimately, the question for Israel is, what is its responsibility as a government? And any government, whether it's our or theirs, has the duty to protect its citizens. Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, other terrorists groups, have been conducting an unremitting campaign of terrorism against Israeli citizens. Hamas is an organization that fundamentally believes, deep in its core, that Israel does not have the right to exist. When they talk about an occupation, they're talking about Tel Aviv. That's why when this terrorist attack took place, it took place not in the Gaza Strip or in the West Bank, but inside Israel itself.

They infiltrated Israel, digging a tunnel from underneath a home into the country of Israel, where they attacked soldiers who were not engaged in an offensive operation against any Palestinian. They murdered two of them, and they kidnapped one of them. And they're holding him captive, hostage. That is an act of war. It's a provocation. And it comes as a culmination of months and months of terrorist attacks and rocket attacks against Israeli citizens, who were not engaged in any offensive effort, who are simply going ahead and living their lives. And that kind of terrorism is unacceptable, and forces a response from any responsible government.

The Palestinian Authority has the responsibility to secure the release of this individual, this soldier. And failing that, the international community has to continue to put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to fulfill those obligations. Again, Hamas is the government of the Palestinian Authority, and it is sanctioning and conducting terrorism. That's not an acceptable situation, and it cuts against the entire grain of fundamental international conduct.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein, I'd like to you respond to that and also the timing of this operation, coming hours after Fatah and Hamas announced that they had agreed on a document that implicitly recognized Israel within its 1967 borders.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, I want to first take note that Josh didn't respond to any of my claims about Israel taking hostages, about 9,000 –

JOSH BLOCK: That's because they're ludicrous claims. They don't merit a response.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I respected your time, Josh. I respected your time. Please do the same for me. He didn't respond to any of my claims about Israel taking hostages, routinely killing Palestinians taken prisoner, and so on and so forth.

So let's turn to the issue that Josh wants to address, namely the context. I'm very happy to do so. Let's look at the context. Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in September 2005 'til today, the estimates run between 7,000 and 9,000 heavy artillery shells have been shot and fired into Gaza. On the Palestinian side, the estimates are approximately 1,000 Kassam missiles, crude missiles, have been fired into Israel. So we have a ratio of between seven and nine to one.

Let's look at casualties. In the last six months, approximately 80 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza due to Israel artillery firing. Now, on the Israeli side, we hear all of these terrible things about these Kassams. Even Shlomo Ben-Ami, yesterday on your program, who I respect, he said what's Israel to do about these Kassams? What does the record show? I mentioned a moment ago, 80 Palestinians killed in six months. There have been exactly eight Israelis killed in the last five years from the Kassam missiles. Again, we have a huge disproportion, a huge discrepancy.

Now, Josh says Israel has a responsibility to protect its citizens. I totally agree with that. But Hamas is the elected government of the Palestinians. They have a responsibility to protect their citizens. They have a responsibility to get back their 9,000 hostages. They have a responsibility to protect their Palestinian civilians, who are being daily attacked by Israel. Josh says that the --

JOSH BLOCK: If I might, Amy, I'm ready to respond to that.


JOSH BLOCK: Yeah, first of all, the folks that have been arrested for participating in terrorist activity against innocent Israeli civilians have been arrested for criminal activity. They were not kidnapped because they were doing their responsible civic duty and no offensive position against the Palestinians. In fact, those who, again, are in Israeli jail are there for conducting terrorist activity. Among the people that he mentions that have been killed, were killed because they were participating in terrorist activity, shooting missiles, planning terrorist attacks against Israel. Those folks were not innocent civilians who were killed in suicide bus bombings or have had missiles fall on their kindergartens. There's a moral equivalency that your guest is drawing that is fundamentally out of proportion.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: May I ask Josh a question?

JOSH BLOCK: It's totally disproportionate and fundamentally incorrect.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: May I ask Josh -- I'd like to ask you a question, Josh. 1,000 of those Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel, according to B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, 1,000 of them are administrative detainees. That is, there have been no charges leveled against them. How do you know what they're being held for?

JOSH BLOCK: Fundamentally --

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: No, answer that question. There have been no charges and no trials.

JOSH BLOCK: I'm about to, if you would give me a second to answer --

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: How do you know what they're being held for?

JOSH BLOCK: But instead you're trying to filibuster the question. Fundamentally, the Israeli army and the Israeli government arrest Palestinians who are engaged in terrorist activity. That's a proven fact.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: No, I don't think that's a proven fact. It would be a proven fact if there were court trials.

JOSH BLOCK: It is. It is a proven fact.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: How do you know what administrative detainees are being held for? Israel doesn't say, so how do you know?

JOSH BLOCK: I fundamentally understand the facts, which clearly you do not, which are that Israel takes fundamental legal action to arrest individuals who are engaged in terrorist activity directed against its citizens. There is no moral equivalency to be drawn between a country acting in defense of its citizens and those engaging in terrorist activity in an effort to stabilize and destroy that free and peaceful society.

Look, Amy and Juan, as a Liberal Democrat who is a long-time listener of this program, I fundamentally believe that the audience and you are in a position to understand that liberal fundamental values, which are celebrated in Israel -- freedom of the press, women's rights, gay rights, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion -- are denied to those living in Palestinian areas and throughout the rest of the Arab world. There's an asymmetry that's involved in the Middle East, which is a country of Israel that is based on fundamental free values, that is not replicated in the Arab world, where education systems inculcate children with hatred and teach them that martyrdom and death is preferred over science and math and education.

And fundamentally, after Israel's disengagement from Gaza less than a year ago, when the Palestinian people and the Authority that leads them had the chance to build a better life for their citizens, they chose not to do that. They destroyed the greenhouses, the economic infrastructure that was provided. They then took the opportunity not to fight terrorism and to provide security for their people and went the other direction. That's why when these attacks take place through the very arteries, the crossing points and the cargo points that benefit the Palestinian people, Hamas is intentionally harming their own society. That is the fundamental dynamic, none of the other speciousness that we're hearing from our other guest today.

JUAN GONZALEZ:But, Josh Block, I'd like to ask you, on the targeted assassinations that Israel has often participated, has often executed in Palestinian territories, we hear repeatedly of innocent civilians. Putting aside the fact whether the people who were targeted were actually terrorists or not, because we have Israel's reporting that they are, but the innocent civilians that are inevitably killed in these missile attacks, how is that justified as not terrorism against a civilian population?

JOSH BLOCK: You're absolutely right. Those incidents are deeply regrettable. I think any one of us would say that. And I think any American, any Israeli, would say that innocent people who are killed as a result of a military action unintentionally, that's a tragedy. But there's, again, a moral difference between an army -- Israel's military goes to great lengths to prevent those kinds of incidents, and if you look at the number of preventative attacks that Israel has carried out with the number of those who have been incidentally and unfortunately killed in those incidents, there's a tremendous preponderance of occasions when, in fact, Israel has gone to great lengths not to harm innocent civilians.

AMY GOODMAN: We just have a minute. We gave Josh Block the first word. Professor Norman Finkelstein, the last.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, the question is whether or not there is a significant difference between what Israel does and what the Palestinians do, apart from the fact that Israel does it in a much higher proportion than Palestinians. If you indiscriminately fire on a civilian population, which Israel routinely does, under international law -- and here I can quote the president of Tel Aviv University, Yoram Dinstein, who's one of the leading international experts on these matters; he says, "There's no difference whatsoever between intentionally targeting civilians and indiscriminately firing into a civilian crowd."

JOSH BLOCK: Fair enough.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: He says both of them are terrorism. So if Hamas --

JOSH BLOCK: If terrorist were attacking --

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: So if Hamas blows up a bus, as it used to do in Tel Aviv, that's terrorism. If Hamas were to say, "We didn't intend to kill the civilians. We intended to blow up the bus," people would laugh. But if Israel drops --

JOSH BLOCK: If terrorists attack --

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Allow me to finish. Allow me to finish. If Israel drops a one-ton bomb on a densely populated neighborhood in Gaza, as it did in July 2002, and it said, "Oh, we didn't intend to kill the civilians. We can just intended to kill a Palestinian terrorist --

JOSH BLOCK: And later apologized for the incident.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: It would be considered as preposterous as if Hamas said "We only intended to blow up the bus."

JOSH BLOCK: I'm sorry. First of all, there has been no apology from Hamas for those incidents. Israel apologizes when things like that happen.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Israel didn't apologize. As a matter of fact, Ariel Sharon hailed the bombing of Gaza City --

JOSH BLOCK: That's another specious lie.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: -- that time as one of the greatest acts in Israeli history.

JOSH BLOCK: Again, a lie.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to have to leave it there. I want to thank you, Josh Block, for joining us, spokesperson for AIPAC, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in Connecticut; and Professor Norm Finkelstein, here in New York, teaches at DePaul University in Chicago. His book is called Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History.